The late David Foster Wallace wrote a hilarious essay on his maiden cruise voyage entitled, “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again,” the gist of which is aptly conveyed by the title alone.
I think the Caribbean sun melted my sense of sarcasm, because not only was it fun, but I’m definitely going to do it again. Really. I feel tanned, rested, and ready, because I have learned the following things from the past week.
1. Do not fear the words “Disney Cruise.”
A friend of mine noted that the words Disney Cruise, “might be, separately, the two scariest words in the English language, and together…wow, good luck.”
When it comes to Disney, there are haters and there are lovers. The true through-and-through haters have usually never been to any Disney location. These people decry long lines and “forced fun” (see under: my ex-husband). The other end of the spectrum, the hard-core Disney lovers, are a little scary. These are people who wear Disney-related paraphernalia regularly and for whom a Disney World wedding–complete with Cinderella-style gown and coach–would be an unironic ideal.
I’m more toward the love end of the spectrum (though very far from hard-core) for a simple reason: I loved it as a kid, and my kids love it now. And I love seeing them love it. I loved watching my boys ride the on-deck waterslide, screaming their heads off. I loved watching my not-yet-2-year-old daughter look up at the stage and say, “Wow,” and then dance in that funny, toddler-tummy-jutting-out-way. I loved being in a place that made them so happy.
I also, frankly, loved being on a cruise with kids because it was magical to go to several places, yet I only had to unpack everyone once. I loved being in a place where no one looked at you twice for having a screaming toddler at your table–perhaps because they too had screaming toddlers at theirs. I loved being in a place where, in the evening, for $10/hour, I could tuck the girls into evening care in their pajamas and go to an adult dinner with my husband and parents. And I loved being in a place where kids were seen not as annoyances or baggage, but rather, joys–admittedly, joys that occasionally convincingly appear to be annoyances or baggage.
2. Bikinis Do Not Go Well with Incontinence and/or Water Slides.
Bikinis look very cute on toddler girls. They also make it a lot easier to change swim diapers and rubber pants in the event of what I will call a “shituation.”
That being said, bikini bottoms come off pretty easily on slippery water slides. And even if they do stay on, they cannot really contain the aforementioned swim diapers, rubber pants, and their perhaps unexpected contents in a time of need.
3. If Your Daughter’s Fecal Incident Closes The Water Slide or a Half Day While the Entire Kiddie Water Area is Disinfected, Do Not Tell Your Husband Within Earshot Of Your Big-Mouthed 7-Year-Old Son, Unless You Want Said Information Loudly Broadcast to Approximately 100 People.
No elaboration needed, surely.
4. You Have The MacGyver In You.
Didn’t bring the bottle brush? No worries: buy an extra toothbrush in the gift shop and use that to scrub out your bottles each night. Forgot the sippy cup? Go to the coffee bar, get a coffee cup with a plastic lid that you’d usually think of for your macchiato, and ta da!
Also, you can never bring too many diapers.
5. Getting There Will Most Assuredly Not Be Half the Fun.
There will be miserable parts of your journey, to be sure–like the unpleasant discovery that the plane’s bathrooms have no changing tables (um, flight to ORLANDO, people??), or the toddler’s discovery of her ability to yodel. But there will be unforeseen miracles as well, like the flight attendant who is super-sweet to your children, or the way that your 6-month-old baby decides to fall asleep before the plane taxis to the runway and sleeps the WHOLE FLIGHT.
Perhaps that’s a good metaphor for traveling with kids generally. It’s a lot of work and hassle, definitely. But worth it? Definitely.