My title aptly describes the past three weeks of our travelling, they have indeed felt like a whirlwind. From New Orleans we spent an amazing week in Miami which included celebrating a memorable Easter there. We did a fun Easter egg hunt in the garden for Aiden on Easter morning and he was delighted with all his treats. Miami ended up being really vibey and our air bnb has been my most favourite accommodation to date. Our hosts, David and Lynne were especially amazing and made us feel right at home which was much needed on my part as I was starting to feel a bit homesick again. A big bonus for me was that they had an amazing hot tub, which Aiden and I spent our evenings in. We couldn’t get him out of there at times and are afraid he was getting used to the good life…ha ha! Another quick mention about Miami was that I found TARGET. This is a store which ranges from clothes to homeware to beauty to even food. It has everything and even recently Victoria Beckham launched a new range there. As soon as I stepped foot in there I was in love. I spent about 3 hours the one day at the store doing some clothes shopping for our cruise and I literally lost track of all space and time. I managed to get some beautiful dresses for our cruise dinners, shirts for Peter and some new shorts for Aiden (he is growing daily). Our air bnb hosts laughed at me when I mentioned my obsession with Target as to them it’s a bit similar to Woolworths from back home. Only problem with buying at the moment is that my suitcase does not get any bigger even though I wish for that every time we have to pack again.
From Miami we then drove up to Port Canaveral. This port is where we would board our much anticipated 2 week Disney Cruise. We thought it would be easier to get there the day before our cruise boarded as the next morning our boarding time was in the morning and we didn’t want to make the drive from Miami to the port that morning and should have to rush in any way. We spent our one day in Port Canaveral exploring the Kennedy Space Centre which was a real blast. It is quite an iconic place and I am glad that Peter convinced me into going (I was feeling quite lazy that morning) as I really enjoyed it. The following morning, we drove down to the actual Port where we then boarded our 2 week Disney Wonder Cruise. I can’t say my expectations were high for the cruise, I mean I knew it was going to be Disney themed and thought it would be full of kids running around playing. Our main excitement as horrible as it sounds was that Aiden is now three years old which means – Kids Club. The Kids Club on a cruise liner is where kids can go to do crafts / play video games and so much more. We visualised dropping him off daily, leaving him to play with other kids which we thought he would enjoy as it’s been so long that he could play with other English speaking kids, and obviously this meant FREEDOM for us!!!!. We were really looking forward to some down time as such which meant dreams of afternoon naps and reading books by the pool (childless) ? Fast forward a few days into the cruise and we could not get him to leave the Kids Club. Each night he would refuse to come out and called the youth counsellors his friends in yellow (they wore yellow T-shirts). These youth counsellors were absolutely amazing with Aiden and he really befriended and of course charmed quite a lot of them. There were a lot of staff working on this cruise line that were from South Africa which was fun for us and funnily enough when they heard us speak they immediately knew we were from South Africa (we have an accent – who knew???) I mean I think we talk so normally but then you hear the American twang and of course we all speak differently. When I heard the South African youth counsellors speak I assumed they were from Australia. I hope we don’t sound like Australians (no offense to Australians but so not keen on that accent…ha ha!) I do have family in Australia who will not take offense to this comment ? Back to the staff aboard the cruise liner, they blew me away and would like to thank them again for making our cruise that much more amazing.
My expectations for the cruise were completely superseded and I must say that we’ll definitely cruise with Disney again. There was no waiting in any long queues to get aboard the ship and we were waiting for the proverbial “catch” as such as this was clearly too good to be true (we are so used to waiting in any sort of long queues these days…habit of human nature I suppose) but alas everything was as it seemed and we boarded the ship with almost an instantaneous sense of relaxation. To add to the quick on board service we were even met by Mickey Mouse himself in the welcome area before getting on the ship and of course Aiden was instant fan as he loves the show Mickey Mouse’s Clubhouse. Of course Peter and I have been building up this leg of the trip for months now and all we had to do was to convince Aiden that Mickey was going on vacation from his Clubhouse and thus onboard his Mickey Mouse cruise ship with us (which he had obviously invited us on). He bought the story luckily! Also upon boarding the ship we were greeted over loud speaker by name in the lobby “Disney welcomes the Apperley’s” – I nearly died of awkwardness, but memories are made of awkward moments I suppose. The next two weeks almost went by too quickly. Among swimming in the pools upon the ship there was a super tube, Jacuzzis, outdoor theatre, indoor theatre, restaurants, buffets, shows, character greetings daily, the kids club, themed parties, amazing cocktails and just so much more. We also got to experience amazing day trips which included tours in Cozumel, Mexico / Cartagena, Columbia then heading through the Panama Canal to Port Vallarta to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico and ending our cruise in San Diego. The cruise was a really nice change to our day to day travels as we didn’t need to think about buying food for breakfast, lunch or dinner. There was a constant buffet of food on offer as well as fine dining in the evenings. We also didn’t have to plan anything in terms of activities as everything had been planned in advance so we got to relax a bit more. At night we sat at a table with two other couples. One couple was from the United States (Mike and Heather) and the other couple was from Canada (Wayne and Kristen). Both couples each had beautiful little girls. Riley from the States and Wensley from Canada (both similar age to Aiden). It was a perfect seating as we could all relate on child rearing issues and our kids could play together while we ate. Not every night went as planned as the kids could be quite a handful (more like nightmare) but we were all in the same boat so everyone understood when one toddler was having a meltdown or decided to throw their dinner across the table. Aiden is not a great eater and pretty much ate chicken nuggets and chips the entire cruise. How do we bribe him to eat vegetables??? Help!!! but we had a lot of fun chatting to our new friends and we are hoping it was the start of a lifelong friendship. We did talk about re connecting for a 2019 Disney Cruise so here’s to hoping.
The past three weeks have really opened my eyes though to just how nice people are. I’m quite a cynical person and as much as I seem fun and extroverted on the outside, I can be over analytical and quite negative on the inside at times. Those close to me will know that I can also get quite anxious in unfamiliar surroundings so this cruise also tested me as it pushed me to socialise with people again. Peter and I have been in quite a bubble the past few months especially in South America with the language barrier. I must say the cruise really helped me feel like we were back home in a way, as we were socialising in the day and night with good conversation whilst making new friends. It was really difficult getting off the cruise ship in the end. Back in Miami even our air bnb hosts were so nice to us I almost didn’t want to leave there either. The one night they even organised us a board of chocolates, marshmallows and biscuits so that we could make smores on the fire (mine and Aiden’s first smores ever) and they were delicious. Their generosity and friendliness was so overwhelming and we hope to go back and hang out there one day again. I must say something just clicked in Miami for me and as cheesy as it sounds my heart felt full. I think it could of even been an Eat, Pray Love moment for me as such. I even bought another journal from the Dollar Store (in actual love with this store too – everything is quite literally $1 – not sure why that excites me so much, but it does) to write down experiences that are special to me going forward.
I feel like as we get older we tend to take less chances and are lazy with forging new friendships but we need to continue to put ourselves out there and good things will come. These past few weeks have shown me that this year is also about putting myself out there more and learning to roll with the punches.
Until next time….