We returned from our Eastern Caribbean Holland America Cruise with our niece, Sarah, and we have 2 revelations.
1st Revelation – We like cruising!! This was actually my 3rd, Justin’s 2nd, and truly, we enjoyed. Frankly, how could you not revel in a floating resort where meals appeared and dirty dishes disappeared like magic? Our typical go-go-go schedule was replaced by just being, and it was glorious for a change.
2nd Revelation – Teenage girls are … hard. We took Sarah’s brother, our oldest nephew, on his special trip in 2016. I’m not sure if it was her 10 pairs of shoes or little miss attitude, but Sarah vs. Ryan was a wake-up call to temporary parenting. I have never forgotten how snarky I was with my own mother in my teenage years, but I had no idea what stamina it takes to deal with the chaotic mess of teenage drama, insecurities and little white lies.
In spite of female teenage hormones, we all dug our trip!!
Our itinerary took us to and from Fort Lauderdale on a 2,000+ mile journey to Grand Turk, San Juan Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands (St. Thomas & St. John) and Bahamas. Except that sadly, we never landed in Bahamas!!! That was our ONLY day of bad weather. And of course, seeing the white sand beaches and clear blue waters of Bahamas was the thing that Sarah was most looking forward to! I guess she’ll just have to go back … on her own (did I say that out loud?).
The other islands were fabulous. For Grand Turk, Sarah & I went snorkeling (no Uncle Justin – he has sea creeps). It was beautiful, but crowded. I’ve been snorkeling a few times before, but this was the first time they kept the entire group together, which made it feel a little claustrophobic & crowded. I guess they don’t want to leave anyone behind like in that movie. We still saw really awesome fish, including stingray up close & personal!
We all agreed Puerto Rico was a favorite. It was a pretty hot day, and we walked 5 million miles (according to the overly dramatic teenager who didn’t want to carry her own water bottle or wear a hat), but the old town of San Juan was so beautiful with tons of history, so worth it.
One of the main reasons Justin & I picked this specific cruise route was because it was US-territory based (no need for a passport for Sarah) and one of the stops was to the U.S. Virgin Islands. St. John National Park is part of the U.S. Virgin Islands. We thought why not kill 2 birds with one stone??? I’ll recap the national park in another post, but the truth is, we probably need to go back. St. Thomas & St. John were very pretty, but much of the islands is still devastated from the 2 back-to-back Category 5 hurricanes (Irma & Maria) they experienced in 2017. Seriously, you can still see THROUGH the Marriott resort & many of the trails in St. John NP are closed.
The cruise was on Holland America’s Nieuw Statendam. This brand-new ship holds more than 2,000 people, had 3 live music setups, one main stage for performances, an adult and kid pool, a spa, a casino and SO much food.
I wondered if Sarah would get bored on a cruise, but she loved the pool all hours she could and since it was during Spring Break time, there were tons of teenagers, so she made friends, which was a bonus. Meanwhile, Justin & I definitely did all we could aboard the ship. We especially enjoyed the nightly performances by the Quintet, which consisted of 2 violins, 1 viola, 1 cello and a piano. It was a classical sound, but they had a number of sets with more recognizable songs, like “Ants Marching” by Dave Matthews Band, “Creep” by Radiohead and “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen. We were becoming their groupies.
We survived another one-on-one nephew/niece trip. Our next nephew is 6, so we have quite some time to recover!