Cruise Recap Part 1

DISCLAIMER: This post was created as part of my collaboration with Carnival Cruise Lines.  As always, all of the opinions, thoughts, and ideas in this post are my own.

We went on a cruise!!!  I still can hardly believe it.  It truly was an opportunity of a lifetime…and I had NO idea that it was gonna be such a roller coaster too.  I know what you are thinking….how can a cruise be so dramatic?!  Well, where there’s a Katie, there’s a way :)  And I am really excited to tell you all about it.

Ok…so for weeks, I was all hyped up about the trip…like weirdly excitable.   Our flight and bus ride were super easy.  The boys were behaving….which was a miracle….and everyone was flexible and happy.  We arrived and our ship, the Carnival Sunshine, was still getting ready so we had a little time for one last land lunch right near the port.

I wasn’t the only one excited.  Will could barely contain it.  If I had told him that he needed to swim all the way to get on the ship, he would have drowned trying.

After we got on the ship….everything was still looking up.  That’s about the last time I felt great.  Two hours later is when it hit.  I got seasick.  I don’t know if it was just stupid pride on my part or just ignorance but I honestly didn’t even think motion sickness was something that could possibly affect me.  Sure, I get sick feeling if I ride in the backseat of the car and I get aggressively hot anytime there is plane turbulence but I have never had problems on the water.  Jeremy and I even slept on small boats before and nada.  This time it was fierce.  My dad got sick too.  He took some drugs to help but I was scared because I am a nursing mama.  So I slapped on some pressure point bracelets and prayed that it would stop.

My mom and dad were so sweet to come with us.  We had invited them to cruise with us because we knew that three small kids would be darn-near-impossible for us to do alone and I was happy to shell out whatever it took to get them on that ship.  Well, it turns out that they were worth every penny on those first three days.  My mom and Dad would take the boys on various ship activities while I stayed in the cabin.

The second day we saw land!

I pulled on some clothes and joined everyone for a breakfast in the big buffet room.  The ship would stop rocking when we pulled into ports and this first one was a very welcome stop.

On this first day, Jeremy and I had a short excursion planned….just for the two of us.  It was a mini-Bahamas-date.

I love the islands of the Bahamas, and Nassau is such a vibrant, fun place.

We walked the pier two times just to get our courage up for the upcoming event.  Then we found our group and hopped on a boat (surprisingly…no seasickness!) to see the most beautiful water ever.  It really is GORGEOUS.

The reason we were getting those last nerves worked out is because I convinced Jeremy that we should go parasailing!  AHHH!  That’s two very height-adverse folks doing something VERY high in the sky.

To say that parasailing was an amazing experience is a complete understatement.  It was more beautiful and serene than I could have ever imagined.  I felt like a bird getting its first cup of coffee (ya know…if birds drank coffee).

We got higher and higher and it was chock full of crazy views.  My one regret is that I didn’t take an iPhone up there with us to take a photo because it was bluer and greener and more dramatic than I could describe with the English language.

Jeremy and I didn’t realize that they would let us get quite SO high.  After we saw these photos, we were shocked.

And then they did the dip.  The boat captain warned us that he might ‘torpedo’ us.  I was glad that it was just our feet….because this torpedo might have sunk.

All in all…parasailing is definitely something I would recommend.  I feel like it’s beginner-level-thrill-seeking.  You just sit there and it doesn’t involve a jump or holding your hands in the right position or having any sort of skill.  I am so happy to have done it…and to mark that one off the bucket list :)  I think Jeremy is just glad we had time to ourselves without three screaming kids :)

Speaking of kids….that night was our first ‘cruise elegant’ night.  We had planned all of our dinners and this time we knew that we were gonna be dressing up the boys in their best duds and heading to the dining room.  We loved eating in the dining room vs. the buffet because it meant that we could actually sit with the kids and just be served.  It was much easier to manage them especially when they were melting.  One of our best tips is to go snag a box of Cheerios from the buffet before going to dinner and then keep your little ones entertained with them (stacking!  stringing!  shapes!)  and snacking while you wait for your food.

This first night was hard for both my dad and I.  Our server was especially helpful and told us some tips on what we could do.  He said besides drugs (Dramamine, the patch, etc.), he heard relief bands are usually more effective – they are a little pricey but if you are a drug-free breastfeeding mama like me, they might be worth it.  He also said that I should try to spend as much time looking at the horizon, midship.  That really helped me a lot.  It rocks a little less there and having the wind and the view helps so much.

Also, finding funky hippos on your bed at night makes you smile.

This was my view for much of those first couple days.  I would sit on our bed and moan.

Once I heard that being in the wind might help, I decided to brave the upper levels.  I am really glad I did because it was at this point, I started to realize what a small little thing I was moaning about.  They are all first world problems…these issues I had…I had a queasy tummy.  I complained about how slow the internet was when in actuality, I needed to unplug.  I groaned about the boys all piling in our bed because they refused to sleep in their own….when in reality, I get to sleep with the best husband and beautiful boys cuddling me.

Yeah.  First.  World.  Problems.

So I decided I needed to get over myself.  The seasickness would have to pass and I wasn’t gonna let it ruin our time.

I have to say….mini golf was BY FAR the most loved activity on the boat.  More than eating ice cream whenever they wanted.  More than the water slides.  Mini golf was the winner.  Go figure.

On the third day, there was a Seuss parade.  Will got to answer a trivia question and got to get first dibs on parade flair.

My mom also jumped in the fun. The hat is her own.  She brought it from home.  She is awesome like that.

I think Will almost fainted when he saw Sam-I-Am.  We have never really exposed him to the big characters in costume but Will LOVED them.

Then this happened and his little world exploded in rainbows and unicorns.

They walked in the parade right into the big theatre room.   Will shook those pom-poms like the world depended on it.

The parade ended and we got front row seats to the reading (and reenactment) of The Cat in the Hat.  The kids staff was amazing and The Cat in the Hat even showed up to give hugs and high-fives.

After all the festivities….we hit up another round of golf.   Look at that face.  Eye of the tiger.

And then this is where I camped out.  It helped…that sunset really helped me feel normal again.  Normal in a completely spoiled rotten type of way.  After all…I did spend almost half of the trip feeling sorry for myself.  But that is normal, right?  I think so.  Sometimes we have the best thing….like for me, it was this cruise….it was amazing…a trip of a lifetime to spend with my parents and Jeremy and my kids….and sometimes we have something enter our world during these ‘best’ things….a speed bump…or wave bumps….or whatever….and we allow ourselves to wallow in it.  Wallowing has a time and place…but realizing how good things really are…that has a better time and a bigger place.  It’s all about perspective and I got a lot of it that evening.

It helps when this is the view :)

Can you tell I am a little obsessed with the towel animals?  I must learn.  I would be the best mom ever.

At this point, we had seen quite a few cruise ships.  And we took a good hard look and ours was by FAR the funnest looking one.  The top of the Carnival Sunshine has this big colorful water slide.  And then there is Waterworks…which translates into “GIANT WATERPARK FOR EVERYONE”.

The boys LOVED it.

And when I say boys….I mean, big boys and little boys.

LJ had other plans.

At one point, Will even figured out what side of the mini slide was fastest and him and his little cruise buddies were racing.  We could sit right outside the edge of the water area and just sit and relax.

Also, there were lots to attend to….namely, making love-eyes at this little guy.

St. Thomas is the turning point for my cruise story.  At this point, the seasickness subsided and my perspective was so much more grounded.  I was like a whole new Katie.  I had basically unplugged from the computer and my phone (I would post Instagram photos but didn’t read a single blog, insta-photo or email or watch any of those hilarious Jimmy Kimmel videos).  It was very freeing.  And St. Thomas is crazy beautiful.

Doesn’t that look like a fake backdrop?  It’s gorgeous with those colorful little houses and resorts sticking out of the side of the trees.

Yup.  I saw this with my own two eyes.  It’s so real.  It’s burned in my brain forever.  It’s what I imagine heaven is like.

Once we got on the island, we climbed the 99 Steps to the top.  It wasn’t that hard.  And then we headed over to Blackbeard’s Castle.  It was a great place to take the kids because they couldn’t really break anything.

 

The tour guide at Blackbeard’s Castle didn’t hold back on his storytelling so later on, I got to answer questions like “what does massacre mean mommy?” and hear the story of BlackBeard killing his wives.  Will made sure to tell me later that “that man made them DEAD.” about seventeen times.

The view from the other side was pretty gorgeous.  There was a beautiful pool and when you turned around, the whole island was laid out.

Doesn’t this look unbelievable?!  Seriously the stops on this cruise were spectacular.  If you are a fan of islands, I can’t tell ya how much I appreciated the divine colors and island feel of every port.

After we climbed back down the 99 Steps, we caught a taxi to the beach where we spent the rest of the day just basking in the sun and feeling the sand between our toes.

Will saved that leaf from the castle and decided to bury it in the sand.  He does these quirky little four year old things all the time…but they make me just wanna kiss his face off.  One day, he won’t care about the yellow leaf in the sand….and I love that right now, that is what is most important to him.

You can see a bunch of our photos from that day in our post about Weston’s birthday.  Those beach photos are seriously frame-worthy.

When we said goodbye to the island of St. Thomas, I fully expected my stomach to lurch.  Thankfully…the whole week was on the upswing and I didn’t have any more seasickness!  I wanted to be able to tell ya that this was the experience of a lifetime and we loved every second.  The fact is….it was an experience of a lifetime and we had some really rough seconds that made us really appreciate this experience and much more than that.  Sometimes those waves are what makes us appreciate being still, right?!  And the rest of the week was even better than this….if that is possible….which it is…because it happened.  I cannot wait to tell ya all about it!