By “Blonde Abroad” Kiersten Rich, who takes over our blog one more time to reflect on her holiday with her mom, and her new Crystal family.
At 27 years old, I couldn’t remember the last time I spent more than a weekend of quality time with my mom. She raised my brother and me as a stay-at-home mom until I started school, but many of my memories of our time together begin to fade from there.
Our family vacations typically involved a road trip and camping of some sort. My dad would pitch a tent and my mom would keep us busy with stories around the campfire. But, from the about time I was 12 years old and on, our vacations always included a +1 for both my brother and me. Family vacations quickly became “can I bring a friend”-cations until, one day, the family vacations stopped altogether.
I’m sure many people can relate.
When I stopped to really think about the time I had spent with my mom in my short time on this earth, I hadn’t truly made that many memories with just my mom and me. As a full-time travel and lifestyle blogger, I’m on the road nearly nine months of every year. This obviously doesn’t make it any easier to spend quality time with anyone.
Our lives get busy. Plain and simple. But, my aunt recently passed away from cancer, and the reality of the brevity of life really started to sink in for me. For over a year, I was obsessed with the need to take my mom on a trip. I wanted to talk to her. To sit in silence with her. I wanted her to see the world. I wanted to be the one to show it to her.
So, for Christmas, I finally put my plan into action.
I surprised my mom with Crystal Cruises’ 15-day Brazilian Holiday Cruise. The catch? My mom had never been out of the U.S., let alone been on a cruise. I was nervous that she would be nervous about taking the trip. But, to my relief, there were only happy tears and, just before Christmas, we embarked on our journey together.
While this trip would be my mom’s first time out of the U.S., it would also be both of our first cruises. (So, you can imagine our amazement upon boarding Crystal Symphony in San Juan, Puerto Rico?!)
The ship was decorated in holiday decor from bow to stern and the grandeur of the ship left both of us staring in awe. After being shown to our penthouse, we both giggled and jumped on our bed like little girls. I could sense my mom’s mind spinning and knew we were both thinking “is this a dream?”
Throughout the 15-day Brazilian Holiday Cruise, we enjoyed every aspect the journey had to offer. On Christmas morning, we got into the holiday spirit by enjoying breakfast on our veranda. And on New Year’s Eve, we counted down to midnight as we watched the fireworks explode off the coast of Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro.
Aside from the incredible holiday celebrations on board, we watched nearly every musical and dance production. We played scrabble and sipped margaritas by the pool. We got relaxing massages at the spa. And, of course, we ate our hearts out!
While we got to spend every day together, we also made time for ourselves (something we both very rarely do). While in port in Scarborough, Trinidad & Tobago, I went scuba diving – one of my favorite pastimes. And, on days at sea, my mom took dance classes and jewelry making classes.
I am so grateful for the incredible service and attention to detail that Crystal Cruises provides in ensuring an unforgettable experience for everyone on board.
We also made really good friends with some of the other families and couples on board. We shared a day trip in Fortaleza, Brazil with new friends from Mexico City. We spent our afternoon in Rio de Janeiro with our new family friends from Texas and Oklahoma. And the rest of our “crew” of friends on board were from all over the globe! From Costa Rica to Morocco to London! It was amazing to connect with so many different people from around the world.
The cruise gave my mom and me a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spend unhurried and uninterrupted time together. It was a reminder of the importance of spending time with our loved ones. Don’t let “busy” get in the way of sharing your life with those that matter most to you.
The Crystal Memories program offers additional savings and perks for large groups of family and friends traveling together on a host of sailings throughout 2016. Book by February 29 for extra savings.