I toyed with the idea, and then dismissed it.
Brought it up again with Bryan, but then decided prices were too high for airfare even if cruising was a screaming deal.
Heard of a cheap red-eye Jetblue flight if we flew into a different city and drove to the port, but then backed down again when thinking through the many obstacles regarding the kids' schedules.
We decided to bag the whole thing.
But then....Rebekah called and said that she had officially decided to serve an LDS mission. She wanted to start working on her papers after finals in December and send them in a couple of months later, hoping to leave in late May/early June.
So though our family had just returned from a vacation in Kauai in August, we decided that we might regret not taking the opportunity for another trip, considering that we'd likely not get another chance before Rebekah left for 18 months.
We booked the cruise and airfare 10 days before we were to embark. We literally pulled Julianne off stage after her final bows for closing night of "West Side Story" and headed straight to the airport.
Red-eye flights are never fun. We were freezing cold, our back-row seats couldn't recline and the flight was one of the most turbulent I've ever flown on. We were all pretty tired when we arrived in Orlando. But we rented a car and began our 3-hour drive down to Ft. Lauderdale...Rebekah taking over for a little while when her parents were too tired to drive safely.
We settled in, explored the ship a bit, and then proceeded to nearly fall asleep at the dinner table. We went to bed our first night at 7:30. (Two rooms on two separate decks of the ship, because apparently when you book your trip last minute, the prices are good but the availability of rooms together is non-existent.) But hey, we were on board and our Thanksgiving family trip had begun.
The itinerary consisted of stops at Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas, Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Key West with two days at sea. The weather was iffy, however and we found ourselves with FOUR days at sea, Half Moon Cay and Grand Cayman being cancelled due to gale force winds and rain. It was disappointing, certainly. But really, how can you complain when you are being pampered aboard a classy Holland America cruise ship in the middle of the Caribbean?
(because it had big tables) to play lots and lots of card games.
(small though it may be)...this cruise was definitely keeping us on our toes.
On Thanksgiving Day we were supposed to be in Grand Cayman. Instead, we spent five hours at the pool. The weather was bad and the waves were large...outside the ship, but also inside the pool as the ship rocked back and forth a little more forcefully than it normally does. But I think that made for even more fun for the people inside the pool.
Another evening after dinner went swimming while everyone else on board was taking advantage of the ship's nighttime activities....shows, concerts, drinking in the lounges, gambling in the casinos....and we had the entire pool to ourselves. Brandon somewhat arrogantly wondered out loud if I could tread water longer than he could. He's a strong kid, yes. And in most things he can kick my trash. But he was rather surprised and humbled when he had to stop after just a few minutes and I continued on for twenty.
Though Thanksgiving is an American holiday and the ship was staffed with 85% Phillippino and Indonesian crew, the majority of the passengers were American. So they made a big to-do out of Thanksgiving. I was grateful, because Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and I was happy that even if I was celebrating very non-traditionally on a ship in the middle of the Caribbean, I was still able to eat turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie.
(Thanksgiving we-are-so-stuffed family selfie.)
One of the ship's evening shows put on by the Eurodam singers and dancers was fairy tales, fractured. It was pretty impressive. But what impressed me even more was how approachable the performers were after the show when Lilian wanted to meet them. And how kind it was of two of them to spend a good while talking with Julianne about the ins and outs of performing, auditions, living in NYC, etc, after they found out that she was potentially considering a career in theatre.
Did I mention yet that I actually bid on and won a painting at the art auction? Oh my, that was not part of the plan. Art auctions are one of my favorite things to do on cruises. I find them fascinating...seeing the art, learning the history of the artists, and then the actual auction itself. But as much as I love art, I've never actually bid on anything even though at times I have been sorely tempted. But this art auction was on Black Friday. (Yes, Black Friday happens even in the middle of the Caribbean.) So they were pulling out some screaming deals. And I'm afraid I just got caught up in the excitement of things. Rebekah, Julianne and I had seen a painting earlier during the preview that we had liked well enough to "tag." Which basically means, they'd make sure to bring it "across the block." No pressure to bid if the price wasn't to our liking. But when the painting came up (a watercolor called "Vivaldi" by Shan-Merry) the price was not bad. And before I could even think too much about it, I started waving my card in the air! Of course, the exhilaration that I felt purchasing that painting quickly settled into a tiny bit of dread when I realized I'd have to explain to Bryan what I had done....
Next up....Jamaica and Key West.