Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Bead Cruise 2015!

2015 marks the 10 year anniversary of the Bead Cruise.  You may remember that my friend Kathleen and I went on the cruise last year for the first time.  You can read about that first adventure HERE.  We had such a fabulous time that we just couldn't pass up the anniversary sailing and all the extra events that went along with it!  Heather Powers (of Humblebeads fame) always goes to great lengths to make the cruise a wonderful experience for all involved but she had some extra special events and surprises to help celebrate a decade of Bead Cruising!

Many of us arrived in Florida an extra day early to take part in a field trip to Beads Gone Wild in West Palm Beach.  I'm not sure that the staff there knew what hit them when a bus load of bead ladies swarmed them all at once.  Not really needing anything, I didn't expect to buy all that much... and yet I left with a heavy sack filled with pretty new seed beads, farfalle (peanut) beads in a rainbow of gorgeous colors, and some really neat coated hematite beads.  So much for resolve!

On the bus to the bead store!

Friday night we had group dinner to kick things off at a nearby hotel... highlights included a lovely gift for Heather that Terri G. organized and some delicious cake for dessert!  This year Heather made really nice name badges that got bedazzled with turquoise crystals based on how many times each person had been a Bead Cruiser.  It was fun to see how many folks were serious veterans!  On Saturday morning, giddy with excitement, our group boarded a series of shuttle buses equipped with trailers for all our baggage and headed off to the port in Ft. Lauderdale.

Bon Voyage!

Since this was our second year cruising, the whole experience felt very much like a homecoming to me.  It was a chance to catch up with folks that you only "see" online the rest of the year and to make new friends.  When you bring a big group of people together who share common interests and a love for fun, good things are going to happen!   
One of my favorite pictures from the cruise: with Kathleen, Erin, and Diana on our first formal night.

Our first stop was St. Maarten but Kathleen and I didn't spend that much time actually on that island.  We opted to go swim with the dolphins over on the neighboring island of Anguilla.  We had done the dolphin "cuddle" the previous year and were feeling more adventurous this time around.  Included in this experience were having the dolphin push each person on a boogie board and doing a belly swim where you are tummy to tummy as the dolphin pulls you through the water.  It was fun and incredible!

Our second port was St. Kitts and a good number of the Bead Cruisers signed up to visit the Caribelle Batik factory on the other side of the island.  Less of a factory tour than a cool shopping experience with lovely grounds, one of the best parts of the excursion was getting driven all around the little island and getting a glimpse of the non-touristy parts if only from a van.

Next up was a short stop in San Juan.  I would love to have more time here... most of us were sorry we didn't get a longer day to explore.  Kathleen and I chose to do the San Juan food and culture walking tour through Old San Juan.  I would totally recommend this shore excursion.  We had a nice walk through town getting some interesting history and stories along the way.  We stopped for three different tasty treats throughout the tour and did not go back to the ship hungry!  A highlight was getting to muddle our own mojitos and smash the plantains, garlic, and butter to create mofongo which we ate with a spicy chicken mixture.  I'm getting hungry just thinking about it!  Even though there were two bead stores nearby, Kathleen and I decided to end our day by visiting a local brewery... you can read about that and our adventures with cruise cocktails over on my husband's blog soon HERE.

I couldn't get enough of the gorgeous colors and iron work of the buildings in San Juan!

Our last port was Royal Caribbean's private beach resort of Labadee, Haiti.  Unfortunately, this wasn't our best weather day and we got a fair amount of drizzle with short periods of heavier rain that sent many folks running back to the ship.  Kathleen and I, perhaps bolstered by our dolphin adventure earlier in the trip, started our day with the Dragon's Breath Flight Line.  At 2.600 feet long, it's the longest zip line over water and it was amazing.  It was quite the adrenaline high!

I still can't believe I did this!

Thanks to Diana's quick work, we managed to snag a waterside cabana for the day.  It was great having our own private base of operations and cover from the rain.  The water was warm and wonderful and I loved getting to really swim for the first time in forever.  We also spent part of the afternoon doing some beach combing for pretty shells and other beachy finds.  I hope to incorporate some of the tiny shells I found into some new jewelry in the coming months.  Stay tuned!  

Looking out at the other cabanas from our little piece of paradise!

Lest you think that the cruise was all adventure and enjoying gorgeous tropical ports of call, here's a peek at my class projects in process.  From the top left corner:  bits and pieces from Heather Powers' Metal Sketches class, Tracy Stanley's Byzantine Chain class, Heather's Tropical Foliage needle felting and bead embroidery class, and Erin Siegel's Tribal Inspired Bracelet class.  I had a great time learning some new techniques and being surprised by how much I liked some things that were pretty far outside my comfort zone.  I've got a wish list of new tools and supplies and I'm not sure I can wait until my birthday in July to gift them to myself!

I swear I will get these projects finished soon!

On the last night of the cruise we had our farewell party and design contest.  Last year I played along for the contest (and won!) but this time, I just didn't have the right combination of goodies to pull something together... nor did I make a lot of extra beading time outside of class and the pj party.  Like last year, I was wowed by what people came up with for the contest!  Part of the evening's festivities included the last round of door prizes.  I ended up winning the mother lode... a grab bag of beady goodness from the contributors of the Art Jewelry Elements blog!!  I couldn't believe my good luck... just look at all the lovely loot I got!  (Not pictured here is the cool focal from Jenny Davies Reasoner because I traded it to Kathleen for the door prize she had won.)

Winning this prize package helped ease the pain of leaving the cruise and all my beady friends behind!

The details for Bead Cruise 2016 will be available soon.  If you are interested in taking engaging jewelry making classes with incredible instructors while having a fun cruise vacation, I urge you to check it out.  I learned a great deal, made new friends, and had a ton of fun... and I escaped a brutal Minnesota winter at the same time.  Bead Cruise for the win!  I'm hoping that I can go again in 2016... if not, I know it will happen another year!  Until then, I'll keep dreaming Bead Cruise dreams.


  1. It was a pleasure reading this post! A truly amazing experience - the places you visited, the techniques you learned and the goodies you won!

  2. I'm so impressed by all that you did, including the zip line! I'm jealous of the classes and things you won, though...

  3. "...even though there were two bead stores near by we decided to go to a brewery..." SAY WHAT? I am a bead fanatic that can NEVER pass by a bead store... even if it's just a quick perusal...