So, just to preface, this was our first cruise with Royal Caribbean Cruise lines. Paul and I have collectively been on over a dozen cruises, all with Carnival Cruise lines, so we wanted a change. This was the longest cruise we’ve even been on, and the first cruise as a “family”, our Baby Man included! I want to use this as a record about the pros and cons of Royal Caribbean versus Carnival.
We planned this cruise with one of my best friends, Kristen (Storey) and her husband Steven. It was their honeymoon cruise, and our first cruise as a family. There were a hand full of priorities we were looking for in this cruise…
So to start, when we booked the cruise, Royal Caribbean was offering a promotion in which the 3rd and 4th stateroom guest get to stay free, so we only paid for Liam’s taxes, fees and gratuity. That was a huge perk! We had heard so many great things about Royal Caribbean, so we were ready to book!
From sailing day, we could tell immediately this ship was pretty grand! Freedom of the Seas can hold 3600 guests plus another 1300 crew members. It’s pretty amazing. We had a nice array of dining options, from the buffet style in WindJammer, Fine Dining in the various dining rooms, a 24 hour café, not to mention the Pizzeria and room service of course! This was all included, but there were additional dining options like a Steak House, Italian Restaurant, and more! On top of this, there was a very cool shopping mall area and awesome pools on deck 11.
We booked an interior room, cause we figured we wouldn’t be in the room, and for some reason the room felt a LOT smaller than what we’ve experience on Carnival. It might have been that we also had a pack and play in the room, but we have decided in the future we would definitely want to do an outer room, whether it’s an ocean view or a balcony. And now that we are on the rooms, let’s address the stateroom service. Our attendant was very cool, and would open our door for us on many occasions when he was nearby and we were juggling the baby. We only wished he had a little more practice and creativity with the towel animals, definitely room for improvement there! ;)
Now onto excursions! First stop was COCO CAY! This island is owned by Royal Caribbean, and it was a great option to be able to get off the boat and relax on the a gorgeous Caribbean beach. They had a food area where you could get burgers, hot dogs, fruit and other easy options. They also had waiters walking around the island with drinks, and you just handed them the sail and sign card and you’re golden! They had plenty of activities, but we took this time to chill on the beach. The water was shallow and there were barely any waves, so it was great for letting Liam roam without worry!
We had to take a water taxi from the boat to the island, so that was my only complaint. When we were headed back to the ship there was a ridiculous line for people waiting to catch the boat back to the ship (we estimated waiting over an hour)! Liam was not a happy camper for sure! But we survived and were happy to get back for more play!
Next stop was San Juan, Puerto Rico. This was a detour to our original plan which was St. Thomas. Unfortunately there was a crew member that was ill and they had to get them medical assistance right away – ironically the fastest option was to stop in Nassau, which didn’t leave us the time to get to St. Thomas. So, San Juan it was! We didn’t dock until late afternoon, so it was a short trip. We decided to just wander the city a bit, hit up some shops – Specifically Pandora! Happy Birthday to me! ;) and then we just walked around some more before we headed back to the boat. There was some beautiful architecture. Definitely a cool place to visit. Obviously we would have liked to have more time here, but that was an uncontrollable, and we made the best of the time we had.
Next stop St. Maarten! I’ve heard mixed reviews about this island by people that have stayed at resorts here – specifically how safe it was, so we decided to leave Liam on the ship in the nursery for this day. Paul wanted to use this stop to get some beautiful shots of the island and get a taste of local food. We decided once we got off the boat, to see if we couldn’t get a cab to some random spots and ended up doing a tour around the entire island! St. Maarten is divided into the Dutch side and the French side, and we checked out both sides! Our tour guide did an awesome job with two 20-30 minute stops in which we could grab lunch and walk around. We stopped by the airport and there were planes taking off right over the beach where people were in the water…
…Marigot Market for lunch, and back around the island to our starting point… we learned a lot about the island. Of course Paul saw a couple that was riding around on ATVs and said “next time that’s what we’re getting!” We shall see… haha
We ended this island day with some more shopping! Paul has been on a kick about getting a new watch – thank you Matthew Levine. No really, THANK YOU, cause I made out even better than Paul! We both walked away with some awesome watches, but I got the better end of the deal there! Another Happy Birthday to me! And of course it’s duty-free, so you can’t beat that!
Now for our Days at Sea! I decided to leave those to last cause we did have three and a half days at sea. The pools were great, but one HUGE disappointment was the fact that Liam was confined to a lousy baby pool with a non-functioning fountain. It was a huge bummer when you see the awesome H20 Zone they have. I know it’s regulation, but I guess some cruises are a little more strict than others, and in this case very strict! If we wanted to enjoy the pools, Liam was in daycare. Don’t get me wrong, Liam had fun in the baby pool.. for about 15-20 minutes and then he wanted more… Below is the cool H20 zone that Liam wasn’t allowed in.
Two of our 3.5 days at sea, we used the daycare for 4-5 hours so we could get some baby free pool time, and I will say the daycare was AMAZING! I was very concerned going on a cruise/vacation with the baby feeling like I wouldn’t get any relaxation time, but we did and it was wonderful! The daycare staff was great and while Liam wasn’t always very happy when he realized we were leaving him, he quickly started playing and calmed down!
That is one thing I have been very torn about going back to Carnival with the baby, is that they seem to have limited daycare hours, the Camp Carnival is only for ages 2+, and they don’t offer any in-room baby sitting. We didn’t use that option with Carnival but, it’s nice to know we would have that option!
Next on our list of wants was a party atmosphere, and I have say that was lacking on Royal Caribbean. It was obviously a family style cruise, but the clubs were very dispersed and almost seemed hard to find. On Carnival they were all grouped together. We did see a comedy show which was very good, but even that ended earlier than we expected! The daycare closed at 12PM (Midnight), and it seemed like a lot of other things closed not long after that! But we did get out and have a good time. They did have a casino, which also adds to the cruise experience, but on this ship it felt oddly placed.
We did however enjoy the wide variety of dining options! Liam was welcome in all the dining areas, even though there were times we decided daycare was a better option. Liam loved the pizzeria, and we were in the Windjammer for several breakfast, lunches and dinners! But the highlight was definitely the fine dining, and we were especially pleased with the second formal dinner! We had some lobster tail, filet mignon, rich cheese ravioli and some decadent deserts. We also checked out some of the paid options, including Johnny Rockets, for a traditional burger and sundaes, and our last evening we splurged on Chops steak restaurant. That was definitely the premium dining experience!
In comparison between the Royal Caribbean and Carnival dining experiences, we think that the food is on par with each other. I feel like you get a little more “American” style dining with Carnival, and a more European dining experience with Royal Caribbean. They were both delicious. I will say the room service options on Carnival definitely hit the spot more. Carnival seemed to have more options, but both are pretty wonderful.
I did like with Royal Caribbean we could order room service through our TV, but I think because of that system, room service took longer and they had horrible phone operation services. I don’t know how many times I tried to call room service, or one of the dining rooms or even the guest services and it would just ring and ring and ring. But it wasn’t the end of the world, and we thoroughly enjoyed our experience!!
Check out some of more photos from our last night!
You can see the rest of the photos here!
I was unfortunately laid off at the beginning of this year, and while home with Paul and the Baby Man, we decided to beef up our design and printing offering. With my experience and abilities with web development and creative direction, we decided to develop a new site to feature the awesome invitations by PERDUE VISION.
So we are now introducing PV Invitations! Paul has been doing custom design invitations since we first got engaged as we wanted a very specialized design for our own wedding invitations. We hooked up with a great screen printing company in India, and we have fully hand-made and custom designed invitations for every occasion – weddings, bat mitzvah, bar mitzvah, wedding showers, baby showers, birthdays and more!
We also do smaller run, and more budget conscious options in-house, but for whatever your needs, PV Invitations has it covered! Check out the new site and the beautiful portfolio, and check back regularly as we are adding new designs regularly!
Thanks for everyone’s support thus far and don’t hesitate to contact us about any web and printing needs you have… especially invitations!
So I hope you have some extra time on your hands because you are going to need it to get through this entire post! We are squeezing a wedding weekend jam packed with activities into this post! It’s all worth it, but it may take a hot minute to get through it all. But PLEASE NOTE: we saved the best part for last…
So, the last weekend of May 2014 we headed up to Lexington, Kentucky for fun times with family and an amazing wedding! Paul’s cousin Haley Perdue was getting married to her long time boyfriend/fiancé (of 9 years), so we made the wedding weekend into an extended family affair!
Our first day in Lexington, was packed full of fun and educational activities! We started our little adventure with a trip to Buffalo Trace Distillery, “the world’s most award winning distillery,” and not surprisingly so, considering it’s been around for over 200 years! We toured around the campus and learned about the different types of bourbon, how the aging process varies based on where the barrels are stored. We also got to see the bottling process which was actually really cool – and it was surprisingly a much more hands on process, i.e. people and not machines! From there we headed to the tasting which was obviously the highlight of the entire tour! My favorite was the Bourbon Cream – I know… blaspheme! But I am a milk drinker so it’s only fitting. Second favorite was the bourbon balls! YUMMMM! And of course I believe Paul thoroughly enjoyed the Buffalo Trace, and we can’t forget Liam aka Baby Man – who had his first root beer and couldn’t get enough!
After the distillery tour, we headed to the state capital where Paul’s Dad’s cousin, John Minton, is the Chief Justice for the Kentucky State Supreme Court! We got the VIP tour around the capital by the Chief Justice himself! It was definitely a cool experience and quite a beautiful building as well! The highlight for us was when we got the awesome shot of Liam doing his chief justice impersonation in the courtroom! You gotta see that one!
We were all starving at this point… can you tell?? So our next stop was a LATE lunch at Rick’s White Light Diner in Frankfort, KY! It may have been because we were all starving, but this was some of the best New Orleans style food I’ve had! They were featured on Diner’s Drive-In’s and Dives, and I can totally see why. It was definitely your whole in the wall kind of place, it had an awesome atmosphere, interesting bathroom, and some awesome food! I have to say, I think I enjoyed it better than a lot of what we had while in New Orleans last year! The Muffaletta was to die for and the po-boys were definitely amazing too!
Look at that adorable baby man! He was so tuckered out from that busy day!
Day Two in Kentucky we had plans to go to Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill! We started off with a delicious lunch at the Inn at Shaker Village. Again, Liam couldn’t get enough of the delicious food, and I also must say the old fashion high chair totally beats out most of the restaurant baby seats these days!
We shopped at the Craft shop that had all kinds of great local merchandise and more importantly tickets for the Dixie Belle Ferry! I think it may have been Liam’s first ferry ride and he embraced the experience – took charge sitting proud in the captain’s chair! It was a beautiful ride, and we had a lot of fun!
But the most fun and rewarding part of the whole trip was the opportunity to not only share in Haley and Marcus’ big day, but to also play a part in capturing the memories (as videographers for the wedding) they will have from that day for the rest of their lives, and the lives of generations to come! While it was a lot of work, especially for Paul, it has been such a great experience! Check out the highlight video from the wedding to get a glimpse into what we all experienced!
To view the full length video, with an awesome speech from the Father of the Bride, click here!
So I’ve taken a bit of a sabbatical from the blog, but wanted to share my wonderful Mother’s Day video with you! We had a great time with our little man on the beach all day, he was so tuckered out by the end of it all he snuggled up on Mommy and passed out!
Hope you enjoy!
Liam’s first Christmas was wonderful! We spent Christmas Eve at my parent’s house – dinner with both Paul’s and my parents, and my brother, A.J. Liam enjoyed sitting at the table with us and then opening all kinds of fun gifts! (sorry no pics from the Eve).
Christmas morning was a lot of fun, I think the highlight was definitely seeing Liam’s reaction to his gifts. Obviously he doesn’t understand anything about Christmas, but he definitely had fun with the new gifts. We started off with Scout – I had a lot of fun programing him, and Liam loves toys that talk to him, so he got a kick out of his new Scout plush pup!
Next was the gift hand-picked from Daddy! Liam’s very own laptop! Liam is always trying to get on our laptops, so now he’s got his very own to bang away at those keys! And to his delight it has a mouse too! So yummy!!
And lastly Liam got his first Early Rider! It’s essentially a bike, but a very cool bike. It can turn in any direction and helps to develop balance. Liam has a bit of growing to do, but he definitely seems to like it. Another thing that he can chase after Chunk with… hehehe
We also had a wonderful Christmas, and following our little family time, we headed to Gama and PaPa’s for some brunch and more holiday fun! Al in all it was a wonderful first Christmas for this growing family!
We’re so proud of our little man, we just want to share him wherever and whenever we can! It would be so cool if he got lots of votes in the Gerber Photo Search 2013! Click Here to Vote!
Following our trip to Philly, we headed to NYC to visit with our good friends Derrick and Jesus, and celebrate my birthday in the city! We got to check out their new place and have fun running around the city!
First stop, Derrick and Jesus’ place! It’s a nice spot in Jersey, a short drive from the city! They fell in love with the colorful living and dining rooms.
Next stop, Katz Deli! Paul had to get the notorious pastrami and swiss, as seen on Adam Richman‘s Man v. Food, and of course the orgasm scene from When Harry Met Sally! Everything was delish!
From Katz, we headed around town for some more pics, but ended our evening with some of Paul’s best work yet. NYC photos from Brooklyn! They turned out amazing! It was funny because this was the photo spot, and there were so many people with cameras out there.
My birthday, YEAH! All I really wanted, was some birthday cake, so we decided to head to Greenwich Village for a little window shopping and to go to The Magnolia Bakery (as seen in Sex and the City), and we got some amazing cupcakes! The peanut butter and jelly cupcake was my favorite! We decided to enjoy our deserts in the park right by Bleecker playground, it was definitely the spot to be.
From there we decided to head to China Town for a little more shopping if you know what I mean! ;) I definitely have to say, my birthday was pretty wonderful!
Before we headed back to Derrick’s we decided to stop by Time Square for a couple more pictures. Paul outdid himself for sure.
Next time – the plan will be to stay in the city… maybe the Waldorf Astoria! hehehe
So I’ve entered this pic of Liam into the Parents.com Photo contest. He was #126 and now he’s #103! That’s an improvement! So I thought I would post to my blog to see if we can’t get some more votes! You can vote daily! It would be so exciting if he won!
It’s that time of the year and pumpkins are all the rage, of course! With a new little one in the family we had to take Liam (aka Baby Man) out to the pumpkin patch for those notorious fall pictures. We headed to the Custom Wood & Garden Shop at Hamilton Mill and I-85. They feature seasonal products, and this time of the year that includes pumpkins! They had lots of pumpkins, bunnies for petting and purchasing, ponies for riding, and jumpies too!
Liam was such a great sport! It was so hard to decide which pictures to share!
After getting a lot of pumpkin shots, we decided to have a little fun with bunnies! Liam really liked petting the bunny, and the bunny was quite tolerable. I was the only one not having absolute fun, worried the bunny would go rogue on Liam and he’d leave the pumpkin patch crying with nibbled fingers. No such thing happen, and no bunnies were harmed! haha But we did get some absolutely adorable shots!
Paul’s Mom and our niece and nephew, Kennedy and Trey, met us up at the pumpkin patch for some more fun pictures. Had to get some sweet pics of the “grand-babies” in for GaMa!
We then headed back to GaMa’s house for some pumpkin carving! Trey and Kennedy made some creative jack-o-lanterns! As night fell, Paul was able to get some creative shots of all the kids with the glow of the newly carved pumpkins.
My cousin Marisa’s wedding was fast approaching and with our Baby Man – Liam, we figured it would be a good reason to make a road trip out of the occasion. The wedding was to take place in downtown Philly, so we made a plan to continue our trip beyond the wedding, but our trip started in Philly!
Our first stop once we hit Philadelphia was of course Pat’s King of Steaks, and it was definitely true to the classic Philly Cheese Steak. We tried ours with American cheese, but apparently it’s supposed to be good with cheese whiz…. hmm not sure what I think about that. So we could check Philly Cheese steak off the list!The wedding was at The Bellevue Philadelphia, and we were lucky enough to be able to share a suite with my parents. It was great considering we had Liam with us! The rooms were awesome and the living space was great for hanging out and visiting with family before the wedding.
After settling in we couldn’t resist taking pics of our little man it this posh suite!
So our first night in the city we went to the Philly’s game, thanks to my brother. It was ironically the first and only baseball game I’ve been to this year. It was definitely a fun time, and so convenient to our hotel as we were able to take the subway! And I was happy to get my Phillies cap of ice cream, and was able to bring a souvenir back to baby man!
Day 2 in Philly: We had some time to sight-see and visit with family before the wedding! We got to see the LOVE sign, and I must say it wasn’t as impressive as I imagined, but that was another must-do that got checked off the list. Liam really enjoyed it!
And the day continued with a fun visit with family! I was able to meet up with my cousin Beth and her daughter Ramona, who was born just three weeks before Liam! It was a lot of fun, so awesome to get to see everyone! Ramona is a cutie pie, and she and Liam had fun – I can’t wait to see how they are together as they get older!
The wedding was fast approaching, and we were getting ready to head to the wedding. Thankfully my parents made arrangements with my Dad’s cousin Valerie to watch Liam and she volunteered to take both Liam and Ramona! Thank you again Valerie! You were an amazing baby sitter and it was also very nice to visit with you and catch up for the short time we were able to spend with you!
The evening continued with my cousin Marisa’s lavish wedding! It was by far the most extensive wedding Paul or I have ever been to! The ceremony we slow to start (in a funny way), but was a very sweet ceremony! And from there we went to an awesome cocktail hour with shrimp cocktail and oyster, dim sum and sushi, and delicious cheese and meats, not to mention the various items served throughout the room. And the reception was even more pleasing with a delicious salad and shrimp cocktail, a pear sorbet palette cleanser, and a delicious fillet and crab topped white fish! Absolutely amazing! But it didn’t end there, they had a 12 or 13 piece band that had no problem getting everyone on the dance floor between courses, and a closing with a delicious piece of vanilla wedding cake with raspberry filling with a scoop of chocolate chocolate chip ice cream! And you’d think that would be enough, but you could also take a little desert night-cap with you of eclairs and other sweet pastries! Mmmmmm…
Day 3 in Philly: Started off with an extensive brunch! We were excited as we wanted to be able to show off the little ones. Beth brought Ramona and we brought Liam and both of them got to visit with all the cousins and extended family. It was nice for everyone to be able to gather one more time.
It was our last day in Philly, so we decided we couldn’t leave without doing a little more sight-seeing!
First we went to the Philadelphia Art Museum to see the notorious Rocky steps! So cool! The funny thing is the Museum is more visited because of Rocky than because of the exhibits…
We checked Rocky off the list and one last stop before we headed to NJ and NYC! The Liberty Bell! I hadn’t been there since I was a little girl and it was definitely cool to see if as an adult. And it’s exciting that we were able to take Liam to all these cool places, even if he won’t remember any of it.
It looks pretty much the same, except they tore down the awesome tree I used to play on that was in the front yard. Was pretty cool to drive through the old neighborhood, even if it was only a small part of the trip!
See more photos from our Philly Trip! Click Here