Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sail Away, Sail Away, Sail Away

Last month Craig and I took a cruise!  Can you believe we were able to get away ALONE for a whole entire week?!  Seriously.  We did.  Thanks to Craig’s brother Chris for a couple of Southwest Buddy Passes, we were able to fly for free to Ft. Lauderdale where we caught the Carnival Freedom which cruised to Key West, FL, the Grand Cayman Islands, and then finally to Jamaica.  We had an awesome time!  We left on a Saturday and returned on the following Saturday, and I didn’t really miss the girls too much until about Wednesday.  By then I was really missing them and needing some hugs and kisses.  But we made it through and finally got back home to them late the following Saturday night where we could not even wake them up from sleep to hug us!  We tried, we really did, but they were zonked out! 

Here is a recap of our trip:

Saturday we flew to Florida and spent the night in Ft. Lauderdale so we were already there the day before and had plenty of time to get to the ship and get everything done before they disembarked.  (Yeah, we got the ship lingo down.  Ha ha!) 

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I was not prepared for the size of the ship.  I mean, I knew cruise ships were big, but my goodness.  It is literally like a floating city!  Or maybe a huge floating hotel.  Anyway, it was awesome.

It was so much fun doing whatever we wanted and not having to worry about anyone’s eating schedule or napping schedule!  We did eat a lot and take naps, but whenever we wanted to.  :)

The ship had 11 decks I think and the below picture was deck 9, the open deck with a couple of pools and this awesome water slide.  There was so much to do around the ship that you could be playing a trivia game with a group of people, laying by the pool, eating, gambling, drinking, dancing, playing putt-putt (I beat Craig severely each time we played!), volleyball, basketball, working out, or any number of other things anytime you wanted.  Plus there was a real live show every night with incredible singers and dancers!



This picture was one of the lounge areas with a bar where there was almost always live music.  There was live music pretty much in every lounge, bar, or club every night.  It really added a lot. DSC04280 

The food and the service were both incredible.  We had service in our room twice a day and at night when they turned down the bed and put chocolates on the pillows, they would make these cute little towel animals every time using my sunglasses which were on the desk.

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We had a certain dining room to eat dinner in if we wanted to go somewhere nice and the food was SO good!  We did have a table to ourselves but it was so close to other tables that we always ended up talking with the other people before long.  It was more awkward not to talk!  I first thought I would hate this and it would be too awkward but I actually enjoyed it and by the end of the cruise we were friends with one couple that we were seated by several times!  It was cool to meet new people and hear their experiences on the islands and the ship. 

Anyway every night the dinner was an appetizer, salad, main course, and dessert!  And you could choose more than one item from each course if you wanted!  It was already paid for, so go for it, right?  One of my favorite desserts was this chocolate melting cake (like a lava cake), and I had to take a picture for Avery one night when they brought it to me with an extra ice cream and said, “Here you go…Mickey Mouse!”


Going with the food subject, one night we made a reservation at the incredible steakhouse onboard which was the only restaurant that you had to pay extra for.  It wasn’t included in the price of the cruise but was only an extra $30 a person more so we tried it out and I seriously wish we would’ve gone another night!  I ordered Surf and Turf, Craig of course got a steak, and we snapped pictures of most courses.  It was SO SO good.

(Forgive our poor food photography skills!)

My Crab Cake appetizerDSC04383

Craig’s Portobello Mushroom and Tomato appetizerDSC04384

Craig’s steak (I think ribeye) DSC04385

My Surf and Turf (I’ll have to admit that I didn’t like lobster as much as I thought I would.  I thought I’d had it before, but I didn’t love it as much as all the other seafood I’ve had.  Kind of tough.) DSC04386

Craig’s fruitini dessert  {they had fresh fruit everywhere on this ship and always an option for dessert so Craig was in heaven because this is his favorite thing for dessert.  Isn’t that weird?  I mean, sickening? :) } DSC04387

A true dessert…the chocolate sampler, a different chocolate dessert in each little cup. DSC04388

I seriously gained weight on this trip although I was too chicken to weigh and see how much!

So, on to excursions!

First we stopped in Key West.  It was the first full day of the cruise and I felt like we had barely even explored the ship, so we didn’t do anything there.  Just walked around for a couple hours or less and then got back on the boat.  Here are a couple of pictures from Key West.

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The next day was a full day at sea which was fun because there was more going on around the ship.  Games, entertainment, etc.  We felt like teenagers taking pictures of each other and ourselves all the time but when you’re on a trip by yourselves it’s hard to get pictures of both of you together unless someone takes pity on you and does it for you!  So here are a couple of those from the week.

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Too bad you don’t get to help pick the pictures when you’re not the blogger.   :)   DSC04286

This was one of the elegant dress nights.  This is as elegant as we get when you have to cram your nice dress and sports coat into a suitcase and have no iron! DSC04287 DSC04290

We didn’t plan it but we did coordinate most every night!  I guess old married couples start to do that. Ha ha! DSC04308 DSC04309

Again so sorry you don’t get to help pick the pictures, Craig.  Here Craig was trying to keep his eyes fully open for the picture.  He sometimes (read: always) has a hard time with that!  Notice again the yummy fruit he has. DSC04315

OK back to excursions.  The next day was our favorite…the Grand Cayman Islands.  We had already planned a snorkeling/stingray trip ahead of time and we are so glad we did!  We went on a smallish boat with a small group of people out to an area off of the Caymans where there was a natural reef area that was great for snorkeling!  After a while of doing that, we drove the boat a very short way to Stingray City which was just a sandbar area where tons of huge stingrays are swimming around waiting for you to feed them.  It was so amazing and I am so glad I did it.  Craig is fearless and probably would’ve done it even if they were not tame.  I was a bit scared but once I read about it and looked at pictures ahead of time I felt better about it.  Plus tons of people do it every day so how bad can it be right?  They showed us how to feed the stingrays and how to hold them.  The tour guides even had names for most of them because they come out everyday and have gotten to know these creatures.  It was amazing and I will never forget it!  Below are some snorkeling and stingray pictures.  A lot of these are taken with a disposable underwater camera so they’re not awesome quality.

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An eel! caymansnorkling12

caymansnorkling15The guides showed us how to hold them.  They were so soft underneath and Craig was really good at holding them for a long time. caymansnorkling17 caymansnorkling19 caymansnorkling20 caymansnorkling22IMAG0235 IMAG0238

Terrible quality but hey…proof that we had some alone time in the middle of the ocean!  (Well, ok, pretty close to the coast, and surrounded by a hundred people and about 30 stingrays!) caymansnorkling23

We loved this trip and it was by far our favorite thing all week.  The next day our ship docked in Jamaica and we went to Dunns River Waterfall.  This is one of Jamaica’s most popular tourist areas.  Unfortunately we had a second underwater camera that we took on this trip and we lost it the next day on the ship.  Someone somewhere out there has a lot of pictures of Craig and I in the waterfall!  It was so beautiful, though.  It was a giant waterfall that ran down a long area of rocks.  You start at the bottom and climb up the rocks and through pools of water until you finally reach the top.  Jamaica was a little scary and had a lot of sketchy people, but I’m glad we saw the waterfall and climbed it, too.   Because we probably will not be going back to Jamaica…ever. :)  Here is an internet picture of the falls.  Our tour group climbed it in a line and we all held hands to help people keep their footing just like in this picture.   

The second part of this tour was lunch at a nice restaurant on the way back to the ship.  They had a pretty nice waterfall there and a nice outdoor eating area.


The rest of the time we were relaxing by the pool or on the decks on the ship, reading and/or napping.  We also learned to dance the cha-cha one night (yes I really got Craig to do it!), and enjoyed many games, shows, and dinners as I said before.  Here are a few last pictures.

DSC04251 DSC04381 DSC04382It was so nice to have a great view of the ocean while you ate! IMAG0207

Oh one last thing.  On the second to last day, someone on board had a medical emergency and the coast guard helicopter flew out to our ship and dropped their basket to pick the person up!  It was crazy and of course everyone was out to get a look.IMAG0248 IMAG0249

A special thanks to Chris for the buddy passes and of course to Nona and Aunt Staci who kept our girls happy and spoiled rotten while we were gone!  We couldn’t have gone without you all!