Friday, February 2, 2018

Family Christmas Cruise - December 15, 2017

Peggy and Mary K. got a brainstorm of an idea in mid-August (around the time Hurricane Irma  stormed Florida and we took refuge further north in Gainesville).   Our exciting idea?  A Family Christmas Cruise!   That’s where it all began....

Together, we set out planning....First, of course, contacting our children, from around the country...Peggy’s daughter, Nicki in Gainesville; Dick’s son, Scott in Seattle ; and Mary K.’s son, Tommy in New York City to make sure their busy schedules could fit into our Christmas cruise plans.  After a little maneuvering, they were all onboard!  We secured 5 balcony cabins... luckily, all next to each other, for the 10 of us....Nicki, Mike, Lincoln, Scott, Kristina, Jack, Tommy, Mary K., Dick and Peggy!  We were so excited to have everyone together for the first Christmas ever!

Here's our cast of players......

Mike, Lincoln and Nicki Weaver - Gainesville, FL

Scott, Kristina and Jack Hanson - Seattke, WA

Dick and Peggy Hanson - Palm City, FL

Mary K. - Palm City and her son, Tom - New York City

The cruise we chose was on Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas leaving Ft. Lauderdale on December 16 and arriving back on December 21,  visiting Cozumel and Costa Maya with two full days at sea.

Next, we reserved a party room, The  Jamaica Room, for our Family Christmas Party, with the gracious assistance of Royal Caribbean’s Event Coordinators, Milly Martinez and Andrea Zuniga.  

Our next request was to RCCL’s Vanessa Hurst who kindly obliged us with a reserved dining room table for 10.  This, by the way, was a great way for all of us to get together each evening to chatter away about what we had all done that day....loads of laughs, fun stories, hugs..,,and lots of really good food!

Back to our pre-cruise plans.....We were busy gathering holiday decorations for the party....wreaths, ribbon, plates, napkins, table cloths,  wine glasses, and more (we both had to bring extra large suitcases!).  

Peggy prepared surprise gifts with clever poems she wrote, delivered to each family cabin every morning (so cute!).

Mary K. made Christmas stockings for each family member,  that she and Nicki filled with lots of goodies and gags, for the Party.  These stockings were beautifully decorated by hand and each person had a silly picture of themselves on the stocking rather than their name!  Mary K's printer must have been smokin'.

After preparing, packing, traveling by plane, car and shuttle, we all arrived  onboard the Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas.  An exciting day!  After hugs, meeting and greetings, we checked out our cabins (all approved... especially the balconies!) and had fun exploring the ship, eating at the huge buffet, and enjoying the pool deck as we sailed away! 

After our first day of exploring, lunch at the oceanview buffet, swimming, a little casino gambling... 

We all met for our first dinner together in the lovely ship's dining room.  Everyone had lots to share, big laughs and lively conversation!   

Mike, Nicki and Lincoln surprised us with awesome Family Cruisemas 2017 t-shirts for everyone!  “We are family!  Brothers and sisters are we!” 

Dick also gave each of us a surprise gift!  $$ - much appreciated by all!  Peggy and Mary K. sat back smiling, proud and happy watching our terrific family, all together, enjoying each other’s company!  By the way, the meal was very good and the service even better!  We announced our Family Christmas Party would be held the next day (an "at sea" day) in The Jamaica Room.  Dinner complete... we all took off for the lounges, bars and casino!

The next day, our much anticipated Christmas Party got us moving, soon after breakfast, in preparation.  Food ordered, wine and champagne, stockings filled by Nicki and Mary K.,  holiday decorations and the buffet set-up, we were ready!  A special thanks to Jack for lugging food to our third deck party room! 

We drew names, weeks before the cruise, so each family member had a secret gift for the name drawn.  I must say, this awesome family gives cool gifts!  (Aside to Nicki... I love my salt lamp! P.S. to Kristina...New Yorker Tommy wore his Seattle Seahawks cap and scarf on his first post-holiday ski trip!)  Grandpa Dick loves "anything" Huskie Dawg and grandson Jack knows it!  Jack  did a great job with the Huskie top and mug.  Peggy received two super gifts from Nicki who drew her Mom's name -- A Comfy-Life seat cushion for her computer chair and a large world map on which to show Peg's travels.  Mike’s gift from Mary K., was “confiscated” pre-cruise (ship’s rule...only 1 bottle of wine allowed to be brought onboard) so, until the last ship day, Mike got photos of the wrapped  Crystal Head Aurora vodka at the party. The real thing delivered before we disembarked. Everyone agreed the gift they received was perfect! Our Family Christmas Party was a success!

On the ship, Dick had special "Hanson Brothers" shirts ready for Scott and Jack....they were the loud guys in the casino.....

The rest of the cruise was a whirlwind of excitement, fun and family love!  

...Visiting the ports of Costa Maya and Cozumel...

Back on the ship, lots of lazing in the sun.....

And gorgeous views from our balconies

and we enjoyed Grease, the Musical,

magic and comedy shows,

Flow Riding,

beautiful ice show,

delicious food and exotic drinks, shopping, swimming, relaxing poolside,  lounge fun (especially Kristina’s dazzling karaoke performance!),

and even a thrilling speed boat ride for Lincoln and Tommy!

We can't forget our wonderful gatherings each evening for dinner together.....

We even celebrated Mike's Birthday on board!

A Family Christmas we will all remember with love!