It’s hard to vacation with a large family. The most economical option would be to drive somewhere but considering five minute car rides to church is enough to incite fighting and frustration, destinations longer than 5 hours away are out of the question.
Five hours is low long it takes to get to South Padre, where we have visited 3 times. We survive that trip with the aid of electronic devices and Benadryl.
The real problem is that the kids are getting big. There is no longer any breathing room in between one another when they pile in side by side whether into the Pilot or the Minivan.
And while we all LOVE South Padre, it’s either 2 hotel rooms or a suite, either way, it is expensive so we don’t spend more than 1 night there.
We decided long ago the best vacation option for our large family would be a cruise. We wouldn’t need further transportation once we got on the boat, the children could do their own thing if they desired, and I wouldn’t need to be responsible for feeding everyone everyday. Win. Win. Win. So we began saving.
This year was the best year to go. Before long, the older kids would have jobs and high school activities limiting our schedule. Missing school wouldn’t be an option over the next couple years either as everyone moves out out elementary school and middle school and high school are hard to miss. So yeah, this was the year.
It took quite a bit of planning, all of which we can thank Ryan for.
We pulled the kids out of school early on a Friday. To say they were excited was an understatement. We had been counting down months, weeks, days, and hours in anticipation to a 7 day vacation.
We packed 8 duffel bags, one for each of us and headed to Houston.
We spent the night and visited with our dear friends and old neighbors when we lived in Houston, the Aloia’s.
We met these friends 14 years ago when their daughter was 1. When X joined our family 4 years later these girls became instant friends. Now (geez!) they are almost all grown up.
The kids all had a fun time together, especially because Allie is an Arial Silk gymnast (if that’s what they are called.) My kids fell instantly in love with these silks…
They could have done this all night long. Unfortunately we don’t have high enough ceilings to put one of these in otherwise I think I could keep them entertained for an entire summer.
Morning came and we headed down to Galveston to find our ship! We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful Texas day.
This was our first glimpse of the ship….
They were mesmerized.
After a fairly painless boarding process we made our way to the pool area and secured some seats as we waited for our rooms to be available.
We were all so excited to finally be here.
But not as excited as they were when they discovered the ice cream.
And the hamburgers…
I asked them at one point how many hamburgers they thought they were eating a day.
Three hamburgers a day.
Five or Six.
That was when the boys told me they backed up their toilet and had to get ship maintenance to fix it.
Awesome, I thought. They solved the problem on their own!
The first day we saw each other a lot and I got a bunch of pictures. The second day, not as much, and so on.
The more comfortable the kids were on the boat the less they needed us. They all made friends in their “kid areas.” Which, for going the 3rd week in May, there wasn’t an abundance of kids on the boat.
This made for a very relaxing trip for Ryan and I.
Sunset the first night was absolutely gorgeous.
After each night’s “Dive-In Movie” we rounded up the kids to go to bed, usually around 11:30 or midnight.
We often found them at the bar drinking soda (we bought them “limitless bubbles” so they wouldn’t come ask us for a drink constantly) or we found them in line for pizza. A few nights they were already in their rooms with empty plates of chocolate cake (ordered through room service.)
As far as I know, no one got sick from all this food. Amazing.
Meanwhile, my guilty pleasure was a bag of M&M’s. Ryan’s was Starburst jellybeans. We grabbed a few every time we went to our room. Considering we couldn’t really eat any other desserts on the ship, we felt like we were still winning.
And, Ryan and I were getting up and running and working out together in the mornings so I had zero guilt.
Then again, I’m pretty sure my kids carried zero guilt either for their culinary indulgences. As long as they were having fun, we didn’t care.
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