Thursday, August 11, 2011

Our anniversary cruise

After years of talking about it, we finally did it. We finally went on a cruise. Our very first one. We decided that we didn't want to spend our whole vacation driving to the port, so we picked one that left from Charleston - 7 night eastern caribbean, Nassau, Lookout Cay, and Grand Turk. We even happened to book during a sale and got a great room for a great price. Then we spent the next several months counting down the days.

Grandma and Grandad drove out to see some championship softball and dance recitals and stayed to take the girls on their own vacation to Tennessee while we left a day early and headed down to Charleston. We spent our evening wandering around town and looking for the port, just to make sure we'd know where to go for departure. We finally decided this dinky, tiny, building might actually be the port and headed back to our terrible, minimally adequate hotel to wait until it was time to GO ALREADY!

We drove up to that tiny, dinky port with a great big boat parked next to it and joined a long line of cars waiting to get on, even though it was still really early. All I gotta say is that the security wasn't as intense as an airport, but there were a gazillion checkpoints. A terrorist would give up in frustration and go home. We breezed through and finally, actually stepped onboard the boat.

Only to find that we weren't allowed in the room yet, so we took our carry-ons and made our way up to the Lido deck for a free lunch.

I know you're thinking that lunch wasn't *free* as we had already paid for the cruise. BUT. There's all kinds of food and entertainment and stuff going on all the time. We were gone from Saturday to Saturday and there's no way what we paid for the cruise covered all the stuff we got. We're not the customers they make their money on, though. Before you step on the boat, they issue everyone a card linked to an account linked to your credit card. Anytime you want to buy something on the ship, you just swipe your card. So people are swiping that thing morning to night for everything from overpriced drinks to bingo cards to diamond jewelry. That last night, the oh-so-helpful stewards slip your purchase list under your door for your review. Our sheet was maybe half a page, all small purchases. Some people were walking around with reams of paper. For us, the cruise was an incredibly affordable vacation where we spent far less than we could have on any other trip.

We spent the next 7 days doing a whole lot of nothing. Due to a medical emergency with a staff member, we had to detour to Canaveral to meet an ambulance and missed our day at Nassau. No biggie for us as we hadn't planned any excursions there, and it was heartening to see the ship make a hard right turn and shoot across the ocean at almost 20 knots to save a man's life.

So Mr. at Home and I read books and watched the ocean roll by. We wandered the decks and played corn hole. We saw comedians and musicals. We marveled at the white sand beaches and snorkeled through clear water with sting rays. We made new friends, but mostly we just spent a whole lot of time hanging out together.

We will definitely be taking another cruise. We want to take the girls, my parents, our friends, anyone we can drag along with us, and we'll definitely be going back alone. It was truly the *perfect* vacation.

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