So if you’ve been following me on Instagram, you know I went on a blog-related Caribbean cruise a couple weeks ago. And it was amazing.
It was my first time cruising, so I was a little *teensy* bit skeptical. I mean, what if we encountered a rogue iceberg? Or killer pirates? Or sharks with laser beams on their heads, Austin Powers-style? It could happen.
But none of it did (that I know of, anyway) and I lived to tell the tale. And truth be told, it was one of the most amazing weeks of my life. I learned so much, I met so many new, fabulous friends, and I ate my freakin’ weight in food. Like, the laser-beam sharks would surely eat me first since I was filled to the brim with cookies.
We traveled on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas, which is actually one of the largest cruise ships on the ocean. It’s taller than the Golden Gate Bridge and what seems like miles upon miles long, and is packed with plenty of things to see and do at any given time. Want to see a Broadway show? They were performing Cats. Want to ride on a surf simulator? Yep, they have that, too (and watching people biff may be my new favorite pasttime). Want to eat free Coconut Ranger Cookies all the live long day? I do, and I did. Oh man, I did.
As I mentioned before, it was a blog-related cruise called the Click Retreat. The Click Retreat is a photography based conference that focuses on all things click-y to do with your camera. Not only did I meet some amazing photographers, but I was surrounded by some of the best bloggers you could think of. I felt beyond blessed to be sailing in the middle of the teal blue Caribbean learning about F-stops and ISO, taking pictures of sunsets while drinking champagne. It was seriously like I was a socialite, except with less fancy clothes.
We traveled and toured Nassau, Bahamas; Magen’s Bay, St. Thomas; and Marigot and Philipsburg, St. Maarten, which turned out to be my favorite island by far… and I’ll have pictures of my experience at the end of the post if you’re interested 🙂
Overall, it was a phenomenal experience and I couldn’t have asked for a better time. And before I forget, let’s go back to those aforementioned all-I-can-eat cookies. The cookies I could not get enough of where Coconut Ranger Cookies… have you heard of them? They’re kind of like Kitchen Sink Cookies in that they have a little bit of everything in them: coconut, cornflakes, oats. The kind on the ship didn’t have chocolate chips, but you could totally throw those in there, or even butterscotch or peanut butter chips. But they’re the perfect balance of sweet and salty, crunchy and ultra chewy, with great texture and this wonderful deep, toffee flavor. I fell in love with them, and Joan and I could not stop sneaking them back to our rooms. I vowed that when I returned home, I’d recreate this dreamy cookie … and lucky for me, it’s pretty identical to Royal Caribbean’s!
It’s kinda like I’m on a cruise… except I’m not seasick and I’m not being served champagne. Also, no one makes my bed and there’s dog hair everywhere. Okay, so it isn’t like a cruise at all, but if I can’t live on a ship forever, at least I’ll have ship cookies 🙂
*recipe adapted from All-Recipes
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 & 1/2 tsps baking soda
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp dried nonfat milk powder
- 1 & 3/4 cup old fashioned oats (not instant)
- 1 & 3/4 cup crushed cornflakes cereal
- 1/2 cup shredded coconut
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with silicone liners, or mist baking sheets lightly with cooking spray and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar with the paddle attachment until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add in the eggs and vanilla until incorporated. Lastly, add in the baking soda, baking powder, milk powder, salt, and flour until a soft dough forms. Stir in the oats, cornflakes cereal and coconut by hand, (and if using chips, stir those in now, too).
- Drop rounded, Tablespoon-sized balls of dough onto the baking sheets, keeping about 2″ apart. Bake for approx. 10-12 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking time to ensure even cooking. Cookies are done when the edges are light golden brown. The cookies may appear slightly undone; this is okay – just do not over bake. Allow the cookies to cool for about 15 minutes on the sheets before transferring carefully to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Store cookies airtight, at room temperature, up to a week. Cookies are best served warm or at room temperature.
These are so chewy, with buttery-crisp edges and a scrumptious texture thanks to the chewy, nutty coconut and the crushed cornflakes! The brown sugar, white sugar, vanilla and milk powder help create that deep, rich toffee undertone to these cookies that pairs beautifully with the shredded coconut, old fashioned oats and the crunchy cornflakes cereal. As I said before, feel free to add in chopped nuts or chocolate chips for a different flavor or texture! 🙂
And now, for pictures! Enjoy!
In St. Thomas, we had the pleasure of sampling some Cruzan Rum! My favorites were the banana and black cherry, but they were all so delicious!
This was my wonderful, incredible, awesome, fantastical room-mate, Alyssa from Simply Quinoa! We couldn’t have more different blogs, but we connected on so many levels. I love her!
I had the unique opportunity to break away from my Click Retreat group and take a Butterfly Farm tour in St. Maarten on the French side, Marigot. The Butterfly Farm was a gorgeous place where hundreds of different species of butterflies lived among flowers, plants and the gorgeous Marigot countryside. I love butterflies!
This was the cutest little street in Philipsburg, the Dutch capital of St. Maarten. And you bet your bottom dollar that I bought nearly every flavor of chocolate in that authentic Belgian Chocolate Shop! I also found this fantastic homemade jam, rum and spice shop called Ma DouDou located on this street. I bought myself a Coconut Caramel jam that’s to-die for! Everything is made in-house and it’s a family owned, artisanal food shop. Loved it.
One of my favorite things about my cruise was touring Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas‘ kitchen! Um, it’s a mega-kitchen, easily the size of my house or larger. On the Oasis of the Seas, everything is prepared in-house for the upwards of 6,000 guests and crew members daily. One thing I was surprised to learn was that Royal Caribbean chefs prepare the fresh-baked pastries daily, including these phyllo cinnamon buns that I couldn’t get enough of. Must copycat this recipe!
The group and I had lunch at one of the ship’s renowned restaurants, Sabor. I was so excited since I was having Mexican food withdrawals. Sabor had these incredible bacon-wrapped chicken-stuffed jalapenos as an appetizer… but Barbara from Barbara Bakes and I kept ordering plate after plate! They were spicy, smoky, sweet and drizzled with this fabulous Mexican crema. Thankfully, Barbara recreated them, so grab that recipe!
We also had a great spread of Mexican-inspired desserts, including creme brulee, flan, Ancho chile chocolate crepes, churros, and chocolate & banana empanadas. Oh, how I wish I had this spread in front of me right now.
Overall, I had an incredible experience and I am so blessed to have gone on this amazing journey! I would love to personally thank the fantastical bloggers I met at the Click Retreat and the AWESOME sponsors who made this trip possible, including Southwest Airlines (for the seamless flights from Sacramento to Fort Lauderdale! — and FREE checked bags!!), Royal Caribbean (for the wonderful accommodations aboard their monster ship), Blurb Books, Sabra Hummus, Chatbooks, Patron, and more! Thank you, thank you, thank you!
And for more information about Click Retreat, be sure to follow Today’s Mama, the most gracious host for this life-changing conference!
Have a wonderful Sunday!!