Saturday, December 29, 2012

My Thoughts on Cruising

 This will be the last post about our vacation. It was such a wonderful change from the cold and snow that is now limiting our outside time! My brother Andrew organized the family event, and our group was 16 in total. We chose a family-friendly ship, complete with waterslides. After we boarded, it was one of the first things we visited. They had three different sizes of waterslides, from Desert Girl's size, to medium, to really large. And Desert Boy was just tall enough at 42 inches to meet the height requirements, which made him so happy.

I never could figure out how to go fast down the yellow slide, but one of my brothers and sisters-in-law could really whoosh down it. (Thanks to various family members for this photo and several of the following ones.) I was intending to perfect my technique on the At Sea day, but it turned out that it was so windy that day they had the big slide closed.

Here was the view from the tall water slide stairs towards the front of the ship. We were on a five-day four-night itinerary, leaving the afternoon of the first day, spending time in Key West the second day, Cozumel the third day, at sea the fourth day, and returning to port at 8 am the morning of the fifth day.

 We left the port of Miami at 4 p.m., and it was interesting seeing all the tall buildings. I can't imagine what it's like in hurricane season!

 We had two U.S. Coast Guard boats accompany us down the channel, with a guy at a machine gun on each. It was different.

The sun was setting as we left the port, and my brother Ed captured the above photo, with a second cruise ship following us away from the city.

One of the main reasons people go on cruises is to eat, and we quickly found our way to the food.
 Desert Girl discovered her love for butter--with a little bread to go along with it. She got to put her own butter on her roll, and some meals didn't consist of much more than that for her.

 In addition to three meals a day available in the formal dining room, there was also a main buffet and several other places to eat. And in case you're hungry at some strange time, pizza and ice cream were available 24 hours a day. Desert Boy ate ice cream four times one day and thought he was in heaven.

 Croissants need a little extra butter, right?

 The ship had a mini golf course, but both times we used it the wind was blowing so hard that it was really hard to play.

 The kids thought it was great fun anyway.

 We went to a variety of shows, such as comedy and singing and dancing. We had some members of our group chosen to go up on stage for a couple of the shows, which made it extra fun to watch.

 One event we went to was towel folding. You may see fancy-folded towels if you come visit us!

 Desert Boy and Desert Girl both enjoyed Camp Carnival. Desert Boy went several times and came back with various projects, including some sand art and a t-shirt he colored. Desert Girl's favorite was a crown she got so that she could be a princess.

 The upper berth became a hangout space. Some of the rooms can technically hold up to five people, but I'd say that would be crowded. We managed fine with two adults and two little kids in our room.

 We all liked hanging out at the back of the ship, where the wind wasn't as strong and we could relax and look at the seemingly endless ocean.

 A collection of towel animals. The service throughout the ship was attentive and polite.

 Desert Girl giving her towel bear a hug.

 I would have liked to have spent more time in Cozumel, but overall the cruising experience was pleasant. We got to have lots of family time and had a variety of activities. I probably wouldn't do it every year, but I'd consider it again in a few years. One of the best parts of the trip was relaxing in warm weather--I so much enjoyed outside time with family when I knew it was so cold back home. We might have to find another warm destination for next winter!

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