Return to the Caribbean

The last time I saw the Caribbean was the day I hauled my bags to the airport and flew away from St. Maarten where I had been living for two years for Basic Sciences, to move back to the states to start my clinical rotations. That was in the fall of 2011. It wasn’t until nearly four years later, this past month, when I returned again. I am now a family medicine intern moving into my second year of residency soon. I now have a wife of three years and 1 year-old daughter. It had been quite a busy first year of residency for me, and a busy first year as a working mom for Irene, and we are both thankful to be able to take some time off, relax, and go on our first time abroad as a family.

My brother Justin flew in from California, and my parents, Irene’s parents, Irene’s brother Michael, and our family friends Mr. And Mrs. Johnson came down from Georgia, and together we boarded the Norwegian Getaway, a gargantuan 18-deck ship capable of holding over 5,600 passengers and crew, a floating city on the sea. During the next seven days, our ports of call were St. Thomas (US Virgin Islands), Tortola (British Virgin Islands), and Nassau (Bahamas). Our itinerary did not include St. Maarten, unfortunately, but we were excited to be exploring new islands and places that we have never been.

...and off we go!

…and off we go! Miami, Florida.

Our ship

Our ship, docked on Tortola

2015-05-27 11.12.46

Long Bay, Tortola

Magen's Bay, St. Thomas (US Virgin Islands)

Magen’s Bay, St. Thomas (US Virgin Islands)

For any luxury cruiseliner, the main attraction isn’t the islands they go to, but the ship itself. The ship was the destination. During our seven days, we got to eat some pretty amazing meals, anytime, and however much we wanted. We saw Broadway-type shows (Legally Blonde the Musical and Burn the Floor) at one of the theaters on board. We did a thrilling ropes course on the 18th deck of the ship, high above the sea. We did some rock climbing on the ship, checked out dueling pianos and bands at onboard music venues, hung out with Sponge Bob and Sandy (but Lyra got scared of them), and danced several nights at dinner. We got to go for early morning walks on the track around the perimeter of the ship while we pull into the harbor of new islands. There were seemingly endless possibilities of things to do on the ship. The amazing thing is this was all included already when we paid for the trip.

Pool and water slides on the top deck of the ship.

Pool and water slides on the top deck of the ship.

Atrium of the ship.

Atrium of the ship.

At the Ice Bar on the ship... even our cups were made of ice!

Irene, Justin, and I at the Ice Bar on the ship, which was basically a huge walk-in freezer where everything was made of ice, from the counter tops to the walls and chairs .. even our cups were made of ice!

Dinner at the Tropicana Dining Room with the party.

Our party at one of the dining rooms on board the ship.

Some nice fruit displays on board.

Some nice fruit displays on board.

Ropes course

Ropes course… Pretty scary at first walking on ropes and planks, but lots of fun.

My first time climbing a rock wall, on the ship.

My first time climbing a rock wall, on the ship.

Bingo!

Bingo!

Waterslides at night

Waterslides at night

Traveling with a toddler is not the easiest thing to do. There are sleep schedules, diaper changes, temper tantrums, fussiness, and limitations to activities you can do with a child. Mealtimes are especially hard, as it is inevitable that you will leave the table and floor messy, and meals always take twice the amount of time as it would take without needing to feed a moving target. Nevertheless, it makes us happy to see her experience dipping her feet into the sea for the first time, or learning the word “ocean” while waking up to it everyday. There is a greater joy in having our little one included as part of our experience of this trip, and while our one-year-old may not remember much of it, we will.

Magen's Bay, St. Thomas

Irene, Lyra, and I at Magens Bay, St. Thomas

Paradise Point, St. Thomas

Irene and Lyra at Paradise Point, St. Thomas

Lyra and I feeding seagulls off our balcony

Lyra and I feeding seagulls off our balcony

Lyra and I at breakfast

Lyra and I at breakfast

Lyra chasing chickens in Tortola

Lyra chasing chickens in Tortola

Lyra's chance to have fun in the toddler's playroom.

Lyra’s chance to have fun in the toddler’s playroom.

Irene's parents and us in Nassau. Atlantis resort is in the background.

Irene’s parents and us in Nassau. Atlantis resort is in the background.

Showing Lyra the colorful fish at Atlantis resort.

Showing Lyra the colorful fish at Atlantis resort.

4 comments to Return to the Caribbean

  • Kyle

    Were you on the Getaway on May 23rd? I have been a reader of your blog for years and swore to my partner that I saw you on board, but he wouldn’t let me randomly say hello. Small world! Hope you had a great cruise!

  • Lou

    Dr. Benji, first, congratulations to you for all your success in your professional and personal life.

    I was wondering if you could discuss how to maintain a healthy balance between medical studies and work, health and exercise, as well as personal relationships.

    Thank you very much for all the valuable content and advice you provide.

    • Benji

      Hi Lou,
      Most important is to know your priorities. School should be #1. Make sure you are good with your studies before doing anything else, because in the end of the day, if you don’t get your studying done, you may not reach your career goals, which is the main purpose of being in med school. If you constantly keep yourself caught up in your studies, you will have time and comfort to do anything else.
      Benji

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