Family Friendly Vacation #AllureoftheSeas

I have always loved to travel.  Becoming a parent puts a spin on vacation but I was determined not to stop traveling and not to leave my kids at home while I discover new things.  As I prepare for another cruise with my babies I wanted to post about my son's first cruise when he was 15 months old.  This upcoming cruise will be his 3rd cruise and he is almost three years old.  My daughter will only be 8 months old when we sail.  As a person who cruised 14 times without kids and now a frequent cruiser with kids, I have a unique perspective on how to enjoy this type of family vacation!  And for those of you wondering if one can you really enjoy a cruise with a toddler, the answer is YES!  I think that Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas is one of the best family friendly vacations for all ages! Allure of the seas with a toddler from the household hero I went on my first cruise when I was 6 years old and continued cruising all my life.  In 2012, I went on my 15th cruise but it was different than the last 14 because I was taking my own child who was just a toddler.  We chose this ship as his first because of two factors:  it offers the Royal Babies & Tots program and it has character interaction. Plus it is a new, large ship with lots to keep you entertained.  The ship is so large it was impossible to experience everything in the week, which is another reason we are choosing to go back on this ship in September.  Below are some details that make this the perfect family vacation. Allure of the Seas Family Friendly Cruise The Household Hero Family Friendly Ship Allure of the Seas is the most kid friendly ship I have been on.  Family areas that my son loved is the carousel, build-a-bear shop, and candy shop that are all on the Boardwalk.  There arcade is awesome (even fun for adults), there is a playroom for babies and toddlers to play with a large selection of toys anytime of the day with their parents.  Some of the shows are excellent for kids and adults alike- Aqua theater shows and ice skating shows!  And the cupcake decorating class is a fun, learning activity. To keep kids and parents connected, RCI offers the "Wow Phone." These are iPhones stripped of their outside calling capabilities. The phones, which are also loaded with deck plans and Cruise Compasses, are $17.50 each for a week. The Wow Phones can be reached by any phone on the ship. The phones also have tracking devices, perfect for locating your teenagers! Allure of the Seas Family Friendly Cruise The Household Hero   Allure of the Seas Family Friendly Cruise The Household HeroAllure of the Seas Family Friendly Cruise The Household Hero The Children's Programs On deck 14 is the 29,000-square-foot Youth Zone, which is divided into age-appropriate spaces as well as rooms dedicated to science experiments (make snow in the Caribbean), theater instruction and arts & crafts. Royal Caribbean has partnerships with Crayola and Fisher-Price, which means that the Kid Zone has tons of colorful toys, games and supplies. Also in the area is one of Allure's two arcades, with typical arcade fun like skeeball, air hockey, and first person shooter games.  In this area is where you take your kids to participate in the ship's children's programs. The Royal Tots and Royal Babies program is the number one reason we chose this ship.  At the time it was the only ship that offered a program for the babies.  The Royal Tots and Babies provides childcare and activities for children from 6 to 36 months old. All parents have an opportunity to reserve spots for their kids at the beginning of each cruise at a cost of $8 per hour, per child. Remaining hours are then opened up on a first-come, first-served basis. It was simple to register Conner, they gave us a ship "cell phone" that we were able to use all week (even when Conner was not in their care) and they provided a report card of what he did while he was there.  I was initially worried about his reaction because he had never been in any daycare setting, but he loved it.  He loved the toys, the interaction with other babies his age and of course the attention from the staff.  We took our son 4 out of the 7 days for 3-4 hours while we went to do late night activities around the ship like the adult comedy, formal dinner, etc.  Each time we came to pick him up they had him in his pajamas, fed, changed and asleep!  So I highly recommend this program for any parents out there curious as to whether they should take their younger babies on a cruise.  Keep in mind that not all Royal Caribbean Cruise ships offer the Royal Babies and Tots Program. The Adventure Ocean is the free Children's program for kids 3-17 (the toddlers must be 100% potty trained to participate). The program divides the children into three age groups: ages 3 to 5 (Aquanauts), 6 to 8 (Explorers), 9 to 11 (Voyagers) and 12-17 (teens).   We are so excited that Conner will get to join in on the fun of the Aquanaut Program this year!   Teens have their own lounge (living room), dance club, and arcade to hang out in. Allure of the Seas Family Friendly Cruise The Household Hero DreamWorks Experiences There are so many opportunities for character interaction on the ship but it is not in an annoying overloaded way.  No worries, if your kid is afraid or not interested because it would be easily avoidable if the character interaction is of no interest.  However, for my son, characters are a fun treat to see.  Photo opportunities with the characters from Shrek and Madagascar are abundant, some are for you to take with your own camera and others are done by the ship photographers.  There were three chances for taking part in the character breakfast with a special chocolate menu.  And then some special performances involving these fun characters.  Because of our room category, we had the unique chance to have a party on the helicopter pad as we sailed away from Labadee and Shrek came to visit each of us (see first photo of this post)! Allure of the Seas Dreamworks Character Breakfast The Household Hero Allure of the Seas Family Friendly Cruise The Household Hero Family Friendly Ports I have been to every Caribbean port, so I really enjoy the private island days.  We rented a cabana on Barefoot Beach.  I highly recommend booking a cabana if you have young kids so that they can have shade and a comfortable area to nap.  Labadee is a favorite of mine because it provides relaxation, adrenaline pumping activities (Dragon's Breath zipline- done this twice and LOVE it) and a fun kids splash pad area as well as the Adventure Ocean island location. Allure of the seas with a toddler from the household hero Allure of the Seas Family Friendly Cruise The Household Hero Allure of the Seas Dragon's Breath Zipline The Household Hero PHOTOS!!! - I love all the great photos I can get of my family on a cruise.  Usually I do most of the picture taking, so I don't get in many photos.  And the ones I am in are never up the quality I wish they were.  So when I saw the new photo packages that Royal Caribbean offers I got excited and was on a mission to take lots of professional photos because I bought the CD that would have a large digital file of every picture that myself, my husband or my son was in.  What a deal! Allure of the Seas Family Friendly Cruise The Household Hero #cruisingwithkids Allure of the Seas Family Friendly Cruise The Household Hero Do you have a favorite family friendly vacation?  Have you ever cruised with your kids?   

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