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View Full Version : The Magical Vacation - 5/26 - Saturday - Embarkation - LONG & DETAILED


akasleepingbeauty
06-08-2001, 05:33 PM
Our Happy Group:

Me, 36, compulsive planner, hoping all goes perfect
DH, 44, good sport, in need of a good vacation
Teen DD, 15, excited but in a cool way
Youngest DD, 13 months, oblivious to goings-on, just her generally happy self

My parents and sister (25) were traveling in our group as well. This is the first time we have all traveled as a group and it went surprisingly well!!

I will warn you now - these daily reports are going to be long - really really really long. So, if you don't like detailed reports go ahead and hit that back button now!!

I wrote this information as much for me as for all of you. I want to remember as much of it as possible - hence the ad nauseum detail.

Read, skim, or skip completely - whatever works for you!! I will post these by days and then add some general overviews on certain subjects. Please ask questions if you have them!!

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5/26/01 Saturday Embarkation

My parents had flown into Orlando on Thursday as well but were staying with my uncle and aunt who live in Cocoa. We arranged to meet up with them at our hotel around 10:00 and then head to the terminal together. I really really wanted to arrive at the terminal quite early but somehow again we weren’t quite on time. We managed to be at the drawbridge before the terminal just as it was opening to let several boats go through which was part of our initial delay. Then DH went to return our rental van to Avis and this ended up taking much longer than I had initially expected. My uncle was kind enough to take DH to the Radisson/Avis counter but of course they had to get gas first etc. and then go through the return process. Then the drive back….

Anyway, it ended up taking more than 35 minutes for this trip and it considerably cut into our “early” arrival plans. I must admit that at this point the months of planning and stress of trying to put together a “perfect” vacation was starting to get to me. I was, to be blunt, very cranky. I just wanted to get inside the terminal and check in and get in line but we had to wait and wait.

Eventually, DH returned about and we said our goodbyes to my aunt and uncle. We proceeded upstairs to pretty full terminal and a long line of people already waiting to board. We had to fill out new Bahamas forms, as the ones we were sent were incorrect. Check-in was fairly painless and afterwards we proceeded to the end of the very long line to await our chance to board. It was about 11:45 when we got in line and more and more people continued to arrive. The excitement in the terminal was very evident – lots of happy kids and smiling parents.

DH took some pictures and I wandered around looking for lime green ribbons. I met Scott (smjj), Cindy (cyndilou01) and family, Kathy (maycruiser) and family, Donna (harley mickey) and her DH, Caroline (carolines) and her family, Tanya and Buddy (jag90), Roberta (rcdisneyfam) and her family, and Jacquelyn (jacquelyn11) and her family. It was so great to put faces with all of these names and I looked forward to meeting up with them again at the sail away party.

Finally, the boarding process began. It took about 15 minutes for us to make to the entrance. Through the x-ray machines and then onto the boat. They did take our picture but did not announce our names. We were directed to Parrot Cay for lunch but once we arrived were told they were full and told to head to Topsider’s. It was getting late at this point and I was concerned about getting started on the reservation process.

We decided to forego lunch at this point in favor of getting this last (hopefully) stressful activity over with. We quickly made our way to our room and dropped off our extra carry-ons and worked out who was going to do what reservations. We had stateroom 7528 and my parents and sister were in the connecting room next door at 7530. We were pleasantly surprised at the size of the room but didn’t take much time to look around as we needed to get busy!!

My DH and 2 DDs headed to Flounder’s – reservations were to begin here at 1:30 and they got there about 1:00. My sister and I headed to Palo and got there about 1:10 – reservations began at 1:00. We had no problem booking dinner, brunch and tea for the times and days we wanted. We met Erika from South Africa while making Palo reservations and she was just as charming as we had read on the boards.

Thankfully, DH and I had walkie talkies with us so we could communicate during this reservation scramble. I called him when we were finished at Palo and he said he was the one and only person in line at Flounder’s so far – good news. So, even though the spa was not scheduled to start taking reservations until 1:45 we thought we would check.

Well, lo and behold at 1:15 they were already well in the midst of taking reservations. I was rather irritated that they would do this since I felt it was misleading but glad that we had decided to stop by. The women in front of me seemed to take forever to decide what they wanted to do. There were 3 spa employees there but only 1 was actually doing any scheduling so we had to wait. There was no offer of a spa tour and only one area for ALL reservations. This was quite different from what I had been expecting based on previous reports but it did make it pretty easy to take care of everything at once. I had no problem scheduling a surial bath for DH and me as well as an alpha capsule/foot ankle massage for me on the dates and times I wanted. I had hoped to do just the neck/shoulder massage but they don’t really offer that anymore and could only come up with dinner times to do it so I passed. My sister scheduled an alpha capsule and was disappointed later that she had not checked the current price first – our info we had showed $27 for it and it is now $41 – a 50% increase – wow!!!

Once the spa reservations were done we once again called DH on the walkie talkie. It was now about 1:25. Still no one else in line. We met up with them in front of Flounder’s just as a couple of other people arrived. They opened the doors promptly at 1:30 and we were the first ones in.

We were very impressed with this facility and the employees here. It was cheerful and had lots of fun toys for the kids. There is a quiet area with cribs and rocking chairs in the back. They allow you to request all of your times at once. However, you are asked to specify 4 times which are most important (and only 1 can be a formal night) and they will pretty much guarantee those 4 times for you. They will then consider the other requests as space provides. They call you each night and let you know the hours you have for the next day. I got every time I requested for the entire cruise and even made a few minor changes without any problem at all. I was quite unsure about how I would feel putting DD into the nursery as she has not been in any kind of group care before but she did very well and I ended up with complete confidence in the care they provided.

It was now 1:45 and we could finally go eat!!! Yay – food!!! We headed to Topsider’s and had a pretty good buffet lunch. They had shrimp and cold cuts and lots of different salads etc. We got fresh fruit for our youngest DD and she really enjoyed it as she did throughout the cruise. We found a good table quickly and enjoyed having a chance to relax and eat.

Next, we decided to turn in our shore excursion requests. The navigator indicated that the drop box would open at 2:30 so we headed to deck 3 about 2:20. No box out yet so we waited. We almost missed the box at first as it was across the hall from Guest Services (where we mistakenly thought it would be located) in front of the Shore Excursion desk. Thankfully, we still got our requests in early and ended up getting our first choices.

Back to the stateroom to begin some preliminary unpacking before the safety drill. Got a few suitcases emptied and put them under the bed. Thank goodness for that space under the bed – without it we would have been in real trouble!! I put up the two over-the-door shoe holders on the bathroom doors and began to put things in them as I came across them while unpacking. They turned out to be invaluable in keeping the room as uncluttered as is possible with 4 people including a baby!

I had arranged to have welcome baskets in both rooms from Perfect Gift. I really procrastinated in calling and Shirley was still able to get everything done nicely. The baskets were full of the snacks and drinks I’d requested and nicely put together. My only “complaint” about the Perfect Gift is the amount of extra fees required that end up making the price higher. I had requested that the baskets be in the $50-$55 range each and although this is what I was charged for the baskets, the total came to almost $150. I know that these fees (delivery fees etc.) are not all under the control of Perfect Gift but I wish I had been informed of them so I could have adjusted my budget accordingly. I will also say that we hardly ever had time to eat the snacks that we ordered but it was still fun to have the option.

We also had a Castaway Crates in our rooms – the tags said they were from DCL. I think maybe it was from our travel agency (Costco) but I don’t know for sure. It was not nearly as nice as the one from Perfect Gift but a nice surprise nonetheless.

It was soon time for the safety drill so we put on our life jackets (except for the baby since they did not provide one the right size for her) and headed to deck 4 location C. We were outside and partially in the shade. It lasted only as long as necessary and we were soon on our way back to our room.

A little more packing and then off to the sail away party. I got to deck 10 (where our DIS meet was scheduled) and realized I did not have my sunglasses. My eyes are very light sensitive and I knew I’d never make it in that bright sun without sunglasses.

I headed back to the stateroom with my sister to look for my sunglasses but just as we got to our room we noticed a very upset-looking boy. He didn’t know where his cabin was or where his parents were so we offered to help. I had my sister wait in the hall with him (I would never ask a child to come in a room with a stranger) while I called guest services. I told them the story and they sent someone up to retrieve him. I was glad that although I knew his name they did not give me any information since that is the safest route to take. I continued to look for my sunglasses in vain and finally gave up and headed back to the hall with our new friend and my sister. Just about that time, we were able to figure out that he was Jacquelyn11’s son and they were reunited right in the hall. Thank goodness all worked out well!!

So, I resigned myself to going without sunglasses as I decided it wasn’t worth missing the entire sail-away party. As I mentioned before, I was a bit cranky and I did not take losing my sunglasses well. I borrowed my mom’s hat and that helped considerably and I was able to enjoy the party at last. I met up with the DIS members and we had a nice time together. It was somewhat hard to talk over the music etc. but we didn’t mind as we were having too much fun!!

The horn blew its magic whistle and we were off!! The crew members at the terminal were waving good-bye and it was quite a moment. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the magic of that moment as we finally set sail – so much planning and waiting and we were finally cruising.

A few more minutes at the party and it was time to go get ready for dinner. One of our DIS members, Jacquelyn11, was kind enough to link 9 of our reservations together for dinner so we could be in the same rotation and area of the restaurant. By no fault of Jacquelyn’s, DCL got it mostly right but did somehow manage to split up several families. Once we got to dinner, our head server Humberto appeared and got everything sorted out just right. No problems after that and we were very happy to be surrounded by friends each night at dinner.

We had table 28 which had a fabulous water view in both Parrot Cay and Lumiere’s. Our head server was Ireene from Uganda; she is a beautiful young woman and worked hard to keep us happy all week. She has a lovely 5-year old daughter who lives with Ireene’s sister in England and you could tell it was very hard on Ireene to be apart from her little girl. Our assistant server was Jyubeen from India. He also took good care of us. At first, he seemed anxious to sell us wine/cocktails but after a couple of nights realized this was basically futile and gave up. My sister brought 8 bottles of wine with her onto the ship and opened them in the cabin. She and my parents then had a glass or two before dinner and brought a glass with them to dinner. No one said anything and they got to enjoy the wine of their choice at a much more reasonable price. My DH did order a blue martini one night and we both had Bellinis at Palo but that was the extent of our bar bill – we do drink but not much so this was pretty normal for us. I drank iced tea every night and although it was not brewed but was a “fountain” version. It was definitely not as good as the tea I am used to at home but it was good enough for the week.

Our first night, we were at Parrot Cay. I kept the menus from every sit-down meal we had so I could remember all the options. The first night I had Coconut Shrimp for an appetizer, Pan-fried Grouper for my entrée, and Key Lime pie for dessert. The shrimp was very good and I don’t even generally like coconut!! The grouper, which came with mashed yucca and papaya relish, was also very good. We all enjoyed the Key Lime pie although it was “mousse-ier” than I expected. Other members of my family had the pot stickers and seafood salad for appetizer, pasta shells and seafood stew for entrees and kahlua trifle for dessert. Everyone seemed very happy with his or her food!!

After dinner, we took youngest DD to our room and changed her into her pajamas. We put together her diapers etc. and took her to Flounder’s. This was my first experience at leaving her like this and I admit I was a bit nervous. I found Flounder’s to be quite inviting and all of the CMs were friendly. DD went willingly and we left to go see the Welcome Aboard Variety Show.

The Variety show was comprised of 2 different comedians – one doing comedy and magic and the other doing comedy and ventriloquism. The acts were amusing and the kids seemed to enjoy the show. We were pretty tired but still managed to enjoy the hour-long production.

We did some shopping (bought a few pins and got 2 of the new Radko ship ornaments), looked around the ship and finally decided to call it a night. We picked up DD from Flounder’s where she was sleeping soundly and headed back to our rooms. The beds had been turned down and the room cleaned etc. This was a nice way to end the evening and we happily went to bed!!

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Links to other days' trip reports

Day 1: http://www.disboards.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=45110

Day 2: http://www.disboards.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=45111

Day 4: http://www.disboards.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=45114

Day 5: http://www.disboards.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=45116

Day 6: http://www.disboards.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=45117

Day 7: http://www.disboards.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=45119

Day 8: http://www.disboards.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=45121

Day 9: http://www.disboards.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=45122

Day 10: http://www.disboards.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=45123

sandee
06-09-2001, 04:05 PM
I didn't want to stop reading your report long enough to post, but just had to tell you how very much I am enjoying your report. I loved all the little details! After reading part 1 I decided to try and get a room at AKL for a couple nights after our Sept. cruise. Didn't really have a great interest in it until I read your description. Well, let me get back to reading! Thanks for all the time and effort you put into this.