santa cruz wharf

08 July 2007

Cruising Memories

I just read a great little post at The Goat Rodeo on Cruising Commandments…and confess I have personally broken a few of them. The one I am MOST guilty of violating is letting the kids run around in packs.

The first time we all cruised as a family was several years ago over New Years. For us it’s a really big week…a couple days before New Years is SugarCookie’s birthday…and a couple days after is Little Missy’s. Your basic week of non-stop celebrations.

While on a cruise…I require everyone to meet up in the morning…EVERY morning to check in and plan. There are always a couple of educational, historical site excursions I force everyone to go on. I also mandate they convene one hour prior to dinner at the same bar, at the same table…all gussied up….and that we always have dinner together. During the week I make a point of doing something special with each one by themselves. Other than that…they were pretty much on their own.

I learned the first time out...on Day One to buy the kids their own soda card. A soda on board costs a few dollars EACH…so it adds up astronomically. For about $25 you can buy your kids a soda card entitling them to unlimited sodas for the duration of the cruise. Cool.

As the week progresses....the girls are hanging out with a group of late teens/early twenties…having a high old time. Up to all hours dancing and whatnot. Soaking up the sun and fun during the day. The boy is running in a pack of about ten young cubs. They spend most of their time in the pool…or rock climbing or in the video game room. Please note the games in the video game room are paid for and pay off in little tokens. The same little tokens used in the casino slot machines.

You may know your children can gamble on a cruise if they are over 18…but they are not suppose to drink if under 21. Also cool. Unless your daughter who (in full attack makeup and dressed in Nordstrom’s finest) smiles at the tall cute blond bartender on night one of the cruise. Said bartender updates her stateroom keycard in the computer to show that she is over 21. What incredible customer service. Pretty much she could now order alcohol at any place on the ship. Sigh. Thankfully she drinks in moderation…and did not abuse the privilege…I don’t even know until New Years Eve.

Her younger sister actually looks older…and more than once I spot them side by side at the slot machines. I figure hey…its their allotted spending money…when its gone its gone. A Life Lesson on the evils of gambling. (I’m thinking this on my way to the roulette wheel.)

It wasn’t until New Years Eve that I clued in to all that had been going on. This was the night we were all wearing our most elegant gowns and tuxedos. I even brushed my hair and put on makeup. A pretty big deal for one who spends her life in jeans and sandals. I was requiring extensive photo taking and mandatory memory making. I went into their stateroom to check on their progress…and just inside the door is a table with a MOUNTAIN of tokens. No kidding. Ends up being a bit over three hundred dollars…. In 25 CENT tokens. There is NO WAY they are this lucky on the slot machine.

I don’t actually have to say a word. They know full well my “don’t e-ph with me now" face. In unison the girls point to their brother. “Its his”

He does the little boy innocent…”whatdididonow?” as the girls try to slip by me and out the door. I block their escape (not too difficult in a stateroom.) The oldest (the one I gave birth to and who has experienced my wrath more frequently than the others) knows they are totally busted… takes charge and tells the tale.

Apparently my little entrepreneur had been helping out his buddies. THEIR parents neglected to purchase the soda card at the beginning of the cruise….AND they had limited their sons’ soda purchasing ability. However they had not limited the videogame token buying ability. Yep. For the past five days…my kid has been supplying his buddies sodas for the bargain price of six tokens ($1.50)…’cause after all….he (and his sisters) have unlimited soda buying power. In turn, he is providing the girls with an unlimited supply of tokens for the casino. (isn’t it just so sweet when your kids share with one another?)

I have no idea how to parent in this situation. Part of me is appalled at the violation of the soda card. Part of me is horrified by the taking advantage of the other parents’ ignorance. And part of me is just so damn proud. I resort to the wimpy “we’ll talk about this later” and fill my little black beaded bag with as many tokens as I can jam in. Its so heavy I can’t use the shoulder strap.

So fast forward a few hours… we are all at the big New Years Eve Bash. (if you’ve never done a New Years cruise…I HIGHLY recommend it. ) The bars were five people deep and the waiters were running ragged. Being 5’2” in a thirsty mass ten minutes before midnight doesn’t work out so well. There is no way I’m giving up our prime location table to get a drink and I’m about ready to give up…when one daughter pats me on the shoulder…and the other says, “hang on…I got this”. I watch them slide around the crowd to the service edge of the bar. The tall cute blond bartender immediately leans over to my girls. Smiles all around. Somehow they all seem to know each other. I now have a Jack in my hand…looks like a double…and the girls each have some exotic looking concoction. Somehow the tall cute blond bartender seems to know the stateroom number to charge without asking. I just raise my eyebrows. Daughter smiles, shrugs and says….”the computer says I’m 21”

T-minus-one-minute-to-midnight the boy shows up with a couple of his friends…sodas in hand. One of his friends has a very attractive father in tow. Ten….Nine…Eight…Seven….


mar said...

What fun! I have never been in a cruise and New Year's is also our week of celebration: our anniversary is on Jan 2nd! Your son is a born businessman! Having cute daughters is always a plus :)

To answer your question: yes - I took the pictures of the sunflowers, I love these flowers but the couple who brought them didn't know this, so it was a big and nice surprise for me (and for them too !)

justabeachkat said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog. Youu're always welcome.

Enjoyed my visit here to your blog too.


Mel said...


What a gang of entrepreneurs you have.

Next cruise, I might haffta borrow 'em!

crazy working mom said...

Heh heh...what an awesome post! I have so much to look forward to, I know. :)

Your son is a very smart cookie, ya hafta admit.

craig andrew said...

Dang!! I wish I were that cleaver! (and, I wish I could control a bartender with the wink of an eye!)

Morgen said...

I love how you were exasperated and yet proud of your little cruising entrepreneurs!

JohnH985 said...

Sounds like a lot of fun was had by all. I took a cruise years ago to Alaska and loved it.

Travis said...

I bow to you and your child rearing expertise. You are to be admired.