For several years now, my parents have talked about taking the family on a vacation for their 50th wedding anniversary. Well, my mom decided that is still too far away (Dec. 2017), so she decided this summer would be a good time as my husband and I celebrate our 20 year wedding anniversary in June, and my dad turns 80 in October.
So, in August, my parents, my brother and my family (me, hubby and the two kids) will be taking a Caribbean cruise. The last time the adults took a trip together was in 1997 when we went to Washington DC for my grandmother’s funeral.
It should be an interesting trip. The kids are excited about it. Of course, I first had to convince Jase that the ship was unlikely to hit an iceberg and sink.
Passports are not required when taking a cruise even though it stops in Mexico, Jamaica and Grand Cayman. You can get by with just a driver’s license, but a passport can make departing the cruise ship when we return to Galveston easier. And if there is ever a reason that you need to fly back, you can’t do so without a passport. And with traveling with Lexie, who has multiple allergies and very sensitive skin and traveling with my parents who are getting up there in years and have their own health issues, we thought it would be better just to go ahead and get passports. Better to have them and not need them than to be kicking ourselves if an emergency does come up.
Our local post office only does passports between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., which typically would mean that I have to take the kids out of school. When I called, they were booking appointments at the end of February, which actually worked well for us as the kids had early school dismissal and didn’t have to miss school.
The actual passport appointment was quick. It took about 20 minutes for all four of us. Now all we have to do wait for the passports to come in. One thing we did do is we took our own passport photos. Places like Walgreens offer to do it for $12 but when you have four of us that would be $48. Instead, I followed the direction from this website and printed our own from Walmart for less than $1.
The kids were excited about the different things that we can do in each port. I didn’t want to overwhelm them with too many choices, so I picked ten options – swimming with dolphins or stingrays, tours of turtle farms, submarine ride, trips to private beaches, horseback riding, climbing up a river/waterfall, buggy trips on the beach, glass bottom boats, and a pirate adventure.
Based on which ones they liked best – and what worked with the others on our trip – here is what we picked.
Cozumel – Trip to a private island. For the younger set (my brother and my family) we are taking a speed boat that does 360 degree spins and twists and turns – sort of like a roller coaster on the water. For my parents, there is the much calmer catamaran to the beach. It is all-you-can-eat and drink on the island. There are water sports, kayaks, snorkeling, water trampolines and slides, hammocks, kid activities and of course the beach to keep us entertained.
Grand Cayman – We are going to swim with the dolphins. Yes, we are actually going to be in the water with the dolphins and pulled across the water with them. Afterwards, we get to go to the neighboring turtle farm where you can pick up baby turtles.
Jamaica – This is the one location where instead of going as one big group we will be splitting up. My parents, the kids and I are going horseback riding, which includes riding the horses in the ocean. My husband and brother are going on an adventure package. They are going to ride a Jamaican bobsled and zip line over the trees.
This is shaping up to be quite the adventure. (And with all these cool excursions, it is shaping up to be an expensive one too.) I am sure over the next couple of months I will have some more posts about our upcoming trip and the fun of taking the kids on a cruise.