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No Time for Video Games on This Cruise

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Gautam Ravandur, a third-grader from Fairfax, is the latest contributor to our Your Vacation in Lights feature, in which we invite Travel section readers to dish about their recent trips. It's a big, confusing travel world out there, and you can help your fellow travelers navigate it. Your hot tip could be the next guy's daymaker; your rip-off restaurant, the next family's near miss. To file your own trip report, see the fine print below.

THE TRIP: A three-day cruise to the Bahamas, part of our week-long vacation to Disney World and the Bahamas. Nassau was the first port; the second port was Coco Cay, a private island owned by Royal Caribbean International.

WHO: I traveled with my 5-year-old sister, Gauri; my mom and dad; my grandmother; and my friend Ankith and his family. It was our first cruise, but my grandmother had been on a cruise to islands near India.

WHY: My grandmother was visiting us from India. She is a marine biologist. We thought it would be cool to go on a cruise with her.

WHEN: During our summer vacation in July.

COST: Spending time with my grandmother -- priceless.

PLANNING: My mom did all the planning. My dad says she is the best in planning vacations.

MOM'S RECOMMENDATION: Expedia.com is an excellent online site for trip planning and cruise reviews. Use Royalcaribbean.com for cruise bookings.

GETTING THERE: We took a nonstop flight from Washington Dulles to Orlando. After three days in Disney World, we took a cab to Port Canaveral, Fla., and started our cruise.

SHIP LIFE: It was just awesome on the ship, but the best part was Adventure Ocean, which is just for kids. It's like supervised day camp with lots of fun activities for kids of all ages. My mom and dad could safely drop us there and have some quiet time sipping coffee on the ship's deck.

COOLEST ATTRACTION: Coco Cay. We got to spend a whole day on this beautiful island with white sand beaches and lots of water activities, like scuba diving, parasailing, jet skiing, paddle boats and snorkeling. At the huge aqua park, my dad and I went on these big floats together. It was just awesome.

TASTIEST MEAL: The cruise ship had the best breakfast I have ever tasted: bagels, breads, croissants, doughnuts, made-to-order eggs, different kinds of meats, fresh fruits and salads, and, the best part, yummy pastries and cakes.

SCARIEST MOMENT: When the alarm bells rang before the lifeboat drill. The sound was scary. Then my dad explained it to me and my sister, and we were okay after that.

BEST TIP: At the end of our cruise, we visited NASA and Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral. During our guided tour, we saw NASA's launch and landing facilities and got a chance to touch a real piece of Mars, see gigantic rockets and board the space shuttle Explorer. We booked the excursion through the cruise ship; my mom said that saves a lot of time later.

FAVORITE SOUVENIR: I got some cool snow globes for my collection.

DON'T FORGET TO PACK . . . lots of sunscreen.

LEAVE AT HOME: Don't take your Nintendo DS and other video and electronic games. I took my DS and never got a chance to play it because there was so much to do on the cruise ship.

IT MADE IT ALL WORTH IT WHEN . . . my grandmother said this was the best vacation, because she had the world's best travel companions, her grandchildren.

NEXT TIME: Will go on a longer cruise, like for five days.

Want to see your own vacation in lights? We'll highlight one report each month. To submit, use the categories above as a guide (use as many as you wish, or add your own; for a list, go to http://www.washingtonpost.com/vacationinlights), and send your report to Your Vacation in Lights, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071; or e-mailvacationinlights@ washpost.com.

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