2-22-07 3 Day Wonder. Life Stinks...
A blow by blow recap of my first Disney cruise, thrown together by my brother and I in celebration of my parents 50th wedding anniversary. The travel party includes 6 adults, 4 of which are veteran cruisers in their 30/40's and 2 of which are 73 and never cruised before:
Thursday, February 22nd:
The day begins with a drive from Orlando to Port Canaveral. I have to admit to fighting what time we would be leaving and losing, but all worked out in the end. We arrived at Port Canaveral at about 11, and were finished checking in and waiting to board by 11:15. Disney easily has the smoothest boarding process I’ve ever seen. My brother commented about how with other cruise lines, the people don’t seem to know what to do, but with DCL, you’re running into people every 50 feet telling you which direction you need to go. It seemed to make things smoother. My brother commented a lot about things Disney did better than other cruise lines in the next 3 days.
In the terminal, we had our pictures taken with Mickey Mouse at just the right time. The line started forming right behind us, and Mickey left a few minutes later to be replaced by Chip’n’Dale. Important note – the lines seemed to start forming about 11:30 at the check-in desk, but at 11, there was still noone there. By 12:15, they had started calling everyone on board, including the family of the day. (What else do they get for that, and how do I get it?) My brother started talking about how long it would be that we had to sit there before we could board. Since our boarding number was a 4, we didn’t get called for all of 15 minutes, but around 12:30, we heard those famous words “Now presenting the Disney family.” (Well, not exactly THOSE words.) My brother, an experienced cruiser on RCCL, Carnival, Princess, Holland, and NCL, thought I was lying about the introduction right up to that moment. No cruise line would be able to do that. I now refer you back to the last sentence in the first paragraph.
So, we walk on, and straight to Parrot Cay. Get a little shrimp, a little breaded pork, a little mac and cheese. Whoops! We run into the first problem. The seabands are broken out. Why? Not because of seasickness, but because of the fact that my wife has apparently gotten motion sick in the car ride on the way over. We’d gotten concerned about this because she does get motion sick very easily. This could be a long few days if she’s sick before they finish boarding the ship. We’re waited on at lunch by a lady from Croatia who does a pretty good job, but I just can’t remember her name. I was trying to remember every server’s name from the trip, but failed miserably on lunches. I keep thinking it starts with a C, but it seems like everyone else’s name on this trip started with that letter, so maybe I’m just imagining it.
After lunch, we steal away up to the top deck to begin getting some familiarity with the ship. A little familiarity with their Bahama Mama’s don’t hurt either. One thing I was amazed at was just how small the pools were once we saw them. I expected them to be small, but not that small. Especially the adult pool. After we finished our tour of the outside of decks 9 and 10, it’s about 1:30, so we head downstairs to Deck 2 to check out our stateroom. Yep, the tubs are as small as everyone says they are. And something seems to be wrong with the stateroom TV. We’re in port at Port Canaveral, but the Bridge Report says that we’re 8 miles from Castaway Cay. Didn’t realize it was that close.
We had a Congratulations welcome sign placed in my parent’s cabin since it was their 50th anniversary we were celebrating, and it’s waiting for them. Bags aren’t there yet, so we just drop off our carry-ons and go exploring for a little while.
We stop by the spa and take a look in there first. Yep, gonna have to get to know that place a little better. My wife already has scheduled a few times to do that. As we’re walking around, we get the first of what I shall call “LA sitings.” LA is short for LaurieAnne. I’m not sure that’s her name, but it seems like that’s what I read when she passed by me one time. I never really got to talk to her, but I remembered her as soon as I saw her. She was the girl in Ashman’s post about his daughters dancing at the Pirates party. See the picture below.
She’s the one in the Pirate costume, obviously, and when I walk into the Oceaneer’s club to look around (even though I don’t have children, I was just curious) I was greeted with my first LA siting as she was walking around another family. I recognized her immediately from Ashman’s photo. I started to walk over to her and inform her that she was something of an Internet celebrity, but decided not to. This would not be the last time I ran into someone I remembered from Ashman’s photos.
Mostly during the early afternoon, we just wasted time. My wife and mother went to the Discover Nassau shopping demo, which, as she says, was nothing but “a big infomercial, which didn’t give me a free gift, but a coupon for a free gift.” She didn’t “save up to 70%” at any point in time. Keep that in mind.
It’s getting on to that time now, so we grab the lifejackets and head for the Muster drill. Remember that our rooms are on the starboard side of the ship. Those of you who have stayed there before know exactly what that means…the muster drill takes place directly in the hot sun. Thank God it was only 82’ that day. I can’t imagine what those 15 minutes would have been like otherwise. And if I can find the people from rooms 2607 and 6607, I’m going to have to hurt them. Thanks for not showing up, ya putzes!
After what seems like an eternity, the muster drill is over and it’s time for the sail away party. Remember one thing, we’re a childless party of 6. The one comment made during this time that sums up a cruise for many childless groups is “It’s a lot quieter around the adults only pool, isn’t it?” Not that we hate kids, we love them! As long as we’re not taking care of them. But we couldn’t help but notice that difference.
Time for the party and the Carnival Sensation pulls out ahead of us. Being someone who has researched the cruise lines extensively in making plans for this event, I can only think one thing…I’d hate to be on that ship.
We’re on Deck 10 now, and the sailaway party is getting going. I go for a walk to see how the sailaway party is going. There’s a group leading the dancing by the Mickey pool when I look closer. Guess what? LA siting #2, as she is one of those leading it. There’s a theme going here.
Then, the Carnival Elation starts to chug away. As they’re leaving, my wife comments “Wait! So, they’re leaving the dock, but they’re still doing their muster drill?” Sure enough, yep. As they’re leaving we can see all their people milling about in the bright orange lifejackets on the decks. Oh, well I say, while I sip on whatever tropical beverage this is the bartender gave me. Now, remember my brother, whom I’ve told you didn’t believe me about DCL and the little things they do. He didn’t believe me about the horn, either. I refer you again to the last sentence of the first paragraph.
We finally pull out, and the wind in the hair starts to feel pretty good. After riding up front for a little while and realizing that this Microsoft Convention on board is going to get annoying real quick (they were complaining about the number of kids on board before the ship started to sail)…it’s time to head for the rooms and redress since it turns out that tonight is Palo’s night.
Ah…Palo’s. Let me establish that it’s not good, nor very good, but excellent. Those that have gotten the talk know what I’m referring to. I absolutely loved that meal, and loved our server, Coralia, but realized way too late the path she was taking with that little speal. It worked, though. I’ll say that. What she did that was just incredible, was to suggest foods that we never would have tried without her recommendation, and basically to say “I’m going to bring them to you whether they sound good to you or not, because I know you’ll like them if you try them.” Like, as an example, pizza with grapes and goat cheese on top. Sounds absolutely horrible, but it’s INCREDIBLE! All 6 of us are scared to try it when she put it on the table, but we ended up asking for another one. Personally, I went with the halibut, which happens to be my favorite kind of fish, and they did an excellent job on it. The topper though, was the chocolate souffle. It’s one of those deals that was so rich, you couldn’t eat much, but kept trying to get just one more piece down.
After dinner things calmed down, a little shopping, including a hard to get LE pin for one of our fellow DIS’ers. Wait, what’s this? LA siting #3? This time she’s dressed as Belle and taking pictures in the atrium. I’m already amazed at how busy this girl is, and the sitings are just getting cranked up. The reason I’m using her in this way is because I want everyone to realize just how hard this crew works. She’s not the only one on board working a brutal schedule. She just happens to be the one I noticed everywhere I went.
Then, we skipped down to Hercules The Muse-ical. Beforehand, the captain comes out and says that Disney was announcing the next morning that they were purchasing 2 new cruise ships. After hearing the rumors for awhile, it felt pretty cool to be onboard when they announced it, I have to admit that. Afterwards, it was just walking out to Deck 4, grabbing a deck chair, and snuggling down for a few hours with the breeze and the nice weather. Oh yeah, and watching the 2 Carnival cruise ships off in the distance that were sailing along at about the same speed.
We felt sorry for them.
To be continued...
Great TR! Thanks for sharing.:goodvibes I'm looking forward to your next installment.
Oooh... looking forward to reading the rest of this! :)
Life Stinks Part 2...Nassau
Friday, February 23rd.
Well, it’s wake up time after a smooth night’s sailing, and just off in the distance we can see Nassau. Amazingly enough, we’re still only 8 miles from CC according to the bridge report on the TV. Does that mean Nassau is withing 16 miles of Port Canaveral? The things you never knew before.
It’s about 8ish when we crawl out of bed, and we basically sit there and watch us pull into port for the next 45 minutes or so. Then, after getting dressed, it’s upstairs for breakfast. We figure that the buffet upstairs is probably pretty crowded which means that Parrot Cay is probably the place to go, and sure enough, omelettes are waiting, along with biscuits, croissants, bacon, fruit, and just about anything else you can think of. By the time we’re done, they’re announcing that we’ve been cleared to debark in Nassau, and we go on shore for a little shopping. Two things: 1 – I must’ve just been looking in the wrong places because I couldn’t find the deals everyone else has always talked about, and 2 – the straw market just is not my kind of place to go shopping. We did enjoy walking around and seeing all the shops, but I can honestly say that I’ve never seen so many jewelry shops that close together in all my life. In total, I think my wife purchased 3 REAL! Kate Spade purses, all at $20 - only for her, because the woman liked her, but that deal was only for her! My personal favorite was the guy who walked up to me and asked if I wanted some grass or cocaine. I know you can get them pretty much anywhere in the U.S. too, but I’ve never been offered it quite that bluntly before. (Get it, blunt…grass…I’m so funny…)
After all that, it was a return to the ship for lunch, and we headed for Triton’s. I was in the mood for some comfort food, so I got the Bacon Cheeseburger. My wife, however, decided to take it up a notch and got some kind of penne pasta along with a banana cream pie desert. Since we had to be at our excursion at 1, and it was now 12:50, she ate the whole thing in about two bites and we were gone.
Getting going on the excursion was really the only thing I had to complain about at this point. It did take forever to get organized. I like the way they repeat things over and over because they make sure you understand them, but I don’t like it because it slows everything down some. I’ll get back to that in a minute. Discover Atlantis is the excursion of the day. Now, anyone who reads the description of this excursion will notice the phrase “moderate walking” as part of the description.
That’s a lie.
I swear we walked 3-4 miles during the course of this thing. First off, for some reason when we left the ship, they took us right towards where all the taxis were. I guess at this point, they wanted us to take taxis instead of the bus, because we had to endure, for the second time today, all the guys who gave us the sales pitch about taking a taxi. Finally, after walking what seemed like halfway to the straw market, we did a sharp turn and headed in a nearly 180’ turn on our way back to Parliament House, where it turned out that the buses were. I was totally confused at this point. So, we get onto the buses and head for Atlantis. The “tour” described in our excursion description is really nothing more than the driver talking about the buildings you’re passing, though he did take one or two extra turns. I had a sour taste on the excursion by this point, and then the walking started.
For anyone else that has been on the Discover Atlantis excursion, did you like the way the buses dropped you off so that you had to walk through all the shopping areas, and then the casino, before you could get to the aquarium? Not saying they’re dumb, but we were laughing about the marketing ploy as we went. For those that haven’t been to Discover Atlantis, it’s a hike from the point you get off the buses to the aquarium. First, you have to walk across a busy street, and then you go through their shopping district which seems to turn and turn numerous times until you finally get to the point where you see the hotel just ahead of you. At one point, I remember thinking, “Why are we walking away from the main building right now?” Then the shopping center turned around and headed back towards the entrance. As we approached the entrance, the tour guide took a sharp turn to the right and around a large hedge before dropping us off with Guide #5 of the excursion. Who promptly directed us to Guide #6. No lie. 6 different tour guides on one excursion, and we hadn’t even begun our tour of the aquarium yet. The most frustrating thing is that they had dropped us off a mile back, and we’re watching buses of tourists pull right up to the front door and get out! At this point, I’m just trying to catch my breath, and one gentleman in our party asks “How do we get back to the bus from here, cuz I’m just going straight back now.” Needless to say, 45 more minutes of walking didn’t make things better, and we simply headed back to the ship and stateroom to collapse once it was all over. That’s not an excursion I am going to recommend to anyone. Views of the shark and stingrays were cool, but we were way too worn out to appreciate them. I might come back next time, but will simply pay for a taxi ride and do it on my own terms.
Getting back to my comments from earlier…DCL seemed over the course of the trip to hammer things home over and over again. Their whole point was that they didn’t want people to get confused by the processes of things going on around them, and DCL took precautions to make sure that their customers were taken care of. Little things like…making sure the muster drill is done before sailaway so your passengers can enjoy the experience. And doublechecking your passengers ID for them whenever they need to go back through customs to make sure everything is correct. We went through the cruise terminal twice in Nassau, and noticed both times that in front of us were travelers with Carnival Cruise Lines. On both occassions, they ran into real problems at the docks, because they were unaware of what they would need to be allowed to get back into the cruise ship area. And what they were lacking were things that DCL would not even allow their passengers to leave the cruise ship without. I’ve cracked on Carnival a couple of times in the course of this writeup, and can say that it’s simply because of the little things I noticed in just a couple of areas in limited observation. Things that really stood out. Just seems like the Mouse is playing in a different league.
Why am I not surprised?
In our next edition…How exactly, did I become a celebrity without knowing about it?
Cool report! I was laughing at your wife and the Kate Spades, love them genuine bags!!
Great TR txs for sharing
How did they do that?
Okay, I get off my soapbox about other cruise lines, and we get back on the ship, and it’s now about 4 o’clock. Time to clean up a little and get dressed. Afterwards we head up to Vista – my wife for her manicure, and I decide I’m going to get a haircut while on board. I set the haircut up for Saturday at 5:15. My wife’s review of the manicure is that it was pretty good, but not outstanding. She really seems to like those things, so she gets them quite often. I finally agreed to getting one done for myself if we go on another cruise anytime soon.
Which brings me to what I’m doing while she’s at her manicure. I’m at the Future Cruise desk getting the prices on a 7 day cruise. We swore off cruises after a bad experience a few years ago on RCCL, but so far on this one, we’ve had a pretty good time, and we’re thinking about it pretty seriously. But hey, we’ve got plenty of time to book. Main thing we’re trying to find out right now is when is the least expensive time to cruise. September, huh? Right in the middle of hurricane season? Great to remember. I’ll come back later.
After a little bit of time goofing around, it’s time for dinner, which brings us to the “other” person Ashman has a picture of that I kept seeing. Ashman, if you read this, Witty Witt from Thailand was my waiter, too. Although I don’t think you had the same asst server we had, Miguel. Our head server was named Yolande. Dinner on this evening is in Triton’s, and I was the last one to arrive for dinner. Here's where I start getting impressed….when I walk into Triton’s, Yolande is standing at the door. The first words out of her mouth were “Welcome to Triton’s. You must be Mr. Disney. We missed you last night, but I understand you were at Palo’s. Everyone else is waiting for you right over here.” (Disney is my name for this trip as far as I’m concerned.) Let me stress this next part:
THIS WOMAN HAS NEVER SEEN ME BEFORE, AND YET RECOGNIZES ME SOMEHOW INSTANTLY THE FIRST TIME I WALK INTO THE ROOM! I know my good looks are legendary, but I was impressed. She walks me over to the table, and a few seconds later Witt comes up and introduces himself, even calling me by name immediately. I find out from my wife, that they recognized everyone in our group the second we walked in, without anyone having to say anything to them. I’m floored at this point. I still haven’t figured out how they did that one.
It is at this time, that I would like to remind my fair readers (Stephen King reference, there) of a statement from yesterday’s writeup: “My brother commented a lot about things Disney did better than other cruise lines in the next 3 days.”
As dinner is getting started, I’d guess it was about the time we were eating our appetizers, my brother leaned over to me and said “Why does everyone else in the restaurant have a white tablecloth, but we have a yellow one?” I started looking around and noticed that he was right. I even took the time to “walk to the bathroom” so I could take a look around. Noone else in the restaurant had anything but a white tablecloth. Ours was yellow, or you might call it gold. We kept eating, though, and I made my way through a wonderful Vichyssoise soup among other things, and we’re just about getting ready to order dessert. By this time, my curiousity about the tablecloth is killing me and I notice that Yolande is really starting to hang around close to our table, and is looking over quite often, so I watch carefully to see what I can figure out. Witt takes our dessert order, and walks away, and I see him and Yolande exchange a glance. Do you remember how I had mentioned that the trip was to celebrate my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary? They did. 2 minutes later, Yolande is back at our table with a cake for my parents to celebrate their anniversary, along with some special little gifts for them. (Nothing major, just a few nice touches.) Soooooo, after we eat a piece of the cake, and then feast on the crème brulee’s that most of us had ordered, we all go throw up from the sugar overdose.
Just kidding. I know…that was uncalled for. Had to break the mood for a minute.
Join us next time as we explore the question…Could LA actually be twins?
Wonderful report, I love it
:yay: :cheer2: :yay: :cheer2: :yay: :cheer2: :yay: :cheer2: Thanks you soooo much Mozart!!! You are a peach mate! :hug:
I must admit that I've not yet finished reading your entire report, but for what I've read so far I have to say that I agree with you 100% about Palo. I remember thinking the same thing about the pizza and when I tried it well.... wow! Amazing! My favorite dessert was by far that chocolate souffle. It's is absolutely to die for! To say that Palo is in a class by itself is truly an understatement. Isn't it?
BTW, it seems obvious to me that your wife and I have a lot in common. When I went on my 7-night DC I booked the spa a couple of times too. Once for a massage (heavenly!) and once for a facial. Now we both know that your wife and I share a common hobbie. As I said, if you guys decide to visit the Northeast, don't hesitate to contact me.
Thanks again for that purchase!!!! I'll continue reading your report as soon as I'm done with my morning meeting.
Pirates on Disney don't drink much rum
After dinner on Friday, we head towards the theater for the Golden Mickeys, which brings us to another regular feature of our column! Our first LA sighting of the day! #4 for the trip! In this case, she was working the audience for the Golden Mickey show. Her job for this 5 minutes of the cruise was to recruit a group of kids to come up on stage during the show as the dwarves.
For those of you who have seen the show, do you remember when they were doing the red carpet and Rona was asking everyone where they were from? I was beginning to wonder if the entire state of NY had come down on this cruise. She must’ve asked 10 groups of kids where they were from, and all of them said NY, when she finally got to a group of 2 girls. Where were they from? Maine. Seems like everyone in the Northeast is getting to that time of the year where THEY JUST WANT OUT!
Well, the show begins, and it’s pretty good. My brother and I are still arguing over whether the singing was lip-synched or done live. He says it was all live, while I say it was lip-synched, at least in portions. Noone has perfect pitch and tune at all times like they did, especially when on the move like that. It was too perfect to be live. Even Celine Dion (not my favorite singer, but she’s about as good as they come) will miss a note here and there. However, I have to admit that I really enjoy hearing a bunch of my old favorite Disney songs like that. Cruella de Ville was kinda creepy, though. I guess that was the idea.
After the show, we head up to the top deck because it’s about time for the Pirates in the Carribbean Party. Due to Ashman’s picture, I was fully expecting it this time…LA #5. This is when I begin to wonder if, instead of one girl, LA is actually 2 twins who both happen to work on the cruise ship. I mean, just a little while ago, she was in the Theater working with the kids, and now she’s up here doing the safety dance for an hour straight. On with the show…those of you who have seen it know the deal. Set to the backdrop of 80’s music, Captain Hook tried to take over the ship and Pirate Mickey comes in to save the day. At least that’s what seemed to be happening to me, as I was only half paying attention. I was too busy watching my 73 year old mother dance. I can honestly say I had never seen that one before. I have to admit to being pretty impressed with the fireworks show. Considering the fact that we were on a ship like that, I assumed the fireworks would be very small, not nearly to the effect they turned out to be. It was a nice surprise.
After the party, 4 of us just decided to relax and we started out sitting by the Quiet Cove pool. You know, the entire time the big Pirate party was going on 1 pool back, there was a duo singing at the Quiet Cove pool that I actually felt bad for. I walked by a few times and there were never more than 5 or 6 people in the entire pool area, while these 2 singers just kept performing. Made me wonder about how much someone could enjoy doing that while noone pays attention. We sat down and caught their last few songs, and then they moved on and we returned to what was becoming our favorite pasttime on this trip…guessing who was part of the Microsoft group and who wasn’t. It was pretty easy in the adult pool area. Everyone who looked like a single was with Microsoft, and everyone who looked like a couple wasn’t. Much longer story to go with that. We were speculating just a little too much about something, and it turned out that we were right.
Well, it’s about that time, right? For bed…no. For an LA sighting…YES! #6 of the trip takes place in Wavebands at about 11:30 at night. She was helping the DJ at the karaoke contest get contestants up onto the floor to sing. I really can’t tell if it’s that she’s helping because she’s supposed to, or if she’s just down there having a little fun. This would be my last sighting of her, unless she happened to have been dressed up as a character here or there, which wouldn’t surprise me. Like I said, I just happened to keep noticing her everywhere I went because of Ashman’s picture. To me, seeing her everywhere, working that hard gave me a real appreciation for just how hard these people work. Personally, I would hate to have their jobs. If you have problems on your cruise, just remember that they’re really doing an incredible job as it is.
The fact of the matter is that not many people were out and about at 11:45 on a Disney cruise. On a Carnival or RC ship, the bars would have been packed at this time, but Wavebands only has people at a few tables. I don’t really want the party atmosphere you get on those other ships, but I will admit to wishing there was a little more nightlife. After a few minutes, we decide to check out the other bars. Diversions has, literally, noone in there, and the Cadillac Lounge only has 2 tables with anyone at them. The piano singer sounds pretty good, and we’re impressed with the one song we hear him sing before the bar closes for the night. It’s at this time that we decide we’ve had enough. After all, CC will be waiting for us in the morning! But my last thought before going to bed for that night….we left Nassau nearly 5 hours ago, and we’re still 8 miles from CC? Is the Bermuda triangle playing with our onboard navigational aids, or what?
In the morning…A beach, a massage, a paradise…
Mozart - I have loved your trip report - especially the way it is coming in daily installments! Can't wait to hear you Castaway Cay commentary!
Here in the Massachusetts (and, I believe, most of the Northeast) President's Day week is usually a school vacation week. So you tend to find lot's of people from the New England States and New York all over Florida and the cruises! We went on our second cruise the February School Vacation Week right after the Patriots won a Super Bowl - it was amazing how many Patriots hats and t-shirts abounded when we were boarding the Magic!
It is a bit wierd, but there is a wide variety of when school vacations are around the country - including when the school year starts and ends.
Waiting for the longer story...
I'm enjoying reliving the experience through your posts, so please keep going...:woohoo:
Hmmm...I wonder if you were the guy we were complaining about who was stinking up the area with that stupid cigar?
Seriously...I do remember 2 guys with cigars hanging around that night...one on the starboard side of the pool in a deck chair, and one on the port side, back towards Signals standing up at one of those bartops. Did I get you right?
As for us, I don't know if you'll remember, but we were the group sitting on the edge of the pool, with our toes in the water. At least some of us were...I was the guy who never took of his shoes.
As for the much longer story, it has to do with the group that was over at Signals during that time, though, and who was interested in who.
We'll, it seems like I may have successfully gone un-noticed (and thus prevented others from suffering through any unwanted cigar smells)...there were two of us all of the way over on the port side at a table (about as far Fore as you could go across from the doors to the elevators) - so you may have missed us (which would mean that we sat in the correct area for not offending folks who might not choose to indulge in the smokes - which I can sympathize with b/c if I'm not smoking it, I don't want to smell it either)...anyway, the duo did do a good job and only repeated one song during our stay....and I found myself wondering if they were the same duo I heard when I walked through the Promenade Lounge earlier in the day. As for the group at Signals, when I first got there it was lined up with guys who were either fetching drinks for their wives or claiming to be enjoying a brief reprieve from such responsibilities - hence why we headed for the port rail tables...anyway...I'm still getting a kick out of your report and look forward to seeing how our experiences at CC compared...
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