Wednesday, December 31, 2008

National Lampoons Family Christmas II

Well, today is my birthday, and I am finally in the mood to write about our vacation and cruise taken in December.

We decided that as our kids were graduating from college and from high school in 2008 we would take a little trip to celebrate. Then as summer was busy, and so was the fall, December looked like a promising month to accomplish this task.

We put together this cruise through Dateline International Travel in Milwaukie, Oregon, and they helped us book reservations for nine. Another family traveled with us, and that of course made things easier and harder all at the same time.

To begin with, our first day of travel was also a work day, so we took the red eye. This was great advice from Steve, our agent, as you can never be sure the airlines won't mess up your travel plans. Our first plane was canceled I believe because something unfortunate happened to someone on the inbound flight. I still don't know what it was, but they wouldn't use that plane. That caused missed connections in Atlanta, but given our time frame, we still made it to the boat on time. We taxied from Ft. Lauderdale, to the Miami pier, which cost us $160 dollars, and was still cheaper than landing in Miami.

We were cruising on the Jewel of Norwegian Cruise Lines. I don't think that we received the level of service that Norwegian would have advertised, but I will save that for a different article. We did arrive on the ship and it is a beautiful ship. It is also fast, which allowed us to see 5 different ports on our trip. We visited Samana, Dominican Republic, Tortola, British Virgin Islands, the home of Pussers Rum. From there we went to St Johns, Antigua; which is where I ended up waking up with some kind of bug. Little did I know the best thing I could have done was not ask any questions, I found out that several people came down with something at about the same time, so I let curiosity kill the cat, and asked how long I was supposed to be sick, and was then quarantined for 24 hours, even though by the time I was asking the question I was pretty much better. That meant that in addition to missing most of St. Johns, I also missed about half the day in Barbados. On the other hand, the thong bikini is alive and well in Barbados and we should celebrate that...

The final stop was St Lucia, which is a beautiful island, we rented a taxi for the day, which ended up costing us about $200, for 6 people, and saw a lot of the island, and had lunch at Ladera Restaurant, which looks over the Pitons, and was spectacular.

I think you have to be aware and very specific with the Taxi Drivers there, the driver we had was very good, although the driving is a little crazy, with switchbacks and what not the entire way. Our driver took us through a road which ended up being a toll road for the volcano, and really mislead us about that, The folks at the Toll wanted $5 per person, and we of course wouldn't have gone through that road had we known we were not going to be allowed to pass without paying more money. The driver wasn't particularly helpful, and we got through with 20 dollars, which again kind of tainted that part of the trip.

From St. Lucia we were at sea again for a couple of days, then into Miami, to the Airport, and flying to LAX. That was great, but meanwhile back at the ranch Portland was under 16 inches of snow, and we were not able to fly in until Christmas Day.

Enter Craig, Sue, Jake, Geena and Megan, we invaded their house, and shared there Christmas Eve party with them. Three nights of unplanned for guests... 9 of us. Wow. Good thing he is my cousin. In any case that was a fun part of our diversion, and we did make it home on Christmas day, although we did not celebrate Christmas until Saturday.

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