Our Caribbean Cruise

I am so blessed to be married to the most amazing man, ever!  For our anniversary this year he booked us a cruise through the Caribbean. It’s hard to express my excitement in words. Ever since I was a little girl in pony tails, I have always wanted to see the turquoise waters and white sands of the Bahamas. Once again, he was making a dream come true. For weeks before we left I sent him daily texts with pictures of dolphins, hammocks swaying just beside the clear, blue surf, swimming pigs and scuba diving couples. I could hardly contain myself.  I shopped for snorkeling gear, sun hats, sunscreen and all things beachy. I hovered on cloud nine counting the days until our departure. I drove almost everyone crazy while I wore a prema-grin and sang, “Bermuda, Bahamas, Come on Pretty Momma…”

 

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My excitement could not be diminished until a few days before the cruise when I realized that I would be leaving T behind for 6 days – Gasp! I had made arrangements for my Mom to come and stay at our house with him and had scheduled some time for him to spend with my husbands parents too but suddenly I wasn’t sure I should do it.  Well, I wasn’t sure I could do it anyway. You see, it wasn’t just not seeing him for 6 days which each contained 24 long hours but also that I knew it was unlikely I would be able to call him either. A lump bubbled up from my heart and settled in my throat. On top of that, he fell out of a tree and sprained his ankle the day before we left so now he was injured and the Momma in me would not hush. I felt selfish. I had to sternly remind myself that my husband and I hadn’t had any alone time together in 4 years. Well, nothing longer then a weekend anyway. I wanted this time with him and we deserved it and also, our trip was non-refundable. I had to put on my big girl panties, suck it up and finalize my preparations. I sat down with a notebook and a pen and wrote him a note for every day we would be gone. Each note made me feel a little better. I put them on top of the fridge along with his insurance cards, a list of phone numbers and other little reminders and before I knew it I was humming again.

At last the day arrived. Well actually the alarm went off at 2:30am in the wee hours of the morning and after a mad rush of last checks and a devastating good-bye to T (who had also set his alarm) we were headed to the airport. Pictures of tropical sunsets lingered in my mind. It was really happening. I was officially leaving the United States for the first time ever. I even had a passport to prove it. The beautiful Norwegian Sky cruise ship awaited us. I couldn’t wait to step on board.

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I wish I could say we got there without a hitch but anyone who has ever flown knows how that goes. The air was warm even that early in the morning and I had dressed the part of a Cruisin’ Girl wearing a lovely Caribbean Blue Skirt with  a matching manicure and pedicure. We were scheduled to have a long layover in Atlanta so I hadn’t dressed for the chance of having to run through airports at the speed of light, though I should have. While we were the first non-employees in the airport that morning we would end up watching the travelers who arrived hours after us leave before us. There were maintenance issues with our plane. At first we were looking at just an hour delay which would have left us enough time to still make the Atlanta to Miami flight we needed in order to catch our transportation to the port. The hour passed and we stayed optimistic until a scratchy, dream crushing, evil voice came over the speakers requesting all passengers from Flight 5050 to come to the desk to be re-assigned. We looked at each other with wide, fear filled eyes. No way. We both knew there were no more flights out of the TRI that could get us there in time to catch our boat. However, neither one of us was willing to accept that. This was our dream vacation, our anniversary celebration and did we mention non-refundable!!!

We waited another 45 minutes in a line full of instantly grumpy fellow passengers before they told us to move to gate three to finish the re-assignments. While we were just three short people away from finding out the fate of our flight in line at gate five, we were about ten people behind when we got to gate three. My husband handed me the phone and I headed to the window to try to call Delta to make arrangements. The first time I got through I had only time to communicate my confirmation number before the call failed. I stopped, prayed, took several deep breaths and hit redial. This time I got a guy named Brian and he was great. He checked every other flight, looked for any first class seats that may be available, even checked with all the other airlines but at the end of his search he had found nothing. No other option presented itself.

“Am I going to miss my boat, Brian?” I asked trying not to sob out the words as I felt crushing disappointment. My mind conjured an image of an oversized eraser which began to do its thing against the lovely Caribbean back drop I had been imagining daily. Goodbye white sands…  Farewell turquoise waters… I pictured the cruise ship heading out into the ocean without us. I met my husbands eyes and slowly shook my head.

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“Unless by some sort of miracle that plane gets out of there in the next fifteen minutes, there is nothing we can do. I’m so sorry.” Brian was honest. He took my cell number and promised to call if any cancellations came through. He assured me he would stay on it and do anything he could.

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I joined my husband and told him what Brian had said and we just kind of stood there a minute. We couldn’t believe it. While we stood in that daze the line grew ever closer to the desk and before we knew it we were standing in front of another Delta employee. My husband explained the situation and we were told that it was extremely unlikely the flight would get out in the next hour or so. He checked the same as Brian had and again told us, there was nothing he could do. We would have to wait. We sat back down. The chair I had cheerfully bounced down into a few hours before I now crashed down into, feeling deflated. I went ahead and text my Mom to let her know we would likely need a ride home from the airport within the next hour and then I prayed. I’m a girl who trusts her God and I had grudgingly decided if we didn’t make the flight it was some form of protection and I was trying to make peace with that. While I was trying to make peace with that images of smiling dolphins and swaying palm trees teased me from the back of my mind. Then I suddenly remembered that I do believe in miracles and the smallest of breezes tried to refill my sails. I sat up a little straighter. We decided to take a walk around while we waited and we found ourselves standing next to a man who was also watching the maintenance crew circle our plane. We ended up in a conversation and he told us that his grandson was also on our flight and he was trying to get to Miami to catch another plane taking him to do Mission Work in the Dominican Republic. We talked about our friend Billy who had just returned from doing Missionary Work in Haiti. We told him about our situation with the cruise and he said with complete confidence,

“You are going to make it. You’ll take your cruise and love it. I guarantee it.”

That seemed highly unlikely but we both smiled and thanked him and within minutes (the last we had before it was forever too late)…

“Now boarding Flight 5050 to Atlanta,” came over the speakers in a voice that now sounded like that of an angel. Literally, music to our ears. Our miracle had arrived. I floated to the gate and at last we boarded. We were headed to Atlanta and in order to make the new flight they had assigned us for the second leg, we were going to need wings both on and off the plane. I leaned over and kissed my husband as the plane took off and our vacation officially began.

I remember Atlanta as a blur. We landed and started running. I was wearing the cutest white sandals but adorable or not they were definitely not fit for sprinting across highly polished floors and weaving chaotically through other passengers whom none of which seemed to be in any sort of hurry. I was focused on keeping my husband in site which was no easy feat because he is a lot faster than me, even when I am in sneakers. At last, out of breath and sweating we arrived at our gate and saw immediately that the sign read – DEPARTED.  We looked at one another again. No Way! We started to turn away to find somewhere to sit and digest our loss when all of a sudden….

“Little, party of two. Last Call!” The Delta employee barked looking extremely irritated. As she snatched our boarding passes out of our hands and rushed us through we discovered she was on the phone talking to Brian, who had made them hold the plane for us. I was so very grateful that he was true to his word and had actually done everything he could to see we made our boat. I prayed for blessings for Brian and then I finally began to relax. We were going to make it. We were going to just barely make it but we would be headed to the Bahamas within hours. “Bermuda, Bahamas, Come on Pretty Momma..”

I thought I was prepared to see the cruise ship. After all, I had visually devoured every image of it Google, Bing and Yahoo had available. Still, upon first site it took my breath away. It was absolutely massive and oh so lovely with Hibiscus flowers painted along it’s side. We got through Customs faster than either of us expected and at last we were on board. We had made it and it turned out to be worth every bit of the trouble it took to get us there. It was the best vacation we have ever taken and the most romantic time we have ever had the luxury of enjoying. I will never ever forget it. Check out our pics…

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The first evening on the ship we were so tired we could hardly stay awake so we found our stateroom and decided to take a quick nap. Four hours later we woke up starving. We had a room with a port window and I pulled back the curtains to reveal the most beautiful purple sea. Seriously, no exaggeration, it was royal purple. It was glorious and surreal and something that belongs in every persons dreams at least once. Simply amazing. It turned out the ship had plenty to feed us and in all honesty we took full advantage. I personally ate more on that cruise then I have in the last month. You can’t help it. It’s everywhere and it’s delicious and even when you are full there is no resisting the little works of artful bliss they call desserts. That first night we stayed on deck enjoying the warm breeze. I loved the way it gently tossed my air and filled the world with its scent. The stars were so bright and beautiful above us, it was as though it was the clearest night in history. I quickly learned that the sky at sea is continuously more vibrant than any place I have ever gazed at it before. We held hands, we kissed, we relaxed and we talked. Without our phones or lap tops we were undisturbed and hour after hour passed.

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The next morning we woke up in the Bahamas!!!!  We were actually docked in Freeport Harbour, Grand Bahamas. My first impression of the Island was that it was even more beautiful than I had imagined. Palm trees were everywhere and yes the water was the clearest turquoise blue. As we meandered through the little shops I started to notice the people. Everyone seemed so relaxed. They all wore easy smiles and inquired about your day as though they really wanted to hear about it. They called me, “Beautiful Lady,” which earned them even more points and everywhere you turned were little bands playing tropical music on instruments I had never seen before. I fell in love with a little boy playing the maracas! This boy had rhythm and he danced with such a freedom it took all I had not to jump up there and join him. We watched a  grandmother and her granddaughter dance together, following his lead and we smiled the whole day long.

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We had an amazing time and the day went quickly. Before we knew it we were back on board. The ship had an endless list of events to enjoy and these itinerary papers were delivered to our room daily. They had everything from a Broadway Show to an Art Auction which actually had Rembrandts from the 1600’s. They gave us free champagne as we browsed. Our favorite show was in The Stardust Theater. The comedian, Andrew Kennedy had us rolling!

 

The next day we went to Nassau and were so excited to go swim at Paradise Beach. It is right next to Atlantis which we considered but after reading several reviews decided we didn’t want to spend our day in lines. We were determined to swim in that beautiful water. After waiting out an insane downpour under an awning we eventually hailed a cab which took us to the beach. Along the way he showed us houses owned my Nancy Grace and Oprah! It was cool but I have to say cabbies in the Bahamas drive a lot like cabbies in New York only it’s a tad bit freakier  because they drive on the other side of the road down there. I kept having to shut my eyes but our cabbie was horn happy and every time he laid it down I was wide-eyed and at full attention again. At last we arrived…

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The water was amazing. It was warm and crystal clear and full of little fish. There was this one fish that loved my husband so much!  It kept biting him and chased him around until another couple came in the water and became its new best friends. All day long locals offered to rent us jet skis or take us parasailing and there were drinks served straight from coconuts everywhere you turned. It was the perfect day. Until… we saw a black cloud approaching quickly. When I say black, I don’t mean gray or dark, I actually mean black. It was a spooky site. We were forced to gather our stuff and head back. No more had the cab door shut then the rain came again! The torrential downpour did not slow this cabbie a bit. I managed to keep my eyes closed most of the way back to the port. Once we arrived we still had about a ten minute walk back to the ship and by the time we got there we were soaked through. I mean drenched! We laughed about it as we rang out our clothes back on board and made plans to eat at The Palace.

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The Palace was super fancy. They pull out your chair, place your napkin in your lap, refer to you as Miss or Sir and just go all out. Again the food was amazing and I finished off with this amazing Lemon Ginger Custard that I am determined to find a recipe for. That night we explored the ship more thoroughly discovering the Spa, the basketball courts, The Galleria shopping, the pools and hot tubs and so much more. We went to a Game Show in the Dazzle Lounge, their version of the Newly Wed Game and it was hilarious. We walked along the deck and watched these giant fish swimming along side us and then we went to the top deck to watch the sunset. Sunrise and Sunset times are always listed in The Daily. It was beautiful. We ended up staying there until 3:30 in the morning and it was amazing having all of this uninterrupted time with the love of my life. It was magical.

Deck

 

The next day we were scheduled to arrive at Norwegian’s private island, Stirrup Kay. We slept in a little later than usual but still had plenty of time to board a Tender and get to shore. We had read in the reviews that you needed water shoes and once we were in we were glad we had them. The water was beautiful and felt so good but it was way too hot outside. When we first got up it had been 106 degrees and by the time we dove into that paradise it had risen considerably. Still, we enjoyed every second of it. We drank a lot of extra water and it was another perfect day though we only lasted a few hours in that heat. Here we are melting on the way back 🙂

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There were so many amazing moments while we were onboard The Norwegian Sky. There was a lot of excitement, a lot of shows, tons of entertainment and food and beauty around every corner and over every rail. Still, what I will remember the most and cherish the deepest are the time we spent alone, just being together without a single uninvited disturbance. We had no cell phones, lap tops, chores or work to do, we had only each other.  We had everything we needed and wanted and we made memories that will have us smiling forever after. It was spectacular and it was without a doubt, the best anniversary yet!

Here are a few tips for first those of you taking your first cruise.

  • Pack an umbrella
  • Bring small bills – a twenty can be hard to break in the Bahamas
  • Pack more clothes than you think you will need
  • Buy your own snorkel gear and save big bucks
  • Arrive the day before your ship leaves

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OK – time to share readers. Have you been cruisin’? Which line did you choose and where did you go? What’s your favorite part?  Tell all…. We love to hear from you!

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