Sunday, February 12, 2012

Cruising the Caribbean

Our first cruise experience was a fun one... it was definitely a work trip (especially for Ryan) but we had a great time with fun people and a whole lot of activities on the cruise ship. The theme of the Heritage Makers trip was "Party on the Seas" and that it was.

Our ship was the Liberty of the Seas...

...and it was BIG with lots of boats for escape in case we ran adrift or started to sink (I'll admit, with the Italian cruise-liner accident I was a little nervous)...

...the Liberty of the Seas is a part of Royal Caribbean International. It was a great ship!

Ryan usually had his camera with him... part of his job was to be the official photographer of all the company activities.

Part of my job was to hang door signs several times throughout the week for all of the consultants.

We were also in charge of signing activity cards... each of the consultants and their guests could get points for attending company and ship activities and at the end of the week the ones with the most points got to pick prizes first. They were all excited for those prizes and very happy to participate. We took pictures of some of the events.

We had a nice cabin... I expected to feel claustrophobic, but I really didn't. I was a little worried too about motion sickness so we got some patches from our doctor, but didn't need them. There were a few times that we could really feel the boat rocking, but for the most part it was smooth sailing. Our shower was cozy, no?

The bathroom wasn't huge, but it was big enough.

We even had a little sitting area next to the bed (that was great for holding camera equipment and other random things... not much sitting going on there :) ).

We even had a balcony, which I loved. This was our view from our balcony before we set sail.

The ship had so many activity areas. I thought our kids would have loved the pool and water toys.

They even had a rock wall on the top deck.

Obligatory picture of me on the deck (with my rockin' "Party on the Seas" t-shirt).

The inside of the ship was kind of like a mall.... the royal promenade had a lot of little shops and cafes. When we were inside it was hard to tell we were even on a ship.

There was a fun burger restaurant on one of the upper decks.... onion rings to die for. I managed to get a lovely sunburn on our first day out in the sun... I really had planned to use higher SPF sunscreen, but in the glory of the sunlight I only put on 15... big mistake! And I wore my swimming suit with the funkiest neck straps, so the remainder of the trip I had awesome lines. Oh well, next time I'll do better :).

One of the nights was formal night...

 and Ryan got to set up all of his equipment and take a whole lot of photos.

It was such a big group that it was hard to get everyone in it, so he got up as high as he could and took a photo looking down.

We managed to sneak a photo in too.

I loved being on the deck and watching the big wake behind us. I was hoping for more ocean ambiance... but there wasn't a strong scent of saltwater.

Ryan spent a few minutes on the deck, but most of his "free time" was spent editing photos and chatting with consultants about ways to improve things on the IT end of the company. It was very apparent that they all love and appreciate Ry, which was fun to see and hear. I had several people tell me how glad they are that he works there and that they've never had an IT guy quite like Ryan... he's really approachable and willing to find ways to make things happen that need to and that can make their jobs easier.

I liked the animals that our room steward made out of towels (and my sunglasses).

We had an assigned table for the week... generally the ship assigns people one table for the whole trip, but we wanted to have the HM staff members sit with as many consultants/guests as possible, so we stayed put at one of several HM tables and our guests moved around each night. It was a great time to get to know so many of the consultants.

The ship had a "White Nights" party, and it was a party...

...I even got into the spirit of things and danced :).

These are the top achievers from Heritage Makers...

 ...and this fun shot was taken our the window of one of our cabins with many of the consultants leaning over the decks of five other cabins. Fun shot!

On our last day we spent some time at the Flow Rider... a simulated wave for people to boogie board or surf. It was fun to watch so many people give it a shot. Ryan was a pro...

...and even got up on his knees.

The last night we had the annual Heritage Makers costume party and awards ceremony. The theme this year was movie characters... so Ryan and I put together these lovely costumes...
Napoleon Dynamite and Deb! Ryan had "Tots" in his pockets (they served them in the dining room for breakfast) and I had some awesome boondoggle keychains in my fanny pack.

One of the consultants dressed up like Napoleon too... and although Ryan had a few good lines and a decent Napoleon run, she pulled off the dance moves like a pro. The costume party was a lot of fun (some people went all out on their costumes!) and it was hilarious to walk through the ship to the dining room.

I overheard someone (not from our group) say that they had missed the announcement about the costume party and they wished they had been a part of it.... and several parents stopped Mary Poppins and Bert for a photo opp. It was great fun!

Some of our other activities on the ship included miniature golf, a wild night of karaoke, shows, a roaring time playing Telestrations (one of our new favorite games), a Sunday worship service, a few business meetings, and a whole lot of laughs. On our way to Belize we passed Cuba and I saw it with my own eyes. That is noteworthy, right?

I know that some people LOVE cruises, and I fully expected to be in that camp before we left... but after it's all said and done I still feel a little ambivalent about them. I wouldn't say that I'd never go on a cruise again, but it's probably not my top choice for future travel. The food was plentiful (and I didn't have to cook it OR clean up after it... hooray!) but the food wasn't as amazing as I hoped it would be. It sounded really good on the menu and often looked really good, but when it came to eating it, it wasn't that great. I loved having some time with Ryan, but our trip was so scheduled and filled with activities that it didn't feel very relaxing. I am sure that was more a result of the nature of our trip and not so much the cruise itself. I loved our destinations though... (more to come on Belize and Cozumel) and would love to spend some more time in both of those places. I loved being in the warm ocean air, it was delightful!

After the week was over I really was most grateful for the time we had to be with the people Ryan works with. Someone stopped us in an elevator and asked if Heritage Makers was a company or a family... I laughed a little bit, because of course they are a company, but in many ways they are a family too... and they are definitely all about family and preserving relationships and memories. It's a company that we are proud to be a part of.


Cheri said...

This looks incredible! I'm glad you posted this because at this very moment we are planning a Caribbean cruise. That boat looks amazing! What a fun working trip!

Cheri said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kristi said...

What a great trip! I love your costumes. I appreciated your thoughts on cruises, too. I've always been so-so on the whole cruise thing, while Richard would be more willing. Maybe someday...