On the last night of our cruise vacation, during dinner, 7-year-old Addy lifted her lemonade glass and announced to the 12 of us sitting outside on the Haven Restaurant deck, “To Grandma, this was the best vacation ever!” We love you!
For me, family is everything, and traveling together is all about building lifetime memories.
This summer, our family journeyed to Bermuda on the Norwegian Escape, a gargantuan ship that left from the piers along the Hudson River. My knowledgeable travel agent, Mike Giarretto, suggested we stay in the cloistered area on the ship aptly named “The Haven.” It certainly earned its name.
With my key card that had been registered to my credit card on our arrival at the dock, there was no use for money. All I needed was my room card for dining, shopping, drinking, excursions and even the spa.
The Haven gave us entry to a serene area for swimming, hot tubs, dining, drinking and, most importantly, our concierge, Patrick. My room butler, Jefferson, helped me navigate the ship, with its 19 floors and over 5,000 people aboard.
One night I was meeting the family at a restaurant but I felt lost and couldn’t find it. My trusty butler escorted me there — now that’s service!
To cruise on such an enormous “Love Boat” with so many options took planning. There are 27 dining options, and 21 bars and lounges on board, which was totally overwhelming to me. My daughter-in-law, Tracey, offered to make reservations at the specialty restaurants featuring ethnic cuisines that we were given as part of our Haven experience.
I enjoyed breakfast in our room, and all lunches were served on the patio at the Haven poolside.
The ship features a long, massive buffet and main dining rooms but we opted for dinners in the French and Italian steakhouse. My favorite, however, was The Haven’s own dining room.
In each restaurant, the quality of each dish was terrific; whenever I didn’t like my choice, my waiter, with a smile, brought me something else from the menu.
The overwhelming feeling I got from the staff was, “How can I help you?” Who could ask for more on vacation — especially with six children at each meal ages 3-12 with their special limited food tastes.
I was grateful that my Addy, who is gluten-free, was offered special pizza, pasta and bread at each meal. She was happy and my theory is if my children are happy, I am, too!
Since we were at sea for five days, the ship offered amusements and entertainment galore.
The kids went wild for the Aqua Park, where they joyfully slid down massive water slides and used the zip line — to my horror, but to their fun.
For me, it was enough to lounge in the quiet Haven pool area and watch the six cousins screech, laugh, run, swim and enjoy each other’s company. Imagine a week with kids, and not a single fight between them!
Ironically, the ship offers a kids camp, kids movies, circus workshop, pool parties, family karaoke, painting classes, dancing with dinner, and shows every night. But all of us just being together was enough. We made our own camp.
What did get us out of our “together zone” was watching a talented magician, Matt Johnson, who performed mind-boggling tricks, several of which added messages. I delighted in his talent and tying into his act his reverence for family repeated throughout the show. We all were mesmerized by his talents!
Next week, I will share our experiences in Bermuda, a beautiful island of beautiful people.