Travel: Born to Travel
We had resigned ourselves to the new truth of our lives—we would never travel again. How could we, what with everything we now had to bring: pack-and-play, formula, diapers, bibs, bottles, inflatable bathtub, diapers, stroller, Baby Bjorn, sling, diapers, and enough cute outfits to change our seven-month-old if applesauce dripped or spit-up splat or poop exploded, up to three times a day? So when I came across an ad for a cruise on the Norwegian Crown to Bermuda, I had the following string of thoughts: I need a beach; my husband needs a beach; my poor savaged nursing boobs, my aching, baby-holding arms, my haven’t-slept-longer-than-a-four-hour-stretch-in-seven-months dark circles all need a beach; the ship leaves from the Naval Yard; we can drive to the Naval Yard; we can eat on the ship; we can eat on this ship at all hours of the day or night; we can visit three cities in Bermuda and never have to switch rooms; we can do this!; we can do this with a seven-month-old! … except: We will never fit all of a seven-month-old’s stuff into a cruise ship cabin; we will never travel again.
“Why don’t we bring your parents?” My husband’s words were like mobile music to my ears. Yes! Bring my parents! Another cabin for spillover stuff! Built-in babysitters so we can play blackjack in the casino, do yoga at sunrise on the top deck, have a coconut rub and milk wrap in the Mandara Spa, dine together (alone!) on salmon à l’oseille at the upscale Le Bistro, sing karaoke after midnight at the Top of the Crown dance club! Yes! We can do this! We booked our cabins, feeling heartened that there is, in fact, life after baby and that said life can include white sand and rum.
And there was rum. And rum cakes. And rum swizzles. And there was sand. And warm beaches, even in October. And endless views, especially at Horseshoe Bay. And great ship food—especially the blueberry blintzes and coffee. And there was shopping, especially in Hamilton. And there was space—surprisingly large rooms (for a cruise ship) with tons of storage, a table, chairs, two comfy beds. And cabin boys, who treated you as if this was a super-posh luxury line. And there was a baby who loved being strollered through all of the quaint zigzagging Bermudian streets, who loved taking walks with her Poppy around and around the length of the ship, who loved all of the cooing and oohing by everyone we ran into (most were grandparently, except for the 10 or so other young parents who’d had the same idea we had). By the end of our seven days at sea, it seemed as if every one of the 1,100 guests on board knew our daughter’s name. And we suddenly felt differently about this parenting thing. On one hand, foolish for ever even yearning for the life we had before the baby, and on the other, surprised at the realization that this trip would never have been as much fun without a seven-month-old in a diaper asleep on the sand with four of the people who love her most in the world just sitting around her, watching her breathe.
Or maybe it was the sleep.
Because there was another thing we didn’t anticipate about traveling on a cruise ship with a baby. The rocking of the ship. Back and forth. Back and forth. All night long. Back and forth. Lulling Blair to sleep through the night for the first time in her little life. And lulling me to sleep through the night for the first time in her little life, too.
Norwegian Cruise Line at the Philadelphia Cruise Terminal, Philadelphia Naval Yard, 5100 South Broad Street, 800-327-7030; cruisephilly.com. From $574 per person, based on double occupancy, excluding taxes and port charges. Children under two pay only port charges and taxes.