"Rocking, rocking over the deep blue sea….." okay, I know that that’s not how the song goes but that’s exactly how I’m feeling right now. Ever since we docked yesterday I’ve been having trouble walking a straight line. Even when I’m sitting I can still feel myself rocking! It’s a VERY odd feeling. A little after cruise souvenir I guess – LOL!
I want to start by apologizing that I didn’t post while I was away – I had absolutely every intention of it, and I actually DID try. The internet connection on the ship was horrendously slow – worse than dial-up! Plus, because it was a connection by satellite, it was also hugely expensive – $0.70 a minute or if you got a plan, anywhere between $0.40 – $0.55 per minute. The worse part was that because it was so slow it ate up your minutes soooo quickly. I pretty much used up all my minutes trying to keep up with emails until that stopped working for me. For some reason every time I tried to open an email or send one my internet connection froze. Same thing when I tried uploading to my blog, so, now I’m doing catch up!
I’ll be getting back to all of you who emailed me while I was away a bit later today once I’ve had a chance to upack and get organized!
Day 1: Our first day was an unbelievably looong day! Despite almost two solid weeks of shopping, running errands and trying to get organized for cruise, we FINALLY just barely managed to leave Cambridge, ON at 8:30 pm on Friday night. We arrived in Ottawa after a 5 hour drive at around 2:00 am, put the baby to bed and gave my parents all the last minute instructions on his routine, go to bet around 3:15 am and then had to be up and on our way to the airport by 4 am. We travelled from Ottawa to Montreal, then from there to Newark airport in New Jersey.
You can see us here at the airport looking pretty exhausted and bedraggled, but despite all of that feeling VERY excited! Stampin’ Up! had buses there to take us right to the cruise ship, however the whole boarding proceedure took another few hours, and we didn’t actually get on the ship until about 1 pm. Of course the cabins still weren’t ready, so we had to hang out in the lido lounge until we were able to get into our cabin.
You can see the kids here making themselves comfortable! We got into our cabins around 3:00 pm, unpacked, changed, got settled, then spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the ship. The ship set sail from New York City at 5:00 pm . It was pretty early night for us all as by evening we were quite exhausted.
Day 2: Our first full day at sea. The ship had an amazing program for kids called Club Hal and the kids couldn’t get enough of it. While we were at sea they had a morning session from 9 am – 11:30 am, an afternoon session from 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm and then an evening session from 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm. While the kids were in the morning session, I dragged my husband to the Stampin’ Up! General Session. Door prize time was the funniest because I never win door prizes at big events like this. So when door prize time came, I turned to my husband and said, "you’ve just got to watch the crazy stamping ladies when their name gets called, it’s too funny!" Well, then MY name got called, and suddenly, I WAS one of the "crazy stamping ladies" – jumping up and down squealing with excitement. My husband got a good laugh out of that! Shelli Gardner sure pegged us right when she said, "It doesn’t matter what you guys win, it could be an ugly set (not that there are any) and you’d still get excited!"
In between the clubs and meals, we spent quite a bit of time at the pool on the Lido Deck.
As you can see from the picture it was quite amazing. It was completely enclosed, and had 3 hot tubs. Good thing too because the weather outside was pretty cool. That night we had our first formal night aboard the ship. The kids were so impressed, especially the boys as they got to dress up like Daddy and wear their "gentleman’s clothes" as they called it.
You can see part of the Vista Dinning Room in this picture. We were travelling with my mother- and father-in-law, and we were sharing a table with a really nice demonstrator from Texas named Jennifer Cotton, her husband Scott (who was quite a character and kept us all laughing!) and her daughter Isabel (whom you can see in the bottom right of the picture). It was another fairly quiet evening for us, although my husband did check out the poker tables – LOL!
Day 3: We arrived in Bermuda sometime around 8:30 am, disembarked shortly after, then spent the morning exploring the Royal Naval Dockyards. It was really quaint and so pretty. It was quite cool and windy though – the temperature was about 62 degrees F – so we were only out for about 3 hours or so. Of course the kids didn’t want to miss Club Hal, so we HAD to be back by 1 pm.
You can see a picture of our cruise ship just above. It was Holland-America’s MS Noordam. This was really the first real opportunity we had to see and take a picture of the whole ship.
Day 4: Today we took a taxi into Hamilton, the capital of Bermuda (about a 30 minute drive), and spent the morning exploring the city and doing a little shopping.
It was incredibly beautiful! Unlike any place I’ve ever been. All the buildings were pastel-colored. There were hundreds of scooters everywhere. It was very fascinating, and we learned a lot of really interesting things. I was surprised at how VERY expensive everything was though. Just to give you an example, house prices for a SMALL house are over $1 M.
In the late afternoon/early evening they had a BBQ by the pool. It was really neat! They had the ceiling over the pool partially open, had big open flame BBQs, and had a really tasty buffet prepared. Let me tell you, there was no shortage of food to eat! We could have eaten 24/7!
Day 5 : We took an Aquarium and Caves Bus tour today. The first part of the tour was at the Bermuda Aquariums and Zoo. From there we went to some caves called the Crystal Caverns and Fantasy Caves. Although not very big as far as caves go, they were still very beautiful. You can see a picture of us with my father-in-law in the caves themselves.
On our way back to the ship the tour briefly stopped at one of the beaches.
As you can see from the picture the beaches were so incredibly beautiful. The sand was a whitish-pinkish color, the water was incredibly blue, and the sky so clear! Once our tour was over my husband ended up taking the kids back to the beach in the afternoon. That evening (just after 10 pm), there was a Chocolate extravaganza on board the ship! Although I have a picture below, it doesn’t really show the incredible decadence and extravagance of the whole event – it was too dark & too crowded, so my pictures didn’t really turn out very well.
The entire pool was surrounded by tables filled with desserts. There were ice sculptures and chocolate sculptures and both a white and dark chocolate fountain. Because we weren’t able to find a place to sit, my husband ended up taking the kids back to the cabin, and I was the official dessert-bringer. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it before, but my two boys have nut allergies, so all they were able to eat was the fruit dipped in the chocolate fountain. Consequently I brought back a HUGE bowl of chocolate covered strawberries and bananas back to our room. I was getting quite a few looks as I walked by with my heaping plate, and I’m sure people must have thought "that woman must be eating for 4!" – LOL!
Day 6: Today was our last day in Bermuda, and we took a glass bottom boat excursion. The kids absolutely loved this. You can see the glass bottom in the picture on the left. It gave us such a great view of the reef and the fish. As part of the tour we saw a sunken ship that was 112 years old, got to feed the fish some bread and kept a look-out for sea turtles.
It was quite windy and slippery on the top deck of the ship. We had to keep a close arm around the kids, especially Julia as she almost went overboard! No shortage of excitement let me tell you – LOL!
In the evening I spent some time in the Stampin’ Up! hospitality lounge taking pictures of the displays. Take a look at this one, it’s got some of the sneak peeks from the upcoming cattie that were revealed during the general session. It shows the new in colors, and a few of the new images:
Day 7: Today was Make and Take day, and a GREAT way to spend our last full day at sea. One of the things I haven’t mentioned yet is that every night Stampin’ Up! left gifts on our bed. We received things like: t a fleece blanked with the SU logo, a beach tote, a customized water bottle with rub-ons inside, a cello bag filled with treats, a calendar, and of course our make and take supplies. That was by far the best. We received a new stamp set from the upcoming cattie, 7 markers, a versaMark pad and Black Staz On pad, all packaged in an adorable little orange tote with the SU logo. I don’t have a picture right now of the tote, but you can see a sample board that has samples using the set we received.
You can see a bit of the Make and Take area in the picture below. We make 2 cards and a little brag book which I’ll share with you in a later post as I still haven’t taken pictures of them.
It ended up being a pretty early night for me as by the afternoon the ship was rocking like crazy and for the first time during the whole trip I started to feel sea sick. Apparently we went through a Gale force 11 storm – and boy could you feel it!
Day 8: Home again. The ship docked in New York City around 8 am. The entire day was pretty much a whole day of waiting. We had to be out of our cabins by about 8:30 am. We hung around the pool with all our carry-on bags until 10:30 am, when it was our turn to disembark. From there we were taken to La Guardia airport, where we hung around some more until our flight left at 4:30 pm. Thank heavens for the sketch books and color pencil I brought, as it kept the kids busy and out of trouble all afternoon!
We arrived in Ottawa shortly after 6 pm, picked up Matthew, ate dinner with my parents and drove back to Cambridge. We arrived home about 1 am this morning.
All in all, it was an absolutely AMAZING experience. It has really reinforced for me what a phenomenal company Stampin’ Up! is to be a part of. We felt so special the whole cruise, and you really felt how much appreciation Stampin’ Up! has for it’s demonstrators. I am so looking forward to the next trip!