Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Caribbean Cruise with Matcat & Shay

This trip. Gosh, I don't know if I have the right words to adequately express how much I enjoyed this trip. Maybe it was the fact that we were SO READY for some quality relaxation after such a taxing week of hiking. Maybe it was due to the cruise being 12 days so it didn't have to end after the typical week-long vacation. I know a big portion of what made this experience so fun was the people we got to share it with - those who came with us and those we met along the way. The food, the ship, the entertainment, the ports, the never-ending sunshine, the never having to clean up after ourselves or cook, the card games, the adventure. This cruise will always and forever have a special piece of my heart!

We met up with Matlin and Shaylee in Fort Lauderdale and barely made it to the ship in time to board. We were all buzzing with excitement and anticipation for the 12 days ahead as we got settled into the little room that we all shared. Poor Parker hahaha. He is always such a good sport!

Day 1: We spent the first day exploring the ship by getting ice cream (duh), visiting the buffet, checking out the pool, playing mini-golf, watching National Treasure from the hot tub, and Parker got a hair cut.

Day 2: The next day was a day at sea so we lounged by the pool all day long and it was glorious! That was also the first formal night so it was really fun to get dressed up for dinner! My memory is hazy but I believe we went to watch karaoke that night as well!

Day 3: This day may be one of my favorite days I've ever had in my whole life. It was another day at sea and Matlin and Shay convinced me to do karaoke with them. We decided to make a whole performance out of it with choreography and it was basically my entire childhood come to fruition with me bossing Matlin and her friend around by making them dance with me. While we were rehearsing quietly on the side deck, a Zac Efron look-alike that Matlin and Shay had been ogling over walked by to head to the water slides. On his way back, he stopped to ask us what on earth we were doing so we explained that we were preparing for one of the greatest karaoke acts to ever grace The Adventure Of The Seas stage and that he should come to watch lol. He and his friend did and that was how we met "the boys" who became our besties for the rest of the vacation.

This was also the day that we went to an Elton John impersonater show after dinner and it was a HOOT! We were having the best time in the crowd and he pointed at us and we felt like superstars. We also met Al and Lorna, the sweetest couple EVER who did karaoke every. single. night. and performed the same songs every. single. night. Stand By Your Man, anyone?

After our bomb karaoke performance (which you can see if you watch the video at the end of this post) we hit up the club and danced the night away until about 2 am, Parker included. It was one of those days where you go to sleep with the biggest smile on your face because it was a day you never, ever want to forget.

 Al and Lorna!

Day 4: The next day was our first port and we got to visit Aruba! Parker and I are budget travelers... so we sometimes make dumb decisions for the sake of saving a few bucks and then totally regret it later and we did that in Aruba haha. We rented a cheap little car for the day rather than a car that could handle driving to the tidal pool we were trying to go to so we ended up having to hike for what felt like forever through shale and dust. While it was an adventure, we were all in agreement afterward that we should have forked over the money to rent a better vehicle to get us to the tide pool! We also stopped at some cool caves and a stunning beach during our time on the island. Everything was so beautiful!

 I'm a mermaid living my very best life. As is Parker in the background.  
 A merman in his natural habitat.  
 See what I mean? I was really channeling my inner mermaid this day lol. 

Day 5: The following day was another port day and this time we visited Curacao. Noah and Donovan (the boys) told us about a supposedly awesome beach that they were going to visit so we happened to meet them there and after that, we were pretty much inseparable. Also, Curacao is BEAUTIFUL!

Day 6: The next port was Bonaire which I had heard nothing about before this vacation so I didn't know what to expect. Well, surprise, surprise, it was another amazing day for the books! We took a water taxi to a smaller island per a friend's recommendation and rented some snorkel gear so we could snorkel along the reef. We could walk up the beach a little ways to enter the water to snorkel and then the current of the water would take us down the shoreline to the beach so we basically just floated the whole way while watching the pretty fish do their thing. So fun! We played Spikeball and ate snacks and sunbathed and snorkeled over and over again until our return taxi arrived. We did a little shopping and I bought new sandals because the hike from the first day totally did them in and they basically disintegrated haha.

Parker's contribution to our photo library lol. ^
The biggest smiles from everyone because this place = happiness.

Day 7: This day we all said something along the lines of "we still have 5 days left!!" because most of the trips we've gone on in the past have been about a week long so to have this one be so much longer was such a treat! It was another day at sea and I'm pretty sure this was the day I made Parker take a dance class with me as they had several ballroom dance classes throughout the week. He wasn't too thrilled about it but again, he's such a good sport! 

Day 8: Another glorious port day, this time in Antigua. The beach we went to had some of the softest most perfect sand I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing. There was so much space to play Spikeball and there was a little bar/restaurant area so we treated ourselves to some fruity drinks which was fun! 

Day 9: St. Thomas!! Parker and I were extra excited about this port because we'd been to St. Thomas before on our last cruise and LOVED it. We went back to Magen's Bay and it was, yet again, picture-perfect! One of my favorite parts of this day was that we could see some sea turtles from the beach and I loved sitting there watching their little heads bob in and out of the water. I'd been wanting to see some the whole trip and they finally graced us with their presence! And of course, it was the one day we didn't have our snorkel gear with us haha!

Days 10, 11, & 12: The last 3 days were spent at sea/disembarking the morning of the last day. We used these days to really explore the ship by going ice skating, trying out the wave rider, the waterslides, playing mini-golf, etc. We also had another formal night to get dressed up and Matlin did my hair for me so that was fun!

 Love this crew!

Alas, we docked in New Jersey and said our tearful goodbyes. It never gets easier, does it?! This vacation was the trip of a lifetime and we are so grateful it worked out! These memories will always have a special place in my heart!

And of course, it wouldn't be a Hollingsworth vacay without a #hollingsworthtravels video!! 

Until next time, folks!

xoxo, Chelan