Why I Loved our Cruise on the MSC Sinfonia

Believe it or not, cruising is not only exotic and amazing,  it’s sometimes one of the most economical ways to travel.  I became enamored with cruising about 20 years ago when I found a 10-day cruise of the French Polynesian Islands for $400 per person ($40 per day). Considering a cruise provides room, board, and transportation,  if you patiently watch for sales,  it can often compete favorably with other types of vacations.  For instance, once (just to prove my point), I spent less per day  on a Caribbean cruise than Alan spent planning a week vacation in Florida.  Recently, a friend seemed embarrassed to admit  that he was taking his wife on a cruise for their 25th anniversary,  I’m guessing because he assumed I’d think that was too extravagant.  But, the fact is, it you’re willing to get a sell-out deal for an inside cabin,  it’s very likely going to cost you less than flying wherever, renting a car,  staying in motels, and eating in restaurants.  Just sayin’…  With that intro, I want to tell you about the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) Sinfonia, which was our “home base” recently.  We were looking for a convenient way to spend a week with our kids
who live in Italy.  Their home is pretty much a 400-year-old palace,  but Alan has asthma, so he feared that the inevitable molds
(they have their own cave and their home is carved out of a mountainside)
added to pet dog and cat dander would be a recipe for hospitalization,
so we opted for sea breezes instead.  The MSC Sinfonia was the perfect ship!  It  has a great splash pad and swimming pools for kids,  a dedicated Lego Room  that could keep our kids occupied indefinitely,  a miniature golf course, shuffle board,  foosball, ping pong tables, a basketball court, and lots of fun activities.  I found a special where two adults could take two kids free,  so the four of us could take Mike and Grace’s four kids free!  Our grand daughters were truly ideal bunk mates  (not so sure about the two little boys,
who might have kept their parents up at times…).  Our waiters were incredibly good-natured and kept the fresh rolls, french fries and pasta bianca coming so the kids never got too hungry waiting for dinner.  Thankfully, the children are very industrious  and would spend a lot of time drawing and coloring  so the adults could enjoy  all the courses  of the (usually) 2-hour formal dinners each evening.  The ports were also gorgeous,  the weather perfect,  and the Adriatic Sea like glass.  In all, it was a pretty much ideal experience… or at least as smooth sailing as possible… with little ones.  So, if you’re looking for an easy way to maximize your bonding time  while minimizing your work time,  don’t totally discount cruising.  (One point of warning: We always watched the kids like hawks to make sure they didn’t fall off the ship from the 15th floor.) The railings are not kid safe! May I share a quick spiritual thought?  Sometimes we’re afraid to consider something because we think
it might be too spiritually expensive.  I’ve heard a lot of people say they don’t want to become a Christian
because it would be “too hard” or cost them too much. Really?  I believe that in reality, becoming a Christian is the most spiritually cost-effective way to attain the goal most people are after: Happiness, love, joy, and peace. Because we’re just human, nothing works flawlessly on this earth, but salvation through faith in Christ is the best “ship” to travel on
as far as I can tell, hands down!  If you haven’t looked into it yet, please do!

Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass” (Psalm 37:3-5).

(All photos, except the one of Tahiti, were taken a few weeks ago on our cruise of the Adriatic Sea via the MSC Sinfonia.)

From NYC to San Francisco and Facebook to Square

Aaron and CarleenMy firstborn, Aaron, with his wife Carlie and their family Leaving friends in CTpulled up their comfy New England roots Utah and migrated cross country Squareso that Aaron could take a new job with Square, Near Salt Lake City, UTand I wanted to share some pictures (and thoughts) Relaxing at nightfrom their whirlwind journey.Ready to Go! Packed in car It’s mind boggling to consider all they saw and did in just a little over a week, Taking a break for a hikeand one of the most touching things to me New York State Capitolwas that they made sure they visited family as well as saw the sites as they went. Aaron and StephenTheir first stop was to check out younger brother Stephen’s Visiting Stephennew flat in Rochester, With Grandma Joycebut they also saw Carlie’s grandma, our family in GR, Colorado Cousins Kathy and Jodiand other relatives and friends along the way. Maid of the Mist RideBut beyond loving up their family, they took time to ride the Maid of the Mist Niagara Fallsas they crossed from Niagara Falls into Canada.Chicago They stopped in Chicago Art Institute of Chicagoand toured Chicago’s fabulous Art Institute. Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and AquariumThey took time to explore Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquariumwhich is often rated as America’s best zoo now. NevadaThey saw some pretty special sights too:Steamboat on Mississippi a steam boat as they crossed the Mississsippi River at sunset, Elk near Fuita, COelk feeding in the Colorado Rockies, Bonneville Salt Flatsand the amazing desert area called the Bonneville Salt Flats…Rain in the desert??where it started raining! Who would believe??! West Coast, CABy the time they reached the west coast, Sequoiasthey’d had an unforgettable adventure, Ice Cream Breakincluding lots of fun On the road!…and lots of moments that might have been less than perfectly comfortable!  Mountains of Western AmericaAre any of you facing the possibility of big change and/or a big move? Reid's softball team I know it’s super hard to give up the relationships you’ve worked so hard to buildFront Door& close the door on the present chapter of your life, but if God’s calling you: Go! FacebookI’m sure that signing out of Facebook Driving Cross Countryand driving with his family clear across the country A strawberry comes to Squareto begin all over again at a new company has been very challenging for Aaron, Child in a carseat...ready to roll!but by God’s grace and lots of Carlie’s enthusiastic support, they’ve all survivedColorado National Monumentand Aaron is really loving his new job!Gingerbread HouseThey’re still trying to fix up their house Golden Gate Bridgeand find their way around town, All You Need is Lovebut they’re getting their basic needs met Eating Birthday cakeand are already having wonderful fun Cousin funwith their California cousins. Four boys on a wallChange is traumatic, but if we’re willing to face the challenges and respond with faith and courage, the changes promote growth and help us become stronger. Golden Gate ParkSo, if you find yourself at a cross road, I hope you’re willing to prayerfully consider your options, ask God for guidance, and take the risks associated with making whatever changes are for “the best.”CarlieTrust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass” (Psalm 37:3-5).