Our Balcony Cabin on Harmony of the Seas

Our Balcony Cabin on Harmony of the Seas pin

We recently went on a cruise to the Bahamas on one of Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas inaugural sails. This vessel is the world’s largest passenger cruise ship, capable of carrying over five thousand passengers. We stayed in a balcony cabin on the sixth deck -6212 during our journey.

Our Cabin on Harmony of the Seas room

What Makes it Family Worthy?

Royal Caribbean prides itself on the fact it is the first certified autism-friendly cruise line. The cruise line strives to make every part of the journey autism-friendly, including priority check-in, dietary accommodations, and pagers for parents. The ship offers plenty of activities offered for those with autism, including sensory friendly films.

All Youth staff also need to have a four-year degree or equivalent in education, recreation, or a related field, as well as three to five years of experience working with young children. Also, the staff receives autism-friendly training from Royal Caribbean. Therefore, parents can feel secure that their child’s needs will be met with the Youth staff.

The Autism Friendly Harmony of the Seas purple

Our Cabin

We stayed in cabin 6212 on the sixth floor mid ship. Our cabin had was slightly larger than inside cabins and had a balcony. To enter it had a magnetic surface key which we had to put it in a slot by the entrance to make the lights and air conditioning worked. Like most cruise line doors this one had a peephole with a cover, a great security feature.

The Autism Friendly Harmony of the Seas purple beds

Colors decorating the cabin consisted mostly of tans, light grays, and metallics with touches of aqua. The colors made for a modern, elegant room with a soothing vibe. The sliding door sported aqua and metallic colored thick and thin curtains that complemented the patterned carpet. The cabinets’ handles and night lights copied the pattern of the carpet. There was a wallpaper mural behind the metallic bronze headboard that added to the maritime ambiance.

Our Cabin on Harmony of the Seas storage

The cabin could accommodate a family of two to four persons. We slept on the king sized bed while our son with autism slept on the opening sofa. Both beds turned out to be comfortable with crisp linens and fluffy pillows. The room steward made sure to close the sofa up every morning so we could use it as a seating area and open it by the evening when it was the time to sleep. There was an outlet on each side of the bed, so each person sleeping had a place to charge. We also liked the fact the air vent sat above the bed, so no air blew on us as we slept.

Our Cabin on Harmony of the Seas bed

We found the built-in cabin closet close to the bed and liked the well- planned layout with the drawers on the bottom for easy access. The room safe was placed at eye level, so guests didn’t have to go on their hands and knees to store items.

Our Cabin on Harmony of the Seas sofa

The cabin boasted a vanity storage area near the window that included a work area, mini-bar as well as a mirror. We were happy to discover there were several outlets where we could juice up our electronic devices. Atop the cabinets, there was a TV attached to the wall that could be moved so everyone including the person sleeping on the sofa could watch.

As we soon discovered the balcony was the perfect spot to sit and enjoy the morning cup of java or glass of wine in the afternoon. Though not recommended for families with younger kids balcony cabins have several advantages. Unlike inside cabins this cabin was swell aired and provided us with extra room to sit and relax. Families with autism considering a room like ours should know the lock mechanism consisted of a handle that was not easy to lift even for adults. Furthermore, we liked how the lock was placed high up so younger kids would have a hard time reaching it.

Our Cabin on Harmony of the Seas balcony

Our  Cabin Bathroom

We found the door to the bathroom on the left as we entered.
The bathroom decorated in various hues of browns had tan flooring and light colored walls. The well-lit bathroom had a modern square white sink with a mosaic backsplash.

We enjoyed the curved glass enclosed shower that boasted a handheld showerhead and grab-bar. Though we thought that the step down to get in and out of the bathroom was a good idea we thought we’d mention it, so others will be careful when walking in and out to make sure they don’t trip.

Our Cabin on Harmony of the Seas bathroom

Completing the bathroom comfort were the dark wooden shelves on each side of the sink as well as underneath it to hold the fluffy towels and our cosmetics.

Our Cabin on Harmony of the Seas mirror

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Even though the balconies on Harmony are secure, we still suggest getting a room without a balcony. Some interior rooms have virtual balconies which provide real-time ocean views.
  • Avoid getting a room facing or near the Boardwalk. These areas are often busy and noisy at all times of the day.
  • Those who need accommodations should contact Harmony’s access department while booking.
  • The ship does allow service animals.
  • Families with allergies should seek a hypoallergenic room before booking.
  • Some of the rooms are designed to be wheelchair accessible.

 

The Autism Friendly Harmony of the Seas

The Autism Friendly Harmony of the Seas pin

Harmony of the Seas of the Royal Caribbean International is the world’s largest passenger ship at 226,963 GT. The ship carries over two thousand rooms and can house over five thousand guests. We were lucky to be hosted on one of Harmony’s inaugural voyages as part of Royal Caribbean’s advisory committee for autism travel.

The Autism Friendly Harmony of the Seas head

Embarkation

On our two nights trip to the Bahamas from Fort Lauderdale, we were accompanied by media people, others on the advisory committee, and travel agents. Embarkation was speedy. We encountered a small line when we got there because we were originally scheduled to arrive at 2 PM but decided to come earlier. Royal Caribbean prides itself on assisting families with autism, and a staff member did walk us through the embarkation process.

The Autism Friendly Harmony of the Seas wall

Ship Decor

The general décor of the ship was modern and elegant. While other ships typically have more flashy decorations, the Harmony of the Seas ambiance was more subdued with a few touches of color. Visitors will see many of the brighter bits in the Boardwalk and pool areas while the Central Park and Promenade are much more conservative.

The Autism Friendly Harmony of the Seas legs

We liked the fact that many parts of the ship are either completely open to the air or partially, providing many public areas with plenty of natural light. 

The Autism Friendly Harmony of the Seas skeeball

Activities

This ship is part of the cruise line’s Oasis-class fleet and has family friendly features that the Royal Caribbean has developed in the last two years like the Sports Zone and different neighborhoods.

The Autism Friendly Harmony of the Seas car

The Boardwalk area is all about fun. Visitors can enjoy several stores and eateries.For amusement, the Boardwalk has plenty for kids, such as a hand-carved wooden carousel, two wall climbing areas, and The Ultimate Abyss. In the Ultimate Abyss, people slide through a ten-story high purple tube on a cushion from the top deck all the way to the sixth.

The Autism Friendly Harmony of the Seas window

There is also an Aquatheater with afternoon and night performances of a Cirque du Soleil-like show aimed to wow all ages. Our son with autism loved the various activities as well as the green rocking chairs where he could sit back and relax.

The Autism Friendly Harmony of the Seas gold

The Central Park area on the eighth deck boasted more adult venues. There is no real entertainment in Central Park, but the area houses several specialty restaurants. Like its NYC namesake, this relaxing garden features live trees and bushes, with fresh plants brought every few weeks on the ship. One can hear bird sounds, and not all of these are artificial. Real birds often ride in the ship’s Central Park between destinations.

The Autism Friendly Harmony of the Seas food

Similar to its sister ships, the Harmony of the Seas features the Royal Promenade with Sorrento’s pizza, a coffee shop/sandwich area along with several upscale shopping stores. These stores include brands like Le Vian, Citizen, Chanel, and Michale Kors. Visitors can enjoy “duty-free” shopping, meaning that these items are tax-free as long as the goods are purchased out of the country. 

The Autism Friendly Harmony of the Seas carousel

The ship also has a huge Sports Zone on the top decks. For guests who love swimming, there are several indoor and outdoor pools with two FlowRider areas. Avid outdoor fans should try the rock climbing, zip lining, ping pong, basketball, mini golf and ice-skating.

The Autism Friendly Harmony of the Seas fun

 

The ship also had several interesting artistic pieces displayed in its public areas. One of these was a beautiful mirror head statue, called “Head” with interlocking pieces that continuously moved to change its face. Artist David Cerny designed this art piece for the Royal Promenade.
The Autism Friendly Harmony of the Seas view

Dining Options

When we ate at the Windjammer Buffet, we noted several significant changes. Appearance wise, The Windjammer now featured more modernized and upscale decor. The buffet is based around the concept of an open fresh market, displaying the food for patrons. They offer a wide variety of buffet items as well as freshly baked goods.We appreciated the fact that the staff required guests to wash their hands before entering thus helping minimize norovirus cases onboard.

The Autism Friendly Harmony of the Seas salt

The Boardwalk included some of our son’s favorite spots, such as Johnny Rockets with its burgers, Sabor which makes terrific fresh guacamole, and the not to be missed complimentary Boardwalk Doghouse with delicious hot dogs. 

The Autism Friendly Harmony of the Seas food

 

Central Park featured plenty of high-end restaurants, such as 150 Central Park, Jamie’s Italian, Chops Grill, and Izumi. The area encompassed Park Cafe where guests can have a fresh salad or sandwich made in front of them. 150 Central Park is a posh restaurant with a seasonal menu that is not conducive for little kids. We dined in the first one aboard Allure of the Seas back in 2011 for Thanksgiving and had a great time.Our kids still remember the different flavored salts, from simple to spicy to fragrant. 

The Autism Friendly Harmony of the Seas chair

And speaking of an incredible experience, parents can take a night out and go to Wonderland on deck eleven. The entire restaurant emphasizes the concept of surprise. Guests enter through a tunnel and receive a piece of paper and a brush. The menu appears when patrons take the brush and wet the paper. The food is categorized based on themes, such as Sun, Ice, Fire, Sea, and Earth.

The Autism Friendly Harmony of the Seas wonderland

Finally, topping the cruise experience guests should check out the bionic bar where robots mix drinks. Alcohol bottles hang from the ceiling as the robot arms mix the drinks ordered by guests on an iPad.

The Autism Friendly Harmony of the Seas robot

Shows and Attractions

The Harmony showcased several parades with the Dreamworks characters. During our sailing, the Harmony had its Holiday Parade, an event where they celebrate every holiday at the same time.

The Autism Friendly Harmony of the Seas stage

Families can also enjoy Grease the Musical. This musical includes all songs from both the seventies hit Broadway show as well as the movie.

The Autism Friendly Harmony of the Seas ice

Studio B, the ice skating rink, hosted 1887 a Journey in Time. This story is set in Paris and follows Juliet and her time traveling companion Tempus discovering the wonders of the world.

The Autism Friendly Harmony of the Seas irish

The Aquatheater on the Boardwalk  showed the Fine Line Aquashow, which displays acrobatics and extreme sports athletes in immersive 360 degrees.As it was in the nighttime and the theater is open to the elements we left the show early when our son with autism said he was cold.

Escape the Rubicon, an escape room for which guests need to pay in advance was a great hit with our son. Groups of up to twelve get transported to “another time” and need to solve the puzzle to break out in sixty minutes.
Originally we booked it for 5 PM, but our son forgot all about it and showed up an hour late. He almost didnt get in but a sweet young gal galantly offered him her spot and averted what could have potentially been a meltdown.

The Autism Friendly Harmony of the Seas night

Kids Clubs

The Harmony of the Seas offers several clubs for children and teens of various ages. The cruise line divides children into Aquanauts (3-5 years), Explorers (6-8 years) and Voyagers (9-11 years). Each group partakes in different age appropriate activities, and all kids can visit the Adventure Science area and Imagination Studio. Teens get divided into age 12-14 and age 15-17, and most of these spaces revolve around video games and socializing.

The Autism Friendly Harmony of the Seas club

We checked out the teen club, shown around by Victoria, an enthusiastic staff member.
The ‘Living Room’ is comprised of a large room divided into smaller spaces with various seating arrangements.There are plenty of gaming options such as PS4, XBOX 360, XBOX One, WII, and other video games. There’s also board games, card games, and arts and crafts.

Furthermore we spoted a a place to dance and even a mini buffet with sandwiches and a beverage station that makes virgin drinks.

 

The Autism Friendly Harmony of the Seas chair
It is important for parents to know that this is not a place where kids sign in and out.

Teens can move independently through the club from ten in the morning to two in the morning. Also, no parents are allowed to be in this room unless they have special needs.Although the staff is eager to help those with special needs, this is not a one on one program.

 

The Autism Friendly Harmony of the Seas stairs

A point to note is that the ship’s WIFI is fantastic, so relatives can call or message kids at any point if they need to stay in contact.

The Autism Friendly Harmony of the Seas pose

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Parents should book any activities online to avoid disappointment or lines.
  • At shows, parents should request seating close to the exit in case kids get restless.
  • Parents should introduce their children to Grease songs ahead of time so they can enjoy themselves at the show.
  • Families should try to book activities like the Abyss either when they first open or late in the afternoon or evening. Also, they should try to schedule these on days in port when there are fewer people if these activities are open.
  • Those who want to try specialty dining should go on the day of embarkation when it is less crowded, and the dress code is flexible.
  • The Boardwalk is always lively, and families can always leave if they feel overwhelmed. However, they should not book a room facing this area as it is busy and noisy.
  • Each neighborhood features several Purell stations for keeping hands clean.
  • The ship does have a mandatory muster drill with some physical exertion, which includes walking up stairs, in Studio B. Those who can’t participate in some parts of the muster drill need to contact the special needs department ahead of time. Parents of kids with noise sensitivities should bring ear plug as the muster drill includes seven horn blows.

Common Cruising Misconceptions for Parents of Kids with Autism

Common Cruising Misconceptions for Parents of Kids with Autism pin

Traveling parents of children with autism often have many concerns over cruising. However, many common concerns are either unfounded or easily remedied. Here are some cruising concerns we frequently hear about and how families can navigate them and enjoy cruising.

Common Cruising Misconceptions for Parents of Kids with Autism cake

 

Cabin is too Small for my Child

The average inside cabins encompass about 160 square feet, so it is no surprise that they can feel a bit claustrophobic. However, there are options on the bigger and more modern ships for larger family style cabins or two connecting inside cabins. These options provide much more space for families.

Common Cruising Misconceptions for Parents of Kids with Autism movie

Balcony cabins aren’t recommended for most special needs families due to safety reasons, especially for younger kids with autism who don’t have an understanding of danger.

My Kids is a Picky Eater and on a Special Diet

Nowadays cruise lines do a great job of accommodating everybody’s needs. The dining areas now frequently offer gluten-free and low-salt items. Most restaurants offer vegan items as well. Parents can sometimes request a particular dish, especially in the main dining room at night.

Common Cruising Misconceptions for Parents of Kids with Autism dining

Ships are Too Crowded

Many times we hear that people don’t like the big ships, especially the larger ones that have 4000 people on them. However, parents should remember that 4000 people are never in the same place at once. People do different activities in different parts of the ship, and since the ship is large, there are many activities spread out in various areas.

Common Cruising Misconceptions for Parents of Kids with Autism ship

Parents of children with autism can request accommodations during boarding or disembarkation. That way, families won’t ever have to face the crowds. There are quiet areas and even serenity decks on some ships so finding a quiet or uncrowded area is as easy as asking a cruise director or purser for suggestions.

We Might Hear Nasty Remarks

All parents of kids with autism face nasty comments at a particular point in their lives. Our best advice would be for parents to ignore them. If they are rude or even insulting, then there’s not much to say to the offending person except to either just ignore what they said, move to another area or perhaps pass out informational cards on autism.

Common Cruising Misconceptions for Parents of Kids with Autism pool

If somebody asks questions, this would be a great opportunity for parents to educate others about autism. Such a situation has the potential to be a great thing because parents can raise autism awareness and help the autism community.

Activities are Unsuitable

On older ships, this used to be a problem because all the events meant either coloring in the kids club or sitting drinking a beer and playing bingo or trivia. That is no longer the case nowadays as the ships are filled with activities. On Norwegian cruise line, kids can enjoy a rope course. There are shows and parties for everyone in the family to enjoy. Parents can take their children to classes on cupcake decorating, dancing, cooking, photography, or computer programming.

Common Cruising Misconceptions for Parents of Kids with Autism limes

As an example, RCCL recently teamed with DreamWorks and NCL with Nickelodeon. Therefore, there are now character breakfasts, parades, and other themed activities.

If some things aren’t comfortable for them, kids can still either use the pool or watch TV. A lot of the cruise lines show kids movies at the pool or kids clubs. Some even have theaters. Of course, if all else fails, most of the modern ships have WiFi. A lot of the new ships also have Nintendo and other electronic games. Whenever parents come on board, they can just communicate their needs to the activities manager or the youth director.

Common Cruising Misconceptions for Parents of Kids with Autism sushi

Cruise Ships are Dangerous for Our Child

Once in a while, we hear from parents concerned about safety on ships. These are colossal ships, especially the newer ones with 4000 people.

First, parents should not get a balcony cabin. As romantic as it sounds, unless the kid knows not to lean on ledges or overboard then parents much better off in an inside cabin.

Common Cruising Misconceptions for Parents of Kids with Autism carousel

Parents should bear in mind that the pools on the cruise ships do not have lifeguards. Parents of children who wander off should choose a cabin away from pools, places with water, and elevators.

Cruise ships don’t have supervision except for a few safety officers. Parents should go to them if their child goes missing. They have procedures and can start looking for a lost child immediately.

Common Cruising Misconceptions for Parents of Kids with Autism

We Won’t be Relaxed

Most of us want to go on vacation and relax. However, parents of children with autism might worry they will have to be hyper vigilant at all times. Kids will likely be excited to be on the cruise ship and maybe want to explore. Meanwhile, parents will want to get a massage or at least sit by the pool.

Common Cruising Misconceptions for Parents of Kids with Autism flow

Parents should think of either teaming up with another family member to help watch the kids or bring a caregiver. They could even team up with several other parents of children with autism and take turns, especially during the activities.

Cruises are too Expensive

Pricing is a factor for many people going on cruises, especially the modern crew ships with the endless activities. Families should seek bargains at every opportunity.

Common Cruising Misconceptions for Parents of Kids with Autism drill

We recommend traveling off-season for many reasons. There are fewer guests on board and families will get more personalized attention. The silver lining to going off-season is the fact that the prices can be almost 50% off compared to the summers or holidays.

Cruises are too Long

The average cruise is seven days for most first timers. Parents of children who react adversely to changes might want to consider a shorter journey. These shorter cruises of three to five days can be hard to find, but they do exist. We recommend starting with these to get children acclimated to cruising. Then if they enjoy themselves, parents can always book a longer cruise later.cruises of three to five days can be hard to find, but they do exist. We recommend starting with these to get children acclimated to cruising. Then if they enjoy themselves, parents can always book a longer cruise later.

 

 

Common Cruising Misconceptions for Parents of Kids with Autism arcade

Have you taken a cruise with your special needs kid? What was your experience?

Cruising Oasis of the Seas with Autism

 

oasis pin

In October 2015, I participated in the “TBEX at Sea” conference. It was held on the Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas cruise ship which impressively weighs in at over 225 thousand tons, and is over one thousand feet in length! She had her maiden voyage in December 2009 and still continues to provide a fantastic experience for the whole family.

Cruising Oasis of the Seas with Autism ship

The Oasis of the Sea is part of the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line. The ship employs over 2,200 staff members on board to better serve the needs of their guests. Most trips on this vessel last about a week. These excursions depart from Fort Lauderdale, Port Everglades, or Orlando Florida and visit several ports in the Caribbean before bringing travelers back to the starting point.
Cruising Oasis of the Seas with Autism deck

Many don’t realize that this cruise ship works like a floating village. Here, passengers can enjoy sixteen decks offering entertainment in the form of swimming pools, a basketball court, climbing walls and an ice-skating rink.

After receiving a refreshing makeover in 2014, the ship looks better than ever. Cleanliness is also a high priority on this ship, with everything being quite spotless, despite the vessel’s large size.

Cruising Oasis of the Seas with Autism lounger

Fellow Travelers

A large percentage of the people traveling on this ship are family groups from North America. However, middle age couples and groups travel here as well. The Oasis of the Sea can also hold around 5,400 passengers at any given time.

Cruising Oasis of the Seas with Autism pool

Amenities

The sixteen decks on this ship feature plenty of activities to keep both kids and adults occupied on the high seas. Travelers should know that the popular attractions, such as the Flow Rider waterslides and the Windjammer Marketplace buffet, often see crowds at peak times. Therefore, cruise passengers will need to adjust their expectations accordingly and either avoid busy hours or plan to wait in line.
Cruising Oasis of the Seas with Autism blue

While the zip-line, ice skating rink, and rock climbing wall work as perfect pastimes for older kids, the younger crowd can easily participate in more kid-friendly activities. These include balloon making, face painting, and carousel rides. Folks over the age of sixteen might also like to chill out in one of the ten whirlpools onboard.

Cruising Oasis of the Seas with Autism catsPlaying the slots at the casino is yet another option for those over the age of twenty-one. Of course, the onboard shows can appeal to people of all ages. This ship also featured an excellent production of Andrew Loyd Weber’s Cats. However, it is crucial to reserve show tickets in advance if you don’t want to miss seeing these highlights on your voyage.

Cruising Oasis of the Seas with Autism parade

There are a variety of restaurants from sushi to Italian to American Bistro – something for everyone’s palate. Other activities include a water park, a 3D movie theater and a Dreamworks experience that children find delightful!

Cruising Oasis of the Seas with AutismAt night, the high-diving AquaTheater displays some spectacular shows. For those looking for something more on the relaxing side, the boasts spas, galleries, whirlpools and even an adults-only Solarium pool.
Cruising Oasis of the Seas with Autism golf

Royal Caribbean go out of their way to accommodate special needs, certified as the First Autism Friendly Cruise Line in February 2014 by Autism on the SeasTM, a tremendous honor. Also, the whole ship is wheelchair accessible. If you communicate with staff members in advance, they will go out of their way to help.

Cruising Oasis of the Seas with Autism solarium

Our Cabin

We saw a few options for cabins, and we arranged beforehand to get an inside cabin, ideally suited to families that deal with autism. Because it is situated in an inside corridor, it almost makes a labyrinth that is confusing for a child to navigate. Therefor, it is more difficult for them to get lost if they get away from you.

We stayed on deck 10 in cabin 440. The key to the door is a very handy swipe-card which conveniently fits in a pocket.

Cruising Oasis of the Seas with Autism bed
As you open the door, you can see beautiful wooden furnishings and beautiful carpeting in a wave design of turquoise, blue, green and brown. By the entrance, we saw a shelving unit, perfect spot put brochures, sunscreen, the cabin keycard and other important odds and ends. The shelving unit segues into a desk with a chair complemented by a lighted mirror so it can double as a vanity table.

The cabin is compact but not crowded with a big, opening sofa and a king-sized bed that can split according to preference. Also, the headboards are gray and tan adding to the overall décor of the cabin. Our flat-screen TV monitor by the desk could swivel making it visible from the beds and sofa, or it could recess flat back into the wall. Both nightstands boast built-in night lights.

Cruising Oasis of the Seas with Autism kit

The closet is spacious and can fit the luggage with plenty of hanging space and hangers provided. There are extra shelves as well as a small safe above eye level which can fit an iPad or tablet. There is a full-length mirror placed conveniently by the bathroom.

The room boasted an adequate supply of power sockets. A huge perk of this cruise liner is the super fast internet powered by VOOM which provides wifi using O3bMaritime technology. Furthermore, the occupants can freely adjust the temperature of the cabin with the convenient a/c control panel.
Cruising Oasis of the Seas with Autism bath

Our Bathroom

With linoleum flooring in tan, the bathroom is functional and practical. It featured wooden shelving and a narrow counter with a small sink. As we are Platinum members of Royal Caribbean, we received an amenity kit with conditioner, shampoo, shower gel, soap, and lotion.

The shower features a high plexiglass enclosure and a handheld showerhead as well as a short retractable line to hang up wet bathing suits. We discovered that the area boasted good drainage, perfect as cruise-line cabins can easily flood. Toilet paper, tissues and towels are provided and you can ask housekeeping for more as needed.
Cruising Oasis of the Seas with Autism jeff

Autism Travel Tips

As mentioned, parents should call the cruiseline ahead of time to request any accomodations their family may need.
The cruiseline is autism friendly and will strive to help with embarkation, disembarkation, dining and onboard activities.

slide Cruising Oasis of the Seas with Autism

Those attending the production of Cats should be aware the performers move around quite a bit on and off stage. Some kids may find this a bit scary.

Kids wishing to try ziplining or rock climbing should ask to try it at the end of the day. At that time, the crowds lessen for more customized attention.

 

Top Family Friendly Activities on Labadee Haiti

 

Labadee is a private resort port on the north coast peninsula of Haiti. Urban legend has it that Christopher Columbus found this idyllic place but what we know for a fact is that in the 1600’s, Marquis de’La Badie, from France settled the area. Though the village and resort were named for him; the spelling of the name being anglicized to Labadee in the 1980s to make it more marketable for tourists.

One can only get there with the Royal Caribbean Cruise lines as they have a formal arrangement with Labadee where they will lease that part of the island until the year 2050; bringing guests on day excursions where they can have an unforgettable day while supporting the local economy.

Top Family Friendly Activities on Labadee Haiti ship

What to expect

Passengers coming off the ship will discover is that Labadee is much like a paradise island theme park with so much to see and do it is hard to know where to begin.
Attractions include parasailing, the Dragon’s Tail, a roller coaster that reaches speeds of 30 miles per hour and water sports like jet skiing or kayaking in the Bay.

 

Top Family Friendly Activities on Labadee Haiti zip view


Labadee is home to the world’s longest 
over-water zip line called the Dragon’s Breath Flight Line as well a water park with a pool in Columbus Cove and a 300-foot long waterslide called Dragon Splash. There are additional waterslides, trampolines, log-rolling in the Arawak Aqua Park.

Top Family Friendly Activities on Labadee Haiti water sports

For holiday-makers that find these activities too energetic, there are plenty of opportunities for enjoying a relaxing day by the sea with the tropical sun, sand and gentle waves.
There are deck chairs, loungers, and hammocks to add to the relaxed atmosphere and cabanas for rent right on the water, so families can still have some privacy.

Top Family Friendly Activities on Labadee Haiti food
A lunch buffet, provided by the Cruise lines is included, but if you would like other options; meals and snacks can also be purchased at one of three locations: Dragon’s Café, Café Labadee or Columbus Cove Café.
Their signature fruity, frozen, an alcoholic drink called the Labadoozie is freely available for purchase throughout the day on the beaches and restaurants; sold in a souvenir cup and there is the equivalent non-alcoholic version so children can also have one and not feel like they are missing out.

Top Family Friendly Activities on Labadee Haiti labadee shopping trinkets
If guests would like to have keepsakes and mementos to take back home with them, there are plenty of opportunities to buy handmade souvenirs.
The woodwork is quite noteworthy, and travelers should encourage and sustain the island’s economy by purchasing items made by local artisans.

Top Family Friendly Activities on Labadee Haiti shopping

Autism Travel Tips

  • The island is suitable for families with autism since they can do activities at their leisure and leave when they please.
  • The cruise line staff on the island is excellent with autism accommodations and don’t let special needs travelers wait in any long line.
  • The Arawak Aqua Park allocates specific times for guests to use the park to prevent excessive crowding and reduce the wait times and long lines.
  • Make sure that you know when your time is scheduled so your child does not miss out on the activities.
  • There are plenty of life jackets for everyone, so you don’t have to worry about bringing one for your child.
  • There are gazebos built on the beach for shade but make sure you provide necessary clothing, sunscreen and bug spray to protect your child from the sun and any bites.

Top Family Friendly Activities on Labadee Haiti cabana

  • If you are relying on the ship for complimentary meals, make sure you are there on time and be aware of what times they are serving the food.
  • If your child is on a particular diet, you need to make arrangements with the shore excursion staff as to how to get the customized food items.
  • Plan ahead which rides and activities your child will want to participate in, so you ask the staff for accommodations with preset time slots.
  • Bear in mind that some of the rides have age restrictions so make sure in advance to avoid disappointment.
  • The island is large (there is a complimentary  Royal Caribbean shuttle that stops in several spots and runs continuously) so you should factor in the distances between the different attractions. 

Top Family Friendly Activities on Labadee Haiti labadee shuttle
Check out our video that has more than 70,000 views on youtube.

 

 

Family Tips for Cruising Quantum of the Seas

Family Tips for Cruising Quantum of the Seas ship

Royal Caribbean has always been a favorite cruise line with our family. My husband and I celebrated our honeymoon on the now defunct ‘Song of America’ in 1992, and it was aboard ‘Radiance of the Sea’ that our kids enjoyed their first cruise in 2005.

After having cruised with Royal Caribbean numerous times over the past two decades, we were very excited to sail onboard their ‘Quantum of the Seas’ ship and share our family tips after experiencing the ship’s eateries and attractions.

Super fast Boarding at Bayonne

We arrived at the pier by 11:30 AM and expected large crowds, but there were none. There were multiple agents checking guests on I -pads and the process went along so fast, we didn’t need even need to mention our son’s disability.
Check-in took less than 10 minutes from start to finish, which was surprising if you consider the fact that there were over four thousand of passengers coming through.

Our Cabin

We liked the innovative closet design along with the ‘virtual balcony concept that gave us a sense of the ship’s geographical location at all times, but we were somewhat disappointed with the cabin’s lack of sound-proofing.

Quantum of the Seas Cabin: HD Virtual Balcony View

Tips When On Quantum of the Seas:Ship's Aft Rockers

Muster drill

As customary with all vessels, the ship’s exercise started at 4 pm before sail away from New Jersey.
The ship had multiple areas designated as emergency assembly spots for passengers to sit and watch the informational movie. We appreciated the short presentation along with the reminder to wash hands and prevent the dreaded Norovirus!

Service

On our first night, We were slightly peeved to find out that our son’s sofa bed wasn’t set up by 11 pm when we were tired and ready to go to sleep.Moreover, the room attendant was rude when we tried to speak to him about it the following day.
But we’re thrilled to report that RCCL Customer Service bounced back in a big way.After we complained to Guest Services, Carol, the deck housekeeping supervisor, assigned a new attendant and sent an apology note with a complimentary wine bottle to our cabin.

Though the lines for Guest Relations were somewhat long (most complaints we heard were about the new restaurant booking system and the wristbands) we did find the staff courteous and helpful.

Tips When On Quantum of the Seas:Jeffrey With Stoick

Tips When On Quantum of the Seas:Kids ClubDining

In the old system, passengers were assigned specific dining times, servers and tables for the duration of the entire cruise. The fun part about that was the relationships travelers got to develop with the servers and fellow diners. The downside was that if one didn’t like their fellow travelers or servers they had to ask the Maitre D’ to be moved to a different table, which was a hassle.

The new “Dynamic Dining’ concept the cruise line recently switched to, gives guests more flexibility.With this system, Guests can dine whenever, wherever and with whoever they chose every night. The upside is that passengers can try multiple food venues with different settings and servers.The downside is that each of these more intimate restaurants offers a fixed and relatively limited menu. And now, passengers need to remember to pre-book their restaurant choice ahead of time, dine at undesirable hours or wait in somewhat long lines for a table to open up.

Overall, we liked the new concept of the different venues and food diversity and thought that it was a good step in the right direction.
With that said, things can be improved in terms of food choices ( we would love to see sampler plates as part of the menus) and getting the current reservation system to work more smoothly.

Tips When On Quantum of the Seas:Chic Lobster

Tips When On Quantum of the Seas:Crab CakeThe Free Restaurant Options

The ship had ten complimentary restaurants that offered diverse dishes from different cuisines

  • Our favorite for breakfast and lunch was Cafe 270, next to the ships aft with freshly made to order paninis and salads.
  • Chic restaurant with its bistro-style food and American Icon with its southern grub reminded us of the typical dining room food on the older ships while Grande’s menu was a nod to the bygone formal cruise dinners.
  • Silk, the Asian venue was beautifully decorated and our favorite personal for its noodle selections
  • The International Cafe and Sorrento Pizza served their usual sandwiches, pastries, salads, and pizzas.We finally got around to trying Sorrento’s gluten free pizza, and I have to admit it was delicious
  • The Windjammer Buffet, another old time favorite, seemed to be modest in choices, but the bakery’s fresh cookies and muffins were a big hit with everyone.

Tips When On Quantum of the Seas:Jaime Oliver Cake

Tips When On Quantum of the Seas:Wonderland Dessert

 

The Quantum had several restaurants that offered meals with a fixed menu and price.

  • If you enjoy innovative food in an unusual funky setting, then Wonderland is the place to try. At 50 dollars per person, diners start with discovering the different elements of ice, fire, earth through their five senses.I won’t give away details, so I don’t spoil the surprise, but all the items we selected, completed each other wonderfully, and provided a memorable symphony to the senses.
  • Chops (30$ per person) is a staple steak house with consistently excellent quality food and service while Izumi is a good place to grab your sushi/sashimi fix when you crave a quick, tasty lunch.
  • Like everyone else we found the Devinly Decadence (20$ per person) concept of 500 calorie dishes tantalizing, so we tried it one evening.Our son voted the flatbread pizza choices a cruise favorite.
  • In Jaime Oliver’s Italian (25$ per person) restaurant, we found the appetizers and desserts more tempting than the main courses, so we geared our appetite accordingly.
  • Michael Swartz’s pub exceeded our expectations and managed to wow us with its charcuterie platter that complemented our selection of libations well.

Tips When On Quantum of the Seas:Wonderland Entrance

Tips When On Quantum of the Seas:Wonderland Decor

Attractions

Quantum of the Seas comes with an impressive array of activities guests can enjoy.The ship offers trapeze lessons; a skydiving simulator called I- fly, surfing lessons, rock climbing, and bumper cars as well as several pools and hot tubs.
Because of the stormy weather during our trip our son only tried out the indoor trapeze lesson, the I-fly simulator and bumper cars.
The weather also interfered with our original booking, and we ended up riding the North Star, an enclosed gondola, while sailing at sea with only waves to watch, instead of near on of the ports where the views would have been more spectacular.
Noteworthy was the glass swing in the aft theater that our son discovered and sat on for hours along with the comfy rocking chairs nearby.

Entertainment

We thought the Mama Mia production was a worthy addition to the ship lineup but ended up too tired from the day trips to see the other two productions.
For kids, the Quantum offered, the not-to -be-missed DreamWorks parades along with character breakfasts and photo apps.

Decor and Art

Quantum of the Seas is one of the more interesting ships to walk around and to admire the artwork as well as ride every elevator to take  ‘selfies’ with the quirky pictures displayed inside.
Not to be missed is the Bionic Bar that all passengers get to gawk at and watch robots mix and serve drinks.

TIPS When On Quantum of the Seas:Seating Area

TIPS When On Quantum of the Seas:Art

Autism Travel Tips

  • Royal Caribbean is very Autism Friendly and not only provides a particular department (like other cruise and airlines) designated to special needs accommodations but is in the process of training its staff to understand and help passengers with autism better.
  • Contact the access desk after booking your trip make sure to notify the cruise line of your kid’s individual needs and any accommodations he/she needs
  • Pre-book your itinerary your show times and paid restaurants online to help you plan better
  • After boarding the ship, head on to guest relations and remind them you are traveling with a special needs child
  • Ask to meet with the activities coordinator and kid’s’ club director to relay your child’s needs.
  • Ask for help in disembarkation! If your flight is later in the day ask permission to stay in the room until 9:30 AM when most crowds have left, and your kid won’t need to brave any crowds.

Tips When On Quantum of the Seas:Restraunt Theatre

Tips When On Quantum of the Seas:Restaurant Show

For Shows

  • Ask for pre-seating for shows! Similar to pre-boarding you can request permission to get into the show halls ten minutes before the other members of the audience to get your kid settled down.
  • Try to sit as close to an exit as possible in case your kid wishes to leave in the middle of the show.
  • If that’s not a possibility, then you can ask for seats next to in the hall’s disability seating area (close to the main entrance)  and see if that is available.
  • Remember to bring a set of noise canceling headphones to lessen the sound if your child is noise sensitive.

For Dining

  • Ask to meet with the ship chefs if there are known food allergies.
  • Go in person every night, pre-book the restaurant you wish to dine the next day and ask the Maitre D’  for a quietest table possible way from loudspeakers, music, bars and the kitchen.
  • Always try to book a table at the time they first open for dinner, so your child doesn’t have to wait in any line
  • Ask to get a copy of the menu so your kid can decide ahead of time what he /she wants to order.

For Activities

  • The I-Fly is not recommended for noise sensitive children as it is incredibly noisy.In fact, the staff makes travelers wear ear plugs and goggles for protection.
  • For Rock Climbing and I-Fly require passengers to wear special shoes that are provided free of charge.,make sure your kid wears socks
  • You should prepare your kid in advance to the idea of wearing the ship wristband.
    Passengers open the cabin door and can pay charges onboard with it
  • Bring a piece of a stick -on velcro to substitute for the buckle and help them put it on and take it off quickly.

Tips When On Quantum of the Seas:Glass Swing

Tips When On Quantum of the Seas:Rock Climbing

 

Family Fun Cruising Aboard Freedom of the Seas

Family Fun Cruising Aboard Freedom of the Seas pin

This ship owned and operated by the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line is the namesake of the cruise line’s Freedom-class. Capable of carrying over five thousand passengers and crew members the ship mostly travels to ports in the Caribbean and the Bahamas.

 

Family Fun Cruising Aboard Freedom of the Seas ship

What Makes it Family Worthy?

Filled with family-friendly activities this ship is sure to entertain its passengers. Moreover, the vessel boasts quad cabins and connecting rooms that accommodate large families.

Family Fun Cruising Aboard Freedom of the Seas promenade

Fellow Travelers

This cruise line is incredibly popular with families, but active retirees and couples may also find this ship appealing too.Family Fun Cruising Aboard Freedom of the Seas sampling

Decor

This vessel like its sister ships is decorated in dark hues of browns, greens, and touches of gold. The main thoroughfare its Royal Promenade boasted plenty of natural light from its skylight ceiling windows.

Despite the ship’s size the ship has a spacious atmosphere even when filled.We enjoyed the bright neon lighting deployed at night time throughout the outdoor decks and promenade that gave the ship an upbeat Times-Square-like vibe.

 

Family Fun Cruising Aboard Freedom of the Seas lamp

Our promenade facing cabins were outfitted with tasteful artwork,  glass-topped coffee tables, and solid green couches. Light colored wood trims enhanced the bedroom area. Our bathroom floors were done up in colorful blue and green tile, while the rest of the room displayed neutral colors.
Family Fun Cruising Aboard Freedom of the Seas show

Amenities

With so many activities to choose from at the different times of day, vacationers need to scrutinize their daily planner carefully, so they don’t miss anything! Our son with autism was obsessed with reading the pamphlets the night before so he could schedule his day.

 

Family Fun Cruising Aboard Freedom of the Seas planner

 

For the outdoor fans, the ship has pools, court .a simulated FlowRider, a skating rink, a mini golf range, a rock climbing wall and a basketball court.Those wishing to exercise indoors can do so in a spacious gym.

Guests who enjoy taking classes can learn to scuba, surf or decorate cupcakes.The classes are somewhat pricey, but our son was so fascinated with them he agreed to pay for them from his allowance.

 

Family Fun Cruising Aboard Freedom of the Seas cake

Apart from the obligatory Kids’ Clubs, the ship features Dreamworks experiences like special shows, Parades, Meet and Greet sessions and even Character Breakfasts. Our kids attended the daily movie screenings in the ship’s newly minted 3D theater.
Adults may instead want to check out the casino. Although admission is free of charge, reservations are encouraged for those that want to attend the highly popular ice show that takes place on a regular basis

Family Fun Cruising Aboard Freedom of the Seas pool

When it comes to dining options, the Freedom of  Seas offers many options aimed to please passengers of all ages.
Except for the main dining rooms with their singing waiters and Windjammer Buffet the ship has a Johnny Rockets burger joint, a Ben and Jerry ice cream parlor and Chops, a specialty steak house.

Family Fun Cruising Aboard Freedom of the Seas theater

In the late afternoon and evening, this ship breams with entertainment options for its guests. From well-choreographed ice skating shows, Broadway reviews to promenade parades there’s never a dull moment onboard.Our kids loved the 70’s disco party that featured the well- loved era hits and dances.

 

Family Fun Cruising Aboard Freedom of the Seas cupcake

Our connecting cabins

We stayed in the connecting cabins 8279 and 8281 on deck eight.
What was wonderful about it was these cabins provided us with changing views (of the promenade and are safer than balcony cabins when traveling with a kid with autism.

5981750253_0a82e90180_oThe only minor inconvenience with connecting rooms is the fact the cruise line locks the connecting door on boarding day, and it takes a few hours till the cabin steward arrives with the keys to unlock it.

Family Fun Cruising Aboard Freedom of the Seas beds

Both cabins had an extremely large flat screen television sets that sat atop large cabinets. A closet with ample shelving was likewise included in each room which was useful to store our belongings. The desk area contained all the usual accouterments and had several outlets for charging electronic devices.

Family Fun Cruising Aboard Freedom of the Seas bag

Our sons were pleasantly surprised when the teen club staff sent welcome gifts up to our cabins and added a personal invitation for both boys to come and check the club out.

Family Fun Cruising Aboard Freedom of the Seas sink

Our bathrooms

The bathroom areas were well laid out and l lit. I particularly liked the shower sliding door because it provided some privacy for those taking a shower. The shower pod also featured some racks to place soap and other bath products.Bright florescent lighting and a wide sink area complemented the décor.

Family Fun Cruising Aboard Freedom of the Seas breakfast

Autism Travel Tips

  • The process of boarding the ship was a breeze after I had called Royal Caribbean’s special needs dept and requested accommodations.We were cleared with passports checked and luggage scanned in less than fifteen minutes.The terminal RCCL uses in Port Everglades is large, but it was still quite crowded at 2 pm when we arrived.
  • One of the first things we do after boarding is to grab lunch before the muster drill as all food areas close for the muster drill.
  • Next, we hurry the activity centers to register for the different activities since the popular ones fill fast.
  • Passengers wishing to try out the specialty restaurants onboard should do so on boarding day when it is less crowded, and no one insists on any dress code.

    The staff on this ship wowed us. We were warmly greeted by our cabin steward who wanted to ask us what we needed as soon as we arrived. We also found the staff at the various dining , entertainment and activities venues mindful and offering their help throughout the trip. Furthermore we wanted to extend a heart felt thank you to the ship’s captain who took time to chat with our son and sign his ship model and Celine in Guest Relations.

 

 

 

 

Family Cruise aboard Allure of the Seas

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Owned by Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines,  Allure of the Seas is an Oasis-class cruise ship commissioned and built in Finland.After cruising her sister ship  Oasis of the Seas that offered family friendly amenities we decided to spend a Thanksgiving vacation onboard.


Family Cruise aboard Allure of the Seas glass

What Makes It Family Worthy?

Traveling on cruise ships is an affordable and stress-free way to plan a family vacation. With the vast selection of activities available onboard the ship’s various neighborhoods, travelers are sure to stay entertained throughout the entire voyage.
Family Cruise aboard Allure of the Seas park

Fellow Travelers

This ship mainly hosts families, but younger to middle-aged couples are also well represented.

Family Cruise aboard Allure of the Seas rock

Amenities

From the Windjammer Buffet, Johnny Rockets and Sorrento to specialty restaurants Chops, Izumi, Samba and 150 Central Park the dining possibilities onboard are close to endless. So, we felt we just had to try all the different venues and compare them. By far, our favorites were 150 Central Park (our kids still remember the salts) and Rita’s Cantina for the ambiance.

 

Family Cruise aboard Allure of the Seas peep

The activities on this ship are a vacationer’s dream. Both our sons couldn’t get enough of the FlowRider, ziplining, rock climbing and yes, that wooden carousel.
A second best were the cupcake classes which were a bit pricey at 224 a person and a daily stroll through the Britto store.
Moreover, we found the afternoon and nightly shows fun; the highlight was attending a performance of the musical Chicago.

Family Cruise aboard Allure of the Seas cupcakes
And if all these activities were not enough, the Dreamworks character breakfast and parades totally charmed our son with autism.
In fact, he sought out all the Dreamworks activities on the daily planner and made sure he didn’t miss any of them!

Family Cruise aboard Allure of the Seas pool

Décor

Brightly hued, modern décor can be found throughout the Allure. The corridor we stayed on was decorated in yellow and had varicolored carpeting on the floors.

Our cabins were done up in shades of blue and turquoise.  The blue and yellow accents in our bathrooms did much to help enliven what typically are the blandest spaces in most cruise ship accommodations.

Family Cruise aboard Allure of the Seas carousel

Our adjoining cabins

We stayed in connecting cabins 151 and 153 on deck ten. As is the case with most cruise ships, the safety practices for the vessel were prominently displayed on the back of the doors. There was a master light switch near both entryways which made it easy to turn the lights on and off as we either came into the room or departed from it.
Family Cruise aboard Allure of the Seas golf

Our beds had plentiful pillows and the usual white bedding, but the included blue throws which added a note of color. There were two small wooden nightstands at either side of the beds and round mirrors above the sitting areas. Both closets included the usual amenities, such as built-in wooden hangers, and a cabinet that also housed the in-room safe.
Family Cruise aboard Allure of the Seas flowrider

The sitting areas had large couches, coffee tables, and waste baskets. Directly across from the spaces, there were work desks and chairs. On top of each desk were a small clock and a large flat screen television with a storage rack above.
Underneath each desk was a well-stocked mini fridge. Travelers who wanted to use the fridge for their purposes, like storing leftovers or medicines, needed to ask the staff to remove the mini bar contents first to avoid additional charges.
Family Cruise aboard Allure of the Seas cabin Furthermore, both cabins had some readily available outlets that made charging our electronics a breeze.
There was also a full-length mirror in each room just outside the bathroom so that we could check our outfits before leaving the cabin.

Family Cruise aboard Allure of the Seas cooler

The Bathroom

Our bathrooms contained a sizeable shower pod with a frosted enclosure door that slid closed. The shower area featured a shampoo dispenser, a shelf for the soap, and hooks to hang up towels or swimsuits.  There was a large drain in the shower as well as another underneath the toilet that served to remove excess water and keep the bathroom floor dry.

Family Cruise aboard Allure of the Seas hottub

For furniture, the bathroom  boasted  a large, open wooden cabinet capable of holding our personal supplies. Additional hooks for holding towels and wet clothes were present on both the bathroom wall and door. Family Cruise aboard Allure of the Seas diningOverall the bathroom layout was suitable though  I felt the bathroom could have used an additional lighting fixture in the shower area. Also, wider counters and extra shelving would have helped improve the bathrooms functionality.

Family Cruise aboard Allure of the Seas zipline

Autism Travel Tips

  • Travelers can use the showerhead as a handheld device if that proves necessary.
  • Those who require bath mats for additional traction will need to bring their own
  • Royal Caribbean is known for accommodating passengers with autism and other special needs. Therefore, we called ahead of time to let the cruise line know what our son needed and were not disappointed.
  • We found the ship’s staff accommodating and helpful at all the venues. So we take the opportunity to mention to the cupcake class instructor who sat with our son and helped him get that puppy look that he was trying hard to create with the cream.

Family Cruising Aboard Mariner of the Sea

family-cruising

 

 

Mariner of the Seas operates under the Royal Caribbean banner and is one of the five Voyager vessels owned by the company. Revamped back in 2012, the ship now offers, even more, family friendly cruising opportunities.

What Makes it Family Worthy?

In general, cruises are ideal for fuss-free family vacations since travelers get to pack and unpack only once while traveling. Moreover, there  are many activities for everyone on such voyages, so boredom is unlikely to strike

Family Friendly Cruising Aboard Mariner of the Sea promenade

Fellow Travelers

Families are the leading group of travelers found on board this ship, but a good amount of retirees and couples travel on this vessel as well.

Family Friendly Cruising Aboard Mariner of the Sea symbol

Amenities

We got to cruise this splendid ship twice. Both our trips were to the Mexican Riviera, and we were not disappointed.
Though, gambling may be a favorite activity for some, there are many other shipboard pastimes that travelers can enjoy.

Rock climbing, ice skating, swimming, exercising, and shopping are all a fun way to spend the hours in between shore excursions. The ship offered a variety of shows and activities the most popular of which was by far the ice skating show.
Family Friendly Cruising Aboard Mariner of the Sea display

 

Our kids found the dishes served on the Mariner are quite tasty, especially the entrees served in the three leveled main dining room. The service was also outstanding. Indeed, many of the staff members go above and beyond to ensure that their customers have a pleasant voyage.A word of caution to parents of noise sensitive kids- there are at least two nights in the dining room that the staff sing for the guests which can be quite noisy.

Also,  we enjoyed dining at a specialty dining venue –Portofino which featured excellent Italian cuisine.

Family Friendly Cruising Aboard Mariner of the Sea dish

When out of our cabins our family spent most of the time on the twelfth and eleventh decks. The eleventh had the solarium which was an adults only zone while the twelfth had the sports activities, kids clubs, and a Johnny Rockets burger joint.
The Royal Promenade was a second favorite. With its shopping venues, pizza parlor, sandwich, and ice cream spots as well as parties and parades there was not a dull moment there.

Family Friendly Cruising Aboard Mariner of the Sea jrockets

Our connecting cabins

We stayed in connecting cabins 7595 and 7597 on the Promenade Deck.Our promenade facing cabins rooms had green carpeting with a fern leaf pattern on the floor and striped curtains. Many of the items in the suites were constructed from pale colored wood. However, the couches matched the carpeting and the linens on the beds were white. The bathroom in our suite had multicolored tile flooring as well as colorful accents throughout.

Family Friendly Cruising Aboard Mariner of the Sea jeff

Our beds had comfortable sheets and plentiful pillows on them. The window in the suite overlooked the area where the night parades took place, which gave us an excellent vantage point and helped us avoid the crowds. Our rooms also contained a sizeable closet that had plenty of shelves and built in wooden hangers. It also housed the in-room safe.

More shelving units were found above the older style television. The television sat on a large, thin cabinet that was capable of holding even more of our belongings. A large mirror was placed above the typical desk area so that it could also serve as a vanity. A small, well-stocked fridge was included in the rooms, but the items found within cost extra, as is typical of the goodies found in most mini bars.

Family Friendly Cruising Aboard Mariner of the Sea climb

Our Bathrooms

The bathrooms were located close to the entrance doors. We found these facilities to be both spacious and well thought out. The shower pods in our cabins had a raised up section at its base so that the water did not splash out all over the floor.

There was a safety bar in the shower area, and the shower head could be used as a handheld device if necessary. Most of the towels that were provided were on a shelf that was high above the toilet, but there were also two additional towel racks at lower heights.

Extra toilet paper was readily available in the bathrooms, but it was somewhat thinner in texture than we would have preferred. The shelves under the sink had both a trash bin and a tissue dispenser. Cups for toothbrushes were also included near the large mirror.

 

Family Friendly Cruising Aboard Mariner of the Sea pool

Autism Travel Tips.

For walking around the ship, flip flops with a non-slip sole are highly recommended.
Parents should try to book entertainment shows tickets ahead of time to avoid disappointment.
They should let the ship staff know if their kids need accommodations ahead of time.l
Parents should consider booking promenade facing rooms for kids that are noise sensitive.  These rooms block out the noise but still lets kids watch the nightly parades.
Since nonslip mats are not provided, families should pack their own for the bathrooms.

 

Thanksgiving Extravaganza Dining at 150 Central Park

 

Thanksgiving Extravaganza Dining at 150 Central Park pin

One of the highlights of our Cruise aboard ‘Allure of the Seas‘ was attending the Thanksgiving dinner at the ship’s elegant  150 Central Park.This specialty restaurant is located mid-ship on Deck 8 and is the centerpiece of the Allure of the Seas Central Park neighborhood.

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The restaurant

150 Central Park is decorated in lovely muted neutral tones which create both an intimate and elegant dining experience for passengers. It is open daily for dinner and features two rotating, six courses, seasonal menus designed by Chef Molly Brandt. Chef Brandt is the esteemed winner of the Allure of the Seas Culinary Challenge.

Her specialty is blending textures and spices from around the world. Like other specialty dining venues on cruises ships, there is a surcharge to experience this high-end dining experience. Reservations are strongly recommended, particularly during holiday cruises or if you would prefer to dine at an earlier seating.

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Though a Prix-fix menu at $45 per person surcharge was a bit pricey, we decided to splurge since we were celebrating Thanksgiving. A lovely offering of favorite American staples with innovative twists provided us and fellow diners with a chance to sample new and exciting blends of textures and tastes .
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The decor

The venue’s décor was a modern spin on old-fashioned elegance. Velvet and plush carpeting in hues of green and gold provided a posh atmosphere for discerning diners.The oval tables with a light gold tablecloths were set in white bone china with a thick gold trim and topped off with the cruise line’s glass stemware.

 

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The menu was printed in gold lettering and was a great memento to take home.
From the minute we were seated for dinner, we were enchanted by the unique container of salts from around the world that accompanied the freshly baked rolls. There were six types of salts, and we loved them all except the red one from Hawaii that we thought smelled a bit like rotten eggs.

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Our server explained each dish to us at length and recommended a choice of several wines with dinner. The assortment of wines was not included in the price of dinner.

The food selection

Our dinner choices included the Chile-spiked crab salad, smoked mayonnaise, pickled chorizo, crispy capers, celery caviar, olive oil tuile as well as the Camembert and Lager Soup which we found to be a bit salty. The Camembert Soup garnished with spiced caramel popcorn with cayenne pepper, crisp bacon, and arugula might be a problem for vegetarians.

Thanksgiving Extravaganza Dining at 150 Central Park salts

 

The warm appetizers consisted of Cornbread gnocchi with brown butter, butternut scotch squash, wilted mustard greens, hazelnuts, and hen of the woods mushrooms. Olive oil poached sea bass with sumac-pistachio crust, cauliflower thyme couscous, and pomegranate molasses gastrique which was very subtle were also enjoyed specialties.

 

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As the main course, one could choose from either apple cider marinated veal tenderloin-buttermilk spaetzle, brussels sprout slaw, ginger beer glazed apple and root vegetables, violet mustard veal jus or roasted Harris Ranch beef tenderloin seared broccoli florets with steak sauce spiked cherry tomatoes, onion tempura, and Caesar sauce hollandaise sauce.

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Desserts

Dessert was a bit of a disappointment for all of us except our son who happens to love pudding of any sort.
There was a sticky toffee pudding with star anise creme fraiche ice cream, and cinnamon cotton candy. Completing the excellent meal was a plate of Cheeses along with specialty coffees.

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Our favorites

We had two dishes that we found outstanding. The veal was excellently prepared in its jus and the sumac poached sea pass with a very subtle hint of tartness was tasty.

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Overall, dining at 150 Central Park made for a memorable Thanksgiving experience involving all the senses. We enjoyed the attentive service, upscale atmosphere, and the innovative seasonal cuisine the restaurant is so famous for offering.

Autism Travel Tips

The restaurant is an elegant fine dining venue for teens and adults only. Parents should only bring kids that can sit quietly through a  long dining experienc .

The venue did require casual-formal dressing but accepted our son in a polo shirt and slacks.

 

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