Our ride: Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas

Our family reunion ride: Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas

Over the holidays, 30 members of my family and I were lucky enough to have a family reunion on Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas for 5 days from Ft. Lauderdale to Cozumel, Mexico and back. We had a fabulous time. Here are 12 reasons why family reunion cruises rule:

Get Lost and Watch the Sunset

Get Lost and Watch the Sunset

1. You Can Get Lost

Seeing your long lost relatives again will be wonderful…at least for the first few days. But, let’s face it, at some point you’ll need a break from all the together time (and inevitable drama). There are plenty of places to get lost and not found on a cruise ship. Our ship, Liberty of the Seas, had 15 decks and plenty to see…including jaw-dropping sunsets.

2. Entire Family Tree Pictures

On family reunion cruises, you’ll have nightly opportunities to take an entire family tree picture. My suggestions? Meet 30-45 minute before your dinner seating so everyone is looking their best. Pose on the grand staircase so everyone can be seen, from Grandpa to baby Ethan. Then, go to your “happy place” while it takes the photographer 5 minutes to get everyone to look at the camera, smile, and not blink. Didn’t get a framer? No worries, the photogs will be ready to shoot the entire gang again tomorrow night…that is, if you have the patience for it.

Our cool matching family reunion hats designed by my artsy-fartsy husband.

Our cool matching family reunion hats designed by my artsy-fartsy husband.

3. Matching Family Reunion Gear Seems Cool

On a cruise ship, matching family reunion gear seems cool. Why? Well, first off, your family won’t be the only ones wearing it. Also, though some cruisers are trés chic, most? Not so much. So, get your artsy-fartsy family member to have a hand in the design and your matching family reunion gear will be the best on the ship. We chose to do matching hats instead of family reunion t-shirts as, well, there’s more chance everyone will wear them…and more than once.

4. Big Family Dinners Every Night

The beauty of family reunion cruises is that you can do your own thing during the day (because not everyone will want to spend hours in the arcade like my 5 year old) and plan on meeting up each night for the dinner seating. Our big family dinners every night were so much fun because we could catch up on who won Bingo and who climbed the rock wall that day and it was just the right amount of time ALL together. Make dinner even better by having one person in the family assign tables each night so everyone sits with each relative at some point.

My Aunt Marian is dancing so fast (to hip hop) we can't even get a clear shot of her. Hysterical.

My Aunt Marian is dancing so fast (to hip hop) we can’t even get a clear shot of her. Hysterical.

5. Drink Packages + Large Groups = Fantastic Stories

If you like your cocktails, get the drink package for sure as you’ll get your money’s worth. Entertainment seems to be guaranteed with that package too with a big enough group. It seems that on cruises, drink packages + large groups = fantastic stories…like when my Aunt Marian stayed out all night dancing at the hip hop club…by herself.

6. Everyone Can Afford It

Cruising, in case you haven’t heard, is one of the most inexpensive ways to travel…especially internationally. So, nobody can get out of going on the family reunion cruise because they “can’t afford it.” Need a bargain cruise? Try vacationstogo.com…today I saw a 3 day Bahamas cruise for $229…and remember, food is included.

For us, adult time means margaritas. Frozen with salt, please!

For us, adult time means margaritas. Frozen with salt, please!

7. Adults Only Time

Family reunions bring kids of all ages and sizes and obnoxiousness levels. Luckily, family reunion cruises come with Kids Clubs (that kiddos usually love) and Adults Only Pools & Solariums. Give yourself (and everyone else) some adults only time. If your incredibly adorable children are annoying you, imagine how the rest of the family feels. Plus, parents are allowed to decompress, eat a meal while it’s hot, and complete a conversation every once in a while.

8. Keep Calm & Carry Nothing

One of the things I love most about cruising is that you don’t have to schlep anything around with you…no wallet or cash or even a handbag if you don’t want. All you need is their “SeaPass” card, as it’s called on Royal Caribbean, which gives you access to your cabin, checks your identity on and off the ship, and can be used for additional purchases like the sea-themed Christmas ornaments my kids had to have. By not having to think about the extra things, everyone can relax a little…or a lot.

Entertainment for All…Sorry, Glow Puppet Show, Dreamworks Breakfast, On Deck Shows, The FlowRider, and simply staring off into the distance.

Entertainment for All…Board Games, Glow Puppet Show, Dreamworks Breakfast, On Deck Shows, The FlowRider, and simply staring off into the distance.

9. Entertainment For All

With entertainment for all on a cruise, there’s no chance of boredom. Plus, nobody has to plan activities for the family reunion group as there are endless options of how to pass the time while cruising. Our favorite activities with the kids included the arcade, mini golf, the H2O Splash Zone, watching the Flowrider, Bingo, the Ice Show, and the Dreamworks Breakfast. But, everyone else seemed to enjoy themselves too with rock wall climbing, cupcake decorating, the spa, the gym, the casino, and the comedy club…to name a few things.

No chance of boredom with activities like mini-golf and rock wall climbing.

No chance of boredom with activities like mini-golf and rock wall climbing.

10. Unplugging Required

Though we’ve come a long way with internet speed on cruise ships, you’ll never get the same high speed connection that you have on land. So, using your cell phone while cruising often results in frustration and you’ll end up putting the thing down for once (Wow! It’s not attached?), relaxing, and maybe even truly connecting with your family.

Formal Night fanciness.

Formal Night fanciness.

11. You Look Maaahvalous

Even 3 day cruises now have a formal night. Whether you translate that as suit & tie and cocktail dresses or go big with tuxedos and gowns, you and your family will probably never look better. We all have to make some effort with formal night. Be sure to take a picture for evidence and post it on FaceBrag (I mean, Facebook)…because you look maaahvalous.

12. There’s No Going Home

Once you’re onboard, you’re in it for the long haul. There’s no going home once this family reunion ship has set sail. So there will be no escapees. Family time must be had…like it or not. My family LOVED it and I hope yours does too. But, if family overload strikes and you want to throw yourself overboard, please refer to reason #1. And remember, you have to disembark eventually.

My little one, sad to disembark.

My little one, sad to disembark.

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