We're back from our grand vacation! And it was grand indeed; we flew to NC on January 31st, and just returned to CT last night. I think our vacation was made even sweeter by the fact that for the four days before we left, we were sick with a vicious stomach bug. Thank the Lord we were all well enough to travel by the 31st and didn't have to rebook our flights!
We hung out in NC with my family for a few days, and I got to see Freestargirl and Knitsational and their girls. We also toured the Biltmore Estate up in Asheville because Cowboy had never been there and Dad keeps wanting to take him there.
On Thursday, Dad, Grandma, Cowboy, Dano, and I piled into Grandma's Mercury Grand Marquis and headed for Florida and our big cruise! Alas, Mom couldn't get the time off from teaching ESL to accompany us, and we all missed her. In the car, Dano appropriated my sunglasses, and continued snurching them for the rest of the trip.
On Saturday, the 7th, we met up with some other couples from Dad's church, since this was actually a group trip the Couples' Club took and we just tagged along. We boarded the Carnival Cruise ship the Fascination and had lunch in the Coconut Grove bar and grill, then got settled in our staterooms, which Cowboy says were designed specifically to encourage people to enjoy the other amenities provided by the rest of the ship. We spent the day exploring the ship and getting our sea legs. The ship had stabilizers that kept the decks fairly stable, but there was still a gentle rocking motion that I still feel now sometimes, even though it's been four days since I was aboard.
The Fascination has a Classic Hollywood theme, which of course appelaed to me to no end. My favorite part of the ship was called Hollywood Boulevard, which ran half the length of the ship along one side. It had cozy little window seats looking out over the water, random chairs, and tables decorated with Al Hirschfeld caricatures of famous stars. Several other rooms and shops opened off Hollywood Boulevard, one of which was a coffee shop called Bogart's, which had very yummy mochacinos.
Sunday was a day at sea, which Daniel spent climbing up various stairways and getting used to eating ten meals a day. Which I mean literally, by the way. This is his average meal schedule during the cruise:
6 am: Morning snuggle snack (which is what we call nursing)
7 am: Breakfast with Daddy while Mama got ready
7:30 am: Breakfast with Mama.
9 am: Breakfast with Grandpa and Great-Grandma
10:30 am: Mid-morning snack (usually grapes)
1:30 pm: Pre-nap snuggle snack
4:30 pm: Mid-afternoon snack
6-8 pm: Supper (this was formal meal with multiple courses, so he ate in cycles of eating and playing. He'd start with a couple of dinner rolls, play a little, eat an appetizer, play a little, eat about 1/3 of an entree, play a little, and eat about 1/3 each of three people's desserts.)
9 pm: Bedtime snuggle snack
So yeah, Dano had no trouble gaining back all the weight he'd lost during the nasty flu we had. Unfortunately, neither did Cowboy or I. I'd lost 5 pounds during the flu, and I gained them all back again. Sigh. The food was excellent, if you can't tell! And plentiful.
We spent Monday on Half Moon Cay, which they all pronounced 'key,' and which is owned by Carnival Cruise Lines. So we were the only people there, all 2,500 of us, plus the staff. Dad and I went on a trail ride, which ended with us riding horses through the ocean! You know that scene in The Man from Snowy River where they drive the horses through the river and Curly falls off? It felt like that, only without the falling off part. It was amazing -- I don't think I stopped grinning the whole time we were riding in the water! The ocean was up to my thighs, nearly over the horses' backs, and I had such a feeling of freedom and exhilaration... I think it was the most fun I've had since I was five. Dad and I agreed it was worth the price of the whole cruise just for that experience.
Dano and Cowboy spent most of Monday playing in the sand or napping. All in all, it was a great day!
Tuesday, we docked at Nassau. Since several 007 movies were filmed on Nassau, including Thunderball and the magnificent Casino Royale, Dad and I were really excited to visit there. We took a horse-drawn surrey tour of half the island, and then toured the remains of Fort Charlotte before eating lunch at a local restaurant called Coco-Nuts that had the very best dessert we ate during the whole cruise: guava duff. I definitely need to try making it sometime. Cowboy and I spent the rest of the day walking on the beach with Dano and making a brief visit to Paradise Island, where famous people like Sean Connery and Shakira own houses.
Wednesday was another day at sea, which we all spent resting up and recuperating from our previous adventures. Cowboy and I had top-to-toe massages, our big splurge for the trip. Ninety minutes later, we felt like we'd had a full night's sleep. Dano opted for the more traditional way of relaxing, as you can see.
We docked in Jacksonville on Thursday morning and were in the car and ready to head 'em up and move 'em out by 9:30. We drove all the way home that day, surprising Mom to no end when we arrived a day earlier than she'd expected us. That gave us Friday to relax, do laundry, and re-pack.
There you have it! Our Grand Vacation, a wonderful mix of fun, food, and festivities. We all agreed we'd love to take another cruise sometime. Even Grandma, who, at 90, was probably the oldest person aboard!
Cowboy and I decided that the one thing we miss the most from the cruise is Didik, our steward. He cleaned up after Dano's messes, made our beds, folded the clothes Dano merrily strewed about our cabin... we could really use him around here. And he made super-cute towel animals for us every night too!