Christmas Cruise Diary With Ashley

Christmascruise2009 014Sunday, December 20th, 2009.

We’ve been traveling since this morning from Nashville, Tennessee via air through Charlotte, NC and then on to Tampa, FL.  Actually we left yesterday and stayed the night in Nashville because the snow and ice was coming in and I didn’t want anyone driving in that at 5:00 am.

The best part of today’s trip has been to meet and interact with several of our heroes who serve in the military, coming home for a week and two to see their families for Christmas.  One young man is anxious to see his 6 month old baby girl, and he’s only seen her a total of 2 weeks of her life.  This Christmas will be 2 more weeks (minus 2 days, as he was one stuck in the airport due to the storms and as a result his flight was cancelled).  He flew in from Germany.

Thank you to all who serve and sacrifice so I can be making my Christmas holiday plans without worry of terrorists at hand.

My daughter and I are sitting in front of a big picture window inside Bennigan’s Restaurant at the Port of Tampa.   I’m enjoying one of the best Ruben Sandwiches I’ve ever had while Ashley’s finishing her ‘death by chocolate’ dessert and watching all the activity on the docks outside.  We are enjoying a front row seat to the departure of the Carnival Legend Cruise Ship.   While I’ve sailed many times, this is Ashley’s first cruise.  She’s especially excited and asking lots of questions because we are embarking tomorrow morning aboard the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, Grandeur of Seas for 9 days.

What a joy as a parent to expose Ashley to experiences and memories.   Two years ago when the economy crashed and my real estate practice fell apart, there wasn’t anything under the tree.  My Christmas gift to her was the promise of better things to come.   Today, I am making good on my promise to her.   We finished dinner and she said, “thank you, Mom … for dinner and the cruise’.  I just smiled at her with teary eyes and said, ‘you’re welcome baby, we’ve worked hard to get here and we deserve this.’  She agreed.  I pondered for a moment about how important it’s been for Ashley to see me go from being successful in my real estate career, to losing everything, to working hard in a completely different industry and rebuild to create a lifestyle once again that allows me the freedom to spend my time how I choose.

We’ll be walking back to the Hyatt Regency just a few blocks away from here shortly.  We’ve decided to get in our loungies (pjs) and watch a couple of movies.  The first is ‘The Proposal’ with Sandra Bullock followed by the new release ‘Julia and Julia’ with Meryl Streep, (we each picked on).  For snacks?  Ashley’s favorite is sour cream and onion Pringles and mine is peanut M&M’s.  Gotta have the right snacks when watching movies.

I’m so grateful for entrepreneurship, for the freedoms I have to choose my way in life, and the mentors, coaches and friends who have supported me all along my journey.  What a beautiful ending to a great year.


Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmascruise2009 001We set sail today.

While the rest of the world woke up to alarm clock to shower, shave and shine and report to a boss in exchange for a paycheck on Friday, I woke up when I was done sleeping.  The time was 9:16 am EST.  Ashley was already awake.  We tossed on some jeans and headed down for breakfast at the Hyatt Regency where we were staying.  Ashley ordered cinnamon French toast and I opted for a plate of seasonal fruit which was overflowing with fresh blueberries, boysenberries, strawberries, sweet juicy pineapple, cantalope, honey dew, watermelon and bananas.  Served with hot English Breakfast tea, I was good to go.

We headed over to the ship, processing was quick and easy, and before we knew it, Ashley and I were all settled and unpacked in our cabin for our 9 day adventure.  We met our cabin steward and were off to make reservations for some pampering and offshore excursions.  Here’s our line up of excursions we choose:

** Horseback Riding in the rain forest in San Juan, Puerto Rico
** Parasailing, power snorkeling and swimming with sea turtles in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas
**Hiking on ancient trails through the rain forest, passing by an abandoned sugar cane plantation ascending from St. Maarten’s highest point, overlooking 7 neighboring islands.
**Relaxing on a sailboat while crossing the Sir Frances Drake Channel where we’ll be snorkeling and swimming among caves and beautiful coral reefs.

We enjoyed a healthy lunch and headed up to the workout room to meet our personal trainer.  We’ll be back for yoga, cycling and whatever else we want to do.

Christmascruise2009 299

As the ship was heading out of port, Ashley and I were treating ourselves to a full body massage.   We opted for a hot stone massage because we’ve never had one before and wanted to experience something new.  It was wonderful!  I had a foot massage following my body massage, Ashley loved her facial.  I wanted to set the tone for this cruise which was total relaxation and pampering mixed with fun and adventure.

Christmascruise2009 008
Just finished my massage. I'm SO relaxed.

I took time to meditate during my message, to clear my mind of anything that related to work.  My focus was on my renewal, rejuvenation, and healing.  Ashley was in the next room and I was hoping she was focusing on how beautiful a young woman she is, both inside and out, how incredibly special she is and to love herself.  She’s so deserving of pampering.

After our relaxing massage, we walked the decks, familiarized ourselves with what’s where and what’s what before heading to dinner.

Ashley and I share a dining table with two other couples, one from Chicago, Ill and the other, newlyweds from Mexico City, Mexico.   It was great conversation, learning about one another.  Our waiter is Pascal from India.

There is no late night show tonight and quite frankly, I’m pooped so it’s a good thing.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

We are at sea today.

It was cloudy and overcast all day.  The winds made it impossible to spend any time on the upper deck on the jogging path or really, any outdoor areas.  But nonetheless, each day is what you make it and we were going to enjoy it.

Christmascruise2009 009With that in mind, I got in a 30 minute cycling workout followed by some toning exercises.  Ashley and I took a dry heat sauna and later in the day, enjoyed the hot tub.  We both got in some great reading.  When she was little, well, actually the same holds true today, she would read so much, she got in trouble.  She’d rather have her head in a book than anything else.  That being the case, I’d have to take her books away to get her to do her chores or get ready for school or start her homework.  She reads hundreds of books a year.  She can put down a 4 inch book in a weekend.   The first day of school you’d find her checking out the library and making friends with the librarian and staff.

In the afternoon, Ashley and I took a ballroom dancing class.  I would love to learn to do that.

Tonight was the Captains reception so we dressed for the occasion.

Ashley and I had our photos taken with various backdrops, enjoyed a delicious filet mignon dinner and watched a show by ‘Spectrum’ out of Las Vegas taking us down Motown memory lane.  Great R&B.  I have to say they were exceptional.Christmascruise2009 030

I walked Ashley to our room where she experienced her first ‘towel art’.  There was a towel folded in the shape of a swan on her bed.  Ashley hit the hay but I wasn’t ready for bed just yet so I went for a late night stroll breathing in the fresh ocean air and pondering the depth and vast ocean surrounded me in complete darkness.  The Captain had announced earlier that the depth of the ocean we were above was  4,000+ feet deep and there was turbulence because of the high winds.  The waves were really kicked up.

The best part of my day was simply watching older/senior couples ballroom dance, hold hands, sneak a kiss and share a whisper then belly laugh out loud.   I found myself smiling several times and admiring the beauty of their love and companionship.

I think I’m ready to call it a night now.  The waves are gently rocking the ship and I’m going to let that rock me to sleep.

More pictures from today:

Christmascruise2009 029

Christmascruise2009 018


Christmascruise2009 034Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Still At Sea Today

No sunning our buns today!

We awoke to the ship rocking and swaying, and although it didn’t alarm us and we felt completely safe, Christmascruise2009 035it was a warning that we are still in rough sea s and there would probably be no sun tanning again today.  We have not come through the storm yet.  I couldn’t get good pictures to capture the essence of the storm.  I actually thought it was beautiful.  It was powerful and something to be respected.  I’ve been at sea many times, but not in this kind of weather.

We head up for breakfast and took a prime table smack dab in the front of the ship.  The view would be breathtaking except that visibility is terrible, the clouds are touching the ocean, the swells are 5-8 feet high and it’s pouring down rain.  Nonetheless, we are happy to be here.

Half way through breakfast, we see a family of four looking for a table, so Ashley and I volunteer to give up our seats to find a two seats together.  They were happy and surprised that we would even offer.  We love to do things like this!  We have so much fun!  It’s almost worth taking a bigger table just so we can do that to bless others!

As we were sitting at our table for two, a senior couple was looking for place to sit and obviously struggling to not only find a seat, but to walk without falling over, as the ship was rocking pretty good.  Ash and I looked at each other and grinned.  Without saying a word, Ashley jumps up and grabs their attention, brings them to our table and sits them down.  We head off to find a one spot at a bar top.  I sit, Ashley stands.  We giggle because it was such a joy to be the hands and feet of Jesus and bless another family…. Twice!

Christmascruise2009 284The weather continued to be stormy all day.  As we sat in the library on the 7th floor overlooking the starboard side of the ship, there was a sailboat in distress.  The coast guard was taking care of them.  They are far from land and no doubt had been floating around for a couple of days out there.   You can hear the wind whipping, the waves crashing and the rain pounding.   I’m totally loving it.  I suppose it’s all about what you make of it.  The stormier it is outside, the more I can settle in with a good book and cup of tea.  And, being in a storm at sea, while not ideal, is a new experience for me.  I appreciate the work of the crew and captain to keep everything in tact and the passengers safe.  And, about the good book and cup of tea?  That’s exactly what I did.  For hours!  Ashley dozed off and took a little snooze.  The weather was perfect for that.

Ashley got well into her second book and I’m reading a new one myself…. The Heart of a Leader, Insights on the Art of Influence by Ken Blanchard.  It’s the expanded and updated version of the original.  I love it because it reads like a daily devotion.  In fact, I think I’ll put this one aside and use it for that.  What a great idea!  I’m going to pull out, “The Power of Less, the fine art of limiting yourself to the essential … in business and in life”, by Leo Babauta.

After dinner we had our pictures taken, this was a silly picture of us on the floor with Christmas packages surrounding us.  It looked like fun so we opted for it.  From there, I headed to the gym to put a couple miles on the treadmill, catch a shower and a show and call it a night.

By midnight, the ship was still fighting the waves and storm.  Hopefully by morning, we will have gone through the other end of the storm and can enjoy a nice day in San Juan.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

San Juan, Puerto Rico

After breakfast, Ashley got in a quick workout and I doodled around on deck for a bit.  We are through the storm, the sun is out but it’s also very cloudy.  I can see San Juan, Puerto Rico up ahead and we’ll be docking in about an hour.

Christmascruise2009 039Today, Ashley opted for the horseback riding excursion through the rain forest.

We had a one hour bus ride to where we needed to be, the Hacienda Carabali located within the foothills to the El Yunque National Rain Forest.

Ashley’s horse was ‘Junior’ and mine was “David’.  How original, huh?

We left the Hacienda on horseback and headed into the forest.  It sprinkled and the clouds were fairly heavy above us, but it didn’t down pour until we were leaving actually.  I figured it would rain a good one being that it was the rain forest, and it was cloudy, rainy kind of cloudy.  But it held back pretty good for us.

Half way through our trip we stopped to give the horses a rest and to play around in the Mameyes River.

On the way back to the ranch, our horses broke into a run a few times.  It was really fun when that happened.

Back at the ranch, we enjoyed chicken fixed the local way (it was great), beans and rice and sweet plantains.  Perfect.

Here’s more pictures:

Christmascruise2009 047

Christmascruise2009 045

Christmascruise2009 049

The bus dropped us off in the shopping district outside where the ships were docked.  Ash and I spent a couple of hours looking around, taking pictures and watching the last minute shoppers pick up Christmas gifts.

Senior Frogs was closed for a private Christmas party but we did enjoy grabbing a few pictures outside with their wild cars.  Ashley thought that was cool.  She though Christmascruise2009 061the motto of “Friends don’t let friends eat at boring restaurants” was funny.

We headed back to the ship, got in a great workout and steam sauna, feasted on some great Mexican food and picked up the Christmas Eve show filled with song and dance.

I’m not a coffee drinker, but the coffee onboard is awesome… grabbed me a cup before writing this.


Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas in St. Thomas, perfect.

The weather cleared up as we arrived in  St. Thomas.  Ashley and I watched the ship dock as we ate breakfast.  We had a full day which meant up and ready to disembark by 7:30 am.

Christmascruise2009 078Our first excursion was a private Parasail ride. I’ve been several times but Ashley had never been and I wanted her to experience this.  My pictures from 400 feet up didn’t turn out very well.  It was one of those disposable water proof cameras.    Here’s the motley crew that took us.

Our captain sped out to deep waters.  Ashley thought it was a hoot as we flew through the air, skimming the water and having our bodies come up, off our seats.  When we got to the open waters outside the bay, we suited up and we rode in tandem, hovering 400 feet over the warm blue waters for about 20 minutes.

Ashley told the captain to drop us down into the water before boarding us.  As we were dangling from the sky, her face went white and she said, “Mom!  Is he going to drop us from here?!”  I had to let her ponder about that for a minute because we always play jokes with each other.  I allowed her to think that for a moment and watch her sweat.  She’s always talking about skydiving and “no fear” stuff so I had to bask her misery.  I then told her no, the dipping would happen slowly.  It was fun playing with her.

Christmascruise2009 069After we were back on the boat, Ashley was invited to take the wheel of the boat and bring us in.  She brought us from the deep waters out in the ocean through the bay and even docked us.  I have to say she was pretty excited about that and I was excited for her.  I love providing new experiences for her and be there to share in her “firsts” even after 17 years.   Today will prove to be many “firsts” for her.

From the dock we caught a cab to downtown, St. Thomas.  I heard it was the jewelry capital of the world but I never expected to see street after street, vendor after vendor, store after store selling jewelry.   Basically, you’re there to shop for jewelry of any kind, or liquor, or eat at one of the many restaurants.  Actually, there were a few shops offering your traditional gift items like t-shirts and such, but it was an experience to see store after store selling diamonds and gold and gems, stones, you name it.  We picked up a few things and headed back to the ship to unload.

We grabbed some lunch before heading out for an afternoon of fun on the water again.

A beautiful schooner with tall red sails took us 5 miles outside the bay ofChristmascruise2009 105 St. Thomas, across from St. Johns Island to a place called Turtle Cove.  There we geared up and spent an hour power snorkeling.

We swam with beautiful young sea turtles (up to around age 4) who were staying in the more shallow waters, feeding on sea grass to grow before heading out deeper Christmascruise2009 098waters.   They would surface for breath every 4 minutes or so.  We spotted a few sting rays lying on the bottom of the sea (we were in approximately 12 -20 feet of water) while others were perfectly content to swim under and around us.  We saw star fish,  sea urchins and a variety of tropical fish schooled in and around the bright yellow fire coral.

After boarding, the winds were perfect for sailing, so we opted to keep the motor off and let the wind and sails take us back to the ship.

How nice not having to talk over the sound of an engine!  Just the wind through the sails, the waves, the music and our conversations.  We enjoyed chips and salsa and drinks while getting a temporary tattoo, a pirate skull and bones on our ankle.  It was part of the journey and we were having FUN!  Here’s a few more pictures:

Christmascruise2009 110

Christmascruise2009 104

Christmascruise2009 108

Christmascruise2009 091

Aboard the ship again, we showered up real quick and decided to eat dessert first tonight.  We headed to the open buffet and helped ourselves to some awesome desserts.  We’ll be eating in the formal dining room in a few hours.

In the meantime, we opened a Christmas gift that my Mom had us pack.  She wanted us to open something Christmas day.   Ashley loved her Beatles CD and I loved my daily devotional for 2010.  Perfect!

Dinner was great as expected.

Christmascruise2009 138At 11:30 pm, the chefs presented a buffet to show off their culinary arts talent.  It was truly a Christmas feast, both for the soul and the eyes.  I was so full from dinner, I couldn’t eat a thing, however, Ashley and I did go through the lines just to get some snapshots and see the art.  The ice sculptures, chocolate sculptures, fruit and vegetable carvings and beautiful desserts were a site to behold.

The party was still going strong at midnight, but Ash and I called it a night.

We have a full day of adventure on a mountain hike and need to be up in 7 hours.  I’m glad I don’t have a party girl daughter.  She knows how to have a good rip roarin’ time, but she’s not a partier like a lot of kids today.  I’m super grateful for that.

I have to admit I missed talking to my parents and boys today.  It just didn’t seem right.  We had Christmas before we left and we’ll be spending New Years together, but there’s just something of tradition and memories that Christmas misses something when the family conversation isn’t there.

More pictures from today:

Christmascruise2009 137

Christmascruise2009 116


Saturday, December 26, 2009

St. Maarten

St. Maarten greeted us with its beautiful turquoise waters and warm sun at 7 am this morning and it was clear that it had down poured all night.  The sun was shining but Christmascruise2009 160there were patches of dark rain clouds looming in the distance and I wondered if it would clear up or come in.

Here on St. Maarten, it’s the biggest day of the year, even more so than Christmas.  December 26th is designated as Boxing Day.  Families will come together and picnic, play games, spend time together, eat traditional foods and because the weather has been poor the last couple of days, our tour guide felt that the sun today will bring crowds to the 36 beaches around the 37 square mile island.

We headed out (that’s Ashley with the orange bandana here) with our tour group to the highest point on St. Maarten passing from the Dutch side of the island to the French side.   On the way up, we transferred vehicles from our nice comfortable enclosed, air conditioned bus to an all terrain open air vehicle to take us the last three miles to the top.  We dropped off some zip liners along the way (Man!  I want to do that!).

The road to the top was rocky, steep and I was not getting the feeling that the rain clouds were going to break up.  It was dark and the clouds were on top of us.  In fact, common sense told me things were going to get bad.  It began to sprinkle as we were unloading at the top of the mountain and I questioned the tour guide again about the weather conditions, sharing my experiences with her.  In fact, I warned her about paths washing out and treading in ankle and knee high waters during rains like this.  It seemed to me she should be the one telling us this and using common sense to cancel the trip.

She just brushed it off and said, “Ah, it’s just a sprinkle, it will clear up and it never washes out like what you’re describing”.  She literally blew me off.  She was enjoying Christmascruise2009 152her authority and knowledge so I kept quiet and didn’t say another word about it but I thought to myself, ‘No way.  We’re going to get caught in heavy streams of water down this mountain, people are going to go sliding and before it’s over and we’re to the bottom, we’ll be wading at least shin high down this path’.

The bus left and headed back down the hill.  There’s no turning back now.  It’s a two and a half mile trek to where we pick up the bus again.  We were on our own and it was noted that nobody could even get a phone signal if there was an emergency.

I’m all about an adventure and I certainly wasn’t fearful for my own safety or that of Ashley’s, (I was worried about my camera getting ruined) but I was genuinely concerned about the older folks with us.  I know first hand how difficult treading water down steep and slippery trails are and I was concerned that if one or more of the seniors in our group slipped and fell on rocks, bones would break or other serious injuries would occur.

I’ve been hiking through mountains at high enough elevations during rainy weather to know that high elevations, steep slopes and rain don’t mix.   I told Ashley to be prepared and be ready to help.  She knew I was right.

Christmascruise2009 156Christmascruise2009 157From the top of the mountain where we were starting out which was 18,000 feet above sea level, I could see many other neighboring islands, our cruise ship way in the distance, the salt ponds, several inlets and bays and it was truly a magnificent sight to behold.  I could see the sun shining down on parts of the island and ocean, and other parts had rain clouds.  Then, there was the dark sky we were under.  I could have spent all day just admiring the beauty of nature.  But we had to get going, so we headed out and down the hill.

We were into our trek down about 10 minutes and the sprinkles turned to heavy rain.  What common sense told me was going to happen, happened. The tropical rains were torrential.  Within just a few minutes we were all soaked to the bone, through all of our clothing, head to toe (there were 17 of us), our backpacks were getting drenched and of course, many of us had expensive cameras and passports, and other important items we didn’t wish to get soaked.  But we had no choice.

And, it would only get worse.

Christmascruise2009 163Within 10 minutes, the paths were overtaken by streams of water and when you stepped, you had no idea what you were stepping on and whether you would be placing your foot on a slippery rock or a mud pile or a piece of well grounded trail.  At this point, the tour guide wasn’t so sure of herself anymore and you could see she was a bit frazzled.  Ashley clearly saw the lack of confidence in the guests and simply began taking charge.  She started telling people how to maneuver, what to hold onto, she’d hand hold us as we encountered the more and more difficult spots to step down to and over, and helping everyone as the streams of water became stronger.  She especially was lookinChristmascruise2009 164g after the senior couples among us.  She became an angel to many.

The tour guide simply guided the way but often needed Ashley to secure a sure footage for her and led the way at times.  Scott, a man from Cozumel, took the back half the group and brought up the rear to help Ashley as more and more people were slipping and sliding.

What should have taken us 1.5 hours to get back, ended up 2.5 hours because of the conditions and many of the older folks were getting very, very cold.  The rains was not warm water as you’d think on the island, it was cold water.

We had to cross a river, literally, that wasn’t there when we started out, to get the bus.  Ashley and Scott went first to assess the situation and stand in the gap to help others across.  The current was terrible and you had to side step across leaning into the current.  We were just above knee deep and the water desperately wanted to push us over.

I never said “I told you so” to the tour guide, as that would have done nothing to help the situation.  I’m sure she thought about our conversation of 3 hours ago when we should have canceled the hike.  Back on the bus, which we were drenching by the way, she said she’d never seen the trails this bad and gave kudos and thanks to Ashley and Scott for assisting.

Christmascruise2009 192Ash and I boarded the ship for a hot shower and a change of dry clothes, disembarked again for a little shopping at the dockside pier where we picked up a couple of t-shirts, a few snickers bars and Cheetos to satisfy Ashley’s cravings before calling it a day in St. Maarten.  By the time we were showered up, there was really no time to take a ferry to town to look around.

Ashley opted for some rock climbing onboard.  I knew better than to try.  I did however, get some awesome pictures of the sun going down over the ocean which turned out beautiful and I was glad to see my camera working!

Ashley told me she had fun, even in the mishap of the trip because she was able to be the hands and feet of Jesus to help people today.  She was so glad to be there on that trail to lend a hand and her backpack.  She loved that she was able to carry other people’s stuff in her backpack so they could free up their hands.  It was all about being a servant for her and stepping into a leadership role to care for the 17 behind her.  She’s amazing.  She’s a strong and confident young woman for 17 years old.

After an early dinner, I came back to our cabin and did some reading while Ashley headed out to hang with other teenagers and friends she met onboard.

More Pictures from today:

Christmascruise2009 171

Christmascruise2009 117

Christmascruise2009 172

Christmascruise2009 175

Christmascruise2009 180

Christmascruise2009 179


Sunday, December 27th, 2009

Tortola, British Virgin Islands

Christmascruise2009 198Today, we woke up in Tortola in the British Virgin Islands.

It was overcast with possible showers….. again.

After my traditional morning English Breakfast Tea, I walked Ashley down to the pier where she caught up with others for a tour.  I was scheduled to go as well, but decided to stay in town, I wanted to do a little shopping since our time here is only a few hours.

Ashley sailed across the Sir Francis Drake Channel to neighboring islands where she snorkeled among beautiful reefs and tropical fish, later heading to a nearby beach for swimming and learned how to do some kindChristmascruise2009 203 of Jamaican dance on the boat on the way back.

I headed to the straw market and picked up a few things. I then headed into town and found an awesome shop.  If you ever get to Tortola, this is a must stop place.  Visit their website online.  I bought Ashley a hand painted ornament for her tree by a local artist, Diane and a poster for my office wall.  There was some beautiful artwork there but also rows and rows of local spices and spice blends, teas and sauces.

Ash and I caught up back on the ship early afternoon for departure and lunch.  We grabbed a couple lounge chairs and watched as Tortola and the surrounding islands were almost out of site.  I was amazed at all the islands surrounding Tortola.   The weather got nasty again by dinner time complete with wind and rain.

I headed to our cabin to put down on paper my goals for 2010.  As I reflected on things to come, I was grateful for things past.  My goals are in rough draft tonight but tomorrow I’ll fine tune them a bit better.

It remained rainy all evening.  Ash and I watched the movie Fame.  She is not into the shows offered here on the ship.  While I would like to see a few of them (I have seen a couple actually), I’m more about doing what she wants to do so I’m following her lead.  Simply making memories with her is what I’m all about.  We had a great evening quite in our cabin tonight.


Monday, December 28, 2009

Today we are at sea

Christmascruise2009 287We got to sleep in!  No early morning activities to catch and therefore, we slept until we were done sleeping… about 9 am.  We were thrilled to see the sun shining and no rain clouds in the sky!  After breakfast, I did a little work on my laptop and Ashley went to the library to check out a book.  She had her nose in that all morning, absolutely unable to put it down. Miss Miracle was the name of it.  Apparently it’s going to be made into a movie.   She does that… that same book would take me a week to read, and by 1:30 pm, she was done and heading back to the library to check out another.  She’s a speed reader.

While Ashley was reading, I watched a few pool volleyball games.  It was the Officers vs. the guests.  I didn’t know volleyball could be so funny to watch but when you factor in that nobody can play well and the cruise director being a comedian, it was funny.

The sun was hot but the winds were high.  I was sunbathing on the upper deck in the afternoon and realized after a significant time, I had fallen asleep.  Geepers, I hope my mouth wasn’t open and drool running down!  I was out!

Ashley had a hair appointment with Christie from South Africa late afternoon for some pampering and pictures with the photographer tonight.

Christmascruise2009 222

I also took some photos of her around the ship.  She’s so beautiful from the inside out and I’m so lucky to have such a wonderful daughter.

After dinner and photos and walking through the onboard mall, Ashley could not wait any longer to get nose back into her new book.   So, I headed back to the cabin to give some more thought and finish up my 2010 goals while she met up with her book adventure.  Back at the cabin, I was surprised to see a monkey hanging from my ceiling.  It was towel art of course, but I’ve also seen it on the beds, never hanging from a clothes hanger.  Very cute.

Ashley wants to have a girls night in with a movie and pizza at midnight so as long as I don’t fall asleep, I’ll be good to go.  Ooops….. Ash just got to the cabin, its 9:30 pm and she’s finished her book.  That’s two books today.  And these aren’t children’s books, these are 2 inch thickers.

Well, it’s time for me to turn off the computer, hop into my jammies and start our girls night in.  Here’s more pictures from today:

Christmascruise2009 289
Ashley loved reading in the “Singing in the Rain” Lounge.  How appropriate for this cruise!

Christmascruise2009 215

Leaving Tortola

Christmascruise2009 206

Christmascruise2009 291

Nothing like Ben & Jerry’s… and no, we didn’t plan
to match our tops, it just worked out that way. :)

Christmascruise2009 232

Christmascruise2009 127

Christmascruise2009 126

Christmascruise2009 121


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Still at sea today

Today is our last day at sea and we’re actually ready to head home.  We are anxious to see the rest of the family and bring in the new year together.  We have so much to be thankful for and so many wonderful things to look forward to.

The weather is too cold to be on the deck….again.  Bummer.  The temperature outside is 69 degrees and winds are 29 knots.  So, I spent the day getting some writing done, Ashley read another book and then she and I went for another full body massage in the spa.  We bought a mother/daughter massage so we could share a room overlooking the ocean.  We started our cruise with a massage so it seemed fitting to finish it with one.

We caught a couple great movies in the room, got ourselves packed, took some final pictures, and talked about how nice it will be to get home.  The beauty of being in a position to travel at will is that coming home is fun and reconnecting with loved ones.  For the employee who only gets 1 or 2 weeks a year to get away and relax, it’s sad.  There’s a damper on the mood because a year is a long way off to the next reprieve.  For me, I can come and go, so it’s all enjoyable.


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Disembarkment and a day of flying

We were up early for breakfast and before we knew it, we were headed to Tampa International Airport.  Our flights were on time and pleasant.  We did have a 2 hour layover in NC so we used that time to check out the book store.  I picked up 3 books,  30 Days to a Great Attitude by Deborah Smith Pegues, Stan Toler’s Minute Motivators for Leaders and Tim LaHaye’s Why You Act The Way You Do.  I enjoy full length books but I also enjoy the daily devotional types that I can pick up, read a page and grab a leadership tip, an inspiration, and a positive word or direction.  I find them refreshing.


  1. says

    Nice touch, I love how you incorporated family, business and travel. I feel like I know you already. I was also a victim of the real estate debacle here in Florida but on the finance side. I am also making the best out of a bad situation. One has to move on and find new ways to express ourselves and make a living at the same time. Can you say…Who moved my Cheese?
    .-= Jose H. Caraballo´s last blog ..Shameless Self Promotion…Here is Your Chance to Shine =-.

  2. Debbie Turner says

    LOL! Yes Jose… “Who Moved my Cheese?” I love that buddy. Thank you for sharing your story. You are an awesome role model… I hope you’ll stop by often :)

  3. says

    Hi Debbie,
    Your photos are great and good to hear you had such a good time. Nothing like working hard to be able live your dreams. Thanks for sharing.


  4. says

    What a beautiful time you two had together. I thought about you being on that cruise while we were experiencing temps. around 0 with the wind blowing at 20 miles per hr. I think next year we have all decided to go some place warm for the holidays:)
    Thanks for the day-by-day updates. I really enjoyed reading them, felt like I was there.
    Glad your back.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *