Imagine this….. four nights, five days – no cooking, cleaning, laundry, carpooling….just you, your book and your three very dear friends! Sounds like heaven, well, let me tell you that heaven doesn’t even begin to describe this past weekend – our girls trip!
Every year me and my girls, Maria, Julie and Robin, plan our annual girls trip. For the last few years we have been addicted to cruising. It is perfection for a girls trip – we are a bunch of moms who just want to relax and have a easy, no hassle vacation. On a cruise your meals are included, there are great accommodations, tons of activities – you can do as much or as little as you want…. not to mention, you cannot beat the price, you can’t get your food and lodging as inexpensively as a cruise! This year, however, we were at serious risk of the annual girls trip tradition breaking – there were just no weekends we could go. We had actually given up, said it wasn’t happening. Then, miracle of miracles – we made it work. It took a little compromising, but we did it, we booked our girls trip and the countdown began!
Sitting back, after being home for a few days, makes me appreciate this special time that I get with my girls even more. It is so important for me to not just be the mom, the wife, the blogger…. I also need to have time to just be me and who to do that better with than my girls.
This cruise was by far our best year yet! We decided this would be the year to try new things – step out of our comfort zones and boy did we ever! We cruised on the Caribbean Princess – let me tell you that the ship is gorgeous! It is the perfect size for a shorter cruise – not too big, not too small. The rooms were amazing (ROOM TIP – on this class of ships, book on the Caribe deck – deck 10, and spend the extra money for the balcony room.) The balconies on this deck are extended and they are probably 1/3 larger than other decks. We would sit outside with our coffee in the morning and cocktails in the afternoon.
One of our all time favorite things about Princess are the movies on the deck. We looooovvveee sitting outside in the sun and watching the movies (and believe it or not, even with the sun there is no glare! You can see the movie great!!
This time around we tried one of the specialty restaurants. My philosophy was always that the food in the dining room is great, we don’t need to spend extra money on a specialty restaurant. Well, the food in the dining room is great, but the Italian restaurant was amazing! It was truly 5 star dining and I would totally do it every time now and cannot wait to try the other restaurants too (TIP: make reservations before you get on the ship)!
The highlight of our trip, however, was the Chef’s Table Dinner – there was an up-charge for this, but when I tell you that it was the best money ever spent, that doesn’t even do it justice. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience (except when I do it every other time I go on a Princess Cruise from this point forward). It is limited to 12 passengers and you start out with the head chef in the galley (cruise terms for kitchen). There you have champagne and appetizers and learn a little about the kitchen and cooking for thousands of people. Then you go to a special area in the dining room and have the most amazing meal you will ever have! Each course is accompanied by a glass of wine or cocktail. At the end of the dinner, you are given a signed copy of the Princess Cruises cookbook. The Chef was adorable and engaging, the head waiter treated us like royalty – all in all, it was a very special and unforgettable night.
Once in a while, being a blogger has its perks – during the cruise, we were invited to tour the ships bridge – this was amazing! Captain John was so friendly and informative and soooooo patient with our incredibly stupid questions (like our great debate about what you call the ships wheel….BTW, it is just called the ships wheel and is disappointingly small), he let us take tons of pictures and didn’t make me walk the plank after breaking a piece of the bridge – not too worry, it wasn’t an important piece! He even let us sit in the Captain’s chair and wear the cute little hat!!
I must say, I have been on a lot of cruises. Princess Cruise line really makes every passenger feel special. They have held on to that old world cruising feeling. Their staff bends over backwards for you, they remember your name and they don’t make you feel like just one in the crowd – we really came off of the ship feeling like princesses!
A couple of tips when planning a girls trip:
- Keep the group small. We stick to four, that number has worked out perfect us – not too few, not too many.
- Start planning early. There is never a “good” time. Someone is going to have to miss something. A family function, a gymnastics competition, a basketball game, a school concert – there is always something every weekend….
- Pick a group who has similar interests and expectations. If you have some people who want to go out dancing and others who are early to bed, early to rise – you may want to keep that in mind when planning.
- Everyone put money in a kitty when you leave. This has been great for us – we each put money into the kitty and we use that to pay for things like cabs, snacks, tips, etc. Then, at the end of the trip, we split up what is left. That way one person doesn’t get stuck picking up those little expenses along the way.
- Be flexible – while it is great to find people who like similar things, it is everyone’s vacation. You may need to split up a little or try something that maybe wouldn’t be your first choice of things to do.
- Disconnect – it is really, really hard to disconnect from home. We miss our families, we worry about them….but try to be in the here and now and enjoy the time away. In the end, it will refresh you and you will come home a new person.
- Appreciate it – one of our things on our girls trip is “click, click” – we say that as a reminder to stop, look at the beautiful view or where we are or what we are doing or how incredibly lucky we are all to be together – and take a mental picture in our mind so when we get home and are overwhelmed with our every day life, we can bring that mental picture back to the forefront of our minds.
- Come Back New – this is the Princess Cruise Line motto and boy did we ever! #comebacknew!
Oh, one last thing….. we discovered THE most amazing drink on board this year! A Peanut Butter and Jelly Shot! This is a must try – it actually tastes like PB&J!
It is super easy to make – Here is what you need and what you do:
Peanut Butter & Jelly Shot
- One part Frangelico
- One Part Chambord
- Mix together