Friday, June 22, 2012

Cruise With Me, Baby!


My sweet family and me!
As many of you know, my husband, kids, and I went to Washington DC for our summer vacation last year. It was (as quoted by my kids), “the best vacation ever!” We had the very best time and thought no other vacation would ever rival it. Well, what a difference a year makes! 


Last October, my grandfather approached my husband and me and asked if we would like to go on a cruise with the family. Since we’ve never been on a cruise before, we were a bit excited at the prospect. (As for the rest of my family, this is nothing new—my grandfather has treated my parents, sisters, aunt, and cousin to a cruise almost every year for the past 11 or 12 years, so they are experienced cruisers. My grandfather, who is 92, tells everyone that he is helping my mom and aunt spend their inheritance. *g*) My husband had to make sure that he would be able to take a vacation during the time they were planning on going (Memorial Day weekend), so we didn’t mention it to the kids until we knew for sure. Plus, we wanted my grandfather to be the one to tell them. J When my husband got the okay, my grandafther told the kids and they were ecstatic and wanted to go right then. LOL! It was a long wait for them, but it was so worth it!


We left the day after school let out and drove down to Tampa. Our cruise ship, the Carnival Legend, didn’t leave until the next day, Sunday, but we didn’t want to rush. Waiting to board the ship took a little long (especially with two kids who were so bored), but went pretty smoothly. We were warned by our fellow experienced cruisers that the embarkation process was the worst part of the cruise, and it really wasn’t that bad at all.  


When we finally got on the ship we were in awe. The first thing we noticed was how massive it is...and that isn’t the half of it. You don’t fully realize just how big it is and how much it holds until you’ve walked around and seen everything. Wow. Needless to say, we were thoroughly impressed. By the end of that first night, we knew our way around that ship and my kids already adored the Lido Deck. J 


My kids loved the slide!
Monday was an “at sea” day, so we lounged by one of the pools and basically just relaxed all day long (we turned our phones off when we left Tampa and you would not believe how relaxing that simple action was). Oh, and we ate—there is so much food all the time! That evening was the Captain’s Dinner and was the first of two formal nights. Dinners on a cruise ship are amazing. You can order whatever you want and as many as you want. Three appetizers? Sure! Two entrées? Absolutely! Two desserts? You bet! They had two menus—one with the same items everyday and also a rotating menu. They served lobster, shrimp, prime rib, filet mignon, chateaubriand…for dessert, they had warm chocolate melting cake (TO DIE FOR!), baked Alaska, tiramisu, cheesecake...oh my goodness, everything was delicious.  


Tuesday we docked at Cozumel, Mexico. We hadn’t booked an excursion there, so we walked around, shopped, and took a bunch of pictures. All in all, Cozumel wasn’t my favorite place, but it was a neat place to visit. 


Altun Ha
Wednesday we arrived in Belize. The Legend dropped anchor about five miles away and passengers had to take a 15 minute tender ride to the shore. My husband, kids, sister, and I booked an excursion to Altun Ha while in Belize. Altun Ha means “rockstone water” and is an ancient Mayan ruins site. We had a terrific tour guide and learned a lot. We really enjoyed the experience. 


Thursday we docked in Mahogany Bay, Roatán. Roatán is an island off the coast of Honduras and is the largest of Honduras’s Bay Islands. It is a beautiful place! We spent a few hours on Mahogany Beach to let the kids play because it was my daughter’s first time at the beach. They had a ball! Afterward, we did some more shopping and finally made our way back to the ship to prepare for another formal evening. 


Cayman Turtle Farm
On Friday, we arrived in Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands. Wow, what an amazing place! My husband, kids, sister, father, grandfather, and I booked an excursion that showcased the “Best of Cayman Island tour”. We were in an air-conditioned van/bus and had a great tour guide. He took us on a tour of George Town, the capital of the Cayman Islands, the Cayman Turtle Farm (which my daughter had been dying to see!), Hell (yes, there is a city named Hell, so we’ve been to Hell and back-lol), and the Tortuga Rum Company (sadly, Jack Sparrow was nowhere to be found). We had an awesome time! 


Saturday was our last day and another “at sea” day. By this time, we were getting sad because we knew our trip was almost over. Once again, we hung out by the pool and ate. We said good-bye to our amazing tea of waiters and steward. They were great! The disembarkation process the next morning was incredibly smooth and we were back in our van headed home in no time. I ended up taking over 650 pictures with my camera, buying a bunch that we had taken by the ship’s photographers, and we all had a ball looking through them all and reminiscing. The kids now say that this cruise is right up there with Washington DC as “the best vacation ever!” I couldn’t have said it better myself. J We have caught the cruise bug and are counting the days until we can do it again!

Warm Chocolate Melting Cake!!!
My family’s bottom line:  

Favorite port? Grand Cayman and Roatán

Favorite part of the ship? Lido Deck and the Sun Deck

Favorite dinner entrée? Chateaubriand, lobster, and shrimp

Favorite dessert? Unanimously, Warm Chocolate Melting Cake!

Favorite thing to do on the ship (besides eating)? Water slide, pool, relax on the Sun Deck

Favorite food from the Lido deck? Swirls (frozen yogurt/ice cream cones), pizza, and the Dessert Bar


Sunset on our last night



So, dear readers, have you ever been on a cruise? If so, where did you go? Where was your favorite port? What was your favorite part of the ship? If you haven’t been on a cruise (and you really should!), where would you like to go if you had the chance to take one? Cruise with me, baby, and let's dish!

24 comments:

  1. What a wonderful vacation, Andrea! I've been on two cruises and they were both so much fun. Well, to be honest, the second one was a lot more fun. The first one (thankfully, only four days) was rough weather. My late husband and I were the only ones in our group who didn't get sick. Ten feet waves tend to bounce the ship around a bit. ;-)

    The second cruise (7 days) was perfect! Great weather, great service, great food, great ports, great fun! I'd do it again in a heartbeat!

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  2. Wow, it sounds as if y'all had great fun, Andrea! Thanks for sharing your memories and your pics with us.

    I've never been on a cruise. My extended family has been talking about holding a family reunion on a cruise for a couple of years now. Maybe I should send them all this link as a sales pitch. :) I'd love to cruise the Greek islands.

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  3. Thanks, PJ! We were very blessed with good weather. There was only one instance when we could feel the ship rocking a bit. Thankfully, no one got sick. Where did you go on your cruises?

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  4. It really was, Janga. Oh, the Greek islands would make for some wonderful scenery. Great choice. I hope you get to go on a cruise soon!

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  5. Yes, this was the best vacation EVER! And going with family was the best part of all. :) Let's do it again real soon! ;)

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    1. You got it, Sis!! And I totally agree. :)

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  6. Andrea, what a great trip! I would love to take a cruise sometime, but the dh isn't much for the beach. I think I could maybe get him to take one of those Alaskan tours, though, one of these days.

    My father loved to go fishing in the ocean, but I've never been out on open water. I figure I'll pack dramamine just in case.

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    1. Nancy, we packed dramamine (just in case) and didn't need it. But, if we'd not packed it, we probably would have. Lol. I hope you get to do an Alaskan cruise one day!

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  7. My husband and I took one but it was many, many years ago. I think it was 5 days and in the Carribbean and it was our best vacation ever. I like that the luggage stays in one place but you got to take different excursions off the ship or could find tons of stuff to do on the ship. I regret that we never made one of the midnight buffets because we were so full from dinner lol.

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    1. "I like that the luggage stays in one place but you got to take different excursions off the ship or could find tons of stuff to do on the ship."

      catslady, that is EXACTLY why we loved being on a cruise ship. You spend the night and keep your stuff in one place. :) And I hear you about dinner! Thanks for sharing!

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  8. Sound like you all had a wonderful time!!!

    Doug and I have been on two cruises. One for our honeymoon and one for an anniversary trip. We haven't taken the boys on one yet. But we are sure thinking about it.

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    1. We did, Buffie. And there are so many things I didn't touch on, like the towel buddies. Every night, Abby would race to the room to see what animal they created! So cute!

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  9. I have never been on a cruise but would love to go on one!

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  10. This sounds wonderful!!! Hubby and I took a cruise for our tenth wedding anniversary and ended up in the middle of a hurricane. We were only able to get off in Jamaica for 4 hours. Because it was the ONLY port open, there were several ships there and everything was crowded. We didn't really get to enjoy things at any of the ports.

    We did, however, find that we LOVED ordering room service. Especially since it was free. :) We had more fun ordering in and eating in our room.

    I am really excited to try it again. With The Kid being older, I think it would be fun to take him, too.

    Thanks for sharing your trip with us. :) :) :)

    Tami

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    1. Oh, Tami, I'm sorry about the hurricane, but glad you both were able to make the best of it and enjoy room service. It's wonderful, isn't it?

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  11. I haven't been on a cruise. I just know I would be sea sick the entire time.

    My sister worked on a cruise ship for one tour - 6 months - as a nurse. She cruised through the Caribbean. She said it was a LOT of work, her emails were hilarious. She was going to sign on for another cruise, through the Mediterranean, but her daughter was going to give birth.

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    1. Marybelle, that was one thing I learned and thought was interesting was how the crew is hired. Yes, it is A LOT of hard work!!

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  12. What an absolutely wonderful thing to do as a family! My husband and I have cruised a number of times and it's always an adventure. To do it with the family is fabulous. Everyone is together and there's lots of things onboard for everyone. You get to have meals together and update each other on what you have done that day. And of course, everyone get to eat what they want! The ports of call are always fabulous with fun things to do and shopping too. It is a stress-less way for the family to get together without any one person being stuck with meals, cleaning up and providing entertainment.

    I'm so glad you had a wonderful time and your grandfather sounds like an amazing and loving man.

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    1. Thanks, Connie! Yes, he is an amazing man...always giving and thinking of others. We are truly blessed to have him in our family and in our lives!

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  13. So glad you enjoyed the trip. Cruises are certainly a great vacation for families and especially extended families. So much to do for everyone. (Washington D.C. is great, also -- one of my family's favorite, also!)

    I have been on two cruises. Both times were at the invitation of my mom. She wanted to get all of us together in one place. And the only time that works is over the holidays. The first we cruised over New Year's, a 7-day on the Celebrity line to San Juan, St Thomas, St Maarten and Nassau. It was for my mom's 80th. The kids had fun. My husband didn't. He got sick. :(

    The second was over Christmas, a 5-day on a Carnival ship went to the same general area. Both of our ships were not the largest which are full of all the fun things to do. Water slides, ice rinks, climbing walls, etc... I think that makes a big difference.

    Perhaps it was the time of year but the weather wasn't great for either trip. The second trip left from Charleston, SC so you can imagine it took awhile before we got to truly warm weather. Neither itinerary took us far enough south to truly get the hot weather especially at that time of the year. And on the second trip, the last day at sea was so turbulent, both my husband and I were so sick we couldn't stand up.

    The kids still had a blast. My mother loves cruising because of the luggage thing. My brother and his wife love the food buffets. I love the fact that I can sit and read and relax. Hubby on the other hand just can't relax.

    I doubt we will take another. If we do, I really want to go to different ports and go at a different time of year. However, as the expression goes: "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth." I truly appreciate my mom's generosity very much. We could not have afforded the trips on our own.

    Oh, and my son, who was probably your daughter's age when we went on the first cruise--he loved the towel animals, too! :)

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    1. Annie, those are the ports I'd love to go to when we go on our next cruise...because there will be a next time. LOL! I had a couple people ask if we wanted to do the Camp Carnival for our kids, but we didn't. They had so much fun with us!

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  14. We have not yet gone on a cruise, but I just booked one for this Octobr. It will leave San Juan, Puerto Rico and sails to the southern Caribbean. We will spend a week in Puerto Rico too. We are looking forward to it.
    Originally we planned to on an Alaskan cruise, but decided to wait until we can spend some seious time out there.

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    1. Good for you, librarypat!! I'd love to hear all about it when you return. That's the cruise that my grandfather says he has wanted to do for a long time. Maybe someday!

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