Family Travels
Cruise December 2005
11 night Exotic Southern Caribbean

Eleven Night  Exotic Southern Caribbean
Royal Caribbean's Empress of the Seas

San Juan, Puerto Rico
St. Maarten
St. Kitts
Antigua
St. Lucia
Barbados
Day at Sea - Christmas Day
Margarita Island, Venezuela
Curacoa
Aruba
Day at Sea
San Juan, Puerto Rico
We decided to try a cruise over the
Christmas holidays....and the decision
was not without reservations.

I, as mom, take Christmas very seriously,
I have never been away from my home
on Christmas in 45 years.  

So I decided that if we were going to go,
we would not scrimp on any holiday
traditions.  So see my notes below on
how to get Santa on a cruise.

Overall, I think this was one of our
favorite cruises....mostly, because of the
exciting destinations
Antigua
It was our second trip to Antigua....a  
shore excursion offered by Shoretrips.  
A catamaran sail/snorkel tour with  
St. Lucia
This unbelievably scenic
island, famous for it Grand
Pitons is Paradise.  Our first
trip there was an excursion
through the ship...a catamaran
trip out to the Pitons, and bus
tour to the Volcano and then to
the Spice Plantations
Royal Caribbean's Empress of the Seas
The Ship was beautifully decorated with hundred of poinsettias, and gingerbread displays and Christmas Trees
The Crew led hundreds of passengers with Christmas Caroling on Christmas Eve.
Christmas was filled with Egg Nog, presents and even Santa arriving in a festive parade
Christmas was formal night...so we got dressed up for a evening of dancing and entertainment.
St. Maarten
We were delighted to learn that St. Maarten is half
Dutch and half French...with an international
border.  We loved Marigot.  We ate crepes,
quiche and had alot of fun shopping and exploring
the town
St. Kitts
We hired a private driver through
Shoretrips and visited the Batik factory.
 Cloth is waxed and dipped in dye in
layers to create beautiful patterns.

We also toured the entire island and
spent a few hours at the beach.  The
girls enjoyed the sand and surf...The
boys enjoyed the jet skis.
Barbados
Our second trip to Barbados.
It was Erica's 17th Birthday
and we let her choose the
excursion.  She chose a
Catamaran Sail/Snorkel with
the Sea Turtles.
Margarita Island, Venezuela
We awoke to a rainy day....canceled our
excursion to an all inclusive resort and
went back to bed.  We awoke around
noon and did some shopping at the port.
Pearls are an incredible deal here.
The Oysters in the mangroves are said to
the very loud at night.
$15 for a choker strand of
15mm fresh water pearls.
Curacao
Very pretty port.
We did an all-inclusive resort for the day.  
Brent and Erica rode jet skis
Amanda got to do a Discover Scuba
Aruba
We took a very private shore excursion
booked through Shoretrips.
Mom and the three kids....with Monique, the
instructor....for a ride along the beach to a
snorkel stop
Mom buys and brings a boxed
tree...checking it through as luggage.
I buy all disposable Christmas
ornaments, garland, lights etc...from the
dollar store.  At the end of the
cruise...we left the tree behind.

We also decorated our doors...so Santa
knew where to stop.
Christmas Eve
We went Christmas Caroling
in the Atrium...The Crew were
in choir robes...leading
hundred of people singing.

Then we "hung our stockings
on the bathroom door handle
with care in hope that St.
Nicholas would soon be
there"

Santa Find Us!

Santa Find Us!

Royal Caribbean's Empress of the Seas
Erica's 17th Birthday
Mom's best friend, Abby, our
travel agent....has Erica's
room decorated for her
Birthday.

Sometimes, the best thing about cruising is meeting
new people.  Our tablemates were from Washington
State...and their older kids were about Erica's age.
We even did a shore excursion with them
Helpful Hints.
Don't wrap anything until you get
there...Airport Security may unwrap it.
Bring tape, paper, tissue and boxes...to
make flat presents look bigger.

Bring lightweight, flat presents (DVDs,
CDs and gift cards) or  things that can
be used on the cruise
(t-shirts, tank tops, jewelry)
Leave bulky items at home
Santa did not deliver EVERYTHING to
the ship...some was waiting at home.

Christmas Day
Santa arrives and leads a
Parade of elfs and musicians.
In the main Theater...all kids
receive a present from
Santa...we sip egg nog as
Christmas music fills the air
The girls go to Napkin
Folding Class
Hula Hoops
Rock Climbing
Tanning by the Pool
Napkins Folding Class
Poolside Dancing Under
the Stars
Dancing with Dad
Making New Friends
We love the crystal clear
waters of Barbados