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.
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.
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.