Thursday, November 4, 2010

Cruising! It's long, but it's the unvarnished truth.

Harried Mom and Dad took the Fabulous Four on a cruise and everyone had a joyous time! Everyone got along fabulously, and everything went off without a hitch. Not quite. Did you think perhaps you were at the wrong blog? Here's how it really went down. I'm going to bog you down with about 100 pictures, so be prepared - I'll try not be get too chatty, but this is bound to be long....

So you already know about the lost passports. We soldiered on anyway and were on our way to NYC by 6am on October 17th. A little after 7 the sun was coming up on a beautiful clear fall morning...
As I mentioned before, we got to the city in plenty of time, 11am - no waiting in lines! and were sent to the waiting area until they began boarding. I think by 12:30 or so we were walking up the gangway to the Norwegian Jewel.
Once on board, we were able to go to the cafe for lunch while waiting for our staterooms to be ready. After the lifeboat drill at 3:30, we headed up to the deck to watch our departure from NYC at 4pm. One thing about leaving NYC in October, the air is chilly - and it was chilly on our 1st and last sea days too. We'd originally looked at doing this cruise over Thanksgiving, and I'm so glad we didn't now - too cold! Anywho, some pics from deck 13 as we were underway...

Matt snapped these pics of the Statue of Liberty as we were leaving - I'd never seen it before in person...
Notice the stuffed animal on Evie's shoulder - keep an eye out for it, she took it everywhere :)

And this was the view I had of Lady Liberty - not quite as spectacular...
I had small peeps sleeping on me, but thankfully a glass of wine in hand.
Monday was a day at sea, and we explored the ship a bit. Evie had the first of many cups of coffee - seems like half the pictures of her she either had coffee or a drink with a straw in her mouth...
The big two were unimpressed by the Nickelodeon show for kids that morning...
They did like the kids club though, and asked to go there every day. Sarah and Jason, not so much. I spent all week taking them back and forth to get snacks and drinks, trying to entertain them, and cleaning up spilled juice. I didn't bring sippy cups, and ships don't have kid's cups. Guess they like to clean up spills.
Tuesday we were headed for Port Canaveral, Florida. Given that school is in session, we brought along homework to do & I made them work on it after breakfast each morning. Tough life, huh?
We arrived in Florida around noon. Matt was really freaked out by me taking pictures near the railing, he was convinced I was going to pitch the camera over the side.
The sports deck had a big chess set on one side and checkers on the other which was good fun, when they weren't fighting over them. Seems like whenever the four are together, the fighting starts.
My dad and his girlfriend were with us, there are many more pictures like this one :)
Once we got off the ship, we'd arranged a rental car, met up with my best friend from college, and headed over to Kennedy Space Center...
The kids sat in a capsule...(notice the stuffed hamster next to Evie...)
We saw enormous rockets...
and watched an IMAX movie in 3D about the International Space Station.
Scary picture of me and Michelle, but I had to include one!
I spent $1.53 getting pennies flattened & embossed with a rocket for the 3 kids who cared about such things...
...and entertained the little two in the gift shop while waiting for the rest of the gang to finish the Shuttle Launch Experience ride. S&J weren't tall enough to ride (note to self, 4 feet seems to be the magic number...)
We had dinner with Michelle & then headed back to the ship for a late departure. Wednesday morning we were to be in Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas! Great Stirrup Cay is Norwegian's private island down there, it's pretty much just a beach with beach chairs and buffet facilities. They bring all the supplies over from the ship on a tender boat before ferrying passengers over for the day. We waited a while in the Atrium...
Matt pretending he's not annoyed by the kids going around a column in circles...

and then boarded a tender. And then had to get off that tender and board another one when an older man had some sort of medical emergency. Meanwhile I was trying to see the horizon past all those people so I didn't get boat sick.
And we're away from the ship!
and almost to the island! For some reason, I can't take a straight picture & didn't have time to edit all of them, so please excuse the crookedness.
We hiked over to the far side of the beach area and staked our claim under a shady tent. Which we paid $30 for, but it was worth it - everyone got a little red that day, except for Jason who pretty much stayed up in the shade.
The rocks were very slippery, and it was really hard to get pictures without some undesirables in the background, but I liked these two pictures...
I probably would have enjoyed Great Stirrup Cay more had the kids been a bit bigger, and if we'd understood what food/drinks would be available from the start. Jason will only drink apple juice or chocolate milk (don't ask, he's 3) and there was none available on the island. With the four, either Matt or I ends up leaving the other with most of the kids while we try to hunt down things for the rest of us. Consequently, someone is always unhappy or missing something. Oh, and Evie still can't seem to help running around or digging like an animal. Srsly. Most times I can ignore it, but others it really gets on my nerves. Moving on! How can one be annoyed with a view like this??
We got back to the ship, cleaned up the kids, and I took the four up to the back deck for a snack while we waited for Matt to work out and get cleaned up for dinner. It was a beautiful evening and sunset, and the light was just about perfect...
We headed to dinner toting the bottle of wine I'd bought at the bar, and Sarah entertained herself with my camera for a bit.
We got everyone off to bed early so they'd be ready for Thursday morning in Atlantis! And no, those clouds are not a good sign...
Jason was done being dragged around from place to place at this point. He had a cold & really just wanted to go home. He punished me for this by making me carry him everywhere.
We took a bus from the ship to the resort and had to walk a little ways, past all these lovely boats! I like to think I'd love to have one and sail around the world, but then I wake up and realize I'd be sick all the time. It's a nice thought though :)
Atlantis was a beautiful place...
We went to the water park at Atlantis, Aquaventure. It has a huge lazy river running through the place which also has some rapids, and different tube slides you get funneled down. After everyone was sunscreened and Matt hunted down drinks for everyone, I took E&W on the lazy river. And then lost them when they got ahead of me and around a bend. I did manage to see William jetting down a slide on his tube as I was rolling up the conveyor lift to the top, but never did catch up with them. Trying not to panic, when I got back to the where we were sitting, I raced over to Matt & he went off to track them down. Thankfully, they'd stayed together and had stayed on the river so eventually they made it back around to our spot. Note to self, talk about situations like this with the kids AHEAD of time, so they know what to do, and don't get lost in a foreign country. Oy. Anyway - Sarah had a lot of fun in the little kids' area...
...while Jason napped for an hour. Do you see those black clouds in the background??
Those clouds were really overhead around noon, and it started raining a little bit. We walked to get lunch & use the bathrooms (which were FREEZING!!! I swear it was 50 degrees in the women's room). Matt waited for the food while I walked the kids over to our chairs, which thankfully had sunshades on them. It started raining a bit harder on our walk back and I made the mistake of commenting, 'Can it rain any harder?' The kids really got a kick out of that because no sooner were the words out of my mouth than it started POURING. Seriously. I don't think at that point it COULD have rained any harder. Fortunately, that didn't last long. Double fortunately, Atlantis provides you towels, so I was able to trade in all our sopping wet cold ones and get nice dry WARM ones for everyone.

After the rain passed, we whiled away time wondering why these two sunburned people were not wearing shirts to keep out of what sun there was...
Matt had a Mai Tai and I had a Route 66 (something fruity with Tequila) to kill our pain & then I took some pictures :)
We dragged the big two off the lazy river,
and after Evie - daredevil that she is - did the Leap of Faith waterslide,
we caught a bus back to the port. And Sarah passed out on her seat :) Ironically, we were sitting next to some ladies from a Carnival ship who had sailed from Baltimore, and they lived 30 minutes away from our home. We ended up seeing their ship in port in Baltimore on our way home from NYC. It's a small world, after all.
Matt had spied a Harley store from the ship so before heading back we stopped in so he could get a T...
...Sarah was either tired or didn't know what to make of all of this...
then we walked over to the Nassau lodge building. Matt went to the door but I don't think anyone was home.
Evie got some braids froma Certified Hair Braider...
and then it was back to the ship for dinner followed by two days at sea! Dinner Thursday night I think was the tipping point for Matt. The little two hadn't had a real nap in 3 days, and they were pretty done in - mostly Jason.
Jason flipping his bread up in the air.
This was the one night we weren't seated at a round table and the kids were bickering about who got to sit on the bench instead of a chair. This is also the night Jason finally knocked over the his chocolate milk, which was served in a tall footed glass. Matt's cry of 'NOOOOOO!' drew the attention of everyone in the dining room, I think :) But really, what can one expect? After that we made sure to request his milk in a rocks glass.

The kids did get a kick every night of seeing what the stewards had done with the towels. One night we came back to find a bunny, another was a penguin, then a sea lion, but I think the kicker was when we opened the door and saw a monkey hanging from the ceiling :) Jason was afraid of it. Notice Evie's stuffed animal strategically placed for photographing...
Friday morning Evie and I got pedicures first thing, then she went to the kid's club with William while I took the little two to play checkers...
Sarah played some shuffleboard too.
We had lunch every day in the Garden Cafe overlooking the sea...
and dinner with Dad and Marianne in one of the many dining rooms...
Our last day at sea, Evie's birthday, was a bit chilly - coffee all around!
William had fun in the driving cage while Jason pouted...
and when I'm bored I take self portraits with my kids.
Matt just waiting for this all to be over...
...and finally Evie's birthday dinner on our last night.
William fell asleep at the table...
and this is ALMOST a picture of all of us, Sarah is laying down on her chair.
After dinner we went to see the final show by the cast and crew in the theater. After they sang 'We're you're home away from home' & the lights came up, William turned to me and said, 'I feel like crying and I don't know why!'. I get it buddy, I really do :)
Afterwords, I wanted to get a picture of all six of us & was trying to set it up for my dad to take before I jumped in. Obviously Matt wondered what the hell I was doing...
...then I sat on William's hand by accident and he burst into tears.
And here's our lovely family cruise portrait. Isn't it just peachy? :) Maybe not, but it's honest.
Sunday morning I got to have a good view of the Statue of Liberty myself as we returned to New York...
...and we had our final breakfast at the open air cafe on the back of the ship. Evie's little hamster has been replaced by the only thing she'd asked for her birthday, Sunshine the Mazing' Hamster (Webkinz).
At this point, Sunday morning, Sarah was ZERO tired. Yeah right :) She started doing this sometime during the week, holding up her fists to say she wasn't tired. When all her fingers were out she was TEN tired, and ready for bed.

Silly goose :)

We got off the ship, back to the car, and home with no troubles whatsoever, and had only been home an hour when Matt started digging out the Halloween stuff to put out in the yard.

Would we do it again? I would! In a heartbeat! But - I think maybe 3 is a little young. Sarah handled it better than Jason did, and he's the most even-tempered and pleasant of the bunch. Plus all the water slides at Atlantis require you to be 48 inches tall - William was just shy of that and they wouldn't budge on it. It was heaven not to have to cook, clean, make a bed or wash a dish & come back to a spotless bathroom every day, and the kids really enjoyed some of the shows we went to in the theater, particularly the juggling. We have a deposit down for another cruise that we have four years to use (you get a discount for booking while on board), but we're actually talking now about maybe taking a trip abroad before the kids' passports expire, 5 years from now. By then they will all be old enough to enjoy it, make it through the day without too much of a struggle, and most of all REMEMBER it. Plus we have plenty of time to plan. European Vacation anyone? You can just call us the Griswolds :)

12 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for sharing! I love cruises (my MIL is a cruise agent), and seeing your pictures is making me very excited for our Christmas reunion cruise next month!

    I'm glad it went well overall, and you have great memories from a fun trip!

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  2. Thanks for sharing...I know that post took some time;

    I loved "Matt just waiting for it all to be over". Hahaha!!!

    I have so been there on the tag-team vacation thing...I don't find it to be a whole lot of fun. Now that our littlest is 5, things do go MUCH better. So here's hope for your European Vacation, Ellen. ;)

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  3. So it sorta sounds like it wasn't THAT relaxing, right? LOL
    Love the pictures and holy crap did it take some energy to do this post!! I love it!
    And, my favorite is the family picture. Seriously. Hilarious AND cute. Use that as your Christmas card this year. :)

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  4. Wow, what a great memory to have all written down like this. I loved the picture with William crying - poor guy. And I'm amazed that your kids can fall asleep anywhere like they do, mine would be awake and whining ;)

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  5. Oh it looks soooo fun! Wow - you really packed alot into that trip! It looks like it was beautiful!!

    xox
    Jen

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  6. Looks like you all had fun at least.
    And I love your family picture with William's big crocadile tears!

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  7. I loved reading every honest detail!! I think on that family pic you should use Photoshop and crop out and replace everyone's sad face with a happy face, between all three pics there is a really great family picture!! :) I love all of the pics...you got some great shots of the kiddos!

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  8. I'm tired after reading this!

    I'm surprised you didn't bring more backup (family) to help you with the kids.

    The looks on Matt's face crack me up.

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  9. OK, so Jen, it took me five return visits to finish reading this!

    Beautiful family, beautiful ship...just amazing.
    And kids suck no matter where you take them.

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  10. You have a beautiful family...

    The pictures have inspired me to take a vacation on a ship someday so added that in 'My TO-DO list'

    bye

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  11. I love posts like this. These are the ones that you will look back at 10 years from now & have all the memories right there. I love that you are honest & post it. Sarah looks soooo much like you. Evie & her hampster crack me up. My oldest is a freak when it comes to her stupid stuffies. Very annoying at times! LOVE those pictures of Sarah & Jason playing checkers & then hugging it out. They are adorable! The family picture totally needs to be your CHristmas card!!! I'd for sure love to do this, my hubby on the other hand would be an absolute no.... maybe when they are older we'll see..... :)

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  12. Thanks for sharing, I loved it especially the family pictures(all 3 of them) at the end.....wonderful family!

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