Second time cruiser, first time reporter! We just got back last week from the Disney Wonder's Western Caribbean cruise out of Galveston. During our long wait I obsessed over trip reports so thought I'd try my hand at it. Not to mention I'm so not ready for the experience to be over so this will be my attempt to hang on to that vacation bliss for as long as possible. This vacation was a long time in the planning and there were several times that it looked like it might never happen. So imagine my delight when the alarm went off at 3 am and it was finally time to head to the airport. Okay, it was 3 am. Maybe delight isn't the right term. <insert dreamy flashback music / visual effects here> Two years ago we took our first cruise - a 5 night repositioning cruise from Vancouver to LA on the Disney Wonder. As we live close to Vancouver this seemed a good intro to test the waters and see if we'd even like cruising. We were barely on board when my (then) 10 year old declared it the best vacation ever! Now in all fairness we hadn't been on many vacations that didn't involve visiting relatives so it wasn't like there was a lot to compare it to. But point taken and we booked a dummy date on that cruise, intending to move it to a spring break 2013 Mexican Riviera cruise. We really wanted to do the Mexican Riviera and couldn't wait for the new itineraries to come out. What? Wait? They stopped doing the Mexican Riviera? Well <insert swear words here>, now what do we do? For a while we had a reservation on the May 2013 LA to Vancouver repo cruise. But it wasn't filling our hearts with joy. We wanted something more exciting. Then DCL announced Galveston as a new home port and that piqued my curiousity, perhaps because I had no clue where Galveston was. After I checked a map, then I also checked our airmiles and discovered it would cost us the same amount of points to fly to Houston as it would to fly to LA. Hmm...this was getting interesting. And we could sail to the Caribbean. The Caribbean! We could have a Pirates in the Caribbean party IN THE CARIBBEAN! This idea now held our full attention. The only downside would be an extra six months wait. But what the heck. We'd been waiting this long - what's another few months. And the kids didn't even know we had a cruise booked, so really it was just DH and I that would go nuts. And we were mostly there already... So in September 2012 we emailed our long suffering TA again and moved our reservation to the Nov 9 cruise out of Galveston. There. That's it. Done. We nodded confidently to each other, no more moving our reservations. We had made our decision. That lasted two months and then Disney changed our cruise to a Bahamas itinerary. Nooooooooooooooooooooooo! Castaway Cay was intriguing but it wasn't the CARIBBEAN. We wanted the Caribbean (in case you hadn't noticed). So once more unto ... the TA for another change and another week added to our countdown. So still almost a year away and I couldn't shake the feeling that maybe we weren't meant to take this cruise. But we proceeded to make plans: booked our flights the first day they were released, booked a hotel about seven months out. Obsessed over the Magic Navigators and jumped from excursion plans to excursion plans. The summer was flying by and then crisis! An emergency vet bill put the whole trip into doubt. I was glad we hadn't told the kids about the cruise yet because then we wouldn't have to tell them about cancelling it. Mostly happy ending: old dog survived his surgery and bounced back with flying colours and the final bill came in at the lower end of the estimate (still more than the cost of the cruise!). So we held on to our holiday money and instead paid the bill with the money saved for Dh's dental work. I'm so grateful for the sacrifices my wonderful husband accepts that I make on his behalf. Oh, and our other dog now has medical insurance, you know, just in case. So time plodded on. We joined the Facebook group, FEs were discussed, countdowns were started, money was put aside...and DH and I struggled with that age old question: When do we tell the kids? Now we didn't intend to surprise them. We hadn't actually intended on keeping it a secret but apparently my kids were oblivious to the fact that we had made a future booking so we decided not to bring it to their attention as two years is a long time for a kid to wait. I wanted to share the planning and excitement with them so they needed to have a bit of advance notice. We settled on telling them at the end of August, just before school went in. Now, how to tell them? Oh, we threw all sorts of ideas around, from the boring to the ridiculous! Some days we just wanted to scream it out just to distract them from fighting/whining/annoying us. But we didn't. And DH was having too much fun throwing out obscure hints that went right over their heads (Girls, did you know that allspice in French is poivre de Jamaïque?) I had previously compiled our first cruise videos into one home movie. I then made up a second video, with photos and music representing the three ports we'd visit: Jamaica, Grand Cayman & Cozumel - and then added it at the end of the original video. We got Grandma involved in our little conspiracy and managed to get the kids to sit down while we played our cruise video on the TV because Grandma hasn't seen it yet. We were pleased with the response! So there, now everyone knew about the trip. All that was left was the packing. Well, and making FEs, and organizing for the housesitter, and trying to get caught up at work, and...and...and...and...yes, at one point I told the kids that we were never taking another holiday because it was just so much WORK! Fortunately, they didn't believe me.