“Are we there yet?” After 40 minutes or so, and yet another “how close are we,” in the distance the mighty Harmony of the Seas cruise ship came into view as we approached Port Canaveral. Up until a little over a year prior, Harmony of the Seas was the world’s largest cruise ship; it was indeed awe-inspiring and immediately captured LaKi’s attention. Perhaps the only thing LaKi likes more than getting in the water is being on the water on a cruise ship. The beach outing was a fun subterfuge; in reality we had decided to celebrate LaKi’s birthday with a cruise. She loves cruising; this was going to be the 5th cruise we have done with
LaKi in the last 4 years—most recently the previous Christmas on Anthem of the Seas, the culmination of The Joy of Cruising. A broad grin took over LaKi’s face as the ruse about the beach became clear; the grin did not disappear for the next eight days!
Harmony of the Seas was all we had hoped for and more. Besides the many highlights of Harmony, it was also our first visit to the newly imagined Royal Caribbean private island, Coco Cay. The private island had recently re-opened as Perfect Day at Coco Cay, a $250 million transformation of Royal Caribbean’s picturesque beach playground into a more kid-friendly space with a water park and hot air balloon rides adjacent to the beach, and theme park style eateries replacing the private island standard picnic style buffet. Oh, and
a newly constructed dock enabling cruise ships to anchor right at Coco Cay instead of requiring ship passengers to be transported to the island from the ship via a tender, a small boat only capable of moving a finite number of the ships passengers at a time and subject to safety issues related to the weather and getting on and off the tender.
Cheryl, LaKi and I had a wonderful time at Perfect Day at Coco Cay despite a fair amount of trepidation as to whether we would get to experience it at all. During breakfast prior to disembarking, a downpour started, and it did not appear our day at Coco Cay was going to be so perfect after all. When the Cruise Director came on the public address system and announced several additional on-ship activities, it brought to mind my dreaded experience on Anthem of the Seas just six months prior. (On Christmas morning on Anthem, right before we were due to stop at Coco Cay, the Captain announced it was too windy to tender and we had to skip the stop.) This time there was a happy ending: the weather cleared, sun came out, and Perfect Day at Coco Cay was wonderful. LaKi loved the water park and the Up, Up & Away balloon ride with me; it offered great views and a wonderful vantage point for photos. My wife and I enjoyed a shady spot to sip our Miami Vices while LaKi was on the waterslides, and we sampled the nearby wave pool.
The second cruise I booked post-The Joy of Cruising was also chosen directly as a result of writing the book. Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas, or Indy, as it was affectionately known to Brits after it was launched and based in UK in 2008, had a significant role in The Joy of Cruising. A popular feature in The Joy of Cruising, was “The Godmother: Elizabeth Hill,” which was about the first non-royal, non-celebrity person in UK chosen to serve as a cruise ship Godmother, of then new UK-based, world’s largest ship Independence of the Seas. Known as Cruise Like A Godmother on social media, Elizabeth’s story of being plucked from relative obscurity as a leader of a charity working with children on a working farm, to be named the Godmother (she had never been on a cruise before!) of the at-the-time, world’s largest cruise ship, was like a modern-day fairy tale....
In The Joy of Cruising I included a photo of The Godmother standing next to her portrait which is permanently displayed on Indy. My plan was to take a photo of my grandkids next to the The Godmother’s portrait for inclusion in this book.
Yet another cruise chosen as a result of my of my involvement with The Joy of Cruising, was our first Mediterranean cruise, booked for NCL Epic November 2020. I asked each of the passionate cruisers profiled in The Joy of Cruising about their most memorable cruises as well as cruises they have on their “bucket list.” A number of destinations showed up repeatedly: Alaska, Panama Canal; Galapagos, and of course, the Mediterranean, and, several cited Barcelona, Spain as among their favorite ports. Speaking to seasoned cruisers from around the world led us to broaden our horizons instead of always cruising to the Bahamas and the Caribbean. So, the Mediterranean cruise is our first step in that direction and we looked for an itinerary that included Barcelona. For our 28th wedding anniversary we will be spending a few days in Barcelona, and then on November 1 cruising from Barcelona to France, then Italy, and then back to Barcelona. In 2021, Alaska here we come. You know, research!
Alas, our 2020 cruise plans fell victim to the pandemic. It was going to have to be More Joy of Cruising…deferred!
Read the rest of More Joy of Cruising in Cruising Interrupted, available now!