Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Bead Cruise 2018

I'm just back from a wonderful week of jewelry making classes, seeing old friends, meeting new people, fun in the sun, fabulous prizes, yummy food & drinks, and much more.  Where was I that all this happened?  On board Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas for the seven night Bead Cruise, of course!!  This is my fourth time setting sail with Heather Powers of Humblebeads and a group of other wonderful instructors and participants for the Bead Cruise and it's a blast each and every time!

Our ship, the Allure of the Seas, at our first port, Labadee.

This year we left out of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and headed for Labadee, Haiti; Jamaica, and Cozumel, Mexico... more about that in a bit.  Most of us fly down at least a day before the departure date... some folks went on a bead store field trip on Saturday, but I got in that day and just headed to the group hotel.

Getting to and on the ship is always a bit of an adventure starting with our shuttle to the port with tons of bags and supplies in tow... but eventually we always manage to get everything on board and settled into our staterooms and classrooms.  After grabbing a light lunch, I found my roommate for the week, grabbed cocktails, and toasted to the wonderful times ahead!

Waiting for the port shuttle with my friend Erin Prais-Hintz... Can you feel the excitement of going on her first Bead Cruise?

Met up with my wonderful roommate (and fabulous instructor!) Tracy Stanley to kick off the trip right!

After dinner on the first night of the cruise, there is a little welcome event where everyone gets to meet up, get the week's schedule, receive our goody bags full of wonderful items donated by the cruise's sponsors, and participate in a pendant exchange.  I ran out of time to play along with the exchange last year so I made sure to get back into the swing of things this time!

Pendant Exchange:  L) The pendant I made with a design and components from Vintaj.  R) The lovely and delicate pendant I received from SandyWetzstein.

If you aren't familiar with the way the Bead Cruise works, there are classes scheduled during the day on the at sea days.  You get one full day class and one half day class included with your registration and have the option of adding up to two additional half day classes.  This year, I decided to break out of my rut and try something new... bead embroidery!  My all day class was "It's A Hippy Thing" with the sweet, patient, and fun Kinga Nichols.  I'm a long way from having this bracelet completed (as you can see from my in progress pics below) but I'm getting there for sure!  I'm super excited to learn how to make a peyote bezel around a cabochon.  Now I won't be sad when I see a lovely bead only to notice that it's actually a cab!  I loved the way Kinga set up our class supplies buffet style so that we could pick our favorite one of a kind cab, the silk color, the leather, and the button individually.  I picked the orange color way for the cab and beads but decided to use the teal silk. 

The next day we were back ashore on Royal Caribbean's private piece of Haiti... Labadee.  I wasn't off the ship for too long, but did enjoy taking the little boat ride to the far side of the island and checking out the artisan market.  (I didn't get there the last time we were there for the 10th Anniversary cruise.)  It was super hot and humid so Heather, Erin, and I headed back to enjoy the pool while most people were off the ship.

Myself, Heather, and Erin on Labadee.  Lovely water of the Caribbean!

The next day was spent exploring Jamaica with a group of my fellow Bead Cruisers and our local guide "Mama" Maxine and guide-in-training Bobby.  We spent the first part of the way driving across the island to Dunn's River Falls.  None of us were interested in trying to climb the falls (it actually looked like a nightmare to do that to me!) but we enjoyed their beauty and many of us did at least get our feet wet!  After a yummy lunch of jerk chicken, fried plantains, and Red Stripe beer (for me, anyways) we headed for a quick tour of the lovely Coyaba Gardens.

Vistas from the drive, and a peek at Dunn's River Falls.

Some cool plants from Coyaba Gardens.  The top right is called Cat's Whiskers!

Later that evening, we had our Neverland themed costume party.  I was too busy dancing and checking out everyone's costumes and jewelry to get many pictures but I did snap a shot of a cute Peter Pan and Tinker Bell!  My costume was a super lazy pirate outfit not worthy of pictures!

After two days in a row on the islands it was back to class!  My half day class was my roommate Tracy Stanley's "Let's Color It" class.  She taught us a fun method for adding color to metal with Prismacolor colored pencils.  I have to admit that I spent a lot of my class time picking out some of the fun shaped metal blanks that Tracy brought and getting them prepped so that I could easily play with the color at home.  I did get one pendant mostly done, though.  I still need to seal it and I'm also thinking that I will add some sort of riveted element to it... just have to decide what that will be first!  This was a super fun technique and I'm already thinking about ways to incorporate it into future designs.

My main piece in progress... I love how even though my rubber stamp work was a little sloppy, the process was pretty forgiving.

Our last port was Cozumel, Mexico.  We stopped there last year and I did a cooking at the beach class at Playa Mia.  I had so much fun last time that I signed up for an excursion that included the same fabulous cooking class but added on some tequila time and a chocolate tour and tasting as well.  I didn't take many pictures (too busy cooking!) but snapped the shots below at the Mayan Cacao Company tour.  A fun, if a bit rushed time was had.  I even grabbed a nice bottle of sipping tequila to bring home to my hubby!

I ended up signing up for two bonus classes this year... one with our lovely hostess Heather and another with Kinga.  I was more than a little nervous about trying Heather's "Welcome to the Jungle" polymer class because it involved making canes.  I was pleasantly surprised by the relative ease of the process and think my beads turned out pretty darn well for it being a first attempt and working with a bit of a time crunch.  I had some ends of the cane that I had lopped off (it gets more distorted on the ends) but they still looked ok.  I decided to try making some little leaf charms since I had some larger sized canes.  Check back on Friday to see a couple of pairs of earrings featuring some of these newly made beads and charms for the We're All Ears challenge. 

It's hard to believe the polymer clay magic that creates the leaf canes that then get applied to your beads!  

Kinga's bonus class "Zeno, the Tiniest Fishie Bracelet" was a great way to end my set of classes.  Much more straightforward and beginner friendly, since it didn't involve bezeling a cab.  I had fun sitting and working on the backstitch outlines in class.  I got more of it finished while waiting for my flight home at the airport, but still have a ways to go.  I'll have to share when I get hime all done.  I was pleased to discover through Kinga's two classes that I enjoy bead embroidery... and it's one more tool in my beading tool kit!

So, eventually my fishy will look like Kinga's samples... I hope!

The last night of the cruise is always bittersweet for me... I'm sad to say goodbye to all of my beady friends but ready to be back home to my husband and kitties.  After dinner, Heather always hosts a Farewell Party before we all have to go back to our rooms to finish packing.  This year, a fun addition to the party was a little photo booth action with lots of amusing props.  Here are a couple of pics of me with Tracy and then Erin and Heather.  Heather also gave out a few more prizes game show style... I won a lovely bunch of sari silk from Design Talented One and a butterfly pendant from Gardanne.

Before I say goodbye to all of you, here's a little collage of some of my favorite things around the ship.  A couple of shots of my favorite area... Central Park, an outside area with real plants and lots of seating tucked throughout; my first chocolate martini... dessert for me on several nights; part of a cool art installation showing the progression of creating a carousel horse; and my favorite towel animal by our stateroom attendant Bob!  Not pictured, but the Oceanaria show at the amazing AquaTheater was super cool.  It was mix of diving, acrobatics, aerial daring, dance, and more with a "stage" that was sometimes covered with only an inch of water and sometimes was deep enough to dive into from 60 feet!

Thanks for sticking with me through this long post... assuming that you're still reading!  LOL.  I write these posts as much for myself as a diary of sorts, so I want to do my best to capture the highlights of all my adventures.


  1. Such a great post! It almost feels like I was there...oh, wait...I was there! It was a blast! A once in a lifetime experience and you captured it all so beautifully! Enjoy the day! Erin, a.k.a. Tinkerbell

  2. It was a fantastic week. Great recap of your week. The ship was fabulous. See you next year.

  3. What a fantastic time you had and so interesting classes! I'm looking forward to the finished pieces :)

  4. You have captured the mood, and flavour of the trip and the classes so well that I feel like I was there too. Looking forward to seeing the finished pieces

  5. Thx for sharing what looks like a fun, interesting & learning cruise all in one! Love the fish embroidery.

  6. Oh goodness, it looks like y'all had a whole lot of fun and learned some new stuff too! I'm so glad you shared so much of it here for all of us to enjoy!

  7. Thanks for the great recap. I thought it was such a wonderful cruise!