So here is a short report on the cruise.......
We got to the terminal at Port Everglades at 10:30 on sail date. They had a small area set up to check in those of us who arrived early, and we got to sit in a special area to board first since we are high enough up in Royal Caribbeans "Crown and Anchor Society" to garner such treatment. You know a child travelling with you attains the level you are at whether or not they have travelled as much as required to attain such status. That means that Shyanne will get special treatment on her next cruise as though she had been on ten cruises with Royal Caribbean, even though she has only been on one.
Anyway....We waited for the main terminal to open up and to get let on the ship. While we waited, we noticed our new friends from Cape Cod come in the door. We went over and said hello to them and told then we would see them on board. As it turned out, we saw a lot of them on board the ship and enjoyed our time together. They are really great people and fun to be with.
So....very shortly after 11:00am they led us into the main terminal and through the door to the gangway. Of course we had to stop to get our "All Aboard" picture taken and then we made our way onto the ship. Shy got a special green bracelet that showed where her muster station was in the event of an emergency. That way, if she wasn't with us, a crew member would know exactly where to take her to be with us.
We looked around the ship for a little while, but then Shy wanted to go into the pool. We headed up that way and we spent some time in the pool, in the hot tubs, and just enjoying the Florida sun. Shy participated in the festivities at sail-away and enjoyed dancing with everyone on the deck. It was then time to go to the cabin to get ready for our first dinner and see if our luggage had arrived.
We thought that since we had gotten there early and they had taken our luggage early, we would get it early. Well, we were just about the last ones on our deck to get our luggage. Shy was getting very anxious and concerned about it as the outfit we had carried on for dinner was not the one she really wanted to wear. This falls in the category of "a women's prerogative". Anyway, the luggage finally came and we went off to dinner.
Lucky us!!!! There was another little girl just a year younger than Shyanne at the table with us. She was a little girl from New York, and she was absolutely adorable. The two of them sat together at evening meals and had a wonderful time together..
Day two started the "Adventure Ocean" camp that Royal Caribbean runs on their ships. It was absolutely wonderful Shyanne loved it and wanted to spend as much time as possible with that group. There were times we had to literally pull her away so that we could spend some family time together. What a great program and a great reason for families to go on cruises. At least with Royal Caribbean.
We did do a couple of excursions while on the cruise. We did one on Saint Martin to the butterfly farm and then to Orient Beach. Shy loved both. We also did an excursion on St. Kitts that included a plantation, a fort, and a beach. It was absolutely wonderful. Shyanne had a great time and we all enjoyed just being together.
We can't wait to take another cruise. It was certainly something we all needed after such a long period without a good vacation trip like that. I will write more about the cruise and different little things that happened along the way, but I just wanted to let everyone know how wonderful our 8 days at sea were, and to recommend it to anyone who wants to have a great time!!
A few little tips for travelling with children that we were aware of, but can lead to problems if you don't heed them:...
Make sure you have current passports for everyone!!!
If your child does not have the same last name as both parents, make sure you have a birth certificate that shows that.
If you are a divorced parent make sure you have a letter from the other parent authorizing you to take the child on board the ship and out of the country.
In any of the above cases, and as far as I am concerned, anytime you are travelling with children, a birth certificate to go along with that other information is always a good thing to have.
Make sure you have copies of all of the above documentation to take with you when you go ashore on any islands. IF there is a problem on the island, it can help make things move quicker if you have all the numbers with you.
All of the above can be a problem especially for adoptive families, so please make sure you check everything in advance so you don't have a problem at the pier that could ruin your vacation.
Foster Families typically have to have special permission to take children out of the country. When Shyanne was in foster care with us, we were unable to take her out of the country and it just about took an act of congress to take her out of the State of Maine, so be sure to check with your case worker before you plan any travel with a foster child.