My family and I just returned from a week long cruise on Norwegian Cruise Line’s Gem. We sailed down the eastern seaboard of the Atlantic for 7 whole days, stopping in ports in Florida and the Bahamas. I have to say, initially I was a bit skeptical about idea cruising as visions of the Titanic movie riddled my brain, but having witnessed so many cruise ships packed with cheering families leave the harbor from my living room window, I thought it would be a fun adventure for all of us.
Starting our vacation after a cab ride only a few blocks from our apartment was a refreshing alternative to the hours spent on security lines at airports, before lengthy flights with fussy children. On board, our family of 5 had plenty of space in two adjoining rooms, making ship life a bit more manageable considering most ship cabins are on the small side, compared to a regular hotel on land. Not to mention, it helped with Gemma’s naps.
Sure, there were plenty of memorable experiences while on board. Each port brought a new adventure, with beaches and activites that we had never experienced, and I feel that the kids grew up a little bit over the week, with the freedoms of pouring their own soft serve ice cream cones, and paying for juice with individual personalized key card. But one thing that I was completely intrigued with was the super hard working staff on the ship. They run a very “tight ship,: which is saying that now holds way more meaning with me. Each employee had their specific job assignments, from waiters, to porters, to the staff who stand in the doorways holding hand sanitizer for the guests to wash their hands.
I was surprised at the way some of the staff lit up when they saw Gemma wobbling down the corridors. What I soon learned was that the employees, from countries all over the world, are contracted the a ship for 8 to 10 months at a time. In that stretch, they work seven days a week, and then fly back homes for only about 2 months, prior to setting out on their next tour. There were plenty more stories of them leaving their three month old and coming home when they are over a year old. While telling their tails and holding my baby in their arms, it would sometimes bring tears to their eyes.
Ryder took a huge liking to steward, Owen, and he spent plenty of mornings and evenings chatting it up in the hallways and cabin. Each night we would come back from dinner, and we were greeted by fun animals and creatures made from towels, with chocolate mint garnishes. Ryder kept his chocolate stash the entire week, and some even made it into his bag to bring home.
By no means was the staff complaining about their jobs; they merely sharing just how much they missed their own children and families. They were all extemely grateful for their jobs, and they did everything possible to make my family feel comfortable. The extended time away from their families makes the 3 short weeks that Jason was away for seem like a cake walk.
I definitely can’t close without talking about our port destinations. Some of the highlights from the week came in the form of warm Caribbean air and turquoise waters of the Bahamas. In Freeport, we made our way to a beautiful beach called Paradise Cove Deadmans Reef, where we gathered lovely seashells, while snorkeling in the glass like water. The next day, I was super excited to visit Nassau, home of Atlantis, which has been on my bucket list for quite sometime. Even with lackluster weather, we still experienced the famed Dig and the Aquarium which blew the kids’ minds.
This trip was definitely an adventure. It was a nice break before heading into the hectic holiday season, and a treat to sneak in a few days of warmer weather, before we welcome 20 degrees in NYC. Jason and I really enjoyed spending the week with our kids, because watching them experience new things for the first time is something we live for.A huge THANK YOU to The Moms for inviting us on this trip and for Norwegian Cruise Line for hotel and accommodations.