The vacation that spent a year in the making is officially over. It's hard to believe how quickly 9 days flew by. I'm left with the pictures, memories and a void in my chest. Every time I look at the photographs and videos that I took (over 400), I can't help but feel nostalgic. The Caribbean is full of warmth and color, something that is lacking nearly everywhere around me. Don't get me wrong, I love New England, but you can't compare it to the islands.
I think it took me a day to realize how annoying my phone could get. As much as I love social media, I didn't miss it last week. It was nice to sit at the dinner table and not catch someone sneaking time on their phone. It was great to have conversations with people face to face. We met some wonderful people on the ship, most notably the Dutch family who was staying two weeks on the ship. When we went to the pool, they would greet us and tell us where they were sitting so we could chat. It was refreshing to meet people from all over the U.S. and the world. The crew and servers made you feel like a part of their family. I'll never forget them.
To your surprise, my least favorite part about the vacation was the food. Though I could eat my body weight in watermelon and chocolate soft serve all day, lunch and dinner were quite blah. The servings were too small and didn't meet my expectations. We usually went to the buffet after the sit down dinner in the dining room. Luckily, I didn't starve. I think I ate too many bunless cheeseburgers and fruit for the whole cruise. Breakfast was also delicious, shout out to those gluten free pancakes...nom nom.
Coco Cay was the first stop. This teeny tropical island off the coast of Florida is Royal Caribbean's private escape. We were beach bums at Coco Cay and got a taste of how hot the Caribbean can get. It was toasty. Despite the water being 76 degrees, it was refreshing. You could sit in the water for hours and never get tired of it. A quick rainstorm rolled through mid-afternoon and then it heated back up again. It felt like a bipolar New England weather day. Once we got back to the boat, mom and I laid by the pool for a few hours and enjoyed some tropical drinks. Day one was a success and I didn't burn.
Our next stop was Saint Thomas, part of the U.S. Virgin Islands. This was my favorite day. The weather was perfect. We took a pirate ship out to Turtle Cove, about a half hour boat ride. There was music, drinks and hilarious people around us. We were supposed to snorkel to see turtles, but my fear of fish got the best of me. I'm too creeped out by those lil suckers. I got into the water twice but bailed once I saw a pool of fish in front of me. Damn those creatures. I stayed on the boat with my brother and within 10 minutes, people were back on the boat to relax and catch the sun. Our tour guides were great and kept everyone laughing, especially Larry. We got fake tattoos, enjoyed refreshing drinks and took in the scenery. Once we got back on the island, I found a coconut stand. I made it my goal to drink coconut water from a freshly cracked coconut....and I did that here.
Coconut man even scooped out the meat of the coconut and gave me chocolate sauce to dip it in. I was literally in heaven. This is something I'm going to crave for a long long time. It was a good snack to have before Señor Frogs. :)
The last stop was Saint Maarten/Martin. We shopped on the Dutch side and laid on Orient beach later in the day, which was on the French side. We were not on the nude beach, but further down in the Waikiki section. I enjoyed a coconut water and pineapple smoothie, made fresh from a cool Dutch guy. Then, mom and I ate homemade chocolate and french macarons. Our tour bus was even invaded by a hostile French woman who left her bag on the bus. One of the members of our group returned it to security (who had the bag). It took 15 minutes to get this psycho woman off the bus. Needless to say, we made it back before the cruise ship left the island.
Ignore the annoying fuzzball that is stuck inside of my camera lens. It irks me whenever I look at the pictures.
I learned a couple of things from this trip.
I am so lucky to have a loving, supportive and crazy family.
People are pretty cool. Everyone has their own story and contribution to the world. Meeting new people is an amazing feeling.
Make time to travel. Especially now. I realized that I really need to travel more, especially to places like this. You are only young for so long and you need to make the best of it. I can't wait to explore new places in the future.