In 1992, my parents got the opportunity to work in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. So they packed up us four kids–ranging from 14 years to six weeks old–and took us to Abu Dhabi for two years. I grew from four years old to six during the time we were there.

They were a great years. We have a ton of photos which are made even better by what a great photographer my father is! Seriously, aren’t these photos wonderful? I’m excited to share more photos my dad took when I was a kid.

First up, adventures with camels on the side of the road. Brian is 10, I’m 14, and Tori is three months old.

I love this photo because my mom looks great, and the way it’s framed is so similar to my photography style!

We became life-long friends with a family of Canadian expats. The adults were great friends, as were we with their two children, Conlan and Lena-Joy. We visited each other a few times after moving back to the US and Canada, and I got to meet up with Lena-Joy a few years ago when she traveled through Venice!

In this photo, my dad was egging on a camel–they were hissing and spitting at each other.

I’m leaving you with a photo that would probably embarrass most people. But my dad is not one to be embarrassed easily.

This photo is so quintessentially 90’s, and he kind of reminds me of Homer Simpson in the episode where he gets a job working from home and starts wearing a muumuu. My dad never worked from home, but he did wear this almost every day for 20 years.

My very last post about our Disney Cruise. You can see them all here.

Disney has an amazing marketing team. Last week we received a paper-framed magnetic photo of our ship. It is the lone item on the front of our refrigerator. And it came at the perfect time–just when we’re really getting tired of our day-to-days again. And Disney Cruise Line commercials have just started playing on Hulu.

I can’t tell you how much time we spent on Deck 4 looking over the water. Look at all those beautiful colors!

I took periodic videos with my little FlipHD camera and edited them together when I got home. Joseph bought me the little camera after I kept wishing I could make videos while we were in Egypt. This is the first time I really got to use it for traveling!

I did not intend for this to so closely resemble a romantic movie’s montage. And I definitely didn’t intend it to make people cry. Sorry about that.

Disney Cruise 2012 from Alyssa Young on Vimeo.

This was our very last excursion and our very favorite!

Salsa & Salsa operates in a few cities–Cozumel, Mazatlan, and Los Cabos–and is rated the #1 activity for good reason. The class is a few hours long and is hosted by “Dancing chefs” who teach you first how to make seven varieties of salsa and then how to salsa dance. There were also unlimited and very strong margaritas, which we weren’t entirely expecting, but it made the gathering really fun and easygoing. This isn’t the kind of event we would normally do (I was frankly amazed I got Joseph to agree to salsa dancing), but it was an absolute blast.

I don’t have any photos of us salsa dancing, but I do have food photos! We were too busy dancing to pull out a camera!

Remember the unlimited margaritas I mentioned? I think they could be blamed for Joseph’s struggles with taking a photo with me in focus.

Salsa & Salsa Cozumel was at a beautiful private resort, and after the lesson we were able to take advantage of the amenities and swim for over an hour. The water in Cozumel is absolutely beautiful, so I was beyond excited to get to swim!

Click here to view all the blog posts from this trip!

This was our second stop and marked the middle of our trip. In Costa Maya we took a tour of the Chacchoben Mayan Ruins and then had lunch with a Mayan family. I kind of went out on a limb with this excursion–I booked with a company outside of Disney called The Native Choice. We had a very short port time (about four hours), but I emailed the company in advance and had all my worries soothed. I’m so glad I went with them!

Chacchoben Ruins

Lunch with a Mayan family

Beautiful vegetables grown on the property!

Of course I had to take a picture of the family’s cat.

Click here to view all the blog posts from this trip!

Our first excursion of our Disney Cruise (see all posts about the trip here) was to Grand Cayman, one of the Cayman Islands. We went to a touristy place called Hell, visited the Cayman Turtle Farm, and swam with stingrays.

I have to admit, I was not really excited about this day. I wasn’t interested in Hell and absolutely did not want to swim with stingrays. However, the last activity is so highly rated and so popular that I decided we should do it. I’m not scared of stingrays or anything, but I think they are creepy, and I didn’t want to touch them. I assumed as soon as I got in the water and got used to them, I would be fine. But that was not at all the case.


Our first stop was to “Hell”–a small field of black limestone formations that are supposed to resemble Hell. We took a couple pictures and then had nothing to do but go to the tiny gift shop, where a man walks around in a devil’s costume asking people, “Where the hell are you from?” There was also a very discolored and slightly-smaller-than-life cardboard cutout of said man.

Cayman Turtle Farm

I was really excited about visiting the Cayman Turtle Farm. I feel in love with turtles after we adopted our grumpy Lazar Wolf. But did you know that adult sea turtles are actually terrifying?

Swimming with Stingrays

We took a 20-30 minute boat ride out to Stingray City–shallow sandbars rife with stingrays. I look almost happy in this first photo (because that stingray was being held–I wouldn’t have been smiling had I known about the stray behind me), but the rest of the time I was an absolute nervous wreck. I stayed on the edge of the group with my hands clutched at my chest, frantically trying to move out of the way of any stingray that came towards me. And I squealed every time one managed to touch me.

I hated being “that person,” but I couldn’t help it. I was just really uncomfortable with the stingrays swimming all over the place because. I didn’t want them rubbing against me from every direction. They are way creepier than I anticipated–they have horrible yellow eyes and swim into people and each other very aggressively.

I thought it would be okay once I was in the water and really, really tried to not be a wet blanket. I started to get into the water immediately once we got there–like a normal person! But at that moment a gigantic stingray swam out from under the boat right where I was about to get in, and I moved to the back to bide my time. Eventually, there were only two people left: me and a crying 11 year old girl. No way was I going to appear the cowardice, so I got into the water without thinking. Then I stayed on the edge trying to avoid the stingrays and screamed when I had my first encounter–accidentally stepping on one. It was downhill from there.

I took a few photos with a waterproof disposable camera, but they didn’t come out that well since the water was moving so much I couldn’t keep my head and hands steady. Disappointing considering how brave I was to get that close to them!