I’m not sure anything could have prepared me for being aboard the Disney Wonder, the 2,500 passenger cruise ship that swallowed us up and took us away last week.

Certainly not the industrial Galveston, TX port, where except for a few Mickey-themed banners we might have been going into a warehouse to inspect the seafood catch or collect a shipping container full of tennis shoes. Or my visit to a WWII battleship parked in the Bay. Or even Disneyland, which shares with its cruiseline cousin a whirlwind of kid-friendly activity everywhere you look, but is, after all, on land.

We needed this break (I think we all need a break) and were blessed that my folks offered to take the kids on this incredible getaway. As a bonus, we got to go too.

If you’ve been on a cruise ship you won’t be surprised, but I was gobsmacked by the 3-story atriums, pools, live theatre, movie theatre, and multiple clubs and activity spaces. It was like a nutty mall with zillion-dollar views off every side, once you leave Galveston. We sailed the Gulf of Mexico to Key West, and then on to the Bahamas. Blue-green water and balmy air. We saw Hemingway’s house and cats, went snorkeling at Castaway Cay (I swam near a sea turtle!), and checked out Nassau, but frankly being on the boat offered everything the kids could need. And for vacation, if the kids are happy, we can all be happy.

It was a great way for three generations to spend time together, as everyone could do their own thing. The kids ran full speed all week, quitting only reluctantly when they collapsed late at night. I read a novel and enjoyed the pools with a beer. Grandma and Grandpa had a balcony so got to enjoy that view. We all got together for meals (every few minutes it felt like) and shows.

I was either a super cool or a bad parent when I let Shayla see her first PG-13 movie, Dr. Strange. She was thrilled with the occasional cursing and felt very grown up. Jaden liked pirate night so much he pretty much wore some variation of his pirate costume the rest of the week.

I think my favorite part was being down the hall from my parents, slipping a note under their door about what activities were up, then heading out. It felt so grown up, and also like being at home again.

I guess you could get used to such things, but I felt very grateful to be a newbie. Wow.