Warning: photo-heavy post.
This past Christmas my hubby's grandmother gifted us a big family vacation the week of spring break. At that time it seemed so abstract and far away... and now it's past. By far the longest, most involved trip we've made as a family, we went on a Disney cruise y'all... and lived to tell the tale.
Day one was a whirlwind of travel, but we made it to port with time to spare, boarded around lunchtime, explored, had some special drinks, and saw the first of several amazing shows. (There was a Carnival cruise ship next to us in port that left about 20 minutes ahead of us and apparently narrowly missed running over some jet skiers who had fallen off their jet ski in the bay!)
The first two full days were at sea, and were actually kinda chilly, but that did not deter the kids from being in the pool for hours... and oh my gosh the sugar! Only Disney would think of cramming a bunch of families into a finite space and making sugar available at every turn. My kiddos count this amenity as one of the best parts of the trip- ahem- and will probably be recovering from their indulgences for at least the next week. Yikes.
Our first port of call, Tortola, was very pretty... but that breeze was still chilly! I couldn't make myself go into the sea past my ankles, but of course the kids were immune to the shock of the water and swam like little fishes. We were back on board in time for kid naps and a grown-up cocktail hour.
Next we visited St. Thomas and their coral reef/aquarium center. Most of the animals at the center were part of a rehabilitation and release program, which I thought was really cool, and all of their exhibits were fed by fresh ocean water piped in directly from the sea. The stingrays were awesome. Back on board we all got to be pirates and finish the day with a fireworks show.
After that was Star Wars day at sea, which started out with a cold front and a very gray morning, plus breakfast in bed and an early ship mystery to solve. Then we changed into our "costumes" (Star Wars t-shirts basically) and spent the rest of the day chasing Storm Troopers and other characters for photo ops...
...and wrapped up with an adults-only Champagne tasting...
...lots of light saber "fights..."
...and another fireworks show. Our last port-of-call was Disney's private island, Castaway Cay (fun fact, it used to be a drug cartel's island, with a runway for their drug planes).
By far the prettiest beach, I once again couldn't stand to venture into the water past my ankles, because oh my goodneseseses that water was so cold! I don't understand how the kiddos and the grandparents did it. So. Cold.
Once back aboard the ship, everyone had a hot shower and a good rest, and to celebrate our last night Mama and Daddy had a fancy dinner... right after the last live show, which was excellent.
When it was time to go back home, our disembarkation moved like a well-oiled machine, and despite a slight flight delay we made it home without much ado.
Overall I'd say this was a great trip, though 7 days was pretty much our max at this point I think. There is a lot of business to take care of now that we're back home, but we have a huge stack of mementos and even more photos than what I've shared here (if you can believe it), so I think I'll be planning a scrapbook for the kiddos soon. One thing is for sure, though: my kids think this was the best Christmas present ever.