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View Full Version : Trip Report 6/2 Magic Days 5 to End


Eakster
06-19-2001, 08:34 AM
Wednesday, 6/6, St. Thomas
I was surprised to see that we were the only cruise ship in St. Thomas. I was expecting up to 5. This would make the taxi drivers very aggressive for riders, but would mean our excursion would be uncrowded. We all planned on going to Trunk Bay on our own. After getting some breakfast at topsiders, we got ready and headed off the ship at 8:30 AM. I knew we had to make the 9 AM Red Hook ferry or lose an hour of beach time. The final family of our party of 16 didn't make it off the ship until 8:45 AM. Our lady taxi driver said she would do her best. All 16 of us were crammed into a safari taxi, 3 in the cab and 13 in the open air benches. We got the ride of our lives. 50 MPH over hills, around curves, through 10 MPH zones. It was better than any WDW ride. There was screaming and laughing. I couldn't get any pictures since by the time I saw something picture worthy, it was gone. We made the dock with 2 minutes to spare. Cost of the ride was $8 each, but our driver said she trusted us, would collect on the return trip, and set us up with Puff Daddy on St. John. He would tell her when we were returning. I knew from reading these boards that she was really insuring that she got 16 people for a return trip, especially when I heard that she would meet us across the street. More about this later. The Red Hook dock area is fairly unappealing, so I wouldn't want to wait there for an hour.

We paid our $3 each ($1 child) for the ferry and were off to Cruz Bay, St. John. What a fun boat ride. When we got to St. John, Puff Daddy was waiting for us. He already had a group and set us up with Dale. Another safari ride. Dale drove slowly and stopped 3 times for picture taking. We were at Trunk bay by 9:40 AM. Cost of ride was $4 each. Paid $4 (16 and under free) per adult to get into Trunk Bay. On our short walk to the beach we passed 2 excursion groups being herded and lectured. We got a spot under some palms on a nearly empty beach. We were on the wind protected side of St. John, so the water was clear and calm. Trunk Bay was smaller and much more undeveloped than I envisioned, but it was beautiful. I immediately hit the snorkel trail with my girls. The reef was very alive, with large schools of small fish and many species of larger fish. According to one of the excursion guides we passed, visibility was in excess of 60 ft. Two lifeguards were closely watching the snorkelers and whistling at anyone who touched the reef or tried climbing the rocks. The trail was fairly short, so we were done in 30 minutes. The girls played in the clear, warm water while I reconnoitered the bay.

I had noticed several boat excursions anchoring off the rocks down near the left side of the bay, with snorkelers swimming to the rocks. They were gone within an hour as were the Trunk Bay excursioners. Boy, was I glad we did this on our own as we still had 2.5 more hours. I took my equipment and headed down to the rocks. The area was not patrolled in any way. I passed a life guard and Parks official, and they didn't care that I was going to this area. I saw a cloud in the water with a long dark thing swimming around it. This turned out to be a large school of 6 inch silvery fish and a 4 foot barracuda. I got some nice pictures of the barracuda, swimming within 5 feet of him. It was neat watching the fish react to his presence. I then headed over to the reef formations. They were spectacular, an order of magnitude better than the snorkel trail, with valleys and mounts of corral. Many fish, including a sting ray. I went back to our group and convinced 3 of the guys, including my dad to check it out. I was tired of lugging the snorkel equipment, so I just took my Speedo tinted goggles ($15 for 2 pair at Costco). What a great way to snorkel. The goggles gave a great view, and didn't fog or leak. Since the water was so buoyant due to the high salt content, I was easily able to float around without any effort. We all had a great time and saw the barracuda again. At one point, I was swimming with the school of fish and could not find the barry. Suddenly the fish zigged and zagged in unison. I turned around, and there was barry a few feet behind me. That was somewhat startling.

We went back to "camp", and now DD3 wanted to snorkel some more. I took her over to my find, and we had a great time together. She is a magnificent snorkeler, and was not afraid of anything. When we got back to camp it was time to start getting ready to leave. Out of over 3.5 hours, I had spent 3 hours snorkeling. The Speedo goggles made that possible since my face could never stand a mask and snorkel stuffed in my mouth for that long. The weather was once again perfect. It doesn't get any better than that. Everyone showered, grabbed a few overpriced burgers at the snack bar (one had a large bug in it), and we headed to the parking lot at 1:30. Puff Daddy was waiting. Got our $4 each ride back to Cruz Bay in plenty of time to catch the 2 PM ferry. Wish we would have had time to do a little shopping here since there are shops very near the dock.

We sat on the top deck of the ferry for the return ride, lots of fun. When we got to the Red Hook dock, I was assaulted by the taxi man. Said we couldn't cross the street because it was too dangerous. Followed me for a bit saying that we had to take one of the cabs at the dock. Very irritating. We crossed the street and another cab driver told us to wait. Thought he was getting our driver, but he ran to get his own cab. I saw our driver up the street and walked right by this poor guy. Seems the ploy of trusting us worked out for our driver since she got the 16 of us for a return ride on what was probably a very slow day due to our ship being the only one in port. She wanted to take us on a tour, but we opted to go back to the ship so we could shop for an hour at Havensight Mall right next to the dock. Got back to the ship at 2:45, with plenty of time to shop. The shops were more upscale, with fewer bargains than St. Maarten, but we managed to spend some cash anyway.

I took a dip in the adult pool to rinse off the salt since I didn't have time to shower at Trunk Bay. Watched us sail away from St. Thomas at 4:45 PM. Showered and got ready for our Animators Palette dinner. Tonight was the color show. We had a lot of fun as usual. Tonight's show was Michael Harrison in place of C'est Magique. My DD3 loved the tennis ball ventriloquist act. Did our usual club hopping, and let DD3 play in the Oceaneer's Lab until late. I believe tonight was when she made flubber and got her "Disney's Oceaneer Lab" floppy hat. She wore that a lot the rest of the trip..

DD3 fell right asleep at 12:30 AM on the couch bed, the older girls were out dancing at Studio Sea. There's a curtain that can be drawn to separate our bed from the rest of the cabin. Hmmm…

Thursday, 6/7, Day at Sea
DW and I got up early and had breakfast at Parrot Cay. They sat us by a window. Thought we were pretty special until they sat another family at our table. While we were eating, we saw dolphins popping out of the water about 100 yards from the ship. Did some pool stuff and headed to the seafood buffet. Not being a seafood fan, I wasn't impressed, but the desserts were pretty good. Lined up at 11:30 for the Captain's signing. Even when he showed up at 12:00, there wasn't much of a line, but I hear it can get long. Had him sign my ship model as well as 3 "captain" trading cards for my daughters that you can only get from him.

DW and I decided to try some foo foo drinks. I had a Navigator, which is green and has light and dark rum along with many other ingredients. My DW had a blue drink that was basically a Marguerita. They were both good, and we sipped them on the Deck 4 padded lounges. We then went shopping with my Mom for our birthday presents. We both got DCL 2000 limited edition (2000 made of each) watches, regular $125 for $70. My Mom was so happy with them, that she later went and bought one for herself.

I went to guest services and took care of the tips in advance of the rush. I never did see long lines there. Got some serious pool time in, and watched the flying fish from Deck 10. Got ready for the Captain's Gala dinner. This was a great meal. I of course had the twin lobster tails and fillet minon. Our head waiter was bringing out food and helped to remove the lobster meat from the tails. Both entrees were excellent. I typically had 2-3 appetizers, 1-2 entrees and 2-3 desserts for every dinner. This was never a problem and was even encouraged. Guess that's why I put on 7 pounds.

Tonight's show was Disney Dreams. I was really looking forward to this and had pumped up the rest of our party. Turns out, the show, although entertaining, was lacking something. When Tinkerbell did her thing, there was no sound from the audience. On my last cruise, the audience broke out in applause, cheers and tears. Our audience was silent except for a few coughs. Not sure if it was because of the new cast or what.

We went to Studio Sea for family karaoke. The older girls did Living la Vida de Loca. They were so bad that the microphone was turned off and they were told that they couldn't perform any other songs. Not sure what that was about since everybody we watched was pretty awful. The girls were proud that they were so bad. My Dad camcorded them, so they'll get to relive their 5 minutes of infamy. Hit the other clubs and then off to bed for Castaway Cay tomorrow. The girls showed up with "Common Grounds" CD holders as their "free" prize.

Friday, 6/8, Castaway Cay
I foolishly got up at 6:30 AM thinking we would be docking earlier than the posted 9 AM time. When I went on deck, everything was wet. Looked behind the ship and saw a curtain of rain we had just passed through. This was the only rain of the trip, and since I was sleeping, I didn't count it as rain. There were rain clouds all around, so I thought we were in for a wet day at Castaway Cay. Got everybody up at 8 AM and had breakfast at Topsiders. We had learned to avoid the scrambled eggs and get made to order omelets.

We docked at about 8:45 AM. I got our stuff and told the family that I would stake out some chairs and come back for them. I went down the forward stairs and came to a line at Deck 3. We were let off at about 9:30 AM. I walked (didn't run) to the family beach (just beating the 2nd tram), and "marked" some chairs under an umbrella by the life guard, and some under palm tree at the back of the beach. Walked back to the ship and gathered the family. It must have been over 90 F and I was dripping wet. We got a picture at the fish, took the tram, and then set up on the beach. I got some vests and 3 floats that I had reserved. DD3 and I went snorkeling. We went all the way out and had a great time. Not much to see other than the planted items, but a fair amount of fish. Some of the fish were somewhat aggressive as if they are used to being fed. They would swarm around you, but not make contact. The water was very clear, probably 60 foot visibility. By the way, I would say the water temperature was about 80 F at all our stops.

After snorkeling, I found the older girls had already gotten their hair braided. They have vastly improved on this since our last cruise. 8-12 braiders in a covered area as opposed to 2 braiders out on the beach on our last cruise. The older kids seemed tired and were not having a good time, so I whipped out the floats. I intended on using one of them for DW and I at Serenity Bay, but they perked up the kids so much that I let them have all three. They floated, had races and started really enjoying themselves. DW took DD3 to have her hair braided. I explored and then met them for lunch. We saw Wisanu having his usual good time manning the barbecue. There was also a great layout of fresh fruit. Finished our lunch, dumped DD3 with the older kids and headed to Serenity Bay. It was very hot, so we grabbed the first chair we came across, dumped our stuff and hit the water. We had only brought our water shoes and Speedo goggles. DW did not enjoy snorkeling since she couldn't get used to breathing through the snorkel. Well, she loved "snorkeling" with the goggles. You are free to swim, and only have to peek under the water for a few seconds at a time. The visibility here must have been 100+ feet. We headed way out off of the first cabana as told on these boards to look for the wreckage. We saw a big stingray. As I was taking pictures, another one was heading from the deep towards my wife. I popped up and told her that another one was heading right for her. She got just a bit excited. I assured her that they are harmless unless you manage to step on one. The ray made a sweeping turn before it reached her. As we went out deeper, a snorkeler pointed us in the right direction. The wreckage is straight out from the first cabana about 150 yards, but not straight out from the flat face of the cabana, more from the corner, towards the drink hut more. All you have to do is get out there and look for dark objects. That will be the wreckage, surrounded by many and varied fish. This was much better than the snorkel trail at the family beach. We had a blast, taking pictures of each other. DW was unable to sink, so her pictures are rather funny. I made an unwise comment about women's fat content being higher. DW headed back, and I started doing some power swimming into the deep water. Couldn't do that with full snorkel equipment. I felt really free. Saw many sand dollars and even a live, beautiful Konch. I brought the Konch up and the orange color of its shell was vivid. I, of course, carefully replaced it on the ocean bottom. I swam/walked back to shore and purchased some Conk Coolers from the bar. We set our chairs out in the water and downed our drinks, just taking in the beauty and quiet. Some high clouds had come in and cut down the intense sun making for a perfect setting. I can't begin to tell you how great this was. Just like the commercials you see. I would like to spend the whole day there next time.

We headed back to the family beach and I washed off our equipment and turned in the vests. I went out on a float to relax for awhile while DW and daughters shopped. My Mom joined me in floating. Our time in the now quieter water was all too short.

Met up with family and headed back to the ship at about 3:30 PM. Don't know why we left early, but I think extreme amounts of sun exposure was finally catching up with us. I and DD1 had sun rash even though we didn't have significant sun burns. Didn't bother us much, but it did itch a bit. I went in the adult pool to chill out while the girls got ready for dinner. I snapped a few pictures of DD1 and her friend on Deck 4 standing next to a Disney Magic life preserver with Castaway Cay in the background. Dropped DD3 in the Lab for Discover the Magic rehearsal. When I checked on her later, she had her I Discovered the Magic shirt on. I said "Nice shirt". She said that everything is free in the Lab. I muttered, "Not quite", which got the counselor laughing. We watched as the ship pulled out and blew the horn song numerous times. I always enjoy standing on Deck 10 forward and watching the people jump when the horns sound. Man are they loud! I rushed to the Walt Disney Theater to catch DD3's show. It was short and corny, but fun.

I got ready for our final dinner in Lumieres. We had the usual fun, but were getting a bit sad. This was the International Menu, which I wasn't thrilled with. Too many weird items not to my taste. I believe they had the flaming baked Alaska parade this evening. Went to the final show which was a review of all the previous shows. Good, but short. DW and I retired to the room to pack. Got our bags out by 10:30 PM. Made our last rounds around the ship and told our DD1 and DD2 that they could do an all nighter. Hit the sack at midnight.

Saturday, 6/9, Disembarkation and Flight Home (bummer!)
DD2 showed up about 3:30 AM, DD1 actually stayed out all night. She showed up at the door at 6:30 AM for our 6:45 breakfast. She laid down and was out instantly. I had to wake her after 5 minutes. I left our carryons in the room, but put them in the closet to allow our steward to begin prepping the room. Had our final meal together, with Wisanu and Pema. Retrieved our luggage and sat around on Deck 4 in the atrium watching people line up to get off. People were let off in groups, probably to keep the baggage area from becoming too congested. We just took our time since our return flight wasn't until 3 PM. Got off the ship about 8:45 AM, found our luggage and checked it at the Continental desk. Hopped on the bus to Orlando Airport, and relaxed, hating that the trip was ended, but anxious to get home.

Since we were already checked in, we went to the gate to set up camp. Noticed a lot of congestion at the gate. Flights to Houston were delayed or cancelled due to TS Allison. Ours was still OK. Finally, I heard that all flights to and from Houston were cancelled indefinitely. One family in our party had lost a ticket, so they had waited in line in the main terminal and gotten seats on Frontier, non-stop for 5:15 PM. The rest of us were screwed since the documents from DCL clearly stated that once ticketed, we were on our own. We waited in line for awhile at the gate, but realized they couldn't do anything as the line did not move. I then grabbed a place in the extremely long line in the terminal. It wasn't moving much since Continental didn't see the need to cancel breaks or bring in extra people to help. It was averaging 10 minutes per person since most were trying to get alternate flights. One of the women of our party said she asked an employee at the gate if we could get another airline since Continental had no flights to Denver from anywhere available. The lady very rudely told her that they don't do that for weather delays. So she came to me in a panic. I knew better, but was now ready to do some serious battling just in case. No way was I going to have my parents and family of 5 staying in an airport. Two other men from our party stood with me in line, so we had representatives from all remaining families. After 2.5 hours, we finally get to the counter. I say there are 12 of us and we need to get to Denver. She says that DCL called several hours ago and changed our flights to a non-stop United at 7:15 PM. We were extremely pleased. The stress fell off of us immediately. Seems that once DCL heard about the Houston debacle, they took care of everyone affected, even though they didn't have to. Unfortunately, there was no way for them to let us know, so we waited in lines for nothing. Even had they paged us over the intercom, we wouldn't have heard them due to the noisy conditions in the Continental area. The United non-stop is an expensive flight, so we were glad to be on that, even if it was getting us home 2 hours later. Three cheers for DCL!!!

Waited a total of 9 hours in the airport and left on time. The Pilot tried very hard to give us a radio feed of the Stanley Cup Final game, but only got pieces, enough to know that the Avalanche were doing good. Arrived at Denver just in time to catch the final 5 minutes on a big screen TV in a lounge. Great, the Avalanche have won the Cup 2 times and I have been on vacation both times.

Our limo driver was waiting at the baggage claim. One of our bags didn't make it, so I filled out a form. It did turn up a few days later. Made it home by 11:00 PM.

In summary, this was the best trip imaginable. Food was great, weather was perfect, and the ship had much more of a party atmosphere than I was expecting. On our 3 day cruise, we were devastated when it ended since we were just getting into it. On the 7 day, even though we didn't want it to end, it wasn't as traumatic. I'm not sure I could take many more days, at least not at the pace we were going at. I only slept 4-6 hours per night and spent most of the days in the sun. Just way too much fun!

Just so you don't think I'm being overly positive about this cruise, I will tell you the things that I didn't like:
- Air conditioning poor on first 2 days, but fine after that. I didn't complain because I was too tired by the time I got to the room.
- Room smelled like sewage the first 4 days. We kept blaming it on each other, then I thought it was the drain next to the toilet as it had very stagnant water in it. Used the shower head to refresh drain. Smell still persisted. Finally DD1 complained and someone came out to replace a cap on a pipe in the wall using an access door in the hallway. Seems our room had the vent pipes for several rooms in the wall behind the bathroom and this is a common complaint. Lesson learned is to complain immediately as they took care of the problem promptly when we did complain. The smell never bothered me since it was light and I got used to it in a few minutes.
- Trading cards are needlessly hard to get. Many opportunities to get them were not listed in the Navigator. The Navigators on Inkognito's web sight lists all opportunities, but ours did not, especially the Castaway Cay spots. I wrote DCL suggesting that they have a trading card event on the last evening where cast members fill in the missing cards for kids' collections. After all, the cards are inexpensive to DCL and are pretty much worthless except for memories in a scrap book. Found out after I got back that Guest Services would do that, but that doesn't help the kids that tried hard to get everything and didn't. Shame on DCL for making a big deal out of cards in the Navigator, and then making them elusive for the kids to get. I noticed more and more kids getting into the card collecting as the cruise progressed. Fortunately, my kids weren't obsessed, so it didn't affect them. However, I was a tiny bit obsessed, but didn't push it. Just let them know each day where trading cards were supposed to be. It wasn't until the end of the trip that I realized how many cards they were missing.

Of course, none of these things put a dent in our good time. We tend not to dwell on the negative for long.

All 16 of us are getting together this Friday to go over our pictures and exchange them. I, alone have 300 pictures to share. Since I will be making ice cream, DD3 is making a Scoops sign to put out, copying it from one of our many pictures of her getting ice cream. We will also put up a Topsiders Buffet sign since we are having potluck. We plan on wearing our tropical attire from the cruise. We will also be serving Guavaberry Coladas. This will be a great way to relive the cruise and ease our post cruise depression.

We are already planning to go again in about 3 years, sooner if we can afford it. I would like to go with a large group again since that was so much fun at meal times. I will check out trip reports on the new western Caribbean itinerary next year, and probably choose that route.

Any questions, feel free to ask.
Ed

@GoofyNut
06-19-2001, 01:33 PM
I have to say you did a super job with your trip report.
Just enough details and info to satisfy.

Sounds like a really good time was had by all.

DH & I will be doing the 9-22-01 7 day Magic along with about 25 other DIS families.

This will be our third DCL cruise and our longest yet.

Thanks Again!

Bev J
06-19-2001, 03:02 PM
Thanks for a great report, have a fun time at your "cruise" party!

wendym
06-19-2001, 04:50 PM
Great trip report- thank you for all the details. What was your cabin number- we are booked for 7129 on the 7/7 Magic. Cannot wait!
Wendy

cgdmom
06-19-2001, 10:29 PM
Great trip report -- I sounds like you had a wonderful time!!! Where is the secret veranda on deck 7. I think I remember seeing a post about this but I can't find it..

Eakster
06-20-2001, 07:31 AM
Our cabin was 7565, inside cabin on Deck 7 right in the middle of the ship. Great location.

To get to the secret verandah, head straight down a Deck 7 hallway all the way to the back of the ship. Just before you reach the last cabins, you turn into a small open area with some stairs. There will be a door with a portal window that gets you to the verandah. You can see it from the Topsiders Buffet outside deck.

akasleepingbeauty
06-20-2001, 04:52 PM
Thanks so much for taking the time to share your wonderful family vacation with us!!

We too had a great time on the Magic recently and can't wait for the opportunity to return.

Happy cruising!!

Jules62
06-21-2001, 06:07 PM
What a great trip report! Sounds like you and your family had a truly MAGICAL time!

I can't wait until it is our turn on the Magic, 12/22/01.

:bounce: :bounce: Jules:bounce: :bounce:

wdwfanLisa
06-26-2001, 10:44 PM
Hi Ed! Boy am I relieved! I made it to the end of your posts and I didn't see myself posted as "the ugly lady" from the Palo reservation line. Great trip report! I loved your post cruise party. Maybe we will meet up again in a line for Palo on a Western Carribean cruise. :D Lisa