by Debbie Monterrey,

This family vacation was 25-years in the making.

In 1986, my parents took my sister and me on a cruise that was billed as our “last family vacation.” Over the years, especially after my sister began having children, my mother would often say, “We should all go on another cruise!”

Of course, it was never that easy as I was broke and moving around the country and my sister was juggling babies. As we got older, there was work, sports schedules, lack of vacation days.

But finally in January 2018, we made it work. A cruise with my parents, my sister and her crew and my family.

Pirate museum in Nassau (Photo by Debbie Monterrey

We even visited some of the same islands we visited in 1986 as if this trip was coming full circle. (That wasn’t actually the intention, but 2017 hurricanes devastated islands we were supposed to visit).

For many of my St. Louis friends, time with family is a given (possibly taken for granted). But for us, we’re spread across four states. Time and distance means we don’t even get to spend holidays together regularly. So this was special.

Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas w/ NCL Epic in background (Photo by Debbie Monterrey)

That said, it wasn’t a perfect vacation. As a veteran of five previous cruises, this one was not the best and it may be my last.

For starters, the ship was packed to the gills. The weather wasn’t great for most of the week so the indoor, common areas were crowded, there were lines for everything and people were surly. A fight broke out between passengers and an NCL employee before we even got on the ship!

On the upside, there were hilarious rounds of UNO, a rare dinner alone with my sister, karaoke with my dad, swimming with dolphins and the unlimited beverage package. My kids got to spend time with their cousins and grandparents and we ate breakfast or dinner together as a family almost every day.


And now I seriously need another vacation to recover from the stress of returning to real life! But I’ll settle for a good nap.

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