Kruisin' with Kids: It happens to me anytime I go to the grocery store with the kids: at least two different people will stand and watch our little group for a couple of minutes. Then the person will catch my eye and ask, "Are they all yours?" "Yes, they're all mine." "Wow! You have your hands full!" It's always the same comment. The comments didn't vary a whole lot on the ship; however, most followed their comments up with, "How did you get them out of school?" I think we were the only homeschool family on the ship. I got some strange looks when I said we homeschool. For one couple, the conversation went like this: "How did you get them out of school?" "I homeschool so we set our own schedule." Person 1 says to his wife (as if I'm not there), "They homeschool?" The wife: "Yeah, you know--like Amanda." Then to me, "Amanda is a friend of ours. She homeschools, but I don't think she teaches them anything. Her 13-year-old doesn't even know how to read." I wanted to say, "Yeah, that's kind of the norm. We don't care if they learn anything; we just want them home so we can go on cruises whenever we want."
Anyway, it was really an enjoyable vacation, though I have to honestly say that I, on more than one occasion, said to Mark, "Can you imagine how relaxing this would be if it was just the two of us?" I'm glad the kids went, though; I had seen half the world by their age, so I want them to have the opportunity to enjoy as many experiences as I can provide for them. Despite the few homeschool comments, I had untold numbers of people tell me that our kids "are just so cute and well-behaved." I'm thinking maybe these were sympathy compliments??!
Clean Hands: Do you remember those news reports a couple of years ago about the people who were getting sick on cruise ships? I think they may have gone a little overboard in addressing those events--you have to sanitize your hands at literally every turn on the ship! We sanitized at least three times in the embarkation process. Then they have sanitizing dispensers at the entrance of every restaurant, along with a crew member supervising and making sure you clean your hands. That's well and good, but it can get a little annoying when, for example, you have to walk through the Garden Cafe to get to the Great Outdoors and therefore have to sanitize twice! What was nice (and took some getting used to) is that they serve you EVERYTHING in the buffet. There is a crew member at a station with silverware--you can't grab your own; you have to let the crew member hand it to you! And you don't serve yourself your salad, for example. You instruct the crew member exactly what you want on it. Anyway, I suppose clean is better than not, so no serious complaints here.
Weight Watchers: What I need to do now!! Seriously, you can eat ALL day whatever you want on a cruise. It gets a little ridiculous, although I didn't think it so ridiculous at the time. I ate my share of just about everything, and I think I gained at least 20 pounds. Time to watch my weight now!
Service: It was impeccable. All of the crew members were so friendly and accommodating. They need whoever trains cruise crew members to come train all of the customer service people here in the States.