March 23, 2010


Last week we went on a family cruise with Tyler's parents, his sister and her family. We were on the Emerald Princess for their Eastern Caribbean cruise. It was fantastic! There was too much to do, too much to see, WAY too much to eat! Mom & Dad, thanks so much for an amazing opportunity and vacation. It was SO MUCH FUN!!! Tyler and I really want to go on a cruise without Maggie now that we know how awesome they are. And I will try to stop using so many exclamation points!!!!

Brief Itinerary (and warning that I put everything in one long post):
Sunday afternoon: load the boat, get settled, dinner
Monday: at sea, girls went to the kid's zone, we played at the pool
Tuesday: we were supposed to stop at Princess Cays (the cruise line's resort on one of the Bahamas islands) but it was too windy to use the little shuttle boats - so another day at sea. Bummer! Formal dinner.
Wednesday: St. Maarten, Tyler, Maggie and I went on a tour of the island then met up with everyone at the beach that afternoon (this was also Italian night in the dining room, by far the best meals of the cruise)
Thursday: St. Thomas, Magen's Bay beach. Fantastic! Formal dinner
Friday: Tyler and Maggie played putt-putt golf on deck 16, Grand Turk in the afternoon, did a little shopping and played at the beach until it rained
Saturday: at sea, packed up to go home, more putt-putt
Sunday: got off the boat, flew home

Here we are on the lido deck at the very front of the boat waiting for the departure. We ended up having to miss it because we had to get ready for dinner. We did get to watch several other ships depart from Fort Lauderdale, so that was neat! And besides, why would we want to miss dinner - hello!
Here we are at dinner the first night. It is true what everyone says about cruise food: it is really good, and there is too much. You pretty much just go from one eating experience to the other. We all sat together at dinner every night (traditional dining, 6pm). It was at times stressful trying to get 3 little kids to sit through a 2-hour meal without disrupting everyone else in the dining room, but worth it. Also, Gramma had a little gift for everyone each night - after a couple of days the girls caught on and would ask where their gift was if she didn't get them out when they expected it. (working on having some self control...)Playing by the pool on the lido deck. The water in the pool is not heated, so it was not quite warm enough to get the girls to go in this time of year. Alex and Tyler did discover, though, that the best way to get the hot tub to yourself is to bring in 2 or 3 little munchkins. You'd be surprised how quickly everyone else would get out! Maggie kept asking to go swimming in the hot pool, but we were always busy, so they only went in the first 2 days.
Maggie asleep on her bunk in our room. She loved sleeping up there. It was really fun for her!
There was a kid's area on the ship, so for the two days we were at sea at the beginning of the trip, we dropped off Maggie and Alexis. Alex stayed in the kid's zone in the mornings with Gabby since she was too little to be left without a parent. Tuesday all the kids got these little stuffed turtles. Maggie loves hers. After we got back she told everyone how the kid's zone was her favorite part of the cruise. Had I known she liked it so much I would've taken her there a little more. Oh, well!
Tuesday they had some sort of British lunch at one of the pubs on board. We got to have fish and chips and shepherd's pie. Yum!!!
QUICK STORY: It must've been Tuesday after the lunch above (you kind of lose your sense of time on the cruise - except for dinner time...) we were headed up to the pool to go swim, and had to take the elevator up from the pub where we had lunch. Maggie was messing around in the elevator and when we got to the pool deck she didn't get out of the elevator, even though Tyler and I were on our way. I scolded her, and sure enough - THE DOORS STARTED TO CLOSE AND SHE DIDN'T GET OUT!!! So I stood there yelling her name as I watched the floor numbers tick down on the little display, her screaming for me at the top of her little lungs, and quickly told Tyler the elevator was stopping on the 6th floor (the pool is on the 15th). He raced down to the stairs, I waited for the elevator to come back up. The elevator opened back up, EMPTY!!! She got off the elevator when it stopped at the 6th floor.

To make a long story short, it was a LONG LONG LONG 5 minutes of me waiting at the elevator, talking to the emergency operator in the elevator, talking with Tyler every time he ran back up the stairs telling me someone found her and they would be up in just a minute, until she came out of the other elevator with a cruise employee. The lady that brought her back said she came out on the 6th floor, and told another employee that her parents were at the pool and she went down the bubble elevator because she didn't get out! So at least she kept her head somewhat and was able to at least tell them where her parents were. It was a long 5 minutes and I remember praying that the Lord would keep her safe and out of harm's way until someone found her and we got her back!

When we got the whole story out of her she said, "Mommy, it was my fault!" And then the crying commenced. She sobbed for probably a good 1/2 an hour, poor baby! Then we spent the next several hours before and after her nap recounting all the stories we could about people who got lost and where and how. She would not go into an elevator without holding someone's hand the rest of the trip. She still frequently asks about when Daddy got lost, or Mommy got lost, or when she got lost at Home Depot when she was 2.

The girls in their formal dresses from Gramma. They all looked so pretty!
The girls with Grampa. They loved to follow him around. You notice Maggie is holding onto Grampa's hand there.
One of the things cruise do is take a lot of "professional" pictures. They set up different backgrounds most of the nights so you can be put into uncomfortable prom poses with awkward head-tilts and body lean-ins. Some of them turned out great, some others were just not bearable. Tara, Amron and I did our best to "work the system" and pay as little as possible for the photos we wanted, but I'm pretty sure the cruiseline figures out how to make sure they win. I took this one of the girls with Gramma and Grampa. It turned out pretty great.
Enjoying a snow cone on St. Maarten during our tour of the island.
On the French side of St. Maarten there was one street that I guess is supposed to look just like Bourbon Street in New Orleans. They were built around the same time with a French/creole influence. It was a very pretty street, but I was surprised to see how many of the buildings were in decay.
Maggie with her tube on the beach at St. Maarten. We took a tour of the island that day, but the rest of the family went straight to the beach. When we got back to the beach area, we walked down the pavilion not 5 minutes and I saw Tyler's mom. I was so glad we found them so quickly - Maggie wanted to play with her cousins so much and I had dragged her on the tour (literally at some points). The beach was gorgeous, but crowded. I found the best seashells at that beach.
The girls with Alex.
Our ship at St. Thomas. Humongous!
Magen's Bay beach. It was fantastic: perfect skies, perfect water, perfect sand, not too crowded. It did, however, cost a small fortune to get there between the taxi rides and beach use fee. Those taxi drivers have a monopoly, and you just have to pay what they tell you or you can't go anywhere. But it was worth it, it was the most relaxing day of our trip!
The little girls played in the water and sand the entire time we were at St. Thomas. Maggie rarely took her tube off, even when she was playing the sand, it was pretty cute.
Alexis and Maggie with their shovels.
Looking too cool for school with her Fruit Loops on the beach.
An iguana climbed out of the tree we had all camped out under for the day at the beach right before we left. The girls were not particularly pleased to see it. It meandered over to another tree and scurried up.
The center of the ship had a grand lobby area open to three floors. It was SO pretty! The coffee bar was also there, which was great. We got a coupon from the travel agent for buy-one get-one coffee cards. We spent $27 for 30 lattes. And we used all but one - we just passed off the card to Tara & Alex and Gramma & Grampa so they could get some, too.
Maggie with baby Jaycee in their matching dresses for the second formal night. I found this set at TJ Maxx, I think - a little girl's dress and a matching one for their dolls. Too cute!
Here we are Thursday night, the second formal night.

Maggie, Alexis and Gabby in their coordinating dresses, also from Gramma.
Our last port was Grand Turk. The water was SO beautiful. I wish the weather had cooperated so we could have gone swimming at the beach, but it started raining about 90 minutes after we got there. Maggie was grumpy when we got off the boat because Daddy was going scuba-diving and we were staying near the boat, then had fun picking out a new snow-globe (dolphins in a treasture chest) for her souvenir of the trip, and then went back to crying when it started raining on the beach. Needless to say, it was not her happiest day.Here are the girls playing in the sand. The beach area was right off the dock, which was super convenient. Our ship is the one on the left.
A view of the beach area from the dock.
Family picture on our last night (Saturday) on the ship, on Gramma and Grampa's balcony.
The dessert that night was a baked Alaska, and all the waiters came out of the galley in a fancy processional to show them off. They don't light them on fire anymore, I guess it was too dangerous. Now all the cakes has LED-lights on them, which Maggie and the other girls still tried to blow out0.
We got off the ship about 9 a.m. Sunday morning, and our flights did not leave until late afternoon. We spent most of the day in the Fort Lauderdale airport. Maggie and Daddy had to have a nap!
More airport pictures. It was all about entertaining the little ones for those long 6 hours. Tara, Amron, Alexis and Gabby got bumped, so they got to spend 2 extra days in Ft. Lauderdale by the ocean. I tried to get Maggie and I bumped, but they didn't need us. Darn!
Like I said, it was a lot of fun! So glad to be all together.

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