So, you’re debating a long Repositioning cruise for your family…but you’re debating the details? Here are some our experiences in choosing and enjoying our 18-day Transpacific Cruise through the South Pacific.
Choosing a Room
When booking our Royal Caribbean Repositioning Cruise through the South Pacific, we had the choice of either a Family Oceanview Stateroom with a porthole that would accommodate all 5 of us in a single room (with bunk beds behind a curtain—a total of 237 sq. ft), or we could choose two Large Interior Staterooms that were connected.
After much deliberation, we chose the connected Interior Staterooms, and were so grateful that we did! This allowed us to put our children to bed at night, close the door, and still stay awake in the privacy of our own room!
The “Large” Interior Stateroom is not “large” by any sense of the word, but it was sufficient (142 sq. ft—but multiply that times 2 since we had two rooms)! It was reminiscent of our travel-trailer days!
Here was our room (after we disheveled the beautiful bed-making job):
The kid’s room had two single beds, and our steward pulled down a bunk bed from the ceiling each evening, so that our 3 children each had their own bed. Having two rooms allowed us the luxury of 2 closets, 2 bathrooms, and 2 desks! Since our gratuities were based upon each individual cruiser, there would have been absolutely no advantage to sharing a single room (plus there certainly would have been fights over showers and TV programs)!
The cruise ship had plenty of space for getting exercise, with upper desks that had walking paths marked (not to mention the gym, which I sadly never encountered!). Too bad our little Ethan was not in the mood to do any walking with us…it may have been helpful on our waist lines!
We did enjoy the pool quite often in the late afternoon once the sun had started lowering (and we didn’t have to worry as much about sunburns on our fragile red-head skin)!
Dining Options on Rhapsody of the Seas
We ate the majority of our meals at the Windjammer Café, a buffet setup that was open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Their breakfast selection included French toast, pancakes, eggs, meats, cheeses, hash browns, oatmeal, cereals, fruits, and some more unusual British/Australian-style breakfast foods (I’m assuming this is because the ship had been doing an Australian itinerary all winter and 95% of its passengers were Australian).
Lunch and dinner had a good variety of foods, as well. Our kids are funny eaters, and while some children might happily stalk the French fries or corn dog options, our kids loaded up on goodies like cherry tomatoes, apples, edamame, baked potatoes, etc. Two of our three children are definitely more whole/raw food eaters than anything else!
For a vegan-like eater such as me, I stuck to their cooked veggies, salad bars, and sometimes their pasta salads. They had a variety of dinners, some that we found unusual (appealing more toward the British/Australian-crowds)…but everything was usually great. They had a daily Asian section, but after 5+ months in Asia, we were ready for something different! Only one night of the 18 did they offer “Mexican” food…and we were in heaven!
My husband? He started on a diet of chicken for the 18-day cruise, and never turned back (sigh).
For lunches, Jared and Ethan and I also really enjoyed the quick salad or Panini-type of meals we could get from Park Café in the Solarium (where the adult-only pool was located). Ethan could load up on tomatoes, fruits, and olives.
We surprisingly found ourselves at the formal dining hall more than we expected. We had been fortunate enough to get the 6:00 pm dining option (as opposed to 8:30 pm—with kids—ack!), and we felt guilty leaving the other people at our table with 5 empty spots each night we skipped.
The kids enjoyed selecting from the kid’s menu—although it certainly wasn’t as healthy of fare as they usually chose from the buffet (think pizza, fries, chicken strips, mac and cheese, chicken soup, nachos, etc.). The wait staff was so concerned about us having a good experience, so they brought the kids out appetizers quickly in an effort to fill their tummies faster!
The other Australian folks at our table were so kind and gracious towards our family, often keeping Ethan entertained with a game of roll-the-car-across-the-table (yes, we’re really formal)!
The food in the formal dining hall was quite delicious, and for once I enjoyed fine dining (I’m really much more of a buffet person). They always had excellent vegetarian options, and amazing cold fruit “soups” that I would personally call a smoothie in a bowl!
Of course, our kids loved the desserts!
And I enjoyed some baklava for the first time since my childhood!! Yummy!
Keeping our roaming Ethan in his chair was the hardest part, particularly after spending so much time in Asia, where the wait staff would usually disappear with him and entertain him during our meals!
Finally, we decided to throw manners aside and bring the iPad with puzzles and movies for him. It worked!
Doing Laundry on a Cruise Ship
Another concern we had on our cruise was how we would do laundry for 18 days. After all, we each only own about 7 changes of clothes! Our solution was to pack some powder laundry detergent, and do a little bit of daily laundry in the small sink. We had packed a clothes line to hang up in our room, but found the space in our bathroom to be sufficient (they conveniently have clothes lines on the tops of the showers to hang swimsuits).
Alternatively, we could have had them do our laundry for us. We could have filled one of the plastic bags and had our items washed and dried for a flat $10. Certainly not Mexico or Asian prices—but not as brutally expensive as I had expected, either!
Motion Sickness on a Cruise Ship
It turns out that we hit some good-sized storms and sea swells as we first started our South Pacific cruise. We missed two cruise ports as a result of not being able to tender in to the windy ports (Isle of Pines and Mystery Island), and two additional days were spent at a very rough sea. As soon as the cruise ship started swaggering, these lovely bags showed up at all of the stairwells:
Thank goodness, too! I lost my meal three different times, but the rest of my family was fortunate enough to hold their own. We diffused ginger essential oil in our room, and tried to relax in bed and watch movies for the two rough days (luckily the TV had good programming).
The girls still went to the kid’s club (Maiya returned back to the room for one day to laze in bed…she has my disposition for motion sickness), and Ethan didn’t seem to care one way or another.
I learned some good tips from the cruise staff about how to avoid motion sickness on a cruise.
#1. Food to eat to avoid motion sickness: Cruise staff swears by green apples to stave off motion sickness. Munch on these throughout the day!
#2. Best Rooms on a Cruise Ship to Avoid Motion Sickness: The ship has stabilizers that keep the boat from swaying from left to right, however, they can’t stabilize the sway that happens from front to back. Therefore, if you have a disposition for motion sickness, it is best to book a room on a lower deck, and closer to the middle. These rooms will have the least amount of movement.
Just our luck—we had booked staterooms on the eighth (uppermost stateroom deck), and our room was at the very end of the ship. This created a lot of sway, particularly at night when the seas seemed to be rougher! Fortunately, no one fell out of bed, and we were simply rocked to sleep (with a few sudden jolts here and there)!
Don’t forget to Tip
The truth is, Royal Caribbean will not allow you to forget to tip. In fact, after booking our cruise they initiated an Automatic Gratuity Program, which meant that we were automatically billed a $12 gratuity per passenger—per day. Yes, this applies to even children!! For a long repositioning cruise such as ours, this meant we had an extra $1000+ of tips that we paid for our family of 5. Ouch!!
The gratuities are divided up by Dining Services staff, Stateroom Attendants and Housekeeping Personnel. While part of me is happy I didn’t have to decide how much tip to leave—I do think that $60/per day from my family was a bit overboard. After all—the program seems more like a tax evasion by the cruise line—since a mandatory tip certainly isn’t a “gratuity” by my definition.
But I have to admit…our housekeeper did an excellent job, and made very cool towel characters…
If you’re looking for more information about Royal Caribbean’s Repositioning Cruises, entertainment on ships, or South Pacific cruise destinations…you may enjoy these posts: