The last week of April, I went on a cruise with Tom's family (there were 19 of us in all!). His Aunt Julie is a pro at getting good deals on cruises (see her tips in tomorrow's post) and she was instrumental in making the whole vacation happen.
Each family had a room in the Haven, an exclusive part of the ship. (You need to use your key card just to get into the Haven section. #Fancy.) We had a beautiful balcony (above) and a butler who brought us chocolate-covered strawberries almost every single day (!). The Haven has its own restaurant, and we would get breakfast or lunch there a lot. There's also a pool, Jacuzzis, and a separate deck where crew members handed out glasses of champagne when we sailed away from the New York Harbor. It's a lot less people, a lot quieter... once you experience the Haven, you wouldn't want to cruise any other way.
Our ship had water slides, a rope course, mini golf, and a rock-climbing wall. I was a little seasick two of the days we were at sea (I felt off-balance wherever I walked). Thankfully, Tom's mom had Dramamine; I felt better as soon as I took it. Afterwards, Tom; his brother, Brian; and I got harnessed up and we walked the rope course. It hangs several feet above the heads of people walking below. It was a super windy day, and walking along a single tightrope that was near the edge of the ship was just a little terrifying, like I could easily be blown off the side and into the sea! We had the most beautiful view as we walked along the course though: the glittering blue water stretched out before us in every direction.
There was also a Svedka ice bar. The three of us HAD to try it. After piling on thick, poncho-like hooded coats and gloves, we went inside and sipped drinks from glasses made of ice and sat on an ice throne (it felt very Game of Thrones, although I've never watched the show, eek!). I only lasted about five minutes, though. Too cold!
There was an old fort by the ship when we docked in Bermuda, so we did some exploring there. Brian (above) is a pro at handstands. I'm a pro at... standing beside palm trees.
We were docked in Bermuda for about two and a half days, and on the last day, Tom, Brian, and I headed to Horseshoe Bay Beach, one of my favorite parts of the trip. I was all ready to go in the water when we saw a man-of-war washed up on the sand... and then I saw a few more as we were walking along the beach. So I didn't feel comfortable going in the water, which was a bummer.
On our way back, we stopped aboard a pirate boat/bar that was right near the cruise ship. The boat had a plank on it and tons of people (i.e. mostly kids) were jumping off into the water below. It wasn't too high up, and Brian did it, so I was like, I have to have my moment in the Bermuda waters! So I jumped. And it felt amazing.
3 reasons to make your next vacay a cruise
1. It's much easier to get in the vacation zone right away. When I drove down the coast of California with Tom last year, we stayed at six different Airbnbs. The experience was so cool, but there's something to be said for fewer steps to just being there. As soon as you set foot on the ship, you've essentially reached your destination. No rushing, no driving, no flying. You're there. You can simply relax.
2. The food is so delicious. Especially if you get a dining package where you can eat at the nice restaurants on the ship: Japanese, French, Italian, a steak house, we had it all. I've never had so much good filet mignon in my life! I remember another Norwegian cruise I was on years ago where one of the menus was comprised of meals that the very chefs on the ship had cooked for presidents. I thought that was the coolest thing.
3. Wi-Fi isn't easy to come by. You're probably thinking... Uh, how is that good?! My thoughts at first, too. When I learned that guests don't walk onto the ship and just hook up to Wi-Fi automatically, that it costs more (a lot more) to get it, I was a little, well, nervous. No Instagram once we're at sea? No email? No internets at all?! Ahhh!
But actually, it turned out to be the most amazing thing. After a few days I felt disconnected from everyday life in the best way. (It's kind of a no-brainier, after all, to feel disconnected when you're literally disconnected.) I realized I could share photos later (ta-da!), and being able to actually live in the moment was just what I needed. Don't get me wrong, if I had internet, I would have loved to post on social media. But being forced in a way to forget about it, to not worry about, was so freeing for me.
Part two of this post will be on Galbraith tomorrow: tips for getting the most for your money when you book a cruise!
Photographs by Tom Schelling.