From the moment we book a trip, we start dreaming about the “perfect vacation” we are going to have. We imagine all the fun we are going to have, the things we are going to do and all the places we are going to see. While that might seem like a reasonable expectation, expecting the “perfect vacation” is setting up for disappointment. Last time I checked, no one is perfect, so extremely high expectations can lead to “disenchantment” during Enchantment of the Seas.
When I dream of my vacation, I dream of sun and sand, and my happy, smiling children who are eternally grateful for this wonderful experience I gave them.
Instead, sometimes the reality is that my kids fight and throw sand at each other, the ocean water is freezing, and it starts to rain.
Somewhere in there I realize that I forgot to pack sunscreen and my husband is getting “starved” because we missed reading the Windjammer times and got back to the ship too late.
It’s times like this that I used to give up in despair and lament that this is NOT how my vacation “should be”! This is where I need to step back, take a few breaths, and remember that my children are also fighting like brothers and sisters at home. They will become best friends again at supper time.
Too much unity is not good and sometimes they need some time apart. It can be alone time with each parent or a trip to the bedroom for one and Adventure Ocean for the other.
When my husband is “starving” I am forever grateful for Sorrentos Pizza or the hot dog stand on Oasis and Quantum class ships. A slice of pizza or a hot dog can make all the difference and we usually have emergency cookies hidden around the room for such occasions.
When I forget to pack something, I remember that next to my passport (and now my vaccination cards) there is nothing I need that cannot be replaced on the ship or the port. The price may be higher for my forgetfulness, but it’s not the end of the world. Sometimes it’s something I have to remember. We were never turned away from the main dining room because my husband forgot to bring black dress shoes and dress socks…again.
Luckily, my embarrassment is spared once her feet are tucked under the tablecloth hiding her “dressy Keens” sandals.
Traveling with extended family is no exception to the “perfect vacation”. The way they behave at Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings isn’t going to magically change on a cruise. While cruises are a great way for multiple generations to vacation together; it can provide many opportunities for opinions on how children should be brought up and behave.
It’s so easy to forget when you watch commercials of happy, perfect people that vacations are still real life. When you see people’s vacation photos posted on social media, believe me when I say they’ve probably only posted the “good photos” where everyone is smiling and happy. They don’t take pictures when someone is crying or an excursion is cancelled.
The holidays can be a great time to learn table manners with children. unfortunately, I have seen adults who need remedial training. On a cruise several years ago, there was an elderly woman in her late 70s who sat at our table. She was impossible to satisfy. We saw the crew do everything in their power to try to appease her and make her happy. It had become a game to see how soon after dinner service she would send something back to the kitchen.
She received mashed potatoes one evening and insisted on a baked potato after her plate arrived. When the crew took him out, she gently touched him with a finger and announced that he was cold. She then looked up and waved a dismissive hand, telling them to “take it off.” When asked if she wanted another, she tersely replied that it was “too late” and that she wanted nothing more.
While there’s nothing wrong with asking the server to prepare an order, there is a way to do it with grace and compassion. Sometimes I left mistakes in place and didn’t point them out. They ended up being “happy accidents” where I tried something new that I otherwise wouldn’t have done. These are times when I found something new on the menu that I liked. I also have a certain empathy for the crew. The amount of meals that come out in such a short time means things won’t always be perfect. Even with a 99.9% accuracy rate, on an Oasis class ship this would mean that at least 5 dinners each night would be wasted.
We have had excursions canceled in the past due to bad weather. An example was that the waves were too high at “Sting Ray City” in Grand Cayman for my children. The Royal Caribbean staff were great in helping us find an alternate on-site excursion to the turtle sanctuary and dolphin encounter. This has been one of my (and my children’s) favorite excursions to date and not one I would have chosen. Speaking to people who chose to go to “Sting Ray City” despite the waves, they said they had a disappointing experience as they were pushed around by the waves and the water was murky with poor visibility due to all the choppy sand.
I could have been disappointed and upset that I couldn’t go to ‘Sting Ray City’ which was one of the main reasons I chose this route. On the other hand, I might be glad we had this amazing excursion and have an excuse to come back to this port of call on another cruise, although I might have to convince my kids to try one. excursion other than turtles. Sometimes the anticipation is just as satisfying as the actual experience.
Covid and associated changes have complicated cruising, with onboard shows, stopovers or even entire cruises canceled without notice. Instead of complaining and asking “Why did this happen to me?!?” Instead, ask, “How’s it going FOR me?” »
Try to find a glimmer of good that can come out of this situation. It might take some work to find a silver lining for a missed cruise, but when you find it, you’ll feel much better sticking to it instead of disappointment and anger.
We had a cruise that was canceled in 2020 and instead of being upset we adjusted the directions. We ended up taking a trip to Yellowstone and Utah to visit friends. It was amazing! We had another one that was canceled in November 2021. However, we were able to use future cruise credits from both trips to upgrade to a suite for our cruise last December.
Just remember that wonderful memories and great vacation stories rarely start with the phrase “Everything went exactly as planned”. Many of our most memorable stories and adventures come when things went wrong, we got lost, someone got seasick, or there were other difficulties at the time that we we had to overcome. Our lives are made of stories and the hero must overcome some adversity in his adventure.
Just imagine yourself as the hero of your story and find a way to win the day with an amazing adventure. Consider the words attributed to Captain Jack Sparrow, who also spent time on a ship and faced many adventures that did not go as planned; “The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude to the problem. What story do you want to tell when you get home? Make it an amazing one since you get to write it, the problems and all.