Taking you back to October of 2012.
Every 3-4 years we take a family vacation to Florida and the last one happened to take place during the horrific and devastating Hurricane Sandy.
On these particular trips, we always do about 2 weeks of Orlando amusement parks and then head south, down to Fort Lauderdale and surrounding neighborhoods to visit extended family and friends.
This time around I wanted to surprise the children and I booked a cruise to the Bahamas!
I was so excited that I could hardly contain myself in keeping the secret!
Neither of the kids nor Dave C had ever been on a Cruise before, and they had each expressed to me their great interest in trying one out.
So the timing had worked perfectly and the dates were all set. I couldn't wait to break the news!
While I know from experience just how much Cosette likes being surprised, I felt that Dominic could go either way, but I chose to surprise him rather than giving him something look forward to...
I shared the information with Dave C. and it managed to relieve some of my stress and excitement; and then it was our duty to keep it a secret from the kids!
Once we arrived in Orlando and spent the first part of our vacation having a great time at the parks and enjoying the resorts, I felt the timing was right and over lunch one afternoon I decided to break the news to Dominic & Cosette!!!
Dominic was shocked and excited while Cosette not so much...this poor child didn't know how to take it...she actually even broke into tears!
She was definitely quite emotional; we found it funny and were laughing. I couldn't tell if she was happy or sad. This was certainly not the result I was expecting.
OMG what did I do???
During the next couple of days before heading to the port, my dear 11 year old had semi relaxed about our upcoming journey. But now I was receiving calls and messages from my mom, who was in hysterics. She was requesting that we DID NOT go on this cruise!
What the heck was going on?!
Apparently there was a Category 2 hurricane about to hit the Bahamas!
Was Cosette tuned into this all along but not know how or what to express??
I told my mom that we were going, and that the cruise liner certainly wouldn't go into the hurricane!
I called the cruise liner and confirmed that the cruise was still a go. Which it was, because the last thing a cruise liner wants to do is issue refunds!
We drove out to Cape Canaveral on the morning of and had arrived at the port. Immediately receiving a letter which stated that due to the hurricane our ship would not be taking us to the Bahamas!
Instead it would take us cruising and to Key West.
Oh well, this just sucks! I had all of my excursions booked for Atlantis and was super excited for the kids to experience it all. But of course safety is the number one rule of which we always abide!
As we toured the ship for the next few days we would come to realize that it was quite empty, even the buffets were empty (and that is unheard of)!!!
The majority of passengers were all ill, and couldn't bear leaving their cabins.
Even a steward who had been working on cruises for the past 14 years had noted that if he had to experience one more cruise with such wild seas that he would QUIT the business!
The nights were especially tough for me with the seas being as rough as they were, everything was creaking and sounding like it was about to break. I could hardly sleep. I was pretty darn scared and freaked out.
Why would they take this stupid ship out in this weather?? I would turn on the television to try and escape my thoughts and every channel had something on to do with the hurricane and the disaster that it was causing! And here we were going right into it!
There was one night that it felt as though the ship was definitely going to topside, I was so nervous that I had to call and find out if everything was ok. Shortly thereafter the captain had made an announcement that he was going to slow down considerably and the this would put us behind schedule.
We were informed that apples helped sea sickness, so we brought gifts of apples and crackers to Dave and Cosette. But after few days, we found out that they were completely out of Apples and Crackers!
Midway through the second day and after a good puking session Cosette had finally began for feel better and was able to enjoy herself!
We toured, shopped and walked around. This was a first time visit for Dave C and the kids. Each of us having a good fun wholesome time, which would soon come to an end...
We had apparently arrived at the beginning of their Fantasy Fest. Which was described to us as a combination of Mardi Gras, Halloween, and a Gay Pride parade all rolled into one!
Initially we hadn't really noticed anything too out of the ordinary, but that all changed on our return stroll down Duvall Street (as the festivities started to begin).
Fantasy Fest -
This outrageous, annual, 10-day adult-themed costuming and masking celebration features flamboyant costume competitions, promenades, street fairs and a grand parade.
Started in 1979 by a small group of Key West locals, the party was created to bring visitors to the island in what was a typically quiet, but beautiful season. It worked. Fantasy Fest has grown every year since its inception and is now the wildest extravaganza around! Fun-loving revelers from around the globe leave their children and inhibitions behind as they descend upon Key West each year in October for 10 days filled with costuming, parades, libations, and excitement!
Dominic and Cosette were now very eager to get off of this island and get back on the ship! You know it had to be bad if anyone was looking forward to getting back on that ship!
The cruise actually took a day longer than it was scheduled, we along with several other cruise ships all were required to just float at sea, as the conditions were too dangerous for us to return. I saw more cruise ships out there "floating" with us than ever before.
Returning safe and sound to Cape Canaveral and talking with passengers from other cruise lines during the shuttle ride to our car, we were informed that the Disney Cruise Ship had an emergency evacuation (which would have scared me to death), and that the other lines just floated at sea the entire time - not stopping at any ports whatsoever.
After witnessing the Fantasy Fest first hand, I'm not quite sure which the better option was...