Wednesday, September 29

A Cruise is a cruise is a cruise?? NOT

I am only 4 days into my week long cruise aboard Royal Caribbeans "Oasis of the Seas", and I am blissfully floating about the water in the Caribbean. I can honestly say, that after about 20 cruises ~ I have found true luxury and relaxation.  It could be that we have earned our status ~ we are "Diamond 'Plus' members ~ reaching this level by the number of cruises we have been on.  Thus, giving us many VIP opportunities. Our room seems to be adding to our VIP treatment as well. This trip I picked their new Loft Suite (not offered on the older boats). Between the two status builders, and the opportunities this massive new boat offers, we have been treated quite Royally. 

I have to add, that what you don't know, you can't miss. We have had many cruises that have been tons of fun and lovely ships. But now we have experienced "top of the line". This could pose a problem in the future!!

The loft suites are on the 17th floor and you have to use your 'room key/card' to get into our area... nice for added safety ~ they do it to keep the eye-wanderer's away. The room itself is awesome!  The bedroom area (bath/vanity) is up in the loft on the 2nd floor, with a view of the Ocean from the 2 story windows. The flat screen t.v. drops down out of the ceiling for viewing in bed.  Downstairs there is a large living area with a desk / chairs, a second bath, and another flat screen t.v.! The balcony is the size of a small bedroom & has two chaise lounger's that have cushions & a terry cover for our comfort. Sandra and  I are out here now... she with her kindle and me with my laptop! You can hear the ocean in the background. 

Yesterday we stopped at the island of Haiti. Well, Labadee, the beach area that Royal Caribbean has fixed up over the years as a 'private island' oasis for it's cruiser's. The newest thing they have added are cabana's. Yes, we got the offer to rent one. Yes, we took the offer. And it was wonderful . We had a private beach area just for those of us with the Gold cards (frequent cruisers). There was a cabana boy to bring us extra towels, floating mats, and to set us up a couple of chaise loungers in the sun!!  Sandra and I took advantage of the mats and floated in the water for a portion of our time on the island. aaahhhhh. The men stayed in the cabana and enjoyed the view and shade. Lunch was also separate from the crowds for our beach area, as well as upgraded choices!! yummy!!  A few shells tossed in my beach bag topped off the day in the sun.

Skip ahead and I am now home reminiscing about the rest of our trip. Sadly, I may miss some of the great things to share, but I will try.

The 'at sea' days were full of sunshine, with an occasional rain cloud. The solarium was a 'no kid' zone and quite comfy. Adults only pool.... lots of seating.... and if we wanted the bright sun, my little Gold card allowed us to go up a level, closer to the sun, with chaise loungers like I had on my deck and our own bar for ordering those frozen drinks in those cool glasses we had to have.

The ship stopped in Costa Maya, Mexico next. Gene & Chuck stayed on board ~ Gene slept until about 3:00 in the afternoon I hear! Sandra & I went on a Mayan Ruins tour. Very interesting. Our final stop was in Cozumel. If you have ever been on a cruise you have probably been to Cozumel, Mexico. Nothing new there, so I signed us all up for a Dolphin Encounter tour. I think it was the highlight. Gene & I have participated in one elsewhere, but this one gave you more interactions. We got to pet them, kiss them, have them push us on a boogie board, pull us for a ride, and hold them (they sold us pictures and a DVD to prove it). There was also a Manatee (sea cow) for us to pet, though he had slimy algae on him because he swims so slow (ick).

The Oasis of the Seas is RCCL's biggest ship to date, with the Allure coming in service this December to join it. Being on such a large ship, with the capacity to hold 6,000 passengers, you may wonder about feeling crowded. I found that most times that was not the case. They really have things laid out well and other than the Promenade Parades (which were almost unbearably crowed and hot) everything went smoothly ~ Even the departures..... um can we say there was even an escalator for some of our stops?  A few of the really different things on this ship were the Boardwalk and Central Park. The Boardwalk was at the back of the ship and had things like a full size Carousel, Johnny Rockets, ice cream parlor, dress up picture place and a water show amphitheater. Yes. Outdoor water show ~ complete with high diving. The Boardwalk is open above it, so if you are standing behind the boat you will see inside staterooms with balconies overlooking the area. Interesting concept. The Central Park area is also open above.... with pools 7 decks up on either side of the opening. More rooms, with balconies that overlook the area of trees, seating area's and restaurant's.

When the four of us were not going to see shows (Hairspray, Comedy, Water, Ice Skating, Acrobatic) or eating, we all enjoyed the spa on board. Hot Rock Massage is my favorite. Sandra and I got Seaweed wraps with a massage afterwards too. While we were wrapped up the therapist lowered the bed into what felt like a bathtub surrounding us, so that it felt like we were floating in water ~ yes, we fell asleep!! Speaking of eating ~ the choices were many. We favor the Main Dining Room seating in the evenings... but you can pay a little extra and eat at other restaurants (or for free in the Windjammer). One night we did eat at Chops for a good steak dinner. Johnny Rockets was our standby lunch & milkshake venue. Free breakfast was offered at several locations throughout the boat. With so many choices ~ a few in the promenade too ~ I found that I did not stuff myself at any one seating.... knowing I could always get a bite later (even room service).

Don't know if another Cruise will ever be able to top this one on the Oasis, but I'll keep cruising and let you know!!

Friday, September 17

What a sweet sound

Today I heard the sweetest sound....  excitement!!
My daughter called me with joy in her voice (the job in Ann Arbor was finally finished with her background check, etc. and she passed)!
I don't always get to hear that kind of inflection when she talks.
I smiled to myself.
Relief filled my mind. 
Pride filled my heart. 
So happy for her.
And her hubby.
Together they are going to have some wonderful adventures in Michigan!!

Friday, September 3

Ask me NOW....

If you were to ask me how I feel about Candace & Corey moving so far away NOW ~ I would tell you that I am no longer scared. She and I spent 4 nights and days in Ann Arbor this week, which was time for me to get the feel of the city and drive around lost, but find my way. She will be able to do the same. Together we GPS'd and sometimes drove in circles, but we always found our way!!

Ann Arbor has a downtown area that is bustling ~ restaurants, a cupcake store, shops, etc.. We had time to visit some of them. The University of Michigan's campus is just on the edge of downtown, so many a lot of the homes in the area are full of students. If you recall from my last blog, Corey has a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University. He already has his Michigan shirt, and is ready to be part of the game day experience! (he and Candace went to Birmingham Southern before there was a football team)

Candace & I took our research and went on an apartment/condo/something rental hunt for 3 days. There were moments of claustrophobia, general 'ick', and the dreaded "No Pets". Then times of 'I like this one... no, this one..& I want THIS one!" But, with her list of 'wants' and "'can live without", she finally felt that she choose the apartment that was the best for them at this time in their lives. The apartment is only 2 miles from campus (Corey's job), and blocks away from her new job. (mommas happy) They have two bedrooms & two bathrooms, with a full size washer/dryer included. Corey can have his grill on the back deck (after all, he IS the cook in the family), and Candace got a gas Fireplace for those cold winter days. Because of the snow in Michigan, most places, including theirs, also offer covered parking for one car. She had to give up the hardwood floors for this move, but the lease is only for 9 months, so they hope to upgrade a bit on their next move if possible. The best part of all.... PETS are allowed. Well, they do make you PAY for their presence, but you do what you have to do to keep your 'family' together!! As an added plus ~ the complex provides breakfast at the clubhouse M-F?? True!! Various breakfast items that may change from day to day, but F-R-E-E Food.

Our trip also included job interviews for Candace. As you read above ~ she came away with a job offer and accepted it (Teller Supervisor with Key Bank). We were actually at the airport when she got the call :)  Nice wrap up to the trip.
We women got it done!!!!

Now comes the garage sale & packing. Ummm... sorry, mom is going to busy on those days.