Vacationing as a single mom is a bit of a paradox. The location may scream VACATION but the days and nights still feel like continuous work as you cook, clean, discipline and care-for your kids solo- just like any other day. I usually return from vacations with that I-need-a-vacation-from-my-vacation feeling.
When we returned from our first-ever cruise on the Norwegian Escape, however, I was feeling rejuvenated and refreshed with a new love for life. I knew I could get through anything (as long as there was another cruise in my future)! As soon as we boarded, I decided that life (and stress) is simply something that happens between cruises.
Here is why cruising is the best vacation option for single moms:
There Is a Lot of Help On Board
Our cruise was complete with built-in-help at every corner. Every meal—and there were lots of them—was taken care of by someone other than me and that alone is a vacation!
Cleaning? I didn’t have to lift a finger! The room attendant came to the room twice a day to tidy-up. She even left us cute towel animals each day! I splurged on the laundry service at the end of the week as an extra treat for myself and we returned with clean, folded clothes which made unpacking abnormally satisfying.
There were Kids Clubs galore so I was able to drop the kids for fun activities like Survivor night and talent shows while I caught some rays all by lonesome. I felt like anything but a single mom on board. I had a village of my own for the week and it was fantastic and relaxing. Oh, how I miss my Norwegian Cruise Line village!
You Get the Best of Both Worlds
After our vacation ended, I asked my kids which days they liked the best—the at sea days or the docked-in-Bermuda days. They couldn’t decide because both were so fun for different reasons. During our sea days it was as if we were among long lost relatives—we got to know the cruise director, the assistant director and all of the entertainers. We often went back to our room and laughed about the days’ happenings. We tuned into the NCL television channel and hoped to see ourselves on the screen. We competed in trivia contests, scavenger hunts, and we played so much Bingo.
And for 2.5 days when the boat was docked, we explored the beautiful island of Bermuda. We swam with the dolphins and we had a blast at X20 Adventures, a local inflatable water park. We experienced the best of both vacation worlds with the ease of one travel-experience. I would have never been able to afford airfare, hotel, food, and travel for four to Bermuda. Without a cruise, my kids would have never seen the beautiful teal water and pink sands of Bermuda.
Financial Stress is Low
I live on a tight budget and paying for a cruise for four was really tough. We cut a lot of corners to make the payments and we sacrificed a lot of our usual luxuries (like dining out and buying new clothes) to book this cruise. But once we were on board, there was 0 financial stress. There were extras, of course, like delicious gelato, hibachi, and fun games with cash prizes like Who Wants to Be a Billionaire.
We chose to spend very little on board and we didn’t feel at all deprived. I knew that we had activities and meals planned for days to come. I didn’t have to spend my days carrying the one and calculating how much money we had before saying yes or no to the kids. Turns out I am a really, really good mom when financial stress is completely removed.
It Feels Loooooong
You know that how-did-that-vacation-go-by-so-quickly feeling? Well, there was none of that. Norwegian packed each and every day with so many activities that we gladly set our alarm for 6:30 a.m. and kept ourselves busy through 11 p.m. each night. We didn’t want to miss a thing-and we didn’t have to. We fit so much of life’s best experiences into each day and the vacation was anything but fleeting.
The Family Bonding is SO Meaningful
It is hard to put into words just how meaningful this cruise was to our family. We bonded in a way that words can’t describe. It changed us as a family and it changed us for the better. For eight days, we were consistently our best selves. We fought less and we loved more. We were overcome with gratitude. We didn’t use our cell phones or watch Youtube or have a clue what was happening in the outside world. We had full bellies and fuller hearts.
We danced well and we sung horribly and we didn’t care what anyone thought because we were a family making memories. We made a new family, too in the Norwegian Staff and I do not hesitate to admit that I cried at the send-off party in the theater. We may never see Alvin, Alex, Dinali, or Samanta again, but these members of Norwegian’s staff have permanently stamped our hearts and our souls with love and warmth. They come up in conversation daily as my kids remember the best week ever and we secretly pray that we will one day in the not-so-far-future, cruise again.
Suzanne Hayes is a freelance writer who resides in Connecticut with her three children. She writes about life as a single mom, travel excursions, divorce, and sobriety and you can follow her on Facebook at Sobermom by Suzanne Eileen.