Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Cruisin on a "Dam" Ship

We were lucky enough to go on a cruise to the Carribean over Spring Break, thanks to my wonderful brother-in-law Adam who works for Holland America. He got us a sweet friends and family deal and we decided to try out cruisin' as a way of vacationing. We were not disappointed. Here are the highlights of our journey.

The night before our cruise we stayed in a Marriott right on the beach in Fort Lauderdale (thanks to Courtney, our favorite Marriott associate). This is Aaron standing by the pool of our hotel. We had amazing views, which we mostly enjoyed from our rooms because there was a little too much action for us down on the beach.

After exploring the ship and eating our first buffet meal, the first activity was the emergency drill.

Of course we had to try out the room service our first night there. Cookies and milk and a cheese plate. It was so great getting room sevice and not having to pay extra for it!

Our first full day was a day at sea. This is the day where we met up with our fabulous mega trivia team. We decided to try out the trivia activity, and were approached by some older women that wanted some more people on their team. It ended up working out great because we had a few different generations and areas of trivia covered. We won 1st place on our very first day, and all because we got the 5 point bonus question "Who founded mormonism?" I think we may have been the only ones that got it right (other guesses were Brigham Young and Joseph Smith without the Jr). Since we carried our team to victory on day one, we met up with them every day after that for the mega trivia challenge and we managed to win one more time. I know it may sound a bit nerdy, but we had a great time and got to use some of our random knowledge to win "dam" dollars which bought us a "dam" shirt and a "dam" mug.

The first day was also the formal night in the dining room. We enjoyed dressing up and eating our five course meal.

Our first port was Grand Turk, a small island that is only one mile wide and seven miles long.
We drove across the island and then went on a horseback ride and swim.
We rode the horses for awhile on the sand and roads and got to see their most famous landmark, a lighthouse. And then the cool part came. They changed the sadles to harnesses and then we got to ride the horses in the ocean! The horses were so fast in the water, and the waves were crashing, and you had to squeeze your legs on the horse to stay on (no stirrups). It was so much fun, definitely one of the most memorable activities of the cruise.
Next stop was Puerto Rico. This was probably my favorite port because it was a really cool town with lots to see, and we could do it all on our own without having to pay for transportation or a tour. We found a map and walked all over Old San Juan.

Picture below is to show why I should take the pictures and not Aaron. Ever since Europe we like to find cool statues and then imitate them in our pics. We have a lot of Aaron doing this in Europe. But he decided I should take this one, I suppose since it was a woman. Too bad he cut off the top of the statue, so you can't see what she is doing, and I just look like I'm crazy.

View of the old city wall on our walk to El Morro.
El Morro is a fort on the tip of the island. We got to explore and do a little walking tour, reminiscent of touring old castles in Europe.

Then we walked to 2nd oldest church in Western Hemisphere and saw the statue of Ponce de Leon.

Saw this street with all these colored buildings and cool old cars. Later found out it is one spot where Johnny Depp is currently filming a movie. We saw some trailers and such...but unfortunately no Johnny Depp.

Waiting for the free trolley because we were tired of walking but apparently other people had the same idea because it was full and we ended up walking back to cruise ship anyway.
Another fort on the coast...don't remember the name...but not as big or cool as El Morro.
Statue of Christopher Colombus.

And we made it back to the ship in time to watch the sunset from the upper deck.

Next day was St. Maarten. We couldn't quite figure out why people would want to stop here. The main attractions seemed to be lots and lots of jewelry and liquor stores. I guess people like to buy their jewelry when they don't have to pay taxes. We walked around for awhile, but had no problem making it back to the ship in time for afternoon mega trivia.

This was one of Aaron's favorite spots to read and hang out when the ship was rocking and he felt sick.

This was the dessert extravaganza, which was one of the things I was most looking forward to...and it was pretty fabulous.

On the second formal night we decided to have our lobster and crab delivered to our room. Aaron didn't want to feel bad if he didn't like it and didn't eat all of it in the dining room.

And judging by his face, you can probably figure out how he felt about it, although he did finish all of his and some of mine...I think just because he didn't want to be wasteful.

I tried my hand at towel animal making when our expert cabin steward taught a class to see if I had an undiscovered talent for making animals out of towels. Here is my first and only is an elephant.
We spent our last day at Half Moon Cay, Holland America's private island in the Bahamas. The beaches were beautiful and we enjoyed spending the day drinking pina coladas and reading on the beach. I also enjoyed swimming...but I'm not sure I can say the same for Aaron. Apparently his feelings for swimming in the Carribean are only slightly more positive than his feelings for swimming in the pacific. I guess he just has to be riding a horse to enjoy it.

We had a great trip! And hopefully it is the first of more cruises to come in our future.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

What will you celebrate?

In case you haven't heard, the new Disneyland theme this year is "What will you celebrate?"  And to celebrate Disneyland is letting you in for free on your birthday.  So, you may think, well you are already an annual passholder, so how does that help you?  But annual passholders can get a gift card for the amount of a one day ticket (which is almost 70$).  Unfortunately, that is only if you pass is actually good that day...and since my birthday fell on a Saturday this year and my pass was didn't really help me.  But we got a button and pretended like it was my birthday.  Here are the highlights:

We got to ride the new and improved Small World.  They put Disney characters (in the same style as the dolls) throughout the ride.  It was fun to try and find all of them.  This was Jake's favorite ride...well we think it was his favorite ride...
I think this is Aaron's favorite ride...but you might not think that from the picture.  Thank you Johnny for always sitting in the front and blocking the water for the rest of us, even when you don't want to and we make you.Add Video

We were extra lucky on this trip, because Aaron's parents and brother were there.  Alan was performing with the Hughson band and choir, so we got to see two performances.  And we enjoyed a fabulous pre-birthday dinner at the Cheesecake Factory...the coconut chocolate cheesecake was amazing...I may have a new favorite dessert.
We got to stay at a beach house in Newport Beach, on of our favorite places to stay.  This is us on the pier on my actual birthday (and yes, we know how weird we look).
A great trip, as always...and now that Aaron has gotten his new school schedule, it looks like we may not have another repeat for awhile.  This one will have to satisfy my Disneyland obsessions for awhile.