Sean and I will celebrate 20 years of marriage in October of this year. Because his job as a chef is extremely busy in the fall, we decided to celebrate this winter while he had some downtime.
We have gone on a couple of cruises in the past and enjoyed them, plus they are a pretty reasonable getaway, so we settled on a five-day sailing trip.
However, as we were making our plans, things were happening within our family and we realized it wasn’t a good time to leave. Anniversary plans went on hold.
But I still felt like we needed to get away. Summer was already shaping up to be tough with an LPGA tournament for Sean at work, getting our daughter Keeley ready for college and a four-week volunteer project for our son Quinn.
I researched a little and went to Sean with the idea of doing a once-in-a-lifetime family getaway. I was happily surprised to see that he had been having the same ideas. So we booked a voyage to the Bahamas for six instead of for two.
One of the first, and most fun, things we did was tell the kids. We asked them to stay at the table after dinner one night and Sean began to describe our adventure. We expected that Keeley and Quinn, at ages 17 and 14, would be really excited. After all, they could really grasp the reality of missing a little bit of school and sitting on a warm, sandy beach in the middle of winter.
We even thought that Owen, our 11-year-old, would be pretty stoked with the idea of snorkeling, swimming and riding a plane for the first time. What we weren’t expecting was the absolutely over-the-top reaction from our youngest child, 7-year-old Brenna.
She was shrieked, and cried, and squealed for more than an hour. She pulled at her face, her hair and her clothes. She alternated between looking like she was going to be sick and looking like she was going to float away. It was amazing. I actually got a video of it that I posted on Facebook, to an overwhelming response.
Well, we got through the telling and now it was time for the preparing. We got this trip together in a pretty short amount of time, so in just a couple of weeks, it was time to go. We woke up around 3:30 a.m. to catch our flight to Florida, and not one child gave us a hard time about getting up.
That feeling of joy and anticipation that the kids had that day is something I won’t soon forget. It was just amazing.
We sailed away Friday afternoon in absolutely beautiful weather. Being on the boat was a great choice because we had to be totally unplugged — the cellphones were off, there was no Internet or video games, and television was quite limited. It was all family, all the time.
We went to a very nice dinner in one of the ship’s restaurants, which is something we might not have tried with younger children, but it was wonderful. The kids all tried different foods and loved it.
We snorkeled in the Bahamas and it was a blast. In the beginning, Brenna screamed every time she put her face in the water and saw all the fish but she soon settled in and was quite the trooper, swimming quite a distance so as not to be left behind by her older siblings.
We spent a day on the boat and swam in the pool, hung out in the hot tub, scaled the rock-climbing wall, played basketball and ping-pong, and ate until we couldn’t eat anymore.
Going on a cruise with the kids was a lot different than going on a cruise as a couple, but I wouldn’t trade this “anniversary” trip for anything.
Jill Murphy writes from Manchester.