Cruise Vacation Part One: What We Did and Where We Went

So we finally got the pictures from our cruise uploaded into Stephen’s computer and I’ve spent quite a while organizing them.  This post will be the first in a 2-part installment of my cruise to Florida/The Bahamas.  Today, you get all the pretty pictures and details about what we did.  Next post, you get all the food (!!!)

I wanted to give a recap of my trip (with lots of photos) without boring you all to tears so I’ll keep it as brief as I can and let you revel in my photography skills.. or lack there of.

2 Saturdays ago, the 13th, Stephen and I boarded a bus at 7:30 am to make the 4 and 1/2 hour trek to NYC.  When we got there, we walked 12 or so blocks to the Norwegian port (stopping to look at the Intrepid military boat per Stephen), dropped our checked bags off and headed to the security line. 

Hi Intrepid!

Our stateroom, though a bit small, was beautiful with a large window and an obstructed view of the ocean.  It was raining in New York that day or else my bathing suit would have been the first thing out of my suitcase  Instead, knowing there was a massive crowd still boarding, we relaxed in the room until we heard the cruise director, Dan The Man, announce that we would have a “security drill” and it was mandatory.  Fun times, people, fun times.

After the drill, we got strong fruity drinks and watched the boat disembark New York City.  We saw the Statue of Liberty too and even though I’ve seen her before, Stephen was pretty excited to witness it for the first time.

Stateroom 8056
A little blurry but you get the idea...

 After dinner, we went into the Stardust Theater to watch the “Welcome Aboard” show.  It gave us a sense of what types of entertainment would be provided during the week and I was more eager than ever to get started.  Setting the alarm for an early morning workout, we headed to bed around 11, exhausted from our travel day.

The Stardust Theater

We spent Sunday in the sun, cruising down the coast.  After a sweat session in the gym, I was determined to get a tan.  The weather was warm and sunny.  New bathing suit on, tanning lotion ready and book in hand (Harry Potter 7… had to reread it before the last movie…), I relaxed outside like a cat curled up in the warm sun.  Nothing could deter me from a peaceful few hours outside.

Many chapters and a slightly deeper skin tone later, I pulled Stephen from the outside deck to some indoor activities.  First, we went to an art auction where we saw original pieces from some of the most famous artists in history.  Oh, and there was a Picasso that went for $78,000. NBD.  The auctioneer even gave away $99 spa treatments and you knew I would be all over that.  I got a hot stone back massage, foot massage and mini facial later on that afternoon and was in spa heaven.  It’s nice to be pampered on vacation.

I also dragged Stephen kicking and screaming convinced Stephen to go to the Fyzz Lounge to take a Merengue dance class with me.  Yes friends, I got my boyfriend to move his hips and sway to the music.  It wasn’t necessarily a performance worthy of Dancing With the Stars but he tried it to make me happy.

Merengue Dance Class
Monday morning, we were up early again to hit the gym before the ship docked in Port Canaveral in Orlando, Florida and venturing to Universal Islands of Adventure.  I had been to Universal Studios on many occasions in the past but could never convince my parents to take it a step further into the park with the giant rollercoasters (my parents aren’t as fun as me.)  I was most excited about one section in particular.  Can you guess what?
Hogwarts Castle.. NBD

When we entered the park, I practically ran to the entrance of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and was immediately overwhelmed.  Sweating slightly, we went right to the main attraction: Hogwarts Castle for the ride, Harry Potter’s Forbidden Journey.  Sure, it was approximately 100 degrees out and the line was an hour long but I was determined to do it first.  The line wound outside for a while (in the greenhouses) before entering the castle.  Inside, you walk down the corridor to Dumbledore’s office where the golden eagle statue waits for the password.  Winding still, you enter Dumbledore’s office where the pensieve, destroyed horcruxes and Dumbledore himself can be found speaking with those in line.  Further still, Harry, Hermione and Ron talk about the adventure you are about to take before with them.  You step onto the ride platform, get strapped into your “broom” and take off for the most exciting 2 minutes I’ve ever had on a ride.  I may have screamed when we came face to face with a fire-breathing dragon and we got a little too close for comfort to the spider, Aragog, but I loved the ride and could’ve ridden it again and again all day long.

Following the ride, Stephen and I indulged in a little butterbeer and a little wand buying.  Yes, I bought a wand.  And yes, butterbeer is frothy, sweet and the “foam” they put on top was the finishing touch.  I even got a cute souvenir mug to take home.  I don’t hate it.

2 very happy people with that butterbeer...
Souvenir Mug
You know you want one.

We continued through the park, getting drenched on the Jurassic Park River Cruise.  If you go to this park and they tell you it’s like the Jungle Cruise at Disney World, they are lying.  It’s more like Splash Moutain with dinosaurs and more water.  Fun stuff.  And we only waited 10 minutes in line for the Hulk ride which is practically unheard of in a crazy-busy theme park like Universal.  It was awesome.

The Hulk

 After about 7 hours of sweaty fun, we headed back to the ship.  I was exhausted, hungry and eager to watch Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Bruins and the Canucks.  I ran walked briskly to the Fyzz Lounge where the game was being broadcast on a flat screen TV.  Lots of Bruins fans and even some Canuck fans took over the lounge.  In the end, if you didn’t watch the Stanley Cup Finals, the B’s won game 6 to force the series into game 7.  Stephen and I even met a nice couple from Pennsylvania who were Bruins supporters.  It’s nice to see temporary converts when their team doesn’t make the finals.

Tuesday and Wednesday were dedicated to the Bahamas themselves.  Tuesday, the ship pulled up to a gorgeous island, Great Stirrup Cay, where Stephen and I spent the day snorkeling, enjoying the white sandy beach and crystal clear water.  Okay, okay, I snorkeled all of 30 minutes before getting freaked out and opting to stay in the shallow part of the water and getting my tan on most of the day.  At least I tried the snorkeling part.  There were mere wisps of clouds that day and the sun was beating down hard.  Despite my efforts with applying and reapplying sunscreen, I found myself with a terrible burn later on.  Fail.

Great Stirrup Cay

On Wednesday, I was an attractive shade of boiled lobster.  Our ship docked in Nassau, Bahamas and in the distance, we could see the Atlantis Resort, one of the most expensive and glamourous resorts in the entire Caribbean.  I immediately thought of the Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen movie “Island in the Sun”.  Don’t judge.

Atlantis Resort

It was another hot day, lots of sun and minimal cloud cover.  Additional burning may have occurred.  We spent lots of time on the river rapids getting tossed around in inflated tubes and I even swam in the large pools.  I know, right… me, swimming?  I must’ve been wrapped up in the moment or something.  Stephen and I also attempted those large water slides the Atlantis water park is so famous for but in the blazing heat and unshaded long lines, we had to abandon our vertical drop adventures for a colder attraction.  Plus, I saw how steep and high the “Leap of Faith” slide was and totally chickened out.  No faith.

The Lagoon
The Royal Towers

Our passes also allowed us access to the resort’s aquarium, “The Dig.”

Aquarium
RIP Steve Urwin..

I was exhausted by the time we got back on the Jewel but there was no time for sleeping.  Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals was on and the Fyzz Lounge was packed. 

You know how things end…

BRUINS WON!

On that happy note, I had a glass of red wine and went to bed, excited to sleep in the next morning.

Thursday included such things as: a workout, lots of aloe-vera, reading, minimal sun and maximum entertainment.  We saw Duo ArtMotion in the Stardust Theater and were absolutely blown away.  A couple from the Ukraine, they perform complicated and dangerous aerial acts including tissue silks, a hollow box and rings.  They were both so incredibly flexible, effortless and flawless.  I was awestruck by the end. 

Other shows we saw on the ship included “Band on the Run” which was a 70’s inspired dance and singing show, a comedy variety show and Le Cirque Bijou, a mixture of dance, gymnastics and aerial acts performed by the Jewel Production Cast and Duo ArtMotion.

Amazing.

When Thursday rolled around, I was still burnt but not yet ready for my vacation to end.  A whole day at sea, we again took advantage of lots of down time, some room service, a complimentary cooking class, dinner with the great couple we met while watching the Bruins games and a comedy-magic show of the famous Jean Pierre.

Now, let me tell you… this guy was good.  Better than good.  At first, he draws you in with silly tricks, messing them up to make you think he doesn’t know what he is doing and then pulls the rug out from under you when he does something incredible.  Like making a playing card appear IN an orange that matched the one a kid pulled out the deck earlier in the show.  I can’t even explain it.  He was hysterical and I loved seeing him, not once, not twice but four times throughout the cruise.  And when JP tours in Boston, you know Stephen and I will be there.

Jean Pierre in his close-up show

Thursday night was dedicated to one thing: ASTI.  For those of you who don’t know, Asti Spumonti is an Italian sparkling white wine, very similiar to champagne and Stephen and I LOVE it.  We brought a huge bottle on board (yes, it was legal) and planned on drinking it all on Thursday night.  Which we did… and promptly fell asleep afterwards.

Asti = Happy Couple

Our last day at sea, Friday, was cooler as our ship tugged back up the east coast but there was still plenty of fun left.  We bought more souvenirs including an 8-year aged bottle of rum that was made in the Bahamas.  Stephen and I spent a little more time in the sun, I finished my book and started another and for dinner, we made reservations at one of the specialty restaurants on board: Sushi.  It was incredible but more about that in my next post!

To finish the night, the adult lounge on the top deck hosted the game “The Quest: What Happens on the Jewel, Stays on the Jewel.”  It was hilarious.  They even got a bunch of the men in the audience to strip down to their underwear, put on bras, lipstick and women’s shoes and show off their dance moves.  The guys on our team wouldn’t do it but hey, I wouldn’t have done it either!

So pretty!

Saturday morning eventually had to come and by 8am, we were docked NYC and back to reality.  Tan (burnt), relaxed and happy, we made the bus trip back to Boston in time to see the end of the Bruins parade trickle out.  It was an amazing vacation… we can’t wait to take another!

Aww

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