Sunday, April 01, 2018

Spring Break - cruisin'

This year it dawned on us ... we only have 3 more years to make the kids go on vacation with us before they all start heading off to college, different schedules and their own interests, people and lives.  On top of that, Tracy was regretting that we never took a "proper" vacation when she was out of work. The kids schedules didnt cooperate and the lack of a job (& income) was a bit daunting. So, we went big this year - a 7 day cruise.

Heading into the vacation, we were excited but a bit trepidatious.  7 days, on a boat, with each other - no escape.  Would anyone get sea sick? Would there be enough to do?  Would the kids have fun? Would Kay cooperate?  We were fairly certain the boys would find ways to entertain themselves but we werent sure about Kay. She's a bit of a wild card these days, leans towards car sickness and can be crusty. On the other hand, she can be the funniest of the bunch, generous and adventurous.  We decided to roll the dice.

In the weeks leading up to the trip, Kay made it VERY clear that she didnt want to go... litanies of ... can't I bring a friend - can't you leave me at home - why would I want to spend time with you ... etc etc.

However, as we got a few days out, she started to do some online research of the boat and locations we were visiting and her litany started to sound like - they have room service?  there's snorkeling! Guys burger bar - buffets - etc etc...the excitement was starting to build...

We were cruising out of Galveston on Saturday and so flew into Houston on Friday. Our driver was Fazel and he was a gem. He's from Indosian with a wife & baby in Montreal. He and Jimmy chatted the whole drive - politics, Texas, his family, our family - Jimmy is a good conversationalist and puts his skills to use frequently (all those incessant questions as a kid are now manifesting as being an interested, engaged chatter).

We got to the hotel SUPER late (midnight) and despite a HUGE dinner at the airport (wings, burgers, nacho's, fish, etc) the kids were starving.  Tom made the trip to the front desk, bought microwave burritos and noodle bowls and we staved off the worst.

Saturday was a pure get organized and on the boat type of day.  Much like getting on a flight, its one line after another - showing ideas, tickets, signing documents, etc.  But, we made it and were able to scope the boat, eat lunch and get settled.

Our itinerary was - Day at Sea, Cozumel, Belize, Roatan, Day at Sea, Day at Sea, back to Galveston.

Having a full day at Sea on the front and back end of the trip was critical. We got our necessary decompress time and used to the sway of the boat.  But, it WAS crowded - hard to find a pool chair and endless lines for food. Needless to say, the kids discovered that the room service chocolate cake was to die for as well as the fact that there was a steady stream of the show "Wee Bare Bears".  Heaven.

Our dinner mates - Mike, Julie, Missy, Val and Brian - were awesome.  They are from Plainville IL and have cruised many a time.  Brian was 18, Missy 17 and Val 13 and they had it all figured out.  It was fun to know that we were going to see them every night and compare adventures.  Theres some definite social media following happening post the trip.  Tracy even managed to embarrass the whole lot of the teens one night when the waiters/servers got a dance party started.

Every night the food was different and it was brilliant. They served portions small enough that you could try a few things without feeling stuffed (or guilty if you didnt like it). Its a great way to be adventurous and get our of your comfort zone.  The only exception? The worlds largest lasagna, seriously, it was the size of a dinner plate and basically just meat and cheese.  Not even Jimmy could finish his (and his M.O was to order 2 full salmon dinners every night).

There was also a 7pm PG comedy show each night and they were all super funny.  Jimmy also was enamored with a duet that say every country, folk and 60's song you could think of - they were absolutely amazing and every night we'd figure out where they were playing, plant ourselves and listen. I think he was surprised that Tracy knew the words to almost every song.

The boat also had movies that they showed each night, games, dance/song revues, a gym, running track, worlds slowest water slide, chess, foos ball, ping pong and hot tubs. Seriously, no lack of anything to do!

Tracy managed a work out each day and Jimmy/I also managed 4 really good weight work outs. Billy and Kay managed 1 work out plus a ton of swimming.  But, truth be told, there was also 2 days where we didnt get Kay out of bed until 6pm for dinner.  Those were her Wee Bare Bear, room service days and while she didnt want to leave the room, she was also in a pretty good mood. To each his own!

Once we hit Cozumel, we were ready for a bit of an adventure, we walked around, took in the sites and found some cool tidal pools. But soon the kids were hungry and the lure of burritos, mongolian wok and seriously killer burgers called us back to the boat.

We decided to skip Belize since you had to take a 30 min boat ride to get to the island and it was overcast.  Best idea. Ever. We had the boat to ourselves - no lines, pool chairs, empty gym - heaven!

Roatan was our "big" trip - zip lining for Tracy, Kay and Billy, snorkeling for the kids and kayaking for Tracy and I.  We saw a 45 year old turtle and it was HUGE and mellow.  Roatan was simply gorgeous and it was nice to just sit on the beach, in the sand - although it was pretty crowded.

The last 2 days on the boat seemed like time stood still (in a good way).  The kids chatted about school, friends, drivers ed, cousins, past trips, movies, politics, etc.  Kay pulled out a bunch of really stupid jokes and told them over and over at dinner until everyone had the belly laughs. It was so much fun.

Kay did have 2 sea sick days but weathered them like a trouper.  Tracy also had small bouts and now can't seem to shake the tippy feeling even though we've been off the boat for 2 days.  The boys sailed through ...

But, all good things must end and we were excited to get home to snow, Nikki and our own beds (not to mention homework, friends, Easter, etc).  The consensus on the cruise - super fun bucket list item but... probably not on future travel plans.  Too many other places to see! (Jimmy wants to go back to Korea and if he takes AP Global Studies next year, he has an opportunity to travel Europe with his class over spring break).

However, the one caveat.... They'd do a cruise again with their cousins.  They LOVE their cousins!

Photo's below....

Holiday toes

Pre boarding DQ run

Volley ball

Mini Golf

salt pool

Kay and Jim getting along

Billy playing video games in the sun

Getting ready to cool off

Kay watching dolphins from her balcony

Tracy beat Billy at mini golf but only by 1 stroke

View from boat in Belize

Billy beat Jimmy at chess and then lost to the master

Kays lie in day

Researching stupid jokes - Grandma Bunny would have been proud


Snorkling in Roatan

Kay IS out there, on a floaty with a mask

Final adjustments


Roatan from the ship 


Ping Pong - guess who won?


It can get crowded!

Waiting for dinner, Jimmy didnt pack long pants so had to where mine for 2 of the nights - not happy to have to wear dad pants

Sibling love

Every day brought new towel animals


Tidal pools in Cozumel


More exploring


The size difference!!

Too pretty

She found a small spikey sea urchin

Belize in the distance

Our boat behind the MSC



Cocktails from my favorite bar - Alchemy


Routan from the boat

A bear?


more drinks

Tracy's favorite

The dance party!

No idea what this is...

Sunset on the final night

I'm leaving on a jet plane.....