Doesn’t everyone want to make magical memories? Isn’t this what we look forward to when we plan a vacation?
Well I am here to tell you with planning, perseverance and a little luck, it really is possible. Not only will I share my personal story but I will also demonstrate with a video clip that was captured at the onset of this particular vacation, where we truly experienced magic.
My husband Denis celebrated a milestone birthday this year in August. I could tell that he was slightly disappointed when the birthday came and went with relatively little fanfare. Little did he know that 12 months prior to this birthday I had already started to plan a secret cruise with all of our kids and grand kids that would take place in December (four months after his birthday so he would less suspecting). I had kept the plan under wraps during this whole time only telling people that absolutely needed to know. Of course as the date drew closer, the circle of people in the know also expanded. This was when I started to become anxious. I had to tell many little white lies and make up stories to keep the trip under wraps. I started to forget what I had told him and now I also had to worry that someone would slip about the surprise or say something that didn’t make sense to him. Luckily as the date approached, people played along beautifully and nothing too obvious was revealed.
After 18 months of planning, the excitement really started for us, on a Sunday morning in December when we told my husband very casually that we would be going on a trip that afternoon to Florida and staying at a relative’s home. Of course this took a bit of convincing and only after producing the airfare tickets, did he actually believe we were leaving that afternoon at 2:30pm. Thankfully Denis doesn’t need a lot of convincing to go on a vacation! I had basically cleared his calendar for the following week and he only had to worry about packing his bag before we were off to the airport.
Upon arrival in Tampa, I told him we couldn’t go to my aunt’s house that first night as she was just coming home from a trip herself. So we stayed in a hotel for the first evening. The next day around noon I had my son order a taxi to pick us up and inform the driver of all the details – including that the cruise was a surprise – so he wouldn’t give away anything on the way to the cruise port. Denis thought we were on our way to my aunt’s house so as we approached downtown Tampa and the port area, Denis turned to me wondering where this driver was taking us. As we pulled up alongside the ship, we all shouted surprise! Denis was more than surprised – he was stunned! But once he got over the shock he was extremely pleased that we would be boarding a ship for the next 5 nights. Little did he know what surprise still lay ahead. I had coordinated the rest of our party to be onboard 1 hour prior to us in order to greet us as we arrived.
After a terrific check in, we boarded Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas and proceeded down the shopping corridor on the ship to find his whole family waiting for us. See our arrival in the video below.
There really isn’t anything I can say with words that this video doesn’t convey. During the 60 seconds of this clip the sheer range of emotions that come across Denis’ face is really incredible – confusion, wonder, surprise, delight – every single feeling was evident. The remainder of the trip continued to be a magical time as many in our 15 person group hadn’t been on a cruise previously but quickly grew accustomed to life onboard and proceeded to have a trip of a lifetime.
Spending this amount of time as a family was fantastic – with everyone’s busy lives and the fact that we live in cities 4 hours apart from each other - it is close to impossible to have this much undivided time together. This is a memory that will never be forgotten. And we plan to make many more. Only perhaps in order to sustain my sanity - not all planned as a surprise!
My 20 years of event planning experience certainly helped to pull off this extravaganza. If you are looking to create magical memories please call me for assistance.
P.S. I’m now an expert at keeping a secret!
Sharing Our Travel Dreams
Sharing our personal experiences onboard and on the road, along with tips and insight for creating memorable vacations.