family vacation on the sunny Caribbean sea!

I think it was at the end of last year when I found out about our family vacation. I saw a message on my brother’s msn about the trip. I was totally shocked because my parents didn’t mention anything to me about it! As soon as I saw the message I called home and I asked my parents if it was true and they said it was. They wanted to surprise me. Even though I found out from my brother’s message on his msn I was still very surprised. The surprise was a seven day cruise in the Southern Caribbean from April 19 – 27, ‘08!


On Friday April 18th, my family and I left for our vacation. Originally we were going to leave from our house at noon on Friday but then plans changed when my Grandpa passed away and we left from Rochester, New York right after the funeral around 2:00pm. If we left from our house it would have been only a four hour drive to Detroit but since we left from Rochester, NY instead it turned out to be a seven hour drive (mainly because we had to drive around Lake Eire). Oh, well that was unexpected and it worked out alright.


We arrived in Detroit at 10:00pm. My parents got very cheap flights from Detroit to San Juan so we flew out from Detroit instead of Toronto (it would have been double the cost of airfare if we flew out from Toronto!). Our flight was on Saturday morning but instead of driving straight to the airport and then flying out we decided to get a hotel in Detroit the night before which we all thought it was a good idea. After we checked into the hotel we ate dinner at a restaurant and then we all went to straight to bed.


On Saturday (April 19th), my family and I flew out from Detroit at 8:50 in the morning and we arrived in San Juan, Puerto Rico at 2:00pm. We flew with Spirit airline. We had a great flight. We connected through Orlando, Florida for around 40 minutes and we didn’t even have to get off the plane which was nice.


Our ship sailed out on Sunday. Last year my cousin Amanda and her husband Miguel got married in Puerto Rico. Miguel is from Puerto Rico so they wanted to have the wedding there. My parents and my brother went to the wedding last year but I couldn’t because it was at the end of April and I just left for Romania at the beginning of April. Though I knew about the wedding before I left for Romania I didn’t want to delay my departure any later then April because they needed another teacher for the April term so I was a bit sad and disappointed that I had to miss their wedding. Since my parents and my brother went to Puerto Rico last year and I couldn’t go they wanted to spent a day there before going on the cruise which was so nice of them to do that. We spent the day in San Juan just checking out the area and walking around. The weather was great just to relax outside! We spent the night at Holiday Inn Express.


Late Sunday morning, we checkout of our hotel and then we took a taxi to the dock where the ship was. The ship we went on was the Royal Caribbean – Adventure of the Seas. I would like to write about how our week was like each day because I don’t want to forget what a great vacation it was with my family!


Day 1 – Depart San Juan (Sunday April 20th)


We checked into the ship and then went to the buffet for lunch. The ship didn’t leave until 8:00pm and our rooms weren’t ready until 1:00pm so we decided to enjoy San Juan a little longer. We went to Old San Juan for a couple of hours. It was really nice. Old San Juan is a very tourist area of the city. It has a Spanish feel to the city with its coble stone narrow streets and how the buildings are designed. There is also a fortress there too but we didn’t have time to go to it though we did see it as we sailed away. I was quite surprised how little English people spoke there considering how many tourists go there. Though it did help me to realize how much my Romanian I have learned considering I started from almost zero which was how I felt when I was in Puerto Rico when I couldn’t speak a word in Spanish!


After we spent a couple of hours touring Old San Juan we headed back to the ship for dinner. We were then able to go to our rooms. Our entire luggage arrived! We were happy about that because some people didn’t get their luggage right away. Our rooms were really nice. I shared a room with my brother, my parents had their own room right next to us and we also had connecting doors which was nice. We had an inside cabin with a window of a view of the promenade deck. It was really nice.


We were well taken care of all week! Our room steward was very nice and helpful. It was nice to be spoiled a bit with getting our beds made everyday, our beds pulled down for the night with animals made from towels and chocolate on our pillow every night and of course all you can eat throughout the week at the buffet including the fine dining restaurant we ate at everyday. I think we all need to be spoiled once in a while!


There were two seating times for dinner. We had the 6:00pm one. It was early and a bit rushed but we didn’t want the second seating which was at 8:30pm because we thought it was a bit late to eat dinner. We ate with another family from Atlanta. They were a really nice family. There was even a Romanian family that ate right next to our table! We had a great waiter and also assistance waiter too.  


We sailed off from San Juan right at 8:00pm. We waved good-bye to the people at the Carnival ship as we left San Juan. The ship had great shows to enjoy in the evening. The first night it was at 10:30pm. It was a great welcome show and our cruise director was hilarious! They had the Royal Caribbean singers and dancers, a juggler and a comedian. At midnight they had a sail-away parade with crew from all the different departments. What a great first day on the ship as we sailed off into the Caribbean Sea!   


Day 2 – At Sea (Monday April 21st)


The first full day on the ship was a very relaxing day at sea. We had a huge breakfast at the buffet and then we spent the morning going to a couple different seminars. In the afternoon we all relaxed at the pool and caught some sun rays on the deck (though I think I regret that a bit because later that day I was hurting!).


In the evening for dinner it was the first formal night. Everyone got dressed up for dinner. My Mom and I wore dresses, my Dad wore a tuxedo and my brother wore a suit. I even got my hair done at the hair salon. Everyone looked great! After dinner we went to the Abbacadabra concert, the ultimate ABBA concert. The show was great but I didn’t know very many songs. We had a great evening of relaxing on the ship!


Day 3 – Oranjestad, Aruba (Tuesday April 22nd)


We had an early start to our morning because we had to be out at the dock at 9:00am for our shore excursion. We ate breakfast in the dining room and then we got off the ship. For our shore excursion we went on a catamaran for snorkeling at the shallow Malock reef and we also saw the beautiful World War II shipwreck, Antilla. We had a great time snorkeling and it was neat to go into the water from the catamaran! It was fun to see the colourful fish and the ship too. We spent the afternoon at a beach and we also did a bit of shopping in Aruba as well.


The ship didn’t leave Aruba until 8:00pm so we decided not to rush around and go to the buffet instead. We still had a great dinner at the buffet and I even got to try lamb for the first time. All four of us dressed in our Caribbean outfits and took some great pictures in the evening. The ship had an ice skating rink which was the first time I saw that! At 9:00pm there was a great ice skating show and then at 10:30pm there was a really funny show called “The Love and Marriage Game Show” which was hosted by our cruise director.


Day 4 – Willemstad, Curacao (Wednesday April 23rd)


We got off the ship around 10:00am. We walked around Curacao a bit and realized how hot it was so we decided to escape the heat for a bit and take a tour around the island. We took a tour with a tour group and rode in a bus. It was nice to see the island a bit more. The tour included a stop at the beach but my parents and I decided at the last minute not to go because we were already getting too much sun and I was in a bit of pain from my sun burns. My brother did decide to stay for a bit.


In the evening we went to the dining room for dinner. All of us received a warm welcome back because there were quite a lot of tables that were empty from the previous night! The evening show was called “Can’t Stop the Rock” by the Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers. At 10:15pm the ship had a ‘70s disco street party on the promenade deck and then at 11:15pm there was this wackiest and wildest interactive game called “The Quest” game show! The game was hosted by the cruise director and the crew staff, it was held in the ice skating theater (the ice was covered) and it involved everyone who attended. It was so funny and we laughed so much!


Day 5 – At Sea (Thursday April 24th)


Our second day at sea was another fun and relaxing day on the ship. We went to the buffet for breakfast which was great because I just love their omelets. We kind of had a bit of lazy relaxing morning and then a pretty active afternoon. In the afternoon my Mom, my brother and I tried the rock climbing wall. Then my Dad did after we tired it. My brother did amazing at it! He not only climbed it to the top once but three times! My Mom also got to the top and wow was I proud of her for doing that! My Dad almost got to the top but then he felt stuck and couldn’t get up the rest of the way. I only made it half way and I tried twice too. I was so determined to get up to the top the second time I did it but got nervous though I don’t know why. Afterwards we played mini golf. Oh and my Dad and I went inline skating before we went rock climbing. It’s amazing to think how big the ship was because there was a mini golf course, inline skating, a basketball court and a rock climbing wall all at the back of the ship! Oh, yeah for lunch we went to Johnny Rockets which is like a 50ish style restaurant. It was great!


In the evening we went to the dining room for dinner. It was the second day of formal night where everyone dressed up really nice again. I have to say we got some really great pictures! The evening show was “Bill Pinkney’s Original Drifters”. The show was good but again I didn’t know any of the songs. At 11:30pm they had the Battle of the Sexes game. The females won which was the fourteen week in a row, wow!! That was fun to watch and then afterwards I headed to bed because I was so tired.


Day 6 – Philipsburg, St. Maarten (Friday April 25th)


We got off the ship around 9:30am. We spent the morning at the beach where we enjoyed relaxing in the sun and swimming in the water. I got my hair braided at the beach but then later I felt disappointed because it wasn’t done very well so I felt like that was a waste of time. Later on we did some souvenir shopping and then we boarded the ship at 4:30pm


In the evening we went to the dining room for dinner. The evening show was “Jackpot” by the Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers. At 10:15pm there was late night adult comedy with Tony Daro. That was really funny, though some of his jokes were kind of dirty. Then at 11:00pm there was an Island Frenzy Parade. It was a great evening of entertainment! 


Day 7 – St. Thomas, U.S. V.I. (Saturday April 26th)


Well today was our last full day on the ship. In the morning we had to report to immigrations on the ship because we arrived in St. Thomas which is in an American virgin island. I think it was the easiest customs I ever had to do in my life! I just had to show my sea pass card and then go to one of the tables where the customs officers are. They asked us if we are having a good vacation and then stamped our passports! For breakfast I ate in the dining room with my parents. We ended up eating with three girls from the Toronto area. I think they were the first Canadians we met on the ship all week even though there are quite a lot of Canadians on the ship.


We got off the ship around 9:00am. In the morning we went to Magens Bay beach which was so beautiful! My Mom and I had a really nice walk along the shore and just enjoyed each other’s company. After we had enough of the beach we got into the taxi and decided to do some shopping in another part of the town. I have to admit the taxi was very interesting. It was like a jeep! I think it held twelve people plus two in the four. As we were driving it started to rain so we had to stop because the sides were all open, the taxi driver put the flaps down so we wouldn’t get wet. It was quite the adventure driving around St. Thomas with the rain pouring down hard and driving through the narrow streets and hills! At one time we even smelled the tires burning rubber as the taxi driver tried to get up the hill!


Everyone on the taxi wanted to go back to the ship except one of the couples (they were staying in St. Thomas) and my family. We got off at another place in the town. Luckily when we got off it stopped raining! We walked on this street which eventually led us to these tents where people sold things for tourists. We walked with that couple. They were so sweet and very helpful. On our way there we passed by a parade. This week in St. Thomas they had a town carnival. Everyone was off school and work for a week for this carnival. It was like the whole town was shut down and wow do they ever know how to celebrate! It was neat to see a bit of the parade as we passed by. I really enjoyed the steel drums band. I got my hair re-done because in St. Maarten it wasn’t done very well. This lady did a much better job with braiding my hair but man did it hurt! I mean serious my head was in pain for a good couple of days because of the tight braids but it does look good so I’m pleased.


After I got my hair braided my Dad told me that he wanted to go back to the ship with Jonathan. I told him I didn’t want to go back yet because I didn’t buy any souvenirs yet so he told me to go back with Mom. I asked him where Mom was. He told me she is around here somewhere shopping. He then left and I then looked for Mom. I ended up looking for Mom for almost 15 minutes. After 10 minutes I started to panic, I prayed and I also started to cry. Finally I saw my Mom and I was so happy to see her. We hugged each other when we saw each other. I just got scared that our family got separated like that. Then Mom and I went back to the ship.


Our last evening on the ship was really great. We went to the dining room for dinner. Dinner was really nice. All of the waiters and waitress did a parade and sang. It was nice and we are all so appreciative of all the hard work they did during the week. We said our good-byes to the family we ate with and our waiters. After dinner we finish packing our suitcases because we needed to put them outside our cabin door that evening. The ship had a great farewell show with the juggler, a comedian and the Royal Caribbean singers and dancers. It was a great show! They also had a short video slide show of the week and the top ten dumb questions people ask the cruise director. It was quite funny of some the questions people asked!


Arrival back in San Juan and return home


Sunday morning (April 27) we arrived back in San Juan, Puerto Rico. We ate in the dining room for breakfast one last time which was really nice. We had the Romanian waitress which was great! After we ate breakfast we waited for our number to be called to leave the ship. Once we were called we went to the ship terminal to get our luggage. We found our luggage no problem because we were the last group to leave which was nice.


Once we got our luggage we got a taxi and then headed for the airport to catch our flight home. When we stood in line to be checked in there was this Puerto Rican band that went around the airport playing instruments and singing. That was great! We flew out at 2:00pm and arrived in Detroit around 7:30pm. We had a lot of air turbulence on our flight back. There was a sweet Chinese girl who sat beside me. She looked at me and told me she was scared. I didn’t know what to say to her because usually there isn’t that much turbulence when I fly.


When we arrived in Detroit the pilot announced that he made his goal of arriving in Detroit before the plane that left from Fort Lauderdale did (we connected through Orlando and we left the same time as the flight from Fort Lauderdale did but we arrived 30 minutes before they did in Detroit). We all laughed and then I said jokingly well no wonder why we had so much turbulence the pilot was speeding! The nice thing about flying through the States is we didn’t have to go through customs at the airport. We got our things, went to our truck and then drove home.


When we got home Libby and Grace (our cats) were very excited to see us and we were happy to see them too! Overall we had a great week and it was such a blessing from God that He gave us this amazing opportunity to go on vacation together as a family to spend some really good quality time together. I loved every bit of it (even though it was a bit stressful at the beginning with the funeral) and I’m so thankful that we got to go on such an amazing family vacation on a week cruise in the South Caribbean! Thank-you Lord for my family! I miss them already!! 

About Andrea

I am from Whitby, Ontario. I have lived in Romania for 9 years as a missionary but I am currently in Canada on a sabbatical break at this time. I have also lived in South Korea for a year and I have also been to Russia, Uganda, Albania and the Czech Republic on short-term mission trips. In 2012, God also gave me an amazing opportunity to go to Mozambique for the Harvest Mission School with Iris Ministries as well. I love children, reaching out to people who are in need and vulnerable, I have a passion to fight against the injustice issue of human trafficking and to simply share the love of Jesus wherever I go. I also love cats too and I have a cat of my own named Minnie!
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