When you and your significant other plan an evening out alone, you know, those elusive date nights we parents desire more than Gollum wants that precious ring, what is needed to ensure the evening is a smashing success?
Incredible food, probably.
And memorable entertainment, likely.
But most importantly, if you are anything like us, what is wanted, no, what is NEEDED is to know that our kids are being cared for properly and that they are having a fine enough time of it as well.
There is absolutely no/nil/zip/zilch/zero chance we will be able enjoy ourselves, no matter how tender the steak, how tasty the sushi, how hilarious the comedian or brilliant the band on stage is, if we are worried about our children the entire time.
This is why the best date nights my wife and I have ever had as a married couple have happened at sea, on board Carnival cruise ships in the Atlantic, Caribbean and Mediterranean. This is how couples can not only score a few date nights but also how to take a couples only vacation WITH your kids. Seriously! Let me explain.
At this point you are probably shaking your head, thinking:
With The Kids??
Date Night Splendor
Picture this: slicing through a prime cut of tender filet mignon, dipping bite by bite of that juicy steak into a white ramekin of creamy Béarnaise sauce, smiling across the table at the one you love, a clink of wine glasses (or, in our case, water goblets) to celebrate each other, and that silence; the peace and the very much quiet of a romantic date night dinner.
Now picture that at sea on a Carnival Cruise ship. In our experience on several Carnival cruises over the past two years, the staff, activities and friends made in Camp Carnival have constantly put to bed any concerns we might have had about leaving our children in the care of others while we dined, danced, laughed and snuggled up under the stars to watch movies late into the night (thanks, Camp Carnival Night Owls!).
But the coolest part is that this is 100% free child care all day long and up until 10pm every evening. The Night Owls program runs from then until 1am and does cost a bit extra if your kids want to keep their party going…and if they are like our two daughters, they will!
Do the Math
Now, here’s the strange but absolutely true financial case for why you should take a family cruise to enjoy a slew of much needed date nights. On land, a couples night out could entail the following expenses:
- Babysitter (at $15 per hour ) — $75
- Dinner — $100+
- Entertainment tickets (concert, comedy show, live theater) — $150
- Gas money, parking fee, etc — $25+
That’s a total of $350 to enjoy 5 hours of child-free bliss in or around your hometown.
What if you could have 6 date nights during a 7 day cruise? (C’mon, you have to do one cruise elegant night WITH the kids, if only for the photos to prove that you were actually together on vacation!).
That’s a “savings” of $2100 in date night expenses because Camp Carnival is included in the cost of the cruise, the food (save for the AMAZING steakhouse on board and a few other tasty spots) is included, the stand-up comedy shows, glitzy musical performances, memorable theatrical shows, and the classy piano bar are also 100% free of charge. AND if you want to watch a new-ish movie under the stars, even that’s free…and so is the freshly popped popcorn! Do you know how much popcorn costs at movie theaters back home??!!
With a whopping $2100 in on-land date night costs in the bank your couples only cruise vacation with the kids has almost already paid for itself!
This means you can leave the fantastic complimentary main dining room behind a couple times during your cruise to splurge without guilt on the nominal upcharge for the tenderest, juiciest cuts of steak in your surf and turf at Fahrenheit 555, freshly made veggie rolls and steamy bowls of delicious Udon noodle soup (seriously the best we’ve ever had were at Bonsai Sushi on Carnival ships) or a massive plate of chicken parm at Cucina del Capitano.
Then go to a show, sing, or pretend to sing while competing in a Lip Sync Battle, dance, laugh, hold hands, kiss, and never for a minute have to worry about your kids — because I have first hand knowledge that not only are they in very good care, they are having maybe even a BETTER time than you are; playing video games, having a dance party, making crafts, designing t-shirts, going on scavenger hunts, making new friends — in short: having the absolute time of their lives.
In fact, you’ll probably have to drag them out of Camp Carnival at the end of your date night and paraphrase Dr. Seuss in saying, “don’t be sad it’s over, be happy that it happened.”
Sounds awesome, right? I know, we’ve done it three times and Can. Not. Wait. to enjoy our next couples only vacation with kids in Alaska this summer. I can almost taste the filet and Béarnaise sauce! Yum.