Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Bright and early on Saturday morning, we loaded the van and headed out on an 8 hour road trip to New Orleans, our embarkation port for our cruise.  

We had just enough time Saturday night to check into our hotel and meet our friends, the Rodriguez's, for an authentic New Orleans dinner in the French Quarter.

We slept (sort of) and then met in the hotel lobby for a quick breakfast and a devotional before boarding the ship for our seven day adventure in the Caribbean.  I'm pretty sure there has never been a more excited group of people in cruise history!  

So here's how the cruising thing works...  
First we marked all of our luggage in advance with tags that had our cabin numbers and their exact location on the ship.  Then we parked our car in the parking garage and made arrangements for it to live there for the next 7 days.  Then all 13 of us and ALL of our luggage rode a shuttle to the cruise terminal.  We snaked through miles and miles of lines for about 45 minutes before we made our way to security (pretty much just like at the airport.)  

After security, we made it to the desk where they checked all of our passports and gave us our boarding cards...  
...which became our identity cards for the entire week.  We had to carry them with us at all times for access into activities and restaurants, and also to get back into our rooms at night.  And you can't get off or BACK ON the ship at any of the ports without them.  The kids were all great about keeping track of theirs, but I think I would feel more comfortable with a lanyard or something for mine next time.  Too hard to find places to sneak an ID card into a bathing suit.  

Once we were on the ship, we had about 4 hours of free time to eat, explore, eat, find our rooms, and eat before leaving the port.  There is no shortage of food on a cruise all hours of the day and night.  

At 4:00pm, we walked up to the top deck of the ship to watch as we left the port.  My absolute favorite part of the entire cruise was standing up there watching the ship dock into the various ports each morning and relaunch every afternoon.

The whole experience of leaving New Orleans was such a stark contrast.   The grey waters of the Mississippi would soon be replaced with the crystal clear, turquoise water of the Gulf of Mexico.  Our departure on Sunday was overcast and rainy while the rest of the week would be filled with bright blue, cloudless skies and perfect tropical weather.  The difference between the gargantuan boat I was sitting on and the various parts of the city that we floated past was truly shocking...grand plantation homes sprinkled among the industrial factories, and tiny, modest inner city housing all in the same few miles.  I thought about how very different our upcoming week would be from that of the people who lived in all those houses.  I wondered if they even notice anymore the countless cruise ships that must pass by them every week.  Or if they've ever been on one.  And then I felt a gentle reminder that our lives have been richly blessed and I prayed a tiny prayer to remember to use well those things that we've been given.  I made a mental note to be grateful and kind, and to teach the kids to be grateful and kind because certainly, not everyone's lives are like ours.  


  1. Amen.
    Your pictires are amazing, my friend.
    I feel as if I am right there with ya!
    And please tell your daughter I am loving the short hair on her! Gorgeous!!!!

  2. I love your last lines...something we should all remember!