Tag Archives: vacation

Family Fun On Board The Norwegian Getaway!

30 Jan


Every once in a while, the girls will catch a cruise ship out of the corner of their eye while walking along the Hudson or they”ll catch a glimpse as one passing by our living room window.  They have so many questions about the ship passing by.  As I was walking by the Hudson River, partly covered in ice (pictured above), all I could think about was a vacation to a warm destination.  Although the girls have asked to go on a cruise as they watched ships pass by, I never thought about taking a cruise for our family vacation. Partly, because I never realized how much they have to offer for families but also because my husband has only heard negative media so wasn’t a huge fan of the idea.  When I got the invite from  The MOMS to spend the day on Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest ship, Getaway, I couldn’t say no. I was anxious to see the girls reactions when they saw a ship similar to the ones they would look at in the distance but I also wanted to see all the cruise ship has to offer.


We watched as the Norwegian Breakaway sailed past our building last summer!

The Getaway recently sailed across the Atlantic from Germany,where it was built, to its temporary port of New York City. The Getaway transform into a Bud Light Hotel during the Super Bowl. After the Super Bowl, it will make its way to it’s new home in Miami, Florida.  Beginning in early February, the Norwegian Getaway will set sail all year-long from Miami to the Eastern Caribbean (yes, get me out of this freezing cold weather and take me to sunny beaches).  There are two itineraries to choose from:

  1. Embark in Miami, with stops in Philipsburg, St. Maarten, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands, Nassau, Bahamas, then Disembark Miami
  2. Embark in Miami, with stops in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands, Tortola, Nassau, Bahamas, then Disembark Miami

Getaway to Paradise

As we pulled up to Pier 88, for our outing with TheMOMS, my girls were mesmerized by the size of the ship. When your small, everything seems so much BIGGER, so I can only imagine what was going through their head. I heard “wow”, “oh boy”, “it’s soooo big”.  I was excited to see my girls reaction when they saw a ship up close and personal.  Throughout the day we got to experience a sample of activities, services, and amenities offered on board the Getaway.

NCLGetaway Dining

The Norwegian Getaway offers many dining options.  There are complimentary options which include three main dining rooms with brand new menus as well as O’Seehans Bar and Lounge which is open 24 hrs.   Finer dining is also available for a cover charge. Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian’s restaurant Ocean Blue is on the Getaway with a chance for a dining experience with him on select cruises!

Our day on board began with a three-course meal in the Illusionarium.  The starter was prosciutto with mozzarella, tomato, balsamic vinaigrette, and gourmet young mesclun greens.  The main course was a surf and turf with jumbo coconut shrimp, roasted beef tenderloin, double baked potato, broccoli and a demi-glaze sauce.   The dessert included a trilogy of sweets: red velvet cupcake with vanilla cream cheese frosting, vanilla crème caramel with wild berries, and a flourless chocolate cake with praline crème. The children had a separate menu that included macaroni and cheese or chicken tenders with a banana cup cake for dessert.  Not only was the food delicious but the service and staff onboard was phenomenal. I was very impressed with our waitress, Donie.  She was very accomodating when my youngest couldn’t decide what she wanted so she brought her both, mac and cheese and chicken nuggets.  Before we even looked at the menu she asked about any food allergies. As a mom of a daughter, with a peanut/ tree nut allergy, I can’t tell you how appreciative I was. It’s rare a waitress or waiter at a restaurant asks, I’ve always had to tell them about my daughters allergy.


During our experience on board we got a little sample of the entertainment on board. All the performances we saw took place in the Illusionarium however there are separate theaters onboard when on vacation. My girls were in awe of the performances by the Burn the Floor dance group.  They also loved watching Legally Blonde the Musical and seeing their favorite characters (Dora, Diego, SpongeBob SquarePants & Patrick Star) during a performance by Nick Junior.  The magic show was unbelievable. They were amazed to see a table float through the air. It was an incredible experience just watching the shortened, condensed version so I can only imagine what they would think of the full shows.

NCL endless possibilities

The recreational activities for kids and families are endless.  There is a Nickelodeon Jr theme aqua zone for kids to splash around.  In the aqua park there are 2 pools, 4 hot tubs, and 5 water slides.  The Free Fall water slide is one of the fastest at sea and one of two drop slides that floor comes out from underneath you and drops you down the slide in 6 seconds.   The sports complex features a miniature golf course, a basketball court, a rock climbing wall, a bungee trampoline and a ropes course.  At the end of the ropes course, those brave enough can walk an 8 foot plank off the side of the ship with a photo opportunity at the end.  Other activities include an arcade, pool parties and opportunities to meet Dora, Diego, SpongeBob SquarePants and Patrick Star.


Splash Academy provides complimentary drop-off activities for ages 3-12  onboard the ship from 9:00 am – 10:30 pm, closing during meal times.  Once on board you can get the full schedule of activities and classes offered.  Each themed activity is two hours.  Themes and activities change daily.  Whether it’s free-style play, a Turtle’s Luau Party or super sports, your child will make new friends and have tons of fun.  While my husband and I were on a tour of the ship, both of my girls spent some time in Splash Academy.  They came out with art projects, balloons, and a huge smile on their face from all the fun they were having.  The supervisors were extremely friendly and engaging with the children.  Each child was assigned a number upon entering.  To pick up your child, parents we required to return the corresponding number.  Because of food allergies, Splash Academy is free of food.  A late-night zone with fun activities like fort making and Nintendo Wii action is available from 10:30 pm until 1:30 am at a reasonable rate ($6 for the first child and $4 for siblings).


After you drop the kids off at Splash Academy, don’t feel guilty their having fun, you can head to the spa for a dip in the thermal pool or for a relaxing massage.  There are also many adult only areas to enjoy a beverage, a bite to eat, or soak up a few uninterrupted rays!  While on international waters you can also take an hour (or more) for duty-free shopping or chancing your luck in the largest casino at sea!  At night, you can visit the dueling piano bar, Howel At The Moon or cool off after a day of fun in the sun for a unique experience in the SVEDKA and Inniskillin Ice Bar.  While onboard, don’t miss The Grammy Experience.  The first headliner will be Nestor Torres.  I could go on forever with the entertainment, bars, and activities you can take part in if you need a date day or night while on vacation.


While we were onboard we got to peek into a few staterooms.  For families, there are suites with pull-out sofas, adjoining rooms, or rooms with two single beds and 1 or 2 pull down beds above.  The Haven Suite is incredible, my daughters couldn’t get over the closet and the spa bathtub filled with roses. Budget friendly options are available as well!

You may have seen the recent news about the recent outbreak of a virus leaving 600 passengers onboard a Royal Caribbean Cruise.   When you hear news like that you may be skeptical of jumping aboard, I know my husband was in the past. We were discussing the news and my husband, the skeptic, pointed out how extremely impressed he was with Norwegians proactive efforts to make sure cleanliness and hygiene were a priority aboard the Getaway.  There were hand sanitizing stations almost everywhere you turned. In the bathrooms there were signs reminding guests to wash hands and use a paper towel to open the door.  The sink, soap dispenser, and trash can had sensors so you didn’t have to touch anything.  The trash can had a reminder note on top letting you know not to touch.


There is so much to do and explore.  By the end of our day on board the Getaway, I had to drag my girls off the ship. They were ready to move onto the beautiful ship, permanently.  My oldest said “This is a beau-ti-ful ship! Mommy, can we move here?”  When I told her that a cruise ship is for vacations and not for living she said “Can we go on vacation NOW?” My husband even changed his mind about taking a cruise and is ready to book for an exciting and entertaining adventure for all at sea.

Can’t make it to the port of Miami, the Getaway’s sister ship Breakaway embarks from NYC and sails to Bermuda!

Watching the Norwegian Breakaway sail by!

Watching the Norwegian Breakaway sail by!

Thank you to The MOMS and Norwegian Cruise Line for an awesome day for my family.  For more information visis www.ncl.com, follow on Instagram: NorwegianCruiseLine , on twitter: @cruisenorwegian and be sure to like Norwegian Cruise Line on Facebook!
Follow the Getaway’s journey at #UltimateGetaway.

To learn more about The MOMS visit http://themoms.com

Disclaimer:  I did not receive compensation for this post.  All opinions expressed are my own.  I received a day on board the Norwegian Getaway and complimentary services and meals as part of the Family Media Day with The MOMS.

Beach Essentials

23 Jul


We just got back from a week in the Outer Banks.  Every morning, before heading to the beach, we gathered these essentials to make sure the girls had fun in the sun!

1. Melissa and Doug Seaside Sidekicks Cupcake Set:  Their favorite sand toy.  They love to make cupcakes in the send and pretend they are making custom orders for my husband and I.  The new friends they make on the beach are also drawn to this toy.  It gets them to use their imagination and engage in pretend play.

Image from Melissa and Doug

Image from Melissa and Doug

2. Kids Folding Canopy Chair:  A break from the sun is necessary every so often.  The girls enjoyed sitting in this canopy chair when they needed a snack, drink, or just wanted to rest.  The canopy provides some shade so they can sit back and enjoy watching the waves crash while on the look out for their favorite dolphin friends.


3. Large Shovel & Bucket: My girls never get tired of digging for sand crabs, building walls, and filling buckets with sand or shells.  We used a plastic paint pail for the girls to fill with their treasures and sand.


4. Baby Pool: The ocean is scary when large waves crash so it’s nice to have a small baby pool filled with some ocean water to help your little ones cool off.  It may take multiple trips to fill but it’s definitely worth it if you want to spend the day on the beach.


6. Paddle Ball:  Although it was difficult for her, my oldest daughter had a great time playing paddle ball with her dad and uncles.  She felt like a “big girl”.


Disclaimer: I did not receive compensation for this post.  All opinions expressed are my own.  All images were taken by tastefully childish unless otherwise noted.

Wordless Wednesday: Duck Donuts

17 Jul

I can’t remember the last time I had a donut. It’s been a while but a week in the Outer Banks wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Duck Donuts . Create your own Donut with choice of icing, glaze, powdered sugar or bare topped with your favorite sprinkle or fruit. The Maple Bacon Donut and the “Beach” (vanilla icing with cinnamon) are a must when visiting!







Momtrends Travel Event

29 Apr
Picture 4

Image from Momtrends

Although the weather is warming up a little, it’s still not that warm and my winter coat is still hanging, just in case. All I can think about is a beach, warm weather, and a nice relaxing time with my family. And after this never-ending winter, I think a vacation to a beach next winter will have to be planned. The other week I attended the Momtrends Travel event at Polarn O Pyret TriBeca.  Homeaway Vacation RentalsTravelSort, and Polarn O Pyret  gave lots of great tips for traveling whether going away for a long weekend or a week that I will put to use when we go on our beach vacation this summer and when planning future vacations.  Below are some of the tips and suggestions that were given to help plan a budget friendly vacation.

20130429-215506.jpgHomeaway Vacation Rentals offer over 500,000 properties in 170 countries around the world. Representatives were there to discuss tips for deciding where to go and where to stay. Tips included:

  • Reclaiming your destination: Include your children in the planning process in deciding where to go.
  • Reclaiming your budget: Staying in a rental property can save you money because they have multiple bedrooms and can easily be shared. You also have a kitchen so you will not need to order room service or eat out as much. They have pet friendly properties so you won’t have to pay a sitter.

TravelSort shared tips and tricks for getting the best airfare and making the most of your points. To get the best value, book about a year in advance.  Use business cards to gain points.  The more you spend the more points you get.

Polarn O Pyret, the number 1 children’s brand in Sweden, shared packing tips for kids.

  • Making a list is important so you don’t forget anything. Before you start, check the weather and think about the attire for your destination.
  • Be prepared and pack extra clothes for accidents and a jacket or fleece if it gets cold at night.
  • Check to see if a washer/ dryer or laundry service is available where you are staying, if so you may not need to bring as much.
  • Make sure to bring sunscreen especially when traveling to foreign countries because it is very expensive.

Where will you be heading on your next vacation?

Disclaimer:  I did not receive compensation for this post.  I received a gift bag for attending the event.

Our Magical Trip to Disney

21 May

Last week we went to Florida for my brother’s graduation at Embry Riddle in Daytona.  We knew flew into Orlando so we decided to take the girls to Disney for a couple of days.  I was a little nervous because I wasn’t sure if they were old enough.  I always said I would take them at 5 or 6, but to my amazement it turned out to be a great age, even for my youngest-who won’t remember but while she was there it was heaven to her.  Some tips and suggestions for traveling that helped me survive our mini-vacation:

Packing: Never easy with two kids, especially for a 3 1/2 year-old who is very particular about what she wears and gets hot very easily (not ideal for the Florida temperatures).  Prior to going, I ordered Diapers.com to my brother’s house so he could have diapers and wipes ready for us to cut back on what we had to bring.  Call hotels to see if it is possible to ship them there.  It makes a big difference not to have to worry about packing diapers or buying them when you get there.

The Flight: It was a little stressful getting to the airport.  We almost missed our flight because the traffic was HORRIBLE leaving the city.  Thank goodness we gave ourself over 2 hours otherwise we would have definitely missed our flight.  The excitement of seeing my brother and the “princess” made the flight to Florida pretty easy.  It helped that we left around dinner time so we stopped for food. I hate to admit that I am that parent who gives McDonald’s but I have to say the happy meal really kept them “happy” during take-off and it was the closest place to our gate since we were about to miss the flight.  It wasn’t until after beverages were served that they wanted the IPAD’s. I had multiple Disney movies and a variety of applications downloaded for them on our IPAD’s, new is always better because it will keep them engaged a little longer and as a little gift for our trip I bought adorable iHome Minnie Mouse headphones to go with the Disney theme. My 2-year-old broke hers within the first 5 minutes of using them by pulling them out of the seat socket, she had used them to watch tv on that back of the seat in front of her…bummer.  The way back from Florida wasn’t as easy.  They both have difficulty saying goodbye so when they had to leave their grandfather, it was the beginning of many screaming episodes that we had no idea would be in store.  I tried doing dinner again but my youngest was so over-tired she screamed the entire time the fasten seatbelt sign was on.  After about 45 min she finally fell asleep and remained asleep the rest of the flight. My older daughter entertained herself by drawing pictures of princesses over and over.  I always carry a pen and crayons and blank paper because she loves art.  After 3 long hours on both flights, we survived and we weren’t thrown off, even with the temper tantrum.

Disney: It was very hard to do the parks in just 2 days, especially with little ones.  They loved it and it was a very magical experience for them but Disney is pretty expensive and you want to get your money’s worth and see it all.   We were with so many people, 11 total, that it was hard getting everyone up and out the door in the morning so both days we didn’t make it into the park until 12.  In the future we will get there when it first opens, stay for a little while, go back to the hotel to rest a bit and then hit the parks again in the afternoon.  I had no idea how exhausting it would be.

Animal Kingdom: The first park we visited was Animal Kingdom.  We got there late and of course there was the usual afternoon Florida Thunderstorm that wouldn’t let up so we had to leave.  Luckily, we were able to visit Kilimanjaro Safaris® Expedition, the highlight of the day because they saw giraffe, cheetahs, elephants, alligators, hippos, and more close up.  After we walked past the gorillas and chimpanzees which they loved because we had just seen the Chimpanzee movie in the theater.  We also visited the Finding Nemo musical but the girls and I had to leave early because one is sensitive to noise and on top of that got scared by the shark.  I was able to catch about 10 minutes and thought it was very cute.  Next time.  Just before the down pour and lightning, the girls were able to catch Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade, if I could have only caught the girls expressions when their favorite Disney characters came around the bend.  It was unbelievable the excitement, smiles, and awes that came from them.  Maddie made a pit stop as we were dashing through the rain to get a unicorn painted on her face.  I should have done that earlier in the day because you can go back through out the day and get it touched up for free.  Overall, it was a great park for their age but I wish we had seen more of the attractions.

Magic Kingdom: The name says it all.  It is as magical going as a parent then as a child.  Seeing the joy, happiness, laughter and priceless expressions my girls had while we were there was a magical experience in itself.  When I went on It’s a Small World, I loved it just as much as I did as a kid.  Maddie was able to go to the Bippidy Boppidy Boutique, which made her think she really was a princess getting ready in Cinderella’s Castle (review to come), and their favorite attractions were the Mad Tea Party, It’s a Small World, the Parade’s and MEETING the princesses and Tinkerbell.  My two-year-old was so excited she was forcing her way past Maddie to get her autograph book signed first.  Unfortunately, we didn’t make it to the fire works because we got such a late start in the morning, the girls weren’t able to get a nap in between.  We are definitely planning another trip back but next time we will prepare more and get out the door earlier.  We also will take advantage of the Fast Track passes.  We didn’t realize that you can get more than one until later in the day.  

Until next time, we have wonderful memories, 2 Minnie princess hats and an awesome popcorn set for when we watch our favorite Disney movies!  Can’t wait for our next Magical Adventure!