Saturday, December 17, 2016

Carnival Cruise Oct 2016

(This is for you Mom, I'm going to play some catchup...)

Once upon a time, Lisa Astle and I had this great idea to go on a Humanitarian Cruise with Fathom Cruise line.
We convinced our husbands...
Then we decided it would be an awesome opportunity to take our girls since it was super inexpensive! (apparently due to the fact that not everyone feels the same as us that a humanitarian cruise sounds amazing. Their numbers for our week were very low, and they were trying to get people to book.)

Unfortunately... kids had to be 8 to do any of the humanitarian excursions.
That left Lydia out, and we couldn't just leave her home alone and take all her sisters, so Jadyn was out too.
Poor Kenna ended up getting the shaft when we didn't want to book 2 rooms for the 5 of us.
(I think we made up for it with the DC trip we took last week haha) 
We ended up booking a week for the 4 of us for $1400.  TOTAL!
We were pumped and all lined up to dock @ Amber Cove in the Dominican Republic for four days to do humanitarian work... teaching at a school, pouring cement, working in a chocolate factory etc.  Then four weeks before we were to leave, Lisa looked on our online booking and Fathom had changed our itinerary to a week in Cuba, without contacting us.
I've never had a desire to go to Cuba, I mean it would be cool to visit since Fathom was the first cruise line from the US traveling there.  But we were going to have to expedite passports for Tayler and Saige, there were mandatory bus tour excursions and tons of strange rules.  It just wasn't what we were hoping for, we were all super bummed!
So... we canceled that cruise.  But we already had flights, so we ended up booking a 6 day cruise that left the same day, that cost us more $, but would take us to the Dominican Republic so we could experience at least one day of service at the orphanage we had visited back in March.

And that's the story of why we pulled our two oldest out of school to go on a cruise. hahaha

I'm not sad we did, and pretty sure they weren't too broken up about it either!
We sure had a great time!

We were super lucky.
Remember Hurricane Matthew?
Well we made it there the day after it hit Florida.
The Astle's flight got canceled and rescheduled and we had to miss our stop to Half Moon Bay in the Bahamas because of damage to the island.  But if we had been leaving even a day earlier it would have been terrible for us!

We got split up in line with the Astle's cuz, "they are way more VIP than us." ;)  So no boarding pictures together. haha

You can bet we headed straight for the food.
Lots and lots of it all week of course.

And plenty of ice cream.

Fun in the sun...

and out of the sun.

We played in about every "game" we could.
This was cranium.

Can't remember what this one was, but our team won.
And the rest of the team was happy that we took the candy and let them take the champagne. ;)

Simon says.
Tayler got called up on stage and her team won.

As always our goal was medals.
Way to represent girls.
Even if you did beat your parents!

Such cute little sailor boys....

Two formal nights...

Our great waiters, Ratu & Ketut.

And some not so formal nights. :)

Pretty sure Saige made us stop and get a picture with almost every photographer... every night! hahaha
It made for some good laughs finding them all.

Our first stop was Amber Cove in the Dominican Republic.
This was our favorite day.  It was the closest to what we had hoped our cruise was in the first place.

We had arranged to have the same driver, Renee and guide Julio, that we had back in the spring.
They were great, we even had lunch with Renee's wife and new baby that we had brought little gifts for.

Our first stop was this orphanage.  

And how could it not be a great day when you are greeted by these happy little girls singing to you????

They were so happy to see us, and were excited when we showed them pictures of themselves with us from 6 months ago.

We played card games with them...
And can you tell from Tayler's face that it was HOT?

They loved Saige's hair.

They karaoked for us.
Danced for us.
And danced with us.

We introduced them to "polaroids".
They loved it.  bahahaha
We told them all to start with one.
So some of the girls would run and hide theirs, then act like they hadn't got one. 
That was pretty funny!
They all ended up with several and would have had us keep taking more if we hadn't used all 100 of the shots up.

This is Saige's "wait your turn face."  Also the, "I don't speak that much Spanish face, although I can tell you would like another picture." :)

We had treats and a packet of stuff for each of the girls.
SUCH a rewarding day! 
A day I hope our girls NEVER forget!

We did a little exploring of Puerto Plata

Then headed back to Amber Cove to enjoy the pool for a few minutes.
We were hot sweaty messes.
Like soaked through every layer sweaty.
Pretty sure Tayler and Saige thought they were going to pass away before they got to the pool.
 I made them take one last picture.

I wanted them to go shopping with me for a bit, but they declined... and pretty much ran for the pool.

Such an incredible day!

The next day was spent on the beach at Grand Turk.

(and the following day we stayed inside, cuz our whole family got fried! hahaha)

Lots of attempts for tricks on the beach... some looked better than other. ;)

A little yoga...

and jumping pictures...

and tree climbing...

and attempts at tree climbing... ;)

Conch shell hunting.
Although no hunting needed, they were everywhere.
And Tayler now has several on display in her apartment. ;)

There was a lot of relaxing like this...
for far too long our skin told us later that evening.

One super fantastic, relaxing day.
(Thanks for our matching shirts Lisa).

The next day we broke out the Dr. Seuss costumes we had stashed in the suitcases and the guys dressed up for us... not super enthusiastically.

But really who wouldn't love a Dr. Seuss breakfast?
Complete with green eggs and ham, truffala tree pancakes and yogurt parfait Schlopp.

I think maybe these two "Things"...

And we can't forget their picture with "Sexy Rexy" ;)

Or when after breakfast Lisa noticed that Shane's shirt was on backwards and none of us had noticed the whole time.
See that big St. Thomas in the picture above?
Nope...not the front of the shirt. bahahaha

This was also the day that we broke out the shirts to celebrate Joe's 50th birthday. 
Glad you were born Joe, cuz what would life be like without Joe?
I'll tell ya...

A little mini-golf that windy day.

And hanging out with our favorites.

The next day they kicked us off the ship. :{  
Since our cruise ended up being a day shorter, we had a whole day to kill in Miami.
Unfortunately... it was pouring rain.
So we spent the day shopping in a huge mall.
Shane's absolute favorite pastime. ;)

That next morning (Joe's actual birthday) we headed for home.  What a fabulous week it was together!
We missed our little ones dearly, but they were having an absolute blast being cared for by the best...  Josh and Kayla Astle.  And they were loving spending all that time with baby Jayne.

An incredible week for all of us!