Christmas 2013 – in the Caribbean!

Dennison Christmas VacationThis Christmas was pretty different.  Exceptional even.  My parents, being extraordinarily generous and kind, decided to treat us kids and our spouses with a family trip to the Caribbean.  We spent a week on an Island Windjammer sailboat cruise and visited five different islands (St. Maarten, Anguilla, Nevis, St. Kitts, and St. Barths), drank lots of rum punch, played in the sun, and gave our sea legs a good work out (the small-ish boat was pretty rocky at times!).  When I was a kid, my parents went on these cruises a lot (10 times in 10 years or something like that) but this time they wanted us to join them and I mean really, how could we say no?   Seriously?!  I must have done something pretty great in a past life to be given this one.

It was the most fun and was a spectacular way to spend time with family over the holiday.  Here are way more photos than your browser would probably appreciate, but I just can’t contain myself.  Everything was SO beautiful!2Dennison Christmas Vacation3Dennison Christmas VacationWe flew to St. Maarten, which is in the eastern Caribbean, and stayed the night at the Little Divi Bay Resort for the night before boarding the ship the next day.  This place was awesome!  If you are looking for a small resort in paradise for vacation, go here!  I took these pictures above standing on the balcony of our room as soon as we arrived.  The sun was just setting and the beach was literally just a few steps outside our door.  And a sweet, little, secluded beach too!  Perfection.  I would have loved to stay here longer.  4Dennison Christmas VacationThis was what I saw from bed when I woke up the next morning.  Heaven!

Oh!  And this place is super affordable too.  My dad said he booked our rooms for only $89 a night!!  I couldn’t believe it, this place was so nice that I would have expected it to cost a lot more.

This was our ship!  There were 24 passengers and about 10 crew members I think.  Some family friends and their kids were also on this cruise so all of us together made up almost half of the passengers.  Such fun!  Parker and I went on one of those giant, floating city type cruises once a few years ago and this smaller style is MUCH more to our liking.  It was really chill, very relaxed and everyone got along splendidly.

AnguillaAnguilla was the first place the ship anchored.  It was beautiful, but we got a big rain storm while visiting the beach so we hung under the cover of a beachside bar and drank piña coladas for a good portion of our short visit.  :)

26Dennison Christmas VacationOur ship never docked anywhere; we would anchor and take a small motor boat (a dinghy) to shore.  I didn’t think to get a good picture of it, but it’s not very exciting.  Just gets you from Point A to Point B.

NevisWe spent Christmas Eve morning on the island of Nevis, but I don’t have many pictures because Parker and I had to run around the island trying to find a doctor for a shingles virus I had on my eye (ugh!!).  We finally ended up at the hospital just to get a prescription.  Glad it wasn’t anything more serious, but it was kind of a bummer to spend our short stay on the island like that.  The afternoon we spent on the ship reading and dozing…the night before had been a rough night at sea and no one got very much sleep.

8Dennison Christmas VacationFor posterity, I had to post Parker’s hats because the first one makes me laugh :)  See, we didn’t think to bring hats, but the wind was messin’ up our hair.  I was able to use bobby pins and a pony tail, but Parker had to buy a hat and his first choice was so dorky.  Luckily, the ship sold these baseball caps that were much cooler so he didn’t have to dork out all week.  Haha :).  Moving on.

sk6T5C7668Lobster eggs benedict for breakfast!!  St. Kitts floralst kitts treest kitts tree copyThis tree had hundreds of air plants growing all over it!  And it was massive – really impressive to stand under.
st kitts batikChristmas day was spent on the island of St. Kitts.  In the morning we visited a batik factory that had beautiful botanical gardens.  The plant life was beautiful and watching the ladies hand paint wax and then dye the fabric was really neat.

10Dennison Christmas VacationI love how the clouds make huge shadows on the mountains.  That was always one of my favorite memories of visiting the caribbean when I was a child.

Dennison Christmas Vacation Dennison Christmas Vacation Dennison Christmas Vacation Dennison Christmas Vacation Dennison Christmas VacationAlso on Christmas day, Parker and I went for a hike to see some pretty views. I’m such a sucker for pretty views, I will do just about anything to check out breathtaking vistas.  Including hike up STEEP terrain in flip flops and a swimsuit coverup while carrying my beach towel and camera bag and sweating like there’s no tomorrow.  We took the hill pretty quickly in part because we were in a hurry to see the views and get back down to go swimming, and also because our guide was marching like a soldier up the mountain.  His name was Simon, he was from Nevis but works for the Windjammer as part of the crew, is 56, in amazing shape and basically showed us 28-year-olds who’s boss.  He was so sweet though and funny.  The views were totally worth the workout.

11Dennison Christmas Vacation 12Dennison Christmas Vacation 13Dennison Christmas Vacation20Dennison Christmas Vacation 21Dennison Christmas Vacation 22Dennison Christmas Vacation 23Dennison Christmas Vacation 24Dennison Christmas Vacation 25Dennison Christmas VacationAfter our hike, we went swimming on this little beach  and had ourselves a couple of pina coladas (the drink of the trip!).  This was my favorite day I think.  It was really relaxed yet full of variety and adventure.  The dinghy picked us up as the sun started to set (you can see it anchored in the photo above, to the left) and when by the time we got back to the ship, the sky was TOTALLY showing off and gave us quite the amazing sunset.  It was one for the books, and on Christmas day no less.  The prettiest sunset ever, and it just kept getting better until the very end.

31Dennison Christmas Vacation 32Dennison Christmas Vacation 33Dennison Christmas Vacation36Dennison Christmas Vacation 34Dennison Christmas Vacation 36Dennison Christmas Vacation

Amazing, right?!

41Dennison Christmas Vacation 42Dennison Christmas Vacation 43Dennison Christmas VacationThe crew strung christmas lights up on the ship and it was so pretty at night.  And then Christmas dinner was a traditional American feast – turkey and ham, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce.  It was delish.

50Dennison Christmas VacationThe day after Christmas may have been my favorite day (tied with Christmas).  We anchored off of St. Barths, which is a French island and very fancy.  The whole island is basically a playground for the rich and famous with huge yachts everywhere and shops like Prada and Gucci lining the streets.  But there’s plenty of fun to be had for normal folk like us too.  For example, the six of us decided to rent All Terrain Vehicles (or 4-wheelers as we call them down south) since there were no cars available and we wanted to spend the day exploring all over the island.  It was SO MUCH FUN!  ATVs are allowed to be driven on the streets with the cars on St. Barths so we just got on different roads and would see where we ended up.  We got to see lots of gorgeous views and it was really fun to feel the wind and sunshine while riding around.  I definitely felt like I got experience the island more than I would have if I had been inside a car.  I can’t believe I didn’t get any pictures of the ATVs but here are some of the views we took in.

52Dennison Christmas Vacation 53Dennison Christmas Vacation 54Dennison Christmas Vacation75Dennison Christmas Vacation 55Dennison Christmas VacationThese are my parents who paid for this trip (thanks Mom & Dad!!!).  Aren’t the cute?

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We found this awesome natural swimming pool randomly.  We had pulled over to take in the view and saw a small road leading down a hill and I couldn’t believe what I saw when I walked down it.  We promptly jumped in of course, as one does when one discovers a magical crystal clear swimming hole.
51Dennison Christmas Vacation
52Dennison Christmas Vacation53Dennison Christmas Vacation

And Parker found the teeniest, tiniest hermit crab ever!  Does anyone know what happens when hermit crabs outgrow their shell?  Do they have to find a new shell that someone has abandoned?  Or does the shell grow with them forever?  These are questions that came up that I’ve wondered about ever since.

01Dennison Christmas VacationOn our last day, we anchored off a different side of St. Barths and spent the whole day at Columbier Beach, the most beautiful beach I’ve ever laid eyes on.  It’s only accessible by boat or on foot so it’s not very crowded (although there were dozens of fancy yachts anchored offshore, but hardly anyone on this beautiful beach) and it’s completely serene.  Maybe this was my favorite day – at least tied Christmas day and the day after Christmas! :) 02Dennison Christmas VacationCheck out those yachts.  Lifestyles of the rich and famous..03Dennison Christmas Vacation 04Dennison Christmas Vacation 05Dennison Christmas Vacation

70Dennison Christmas Vacation 71Dennison Christmas Vacation 72Dennison Christmas Vacation74Dennison Christmas VacationCan you believe this place?!  I couldn’t stop staring.  I tried to read a book on the sand, but kept feeling like I was missing out on the view so I didn’t get very far.

76Dennison Christmas VacationEverybody had a blast either rope-swinging off the boat or watching those that did. It was great fun.  This was our captain, the most experienced rope-swinger-jumper and the only one who could do this upside down number, though lots of people tried to copy him.  This is one of my favorite memories, cheering on everyone and laughing hysterically at my brother’s many falls (sorry, brother!).  Good times.0001Dennison Christmas VacationAnd this was our amazing crew!!!  You guys, if you are ever looking for a really cool vacation, take a Windjammer cruise.  Smaller than a typical cruise, WAY better food thanks to Chef Lenny (we had lobster tails and homemade spinach pasta the last night, omg), and they take care of everything so you just show up and have an awesome vacation.  You just wake up and explore the island they’ve picked out for you that day.  Or stay on the boat and soak up the sun.  These guys were so nice and funny too.  I can’t recommend this company highly enough (and I’m not getting any compensation for saying that, in case you were wondering).

rainbowOn our very last morning, I was down in our cabin packing and Parker came down and told me to hurry, there was a rainbow to see.  It was huge, I couldn’t get it all with my lens, but it was stunning and just the beautiful image to end our trip with.

Christmas 2013, you were a good one!

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