Last week at this time we were on a five day Western Caribbean Cruise which involved our entire clan of 15. Words can not adequately express the feeling of having an adventure of this type with the entire family. It was one of the most wonderful and meaningful things we have ever done.
Several months ago it was mentioned that we needed to do something together as an entire family. One option was to go to a lodge some place, but that could mean getting some of the meals. It was decided that a cruise would be a good choice and it was decided to go on a cruise for five nights. Arrangements were made through our local Bon Voyage Cruises.
The decision to go at this time was to celebrate our golden anniversary which occurred last month -- it seems that 50 years went by fast. A family cruise was a good way to celebrate the special occasion. We had fun, many laughs and a memorable experience.
While many readers have done a great amount of traveling, my traveling experiences have been rather limited. Still, I have been able to do some traveling. I had only been on one cruise before this one. We went on Royal Caribbean's "Enchantment of the Seas" and we had a good cruise. There was more to do on the ship than there was possible to do. The food was superior and there was a great amount, fortunately for me they had sugar-free selections for desserts. There was good entertainment aboard and special things for children. A popular place for the children (and adults) was at the pool. We were assigned a table for the evening meal and we were all together for this special meal. We received good service and enjoyed the waiter and others serving us.
On the ship there were 2,500 guests and about 800 crew members. It is a city of its own. A few things I learned was that it was in the water only 26 feet, as long as they had 26 feet and 10 inches they can take the ship through. They have enough fuel and food aboard to go two extra days, if they were required to go to alternate port due to weather. They are conscious of saving the environment. The waste on board is treated so that when it is ready to be emptied it is nearly pure enough to drink. They had a good selection of breads and pastries, all made on board. There are many other facts about the ship that is of special interest.
We flew into Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where the ship was ported for the cruise. The itinerary included Key West, Fla.; Cozumel, Mexico; Belize City, Belize, one day of cruising and returning to Fort Lauderdale. At each location where we stopped, there was much selection of things to do or to see. These stops were among the highlights of the cruise for each of us. At each stop there was a selection of different explorations that could be done.
At Key West, some of us took a trolley tour of the area. The tour provided 100 points of interest in the historical sea town. Among the points of interest was that we went by President Truman's Little White House. We were at the furthest southern part of America, only 70 miles from Cuba. The guide pointed out the many points of interest and discussed the preservation of the historical buildings.
At Cozumel we did different things. Some went snorkeling. Marylyn and I went on a reef exploration semi-sub. We set in the bottom of the boat looking out at the sea under water. We were able to view the underwater Paradise Reef. The captain talked about the reef and pointed out different things to us. We saw a number of fish and also viewed scuba divers. Viewing the coral formations was interesting and beautiful. Great efforts are being taken to preserve the coral formations.
I had never heard of Belize until we were making preparation for the trip. We found it to be an interesting place. This country is linked to the Mayan civilization. The population is approximately 67,000 people. They do not have an army, only a police force. They have problems with immigration and with drugs.
At Belize the entire family went to the Mayan Ruins of Xunantunich, which are located near the Guatemalan border. As a result we traveled across the rolling hills to the Mopan River. We were able to view much of the country and to view how many of the people lived. This was an eye-opener for us. Many of the houses were small, some on stilts to protect them from the floods of a hurricane. Clothes were seen hung on the porches or on clothes lines. Few had the luxury of washing machines. Most families do not have a car, but rather depend on public bus transportation.
All of our children and grandchildren went to the top of the temple. I went most of the way, but because of too many birthdays and another one coming up, I did not go all of the way up on the temple. Explanation of the ruins and the history of the ruins were interesting and provided a good learning experience. We also enjoyed a Mayan-style buffet lunch.
The full day of cruising was relaxing. We could view the Cuban coast. One thing that was of interest to me is that when the sun was at the highest points, our shadows were straight down.
The experience with the family in this way was a wonderful way to celebrate our Golden Anniversary.