I know the name of the blog is Our Empty Nest Adventures … but our latest vacation included our kiddo. We thought we would all go on one last trip as a family to end her senior year. So in case you’re wondering why the nest doesn’t look too “empty”, I thought I would fill you in. And in full disclosure … we’ll probably take her on others, but the plan is to travel more frequently with just us two.
I can’t emphasize enough how cruising is one of the favorite ways to vacation for our family. Since we always have a budget to stick to, cruising allows us the most bang for our buck. Since we don’t have unlimited funds and can’t travel to multiple places every year, cruising lets us see several different places every time we go.
If you’re like me, when you travel you like to do a little bit of research so you know the best places for entertainment, famous landmarks and food. So I thought I would show you where we went on our port to Antigua.
We decided to go swimming with stingrays.
When we left the ship, there was a lady standing outside the ship holding a sign so we knew where to go. After waiting a few minutes for our group to gather, we boarded a bus and traveled for about 20 minutes while the driver pointed out the different sites along the way.
Once we arrived, there was a mini zoo where there were different tropical birds and iguanas. There were bathrooms where you could change into a swimsuit (we already had ours on). They gave us a 5 minute speech that directed us how, and how not, to interact with the stingrays, and then we broke into two groups and boarded onto large speed boats.
Now this is the part where you really need to hold onto your belongings.
The boat moved fast! Thankfully, Topher had his old GoPro, so we were able to get some really fun photos of the day.
It was incredibly windy and there were some serious waves. They had life vests for anyone that wanted one, but only a couple of children actually used them. It wasn’t rough to the point where you would get seasick, you just really had to hang on to your beach bag and your sunglasses.
The boat ride was about 10 minutes, and the ocean was gorgeous.
When we came to our docking point, we all jumped out of the boat into about waist high water. The location was about a mile offshore, but there was a floating dock and roped-off area where the water was shallow due to a natural sandbar that had formed … causing lots of stingray to gather.
We had about 7-8 different guides that had buckets of squid … yes I said squid.
We each took a squid in our hand, and the stingrays just kind of hover over your hand and then suck it up. It’s a little freaky at first because they look unlike anything you’ve ever seen, and the little suction coming from their mouth underneath feels a little odd.
After the fist time though it became fun. They all had different personalities. Some were more food aggressive, some liked to be held, some wanted to be pet a lot.
They feel very silky, and they kind of rub up against you like a cat.
There were a couple of women in the group that didn’t want to pet or feed them, so they just went back to the boat which was too bad. If you just did it once, you would start to relax and see there was nothing there to be afraid of, and it was a once in a lifetime experience.
Our guides were really great about educating us about them and answering any questions we had.
Once we were finished we headed back to our boats and then back to the rest area.
Back on shore, we were able to buy pictures that they took of us with the stingrays, and we enjoyed some very powerful rum punch.
We walked around the little touristy area for a little while, and then we headed back to the ship for lunch, some showers, and then a nap before setting sail.
Next week I’ll be back to share with you our stop in the Dominican Republic!
But don’t forget to visit my earlier post on cruising: my Top 10 Ways to Cruise Cheaply.