It has been exactly one week since we returned from our exotic adventure aboard a cruise ship so I am finally caught up on laundry and prepping for school and sleep (sort of) and am getting to the task of blogging about our amazing trip.
I won't go into too much detail, I think the pictures pretty well tell the story, but here goes.
Like many vacations ours started in the airport. Thank you Southwest terminal in Salt Lake for your children's area. We kind of monopolized it while we waited for our flight, but we were very grateful it was there.
|Five hours of flying tuckered the little ones out, I have a girl sleeping on each side|
of my lap.
|Apparently the humid, Florida air was not exactly|
invigorating for this little one.
|When you are checking into your resort at 1:00 am it helps that your rooms are|
|And that the pool is pretty fabulous as well.|
We landed in Florida early early Saturday morning and stayed until Monday mid-morning when we headed off to our ship. We spent the bulk of the time on the beach (our resort, Lago Mar, was found sunning itself right next to the ocean so it was just a quick walk). Now, the resort was fabulous, but the downside was that we did not have cars so we were trapped there for every meal which meant eating in their restaurants which were RIDICULOUSLY priced (that's just the way of resort fare). To combat that we ordered pizza and Chinese food and microwaved EasyMac for the kids one day.
Fun in the Sun!!
|Parker and Grandma Whitmer|
|Bryce climbing into his shell.|
|Gavin washed away!|
|Ellie and Katie enjoying the waves.|
|Aubrey and Bryce also enjoying the waves.|
|My favorite picture of boogie boarding (nice shot, Joel).|
|Josh and I rode a few waves ourselves.|
|Gavin was the master shell collector (between him and|
Ellie and the few collected by the other kids we came
home with lots).
On Sunday we took a shuttle to the local LDS ward for sacrament meeting. Yup, the church is still true wherever you go. It was a great ward full of wonderful people. Also, great chance for a family picture.
And another family picture in front of our cruise ship, the Norwegian Sky.
|Sailing out of Miami.|
|Our cabin (or one of our two cabins as our older kids had a cabin of their|
own next door to ours).
|Parker getting all Reggae on us.|
|We did buy a dress for each of the girls. That was fun.|
Every night after dinner we came back to our room to find animal creations in the form of folded towels. It was really fun. Our steward was a sweetheart the whole trip. He pampered us to pieces, which I know is his job, but he was very good at it. He made sure we had a different animal in each of our two rooms so that our kids could get excited about his designs twice each night. Like I said, sweetheart.
Our second shore excursion was in Nassau. It was beautiful. Yeah, the people with homes on the beach are doing okay. The place is gorgeous.
We took a water taxi to Blue Lagoon and spent the day there. The beaches were amazing, the water was super clear and the kids had a great time playing on the blow up toys as well.
We did some snorkeling and saw a lot of different kinds of fish. This lovely barracuda was about two feet long. We found him and his two brothers skulking near the dock.
We didn't pay for the dolphin encounter, but since they swim around the dock and dock is open we still got to get up close to them. What lovely creatures.
After spending our days on islands and beaches, our kids were happy to spend a couple of hours each night in the ship kid's corner. There are classes for each age group and they made crafts, played games and even did a dress-up parade around the deck. Our kids really enjoyed the time there (sometimes begging us not to make them leave when we came to pick them up).
While docked at Nassau, my husband, brothers, sister-in-law and dad went on a scuba dive at Stawart's Cove. This was the highlight of the trip for everyone that was there. (I am scuba certified, but opted to spend the day with my kids so I missed this one.)
Yeah, there you go. Diving with sharks. Need I say more. They had the time of their lives. It was pretty incredible, even just from the videos.
Our last shore excursion was on Great Stirrip Cay which is a private island owned by Norwegian Cruise Line. After a sticky start due to some scheduling problems we had a wonderful day here.
The day was overcast which kept the sun from beating down on us too much. We thought that was sweet. This day was my favorite.
The water was warm and wonderful and as we snorkeled just out from the shore we found small reefs which were teeming with fish. Fish of every color and size. Parker and Bryce saw a sting ray, some people trailed shrimp, Aubrey and I swam right in a school of bright blue fish (forgive my oceanic ignorance). It was incredible and since they weren't too far out even the littler kids got to catch come glimpses.
My favorite part of that day was when Josh and I got to go wave running together on the ocean. The adults from my family had to go in shifts so someone was always available to be with the kids. Josh and I were in a group of inexperienced riders and while we are no experts, we have done some wave running in our time. This meant the two of us ended up with a private tour of the area while the other riders took a less rugged tour. Our guide took us to an island (Cistern Cay) where we saw the remnants of homes built by drug smugglers and even the plane that sent an S.O.S. call before plummeting into the harbor next to the island (which, incidentally, brought the Coast Guard and consequently the DEA to the island and ended the smuggling fun).
Plus, driving wave runners at 30-40 mph across the ocean and jumping waves on a semi-turbulent day is pretty fabulous. It was an incredible tour.
Our afternoon topped off with some para sailing. That was relaxing and pleasant, we all enjoyed it (Josh, Bryce, Aubrey, Parker and I all go to indulge in this one).
Then it was back to the boat for one more night of sleep (and it was this night that Ellie drooled onto my face from the bunk above me in the middle of the night...gross...not a nice way to be woken in the wee small hours).
What a sensational trip. If you ever get the chance to go on a cruise, you should go. It was superb. Loved it.
Thanks Mom and Dad for making a trip possible that we could never have done on our own (my parents arranged this voyage for all five of their children as well as all of their children's children...they are pretty fabulous people which we knew even before this happened).
We loved the trip.
But then it was time to come home. A full day of airports and flying is enough to wear out even the very best traveler. Southwest terminal in Fort Lauderdale is not quite so child friendly as the one in SLC, but we managed.
We flew over Utah and landed in Las Vegas and then back tracked to get home. It was a long day.
And with the help of some jars from All-a-Dollar we turned our mass of shells into keepsakes for everyone in the family (we ended up collecting shells at every beach we visited). Awesome! Now we have something to remember all that excitement and sand by.
Hooray for extraordinary vacations!