Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Celebration Cruise

I have a lot to celebrate this year.

FORTY years of life
(And for me, that's a reason for celebration...
no dread or trepidation over getting older!)

THIRTY years of friendship with Marianne

TWENTY years of marriage to my favorite guy

So, when Marianne's husband, Patrick sent me an email with an idea to 
take a couples vacation together to celebrate both of our 40th birthdays,
Andrew and I jumped on it! Woo hoo!

We came up with several ideas, but in the end, we decided on a cruise.
We assumed that one set of our retired parents would be able to
come out and stay with our kids... but plans didn't work out that way.
Thankfully, our wonderful friend, Ethel, from church came to the rescue.
She stayed with the kids and shuttled them around to their various
activities for SIX DAYS. She's amazing!

We sailed out of Miami, so Andrew and I took a road trip down there.
I love road trips!
And palm trees!

You'll never guess what was right 
across the street from our hotel...
An arcade!!! 

 With a Wizard of Oz coin pusher!!

We won all of these in one quick 30 minute stop!
(We needed Dorothy to add to our collection,
but when we got home we figured out that
those cards weren't transferable to our home arcade. Boo.)

We picked up Marianne and Patrick at their hotel and were off to the port!

We decided to do a Disney cruise this time.
Brandon could NOT believe that we were 
doing that without him! :)

When we checked in, we found out that we got UPGRADED.
Does that ever happen?
We paid for a room on the 2nd floor with a little window.

Instead we ended up in this awesome room
on the 7th floor 

with our own little private balcony!!
(Patrick looked it up after we got home
and found out that this room would have
cost almost TWICE as much as the rooms we booked.

 Aren't the rooms cute?
I loved ours.


*Kayaking on Castaway Cay,
Disney's private island
(pronounced "key" by those in the know)

One of my lessons learned from our cruises:
stopping at private islands is THE BEST.
We have yet to have a bad experience on one!

We booked a walking and kayaking tour.
First we walked around the island and our
tour guide taught us about the plants and wildlife there.

At the end of our walking tour,
kayaks were waiting for us.

We had SUCH a great time paddling around the crystal
clear Caribbean waters.

Some of the cool things we saw:
a nurse shark, 

a sea cucumber,

lots of colorful starfish,
like this giant one,

a cool bird in the mangroves,

and a conch.
We could see his little eyes peering at us.
We LOVED this!

*The nightly entertainment

The shows on Disney ships are FANTASTIC.
Pictures aren't allowed,
so here are some shots I grabbed off the web.

Disney Dreams

Tangled the Musical

Twice Charmed

The actors were great.
The special effects were fun.
There were lots of familiar songs.
Whitney would have LOVED them.
I wished she could have been there with us.

*Snorkeling on Castaway Cay

After our excursion, we ate a yummy lunch
and then spent some time snorkeling.

The waters were rougher than we're used to,
so visibility wasn't perfect, but we still loved it.

That fish on the left was easily the biggest fish I've
ever seen while snorkeling. The pic doesn't do it justice.
It was probably 2 1/2-3 feet long.

We took turns posing with the underwater Minnie statue.

This cute fish wanted a turn, too.

Andrew found a cool sand dollar and shell.

*Dinner conversations

We were seated with just the four of us at our table
and we had such a fabulous time just chatting
and laughing around the dinner table every night.
We've spent lots of time with Marianne over the years,
but hadn't been able to hang out with Patrick much before this.
We all got along great and would love to do this again!


*Singing "Love Shack" during karaoke night

"Tiiiiiiin rooooooof...... rusted"
(Andrew's such a good sport for singing with me!)

*Fireworks at sea

So magical!

*Wholesome, clean, family-friendly environment
(Different than our Carnival cruises)

*Rotating restaurants

They have three different restaurants where you get to eat at night, so you get to rotate around and try all three of them. Your waitstaff rotates with you, so you still get to know them. I loved the different themes of each one.

*Seeing all the cute little girls dressed up as princesses

*Watching Disney movies

They have a couple of different theaters where they are showing first run Disney movies. It's awesome! We watched a little bit of Moana when we had 10 minutes to kill and we watched Star Wars: Rogue One in 3D during our day at sea. 

*Self-serve ice cream and fountain drinks

We love our ice cream! Disney has some fun flavors. They had pineapple one day. And blueberry another. So tasty!

On Disney's boats, they also have fountain drinks, which was new for us. I'm mostly a water-drinker, but Andrew loved being able to grab a soft drink whenever he wanted.


We are suckers for the trivia games! We would work together with Patrick and Marianne and thought we would do well... but never even came close to actually winning. Boo.

*I got to be on a game show!

We went to a game show called "Who wants to be a mouseketeer?" It was hilarious. All four of us had a chance to be called up front. And there were very few possible contestants, so we just knew that at least one of us would get called... but we didn't.  However, the cute family sitting in front of us got called up twice, so they let me take their spot. Awesome!

And.... I won!
I'm now a mouseketeer!

*Reading on the deck

My blood pressure drops just remembering it.

*Having Andrea and Patrick plan EVERYTHING

Patrick and I are the planners in our respective marriages. Andrew and Marianne are just along for the ride. It was hilarious to see how much research Patrick and I had done on EVERY little detail. Marianne and Andrew could just relax and be the beneficiaries of our collective wisdom. :)


We watched a cooking demonstration one day, learning how to make apple strudel. The chef asked the audience if we had used a specific cooking ingredient. Marianne was only half listening. She thought he had asked, "How's everyone doing?" So she shouted out, "Good!" The chef didn't know how to respond. It was hilarious.

During the Mousketeer show, we were a very boisterous group, hoping to get called on stage. Marianne, in particular, kept trying to help the contestants who were on stage. The host had to keep shushing her. It cracked us up. We thought she was going to get kicked out.

And during our last dinner, Patrick was telling us a funny story and he, Andrew, and I started having a laughing fit. We couldn't stop laughing. And as soon as one of us would stop, we would catch each other's eye and start belly laughing all over again. Loved it.

... to be continued...


  1. So jealous! Looks like an amazing trip so far!

  2. Oh yay! Amy was just saying she was hoping you'd post about your Disney Cruise and voila here it is. Looks like heaven!
    so glad you guys were able to go.
    Mom Sweat

  3. Yea! Disney cruise post!! Mom's right, I was just telling her that I can't wait to see your cruise posts. I'm still sooooo tempted to do a Disney cruise! I'll have to talk to you about it. Mostly, was it worth the extra money compared to the Carnival cruise?
    You saw some awesome stuff in the ocean and to be upgraded to a balcony?? Awesome!!

  4. We love Disney cruises! We haven't seen the Tangled show yet. Their shows are the reason I don't know if I could do another cruise line. Who can beat Disney entertainment?