We knew my Mom (Grammy) was coming for a visit over winter break and we wanted to take her on a little vacation while she was here.
(a vacation on vacation if you will)
Matt really wanted to take a cruise but I was pretty hesitant.
I couldn't see the fun in taking a boat to beautiful destinations when I could fly there and bask in the sun and sand for 4 days and then fly home.
Matt was persistent and persuaded me saying that the kids and Grammy would share one cabin and we would share the other.
Ahh...no kids...I'm sold.
(just kidding kids - Grammy time is important!)
So our tickets were bought for a 5 day Bahamas trip on the Carnival Fascination
2/17 Fun Day at Sea
2/18 Key West
2/20 Fun Day at Sea
1 week before our departure!!
I started the trip out apprehensive and also COLD!
We happened to leave Jacksonville, Florida on a record cold day.
We were chilly waiting to board the ship.
It didn't take long to go through security and get on the ship. Everyone was friendly and helpful.
(I'm sure all Carnival employees were told to be on their BEST behavior after the stranded ship incident.)
And we were off.
So long Jacksonville skyline
We found our cabins and got comfortable.
I think Grammy and the kids fit quite well.
(the bathroom is next to the door behind Lauren's bed)
We had inside cabins on the lowest deck.
That is a fake window.
We spent the evening and the next Day at Sea exploring the boat.
There was so much food!
I started off eating pretty well but somehow since the food is included my appetite seemed to get bigger by the meal.
Swimming in the Pools
It was still pretty chilly on the 2nd day but the kids were able to talk Matt into a dip in the pool.
A window seat on Hollywood Boulevard (deck 9.)
Our favorite spot for people watching.
Lauren and I "heart" cruise sunsets.
It was still cold and we packed for the tropics so we all broke down and bought Carnival jackets.
Lucky for us they were 50% off!
her inner gangster?
arriving in Key West
(see Grammy really was there)
finally it was warm!
In Key West we walked up and down Duval street
Along the way a storekeeper asked if L and T would do her a favor and feed the rooster.
We saw a lot of "gypsy" chickens roaming free in Key West.
The kids thought it was pretty cool and were quite happy to do the storekeeper a "favor."
the Southernmost beach
(L and T (in green shorts) are in the middle playing where the water meets the sand.)
Every night we'd find cool towel creatures waiting for us in our rooms.
The kids really enjoyed them so Grammy bought them the Carnival Towel Creations book which gives step by step directions so they could make their own back at home.
On our Nassau day we took advantage of the nearly empty ship and spent some time swimming in the pool. It was awesome to have the pool to our selves.
We ended up having 4 hours to spend in Nassau and after seeing the chaos of the port that was plenty of time.
Right off the ship there are people everywhere wanting to sell you something, take you somewhere and especially, braid your hair. I know they are just trying to make a living but I wanted to relax. Being our first cruise we didn't plan any shore excursions (plus they were Spendy!) so at first we walked along Bay Street (t-shirt shops, straw market, knick-knacks and jewelry)
and then we took a taxi to Atlantis on Paradise Island.
Atlantis seems like it would be a fun place to vacation sometime.
However, it did not seem anything like authentic Nassau. It could be a fancy resort placed just about anywhere (warm) in the world.
We walked around for awhile.
And then found a restaurant to eat across the street from the $$resort$$.
chilling in the Bahamas
(How lucky are these kids?!)
Three ships were exploring Nassau at the same time.
Next time we'll make sure to have an excursion booked to experience the "real" Nassau.
Back on the ship we continued to enjoy ourselves.
We went to a Family Comedy show at the Punchliner Comedy Club
and later Matt and I went to the adult show.
Both were very entertaining
We also spent some time on the water slides!
Tyler and Lauren rode the big yellow one many times.
It looks like Tyler just walked all the way down.
Lauren and Daddy
Daddy and Tyler
(Momma was happy just to take the pictures)
The kids also spent a lot of time at Camp Carnival.
(aka free almost-all-day child-care)
They made friends, friendship bracelets, played video games, decorated t-shirts, learned how to make the cool towel animals and also stuffed their own teddy bears.
They were hesitant to go into Camp Carnival but they always came out with big smiles and having had a lot of fun.
People watching was another fun part of the cruise.
Matt would be gambling in the casino and the rest of us would sit in the window seats on the main walkway. The kids would play their iPads and Mom and I would sit chatting while sipping a diet coke (Mom) and a glass of red wine (Me) and watch the people walk by.
Mom and me (and my sunburn) relaxing.
On our last night of the cruise we ate at one of the Dining Rooms (instead of the buffet/deli/pizza salad/hamburger bar.) We had to wait awhile to be seated and our waitress was definitely in a stressed out mood. She was curt and short and devoid of patience....so Matt tipped her an extra $10 to try to cheer her up.
Later we found these in our room.
The card said "we're sorry you had to wait" but I'm thinking our waitress sent this to say "sorry and thank-you."
When we got our bill the gratuity charge was only $57 per person for the entire 5 night trip. That breaks down to about $12 in tips per day to be spread out to anyone providing service on the entire ship. Room Service, House Keeping, Dining, Casino, pool side beverage service etc. etc.
That's not much at all so we tried to tip extra when we could.
Finally we made our way back to Jacksonville.
One last look back at the Fascination before starting our 5 hour drive back home.
I think everyone had a fantastic time. I am so happy we went on the cruise and I can't wait for the next one.
Back home the kiddos posed with Grammy wearing their new Minecraft t-shirts they had made for them in Key West.
PS. Here is Matt's favorite poker table on the Cruise.
No cards, just iPad looking thingies.
He made money ($100 net) at this able and I have a story to tell. Just ask me about it sometime.
(I'm just not sure it's world wide web blog-worthy)
We had such a Bon Voyage!