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Day 8 – Back to Ft. Lauderdale

Day 8 of the cruise was all about pulling into port and getting off the ship.

I had scheduled my family to be in the first group of people debarking the ship, so I rose at the dark hour of 5:30.  I wanted to make sure I got breakfast (Holland America tries to ensure that passengers leave the ship happy).  I took one last stroll around and caught these pictures…

I always say that sunset is my favorite time of day, but sunrise ain’t half bad either…

Another ship had pulled into port beside us.  It was soooo pretty…all lit up…

I managed to catch sight of this boat on the horizon…

Guess what else I saw…

Another plane! A fitting way to end the trip given all of my “plane sightings” throughout the cruise.

I eventually returned to the room, woke up the kids and the Mr., and finished some last-minute packing.

And then we waited.

This is often the longest part of the cruise…waiting to get called to the gangway.

While I sat, I went through some of the literature we had acquired during the trip and found this map of the ship (sure wish I’d found it on Day 1!!)…

My group was finally called, and we emerged to find that tho sun had risen…

Somewhere in the parking garage (pictured below) was our car…

Bex wanted one last photo session before leaving Ft. Lauderdale…

So long cruise ships…

As we exited, we thanked everyone we saw.  We were so pampered throughout this trip that leaving was uber-hard.

A HUGE thanks goes out to Grand Pooba and Coupon Queen for their generosity.  This was an AMAZING trip!

Day 7 – Half Moon Cay

Day 7 of the cruise was a cold one!  I couldn’t believe the wind as I opened up the door on my cabin deck to take a peek.

My group ate a quick breakfast and headed out to catch the slip to Half Moon Cay, Holland America’s private island.

The wind was cold as we made out way through the water.  I saw people riding horses at the water’s edge…

We could see people already frolicking in the water…

Sure, there were people in the water, but the sky looked ominous…

The sun refused to peek through the clouds…

The flags bore witness to the wind’s speed…

We got to the beach and found front-row lounges, where I took the opportunity to photograph Bex in front of the clear, turquoise water…

It was a little strange to see the ship sitting a couple hundred yards off shore…

The neat thing about this island…besides the water…was the soft, creamy sand.  I’ve visited many beaches over the years.  Beaches on the eastern coast of Florida have a lot of debris on it.  The Gulf Coast’s beaches consist of white sand with very little “trash” in it.  So, the sand on Half Moon Cay reminded me a bit of home…

We braved the cold, wrapped in towels.  I dug my toes into the sand…determined to wait for the sun to make an appearance…

It was comforting to see a lifeguard on duty…

The kids eventually got in the water.  They said it was warm once you got in, but they were quick to wrap up in towels when they came out.  The sand caked on the bottom of Chicky’s feet while she tried to warm up…

Super D, my brother-in-law, is very artistic, so when he saw the sand, he quickly realized he had a huge canvas to work on.  This was his work of art…

Auburn almost delivered in THE BIG GAME...but not quite...

And still we waited for the sun…which finally made a brief appearance…

The towels came off as we took the opportunity to tan our legs…

From left to right...Grand Pooba, Coupon Queen, and the Mr.

The island had a few amenities for its guests.  One was a tiki hut.  This sign was posted above it…

On a warmer day, this sentiment would have been especially true

By 11:00, we were starving and more than ready for the barbecue lunch the ship’s crew had prepared for us.  There was a band playing “island music,” which added to the Caribbean feel.

Later, I saw people walking around with some kind of koozies, and I just had to have one.  I was already seeing myself taking one to work…filled with ice water, of course.

The koozies were being sold in the tiki hut I’d spied above, so I did what any vacationer would do and got myself one…

By this time, Chicky and I were ready to head back to the ship.  We had never completely warmed up and were eager for hot showers, so we caught a slip back “home.”  I saw the sun make an appearance…great…perfect timing, as usual…

Once aboard, I walked around the ship, taking photos of the island…

From this view, you can sort-of see how the island gets its name...from its half-moon shape...

The sun invited me to come back out to play, but I resisted…

Bex insisted on another photo...

While the others were still playing on the beach, Chicky and I began the dreary process of packing…

Later in the afternoon, after everyone had returned to the ship, the kids and I attended the Debarking Session.  Passengers were lured there by the promise of free champagne…

Dinner that night was melancholy as we had to say goodbye to our table attendants…

Trisna was a very humble, quiet man who unobtrusively filled our water and iced tea glasses.

We were treated to a parade of the Baked Alaska, which had been specially prepared by the chefs.  It was a wonderful way to end the trip.

As I lay my head on my pillow that night, I thought about all of the sights I had seen and the nice people I had met.  Although I was sad the trip was coming to an end, I was starting to get excited about seeing my furry babies.

But still, I had the morning of Day 8 to look forward to…

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