Monday, March 28, 2016

Caribbean Bound

Can we go back yet?   Seriously.

What a dreamy vacation we had at the beginning of March.   We were so blessed to be able to spend 9 days kid free traveling around Florida and the Caribbean thanks to Nicole for holding down the fort.  Boy was it a crazy March.  We started off March super excited for making it to the state playoffs as the number 2 seed.  In Lance's coaching career we were always battling for the 4th and last spot, but we this year we had a solid team who secured things up tight that the last few games felt like they didn't even matter in regards to the state tournament.  We knew we had a REAL shot of making it to the championship so we planned our cruise around the fact that we could potentially be playing a game the same day we were flying to Orlando.   Unfortunately, deja vu smacked us in the face and we lost on a last second 3 point shot by 1 point.  The rest of the week we kind of sat in disbelief limbo, but excited for our vacation.

We did things a little differently in regards to booking our vacation.  We booked our flights to Orlando (non-stop red eye) a few months in advance as well as our hotel and rental car.  We stalked the cruise websites several times a day for literally 8 weeks until finally the Monday before we left, yes 6 days, we booked our cruise at the lowest rate we've seen, $399 per person.

The Saturday we flew out we were busy doing a bunch of last minute things.  Our ride came to pick us up at 8pm, but at 7:45 Bennett suddenly got sick and started throwing up, and it took us until 9pm to get both of our kids down to bed and just hoped and prayed Bennett would stop throwing up and wouldn't get the other kids sick.  (unfortunately the sickness spread and Hudson threw up for the next few days).

Leaving our kids was rough.  Of course it would have been hard regardless, but leaving sick kids is the pits.  We got to the airport and checked in.  I with my sun hats and purse and Lance with nothing but his cell phone and wallet felt like we were forgetting everything.  I guess that's what happens when you get so used to traveling with kids.  We even arrived at the airport an hour later than we planned and we still had 40 minutes to sit around and watch some Harry Potter.

The flight down to Orlando was not the easiest to sleep on which was atypical because I am usually one who falls asleep on a plane before we are even to our cruising altitude and don't wake up until we are on the ground.

We arrived in Orlando at 5am and went to what looked like a slightly shady night club florescent lit rental car place.  Truthfully we didn't know what we had booked and were both a little nervous.  As we stood in line we watched the advertisement TV show "business class" luxury cars they had available to rent.  Lance made a joke about how cool it would be to get a mustang or a convertible since we would only have the car from Orlando to Miami.  I laughed and said, you'll probably pay another $100 to rent it.    We got up to the desk and Lance asked if we could upgrade to a "cool car" and the guy upgraded us to an Audi A3 for no additional fee!  Needless to say we are sold on SIXT rental car.

We met up with the Greens and made our way to the ship.  This was our 2nd Norwegian cruise and the ship was brand new and SO SO SO BIG and awesome.  It had 5 water slides, two of which were called the free fall because they literally took the platform you are standing on from under your feet and you drop down SO fast (I screamed every time).

We enjoyed a latin inspired dance show, Legally Blonde the musical, and several comedy shows while on board.  We over indulged on ice cream and chocolate crepes, and of course ate like 4-5 big meals a day (the beauty of a cruise).    The seas (according to our captain) were rough for the entire week we cruised.  We weren't able to get off in the Bahamas because it wasn't safe for the tender boats to take us out (which I was slightly bummed because that was my favorite port last time, but we had a fun time on our extra ship day).

When we got to Jamaica we scouted out the Blue Hole.  OMG was this place amazing.   The main taxis were trying to charge $30 a person and said it would take 45 minutes to drive there, but we managed to talk a taxi driver down to $15 a person and paid only $10 a person entry fee into the Blue Hole.   We've been to Dunns Falls which is pretty, but definitely over crowded with people.  The Blue Hole was similar in that its a waterfall, but there are also several pots of water that we jumped into and swung into like Tarzan.  We had a guide who helped show us where to step and go which was extremely helpful.  By far this place was our favorite "excursion" we've done, and it was the cheapest.

Grand Cayman we planned an excursion, but found out last minute that it got cancelled due to wind and cloudy water making it not ideal conditions to swim with the sting rays.  Instead we ventured to seven mile beach and boy was it beautiful.  I haven't felt sand that soft or seen water that blue in my life.  It was seriously dreamy to lay out and soak up the beauty.  The sun was a little hot and it was kinda busy with people, but beautiful none the less.

Cozumel was also a beach day for us, but we didn't arrive in port until 11am so a lot of the beach chairs became unavailable due to the other ships cruisers snagging them all up early.  We did however enjoy some delicious authentic steak and shrimp tacos that were to die for :-D

We arrived back in Miami the following Sunday and drove the distance to Orlando to go to Universal Studios (more specifically, Harry Potter World!).  I was truthfully like a kid in a candy store, it was so amazing how life like they made Harry Potter World.  It was just a cool atmosphere to be a part of.  We hopped around the park riding rides, drinking butterbeer, and enjoying some window shopping.  Of course we kept saying, Bennett would love ____.   It's funny how much of your life becomes consumed with what your kids would love.

Overall we had a pretty seamless and amazing trip.  We love our cruise buddies.  We all just made the best of our missed port and enjoyed all that our trip had to offer.  I'm excited for what cruises and trips the future will bring and am so grateful to have gone and actually had time to spend with the Hubs.