The family cruise last spring was such fun that Dad (Pop Pop) declared we should do it again … in celebration of his 90th birthday. That birthday doesn’t happen until New Year’s Day, but that is also a tough day to schedule anything, so we booked the week before Christmas for a family cruise to the Bahamas, sailing out of Miami. Perfect. Should be a breeze and a lot of fun, right? But one night at sea one of our party went missing:
The note had been slipped under the door and was written hastily on a scrap of paper promoting the next cruise. “Happy Birthday, Pop Pop. I am 19 and I am sorry that my friend who was drunk took him last night and I want to return him to you. But he is in good hands and has a good home. I hope you make 100!” Just the note, not the missing party. What was afoot?
Let me back up a few days and fill you in. Family members were arriving pre-cruise to Miami on planes and in cars in an undeclared competitive rush to get on board first. I thought we (Jackie, Alex, Linda, Norm, Chris and I) had the edge, since we flew in to downtown the day before and were within sight of the cruise ship terminal.
But it seems my brother Jeff made better time driving down from South Carolina than we expected (with Adam, Vicki and Dad on board). As we were making our way through the embarkation desk, we got a picture sent to our phones of the Perfect Patron Margarita. Drats! They played the old-guy-with-a-walker card and were already onboard with drinks in hand! We of course responded that we were still waiting for our taxi and tried to play off our pending arrival at their side, but they appeared to see through the ruse. Soon we were all on the pool deck with drinks aplenty, sharing hugs and stories. Well, you can see where this adventure is going …
I think the best day of a cruise is arrival day. Everyone is excited, the drinks (if you buy the package) are flowing, and everyone is in a great mood to have fun. We sought out our favorite bartenders from the last cruise (Yay! Livingston, Al and Dr. G were aboard!), booked our dinner table for 10 (near the front, no pole to obstruct, please) and just plain relaxed until the sail-away out of Miami. “Did you bring the drink list? What should we have? Wanna find something to eat? Let’s go up front on Deck 10! Which is starboard?” We were traveling aboard the Royal Caribbean Enchantment of the Seas, by the way – best pool deck ever.
Soon after we were checking in to our rooms and unpacking. Just before dinner we marked the cabin doors with signs “Pop Pop’s Crew” and added crocheted Christmas ornaments that Jackie made. Dad’s door now had a cute snowman with top hat and dangly arms. While everyone went off to dinner, I decorated his room with colorful banners and such declaring “90” and “Vintage Dude” and posted a picture of Dad on the door with “Jack is 90. Wish him Happy Birthday.” Back at the dinner table we scattered the same “90” napkins and gave Dad a cap “Old Guys Rule – Aged to Perfection.” Our servers Aries and Joan picked up on it and we soon had a cake with candle and singing. What fun.
Next day was snorkeling, swimming and frozen drinks at Coco Cay, RCI’s private island. Took way too long to get off the ship, onto a tender and set foot on the island, but the weather and water were perfect.
Back on board it was formal night and we managed to cajole the guys into wearing Christmas ties to dinner. Wasn’t too hard to find 7 crazy ties in my collection from teaching and Jackie brought along blinking light-up necklaces for the ladies – so I think we might have been the most festive group that night. Another cake with candle and singing for Dad (with much protesting on his part).
Oh, and did I mention the casino? Blackjack and craps, with a little bit of roulette, were the games of choice and most of us had chips left in our pockets after a night or two. On the way to the evening’s show Vicki and I escorted Dad (which took us through the casino of course) and he reaches over to the roulette table and plops down a chip. Bam! His number hits, he scoops up the winnings and keeps on moving. Just that lucky.
So our adventures took us to Nassau and a snorkeling excursion (not as good as we expected: too many paddle boarders and kayakers along with us), then to Key West for some bar hopping and conch fritters.
Back on board we kept our bartenders busy and always had great fun at dinner in the main dining room (yes, a birthday cake with candle each night!).
But, back to the mystery of our missing party:
We noticed it on our fourth cruise day. The snowman was missing from Dad’s door! Some evidence was left behind, a broken piece of the clip, a snip of tape … who took him and why? Should we alert security? Check nearby trash bins? Who took snowman?
The following morning before breakfast, Dad found the note slipped under his door. It seems that some late night revelers must have snatched him up, with one of their group later realizing the error of their ways and tried to make amends. But the note did say he was in good hands and had a good home, so we hope he brings joy to his new family. Jackie is going to have to whip up a few more, now, since everyone in our group wants one for their tree.
So did we have a great cruise and did Dad enjoy having most of his family with him for his 90th birthday? You bet. Speaking of bets, did we all come out winners at the casino? Uhhh, not so much. Better luck next time I guess.
Back home for Christmas with family. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all our friends, family and followers. Thanks for coming along on our adventures!
Next Adventure? Mostly local travels for the winter and fun with family and friends. Look for updates on the “Happenings,” “Foodie” and “Mews” pages.