Friday, October 31, 2014

Richards Cruise wrapup

The last day of the cruise was a sea day.  I miss all the comments we would get on board about our family.

"You have a beautiful family!"


"FOUR boys?!"

were the most we heard,several times a day. The staff loved the little ones especially, because many of them have kids back home.  People were kind and patient with our bunch. I miss not being complemented. In Utah, it's normal to have a bunch of blond kids. 

I have to say cruising with 12 adults and 9 kids overall was so much fun. We would meet at various places on the ship for meals or games or swimming. Or we would spend time in individual families.

JB and his brother Bart played some basketball one day.

Kids Club was so great. One night they dressed the kids up like pirates for the show:

Another night it was smurfs.

We had another dress up night, though we didn't eat in the dining room again. We tried it two nights, but with four kids, you just can't sit for two hours for a longer meal.

We ate most of our meals at the buffet on deck 14, where a pizza maker from Sicily and his helpers cranked out some of the best pizza I've ever had. MSC is an Italian cruise line, and Max couldn't have been happier. He ate pizza for lunch and for dinner just about every day. So we took his picture with the pizza man the last night.

The ships mascot was called Doremi, (like Do Re Mi I assume), and it came complete with an Italian song that they would sing over and over in kids club.

Max won one of the stuffed things, so naturally Benny wanted to spend his alloted money on one, too.

And cousins Emily and Jane also became obsessed. This is everyone at the Miami airport, waiting for the flights back home.

Saturday we flew home, thankfully on a newer Delta plane with in-seat free entertainment screens of movies and games. Saved our sanity, that's for sure. A former nanny sat by me and didn't mind stir-crazy James on my lap. And uncle Scott sat by one of my boys on each leg, helping them with snacks and headphones, for which I will be forever grateful.

Max wants to go back, and I agree.

Richards Cruise - Grand Turk

On Thursday, the ship was supposed to go to Great Stirrup Cay, in the Bahamas. JB and I were there on a previous cruise. But heavy rain had the captain go to Grand Turk instead, in the British Virgin Islands.

This may have been a favorite stop for the Richards family. We had lots of beach chairs all in a row in the shade, they were free, and behind the beach was a freshwater pool, also free to cruisers. And it was all within walking distance of the pier. Swim-lunch-swim-naps.

Benny learned to float.

Here are Uncle Joe and cousin Kate, who was pretty much the cutest thing on that beach.

Well, cutest besides my baby.

Andrew has a snack while Aunt Sarah captures cute Kate.

Then Andrew got tired again.

And so did baby James.


And so did Max, who thought Nona's wheelchair would work fine. Nona just had knee surgery before the cruise. 


After lunch on the ship, we came back to the pool near the beach, and watched Joe, Seth, Suzanne and Jeff just kill it on the flowrider. I mean, holy cow. My favorite was guys watching making bets on how long each person would stay up, and Suzanne showed them all how it's DONE.

Meanwhile, in the pool, the cousins were working on a strong man type show (almost every night in the ship's theater, two strong men would come out and do tricks). Max ended up being the base every time. Poor oldest cousin.

Then they found a friend and practised group jumps.

With snow in the forecast for this weekend here in Utah, this warm scene will be a memory to treasure.

Richards Cruise - San Juan

On Wednesday we landed in San Juan, Puerto Rico. JB and I were there years ago on another cruise and I love it. I love the forts, the history, and the feel of the old city.

We walked around the city first.

When we got to the first fort, the Castillo Columbia I think it's called, we ran into other members of the family also exploring, and Suzanne took this photo of us peering through the walls. Max held on tight to Andrew and I didn't climb up, even though there's a long space in front of those openings to prevent any falls.

This is the view of Benny and Max in those openings, from the other side of the picture above.

Inside we found cannon balls. "BALL!!" Squealed James and he wouldn't turn around for a picture.

And we found this iguana sunning himself.

And we ended up in jail. By the way, wearing a KSL or BYU or UofU shirt or a Jazz hat is a good idea on vacation. We ran into Utahns everywhere on the ship and at ports, including the niece of a very good friend of ours, on a different cruise ship docked in San Juan that day.

From that fort, we walked to the other one. It was uphill and hot, and the boys thought they were going to die, but what a view, and what an experience. Goldfish from my backpack and a shared passion fruit smoothie and Sprite from street vendors cheered them up.

Notice again, Andrew asleep on my back, James asleep in the stroller. And I was constantly re-applying sunscreen the whole week by the way. Ain't no quicker vacation-killer than a sunburn.

On the way back to the ship, we followed the calles along the old city wall to the Parque de las Palomas (famous pigeon park) but they all flew away before Benny could sneak in there for a picture.

JB went out looking for more rice to try and dry out his drowned phone, or even a TMobile store to get a new phone, but no tenia suerte (I had random Spanish phrases in my head all day in San Juan).

He got a new phone back in SLC when we came home, and it was a big upgrade from what he had. I kept my phone off most of the trip and tucked away because I was afraid of big charges and afraid of losing the thing. But it also meant I never knew what time it was, because my watch battery died before the trip. I just about went crazy.

Richards Cruise - St Maarten

I miss this.

On Tuesday of our cruise we docked in St Maarten. JB and I have been there twice before, and this time were content to take a water taxi to the nearest beach and let our boys experience it all.

This moment is also the moment where JB's phone drowned. He had it in his pocket unawares. So sorry if you were trying to reach the Bishop, or loan officer that week. Wave bye-bye to daddy's phone, James!

Andrew preferred collecting shells. He tried to put the whole beach in his backpack.

James felt like nursing to the sound of the waves. What the heck, St Maarten does have a nude beach on the other side of the island, right?

Aunt Suzanne and James's twinner cousin Phin, who was not sure what he thought of the sand.

Andrew was so tuckered out, I put him in the Ergo for the journey back, and he proved he can sleep anywhere.

Our other tired beach baby.

Richards Cruise part one

We counted down for months, and now, it's all a memory. But what memories! Two weeks ago, the extended Richards family went on a Caribbean cruise.

We started by parking the car and taking Trax to the SLC airport.

Then we waited with cousins at the airport for the overnight flight.

Did I mention it was a redeye.

We arrived at 6 AM Miami time, then took several transfers of airport and Miami public transportation and then walked a lot to get to the docks. We had plenty of time to kill.

I felt like I was constantly counting little blonde heads and luggage to make sure we were all together. In this picture, I keep checking on baby James, while uncles Seth and Jeff laugh at two ladies fighting over their advice to where we needed to exit the train.

When we finally got on the ship, hallelujah! All you can eat lunch, and all you can take swimming.

Until sleepiness caught up.

Andrew is the cutest little alligator at the muster station for the life jacket drill.

And we sailed away from Miami!

We went to the show that first night. It was Frank Sinatra songs in the big theater.

JB took this picture. On his other side, Andrew was already asleep on Papa's arm.....and Papa was asleep with his head back on the red velvet chair. As the show started, JB nodded off too. DID I MENTION THE RED-EYE. Meanwhile, the Sinatra singer then started to move among the audience with the spotlight following....and he stopped right by the sleeping Richards family for his big moment:  "I did it, MYYYYYY WAAAAYYY!" I cannot think about this moment without giggling and guffawing.

Max and Ben slept on the couch bed in Nonna and Papa's cabin; the little boys slept on the couch bed in our cabin around the corner. Well, James ended up in our bed more often than not (we are now sleep-training him back at home).

It took us all of the two days at sea to explore the ship and figure out its secrets in those 16 levels. It was the MSC Divina, a different cruise line than any of us have taken before, but by the end we felt like it was home. Cousin Emily knew her way around better than any of us, and would often lead the kids as they went to and from Kids Club and the pool and the buffet.

We dressed up one of those sea days:

And we went back to another show. Same singer, different songs, different costume. Each night. I also got the giggles over this.

The cousins had the best time together, whether it was playing games, playing in the pool, or playing at Kids Club, where they were the majority of the kids there. Much better than a Disney Cruise, which would have been full of kids. This way, our kids had lots of attention from the staff.

Next posts talk about our stops in the Caribbean!