Thursday, March 3, 2011

Vacation Journal (2/13-2/21)

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I'd be taking a one week break from menu planning to do some recipe research. The hubby and I went on a 7 night cruise in the West Caribbean with some friends of ours. I have decided that cruising is definitely the way to go! We enjoyed every minute of our time together. The food was awesome and you feel so extremely pampered. Anyway, before I get to discussing the food from the cruise someone mentioned that I should write up a short journal about our trip. It was really great to see how God worked a few extra things out along the way.

Day 1 (Sunday 2/13)
Our flight was scheduled to depart at 6:30am on Sunday from an airport that is about 2 hours from our house. The night before we cleaned out the van and removed the back seat so that we could fit all of our luggage in it. It took us girls a little longer to finish packing up our bags so it was too late to load the luggage on Saturday night. This was the first instance of God working things out for our good. We got up and ready around 2am and the guys went out to load the van only to discover that it wouldn't start. The temperatures were just too cold. We quickly worked to wedge all of the luggage into our friends' vehicle and everything actually fit (they have a Murano which is definitely smaller than our Windstar). I was really glad that we didn't have time to load the van the night before because then we would have had to move the luggage from one vehicle to another vs. just taking it out to the other vehicle from the house.
We got to the airport a good 45 minutes earlier than we would have needed to but we'd rather be safe than sorry. We were all quite tired so we tried napping while waiting for our plane to board. The hubby happened to take his glasses off and, because his eyesight is really not that bad, he didn't realize that he didn't have them on when we boarded. We'd all gotten on the plane when he realized that he didn't have them on. I got up right away and ran up to the front of plane. Praise the Lord that they hadn't pulled the walkway away from the plane yet and I was able to run into the terminal to look for them. As I ran up the walkway I prayed that God would show me right away where his glasses were. I saw them right away and got back on the plane without any delay. Our flights went well and we got up on the cruise ship without any more problems
Waiting for our plane to board at 5:17 AM. Can you tell that we were tired?

Day 2 (2/14)
We spent Valentine's Day at sea and the guys scheduled Mani/Pedis for us girls and massages for them. :o) I really enjoyed getting to sleep straight through the night without interruption from little ones needing to go potty or having difficulty sleeping. We spent the day checking out the ship and enjoying each others company. We ended the night with a round of mini golf, which we won. 
Dressed for the Formal Dinner on Valentine's.

Day 3 (2/15)
We spent part of the day at our first port, Labadee Haiti. We swam in the ocean and did a little bit of shopping. Then the ship's crew prepared a gigantic barbecue at the beach.
That night we sat and listened to a few different musicians (Odessa Strings, a bagpiper, etc.) before heading back to our rooms for some fellowship and free room service (they had some really yummy turkey paninis). :o) 

Day 4 (2/16)
We had another sea day and enjoyed just spending some time together and relaxing. We walked around "Central Park" and did some swimming, reading, etc. Then we all went to our scheduled Valentine's gifts (mani/pedi's for us girls and massages for the guys). We also went to see one of the shows that night, Ocean Aria. It was a diving/water ballet show and we really enjoyed it. 
Sitting in the "Park" for a bit. :o)

Day 5 (2/17)
We made our 2nd port right on time, Costa Maya, Mexico. We docked around Noon and then hurried off to our scheduled tour of the Mayan ruins at Chacchoben. We booked our tour through a place called The Native Choice. Our tour guide, Joel (pronounced Ho-el), was great. He'd grown up in the area and really knew what he was talking about. We got to see an Allspice tree, which I really enjoyed. The Mayan people used it's seeds and leaves to numb their mouths. The hubby chewed on a leaf just to test it out and sure enough it worked.
That night we went to see a musical comedian named, Scott Record. He was really quite funny and we really enjoyed the show.

Joel pointing out the Allspice tree.

Day 6 (2/18)
We spent most of the morning shopping in Cozumel, Mexico. We were sure to get some trinkets for the kiddos (a couple of necklaces for the girls and a toy snake for Mr. R.), we also picked up some vanilla for ourselves and my wonderful sister who took the kids while we were gone. We also picked up a Strawberry themed fruit basket for my mom who owns a strawberry patch and collects strawberry themed items. I collected free charms for my freebie Royal Caribbean charm bracelet, which I plan to give to Miss E. After shopping and lunch, we headed back to the ship for some time in hot tubs, dinner, and one of the ship's shows.

Day 7 (2/19)
This was another sea day for us and was nice and relaxing. We did some shopping around the ship and enjoying the pools and hot tubs. We went to an Ice Show on board, which was really enjoyable. Then we had dinner and began packing everything up. We had to have our suitcases sitting outside our staterooms by 11pm. After packing things up we went up on the pool & sports deck for a round of miniature golf. It was a bittersweet night - we were sad to be leaving the relaxation of the ship but we were looking forward to getting home and seeing the kiddos.

Day 8 (2/20)
We had to be off the ship by around 9am so we were up early, ate some breakfast, and then got off the ship. We took a taxi to our hotel and put our suitcases in their storage room until we could check-in. We got a map of the area and then walked a couple of blocks to church that morning, which was really refreshing. After the morning worship service we walked to a local restaurant for lunch and just enjoyed our time checking out the shops in Fort Lauderdale. On a side note, when we booked our hotel we asked if they had a shuttle to the airport and were told that they did. Unfortunately, when we went to the front desk to schedule our shuttle service to the airport for the next morning we discovered that indeed they did not have a shuttle. They did give us money for a taxi the next morning and we made arrangements for the taxi company to send a van-style taxi for us the next morning at 5:30am.

Day 9 (2/21)
We had a very interesting last day of vacation. We got up and got ready quickly as our taxi was to pick us up at 5:30am. Upon reaching the lobby we discovered that the taxi company had not followed our instructions to send a van, but sent a car instead. After calling the taxi company about the mix-up we were informed that they did not have a van anywhere near our location (the closest one was 45 minutes away). We finally ended up taking to taxis to the airport. By the way, we still had not eaten breakfast as the hotel didn't offer breakfast until 6am.
Upon arrival at the airport, we discovered that a couple of our suitcases were over the weight limit so we hurriedly moved stuff around to balance out the weight. We got through the line and up to check-in fairly quick but the airline was understaffed for the great number of people checking in that morning and it took us almost 45 minutes just to get our bags labeled and checked. By this time, I thought I was going to puke because of not eating anything and flagged one of the employees down. Our plan was scheduled to depart at 7:30am and we finally got through security around 7am. 
Our flight went really well until we tried to taxi to the gate where we discovered a pile of snow between our plane and its intended gate. After 10 minutes or so we were told to taxi to another gate, which ended up having a now pile of snow between the plane and gate twice the size of the first one. We were originally supposed to have about an hour between flights, but by the time we got off the first flight there was only 20 minutes till our second flight was scheduled to depart. We literally ran to our next gate only to discover that the flight had been delayed (which they hadn't actually changed on the monitors). After a 90 minute delay, we were able to get on the plane. Then we were sent to deicing, which took another hour. Our captain got on the intercom and stated that during deicing a mechanical failure was detected and we'd be heading back to the gate for the inspection. One of the windows had a leaky seal that was discovered during the deicing process (we were really thankful that the leak was discovered while we were still on the ground). Unfortunately, we were stuck on the plane for another hour or so while the mechanics came up with a solution that required the passengers to get off the plane. 
Before getting off plane #1 of flight #2, we were told that there was another flight set to depart in 30 minutes that they would hold for us. We ran to plane #2 only to discover that the flight was now cancelled. The airline arranged for another plane #3 to be used for flight #2, but after waiting another hour we were informed that plane #1 was now fixed and we could head back to our original gate.
While waiting to board, I noticed that our Kindle was missing and asked the hubby about it. Come to find out, it had accidentally been left on plane #1. The Lord graciously allowed us to take our original plane and the Kindle was sitting right where we'd left it! :o)

We had an absolutely amazing vacation and I'd LOVE to go on a cruise again, soon!

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