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RealLife is Cruising to Aruba

That’s right, we have been asked to host a cruise to ARUBA….. Friends, family and Real Life Radio listeners/readers are gathering from all over the globe to join us for 7 Luxurious days onboard the newly enhanced GRAND PRINCESS enjoying sun, family, friendship and maybe even a few cocktails. Cruising with Princess is like a dream come true. Everything from your linens to your dining is an experience.

Real Life friends and family book NOW and be part of this once-in-a-life time experience with us. We can’t wait to see you as we travel and enjoy together.


The Tapas of Travel

Arriving in St. Thomas at 6:45am…. Breathtaking…
Travel is one of my favourite things to do. I love to go, to see and to explore. I love preparing for a trip and I get excited at every turn, whether the turn be down a new road or down a familiar one ~ like the road home for a visit. Whatever the case may be, when God created me, I’m convinced he included a shot of Nomadic blood in my stream. I love my desire for travel and my sense of adventure because on my journey thus far, I have seen some of the most beautiful sights the world has to offer and I have had the honour or meeting some of the most extraordinary people on my way.

I have had the opportunity to walk the dusty roads from Jerusalem to Bethlehem. I have swam in the Dead Sea and sampled some of the most delicate foods whilst nestled in a restaurant in Japan. I have watched whales and gazed on coral and sealife on the Great Barrier Reef. I have danced on the streets of Gyoungzhou and sang songs in Hebrew with a choir in Jerusalem. I have slept in a monestary in Nazareth and have dined at some of the finest restaurants in Paris. I have savoured a Sunday Roast Dinner in London and I have sipped on a Singapore Sling in Singapore. I have walked through the markets of Malaysia and I have discovered the underground department stores of Seoul. I have dined outdoors in villages both on the seaside and from the greatest mountain peaks in Korea whilst enjoying bowl of Kimchee Stew. I have seen the sights and sounds of South Africa and watched the sunset set over Thailand. I have allowed myself to do and see so many things the world has to offer and I look forward to every trip that I have the opportunity of taking. As a young woman, I wandered the world with eyes full of adventure and excitement. Now, as a mother, I take my children and allow them to experience culture and difference. We find travel to be one of the most valuable educators.

Recently my mother treated our entire family to an Eastern Caribbean Cruise. Cruising is something I have never experienced, nor had anyone else in our family. It simply wasn’t something that seemed to appeal to our eyes of adventure. For whatever reason, when I thought of cruising, I thought I would be ’stuck’. Stuck on a ship, stuck in line ups, stuck waiting, stuck in Ports. I’m not sure why I thought this way but I did, and for whatever reason I believed it. So, when my mother booked our trip and surprised our families at at Christmas with the information surrounding the trip, we all graciously accepted knowing that it would be (if anything) very interesting. Interesting for a few reasons:
1) Because we hadn’t been on a family holiday since we’ve all been married and with children so the family dynamics (as we all know) would promise to be of interest.
2) Because I’d never cruised and nor did I think I was a cruiser so this holiday peeked my interest in way of a challenge – would I come off a cruiser or one who would vow never to step foot on a cruise line again?

After learning about our trip and getting excited we all jumped online to start checking the details. Firstly, I was surprised by the ship, ‘The Ruby Princess‘, she was beautiful and so big. Every time I popped on the website I was excited about what I discovered whether it be the ‘movies under the stars’ or the ‘7 pools onboard’. The kids were excited about the clubs that were applicable to their ages, they looked so inviting and fun. As I read about the cruise I discovered that it was more than I had ever thought. I realised that Princess promised something for everyone. Our group spanned a few generations yet from what I could see (from the information provided) no one would be left empty handed or bored by any means ~ whatever the age.

As our departure date grew closer, I wondered if the Princess Family onboard would measure up to what I had already experienced with them. Thus far, through the booking process, arranging the finer details and simply asking questions as a first time cruiser I was amazed at the level of service I had received. Clearly this company had some great training and staff development.

Finally our day of departure. Our cruise consultant (Cathe Offet, Expedia Travel Regina) was fantastic, she had gone above and beyond anything we could have expected. She was there to send us off in style and as we turned and said our final good bye to her, we were Ruby Princess bound. As we reached the ship we were all in awe of our home-away-from-home. My heart skipped a beat and the adventurer in me stood up. I realised that this cruise was going to be something I would remember forever. Different to previous trips but as I know well, different can be really good.

After checking in and getting ourselves sorted (for more on this read my previous article ‘Princess for a Day‘) we all started to relax and enjoy. The service was beyond 5 Star, the food was divine and being a food family we were a little worried about this. We had heard people speak of food on cruises but we weren’t convinced. After experiencing our first meal on the Ruby Princess, we were convinced…..the food was incredible and from that moment on we looked forward to every meal.

What have learned about cruising with Princess Cruises? There is something for everyone. Our family group ranged in age from 72 – 6 years and Princess offered something for everyone. It was perfect holiday for a group of people simply because they cater to everyone. You are never at a ‘loss’ for things to do yet you never feel bombarded or forced to do anything. Your holiday is designed by you and Princess is simply there to fill the gaps if need be. It is the perfect union.

Discovering the Ports is fun. I have decided that cruising is ‘The Tapas of Travel’. Tapas is the name of a wide variety of appetizers, or snacks, in Spanish cuisine. Like Spanish cuisine, cruising offers you a taste of different cultures, cities, beaches and life. As a traveler you don’t have to commit to one destination, rather you can sample in style and simply indulge whilst others do the work. When I say others do the work, I am fascinated that I was, in fact, wrong about Princess having an excellent training program for their staff. Instead, through my conversations with staff members, I discovered that their 5 Star service comes from the greatest place of all ~ people who love their jobs and are excited everyday about working, serving others and being part of the Princess Team. I tip my hat to the company, the employees and to the opportunity that they have….they make memories happen and they (the staff) were all part of our puzzle of making our family holiday one we will remember for a lifetime.

The question remains, am I Cruiser? Absolutely…. I am Princess in the making and in addition to the off the beaten track travel we enjoy our family has now engaged and adopted the cruising life. We can’t wait to go again and by that I mean all of us 72 – 6 years. What an experience, what memories….. What a cruise. Thank You Mum for an extraordinary holiday and Thank You Princess Cruises.

Susan

Princess for a Day

Well, we’ve spent our first 24 hours on board our temporary Princess home at sea and what a 24 hours it has been. From the moment we left our hotel, thanks to our extraordinary cruise co-odinator Cathe Offet, we traveled in style in a hummer limo. Needless to say, the kids squealed for joy as the limo approached the hotel and they realized this was our ‘sweet ride’.

The ride was fun, we had our music pumping and one of our favorites and probably most lyrically appropriate song for the moment came on. It was ‘Dynamite’ by Taio Cruz. We sang at the top of our lungs, threw our hands in the air whilst singing:
Ayo, Gotta let go.
I wanna celebrate and live my life.
Saying Ayo,
Baby, let’s go.

Having lost our father/husband/grandfather only 1.5 years ago and being on this trip (all 16 of us) with our mother/grandmother. Singing about celebrating and living our lives seemed so very appropriate. As we sang I nonchalantly put my sunglasses on to hid the tear I was shedding. My tears were of loss and they were tears of joy. Sitting beside me was my mother. I leaned over and whispered, “Mum, if I don’t say it enough this week, I’m having a really good time and it’s only started.” She turned to me, smiled and with that we both threw our hands in the air again and sang “Ayo, Gotta let go. I wanna celebrate and live my life.’

The limo turned a corner and the singing quickly turned to gasps and ooooohs and aaaahhhhs. We all got a glimpse of our temporary home. She was magnificent. A knife, could have cut the excitement in the limo.

We were dropped off with our luggage and handed over to the porters who took care of us, and our luggage. Our first encounter with the ships staff was with these incredible porters who managed to get our belongings from land to sea with ease. I was pleasantly surprised at how beautifully they treated us. Their smiles told a story and it was a story that was good. Their job isn’t the most glamorous but they were so happy and so attentive to our every need. The attention to detail even at this point surprised me.

Our first few hours involved us getting acquainted with the ship and that means walking and as the kids say ‘exploring’. Within an hour of being onboard our kids (all the cousins) managed to formulate their own (teens, tweens and those under 10). They all hiked around and quickly found out as much as they could and came back to report their findings. Now, 24 hours later they are pros. They are getting around everywhere by themselves. The kids are wise; they are all well traveled so they know the dos and don’ts when it comes to the stuff we all worry about. They are having a ball.

Now I sit writing this update from the comfort of my private deck. My sweet Ella is having a quick nap following an extraordinary day on Princess Cayes Island. After hours of sun and surf our youngest cruiser in the group needs to recharge in order to be ready for tonight. On her list of ‘to do’s’ is the kids club (it looks like so much fun) and for our aspiring artist a trip through the art gallery. Gabriel (9) is enjoying his limitless shakes and smoothies, he and his cousin Tristan have also found the Pizza Bar (Tristan plans to write a note to the Pizza chef complimenting him on his Pizza skills). Sophia (12) is enjoying a break at one of the many pools onboard. She and her two cousins (Isabel and Emma) will no doubt be sitting poolside giggling and having the time of their lives. They’ve decided that tonight it’s movies under the stars for all of us. We can hardly wait.

So friends I have to report Princess For a Day has been pretty extraordinary. This is our first cruise and everyone from the youngest (6) to the eldest (72) loves it. I can’t wait to share more.

Pics are on the way….. Stay tuned!

Susan