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I've created a Monster-in-Law! Enchantment Feb. 7 - 12, 2020

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To celebrate my Mother in Law’s birthday this year, we’re taking her on her first cruise! My FIL passed away a couple of years ago, and then she had a really hard time selling her home of 40 years. She’s finally settled in her new place, and my husband and I thought she was overdue for a getaway...or maybe we are just using her as an excuse to YOLO go on another cruise. 🤷‍♀️ Either way, we are boarding Enchantment of the Seas ON HER BIRTHDAY for a 5 day Western Caribbean cruise! I’ve been sending her videos, photos, reviews, menus and the like just about weekly since we booked, and it seems to have become all we talk about. She is so excited!


I'll post all the specifics over the coming days as I get a few minutes of free time. In my typical fashion, I've crammed as much as possible into this last full week at home - 4 client meetings, orders to fill, doctor and dentist appointments for everyone, hair appointments, plus our regular school and evening activities... at some point I'm really just going to learn to clear my calendar the week before and after vacation! 

Here are a few of the details to get us going:

DH, the kids, and I haven’t really changed from our September cruise on Liberty. Well I have purple hair now, but otherwise, we’re the same! My mid-life crisis included drastic hair coloring and buying a bicycle 🚴‍♀️ - I figure it’s a lot less expensive than a new sports car! Here’s a link to my post from Liberty a few months ago. In case you want the short version, DH’s a VERY early riser and a type A personality who likes to relax and do nothing on vacations. I’m a night owl, and much more relaxed in our day to day lives, who wants to do it all when we travel. Sounds like a sitcom, right? Did I mention he’s 6’4” and I’m barely 5’? I homeschool the kids on an almost year-round schedule, so this will be one of our two spring breaks. My DD is 11 and on the Autism Spectrum, and my DS is almost 8 and made of rubber. My MIL (Mimi) will be turning 7… Well I’m not going to say exactly, but DH (who I have no problem ratting out) is 47, so you get the general idea. She broke her ankle a couple of years ago, and we have tried to be sensitive to her walking long distances and on shifting beach sand in our planning.

MIL and I get along really well and we’re all staying in a 2 Bedroom Grand Suite (8052) similar to the one we stayed in on Liberty. Besides squeezing in another person, we’re on the side, not an aft this time, so the balcony is sadly going to be much smaller. The two aft 2br suites were both booked already, so we're in one of the remaining two that are directly under part of the Windjammer. From deck maps, it looks we pretty close to the very front of the WJ annex though; hopefully there won’t be too much scraping of chairs above us (and gnashing of teeth in our cabin).

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Dinner last night is a bit of a long story. I had been in contact with Jorge, the suite concierge, before the cruise about setting up a couple of surprises for Mimi's birthday. We ordered her some cho

Forgot to mention that last night as we were nailing down the rebooking of MIL's flights, DH said to me, "how much should I transfer for a Next Cruise deposit?" I didn't even have to plant the seed th

We made it, and Mimi wasn't lit when we picked her up at the airport! Pictures of the hotel to come.

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My hubby, son, and MIL are all early risers, so we’re trying to figure out the sleeping arrangements on the ship. Right now we’re thinking kids in the 2nd bedroom, one in the pullman over the other in the twin bed that's furthest from the door to the room. Mimi in the other twin in that room closest to the door. She says she would be fine on the pullout sofa in the living room, which I get because of space, but I have a hard time relegating my MIL to the couch. I don’t know, it may be more comfortable than the beds! Our Plan B (or is it C?) is to have DD sleep on the couch, and then when DH gets up in the morning, she’ll come in and finish snoozing with me. Have any other suggestions? I’m open!

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Our little 5 day cruise has turned into a week and a half long vacation. Here’s the plan:

T minus 2 days (Wed February 5) – Drive from Dallas to Houston when DH can get off work. MIL's flight arrives early the next morning, so we need to be there to pick her up. 🚗

T minus 1 day (Thurs the 6th) – MIL flies from Lubbock (West Texas) to Hobby in Houston via Love Field in Dallas.  ✈️

Day 1 (Fri the 7th) – Embarkation / Mimi’s Birthday! 🎉 

Day 2 (Sat the 8th) – At sea 🛳️

Day 3 (Sun the 9th) – Costa Maya 🌅

Day 4 (Mon the 10th) – Cozumel 🏖️

Day 5 (Tues the 11th)– At sea 🚢

Day 6 (Wed the 12th) – Debarkation / MIL flies back to Lubbock 🛫

Post cruise day 1 (Thurs the 13th) – Space Center Houston or Children’s Museum in Houston 🚀

Post cruise day 2 (Fri the 14th) – Children’s Museum in Houston or Space Center Houston 🛰️

Post cruise day 3 (Sat the 15th) – Drive back to Dallas, start laundry, and catch up on sleep. 😴


DH’s work schedule is relatively flexible, and he can leave the office when he gets enough hours in to offset the rest of Wednesday. He’s planning on going in for a few hours this weekend to help with that. We’re in a northern suburb of Dallas, and our hotel is on the south side of Houston in Clear Lake - 5 hours with no stops. If our timing is off, we’ll hit traffic here, there, or (worst case scenario) both.

MIL has dogs and doesn't want to leave them with family any longer than she needs to, so she's flying in just the day before the cruise and out the afternoon we disembark. She could have flown to Dallas a day earlier, and we could have all made the long road trip as one big happy family. Together. 5 people in a clown car small SUV. With luggage. She said no thanks to that, and to be honest, I'm ok with her decision because I'd be the one stuck in the backseat playing referee between two fighting kids. 😆

MIL only has 45 minutes to change planes in Dallas, and Southwest has a nasty habit of delayed departures in Lubbock. We’re taking over / under bets on whether or not she’ll make that connection. She (hopefully) lands in Houston at 10:40am, so if needed, she could get a later flight. I told her if I had to, I have all day drive back to Dallas to get her – she can’t miss her birthday cruise!

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Pre-cruise purchases:

When tracking prices, the Deluxe Beverage Package was running between $61-$67 on sale. Refreshment packages for the kids fluctuated between $22 and $28. The 3 device Surf and Stream was around $35 at it's highest. And the digital photo package was around $135-150 (I'm going off of memory on that one - we would have paid full price so I didn't pay much attention). 

We waited, aaand waited, aaaaand waited to take advantage of Black Friday sale because it was really good the year before. They offered 30% off the deluxe beverage package this year which brought it down to $55, and we got the refreshment packages at $19pp. If my math is right, that means the DBP is $78-79 on board. I was hoping for more than 30% on Black Friday since they run that discount a few times during the year anyway, but I think we got a great deal on both the 3 device Surf and Stream at $19.99 / day and the digital photo package for $89.99. 



In Costa Maya we’re going to play it by ear. If the trolley is running, we’ll take it down the long pier and just explore the cruise port a bit. MIL wants to do a little shopping which is code for buy junk for our kids. 😆  DH and I would really be ok just staying on board. DD really wants to do the aviary this time since we just stayed on board in September, but I’ve been trying to prep her that Mimi may not be able to do the stairs and suspension bridges. DS will just go with the flow - he'd be just as happy to go to Adventure Ocean as see the birds. Does anyone have any feedback on the aviary - is there a lot of sway and bounce on the bridges?

In Cozumel we are going back to Paradise Beach. We went All Inclusive again because it was well worth it for us last time – DD alone had popcorn shrimp, coconut shrimp, a cheeseburger, 2 smoothies, a soda, and bottles of water while we were there! Their pool is heated which is a bonus if the ocean is a little chilly, and we plan to get seats by the pool so MIL doesn’t have to walk through the sand to get around the property. She’s looking forward to sitting in a lounge chair and having someone bring her drinks all day! This is one of the reasons we get along so well! 🍹

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2 hours ago, WannaCruise said:

We went to Paradise Beach twice, once with our kids and once just DH and I and quite enjoyed it...and sounds like you've been there too and really liked it.

Thanks. Yes, we were there in September and loved it! We're considering going back in November too, but we may do a snorkeling excursion instead. Once this trip is over I'll start focusing on excursions for that one. 

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6 days until we leave, 8 days until the cruise!

I started the laundry to be packed today. You know, the pile of "don't touch that once it comes out of the dryer" stuff that's going straight to our guest room bed for pre-pack staging. We're really going to try to pack less this time, but it's hard with as many days pre and post cruise as on the actual ship. I'm hoping this will be good practice for Alaska in 2022. Right now, we think we're going to take one small rolling suit case each for me, DD, and DS. DH will take his big 27" for his stuff plus any overflow from ours (my hair dryer!). Then we'll all have a backpack to carry on as well. MIL has a small rolling suit case, and is just planning on a over the shoulder type carry on. Since we have the drink package, we're not bothering with wine. BUT... MIL drinks Diet Coke instead of coffee in the morning. We'll want to carry on a 12 pack for her for the mornings since she's up at dark o'clock. Otherwise DH would be the one to run up to the Windjammer Freestyle machine every morning. Also, DD has started using a weighted blanket, and while I was skeptical, it has really improved her sleep. Fortunately her backpack rolls, so the cokes and blanket will go in there. I'm happy to be the one to roll it - I'm just not carrying that blanket around until 1:00pm when rooms are ready. It weighs a ton! 🏋️‍♀️

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I saw on the weather this morning that we are supposed to be getting ice and snow on Wednesday night, the day we leave. Dallas and snow don't mix...we shut down! I'm going to be trying to talk DH into taking off earlier than he wanted so we can beat this. Lubbock looks clear for MIL's flight right now.


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Ok... Change of plans. We're shifting our whole trip forward a day to miss the weather, and now we'll be leaving Tuesday night when DH gets home from work. We'll do Children's Museum on Wednesday, before the cruise, and we'll drive home Friday instead of Saturday. Obviously the weather can change, but as of right now, we'll be leaving in this gap between the rain and ice.



Instead of in the middle of this...   



I'm sure it sounds crazy, especially to anyone from the north where snowy winters are the norm, but Texas roads (except for the panhandle maybe) aren't really set up for snow and ice. We get 1-2 days like this a year in Dallas so the area literally shuts down. We don't have snow plows to clear streets, schools close because buses can't run, and cocky drivers get in a ton of wrecks all over town. Instead of taking an hour to get south of DFW, it could take us 4...then add the 4 hour drive to Houston. No thanks. Fortunately we have a little wiggle room. Now with one day less to pack, it's time to get out the suitcases!


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We have a change in that change in the in plans. Lubbock is now supposed to get 6ish inches of snow Tuesday night and all day Wednesday. MIL's flight was the first one out Thursday morning, before road conditions have a chance to improve.  She's now flying out Tuesday afternoon, before it's supposed to hit. She'll have a 1 hour 40 minute plane change in Dallas (instead of 45 minutes. Whew!), and she should land just before we get to Houston. She'll have time to eat at the airport and grab her luggage before we pick her up and all go to the hotel. She's been packed for days already so this was an easy decision for her.

Speaking of the hotel, DH is none too happy with Hilton right now. Apparently the call was a VERY long, bad version of "Who's on first". They had issues adding a day to the front of our trip because we were within our cancellation window. DH reminded the customer service agent we weren't cancelling, we just wanted to modify and add more time at the same hotel. They had to speak to a supervisor and finally decided the easy way to do this was just start a new reservation for one night. At that point, DH was done, and told them he could book a new reservation himself online. Moving on to the post cruise reservation where we wanted to take a day off. We're not in the cancellation window yet, so this would have been easier, except we paid for this leg with points...which take 48 hours to get back into your Hilton account for you to reuse.  Even Royal gives your OBC back immediately if you cancel a cruise planner purchase. 🤣 This is not something he has time to monitor over the next 2 days. So, do we cancel and foot the bill to rebook or leave it and lose a night's worth of points? Forget it, we'll leave the reservation as is and play it by ear if we want to use the extra day in Houston when we're there.

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One. Step. Closer.  I have to pick up dry cleaning tonight for DH. I'm 95% packed - just need to throw in the hair dryer and makeup in the morning. DH hasn't started filling a suit case yet, but he knows what all he is bringing. Somehow I managed to get all our cruise stuff into the kids and my backpacks - including two 6 pack bottles of Mimi's Diet Coke. I'm not sure what hubby is going to put in his backpack now. Maybe I'll share and give him half of what's in mine. 😜


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Thanks for the well wishes! 

DH is leaving work now, and we should be on the road in about an hour. Right now, we should be clear until we get to the outskirts of Houston and even then it just looks like light rain. MIL's flights are both on time, and she's probably going to beat us there by about an hour... unless we hit traffic...in which case she can start her vacation early at the airport bar. 🍹🥴

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Ok. No photos of the hotel this time. We got in around 11:30pm and 5 people's stuff magically exploded all over the room as we tried to get ready for bed. If you are really wanting to see the hotel room, go to page 2 of my Liberty blog (link in first post of this thread). We're supposed to be in an accessible room, but I can't tell any difference from the regular room. 

This morning was breakfast at the hotel - free and just ok.  Then a nap because were all up too early. Lunch at Chuey's, then we dropped the boys off at the hotel for nap #2 while DD, MIL, and I are getting mani / pedis. It feels like vacation has started! 

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The hotel has a happy hour Monday-Thursday. Tonight was bbq sliders, fries, macaroni and cheese, potato salad, coleslaw, salad, and minestrone soup. They had lemonade, tea, water, and some sort of house white and red wines in carafes and beer. No labels on the beer or wine. We have a couple bottles in the room so we didn't partake of the mystery libations. We over ate Mexican food at lunch, so this was a good snacky type meal for us. Kids said the mac was just "eh", but they ate it. The sliders were pretty good, and MIL said the potato salad was delicious - she had seconds. Since I'm not any good at Windjammer recon, here's a very poor substitution. 





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After much debate, we opted for the free breakfast again this morning. Sorry, no photos. We then ventured to the Children's Museum of Houston where the kids played their Secret Agent game again. DD has already informed us that we're going back again in November to complete more missions. After 4 hours of running around the museum, we're back at the hotel and it's nap time. Tonight we'll eat out at an undecided restaurant (Italian maybe), and repack for embarkation day tomorrow. 






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