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Friday, December 03, 2010

Royal Caribbean Cruise: Jewel of the Seas

Royal Caribbean Cruise, Jewel of the Seas, Day 1:

It took us a while to get packed up and out the door. One of our shore excursion vouchers hadn’t come through on email yet, so we were delayed in our departure for the port. We also stopped by at Wal-mart to pick up some new shoes for Iryna and some swim shoes for the kids. 3 hours later, we were at the port, which felt a lot like an airport. When we first saw the boat, it was incredibly huge. I didn’t think that boats that big even existed, much less could be on the water without sinking. Tyler dropped us off with the luggage and then proceeded to find a parking spot. About 30 minutes later, he found a spot and took the shuttle to meet us.

We went inside and went through the paperwork/passports screening. Since we are in a “suite” they had a special expedited lane for us. We felt like royalty! Once upon the boat, we found our room, or I should say ROOMS. Our suite is the largest on the entire ship. There are two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living area, 2 TVs, a table with chairs and plenty of closet space, PLUS a balcony area right on the back of the boat, so we can see where we’ve been – what a beautiful view!

We had a mandatory safety meeting where we had to meet on the side of the boat. I hope that we don’t have to face any emergencies while on the cruise.

At 5:30pm, we went to eat dinner. We have these gold room cards which enables us to “My Time” dining, which means that we do not have to wait for any particular time to eat meals, like other guests do. Again, royal treatment. Well, I guess this IS the Royal Caribbean!

The dining room was nice. The dress was casual. I was a bit flustered by not finding anything on the menu that sounded good to me. I am a picky eater, so I guess this shouldn’t have surprised me. I ended up ordering off of the children’s menu and added a salad. During the meal, the ship was rocking quite a bit and I felt a little sick to my stomach. I hope it will go away soon. The dessert was cherry chocolate cake, but it didn’t taste good at all to me. Something weird in the texture. Oh well, I’m hoping that I will have great experiences with the food for the rest of the cruise, as I’ve been told that the food on these ships is amazing.

The kids did well during dinner. I’m pleased that they know how to behave in nice restaurants, as we have tried to take them often so they can learn good behavior. One thing, though, is that in all the excitement of the day – we forgot to change Keithy’s diaper SINCE WE LEFT OUR HOUSE TO DRIVE TO THE PORT. So, you can imagine that not only was his diaper SOAKED, but his shorts and the nice cushioned seat that he sat upon during the meal. Oops. It was embarrassing to tell the waiter about the chair right as we were leaving. I let Tyler tell him. Nice of me, eh?

Iryna has been overwhelmed since we got on the boat. She’s not sure what to think of it all. She is typically scared to be around big things, such as buses, airplanes, and smaller boats – so you can imagine how she scared she is on THIS ship. I hope that she will relax and enjoy the time on the boat. I can tell that she is excited to be here, just unsure about it.

We forgot our picture scriptures for the kids, so we read out of the Book of Mormon to them, which is more difficult for them to understand, but I hope they learned something. We bathed the children and I put away all of the clothes into the closets and drawers. After prayers, we put them in bed. Even though this is a vacation, Tyler and I are already exhausted! I hope we can get some downtime on this trip.

There is a nice lounge chair on the balcony and I spent some time out there this evening. I love watching the water and the moonlight was so bright. It was serene and beautiful. I am fantasizing about owning my own boat someday and traveling the world. I am really enjoying being on a ship!

Cruise: Day 2

Last night wasn’t so great. Iryna woke up several times throughout the night – Tyler and I are convinced that she never actually slept at all – and turned on the lights in her room, played in the closet, took out all of her hair bands, opened Keith’s suppositories and scattered them across the floor, and woke up Keithy & Anna repeatedly. Consequently, Tyler & I did not sleep very well.

This morning, Tyler took the 3 kids to eat breakfast and then to the play area for the kids. They gave us a cell phone that they can use to call us on if there are any problems with the kids. Tyler & I went to eat breakfast. Just as we were beginning to eat, the phone rang. Anna was having a hard time. Tyler went to get her and she joined us at breakfast. Just as we were about to finish, the phone rang and Keithy was having a hard time. Sheesh. We traded out Keith for Anna and changed Keithy’s dirty diaper. We took him back and he threw a fit, but was intrigued by a long ribbon that they had in the room.

An hour later, they called us because Keith had another dirty diaper. He would end up having 4 of them today. How is that possible?! Tyler picked up the kids and I ordered room service for lunch. How nice to have 2 pizzas, chocolate chip cookies, and milk delivered to our door at no extra charge! After lunch, we had “quiet time” as Daddy & Mama seriously needed a nap from our lack of sleep last night. After the nap, I took Keith to the play area and then took the girls to the kiddies’ pool area. They have a fun slide and a shallow pool area.

I ate a snack at a cafĂ© next door. I have noticed that many employees here on the boat come from foreign countries. I have met people from China, Italy, Indonesia, Croatia, Trinidad & Tobago, and Romania. It’s interesting. I wonder if they purposely employ from various countries so that the cruisers feel like the boat is more exotic this way. Not sure. But I enjoy it. 

We took the kids up to be taught how to climb the rock wall on the top floor of the boat, but it was too windy, so we’ll go back tomorrow.

Tonight was formal dress for dinner. We all dressed up and it was nice to see other people in formal ware. After a few minutes, Keithy fell asleep in his chair. (!!!) We tried to move him to another chair where he could sleep, but that seemed to wake him up. After he ate some ice cream, however, he became super hyper and excited. (!!!) I took some video of him falling asleep while eating the ice cream and then after he ate the ice cream and was super hyper. What a funny little boy.

My meal was much better tonight. I had the Caesar salad with ranch dressing, filet of beef, mashed potatoes, and a virgin pina colada – it was THE BEST virgin pina colada that I’ve ever had. Wow. Delicious! Then we had the double strawberry cheesecake – decadent. So good! It was so good in fact that Tyler and I just ordered some more double strawberry cheesecake and hot chocolate from room service. The kids are all at the play area, so it will be nice to have some alone time together. The play area closes at 10pm and we are HOPING that the kids will be SO TIRED tonight that they will sleep through the night and maybe even a little late in the morning. We can hope, right?!

Motion Sickness: I have been feeling a lot of sea sickness today. I felt some yesterday, but today it was pretty bad. I have been taking some Dramamine to help with it. I hope that this won’t prevent me from enjoying the cruise! Tyler is also feeling a bit sick to his stomach. I had no idea if I’d get motion sickness, as this is my first time on a cruise. It’s a good thing that we brought Dramamine just in case. 

Day 3:

I slept really well last night. The bedroom is pitch black, so it’s easy to sleep in a bit longer. The kids must have slept well, too. The boat is rocking quite a bit and it’s hard for me to keep my balance. Even though the shower/tub is big, when you are taking a shower the boat rocks and you feel like you’re going to fall out of it!

The kids were begging us to take them to the play area today. We dropped them off and I took some Dramamine as I had been feeling sick to my stomach since I woke up. After breakfast, I came back and took a 2 hour nap. It felt wonderful! Although, I’m sure the Dramamine caused me to be more tired than usual.

Tyler & I had a wonderful lunch buffet. We met another couple, Mara & Isaac. They are Jehovah’s Witnesses. It is nice to meet another couple who are very religious.

I read that there are at least 62 nationalities employed on the boat. Neat, eh? I’ve also noticed that many of the cruisers are speaking Portuguese, French, and Spanish. I enjoy watching other people on the boat and trying to figure them out.

Currently, the boat is rocking quite a bit. It makes me want to just sit and relax in the living area. Poor Tyler – he wants to get out and do things and all I want to do is sit and relax. Tomorrow, however, we’ll be arriving in Aruba, so we’ll get to get off the boat and see some things. At least I shouldn’t have motion sickness then!

This evening, we had a lovely dinner at The Tides – the fancier of the two main restaurants. I had lamb shank, mashed potatoes, Caesar salad (with ranch dressing, naturally) and for dessert, warm chocolate cake with milk chocolate glaze. Tyler also ordered me a virgin pina colada. Have I mentioned how much I love my husband?? He’s so good to me. We thought about having couples massage while on the boat, but it costs something like $400 for one hour. I asked Tyler if I could have a virgin pina colada everyday on the cruise instead and he was much happier with that price, only $4 per colada.

Tyler & I went to meet the concierge, because she called and invited us to do so. I’ve never met with a concierge before, but it was easy to see that she dealt with only the heavy spenders on the boat, i.e., those who are in suites (like we are) and those who plan to gamble and drink at the bars often. It was also easy for her to see that Tyler & I weren’t going to spend any money on alcohol or gambling or anything of the like. It was kind of fun disappointing her in that and asking to see her DVD list.

The kids were begging to go back to the kids play area, so we dropped them off. Tyler & I had planned to attend a show, but he wasn’t feeling very well. It’s a good thing that we came back to the room, because Tyler threw up a few minutes later. Poor guy. He felt so sick. He then went to bed at 8:30pm. I stayed up until it was time to get the kids and then put them to bed.

Day 4:

This morning we woke up by Aruba. We ordered room service breakfast, which was nice. Then we got off the boat and met our private tour guide, Chino, with his nice air conditioned van to take us around the island. I was surprised at the agriculture on Aruba. There were some palm trees, regular looking trees (how’s that for generic?) and lots of cacti everywhere. I was most surprised by the cactus. They even have a cacti forest and Chino said that 1/5 of the island is cacti which is protected by the government. I really liked the fact that we were the only people on this tour – it really was a private tour! We could take as long or short of time as we wanted at each location.

We saw some rock formations, a very Old Catholic church, and beautiful beaches with light blue ocean water, a lighthouse, a cemetery, and day-to-day life. I loved how colorful the houses were painted with such bright colors. Aruba isn’t that big of an island, I think Chino said it was 6 ½ miles wide. After a 4 hour tour, Chino recommended a restaurant for lunch: The Old Fisherman. It was delicious. Their coconut shrimp were so fresh and flavorful.

It was a little bit of a walk back to the boat and I was tired, so Tyler dropped off the kids at the play area and then he went back to Aruba to do some snorkeling. I am ready for some relaxation. 

Update: At 4:25pm, I received two phone calls asking if Tyler was back on the boat. I said that he was not on the boat, but that he was planning to be back on board by 4:30pm. I began to panic, wondering if something had happened to Tyler while he went ALONE to snorkel on Aruba. I felt the boat start moving away from the port and then my panic went into overdrive. I began to think about what I would do if Tyler & I became separated during this cruise. It wasn’t a pretty scenario in my head. At 4:40pm, Tyler walked in the door to the cabin. He wants to explain in his own words what happened:

I dropped the kids off at 2:15. That would give me over 2 hours for snorkeling; no problem. I set off with nothing but $5, my cruise card, and my snorkeling gear. Round trip public bus fare was $2.60: sweet deal! The bus took ~30 minutes to get to the beaches with preferred snorkeling. It was then just after 3:00. I figured about half an hour for snorkeling. Then I would catch a bus between 3:30 and 3:45. Prior to leaving on this adventure, I had been told by multiple people that the buses make their rounds every 15 minutes. No problem. Just as I was getting off of the bus, I probed the bus driver to verify the details of my plan. He confirmed that the buses do come around every 15 minutes. HOWEVER, he added, the next set of buses don’t begin until 4:00. Whoa! That is pushing it really close. What’s more, mine was the last stop on this driver’s route, and then he went on break. So, I didn’t have the option of reneging on my trip; I was irreversibly committed.
With the anxiety of a very tight return schedule weighing on my mind, I attempted to have an enjoyable time snorkeling. I swam around and saw one little underwater plant and one school of fish (~15 dull, non-colorful fish)… yay.
I made it back to the bus stop just after 3:30 – I wasn’t going to be late. I said a silent prayer that I would make it back in time. The bus came about 3:50. With the bus being 10 minutes early, I thought I just might make it. With great anticipation, I watched each street in passing. Waiting for the last stop on a bus route is similar to eagerly watching for a cold pot of water to start boiling on the stove. Every time a person waved down the bus or rang the bell to get off, my mind raced – calculating how much my return trip was being delayed.
When I finally got back to the bus terminal, I jumped off and began running back to the port. I spied a street clock that read 4:35. After running for a few blocks, I made it to this long sidewalk which ran parallel to the boat. I was the only person heading toward our boat. I passed a couple of ladies walking the other direction. One of them said, “You’d better hurry. They just pulled up the steps to the boat.” I still had about 200 yards to go. Just then, I heard shouting overhead. I looked up and saw several people lining the various balconies of the side of the boat. They began clapping and cheering me on. I felt like some kind of hero returning to the exuberant crowd. I made it to the entry point just as they were pulling up the last of the connection equipment. I raced on and felt very grateful that I wasn’t being left in Aruba with no identification, no clothing but my bathing suit, and only $2.40. ~Tyler Pierce

I was super grateful to have Tyler back with me. We took the kids to eat a sumptuous Thanksgiving Dinner at the Tides. Everything was good, but I didn’t care for the pumpkin pie. Oh well. We dropped the kids off at the play area and came back to our cabin. Tyler watched football (tradition!) and I watched The Aviator on the other TV. Happy Thanksgiving!

Day 5:

Last night around 10pm, the captain turned the boat around to return to Aruba. One of the passengers on the boat needed medical attention. After dropping them off, the captain began our trek to Cartagena, where we should arrive tomorrow morning. The captain announced this morning that the passenger is doing better in Aruba.

After lunch, we took the kids up to the top floor where Tyler, Anna, Keith, & Iryna all climbed the rock wall. That was really fun. Anna & Iryna were eager to get back to the play area, so Tyler, Keith, & I returned to the cabin.

We picked up the kids and went to listen to a Russian pianist, named Anna, play the piano. We had a lovely dinner and then the kids went back to play, while Tyler & I watched a show in the theatre. It was entertaining; however, I didn’t enjoy the pop version of NESSUM DORMA. Next, Tyler & I went to karaoke. I sang POWER OF LOVE by Celine Dion. Yeah, I’m so not a pop singer. I did my best, but would have felt MUCH more comfortable if Russian Anna had been accompanying me. The audience seemed to be impressed, though. Tyler & I met a couple who live in Enid, OK, and the husband is in the AF. Small world, eh? Update: I’ve had some people recognize me on the ship as “that really good singer from karaoke”. I guess I’m famous. Kinda.
I just ordered some room service. Oh, how I love ordering room service and it doesn’t cost me a thing. Well, I guess it’s included in the cost of the cruise – which I didn’t pay for either. I’m blessed! Tyler & I are going to watch a film now. Tomorrow we’ll be docked at Cartagena, Columbia! Adios!

Day 6:

Anna & Iryna preferred to stay onboard while Tyler, Keith, & I took our private tour of Cartagena, Columbia. I can now say that I’ve been to South America! Our driver and our guide were both very nice. We saw many sites in Cartagena and even picked up some postcards and some coconut treats – delicious!

I have to say, though, that I was very uncomfortable with all of the venders shoving random items in my face. One thing about me is that I don’t like to say “No” to people because I feel like I am rejecting them. Therefore, I greatly dislike it when people are trying to sell me things that I don’t want to buy. It was so bad that on some of our stops, I didn’t even get out of the van because I was tired of them surrounding me with various hats, shirts, morocco’s, purses, cold drinks, and other items. They were quite pushy! Aside from that, I enjoyed the tour, especially a stop to a local emerald factory. I guess Cartagena is known for their emeralds. Who knew? I thought I would look into buying an emerald ring or earrings, but they ended up costing anywhere from $400 to $4,000. Yeah, no thanks. I have zero desire to own expensive jewelry.

Like Aruba, I was interested to hear about the local people and to see how they lived their day-to-day lives. The official language is Spanish in Columbia. I saw many poor people. I didn’t feel comfortable in Columbia. Perhaps it is because of the things you hear about all the drug cartels. Or maybe it was because of those venders. On the drive back to the ship, it was POURING rain. We were soaked from the 10 seconds it took to get from the van to the ship. HEAVY rain. I’m glad that I was able to go to Columbia, but I don’t think I will make efforts to go back again, at least to a tourist town such as Cartagena. Our driver and guide were nice, though. We gave the driver a Spanish Book of Mormon. He asked me to write inside the cover, so I shared my testimony of Jesus Christ and of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. He read what I wrote and said he would read the book.

Back on the boat, Keith was pretty tired, so we dropped off the girls to play and brought Keith back to our room. As you know, Keith has trouble moving his bowels along without the help of laxatives (Mira lax) and suppositories/enemas. These problems are a result of his having hypotonic cerebral palsy – or low tone. His organs need a little help to move things around. Anyhow, whenever Keith needs a suppository, he has come up with a phrase to describe it: TAKE A POOP. Whenever he sees the white container with the green lid, he shrieks, “Take a poop!?” I don’t know where he came up with that phrase, but it’s funny to me. Well, he usually takes his water hose (the 5 foot long water hose that Tyler cut off of a hose at home) with him in the bathroom, for comfort or something. Well, in the bathroom in our cabin, it has one of those showers with a detachable shower head that is handheld and is connected by a long silver cord or hose to the faucet. Keith is enchanted with this water hose and loves playing with it while sitting on the potty. He likes it so much, in fact, that he is REQUESTING to take a poop often throughout the day. Ha ha.

Tonight for dinner, I had cannelloni, followed by a dark chocolate banana strudel. Wow. It was heavenly. Tyler watched the bedlam game this evening: OU vs. OSU. Poor OSU lost and it was at home. I understand that OSU is actually having a great season this year in football. I’m sure this loss won’t help their high ranking, though. Tomorrow is Panama!

Day 7:

We woke up early and got in our Sunday best before departing from the boat around 8:45am. We hailed a taxi and asked him to take us to La iglesia de Jesus Cristo de los Santos de los ultimos dias. We had some trouble finding the correct address, but made it around 9:10am. Church starts at 9am, but they didn’t begin the meeting until closer to 9:15am. I am grateful for MST (Mormon standard time).  Everyone spoke Spanish in the ward. One of the missionaries was brand new from Utah and he spoke English and a little Spanish. He said that this area (where the church is located) is in a bad part of town with lots of crime. Yikes! Of course, if something bad is going to happen to me, I’d rather it happen while I’m in church! Ha ha.

There was no piano, so we sang accapella. It wasn’t the best singing that I’ve ever heard, but I didn’t see one person NOT singing and that was nice. I know that God loves to hear us worshiping him through song. The meeting was wonderful. The seminary teacher asked all of her seminary students to come up and bear their testimony. I was impressed by their strong testimonies of Christ. They are dedicated youth and good examples of what young latter day saints should be. I was thrilled to be able to understand most of what was said from the pulpit. However, in Sunday School, we were discussing a chapter in Ezekiel and I must say that I was pretty lost in that discussion. Ha ha! I did have the opportunity to read some verses and I enjoyed that.

In our cabin onboard, they leave us 5 Ghirardelli chocolates each day. Whereas I am not a chocolate fan, they have been piling up over this week. I decided to bring them to church and pass them out to the children. They were super excited about the treat. I met one lady, Regina, with whom I was very impressed. She’s 36, beautiful, and very devoted to the gospel. I know that in many areas of the world, it can be hard to find a good LDS man to marry. She’s from Columbia and has spent the last 3 years in Panama. She was very sweet. I hope she can find a husband soon, as that is a strong desire for her.

Anna went to primary, but was thrown off by not being able to understand anything. Some of the children gave Anna a piece of candy, and then they were instant friends. Sweet treats are universal, it seems. Some of the children asked for my name to look me up on Face book. I couldn’t believe that these young children were on Face book, but at the same time I was thrilled that they have access to the internet. What a blessing for them.

This is the third opportunity that I have had to attend church in a foreign country. First it was in Taiwan, then in Ukraine, and now in Panama. I also realized that this is the first foreign country where I was able to actually understand what they are saying! Tyler understood it in Taiwan, and we both were clueless in Ukraine, but today I was able to communicate with these beautiful and kind people. I had an instant love for them and wanted to spend time with them. It made me have the desire to hold a calling in the church where I can just go and visit other latter-day saints across the world. What an honor that must be!

Back on board, we had a lovely lunch together as a family, before the kids went back to the play area. Tyler & I took a short nap and then I took a hot bath. I can’t remember that last time I took a bath – it was so relaxing and refreshing. I think I am kind of getting the hang of this vacation idea. Tomorrow is Costa Rica!

Day 8:

We woke up early to get on our 7am tour of Costa Rica. It was POURING rain as we walked off the boat on to the pier. Nice start to the tour, eh? We went on a bus and headed to the rainforest. Tyler was in heaven, I was freaked out for the most part. I found out that I’m not a fan of seeing the following up close: poisonous frogs, flying insects, and mosquitoes carrying who knows what kind of illness, and HUGE ants that according to our tour guide will send you to the hospital with a bite from them.

After the tractor-pulled trip through the rainforest, we went to see a banana plantation. That was interesting. Did you know that the bananas we eat in the US are in fact hybrids? They grow them special to be so long. After eating some of the smaller bananas in Costa Rica, I am wondering why we don’t eat those instead. They were more yellow inside and quite sweet. Following that, we went on a boat ride through a canal and saw monkeys, sloths, birds, bats, & iguanas.

6 hours later, we were heading back to the boat. We bathed the kids, ate some lunch, and then we dropped off the kids in the play area. Right off the pier was a covered area with many stands of people selling various items. Of all the countries that we have visited thus far, Costa Rica has the best approach to selling souvenirs: they don’t push things on you; it’s a nice and relaxed atmosphere.

I was happy to see pedicures being done for only $15! I definitely took advantage of that. The lady who did my pedicure was super nice. She & I had fun getting to know each other. At the end of the pedicure, I gave her a nice tip and a Spanish Book of Mormon, plus my information to contact me on Facebook. The Internet is an amazing tool for keeping in touch with people.

We found some t-shirts for the kids, plus some jewelry for me. I love being married to a man who specifically enjoys giving business to people who need it. Tyler went to the pier with that intent and I love him for it.

By the time we came back to the boat, it was dinnertime. We ate a lovely meal and then crashed. We’re changing our clocks forward an hour tonight. During this cruise, I think we’ve changed our clocks about 5 times. It makes my internal clock a little crazy! Despite my not enjoying the rainforest, I really enjoyed Costa Rica and wouldn’t mind visiting here again. It’s my favorite place thus far.

Day 9:

Today was REALLY a bumpy ride on the boat. Tyler was sick most of the morning and all of the afternoon. He felt best while being up on the top floor of the boat, out in the fresh air or in the swimming pool, so that is where he was most of the day. I was able to sleep in (thank you, Tyler!) and then order room service breakfast. I met Laura, another cruiser on board, for lunch at the Tides. She came on this cruise with her children (her hubby had to work) and much of her extended family. I was #11 at the lunch table and that doesn’t include her 3 kids who stayed in the play area. It was lovely talking with them; they are very nice people. I can see how wonderful it would be to go on a cruise with my extended family. Any volunteers?

This afternoon, we watched ICE AGE: THE MELTDOWN as a family. It was a really cute movie. Anna laughed a lot – she has a really nice laugh. I like hearing it. 

The dress for dinner tonight was formal, so we dressed up. As we were doing so, we realized that we couldn’t find our digital camera. Not good. We searched and searched, but it wasn’t anywhere to be found. The case, cords, and battery charger are here, but not the camera. This is awful news.

Tyler went to the lost and found and filed some paperwork saying that our camera is lost. The only explanation is that someone took the camera from our room. It’s very very very very very frustrating. All the pictures from our cruise thus far are gone – 4 ports of pictures lost. I am angry.

Earlier this week, Tyler asked me what souvenirs I wanted from this cruise and I told him that all I cared about getting were the pictures and now they’re gone forever. I pray and hope that someone will turn it in, but it’s a brand new camera, so…doubtful. *heavy sigh* Tomorrow is our last port: Grand Cayman Island.

Day 10:

It was hard to sleep last night. Whenever I did wake up, I was so upset about losing our camera that I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I feel like it has ruined this trip for me. I know that I should be happy that I was able to go on the cruise, etc, etc, but all I can focus on right now is the fact that my camera is gone. Tyler is also upset about it, but he doesn’t complain aloud as much as me. The concierge, Nedere Reid, loaned us her digital camera to take along today. That was nice of her, eh?

We got off the cruise boat to get on a “tender boat” to take us to the dock on Grand Cayman Island. Our driver said that the water is very shallow off the beach and dock, so that’s why we had to taxi in on the smaller boat. I didn’t mind – the water here is so beautiful and light blue. I’ve never seen anything like it.

We went on the Captain Marvin’s tour with one other couple. We went to Hell (literally!) where we could send postcards to people. We saw the turtle farm – where we could hold the little turtles, so cute! We also went to a Rum Cake store. I guess that the only export that Grand Cayman has is Rum Cake. Funny, eh? Grand Cayman is owned by Britain and the main language is English. They even drive on the left side of the road! It reminded me a lot of the US. Very modernized.

I found some nice souvenirs in a shop there in Georgetown. I even found a t-shirt in my size! I was really excited about that! We took the tender boat back to the ship.

Above-ground graves

A really old house that has survived hurricanes while newer homes lost their roofs.

Beautiful blue water!

Hell exists in Grand Cayman!

Tyler & Anna got in their swimsuits and headed to the dolphin swim tour that they were scheduled to go on. I took the twins to eat lunch and then dropped them off at the play area. Some of Laura’s family saw me in the hall and invited me to join them in the windjammer for lunch. I had dessert and talked with them. They are so very nice. I told them about my camera woes and one of them took me to the front desk to see what could be done about the situation.

The front desk said that they are going to come to our cabin tonight and search the whole cabin for the camera. I asked her what they would do if they can’t find it – as we have searched the cabin ourselves twice. She said she didn’t know what would happen after that, but there is a protocol. I hope they do find the camera, but, if not, I wonder what they can do about it. Search the cabins of the people who work this floor?? I put a paper on the outside of my cabin door that says: “If you have our Kodak digital camera, please return the memory card to us. Thank you!” At this point, I just want the memory card. I’d prefer to have the memory card AND the camera, but I really want the pictures. I pray that God will help us with this situation. He can work miracles.

I ordered room service for dinner for the kids. I love how easy it is. We took the kids to the play area and then two men came to search our room for the camera. They didn’t find it. Then another two men came to have us fill out a form for the case. They will let us know what will happen next.

Tyler & I went to the Tides to eat dinner alone. It was wonderful to not have to worry about anything else but to focus on each other. I love my husband. We came back and watched a little bit of Mr & Mrs Smith. Time for bed.

Day 11: The kids asked to stay in the play area as much as possible today, so Tyler took them at 9am when it opened. Tyler & I had a nice breakfast in the room and then we went to see the TALENT SHOW in the Ocean Adventure (play area for the kids). Anna handed out the medals, Iryna helped set up the show, and Keith was actually the only one of our kids in the show – he stood up there with other younger children and played with a cord while the other kids imitated various animals. That’s my boy!

For lunch, Tyler & I met up with Laura’s family at The Tides. Their shrimp cocktail and salad bar is incredible. After lunch, we joined them in a trivia contest. It was fun helping them answer various questions. Afterwards, Tyler & I played some Shuffleboard – it was my first time to play, what a fun game! We came back and watched the rest of the movie from last night and then started packing up for our departure tomorrow. We have to have our luggage outside our cabin door by 11pm tonight.

Albeit last minute, I decided to get a bamboo massage in the spa onboard. I’ve only had Swedish massages and hot stone massages before and the bamboo was the best EVER! It felt wonderful and certainly helped me relax. Tyler & I danced in the foyer to the live music – so romantic.

Views from our balcony on the back of the beautiful...

Tyler & I had a nice dinner at the Tides. I had gnocchi and a calzone with chocolate brownie for dessert, and of course my virgin pina colada. Yummy! We gave tips to our head waiter, waiter, and assistant waiter. We also gave books of Mormon to the head waiter (Diana) and the waiter (Ruperto).

I made a friend on the cruise. Isn't she lovely? Doesn't talk much...

We packed up the room and had the suitcases outside our door before 11pm. It’s hard to believe that this dream vacation is over…update on the camera situation. Two security men searched our cabin and couldn't find the camera, so ROYAL CARIBBEAN is going to reimburse the cost of the camera to us. That's better than nothing.

Day 12:

We were up and out of our room at 7:30am and then grabbed some breakfast at Windjammer before getting off the boat at 8:15am. What a wonderful vacation! We’re already thinking about the next time we can go on a cruise. The kids are sad to be leaving the boat – they really enjoyed the play area and all those fun activities. I’ll be sending a Thank You note to Cheerios soon for their fabulous prize that they gave me. I am so fortunate. I’m grateful that God has blessed me with this vacation that we will never forget!


Sarah C said...

Wow!!!! That was an amazing vacation! I loved reading your daily entries about your trip. It was fun to read about all the fun things you did every day. I am glad you liked most of the food. Lucky you: A pina colada ever day! Your room was huge. I am sure it was nice to relax in a comfortable room with room service. It sounds like most of the activities on the ports were fun. I could imagine them in my mind as I read about them. Hope I can do that some day. I am glad Tyler made it on the boat. I would have been a basket case if I were you. I think it is really cool that they had a children's play area so you and Tyler could have some time together to relax. It looks like the kids loved it. I am sorry your camera was stolen. I do like the pictures that you did post. The water/sky pictures were beautiful. I am impressed that you handed out so many Books of Mormon. You are a great missionary. It sound like you were pampered with a nice pedicure and massage. Good for you! I am so happy that you and your family had an amazing vacation together.

Mary said...

Wow, that sounds like an AMAZING vacation!!!! The food sounds SO yummy - wow! I'm so sorry that your camera got stolen - how upsetting that must have been :-( I'm glad that you got at least a few pics of the last few days. How was the dolphin swim for Anna and Tyler? That's always something that I've wanted to do but I've never had the chance. That bamboo massage sounds amazing too! Sounds like Tyler had a close call getting back on the ship in Aruba - yikes! That's great that you two had a bunch of dates on the boat - sounds like fun!

Mom of 2 said...

What a great trip! I've never been on a cruise- it sounds like alot of fun. My husband and I went to Mexico last week to an all inclusive resort. The food was so good- it was hard to come back home and not have all this food and many deserts available all the time! (you are probably feeling the same way this week) Holidays are so much fun- but then again I live in Canada and had to return to gray skies, freezing weather and traces of snow- you get to go home to Florida!!

Anonymous said...

I think it's very possible that your camera will turn up in one of the other places on the ship that you visited, such as a restaurant or children's play area, and be turned in to guest services. I will say a prayer for its return to you. We were on the same cruise although we didn't meet, and I found your post while searching for news of the onboard emergency and subsequent good news. ... This was our 8th cruise with Royal Caribbean, and I have never heard of a deliberate theft with this company. There is a lot of competition for jobs on cruise ships, and, especially since crew are supporting whole families on their wages and tips, please consider the chance to be very slim that any one of them would take the risk of losing their livelihood for the sake of a Kodak camera. (No offense.) After all, they too have to put all their belongings through the airline-style scanner each time they leave and board the ship. And you're right about the wonderful mix of cultures we encountered amongst the staff, as well as our fellow guests ... a big part of the enjoyment of our vacation, too!
Take care, and may God bless!

Carina said...

That trip sounds like it was so amazing. Good for you for keeping such a detailed journal of it all! What a wonderful memory for you and your children. It must be fun to have so many stamps in your passports :) Welcome back home!

Rachel Teran said...

Whew!!! Quite the post! Sounds like a lot of fun! I'm glad you all were able to go. :)

Hevel said...

Sounds like a great vacation.

The thing about the international crew is that those people who go to work on ships from these countries get paid a lot less than Americans would actually work 7 days a week, up to 12 hours a day. For them it's a great way to save up some money so they can actually buy a home or start a business when they go home after a year or two. My baby sister is now 18 and she is working on a ship and pretty much she is the only American on the staff.

Rebecca said...

How fun! I loved reading about your trip and your room sounded fabulous. Actually, the trip sounded fabulous! I do hope your camera magically turns up. I so understand how devastating the loss of the pictures is. I'm so glad you had a wonderful family vacation.