This week we took our first ever family vacation that didn't involving piling in a car and driving twelve hours to see other family.

We took a cruise to Mexico. And, we had a lot of fun.

We did it on the cheap. Carnival Cruise lines (which though fun has quite a bit of "cattle car" to the embarcation / disembarcation process). And we all four shared a stateroom. (But, hey, we only slept there.)

By far, my favorite places weren't on the ship--they were the ports of call. We spent a day on the beach in Progresso at the Hotel Reef Yucatan--which was exactly like a Corona commercial. In fact, if I ever go back to do the Mexico beach thing, this hotel would be my place of choice. Progresso is fairly undeveloped and the hotel was quietly beautiful. (Though there was plenty of party atmosphere when the all inclusive drinks started flowing.) We went snorkeling at three different reefs in Cozumel with the same tour company that hosted Progresso. (Explora, is the name and their team was really wonderful.) It is amazing to put your face with mask on in the water and see that there is a whole magical world beneath you.

Of course the best part was the "us four and no more" factor. With adult children, we don't get a lot of "just us" family moments anymore. It was nice to be in each other's presence. And to get a few silly pictures with all of us--thanks to a passing tourist who offered--that didn't involve one of us playing photographer.

Since Chase works for AT&T, he warned us about the costs for using your cell phone on a cruise ship ($3 min/$0.50 txt), so we dutifully turned them off. Though it was a true vacation being completely off the grid--what we didn't count on is how much we use cell phones for coordination between ourselves. Which meant there was quite a bit of challenge when we didn't think to plan out where/when we were meeting each other when we did things separately. If we ever do this again, we definitely have to sort that out. Walkie-talkies? Post it notes?

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Maira Gall