Twitter Updates

eight days, no kids, lots of sunshine: WIN.

Okay, now I realize that for some people, reading about someone else’s vacation is akin to sliding down a banister of razor blades and landing in a pool of alcohol (Name That Reference!). But I actually enjoy hearing about other people’s travel experiences and I love seeing vacation pictures. Plus, I want to record bits about our cruise here for myself so I can go back and reminisce when I’m having a Particularly Lame Or Crappy Day. So, if vacation recaps are not for you, then you can refrain from reading. Otherwise, if you want to see pretty pictures of the Caribbean sea and hear a few ridiculous stories, read on!

(Also- I’ll be including some pictures, but a lot of them won’t make it to this post, so here’s the whole shabang!)

We were set to leave Pittsburgh on Saturday the 11th. Around 4pm on Friday, I got a call that our first flight was canceled. No reason given- not weather-related as far as I could tell- just, you know, SORRY! NO MORE FLIGHT! So commence a bit of panic while I spent an hour on the phone, hoping to find another flight that would get us to Orlando on Saturday so we weren’t risking being late for the ship on Sunday. It all ended just fine. We switched another flight, a few hours later than the original one, but it ended up not being a huge deal. BUT. IN THAT HOUR IT WAS STRESSFUL.

Maggie was LITERALLY PUSHING US out the door while we were giving my mom some last minute instructions/reminders before we headed to the airport the next morning. She pushed me backwards and said “Okay! Time for you to leave now!” Good to know that she wasn’t going to miss us too much. heh.

Because of the flight change, we didn’t get to our hotel in Port Canaveral until after 11pm. So we were exhausted by the time we checked in. Also, the 45-minute cab ride from the airport to the hotel involved me being fairly certain that our driver was falling asleep at the wheel. So! That was fun! Survived 2 airplanes, but we’re totally dying on this dark highway on the way to the hotel! I spent the last 20 minutes of the ride poised to leap over the driver’s seat and grab the wheel. I wish I were joking.

But we arrived safe and sound. And the next day we made our way to the ship after lunch. It was barely 35 degrees in Florida on Sunday morning, so we were wearing sweatshirts while we celebrated on the upper deck as we left the port.

Caribbean Cruise

We're on a boat!

Just about ready to set sail! IT'S 49 DEGRESS WTF FLORIDA??!! :)

But you know what? WHO CARES, RIGHT? WE’RE HEADED TO THE BAHAMAS!

Of course, I was still in the same hoodie I put on the day before when I left the house because that was my only long-sleeved ANYTHING and I ended up having to wear it to DINNER because my luggage was late getting to my room (like, unusually late, if I go by the reaction of the housekeeping staff when I called to ask. It was NOT COMFORTING to hear him say ‘OH! Wow, really?’ and imagine what I was going to do without my luggage for the next 7 days since we’d already set sail. Thankfully 15 minutes later, my suitcase was outside my door. WHEW.). And my ears were still killing me from the flights- no matter what I try, I have terrible ear pain for a day or two after flying. So between Missing Luggage and Ear Pain and A Very Rocky Boat and then at dinner something got mixed up with our table reservation so we spent 20 minutes standing around, watching everyone else eating delicious bread and I was SO HUNGRY OMG. And then Dan had to leave in the middle because he got a nasty, nasty headache… things were not starting out so good. And I’ll admit… I began to worry a little. You hear so many horror stories about The Worst Vacation Ever and I really, really did not want that for us. Not this trip. We needed this so badly! So much planning! It can’t be a bad trip!

So we went to bed relatively early and then…

We felt better in the morning. And this was our view. AND IT WAS WARMER.

Cococay Bahamas. My view while I ran on the top deck.

I went for a (short) run on the upper deck, because seriously, how could I NOT be able to say I ran a mile on the ocean? Then we got showers and boarded the tender boats that would take us to Cococay, which is Royal Caribbean’s private island in the Bahamas.

Caribbean Cruise

Caribbean Cruise

Caribbean Cruise

Caribbean Cruise

Caribbean Cruise

They brought the on-ship buffet onto the island so we were free to eat as many burgers and as much jerk chicken (OMG SO GOOD) that we wanted to, all while looking at the beach. Amazing.

Caribbean Cruise

Caribbean Cruise

Caribbean Cruise

We didn’t plan any excursions or activities this day. We were content to just walk in the surf and wander the island, soaking up the sun and just… relaxing.

Caribbean Cruise

Caribbean Cruise

Also! By near-coincidence, Dan’s aunt and uncle were on the same cruise with us! (I’ve had a few people ask me if we were bothered by that and the answer is NO! Not at all! They are so fun!) They were looking into trips for their recent anniversary and when they heard about our cruise, they were interested and ended up booking it themselves. We randomly ran into them on Cococay and usually spent the evenings after dinner with them each night. It was a lot of fun having someone else to hang out with on the ship!

Caribbean Cruise

Caribbean Cruise

Caribbean Cruise

So… yeah. Trip was looking up. Cococay was amazing. And the ship… THE CRUISE SHIP, you guys. Huge and beautiful and just ridiculous.

Caribbean Cruise

Caribbean Cruise

Caribbean Cruise

Caribbean Cruise

Caribbean Cruise

Caribbean Cruise

We boarded the ship again after Cococay, then I ate a cupcake, read my Kindle in the sunshine, then took a nap. Then we had our first formal dinner in the dining room, so we got all fancy and ate delicious food.

Berrymisu. The food was so pretty. And delicious.

Each night in the dining room, we had an assigned table. We randomly got paired up with another young-ish couple (younger than us, anyway!) who just got married the past weekend. They were adorable honeymooners and we tried not to scare them too much about what happens after 10 years of marriage ;) But I’d say we lucked out pretty well with our dinner guests.

Tuesday we were at sea, headed toward the US Virgin Islands. I got up, showered, ate breakfast. Then I got a lime and ginger sea salt rub and Swedish massage at the spa. Then I showered again, then went to lunch. It was a really, really awesome 4 hours of doing nothing even remotely productive. I’m surprised I didn’t get a rash from the lack of productivity! We spent the afternoon hanging out by the pool, then that night after dinner, we went to see Beatlemania, a Beatles cover band (they were fantastic!) Free shows! That we can just spontaneously decide to go see because we don’t need a babysitter!

Beatlemania!

I LOVE CRUISES.

Wednesday morning, we arrived in St. Thomas as we were eating breakfast.

Caribbean Cruise

Caribbean Cruise

I’m not even kidding when I say I nearly cried as we pulled into the port because it was so gorgeous. Vacations when I was a kid involved tents and a drive to the woods to camp for a few days. This was… unreal. I just couldn’t believe we were THERE.

Caribbean Cruise

Caribbean Cruise

Caribbean Cruise

Caribbean Cruise

Caribbean Cruise

Caribbean Cruise

Caribbean Cruise

Our plans for St. Thomas involved an excursion to see some of the highlights of the island. When we booked our trip, we received an excursion credit so it only cost us like $10 extra. SCORE!

EXCEPT.

Someone (me) didn’t realize that even though St. Thomas time is an hour ahead of ‘Ship Time’, because the excursion was booked through a local company and not the cruiseline, that meant that we needed to be at the pier at 12:00pm, not 1:00pm.

So we were an hour late for our excursion and missed it. CRAPSTICKS.

To say I was angry is an understatement. IDIOT! TRAVEL PLANNER FAIL! But, we got over and made our own day. We had to spend some extra money doing a few of the things we were going to be able to do essentially for free through the excursion, but the day wasn’t a total waste. I mean, we got to go to KMART and buy snacks and deodorant, you guys! Kmarts in the Virgin Islands are so exotic! And.. AND! then we had lunch at Wendys!

Caribbean Cruise

Yes. We ate at Wendy's in St Thomas. We had our reasons ;)

(We ate there because that’s where we met, 15 years ago. It felt right. We are dorks.)

Seriously though- the day was great. We rode the Sky Ride thing to the top of a mountain and had an amazing view of the port.

Caribbean Cruise

Caribbean Cruise

Caribbean Cruise

Caribbean Cruise

Caribbean Cruise

Caribbean Cruise

Caribbean Cruise

Then we got in a scary taxi and took a ride to Magen’s Bay Beach. The cab ride was questionable but the driver was singing Kenny Rogers so that made it better. Though the beach was cloudy so not as nice as I’d hoped, but I’m still glad we did it.

Caribbean Cruise

(Did you know that they drive on the other side of the road in St. Thomas, BUT their cars have the driver on the same side as in the US? CONFUSING FOR MY BRAIN!)

Caribbean Cruise

Caribbean Cruise

Caribbean Cruise

And here is where I wish I’d packed my tripod. But it’s still a pretty shot.

Caribbean Cruise

Thursday morning, we were greeted with this view of St Maarten from our teeny window. GOOD MORNING!!!

Caribbean Cruise

St. Maarten was absolutely gorgeous. My favorite stop.

Caribbean Cruise

Caribbean Cruise

Caribbean Cruise

We arrived in Philipsburg, which is the capital of St. Maarten, the Dutch half of the island. St. Martin is the other side, the French side- which we traveled to by bus. (WE DIDN’T MISS THIS EXCURSION! YAY!) We first stopped at Loterie Farm for a quick break and transfer to a tiny truck that took us way, way, WAY up to the top of a mountain. Then we hiked down for 2 hours. It was fabulous.

Caribbean Cruise

Caribbean Cruise

Caribbean Cruise

Caribbean Cruise

Caribbean Cruise

Caribbean Cruise

After our hike, some rum punch (woo!), and a bus ride back to Philipsburg, we were ready for some lunch and a rest. (That’s when I was able to find some free Wi-Fi for the first time in days and popped my head into Twitter for a few moments!)

We finished lunch then wandered over to the main shopping area and beach. And of course took a bazillion pictures.

Caribbean Cruise

Caribbean Cruise

Caribbean Cruise

Caribbean Cruise

(We came back here before we left and I had some tiramisu gelato!)

Gelato!

Caribbean Cruise

Caribbean Cruise

(I could not stop taking pictures of that mountain. It was so pretty.)

Also, in the typical European fashion (I remember this being A Thing when we went to Italy) I had to pay 50 cents to use a public bathroom. Which- not a big deal! EXCEPT IT WAS THE SCARIEST BATHROOM I HAVE EVER SEEN. If I don’t come down with syphilis or something, I’ll be amazed. *shudder* Oh, vacations. Such an adventure!

Oh- and Thursday night on the ship we saw a magic show- this guy from America’s Got Talent, and he was really good. I of course end up hating magic shows because I JUST WANT TO KNOW HOW THEY DOOOOOO IT!!!! But still, great entertainment :)

The next two days were bitter sweet. Our port stops were finished, so we were headed home. WHAAAAAA! But! We had two full days on the ship to be lazy or do fun things or eat a lot of food or all of the above! We took full advantage. I spent Friday morning in the sun by the pool, because it was FINALLY warm enough and not windy and we could stand being up there in our bathing suits. I got nice and suntanned (teeny bit burned!) and then I had the Drink Of The Day which was some mango margarita thing and it was so so good and I got a little drunk, you guys. I don’t drink much EVER and whoooo boy, it was a pretty strong, pretty large drink and I chugged the last bit of it and then I was dizzy and woozy wandering around the lunch buffet. Dan found it all highly entertaining. Then I took a nap in the shade after lunch. Wheeee!

Then we played mini golf! On the ocean! Because why not?? (I beat Dan by one! woo!)

Mini golf on the ocean

Friday night was the 2nd formal dinner, so we got all fancy and even took advantage of the portrait studio. I figured we needed at least ONE cheesy picture of us in front of the Titanic staircase backdrop!

Caribbean Cruise

After that, my mission for the rest of the evening was to CHUG COFFEE, because we were trying to stay awake for the 11:15pm adult comedy show, which was so, so worth it. The show featured the cruise director, Graham Seymour and you guys, he’s hilarious. Not just the comedy show, but every morning he does a show on the cruise tv station in the rooms and he’s silly and ridiculous and British, which makes it all that much better. At one point, he ended up in a tutu and a thong and well, that’s… pretty much all you need to know.

Saturday was our last day, womp womp. It was low-key for us. We slept in, had breakfast, then just wandered the ship for a while, taking pictures.

Caribbean Cruise

Caribbean Cruise

Caribbean Cruise

Caribbean Cruise

Caribbean Cruise

We packed a little bit, then I headed to the pool to read while Dan went to the gym. Because when you’re old and have kids at home, you WORK OUT ON VACATION and it feels like LUXURY! Then we had one last delicious meal in the dining room.

Caribbean Cruise

(I realize all of my food pictures are of the desserts. You can see where my true love lies. ha)

And then… it was over. The next day was a long day of travel. We got to the airport a lot earlier than we thought we would, so we tried to get an earlier flight, but we still would have had to wait for our connection in Cleveland. So instead, we had a nice, long lunch at the Orlando airport and soaked up the free Wi-Fi for a few hours. We finally made it home a little after 8pm- Audrey was asleep already, but Maggie was still awake.

We loved our trip so so so much, but she was a very welcome sight. And she made us a sign :)

Our welcome home :)

One of the things I think was the nicest for us is that we had next to zero communication with the outside world while we were there. Sure, there was Wi-Fi and internet on the ship if we wanted to pay (A LOT), and I could have used the data on my phone (again, FOR A LOT OF MONEY), so really all I had were a few texts from my mom now and then, letting me know that the girls were good and updating me on their days. That was it. And it was GOOD for me, to disconnect and stop checking my email or Twitter every 5 minutes and just… be alone, or be with Dan, and to just be quiet. It made the trip seem even LONGER, honestly, because things seemed to slow down somehow.

To say we had a nice time is understating it by a lot. We loved it. There’s just something so magical and cool about floating on a CITY on the ocean and looking out and seeing nothing but water. A little creepy at times (at night! EEEK!) but it felt like an honest to goodness VACATION. Which is good because this will have to last us a while, I think :) Week-long kid-free vacations aren’t something we can just DO on a whim- though my parents made it possible this time around and we cannot stop thanking them. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!

Caribbean Cruise

23 Comments

  1. Becca
    @beccasanborn

    I remember paying to use the bathroom in Sweden but the men didn’t have to, because they will just pee on the streets, apparently. Grr!!

    You make me want to go on another cruise! That was our honeymoon and we lived it, although we did Carnival and you guys did RC, right?

    Feb 26 3:29 pm


    • Jen
      @jayesel

      Yes, Royal Caribbean! I obviously have nothing to compare it to :) but they were fabulous. Very friendly and helpful staff, the ship was amazing and CLEAN and just lovely.

      Paying to pee is lame. LOL

      Feb 26 7:12 pm


  2. Jesabes
    @jesabesblog

    That looks SO AMAZING. My husband is comparing all sorts of options for our family cruise next winter and this makes me want to tell him we HAVE to go on Royal Caribbean. I especially like the private island with ship food!

    Feb 26 4:13 pm


    • Jen
      @jayesel

      I don’t know details about other cruise lines, but I know that our ship had tons of stuff for kids! They give each kid an armband that matches their room etc just in case ;) and they have a whole play area for little ones, plus an arcade and stuff for the older kids. Then there were parades and movies and of course the very cool kids’ pool… there were a lot of kids on board! It wouldn’t be as relaxing as a kid-free trip, obviously ;) but kids are 100% welcome and it was actually nice seeing all the families!

      Feb 26 7:14 pm


  3. I so so SO want to go there. To all of those places. Right now. Even though my 9-mo pregnant whale butt would look MONSTROUS in a swimsuit right now. I do not care. That water!!! Gaaahhh!!!

    Feb 26 5:01 pm


  4. Jamie

    I came across your website looking for REAL information on crusies. We are celebrating our ten year anniversary this year and have not been able to score a babysitter, but REALLY want to take a cruise. Do you think you still would have enjoyed yourself with your children in tow? Mine are 3 and 6. Thanks. Curious for your feedback.

    Your pictures are beautiful!

    Feb 26 5:53 pm


    • Jen
      @jayesel

      Personally I don’t think it would have been the same with the kids there, but for us, that was kind of the point ;) The ship had LOTS of things for the kids, and those ages sound perfect! It would be hard with smaller kids- toddlers/infants- but preschoolers and up would be just fine. There are tons of activities and a very cool kids’ area by the pool, plus an arcade and mini golf and parades and movies… you really can’t be bored :) Hope that helps!!! Good luck with your planning!!

      Feb 26 7:17 pm


  5. karyn

    Hey! What cruise line is this and who did you book through. This looks amazing!

    Feb 26 6:16 pm


    • Jen
      @jayesel

      Royal Caribbean! We were on Freedom of the Seas, and we booked through Travelocity :)

      Feb 26 7:17 pm


  6. Ashley
    @#!/celica18l

    Oh wow, looks amazing! I want to take a cruise just Tom and I but I doubt it’ll ever happen! The pictures are amazing! Just beautiful!

    Feb 26 7:39 pm


  7. Melissa
    @sempremelissa

    The pictures of the islands and water are amazing. I’m so glad you guys had a wonderful getaway, because you deserved it. Yay! :)

    George and I are not cruise people (too many other places we want to go and really have time to explore) but maybe someday…

    Feb 26 7:40 pm


    • Jen
      @jayesel

      That’s actually why I originally didn’t even consider a cruise, because we have a list a mile long of places we’d like to visit and explore for more than one day. But most places on that list were farther/more expensive to travel to right now (Europe, mostly!) so they weren’t even possible anyway. I really wasn’t sure if I’d like a cruise- I know some people who have been and did not- but we enjoyed it :) Of course without the kids, we probably would have been fine going ANYWHERE for a break. LOL Even Cleveland! ha

      Feb 26 8:56 pm


  8. Tracy
    @overmom

    Glad you had a great time! I will live vicariously through you since my husband is not a ship kind of guy. (can we say green on the good ship lollipop?) HA

    Feb 26 8:47 pm


    • Jen
      @jayesel

      oh man, yeah that would be no good on a cruise. Especially this one- it was ROCKY for the first 3 or 4 days! Even the staff commented several times that it was more rocky than usual. Thankfully it didn’t make either of us sick- just made it tough to walk in heels at the fancy dinners ;) LOL

      Feb 26 8:59 pm


  9. I’m so glad that you enjoyed your cruise! We are HUGE fans of cruising. We did an Easter Caribbean cruise from NYC 2 weeks after The Blathering, and in about 1.5 months, we’re heading off on a Transatlantic — it’ll be 3-year-old Teddy’s 5th cruise and 2nd Trans! We travel with the kids (and often my parents) and it’s a blast with kids, too. Teddy is now old enough to enroll in the kids’ program (on Celebrity/RCCL they have to be 3 and toilet-trained) so it should be a riot.

    Thanks for sharing your stories. I LOVE reading about vacations.

    Feb 26 9:37 pm


  10. Sounds awesome! I love cruises, but we haven’t been on one since before Kalena was born. It would be great to leave the kids and go on another one!

    Feb 26 10:14 pm


  11. Lea

    Looks like SO much fun! Good for you guys for getting away!!

    Feb 27 12:16 am


  12. Dave (Scrumpy Daddy)
    @scrumpydaddy

    Looks like it was a fabulous trip. Glad you got a chance to get away together for a bit without the kids, and especially on such a nice trip! Rachel has been on two cruises before and we hope to get to go on one some day. It looks wonderful.

    I’m sure the most wonderful part was just sharing in it together and getting the chance to talk (or sit in silence) together without constant kid interruptions!

    Great pictures and thanks for the long vacation post – we can live vicariously through your vacation report! :-)

    Feb 27 8:21 am


  13. TwoAdults
    @twoadults

    The taxi driver singing Kenny Rogers made me laugh. Love it.

    I’m so glad you had a good time. : )

    Feb 27 10:06 am


  14. I think you just satisfied my severe craving for some Vitamin D! Your trip looks amazing. So glad the weather cooperated!

    Feb 27 3:33 pm


  15. Andrea
    @ajh_rigs

    I think you’ve made me decide that when I grow up, I want to work on a Caribbean cruise ship. :)

    Feb 28 3:58 pm