On to the promised vacation summary. I finally feel ready to tackle this post, well, not really. I’m definitely still in vacation mode, but I know I had better do it soon, so I don’t forget what and when it all happened. Plus the photos have been up over at Flickr for a few days now, and you might like to know the stories behind some of them. And then again…maybe not.
There were a few things I was a little worried about before we ventured on this vacation.
- I was worried about traveling to another country with the girls (especially Mexico in the middle of the crazy stories coming out of there) without J.
- I was worried that cruising in the Caribbean in July would be ridiculously hot.
- I was worried that I may be a little stir-crazy on the ship with nothing to do.
- And I was worried that we may have a repeat performance of last year’s “all-inclusive” type vacation. (Pretty UNimpressed with the value, service, pretty much every aspect of it)
But I’m so very happy to say that NONE of these were even factors in the vacation. The girls were great and completely entertained, I’m constantly pleased with what great travelers they are.
It was hot, but not TOO hot. There was a lot to do, and when there wasn’t, it was nice to just “be.”
And the Carnival cruises have hands-down the best service of any place we have ever visited! Incredible.
And the food was great. Mmm…I’m still dreaming of the chocolate melting cake that I had every single night for dessert.
At any rate, I give you our Cozumel Cruise vacation in all of its loveliness…
Day one: Traveling to Miami
I woke the girls up before dawn to make our 6am flight to Miami. As anybody traveling with young children knows, this could very well have been a disaster-waiting-to-happen. But, no, both girls were so excited that they didn’t even notice that they were in a two-hour sleep deficit.
J. had equipped us with his iTouch packed with music, movies and entertainment, we had Em’s “puppy” game (Nintendo DS), art projects and snacks. We were set and the five-hour flight was completely uneventful, like a trip to the park for the girls. They were great.
DJ and Meesh met us at the airport to save us a long, expensive shuttle ride and we grabbed dinner and headed back to the hotel – not a moment too soon. Emma could not wait for the “cousin reunion” to begin. I think from the moment we arrived til the very moment we walked into the airport again on Friday, Emma and her cousin Madey were only apart for a grand total of maybe 5 minutes. They were inseparable!
We finally found the elusive park near our hotel and let them run off some steam…
And then swam in the hotel pool that overlooked this…
Pretty nice start to the vacation.
Miami sure looks pretty as you are cruising on by from the water…
And we not only tried the pool, but also discovered that they have ice cream – around the clock – on the ship. So we naturally had to sample some of that…
The girls tried out the Camp Carnival (kids program) and we had to tear them away to get them to bed the first night.
They all slept amazingly well on the ship. On first glance, the rooms seem very small, but we got into a routine, put all of our gear away in the closets and it actually wasn’t too bad. Madey and Em slept in the bunks and Addie slept with me, well, mostly.
She wanted to sleep in the corner the first few nights – I swear it was her idea! So Meesh made her a little bed out of a down comforter, and the little space was totally “Addie-sized.” She curled up and was out. And since we didn’t have a window, they slept hard until 8am or past every morning. It was so dark in the rooms Emma would wake up and say, “Is it morning yet, Mama?
Day three: Key West
We only had a few hours in Key West, and it was a pretty hot walk, but we got to see most of Key West and got to spend a bit of time at the Hemingway house. I have been there a few times before and love it and I knew the girls would because of all of the six-toed cats (who are descendants from the cats that Hemingway had when he lived in the house!).
We were right they were all in cat heaven!
These two little cats would chase and play with anything you put in front of them….
Ella had her diaper changed on Hemingway’s veranda, how many babies can claim that?
If you ask Em what her favorite part of the vacation was she’ll say, “I like that house with the guy that had all of the cats!” I gave up trying to explain to her that he happens to be known for more than having cats…someday she’ll appreciate him as a writer, hopefully.
And we found a few other Key West characters as well…
Then it was back to the ship for a little rest time. Doesn’t it look like there is a lot of resting going on?
Tuesday night was our “formal” night and the girls just wanted to go to Camp Carnival again – so we were (almost!) kid-free for our dinner. It was fun to get dressed up and to not have to cut up anyone’s meal.
Michelle relieved that the waitstaff was not in fact going to sing Happy Birthday to her…
Since you eat at the same table each night we had the same waiters, Rey and Eric, and they were so incredibly great. The service all over the ship was amazing, in fact.
And every crew member loves kids! Not just the crew in the Camp Carnival (although they were fantastic!), but everyone from the head waiter to the housekeeping staff would stop and ask the kids if they were having fun, make little frogs out of menus, animals out of napkins, flirt with them, basically anything to entertain them and pretty much cater just to the kids. It was incredibly cool.
You have a concierge for each “section” on your deck – ours was Alberto – and seriously anything you ask for or need they have within five minutes. One day I just stuck my head out of the door to see if the girls were coming down the hall and Alberto popped out and said, “Did you need something? More towels? Did you get your safe working ok?”
Day four: Cozumel
Come to find out, Cozumel feels pretty much like every other island we have been to in the Caribbean, not really at all like you are in Mexico. It is a pretty little island, very dependent on tourism, so everyone seems pretty eager to “help” you out. We ended up going to a beach that had just about everything, so we were all very happy.
Em got to practice her swimming…
Addie got to search for (and found) coral and seashells…
The dynamic duo got to continue their quest for cramming as much quality time into a week as possible…
Could they be any happier together?
Oh, and they both had a turn holding a monkey…
And the monkey got a little excited on Em and pooped on her shoulder.
Mmmm…Mexican monkey poop. Probably pretty sanitary, No?
And we did a little shopping. Looked for a sombrero like this one for the girls…
But only found this one…
Since it would not fit in our suitcase we decided it stays in Mexico.
And we were back on the ship in time for a late dinner. (And ice cream, of course!)
Day five: Day at Sea
The girls wanted to Camp Carnival again, so off they went. Michelle and I worked out.
A word of caution about that…it is really hard to take a spin class when the boat is rocking side to side. We did manage that on Wednesday.
But run? On the top deck of the ship? Impossible. It was so incredibly windy up there, I seriously didn’t want to take Addie up there for fear she would blow right over the railing. I am not exaggerating. (Well, maybe a little.)
But they had fun at Camp…
Until “Funship Freddy” came in. Addie was not very fond of their mascot….
Ella didn’t seem to mind him though….
And the girls participated in a talent show. Lexer did a great job, especially considering she had to go first…
Emma was a little nervous, but she and Madey did great, too…
And we had our last dinner with our new friends Rey and Eric…
Then (remember the wind?) we tried to do a little photo op on the deck after dinner. This is us trying to “hide” in a corner to get out of the wind…
I actually love these photos, because it is such a fun memory. We were all laughing so hard and trying to hold down our skirts. Papa borrowed some of Addie’s hair…
And then we put the kiddies to bed and headed back to karaoke (we attended a few nights and Michelle and DJ even sang one night!) to make fun of all of the contestants. (God love, Darrin!)
It was kind of sad that last night since we knew our vacation was coming to a close. And this really was our first family vacation since Meesh and I were probably in high school. It was a really fun time.
But back to reality. And Daddy! The girls and I were really missing J.
Day six: The Airport
We all tried to get on earlier flights since we got off the ship pretty early in the morning, but were unable to do so. So the girls and I sat in the airport for a good six hours with Papa and Nana (and Ella who was along for the ride!) before we got to board, for the five hour flight. Yeah, Friday was a very long day.
But the girls did great, again, thanks to the entertainment we had along…
Addie fell asleep before we even took off, and Emma fell asleep as we were landing. Both were back asleep as we were pulling out of the airport parking lot heading home. Exhausted. But we were all in that happy, exhausted, post-vacation fog for the rest of the weekend.
Oh, wait…I’m still in it.
We should do that again soon, guys!