S: Vacation 2011: Destin, Orlando, Bahamas
FC: Vacation 2011
2: We arrived in Destin on Thursday afternoon. We spent the afternoon and most of Friday hanging out on the beach.
5: A trip to the beach wouldn't be complete without playing in the sand. Grant, Mark, and Gavin built a pretty intense sand castle while Elaine and Shannon sculpted a sand elephant just for Elisabeth.
6: The Baccarini's moved to Florida in 2010; so we invited Jimi to meet up with us and hang out while we were in Destin. It was great seeing him again. | JIMI
7: Dinner on the Pier
8: After dinner, we said goodbye to Jimi and went to play miniature golf. They even had elephants...which Elisabeth loved.
9: Universal Studios
10: On Saturday, we left Destin and drove to Orlando so we could spend Sunday at Universal Studios. Suess Landing was very cute and whimsical.
11: Taking a rest and waiting for the Eighth Voyage of Sinbad Stunt Show to begin.
12: Wizarding World of Harry potter | The older three kids decided they wanted to watch all the Harry Potter movies before the final movie was released in July 2011. They became huge fans! So as we began planning our vacation for the summer, they really wanted to go to Universal's Islands of Adventure just to see "Harry Potter world." It was amazing! The entire area was decorated perfectly, the butter beer was delicious, Hogwart's Castle was intriguing, and "Harry Potter and the Forbidden Adventure" was truly the best amusement park attraction we had yet to experience.
14: We had such a fun day at Universal's Islands of Adventure. Some of our favorite rides, in addition to Harry Potter, were the Incredible Hulk and the Dueling Dragons roller coasters. Poseidon's Fury was a great show to experience as was the Spiderman 3-D.
15: Monarch of the Seas
16: On Monday, we boarded the Monarch of the Seas and set sail on our 4-night Bahamian Cruise.
17: Our table in the dining room | Surprisingly for all of us, our ship was hosting 300 Argentinian girls who were celebrating "Quinceanera". Much to Grant's pleasure, they all seemed to like Justin Beiber and Grant had just learned to play several Beiber songs on his guitar, which he had brought with him on the cruise. Because of this, Grant was always ready to go out on his own while on the ship. On the third night of the cruise, we sent him back to the room to get Gavin ready for bed. A bit later when the rest of us came down to the room, we turned the corner to find Gavin (with his pj's on), 10-15 Argentinian girls, and Grant with his guitar sitting in the hallway outside our rooms. Grant had (accidentally) locked himself and Gavin out of the rooms, so they decided to have a little jam session in the hallway.
19: On Tuesday morning, the ship stopped at Coco Cay--Royal Caribbean's private island in the Bahamas--for a day at the beach. We took a tender to the island where we spent the day kayaking, snorkeling, and hanging out on the beach.
21: We took a kayak tour over to another small island that was about 1/2 mile away. When we got there, we got out of our kayaks to stretch our legs. Someone found a pretty good-sized sea star; Elaine wasn't a bit apprehensive about holding it. After we returned from kayaking, we rented snorkeling gear and swam around the reef. There were several sunken objects such as a plane, part of a ship, and a cannon. We saw a manta ray, several conch, a jelly fish, and many colorful fish. | After a strenuous day kayaking and snorkeling, Grant takes a little nap. | Elisabeth snorkeling. The underwater camera didn't take very good pictures though.
22: formal night | We spent as much time out on the beach as we could and almost missed dinner. We rushed back to our room and quickly changed into our fancy clothes for formal night. (Not everyone was happy about having their picture taken though.)
23: towel art
24: Wednesday morning we woke up at Nassau, Bahamas. We decided we would spend the day sightseeing on the island. | Customs and the Welcome Center where we had to pass to leave and return to the ship | The ship had a great kid's program that Gavin loved going to called Adventure Ocean. He begged us to go back almost as soon as we picked him up each day. The day we were in Nassau, Gavin asked if he could stay on the ship and go to Adventure Ocean. Mark told him that we were going to go sightseeing and shopping and he could chose which he'd rather do. Without hesitation, he chose to stay and play on the ship.
25: Elaine really wanted to have her hair braided. So one of the first things we did after leaving the ship in Nassau was to find a hair-braider. Shannon negotiated a price, and Elaine got her hair braided. The hair-braider had Shannon slide the money secretly into her hair case so none of the other customers would see how good of a deal she gave us. Either way, Elaine's hair was very cute!
26: While Shannon was negotiating with the hair braider, Mark negotiated a deal to rent three scooters for us to drive around the island. This turned out to be such a fun idea. Mark, Shannon, and Grant drove while Elaine and Elisabeth switched off as passengers. We drove around Nassau seeing some of the historic sights, visiting a couple open-air markets, and viewing the beautiful beaches.
27: Fort Charlotte--one of several forts built on the island to defend it from invaders
28: Exploring a cave | A throne of shells
29: The 65 steps and the narrow passage at the bottom of the staircase were hand-carved from the limestone by slaves in the 1700's as an escape route for the English commander in case the island was attacked. Almost a hundred years later, the staircase was named for Queen Victoria who ended slavery in the Bahamas. At the bottom of the stairs along the walls, local vendors set up their booths and sell their wares. A local "historian" named Anthony met us at the top of the stairs and offered to share the story of the staircase before we walked down. He was very entertaining and funny and even helped us find a shortcut to get back to the ship when we were finished. | queen's staircase
30: Wednesday evening the ship wasn't setting sail again until 11:00 pm; so after dinner, we decided to go back to the island for a walk. However, Gavin really wanted to go back to Adventure Ocean, and Grant wanted to hang out with some of the teens he had met on the ship. So Shannon, Mark, Elisabeth, and Elaine headed out. We met a taxi driver who offered to take us over to Atlantis--the world-famous resort on Nassau--and give us a short tour. Hoping he was trustworthy, we hopped in his taxi. True to his word, he drove us over to Atlantis and showed us around the aquariums, casino, and main hall of the resort. | atlantis