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I journaled my entire cruise trip, but most of the details proved to be boring. Not to say the cruise was boring but most of the entries read something along the lines of this

“Got up late, ate breakfast buffet, played chess with Ali, read for a bit, lunch, shuffleboard, gym, shower, dinner, more chess with Ali, cruise ship show, drink at bar on board and meet people”
14 Days of this hardly makes for an interesting read so I’ll give you the highlights below.

Day 1-In Port Canaveral

The ship’s top decks and pool are were infested with love bugs and no one was allowed outside. Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up.

The stateroom Kiana and I shared.

Day 2- Castaway Cay

Disney has its own island in the caribbean, further proof Disney is planning complete global domination. We walked and biked around the island and were possible contenders for  most active cruise family that day. In total we walked about 4 miles and biked 3 miles that day.

Hanging out on the beach, photo courtesy of Kiana

Day 3-8 Days at Sea

Everyone has the ocean madness, supplies are running low, I fear a mutiny aboard the ship…kidding. My days were spent reading and playing chess with Ali, who unfortunately won the series 8 games to 5 games. As someone who’s dad is a former ranked chess “Master”, I feel as though I’m not living up to my family name. I met a lot of really interesting, and bizarre people aboard the ship over the course of these days. Day 3 a group of Wisconsinites – Terry, his brother Kyle, sister Maggie, and Kyle’s boyfriend Gene- invited me to play “Sorry!” and we discussed couch surfing, travel, and Terry’s obsession with all things Disney and Cirque Du Soleil. As a seasoned couchsurfer, Kyle wrote me a glowing recommendation on the site in hopes some couchsurfer would agree to let me sleep on his couch.  Later in the cruise Kyle, Terry’s younger brother, absolutely killed it at Karaoke with an awesome rendition of  Usher’s “Yeah”.

An HDR photograph of the sea.

Everyday aboard the cruise there was some sort of college meet up and it gave me an opportunity to meet my “peers” aboard the ship. Several of them were Disneyholics and had “drank the Koolaid” in regards to Disney. One girl had been on 22 cruises despite being only 21 years old.

Day 9-Madeira

Madeira was my favorite port on the cruise. Its owned by Portugal and hosts a variety of ecosystems ranging from beach to rainforest, but the reason I loved it had nothing to do with that. I loved it for the canyoning. Thats right canyoning! What is canyoning you ask? I had no idea but it sounded fun. The madness began when the tour bus pulled over on the side of the road and we all changed into hard hats, full-body wetsuits, and rock climbing harnesses. Apparently canyoning is rappelling down cliffs and diving into pools of water along a riverbed…needless to say it was awesome. My sister got a lot of great pics of it that I’ll be sure to post in the coming weeks.

Moments before Canyoning

Day 10-Day at Sea

Today wasn’t quite as exciting considering all I did was lay around and eat.

Cruiseship Panorama

Day 11-Cadiz

I got sick last night, or possibly the day before. I suspect jumping into pools of freezing water was not the best thing for my health. Anyways, spent the day wandering around the small port town of Cadiz having feverish hallucinations. Cadiz isn’t that exciting on its own (most of the excursions involved taking a bus somewhere else), but the feverish hallucinations helped.

Fish for sale at a market in Cadiz

Day 12-Gibraltar

Ah yes, Gibraltar, the big G. What a cool place. The tiny isthmus off the southern coast of Spain is owned by the UK and home to one of the busiest refueling ports in the world. Gibraltar is basically one giant rock, covered and filled with intriguing sites. The little town leading from the port to the giant rock part is filled with little shops and pubs and looks appropriately like a mix between Spain and England. After a short stroll through the town we took a cable car up to the top of the rock where all of Gibraltar could be seen. The view was amazing. Never in my life have I seen so many ships in one place. Tankers, cruise ships, mega yachts, refueling ships, there were too many to count. Gibraltar’s location at the mouth of the mediterranean makes it a strategic location for both defense and shipping.

The Rock of Gibraltar

Gibraltar is home to a small group of monkeys as well. Random but neat, the monkeys climb around the top part of the rock stealing food from tourists and posing for photographs. The rock is also home to over 31 miles of tunnels connecting just about everything in Gibraltar to everything else including the elaborate cave system within the rock. We never made it to the tunnels, but I had a chance to explore the caves with my family which were incredible. One of the rooms in the cave was so large an auditorium had been set up inside of it.

Monkey looks out over the Strait ofGibraltar

After traversing the island on foot for the majority of the day, we returned to the ship to nap, and allow Kiana to get ready to dance with one of the officers in the crew talent show. The last half of this day was incredible. I met some truly amazing people from Canada after the talent show at ship Karaoke part II. They were a group of 4, Dani, her two brothers, Jeff and Pat, and their mom. After many drinks and much Karaoking, including Kyle reprising his role as Usher for a second rendition of “Yeah”, we made plans with the Canadians for “Ship Olympics”

Panorama from the top of Gibraltar

Day 13-Day at Sea-Ship Olympics

This was my favorite day from our trip. I met up with the Canadians at 1pm at the pingpong tables on the top deck for our first event of the day, doubles ping pong. I took second in this event and all of the other events including shuffleboard and foosball. We drank beer all day and competed in simple events all over the ship each one more hilariously fun than the last. Following the end of the games and before the award ceremony we took an intermission for dinner. Apparently I hadn’t been the only one drinking for most of the day. My parents had gone with my sister to the Officer’s Cocktail Party and drank free cocktails all afternoon. Needless to say our dinner was hilarious with Sophie being the only sober one. At the end of the night in the ships nightclub, we had the DJ announce the winners of the ship olympics and had an award ceremony as the rest of the clubbers looked on in utter confusion.

Day 14-Barcelona-The final day

I had a great time in Barcelona but couldn’t shake the thought in the back of my mind that today marked the last day of our cruise. As a family, the 5 of us wandered the picturesque streets of Barcelona going on bus tours, witnessing protest and police demonstation, and eating tapas in a lively square off Barcelona’s main drag, Las Ramblas. At the end of the day we returned to the ship and, after dinner, met up with the Canadians for some nighttime exploring of Barcelona. At the end of the night we all stumbled home around 4am saying our goodbyes and returning to our staterooms.

Panorama from Gaudi’s Park overlooking Barcelona

Overall, the cruise was incredible. I loved every waking moment of it and the people I met are incredible. When I return from my Europe trip I’ll be flying through Boston and making a short stop in Maine to visit Dani, one of the Canadians and a future midwife.

One of Barcelona’s many picturesque squares

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