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Grandparents, Toddlers, and Vacation – Oh My!

If you’re following me on social media, you’ve probably noticed a lot of photos taken of me and my family on an 8-day eastern Caribbean cruise courtesy of Carnival. Without question, it was the best vacation of my life, but I’ll get to that part in a minute. First let me talk about how it all went down.

When Carnival approached me to partner with them and it included a cruise vacation, I was very excited. It was a no-brainer for my immediate family to go, but when I approached my mom about it, she instantly said, “No.”

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Here’s the thing about my mom: she doesn’t like water at all. She’ll drink it and shower in it, but that’s it. She doesn’t like beaches, waterparks, lakes, rivers, bridges over water, etc. – and the thought of her being the middle of the ocean on a ship did not appeal to her in the slightest bit.

That’s when my dad came in to save the day. His mantra is to “celebrate life” and what better way is there to do that than by spending time with the kids and grandkids? Finally my mom was convinced and she got on-board (literally and figuratively).

Once we arrived on the beautiful Carnival Sunshine we took a brief tour and my parents were blown away. My mom warmed up instantly when she saw that it was like a little floating city. The ship has everything. Comedy clubs, coffee shops, spa, gym, movies, 24-hour pizza and ice cream, and fine dining restaurants to name a few. All of it was amazing, but the best part was witnessing the joy in the eyes of my parents and my kids as they interacted with each other.


Unfortunately, we don’t have the luxury of visiting with my parents that often because we live on opposite ends of the country (California and Massachusetts, respectively). As a matter of fact, this cruise marked the first time my parents met my 22-month old daughter Reiko in person. Sure, we’ve had regular video conferences, but there’s no substitute for real hugs and kisses.

It was like clockwork the moment everyone got together. My mom and Reiko would take strolls around the ship hand-in-hand to take in the atmosphere. It became a ritual for them and it reminded me of when she would hold my hand and take walks with me around our neighborhood when I was little.


Watching my dad interact with my oldest daughter Emiko was priceless as well. He is so good with kids and I learned everything about how to be a dad from that man. He’s so attentive, funny, and patient – and my girls absolutely love him.


But beyond the interactions between my kids and my parents – I loved how the cruise helped to change paradigms. Remember how my mom was scared to be on a ship? Well, after two days on it – I was able to convince her to zipline with me in St. Kitts. Keep in mind, the definition of “scary” to my mom is overcooking a pasta casserole – so this was a BIG deal. Granted, it took her a while to warm up to the idea as evidenced by the epic “Mom Stare” in this photo, but she did go through with it and loved every minute.


Also, I loved seeing my mom and dad enjoy time with each other on the ship. They’ve enjoyed 45 years and counting of the strongest marriage I’ve ever witnessed. Seeing them holding hands and constantly uttering “I love yous,” was just awesome to be a part of. And not to mention, they were easily one of the best-dressed couples on formal night. Check them out rocking traditional African gear.


As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, this was easily the best vacation of my lifetime because I was able to spend it with the people I love the most in a stress-free, fun-filled environment. We enjoyed drinks, food, beautiful locations, bad karaoke singing (courtesy of yours truly), great weather, and a whole lot of quality family time.


Do you know what the proverbial icing on the cake was? Once the trip was over, my mom told me, “So, when are we going on our next cruise?” She’s completely hooked and stated that cruising would be the only way she would vacation going forward. I would say that I told her so, but I know better than to ruffle my mama’s feathers. The end result is that I’m ready to plan a sequel to this epic adventure much sooner than later.

This post was created for Away We Go with Carnival, the destination for getting in the getaway state of mind.