Monday, May 26

The Cruise

for tips and tricks about cruising, go ahead and check out Stephanie's blog she went the day before me on the exact same cruise. (no, this was not planned, and yes, once i found out i tried to move our departure date up so that we could go on the same ship) she wrote it all out so perfectly, so instead of talking about the things i learned whilst away on the sea, i will instead talk about some of our memories, and funny, crazy stories. this is a lengthy post... beware.

i have this weird obsession with change. i love it. if it were up to me i would move every single year, i love experiencing new things and meeting new people, and organizing my stuff all over again, as a kid of parents who have lived in the same house my entire life, this did not work out too well for me and my wishes, so, every few months i would switch rooms with my sister. we were lucky enough to have a free bedroom in my house that i could move into if my sister didn't want to switch. i re-organized and re-decorated sooo many times.

anyway.... lonnnnng tangent to just explain that in those times when moving is not an option, vacationing is second best. my husband is starting to learn this about me and so this Christmas he gifted me money for us to go on a vacation. initially this money was going to be spent on a vacation to virginia and north carolina. i was determined to take bayli along with us, and so we decided we needed to take her before she turned two so that we wouldn't have to buy a plane ticket for her.

well, as her second birthday started getting closer and closer we started stressing about not having the vacation planned... (we were using his brothers jet blue buddy passes so buying a ticket was not something we had to do right away, in fact, the later we waited the better we would know if we would make it on the flight, so that meant that we changed our minds about where, or when to go basically every other day.) finally it was two weeks before her birthday, and we realized that we didn't have enough time to plan a fun vacation with only a few days notice, so we knew we needed an "all inclusive resort kind of thing"

que our friends telling us about how cheap cruises are if you buy them just a week or two before the departure date.

so we looked up cruises and found out how cheap they were and shared the good news with my parents, and then they decided that they wanted to come too! (which was great for us because our biggest worry about going on a cruise was how to keep a watchful eye over bayli, and being stuck in the small cabin during nap time, or after she falls asleep at night, and bringing my parents along with us solved that problem cause we could take turns watching her.) but.... one problem: my dad does taxes for a living, and we were planning on leaving at the end of march before bayli's birthday. that just did not work for him to leave for a week during his busiest time of the year since taxes are due on april 15th. so, we figured that waiting until may so that my parents could come would be worth buying her plane tickets. that night we bought our plane, and cruise tickets for the carnival inspiration, and everything was set.... or so we thought

fast forward to saturday night, our ship leaves on monday afternoon, but we bought plane tickets for sunday night so that we could spend an extra day in long beach and make sure we got there in time because of all the horror stories we heard about planes being delayed and people missing their cruises but having to pay for the entire thing anyway. so... my parents came over to talk about last minute packing things, and garrison and i called Carnival to ask all of our questions. and sometime after my parents left, but before we fell asleep that night we realized that we had NO CLUE where Bayli's birth certificate was. (which is the only form of identification the cruise line would use for a child who didn't have a passport in order to get on the boat.) it's 11:00, we can't call anywhere to ask them what to do because they are all closed for the weekend and won't be open till monday, but we couldn't wait that long we would already be in long beach by then! we seriously were freaking out, many swear words were said, and we were both at each others throat, for not having figured this out sooner.

we finally called the hospital where she was born and they explained to us that no, it is not mailed to you like we thought, and if we had not ever gone to the county office to pick it up, then it would still be there waiting for us. turns out bayli is two years old and we have never even seen her birth certificate before. who knew! so... we tried looking up online to figure out who has to be there in order to pick it up from the county so that they can fax us a copy in long beach. but... from everything that we read since we could not call someone, we realized that one of us, her parents, would need to be there in person to pick it up monday morning.

so, garrison called the airline company and switched his plane tickets, paid them a hefty fee for having to switch, and now the plan was for him to stay behind while all of us left on sunday night, and to pick her birth certificate up first thing monday morning and book it to the airport and try to make it to long beach in time for the ship's departure at 5.
tears were shed on sunday night as we left garrison behind, i was so nervous that they wouldn't be able to find her birth certificate, or that he would miss his plane since we were cutting everything so close together, and that bayli wouldn't be able to come with us, which would mean that we would be stuck on land. worst case scenario, my parents would go on the cruise, bayli and i would be stuck in California alone for the week, and garrison would miss his flight and still be back home. SO not how i was picturing this vacation.
we spent that next day at the beach as we waited for garrison's plane to arrive, it was bayli's first time seeing the ocean. it was bitter sweet, knowing that garrison was missing this fun first experience for bay, but she was so excited, the water was too cold for her to play in, but she loved the sand, and she loved chasing all the birds even more! she insisted on wearing her superhero cape, and it ended up keeping her safe from sunburn so it all worked out nicely. i tried to enjoy myself, but deep down i was still worried about garrison. thankfully a few hours before the ship left, garrison (and bayli's birth certificate) arrived safely. :)
after officially making it onto the boat as a family, (the lilo and stitch quote "family means nobody's left behind, or forgotten" comes to mind) i felt the biggest relief of stress and needless to say, we all slept wonderfully that night amidst the rocking of the boat. (well, everyone besides my mother who had never been on a ship before and genuinely thought we were going to sink, with tears streaming she updated her will and wrote letters to her loved ones saying goodbye and everything, all while the rest of us were dead asleep not worrying about a thing!) 
i was the only one who had been on a cruise before out of the 5 of us that went, and when they announced that we would not be able to make it to catalina island the first day because of harsh winds and too big of swells, we all got a little sick. luckily no one threw up (well except bayli, but she threw up on the plane ride to long beach, not the boat) but boy those waves were crazy. i had forgotten how much it moves all the time. we spent a lot of time either laying down in our beds downstairs, or up on the top deck feeling the wind and watching the waves in order to help with our sea sickness. because of the storm, our itinerary got changed from: catalina, ensenada, and lastly, day at sea. they switched it to: day at sea first, then catalina, and lastly ensenada. 
our first day as the winds roared outside, the party roared even louder inside. it was cinco de mayo and it seemed like everyone besides us were drunk. we kept trying to figure out if drinking would help or hinder with the seasickness. we came to the conclusion that being drunk would dull the senses and make that night seem smoother, but in the morning we just could not fathom them having a hangover and dealing with the ocean swells at the same time, so we just people watched and enjoyed them all make fun of themselves weather it be at the karaoke bar, or in the clubs, or trying to mini golf up on the top deck. 
we were lucky to share a table at the dining room with another family, they were from Oregon and the dad was a pastor of the Seventh Day Adventist church in that area. they were truly the nicest people, and we had some amazing conversations. meeting them was one of my favorite parts about the entire vacation. 

that night i also took my turn at the karaoke bar, half-way through the song, bayli came up on stage with me, and sang on the other mic, it was adorable. we also went to the comedy club and almost peed our pants laughing so hard. and finally, after hitting up the buffet table one more time for our daily dose of hot chocolate and ice cream we went to sleep. 

our second day was spent in catalina island, this was our favorite port of the cruise. it was beautiful, the perfect temperature, and just a very unique and interesting island. first, we rented a golf cart and drove around the entire island. then we laid out on the beach and bayli and i fought about whose turn it was to wear her cape... (you'll understand that after you see the pictures) and did some window shopping. around 1:00 my parents took bayli back to the boat to nap, and garrison and i stayed on catalina and went on a tour of the "casino". it was so beautiful. it's the circular building on the tip of the bay overlooking the ocean, this "casino" is a movie theater on the main level, and the worlds largest circular dance floor upstairs. we learned so many cool things about people that had been there, movies filmed there, how expensive everything was, and random facts about the building, but i'll let you go on the tour yourself to learn all of that, i highly recommend it.
^^ this chandelier is in the center of the dance floor upstairs in the casino, can you tell it was made by tiffany and co back in the 20's? the tiffany blue kinda gives it away. :)
then we headed back to the ship and ate dinner with our new friends and instantly fell asleep after a long exhausting day while our boat took us to mexico.

our third day was spent in ensenada. if i'm being honest. the entire town just smelt dirty, and we felt bombarded by sidewalk salesmen saying things like "almost free" and "you know you want it" we caved into their schemes and bought way more stuff than we planned. there were sketchy looking "pharmacies" on every corner, "you want viagra? oxycotton? anything you want, we make it!" creepy. we didn't spend long walking around, we were gonna try to find a beach since we had our swimming suits on and all, but all of the natives kept giving us different directions, so eventually we gave up, headed back to the boat early, and spent the rest of the night trying to figure out if there was anything else on the boat that we wanted to do before we arrived back to long beach in the morning. 
in long beach the next day, after we disembarked that morning, we got a taxi that drove us around to see the cool parts in town before he headed to the airport, we were there super early so we played games, and finally when the flight was ready to leave, they informed us that there were not enough seats for garrison, bayli, and i. (this kind of thing happens often when using buddy passes) so we checked into the closest marriott hotel, hung out in the hot tub, got some burgers and shakes for dinner, and watched Superman with bayli in the hotel room before bed. (she did better with being still and paying attention when watching superman than she does with cartoons, it was awesome) even though that part of the vacation wasn't planned, it ended up being a nice grand finale to our vacation, some time with just the three of us to spend as our small little family and some time to try to get used to walking around on solid ground again. and don't worry, we made it onto the first flight out of there the next day. 
even though sooo many things about this vacation did not go as planned, it's a good thing we were able to do all of these things for such a good price or else i bet we would have been more frustrated. yet among all the stress and worry, it all worked out in the end. and we really did have a fun time. but... maybe i'll request we go to an all inclusive resort on dry ground instead of a cruise next time. :)

sorry for the lengthy post, i just needed to get it all down so that when bayli asks why she hasn't gone on a cruise when shes older, we can remind her that "we did when you were very little... there's proof on the blog!"

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