Here’s a quick overview of who went so you can get an idea of our group dynamics:
Kayla is the bride to be. She works at Florida Fish & Wildlife (FWC) and is pretty outgoing and very nice to everyone. Kayla obviously is friends with everyone that came.
Krysta is the maid of honor and Kayla’s sister. She is a hair stylist and is one of the most outgoing people in our group. She loves to break out the dance moves and is definitely a partier.
Katie is not in the wedding but is a friend of Krysta and Kayla and will be helping to style the hair for the bridesmaids. She is quiet a lot but probably mostly because she had only met Krysta and Kayla before.
Cari is one of the bridesmaids and she works with Kayla at FWC in Tallahassee. She’s outgoing and doesn’t hesitate to voice her opinions. She also loves to make up crazy dance moves.
Jen is a bridesmaid and also works at FWC with Cari and Kayla but not in the same office. She’s nice and fun and she likes to sew! I’m hoping Jen will join our Shoebox Swap :)
Lisa is a bridesmaid and has been friends with Kayla since high school. She is a partier during the day but usually ready for bed early. Not a big dancer but very outgoing and always has a funny story to tell.
Liz is not in the wedding but has been friends with Kayla since Kayla and Nate started dating because Liz’s boyfriend is roommates with Nate. She is super silly and awesome – always up to go do something fun and she has no sensor – she’ll say whatever she’s thinking (which I love).
Mel is a bridesmaid and has been friends with Kayla since she started dating Nate. Mel lives in Jacksonville which is about halfway between Nate and Kayla’s house so they frequently met at her house to visit. Mel is also my sister-in-law (well basically…technically she’s the wife of my boyfriend’s brother).
Ashley – that’s me. You already know me :)
Thursday 1/26 – At Sea
After several errands, we finally got to the port on Thursday and waited patiently in line to go through security and get on the ship. Once we got on the ship we immediately went to go get food and hang out on the deck. Before the ship actually left we had to do the muster drill. We tried to hide in the room but they must have heard us talking from the hall because they came in the room and told us we had to go to the drill. So we went to the silly drill and then waved goodbye as the ship left the port. I had never sailed from the Jacksonville port before and it was a lot different from sailing out of Port Canaveral or Miami because Jacksonville is pretty far inland (unlike the other ports). It takes at least an hour (maybe longer) before we were actually in the ocean and headed towards the Bahamas. It was kind of a neat trip though because you get to see all the fancy houses that sit right on the water (I think they are on the St. John’s river but I’m not certain).
We mostly just relaxed and hung out on the deck and in the hot tub for the afternoon. Around 6pm ish we all went back to the rooms to start getting ready for our dinner. We had the 8:15pm dinner slot each night and our table held exactly 9 so it was perfect for our group. I do usually enjoy meeting new people when you share a table but, since I didn’t know most of the girls, it was hard enough just trying to get to know everyone on the cruise. Dinner was delicious – everyone was so excited about trying lots of things and being able to order whatever they wanted and as much as they wanted. I think the food is better on Royal Caribbean but it was still pretty tasty. To be fair, I have only been on a 7 day Royal Caribbean cruise and only 3-4 day Carnival cruises so I am sure the food is better on a 7 day Carnival cruise than the short ones I have been on.
After dinner we went to a short “welcome aboard show” and then headed to the “club” for some dancing. It was fairly busy at the club, it was pretty packed. The staff was being pretty strict about not letting people bring a drink onto the dance floor so we ended up not drinking much – which kind of limits the dancing excitement. You always have more energy to stay up late and keep dancing when you are having a drink or two. But it was still pretty fun :)
Friday 1/27 – Freeport, Bahamas
Melissa, Liz, Jen & I got up, got ready and went to enjoy a tasty sit-down breakfast. We mostly got omelets and fruit and it was very tasty. It took a while before the rest of the girls got up and got ready to go (and then got lunch) but around 1pm we were finally ready to leave the ship and go explore Freeport. The cruise staff made a suggestion of where to go in Freeport so we ended up following their suggestion and taking a taxi to an area with a beach and shopping. We went to the public beach first and the water was very pretty. The beach was not near any resorts or anything so there was nowhere to rent a chair or towel from (I had a single beach towel but the other girls didn’t bring one). It was also pretty windy and chilly so only a couple girls got in the water. The rest of us just laid on the sand, chatting and enjoying the warmth of the sun and the pretty water views. After a while, we went to go to the “shopping area” where they had a big straw market of “handmade goods”. I put this in quotations because some of it was definitely not homemade. Some of the items were homemade but others weren’t. The shops were filled with woven straw bags, jewelry, beach wear, carvings and other knick-knack items. I don’t think anyone really bought anything in Freeport though.
The last taxi left at 5pm so by the time we got back to the ship it was pretty much time to start showering and getting ready for dinner. Friday night was the “formal dinner” so we all wore a “little black dress” except Kayla – Kayla wore a white dress to stand out as the bride. It takes quite a while for nine girls to get ready in two bathrooms. One of the best things I packed was a power strip with a 5ft cord. I strongly recommend bringing one if you ever go on a cruise where you have more than 2-3 people in each room. There was only one power outlet in the room so the power strip made it much easier for everyone to get ready and it allowed everyone to keep their cell phones and cameras charged. We looked great at the formal dinner. They took a group picture that came out awesome except for one thing – Liz had gone to the bathroom and missed the picture :( I would have bought it if the whole group had been in it. We ended the night with more dancing at the club. Lisa and Katie went to bed around 11:30pm and then Melissa and I went to bed around 1:00am. I think the rest of the girls stayed at the club until after it closed at 2am.
Saturday 1/28 – Nassau, Bahamas
We arrived at Nassau around 7am and were able to get off the boat at 8am. Jen, Liz, Melissa and I did breakfast again while everyone else was sleeping in. Everyone got ready a little faster today but it was still around 11am by the time we got off the ship. We spent a couple hours walking through the shops and straw markets again. Most people bought a trinket of some sort. I think Katie and Mel got leather bracelets with their names engraved in them. The lady that makes them uses a Dremel tool to carve your name in it for free when you buy one. Mel even “haggled” them down from $12 to $10 – I was so proud since she usually doesn’t try to haggle at all! Cari, Kayla and Krysta got hats and clutches (and someone might have gotten a fan too). Later Kayla and Cari got some neat earrings that were made from some part of a fish or marine life – they were excited since they both knew what it was made from (I can’t remember what it was called). After spending so much time shopping both in Freeport and Nassau, some of the group was getting anxious to go do something else and see more of the port.
We headed towards Señor Frog’s to get a drink and an appetizer but on the way there, some of the girls saw a booze cruise excursion that they wanted to go on. Kayla, Cari, Krysta, Jen & Lisa went on a big catamaran for a few hours. For $55 they got to ride around on the boat and go snorkeling and to a beach. It also included lunch and unlimited alcohol and drinks. Those of us who were trying not to spend quite so much in the port stayed behind and went to get lunch and relax on the beach. Liz, Katie & Mel got sushi for lunch and I got seafood (Conch, Fish & Shrimp). Lunch was pretty tasty but service was slow so it took a while. Relaxing on the beach was a lot of fun – we all got to talk a lot and I got to know Katie a lot better. When we were with the big group, Katie was really quiet and shy. She was much more talkative and outgoing when it was a smaller group of just a few of us. We also got cute little bracelets for a dollar or two each. We could see where the booze cruise would return from the beach we were relaxing on so when we saw it return we just packed up and walked back towards the dock where they would get off.
When we got to the dock, we found the girls but one of them was missing and the rest were frantically searching for her. We spent an hour or two just looking for the missing girl and waiting to see if she would come meet us. We finally determined that she had gone back to the cruise ship (by herself and without telling anyone) but she wasn’t in the room or anywhere to be found. Since we at least knew she was on the ship, we went back to Señor Frogs for drinks and food. We all ordered appetizers and drinks and hung out for a while. We were going to drink at the bar and do typical bachelorette stuff (this bar is famous for crazy parties and bringing people on stage for silly games and activities) but some of the girls were still pretty stressed and/or upset about the girl who had gone back to the ship without telling anyone. So we headed back to the ship and everyone showered and cleaned up. We missed the formal dinner so those of us who were hungry just went to the buffet and pizza place to get a snack. It was a little too early to go to any of the shows or anything yet so Kayla, Liz and I went to play bingo. It cost $20 to play but I ended up winning $25 so it worked out pretty well for me. It was way more fun than I expected – I kind of want to find a bingo place around here to play now, haha. We also had a little present to give to Kayla – the whole group had chipped in some money to purchase a little bit of lingerie :) I think she was very surprised (and maybe a little embarrassed) but she seemed to like what we picked for her. Liz and I had picked it out at the mall together last week and we had a lot of fun shopping for her.
After dinner, the group went to watch Superstar Karaoke. It was like regular karaoke except they had a live band! The live band made it so much better – they had a guitar, bass guitar, drums and a backup singer. Almost everyone that did karaoke did really well – there were very few trainwrecks (people who obviously couldn’t sing but just wanted to do it for the fun of it). There were two performances that really stand out in my memory but there were many more good ones. One of them was sung by one of the ship’s comedians. He sung “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong and he was amazing! He even did the scratchy voice perfectly. If I didn’t know better, I might have thought he was the original singer of the song! The other performance that was the surprise and highlight of the evening was “Larry”. We weren’t expecting much when Larry took the stage – he looked to be in his late 50’s, was white with a belly and was mostly bald. But then he rapped “Bust a Move” by Young MC and he was awesome too! He knew every word – he didn’t even have to look at the screen. And to top it off, he was bustin’ a move during the whole song. We were shocked and spent the whole time cheering for him (along with the rest of the audience). We stayed and watched karaoke until it ended at 2am and then headed to bed after a long day.
Sunday 1/29 – At Sea
Sunday started just like the other days – breakfast with Melissa, Liz & Jen. Our breakfasts were such a nice way to start the day, I’ll miss them! Sunday was much less structured since there was no port to get off at. We lounged out on the pool deck, sat in the hot tub, played some movie trivia, went to a couple of raffles and went to the newlyweds show. The newlyweds show was very cute and funny. I hope Nate & Kayla get to do one of those shows on their cruise but I’m sad that none of their friends will get to see it if they do (they are going on a cruise for their honeymoon).
We had one last formal dinner and evening out so we decided to go all out. We all dressed up and wore bright orange feather boas and various wigs. Kayla also had a veil on that had a headband shaped like an engagement photo. We went to our formal dinner and confused our poor waiter with the wigs (he couldn’t tell who was who). We took photos with the photographer and Kayla bought a really cute photo where we are holding a picture frame around her face and she’s making a cute expression (and everyone in the group is looking at Kayla instead of at the camera). I didn’t end up buying any group photos because I couldn’t find any that had the whole group and where we all looked good at the same time.
After pictures we did a little bit of dancing and then headed back to Superstar karaoke this time. Except this time we were there to sing, not just to watch :) Kayla and her sister chose “Wannabe” by the Spice Girls and it was pretty funny to watch 8 girls (one didn’t participate) in funny wigs and boas singing a Spice Girls song (you can watch the video of it on my facebook page). By the time we finished karaoke it was after 1am and we had to get up early to get off the boat so we went to bed.
Monday 1/30 – Back to Reality
Mel, Liz and I had to get off the ship as early as possible because Mel’s husband Greg was picking us up on his way to work. After we got back to Mel’s house, we relaxed and waited for the rest of the girls to get there. The best part for me was that my niece Aubrey was really excited to see me and basically dragged me around to play with her the whole morning. We chased each other around the house, played with blocks and pretend food, watched some cartoons and then she wanted me to watch her jumping on the trampoline. It was so cute and it made me so happy that she doesn’t seem to be so shy around me anymore. I even got a kiss goodbye! And I’ll get to see Aubrey and Addison again this coming weekend for Aubrey’s birthday party, yay! After the rest of the girls got back to Mel’s house, we said our goodbyes and then Liz and I headed back to Palm Bay. Of course, we had to stop in Daytona to get Chipotle for lunch first though. The closest Chipotle to our houses is about an hour away so anytime I might be driving by one I make sure to go. After I got home, I really wanted to take a nap but I mustered up enough energy to unpack, do some laundry and wash my car. But once Ryan got home, we relaxed on the couch and watched Heroes (and played on the internet) for the rest of the evening. It was relaxing but I still should have gone to bed earlier because here I am at work (on my lunch break) and I feel like I’m about to fall asleep even though I’ve already had two cans of Diet Mountain Dew.
Overall it was an awesome trip and everyone got along pretty well. No one got lost or fell overboard, everyone tried to make sure Kayla had lots of fun. Thank you so much Krysta for planning and organizing this cruise! I hope Kayla had lots of fun and that it was everything she hoped for in a bachelorette party/cruise.