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!
And palm trees!
You'll never guess what was right
across the street from our hotel...
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,
like this giant one,
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.
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.
ever seen while snorkeling. The pic doesn't do it justice.
It was probably 2 1/2-3 feet long.
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!
**OTHER THINGS WE LIKED/LOVED**
*Singing "Love Shack" during karaoke night
"Tiiiiiiin rooooooof...... rusted"
(Andrew's such a good sport for singing with me!)
*Fireworks at sea
*Wholesome, clean, family-friendly environment
(Different than our Carnival cruises)
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...