How to Successfully Cruise with a Infant or Toddler- Tips and Tricks

Tips and Tricks Cruising with Infant Or Toddler

When Autumn was 14 months old we took a family cruise in the Caribbean. Our Royal Caribbean Vision of the Seas cruise out of Tampa in January 2015 was a blast for all of us. It was a wonderful 7-day cruise that was packed fun of fun in the sun, shopping, eating plenty of food, lots of wandering around the ship, and some nice leisurely afternoons filled with naps (for all of us!).

We did A LOT of research before selecting our cruise line and cruise we would be taking. Ultimately, we had learned that Royal Caribbean was in the process of outfitting their ships with nurseries. It felt like a no-brainer to have the nursery as an option for us to use so we then selected our ship, dates, and itinerary.

Check out our breakdown of the big things to consider when cruising with a baby or a toddler:

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-Selecting your cruise-

It’s important to pick a cruise line, ship, length of cruise, and itinerary that works best for you. They are all import factors in you selecting the cruise you will take. There are so many cruise lines and itineraries that you can easily become overwhelmed. Stick with something that you think you will enjoy and be comfortable with.

Something that we considered was the age of our child and the services the ships provide for her. As she was too young to understand any of the Disney characters we decided to skip the Disney cruise. We felt the Royal Caribbean cruise would offer great things for us and for her. And we were right!

Something that we didn’t consider was if the ship would be tendered or docked at each port. After completing our cruise that had 3 tendered ports and 1 docked one, I am certain to say that tendered ports stink! You can manage but they require so much more coordination than if the ship is docked. You already have so much to juggle with you infant, your stuff for the day, and the baby’s stuff for the day, that having to deal with the on and off and waiting for the shuttle boat stinks.

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It’s quite amazing how much clothing you need while on a cruise! From the daytime stuff like bathing suits, shorts, tops, and sneakers, to the evening stuff like pants, blouses, dresses, and heels. And don’t forget the formal night(s)!

And then add all the stuff your baby needs… clothes, diapers, wipes, medicines, formula, pumping equipment, some toys, etc, etc!!!

Be mindful of all of this and carefully pack up all of this stuff before your trip. I don’t think you can truly properly pack for a cruise at the last minute, but, hey, that’s just me! So take your time and properly plan it all out before you pack it all up at home.

Once you get on board I highly suggest that you unpack your suitcase(s) so that you can easily find things and get around your room. We put one empty suitcase under out bed and one in the closet. It worked well for us so just find something that works well for you.

And then pack as much stuff as you can the night before you get off the cruise so that your suitcase(s) can be collected outside your room to be brought into the port. It makes getting off the boat so much easier.


We used the laundry service a few times while we were on our week long cruise on the Royal Caribbean.

The first 2 times we used laundry we were charged by piece, similar to when you bring items to the dry cleaner. After that our room steward gave us a bag that had a flat rate to use as an option. See what laundry service and rates your cruise line has, ask ahead of time or ask your room steward.

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 -Swimming on the Ship-

Unfortunately, your little one can’t use any of the pools while on board as they don’t allow babies and toddlers to use diapers in the pools. And you’re little one has to be potty trained, so don’t just think you can dip your baby in there without a diaper.

This is a bummer, but it’s for sanitary reasons as cruise lines (with the exception of the Disney Cruise Ships) don’t have the proper filtration systems in place to deal with any poo accidents.

On some forums I read that people pack inflatable pools that they blow up with a plastic hand pump, or with a strong set of lungs!, that they use on their balcony. If you think that would work well for you then you might want to get a pool like this Intex Sunset Glow Baby Pool (34 in x 10 in) and a pump like this Hand Air Pump.

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-Getting Around-

There are 2 main ways to bring your baby or toddler around on and off the ship- a stroller or a baby carrier.

We brought both an Ergo and an umbrella stroller that a coworker generously gave us. We liked having both options as we like using a carrier when in the airports and the stroller was great when we were in each port.

The carrier is also great when you have to go to your muster station before the cruise starts. Getting around the ship with it is great as well, as there generally is a wait for the elevators. My using a carrier you can skip the line and just take the stairs.

We found that the stroller worked well for us when we were in port as it allowed for us to get around quickly with Autumn by having her safe and secure. Sure, we could have had her in the carrier but it was nice not having to load ourselves up as we had other bags of things like snacks, water, shoes, sunblock, a camera, and towels to lug around as well. It was a pain to push through the sand at the beaches but it did help us keep out stuff together and out of the sand when we loaded it up when it wasn’t in use.

If you would like to use a stroller but don’t want to bring one yourself then just inquire if your cruise line has strollers for use, as Disney and Carnival do, for a deposit or daily fee.

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-In Port/On Shore Excursions-

We didn’t participate in an of the excursions that were arranged through the ship. They sounded wonderful but the majority of them were too advanced for her. We did speak to another family that took their 2 year old on an excursion to see and swim with dolphins. They said she did well and enjoyed it, which was great for them, but the year difference between Autumn and their daughter would have made a big difference. We just thought she would have been too scare, just do what works for you.

Grand Cayman and Costa Maya were beach days for us. They were both wonderful days filled with fun in the sun. We made the days work with cab & shuttle rides to and from the port to the beaches. From there we chairs and umbrellas that we either paid ($20- Grand Cayman) for or we free (Costa Maya) for use.

The other days were spent around port shopping and just walking around. Belize was the toughest day as it was our last port and it was so incredibly hot. But every port was great in its own way.

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– Dining-

We all loved the food on the cruise! The variety of foods meant that she could try a lot of different things so there was sure to be something that she would like. And there were things that she tried for the first time that she loved- like jello!

While everyone thinks there is food 24/7 it’s not really the case, there are set times when the restaurants and cafes are open. As our daughter is an early riser we spent many mornings waiting for the main restaurant on the 9th deck to open. We quickly learned that it was important to always have snacks available to ease the hungry toddler. Grabbing boxes of cereal, yogurt, and fruit when we left breakfast each day helped us get through snack time and those lunches when Autumn just wanted a yogurt and not any of the 50 choices we laid out in front of her.

Our diner servers were so awesome as they quickly learned how to make dinner run smoothly for all of us, including them! Autumn was a fan of the bread basket so they always brought that over quickly and we always kept our menu browsing time to .2 seconds so we could order as soon as possible to get our food out quickly. It was a bit rushed but it all worked well for us so we could all enjoy food.

There were nights when we just knew Autumn would be content with some bread and yogurt and then there were other nights when we ordered her an appetizer. I was a bit hesitant to order her any food but our server kindly reminded us that we paid for it so we might as well. There were nights when she loved what we ordered and their were nights she hated it, and then were were the nights she ate what I ordered for myself. ha!

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– Your Stateroom-

Unless you get a suite, your room is going to be cramped. That’s just the way it is when you have a small room and then add a pack and play.

As I was exclusively pumping, I needed a refrigerator in the room to store the milk. I called ahead and spoke with a Royal Caribbean agent who arranged that, along with our pack and play. Both are to arrive by8pm the day you embark on your cruise so it can make things tough if your child goes to be earlier (like ours), but be patient with your room steward as they are busting their butts that day.

I really suggest getting a mini fridge as this will help you keep your pumped breast milk/milk/formula, snacks, medicines, etc cold. We had to have a chair removed from our room to make room for it but it was so worth it. Unfortunately we couldn’t rip the built in sofa out of the room to make even more room. ha!!

Autumn wasn’t used to taking showers so they were kinda scary for her but she did well as we kept them quick. We found it worked well to tag team the ‘event’ so that she was in here with one of us and when she was done/completely over it the other could grab her, dry her off, diaper, and change her, while the other completed their shower.

I suggest bringing a surge protector as there are not many outlets in your room so with 1 outlet being dedicated to your mini fridge you are limited to can use the other outlet for. For example, if you are pumping then you have used both outlets and are unable to charge any of your devices while in the room.

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– Nursery-

We used the nursery on our Royal Caribbean Cruise throughout the week-long cruise in one way or another.

Babysitting was just $8 an hour (January 2015) which certainly beats our $12 rate in the Boston area. They had clean facilities and experienced staff who were excited to watch Autumn. Autumn loved the toys and movies they had playing and quickly took the staff getting snuggling in their laps to take a bottle before going to bed there while we were having our dinner. We would just get her, quietly walk to our room, and put her in the pack and play in our room to complete the wonderful night.

Unfortunately Autumn was the only kid to use the nursery that week. It would have been great to have met other families while using the toys during the open play times.

The kind staff even gave us a bag of toys at the start of the trip so that Autumn could have things to play with while we were in our room. We just returned it on the last day after lots of use.


Our Top 10 Tips & Tricks To Successfully Cruise with a Baby or Toddler

Avoid tendered ports. Tendered ports are no fun for anyone, but they are even less fun for you and your infant as you have to lug your stuff and theirs on and off the boat that shuttles you from the ship to the port. Plus, there is the wait to get on the shuttle boat, load it, and then unload it. Babies aren’t always the most patient creatures!

-Bring a compact umbrella stroller. This is helpful for getting around in port or around the ship. It’s great for on the go napping. Plus, the storage helps you keep your hands free too.

-Bring a baby carrier. This is great when you are attending your muster station drill, getting on/off the ship, and in port. Plus, we find them to be really helpful when you are going through the airport.

Bring extra of everything! Pack more diapers, wipes, and formula than you think you would need. Better be safe than sorry. But be sure to pack efficiently too!

Request a mini refrigerator for your stateroom. Call ahead of arrange this. This is definitely needed if your formula feeding or pumping. Plus, it’s great for storing snacks.

Request the staff to remove any furniture, if possible. Our room steward took out a chair for us as we were cramped with a pack & play and the mini fridge.

Take portable snacks whenever possible. Grabbing boxes of cereal and fruit at breakfast is a great way to start the day to know you’ll have something on hand for when your in port or just around the boat.

Use the nursery, if available. We found this very helpful and just awesome. We used their open play times and babysitting services.

Try to maintain your typical schedule, especially for naps and meals. This worked well for us as the consistency was helpful for her to have some sort of routine.

Go with the flow!! While you should stick to your child’s normal schedule as much as possible, if your kid doesn’t eat, behave, or sleep like normal, just remember how this is a new experience to them so just follow their cues to make it work for everyone.

Bonus… Have fun!! It’s a cruise! It’s vacation! Always remember to have fun.




3.19-23: Seattle Weekend Recap

{Thursday Night}

cab to Logan | $17 salad from Legal | flight to Seattle | Emily and Aldo picked me up | hanging out and catching up | bed at 1.15 (4.15!)

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up ‘early’ at 6.30 | blog stuffs | photo editing | coffees | get ready | shopping and eating at Pike Place | walk downtown | public library | pioneer square | happy hour drinks | more shopping | bus and monorail ride home | tacos for dinner | hang out | bed

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 up early | get ready | brunch | walk through Queen Anne | cupcake & donut snacks | Kerry Park overlook | regroup at the apartment | Seattle Instagram meetup at Discovery Point Park | go to the dog park in Magnolia | dinner at Revel in Freepoint | Molly Moo’s ice cream | hang out | SNL | bed

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slept in a bit more | got ready | Car 2 Go to Freemont | Freemont Sunday Market | Gas Works Park | lunch | Whole Foods | back to the apartment | dress pictures | hang out | walk to Belltown | dinner at Steelhead Diner | walk back to the apartment | pack up & hang out | bed

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 up early | breakfast and coffee | Emily dropped me off at the airport | Beecher’s mac and cheese | flight home | taxi home | shower | bed

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Our 2015 Vision of the Seas Cruise: Days 5 & 6 Recap

We took a 7-day Royal Caribbean cruise on the Vision of the Seas to visit the Western Caribbean for my 30th birthday/pre-wedding honeymoon. We visited Cozumel and Costa Maya in Mexico, Georgetown in Grand Cayman, and Belize City in Belize, sandwiched between 2 days at sea cruising.


{Wednesday – Costa Maya, Mexico}

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While we were eating breakfast we noticed this rainbow that was shining brightly over the coast of Costa Maya. I was so glad to capture it We learned our lesson of sticking to the rule of ‘bring the camera with you everywhere!’ as Price missed getting pictures of dolphins swimming and jumping along side the ship on our day at seat and I missed a double rainbow over Grand Cayman when I ran up for lunch that afternoon. Still so bummed about the dolphins!

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Costa Maya was the first, and only, cruise port that was docked. This truly made the process of getting on and off the cruise ship so much easier than the previous tendered days. Instead of having to wait your turn to get on a small boat to shuttle you to and from the port, you just walk right off. Simple as that!

There was a free trolley from the ship to the port entrance, which we didn’t use, as we didn’t think the pier was too long, but others with limited mobility might have found the trolley useful.

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The most amazing thing about the Caribbean to me is the crystal clear water. We got to see a school of Moorish Idols (I think!) bobbing around the long pier on our walk into the port.

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When we arrived in port we are greeted by a grand entrance and men adorned in ancient native dress. You could take pictures with them but we just breeze by as we were on a mission to get to the beach as soon as possible. Top priorities!

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There are shops, a craft market, restaurants, a hotel, and a pool in the port area. We were blown away by the fact that pool was free and so well maintained. We briefly considered stayed there to hang out at the pool and the beach, but there is a rock wall preventing access into the water.

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We took a $2 per person trolley ride to get to the beach. While you can actually see the ship from the beach the trip is far too long to walk, so the trolley ride was worth it.

The trolley makes several stops along the beach before going into downtown. We decided to just get off the first stop, which brought us right to the beach that ran in front of a Senior Frogs Restaurant and Bar.

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Just like the beach in port, the beach and the equipment were free. There was a cabana set up on the beach where there were some women giving out massages. I was tempted to inquire about prices but I really just wanted to relax with Price and Autumn.

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I swear there is nothing better than enjoying a cold beer while on the beach.

While we were on the beach we ordered a plate of chips, salsa, and guacamole. The drinks were dirt cheap. Super, super cheap! Our bucket of 4 beers was just $5. But the food was pretty expensive, which is why we only got the plate of chips for $10.

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The only thing to note about the beach where we were is that there is a big section where there was plant growth. There were some people snorkeling along the edges to check of aquatic life but most of the small fish I saw was right along the water’s edge. We had water shoes, which I highly suggest if you get the least bit squeamish when stepping on unkonwn squishy stuff (like me!!!). In general I found them to be a great investment just to avoid some of the sharper rocks on the beaches, which was very prominent in Grand Cayman as well.

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Autumn did amazingly well at the beach as she played in the sand with her toys, enjoyed dips in the water, and playing on the beach chair.

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It was such a wonderful day at the beach. Our beach babe was so tired afterwards! Thankfully, the reentry on to the boat was just as easy as getting off. Just through security and we were on our way back to the room. Much easier than being tendered!

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We enjoyed a leisurely afternoon and the time to rinse off all the sand and salt water. Endless

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It was formal night so we were a bit under dressed, at least compared to the couples wearing tuxes and ballgowns, but at the same time we were on par with others on the ship too. At least everyone loved Autumn’s frilly aqua dress.

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I started to not feel that great later on in the afternoon so I kept dinner pretty plain with some chicken and rice. It was done beautifully, but I just wasn’t feeling so great. Maybe a combination of the foods I had been eating, the sun, or the fact that there was a small out break in Norovirus on the ship on the cruise prior to ours. I never got sick but just felt off, which is why we also, sadly skipped dessert.

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We were all quite satisfied with our meal, and our day, and I think that Autumn’s happy, smiley face shows it.

{Thursday – Belize City, Belize}

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Autumn is normally an early riser so it was no surprise that she was up early on the cruise but at the same time she never slept well at night so we had been hoping for some ‘later’ mornings to make up for it. Sadly, that was not the case, but we did get to enjoy some amazing sunrises while on the cruise.

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To change things up a bit we took our breakfast (6.15-10.30am) out of the Windjammer  Cafe to enjoy the fresh morning air as we approached the port in Belize City. Plus, this way we could see all of Autumn’s best friends on the deck. She took a liking to an older gentleman named Michael. So sweet.

After breakfast we went back to the room to stick to our morning routine of Autumn napping while I pumped. And then we’d gear up for the time in port.

While going to the beach would be have been great, I still wasn’t feeling too well so we decided that we would keep our time in Belize quick. Plus, Price had to do his time sheet for vacation week, so we’d have to bring the laptop with us. We figured the laptop and beach sand wouldn’t be a good mix.

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We had wandered around the Belize City port a bit trying to find a good spot to stop and use Wifi before we settled on a friendly open air bar that had a $10 minimum for Wifi (pretty average rate in port) and a 2 of $10 drink special. Perfect. Plus, the friendly waitress also gave Autumn a cup of mango juice, which she really enjoyed on the hotter than normal day.

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“You have a baby… in a bar.”

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We didn’t spend too much time in the port area as there honestly wasn’t too much to do. It seemed that the excursions required a taxi or bus ride to get there, which would have been fine to experience but decided it was too much to juggle with Autumn, our stuff, and a laptop. Next time Belize, next time…

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I’d suggest keeping an eye on the schedule for the ferries that bring you back to the boat as we got on one immediately, and then had to wait and wait and wait for it to leave, which is hard with a frigidity 1 year old.

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I kept my lunch simple with some plain pasta as I was feeling off but Price and Autumn enjoyed their lunches in the Windjammer Cafe. Autumn tried jello for the first time and loved it so much that she had a bowl and a half.

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After lunch we spent some time during the afternoon enjoying the Open Play  Session (1.15pm-5.15pm) in the nursery. They has set up musically themed toys that day. And then it was time for Autumn’s nap. As usual, Price and I took turns resting or roaming around the ship during the afternoon naps.

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Stripes and baby shorts. Perfection.

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We took advantage of the daycare provided by the nursery staff for another ‘date night’ dinner together. We dropped Autumn off right at 5.30 with some snacks & yogurt (for her to have as dinner), her bottle, and diaper bag before we headed over to the Aquarius dining room.

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During the afternoon, we had scoped out the menu on the information screens located outside of the dining room so that we could learn what the theme was for the dinner that night. We figured that with the Italian themed dinner we would best enjoy the bottle of red wine that we brought on board.

Man oh man, it was so enjoyable to enjoy a dinner together without having to get up to allow Autumn to stretch her legs and burn off that frigidity energy. Plus, she enjoyed her time at the nursery watching some Mickey Mouse, reading stories, and cuddling up with the sweetest nursery staff.

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A couple that stripes together, stays together. ha!

After dinner we strolled around for a bit while Price finished off the bottle of wine. Wine and the fresh Caribbean breeze… to die for! We picked up Autumn from daycare and got settled back in the room.

Another very fun day on our cruise!!!

Sausage and Gravy Eggs Benedict @ The Stuffed Pig, Marathon FL

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When Price and I were on our Babymoon in the Florida Keys we found a place called The Stuffed Pig and absolutely fell in love with it for breakfast. In the 4 mornings that we were there we ate there twice. So yeah, we loved it!

The Stuffed Pig is a fun open air restaurant that features down-home fresh cooking. It’s a simple place with plastic chair with a gravel ‘flooring’. Pick up a laminated menu or check out the specials on the chalkboard to select some damn good breakfast or lunch. And be sure to say hi to the cats that roam around the property.

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Shrimp & Grits

Grilled shrimp w/Bacon & Cheddar on Grits, 2 Eggs, Toast  $12.00

On the first morning we went there I got the Shrimp and Grits. So much food!! I skipped the toast and just dove right into the rest. I took the time to take the shrimp off the skewers and then took the tails off so I could get a shrimp with every bite of cheesy grits and eggs.

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I made a friend on the first day. Tigger the cat was very friendly so she rubbed up all against the belly bump and kneaded the napkins I had on my lap. Then sat on my lap while I ate, I think she was hoping I’d share some shrimp!

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Price also enjoyed one of the breakfast specials that had a pancake, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, grits, and toast. Basically, a half portion of their World Famous Pig’s Breakast.

As well, they have $2 mimosas and $3 Bloody Mary’s!!! I was so jealous of Price as he enjoyed them with his breakfasts. I figure it is just another reason for us to go back- when I’m not pregnant- to enjoy their great food and very, very affordable drinks!

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Sausage and Gravy Eggs Benedict

Of course when I saw they had a Sausage and Gravy Eggs Benedict on the special’s menu I had to get it.

It’s a great combo of 2 great breakfast plates. It was a change up for me since I love Hollandaise sauce so it was a big departure for me not to have that when having Eggs Benedict. But I embraced the change and really enjoyed the special.

As well, instead of the typical English Muffins the Eggs Benedict was set upon freshly made biscuits. They biscuits were really tender and soft. They became a great sponge to soak up the sausage gravy and runny egg yolks. Then a sausage patty was set upon each biscuit to make this super sausage-y. That’s right double sausage!!

The side of homefries were great as they were well seasoned with the onions they were cooked with and from some of the char they had from the griddle. It was really good to mix them into the sausage gravy.

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Biscuits– 17/20 pts

Sausage– 17/20 pts

Poached Egg– 22/25 pts

Sausage Gravy– 23/25 pts

Homefries– 8/10 pts

Total: 87/100 pts

The Stuffed Pig

3520 Overseas Hwy

Marathon, FL 33050

(305) 743-4059

Mon-Sat: 5am-2pm Sun: 6am-12pm

Cash Only

9.20-23: long weekend recap in Chicago

{Thursday night} make a quick dinner | pack | trip to Walgreens for gum, jelly beans, & cash | bed early

{Friday} 4.30am alarm | get ready | cab ride to the airport | starbucks | Boston> Chicago | shuttle to The Acme Hotel Company | architectural boat cruise | lunch at The Billy Goat Tavern | check in at the hotel | nap | get ready for dinner | Frontera Grill – drinks at the bar & apps at the chefs table area | run back to the hotel in the rain (2+ total miles)

{Saturday} PRICE’S 30th BIRTHDAY!!! Woke up early | coffee delivery to the room | get ready for the day | breakfast at the hotel | started on our day of exploring | walk down to Millienum Park | pictures at the The Bean | Crown Fountain | walk through Lurie Garden | Buckingham Fountain | walk to the skip the aquarium- too long of a line | water taxi to Navy Pier | walk to Pizano’s for deep dish pizza | walk back to hotel | nap | get ready to go out | Signature Room at John Hancock Tower | drinks and guac | Ghirardelli Chocolate Shop & Soda Fountain for a birthday banana split | walk back to Acme | SNL and lounging around  (7+ total miles)

{Sunday} wake up with the alarm | get ready & pack up | breakfast at the hotel | check out & store our luggage | take the L from Grand to Addison | tour Wrigley Field @ 9.30 | walk to Ann Sather’s & split an omelet lunch | walk to the Lincon Park Zoo- saw a baby zebra! | sticky bun | walk through Lincoln Park to get to Magnificent Mile | Disney store for a gift for Cara | beers at the Weber Grill bar | shuttle pick up at the hotel | fell asleep in traffic | chicago dog for dinner | flight home (7.5 total miles)