Sunday, December 17, 2006

Cruise in Review

We were in desperate need of a vacation so decided kind of at the last minute to go on a cruise out of Galveston. We've been wanting to try this since it is so close and we got a pretty good deal. So, here are the details.

D
ay 1 - Departure
Sunday, Dec. 3rd


It was a pretty chilly day (by southeast texas standards) when we boarded Royal Caribbean's Rhapsody of the Seas at about 1:00 p.m. The ship was scheduled to depart at 5:00 p.m. The first thing we did was inspect our cabin. It was actually pretty spacious by ship standards. We had an oceanview Family Stateroom. It had a separate curtained off area with bunk beds and a closet; a pull-out sofa (more of a glorified futon) and a window in the main area; and a curtained off sleeping area with a king size bed, a closet, and a vanity. With all curtains, it got pretty dark in there. It was awesome when the kids slept until 9:00 a.m. some mornings. That is virtually unheard of! That alone was worth the price of the vacation!

The next thing we had to do was participate in the emergency drill. We had to don lifejackets and go on deck to our "muster station." Like I said it was very chilly and windy that day and we were out there for quite some time while everyone on the ship was counted.

After the drill, the ship departed. We got the kids signed up for the kid's club. We went to our dinner seating at 8:30. By this time, the seas were pretty rough in the gulf of mexico. I typically get seasick so I took some medicine as soon as I got on board. Before dinner even started though, Jackson said he wasn't feeling well. So he and I went back up to the room. Jim and Jordan finished out a nice dinner in the dining room.

Day 2 - At Sea
Monday, Dec. 4th

By far, the worst day of the cruise. The seas that day continued to be rough with 8 - 12 ft. swells. By the morning Jackson, Jensen and I were all sick. We spent the day in bed while Jim and Jordan explored the ship.

By the late afternoon, we were all feeling better. The kids all decided they wanted to go to the kid's club that night rather than have a late dinner in the dining room. That worked out great for them...and for us! I finally got to meet our tablemates--Ricardo and Nayra Rodriguez. They are a newlywed couple from Monterrey, Mexico. At first I wondered what the cruise line was thinking seating newlyweds with a family with 3 kids, but it ended up working out great. They were very funny and nice and very sweet to the kids when they ate with us. Ricardo celebrated his 30th birthday on the cruise. We bought them a bottle of wine one night to celebrate that and their wedding. On the last night they gave us very thoughtful gifts...a caribbean christmas ornament and a t-shirt from the ship. I had been meaning to get a Christmas ornament as a souvenir so it was perfect!

Day 3 - Key West
Tuesday, Dec. 5th

We weren't scheduled to arrive in Key West until 3:00 p.m. so that left a big chunk of the day on the ship. In the morning the girls wanted to go to the kids club and Jackson decided to play family bingo with Jim and I. Good thing he did too since he won $87!! He was soooo happy!

After lunch the kids wanted to swim even though it was still pretty chilly. However, they had drained the pool due to the rough weather (they use sea water for the pools, did you know that?) so all that was available were the hot tubs.

Once we docked in Key West, we departed for our excursion to Ripley's Believe It or Not museum. This is something I never care to do again. Jordan and Jackson both say they liked it but Jensen was mostly just scared of all the weird stuff. After the museum we walked around and did a little souvenir shopping. This was all Jackson cared about in any port we were in. He always wanted to make sure that we were going to have time for souvenir shopping.

We took the kids back to the ship for dinner and the late night kid's club. Jim and I went back into Key West and had a really great dinner at a restaurant called Mangoe's on Duval Street. It was a nice get-away for us.

Day 4 - At Sea
Wednesday, Dec. 6th

We left Key West around midnight on our way to Grand Cayman. We had this day at sea and the weather finally started to warm up. We spent this day very leisurely...totally on vacation. The kids went to the kids club for a while and Jim and I went to pool. After lunch, we kind of all hung out by the pool. Jackson joined a "sexy legs" contest by the pool and ended up winning a medal! He was in his glory!

Jackson ended up coming to dinner with us that night while the girls went to the kids' club. He entertained the table with his goofiness.

Day 5 - Grand Cayman
Thursday, Dec. 7th

This was a great day! The weather was beautiful when we docked in Grand Cayman. We had planned to just go to the beach for the day. We went to Seven Mile beach and played in the beautiful sand and water for several hours. We had lunch at a beachside hotel then got in the requisite souvenir shopping before heading back to the ship.

I tortured the kids a little by trying to get a potential Christmas card photo. I made Jackson try to build a snowman out of sand. This proved to be virtually impossible, but at least it kept him busy for a while.

Back on the ship for dinner it was one of our formal dining nights. None of the kids wanted to come to dinner with us, but I made them dress up anyway in order to get a family picture taken. Every night, they had photographers taking portraits with different cheesy backgrounds and I was determined to get one of the 5 of us together. We ended up getting a decent one and I happily sent the 3 Js off to the kids' club while Jim and I enjoyed a nice dinner all dressed up.

Day 6 - Cozumel
Friday, Dec. 8th

I was most looking forward to this day the whole trip. We had decided that we would do "swim with the dolphins" excursion and I was so excited. The day we were in Cozumel, the weather wasn't that great. It was overcast and windy. We went to a national park called Chakanaab. It had all been virtually rebuilt in the past 2 years since hurricane Wilma. They had a beautiful dolphin habitat. We were able to get in the water standing on a platform in water about chest high. Jensen really didn't want to do it, but we made her get in the water. She loves animals and I really thought she would love being so up close with the dolphins. However, she was terrified and screamed to get out. I think the main problem was how rough the water was. Since she wanted to get out, one of us had to get out with her and Jim volunteered. Next to go was Jackson. He tried to stick it out, but was just too cold in the rough water. He did manage to get one kiss from the dolphin before he got out. That left just Jordan and I in the water. I know I loved the whole experience and I think Jordan did too. She was a trooper and I hope she remembers that experience for a lifetime.

Once our time with the dolphins was over and we had spent a small fortune on the photos and dvd, we had to make our way into town for souvenir shopping and lunch. We ate at Carlos and Charlies. It was loud and fun and we all enjoyed it. We sort of separated to conquer all the souvenir shops and Jackson and I got back to the ship on the last tender.

That's one thing that I didn't really like about Grand Cayman or Cozumel. Our ship couldn't pull into an actual dock due to the shallowness of the water but instead had to anchor a ways off shore. We had to take a small boat into the island. This was a really slow process and meant that you couldn't just come and go off the ship as you pleased. I'll definitely look into this more if we take another cruise.

Day 7 - At Sea
Saturday, Dec. 9th

This was our last day on the ship. The weather started to get rougher as we entered the gulf of mexico and I was worried that we would get sick again, but we held tough. We played bingo again the last day but didn't have any luck. Both Jackson and Jordan had made friends on the ship with a brother and sister from Round Rock, TX. We had arranged to have lunch with their family that day. After lunch the kids wanted to climb the rock roll on the top deck of the ship. I spent a big chunk of the afternoon packing up all our stuff!

We all ate dinner together in the dining room that night although the kids really wanted to go to the kid's club.

Back in Texas

The next morning we docked in Galveston early and had to be out of our cabins by 8:00 a.m. We were actually allowed to depart the ship around 9:30 and by the time we got our luggage, went through customs, and got our car it was about 11:00 by the time we were on the road headed to Kingwood. All in all, it was a pretty successful family vacation that had a little something for everyone.

And an added bonus of the whole thing was that compared to the cabin on the ship, our 2 bedroom apartment actually looked spacious when we returned!

7 comments:

Kaity said...

Sounds like you all had a GREAT TIME! I have to admit I am pretty jealous. I'm 19 and have yet to be on a cruise... seems like I have some catching up to do with my young cousins!

Kache said...

Wow, Jackson looked like he was in his element, winning contests and everything! That kid's club sounds like the way to go too :)
Love the picture of the boat at night and the sand snowman, too funny.

Brandy said...

Thanks for taking the time to post all of this, I've been so curious as to how the trip was (and now I feel like I was there!) Too bad I have no tan to show for it... Love the pic of the three kids too!

Lisa said...

Great pictures and sounds like so much fun even with a few upset tummies and chilly days!

Laura Vigliarolo said...

love the sandman, if you don't have snow improvise. Looks like you had a wonderful time.

shannon said...

yay! i'm SO glad you had a nice time! and that snowman, ahem sandman is awesome.

Anonymous said...

Great pictures, glad you had fun, even with the rough seas.

Love the sandman too :)

Carrie