I  t  s   a   M  i  r  a c  l  e 


Yes, Mom / Melissa / Nana, who is all the same person, has turned 70!!!
And Kini & Kimi were there along with the other nine family members
to celebrate her birthday aboard the Carnival cruise ship "Miracle."
June 19 - 26, 2005
(Also pictured below is Vlado, our head waiter, who became part of our family during the cruise.)

Sat. 18 || Sun. 19 || Mon. 20 || Tues. 21 || Wed. 22 || Thurs. 23 || Fri. 24 || Sat. 25 || Sun. 26


Saturday 18th - Families gather at the SailPort Waterfronts Suites - Tampa, Florida

Kini and Kimi were very excited to finally be getting on the way and heading to the cruise ship! The families had been planning this trip for almost one year! Melissa and Amy bought everyone a boonie hat and made hatbands for each one with the International flag code (see above) on the front & each person's initials on the back. Everyone looked great in them!

Kimi and I (Kini) thought we better introduce everyone in our group before we start telling our stories:

First is Melissa - she is also known as mom or Nana to her grandchildren and children.
Second is Cooper & Jessica, & their kids, Nathan & Rachel. Cooper is Melissa's son.
Next is Amy & Bob. They are our adoptive parents - Amy is Melissa's daughter.
And finally, Jennifer & Scott, last to be listed because Jennifer is Melissa's youngest.

Cooper & Jessica, & their two children, Nathan & Rachel, left for Tampa on Thursday the 16th. They wanted to have a few days together before we got on the ship. Cooper rented a car and picked all of us up at the airport. Thanks Cooper!

After a swim in the SailPort pool & a good night's sleep, the 11 of us were off to the ship!



Sunday 19th - Board the ship, set sail at 4:00pm
Kini & Kimi are checking out the Miracle's ship map that is by every elevator. We boarded the ship on the Promenade Deck, level 2. Our rooms were on level 5, & the 3 pools were on the Lido Deck, level 9.

The ship is 963 feet long, and has 11 stories. It will hold 2,124 guests and we heard that there are about 1,000 people on the staff to take care of the guests.

After boarding the ship, Scott, Nana, Amy & Nathan headed to the bow, or front of the boat, to watch us set sail. Kimi asked where the sails were. Amy explained that the words, "set sail" were used along time ago for big sailing ships, and although our ship uses a big engine and not sails, people still use the old language.


Monday 20th - Fun day at sea

We all spent most of the first day exploring the ship and catching up with each other's lives. The kids had a great time in the pools & the adults had a great time watching them.


The first thing Kini & Kimi wanted to do was ride the glass elevators. They went up 10 stories so that you could look down. There was also a glass staircase that was really scary to climb!


Then K&K got their picture taken with Bob in front of another elevator that had inlayed wooden doors.


Tuesday 21st - Nana's 70th birthday, Stingray City - Georgetown, Grand Cayman

Today is Nana's 70th Birthday!

We all got up early, put on our hats & got on a tender to go ashore on Grand Cayman. A "tender" is a small boat used to take people to & from the land.



Cooper, Jessica, Nathan & Rachel are on shore in Grand Cayman with the ship Miracle behind them.   We had a bit of time to kill before going to Stingray City so the kids and Jessica & Cooper played on the shore for a while. The little ship in the middle of the photo is a replica of a pirate ship - everyone loved that!

We all boarded a smaller boat to go to Stingray City. There were only K&K, our family of 9, and 4 others from our ship. We heard that the trips run by the Carnival Cruise Line had BIG boats with LOTS of people on them - we were glad to be on a little boat that we booked through ShoreTrips.com!

Our boat captain was great! Nana was impressed that he drove the boat using his toes! It is a bit hard to see in the last photo, but he has the throttle (like a gas pedal in a car) tied with a string to keep the boat going at a steady pace. Kimi, Bob, Amy, & I were used to seeing this on our other adventures.


  After a short snorkel trip, we finally arrived at Stingray City!!!! K&K looked at the water and saw HUGE black shapes swimming in the water. They were afraid! Bob & Amy had been to Stingray City scuba diving in 1995, a year before they met K&K, so they told K&K about stingrays & calmed them down.
Stingrays are related to the sharks even though stingrays have very flat bodies. Neither one has bones - their skeletons are made of cartilage which is hard and flexible. They look like they fly through the water with their "wings" & have long tails with sharp barbs on them.

K&K watched Nana get very excited! She had swam with dolphins in Hawaii & Florida, but never with stingrays.


This is a picture of Nana with a female stingray. The females can get up to six feet, but the males stay much smaller. Both are very soft and rub against you the whole time you are in the water! They were looking for food.

Nathan was also very excited about snorkeling with the stingrays - he hopped right in the water and started to swim around.

Their eyes are on the top of their head, so they have to find food by smell. They eat shellfish, squid, and shrimp. We fed them chopped up squid. We would put some squid in our hand and open it flat, the stingrays would fly by and suck the food into their mouth. They don't have teeth, but they do leave bruised hicky marks on your skin if they suck too hard. Nathan ended up with one by his elbow!  

  Rachel is a GREAT swimmer - she can swim across a pool with no help and is just turning 4 years old. However, Rachel wasn't to thrilled with the stingrays or, it seemed, the ocean itself.  K&K wondered if being in the middle of the ocean on a boat was a bit frightening for her. K&K sometimes think the big ocean is scary too.

Our leader picked up a stingray and held it up - the stingray spit out salt water right into Nathan's face!! He did it to Nana & Jenny too - Nana thought it was funny - Jenny, well, she wasn't as impressed.  :)

Stingray City started many years ago when the fishermen would catch & clean their fish, tossing the waste overboard. The stingrays would swim up about 200 feet from the ocean depths and feed on the leftovers.

Many years later divers started to feed the stingrays and eventually found that more people wanted to do this. The Grand Caymans are known around the world for Stingray City. We heard that over 100,000 people come to feed the stingrays a year!!


These are pictures from Bob & Amy's scuba diving trip to Grand Cayman in 1995, a year before they met K&K! They had a lot of fun!

That evening we celebrated Nana's birthday....

To start off dinner we put all Nana's presents on the table. Nathan & Rachel were very excited! Then Jennifer ordered escargot which is a fancy French name for cooked snails in a sauce. YUK!!!! The middle picture shows Bob feeding Nana one - the last picture shows that she is not sure she was thrilled by the taste. Nana will try anything!
Nathan & Rachel gave Nana a hand painted vase. It was beautiful! And it had their initials on the side! Scott gave Nana really cool shoes. They are plastic, weigh nothing, & are great for gardening & ship decks! She will love them outdoors! Jennifer really surprised Nana. Nana had some monogrammed dresses she wore in the Philippines in the late 1960's. Jen quilted them into the most beautiful hand bag we have ever seen!
Kini got so excited by opening presents that he climbed up on Nana's head. Rachel loved that! Nathan decided that Kimi could climb up on his shoulder and play for a while. Rachel rescued Kimi from Nana's head and let her climb up too.  

Kimi wanted to say hi to Scott - he wasn't too sure about it at first.

But after taking a walk around Scott, she poked her head out of his shirt & smiled. Scott was resigned to having a new friend. Jenny and Kini got along just fine.

At end of the day, Bob & Amy danced on the back end of the ship, called aft, Lido deck 9.


Wednesday 22nd - Cooper & Jessica's 8th anniversary - Costa Maya, Mexico

In the morning, and after an awesome breakfast, we watched our ship Miracle make some incredible maneuvers and dock at the pier in Costa Maya, Mexico. It was amazing. In the pictures below, we were backing in to the dock. Costa Maya has deep enough water by shore that the cruise ships can actually let the people off on a pier! Just walk ashore!!! Nathan loved this! The last picture has Scott (center, blue shirt) & Jennifer (in front of him, pink shirt / white shorts) waving to Cooper, Bob, & Amy, aft, on deck 10.


After docking, Cooper, Jessica, the kids, Bob & Amy, went ashore mid-morning to take a look around & do some shopping. Jenny, Scott, Nana, K&K slept in and stayed aboard for a bit.

Nathan & Bob were delighted to climb a replica of a Mayan pyramid a & have their picture taken.


While most of us were ashore, Nana had a bit of an accident. She slipped in the tiny bathroom on the cloth bathmat and ended up in the stand-up shower with a broken wrist. Fortunately, Jennifer was in the room & Scott was close by. K&K were freaked out - Jennifer was too - but just a bit.

The ship doctor was wonderful! Mom got a temporary cast and her x-rays on a CD. K&K found the Doctor's picture on the wall and wanted to thank her again.

That night, Cooper & Jessica celebrated their 8th wedding anniversary. Congratulations!





Thursday 23rd - Rachel's 4th birthday, Scuba diving - Belize City, Belize
Needless to say, Nana's broken wrist changed a few of our plans. Originally, Cooper, Jessica, Jenny, Amy, & K&K were going to go scuba diving, while Nana watched the kids, & Bob & Scott played together. Instead, Cooper & Jessica did go diving, but Jenny & Amy stayed aboard to help with the kids. Scott spent the day reading, while Bob went ashore to tour some Mayan ruins.
Cooper & Jessica got to make 2 dives in Belize. They make loving dive buddies! Jessica gave a wave to Cooper. And Cooper waved back!
Both had a great time & saw some cool fish & reefs. Jessica is holding a sea cucumber. And then, she found & held out a spider shrimp.

Bob took a trip ashore to the Mayan ruins called Altun Ha. First stop, hold the boa! He loved the ruins. Even climbed up to the top of one of the temples!

After dinner, Rachel opened her presents and then got to dance with Vlado, our head waiter, for her birthday. "New guy" (sorry we did not get your name, but you were great in training) & Andrej,  our other waiters, also joined in!


Friday 24th - Dune Buggies & Walk-abouts - Cozumel, Mexico
  Today, as usual, the family broke into groups and went their different ways. Nana stayed on board reading and keeping her arm elevated. Cooper, Jessica, and the kids got some rest & went ashore to do some shopping. Jenny, Scott, Bob, Amy, & K&K set off to do some off-road dune buggying.

After taking a taxi to the dune buggy shop, we all picked our buggies (Bob got the green one, of course) & headed out of town for the beaches & trails.
There were a few things you had to be able to do to go on this trip...
1) know how to drive a stick-shift
2) hold on over huge bumps & rocks with your tongue tucked in
3) and love drinking beer while riding!
It was a blast!

Every time we stopped, one of the leaders would come around with a beer for passengers! Our buggy even had a built in cooler to keep beer & water in! The biggest problem? Keeping the any drink in the bottle while bouncing down the trail - it was a challenge!


On the way to dinner, K&K and Nana stopped in the casino. K&K were tickled by the fact that they blended in so well! They are crawling on the top of the slot machine & are very well camouflaged!  


Saturday 25th - Fun day at sea, celebrate all other birthdays & anniversaries
  Today was a relaxing day.... A bit of sun, a dip in the pool for all but Nana, & a test of the
super slide! OH YEA!

Bob & Nathan had a great time going down the slide that curled and whirled from deck 10 down to deck 9!

Cooper took Rachel up to the top, but she was a bit too small to be able to come down the slide. She had a lot of fun in the pool though!


At sunset, we all started to dress & get together for our last dinner aboard ship. We had rooms with balconies next to each other. Cooper is waving to Nana & K&K from his balcony. It was another beautiful evening & the seas were so calm.



On the way to dinner we stopped to play the slots again. Nana had found that her new & gorgeous bag Jenny made was working out to be a wonderful sling for her arm.

It was hard to get her to dinner - she was on a major winning streak!

K&K were very excited!

Tonight was the night to celebrate all the other birthdays, anniversaries, & holidays that were going to occur within days of our leaving the ship.

Bob & Amy were going to be married for 22 years on July 1st.

Nathan was going to be six on July 13th.

Jenny & Scott were celebrating 16 years together.

K&K??? They were celebrating three things - First, nine years of living with Bob & Amy. Second, three years of marriage. And finally, Nana's winning at the slots!
(See photo)


The evening was delightful! After dinner, we went back to the slots & Nana ended up losing her winnings but not losing her starting monies. A good time was had by all!



Sunday 26th - Back in Tampa, depart ship, fly home
Nana, Bob, Amy, & K&K had to leave for the airport early when the ship docked in Tampa, Florida. The ship gave us V.I.P. passes for our luggage so that we could leave early & Nana would have an easier time getting off the ship with her broken arm. Thank You Carnival!

K&K loved watching our ship's track all week. The first photo below shows our return trip to Tampa. We also LOVED the towel animals that were left on our beds every evening. Amy was so impressed that she bought a book about how to fold them. She hopes to practice over the summer. "Towel Dude" (the second photo) is wearing Amy's sunglasses - she really liked that!


The flight back was wonderful - and our dogs, Tai Chi & Tiki were very happy to see us.
A special thanks goes out to our "critter sitters"...
In the morning was Robin & Leslie - THANK YOU!!!
In the evening was Ellen & Patty Manor - WE CAN'T THANK YOU ENOUGH!!!!
They even fed the birds!!!!! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!!!!


When we got home, Nana, K&K, & Amy got her permanent cast put on. She seriously considered the glow-in-the-dark version, but decided against it. "Who wants to go to sleep looking at a 30 minute major night-light wrapped around your arm!!" Sea foam blue was her choice.

On to the decoration!!!

Yes, blue dolphins, silver stingrays, sea foam, & the international flag code "W" for both Whiskey (as a letter) & "need medical assistance" when flown alone - makes up the design.

The stingray tails wrap around the cast, & the dolphins are leaping. The cool thing is that this puppy can get totally wet - as in, can hit the shower & go swimming!

We all loved the trip - but if you want intellectual stimulation, this may not be your perfect vacation. If you are looking for spending time with your 10-20 family members, this is not may not be your perfect family vacation (keeping up with everyone & coming together on a "lets all do it plan" is not that easy.) One must love sunning, eating, 3 saltwater pools, 24/7 ice-cream bars, & total hand & foot service. It was AWESOME - but likely a one time trip for most of us.
As a sideline, anyone who donates blood should check with their blood bank before donating & after you have visited any country out of the USA. Some trips have the potential to introduce complications & contaminations of our blood supplies. Be diligent & ask about travel issues at www.redcross.com.

Also remember that the need for a passport to travel overseas, even on a cruise ship, will change at the end of the 2005 year. Apply early and be sure to have a passport for everyone!



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