So, I promised more about our vacation (first one in such a long time!), but I am sure you haven't lost any sleep over my procrastination, so I am really adding these tidbits and pictures so that I remember what the cruise was like. It is amazing to me how much of my life I have already forgotten and the thing I love about this blog is the memories it preserves for me! Friday, February 5th was Gabe's actual 13th birthday and it was so fun to celebrate outside the US for the first time for any of us. Seems we were not the only ones who had the idea to take a birthday cruise. We were pretty surprised at all the choruses of "Happy Birthday" we heard that evening in our restaurant. There were 5 other birthday celebrations and one large table had 3 birthdays just at their table! There were 2 other restaurants and a second time slot (we had the early meal...by the way, I suggest the late meal for anyone considering a cruise...we were rarely hungry by our 5:45 slot, the 8:30 would have been better, maybe we would have felt actual hunger!) where I am sure there were more birthday celebrations.
Gabe was brought his very own cake which he graciously shared a few bites with each of us who were mostly too full to hog too much of it and ate nearly all of it as well as his piece of cheesecake that he had ordered for dessert! It was the easiest cake I have ever had to coordinate/bake/decorate! A simple e-mail made it happen!
To deal with the guilt of all the amazing food, Paul and I hit the (very nice) gym two of our days at sea. It was fun to run overlooking the water while watching a Disney movie (Land of the Lost one day and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs the other day). This was the only place we went where there was NO crowd! I thought that was hilarious! The kids were thrilled we wanted to go work out because they got to go to the Oceaneer Lab. This is a secure place to check in your kids so they can play board games, computer games, video games, make cookies, flubber and do crafts and eat snacks with other kids. I am convinced our kids would have spent the entire day there if we had let them! They loved it. One of the days we went to the gym and then laid by the adult pool for 15 minutes before we missed the kids and went to "rescue" them for some family time!
It was cloudy and a bit cool for us thin blooded Floridians, but as you can see, the pool was the place to be! The water was heated and very warm and each kid had exactly 33 inches of water all to themselves! The pool is not much bigger that what I captured in this photo!
This was our first dinner before we really knew what to expect. It was pretty fun to get a menu and order whatever you want to eat or drink without considering the dollar signs! I ordered an appetizer, soup, salad, an entree AND dessert. Then, when I LOVED my souffle a little too much so that everyone wanted to taste it and our server noticed, he went and got me a second one! As if I needed that! Didn't stop me from devouring the second one without any help. Did I mention there was French bread??
Even though I have NO culture, (you know, I would rather go to a football game or Nascar race than about anything) I agreed to go to one of the shows the first night. It was "The Golden Mickeys" sort of an Oscar spin off for the Disney movies. I ALMOST enjoyed it. Couple of uncomfortable parts involving people singing directly in front of me and looking directly at me and even being touched once. I would still rather have my fingernails pulled out one by one that have someone sing to me! BARF! Okay, I think I have made myself fairly clear regarding my feelings on that one! In spite of the way I felt, the kids really enjoyed it. I have not corrupted them completely...yet. The theater was first class. Disney knows entertainment!
We had to walk outside a bit to get to and from the theater because we didn't know another way. It was fun to watch the water go by. We were all very surprised by our speed. We were grateful the mild rocking didn't make anyone sick. It was actually great when we turned in for the night!
Paul had some fun looking for an artistic picture. He took this picture looking down between the railings of the stairway several floors.
Friday morning we found ourselves docked at Nassau, Bahamas. Mom and Jo had an excursion booked off the boat as did many others from the boat, so we decided to take that day to do some of the things the ship offered while there were fewer people there. Here are a few pictures of what we saw of Nassau. Above off the deck in the morning and below the harbor.
The food was really one of the most amazing parts of the cruise (I am not sure if it was the taste or the fact that I didn't have to prepare it, or that I didn't have to shop for it, or that I didn't have to plan for it, or the fact that I didn't have to think about it for even a second!) and was totally first class. Unfortunately, we ate most of it instead of photgraphing it! One night there was even a midnight buffet and dessert bar...unbelievable! It was a great time to try new things. I do regret not trying the caviar or escargot. I was pretty convinced I wouldn't like either of them since I hate anything that even hints of fish, so I stuck with things I might have a chance of liking. I am pretty sure I ate my weight in fresh pineapple! We also discovered a pasta bar where you choose your own veggies and sauces and have it stir fried in front of you. It is the only pasta I have ever had that compares with the pasta bar at my old job at the U! I also regret that I only had one stomach to fill! There were so many good things to eat!
Saturday, we were to dock at Disney's private island in the Bahamas. But, the massive snow storm that hit Washington DC caused lots of wind and clouds in our area and they were unable to bring the ship into port. So, we were stuck on the boat all day instead. We never did set foot on foreign soil! Paul did discover the basketball and dodgeball courts on the top deck and took the boys up there to play for a bit...I got stuck at the pool with Alayna and a couple hundred other kids...but I'm not bitter!
It was absolutely unbelievable how many kids could be crammed into a small pool! The kids did enjoy the water slide. I was very disappointed to be just 2 inches too tall to get to go down it! Gabe just squeaked by!
This is Boneface, our head server who was from India and took such fabulous care of us. This was our dinner on our last night. When he asked Alayna what she wanted for dinner, she replied "Steak!" But it wasn't on the kids menu that night. Before I could explain that to her and have her choose another item, he wrote it down and asked Paul how he would like her steak prepared! He brought her an adult entree that was offered that night which was the best of the entrees. I can't remember what they called the cut of meat, but it melted in your mouth and tasted like prime rib. I ate all of mine that night because I didn't like either one of the two appetizers I had ordered! Not only did he accomodate her every wish, but he also cut her steak for her so we wouldn't have to! THEN, he remembered how I had loved the souffle on the first night and offered to get it for me from the other restaurant! I took him up on that offer! First class service!
And these are all of our servers with us. Boneface behind Gabe and I, Leonardo behind Alayna and Joao behind JoDee. We never wanted for anything gastronomically speaking!
Gabe and Boneface hit it off!
Holden took a family pic for us in front of a port hole after dinner. I am surprised Paul let me sit on his leg after all I ate!
And at last, the reason for the entire trip...a wonderful birthday celebration for Gabriel! He had several other surprises during the cruise. Like this poster we made and signed and snuck onto the ship and put on the door. JoDee got him a t-shirt with his name on it and a big "13" and an obnoxious blinking "Its my birthday" button! He ate up all the attention. He is afterall, the firstborn!
I am so glad God chose me to be your mom! You bring such joy to our family with your servant heart and I am so proud of the teenager you have become. I know there will be tough teenager times coming up, but always know that there is nothing you can do to make me stop loving you like CRAZY!