April 10, 2015

Mediterranean Cruise: Day 5 (Heraklion)

Another early morning coffee and quiet time in the cafeteria with Ted. I usually get a 3-5 hour stretch of sleep--blissful--and then wake about once an hour the rest of the night, usually because of Seanin's noises. I guess I should just wear ear plugs!

We didn't have to rush anywhere today, and to avoid the chaos of the cafeteria, we tried the sit-down, full-service restaurant. Oh, my! I don't think we will go back! SOOO nice not to be scrambling for places to sit together, then rushing all over the buffet areas to get food for everyone. It was delightful.

We had to load onto shuttle buses to get off the docking area, per the regulations of the isle of Crete, so we had a bit of a wait but not too bad. We took the bus to the Knossos Palace. At 1.50 euro per ticket (6 and under were free), it was an inexpensive and easy way to travel. Maybe the ride was about 40 minutes or so? At the site, we hired a private guide, joining with another family, also military (Army) and also on our cruise ship. The cost was only 30 euro per FAMILY. I can't believe the company I researched before leaving for our vacation quoted me a tour price of 720 euro!! Good grief!

The tour was wonderful. We got so much more out of it with having the guide. I posed the kids for some pictures with their Sonlight books. :-) The tour was about an hour long, and then we took the bus to the city square and got lunch as we were all so hungry. (It was about 2pm by this time.) The food was great, but unfortunately the museum we planned to see afterward--with all the original items from the palace we had just heard about--closed at 3pm! Our waitress told us about 6 or 7:00 was the closing time. Clearly we should have checked. That was a big disappointment, but it did give us plenty of time to wander and shop our way back to the port! Seanin was more than ready for a nap, poor baby, but he was such a trooper all day. Ted's back may be in agony, though, after carrying him in the backpack all day!

Now as I write this it's nearly dinnertime--hooray! I'm so very hungry, even though we had a late lunch. Ted and I shared a Greek salad and a chicken kebab plate...guess it's gone after all that walking! The show tonight is a Frank Sinatra tribute, so we will skip and go to bed early again, since it's not particularly something we'd be interested in.

Mediterranean Cruise: Day 4 (Katakolon)

Early morning date with my hubby! Cappuccino and quiet time in the cafeteria while everyone else slept. This time, though, Seanin came with us for breakfast! Since we were to be at our port from noon to 6pm, we decided to try to give Seanin a chance to nap in the morning. So the 3 of us had breakfast together before the craziness started. Ted took Seanin to the play room so I could help Zaden get some breakfast. Then we switched boys, and I spent awhile in our cabin bathroom so that Seanin would fall asleep for a morning nap. I T-Tapped in that tiny bathroom, then showered, then sat and prayed awhile! I'm not sure Seanin actually got a whole lot of sleep despite my efforts! Some of the kids ate a late breakfast so didn't want lunch. I think some of them may have gone swimming, too.

At any rate, we got off the ship and walked to the train station, not too far of a walk, to catch the 1:15 train to Olympia (which left late, sigh). It was about a 40-minute ride, a bit tedious with Seanin crawling on my lap, but he wasn't too bad. The village of Olympia was cute and easy to navigate. We stopped and spent about a half-hour in the Archimedes museum, where an enthusiastic curator showed us some fascinating inventions and told us about some of the mathematical and scientific principles discovered by Archimedes. Since the older boys had read about him earlier in the school year, it was really extra special to see their excitement. But we were left with little time in Ancient Olympia itself, as the train left at 3:45 and we had to allow 15 minutes to walk to it!

All told, we only had about 1.5 hours to see stuff...BUT...we saw stuff! We did kind of have to rush around, and without a guide, it was harder to really appreciate what we were looking at, but hey. Been there, done that, right?! Ancient Olympia, check! Thankfully, too, it was a beautiful, sunny day--evidence of much rain recently was obvious, and we were thankful for such nice weather.

The train ride back was uneventful, and we had a bit of time to enjoy cappuccinos and ice cream and do a bit of shopping before heading back to the ship for dinner. We were so glad Ted was feeling hungry again, since his stomach had been bothering him so badly the evening before! It was a great dinner, and we were relieved that Seanin made it with so little sleep all day. He ate and ate and ATE at dinnertime! We couldn't fill him up!

Since our following day's plan was pretty full, we opted to put everyone to bed (or quietly read) right after dinner. Ted and I sneaked out for a walk together and some uninterrupted conversation. Such a bummer to not be able to be in the same cabin! Maybe for our 25th anniversary we will take a Baltic cruise ALONE! :-)

Tobin loved the Archimedes museum!

Ted, Lucan, and Seanin by the remains of the Temple of Zeus, once one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world.

I do believe my boys could have spent a lot longer in this place...

Mediterranean Cruise: Day 3 (At Sea)

Our cabins:
Grandma J, Arden, and Kenna on deck 10
Ted, Tobin, and Lucan on deck 8
Beverly, Charis, Zaden, and Seanin on deck 8 (opposite side of the ship from the boys)

It was good to have a day to finish figuring things out on the ship--it was chaos trying to coordinate everyone, running around looking for "lost" people and "lost" cruise cards (one found, one really lost).

At least the day started a bit better--Ted and I met early for cappuccinos and quiet time. I went running in the fitness center 25 minutes (until the treadmill kicked me off) and then about 15 minutes on the jogging deck. It was sunny and cool and windy--I loved it! I was the only one running up there, and it was beautiful. I helped shuffle kids around a bit before showering and breakfasting.

The kids swam, explored the ship some more, played with their new friends, and who knows what else. I was desperate for Seanin to nap, which he did very little of!

It was a formal night, so we all dressed up for dinner. Zaden managed to break a glass in our cabin while I was drying my hair. Never a dull moment...

Dinner was good, except that Ted's stomach was not doing well. I don't know if he got what we all had last week [we were hit with a stomach bug that floored me during Rhonda's arrival...thank the Lord for a friend who was able to go pick her up from their airport!] or something different, but he didn't eat much. Seanin held off his big poop until after dinner this time, ha! Zaden was manic after drinking some Sprite, running around the table and hugging on Mr. Molina, our server, who obviously adores Zaden. Zaden had recognized him earlier in the day at the cafeteria, lighting up when he saw Edwin, which I think made him feel good! My heart hurts for Edwin and his family, though, as he is away from home 9 months at a time. He has a 4-year-old boy and a 9-year-old girl.

Since Ted wasn't feeling well, he rested in our cabin with the little boys, who were more than ready for bedtime, while the rest of us went to see the "Zorro" show. Great acrobatics! The kids really enjoyed it, and it was so fun to see their faces and reactions. Lucan liked the fake sword fights! I enjoyed the African pole climbing team.

Mediterranean Cruise: Day 2 (Genoa)

This day was kind of a wash. After an exhausting day, Seanin really needed to nap. It was cold, windy, and rainy in Genoa, and we weren't sure what to do in the city anyway, so we ended u wandering around and exploring the ship a bit. We let the kids swim before lunch while Seanin napped in the stroller (took awhile to get him to sleep!), and then we did lunch at the buffet. I took the little boys back to our room to nap, but Zaden is the only one who actually slept. Multiple interruptions kept our overstimulated Seanin very much awake!

Rhonda and Charis tried venturing off the ship but didn't get far and came back. The other kids swam some more with new friends Ben and Anna (Arden and Kenna's ages, roughly).

We made it for our 6:00 seating for dinner and had a lovely dining experience--IF you don't count the major poop blowout that Seanin had, resulting in both Ted and me carrying him back to the cabin for a bath and change of clothes in the middle of mealtime!! Considering his lack of sleep, Seanin did fairly well during dinner, but he was definitely ready for dinner afterward! I put him down while the other kids swam, and then Ted came to relieve me so I could go to the piano concert with Rhonda, Arden, and Charis. Unfortunately, it took me awhile to find the theater, so I was 15 minutes late and had no idea where they were sitting. But the pianist was amazing! I enjoyed the music anyway and did find the others afterward. We got gelato from a chintzy scooper and then called it a night.

Seanin FINALLY fell asleep in the stroller...for about a 45-minute nap...his only nap in two days!

Our Mediterranean Cruise Adventure--Day 1

For Christmas 2014 our family booked an eastern Mediterranean cruise, something that had been on our wish list since arriving in Italy! Grandma Rhonda J willingly obliged us by flying to Naples for her third Italian visit in order to accompany us on our cruise. A hardship, I know, but sacrifices have to be made for the family, ha! Seriously, if she hadn't come, we would not have been able to go as a family, as we needed to book 3 cabins, and there had to be an adult in each cabin.

I wrote in my journal about each day of our cruise, so even though I am posting these updates very, very late, the script was written when everything was fresh in my mind! So without further ado, here we go...traveling back in time to Monday, December 15.

We finally left the house around 10:45am. Not bad, considering! We piled all 10 of us into the Suburban and made a quick stop to drop off keys with Joyce, and then we were on our way. Our GPS wasn't terribly helpful, but following signs we made it to the port and found a parking area. Total: 110 euro for the duration--not bad.  We took a shuttle to the ship dropoff point--got off one stop too soon--and walked to the right place. No one bothered to point out the luggage drop off area, so we lugged all our bags inside the "holding area," where we were accosted by "buy a drink package" reps and were dismayed to learn that all drinks on board are not included in the cost of the cruise! When we tried to find out about checking in, we learned about the luggage, so Ted, Rhonda, and Tobin hauled our stuff back outside and got it all checked, and THEN we received our boarding group number--17--which could have been 14 or so if we had known. Grrr.

We waited 1.5 hours before we could actually go through the check-in line, by which point Seanin was frantic and Zaden and Lucan were sprawled on the floor because they were so tired. We got our cruise cards, went through security, and finally onto the ship, reaching our rooms by 5:40pm. I was hoping to get Seanin a nap before dinner, but there was no crib set up (despite our request!), so we had to get that taken care of plus find Kenna and Arden's missing suitcase (held up because we had packed an iron, a big no-no!).

We thought dinner seating was at 7pm, based on the web sites I had viewed beforehand. So we waited and then went to the dining room, where the host told us rather rudely that it started at 6:00 and we were too late. So we went up to the buffet--at that point we were just hungry and exhausted. The ship pulled out as we were eating, causing Charis to feel seasick, so she went back to our room to lie down and get her sea bands on.

It wasn't a moment too soon before we got settled in bed for the night! Mamma mia, not a wonderful way to start off our vacation!!