A Shore Excursion Fail

On March 19, 2018, my mom, my husband, our 7-year-old son, our 3-year-old son, and I happily got off the ship at our first port-of-call on our 14-day MSC Fantasia Caribbean cruise: St. John’s, Antigua!  We thought that, on that day, we would experience the most amazing adventure to start out our cruise, but it turned into a disappointment. Of course, as in most disappointing life experiences, there is a lesson, and as such, I am writing this blog post to share the lesson with you. 

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CRUISE REVIEWS: OUR FAMILY'S MSC FANTASIA CRUISE

This was my second MSC cruise and my seventh overall cruise.  However this was the 1st time that we had booked a 14-day cruise!  Yes, FOURTEEN DAYS!  My mom, my husband, my 7-year-old son, my 3-year-old son, and I sailed together on the MSC Fantasia, from March 18, 2018 to April 1, 2018, roundtrip from Guadeloupe to Antigua & Barbuda, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, the Dominican Republic, St. Kitts & Nevis, Martinique, St. Lucia, Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago, and Grenada, with multiple stops in Guadeloupe, Martinique, and St. Kitts & Nevis.  We had two Fantastica balcony staterooms on Deck 10, right next to each other: 10208 and 10210.  We loved our clean and spacious staterooms!  We booked this cruise for the amazing itinerary!  I was a bit disappointed when a portion of the itinerary changed – the initial itinerary included Tortola, British Virgin Islands; Dominica; and St. Maarten/St. Martin.  After the damage caused by the 2017 hurricane season, those three ports were removed from the itinerary, and, instead, an extra stop in St. Kitts was added, as well as a stop in La Romana, Dominican Republic.  We made the best of it!  Truly, the itinerary was still FABULOUS!  We had a wonderful time!  The crew and staff that we dealt with the most, which were our room steward, wait staff and other dining room staff, and the photo team were consistently pleasant and really made this voyage GREAT! 

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Some Reflections From Our 14-Day Cruise

I type this at tens of thousands of feet in the air, while my 3-year-old son is sleeping in my mom’s arms across the aisle from me, my 7-year-old is watching a JetBlue’s Disney compilation, and my husband is watching another JetBlue feature as we fly home to New York City from an amazing 17-day Spring Break, which included pre-cruise and post-cruise stays in Guadeloupe, and a 14-day Caribbean cruise from Guadeloupe to Antigua & Barbuda, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, the Dominican Republic, St. Kitts & Nevis, Martinique, St. Lucia, Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago, and Grenada, with multiple stops in Guadeloupe, Martinique, and St. Kitts & Nevis. 

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Things To Know Before You Contact A Travel Agent

I’ve heard the saying: “The internet is for looking, while a travel agent is for booking.”  Although I agree 100%, I think an explanation of that statement is warranted. 

Nowadays, we all know of travel websites through which virtually anyone can book a trip, including our favorite type of trip, a cruise.  So, why even bother to contact a travel agent? 

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Why I Unplug During Family Vacations

As I write this, I am some tens of thousands of feet in the air, on the way to Guadeloupe for My Cruising Family’s Spring Break 2018 cruise.  I will schedule this to automatically post on the My Cruising Family blog, and we will be enjoying a fun-filled, yet relaxing, family vacation. 

On prior vacations, I did not even take my laptop because of my deep-rooted, genuine, desire to unplug, breathe in the fresh Caribbean air, and have not a care in the world, except to admire God’s handiwork and connect even more as a family. 

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5 Things To Do Before You Cruise

In preparing to cruise, there are many things that I do for our family before sailing.   Today, hoping to help you to prepare for your cruise, I share 5 of those things with you.

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Feature: 63 Travel Bloggers Share Their Favorite Travel Items

With My Cruising Family's next cruise right around the corner, we are in crunchtime to pack, confirm activities that we've planned, and all around prepare for our longest cruise yet: our 14-day Caribbean cruise onboard the MSC Fantasia!  That all being said, this week's blog post is not the traditional My Cruising Family blog, but it is still quite informative and helpful.  

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Making The Best Of A Family Cruise To Cuba

On the 6-month anniversary of the existence of this blog, My Cruising Family has decided to share a blog post that combines our review and our tips/advice from our most recent cruise.  It had been my intent to share a review of our first Cuba cruise soon after our return to the United States, but those plans changed after the unexpected loss of my brother the day after we returned from that cruise. 

My Cruising Family visited Cuba for the first time in October 2017, via cruise ship.  The Norwegian Sky, to be specific.  After eventually sharing our photos and stories of the amazing time we had during our cruise, a number of people have asked us for recommendations on how to make the best of a visit to Cuba, especially with two young children.  Here are some of our recommendations. 

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My Cruising Family's Caribbean Cruise Packing List

My Cruising Family presents to you My Cruising Family's Caribbean Cruise Packing List.  We hope that this helps to put our blog posts, WHAT MY CRUISING FAMILY PACKS: CARRY-ON EDITION and WHAT MY CRUISING FAMILY PACKS: CHECKED LUGGAGE EDITION in a much more mommy-friendly package for you.  Please utilize this checklist when preparing for your next cruise, and please also provide us with your feedback.  Happy Packing!  

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Dear Overwhelmed/Tired Mom

Dear Overwhelmed/Tired Mom,

Let me start by acknowledging that I don’t understand.  I say that because I can sometimes be annoyed by people who tell me that they understand what I’m feeling when I don’t think that they do.  Many times, the person means well, and I think the person means to convey that they hear me, they care, and they have been through similar experiences. 

There is only one you, so only you know what it’s like to walk in your shoes.  Only you know what it’s like to wake up in the morning, Mondays through Fridays, to get yourself ready for work, and also to get your children up and awake, showered, clothed, and fed before school.  You may drive them and yourself to school and work, or like me, you may walk or drive a portion of the way, then take a train – in our case, at least 3 trains – just to get to school and work.  Only you know how you feel during and after the shuffle, hustle, and bustle just to get your children to school.  Only you know how you feel walking into your place of work before 9am, yet feeling as though you have already completed a full day of work.  Only you know

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My Cruising Family's Anniversary!

January 19, 2018.  Today marks 5 years since My Cruising Family’s first family cruise. 

Sidebar… It’s funny because my first cruise – not a family cruise – was in 2005, prior to becoming a mother and prior to meeting my husband, yet it was on Disney Cruise Line, which is probably the first cruise line that comes to mind when you hear the words “family cruise.”  I’ve got to let you know that Disney is loads of fun for adults without children, as I experienced it first-hand in 2005.  Nevertheless, I now say that that Disney Magic cruise, being my first cruise, was a sign that I’d be loving family cruising years later, and that I’d be a resource for all things related to family cruising. 

So, back to January 19, 2013.  My husband, our then 2-year-old son, and I sailed on the Carnival Dream’s 7-day Western Caribbean itinerary.  Little did we know then what we know now, and what we put into practice as we now usually sail as a family of four or five. 

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Pause. Reflect. Dream. Give.

Hello cruisers, soon-to-be-cruisers, cruise-daydreamers, and everyone in between!  A month ago, I shared with you that My Cruising Family suffered a loss in the sudden passing of my brother, which has led to a whirlwind of emotions, and also to a season of pause and reflection. As a result, our website posts and social media activity has slowed a bit. 

While we plan to resume blog posts in the near future, this season of pause and reflection, which we did not plan, has led us to take the time to DREAM BIGGER and to GIVE FROM THE HEART.

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On Shore: Getting Back To Port On Time

I recently received a question regarding boarding times, distance to the cruise port, and recommendations for getting to the ship on time, and the blog post in response to those questions addressed these concerns for cruise embarkation day.  This blog post will address similar concerns about getting back to the ship on time when in a port-of-call. 

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Getting To The Port On Embarkation Day

I recently received a question regarding boarding times, distance to the cruise port, and recommendations for getting to the ship on time.  The general rule of thumb to address all three of those areas is to pay close attention to the documents provided by the cruise line.  Specific cruises differ with regard to the time that guests should arrive to “check in” at the port.   Keep in mind, that most, if not all, cruise lines require online check-in which will then produce cruise documents for guests to print and take along to the port.  So although I say “check in” at the port, what that entails on embarkation day is usually guests presenting their printed cruise documents, along with their passports, for a fairly quick process at the counter with an agent from whom guests will receive their stateroom keys and a number to be called to board the ship. 

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Our Cruise Is Approaching, But Our Children Are Sick! Now What?

Why am I writing this now?  Well, because, right now – today – just about one week before our family goes on vacation, both of our boys have what seems to be the common cold, with stuffy and runny noses, and coughing.  There have also been complaints of ear pain, which we know can happen sometimes simply as a result of congestion, but can also happen if there is an ear infection. Their symptoms started developing on the weekend, so I am thankful that we had that opportunity to treat them at home without having to take days off from school, day care, and work, and without contaminating other people’s children. Nevertheless, with our next cruise around the corner, I called the doctor’s office this morning to try to get an appointment as soon as possible.  

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What's The Best Way To Pick A Cruise?

I recently responded to the question, “What’s the best way to pick a cruise?”  A lot of this information will be similar to an earlier blog postMake Planning A Cruise A Breeze.  However, this question came after that blog post, so I think it's worth sharing my response here.  Let me start by saying that this is really subjective.  For some, this decision will be primarily driven by dates.  For others, this decision will be primarily driven by cost.  There are many cruise options out there, so the quick answer about the “best way to pick a cruise” is to know the factors that are most important to you and your family, and to prioritize those factors accordingly.  As an example, I share with you, below, what My Cruising Family’s decision-making process usually looks like when choosing a cruise. 

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After A Rough Hurricane Season, Can We Still Travel To The Caribbean?

When traveling with a family, especially a family that includes young children, we tend to be very thoughtful about our travel plans.  That being said, given the rough 2017 hurricane season, some parents may be re-thinking their planned family cruises and others may be reluctant to plan Caribbean family vacations at this time because of the idea that the Caribbean islands are in bad shape right now.  While a number of the hardest hit islands have a long road to recovery ahead of them, there are many available options in the Caribbean that were virtually unharmed by the 2017 hurricanes.

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5 Commonly Asked Questions

In an effort to assist those who are considering, planning, or already booked a cruise, I have answered many questions regarding cruising.  In answering those questions, I caution that there are some things that all cruise lines have in common, but there are other areas in which each cruise line differs.  Here, I have included a list of five commonly asked questions, as well as a list of some cruise lines and the corresponding links to how they address each question. 

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What My Cruising Family Packs: Checked Luggage Edition

My Cruising Family’s philosophy is that it’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it, especially when cruising with children.  The below list should be repeated for each person cruising. 

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