Monday, December 21, 2015

Family Christmas Cruise 2

Sherry and I have now enjoyed 4 cruises. All in the last ten years.  Our first was with a church group arranged by or we probably would not have started.  We have enjoyed all of them.  This cruise was special.  It was a dream of mine, and Sherry gladly joined in.  We saved for the cruise so it would not be a strain on any of the family members.

I used the old worn statement 'we are spending our children's inheritance'. But then I explained on the cruise no one would have inherited this money we are spending, if it wasn't spent on this cruise, Sherry and I would have spent it on something else.  ;-)  It was my intent for this to be a completely expense free vacation for everyone (except Sherry), I think we succeeded.

The first thing I noticed on cruise ships is the 'elegance' and elaborate (ornate) designs .
Above is the main elevator system reaching the 12 decks. These are set in amid ship, curved glass enclosed. As you are in the elevator you can vied the circular dance floor below, usually with a live band.

Looking across from the elevator is the 8-10 balcony levels for folks to relax and view the action below.

The action and dancing below on the shiny tile dance floor

 The next thing you notice that is the crew is a smiling bunch and nine out of ten are foreign nationals.  These people work to make your stay a happy one.

Gratuities, big subject aboard ship. Tips over the years have become part of a 'bill' instead of the voluntary 'tip' for service. In the case of the workers aboard, I would say 99% earn their 'tips'. The ship will add $12 a day per guest for tips.  We prepaid everyone's tips.  At the end of the cruise you will take note the servers/stewards are 'exceptionally' nice and helpful. They appreciate an 'extra' gift. Many will miss Christmas with their families or travel a long way to see them. Anyway we always leave a little extra to see the smiles, although I think the ship should pay more. ;-).

Before we are out of the channel and into TAmpa Bay the cousins (new 'friends') are in the Kiddie Pool on the upper decks. 

Our first Sunset, and we still have not reached the Skyway bridge.

It takes a couple hours for a ship to exit Tampa Bay. We had hoped to see the clearance of the ships stacks compared to the Skyway Bridge between St. Pete and the south shore. But the sun was setting. and it appeared it would be dark before we reached the bridge and it was. So we hugged and said, "We did it. WE got the family aboard, NOW IT BEGINS."

Below The shops are opening, listed as 'tax and duty free' I imagine some of the prices are good, to me they were all expensive and over priced. (However I did buy a $10 watch ;-) )

 Shots of the Skyway bridge from the net:

The Skyway is one of the most impressive bridges we have seen. We have crossed it many times. The center section was once 'knocked out' by a runaway barge, taking a long time to repair.

An aerial view of a ship leaving Tampa Bay and heading into the Gulf of Mexico. 

Below is a shot of a Carnival Ship going under, you can see there is not a lot of clearance. As we went under in the lights it looked like we only had a foot or two clearance, but the sight up close is impressive, none of the pictures came out on my camera. I think Sherry has found one on her phone, when I learn how to get them off I will show them.

We are now headed for Georgetown in the Cayman Islands.

WE see most of the family on a yearly/monthly/daily basis but Ben and Elsie we see in frequently. This was a chance to sit and talk with everyone, many one on one. I must say the trip was better than getting a new car, which we do not need.

I have no word counter anymore and the blog is much harder to input, I hope to get the system back soon.
Nite Shipslog
1929 Packard


Elizabeth said...

What a wonderful gift for everyone! I agree much better than a new car! The memories of this time together will last forever!

Paula said...

Sounds like everyone had a great time. What a wonderful gift to your family.

betty said...

Loved the pictures aboard the ship and the picture of you and Sherry :)I think it was a wonderful thing you did for the family, Jack and Sherry, by taking them on this cruise. You got to see their joy and enjoyed the time spent together :)


Mevely317 said...

I'm still so moved by your generosity. Were the 'boys' and the grands like totally blown away by all the ship had to offer?

You've some good information here for those readers who may not have cruised before; I especially like what you've said about the 'extra' gratuities. :)

Rick Watson said...

That is a beautiful ship. And I agree about tipping. When folks do a good job taking care of us we usually tip more than is expected.

shirl72 said...

Enjoyed seeing more about the cruise. I'm sure everyone had a good time and will keep as memories. I want to hear Stella tell about it.
She can put in words that will be funny. She is a smart little
girl. Her conversations are so grown-up. Is was a wonderful gift for
everyone. I will send you some money to help you get food. hee hee hee

Glenda said...

That Skyway Bridge is a marvel, and what a wonderful sunset to set sail to! The ships are almost overwhelming in all their splendor, this one is a beauty. Your family must still be reeling from the excitement and activities of their trip, you two looked absolutely wonderful in that hug photo, been doing that a long time Gramps!!! So happy it all went well, glad Shirl is sending money, she's a good sis :)

Jimmy's Journal said...

Nice pics - Hope you guys had fun!


I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

I can only imagine how good you both felt knowing that you were responsible for getting the family together. It is quite a feat with everyones busy schedules. I love seeing all the pictures. The ship looks small leaving the bay there but I realize it is huge. Gives one some perspective for sure.

Melanie said...

Glad you had a good time...Never get me on one of