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tnantx Jun 4th, 2006 11:07 AM

Extended family vacation
Papa's 70th birthday is coming up in the front end of April. We are thinking of cruising to celebrate but we are open to any other ideas. The cruise is really sort of a "what else to do" idea. We want to spend about 4 days total with the group as much longer gets to be overwhelming. The party would include Nanny and Papa, aunt and uncle and my husband, myself and our 3 kids aged 10, 8 and 5. Any suggestions would be great. If you think cruising is the right idea, any specific suggestions would also be appreciated. Thank you.

mclaurie Jun 4th, 2006 11:21 AM

It would be helpful to know where you're located, time of year you're planning this, budget issues and other ideas you've considered. I've heard cruises have worked surprisingly well for larger family groups than yours. But with only 9 people of which only 3 are kids, maybe there are better options for you. YOu also don't indicate whether the group likes the idea of a cruise or not. (ie I don't understand the "what else to do" idea comment)

tnantx Jun 4th, 2006 11:50 AM

We live in the East Texas area and the other family members are from Savannah and Atlanta. The "what else to do" is from the notion of being a little wary of crusing. I am probably listening too much to the bad press they have received and a bit of a concern that our 5 year old could fall overboard. She is a bit of a climber. Other than that the cruise appeals to the group, though the grandparents haven't been consulted (it is a surprise). As far as budget, excluding airfare we would probably like to stay around $700/person. Thank you for the help.

mclaurie Jun 4th, 2006 04:21 PM

What about a trip to south Florida? Beginning of April should be very nice there. I'll also mention I always think it's a bit dangerous to "surprise" folks for a birthday with something as big as a vacation, let alone a cruise. Are you sure the older couple would feel comfortable on a cruise?

Or what about San Diego? Lots of options of things to do for all ages.

gail Jun 4th, 2006 06:58 PM

Advantages of cruise over other types of vacations are that the ship is large enough so you are not together 24 hours/day, a real stress on vacations. A similar land-based option would be an all-inclusive somewhere.

If more than 4 days gets overwhelming, these options may help you survive 5 or 6 days - having to decide 3 times/day for meals and then decide on activities in between that everyone would like would drive me nuts. So a limited-choice setting like cruise or AI with built-in activities might work best.

claire_bluesky Jun 4th, 2006 07:42 PM

My family rented a rather large and luxurious house with a dock on a lake in NC for my Dad's birthday. I chose it because my Dad likes boating and fishing. We all like the mountains. I went about choosing the destination by thinking what my Dad would like, and then considering if the rest of my family would enjoy it. My Dad also likes peaceful, serene locations, and the cabin was very private, although not secluded. We did have to do some cooking because fine dining was 1/2 hr. away (carry-out was close), but that was fine. It was also a good respite from the summer heat since we went in July and the highs were mid-70's. Anyway, you get the idea. My whole family loved it, but especially my Dad.

gail Jun 4th, 2006 10:42 PM

I think my post above and claire's represent 2 style options for such a trip - and which style depends on your family dynamics (not trying to play shrink here, but it does matter)

For some families the peaceful setting she described is a wonderful getaway with grandchildren (and I am jealous of these families). In some, like mine, the kids would be whining they were bored, the older generation would realize that being with young kids 24 hours/day is trying and noisy, and I would end up doing all the cooking for picky eaters.

So I hope your family is more like the first, and if so I would go with her sort of plan. If not, consider a plan with some occasional space between family members.

laurenzo Jun 5th, 2006 05:36 PM

How about the Club Med in Florida? There is something for everyone and it is all inclusive. It would probably meet your budget for 4 days too.

JJ5 Jun 5th, 2006 06:22 PM

We've done this all kinds of ways, including one cruise, and I have to say this DEFINITELY. Whatever you do, go somewhere or do something that has ALL the meals included. Otherwise it will be a real trial for 1 or 2 of you to have to cook and manipulate food and meal times for all those people. I do know what I'm talking about.

Our best vacation of this type occurred on a family inclusive farm/resort venue that ran in Michigan for years called Sunnybrook Farm. They took the kids for about 6 hours each day and ran them ragged doing farm activities or water outings etc. The adults had dances, cards and all kinds of other activities for themselves- and there were 3 set meals a day with arranged seatings for all. You never lifted a finger for food then, and there was smores, popcorn etc. at all the night activities as well.

There are Dude ranches, farms and all kinds of resorts that do this out West as well as in the Midwest for 4 day periods. Let me tell you, it was my kids all time favorite vacation. They made ice cream, milked cows etc. And the adults never had to do anything but boat, golf, or swim- if they didn't want to.

Think about what most would like, and google that resort activity and you will find what is out there. Cruises are ok, but the other was better.

claire_bluesky Jun 6th, 2006 12:09 AM

I agree about the family dynamic, and it's a lot about preference. Starting out with idea of a cruise, my idea probably wouldn't be the second choice.

That said, I'll add that although our location was picked based on my Dad's tastes, that there were lots of activities available for the other generations. There was obviously swimming (rafts and tubes ncluded), whitewater rafting, kayaking, tubing, hiking, rock climbing, biking, horseback riding, the fishing, all close by if not at the house. Most houses had at least a caoe included and there were boat rentals a short way down the river. There was a hot tub and sauna room.

I agree about the meals. I always avoid cooking when I can. We took turns, got carry-out, or made the drive. There was a gas grill so it wasn't too bad. Grocery shopping isn't usually on my vacation list of favorite things to do either.

As you can probably tell, we had a really great and memorable time, hence my desire to share it. My Dad really loved it, and he hates cruises or going to the beach - so it was really perfect for him,

claire_bluesky Jun 6th, 2006 12:47 AM

This is a link to the "Dock House."

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