July 14, 2011

Family Reunion Cruise Recap by Cynthia Downing

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Another wonderful family reunion came to a close on Monday, July 11 after three days aboard the Monarch of the Seas.  The Jenkins Family 20 year tradition of having a fantastic time together continued this year as we cruised from Port Canaveral, Florida to Nassau, Bahamas and Coco Cay, Bahamas (Royal Caribbean's private island) and back.  We were small in number but we had a grand time.
 
July 8 - One would have thought that the trip was doomed after we had to sit in traffic for an hour to go the last three and half miles to the port because of the space shuttle final launch traffic, but we soon were through customs and eager to get to our staterooms.  Unfortunately, we were soon disrupted to participate in the ship's safety drill, it is short and painless but necessary.  We set sail at 5 pm amid a deck of people and a shore line of on lookers wishing us "Bon Voyage" (a French phrase borrowed into English meaning, literally, "good journey", and usually translated as meaning "have a good trip".)  Our hostess, Crystal delivered our swag bags to welcome us to the reunion.  The bag was filled with our polo shirts, Jenkins Family Reunion labeled - bottled water, a post card, magnet, photo album, and a candy bag. 
 
Soon it was dinner time, due to an error our time was moved up from 8:30 pm to 5:45 pm.  We wanted to unwind from the stress of making sure we did not miss the boat so casual was our attire for the evening.  It was the first time we would get together as a group.  It was good to relax and enjoy dinner and even better seeing everyone.  We had an opportunity to share traveling and traffic stories and to catch up on each other lives and our families during dinner.  It was just good to be with family.  After dinner there was a variety of choices for activities on board.  Some chose the night clubs, casinos, comedy shows, sports bars, gaming arcades or simply to go their stateroom and rest.  But we decided, "What happens on board the ship stays on the ship."  (all that the cameras didn't capture  lol) 
 
July 9 - Breakfast was available beginning at 6 am needless to say not many made the early setting.  Luckily it was available until 11 am and we made it at some point during that time.  By noon we were docking in Nassau, Bahamas preparing for a day of excursions, shopping and sight-seeing.  Our family headed on their way; it was shopping for our group and we walked the shopping district and purchased keepsakes for family and friends. Others took sight-seeing tours in vans or taxis to explore the Bahamas, Atlantis Hotel and other spots.  The day flew by and soon it was time to return to the ship for dinner.   Saturday night was formal night for dinner.  We dressed and arrived for our 5:45 setting.  We are a good looking bunch I must say.  The Jenkins genes are strong, the men are handsome and the women are graceful and beautiful.  We have the family photos to prove it.  During dinner Tommie Jenkins, Sr. had a surprise by his wife and sister, as his birthday cakes were delivered and we sang a soulful rendition of Stevie Wonder's
Happy Birthday to Ya. 
 
The evening was not done, we stayed docked in Nassau until midnight many went back out to party with the islanders.  Back on board one of the upper decks was being prepared for the midnight buffet.  Most of the group ventured to the upper deck for the midnight buffet and it was very nicely done.  There was music, dancing, food, food and did I mention food, complete with island food and a roasted pig.  The music was old school and we had a great time enjoying the atmosphere and each other.  I have taken several cruises this is one of the most memorable ones just because I am with family.
 
July 10 - Sunday was an early day for our group.  We docked in Coco Cay at 9 am and we had to be up and ready to take our family photos by 10 am.  Needless to say some did not make breakfast, ok I didn't make breakfast.  Next, we had to catch the tender boat (which was as small as a ferry) to the island.  We took several photos in different areas of the island and we had fun doing it.  When we had the opportunity to explore the island there was a lot to get into and so some did.  There was snorkeling, a water slide, a wave jet skiing tour and praying for safety, there was swimming and swimming suits that ok I will leave that alone, and at 11:45 the was a giant picnic on the island with lots and lots of food.  (yes, you can gain weight on a cruise) Then there was shopping and hanging out.  Soon it was time to return to the ship to prepare for dinner.
 
This would be our final dinner on board and as the Jenkins Family Reunion and we enjoyed each other, chatting about the cruise and our family roots.  The staff at the restaurant provided entertainment and it was entertaining to see them sing and dance in their broken English to Macarena. (Uh huh)   After dinner there was a family meeting to chat about the cruise and the next reunion.  During the meeting there was an acknowledgment made for perfect attendance to the Family Reunion, that distinction goes to James Junior Jenkins.  He has never missed a Family Reunion, now that's really saying something after twenty years and ten family reunions.  Our oldest cruiser, Emma Lou Downing at 80 (81 on July 20) and our youngest cruiser, Sadia Small (the great-great granddaughter of Emma Lou) at 4 years old were also acknowledged.  It was decided to take the family reunion to Mobile, Alabama for 2013.  We are looking forward to another great time.  After the meeting there was more time to make memories and to remind everyone "what happens on board the ship stays on the ship" this would include our
"karaoke night."
 
July 11 - It is almost over, if you want breakfast you must be there by 8 am.  We are docked in Port Canaveral by 9 am and it is time to say farewell to family and wish them a safe return to their homes or continued vacation destinations.  It was a blessed, busy, beautiful time that I look forward to every two years.  Crystal our hostess did a wonderful job against some difficult odds and is to be commended.  Thanks, Crystal for hanging in there and getting the job done. 
 
I am indeed grateful to have had an opportunity to spend time with my extended family and reflect on what it means to be family - to remember the ones that shaped our path and established our roots.  This Family Reunion is a time to remember, a time to laugh, a time to celebrate...a time to share old stories and make new memories.  A time to see each other in the faces all around us and find reflections of ourselves in hearts both young and old.  This reunion is a coming together that strengthens the bond of family and reminds us of the gift of belonging.  A chance to share our history.  A reason to celebrate our past.  A time to welcome our future...as a family.  Love you all....See ya in 2013, Mobile is calling our name!!!!!!
 

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Tommie Jenkins on July 19, 2011 7:32 PM
Great recap.  Ready to sail again
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