Cruisin’ With The Kiddos

In case you missed it, I recently took my family, my twin brother’s family, and my parents on an 8-day Caribbean cruise courtesy of Carnival. It was the experience of a lifetime, but I have to admit that I was a little worried at first. During the plane ride to Miami, a couple nagging thoughts kept…well, nagging me: “8 days is a long time. Will they have a good time? Will they be bored?”

Remember, my daughters are six and three years old. As is the case with most kids, they don’t filter their feelings. If they want to go home, they’ll say so. If they don’t like something, they’ll let anyone in earshot know without a hint of tactfulness. It just comes with the territory.

Thankfully it didn’t take long to receive my answer to those questions after we set sail on the beautiful and brand new Carnival Vista.

#1  Eating

Although we spent a lot of time together as a ten-person unit, there were times when I was alone with one or both of the girls; and one of the first Daddy-Daughter bonding moments occurred when we first arrived on the ship to get something to eat. I must say that the food that Carnival provides is absolutely amazing. The options are endless and you can keep getting more, and more, and more — including 24-hour ice cream and pizza. You have a picky eater at home? There is something for them on the ship, trust me. And let’s be real – there are few better ways to bond with the kids than by eating some tasty food.

And that’s especially the case when it comes to dessert at Cherry On Top.

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#2 – Active Stuff

The Carnival Vista is a brand new ship and is packed with activities geared towards kids, including multiple pools (which my daughters never wanted to get out of).

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And the waterslides were pretty epic. There were two really big ones and a couple of smaller ones that were perfect for the kiddos.

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The Sports Square was great too. My oldest daughter loves basketball and she was able to get some shots up with the most amazing scenery in the background. But if basketball isn’t your thing, they have ping-pong, bowling, mini golf, and a variety of other activities to keep the kiddos happy.

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#3 – Entertainment

Are you a fan of Lip Sync Battle? Well, the Carnival Vista actually has it on the ship and it was practically identical to the version on television. My daughters had a blast dancing in the aisles as fellow cruisers strutted their stuff.

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And the live musicians were great, as well. No matter what music you enjoy, there was something for everyone to get down to.

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One of my favorite parts of fatherhood is creating memories with my children. Am I the perfect dad? No, but who is? One thing I can say with confidence is when my time on this earth has passed, my girls will know that Daddy gave it his all to create the best and happiest lives possible for them. The quality time we spent together in paradise helped strengthen that bond more than ever.

This post was created for Away We Go with Carnival, the destination for getting in the getaway state of mind. Head on over.

8 Parents You Do NOT Want At Your Super Bowl Party

America’s biggest sports day of the year is almost upon us, and yes, I’m talking about the Super Bowl pitting the New England Patriots against the Atlanta Falcons. When it comes to the game, most of you fall into one of three categories:

1) You love football and will be watching the game no matter what, and yes — I’m firmly planted in this category.

2) You tolerate football, but you mostly care about hanging out with friends, eating food, and watching the commercials.

3) You despise football and you will not watch the game under any circumstances.

For those of you in categories #1 & 2, you may decide to host a Super Bowl party and watch the game with friends and family members. If so, I hope these eight parents aren’t at your gathering. More importantly, I hope you’re not one of these eight parents. Oh, and if you happen to be in category #3, don’t worry— I have something for you too.

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23 Things I Realized As a Dad in 2016

2016 was a tough year for a lot of people. Our nation showed how divided it is, many icons passed away, and a lot of our kids put Hatchimals on their holiday wish list. However, the one thing we all have in common is we had to raise our kiddos in spite of it all, and we did a damn good job at it (at least let’s keep telling ourselves that).

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Carnival — Ask The Dad

In the interest of full disclosure, when Carnival offered to take my family on an 8-day cruise, I didn’t hesitate to say “yes” at first. We were in desperate need of a vacation and traveling to the eastern Caribbean seemed like the best idea ever.

But if you’ve never cruised before, I’m sure you have questions about what it will be like. Especially if you have kids, like me.

No worries, my friend. That’s why I created this “Ask the Dad” post where you can ask some of your most frequently asked questions.

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 #1 – Will my kids like the food? My kids are picky eaters. What if I couldn’t find something for them to eat? Needless to say, that was the least of my worries. Carnival doesn’t mess around when it comes to food options because there is literally something for everyone. If I had to attach a percentage to it, I’d say that 75% of the time we were awake on the ship, we were putting some yummy goodness into our mouths.

#2 – What if my kids get bored or stir-crazy on the ship? On sea days I erroneously thought we would just sit in our room and watch television. I couldn’t be more wrong. Carnival ships are just like floating cities. After walking around for a little while I realized that we would actually have more fun on the ship than visiting the exotic locations we were traveling to (and that’s saying a lot, trust me). More on this later.

#3 – Will there be enough stuff for my kids to do on the ship? Absolutely. There were so many options that I thought my kids would explode from excitement. There was a video game arcade, an amazing waterpark, a Seuss At Sea breakfast where their favorite Dr. Seuss characters came to life, interactive game shows, 24-hour ice cream and pizza, etc. My daughters absolutely lost their minds due to the amount of fun they had.

 #4 – What can parents do for childcare when we want to have some adult fun? Thankfully there’s Camp Carnival to help with that. It’s like a summer camp and the kids are divided into different groups (2-5 years, 6-8 years, and 9-11 years) to engage in age-specific activities ranging from art, movies, games, reading, toys, and more. Not to mention, they even offer nighttime care as well. It’s the perfect option for parents who need a quick getaway (and let’s face it, all of us need that every now and then).

#5 – What if I don’t like crowds? I was extremely concerned about the ship feeling claustrophobic. If I feel cramped in my own condo, how would I handle cruising? Well, that wasn’t an issue at all. As mentioned earlier, I had more fun on the ship than I did in the actual spots I visited and I didn’t feel crowded at all. Carnival does a great job of spacing everything out and I never experienced a long line/wait for anything. It’s the perfect little floating city.  

Do you want to know what the worst part of this cruise was? The end. My oldest daughter was devastated when I told her we would have to go back home and deal with the hustle and bustle of life back in Southern California (which to her, means kindergarten and Daddy’s cooking).

If you have any additional questions about cruising, be sure to reach out because I have the answers. Until then, I’ll be daydreaming about our next Carnival cruise.

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This post was created for Away We Go with Carnival, the destination for getting in the getaway state of mind. Head on over.

 

So You’re Thinking About Cruising, Huh?

I’ve been fortunate to venture on two Carnival cruises in the past year or so, but at first I didn’t know what to expect. Would it be weird to be on a ship for such a long time? How would it compare to a traditional vacation?

I’m sure some of you reading this never experienced cruising before and wonder if it would be a good vacation option. As far as I’m concerned, the short answer is “absolutely yes.”

But I know you probably will need more convincing than that, so here are a few quick reasons why I believe that your next vacation should be a cruise.

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#1 – Forget the rental cars, hotels, and searching for food: In the interest of full disclosure, I’m not a fan of renting cars and installing car seats for the kiddos — especially when I’m trying to relax on vacation. When you cruise, it’s a simple process:

1) Fly to the port. 2) Take a shuttle to the ship. 3) Get on the ship.

That’s it.

Hotel? C’mon.

There is no need to find a hotel because the ship is the hotel!

What about eating?

Have you ever visited a foreign country, traveled 10 miles to a restaurant, and realized that your kids weren’t interested in the food? Not a problem on a cruise, because Carnival has food options onboard to please the pickiest of eaters.

Needless to say, cruising absolutely simplifies the vacation process.

#2 – There is SO much to do!: Ever go on a traditional vacation and find yourself driving around aimlessly looking for something fun to do? Well, it happened to me plenty of times and I was never happy about it. That’s where cruising saves the day because the ship is like a big floating city.

Want entertainment? There are sports bars, comedy shows, a spa, live music, dance clubs, karaoke, gourmet restaurants, and stage shows, just to name a few. Again, Carnival comes through with diverse entertainment choices to please every grown up on the ship.

And if you want to enjoy grown up fun without the kids, many Carnival ships have built-in childcare services. You seriously cannot beat that.

Speaking of the kiddos, what can they do for fun?

Many Carnival ships have video game arcades, amazing waterparks, a Seuss At Sea breakfast where their favorite Dr. Seuss characters came to life, interactive game shows, and 24-hour ice cream and pizza.

There is nonstop fun for all ages.

#3 – The people are great: Oftentimes it’s a mixed bag when you go on a traditional vacation. You never know if the people you’ll meet will be friendly or not. My experience was totally different when I cruised with my family. Everyone I met was extremely nice. No joke – the customer service I received while on the Carnival Sunshine and Carnival Freedom was the best I’ve ever received anywhere. The crew members knew my name (and how to pronounce it properly, which adds extra bonus points), they knew my family members’ names, they were attentive and timely whenever we had an issue that needed to be addressed, and they even displayed a sense of humor by creating little frog towels and leaving them in my room. The word “epic” wouldn’t even begin to describe how amazing these folks were.

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But that’s only half of it, because the guests were amazing, too. Meeting great people who want to share their happiness with you is probably one of the coolest parts of cruising. It doesn’t matter what the color of your skin is, your political affiliations, or any of the other noise – everyone comes together for one singular goal, which is to have a good time.

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 These are just a few reasons why cruising is really the only way I choose to vacation with my family. If you’re considering going on a cruise, definitely go for it. You won’t regret it.

This post was created for Away We Go with Carnival, the destination for getting in the getaway state of mind. Head on over.

 

Life After Death

Four years ago, my twin brother Shola and I traveled from California to our home state of Massachusetts for the memorial service of our childhood friend who passed away due to cancer. Although less than 1% of my readers know Wade McDowell personally, it doesn’t change the fact that he can teach all of us a few things about how to live our best lives.

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