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Provided by Erin Stewart
With everything else taken care of, Erin Stewart was able to sit back, relax and enjoy the vacation, instead of planning it.

Every mother knows that there is really no such thing as a vacation with your kids. All the work we do at home — the feeding, the changing, the cleaning, the planning, the fight-refereeing — doesn’t take a break during so-called “vacations.”

And so, the idea of an actual vacation with kids has always been somewhat of a myth for me — until last week. You see, I’ve discovered that the secret to the mom vacation (besides not bringing your kids, of course) has been hiding on a cruise ship.

My family and I returned last week from our first cruise, and I am almost entirely convinced that cruising is the best way for mom to actually take a vacay from the mom life while still being a mom.

We picked Carnival Cruise Line for our trip and set off for the eastern Caribbean on the Carnival Magic. As we boarded our boat, we met our room steward, who asked us whether we wanted our room cleaned in the morning or at night. When I hesitated, he said with a big smile, “Why not do both?!”

That’s when I knew: This vacation would be different. All the regular mom duties, the ones that never actually leave even when you’re on vacation, were already taken care of — by someone else. (Disclosure: There are numerous cruise lines with a variety of options for families. This reporter received a discount as part of her cruise.)

Let’s take a look at how this wizardry works:

1. The cleaning — While we were out swimming or snorkeling or stuffing our faces, our room was cleaned twice a day. New towels hung up on the racks. Trash taken out. Beds made with an adorable towel origami animal on the bed to greet us.

2. The cooking — Food as far as the eye can see, and none of it that I have to cook. It’s a mother’s dream. Kids want a snack? Send them to the buffet, and since it’s already paid for, they just get whatever they want. Have the munchies at 2 a.m.? No problem. Grab a pizza at the 24-hour pizza joint or order room service. Basically, there is always food and when you’re done, just leave the dirty dishes behind.

3. The entertainment — Moms spend weeks before a vacation planning out activities to avoid the dreaded “I’m bored” whine. I don’t think my kids even had the time (or energy) to think about being bored. Basically, just like the ever-present food options, there is always something to do. Kids camp and child-appropriate comedy shows and games and swimming pools and arcades. There was never a dull moment, and also never a moment that I had to plan. I scheduled our excursions at the ports several months in advance, but after I booked our tickets, all the details were worked out for me. All we had to do was show up.

4. The taking care of everyone — If there’s one hero of our cruise, it’s a man named Putrawan. As our room steward, he assured us he would take care of everything we needed. And he did.

In fact, thanks to him and all the hardworking staff on the Magic, the hardest part of our cruise was adjusting back to real life when we got home. I spent a good portion of the next day wandering around my kitchen with a dinner plate, hoping a buffet would magically appear. Spoiler alert: it didn’t. And now I’m sad.

So, it’s pretty safe to say our cruise may have ruined me for every other family vacation, and you can bet we’ll be back.

1 comment on this story

Because the best part of it all was that I, the mom, the planner, the chef, the cruise director of our family, was actually able to relax and enjoy time with my children. I didn’t have to nag about wet towels on the floor. I didn’t have to find affordable meal options for dinner. I didn’t have to organize activities to keep everyone occupied. I literally didn’t have to clear my own dishes, or anyone else’s.

Instead, I was able to spend time with my family, making memories instead of plans.