Home » I’m Married to a Cruise Doctor. Our 10-Year-Old Son Has Been to 43 Countries and Leaves School for 8 Weeks at a Time.
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I’m Married to a Cruise Doctor. Our 10-Year-Old Son Has Been to 43 Countries and Leaves School for 8 Weeks at a Time.

Many people are worried about traveling with small children, but for me, seeing the world only got easier after the birth of my son, Barni, in 2013.

My husband has been a cruise ship doctor since 2010, which comes with certain privileges, including their families being able to join them on board, a bigger cabin, being allowed to use everything on the cruise, and eating at any of its restaurants. Until Barni’s arrival, I saved all my vacation days so I could join him for a couple of weeks.

Then I became a mom and had a long maternity leave, which meant our family could be together all year round and we could explore new places together.

My husband stayed with us and worked in Hungary until Barni was 7 months old, as due to health and safety rules, babies under 6 months old are not allowed on board. I’m not a worrier when it comes to traveling, but surely, knowing I’ve a doctor around if anything happened to the baby felt like a safety net.

Mom holding baby on a cruise
Barni on his first cruise trip. 

Barni’s first cruise experience was a nine-week-long trip around the Caribbean departing from New Orleans.

My husband was accepting only temporary contracts on the cruises, so we were away for four to five months a year. By the age of 20 months old, Barni spoke in full sentences in Hungarian and started learning his first English words.

The cruise has been the best education for him

When he turned 3 and started Kindergarten, we had to decide if I’d go back to work and keep him in school or we carry on with our traveling lifestyle. His school was very understanding of our adventures, and they allowed Barni to be away for four to eight-week periods at a time.

Little kid driving a boat

The cruise workers alone are from 60 different countries. The health department consists of about nine people who are dependent on each other as they’re responsible for the health of thousands of passengers. They’re a good community, chat a lot and have dinner together.

This multicultural environment and the people’s life stories had a huge effect on all of us. It allowed my son to be more open to the world, different cultures, and food. We’ve become more accepting and empathetic. On trips, we always make sure to try local dishes and get an insight into where and how the locals live instead of only visiting the luxurious tourist spots.

The kindergarten teachers noticed the benefits and said Barni was a very open, well-spoken boy with a rich vocabulary. Luckily, when it was time to start school in 2019, the headmistress also recognized the value it added to his life. So, just one week into school, 6-year-old Barni was off on another adventure in Asia for four weeks, where we did all the schoolwork together.

To keep him part of the class, we had to send some photos every other day with a note about where we were and what we were doing, which were shown to Barni’s classmates. When he went back to school, his classmates greeted him with such excitement and friendliness like he never missed a day. We’ve continued traveling four times a year for six to eight weeks. Then the pandemic hit, holding off traveling for a couple of years.

He missed the cruise life during the pandemic

While I thought maybe it was time to limit our travels, as we’ve visited the same places numerous times and were more excited about seeing new places, Barni really missed traveling. He asked, “When will we go back to the cruise?” every single day. That’s when we realized how much it’s added to his life: waking up in a new country every second day, different people, different cultures, and different tastes. He’s used to having this variety in his life, and he likes it. Being home was strange for him. We decided to go back ASAP.

Our first trip after COVID-19 — when guests were also allowed on the cruise, not just staff — was in July 2022 for two months, and we continued with our routine of four trips a year since. This time during school months, Barni joined the class via video calls, as there was a maximum of one hour time difference. He also had a chance to show the cruise, the view, and the dock to his classmates and tell them all about his adventures.

Family at an island in the caribbean

Over the years, I kept sending travelogues to my friends, which were well-received. I feel lucky to be able to see so much of the world, and I wanted to write a book for kids so they could experience it through Barni’s eyes. That’s how “Adventures of Captain Barni in Asia” was born in 2021.

In August, Barni turned 10 and then started a new school. He’s a bright student who loves to participate in competitions. We always decide about our next travels together as a family. Barni has his priorities now, such as school competitions, sports, and friends, which require logistics, but he still loves this lifestyle. So far, he’s been to 43 countries and still counting. Our next destination is South America in December, which is very exciting, as we’ve never been there. We’d like to do this as long as we can, but in the coming years, it’ll probably be for weeks, not months.

My hope for my son is that all this family time and adventures together will provide him with such emotional security and spirit that he’ll be able to achieve anything he wants. I also believe his adaptability has developed to a level that whatever comes to this world, he’ll be able to survive.

Source : Insider