It has been a long time since I ventured out with a group of bloggers.
A couple of weeks ago, I joined my friend Kim, my fantastic colleague from our family travel site Have a lovely Time and her gorgeous son Ollie, in sampling time on the Independence of the Seas. This is the third biggest cruise ship in the world which sails to fabulous destinations and has been doing brilliant work welcoming mum bloggers aboard.
My title says we *almost* made it to the high seas as this time the ship was sailing to the Meditterranean, taking in iconic Italian sights along the way. Our tantalising taste started and ended in Southampton. What a day it was, a whirlwind tour invloving sun, sea and cake.
Also there were my expert cackler friends Laura, Tara, Erica, Becky and Lucy. I don't mind admitting I was a little nervous to be taking part. But I needn't have worried. It was a spectacular and all too brief adventure -- and coming just months after we peeled our last cruise ship room numbers off our passports, I felt incrediby lucky to have been invited, thanks to Tara and our friend Liz, cruise expert all round classy lady.
Ems and Mels with Sally Gunnell
Kim has written a piece for Love a Happy Ending and a fuller piece from the two of us is scheduled for mid August on Have a Lovely Time. But I felt I couldn't let any more time pass without a nod here on Got your hands full to the team at Royal Caribbean for the fun we had that day. Not only has it opened my eyes to the calibre of this cruise line, but it has also made me rediscover my blogging mojo.
I also met up again -- all too briefly with Karin from Cafe Bebe and Cathy Winston from Mummy Travels. Both are writers I admire and of course they give great hug. Talking of hugs, Tanya at Mummy Barrow showed herself to be very adept in that department, thank you Tanya for helping me feel so welcome. And I went in for a snatched but nevertheless impressive cuddle with Jenny from Edspire. Kate from WitWitWoo is someone I'd been very much looking forward to meeting and her wicked sense of humour had me howling.
In between all the hugging, I also found time to watch my girls hurtling hell for leather down the Flow Rider, pose with Sally Gunnell, watch a fab ice show (yes it's as good as Blackpool :)), soak up some rays on the hottest day of the year so far and enjoy the odd cocktail (actually there was nothing odd about them) and a mouthwatering three-course lunch. Oh yes the kids also made cupcakes, this was before the cocktails.
I loved the elegant feel of the ship and its high-end service. It's quite a balancing act to get that right in my humble opinion and still have a warm welcome for families. I've been on two cruises before and both were amazing, but the scale and quality of what the Independence of the Seas was offering was out of this world.
As I head for Africa on a heartfelt charity journey, I'm counting my blessings that I have been able to sample such wonderful experiences with my girls and my friends at my side.
And I'm delighted to say thank you so much to everyone for looking after us so well and making this such a special event. I've well and truly got my blogging mojo back.
Watch this space.
Did I mention the cocktails?