Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.
In November 2006, my mom’s whole side of the family went on a week long cruise. We traveled on the Royal Caribbean Mariner of the Seas and visited the islands of Labadee, Haiti; Ochos Rios, Jamaica; and Cozumel, Mexico. There were 12 of us, including my mom’s parents, their three children and spouses, and four grandchildren. This was a very special trip for all of us because that following May 2007, my grandfather passed away. It was the last trip we were all able to take together.
What made this cruise vacation different was that we usually travel with other families who have kids our age or bring friends along with us. This time, it was just family. I’m the oldest grandchild, my brother is two and a half years younger than me, and the youngest was two years old at the time. That didn’t exactly give me many choices of people to hang out with. But because of that, I was able to spend quality time with my grandparents that I am now very grateful for. We played lots of card games, shuffle board, miniature golf, and had long conversations about life in general.
On one of the islands, all of us except, the youngest, her mom and my grandmother, went snorkeling together. We swam with the fish and were able to view ocean life up close. Although my grandpa had some trouble because of his breathing, I know he enjoyed watching us and experiencing something new he had never done before.
On that cruise, we were able to take one last family picture with all twelve of us. We ate dinner and went to the shows together every night. All twelve of us had never been on a cruise at the same time, and the two youngest had never been at all. We all experienced it together. We all relaxed as we sat on the beaches and by the pool, ate to our hearts content, and enjoyed our time together. That trip gave us the last family vacation memories we would all have.