After receiving Bone Crusher (this is what I am calling my new MacBook because it is so powerful) from FedEx yesterday, I set right to work on uploading pictures and video from the cruise onto my computer and then onto the internet. Jared and I took over 400 pictures, so I have been uploading and uploading and uploading and uploading and so on and so on. I have finally finished the uploading and my internet wireways are now free and clear so that I can update my blog. Please note that this blog will be full of pictures. I realize, however, that I can't post all 427, so for more evidence of our cruise fun, you'll have to visit my smugmug page.
On to our adventure. It all started many moons ago when Lary (Gary and Leah) got married. The year was 1958. Last year was their 50th wedding anniversary and to celebrate the grand occasion, we planned a family cruise (I shouldn't really say we. Julie was the one who did all of the planning). Miraculously, we all even made it onto the boat. My parents, my siblings, their respective spouses, and even little Jane (my two year old niece). We were all ready for some warm, sunny, tropical weather in the middle of winter and we set sail with high hopes for a wonderful time. And so our adventure began.
We boarded our little ship, the Veendam, (and yes, it is relatively little for a cruise ship. Apparently it is also a favorite of the AARP, as evidenced by the overabundance of fellow passengers in their 70s) and after a mandatory life boat drill complete with life vests, we headed to the deck to enjoy the view as we sailed out of Tampa.
We took full advantage of our little ship's amenities that evening as we sailed to our first stop. Matt and Steve took over the giant chess board and we all enjoyed the midnight buffet. We quickly learned that cruises are all about eating. Forget this three meals a day business. On this boat, it was four huge meals a day, often with more than one course as well as snacking at your leisure with ice cream available virtually around the clock. That night was also Lary's great showdown. They somehow got roped into this little competition against another couple on the ship. The set up was this: My dad wore a helmet with a platter attached to the top. My mom stood next to a counter full of plastic food items. She had to load an item on my dad's platter hat and then my dad had to run over to a little bin and dump the food item into the bin. They got a point for every item that actually landed in the bin. Well, let me just say I haven't seen my dad move that fast in a long time! He got in a low stance to lower his center of gravity and my mom was loading all the flatter items onto his hat. And he was running back and forth between the counter and the bin. And my dad got every item in the bin. They KILLED the other couple. The other guy was going slow and missed half his items. It was a total blowout. And what did they win? The cruise recipe book! My mom was so excited. I only wish we had gotten pictures.
The next morning, the ship docked in Key West. Mr. Frisby and I had planned to go to the pirate museum and then rent a scooter to cruise around the island. We were joined at the pirate museum by several members of my family, including Lary (as seen below) and then we got our scooter.
That's when things got interesting for Mr. Frisby and I. We had a fabulous afternoon puttering around the island. We stopped at the southernmost point of the continental US, we went cruising along the beaches, stopped at the cemetery (maybe that should've been a sign), drove by the Ernest Hemingway house. . .
and then we crashed. Yes, everyone, I crashed our scooter. I hit a curb and we both went flying off. Fortunately, the scooter suffered only minor damages. The steering was a little off (notice how the steering wheel and the tire don't really line up) and it had some nice scratches, but, according to our renter guy, "they're all scratched up", so we didn't even have to pay for damages! Mr. Frisby and I were also very fortunate that no serious injuries were incurred by either of us. Only some nasty scrapes and bruises. My beautifully painted toenails received a beating, but what can you do? All in all, it's something we'll laugh about for the rest of our lives. Remember that time we crashed the scooter in Key West? Hahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!
After our big adventure in Key West, we were ready for a nice relaxing day at sea while we cruised to our next destination. The day after Key West was a sea day and that evening was formal night in the dining room. We made sure to follow the dress code since we were kicked out of the dining room the first night because we were wearing shorts (remember, favorite of the AARP).
After our day at sea, we woke up the next morning in Belize! Okay, we were actually five miles from shore, but they don't have anywhere for the cruise ships to dock, so they just weigh the anchors and you take a tender to shore. The weather was unfortunately cloudy and overcast, but we were glad it wasn't raining. In Belize we had booked a cave-tubing excursion. We were so excited to float down a river, through caves in the jungle on an inner tube. Imagine our disappointment when we got to shore to learn that it had been raining like crazy the day before and the caves were flooded and, therefore, un-tubable. It was definitely a let down, but we made the best of it. Our guides took us to the Belize zoo instead where we saw a Toucan, Howler monkeys, and much, much more.
After the zoo, they took us to a manmade beach (since there are no natural ones) where we lounged in the afternoon clouds and played on the rope swing and giant waterslide. We were even lucky enough to have the sun peek out for a glorious half hour while we were at the "beach". Our guides really were very nice and tried to show us a great time even though the cave-tubing was cancelled. They knew we're Mormon, so they even drove us by the LDS chapel in Belize!
Tracy and I even took advantage of the fabulous street hair-braiding services offered in Belize. We made quite the stir when we came to dinner with our new does.
After a fun day in Belize, we woke up the next morning in Guatemala. None of us had very high expectations for Guatemala. Who knew that, as Matt put it, Guatemala would "stand up on it's hind legs and beat down Belize." As we could see as soon as we stepped off the boat, Guatemala was absolutely beautiful and turned out to be our favorite stop! Words cannot describe how amazingly gorgeous it was there, so hopefully these pictures will do it some justice. We did a fabulous hike through the rain forest to some beautiful waterfalls, then learned how to make tortillas from a Mayan lady. We took a boat ride to another town on a river where we had lunch and then had a little boat tour up a beautiful river in the jungle.
After our beautiful stop in Guatemala, we were ready for our last stop in Mexico where we were scheduled for a tour of some ruins. Unfortunately, the weather was still uncooperative and the sea swells and winds were so high that the boat couldn't dock. We ended up having an extra sea day. Since the weather was so bad that day, the boat was really rockin' and rollin'. We spent much of the day in the ship's swimming pool, doing our version of synchronized swimming and doing rapid-fire cannonballs (this included Julie's first ever attempt at a cannonball. Her form left much to be desired, but provided much entertainment for the rest of us. Her second attempt was much better, but was not caught on film). Because the ship was moving so much, the swimming pool became a virtual wave pool. We didn't mind because it made the pool more fun and you can't feel all the ship's movements when you're in the water. However, when we sat down to dinner that night in the dining room which was at the back of the ship, it was a different story. People were leaving the dining room left and right because of seasickness. Fortunately Mr. Frisby and I, while we did feel nauseated and dizzy, never got to the point of having to leave dinner. We even took the opportunity before dinner that night to take some family pics.
On our last sea day, the sun finally decided to come out. It was still cold, however, so in order to enjoy the sun, there had to be some bundling up. Since it was our last night together, we all stayed up late playing games and enjoying our last hurrah at the midnight buffet. And, of course, we all had a great laugh when Byron made the classic grade school mistake of leaning too far back in his chair.
The next morning we awoke back in Tampa and had to return to real life. It was a day full of waiting around airports and catching flights, but we at least had a little bit more time together before we all parted ways.
Although it didn't end up being quite the vacation we had anticipated, Mr. Frisby and I had a blast! It was great to spend so much time with family and to see new places and new things. Hopefully I haven't bored you to death. If you're itching to see more pics, go here!