For anyone that missed it on my constant Facebook updates… We were on vacation last week. We had the honor to be invited to cruise the Caribbean with longtime friends, Mike and Dana Kennedy. The occasion? Mike’s 40th birthday! (Yeah, mines coming up, but we didn’t bring that up!)
|Pont Du Gard. From Mediterranean Trip 2006|
We have cruised one time previously. 5 years ago, Ang and I took a totally indulgent Royal Caribbean Mediterranean cruise. That trip was subdued by comparision to this trip. It carried the massive mental weight of being around history at every stop. Barcelona to Naples on 8 stops. It was a brilliant time.
Unlike our trip years ago without the kids… This trip was planned with them completely in mind.
|Docked at Key West. From March 2011|
Our cruise was with Carnival cruise lines and left from Ft Lauderdale. This time, there were no stops with weighty history lessons! This was a “Fun Cruise”. I think they copyrighted that… But I am using it today. Our stops would be Key West, Grand Cayman and Ochoa Rios Jamaica.
I booked all of our excursions in advance through Carnival. Hoping to avoid any confusion once we landed at any of our ports. For the past 2 months… We have pulled the excursion details up on Carnival’s website, and put them to a friendly family poll. All in all… It was a great selection of “things to do” at each port.
The first night was uneventful… We got on the boat with minimal waiting. We waited till about 1:30 to get on the boat. We zipped trough all the lines. This is going well! Our cabin was set up with a king bed for Ang and I. Bunk beds for the kids. (Yeah, they fought over who could sleep on top. We set up a rotation immediately!)
|Summer, snorkeling in Key West. From March 2011|
Day 1. Key West.
Our excursion was with Fury Water Adventures. They had us set up for a catamaran sail to a reef… And then some snorkeling. Right up front… We were warned by the crew of the boat that the water was a little rough, and they would excuse any of us who wanted to scrap the tour… And with that, we could get our money back. Well, 5 or 6 people of the 20 aboard the boat decided to get off. Personally, we decided that we had come this far… We sure as Hell were not going to let some waves keep us from getting in the water!
“The weather started getting rough” is a good way to describe our trip to the reef. There was a good breeze, Summer even helped the crew raise the sails on the way out. It took about 30 to 40 minutes to get to the reef. Along the way… We were warned that the water temp was only 67. Optional wetsuits would be available for renting at the nominal price of 10 bucks each. 40 bucks spent, we were all snugged up in black neoprene!
|Black is beautiful. From March 2011|
Again, the water was rough! The captain lowered the gang plank and sent the swimmers out. They looked like scrambling baby sea turtles flopping around into the surf. I think our kids were the youngest there. The kids were a bit nervous, but they got out in the waves. That’s when the action started!
I should preface this whole incident by admitting I made a classic parenting mistake in the hotel in Ft. Lauderdale Saturday night. Discovery channel had a program on all about “The top 10 deadliest creatures in the sea”. I made the command decision to let Aiden and Summer watch this…. Thinking they were old enough to deal with any anxiety or stress this program might put on them when we go swimming in the ocean.
I WAS WRONG! PARENTS CAN ALL LEARN FROM ME!
We got 20 yards out into obnoxiously wavy and cold water before Aiden nearly clamped up in complete fear. He started crying and freaking out on me. I have never seen him act this way in my entire life with him! I tried to talk him down… We swam back to the anchor rope and I let him hold on while we talked about what he was scared of. Turns out it was the story he had watched about some deadly Australian jelly fish. I thought it was working… But after 5 minutes (Which felt like 30 while being battered by surf) of trying, I gave him permission to head back to the boat. Ang intercepted him on the way back and attempted to get him back out. In the meantime… Summer and I went out to the reef and got a few glimpses of the bottom and some sea life. The water was pretty stirred up from the winds and high waves.
|Key West snorkeling, from March 2011|
After that… Aiden made another attempt… But, he was pretty far “gone” from the previous incidents. He was not enjoying himself. We let him get back to the ship. To be fair… Probably more than half the other folks on our boat got out of the water long before the ship called us back in. Some people turned around before getting to the anchor rope! On the way back to Key West… I saw a few people going to the back of the boat let loose with a little sickness! At that point I started to realize how tough my kids had been. It was not a great day for being in the ocean!
Back to the Cruise Ship. We cleaned up and went into town.
Key West is cool! For adults!!! Personally, if it were an adults only day… I would have loved to do the Hemmingway themed thing. Sit in his bar haunts and check out the house.
We walked into town, hit some touristy shops, and walked past countless adult themed t-shirt shops, tattoo parlors and bars before we decided that this was not a place to hang with kids! To be fair… We could have done the Butterfly Museum, Beach or Hemingway’s house… But we had been wiped out from doing a whole lot more after our water adventure.
|From March 2011|
It was back to the boat to relax and have dinner.
The boat left by 4PM… That kind of early departure was to be a annoying norm on the trip.
To be continued….
Video highlight reel soon!