Monday, March 3, 2014

Take Me Away: Our First Cruise

Hanging out in the ocean
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

I've decided on Mondays to start writing about different trips I've taken through the years.  With snow and ice still hanging around, it's nice to think about a time when temperatures were in the 80's or higher and there was plenty of sand, surf, and stingrays.

Our gang
Flashback to 2000.  I was working in West Lafayette, Indiana at WLFI TV.  The station had recently been purchased by Lin Media.  Under the new ownership, our station would be included with the others in the Circle of Excellence Award.  Because our station was one of the smaller ones in the group, two employees were chosen by their peers to win this award.  Larger stations had more winners.  Long story short, my colleagues picked me as one of the Circle of Excellence Award winners.

The prize was a week long cruise to the Caribbean.  The time away from work didn't count against the winner's vacation time either.  This was mine and Lisa's first cruise, so we were eager to hit the high seas.

We left from Miami in August 2001, four weeks after the birth of our son Mason.  It was hard leaving him behind (kinda), but we knew he was in good hands with my parents.  Our cabin was amazing, as we had a balcony that overlooked the ocean as we headed toward each of our destinations.

Stingray City 
There were four different ports of call on the trip.  Another part of the prize included money to cover some of the excursions.  On our stop in the Cayman Islands, which is by far my favorite tropical place, we went to Stingray City.  As you might expect from the name, there are stingrays everywhere.  They tell you to watch where you walk (you can see the ocean floor) as not to step on a stingray.  We were able to pet them and even feed them fish.  They're like a vacuum sucking the food from your hand.  While we were there I had an island brew of Stingray Beer.  I'm going to assume no stingrays were harmed in the creation of the beer.

Bird brains
We also made stops in Cozumel, Mexico and Ocho Rios, Jamaica.  We visited the historical Mayan ruins in Mexico.  It was something we'd done years earlier with Lisa's family on a trip to Playa Del Carmen.  In Ocho Rios, I remember posing at the base of a waterfall.  There were also people on the island with exotic birds you could pose with. The trip included a port on a private island too.  We just lounged on the beach that day and splashed around in the water, loving every minute of this special vacation.

We made great memories on that trip and had a blast.  It was the first of several cruises we've taken since then.  If you're looking to plan a vacation, consider giving my friend Trisha May a call.  She's a travel agent who really does have A Love For Travel.   

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