I attended a press trip hosted by Royal Caribbean. All thoughts and opinions are strictly my own, as always.
I have had so much fun over the past few months sharing with you about my first experience on a cruise ship, and giving you an insider’s look at Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas. The ship is remarkable to say the least, and I learned so much about how family-friendly cruising really is, as well as how completely indulgent it can be, and at a surprisingly affordable price!
But one of my very biggest takeaways from the experience was just how critical it is as parents to take time away from your home, and away from your children, as a couple. When Tim and I traveled on Freedom of the Seas back in November, it was the very first time we had been away TOGETHER, without our children, since our oldest was born in August 2009. And now that I have experienced a child-free vacation, I really and truly regret that we didn’t take the plunge sooner.
You see this? This is the sunrise. I watch the sun rise EVERY SINGLE DAY because my children wake up around 5 am. But this is a sunrise that I watched of my own free will. There’s a difference! This one was glorious and peaceful. I sipped my coffee, enjoyed breakfast in my room, and just enjoyed the quiet moment. Tim was actually still asleep; we were both exactly where we wanted to be!
And speaking of coffee, Freedom of the Seas has a Starbucks on board, so I was able to get my beloved iced coffee any time I wanted. It was such a treat for me, and it didn’t involve loading the kids into the car. I was able to have a coffee date with the hubs, instead, right there on the ship.
We also had date night, every single night on the boat! You guys, we are doing REALLY REALLY good to get one date night a month. One date night every 3 months is closer to the average for us, though. 🙁 But not during our vacation! Honestly, it was like we were on a really fun date the entire time. We even got to be out and about after the sun went down, which is a super rare treat for anyone with young children.
From a cupcake shop, to Ben & Jerry’s, to near-constant entertainment opportunities on board, there was SO much to do and see and so many ways to get to spend time with my spouse. I had the time and space to get dressed up and do my hair and makeup because I wasn’t having to deal with the kids at the same time. I’m telling you, you only really grasp how much time your kids take up in your day-to-day life when you get a break from them for several days. You guys, we had LEISURE TIME! REMEMBER THAT?!?!
Tim is pictured above during one of my favorite memories of the entire trip. We found a little solarium on one of the decks, sort of tucked away and under-used (read: totally empty!). We sat down together, each with a book in hand, and read for a few minutes before we both fell asleep. Spontaneous nap?! This happens NEVER EVER in my home. This may sound like a rather sad “highlight” of a cruise, but if you have little ones in your home, then I think you can imagine the exhilaration you might feel when you are so relaxed that you can actually fall asleep spontaneously without worrying that a child will be put in any risk. Do you feel me on this one? It was PURE BLISS.
Speaking of pure bliss, do you ever daydream about getting magically transported to your own private beach for some swimming and relaxation? Well this is something entirely possible during your time off the boat, friends! When we were at the U.S. Virgin Islands, we enjoyed a little trip to a private beach with a small group of folks. We partied on a smaller boat all the way over to the beach, and then we partied all the way back! 🙂 We even enjoyed a little mid-afternoon rain in the midst of it all.
We also spent a bit of time at Coki Beach, which is known for its outstanding snorkeling opportunities. Tim and I never get the chance to swim on our own since we are normally with our children and need to be watching out for them, and snorkeling? Oh please! We’ve never even had the opportunity to do something like that! So imagine our joy and delight when we rolled up to this:
We played and played in the water, and saw some amazing fish and coral! We also took a bit of time to just take in the incredible scenery.
We snapped this shot of ourselves just a few minutes before we left the cruise ship to head back home to our kids.
We were SO relaxed, and we wanted to remember what that looks like, so that we would remember to make time for ourselves as a couple. It makes us a better team, and it makes us better parents, too. And of course we gave our children HUGE hugs and kisses when we got back home. We missed them terribly, but we know we made a good choice to go away for a week and recharge our personal batteries, and get reconnected as a couple.
If you haven’t traveled without your children yet, and you have people in your life who you would trust to watch over your little ones for a week, or even for a few days, I cannot stress enough just how great of an investment it is to get away as a couple. I honestly wish I could go back in time a few years and force myself to take a vacation sooner. But now that I’ve experienced it, I’m already planning the next one. And for me, cruising with Royal Caribbean is an excellent choice because I don’t have to worry about a single thing; all my entertainment, food, and fun is right there waiting for me. I just have to show up! 🙂
If you want to read more about my experience, you can check out my review of Freedom of the Seas, my thoughts on Royal Caribbean cruise food, and my review of the family-friendly opportunities on board if you want to cruise with kids.