My father and his wife treated every single one of their kids and grandchildren to a Caribbean Christmas cruise, including the airfare to get us all to Miami. It was a remarkable gesture, and it turned out just fantastic. All 31 people set sail on the Carnival Liberty to enjoy a week in the tropics - sooooo welcome mid-winter! (lots of pics here, so I'm compressing them before attaching)
We left Colorado in a hoar frost wonderland,
and found Miami perfectly green at 84*!
A cruise was the perfect milieu for an extended-family vacation, because there's something for everyone's taste in entertainment.
Folks can do things together or find moments alone when they need to. Dad & Barbara left port excursions up to the individual families rather than expect everyone to do the same thing together all the time, but all 31 of us came together several times for portraits and dinners.
Enjoying moments with cousins we rarely see~!
|Mariana, Sasha, and Naomi with Devon|
|Grandpa and Elliot with Marissa|
And the cutest towel animals showed up on our beds each evening:
First stop was Nassau, Bahamas.
Being a Sunday, most of the near-port things were shut down completely, so our own family let a local tour guide drive us around the island.
We were enchanted by some caves with bats,
(and a 500-yr-old chair)
And learned what almond trees look like (so different from what I'd always assumed),
What a nice place to catch some shots of each other!
We enjoyed the fun architecture of the Atlantis resort.
Poor Marissa got a migraine at that point, so we went back onboard early instead of hitting the beach. It was all good, though!
Even leaving port was a spectacular treat.
Second stop was St. Thomas. Wow!!
We'd prearranged to go zip-lining with Tree Limin'. What A Blast!!!
Most definitely worth the cost. You get transported up-and-up-and-up the mountain,
Then they outfit you in the equipment,
and then you ride a 6-wheel army transport up the last INSANE slope to the actual lines.
There are something like 7 platforms, so you get to ride numerous lines and walk a couple of rope-and-slats bridges. You're above a jungle looking over the most spectacular scenes (even on a rainy day!),
and you might just catch sight of iguanas sunning on the tops of trees!
The "Jungle Pilots" take excellent care of you every step of the way.
It's a little unnerving when you climb up onto the first platform, but each ride is exhilarating -
even if you're scared to death and screaming your head off the entire time. . . (ahem~!) I highly recommend the adventure if you're ever on St. Thomas.
Third stop was San Juan on Christmas Day. Lots of our clan walked over to see the old castle forts, but our family wanted a beach day. So we took a little taxi ride to the beach at Isla Verde and enjoyed a few hours there. The sand was very interesting to me - not the sugary white sand of other Caribbean (and our old home, Destin) beaches, but a soft tan sand with little elongated bits that made it look like the sand had fine bird- or grass seed sprinkled on it. The water was perfectly comfortable to be in, even as folks home in Colorado had a temperature of something like 15*F!
Last stop was Grand Turk.
This little island was sooo much smaller than the other stops, but what an absolutely beautiful place! Classic soft sand and crystal-clear water with all the marvelous blues and aquas that we associate with that region.
We enjoyed a few very nice beach hours and then went on a "semi-sub" tour of the marine preservation area.
(Wanna swim with a barracuda?)
Like St. Thomas, Grand Turk is another place I would enjoy spending several days.
After that, we had one more full day at sea while we made way back to Miami,
then it was back home to Colorado. We were welcomed by a snow storm that made the drive home from the airport take more than twice as long, but what a poignant contrast to our week in the tropics!