For four years now my family has skipped Christmas and cruised the Caribbean instead. We started this tradition the December after my teenage nephew died when the holidays became tinged with grief.
But we’ve continued to skip Christmas because we’ve discovered that cruising is more fun than shopping, wrapping, decorating, entertaining and cookie baking. Not to mention the weather is a lot better in the Caribbean than southeastern Pennsylvania in December. Finally, when we added up the cost of a cruise compared to a Christmas at home – complete with a pile of gifts for four kids — we realized that the cruise is the better deal. The only gift we give each other these days is the cruise vacation and the memories we make.
This year we sailed on Royal Caribbean’s mega-ship Liberty of the Seas, a 15-deck behemoth that can hold up to 3,634 passengers and 1,360 crew. For a short time Liberty of the Seas and its sister ships – Freedom of the Seas and Independence of the Seas – were the largest boats afloat. But Royal Carribean’s Oasis class of vessels took over that ranking in 2009.
Even before our Christmastime cruise tradition started we had cruised a good bit. We’ve been on ships operated by Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), Celebrity, Carnival and Windstar (our hands-down favorite when cruising without the kids). This was our first experience with Royal Caribbean and our expectations were high. For a middle-market, family cruise, we heard Royal Caribbean delivered the goods when it comes to food, service and amenities.
We expected to declare Royal Carribean our new favorite for family cruising.
That didn’t happen.
NCL is still our number-one choice for a reasonably priced cruise with the kids.
Want to know why we like NCL so much – and what disappointed us about Royal Carribean? Check back next week for our Cheers and Jeers Report on Liberty of the Seas.