The Best Vacation Ever {Part 3}

Part 1 and Part 2!

Friday, July 8th

The first of two consecutive days at sea. The day consisted of eating (duh)…

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…walking around by myself…

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…relaxing…

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Christie and her dad got 1st and 2nd in the mini golf competition!

…the Men’s International Belly Flop Competition (as ridiculous and hilarious as it sounds), and some other random activities. But the highlight by far

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I MET US THE DUO.

If you don’t know about them, they’re a married couple who sing together, and they’re pretty famous. Daliza and I saw them in concert two years ago in Orlando!

Here’s how this went down:

I’m walking along the “Boardwalk” with my friend Monica and her parents. I catch Carissa (the girl pictured above) from the corner of my eye walking with her parents. I do a double take and see her famous tattoo on her arm, but I’m not 100% sure it’s her. Monica and her parents don’t know who Us the Duo is, but they encourage me to see if it’s really them (after 30 seconds of “ahhhhh I don’t know…it’s fine…I won’t go…but wait…”).

I decide to stalk Carissa for a minute, and in less than 10 seconds I see Michael (her husband with an unmistakable curly man bun) sitting at the tequila bar, ordering some daiquiris. I go in for the kill:

I’m so sorry to bother you, but are you Us the Duo? (I knew it was them for sure at that point, but I thought it was polite to ask anyway.)

They introduce themselves (as if I didn’t already know their names, haha) and we all hug. Carissa’s dad takes a couple photos for us, and my cheeks are TREMBLING as I smile for the photo. What I feel like:

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They ask for my name twice and say, “Hopefully we get to see you around the ship again!” I cry inside.

A quick couple small slices of pizza before a 2.5-hour show that afternoon.

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Now, it was not my intention to stalk Michael and Carissa (I’m a fangirl, but I try to be cool, ya know), but my parents coincidentally grabbed seats right next to Us the Duo and their families for the matinee showing of Mamma Mia! I came in late because I went to the bathroom, so when I saw that they were right there, I freaked out.

a) It’s Us the Duo again.

b) They definitely think I’m stalking them.

c) I had to squeeze past them in the aisle, probably smelling a little bit like sweat and ocean spray.

I got to chat with Carissa’s dad though, who said my parents are amazing dancers (he saw them at the club the night before lol).

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should have changed out of my athletic clothes // peep Michael and Carissa doing their social media celebrity thing

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nervously playing with my pinky ring

I have to take a second to thank Madre for loving taking photos as much as I do and thus for capturing these special moments.

Anyway, Mamma Mia! was Broadway quality and so fun to watch!

After a 16 minute workout at the fitness center, I showered for that time of day again…DINNER.

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Royal Seafood Salad for appetizer

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Thai Chicken

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Classic soufflé with vanilla Grand Marnier sauce

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shared a couple bites of Ben’s baked Alaska

I’m a new fan of soufflé! I think the table shared one order of prime rib that night as well. I had a couple bites, and it was divine. This vacation assured me that I’m not becoming a vegan anytime soon.

Later that night, we went to two game shows that were wildly entertaining. My parents turned into different people during those game shows.

At around 11pm, my parents headed to the Dazzles club for some more dancing, so Ben and I joined them. Guess who walked in on me while I was doing the Macarena with only one other little boy on the dance floor???

Us

the

Duo.

I kinda sorta danced the Electric Slide with them later. At the end of the night, my family got to meet them and chat with their family as well. Me all night in my head: “Is this real!?!?”
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Michael’s mom wanted to hop into the photo!

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“He dislocated his shoulder on the FlowRider.”

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Michael and Carissa are incredibly down to earth and easy to talk to! (p.s. they’re tight with Tori Kelly NBD.)

What a top-notch way to end a Friday, am I right?

Saturday, July 9th

Last day on the cruise 😦

I decided to go way out of my comfort zone for breakfast and get mostly savory foods, including something called “vegetable upma”— some sort of grain with vegetables and spices. I loved it!

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also pineapple + split a blueberry muffin with mom

I somehow got lost from everyone when we split ways after breakfast, so I spent some time planning out these blog posts and writing thank you letters to some of the crew members who served us the whole week. Eventually, I went to lunch and rock climbing with Monica and my uncle.

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Took some groovy photos with Mort the squirrel (“jungle rat/mouse lemur”) from the movie Madagascar.

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Over at the fitness center, I did an impromptu cardio workout on the bike for 30 minutes while Monica and Ben cheered me on. When they left, I stayed to do an upper body and core workout.

Our last dinner of the cruise was delightful and as epic as the first dinner we had on the cruise.

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scallops and chorizo

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roasted turkey with brussels sprouts, carrots, potatoes apple bread dressing (!!!) and cranberry sauce added on the side later

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warm apple strudel a la mode

The night ended with a game show based on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”, where Ben went up for only one round because neither he nor the audience knew the shape of a British twenty-pence coin.

(It’s a freaking heptagon, by the way.)

We stayed in the same venue afterwards to spectate some superstar karaoke. Holy talent on that ship!

And finally, dancing at Dazzles as our last huzzah! With our friends Us the Duo, of course (I promise we were there before they arrived…although I left and came back after Ben called me that they were there. I’m creepy, I get it).

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This was the singer at the Dazzles nightclub all week. She and her husband and their band are super talented! It was actually so sweet to see Michael and Carissa cheering them on from the dance floor like fans too.

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#UsTheFamily

I want to go to their Dublin show so badly this fall, but they’re sold out!

In case it wasn’t obvious, this cruise was the experience of a lifetime. Thank you to all who made it happen, especially my parents ♥︎

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Sunday, July 10th

We had our last breakfast on the cruise at 6 am before disembarking.

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My family went to Mass before we met up with our friends in Miami for some tourism and lunch.

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Miami Beach

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walking in 92 degrees at 10 AM should not happen more than once a year

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Farmers’ Market beauties

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a parking meter that accepts change for feeding people who are homeless!

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fresh rolls, lettuce wraps, and green papaya salad for lunch

Our families parted ways after lunch and a sweaty walk back to our cars. Four hours of driving later, dinner was Greek!

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falafel to share

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chicken salad for me

Ben and Jerry’s awaited us the freezer (you can’t out-dessert me).

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a few spoonfuls from each 🙂

Monday, July 11th

Pop and I had a 4:30 AM wakeup for our flight back to New York. Madre kindly dropped us off at the airport, where I had a salad with walnuts, tomatoes, mandarin oranges, and blue cheese for breakfast (my brain was not functioning quite right at that hour, and I really wanted veggies).

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In flight snack:

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I slept the whole flight, not surprisingly. Back at home in NY, I did a quick 12 minute workout before showering and heading to a full day of work!

Back to reality, and I cannot complain at all.


These were some looooooooong recap posts. I’m keeping these posts as my “vacation diary”, but I hope you guys enjoyed reading too!

So tell me:

Have you ever run into a celebrity unexpectedly?

Have you heard of Us the Duo?

Do you like soufflé?

Have you seen your parents become different people in a different setting?

The Best Vacation Ever {Part 2}

Click here for part 1!

Wednesday, July 6th

Next port of call— St. Thomas!

Breakfast at Windjammer first, though.

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On land, we took a van tour around the island, checking out a view of Magen’s Bay, as well as the biggest gift shop on St. Thomas (which is not saying a whole lot, but it is big!). The driving on the island is…uh…thrilling.

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Some fresh coconut water/meat at the vantage point. It’s actually not as amazing as I thought it would be, but it was still as fresh as you can get. The guy who sold it to us climbs the coconut trees every morning himself!

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The gift shop has these “world famous” banana daiquiris (I got a virgin one, which was tastier than the rum one IMO).

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I actually tried this same banana daiquiri five years ago when my family went on a cruise after my brother’s high school graduation. #TBT, shall we?

banana daiquiri

2011

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2016

Oh look, they changed the sign to make “world famous” bigger. And Ben feat. the sweaty sling showed up this time!

Iguanas roamed the island. Think they’re the same ones we saw five years ago? This one looks kinda like old.

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Our driver took us downtown, where we ate some Caribbean food for lunch. Ben and I shared this fantastic curry chicken with plantains and steamed veggies on the side. The chicken was so tender!

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Also, on land, we always found a place with wifi. You should have seen us— at the table, all looking down at our phones. It was pretty sad and embarrassing in retrospect, but we had the whole rest of the week to talk with one another, phone-free (excuses, excuses, I know).

Then we walked over two hot and sweaty miles back to the cruise ship.

We did some more activities and relaxing before another three five-course meal. But salad and surprise celebratory cake don’t really count as courses, right? I kid; it was immense.

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The “kids”‘ favorite appetizer of the cruise: crab cakes! Christie: “I could just have ten of these for my meal.”

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salad with pears, walnuts, and blue cheese

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parsley-crusted cod with lobster sauce, veggie jasmine rice, and more veggies

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My uncle and aunt surprised my parents with an anniversary cake, so we all had a slice (it was such good cake!!)

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…and some of us had second dessert. This was a strawberry shortcake parfait of sorts.

No regrets, honestly.

If I’m not mistaken, we watched a sensational water acrobatics show called “OceanAria” that night. Crazy amazing diving, stunts, choreography, and concept.

(p.s. we also watched a marvelous ice skating show the previous night, but I forgot to include it in yesterday’s post!)

Afterwards, there was a big ol’ 70s party around the ship! Lots of hip thrusting by men dressed up as the Village People, singing, and of course, grooving 🙂 I had no 70s attire, but this denim jumpsuit was close enough.

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You guys should have seen Pop dancing to those 70s tunes. #PopMovesAndGrooves ← this will become a thing.

Our wonderful stateroom attendant folded some towel animals that made my heart happy. This anteater-crane-fish was my favorite.

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This is what I look like when I’m in my room by myself

Thursday, July 7th

St. Kitts! This was our favorite port of the three!

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had to do crow somewhere

We took another scenic taxi tour across the island. At one stop, we got to hold a monkey in a freaking diaper next to a donkey dressed in dreads and sunglasses. Everyday things by everyday people.

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Perhaps he was pooping at this instant, but I’ll never know

It was $2 for each person to take a picture with the monkey, but I think it was 100% worth it. He (she?) had really soft paws.

Next stop was Cockleshell Beach! Ugh, what a gorgeous place. Beach surrounded by mountains = the dream.

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God’s glory everywhere

If you check Instagram later, you can find some moves and grooves that Madre helped me film on the beach! (I didn’t actually do a full workout because people were staring AND I wanted to just chill.)

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Lunch at Windjammer back on the boat.

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I think a nap, rock climbing, and 16 minute workout eventually happened at the fitness center.

Dinner that night was excellent!

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seafood ceviche

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shared some of Ben’s spinach dip with chips and bread

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ricotta and spinach shell pasta (I almost never order straight up pasta dishes, but I’m so glad I did this night!)

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warm chocolate cake a la mode

GUYS. I’m not a huge fan of chocolate, but this warm chocolate cake was the most moist and heavenly chocolate cake of my life.

We watched the headliner show of the week, which was an incredibly talented a cappella group called VoicePlay (← check out their Youtube channel!). I loved them! I wanted to take a photo with them, because they’re superstars in their own right, AND they might be mega famous one of these days 😉

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Dancing, game shows, walking around and/or karaoke spectating probably happened later on.


Last part coming tomorrow!

So tell me:

Have you ever held a monkey or other exotic animal before?

What is the best chocolate cake you’ve ever eaten? What is the best show you’ve seen in the past year?

What did you eat for lunch yesterday?

The Best Vacation Ever {Part 1}

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…I was wondering if after all these days you’d like to meet. To go over…EVERYTHING.

I couldn’t get it out of my head, I’m sorry. I’m done with that joke now.

But seriously, HELLO! I am no longer cruising through the deep blue sea, but I’m happy to be back to a routine. My family and our close friends were on the Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas last week for a fantastic vacation. That ship is a city on water, guys. A freaking masterpiece.

Without further ado, here’s part one of three (maybe four?) recaps of just the highlights of what I deem to have been the best vacation ever. Grab some popcorn if you so wish.

Friday, July 1st

Pop and I had a 9 pm flight that was delayed for three hours (guess that’s a lowlight, not a highlight).

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We killed a little bit of that time by walking through the parking lot with our luggages. This was actually Pop’s idea! #PopMovesAndGrooves

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Saturday, July 2nd

Madre and Ben picked us up at the Orlando airport at around 2 AM. I was half asleep and groggy, but Pop was basically sprinting out of the gate to find them. In my head: “Pop, 2 AM is NOT a time to have pep in your step.”

Breakfast at around 9:30.

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quick cook steel cut oats with peach, banana, and nuts

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sunny egg

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a piece of “banana bread” (a strange but satisfying texture)

3 rounds of this circuit workout with a 36# bar. That Florida humidity makes me feel like a soggy vegetable.

Lunch before heading to Disney’s Blizzard Beach water park with Ben. He worked there last summer, so he got some free park pass perks, and I got to mooch off the benefits.

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There was a 1.5-hour thunderstorm safety closure, so Ben and I were sitting out in pouring rain in our bathing suits for a while, because we were wet anyway (we also forgot towels because we’re geniuses). But we still managed to ride all the slides once they reopened!

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Showered and dried myself with a single tank top.

Dinner at Crazy Buffet (pronounced cuh-RAZY, according to Ben) with good family friends! I ate one plate of real food, dessert second, and then another salad last. Needed to make sure I had room for dessert, ya know?

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Sunday, July 3rd

Early wake-up to drive to Fort Lauderdale for Mass before boarding the ship.

Once we met up with our family friends, we boarded and booked it straight for the lunch buffet. We were a little excited for the cruise food.

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The first of many. Lunches were usually all the veggies, some sort of curry with rice…

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…and a dessert that I really did NOT need to eat.

Our tiny stateroom was cozy, and our balcony overlooked the “Boardwalk” area of the ship. So cool.

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Of course, we had to explore this monster of a ship. I still don’t think I covered the whole entire thing over the course of a week.

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Pop was walking on the track at this time, I think #PopMovesAndGrooves

Oh man, this is where I start feeling sad because I miss it.

We were served a three course meal for dinner every. single. night. It was decadent and so delicious. You would think that I would feel full and bloated during the trip, but nay! On the contrary (ew, okay I’ll stop talking like that), my stomach felt GREAT the whole vacation. And I don’t care about having a flat belly, but it was actually flatter than ever.

Know what that means?

  • I’m not lactose-intolerant (I had so much ice cream on the cruise).
  • My bloating/GI discomfort comes from stress and eating as quickly as I can during my busy day.

Will work on that. But back to this cruise food. Three courses for EACH PERSON (sometimes even four if we were feeling two appetizers, because it was all included ← dangerous). Night 1:

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eggplant artichoke puff pastry tart

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orange “mojo” sauce pork chop

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carrot cake!

We also shared a lot of our food with one another, just so we could taste all the delicious flavors. Classy gluttons, I say.

I don’t remember what else we did that night, but I’m sure it was a blast.

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p.s. when we walked through this “Royal Promenade” area, there was ~included~ pizza, sandwiches, water, coffee, tea, desserts, and other snacks all day #help

Monday, July 4th

Breakfasts at the “Windjammer Marketplace” consisted of oatmeal with some combo of eggs, bacon, corned beef hash, and/or yogurt with fruit.

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topped with peanut butter later (yes, I did bring my own jar of Jif Natural)

First port — Nassau, Bahamas.

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“what do we do with it?”

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mannequin’s eyebrows impressively on fleek

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view from the ship as we sailed away

We didn’t do too much in Nassau except some walking and a little bit of underwhelming beachin’. It was a beautiful day though, and the waters were so clear!

Back on the boat, we celebrated America with some free pre-lunch flag cake that greeted the masses in front of Windjammer’s doors (not tantalizing at all for hungry tourists waiting on line for a table).

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‘Twas delicious cake, I must say.

Vegetables for lunch, please!

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salad, roasted carrots and sweet potatoes, turkey burger with mushrooms and caramelized onions

The fitness center on the ship was great. I think I was most excited about the kettlebells, which I used in my workout on Monday. There were also TRX’s, but the fitness center lady reprimanded me for using it without a certified TRX instructor.

I forget exactly what I did on Monday, but I know it involved kettlebell swings, pushups, sumo squats, Russian twists, jump lunges, and BOSU ball stuff.

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PSA: Stretch, por favor

Monday night was formal night! AKA the night Alison gets into something other than athletic clothes.

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Fun fact: We went on our first cruise ever with Christie and Monica (pictured above) and their parents 12 years ago. Naturally, we did a then and now photo.

Everyone nailed it, but I’m WAY off.

Dinner that night was delicious, but not quite as good as the first night.

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one of my favorite appetizers: “Roman Vignolo Salad” with arugula, edamame, green beans, tomatoes, prosciutto, artichokes, and parmesan

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sole with a tomato caper sauce

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butter almond ice cream

I believe we saw an acrobatics show that night— Royal Caribbean’s original “Blue Planet”. Very entertaining and impressive! Followed by a super late night comedy show, which made me laugh until my abs hurt.

Tuesday, July 5th

We were at sea all day, so we slept in before a sit-down breakfast to change it up a bit. We decided that we all liked the buffet more though (mostly because there were more options).

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smoked salmon and herb egg white omelette 

Ben, my uncle, and I gave the FlowRider a go later on. If you’ve never seen a Royal Caribbean commercial, the FlowRider is essentially a surfing simulator on the ship. There are two ways you can do it— boogie board on your stomach (easier) or surfboard on your feet (harder).

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I don’t know this girl, but this is what it looks like.

A few comments about the FlowRider:

  • It’s a lot harder than it looks.
  • 10-year-olds show me up.
  • Falling off doesn’t hurt, but being swooshed up to the top like a half-dead fish can be painful…

…and it did do some damage to my brother. Poor Ben dislocated his shoulder on his surfboard run.

I’ll spare the image for privacy reasons, but long story short: The doctor on board popped it back in (I contemplated popping it back in when he first told us about it, but…I’m not that dumb). He was given a sling to wear for a while, he lost a little bit of function (guess who cut his food the rest of the trip? :D), but he’s okay, thank God.

After all the excitement, I went to eat a late lunch by myself at Windjammer.

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A few activities and maybe a nap led us to dinner.

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Ben and I shared the caprese salad + the arancini for appetizer

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pork tenderloin with provolone potatoes (*angels singing*) and vegetables

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favorite dessert of the trip: bread and butter pudding a la mode ➔ it was like a cross between creme brûlée and bread pudding

While Madre and Pop were at the “Love and Marriage Game Show” at night, Ben and I decorated the stateroom for the ‘rents anniversary the next day. Ben was the brain behind the beauty of the setup!

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When Madre and Pop came back late that night, they were so surprised and touched. Woohoo! Happy 25th to the lovely couple 🙂


Part 2 coming tomorrow! Holy toledo, this is quite an epic recap.

So tell me:

Have you ever been on a cruise?

Does your stomach feel better on vacation, even with more food?

What did you Americans do for Fourth of July?

Have you ever dislocated your shoulder?

What was the best thing you ate last week?

More content = more questions for you. Let’s chat, please; it’s been a while!