Caregiver Cruise

2016 Caregiver Cruise to New England and Canada!

We know it can be difficult to travel when your loved one has memory impairment, but we all still need a vacation! Both the individual with a dementia diagnosis and their caregiver are able to attend the cruise, making the program possibly the first of its kind in the country. Insight provides supervision during excursions, and respite at sea, giving cruise participants the opportunity for a vacation in a safe environment, in the company of others who “get it.” In addition to the many benefits a cruise offers – the chance for a vacation, seeing new sights, a getaway – the caregiver cruise provides families with a sense of normalcy.

One caregiver shared: "It was just fun to be with other people because at home I’m pretty isolated and this gave me an opportunity to be with people, be entertained, go to the shows, just relax and enjoy things - without my husband and with my husband."

Check Out What We Did!

We made daily posts here with trip highlights and excursions so you can feel like you've cruised along with us!
We departed from Baltimore on Thursday, May 26, 2016, and returned Saturday, June 4, 2016 with stops in Boston, Portland, Bar Harbor, St. John, and Halifax.

Day 6: St. John and Our Sanity – We Left Them Both at the Port!

Day 6: St. John and Our Sanity – We Left Them Both at the Port!

May 31, 2016

Day 6 here in St. John, New Brunswick, Canada, again started off with dense fog! You could barely see off the ship. Luckily as the day progressed, some of the fog lifted, but then returned. Apparently they call it “cyclical fog” here in St. John.

We did have to be up early today for our excursions. Today was the first day where we had two excursions booked. Christi took one group to St. Martins and the Bay of Fundy while Joel took the other group on a sightseeing tour aboard a vintage trolley here in St. John.

So everyone was up, had their morning joe and Wheaties and we were off! Christi’s group departed first. We do have to say, of all the ports, the ease of getting on and off the ship was by far the best here in St. John. Christi and co. took off for an adventure to St. Martin and the Bay of Fundy. They chartered a bus and were guided through the city getting some highlights of the rich history of the Loyalists and then took off about an hour away where they all stopped for lunch. They were served New England style clam chowder and a cheddar biscuit where we were told it was “lick your bowl good!” They were also treated to a delicious cookie for dessert. Next up – exploration of the sea caves and the Bay. The group explored on their own picking up wishing stones and sea glass with the hopes to bring them back as a souvenir. Unfortunately, upon the return to the ship, as their bags went through security, one by one, they were asked “do you have rocks in your bag?” Apparently, unbeknownst to everyone, you are not permitted to take rocks home! So there was a HUGE pile of rocks next to the security checkpoint! But, Christi had put her sea glass in her snack bag and it passed through security! Granola bars, almonds and sea glass! All in all, the group had a great time. They were gone almost the entire day, but returned in time before the ship left!

Joel’s group had a morning trolley ride through the scenic and historical town of St. John. The tour was narrated by Heather who gave a very thorough overview of the history of how St. John became the city it is today, from the Loyalists who settled, to the Irving family who has brought so much industrialization to the area. The group had a chance to get out and explore the area where the St. John River meets the Bay of Fundy where the Pulp Mill is also located. It was quite interesting to hear about how the two bodies of water affect life in St. John. Once the tour concluded, some folks walked through the tented market place while others branched out just a little further, but everyone made it back on board in time to grab some lunch. The rest of the day was spent relaxing aboard the ship taking in the cyclical fog!

Later that evening, the group was starting to get a little slaphappy! We all decided to entertain ourselves by trying to hang our spoons on our noses, or break out into hysterics over Steve chomping on his toothpick! One thing was for sure, we all ate enough to feed a small mining village. To cap off dinner, we celebrated Ruth’s birthday with a fabulous cake and song! We had a few other shenanigans throughout the meal, but all agreed, our sanity has gone out the window! After dinner, the group was so full, but they decided to grab a drink in the Centrum lounge, listen to the band before the comedy show later that evening.

As we have mentioned, Joel has been spending a lot of time with Guest Services, Shore Excursions, and with the staff. While he was out and about today, he was stopped by two separate people who said “we are so glad to see that you are able to get some time off the ship! You always look so busy and you are so nice to help out the elderly passengers!” So, if this whole Adult Day Care thing doesn’t pan out, there is a future at Royal Caribbean for Joel!

We do want to mention again how hard the staff aboard these cruise ships work. One of the staff whom we have come to love is Erdi Mutulu from Istanbul. He works seven days a week, 12 hour days! Yet, he always manages to have a smile on his face, and is willing to sit and chat with us, share his stories about working on a cruise ship and get us anything we need. He and Shirley have a special bond as well. The first night, he had laid a napkin down on the table in front of Shirley, asking her if she would like a drink. Shirley (which she fully admits, she has no idea why she did this), grabbed his hand and held it! Now, every time Erdi sees Shirley, you will always see him with one hand behind his back! Of course it is all in good fun. We really would love to take him back with us!

The seas are rocky tonight! Lots of swaying aboard the mighty Grandeur tonight. Hopefully the gentle swaying will lull all the passengers to sleep. Next up – our final port of call – Halifax, Nova Scotia. The weather looks to be much better tomorrow. A little warmer and less fog. Today’s lesson of the day – don’t try to smuggle in rocks from a state park onto a cruise ship!

Gathering early this morning.

Fog around the ship!

Enjoying the view on the way to St. Martin’s and the Bay of Fundy.

Getting out to see the views.

Searching for sea glass!

Stopping for lunch at the City Market!

Enjoying every bite!

Browsing the market!

Enjoying the sunny views!

Vintage trolley tour of St. John’s.

Our tour guide, Heather.

Showing us the sights!

We had a great time chatting!

And exploring the Marketplace!

A little pre-dinner dancing!

Getting a little silly at dinner!

Balancing spoons!

Happy Birthday Ruth!

Stuffed after dinner.

Shirley and Erdi!