Caribbean Cruise (Part 1)

I don’t really like reading or even hearing about other people’s travels — it just makes me jealous. When a post like this one comes up on someone else’s blog, I don’t even bother reading it. So, I can’t really be upset if you don’t read this one. However, I feel like I have to make a record so I can remember what a wonderful time we had.

First, let me explain that Manina and I hadn’t been on a real vacation for about 7 years. In 2005, we went to St. Lucia for a week for a wedding, but since then, we haven’t been able to get away for longer than a quick weekend. Sure, we’ve done cool things as a family, but just Manina and me? Nope. Not with six young kids.

So, when the stars aligned and Grandma volunteered to babysit (what a trooper!), we took the plunge and bought the tickets. We were going on a Caribbean cruise. Several other couples joined us: my Uncle Greg and Aunt Emily (who live in our neighborhood), our next door neighbors Tony and Emily, and neighborhood friends Ben and Marianne. It turned out to be a good mix.

We left early on Saturday, February 11 with Greg and Emily. We basically spent the day in airports and airplanes, from SLC to Houston, then Houston to Fort Lauderdale. We took pictures for the kids in most locations, hoping they’d sync up via the iCloud PhotoStream service. Unfortunately it required WiFi access, so our kids were mildly disappointed (the photos weren’t that great anyway).

Sunday, February 12

We couldn’t get on the boat until noon, so we looked for a church meeting to attend in the morning. The only nearby ward that met at 9am was a Spanish-speaking ward. We got a cab, got to the meetinghouse and sat through a meeting of which we didn’t understand a single word.

The best part was getting a ride home from Milson (not Milton, not Wilson, but Milson) and having him tell us about some miracles he’s seen in his life as a church member. In broken English, he told us about his construction cleaning company had been in a lot of trouble, but after some prayers and struggles found a niche that allowed him to thrive. He was obviously grateful for these blessings from heaven, and you could really feel his faith. A very cool guy.

We got on the ship at about 2pm, went straight up to the buffet, and then immediately got put through a safety drill. After that, it was up onto the top deck for the going away party. It was cool to see the giant ship navigate out of port and into the Atlantic Ocean. A cold front came in on Sunday morning, so the weather was cold (for Florida anyway) and windy. This made for a very interesting first few hours. We tried to play a round of mini-golf, but the ship was rocking way too much. Manina felt nervous and off (but not sick) from all the movement.

We met all of our friends for dinner that night after unpacking our stuff. Dinners turned out to be a great tradition. Our waiter Saravan from India took very good care of us, and we usually sat at the table and laughed for about 2 hours each night, ordering multiples of whatever the highlight was from the night (usually desserts).

After dinner we went to a quick show in the theater, followed by karaoke. Marianne signed all four girls to go up and sing “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” but not all the girls were having fun. Manina wasn’t happy at all to be volunteered. I wisely stayed far away from any involvement. So when their names were called, Manina reluctantly went up and sang with Aunt Emily. Let’s just say it wasn’t the highlight of the trip.

The best was yet to come.