SO... here is my plug for Carnival Cruise Lines: I LOVE Carnival.I love Carnival so much that I hope to work for them once I get my crazy crew grown and off on their own adult paths. If you are a mom and you have never been on a cruise, I would highly recommend that you consider one for your next vacation. It is the ONLY, and I mean ONLY, way that I am able to actually rest while on vacation.
While cruising I do not have to cook for anyone.
I do not have to clean up after anyone.
I do not have to entertain anyone.
I do not have to think about kids' nutrition, exercising their bodies and brains, getting them to make their bed, or even how I'm going to logistically get everyone where they need to go and all at the same time.
Did I mention that I love cruising with Carnival?
Our cruise director on the Breeze this year was Matt Mitcham...a HUGE shout out to him because he made our week wonderful with his warm personality, funny, quick wit and constant patience for my daughter, Paige, who was completely gaga over him. (she asked...What's your favorite color Matt? Lol) Her shining moment was getting to dance on stage with him at the Gold Members VIP party and the enormous smiles on her and Maggie's faces were priceless when he introduced them as the "future of Carnival Cruiselines". Carnival has created lifelong cruisers in my kiddos for sure and all because they do an excellent job of providing a vacation experience. From their first class entertainment to the amazing dining room menu choices that are out of this world, (FYI- their "warm chocolate melting cake" has converted every chocolate hater I know into a chocolate lover!) Carnival has their finger on the button of the perfect family vacation. It only got better that we had the best waiter I have ever had in my whole 38 years, Jonathan. Not only did he remember our names and dining preferences, he did fun table tricks and riddles for our family every single night and we all just fell in love with him. Maggie, age 10, walked into the dining room every night and requested him and boldly refused to eat unless we got seated at one of his tables.
We moved up this year to the 9th deck to be close to all of the fun and to not have to be on the stairs so much (definitely worth spending a little bit of extra money to be higher up on the ship). The teenagers always enjoy Club O2 and Circle C, but this year Maggie struggled a little with Camp Carnival, which she had always loved in the past. I think that 9 to 11 year old age group is difficult to keep entertained as they don't want to be with the "little kids", but they still aren't ready for the freedom that comes with the older groups. But she still made friends and never got tired of the scavenger hunts, ropes course and sports court.
I love that my son Brady (15 years old) came away again this year with more friends and twitter followers (or whatever the teens are using for social networking these days). Tell-tale of his love of cruising is that he still keeps up with kids he met on our first cruise 5 years ago and from all over the world!. That kid will do great things one day with his ability to remember people and juggle hundreds of friends and contacts at once! Our room steward, Oakley, deserves a huge kudos as he put up with all 7 of us with a smile on his face daily. He renamed our 17 year old, Tylar, "sleepy" because he seemed to have his days and nights mixed up, and just slept all day pretty much. Oakley worked around him anyway and even accepted a proposal from Becky (our family friend who joined us) during our adult scavenger hunt!
Last, but not least, I must mention Chili. He was one of the entertainment staff who ran most of the trivia (which Reggie and I soaked up this year--brought home 2 ships on a stick and 2 Carnival medals to prove it!). Chili was an interesting character, the kind whom you can tell has tons of stories to share and you just want to listen to them, even if he was a bit hard to understand...but after the 1st day my brain figured out his accent and he just cracked me up constantly.
The Breeze was our families' 5th cruise and the best by far. I even teared up at the farewell song from the dining room waitstaff on the last night. For the first time on a vacation...I felt like I was leaving family behind...it may have only been 8 days, but each of these people touched my family and I truly hope I see them again on our next Carnival Cruise! And just maybe I will be able to give back and be a part of the Carnival family myself!