Spoiling Our Grandkids with a Cruise to Europe

by Pam Carlson

Pam (right), Catherine and Dennis in front of the Pyramids of Giza
Pam (right), Catherine and Dennis in front of the Pyramids of Giza

In our family, it’s a big deal when a grandchild turns 10, and it’s an even bigger one when they turn 13.  When a grandchild turns 10, they spend 10 days with us in our home outside Chicago doing whatever they like: shopping, ballparks, movies. We’ve had so much fun doing that, we started a new tradition. When a grandchild turns 13, they get to pick where they’d like to go on a cruise vacation with just Grandma and Grandpa, to create a real bonding experience in a world where they grow up so fast.

Last year marked our first of such cruise. My husband, Dennis, and I were expecting our granddaughter Catherine to pick Hawaii or maybe Paris. She knocked us for a loop when she asked us to take her to Egypt, as she’d been studying about the pharaohs at school in Nebraska. Fortunately, we found a cruise on the Pacific Princess with stops in Egypt, Greece and the Holy Land. This also made my husband very happy since he is a great student of the Bible. The itinerary covered Cairo, Giza, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth, Patmos, Greece, and more. We were excited to go.

As we planned our trip, I couldn’t help but be reminded of how fortunate we were to be able to do this. When our children, Michelle and Christopher were kids, a typical vacation was a long car trip to the West Coast, with one of the grandmothers sitting between the kids in the back. As grandparents, we’re taking a different route. Already, we’ve taken both of our kids and all five grandchildren on a few family cruises. I love it because I get to spend time with the family instead of the stove and dishwasher.

It’s been about seven months since Dennis and I took Catherine on her birthday cruise and I’m still sorting through the hundreds of photos we took. I have 300 printed up and they are going into an album for Catherine; to remind her of us and the trip.There are pictures of us touring all the places we wanted to see, like the pyramids, the King Tut exhibit at the Cairo Museum and the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. I smile when I think of how Catherine bought a necklace of her name in hieroglyphics; once she wore it, she never took it off.

Our time at sea was so memorable. We played ping pong and Scrabble by the pool and made a grand occasion of dinner each night. We gave Catherine the freedom to go to the kids club, but she wasn’t that interested — she wanted to do things with us!

We have four more grandchild cruises to go. Catherine’s brother, Matthew, is next. We’ve already celebrated his 10th, Chicago style. Now Dennis and I can’t wait for him to decide what cruise adventure we are going to take together.

Pam resides in Arlington Heights, Illinois and she’s enjoyed nine Princess cruises.