Monday, October 19, 2015

10 year anniversary cruise!

We became friends with Andrew and Chelsey Jones back in college. When we all graduated and moved away we talked about going on a cruise together for our 10 year anniversary. Chelsey remembered and set it all up and we tagged along. We went on a 7-day Royal Carribean cruise to Puerto Rico, St. Maarten, and St. Kitts. We had a perfect time. It's so much fun having friends that we've known for so long and we fit right back into things. We haven't done much with them for the past 6 years but that didn't matter.

My parents were able to come and watch our kids so we can go. This also made the trip great because I knew the kids were in great hands while we were gone. 

Our trip started off a little rough. The night before we were supposed to leave I tried checking us into our flight but was having trouble. Turns out I never purchased me a airplane ticket! Only Ja had one! And it was going to cost $645 to buy one that night! Not going to happen! So, we called southwest and cancelled Ja's ticket and were able to get our points back. We then we to bed for a few hours and got up at 3 am to drive to Fourt Lauderdale. It's a 10 hour drive and Ja drove the whole way. He let me sleep in the backseat. We made it to the port right at 2 pm which was the latest time they wanted us there. Since we were late the lines were all gone and we walked right into the ship. It was great!

We met up Andrew and Chelsey for a little while then took a well deserved nap!

Then the fun began! There is so much food, events, and fun on the ship. We were never bored! 

The first two days were spent at sea. Andrew, Ja, and Chelsey tried out the Flowrider. It looked difficult and I didn't like the idea of having water shot up into my face so I was the videographer. Ja and Andrew liked the challenge and did the Flowrider every time it was open. By the end of the week they were pretty good at it! They figured out how to get balanced by themselves and how to fall gracefully. 
We all loved eating all the food we wanted! Being able to say "I'm hungry" and immediately going to get food that was already prepared for me was my favorite part. There was a soft serve ice cream machine in the pool deck that we frequented often. We also improved our cone filling technique by the end of the week. 

Chelsey and I enjoyed reading and watching the ocean waves roll by. I finished two books that week. 

Our first port was San Juan, Puerto Rico. We got in around 4pm. Our first stop was to a chocolate restaurant my friend Katrina told us about- Choco Bar de Casa Cortes. It was so delicious and I'm so glad we stopped there first because it closed at 6pm. 
Ja ordered the thick European hot chocolate and it lived up to its name. It was like melted chocolate in a mug with a little bit of cream. It was so delicious. The rest of us got frozen hot chocolate which was also very delicious. We shared  churros with three types of dipping sauces.

Then we walked over to an old fort that was built in the 1500's to protect the island. It was closed but we still enjoyed walking around outside and taking pictures. Outside of the fort was a huge grassy area. Since it was right on the coast it was beautiful and very memorable.

There were a couple old cemeteries right on the coast which I thought were cool. 
It was dark when we got to the fort so Chelsey had the great idea of doing silhouette pictures on the fort wall.

Thankfully our cell phones worked since Puerto Rico is a US territory. I was able to find directions to a restaurant Katrina also told us about.

Here's our ship: Independence of the Seas

For the rest of the pictures: I've been working on this post a little bit every day for weeks. Tonight, I lost all my work. I don't feel like writing all the details again so you'll just get pictures.

St. Maarten- 

The razor- it's street legal but can also go off-road. We took it up some really bumpy and steep roads. It was worth the money!

Andrew and Chelsey had a supsquatch lesson. Its a four person surfboard that you can ride on waves. Ja and I relaxed by this beautiful beach while they did their lesson.

This is the highest point on the island. We drove the razor up here on the super rocky "road" if you can call it that. 

Then we continued around the island (there's only one road that goes all the way around) to Maho beach. It's a famous beach because there is an airport right on the beach. The landing and take-off strip is right next to the beach. The sign was pretty accurate. The jet blast was extremely hot and very strong. We had to duck to take cover and our bodies were covered in sand afterwards. I definitely ate some sand with my dinner.

After being blasted by the airplane jets we ate dinner at a little "restaurant." The tables were outside and the kitchen was in a little trailer. I thought the food was good though!

Then we played on the beach and in the warm Caribbean water. Ja and Andrew did synchronized flips and dives into the waves. I could have spent more time on the beach! It was a lot of fun and the temperatures were perfect. But we also didn't want to miss our ship leaving so it was time to head back.

St. Maarten-
Here we took a "taxi" van to a small beach. The taxi driver told us he would take us to a beach that is lined with restaurants. I was a little timid because I wanted a more secluded beach- not one full of tourists. But when we got there I realized their idea of "lined with restaurants" means a few shacks on the beach with lounge chairs! Not crowded at all. It was perfect as this pictures shows.

The island of St. Maarten has more monkeys than people. One of the restaurants on the beach had a pet monkey in a cage.

Our taxi driver had us stop and take a picture at the top of this hill. It's pretty cool because on the left side of the picture is the Atlantic ocean and the right side is the Caribbean ocean. The island is shaped like a guitar and the skinny handle part is the divider between the two oceans.

Things we did on the ship:

There was an ice skating show on the ship and during the off times we can go ice skating. I haven't done that for years! After a few minutes it all came back to me.

Rock climbing! I was proud of myself for getting all the way to the top. It was a lot harder than I thought it would be. I learned that I would not be a good rock climber in the wild. This was scary enough for me :)

Andrew and Chelsey had a balcony so they snapped this rainbow shot from their balcony. They often reminded us they had a balcony and we didn't (As a joke of course).

All the meals were so good. The lobster was one of our favorites. By the end of the week we were all ordering two appetizers, a couple entrees, and at least two desserts- each. Keep the food coming!

Our waiters were awesome and so attentive! Rowan is on the left and Prashant on the right.

Andrew and Ja asked for hot chocolate the first night so the waiters brought some out to them every night. They even noticed Ja and Andrew would add more chocolate to their mugs and then brought out multiple packets for them.

Andrew said: The beauties...

and the beasts.

The main dining room

These hand sanitizing stations were all over the ship. At the Windjammer Cafe (which served lunch and breakfast) a person would be in front reminding us to use the sanitizer. They would say, "Washy washy before yummy yummy!" You could often hear guests repeating that all over the ship.

The last night of the cruise Ja participated in a Queen music trivia. It was name that song and Ja won these hats for knowing the most songs! We said it would be fun for Andrew to keep on and Ja to keep on. On our next trip together we'll bring the matching hats for fun memories.

Ping pong

Here the front most part of the ship. We tried to do the Titanic scene of course.

Then Ja did it on his own.

This was the last day of our cruise! Boo hoo! We had such a wonderful time and it was so relaxing. We originally thought it would be fun to do a trip together every 10 years but at the end we decided 10 years is to long to wait! Maybe every 5 years. Chelsey really wants to go to Italy so maybe that will be the next trip!

Back at home- Owen was up multiple times a night, Anna stayed home from preschool with a cough, and my dad had to go to the hospital with kidney stones. Yikes! I'm so glad I missed all of that :)

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