Travel Log – July 2018

Day 1 – Newcastle

After a whole year of waiting, we were finally in Newcastle. We were closer than we had made it before!! We just had to arrive at the terminal and board in one piece.

We headed for breakfast and shortly after checking things twice, we headed for the terminal. Check in is so much easier than flying. We drove to the terminal, were given our boarding cards, our hold luggage was taken and we boarded the bus to take us to the ship.

Once at the ship a brief security check was passed and we boarded the boat and headed to our room. We were greeted by amazingly helpful and happy staff who could do nothing extra to assist us if they tried.

The room was fab, with more space than we expected. We unpacked and headed for food. Much to the boys delight there was a vast array of choice.

As we got under way we were treated to an astonishing thunderstorm, complete with forks of lightning, deafening thunderclaps and hail the size of marbles!! We were glad to leave it all behind and head out to sea on our adventure.

We explored the ship, played a mini game of golf, grabbed some drinks and explored some more.

We found restaurants, the climbing wall, an indoor and outdoor pool, as well as the spa and the gym.

Having eaten dinner and had a cheeky first night cocktail we retired to our cabin. We all sat on the balcony for a while, watching the sea and getting used to the motion of the boat, the noises and vibrations.

Having located everything we needed and upon making sure we knew where everything was, we were fully fed and watered and headed to bed. We were  ready to start our adventures.

Day 2 – Day at Sea

Our first full day on board and the boys woke up super excited and ready to explore, after checking the view out of the balcony we got dressed and headed up for breakfast in the buffet.

The boys loved being able to sit and look out to sea, they also loved the range of foods, naturally Isaac wanted a big breakfast and a cereal cocktail followed by sausage and hash browns and beans. Reuben was also delighted as he could have a snacky breakfast with juice.

We filled our plates and after a lovely breakfast we set off to explore the ship.

Half of the fun of the day was getting to see the boys’ faces as they explored each new floor and found each new room, restaurant and pool.

The boys were delighted with the outside areas and loved being able to run around the running track and immediately wanted to play the sliding puck game and then have a round of golf. It was nice to be able to say yes to each request as despite the fact that we had two weeks on board we had a whole day to spend just having fun.

Lunch was again an experience for the boys and afterwards we went back to the cabin for a bit of down time. The boys played as we unpacked and sorted everything into wardrobes. Once we got everything ready the boys decided that a swim was in order. The outside pool was the decided venue and once into their swimming attire the boys led the way to the poolside, we collected drinks (cocktails) on the way and found a sun lounger.

After a snack from the outdoor snack bar and laughing at the on deck entertainment it was time to get to the swimming.

We got to the poolside and the boys launched themselves in to the shallow paddling end to much squealing and laughing, Isaac braved the deep main pool however just as we got comfy and in position they both jumped out of the pool and declared it too cold!

We had to laugh (and agree) and so we headed into the inside pool and spent some time together in the water and then after the boys were splashed out we turned to the nearby snack bar where to our delight we found a whole new delicacy – cheesecake lollipops! So we washed these down with another cocktail and then bundled out little men back to the room wrapped in towels.

We managed to get us all showered and dressed and then headed out to get some dinner. Again the boys ate well and we chatted about the day and what we were going to do tomorrow. After dinner we explore around the ship and listened to the music in the different bars, the boys loved it and when we eventually got back to the cabin they grudgingly got in to their PJs and despite their protests they were asleep snuggled up together in about 10 minutes!

Once they were asleep we took the opportunity of a few cocktails brought back to the room before we too fell in to a contented sleep.

Day 3 – Oslo, Norway

We woke up this morning, to find ourselves in our first different country. It was exciting and such a lovely way to start the day. Seeing the sights and hearing the sounds of a new place. We had no plans for the day, so after a hefty breakfast, we made plans to head into Oslo. We had been told that no buses or transfers were needed for Oslo and so we decided to set off on foot to explore.

After initially checking out the waterfront,  we got our map out and started to explore in earnest. Our first destination was the fort that guards the port. The boys had a great time smiling and waving to the guards, climbing on the cannons and pretending to fire them. They also enjoyed exploring the various walls and courtyards, while we took advantage of the stunning views from the high walls. Views seen and photos taken of the stunning vista over the harbour, we headed into town.

With Isaac in charge of finding the street names and helping with the navigation (except for a small maze that was Reuben’s responsibility), we headed through the town past the town hall and on to the palace. It was nothing like London; here at the palace the guards are friendly and will wave and  smile and allow people to get close for photos. Isaac and Reuben loved the guards and as a bonus we found out that when the flag is flying the King is home – it was flying today!

We played for a while in the park, which is essentially the royal back garden. It was fun to think that the King saw us eating our picnic on his lawn!

Before getting back on the ship, we took a trip on the little hop on hop off land train that Reuben had been asking to ride. We were glad that we did as it took us to the Opera house, which is designed in such a way that you can walk right up the roof to the very top for yet more stunning views of the city. Isaac spotted some local children riding their scooters up and down the steep sloped and said that he wished he had his scooter with him – maybe next time! Reuben thought that the white marble building looked like ice and snow and even tried to slide down it on his bum! It really was worth a look and what an amazing thing to be able to walk onto the roof of a building and all the way round.

Soon it was time to head back to the ship, and we returned with many photos, some souvenirs and some lovely memories from a very pretty city.

Back on the ship there was time for more fun, some crazy golf and another climbing challenge for Isaac – this time against daddy…. Isaac won!  The climbing instructors then showed Isaac the knots to tie himself on and told him that if he came every day by the end of the trip they would let him tie himself on. A very happy little man left the climbing area.

The Islands buffet was the venue for tea again and the night ended with the boys fast asleep and the grown ups enjoying a cocktail on the balcony.

Day 4 – Gothenburg, Sweden

After a good nights sleep we woke up in Gothenburg ready for more exploring, we had a few ideas about Sweden, stylish furniture and safe cars but no real idea about the city we were to visit.

As we got off the boat we were faced with the Volvo museum (yes really)! We found our transfer bus and were soon safely strapped in (3 point belts in buses anyone!?) and on our way into town.

We were dropped in a large and pretty square in the centre of town, we looked at our collection of maps and decided to take a stroll.

As we wandered along the side of one of the city’s canals we found a lovely big park where we spent an hour or so with the boys running around and playing happily burning off a little energy.

The park was great and after a good explore and making friends with a family of ducks we headed into town after a stop for drinks and an ice cream (Reubs decided that an ice cream would help him explore!)

The City is very much a modern metropolis and while it was interesting to see the civic buildings and absorb the atmosphere of the city it did not have the character of Oslo or some of the other old cities that we have visited.

The city was clean and easy to find your way around and had it just been the two of us it is likely to have been a very nice place to browse and shop then have a lunch.

Back on the boat it was time for a climb and a swim before dinner.

The day ended with the boys in bed and the grown ups enjoying a cocktail on the balcony.

We had been advised by the captain that at about midnight we would pass underneath a pretty bridge, so naturally we tried to stay awake and see it.

We filled the time with a few more cocktails and at midnight we swayed gently on the balcony as the bridge came into view – it was very pretty all lit up against the dark sky and sea.

We found that in fact we had either been waiting longer than we thought or we had been drinking faster than we thought as it turned out that trying to take pictures of a bridge proved almost impossible.

We giggled ourselves to sleep after another lovely day.

Day 5 – Day at Sea

Another day to chill out, we could relax and have a break from exploring.

We got up and lazily got ready for breakfast then headed up to the buffet for breakfast, as usual Isaac went to town and had a breakfast to set him up for the day and even Reuben ate well and was looking forward to a day playing.

After breakfast we went to see the kids show with the underwater superheroes. The boys did us proud getting involved and happily playing without needing us to sit right with them.  After the show (during which we had accidentally had a beer) we went for a walk around the ship.

The boys wanted to have a fun day so we decided to fit in a much as we could.

We played the puck pushing game (with our own version of the rules) and then had a round of mini golf. After all of this exertion it was time for lunch, we decided that a snacky fish and chip lunch was the way forward and so we ate at the outdoor snack bar in the sunshine.

After lunch it was clearly time for a swim, and so we sat poolside enjoying the quiz while the boys paddles and splashed in the outdoor pool. This time the boys were much happier with the pool temperature and played happily for much of the afternoon. We enjoyed an occasional paddle while just enjoying watching the boys play and having a beer and taking it turns to snooze in the sun.

Once the boys were part prune we wrapped them in towels and got them dressed and warm. With a couple of cheesecake lollipops in us (for energy) we headed up to the climbing wall where Isaac climbed with Gareth and Reuben happily played with the slings and carabiners that the boys kindly let him play with.

After a climb and a few laughs we returned to the room for a shower and then got changed for Dinner. We ate at the Italian restaurant and it was fantastic, the food was excellent the service matched it and the boys were fantastically behaved and really made us proud.

After dinner we spent some time listening to the house band as Isaac and Reuben loved dancing to the songs and spent most of the set right in front of the stage.

After the show we carried a sleep Reuben back to the room and got both boys into their PJs and were asleep in minutes. We had a read on the balcony under a duvet and chatted over the day and made plans for the next days exploring with a cocktail and some late night nibbles.

Day 6 – Tallin, Estonia

So today was a little later than usual start as we did not arrive in Tallin until 10.30am. We woke at a reasonable hour and it was clear the boys had had a much needed sleep and caught up on any lost hours. We headed to breakfast as usual and after a quick change of clothes, as it was super hot, we headed out to find Tallin Centre. We had instructions and a map, but in the main, as there were so many ships docked at the terminal, we just simply followed the crowds.

Tallin is a beautiful city with old buildings and scenery. It is not tainted with a modern McDonalds or Starbucks.  It reminded us of several other European cities we had visited, in particular Dubrovnik and Krakow; each with a main old square and gorgeous buildings and architecture.

We explored around and took some photographs but feeling the need for a local beer, and an icecream/milkshake for the boys. We shaded from the sun as it was simply too hot to do too much at this point. The square and surroundings has a vast sea of shops and restaurants to choose from and you really are spoilt for choice.

Re-fuelled, we headed for a bit of a play, before finding a little train to take us on a mini tour round the centre. It was a good way to see the sights while resting little legs and sheltering from the sun. We returned to the main square however (after only 20 minutes) to the sound of thunder and the sight of lightening. The weather really did change that quick. We located shelter under a nearby building and within a few minutes everyone had followed suit. We snuggled under and watched the rain fall. It lasted a while and eventually started to ease off. So, we headed back to the ship, but not before browsing for local souvenirs and gifts. We purchased our usual shot glass, magnets and postcards (it’s an essential from each country). We then headed through the market place, and spotted some football t-shirts for a good price. Isaac also spotted a little necklace and dog tag which he kindly asked if he could purchase, so we bought these as well. We then headed back to the ship.

We thought the boys may want a rest, but Isaac desperately wanted to return to the climbing wall and this time it was a Mummy and Isaac challenge, although I was not particularly ready for the challenge!  We were not sure if the wall would be running due to the rain, but we were back in business.

Next stop was the Splash Live show – which is top secret as only the boys know what happens, so I can’t write about it, but they seem to enjoy it so we keep going back.

The boys still had not had quite enough for one day, so we then headed to the pool. The sun had returned and the boys enjoyed playing together. Reuben has really developed well with his swimming this holiday, so although its cold, we continue to let him swim if that’s what he wants to do. He’s doing so well.

Tonight we decided to try a different restaurant and headed to Gallery 47. This is a waiter service restaurant, so we had to dress for the occasion. It was a much different atmosphere, less chaotic and more relaxing for Damian and I as the food was brought to our table.  The boys had a lasagne and we sampled lots of different things from the menu.  We were also complimented by two separate couples on the behaviour of the boys, so headed out of there very happy people.

With only a mini protest about bedtime, the boys fell asleep and we indulged in our final cocktail of the evening before falling asleep, ready for and only a little nervous of our days ahead in Russia.

Day 7 – St Petersburg, Russia

oday was our first much anticipated day in Russia, we woke a little nervous but ready for adventure.

Our tour was not due to depart until late morning and so we decided to spend some time by the pool and have some fun before getting ready and heading out.

After a dip in the outside pool where both boys swam and splashed their hearts out, we returned to our room for a shower and change. The boys were unusually helpful and as we waited in the ships theatre for our instructions they enjoyed running around and doing secret missions – we weren’t sure what those were!

In the end the most complicated part of the trip was working out where to sit in the meeting area – we sussed it out in the end and headed ashore to go through passport control. This was the part of the trip that had us daunted the most – as it turned out totally without foundation. The staff were friendly and Isaac even got to hand over his own passport and was thrilled when it was stamped!!

The next part of the trip was very well organised, buses were waiting and our guide for the day Evgenia, who insisted on calling us all her dears, was friendly and informative. She was smiley and jokey and put everyone at ease after the scary information packs that we had been reading since we booked the cruise.

The first stop of the day was the Yousupof Palace, this was the palace where Rasputin met his end, the details of which were told with relish – but the palace is much more than that with stunning rooms and even its own theatre!!

Isaac was fascinated by the palace and listened intently to the guide as she described the rooms and how they were made, we even got to hear the end of a concert in the music room. Reuben lasted most of the way round before falling asleep on mummy!

After the palace we were taken to our tour boat for a canal tour of the city. This was stunning giving a different perspective. We happily took photo after photo and the boys loved being on a smaller faster boat and passing under a good number of the city’s 200 bridges.

With even the adults starting to flag a little we returned to our jetty and the bus for the short trip back to the ship. Once again passport control was easy enough and the boys relished holding their own passports and boarding cards.

Once back on board we headed to the buffet to refuel and after a lovely meal we returned to our cabins for an early night – we have booked on another sightseeing trip tomorrow and need to be up early so we set alarms and asked for a wake up call just to be on the safe side!

St Petersburg had surprised us, it as not the dour concrete communist city that we had expected, it was stunning, every bit as lavish and ornate as one would expect of a showcase city of a huge and wealthy empire. We agreed that it was somewhere that we would like to come again and maybe spend more time exploring at a slower pace.

Day 8 – St Petersburg, Russia

Today we were booked onto a sightseeing tour of the city by bus, this meant an early start, Three of us were up and dressed ready for breakfast, Reuben however, had to be coaxed into getting dressed with the promise of porridge with  raisins in it!!

After a hearty breakfast (with many raisins) we got started on our city tour. Once again passport control was a breeze and Isaac proudly handed over his own passport and cheerfully chatted to the official. Once on our bus we soon relaxed into the tour with our guide keeping up a stream of useful info about the various palaces, bridges, museums, assassinations and revolutions that have shaped this city and its architecture.

The tour afforded a number of photo stops, the best of these was at St Isaac’s cathedral where many photos had to be taken of a beaming Isaac in front of ‘his’ cathedral.

There was also a stop at an official souvenir shop where souvenirs of all types could be purchased, from Matrushka dolls to hunting knives via amber jewellery and Binoculars, the whole range of Russian produce was on display and most impressively a very charming young lady was offering free samples of various Vodkas – normally we wouldn’t have, but on this occasion we though we should and a few flavours were sampled!

After a few more stops and many more photos we arrived back in Port, we had been charmed by St Petersburg, it is very pretty and somewhere that we would love to come back to in the future to see in a different season and perhaps with more time to explore.

Once back on the ship the boys wanted to let off a little steam and cool off so it was onto the pool deck and into the pool – then after much jumping in and splashing about it was onto sun loungers snuggled up in towels and snacks while joining in the poolside game of catchphrase. (we were awesome!)

Isaac then made his daily pilgrimage to the climbing wall and Reubs beat Daddy at mini golf while Mummy popped to the gym. Then after a switch in the gym we all met up in the room – showered and changed and headed out for the evening.

The kids club were doing a pizza and movie night which the boys loved the idea of and so they went in there and the grown ups had a cocktail or three, hit the casino (with frankly disappointing results) and then went to listen to the live music in the lounge bar.

After picking the boys up we all returned to the cabin to get ready for a good nights sleep before our arrival in Helsinki in the morning. The boys fell asleep quickly and the adults, having a had a drink, decided that a curry was in order, so Damian went to the buffet and returned with two platefuls of various curried goodies – perfect!

We had been pleasantly surprised by Russia, we had expected problems and a hard time but the reality couldn’t have been further from those expectations, it has left us with very fond memories of a stunning city with friendly people.

Day 9 – Helsinki, Finland

So with our alarms going off at more or less the right times and us being excited about todays adventure we were all up and dressed relatively quickly.

A hearty breakfast was eaten with minimum fuss and we set of to find out bus to the town from the Cruise terminal. Our view from the boat had not given us much of a clue about Helsinki as the Ship had docked at the Cruise terminal which is a ways out of town, but 19 minutes on the bus and we were in the centre.

We consulted the various maps that we had managed to gather and decided that the first port of call should be a stroll through the pop up market on the water front and then on to the big wheel that promised great views over the city.

The market was an odd combination of fruit, coffee shops and tourist stalls selling everything from cherries to sheath knives with silver jewellery and reindeer antlers thrown in for good measure.

The big wheel proved to be great fun with three circuits the boys were delighted with the views and we clicked away with out cameras and also used the time at the top to plan out a route around the city based on the buildings that we saw which looked like they warranted a visit.

The first was an ornate Cathedral on the waterfront which Isaac liked but not as much as St Isaacs in St Petersburg! We then walked along the waterfront to the presidents residence which has a very lovely waterfront view and seems like a rather down to earth residence for a president!

We then headed into town to find Senate Square and the Senate building. this was relatively easy as once again we found that we were in a designed City rather than one that has spread organically and therefore navigation was a fairly easy matter of counting intersections and working out where you were from there!

on the way to Senate square we stumbled across a little play area with climbing frame and a sand pit – the boys happily tried out a Finnish play area and decided it was rather good as an interlude to exploration!

The Senate building had a steep bank of steps running up to it from the square and Isaac and Reuben set off up them at pace.Then at the top still had the energy to pose for photos and run about re-enacting a scene from kung fu panda involving the hero running up a huge flight of steps!

The view from the top of the steps was excellent and well worth the climb. We had noticed that some of Helsinki had a feel of San Fransisco, with hills rising up from the sea front  – these aren’t as steep of long as the ones in America but they have a similar feel.

From Senate square we walked into the shopping area and Helsinki began to resemble most other modern cities albeit a good deal cleaner and with excellent bike and public transport infrastructure.

We ambled about until we found ourselves back on the waterfront and in the fruit market, Reuben has nodded off on Daddy’s back and so the rest of us decided that it was time for a break too, one big punnet of mixed berries, some extra cherries and some peas for shelling (and a couple of drinks) made for a pleasant 45 minutes of eating and seeing who could spit cherry pips the furthest into the water!

Eventually Reuben woke and after a little souvenir shopping we got the bus back to the Ship. Once on board Isaac went for his daily climb joined by Daddy and after this the boys went to watch the underwater superhero show. During the show the boat departed for our next destination and the grown ups went outside to film the departure and wave goodbye to a lovely city – only to find it was raining hard – which was odd as for most of the day it had been sunscreen hot – but now there was a complete cloud burst!

The weather continued to be a little odd for the next hour as we sailed through a couple of small storms complete with lightning and thunder then as we headed out for dinner it cleared up and we once again had magnificent views out to sea.

We ate a fun dinner which was served to us on hot volcanic rocks for us to cook ourselves, Isaac loved this and Reuben insisted on helping everyone to turn their meat as it sizzled away. Both boys loved the experience and following on from a lovely meal we ended the night in the lounge area listening to the live band and watching the boys dance together (and with Mummy) it was a bit of a late night but we steal an hour back tonight and as the boys both fell straight asleep on getting into bed we figured they have had a good day – we certainly had.

Day 10 – Stockholm, Sweden

This was our second visit to Sweden and we were excited to see a different City. We took the shuttle bus from the berth into town and set about exploring. Our main aim was to find the older parts of the town and to explore around the palace.

We took our adopted tactic of getting a number of maps and took it in turns at navigating, the boys were getting pretty good at finding street names or prominent statues to help us with getting around and we discovered a lovely city.

Stockholm was clean and easy to navigate with a combination of bigger more modern roads and smaller pedestrianised cobbled streets.

At the palace we had a good look around and got photos with the guards, those here weren’t as friendly as some others but still posed for photos and gave an approving nod to those who stayed off the forbidden areas when taking photos.

today was a day of bumbling and allowing ourselves to be swept along with other tourists enjoying the Swedish sunshine.

The boys were thrilled to find a Viking shop (it sold traditional Viking items rather than actual Vikings) and spent some of their holiday money on helmets and swords.

these purchases became something of a feature for the rest of the day as the boys insisted on wearing their helmets around town and carrying their wooden swords, much to the amusement of various palace guards, policemen and other tourists. Even when Reuben got tired and needed a snooze in the carrier he wouldn’t relinquish his sword (thinking about it – maybe he is part Viking!)

It was nice to see that the city authorities were constantly looking after the city, cleaning, emptying bins and taking litter out of the waterways. The city is full of electric car charging points and these are not vandalised or out of service. There is also a great network of cycle lanes and huge cycle rack on which people park their commuters. When we were all conscious again we decided that a Swedish ice-cream was in order and then all shared each others flavours.

Eventually once all of our legs were tired we headed back to the opera house where our shuttle was waiting, once again we chuckled at the three point seatbelts in buses – not that it isn’t a good idea, just that any nation is that safety conscious!

Back on the ship we grabbed a snack and then went for a swim. This was interrupted by Isaacs daily trip to the climbing wall once it opened, then back to the pool for a swim and then a cake.

After showers and getting dressed we headed up for some dinner and a few nice drinks after which we went to listen to the music in the live room and atrium. The boys have really taken to live music, they love the sax player and the band, but they really haven’t taken to the guitar vocalist. The show that night was a tribute to various musicians and we headed to the theatre as Michelle wanted to educate the boys musically (well mainly she wanted them to see the Michael Jackson tribute) The boys loved it – although Reuben did fall asleep during Freddie Mercury and stayed snuggled up when the show ended and all the way back to the room.

Once both boys were asleep we chatted and read over cocktails while watching the sky darken and the stars gradually appear, twinkling above while buoys, lighthouses and other ships flashed and twinkled on the water.

Day 11 – At Sea

After a great nights sleep we woke to a day at sea and a full itinerary. 

First up was a breakfast to keep us going through the day

We had breakfast at one of the waiter service restaurant today and it was lovely, the boys really enjoyed having breakfast brought to them as did we, the choice at the buffet is great but having it brought over makes it all less stressful! 

After a hearty feed and several cups of very strong coffee we took stock of our situation we had some time to kill before our first adventure which was a tour of the bridge.

This proved to be a great experience, the Captain started by explaining how the bridge Crewe operated and the various procedures for keeping the ship afloat and on course. It was fascinating to see the various systems and see the backups – it was nice to see that although there are very sophisticated navigation systems on the ship there is a backup – a compass, and people who actually know how to use it, the Crewe are even trained to navigate by stars, Isaac proudly told the navigator that he knew how to find the north star and find north, 

We got to see the controls for moving the ship in and out of berths and were impressed that most of it is done by eye and with careful human control.

The coolest control by far was a large but otherwise innocuous black button near to the wheel – this was the control for the ships huge horn.

After the bridge tour it was time for us to go and try the ships escape room. This had a murder mystery theme and was actually pretty good. The boys were a little unsure but got into the spirit of the game finding numbers and letters and entering the codes into locks.

Eventually we solved the mystery and escaped the room!

In the afternoon we swam and climbed and played golf and the shuffle board game and drank cocktails and ate snacks and repeated!

This evening the boys had been invited with other children to be a part of the nights stage show which was a version of treasure island, we weren’t sure how the boys would take to it but as soon as the call came for all budding pirates to get onto the stage both boys jumped up and headed straight to one of the entertainers that they had seen around the ship, soon they were decked out in pirate hats and with swords in hand they got into the swing of the show. 

There was a moment when we thought Reubs natural instincts may take over from his acting – he was tied up along with the other pirates and there was a moment when he held the rope and lifted it up over his head to show us he could get free – we had visions of him taking on the mutineers single handily – thankfully he thought better of it and sat tight with his brother!

After the show we went for dinner with our little pirates and then all tired we headed to bed for some swashbuckling sleep – after a couple of cocktails of course.

Day 12 – Warnemunde, Germany

We woke up in Germany! The boys were excited today as we had promised them a beach day. We were up and dressed pretty quickly and then off for breakfast!

The boys ate well and were both chatting happily about the beach and swimming in the sea.

The adults were looking forward to bratwurst bockwurst, currywurst and a beer – and trying to avoid getting sand everywhere.

We left eh ship and walked into town and towards the beach. Warnemunde is a very pretty little place with a feel a bit like a Cornish seaside town but on a much bigger scale.

The shops along the harbour are pretty and the streets leading to the beach are narrow and winding and lovely to walk down.

There is a nice mix of tourist shops and boutiques making Warnemunde a place with something for everyone. When we got closer to the front we stopped at the lighthouse to apply sun cream and get our bearings. It was a lovely sunny day and we felt about as seaside as it is possible to feel!

Once we got onto the beach we were immediately impressed, the beach was long and sandy and clean. There was a café and bar and what appeared to be rows of pallets stacked up – very odd!

As we got closer we discovered that these pallets were in fact fold up beach huts – the Germans even have great engineering at the beach – we hired a hut for the day, undid two padlocks and then unfolded in a matter of seconds a fantastic two seater reclining roofed beach hut with lockable storage for the bags and bits and bobs.

Once we were unfolded and encamped the boys got on with the serious business of digging in the sand and burying each other. We sat in the sun watching the world go by and enjoying a bit of German people watching.

We found the German people we chatted to very friendly, most people on the Beach appeared a bit older and had younger children with them, snippets of conversation confirmed that most were grandparents on a day out.

There was a very friendly and family feel to the beach, people were simply getting on with having fun, there was none of the encroaching or getting in peoples way that you get on busy UK beaches and people had their space and respected other peoples.

Another nice feeling was that the German people are comfy with themselves, there was a huge variety of body shapes and some very ill-advised swimwear, but everyone was happy and relaxed and no-one hid behind towels or felt they had to breathe in. It was a very nice place to be.

Inevitably the time came to go into the sea, the Baltic sea, that sea famous for being nowhere near the tropics!!. The boys did not seem to care however and their experiences in the north sea and atlantic had prepared them well. In they plunged – even Reuben took advantage of the salt water buoyancy and was soon striking out to chase his big brother. Again the family feel of the beach was evident as whenever a child fell over, the nearest adult would simply pick them up, brush them off and send them on their way.

Soon Isaac and Reuben wanted to do some body surfing, as reubs is still not a very strong swimmer we tried to put a stop to this but were overruled by the boys and frankly it appeared rightly as Reuben revealed that he can in fact swim but is just lazy at the pool!!

Many waves later it was time for lunch. Michelle went to the café and was returning with 4 great looking hotdogs when there was a screech, we looked over to see s seagull heading off with one of the hotdogs and Michelle had a face like thunder, as did Reubs who chased the seagull nearly the length of the beach shouting not to get his mummy!

After lunch and a a well earned Beer, we decided to brave the water again, in fairness it was very nice and the boys happily swam and splashed and ducked under the water. Eventually, even their boundless energy had run out and it was time to head back through town to the Ship for tea.

On the way we bought our shot glass and magnets and couldn’t resist a final sausage snack, we had spotted one place doing the longest sausages ever, and currywurst!

We got a selection nd then found a spot to sit and share the goodies! The boys were unsure at first but soon came around to the idea of sausage with curry sauce!

On the way back to the boat, Isaac was very quiet and as we watched he started crying, he had been stung by a wasp and hadn’t mentioned it until we asked, brave little man! After a huge hug and 5 mins, we was ok again and the helpful staff on the boat found an ice pack to numb it and take away the swelling!

After such a busy day, we were all tired and after de-sanding, we ate and relaxed on the ship as we got underway.

Just for consistency we finished the day with a cocktail in bed as the boys slept fully zonked out! We had enjoyed our seaside day and the bit of Germany we had seen had been lovely!

Day 13 – Copenhagen, Denmark

Day 13 – Copenhagen

Our Final destination on this Cruise was Copenhagen, all we knew about Copenhagen was that it was the harbour is home to the little mermaid. So at least we had something to aim for in our explorings.

We had read that there would be a lot of walking today and so we treated ourselves to a hearty breakfast, and grabbed some snacks for in our bag and then we set off for our exploration of Copenhagen.

The first part of our walk was a long stroll along the side of the dock towards the town, we popped into the few shops on the front and checked where we could get our souvenirs on the way back. The boys did brilliantly and we let them have the map and do the navigation. The route was relatively simple but the boys did brilliantly finding waypoints and landmarks and getting us to the little mermaid!

The statue of the little mermaid was very pretty but is not quite what we expected, it is quite small and almost hidden by the throng of tourists (which ironically make it easier to locate). We got our photos and the boys were very happy to have seen the statue.

Moving on we continued towards town and found a fantastic fountain which had some small jets, the boys wanted to take pictures of each other and pretty soon were in hysterics, we couldn’t initially work out why and then worked out that they were posing so that the pictures made it look like they were wee-ing! In fairness it was funny!

After many silly photos we explored the town, we looked around the palace and then on through the town we enjoyed the architecture and the easy to navigate streets with their tall buildings many of which had basement bars or cafes in them. All of this was overshadowed when the boys found a brilliant playground. They boys happily climbed around until Reubs got sleepy and needed a snooze in the sling, he conked out while Isaac climbed and we watched.

We then walked back towards the water past the art centre and theatre and on to the waterfront. As we walked back towards the ship we enjoyed some of the sculptures and more importantly an icecream (Reuben woke up for this bit!) We got back to the ship, ate, watched a show and fell asleep, ready for our journey home.

Day 14 – Travel Home

So as we steamed home we had a final day at sea, we had been warned by the Captain that the weather would be ‘pants’ we presume this is a nautical term! We woke to dark skies and a pretty big swell, the ship was lurching under us and many passengers were looking a little green at breakfast, not so Isaac and Reuben who wolfed their breakfasts, had seconds and then helped with mummy and daddy’s!

Order of the day was have fun, we were a little hampered by the fact that the weather being a little blowy had caused the top deck to be closed and the pools to be emptied. Not great when you have two energetic little boys, but thankfully the ship had plenty to keep us going.

After breakfast the day started with the Splash live show which the boys love, it has been amazing to watch both of the boys develop on this holiday even in the small space of two weeks, this is something that we have noticed on previous holidays and breaks, the responsibility of being big brother alongside the job of showing your little brother how to have loads of fun (and get away with it) means Isaac develops in confidence and social skills and spending time with this hero and favourite teacher means that Reuben leaps forward in language social skills and even physical ability (hi swimming has come on a treat and  he is now confidently doing forward rolls in the water!)

At the splash shows both boys now got up and joined in, dancing and playing the games with the crew of the ‘splash pod’.

After this their was the book folding workshop – yep you read that right – this is an interesting way of re-cycling old worn out books by turning them into interesting sculptures – we manages three  between us – two cats and a dog!

Next on the agenda was the singing workshop with the shops two opera singers, this was more for Isaac but somehow Isaac and Damian both ended up involved in a performance of 3 songs that were to be sung in the ships Atrium in front of all of the guests that night!!

After singing it was time for lunch – we caught the end of the buffet and re-fuelled after our busy morning. We then headed back to the room after a stroll around the ship for showers and to get changed for our last night.

Suitable attired we headed out for what was going to be a musical night, Isaac and Reuben have both loved the various live musical acts on board and have enjoyed listening to and dancing to the acts on a number of nights. tonight was no different, we started by listening to the saxophonist who took time at the end of his set to come and speak to the boys (who hadn’t issued many of his shows!) and then it was time for Daddy and Isaac to take the stage with the rest of the choir, Isaac was very impressive, singing his heart out in front of hundreds of people, he even got into to mood by swinging his little hips to the music.

Once the applause for the choir died down the boys wanted to go and see their other favourite act in the live room, this was a band with a fabulous female lead vocalist who Reubs had taken a shine to! Before their set the singer came over and got hugs with Isaac and Reuben and asked if they wanted a photo, once they started to play the boys were immediately up and dancing.

The only thing that tore them away from the music was when Gareth (their friendly instructor from the climbing wall) came in and asked them if they wanted to see something cool – both boys instantly ran off with him and came back after five minutes almost bursting with excitement – we’ve seen a tornado they chorused!! There was indeed an impressive funnel off the starboard bow and Gareth had rightly figured that this would be right up their street! It was very kind of him to think of the boys and that act was typical of all of the staff on the ship friendly, helpful and prepared to go that little bit further to make the holiday special.

eventually even the boys seemingly inexhaustible reserves of energy gave way and after some final goodbyes and hugs to favourite crew members we retired to our cabin for the night.