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I'm Erika Ward

Over a decade ago, I exchanged my corporate life in building construction for an opportunity to enhance your personal home via decoration and renovation.  My mission? To help busy professionals make their homes their sanctuaries.

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As we wrapped up the first year of homeschool, I couldn’t help but be concerned about summer learning loss. However, in the days leading up to our Carnival cruise I was determined to extend education into the summer and to make learning fun even while on vacation.

U.S. Government 101 + Map Skills

This year, I introduced map reading skills which proved to be extremely useful when showing them our trip’s route. Because we were visiting three foreign islands, they learned that passports were needed to travel beyond our countries’ borders. Knowing they would each have their own special document turned a trip to the passport office into a mission.


Our ship, the Carnival Conquest departed from Fort Lauderdale ,which meant the kids got to experience their first airplane ride. Again, we used the map in the headrest to navigate our short flight. Once we arrived, we boarded a charter bus which transported us the the port, then we boarded the ship. Car to airplane, airplane to bus, bus to ship; one of the twins pointed out we used four modes of transportation in one day!

A Lesson in Art History on The Carnival Conquest

During the school year, the older children took an art history class at a neighborhood art center. Once aboard the ship, they recognized each of the formal dining restaurants, Renoir and Monet, were named for famous artists. Furthermore, original art hung in the halls leading into Lido Deck as well in the staircases. Because of their new found appreciation of art, we always made time to stop and observe various works before we headed to the next activity.

A Cultural Melting Pot

The crew members on the Carnival Conquest came from several different countries yet all had the same mission–to guarantee that this trip would be the best.vacation.ever. Everyone was amused at the various accents and dialects spoken though we all spoke English. One crew member in particular gave them a little history lesson about her native country of Jamaica and shared a photo of her own child.

Navigating the Sea—and Discovering the New World

Sailing on The Carnival Conquest isn’t roughing it by any means but we did talk about the dangers the early settlers faced in navigating rough waters when sailing to undocumented territories. This also meant no buffet, entertainment, Camp Ocean and all of the wonderful amenities we enjoyed on our cruise.

We had just a few hours in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico and had time to explore the Castillo San Cristóbal, a fort built to protect land attacks on the city of San Juan.

In St. Kitts we took an island excursion which gave us the country’s history as a powerhouse for sugar exporting, got a peek into the plantation owner’s home to get a glimpse of what life was like before running water.

Mom and dad enjoyed a few swigs during the rum tasting event.

Experiencing life on the island helped my city kids to better appreciate nature, both wild animals and flowers, and interact with the hospitable, beautiful people of the Caribbean.



This post was created for Away We Go with Carnival, the destination for getting in the getaway state of mind. Head on over.

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  1. Design Chic says:

    How do you do it all?! Love seeing your family on the cruise and what a wonderful opportunity for your children to visit so many different countries and cultures…fabulous! Enjoy your weekend!

    • Erika Ward says:

      Thank you! It takes lots of coordination and communication between my husband and I. We make it work! The kids will hopefully remember this experience for a lifetime. If not, then we certainly have the pictures to prove it!

  2. Phyllis Johnson says:

    What a fabulous trip for you and your family. Hope to see you soon. Take care and God bless.

  3. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina , three of the Carnival cruise ships were chartered by the United States government for six months to serve as temporary housing until the houses can be rebuilt. After being chartered for six months, their planned voyages were cancelled, and passengers were refunded.



Over a decade ago, I exchanged my corporate life in building construction for an opportunity to enhance your personal home via decoration and renovation. My mission? To help busy professionals make their homes their sanctuaries.

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