Friday, November 03, 2006

Journal of a Cruise

DC and I haven't taken many luxurious trips. We have had lots of fun vacations with the kids, including a trip to England to visit my brother and his family when they were 11 and 13. We celebrated our 25th anniversary on the Big Island of Hawaii and are hoping and saving to go back there for our 35th, next December. We had been going through a lot of stressful "stuff" for several years and decided we needed a BIG get-away. To my surprise, he arranged this trip to the Caribbean and told me about it when everything was ready - only two weeks ahead of time.

It was February 2005, so almost two years already. We flew to Fort Lauderdale, where we stayed in a really yucky 6 Motel. It was all that was available at that late date! But it was only a few hours, so it was okay.

The ship was absolutely gorgeous - a two-year-old vessel with an Italian company called Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC Opera was our ship). There was brass and glass and mirrors everywhere, and diligent young men keeping everything beautifully polished. Every announcement was made in 5 languages. The food was amazing. The evening entertainment was so much fun. One day DC got to spend the afternoon with a bunch of old pro baseball players who were on board to give baseball tips and tell their old stories. Of course, I had plenty of books with me.

All of the pictures of our room are paper pictures, and not having a scanner, I am left with the digital ones. I posted several of them yesterday.

If you want to be treated like royalty, check out a cruise. We met people who had been on so many. I'm not sure we'll do it often, but it was certainly a treat. I had prayed that we would have cordial dining companions, and the Lord answered that prayer so beautifully. We were placed with two other couples. When we bowed our heads to pray for our first dinner, we found out that they were Christians. What a blessing! We were able to pray before every meal, taking turns. One of the guys was a former pastor who was now a chaplain in a hospital. His wife was a psychologist. The other couple were hard working folks from Atlanta. It turned out that all of us had been going through some similar stuff with our families. Isn't God amazing?!

We looked forward to dinner every evening, not even for the food as much as for the fellowship. Every night we'd come armed with stories of our day off the ship, or a subject to discuss. We laughed so much that our waiter, a young man from Indonesia, told us the crew called us "The Happy Table." Since we prayed for every meal, he asked us one night, "You pray for me, too?" We assured him that we would.

The morning and noon meals were served cafeteria style on deck. As you've always heard, there's WAY too much food and it's really good! I tried so hard to eat sensibly (at least we never went to the midnight buffet!), but am still trying to get off the weight I gained that week. Unfortunately, we didn't discover the work-out room with the view until the last day. We sat in the same area every meal so that we could be served by this other great young man, who was from an island off of Africa, the name of which I cannot remember (I have misplaced my journal with all of these details). His English was not as good as the Indonesian waiter, but we became acquainted and enjoyed him so much. All of these young men are from very poor countries and are away from their families for 10 months of the year as they send home most of their earnings. We were privileged to see pictures of their children, whom they miss terribly. The watermelon carvings were amazing!
We were at sea for two days before we entered our first port - San Juan, Puerto Rico. We didn't get into the city until it was dark, which was a bit intimidating. It was such a short stop and we didn't see much, and almost wished we'd just stayed on board. The next stop was St. Thomas. It's a beautiful island, but very popular with cruise ships - there were 5 docked there that day, so we were among many tourists shopping. We picked up some t-shirts and a gold chain for me - their claim to fame is gold jewelry. We did hit a beach for a couple of hours that afternoon. The beach picture on yesterday's post was on St. Thomas.
The next stop was St. Croix. This was my favorite spot of all the ports of call. It is small island that has not become so famous to cruise ships. In fact, an old man on the street told us to go home and tell our travel agents to try to get more ships to stop there. We told him that would ruin St. Croix! We spent the morning in town, then went on a tour of an old Dutch plantation which grew sugar cane in its day. It is now a museum, and that was an enjoyable visit. The flower and fauna pictures on yesterday's post were from there. Here's one more. The beautiful beach picture yesterday was taken at St. Croix. Here are a couple more taken there.
The final stop was Nassau, Bahamas. It was the only cold, drizzly day. It is famous as a place where Oprah, Michael Jackson, and other "stars" like to spend their time. They can have it. Give me St. Croix or Kona, Hawaii any day!
The time spent between stops was so relaxing and enjoyable. We often sat on the deck and watched the wake as we read or snoozed (second picture on yesterday's post). You could, of course, sun on the deck by the pool, which I avoided because it was too crowded and because I don't swim. I preferred to find spots not too many people had found.
If you didn't get enough to eat at breakfast or lunch, and just couldn't wait until dinner (hah!), you could go to an afternoon tea. It was so lovely the one day we went - talented musicians strolling around the deck as you could consume thousands more calories on gorgeous pastries.
Before dinner and sometimes after, as we waited for the evening show in the ship's theater, we would gather in one of the waiting areas to listen to a wonderful Rumanian trio. There were all sorts of choices of musical style to choose from, but we couldn't tear ourselves away from this group. The electronic violin and electronic keyboard were played so beautifully while the contralto sang wonderful old songs, my favorites such as Moon River. Her accent was delightful and her voice was luscious.
All told, it was a wonderful week. We'd like to try another one someday, maybe to Alaska.


Sue said...

Your cruise sounds so wonderful. We've been on many and each is a precious memory to us. We're planning a big one for our 40th anniversary next year. (Probably Panama)
Loved all your pictures...

Maggie Ann said...

Dawn, it sounds like a dream of a trip! I'm glad you had such a wonderful time and got to visit far off places of such beauty that most of us will only ever hear about. I like the sounds of the afternoon tea I too really enjoyed your pictures and am glad you posted them..=). Weather wise, we had a couple of days up near 60 and I got a lot of weeding done. Still need to do more though and it is around 40 now, but I'm not feeling no energy. Blessings to you!

Linda said...

It all sounds so wonderful. I've been thinking about a cruise for years (because everyone we know just raves about them), but I am so prone to motion sickness I'm afraid I'd spend the whole time leaning over the rail!!

Yellow Mama said...

Rest is good for the soul along with the laughter and time spent with loved ones. Two thumbs up...plan on doing it again soon!

Janice (5 Minutes for Mom) said...

sounds fabulous! I have never been on a cruise. I am so scared of being sea sick or the entire boat getting sick with Norwalk! Yes my worries keep me from too many things in life!

PEA said...

I've never been on a cruise but now you really make me want to go on one!! Sounds like you had a delightful time and the scenery is just superb from what I could see in the pictures!! I enjoyed hearing all about your cruise and hopefully you can go back one day:-)

Morning Glory said...

Great pictures, Dawn. What a way to celebrate!

theresa said...

I was almost done reading everything carefully yesterday.I just got to Connecticut and sat down to finish....drats! Sorry you lost it all, it was fasinating.

Tammy said...

Oh wow! Sounds wonderful! And how great that your husband planned everything!
We've never taken a cruise...maybe someday!

My mom went her sister and brother in law about two years ago- her first cruise and it was also to the Carribean. She loved it!

Now she's taking her first trip to Hawaii with that same sister next week- at age 79! :)

Loved the pictures down belore...sorry you lost part of your story!
(I'm having major trouble with Blogger the past two weeks...right now, it won't even let me reply to my own post!)

Barb said...

OK, I'm giving it another try. Errggghhh.

You are so LUCKY! I've never done anything like this. For years and years our vacations were big camping trips with the girls. A cruise like this is a dream of mine.

Your description of your trip makes it sound like a dream vacation. All that wonderful food, all the nice young waiters working to send money home, the entertainment and especially the nice dining companions.

Sigh...maybe someday.

(I hope you find the misplaced journal.)

Barb said...

Hip hip hooray! It worked!

Diane said...

Well, it let me view your comments and get to the comment window, so here goes....

As I told you in my email, the cruise sounds wonderful, but I think I'd like it better on land, LOL. ;D I love the idea, but I don't like the idea of getting farther away from shore than I can swim back.

I sure hope Demon Blogger resolves its issues SOON. Arrrrrggghhhh!!!!

Have a GREAT weekend, Dawn. :-)

Pamela said...

Lovely post Dawn. We have so many friends and family that echo you and your love for cruises. My Aunt and Uncle go on a cruise every year and their favorite to this day is the Alaskan cruise. My kids honeymooned on a Bahama cruise . They loved it!

Very sweet that your hubby planned it all out and then let you in on it a couple of weeks prior. So Thoughtful!

Kathleen Marie said...

Wow, that sounds amazing. I have never been on a cruise. Some friends of our took a cruise a few months ago to Alaska and had only good things to say.

Maybe that is what Larry and I should do for our 25th? Great idea!!

Danielle said...

I went on a cruise once with my grandparents and my uncle. We went through the Panama Canal in 1999. It was a wonderful time even though I was seasick for most of it!

I enjoyed reading that your hubby surprised you...what a man!

kpjara said...

Wow! I love the pictures and the story...I hope one day to go on a cruise.

Blessed Beyond Measure said...

Thank you for posting this, I think you know we just booked our first cruise for next March, and so we have many questions. We're even going to some of the same places you went. Sounds like it was a wonderful experience.

Nancy said...

This sounds like a dream come true and the precious time with your husband is a blessing indeed. Thanks for sharing.

mouse said...

Gee would we love to go on a cruise but with 3 kids still living at home we will have to wait a while longer. It just sounds so wonderful.

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CruiseHeaven said...

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How long do you plan to cruise? (from three to fourteen nights, to world cruises which are the longest, lasting up to three months);
Where and how to search? You have two alternatives: a cruise travel agent or agency or the websites of cruise lines;
Facilities offered during the cruise (for instance, if you like to gamble you may want to choose a cruise line that has casinos on board; maybe facilities for your children which are offered by all major cruise lines);
Port of departure. You can choose it by the proximity to your home, if you want to save money and avoid expensive airfare;
Land and shore excursions (they are offered by all cruise lines, and last from two to three days, before, after or even during the cruise vacation). This kind of excursion gives you the opportunity to explore new cultures, destinations, visit new places, practice water sports, do some shopping etc.
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Have an excellent day!
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