Friday, May 18, 2018

Coco Cay and Favorites

Andrew and I LOVE stopping at private islands when we cruise. There are no pushy locals trying to braid your hair, no large crowds, it feels very safe, AND the cruise ship dining workers come to the island and feed you lunch. Woo hoo! The kids had never stopped at a private island before, so that was a big reason why we chose this itinerary. So, our last stop on the cruise was a little private island called Coco Cay.

The kids and I signed up for an excursion to go kayaking. I LOVE being out in the water and the kids were up for going with me. Unfortunately, Andrew's still-recovering shoulder didn't allow him to kayak. He didn't mind, though. He got to sleep in a bit and meet us on the island mid-morning.

Our excursion was AMAZING. 
It was a GORGEOUS day.

Look at this little slice of paradise.
Oh, how I love it. 
This was the third or fourth time I've stopped at this island.
It's awesome.

Whitney and I shared a kayak.

B and Caroline were in the other one.
Both of us were able to get around easily.

The water is crystal clear.
We could see big stingrays swimming around us. 

And we could also see conch underneath us.
If we aimed just right, we could even pick them up. 

Loved, loved, loved being out on that water.
Some of the other kayakers saw a big shark.
We tried to paddle over there and catch a glimpse,
but it was gone by the time we got there.

After our excursion, we grabbed a few beach chairs
and hung out in the soft sand and warm water.

Flat Stanley preferred the sand.

We found Andrew and were happy to spend
some time together as a family.

In my previous visits to this place, I'd swam out to a
couple of underwater features that they have set up to snorkel.
There's a plane crash and a sunken ship.
But, Brandon found that the best snorkeling was
right off the shore. We loved it.

Caroline was MUCH happier snorkeling here,
where she knew she could swim back to shore
if she wanted to.

When the kids had their fill of snorkeling,
Andrew and I went back out by ourselves.

Drew loves diving down for conch. 

As we were finishing up and heading in to shore,
we saw a shark! It was awesome! The first time I'd
seen one while snorkeling. It was a little guy,
probably 3-4 feet long. He was doing his own thing
and seemed disinterested in us. Brandon had the
camera, so I didn't get a pic. Darn.

After a yummy lunch, we were hanging out at the beach and a
storm blew in. The clouds rolled in quickly and it
started sprinkling. We were already wet from swimming
and I wasn't worried about it, but Andrew didn't want
to get caught in a downpour and the kids seemed
ready to go, so we packed up and headed toward the tender.
(Tenders are small boats that take you from the ship to
islands that don't have a big port where the cruise ship can dock.)

Before we caught the tender, I REALLY wanted to get a picture
of the family with the cruise ship in the background.
It's one of my things. I love it.
I had told the kids about it before,
but apparently Andrew didn't know.
He wasn't amused.
Can you tell?

But isn't that a cool shot with our ship in the background???

He and the girls left to get in line for the tender.
I made B stay and get jumping pics with me. :)
Nailed it.

Back on the ship, Whit and I got to watch a dance studio
from Atlanta perform. I made sure to drop hints to Shelley
about our next Company performance.

Love vacationing with these guys. So much. 

Towel animals. 

One of our nice servers. 


*Snorkeling in Coco Cay was awesome!

*The food was really good.
(I think she ordered steak for dinner every night.)
REALLY good desserts, too.

*The kids clubs were really good.
We played a lot of games involving balls
that were really fun.

*How clear the water was at Coco Cay and kayaking in it.

*All the fun and exotic foods:  creme brulee, steak, escargot.

*The weather was perfect the entire time 
except when we thought we were going to get rained on 
at the end of Coco Cay.

*The rocket launch

*Climbing wall

*Chilling and meeting new people

*Snorkeling in Coco Cay and diving down for the conch shells
and seeing the shark.

*Watching a spectacular sunset on the deck with Andrea

*Watching the Space-X rocket launch was incredible

*Snorkeling at Coco Cay.
I could've stayed much longer!
I loved the close, bright fish and
getting to see a shark for the first time.

*Kayaking at Coco Cay with the kids. 
Beautiful water, getting to see stingrays.

*Nice dinners in the restaurant
We don't often go to sit-down restaurants as a family.
I love having that time together every night,
chatting and laughing and eating yummy foods
that we don't make at home.

While we LOVED this vacation, I don't necessarily have my heart set on going on Royal Caribbean over Carnival if (when) we cruise again. I'm happy with either cruise line. I will pay more attention to the reviews and amenities of the ship itself, in addition to finding stops we'd enjoy. 

So, so grateful that we can have experiences like these with our kids. We made great memories and I love exploring different parts of the world with them.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Nassau, Bahamas

The kids had never been to the Bahamas, so they were excited to visit a new country. Our first stop was in Nassau. We booked an excursion to take a catamaran out to a coral reef to go snorkeling.

It was a nice ride out. We liked looking at all the 
luxury condos,vacation homes, and yachts on the way.

When we got to the reef, the water was a little choppier
than we are used to in the Caribbean.
It was not bad, but Caroline did NOT like it.
And she couldn't get her mask to fit right.
She was stressed out and just wanted to go back to the boat.
Poor girl.

The view was beautiful for the rest of us.

This was the most unique fish we saw,
a long, skinny thing.

After what seemed like a too-short-of-a-time,
we were back on the boat and heading back to the ship.
Do you LOVE my farmer's tan neckline??? 

Andrew and Care Bear dancing on the catamaran. 

This sign used to say "The Islands of the Bahamas."

Here it is in 2012:
So beautiful and pristine.

By 2014, the stickers had started taking over.

And in 2018, you can't even read the sign anymore!

We stopped at the ship to get changed out of our swimsuits,
then headed into Nassau to do some shopping  window shopping. :)

B train had fun looking through the Gucci store.

Cool statue of Queen Victoria,
who ended slavery in the Bahamas.

This was a fun market to look around.

Caroline wanted to get back to the ship for one of
the kids' club activities. And Brandon had done
all the window shopping he could handle.
We walked him back to the ship.

Then Whitney and I came back to do some more
shopping off of the main strip.
I love to buy a small piece of artwork from our vacations.
I used the wifi at Starbucks to look up a couple of places.

Both of them were closed.
(Even though Google said they should've been open!)
So, we didn't get our artwork.
But we get to walk around some cool parts of town.

That evening, the teen club had a speed climbing
competition at the rock wall. Uh oh.
Watch out, teenagers!
When we got there, only two other climbers were participating.
It was a brother/sister pair.
I think the fastest time between the two of them was 30 seconds.
Here's B's run:
He makes that look easy, doesn't he?
I think it took him a little over 4 seconds. Wow.
I don't know why I didn't film him reaching the top! Oops!
But, at least you can hear him ring the bell.


That evening, we watched Coco on the poolside screen.
I love that movie!
The girls enjoyed their ice cream cones as we lounged and watched.

Look at the gorgeous sunset that night!
I had to get up from the movie to watch it.

Ready for dinner in our tropical clothes. :)

Brandon made friends right away in the teen club. If we were on the ship, we hardly saw him. He was off hanging with the other teens. It's funny how at home, he's a total homebody and rarely goes out. You get him on a cruise ship with a bunch of strangers, and he's all of a sudden a social butterfly.

Whitney was actually in the same teen club as B. So she was on the very young end of the spectrum. She tried out a couple of the activities, but didn't love it.

Caroline had mixed feelings about her kids club. Sometimes she was bored and sometimes she had a blast. It depended on what the activity was. Luckily, RC allows her to check herself out, so she could just leave if she wanted to. 

One of the other BIG downsides about this ship, is there was no affordable way to contact each other. On Carnival, there was a plan for $5/person for the whole cruise where we could text each other. It was perfect. When I had researched before the cruise, RC offers a similar service. But OUR ship (being so OLD), wasn't equipped for that. Ugh. It would have been $15/day/person to be able to text each other. Ummm... No, thank you. Our Disney cruise actually had phones for each stateroom that you could carry around and call each other. Nothing like that on RC, either.