WELCOME TO OUR BLOG about all our family travels and adventures. If you have traveled with us enjoy reading about our adventures together. If you are looking to learn how to travel or take adventures as a family, we hope we inspire you and we hope you find our experiences and advice helpful.
Experiencing our beautiful planet and all it's creations is a great way to bring your family closer together and you'll have memories that last a life time. Enjoy and Bon Voyage!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Cave Day in Puerto Rico Written by Christine

1st day in Puerto Rico! Wow, it's hard to wake up so early after no sleep the night before, 9 hour flight, staying up until almost midnight, a 4 hour time change and yet all the excitment seems to get us outta bed.
We had to get up early because we are traveling to the other side of the island to see the Camuy Caves today, something Eddie and I have wanted to see for years.
As I headed down to meet the group I was a little scaried they'd be saying "What are you doing to us! We wanna go back to bed!" But all I got was smiles, hugs and I don't think anyone knows how amazing these caves are going to be and that adds to our excitment to see what everyone thinks when they see them.
The tour guide, Pappa Lion, is great, he is very informative and makes alot of jokes, however the bus ride is freezing! We think the air condictioner is stuck on high, so it's either on or off. Off is hot and stuffy, on is a freezer on wheels! The group is great and everyone is just laughing about it.
At the caves we board a tram that transports us down into the huge sink hole, the cave is at the bottom. The cave is enormous, way bigger then I had ever imaged, completely aweinspiring! Wow, we can't wait to enjoy this cave forever, and I already know I need to return to Puerto Rico someday to experience it once again. No words to describe the feeling of being inside this magificent cave.....speechless. Not everyone seen the bats inside the cave, however I did get to see them and it wasn't scary at all, just added to the awe of the cave.
After the cave we headed to lunch, which for me was amazing. I totally fell in love with the Gauva sauce. I asked if they sold it and they said no......not sure how I will go on in life without it, was even great on the french fries.
After lunch we headed to the Puerto Rico Bethel, everyone was changing into their meeting clothes and it was crazy and hilarious! The Bethel in Puerto Rico is closing in April 2013 and it felt like a real pervledge to get to see it before it closes. Jacob said "This is cool." How heart touching.
Our tour guide, Pappa Lion, who is not a witness, got invited on the tour with us. Our Bethel tour guide didn't speak very much English and Pappa Lion help translate. He seemed to enjoy the tour very much and when the Bethel sister said the Bethel was closing he kept saying "no you can't close this place it's beautiful." The sister and her husband will be moving to Spain where the translating dept. in Puerto Rico is moving to.
Then it was off to the Bacardi Factory, this was different then I expected, it was very commercialized and we never saw any part of the real factory. After the Bacardi Factory most the group was really starting to feel the lack of sleep, but off we went on a walking tour to dinner! Poor Doris had a horrible leg injury just prior to the vacation, she was a real trooper and hung in there.
The old city of San Juan is romantic and cool to walk thru with all the old buildings fortress walls. You feel like you're in the Romancing the Stone movie or something, very nice experience.
The restaurant is an old jail and there was Fleminco dancers proforming for us. Karen and I joined in the Fleminco dancing and had a blast. Oh, and did I mention the unusual frogs in Puerto Rico? They sound like birds! I love them! It's such a beautiful sound, it adds to the romantic atmosphere, wow.
PS Karen lost her wallet this morning but found it, but all the same she got to experience a mini heartattact.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Flight Day Written by Christine

wow, yesterday was our early, early flight. had to wake up at three am, which was horrible cause we stayed up u.til midnight. but somehow we did it. everyone came wearing their smiles had some donunts and coffee...and we were off to lax.
the fog was thick which added to our adventure. here was everyone excited, tired and not sure what they just got themsevles into.
the first flight went great, hardly any lines, smooth flight even landed fifteen mins. early but our second flight got delayed for fifty min. the dinner restaurant wanted to close however it all worked out and we had a yummy dinner.
nancy gould surprised her daughter and her son in law by showing up at the restaurant and asking to take they order. it was fun.
got to bed at one am puerto rico time and needed to get up at five thirty am the next day...but thats another story.
PS This is the only post that I actually got to write on the vacation. I had trouble logging in, hopefully next vacation we won't have the same problems.

Monday, December 3, 2012

3, 2, 1 TAKE OFF!

Well, the suitcase are out and being packed! Everyone is so excited as we leave for our big adventure in a few days!
Of course we are also not feeling ready! But I'm sure somehow it'll all get done, and ready or not here's it comes!
Hope some of you check the blog to see what we are doing on our trip and as we are soaking in the Caribbean sun we will think of all of you at work, school, etc. :)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I'M AN OLD SEA SALT Written By Christine

 Dawn Princess 1990
I remember our first cruise, the seas were as smooth as glass. The water in our drinking glasses never even jiggled or rippled and yet as a newbie to cruising I was sensitive to any motion whatsoever. I wasn't seasick, who could be, it was as still as a parked car, but any tiny winy, tiny whiney motion and I would look at Eddie and say "Did you feel that?" I suppose that's part of the excitement of being a newbie at sea, you notice all the little things like that, the ever-so-slight motion. I'm sure any of the old salts around us who heard me making my comments about the "motion" must have smiled to themselves, because I know that's what I do now. In fact, sometimes now I don't even notice any motion until someone points it out, and then I smile.
I tend to be sensitive to motion, and I do wear the pressure bands, but it is strange how I don't really notice the movement anymore. Someone asked me once how many cruises it took before I wasn't so aware of the ship's motion, or if it just happened so gradually that I really can't remember how many cruises it took. Ah yes, I remember... I remember the cruise where I graduated to an old sea salt and got a beautiful diploma of a pair of sea legs. Perhaps not every cruiser remembers when their sea legs came along, but I do. In fact I'll never forget. We were sailing down the Mexican Rivera having ourselves a grand ol' time, one of our best times. We were everywhere on that ship, at every game, and we killed ourselves with the fitness coach from boot-camp just to win some free T-shirts. As we finished our day in Puerto Vallarta and boarded the ship for our 2 day at sea journey back to our dembarkation port, we were informed that we were going to encounter some bad weather, and some rough seas. Oh man! I love cruising, but I'm so sensitive to the slightest motion, that I was a little concerned for myself. I gave Eddie that look that says "AAAAHHH" and he reassured me that I'd be fine. This was our 4th cruise and I probably had my sea legs now. I looked down at my legs, they didn't seem any different. I bent my knees a few times up and down, side to side, all the while trying to figure out if they seemed sturdy....bummer, I couldn't tell....well, maybe, yeah, yeah, I think I noticed a little more "umf" to them, well that's good.
Hummm, the ship started having a little motion, we were eating dinner and there were ripples in my water. I told Eddie that I couldn't stop thinking about it, he said to lift my feet off the floor so maybe I wouldn't feel it so much. That sounded good, so I did that and tried to get engrossed in the dinner conversation, however the dinner conversation seemed to be around the motion. Now the captain came on the speaker, he announced that we were going to be sailing into some 30 foot sea swells. Oh, I wondered how big of swells we had before when the drinking water started to ripple....maybe we were already in the 20's, so maybe we wouldn't notice much difference to 30. Then the ship started feeling like it was heading up a mountain, and then down the mountain. Waves were crashing on the dining room windows, the waiters were having trouble standing and I decided at that very moment that we would not take cruises during hurricane season again.
It was the strangest sensation of gravity, one minute you felt as light as a feather as if you were going to fly right out of your chair and the next minute you felt like you were wearing rocks in your hat, clothes and shoes. You felt so heavy and weighted down you could hardly move. Eddie was having the adventure of a life time and took his smile out on the deck to try his gravity walking in the forceful winds. He was smiling ear to ear like a kid at Disneyland for the first time. Our friend Mike joined him in their unending fun of fighting all the natural forces. I, however, was ready to be off this rollercoaster ride, was starting to feel queasy and headed back inside the ship. As I started heading down the stairs with my face turning green, my forehead with beads of sweat, holding on the railing for dear life and starting to panic as I needed to find a bathroom quick. Then I saw her, Diane, at the bottom of the stairs looking like a airport flag person, she was staring at me, my face said it all, and with words unspoken and using both her arms and hands as arrows pointing fanatically towards the nearest bathroom. Wow, was she a sight for sore eyes, she saved me the embarrassment of losing it in the stairwell. I rushed in the bathroom looked at the round porcelain fish tank and fed the fish.
 We spent 2 days in the storm, me feeding the fish and Eddie having the time of his life on his new favorite ride. Everytime the big dip would come he'd look at me with that slightly nervous, full of fun smile, and making the rollercoaster ooooooohhhhhhh sound. He even put his hands in the air. Our rock and roll journey finally came to an end.....a week after our cruise, yeah even though we were on land, our bodies felt like they were still on the moving ship. We could barely walk and if we tilted our head back too fast in the shower it would make us wanna fall down. I have to admit once it was over, it was an adventure, and it is one of my favorite stories to tell. There's a certain kinda of pride you get from having experienced an adventure like that, a sorta feather in your cap. However I still don't cruise during hurricane season, and one feather in my cap is plenty.
So, then about a year later I found myself on the cruise deck again with family and friends, enjoying the conversation when one of them, a newbie, said "Did you feel that? Did you feel the ship move?" and at that moment I realized I had not been conscience of any motion of the ship at all. Never gave it a thought, and I realized the hurricane cruise had given me my diploma of sea legs and made me an old sea salt....and I was happy.
Note: Just to compare notes, we had 15 foot swells on Rhapsody of the Seas, so if you were with us on Rhapsody then just double the motion to know what we had on the tiny, 25,000 ton, Dawn Princess.

Monday, December 5, 2011


Voyager of the Seas
Jan. 2002

Squeaky, squeaky, squeaky. I could hear this noise as someone behind me moved across the wet fiberglass deck. I turned to see Fidel, a small middle-aged man walking like bozo the clown but wearing flippers. I stared in amazement as he sauntered past be without a care in the world, arms swinging like a kid as he headed to the swim deck on the back of the 40 ft. 2-deck high tour boat. He was wearing bright red, extra long trunks with a Mickey Mouse pattern. He was also wearing a wet t-shirt that allowed his belly to peek out and he already had donned his mask and snorkel. “WHERE ARE YOU GOING FIDEL?” I said to him. He spoke through his snorkel, “In the water brother. In the water”. I couldn't help it. I wanted to strangle him but I couldn't because I was was cradling my left arm in my other hand to stop the pain from becoming too intense. The Tylenol hadn't kicked in yet. So I planned my attack for later. But, Let me back up a minute so that you might understand the rest of the story.

Before we left for our trip, Candy, his blonde wife, called Christine to make her final payment. Christine asked for her credit card number and she said that she had lost it and wanted Christine to come help her find it! Christine told her that she could not come over to help her, but asked if her bag had spilled. She said, “Oh yeah, yesterday in the car”. Candy went to the car, as Christine directed her to, and found it under the seat.

When we got to the airport in San Diego Christine told everyone in our large group to take out their travel documents and hand them to her. Now Fidel is from another country and has two different names on his documents, so Christine reminded him to let her handle it. He couldn't restrain himself. He was up at the counter saying all sorts of crazy things. Christine instructed me to bring the group of 70 or so to the gate. As we walked away I heard Fidel say, “Why does everyone always think I'm a terrorist? Do they think I have a bomb or something?” As he said this he reached into the air and said loudly, “BOOM!” It was a short time after the terror attacks of 9/11! I don't know how they managed, but Christine and Fidel joined us at the gate about an hour later just as we were boarding.

We landed in New Orleans and spent a couple of days there before boarding the Voyager of the Seas. We checked in and were heading up to get on the ship. We were having that moment that we all get. You know that moment when you realize that you are on vacation. You can smell the sea air and you can almost taste your first meal in the Windjammer Cafe. Fidel came running back down the crowded gangway yelling, “Seester! Seester! They took everything! My passport my license...everything. You need to get them back for me!” Christine was quick to say, “Well Fidel, since my face is not on the documents they are not going to give them to me. You need to go get them.” (Later someone in our group told us that after he checked in he accidentally dropped his documents on the ground, looked down at them, and walked away.)

That evening after dinner I whispered to Christine that I needed a little family time. We agreed that we would wait until just moments before the show started and slip in and sit in the back and then leave early. As we sat down I could see that the the group was on the lower level near the stage. We were in the far back on the upper level. Ah, peace and quiet. “Oh there you are. We have been looking all over for you!” Fidel and Candy were directly in front of us! Candy said with her best Betty Boop voice, as she sat turned around in her seat facing us
“What if something happens to us while we are on the ship?”
“Did something happen to you?” I said barely able to fake my concern.
“Well yes. Something happened to our luggage.”
“Did your luggage get lost?”
“Did your luggage get damaged?”
“U huh”
“ Who damaged it?”
“The airline”
“The airline?”
“U huh”
“That was two days ago! We've been in New Orleans for two days” She looked confused.
I continued, “How did you get your luggage from the airport to the bus, to the hotel, to the bus, to the ship without noticing the damage?”
By this time she really looked confused. She turned to Fidel and they exchanged heated words in a whisper because the lights had dimmed and the show was about to begin. She quickly turned back around and said, “The cruise line did it!” I told her that when you travel sometimes luggage can get damaged a little and there isn't much that can be done but that she could make a claim if she wanted to.

I went to the front of the boat and took two Tylenol and sat down alone to rest. That's when I heard, squeaky, squeaky, squeaky.
“Where are you going Fidel?”
“In the water brother. In the water”
“I thought you had a bad knee!”
“It's better now.” he said as he jumped into to the water.

Late that night as I lay in bed trying to get in a better position because of my aching body I heard Christine come in. As she slid in bed next to me I knew that she and her friends had a good time dancing because she was still sweaty. She asked me if I was awake. Without opening my eyes I told her that I was. She said, “Guess who was dancing like the Village People on the dance floor tonight?” I opened my eyes wide and said through my clenched teeth, “FIDEL?” “Yep! I guess his knee is all better,” She said. When I woke the next morning my fists were still clenched.

Christine said, as she rubbed my shoulders, that she always feels a whole lot better about this kind of situation if she can laugh about it. I wasn't to that point yet.

After the buses dropped us off at our house after the cruise the group unloaded all of their luggage on to our driveway. One by one everyone got picked up and the rows of luggage slowly dwindled down to two pieces. Fidel and Candy were out by the street waiting for their ride. Christine motioned toward their luggage. We walked over to get a closer look. Two giant pieces of luggage that looked like they had gone through a meat grinder! One piece laid on it's side half twisted and could no longer stand. There was a little Mickey Mouse strapped to a handle, filthy from head to toe. He looked up at us with his sad eyes as if to say sheepishly, “Help.”

Their ride came and we said goodbye. We walked inside. Neither of us said a word. We both looked out the front blinds and then at each other. We haven't laughed that hard in years.
* Names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent.
Travel Tip: When things aren't going so well, just find the humor in it, it may end up being your favorite story to tell and you'll laugh about it for years.

Monday, November 21, 2011


Monarch of the Seas
April 2005

As I walked Jessica (our daughter) down the aisle I smiled ear to ear. I thought to myself that she had come so far. At that moment I was downright proud of her. She had had a rocky past (we adopted her when she was 7) and now was taking a big step to leave that all behind her.

All during the wedding and reception everyone was so happy for Christine and me. Many strangers came up to us to congratulate us. They would shake our hands and look me in the eye (almost with a wink and a nod) and say that I must be very happy that I got to walk our little girl down the aisle. But why was everyone treating me so strangely, I thought to myself.

Later during the reception Jessica proudly said to me that they had already got married weeks before, but this whole thing was staged so that I would get to walk her down the aisle. EVERYONE was in on it! The wedding party, the guests, the preacher...everyone! My heart sunk. I felt like I had been duped. It was then and there that I decided to turn the tables and have a little fun with her!

The following day Jessica and Rick were off to San Pedro to take a cruise that we had put together for the (not so) new bride and groom. Jessica was so excited to take another cruise. She had taken several cruises while she lived with the family but wasn't able to since she had moved out a few years earlier.

Jessica called me as they were waiting in line to board to thank us again. She was talking a mile a minute about how much fun they were going to have. She was freaking out! That's when my plan went into effect. I dialed *67 so that she couldn't see that it was me that was calling her. I texted her the following:
Welcome aboard newlyweds! We hope that you will participate in our brand new Fun and Games using text messaging. Stay tuned for more info.
From, your captain and crew aboard Royal Caribbean's beautiful Monarch of the Seas.”

I tried to imagine how she would be freaking out. But I waited. About an hour later she called me to tell me that they were eating in the Windjammer Cafe (her favorite) and about this text message. I played dumb. She thanked me again. I suggested that she stop calling her daddy and give her husband some attention. “For goodness sakes, Jessica, you're on your honeymoon!” I joked to her. She said, “You're right dad. I love you. Bye.”

Finally my plan could begin! I next texted:
All newlyweds aboard Monarch of the Seas are invited to play Fun and Games trivia.
The first newlywed couple to report to the Purser's Desk and tell us the capitol of Nigeria will win a special Welcome Aboard gift. Ready? Set? Go!”

“Daddy, Daddy, Daddy!”, she yelled into the phone, “You'll never believe what happened. I got this text...” I interrupted her, “Whoa, Jessica slow down, I said sounding concerned. Are you okay?” She proceeded to tell me the story.

She said that she got a text as they were having a drink by the pool. They didn't know the answer to a trivia question so she grabbed (physically) their bar waiter that earlier they had noticed had an accent. Jessica excitedly asked him, “Do you know the capitol of Nigeria? Are you from Africa?” “No mon! I am from Jamaica!” She said he looked puzzled. “Dad, what's the capital of Nigeria?' “Lagos, I told her.” (Actually it has been Abuja since 1991, but I didn't know that at the time)

Jessica and Rick later said that they sprinted down 7 decks to arrive at the Purser's desk. It appeared that they were first! “We got it!, she shouted to the purser. The capitol of Nigeria is Lagos!” She said that the purser looked at her like she was crazy, but then gathered her composure and in her stuffy Queen's English said, “Thank you, I will be sure to record that in the Ship's Log.”

Jessica explained to her about the game and showed her the text. The purser said that she would need to talk with her manager and asked if she could take the phone with her to show him. Moments later she returned with a bottle of champagne and told Jessica, “Congratulations! You won!”

Not knowing what had just happened at the Purser's Desk I sent another text. A few minutes later I got a call from Jessica. This time she was talking much more quietly. “Dad”, she whispered, “We're at the Lifeboat Drill and they told us to keep it down”. She told me about winning the first round and said they need my help on another question. I interrupted her and said, “The blue whale is the largest mammal that has ever lived.” She asked how in the world I could know what the last trivia question was. I laughed so hard that I think I peed a little. She was not as amused as I was! I heard her tell Rick, he said, “Oh man! That's not cool!” When they came home we all laughed.

Moral: Never get in the middle of a war in Southeast Asia! Never pretend to have a wedding! And never mess with a Sicilian when a practical joke is on the line. Hahahaha! Hahahaha! Clunk.

Monday, November 14, 2011


Mexico 1973
(Eddie was about 9 yrs old)
I remember waking up to a barking German shepherd and a machine gun pointing at me! What in the world was happening! Several young men in army uniforms were pointing their Ak-47's at my family and me while shouting orders to us in Spanish and motioning for us to get out of the vehicle!
Later as we slowly drove away from the military checkpoint, my parents explained what had happened. My dad (Rio) was wide eyed and clearly wide awake now as he told us what not to do and say at a Mexican roadside checkpoint.
Since before I was born my maternal grandparents lived in Tepic, Nayarit, Mexico, which is some 1,500 miles south of the border. We would travel back and forth to visit them on a regular basis. We came to love the Mexican people because of their warmth and hospitality. Many of our friends warned us not to go to Mexico because it was “too dangerous”, especially for Caucasians. About the worst thing that ever happened to us was that most of the time that we would go in a rural store to get groceries, or what not, and Indian children would touch our hair. They probably never saw blonde hair before. (I guess we had never seen American Indians before either.) At times some would stroke our hair and one time several children surrounded my sister and were touching her skin and stroking her hair when the “mommy” came over and joined in. My sister just stood there crying! Poor thing.
So where was I? Oh yeah. So while we were asleep in the back of the Volkswagen bus we pulled up to a checkpoint. It was the middle of the night and my mom (Kitty) had been riding shotgun and was trying to stay up with my dad so he didn't fall asleep. The truth is that, though we would take turns staying up with my dad, he didn't need us to do so. He would literally drive all day and night, stop to take a one or two hour nap before sunrise and wake up and do it all over again, day after day after day... He would always say the same thing, “I gotta pull over by butt is getting square”. We wouldn’t stop for anything until that point. We would even pee in a jar. But that's another story.
We pulled up to the checkpoint and my mom answered their questions without really listening. She said, “Yes, yes, right here!”, and opened the glove box and reached in when all you know what broke loose! Several soldiers came running over and shouting commands to each other after the soldier talking to my mom stepped back and lifted his rifle to his shoulder! They completely surrounded our van.
What my mom thought he said in her half-asleep stupor was, “¿Puedo ver su pasaportes and visas?” (May I see your passports and visas?) What the young soldier actually said was, “¿Tiene armas de fuego?”(Do you have guns?) When my mom reach deep into the glove compartment the heavily armed kid must have assumed she was reaching for a gun to blow his brains out! I woke up as the van door slid open and I heard several guns being cocked and a dog just outside the door barking and pulling at his leash. We all laid still motionless as a well-decorated officer came running out of the building yelling while eating a taco, “Alto! Es un familia!” He angrily yelled at the soldiers as he motioned for everyone to back away from our van and point the guns down. He next turned to my pretty mom with an awkward smile on his face and said in English, “ Now just what were you saying to my soldiers?” We spent the next several minutes explaining what happened. They let us go and wished us a safe journey. I thought I saw the General shaking his head as we drove away.
We all stayed up for the rest of the night, wide awake.