Winter is a popular season for sun-seeking Canadians to pack up, head south and vacation somewhere hot, but COVID-19 has kept many Canadians home.

One Ottawa couple found a creative way to visit the Caribbean from the comfort of their home after their cruise was cancelled.

Feeling refreshed is what a vacation is all about and for Rob and Lorraine Rathwell, seven days is exactly what they needed.

The Rathwells booked their western Caribbean cruise 18 months ago, but couldn't go because of COVID-19. So instead, they brought the cruise to their house and made a fun-in-the-sun journey to the four corners of their yard, posting the weeklong adventure on social media for all to see. 

Their house, the ship, the backyard became their vacation destinations. They followed the original itinerary and 'travelled' to Belize, Cozumel, Roatan and Grand Caymans. 

"This was about us having some fun and making the best out of a situation," says Rob. "Everyday for a couple hours a day it was just like it used to be and that was fun."

They setup lawn chairs and made signs for each location. They drank margaritas it 'Roatan', made snow angels in 'Grand Cayman', and there was golf and a mariachi band in 'Cozumel'. The two wore shorts, played guitar and even went 'scuba diving' in the bathtub

There were formal dinners and breakfast buffets. The crew, led by 'Captain Trudeau', advised them to stay close to port. 'Cruise director Ford' was able to point out some fun excursions as well. 

"It's called curbside pickup," laughed Rob. "They actually brought the souvenirs right to the car and put them in the trunk."

The pictures posted to Facebook were a hit—hundreds of comments poured in—and the couple say it was an escape, not only for them, but for their friends as well. 

"In the big picture, staying at home isn't so bad," says Rob. "The nice thing for us was we got to spend an hour, two hours a day reading comments that literally had nothing to do with COVID or coronavirus or stay home. It was 'How was the beach?' or 'How was the golf? What was the score? Did you make any birdies?'"

And while the snow may not feel quite like warm, white sand, it was a break from life. Besides, it's not where you go, it's who you go with. 

"We laugh we joke and make the best of what we can," says Lorraine. "It's about making memories and the best of a situation." 

All Aboard!!! Ahhhhhh. Roatan! After last night's dinner, and a stroll around the ship to catch the Cozumel sunset, we...

Posted by Rob Rathwell on  Friday, January 29, 2021