How do you really sum up and explain an amazing trip of a lifetime in a blog post? There is no way I can fully give the experience justice, and make you feel the way I felt on this vacation. But for the sake of documenting my memories and sharing with friends, I am going to attempt to provide a little taste.
July 4th finally came around! We had been looking forward to this trip for awhile, and it always seemed too far away to be real. Back in November last year, Jason and I stayed with Bryan in Draper while my parents went on a Disney Cruise for their 30th wedding anniversary. They had such an amazing time that they knew right then and there that they had to bring their family back with them.
You have to understand, this kind of vacation is so unlike my family! We have gone on some awesome and fun trips (Disneyland, Disneyworld, Hawaii, etc.) but the destination was always the highlight and as much as you would get. If Dad could have it his way, the only meals we would have would be the free continental breakfast, and perhaps a Top Ramen or Dollar Menu dinner at night. Trying to be fed on our usual family vacations was like pulling teeth, because we didn’t want to spend another cent on something extra. The mindset was that we couldn’t afford anything else. We were here and we should be grateful. So, to go on a cruise where we could eat to our hearts content, have unlimited entertainment, and be surrounded by a beautiful ship was unheard of. And then to add the name Disney to the equation, which isn’t the cheapest cruise line you can find, is UNREAL! And then of the Disney cruise ships, we took the newest and nicest! Wow! AND to be able to select three excursions to do at ports...OH MY GOSH! Something must be wrong with Dad! Is he feeling okay? Bryan was in denial pretty much up to the point of getting on the cruise ship.
Originally, the plan was to go over Christmas of 2013 and it would be our Christmas gift. But thanks to a recent announcement of lowered age for missionary service, we were all taken by surprise when Kimberly said she wanted to serve and wanted to leave in the summer. She was going to be turning 19 in June. After much negotiating, my parents decided to bump up the trip to the summer so we could all be there. This was especially great for Jason and I because that meant that we could leave Charlie behind with family. It would have been impossible to leave him behind over Christmas, but summertime offered a perfect opportunity. At that realization, my excitement for the cruise quadrupled!!! Of course it would have been fun to share some of the moments with Charlie, but being so young...he would not have even known what was going on, cared, or remembered. And the enjoyment of all would have been burdened slightly by his schedule and constant physical needs. We were so fortunate to have Nancy and George be so willing and able to tend Charlie for those ten days that we were gone. I knew Charlie was in the best of hands, so I didn’t have to worry a single bit. To be honest, I knew he was having a better time there with Grandma than he usually has at home. So all around, we were happy campers.
We took the red-eye flight to Orlando (with a stop in Detroit….which is a beautiful airport by the way), on Thursday night. Now, the cruise didn’t actually embark until Saturday afternoon...so why did we fly out a day early? There was a little bit of confusion on my Dad’s end when booking the flights. Just so you know, 12:30 AM is super early in the morning, not in the middle of the day. So we kind of missed out on your typical 4th of July activities...but not really. As we were packing up the suburban at 9:30 at night, we were surrounded by aerial fireworks going off non-stop! The neighbors really took the fireworks seriously this year. We felt like we were near a battle zone with shells and bombs going off in every direction. It was almost like a competition between one circle and another. The fireworks made the head-out all the more exciting (not that we needed it). And as we were driving to the airport, we were able to enjoy the big firework shows of the different cities from the freeway. It was really fun.
Just the two of us...feels kind of strange
Such an empty flight...we all had our own row to stretch out and sleep
No shame sleeping during layover!
A happy daddy...so happy to have his whole family here!
To be honest, having that extra day in Florida turned out to be great! Those who were tired from the flight and wanted to prepare for the cruise could get some rest, and those who wanted to explore the waves on the beach could do so. Jason, Kimberly, and I ventured out to Cocoa Beach while the others slept the day away. The waves were so fun and perfect for body surfing. The water was warm, and we stayed out there for a good couple of hours. We were exhausted but wanted to take it all in. We were so lucky, because that night they were lighting fireworks off from the ocean. We found a great spot on the beach, where we could sit on some handrails but still be in the sand. The firework show was amazing!! It was the longest show I had ever seen. They were going off for a solid 30 minutes...almost to the point where I was ready for them to be done. What a show!!! See, we got to celebrate the 4th of July after all!
Waiting for the firework show
The next day was all about packing up, and getting to Port Canaveral as early as possible.We wanted to get there as early as allowed so we could spend the day on the ship before it set sail.
At the Disney port...can't wait to get on the ship!
The two that made it all possible!
Here we go!
(to be continued...)