Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Big Trip - Part One

Adventure of the Seas
When Dustin and I got married we decided that before we started a family there were a few things we wanted to do. We knew having kids would require sacrifices and the way we wanted to raise our kids would change a lot. If there was ever an okay time to be selfish as a couple now was the time. There were the usual things like enjoy being married, establish ourselves and do what we wanted to do. There were also two big things, buy a house and go on a big trip. We gave ourselves five years to accomplish this. And so the last four years have been spent enjoying being married and seeing small dreams that married couples have somewhat come true (some dreams you have to tweak a little). A year ago we were blessed to be able to buy a house with room to grow in and this year we decided to go on our "big trip". Originally the plan was to visit Europe in the Summer but baby fever has a way of changing things (I would just like to state for the record that both parties were extremely struck down by this) and so a year ahead of schedule we booked a Caribbean cruise for February. 

San Juan, Puerto Rico
Our trip itinerary started by flying to San Juan, Puerto Rico. The plan was to spend the night there
and then next day board the ship for our cruise. From the airport we caught a taxi to the hotel, from there we checked in and ate at the hotel restaurant. By that time it was getting dark and being in an unfamiliar place in the dark is not very appealing. We roamed the streets for a short distance and headed back so there wasn't too much sightseeing in San Juan. We did see Jennifer Lopez's $4 million (!!) vacation home though which was kind of neat. The next morning we took a taxi to where our ship, Royal Caribbean's Adventure of the Seas, was docked and boarded the ship.
San Juan, Puerto Rico
The cruise was a seven day cruise with five stops in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; St. John's, Antigua; Castries, St. Lucia and Bridgetown, Barbados. Because we boarded the ship early in the day and we did not set sail until 8 that evening we had plenty of time to explore the ship. Cruise ships have a ton of cool things which is why they are so popular. Our ship had an ice skating rink, theater, a "mall" of sorts called the Royal Promenade, a library and countless other nooks and crannies. One of the highlights was that our room had a window overlooking the Royal Promenade. 
Royal Promenade 
 And now for an embarrassing story. Before a ship sails they enforce a mandatory safety drill so that all guests are familiar with what to do just in case something were to go wrong. All guests have assigned stations to report to on the outer decks, once on the deck, you are lined up single file. Dustin and I went to our station, but with so many people close together and the heat I began feeling lightheaded. I thought I’d be fine and leaned against Dustin for support. Next thing I knew I was opening my eyes to find myself sitting on the floor and could hear Dustin saying “can we get her inside?” I couldn't believe I had passed out! I couldn’t wait to get inside the ship away from people’s stares. They took me to see the doctor on board and twenty minutes and $111 later we learned nothing was hurt but my pride. We also were relieved to learn they would not kick us off. Technically cruise lines require a note from your doctor stating you are okay to travel, which I did not have. But I guess because I was okay and only ten weeks they allowed me to stay on. Once that ordeal was over we were able to begin to enjoy the cruise.

St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands
Our first stop, St. Croix, was beautiful island with a beach right off of the ship's dock. We visited some of the shops but spent most of our time at the beach. We actually were able to walk further down the beach and have an area to ourselves. The only down fall was the water was full of rocks but we still had fun. The best part? Our first full day in the sun and 75 degree weather in the middle of February.

Philipsburg, St. Maarten

Probably our favorite island of the entire trip was Philipsburg, St. Maarten. It was beautiful with a ton of shops to visit and a very nice beach. We spent the first half of the day (the ship docked from 8am to 4pm each day and yes, I did get up early on vacation) exploring the shops. We tried chocolate covered waffles from The Belgian Chocolate Box, bought super soft t-shirts mostly made from bamboo and toured The Yoda Guy which was the shop and museum of Nick Maley, co-creator of Star War's Yoda. We spent the rest of the day enjoying the sunshine and the beach. It definitely made for great, full day of fun! Our next stop was St. John's, Antigua where a planned excursion awaited us.

St. Philipsburg, St. Maarten

To be continued.

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