Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Senior Class Cruise 2016

I just had the most amazing experience with the graduating class of 2016.

We took 13 people (9 students and 4 adults) and cruised with Royal Caribbean to St. Thomas and St. Marten. To say that the trip was wonderful is an amazing understatement. I was so honored and thankful that they invited me to be a chaperone and go with them adventuring.

Day one: We met at the church and left at 8:00 a.m. to drive to Orlando. We wanted to spend the night before sailing. The hotel was glorious--we stayed in suites with two bedrooms/two baths sharing a common kitchen and living room area. So, there were plenty of bedrooms, bathrooms and everyone had room to spread out. The pool was perfect, food was good, all was well.

Day two: We checked in and arrived at the dock by 11:00. We ate lunch on the boat in the casual dining room called the Windjammer. Food on the trip was wonderful every single meal. Entertainment tonight: we saw an amazing tribute to Broadway. Really, you just had to be there.

Day three: Today we took a tender to the cruise-line-owned private island of Cocoa Cay in the Bahamas. It was a perfect beach day--not too hot and not too cold. Sunny but not blistering. We swam, ate barbecue on the beach, and played non-stop the whole time we were there.

Tonight was the first formal night. Ironically, we dressed for dinner every single night, because that is what we have taught our youth to do--dress for the occasion. So, they looked spiffy every single night, naturally.

The kids in our school don't have much "game" in their dating skills (perhaps we need a class), so when I saw four boys on the stairs in the dining room taking Awkward Family Photos, I mentioned that I could make them Snapchat famous in five seconds. Then I arranged our girls on the stairs around them like supermodels and let their family take that photo.  (Formal Introductions 101.)

Sheepish grins, awkward posing, lots of giggling, photos taken, the girls then spent the next five days hanging around with their new friends in an amoeba formation. (Today we court in small groups instead of one-on-one.) The boys turned out to be from our state--a mere 1 1/2 hours away. It made the trip more fun for those boys and more fun for our girls for sure. Gave everyone someone to laugh and be silly with.

Entertainment tonight was this bizarre thing--a man played the xylo-synth. Yeah, I don't know either, but: Mind Blown. Trust me when I say if someone asks you to see a xylo-synth show you sign up for that post haste.  I've got to tell you this though--in the middle of the show I realized that the drummer was the ship band drummer. And he was reading the music. Like flipping the pages of the sheet music and drumming. I've never seen that one time in my life. Then the artist explained that the ship band had gotten the backup music like four hours before the show and were playing with only one real rehearsal. It was phenomenal.

Day four: We ported in Charlotte Amalie, St. Marten on the Dutch side. We got off of the boat and simply went with a cab driver for a tour of the island. Now, I preface that with the fact that I had been praying like a crazy woman that we'd be safe and have this amazing, unequaled experience. We met Mr. King who actually operated the touring van company. He gave us a personal tour of His Island. He was knowledgeable and interesting and engaging. We saw damaged homes from the last hurricane, expensive homes, the highest peak on the island, and ate wonderful island food.  We shopped in the straw market and came home with some quality junk for the friends and family.

Entertainment tonight: was a magician/illusionist who was also very talented. He used the ship dancers in his routine who also learned their parts like that afternoon (see amazing ship band drummer). The amount of talent on that boat was really impressive. I mean I don't think I've ever seen better group entertainment like that.

Day five: We ported in Philipsburg, St. Thomas. This day we booked a formal excursion through the cruise line. We played a game called The Amazing Race modeled after the show with challenges that took us through the town. We played on the beach, went into a grocery store and priced out local cuisine. We saw historic sites and played games. We ended by swimming in the ocean. It was a good day, but HOT as the surface of the sun. There is a reason May is the beginning of the off season in the islands. It felt like Alabama. And I was like a wet rag by the end of the day. It was fairly miserable, but the kids had a blast. Winning.

Day six: Day at sea. I'm not sure what we did exactly, but I remember it was relaxing. It was a little chilly since we moved up the Atlantic to get away from some rough seas. Becky (my ride or die) and I found the ship library. It had this huge picture window that overlooked the ship commons. We sat there a long time and people watched and laughed. We had the second formal night, but they were really all formal nights for us as we dressed up and looked fahbulous daaahhhhling.

Entertainment tonight was an ice show. No, that wasn't a typo--we saw an ice show at sea. And it was breathtaking.

Day seven: Day at sea. The show tonight was another singing/dancing farewell thing and it was also beyond any of my expectations. 

Day eight: We ported at 6:45 a.m. and drove home. The kids slept the bulk of the way home. (Staying up all night and getting up to see the sunrise daily will do that to you.) I, of course, had to stay awake and drive. We made it.

I'm so thankful that they took me along for their grand adventure.

One of the neatest meals of the trip--island food.

Part of our sofa series of photos.  We found sofas from one end of the trip to the other and posed cosmopolitan style.

Posing in our supermodel swag on the main promenade

Touring Charlotte Amelie

Some things can't be explained.

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