I’ve thought for a long time now that I want to be a travel writer, specifically a FAMILY travel writer. After our recent vacation, I know that is not in my future as I am at a complete loss when summarizing our experience. Sure, I can give you a very dry, generic review of cruising on Carnival Fantasy to the Bahamas — but to capture the excitement, joy, awe, compassion, and exhaustion we experienced has proved impossible!! 

I must say that the most unexpected but most meaningful part of the journey was the friendships we developed with two of the Carnival staff members. These new friendships are due to our three boys! David, Hunter and Luke opened up to these complete strangers from far-away countries and essentially invited them to become part of our family! The boys laughed with them, carried on meaningful conversations and even shed a couple of tears with them. Watching my children interact with these extraordinary people made me proud and touched me in a way that I will always cherish those moments. I am very excited that we were able to exchange email and Facebook information with Iki and Edith and hopefully they will remain a part of our lives. Of course, any future cruises will have to be planned around their schedules!!! 

I was unable to get pictures of several of the highlights of the cruise simply because I wasn’t present! Parents aren’t allowed in Camp Carnival, but I received animated recaps of the boys’ activities daily! David and Hunter took Break Dancing lessons, created sculptures, went on ship-wide scavenger hunts, learned about the solar system and pirates and played many games. Hunter was the proud winner of a dancing competition and was rewarded with a medal. David won an intense game of black-out bingo and is still sporting his prize of an airbrushed wolf tattoo. Luke ventured off into a new world and found that he loved his time away from Mom and Dad. He was a King, a Pirate and a Funnel. He made more crafts than we could actually pack in our bags and proudly wears his new Freddy FunShip t-shirt (for the third day straight!). So what did Wayne and I do with all of this free time?? Enjoyed the sunsets with a few cocktails, attended an art auction (where I resisted the temptation to part with hundreds of dollars), watched the clouds roll overhead while soaking up some sun and possibly even napped for a while!

On the islands we enjoyed swimming in 85 degree waters, eating fresh conch salad and conch fritters and cracked conch, gazing at multi-million dollar celebrity estates, admiring the colorful and plentiful marine life, riding in Amazing Grace’s van and listening to the music and people of the Bahamas. I was thrilled to see my children show their sense of adventure and immerse themselves in the colorful island culture. Fortunately, I thrive on using the word “NO” or the entire family would now be clothed in a beach vendor wardrobe of Bob Marley t-shirts and the most amusing “If you see the po-po, let me know-know!” shirt.

While I’ve never had a bad vacation, this one fulfilled me in so many ways. I was able to satisfy my soul’s need for salt air, tropical waters and brilliant sunsets. My body was placated with many meals of delicious, fresh seafood and just a few glasses of liquid laughter.  And my mind was filled with the intriguing life stories, hilarious anecdotes and heart-felt inspirations of those we met. To Iki, Beth, Grace, and the many others we encountered … thank you for the memories, the laughs, the tears and the bonds we shared. You all left a life-long impression with me, Wayne and the boys. We will never be able to adequately thank you.