Thursday, April 17, 2014

Cozumel

When I booked the cruise, Cozumel was a take it or leave it stop for me. We actually considered staying on the boat and relaxing, but ended up leaving the kids on the boat (they begged!) and John and I wandered around. 

We shopped, and shopped, and wandered, and ate...that about sums it up! I don't have any cell phone pics, and I'm not even sure that I have any real camera pics! Either way, we had some nice adult time and ended up at a delicious restaurant where we ate way too much food.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Costa Maya

We spent A LOT of time at the beach on this vacation. I mean, it doesn't really get any better than a day on the beach when you have 3 young boys. Sand, water, digging, building. 

Costa Maya was another beach day. We didn't know what we were going to do when we got off the boat, but we ended up walking around and went to a "beach club" (which was really just a nice little section of beach, with free wifi, where we could use a cabana as long as we bought some food). A total win-win as far as I'm concerned!

(Still hoping the camera shows up, but I have a couple of cell phone pics at least.)

In the new section of town, at the port area

And then, onto the beach!
The boys caught a bunch of little jellyfish (which, as far as we can tell, don't sting)...they were safely released after a few minutes of observation!
Sand castle village

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Next up: Belize

I wasn't exactly sure what to expect in Belize. We had heard some less-than-stellar things about Belize City, so we booked an excursion here since I wasn't really sure what to do. 

We started out with a boat trip up the Old Belize River. I am really hoping that our camera turns up because I don't have any pictures of Belize except on the camera, and we saw lots of animals that we don't usually get to see: manatees, huge iguanas, a baby crocodile, and dolphins! The dolphin(s?) we're jumping alongside our boat and doing tricks. I have never before seen a dolphin that close up. It was so cool, and the boys LOVED it! Since we were on a small boat, we were all able to see it very clearly.

After the boat ride, we went to Bacaab Eco Park for lunch. We decided to go on the self-guided herbal trail (which I'm pretty sure is where I acquired an abundance of bug bites!). Afterwards the boys dipped their feet in the pool to cool off, and then we took off for Altun Ha (Mayan Ruins). 

I didn't know if the kids would enjoy the ruins or not, but they were really into it! We got to climb the biggest one and look out over the rest which was really cool. And I REALLY hope I get my camera back because all of our Belize pictures are on it. No cell phone pics at all. If NCL ever comes through with the camera, I'll be updating this post with lots of pictures of the ruins, dolphins, etc. But for now, this is all I have:
You can see on the map where the cruise ships stop, and then we were tendered in. We took a boat just a bit north and then onto the Belize River. I think we went about 17 miles up the river, and then took a bus to Altun Ha after lunch.

First stop: Roatan Honduras

Like I said before, we pretty much booked this cruise for the itinerary. The first two stops were the ones I was looking forward to the most (Honduras and Belize). 

In Roatan, we rented a jeep and had a beach day, did a little exploring, and spent some time shopping. We found a nice little beach that we had to ourselves for pretty much the entire time. The boys loved it so much they didn't want to leave. As we got back to the port, we ALMOST decided to go zip-lining, but we thought it might be too much to cram in to our day. 

Roatan was beautiful, the people seemed friendly, and we decided that it was a place that we would want to vacation at for a longer amount of time...

...then, we heard after we got home that a Norwegian crew member was killed there in an attempted robbery just a few days after we left...and I started researching and saw how high the crime rate is...now I'm not sure. I never felt unsafe. But maybe I should have? I don't know. 

Before Archer fell asleep!

And after...poor B!

Family pic behind a little restaurant - of course there's always one kid with eyes closed or a silly expression!

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Cruise

Last year was our first cruise. We chose the cruise line (Norwegian) purely because they had an itinerary we wanted, they had cabins that could accommodate 5, and it was affordable. Since we had a great time, we decided to stick with Norwegian this year, but we ended up in a suite on a bigger boat.

It was nice to have a bigger room and some better dining options. We even had a table in our room and enough space that we could have a meal together in our room, which is a very nice feature when you have three exhausted kids!

So this year, our itinerary was Roatan Honduras, Belize City, Costa Maya, and Cozumel. We chose the itinerary for the first two stops mainly, and Honduras was definitely our favorite stop with Belize being a close second (probably mostly due to the fact that we booked an excursion on that stop that ended up being excellent). 

We ended up leaving our camera on board and we're in the process of attempting to get it back...otherwise all we have are a few cell phone pics! :(

Just after we boarded. This was at the steakhouse that is one of the specialty restaurants for dinner, but since we were staying in a suite, we got to have breakfast & lunch there. It was SO GOOD! We ate there pretty much every day. Soooo much better than the buffet!

Sunset our first evening, from our room. 
John turned 33 (!) while we were on the cruise, and we celebrated at the French restaurant on board.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Tampa

Warm weather and sunshine! We have been enjoying a spectacular vacation that is unfortunately coming to an end. I am not ready to go back to 40 degrees, but we all miss home and the pup. Archer has been looking at pictures of Ender constantly, and declared that he never wants to take a vacation without her again. Sweet boy! I promised him lots of camping trips with Ender which seemed to satisfy him. 

Anyway, we started out our vacation a little south of Tampa where my aunt & uncle are staying. We spent a few days with them, playing at the beach and hunting for shark teeth. We also went to a state park where we took an air boat ride and saw LOTS of alligators (and some cool birds, but of course the boys only cared about the alligators!). It was the perfect vacation kick-off. 

Airport with Arch (and his "kitty baby")

Zonked out kids 

Beach!

The shark teeth. Preston especially loved hunting for shark teeth. He was very determined and found A LOT of these teeth. 

John, Preston, Archer, Teddy, Uncle Al, and Bryton watching some basketball

Gators!
Blue Heron
And more gators!
Archer's binoculars that he pulled out many times on our trip

Teddy trying to leave with us!

After a few days exploring the area, playing with Teddy (the awesome poodle!) and most likely driving my aunt & uncle a little crazy (although they did seem to tolerate our craziness fairly well!), we headed back up north to Tampa to the cruise terminal.

As with last years' cruise, I picked this cruise for the itinerary. We aren't ones to care too much for ship amenities at this point, although I'm sure that may change as the kids get older. We are perfectly content to sit out on the deck reading, take the kids for a swim, and let the kids play in the kid's club. But, we did dock next to the Norwegian Epic, and the boys were marveling at the water slides!