Saturday, March 31, 2012

Marriage Cruise - March 25-29, 2012

We took a cruise with 14 other couples from our church... we call it a marriage cruise and there are no kids allowed.  This year we went with Levi and Christa Skipper, James and Harriet Dollar, Kirk and Denise Williamson, Brian and Sadie Hill, Randy and Connie Johnson, Stephen and Sallie Jackson, Bill and Kristin Ellis, Tim and Terry McCune, Chris and Jill Baumgardner, Jeff and Pam Forrester, James and Corie Himstedt, Gene and Georgia DiBartolo, Jay and Nicole Burkett, Larry and Kennon Yori and us.  It was a group that is a ton of fun.  We drove to Port Canaveral, FL and sailed to Nassau, Bahama, Coco Cay, and back to FL.  We had terrific weather. Here's the story - before I forget! 

We traveled with James and Corie Himstedt. Always entertaining!  We stopped to get Bennett a state map to add to his collection.
Here's Corie at the Florida state line welcome center. 

Curtis and James in the captain's chairs
 This was James and Corie's first cruise, so it was fun to share our vast cruising knowledge with them!  :)
The gangway onto the Monarch of the Seas... boarding the ship.

Top deck while we were still in port.
There were two other ships in port at the same time. The Monarch is a much smaller ship and it's neat (in a way) to see larger ships up close. But it's also... their ship is bigger kind of thinking too.  Rumor has it Royal Caribbean is selling, or has sold, the Monarch and this is her last season.  I hope they bring in a bigger ship, with bigger showers!  
Curtis is always checking everything out

Leaving port... on our way.... full speed ahead!
The last coastline as we left Florida.
There was a boat half buried in the sand Curtis spotted with his binoculars. Someone was working on getting it freed before the time came in.  We also saw a small Navy boat in the water near here... but it appears to be an Air Force base in that area.  We did not see any cool jets.

It was very, very, very windy on the top deck while we were leaving the port. Corie was trying to get some shelter from the wind behind the glass. Silly Corie!

Water, water everywhere! I think you can barely see the shore at this point.
I truly love being out so far you can see NOTHING else. Especially at night. No lights anywhere. 

Making progress getting out to sea.

Our dinner table by the window.
We got to eat with some of our favorite couples.  We couldn't have asked for better travelling friends and thoroughly enjoyed each special moment.  Davidson, Baumgardner, Burkett, Himstedt.
Behind us on this night you can see two of the other tables. At the far table was Bill and Kristin, Tim and Terry, Levi and Christa, Gene and Georgia, & Stephen and Sallie.  At the near table was Brian and Sadie, Jeff and Pam, Larry and Kennon.

This table had Kirk and Denise, James and Harriet, and Randy and Connie.  They were a rowdy bunch! :)

Top deck - Jenny and Jill
Once we got out to sea the captain decided it was much too rough and windy to go to Coco Cay island. So, we had our "day at sea" the first day instead. It was really nice to just chill for the day.  We spent a few hours on the top deck just resting and talking. The pool deck is always crowded while you're at sea, so we just looked longingly at the water.  Spring break means lots of kids and teens, and they like to fill the hot tubs and pools.
Another night at dinner. 

The puppy our stateroom attendant, Irishe, left for us.

<--Muster Stations this way -->
Curtis bought 2 magnets while we were at Cocoa Beach the night before we left.  He then hid the magnets around the ship and took pictures of something nearby to help people locate them. It was a lot of fun for a few of the couples who participated. Gene and Georgia have cruised many times and really enjoyed having something new to do. Plus, it gave reason to explore the ship a little more than normal. The DiBartolos and the Jacksons ended up with the magnets as souvenirs of their trip for playing along. Next time we'll take more!
We have arrived
Curtis did some online research before we left and decided a trip to Cable Beach resorts was what we needed to do. He convinced some other couples of that as well.  I wasn't too thrilled because the next day we would be spending on Coco Cay's beach... but I went along.  It's a good thing! This was the BEST thing to do in Nassau!  Curtis did a fantastic job picking out just the right thing - and  everyone else agreed, even those that didn't go.  Denise said next time HE is going to be the tour guide.  We had 4 couples and a random single dude who tagged along.  Us, the Himstedts, Baumgardners and Johnsons

The back of the Sheraton, overlooking the water

See... what a beautiful view!

At The Fish Fry - the stand for Strawberry Mango Smoothie for Curtis

THE best conch fritters and conch salad was here!  @The Fish Fry

A local trying to bum coins... he said he knew we were from USA because of the way Corie popped her gum.

Heading back toward the Straw Market and Bay Street

Yes, this canon was part of the island's protection long ago.

Randy and Connie Johnson leading the way

Our ship in port behind us... 4 of them total. Busy day in Nassau!

Fresh coconut milk

The US Embassy with all the satellite and antennas

This couple of kids caught our eyes while they crossed the street together. Showing the love!

Monarch of the Seas

Festival Place - they funnel you through this building onto the island

Dinner photo - by Jill

Dinner photo - with our food! Yummy. Kind of nice sitting still during dinner for a night.

Atlantis at sunset

Sunset over Nassau

We tried to make it up on deck every night for sunset... but our wait staff at dinner never did get us out in time.  I'm sure it had nothing to do with the fact that we kept ordering more food. 2 appetizers. 2 entrees. 2 desserts. Never enough? Just needed to taste everything!

Calling home to check on the kids... that bunny never did give us the report.

Ice carving -  horse head.
The midnight buffet is always an interesting event. Not only do you have to actually stay awake - but you have to eat and dance! It's really cool to be up on deck when leaving port in Nassau at night. The ship leaves out during the dancing, eating, laughing festival. Massive amounts of darkness in all directions. The 4 "usual" couples sat up by the pool waiting for the time... a young girl, Allison, stopped by to ask us if we had seen her boyfriend. We talked with her about 20 minutes about many things, but the funniest was that she thought Jay and Nicole were performers from the show and we sort of encouraged her to think it was true. Jay's name was Diego, he was a dancer. Nicole was an African American singer. She was really good.  This poor girl child thought for a brief moment, then decided Nicole really wasn't the singer.  I tried to get Jay to do a dance step for her, but he declined.  We laughed a bit too much. This girl probably won't remember our conversation either. I hope she found Tony and Nathan... 

Coco Cay day was absolutely perfect! We had switched Tuesday for Thursday due to high seas and wind... and it's a good thing. Thursday the water was like glass, the wind was pleasant, and the sun was warm.  We found chairs under a row of shady trees, in our "usual" place. We walked the beach. Got in the water a little. Saw sea life. And most of the group spent some time in the water looking like this....

Chris and Jill - ready to snorkel

they get goofier and goofier
The fish were plentiful and the water was gentle. They enjoyed their time.  If we ever develop the underwater camera pictures... I'll load a couple. I'm sure they are as beautiful as the group above.

The Monarch, on our way back to the ship.
We (the Himstedts and us) stayed on the island until the very last moment. We were on the last tender of the day back to the ship. Nothing like getting our monies' worth! We needed two days on the island this year. This was the smoothest tender ride I've ever had!
Our wait staff - AP, Albert (head waiter), Rien (assistant waiter)

The captain and crew docking back in Canaveral Friday morning.

Curtis was very interested in how they tied to ship off to the dock.. so here are pictures capturing some of that. The captain and his people on board, dropping big blue ropes, while the men on the ground tie them off. We watched for several minutes before we headed down for our last breakfast with our friends. 

Friday morning sunrise in Cape Canaveral

waiting patiently for our departure times and groups to be called... Forrester, Ellis, McCune, Jackson, Johnson
And that's the cruise!  Our travel back home was much slower. We ran into tons of traffic, missed a few exits, had some heavy rain showers... just general blah coming home.  BUT - we made it home before the kids were in bed (except Lydia, whom I woke!) and we snuggled, told stories, and handed out necklaces. Lydia's only request EVERY time was for a shark's tooth. We got one on a necklace for her. She loved it. Held it. Then asked - where's the blood? I wanted a drop of blood!
Our marriage's purpose statement - Building a Legacy... those kids are the beginning of our legacy. Love them!

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