Jennifer Bottom, her husband Mark, and their two children: Emma (13) and Dayton (10).
Over Chinese National holiday, the Bottom family went on a seven-night Royal Caribbean international cruise to Osaka, Fukuoka, and Busan. First, they flew to Shanghai with China Eastern Airlines to board their ship. The family always stays at Marriott hotels, so they stayed overnight at the Marriott Shanghai Luwan for free using their points. They boarded the ship the next day. The total cost of the trip (including transportation, roundtrip flights, the cruise package, and both onboard and offshore expenses) was approximately RMB 44,670.
The Best Part
The best part of the trip was the balance this type of vacation allows for different ages. While aboard the ship, their kids were able to relax, play, read, and be entertained. They enjoyed the freedom and independence to choose what they wanted to do. Then, they got to visit historical sites and learn about different cultures when the family was offshore exploring different ports. The kids didn’t get tired out or bored of these port activities, because they knew they could unwind once they were back on the ship.
The Worst Part
There wasn’t too much about this trip that was bad. In Osaka and Busan, the Bottom family chose to go out on their own instead of paying for an excursion. It was a little difficult navigating new train systems or speaking to taxi drivers at these destinations. Luckily, Mark’s ability to speak Japanese came in handy in Osaka.
By the time the family got to Busan, the last port on the itinerary, they were tired of seeing shrines and temples. Having heard great things about Busan’s hot springs, they visited the Hurshimchung Hot Springs. They were surprised to find that swimsuits were not allowed (men and women were segregated). It was a different experience from anything they’d encountered in the US. But the price was right: it cost less than RMB 65 per person for many spa amenities.
The Bottoms chose this vacation mainly to have the cruise experience for the kids. The ports of call were just the icing on the cake. The atmosphere on the cruise was very kid-friendly. Most of the passengers were Chinese, so everything was spoken in English first, then Chinese.
Both Dayton and Emma got to participate in age-appropriate games and activities, such as arcade games, mini-golf, ping pong, Wii tournaments, rock climbing, scavenger hunts, and more. As a family, the Bottoms enjoyed several shows, including a comedy, a magic show, juggling, piano concerts, and Broadway singing and dancing. They also played Bingo, card games, and board games in the family game room.
The Bottoms enjoyed eating together on the cruise. The food was a mixture of Chinese staples and American favorites. There was a pizza and burger bar by the pool. Mark and Jennifer got unlimited soda cups for the kids, which allowed them to get drinks wherever they were on the ship. In addition, the Bottoms sometimes indulged in the free room service for an afternoon snack. However, their favorite part was dinner aboard the ship’s dining room. They looked forward to the different selections on the menu, and sometimes ordered two different entrees to sample and share.
Flying into Shanghai the night before boarding the ship meant they didn’t need to rush for the embarkation port. It helped that the Bottoms were used to the cultural differences between American and Chinese. Had they been unfamiliar with some Chinese habits (such as smoking in non-smoking areas and cutting in line), they might have been more taken aback.