2017 marked the 12th annual sailing of the Bead Cruise organized by Heather Powers of Humblebeads fame... and my third trip aboard this beady voyage. This cruise is always an amazing time filled with laughter, learning, and (for me, anyway) lounging on the beach. I think most of us Bead Cruisers would agree that the experience is as much about seeing old friends (and meeting new ones!) as it is the wonderful classes.
As I have after past Bead Cruises and other jewelry class experiences, I thought I'd share a little of my adventures with you here to give you an idea of what it's all about. This year we set sail on Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas out of Galveston, Texas with stops in Roatan, Belize City, and Cozumel. Below you'll see our ship, my roommate Lissa and I on the bus to the port, and us enjoying our first cocktail of the cruise.
Full disclosure: the fun actually started with a couple of nights in Houston with a field trip to one of our fellow cruiser's bead stores, Beadoholique, and a group dinner to kick things off. Whenever possible, Heather tries to schedule a pre-cruise bead store adventure! The first night of the cruise, Heather always hosts a welcome party with a pendant exchange. This gives us all a chance to meet each other and our instructors, get any important updates from Heather, and get out fabulous goody bags filled with yummy and fun things from the cruise sponsors. Here's part of what I got in my bag this year...
This trip we had two at sea days at the start of the trip allowing us to begin our adventure with our full and half day classes (more about those in a bit) before hitting our first port... Roatan, Honduras. Lissa and I, along with a van full of our fellow Bead Cruisers got a guided tour of the island. The highlight of the tour was a boat ride through the mangroves and a view of Roatan's Little Venice community from the water.
That night was the Midsummer Night's Dream costume party. The annual costume cocktail party is always a highlight. Heather chooses a different theme every year, but people really responded to this year's fairy-centric theme and went all out! Here's a peek at some of my favorite fairies...
Our second port was Belize City, Belize. This was my first time taking a tender off of a cruise ship and I can tell you I far prefer ports where you can just walk off the ship. When you have to tender, you actually end up taking a smaller boat from the ship to shore and back. It just makes the whole process and timing of things a little more complicated and stressful when you're trying to make it to a shore excursion. But I digress... after a 40 minute boat ride we found our tour group and headed off to the Mayan ruins at Altun Ha. Despite the crazy heat, I had to climb to the top of the large temple for some pictures. I was rewarded with a cool breeze and a magnificent view from the top!
Our final stop was in Cozumel, Mexico where Lissa, myself, and a few other ladies from our group enjoyed some beach time and a fabulous cooking class at Playa Mia. Those of you who know me, know that I'm no cook. As a matter of fact, I'm barely allowed in the kitchen! I'm so shocked that I made myself a three course lunch and it was absolutely delicious!!
Ok, enough about the vacation aspects of the Bead Cruise and onto the classes! One of the things that I appreciate about the Bead Cruise is that there are classes for a wide variety of interests... it's not all seed beads like some retreats that I've seen. A full day and a half day class are included as part of your cruise registration with the option to add up to two extra half day classes. I was an overachiever as always and signed up for four classes. Sadly, I wasn't as diligent about taking pictures during my classes as I have been in the past (I was super busy with my projects!) but I do have pics of my finished/semi-finished projects.
This year I took classes from Eva Sherman and Heather Powers that focused on metal work and polymer clay. I never imagined that I would actually enjoy polymer clay until I went to Heather's Inspired by Nature retreat last fall... but I'm really enjoying the versatility of this medium. My all day class was Eva's "Groovy Cuffs and Pendants" where we learned a fun technique to layer polymer clay and create really cool patterns. I adore how my pieces turned out and am itching to break out the toaster oven to make some more things now that I'm home! My half day class was Heather's "Sweetest Song" where we used her "Metal Sketches" technique to create a cute, folk-art inspired bird pendant. We had all the supplies to finish a necklace, but I ran out of time and wanted to focus on getting my pendant colored with the Swellegant patinas and dyes. I need to sit down and finish the other components so I'll have a wearable necklace!
The two optional half day classes were held at the end of the cruise on our final at sea day before returning to Galveston. My morning class was another polymer clay class, Heather's "Sea Pods." I had fun sculpting a variety of pod and shell shapes and turning them into headpins. Some of the designs were easier than others, but I'll give them all another try at home where there are no time constraints. We used alcohol inks and patina paints to give life to these little beauties so now I have more things I'd like to buy to add to my tool box. My final half day class was back to Eva for her "Gypsy Woman Cuff." This was a fun bracelet project that looks more complicated than it really was. Eva had pre-cut copper sheet that she had textured with a rolling mill. I finished one cuff in class and went home with the supplies to make two more. Beyond that, I think I'd need to book studio time someplace to use a guillotine and maybe a rolling mill since those are both tools that are a little expensive for me right now.
The Bead Cruise ends with the last of the annual events, the dreaded Goodbye Party on the last night. Each year, Heather challenges cruisers to make something using items from our goody bags from at least three sponsors and the group votes on their favorites and prizes are awarded at the party. It was nice to see prizes go to several first time Bead Cruisers this year. The next morning it's off the ship and back to the airport for our re-entry to the real world. As I write this a few days after arriving back home, I still feel the motion of the ocean in my inner ear, but am starting to readjust to life on dry land. To wrap this up, I'll just leave you with a few pictures of me relaxing during the cruise... when life gets to hectic I'll just close my eyes and imagine myself back on the beach in Cozumel or enjoying a sunset on my stateroom balcony!