Today is our 9th Wedding Anniversary. We are spending a few days away from home on a mini family vacation – something simple to break up the summer for the kids. But Scott and I did get away for a trip together this year. In fact it was our first vacation alone since our Honeymoon in October 2004 – 3029 days passed between our last day in Rome on our honeymoon and the first day of our vacation this year. We had grand plans to go away for our 5th anniversary but we had twins in 2009 instead.
My parents went on a cruise at the end of January this year and the day after they returned my mom mentioned that she wanted to send Scott and I on a cruise and, most importantly, she would stay at our house with the kids while we were gone. So we started talking and looking at cruises and stumbled on a great cruise that was leaving soon, in fact in one week, and there was one junior suite available. I texted with Scott who was at National Guard for the weekend and we made quick plans. I booked flights and a hotel in Tampa (for the night before our cruise departed) and he made plans to drive to Philadelphia the next day to renew his passport.
It was a crazy week getting things ready at home and work, but we were packed and excited for our adventure one week later. It was our first cruise and we weren’t entirely sure what to expect…would we be cruise people. It turns out that we loved it!
We cruised out of Tampa, FL on Royal Caribbean’s Jewel of the Sea with stops in Georgetown, Grand Cayman and Cozumel, Mexico. Monday morning we hopped on our hotel’s free shuttle to the cruise port and started the check-in process. I was amazed at how smooth the process was from the hotel to the ship – so much easier than boarding a plane these days. The shuttle dropped us at the cruise building where we immediately handed our bags (with stateroom information labels) to a porter. Then it was a quick pass through security followed by the cruise check-in where we received our Sea Pass card used to access our room, charge purchases and use as ID on the ship. A few minutes later we were on the ship and sitting down for lunch.
Random cruise tips that you probably won’t read anywhere else:
1 – If you have longish hair, keep a tie-back of some sort with you at all times. Otherwise you will end up on a windy deck and spend a long time brushing tangles out of your hair later.
2 – If you are traveling with a kindle or ipad or two, pack a plug strip. There are very few power outlets in the staterooms.
3 – If you are used to sleeping with a fan or similar background noise at home, pack a white noise machine. I tossed one in my suitcase on a whim and when I was awake in the middle of our first night I plugged it in and slept much better after that.
I didn’t miss the internet as much as I thought I might. I would have liked to see pictures of my kids during the week and know that things were going well at home. What I missed most was the ability to text Scott on board the ship. If we were not together, there was no way to reach him. We did a good job of coordinating and I enjoyed yelling things like, “find me on the Promenade deck at 2:00″ as I walked out of our room.
Our room was amazing! I will never be able to cruise without a suite and large balcony – I never felt cramped – it was a very comfortable way to travel.
The first few hours of our cruise were spent traveling through Tampa Bay. As the sun was setting we passed very closely under the Bay Bridge.
We spent the day at sea. After breakfast we played shuffleboard (because, of course, it seemed like an important cruise thing to do) and explored the ship. Then Scott went to play soccer and I found a lounge chair to enjoy the sunshine. After lunch I took a nap, a much needed, very long nap. I left the curtains open so I could see the ocean whenever I opened my eyes.
It was formal night on the ship and Scott wore a tuxedo and looked so handsome. We had the later seating for dinner each night and it worked out well. Activities throughout the day and then plenty of time to change and get ready for dinner. We had a private table in the dinner room and it was located directly in front of a large window.
As the sun was rising we docked off the coast of Georgetown, Grand Cayman. Scott was on one of the first boats to shore – he was diving in the morning. We were back at sea later that afternoon. I enjoyed some quiet reading time on our balcony.
It was Valentine’s Day and after breakfast we walked off the ship to explore Cozumel together. Later in the day Scott left for another dive and I relaxed on board. The weather took a turn for the worse as we left Cozumel. After days of sunshine, it was gloomy and the sea was choppy. I didn’t sleep well that night.
Our last full day on the ship and we were at sea in the rain and wind. I had been looking forward to relaxing in the sun that day, but it was not to be.
It was a great week and I look forward to another cruise some day. And we will not wait another 3,000 days to go away again.