Monday, July 27, 2009

The three hour tour....

Well, the "tour" really lasted 3 nights, but this post is going to take me at least 3 hours to upload all of the pictures!

We've been back from our cruise for a week now. I am proud to say that the suitcases are FINALLY unpacked and all the clothes are washed and put away. Whew... what a week last week was! We had lots going on, but before all of that, I have to post about our trip.
Me & Devin on the ship one night after dinner

Growing up, for at least two weeks of my summer vacation I could be found in North Georgia with my mom's two sisters and their families. There were 8 of us kids (5 girls and the 3 boys). We were quite the handful, I'm sure. We've always been close and for the past ten plus years it's been fun to see everyone get married and start having babies of our own. We still see each other pretty regular and I enjoy any time I get to spend with the crew... They ALL live in Georgia now, including my brother, except for the 2 youngest of us... me and Stephanie (who lives in Houston, TX).

This year, the girls all thought we'd have a summer get together, for old times sake....We thought a cruise would be fun for a big group...Gabe, Amy & DW all turn 30 within the year, so that gave us a reason to celebrate! We would have loved for the boys and their wives to have joined us on this trip, but 2 of them just had brand new babies and we didn't think the other would want to drag off with us without the other two... We think we should do some kind of trip every couple years, so maybe the next one will be all 8 of us & our spouses!

The plan was for the 3 Georgia girls and their men to head to Florida on Wednesday. They got to our house in time for dinner and we picked up some take-out. I had a little surprise waiting for them...

DW's Aunt who has EVERY crafty, amazing, thing possible, has a screenprinter and she helped me (more like she did them and I watched) make T-Shirts for everyone for the trip. Yep, we were like one of those big families with the reunion 2009 t-shirts on! It was hilarious... We all wore them down to Port Canaveral to get on the cruise ship. I wasn't sure if we'd get the boys to wear theirs, but they were such good sports...

Thursday morning, we headed out (all dressed in our Cousins' Cruise 2009 T-Shirts!)






Adam & Lauren (DW's brother & our S-I-L) also went on the trip with us. We were with them leading the pack... Gabe & Amy were following in her car with all the luggage, and the Jasons & Becky & Krissy were behind them in another truck... we had quite the 'caravan'...


We met Henry & Stephanie at the exit just before the Turnpike. They had flown in from Houston on Wednesday, but spent the night with H's sister. Of course, we had their shirts out and ready for them to change!



Heading down to catch the boat was a trip in itself... We had the Sunpass in the car we were in for the tolls, and so it made it really hard for the other two cars to stay with us... We wanted to make sure they knew where we going, so we pulled off twice on side of the road to wait on them... The only time it really got scary is when we were stopped on the side of the turnpike, and I was sitting in the very back of the Tahoe (my usual spot, because DW is usually driving and I'm one of the only ones in our family who doesn't get car sick) surrounded by luggage and I hear a honk, look up, and there's a FritoLays delivery truck RIGHT there. I thought we were all going to be eating Doritos for lunch... He flew past us and besides a few heart palpitations I was fine... Several minutes later, one of the cars in our crew made a sudden stop on side of the road and one of our group members (no names...ha) made a mad dash from the car to the porta-potty that was ON SIDE OF THE ROAD. Anybody who really knows me, knows it was NOT me... I've never even seen the inside of a porta-potty. I have serious issues with public restrooms, not to mention little boxes used for pottying....I guess when it's an emergency, it's an emergency...I've never been that desperate...thankfully! I personally like NOT knowing what a porta-potty looks like....





Our 'Cousin Caravan' made it to the cruise terminal around 1:00. We unloaded our luggage, tagged it and sent it on it's way, hoping it would make it back to us! Three of the guys went and parked all the cars and the rest of us got in line. A really LONG line...


After security checks, health forms being filled out, and checking in, we were ready to board the ship... but only after a group shot with the cheesy cruise ship background. Our group was so big, you can see that we don't fit the backdrop...



All the cousins & our husbands



We headed for our rooms... This was the first cruise that DW and I have been on that either of us had had a balcony. Actually, this was only our second cruise together, and come to think of it, this was the first time we were in the same room! Our first cruise together was with DW's family in 2003, and we weren't married yet.


What a nice upgrade! The room was bigger than either of us had ever had and having a balcony was really neat... I was scared at first, at the thought of going on it, but once I got out there, I was fine... we were on the very back of the ship, so the view was really awesome... When we got to our rooms, Amy & Devin were surprised to find that both of our rooms were decorated with "Happy Birthday" banners and streamers!





Steph, Me, Becky & Amy on Gabe & Amy's balcony after checking in...


After checking out our rooms, we headed up to the Lido Deck (why is it called the Lido deck? And does anyone else find that as funny as I do?!?!?).... to get some lunch...



We checked out the rest of the ship and got ready for the safety talk...then it was off to see what was happening on the ship. We found a place to sit and watch karaoke... Yall see those nice stringy silvery things hanging overhead? Those light up at night... oh yeah.... that's something to see for sure... ha....




Friday we arrived in Nassau around 11:00 a.m. We had booked an excursion and made our way off the boat.


me & DW getting off the boat...



We found the group for our excursion and waited for instructions.... they gave us our 'ticket' to get on the boat, and Stephanie & Henry got their arm bands (they got the deluxe one, and were going to snorkel with the stingrays). Finally the group leader comes over, and the crowd makes its way through the Bahamas customs welcome center and down the dock to find the boat... Somehow, our group got separated. 4 of the group went on ahead...we were able to keep them in sight, even though a mass of people were between us.... on the walk over, we checked out the boats docked and all the fish that were right at the pier..... I love this picture of Krissy & Steph. It reminds me of one of my favorites that we have of our Great-Grandmother shopping. It's of her back, walking down the street, just like this...


These were the fish that were right at the pier... so neat...

We kept our eyes on the front members of the group, until we lost sight of them... The dock got more crowded and there were people EVERYWHERE trying to sell us water, braid our hair, or rent us a scooter... we needed to make a slight turn on the dock, but since there were no signs and we were so far away from the group leader, we didn't know it... we kept following the crowd and as we got further down the dock, I told DW that I didn't see a boat like the one we were suppose to be taking to the island... we turn around just in time to see the boat that we were suppose to be on, taking off.... and 4 of our group on top of it... We yelled for them to stop... and another captain of another boat got on his radio and tried to stop them... the driver wouldn't back up and let us on and assured Gabe, Amy, Adam & Lauren that we'd get to the island by a smaller boat. Yeah, right. We tried to get someone to take us out there... Well, they informed us, IF a smaller boat came, it would be at least another $200.00 to take us over to the island. That meant sitting at the dock, waiting on a 'taxi' boat that might or might not come and if it did, who knew how long it would be before it came... Nah... we decided to head back to the boat to see if we were going to get refunded for the excursion....


our ship




Here we are trying to explain what happened and asking if we'd get a refund....


Our very helpful (insert sarcastic tone here) friend 'Svet' informed us that he did not know if we'd get a refund. We'd need to talk with someone else the next day who'd be at the desk between noon and 1:30. Ill isn't even the word. We were all pretty upset that we'd missed the excursion and even more aggravated that Svet couldn't tell us if we'd get our money back or not. We were pretty confident we'd get our money back, so we grabbed some lunch on the ship and headed back out to find something to do and made the choice to make it a good day....

We got a taxi and headed to the Atlantis.


Our taxi


in the taxi, on the ride over.... it was our group and that one guy in front of DW...who happens to be SMILING for the picture! ha...

We went through a part of the hotel and thought about trying to buy a day pass so that we could use their pools, private beach, water slides, lazy river & go through the aquarium! (I REALLY want to fly down to the Bahamas and stay at the Atlantis...there's so much to do there!) As we walked through the hotel, we imagined all the fun the rest of group was having... we figured they were living it up laying in comfy beach chairs and laying in hammocks on a private beach... Here's H & Steph doing their best to look like we're having SO MUCH FUN... ha... Henry, Steph, Me, & Devin

When we made it to the door that lead to the pool, a guard asked to see our room key or wrist bands... Ooohhhh... well, we don't have any... we asked the lady at the desk, if we could buy a day pass... she informed us that they were sold out of passes for the day (they only sell so many) and that IF she did have a pass to sell, it would be $110.00 per person for the day.

Having seen and done all we could at Atlantis, we headed to the public beach.



See our 'friend' from the taxi on the far right? He was seriously wanting in my pictures, huh?!?

Besides being bombarded with people wanting to sell us stuff from the moment our toes touched that white sand, the beach was fantastic! We did rent some chairs from some locals and turned down about 10 requests to braid our hair. We spent most of the day in the crystal clear aqua blue water... it was so beautiful.....









you can see in the picture, how crowded the public beach was....it was still good, though...










I said I was going to photoshop Amy in these pics... :)



I think I've written this on every beach trip we've ever been on together! :)

We spent some of the day laying in our rented chairs...we moved them into the water in hopes of avoiding some of the jet ski fumes that kept blowing our way when the rental people kept pulling them to shore to try to rent them out....

When it was time to head back to the ship, we walked back up to the main road to catch a taxi back....



It was actually kind of a scary ride back, when the driver just pulls over at a gas station, says nothing, and gets out. He put some air in one of the tires and we were back on the road... Weird, but it was fun getting to see the inside part of Nassau by taxi...

The taxi dropped us off, and we headed down to the straw market. No trip would be complete without at least seeing it. We bought Annabelle a tiny little purse from the first vendor and then we waited outside. It was so hot in there and since we've seen it before, we just waited on the group outside. After the straw market we headed back to the boat to get ready for dinner and meet up with everyone else. The day didn't go at all as planned, but it turned out to be a good one. The worst part was not all being togehter, like we had hoped to do....

That night at dinner we had birthday cake brought to the table for Devin & Amy and our waiters sang Happy Birthday. I didnt have my camera at dinner that night, but we do have some pics of it, just on one of the other girls' cameras...


@ dinner the last night

Gabe, Amy, Becky, Jason, Krissy & Jason (before the rest of us sat down... Devin, me, Adam, Lauren & Henry & Stephanie were having our pictures taken downstairs... the old timey dress up pictures.. they were hilarious... My favorite was Henry in the chaps... too funny...we didnt buy them, so I dont have any pics of it...)

Every night we went to the show. The first night it was an 80's theme. We (the girls) LOVED it! We (the girls, again) sang along & danced in our seats...

We also saw a comedian one night.


the whole group at the comedy show


He wasnt funny at all, but we managed to make our own jokes and have a good time anyway!


Saturday was a day at sea. We laid out and got some sun, took naps and talked about how fast the trip had flown by! Devin, Adam, me, & Lauren after dinner the last night

That night after dinner, we had yet another birthday surprise for DW and Amy... a little '30' party... we claimed one of the purple velvet couches in one of the atriums and Becky & Krissy snuck up there to get everything set out. We had all planned before the trip to bring 30 of something that reminded us of them, for DW and Amy...


Devin & Amy @ thier "surprise party"




My "30" for DW was a book of 30 reasons I love him...




One of Amy's "30" was 20 different flavored chapsticks! (LOVE it... we all used to be obsessed with flavored chapsticks... I think we even ate them, too! Ha... and 10 Lisa Frank stickers! Love it!


Adam & Lauren brought DW 30 racecars. (with 88 painted on them...Dale Jr's number) Too funny, since Jr. is Adam's guy NOT Devin's! Ha...

I love this picture of Amy... laughing so hard...




Everyone did so good with their "30" things... they were all cute and funny... I dont have pictures of all of them, though....


That night, after our "30 party", we took pictures on the staircase. I think some of our first time cruisers were a little surprised that the staircase was not a mahogony Titanic-like staircase, but a shiny gold one! Ha....


the cousins on the staircase


Gabe & Amy




Adam (I think I have a self-portrait of him from EVERY trip we've ever been on.) He always does this pose. Usually though, he goes full "thinker" on me, and rests his chin on his wrist...





Steph & Henry doing their "prom" pose


Becky & Jason


Krissy & Jason

Devin, Adam, Me & Lauren



This is why you don't leave your camera laying around for Stephanie & Henry to get... you end up with numerous self-taken shots like these... ha....



Pictures taken like this are so very Stephanie. I cant tell you how many times we've taken pictures like this together. Most of the pictures of her and Henry are taken this way, too... Too funny... I always love the ones when one is wearing sunglasses, and you can see the reflection of their arm stretched out to take the picture!





Before dinner on the last night, we finally got around to having a group picture taken by the on-ship photographers with the background and all.... none of the ones of the entire group turned out good.... but we wanted to at least get one of just us 5 cousins...... None of us were really loving the picture, but it was the best we had to pick from... I dont know if it's the really terrible backdrop or the fact that I look pregnant that makes me not really like the picture, but like I said, we had to have one of the 5 of us...




The pictures are where the cruise people make a killing... this one picture was $19.99! Crazy, huh? Lauren had a great point though, they'd probably sell so many more if they wouldnt put all the crazy borders around the pictures when they print them... for real... I'll never frame this picture because of the crazy border, but we did end up buying it... I think Annabelle will love to look at this one day when she's about 15 and make fun of the way we look! ha...





Devin, me & the cruise ship border that covers almost his entire body... for real?!?!?


It really was a fun trip. It's hard to believe that we planned and talked about it so much and now it has already come and gone! I am thankful to have such great family... family who married great people, who all get along and actually enjoy being around each other. Even though we're all different, we love and accept each other.

Of course the best part of the whole trip, was COMING HOME to this:

Annabelle with her souveiner... one the other side it has a pink flip flop on it...


We did so good being away from her! I was so shocked. I had prayed hard that we'd do okay leaving her. I was so worried that I'd be worried about her the whole time that we wouldnt have be able to enjoy the trip... worrying about worrying... that's me... ha.... It was the complete opposite... We did great and of course she did, too...


~annie~

10 comments:

Julianne Hendrickson said...

WOW!! I think being left by the cruise ship might have made my heart skip a beat too! Yikes--at least you made the most of it! Atlantis is my all-time most favorite place to be, there is so much to do!! I would love to go with my hubs one day. Love that pretty pic of Annabelle too--that smile is to die for!

Stephanie Heintz said...

Totally forgot a/b the pictures H and I took....you're right, typical me. :)

I've been waiting for this post for a while now and must say you didn't disappoint! We had the best time! Looks like you picked the right souvenir for Annabelle! Shes looks mighty excited to have that cool purse!
Love you.

Sherrie said...

What wonderful memories you have. How fun to go on a cruise with a group.

Charon Benton said...

WOW! Looks like y'all had a GREAT trip! I love the shirts Aunt J. made for y'all! Also, the Atlantis is one of my favorite places too! The last cruise we were on, we had a balcony too and doesn't it make it seem like the room is WAY bigger? We loved it!
Glad you are HOME though!

Carrie said...

I am so glad you sat down and took the required 5 hours to post about your trip. The pictures are great...all except that one of y'all with the larger than life cruise ship border! Wow. I hope y'all didn't pay $19.99 for that one. Looks like you had so much fun. I love that you had a chance to get together with the cousins and take a big trip to celebrate the approaching 30s. Uh-hm, Uh-hum Devin! Belle's souvenir is too cute.

Also, have to say that I'm glad to see the Lilly tunic is alive and well. I was wondering where that thing was! (:

Lemonade Makin' Mama said...

Oh that looks like a blast!! Love the cute tees too!!

Heather said...

What a fun time!! You have got me wanting to go on a cruise with friends now! Crack me up about the porta-potty!! HA! I just love your stories and that beach, ah that beach!! I want to be back on it!!Great pictures!! So glad you had fun!

Amy said...

I must say...I too was really looking forward to this post! You did great on the stories and pics! This was a trip we will never forget...thanks for the memories...now send me a copy of those pics...hahahaa...Love you so much! Can't wait to plan the next one!

Becky said...

Yesterday at lunch, Steph and Amy both asked me if I had read Annie's blog about the trip... isn't the funny how we all depend on YOU to post our trip? ... I guess some things will never change ... I mean that in the BEST way possible... share your pics ... ok ... I'll work on that too... tell Lauren to share... I need to verify a few flashbacks and nightmares of the purple metallic walls and neon lit glass elevators from a Duran Duran Video... Miss you...

Krissy said...

Well, I guess I'm alittle behind. It always seems to take me the longest to get caught up. Annie you did us proud.....you always do! I too would like a copy of your pictures, which by the way, I PROMISE to get yours in the mail this week. You know if I would have been true to my word, you would've have proof of the porta-potty!

The trip was so amazing! I love spending time with the five and who knew that our husbands were so much fun?!?! Can't wait for the next one....Love You!!