*I’ve been pretty much missing in action for most of this month. I have taken some time off with family for our 10 day trip (see below) and of course the Christmas holiday. Anyway, I thought I’d share some of our trip with you.

We spent a day in South Beach Miami, we really wanted to see the art deco buildings and all there, crazy place, and then on with our 7 day cruise!

My in-laws have been on a few cruises and thought it would be a nice way to celebrate their 50th anniversary with their family. A new experience for me and my family – our first cruise experience, and it was awesome!!

We cruised along at the speed of 18 knots, on the largest cruise ship known to man (at least for now), the Epic: the latest of the Norwegian Cruise Lines ships to part the waters with their “Freestyle” cruise packages (if you’re interested scroll down to the end and you can view the ships specifications). Our destination– The Caribbean isles of St. Maarten (spelling dependent upon what side of the island you’re on and what signage you are reading at any given time), St. Thomas and Nassau (Bahamas).

There was no shortage of entertainment for the whole family:

There were clubs for the kids within certain age groups (including a teen group) where you could safely drop off your kids and let them enjoy entertainment while you enjoyed some down time for yourself. Lorin (14 yrs) enjoyed the “freedom” to pretty much roam the ship on his own, as well as the teen activities. There was also a climbing and repelling wall which is right up his alley. A rope jungle gym on the very top deck giving an awesome view of the vast ocean, and a basketball court.

The little ones especially enjoyed the swimming, water slides and hot tubs. We enjoyed bowling onboard which can make for an interesting game and lots of gutter balls! There were also the Nickelodeon shows and activities for the kid’s entertainment as well.

It was like having a mini Vegas on the ship with gambling (not that we were interested in that), Blue Man Group, Legends, Cirque Dreams and Dinner among other shows available for you to attend (extra charge of course.)

And – as always there are little nuggets of informational wealth that come with first time experiences, such as our cruise . . .

A few “out of the norm” tips:

Don’t forget the kids swimming suits in the hotel room before checking out, boarding the ship and cruising away (like we did), because even though there are stores lending lots of shopping opportunities tax free (that offer children’s clothing), you will not find children’s swimwear on board (at least not at this printing) and they will have to swim in shorts and tank tops a couple of days until you debark at your first port.

Speaking of your first port – don’t get bamboozled by the hair braiding ladies! Sure it’s only $2 a braid, but be aware they will put 25 braids on your little girls head! $50 later your shaking your head wondering exactly how that happened. Make sure you specify how many braids you want or how much money you are willing to spend up front!

Walkie Talkies: This is especially a good idea for large groups. There will be times when you’ll want to locate others from your group. Normally we would simply call them on our cellphones, “Hey where are you?” but you will have to pay international roam rates. So invest in a good set of walkie talkies (ours were good for up to 24 miles or so.) They worked pretty good on the ship and when you are roaming on land. The only time ours didn’t work was between ship and land (obviously a lot of metal blockage).

Bring a watch: Again, this shows how dependent most of us have become on our cellphones. I always use my cell to check time, but again this will not work because even if your cell is on “airplane mode” it will still continue to search for coverage and run your battery down fast. So bring a watch, or plan to invest in one (like we ended up doing) on board – they carry many well known brands and have many deals on them.

Bring your own pillow: My husband has a smaller version of our memory foam pillows we use at home to take when traveling. Our cruise was a 7 day adventure, and well, your bed and pillows will become an adventure in discomfort and pain (there’s only so much comfort a hotel/ship can offer and usually the mattress’ lack in that department.) Not much you can do about the bed, but a good pillow should help.

Now for more fun photos:

Magens Bay, St. Thomas

Magens Bay, St. Thomas

balcony view, Nassau (Bahamas)

And for all those who are stats people, or just curious, here are some bits of information about the Epic:


  • Passenger Capacity: 4,100 (double occupancy)
  • Gross Register Tonnage:155,873
  • Overall Length: 1,081 feet
  • Max Beam: 133 feet
  • Draft: 28.5 feet
  • Engines: Diesel Electric
  • Cruise Speed: 22 knots
  • Crew: 1,753

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