Washington DC Museums

We stayed at my aunt and uncles house in Alexandria VA. I recommend staying out of Washington DC and using the mass transit or drive into the city. We were dropped off at the Air and Space Museum, …

Source: Washington DC Museums

Washington DC Monuments

I highly recommend Private Tours of Washington. We emailed a list of sights that we wanted to see and they gave us an itinerary that we agreed on. We met Larry our tour guide and our driver, hopped…

Source: Washington DC Monuments

Puerto Penasco (Rocky Point) Mexico

If you are close enough to drive to a beautiful Mexico vacation, then you need to do it! We went in October during the kids fall break. We drove 4 1/2 hours from Tucson to Puerto Penasco, Mexico(everyone calls it Rocky Point because it has a rocky pointed shore line.) We crossed the border and immediately stopped for the best carne asada tacos at a roadside food truck. I think its funny that food trucks are so popular in America, they have been around Mexico for years!

When we arrived at our resort the Sonoran Sea, on Sandy Beach we were engulfed by the fresh beach breezes! I rented a one bedroom condo on the bottom floor of the resort. It was a little more than I should have paid but I really wanted the bottom floor. I thought it would be easier to walk back and forth to the beach and the room to get food and drinks. Next time I will save my money and book with VRBO.com. 12079256_10207384627076780_2037072110581227459_n (1)

Before we were unpacked the kids were in the pool swimming! It was a long drive and they needed to work off some energy, and I enjoyed a margarita at the pool while they swam. It was very relaxing! We decided to eat at the resort restaurant the first night, I really didn’t want to drag the kids back into the car and drive through town looking for parking. The restaurant was good, but the service was slow, it may have been faster to drive to a restaurant in town!

We spent our days on the beach, in the ocean, in the pool and lounging by the pool. I had a 30 minute massage on the beach that was to die for. The boys went on a banana boat in the ocean and were proud they were able to stay on! My husband rented a wave runner and enjoyed jumping the waves and trying to throw the boys into the ocean, again not successful. The rest of the time the boys played in the water, dug in the sand and played in the pool. It was heaven.

The last night in Rocky Point our group ventured down town to the fish market. We went to a restaurant and asked for a table for 24 people. I was shocked they were able to accommodate us and so quickly! The food and drinks were amazing and the service was fast and friendly! We had a wonderful time at dinner then walked through the town. We found a Thrifty Ice Cream that could fit all of us and it was delicious.

Our trip to Rocky Point was amazing. Everyone had a great time and no one got sick! It was a success! We will be returning soon.

Happy travels!

Sunrise Park Resort, Greer Arizona

Yes, there is snow in Arizona! There are two ski resorts Sunrise Park Resort http://www.sunriseskiparkaz.com in Greer and Arizona Snowbowl http://www.arizonasnowbowl.com in Flagstaff. They are both 2 hours from Phoenix and 4 hours from Tucson.

I did a little research at http://www.wanderbat.com . I found that Snowbowl has 40 trails and 777 ski-able acres. Sunrise has 65 trails and 800 ski-able acres and its the 80th largest in the United States.  I think they both have about the same number of beginner and intermediate trails. The only exception is Sunrise has advanced trails and Snowbowl doesn’t. Snowbowl has expert trails but Sunrise doesn’t. If your a snowboarder looking to practice your stunts Sunrise has 2 terrain parks and Snowbowl has 3.

I have only skied at Sunrise so I can’t give you a skier comparison. I taught both of my boys to ski at Sunrise and my younger son learned to snowboard there. We enjoy the park as a family and try to enjoy 2 ski trips a year together.

There is a small sledding hill at Sunrise but it is not maintained by the park. Be careful, there is a lake at the bottom and sometimes the snow will melt and the sledders can fall in. That really ruins a sledding afternoon.

We did learn from experience that if you purchase ski lift passes you don’t get your money back if there is a blizzard and they cant plow the slopes enough to ski down them. It sounds funny to say that our ski trip was ruined by a blizzard, in Arizona! We went sledding instead. The next day the sun was out, slopes were plowed and it was a beautiful day for skiing.

There is nothing better than enjoying a drink with a friend after a long day of skiing.

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Some tricks to skiing with kids, please make them wear helmets! If you  start them early with a helmet they wont fight you later. Both of my boys carry a Camelback with water and snacks in the pockets. They can drink and eat on the lift and you don’t have to worry about them falling off to grab a water bottle. I bring a cooler full of food for lunch, that way we all eat what we want and don’t spend a fortune at the snack bar. My husband has always carried a backpack and I love having everything I need with me. The conditions on the slopes can change and its nice to take off your beanie and stuff it in your backpack and put on a hat with a visor. Most important things in my backpack are my phone, sunscreen, hat, extra gloves, chap stick, water, snacks, and walking boots. I hate walking in my ski boots.

Here is a GoPro Video from our last family ski trip to Sunrise Ski Resort!

Go Ski Arizona!

Los Cabo, Mexico

Every year my husband and I run away from home for a weekend. My mother in-law stays with our boys and we enjoy our time as a married couple, not mom and dad. My husband is gone a lot as an airline pilot and its important that we work on our marriage. This time we went to Los Cabo, Mexico and stayed 4 nights and five days at Barcelo Grand Faro Resort http://www.barcelo.com/barcelohotels/. We bought our hotel on groupon.com it was $299 for 4 nights all inclusive. I thought it was too good to be true.

We arrived in Cabo and rented a car. As we were getting into our car we were approached by a gentleman offering to pay for our rental car and a dinner cruise if we would visit his time share. His company would pick us up and take us to the time share and he said it would only be 4 hours. I asked him to add a snorkeling trip and we would consider it. He gave us a pass for rental car, dinner cruise and snorkeling trip. We agreed to meet him the next day.

When we arrived at our hotel they offered to give us the same deal, but we wouldn’t have to leave the grounds. Supposedly the other time share has a reputation of holding you longer than 4 hours. We accepted their offer. We knew we wouldn’t buy the time share but we would be interested in hearing about their resort.

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At breakfast the next morning we met with our tour guide and he asked us questions about our lives. Where we worked, what we like to do when we are not working and where we like to vacation. Then he showed us the beautiful rooms, the resort facilities, and how accommodating they are for families. He  sat us down and started talking numbers, we said “No thank you”  a million times. He left to get our tickets and the boss came and sat down with us. Then he tried to sell us the time share. I agree it is a fabulous deal, $3000 for 5 years of one week vacations anywhere we want to go. I would sign up in a minute! My husband is better at fiances than I am and he knows that the $500 a year maintenance fee will go up and we will be stuck. He said “No thank you” 4 million times and we finally left with our tickets in hand.

Only 4 hours later we were eating tacos, drinking a beer and sitting in the beautiful pool overlooking the ocean.

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That evening we enjoyed our dinner cruise.The dinner was delicious but the view at sunset was breathtaking!

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The next day we went snorkeling and had a great time. Unfortunately I didn’t have an underwater camera so I  don’t have any photos. Just close your eyes and pretend you are looking at fish underwater.

We enjoyed several meals at the hotel, and the views were spectacular.

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The last day my husband wanted to try zip lining. I’m afraid of heights but I decided to face my fears and do something that I would never forget.  He sold me on the zip line and tequila tasting. I thought I would try some tequila and zip line…..once. NO, it was 7 zip lines and 1 repel, and then a tiny little sip of tequila! We couldn’t even buy the whole bottle! I was very disappointed! I am glad that I did it and that I lived!

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He looks like he is having way too much fun! You could hear me screaming in the US!

We really enjoyed our stay at the Barcelo Grand Faro Resort in Los Cabo! Now we are thinking about visiting Cancun. I will stay at another time share again, it was a great deal and a very minimal amount of pain. Just be sure you and your spouse are on the same page before you enter.

Happy Travels!

Colorado

We flew to the  Denver Airport and went to Payless car rental, which was a huge mistake because we had horrible service! My husband has used priceline.com several times to book and pay for a rental car. He usually looks a day or two before our trip and enters the size of the car we want and makes a bid.You can accept their price or you can name your own price. He starts his price at 60% and slowly adds to his bid until it gets accepted. He gets really excited when he can get a rental car for $19 a day.This time he paid for a mid size car, but when we arrived they gave us a Kia Soul! We couldn’t fit 2 suitcases in the trunk! I refused to drive in the car, I’m not a car snob it was a safety concern! He eventually agreed with me and went back to get a larger car. We were all much happier and safer in a Chevy Cruise.

We drove to Breckenridge and we wanted to ride bikes along the bike paths, but it was cold and raining. So we settled for lunch, shopping and a ride the gondola.

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I love Breckenridge! My snowboarder and skier felt right at home.

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I didn’t enjoy the gondola! I have a fear of heights and when it came to an abrupt halt and started swinging, I lost it! I was laying on the bench sucking my thumb, in the fetal position, and crying. My family was not sure what to do. When we got to the half way point we all jumped out. We could walk back in the rain but we didn’t know how far the walk was, it could be 1 mile it could be 5 miles. Or we could get back on the gondola and ride it down. Since it was raining and my husband wouldn’t let me walk back by myself I didn’t want to put my family through a long walk. I pulled up my big girl pants and got back on the gondola. My poor husband held my hand and I was so happy when it was over.

North Fork Ranch-  www.northforkranch.com
Located in Shawnee, Colorado (1 hour from Denver) North Fork is a working dude ranch! With so many fun activities, they have something for everyone. Horseback riding, guided fishing, hiking, archery, cowboy sing alongs, line dancing and even massages! We loved the family meals, games and line dancing!
It is a little expensive, but worth the experience!

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Browns Canyon Adventure Park-  http://brownscanyonadventurepark.com/

My boys enjoyed 2 1/2 hours of ropes, zip lines, and a 35 foot swing set! I chose to keep my feet on the ground and take pictures.

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Performance Tours Whitewater Rafting-  http://www.performancetours.com/

I found Performance tours on http://www.tripadvisor.com/  and it was a  great deal. We rented the wet suit, jacket and booties  all for $5! Most places it’s $20 rental per item! We had a very experienced guide and everyone had a blast. When you book your tour make sure the water level is high enough. My husband and I went last year in September and the water level was dangerously low. The raft in front of us tipped over! I didn’t want that to happen to us, so I asked specifically about the level of the water and the minimum age for children. We had a very successful trip and it was a lot easier this time.
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I did purchase some of the pictures, I’m not that talented. I don’t usually purchase the overprice pictures but I really wanted to have great memories.

I love Colorado and I’m sure we will be back again soon!

Happy Trails!

Washington DC Monuments

I highly recommend Private Tours of Washington. We emailed a list of sights that we wanted to see and they gave us an itinerary that we agreed on. We met Larry our tour guide and our driver, hopped in the Black Suburban and we were treated like celebrities the rest of the day. Larry was extremely knowledgeable about Washington DC history, sights, and presidents. I think he could be a History professor. When we arrived at STOP locations Larry joined us while the driver circled and kept the AC running. Larry accompanied us to the sights and took pictures of our family, it was like having a professional photographer on vacation with us.

Bill Thomas

Private Tours of Washington

(202) 505-1035

www.PrivateToursofWashington.com

TIME:  10 AM-4PM

LENGTH:  6 hours

GUIDE:  Larry Clark

VEHICLE:   Black SUV
10:00 AM         Meet outside the Hay-Adams Hotel

DRIVE BY — Embassy Row and National Cathedral

STOP— Georgetown (historic homes and Georgetown University)

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STOP- Arlington cemetery and the changing of the guard

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STOP  – U.S. Air Force Memorial

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DRIVE BY– Pentagon and 9/11 Memorial

STOP – Lunch (Pentagon City Mall)

DRIVE BY – The Washington Monument and the National Mall

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DRIVE BY – The Holocaust Museum and Bureau of Engraving and Printing where U.S. currency is manufactured

DRIVE BY – Jefferson Memorial

STOP – Martin Luther King Memorial

STOP – U.S. Marine Corps (Iwo Jima) Memorial

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STOP – Lincoln Memorial

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STOP – Vietnam Veterans Memorial

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STOP – Korean War Memorial

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STOP – East Front of the Capitol Building, the Supreme Court and Library of Congress

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STOP  – West Front of the Capitol Building, site of presidential inaugurations

STOP – The White House and Lafayette

photo 2 (7)We were exhausted by the end of the day! It was 95 degrees outside and 98% humidity! There is no way we could have seen all of these sights on our own! We all learned so much from Larry. It was a history lesson and a tour all in one.

I gave the boys each an old digital camera and told them it was a contest to see who could take the best pictures. It took me almost an hour to delete ears, noses, and bad selfies but they actually got some great shots! I was very impressed! This was the best day of sight seeing we have ever had!

Happy Touring!

Washington DC Museums

We stayed at my aunt and uncles house in Alexandria VA. I recommend staying out of Washington DC and using the mass transit or drive into the city. We were dropped off at the Air and Space Museum, but you could use the train or the Spot Hero  www.spothero.com to find parking.

The National Air and Space Museum was really fun for my boys. My husband loved the planes and space shuttle exhibits. My boys loved the flight simulator, we sat 10 feet away and watched the machine turn them upside down and we could hear them giggling the whole time.

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National Holocaust Memorial Museum Was very educational. I was fortunate to meet a Holocaust survivor years ago and this museum was very emotional for me. My children were engaged in David’s Story exhibit. They read the diary entries, could see his living conditions and listened to his voice tell his story with a slide show at the end.

Then we had a little fun with the Washington Monument.

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Smithsonian’s National Museum of History was like a walk back in time. From fire wagons, massive train  engines, to the invention of modern cars, everything was under one roof.

We went downstairs to the cafeteria and spent $60 on pizza slices, pulled pork sandwiches, and 2 sodas! I highly recommend eating outside at the food trucks. We were hot and wanted the cool air, big mistake! Since all of the museums are free admission they have to make money on food and gift shops.

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Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History was our last museum of the day and our favorite. If you have ever seen The Night at the Museum movie you will enjoy looking for your favorite characters from the movie. My boys loved the Dinosaurs IMAX 3D movie, I have to admit it was cool, dark, and comfortable so I fell asleep. I couldn’t help it. I was so tired.

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After the long day of walking and museum hopping I highly recommend wearing running shoes, light comfortable clothes, bring a water bottle, and dress your children in bright colors. It’s so easy to loose them in these large museums!

Happy Touring!

Walt Disney World

 
Before you go to Disney World make a budget! It’s easy to go overboard on Disney resorts and tickets, but if you are flexible you can have a wonderful vacation and not go broke! First find a hotel or resort close to Disney. If you get a rental car you can save hundreds of dollars by driving to the resorts. I didn’t want to spend $700 a night to stay at Disney and then have to eat all of our meals at the parks that would be hundreds of dollars more!

We found a great deal at The Villas at Summer Bay Resort. We had a villa with 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and full kitchen with washer and dryer for $350 for the WEEK!! Did I mention they had a water park? I went to the grocery store and loaded up on food for breakfast, snacks and dinners. It saved us a lot of money and we ate healthy.  http://www.hotels.com/ho202380/summer-bay-orlando-by-exploria-resorts-clermont-united-states

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Once you find a place to stay look for discounted tickets. We had a military discount since my husband was in the Air Force Reserves. If you are not staying at the Disney hotels don’t buy the park hopper tickets. It is a haul to get from one park to the other and I can guarantee you won’t use them! you can find discounted tickets at http://www.orlandoparkdeals.com/disney-attraction-tickets/disney-tickets-oneday or http://www.MyDisneyWorld.com .

Once you buy your tickets go to: http://www.Touringplans.com. It is worth it! Look up the days you want to go in the crowd tracker. They give you a number 1-10 on how crowded each park is for those days. We went to the water park Typhoon Lagoon on Monday because it was a holiday and crazy busy at the other parks.  We went to Magic Kingdom on Wednesday because it was the only day it was a 5/10.

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Then go to  https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/plan/  and create an account. Enter the numbers on your tickets and get your fast passes for the days you will be at each park. Do your research on heights and rides the kids will want to go on. Then go back to touring plans and enter your fast pass times. Then enter all of the rides you want to go on at each park. You can even pick restaurants to eat at and enter the time. The touring plan will give you a plan for the whole day and you can change it while you are there. It is so much easier to do the research at home on your computer than spending all day at the park in line. My family was so happy I did the work ahead of time. I had everything on my IPhone touring plans app. and I could access it and change it anytime I wanted. We didn’t stand in any line longer than 15 minutes. That was a huge success!

Get to the parks early!! We planned to park the car 15 minutes before Magic Kingdom opened but then we had to ride the tram just to get to the entrance. We were expecting to get there before it opened but we were late and had to stand in the sun forever.

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Packing for Disneyworld:
Backpack or backpack purse
Running shoes (cute flip flops will kill your feet!)
Water bottles- you can refill in the park
Propel packs- my kids will guzzle water if it has a little flavor
Snacks (apples, grapes, cuties and Lara bars)
Ponchos or rain jackets
Phone charger case
Sunscreen and sunglasses

Have a Great Trip!

Cruise to Cayman Island and Jamaica

Carnival Cruise Victory

Miami, Florida to Cayman Island and Jamaica 5 nights

$1900 for 4 people inside cabin, all food and cruise activities included! This does not include excursions (bought 5 days prior to cruise).

This time we were planning to take a cruise. We just didn’t know when or where. I was searching for cruises from Galveston Texas or anywhere in Florida. The kids just got out of school, I was done with work and  at the last minute my husband had a week free! All the stars were aligned and I was on a mission to vacation! I used http://www.vacationstogo.com,  www.cruises.com  and http://www.carnival.com. I finally found this cruise on http://www.cruises.com and I was very impressed with the service. No one else could find a room for 4 people on anything for that week. I learned a lesson, if you REALLY want a cruise on a specific date, book it early!

Monday  before you on the ship buy a case of water, six pack of your favorite soda or a bottle of wine and put it all in your checked bags so you don’t have to carry them around all day. I would rather spend my money on excursions than $5 soda or $8 drinks! As soon as you get on the ship you can go eat lunch.

Read my post about packing for a cruise for lots of helpful ways to save money on a cruise!

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Tuesday at sea

Don’t make the same mistake I did! I got up early and went to the gym,  I ran too far, did 2 million lunges, and squats with weights and then I was sore and in pain the next 3 days!  Just Don’t Do It!

We spent the rest of the day relaxing, it  looked like this: pool, lunch, golf, ice cream,  pool, nap, dinner.

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Wednesday Grand Cayman Islands

Snuba- its just like scuba diving but you have a hose connected to the raft with 30 minutes of air.  Fun for the whole family. The guide took us out to a spot and showed us where to go, he stayed with us the whole time. We dove down to a sunken ship, saw all kinds of fish including stingrays! My Olympus digital waterproof camera took some great pictures.

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Snuba Grand Cayman Island
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Snuba Grand Cayman Island
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Snuba Grand Cayman Island
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Snuba Grand Cayman
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Snuba Grand Cayman Island
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Snuba Grand Cayman Island
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Snuba Grand Cayman Island

Then we walked to Jimmy Buffet’s  Margaritaville! The kids loved the free water slide and dance music. They had free “rum punch” with out the rum, at the swim up bar. We enjoyed a margarita and a beer in the shade!

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Margaritaville Grand Cayman Island
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Margaritaville Grand Cayman Island

Thursday Ocho Rios Jamaica

River Tubing

A van picked us up at the ship port and drove us to the river. We enjoyed 3 hours of really relaxing tubing in a clear beautiful river. The guides were helpful and funny! Ours was really good to our kids and made sure they were taken care of and had fun! My son came home with a Jamaican accent!

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Ocho Rios Jamaica
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Ocho Rios Jamaica
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Ocho Rios Jamaica
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Ocho Rios Jamaica
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Ocho Rios Jamaica

The bus stopped at a shopping plaza right next to the ship port and gave us 30 minutes to shop. We went to Mama Marley’s and had amazing jerk chicken! I ordered the rum punch, and I think the bartender felt sorry for me because she really added half the bottle of rum! I highly recommend it! Fortunately when we got out of the van our ship was only 20 feet away, because I couldn’t walk 25 feet! That rum punch really had a punch to it!

Friday at sea 

Seaday brunch!  Find it, ask someone, it really is worth it!

We sat by the pool and enjoyed the music and the sun. My children begged me to go down the water slide and I gave in just to get the status as “fun mom”! Then my husband had to go and do the water slide twice to kick me out of my “fun” status!

I will forgive him because he dragged our dirty clothes to the laundry room. He washed, dried, and folded them in our room! All this while I layer in the sun reading a book, drinking a rum and Coke Zero, and “watching” our boys go down the water slide 4,000 times!

After dinner the boys were excited to have a dance party with their friends at the kids club. We went to a dive in movie with out them!

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Saturday get off the ship

Again we were sad to leave, but my husband enjoyed the seaday brunch so much that we got up early just to eat one last delicious breakfast. And it was worth it! We left with new memories, lots of photos and an extra pound or two from all the delicious food!

What my kids loved:

Water slide, golf, ping pong, ice cream and pizza anytime they wanted!

Circle C Club: Video games, dance parties, dodge ball, lip sync contests, and meeting new friends.

What my husband and I loved:

spending time with the kids having fun, no hassle vacation, delicious meals, entertainment on and off the ship, and a little alone time while the kids were at the Kids club!

Happy Sails!