Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Cruise Withdrawal

Everyone in the family has cruise post-partum. How we miss the carefree days at see - food everywhere, stateroom attendants making your bed, Pina Colada drinks a mere swipe of your sea pass away. Instead we are back at work, slaving over a hot stove, cleaning toilets and all that life offers on a daily basis.

We never finished posting pictures from the final port stop on our cruise - Puerto Vallarta. On this stop we had an organized excursion - swimming with dolphins. What a great experience this turned out to be. After learning about the dolphins we were able to get in the pool and swim and interact with a couple of dolphins - Apollo and Sinbad. The coolest activity was the push and pull where the dolphins propelled you across the pool on boogie board and them pulled you across the pool while you held onto their fins.
After the dolphin swim we went to the downtown area and did some shopping. We definitely liked this stop the most.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Darren Receives His Mission Call

Darren received his mission call today to serve in the Slovenia / Croatia Mission. Turns out a neighbor of Hilary and one of Kristi's friends from her ward growing up has a son who just received a call to the same mission. We learned from her that there are three countries in his mission where missionaries are assigned: Slovenia, Croatia, and Serbia. The sixty or so missionaries in his mission learn one of three languages; Darren will learn Serbian. He will most likely serve his entire mission in Serbia. Good news, 20% of the world raspberries are grown in Serbia.

Monday, June 21, 2010

More Fun

Following are some miscellanious pictures of the fun we had.


In Mazatlan we decided to stay on the ship and enjoy the relative solitude from everyone departing for shore excursions. We played basketball, golfed (Darren's nine hole score of 21 was the family record for the week), soaked up some sun and ate. Food was never far away. We loved the formal meals in the dining hall each evening and the soft serve ice cream pool side. The dining hall meals were plated, full course meals selected from a menu fantastic menu. We discovered that everyone likes escargot and Tyson likes fancy food. During the day we kept the Pina Colada guy in business and did our best to help dispose of all of the food left at the buffet. The evening entertainment was amazing - comedians, musicians, ice skating show, etc.

Cabo Wabo

The first port of call was Cabo San Lucas. I think that means hot and humid in Spanish. This was our first introduction to pushing, annoying locals trying to sell their services or crappy products. The city doesn't have a dock for the boat so it tenders in the bay and boats ferry you to shore. The ship doesn't drop anchor, but has a GPS based system that keeps it within 3 meters of its desired location. From the pier we took a water taxi over to Nikki Beach which is where many of the ocean front resorts are located. The kids had fun playing in the waves which were strong enough to knock Camryn over and drag her into the surf. Tyson thought it was funny, Camryn didn't. We crashed one of the resort pools when the heat got the better of us.
We took this picture from our balcony of a bunch of dolphins which followed us into port.

All Aboard

With the wait finally over, we boarded the Mariner of the Seas on Sunday and started our cruise down to the Mexican Riviera. Having never been on a cruise, we were all amazed at how big this $650 million ship really was. At the time she made her maiden voyage in 2003, the Mariner was the largest cruise ship in the world. In addition to the 3,500 passengers, 1,200 employees work on the ship. The crew members come from all over the world and work on the ship non-stop for up to eight months and then get a two month break. I've never experienced such friendly, customer focused service. From the state room attendants to the dining room Waite staff, everyone was professional, friendly and anxious to help you have a great vacation.
Some of the amazing on-ship facilities included:
  • A rock climbing wall
  • Work out facilities and spa
  • Multiple pools and Jacuzzis
  • Basketball court
  • 1,400 person capacity theater
  • Casino
  • Night clubs
  • Kids zones, game rooms, etc.
  • Library
  • Ice skating rink and arena
  • Shopping plaza on the promenade deck
  • Minature Golf
  • Jogging track

There was never a shortage of something to do.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Let the Fun Begin

Here's to hoping that the actual fun this week will live up to all of the pre-trip hype and discussion. The kids have been looking forward to this since December when we decided that we needed a last family vacation before Darren departs on his mission this year.

Darren met with the stake president and the papers were completed last Sunday. The waiting for his call now begins. In the meantime, hello Mexico. Hopefully for Darren, he won't come home to hello Boise, Idaho.

We flew in to Long Beach on Saturday morning and spent the day with Patricia, Herman, Eric, Joanie and John. We spent the afternoon playing basketball, barbecuing and getting caught up.

While I'm generally a Delta loyalist due to their frequent flier program, I must say that the Jet Blue flight was more comfortable and the service was much better.