Sunday, December 14, 2014

Birthday cruise

Andrew turned the big 4-0 this year. For his big birthday surprise, he and I took a cruise to the Bahamas. We had a fabulous week. Here are some of the highlights.

Bon Voyage!
We did another Carnival cruise,
this time porting out of Charleston, SC.
We'd never been there before.
I have heard wonderful things about Charleston.
But apparently the great parts are NOT near the cruise port.
We'll have to go back another time when we can
explore other parts of town.

The sunset as we sailed off.
We stood out on the deck and were treated to a history
lesson by a fellow passenger. He showed us Fort Sumter,
where the first shots of the civil war were fired.
And Castle Pinckney, which I've forgotten the 
significance of, but looked cool from the boat.

We'd never seen this before:
The cash crane!
Those are bundles of $100 that you 
can win with the claw game.
We didn't play, but got some quality 
entertainment by watching lots of other people play.
(We didn't see any winners.)

Formal Night
So fun to get our fancy on.

Our first stop was in Nassau.

We had the morning free, so we visited Starbucks.
We're not coffee drinkers, but they offer wi-fi for $3/hr.
We were wi-fi deprived, so decided that was worth it.

We got to see this parade of costumed musicians
on our way back to the ship.

We had an excursion in the afternoon.
First we took a shuttle to the other side of the Nassau.
We LOVED the scenery along the way.

Then a boat took us out here:
Look at that crystal clear water!!
And those dark spots are little coral reefs...perfect for SNUBA!
I first heard about this from my SIL, Amy. It was THE BEST.
It's kind of a hybrid between scuba diving and snorkeling.
You don't have to be certified.
Your air tanks float on a little raft
and you're connected to it by a hose.
Getting hooked up.

Once we got our ears equalized
(easy for Andrew, a little tricky for me),
we were able to stay underwater for 30-40 minutes.

So many beautiful tropical fish everywhere.

It's kind of surreal to hang out with them on their turf.

Brain coral.

 These guys were the most common.
Saw tons of them.

At one point we ended up in the middle of a school
of these white and yellow ones.
There were so many!
Andrew could reach out and touch them.

That's our guide, also named Andrea. :)
He led our little raft around.
And would click a little carabiner when he wanted our attention.

In addition to all the awesome tropical fish,
there were a few underwater sculptures in the area.

This one of Neptune.

This face buried in the sand.

And this GIANT one of a girl.
Look how tiny Andrew looks!

Random sidenote:
Near where we were having our excursion,
there was also a group of people on these little submarines.
Aren't they crazy?
Your head is in that bubble and then you can control
the little sub with your hands.
Reminded me of something from The Jetsons.

When we got back to the port,
we were hoping to go souvenir shopping.
We found out the hard way that
close at 7 pm.
But we did get to see this tall, skinny Christmas tree
all lit up. And we didn't get mugged.

On the cruise ships, photographers follow you around
and take your pictures and then you can pay a small fortune
to purchase the pictures if you like them.
We never have.
We're too cheap.
So we often would just tell them NO
or walk past them
or ignore them.
At the dinner table, we decided to show them our silly side:
And we found ourselves posted on their "Hall of Fame,"
which meant that we got to take our picture home for free. :)
We're making more silly faces next time we go!

Our other stop was at Little Stirrup Cay,
the same beautiful private island that
Marianne and I visited last year.

Look at this!

We spent some time on the beach just relaxing and reading.

Then we grabbed our snorkel gear and enjoyed the water.
I could snorkel all day.
We got swarmed when we first got in.
Look at all those fish!

I prefer to stay at the top of the water,
Like this.
The perspective is kinda funky in this one.
The fish were only about 12-18 inches long.
but Andrew is good at diving down.
He found several conch shells.
We had fun checking them out.

A plane that we got to explore.

There was an iguana on the beach when we got out.

You can see our ship in the background.

That night, the entertainment was a game show.
I was the first contestant chosen.
Woo hoo!
Dream come true!
We played Yahtzee bowling.
My team won. Yes!
For the final round, we all put our giant ATM
cards into this ATM...but mine wasn't the winning card.
I still got to go home with a travel Simon game. Fun!

Water as far as the eye can see.

Gorgeous sunset.

So wonderful to spend a week with my favorite guy,
relaxing, laughing, talking, and eating. and eating. and eating.

Since I got seasick last year on my cruise with Marianne,
I decided to get a prescription for this ear patch before I left.
It worked like a charm!
The boat was very rocky, but I felt fine. Yay!
(Andrew didn't get a patch and he felt fine, too.)

Blatant. Height. Discrimination.
Andrew knocked his head a couple of times. Ouch.
Cruise ships are not meant for super tall people.

They had one night of live karaoke with this band playing.
I was all over that!
So fun to pretend I was a rock star for a minute.

Our dining arrangement:
Just the two of us...
at a table for ten!
On one of the five nights, one other couple showed up.
They kept to themselves, gave brief answers when
we tried to engage them in conversation, and never came back.
Wish we could have sat at a smaller table.

The food was not as good as we remembered this time around.
Not sure if our tastes are more refined or the quality of food has gone down.

We played lots of trivia on the ship, but didn't win a single round.

Spent lots of time reading. We each finished two books.

So grateful we could spend this week together. And thankful for my parents who spent a super-busy week with our kids. It was quite possibly the most relaxing vacation I've ever taken.


  1. What a fun trip! And did you have an underwater camera? Those pictues from snuba are great!

  2. YEA!! The cruise post! I was waiting for this. I'm glad you liked the snuba. I totally want to do it again. It's too bad you don't live in California because you'd be the perfect game show contestant.

  3. Your photos are gorgeous and you look like a movie star in the one where you're singing! Happy 40th Birthday Andrew - let's celebrate your 50th with a full on "family cruise" - that's a bucket list wish!! Snuba looks awesome too!!
    Mom S

  4. What a great time! And happy happy birthday to my (big) little brother. You look so gorgeous and happy in these photos, Andrea! Glad you guys were able to do this.

  5. Wow - what a trip. Enjoyed the post very much. Andrea, you're stunning!

  6. Looks like fun! Glad you guys got to celebrate Andrew's big b-day. Snuba looks awesome. (And I agree that underwater moped was TOTALLY jetson-like)