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November 13, 2013

Our 2nd Anniversary Cruise!

It’s been really tough the last few years as we’ve walked through the summer and seen everyone’s summer beach vacation photos pop up on social media.  But the reminder of how our vacation was coming up in just a few short months and knowing that we’d be getting away when most people would be at work really helped those summer months go by!  In 2011, I made a paper chain out of our wedding colors to help count down the days to the wedding.  Each night before Ben would go home, we’d tear off another ring and be that much closer to him not having to say goodbye as he said goodnight.  So, this year I decided to do something similar… I took one of the chalkboards from our wedding, hung it in the hallway, and updated it every day with the number of days until we would be cruising!  It’s not that we wanted to speed up time and miss out on life before vacation, but it’s just nice to have a reminder that a break (and a solid week of hanging out together) wasn’t so far off.

We’d been talking about cruises since we were engaged… we couldn’t find the right one for our honeymoon, but we knew we’d have plenty of time to go after we got married.  And after much research and looking and number crunching and everything else, we landed on Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas leaving out of Port Canaveral.  We had some Delta vouchers to use so we flew down to Orlando on Saturday, rented a car, had dinner in Downtown Disney, then drove to Port Canaveral on Sunday!  The car rental place even had shuttles to take us to the port.  It was fabulous.

Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant had plenty of things going on… including Irish dancers and players!

And then we made a quick stop at the Lego store :-)

Sunday morning arrived and we were off to the port!!

Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas

The ship was huge.  I think there were 14 decks, room enough to sleep about 4,000 people, as well as over 1,000 staff and crew members.

Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas

I’d asked for our room to be decorated since we were celebrating our anniversary… but let me just say that I was NOT expecting cupid to be joining us!

Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas

They also delivered cupcakes to us that day along with a few other treats during the week… including breakfast in bed one morning!

The dining room spans 3 decks on one end of the ship and can seat 2,000 people at once.

Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas

It was a tad windy out on deck (before and after our safety drill). But we wanted a good spot for when we departed!

Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas

The first formal night… and yes, he DOES look good in a suit and tie (even when being goofy).

We had 2 days at sea and just enjoyed being on the ship and on vacation!

Ben took a stab at the Flowrider our second day at sea… I didn’t get my own courage up until later in the week.

Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas Flowrider

Anniversary night!!

Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas

The ships now have specialty restaurants where you can make reservations and everything… so we opted for the Italian place called Portofino’s.

Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas Portofinos

Wish I could have gotten a picture of this seafood on its skewer… it was on some contraption that was allowing it to stand straight up!  It was super delicious.

Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas Portofinos Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas Portofinos

And oh my heavens… this dessert.  I had the chocolate amazingness on the left (that I took back to our room because it was SO rich and I couldn’t finish it)
and Ben had the tiramisu on the right.

Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas Portofinos

Oh and the shows each night??  Amazing.
These two brothers played the piano and the xylophone.
The xylophone, people…. it was incredible!

Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas

This was Day 4 before we got off the boat at St. Thomas.  Part of me wishes we had kids with us so I would have had an excuse to play in the H2O Zone!

Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas H2O Zone Pool Deck

Instead of staying on St. Thomas, we took a ferry over to St. John for the day.

St Thomas St John

It was simply beautiful… and quaint!

St John via Ferry Boat

Our taxi driver stopped just before he took us around the bend so we could get an overhead view of the beach we were visiting… Trunk Bay.

St John at Trunk Bay

We were actually planning on snorkeling here, but the lady renting the equipment said the water was a bit rough and visibility wasn’t great.
So we just played in the water for a few hours (and went back to the ship with more sand than we want to talk about…).

St John at Trunk bay

100 bonus points to anyone who can guess why I thought this sign was funny…

We debated which ship to get onto back at the port, but decided it was worth it to stay with the one we arrived on :-)

View of St. Thomas from the ship.

St Thomas from Freedom of the Seas St Thomas from Freedom of the Seas

This was just after dinner and since the ship was still in port and not moving much, I was able to rest the camera on the side rails (while still holding on tightly to it!) with a slow shutter speed to capture all of the lights.  It was stunning.

The day after our anniversary, our waiter and head waiter brought us a cake and sang the “Happy Anniversary” song to us!

Towel animals!!

Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas

An illusionist that was on America’s Got Talent performed one night (can NOT remember his name… so if you recognize him, please tell me!).

Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas

Oh my heavens… if you ever go on a cruise, you MUST go to the Marriage Game Show night.  It’s always SO FUNNY!

Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas

John and Irene (the older couple on the far right) had been married for almost 60 years.  They were so precious and SO funny!

Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas

Day 5 was in St Maarten! Half the island is Dutch owned and the other half is French owned. It was pretty spectacular.

St Maarten from Freedom of the Seas Cruise St Maarten beaches St Maarten beaches

We did an ATV excursion… and let’s just say it was interesting and we probably won’t be using that same company again!

St Maarten mountains St Maarten beaches St Maarten mountains

Orient Beach was gorgeous…

St Maarten beaches St Maarten beaches St Maarten beaches St Maarten beaches

Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas

Ha!  This man makes me laugh SO much!

Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas

We later learned that the yacht below us (and the helicopter) was owned by a Russian who owned a vodka company. Clearly he’s doing well with business!

St Maarten from Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas

I love the panoramic feature on my phone… to be able to get half the island and half the ship in one shot with no photoshop is amazing!

St Maarten Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas St Maarten Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas

The sunset was stunning…

St Maarten Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas

Please note that the helicopter is now gone… not because it took off but because they lowered it into the boat!!!

St Maarten Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas St Maarten Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas

After St. Maarten, we had 2 days at sea before getting back to Port Canaveral, so we did all that we could on board on Day 6 so that Day 7 we could just relax!
And yes, they had an ice skating rink on board.  Crazy!

Ice Skating on Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas

I promise I went ice skating and rock climbing too, but those pictures are on Ben’s phone :-)

Rock Climbing Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas

And then I got brave enough to try the Flowrider out… and I was actually doing ok!

Flowrider Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas

Until I tried to get on my knees and ended up swallowing half the water.

Flowrider Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas

So, this is hilarious… the second formal night we dressed up as usual. But what I haven’t told you yet was that half of our cruise ship was occupied by a group of Harley Davidson bikers!!  We had no idea what the week had in store for all of us, but they were all SO nice.  They actually do this cruise every year and spend much of the week raising money for Kidney Disease.  Not only that, but they use some of the money to bring kidney/dialysis patients (and the dialysis machines) on the cruise!  These are people who don’t get to travel because of the expense, but this group of bikers make it happen.

Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas

But on the second formal night, they all dressed up as pirates!!  It was amazing some of the outfits they had!  I should have gotten more pictures….

Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas Towel Animals Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas

By the way… if you ever end up on a cruise and Richard Spacey is the cruise director, don’t worry.  You’re going to have an even MORE amazing time!  The guy is hysterical!
(He did his evolution of dance – aka all the dance moves he’s seen people do on cruise ships – before the show one night)

Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas Richard Spacey

And this show?  The cast went through several fairy tales while using modern music!  It was so funny and SO good!

Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas

Our last day at sea, I decided to get up for the sunrise over the water and get pictures.  It was so overcast and I was a bit disappointed, but God is still amazing no matter what…
and the morning out on deck with hardly anyone else up and awake was worth it.

Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas Pool Deck

Our last night consisted of a Dreamworks Parade, one last supper (where we had lamb, ha!) and one last show.

Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas Royal Promenade

We were wiped out, rested, and still making each other laugh at the end of the week :-)

Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas

Ben…. thank you again for these last 2 years.  They only make me that much more excited about this coming year and the next 50 or so that we’ll get to spend together!  I love you!

  1. Great pictures Serbian !

    Great to see the Reaction t-shirt made it on the trip !

  2. Marla says:

    We loved seeing the pictures of your anniversary trip. WOW! Yes, we too pray for the next 50 years to be filled with love for one another and love for God and others.

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