Toren, who did sleep on the flight from Amsterdam to Atlanta, was still on Greek time, so he woke up at 2:30 ready to play.  Since I had gotten 3 hours or so of sleep on the flight, I got up with him and let Debi sleep.  We walked around the hotel until about 4:30, when we had to get up to get ready to go back to the airport.  We made it back to the airport fine and our flight to Tampa was uneventful.  We did use our meal vouchers (courtesy of Delta) to buy a bunch of donuts, though, and gave them out to various people.  Everything seemed fine when we arrived in Tampa, until one of our bags (my bag) didn’t show up.  When I asked about it, the baggage claim guy said it was still in Amsterdam according to their records, even though I carried it through customs in Atlanta.  That didn’t seem like a good sign.  Anyway, they said they’d send it to our house when they found it.  They did finally find it, the next day, and got it to us that afternoon.  So, trip complete.

Some thoughts on cruising with a young child:

  • Cruises don’t really cater to really young kids (<3).  Yes, they have highchairs and cribs, and yes the staff are friendly, but kids in diapers or pullups are not allowed in any swimming pools on the ship.  Also, there is no childcare for really young kids.  There are no babysitters you can pay to watch your kid during the day.  The one daily activity they have for kids under 3 is about 45 minutes long and requires that a parent be there.  In short, cruise ships primarily cater to the old, fat, white people who predominate, then to other adults, then to their teen+ kids, then to kids between about 4 and 12 who get some special treatment.  If you are thinking about cruising with a kid under 3, don’t expect it to be all that easy.
  • During one of the excursions, someone from our ship struck up a conversation with Brent and Suzy and asked them, “Are you the ones with the baby?”  Brent and Suzy said no, but that the baby was part of their group.  This person then said, “I would never travel to Europe with a baby.  How exhausting!”  Well, there is some truth to that.  Don’t expect to do all the things you could do on a cruise when you were single. On our previous cruises, we typically would go to the nightly shows and then go out dancing. With Toren, we were lucky we got up in the morning in time for our excursions (he slept in our bed and loves to kick me and toss and turn all night). Toren was reasonably well-behaved on the excursions (less so on the last two), but whenever we had an early morning excursion, we couldn’t help but crash in the afternoon before dinner.  We showered before dinner, and then after a nearly 2 hour dinner (with three courses), it was too late (8:30) to go do anything with the kids and too early to see any shows.  So, we ended up typically just going back to our room and waiting Toren out until he fell asleep.  So, yes, it’s exhausting.  But traveling is typically exhausting anyway, and so is parenting.  So, I don’t think it would have made much of a difference if we were home or on the trip – either way, Toren is a lot of work (and a lot of fun!).
  • Finally, I also feel a bit guilty. Most of the staff on the ship are people from developing countries who are working on the cruise ship because this offers them a substantial improvement in life. But, they do this at great personal sacrifice. Our primary waiter, Brenda, had a child the same as age Toren, a girl. Brenda is on the ship for 7 months at a time, then home for 2. Her husband and parents take care of her daughter while she’s away. I can’t even imagine seeing Toren just 2 months out of every 9. Likewise, our room attendant, Angelina, from Mauritius, has three kids – 8, 12, and 15. She’s on the ship 6 months, then home 2. She’s been doing this for 6 years, which means she has been gone for ¾ of her children’s lives over the last 6 years. I only feel slightly better about this when I think that this means her children will have a better financial starting point than she did, but it still breaks my heart to think about how much of her children’s lives she is missing. Brenda said she cried everyday when she first came aboard the ship because she was missing her child so much. Having Toren on the ship reminds them of the kids they have left at home. So, it made me feel guilty.

Anyway, the trip was a lot of fun.  We got to see a lot of amazing things and spend time with family, which is really the point.  Some fun trip statistics for you:

  • Countries visited: 5 (France, Italy, Croatia, Greece, Holland – kind of)
  • Miles traveled: 13,100 (excluding walking around locally)
  • Photos taken: about 2,000, but I’ve deleted some since

I hope you enjoyed the trip report!

Map of our travels:

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3 Replies to “Europe Trip – day 16 (unexpected) – getting home and final thoughts on cruising with really young kids”

  1. Hi Ryan, Debi and Toren,

    I really enjoyed reading about your trip! It appeared to be a wonderful time, even if at times “exhausting” or “a lot of work” 😉 …

    All the best!

    –Angela

  2. I am leaving in June with a group of women for the same Greek Island cruise. It was nice to read your thoughts and see the photos.

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