We wanted to spend time with our daughters over the holidays in a warm place, which meant not Korea, Wisconsin or New York. A Caribbean cruise out of Miami was just the ticket, and even better, my mother and my daughter Clare’s boyfriend, Kyle, went along. Even better, Clare and Kyle became engaged while on the cruise! They bought the ring on a stopover in San Juan, Puerto Rico. It had to be sized, and Kyle told the jewelers he needed to be back on the ship at 3 pm (it sailed at 3:30 pm). When he came to pick it up, they hadn’t sized it yet, and he ended up in someone’s home waiting for it, and back onboard at 3:05, with an anxious Clare waiting for him by the gangplank. Kyle proposed at the next stop, Grand Turk Island. Since Tom proposed to me on Tenerife in the Canary Islands, Kyle perpetuated an island proposal tradition. Kyle’s a great guy and we’re thrilled for the two of them!
The ship also stopped at Carnival’s private island, Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas, and at St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. We enjoyed fine sand beaches, blue water, and perfect weather throughout. We went snorkeling at Grand Turk, with a stunning coral reef and nurse sharks tame enough for our daughters to pet. While we were snorkeling, my 84-year-old mother watched the movie “War Horse” by one of the two pools on the ship. We’ve heard cruise horror stories, but in our case, the ship didn’t turn on its side, the toilets didn’t overflow, all went swimmingly.
This vacation was about spending time together: dining together each night on lobster, chateaubriand, prime rib, escargot, baked Alaska and tiramisu; playing double dominoes together in the game room; watching shows with a live band, singers and dancers; listening to comics at the comedy club; and for the young people, playing slot machines in the onboard casino. The ship, named the Carnival Liberty, was refurbished a few years ago, and its interior decoration was absolutely gorgeous.
Our cruise director, Josh, kept us informed (“Ice carving demonstration at 2 p.m on the Lido deck,” “Art auction with free champagne at 7 pm,” “Piano player in the Piano Man lounge”) and entertained. Our steward made a different towel animal for us each evening, and one morning we found a zoo of towel animals set up on lounge chairs outside. There was a gym where we could go work off some of the fabulous food we ate. Luckily, the Chocolate Extravaganza was served on our last full day at sea, as by then I didn’t pig out as much as I might have if it had been the first day.
All good things come to an end, including cruises. Despite snow storms, we all arrived home safely. Since our flights left the day after the cruise ended, Andrea and I spent one night in South Beach, taking turns sharing favorite songs with each other via Youtube. Tom went on to D.C. for business (so Uncle Sam paid for his flight to the U.S.). I came back to four days of working each day and baking Christmas cookies every evening; we hosted two parties for a total of 100 people on the weekend we returned from the cruise. Then we, in turn, were hosted on Chrismas eve for a fantastic meal of homemade French cooking.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!