Annika's Make A Wish Trip on Disney Dream (8-18-2013)
I have a lovely 12 YO daughter, that means the world to me. She was born in 2001, and shortly afterward diagnosed with a rare metabolic disorder called MSUD. It basically prevents her body from metabolizing high amounts of protein. Too much protein in her system, eventually works its way to the brain, where it can become toxic and starts to damage the brain. In dozens of occasions over the years Annika has lost the ability to hear, walk correctly and even talk correctly, and has even seizure.
In a perfect world, just monitoring her protein intake would be a perfect balance. But unfortunately with this condition, other things can set it off like stress, colds, any type of infection that messes with your body's metabolism. She has been given excellent care at Philadelphia's Children's Hospital. About 6 years end, after thinking we'd have to deal with this forever, it was brought to our attention that a liver transplant would make it easier to cope with her disease. While not being a cure genetically, it would offset all the negative effects of MSUD, while allowing her to eat a normal diet. We at first put it off, thinking it was a bit too much for a young child to endure, but after a bad spell with my son Christian (also born with MSUD) which almost lead to his death, we decided to no longer gamble with this disease. MSUD can and has unfortunately taken people out at any age. So if we were going to get it done with 1 child, might as well do both.
Prior to getting ok'd for the transplant list, they have to make sure your body is physically ready. Upon scans, they discovered she had a hole in her heart. To my surprise... it was a day procedure. She was home the next day. Its amazing what our medical science can do. Snaked the tools right up her femoral artery, and closed up the hole from the inside. Anyway, she was ready, and eventually got her transplant. We've even made friends with the parent of the her donor, which is extremely, extremely rare. Even made the local newspaper in doing so.
Anyway, our wish granters came May 2012 and listened to Christian and Annika's Wishes. She wanted to do a Disney Cruise, and no way we could of done it by August, that close, especially since we didn't have passports yet. So we did Disneyland/Universal Studios last year, and this year, Annika got her special wish .. a Disney Cruise last week (right after her birthday).
Early morning Sunday. It was still dark, and a slight drizzle in the air. Ever since i was young, i was thought the moments leading up to the start of your vacation, was more fun to than the actual vacation itself. I am pleased to point out how wrong i was. Our Limo arrived, and promptly took us to the airport.
Ran into a mild snafu in security, ended up having to chuck a few things, which was unfortunate :mad:. My wife had to take a few things back, and have the bag re-scanned, so i figured i'd save us some time and make the way to the gate with the kids... BIG mistake. I don't know what i was thinking, but i had it in my mind about Gate F. Gate F... is a quite a hike. Then you had to catch a shuttle to get there. Glad i didn't. When my wife didn't meet me near the shuttle, when she didn't show, i figured something wasn't right. Looked down at a the boarding pass... "DOH!" in my Homer Simpson voice. We caught up to her, at the correct gate, and we were on our way. Got to sit with the boys on their 2nd ever air plane trip.
Got off the plane, and the Disney Cruise Line buses were not a far walk away. We boarded, and took the long ride to the Dream.
Just as we got within eyesight of the Dream...it POURED! I'm talking animals lined up in 2's pouring. We ran for our lives into the visitor's center and i was blown away by the number of people inside, who like us, were waiting for their vacation to begin. http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2833/9...eb1866b32e.jpg
The lines moved swiftly,and before you knew it, we had our GKTW cards, and were moments away from boarding the ship. As we boarded, they announced our name, which brings me up to my 2nd "DOH" moment. I have my cell phone out, ready to record... never hit the record button. One of the most memorable moments, i looked forward to, blown!
We quickly made our way up to Cabanas on the 11th floor to grab lunch, as we knew our room wasn't going to be ready by 1:30.
There were already a couple people in the pool, wow those folks are fast. After a awesome buffet at Cabanas, it was time for our room to be completed. So we made our way to our room for the first time. I was instantly in love.
Looked out the verandah at Port Canaveral below.
Our bags were slowly making their way to our room, we did the muster drill and returned to Deck 11 for the sailing Away Party.
The Party was long, and somehow i missed the Disney horn. So we returned to our room, retrieving the remainder of our luggage. We relaxed as the ship pulled away. Changed our clothes for Dinner at Enchanted Garden. Dinner was awesome, our server was awesome, we had a great time. We decided to bypass any of the pool activities that 1st day. It was way too crowded for us to try. We sat out on the balcony for some time, and eventually went to bed. they come in and turn the bunk bed from the ceiling, convert the sleeper sofa, and turn down the daisy bed.
Day 2 - Nassau!!!
As we awoke, i stepped out onto our balcony and could see that Nassau was quickly approaching. Ate our first breakfast at Cabanas,
and was on our way off the ship.
We had an excursion at Blue Lagoon. So we took a small boat over to the Blue Lagoon area. On our way we really got a good view of the rest of the ships. Some of those Royal Carribean ships are beyond huge.
We got into the water, and it felt heavenly. Warmest water I've ever sank my feet into. I'm a punk when it comes to icy Jersey / DE beach water. This felt, just right. And the water wasn't deep at all, i was able to walk about chest level all the way out to the protective barricade.
The water was so clear, you could see to the bottom. We grabbed lunch while there, which was OK (burger /fries/dogs) . We decided to catch one of the first boats back to the dream, cause we were getting a bit tired.
We did manage to catch a little bit of dolphin action before we left.
Dolphin Action Blue Lagoon
The boat docked not where we were picked up at, forcing you to walk past all the tourist traps of the area.
It took us an additional half hour to return to the ship. We washed, changed clothes, and got ready for dinner at the Royal Palace.
Christian and our very kind server...
The days events was a bit much for the boys, since they were both falling asleep at the dinner table. A little bit after dinner, caught Monster's U (3-D). in the Disney Theater Beuna Vista.
http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3715/9...a3b23a4b_c.jpg It was pretty funny. we decided to finally do the water events on Deck 11. It was good timing for us, since the crowds were minimal. I got to finally do the Aqua Duck. That ride beat me down, i guess i was holding on too tight. I rode with Chrisitian, while Annika waited. Luckily they had reduced the height for the Aqua Duck, it was once 48", which would of destroyed Christian's heart to not ride, but it was now 44" inches. I thought i was going to have ride out with Annika next, but they said she was big enough to ride with Christian, without an adult. i can't tell you how many times they rode that thing. Meanwhile, my wife and our Dylan was in the kiddie pool.. It was soooo relaxing, wading in the warm water as we watched Milan. We spent a good hour out there, then grabbed some late grub from Flo's, right before they closed at 11pm. Chicken Nuggets, burger, fries, etc. Got the kids all tucked in, and as i promised myself, i took a late night venture to the upper decks. It was about 1am, and as i predicted, it was a ghost town. Just a few adults hanging out at the adults bar/club. So i got some quality photos without kids around.
Late Night Walk - Warning, very, very bad quality... you've been warned. You will never get this 3:26 of your life back!!!
I'm enjoying all of your pictures! Thank you for sharing them with us! Looks like you guys had a fabulous time!!
Day 3 & 4
Day 3 - Castaway Cay
We mucked this day up from the very start. We slept in, caught a late breakfast. So when we finally got off the ship
to one of the first family beaches, it was crowded, and we didn't have enough time to enjoy it before we had to run to our excursion at 12:30. We had the Glass Bottom boat excursion. The Glass bottom boat took us to out far from the ship, to one of the reefs. We got some great shots of the ship as we steered away, as well as more great shots of the water.
We fed the fish, and got some great photos.By the time we got back, we were kinda in the middle of what to do next in regards to lunch. It was now around 1:45. We wanted to try the BBQ that the island offered, but at the same time we wanted to make it back in time to catch the MAW Meet n Great with the other families at 3:30. We gambled, and went for the BBQ (3rd DOH moment). They stop serving lunch at 2pm. We went there.... for nothing. By the time we jumped on another tram, walked back to the ship, got up stairs for lunch, it was like 3:15. So we had to inhale the food, in order to meet up with everyone. We got to meet the on board wish coordinators, and a few families. Plus got a great pic with Mickey. Then took a nice pic of CC from Deck 11.
We then had to return to Castaway Cay area, because we left some items on the family beach, we thought we'd get a chance to return. So while everyone else was coming back to the ship at 4pm, we were heading back out again.
We got our items, returned to the room. As we got dressed for dinner, i looked out the window to notice we were leaving Castaway Cay.
Leaving Castaway Cay
So many blown opportunities. A messed up time schedule threw off our entire day. So all in all, about 1/2 hour at the family beach, no BBQ, no 5K run, no mini water park and very short total stay at Castaway Cay, minus the boat excursion. :worried::worried::worried:
It was Pirate's Night. so we at least threw on what the ship provided us in regards to Pirate gear. We had dinner at Animator's Palette.
A couple hours later, they had the Pirate Show, and the fireworks. We really should of gotten up to the upper decks early, because it was hard to see the show. The fireworks were awesome though.
Day 4 - All Day At Sea
We Awoke early for once, because we were determined not to have a repeat of Castaway Cay. So we beat 95% of the folks to breakfast at Cabanas. We inhaled our food promptly, and returned back to our room to get changed for the pool. With our early start, we were one of the first families in the pool, and the line to the Aqua Duck was non-existent. My wife had never done the Aqua Duck yet, so me and her went around the first time together. Then she took turns with the kids, as i played with Dylan in the pool.
Kids in Aqua Duck
We had the boys take a nap this time prior to dinner, cause every night at the dinner table they'd be struggling to stay awake.
Then we managed to get some shopping done.
And some more photo opportunities...
to get some shopping done prior to dinner. We went back to Animator's Palate for dinner, and it looked different from the previous night that had the Pirate theme. This time we were able to enjoy Crush as he went from screen to screen. Unfortunately, we never got an "up close" visual of him, since our seating was centralized. We went back to our room, changed again, dropping the kids off at the Oceaneer's club. We once again got some shopping done, and started to make plans for the rest of our evening. We tossed around a few ideas, and decided upon Iron Man 3, which started at 10:30. This wasn't going to be total fun, because we knew it was a 2 hour movie, and we had to get up early. So the movie ended, around 1am, we ordered some light room service as a snack. We had to be the next morning at 6am for final Breakfast.
Thanks for your kind words.
I'm almost done posting...
Day 5 - Final Day
We awoke early, got the kids up and out of the room, i took one last look at our room sadly, knowing that our vacation was minutes from being over. We got 1 last sit down eating, for breakfast at Animator's Palate, which we said our goodbye's to our wonderful hosts. And immediately, you start to make your way off the ship. We quickly passed through Port Canaveral, grabbing our bags, and making it to the awaiting DCL bus. As we rode away, and the Dream got smaller and smaller, it was so different than the feeling that we got when the vacation began. I recalled the the wonderful feeling of anticipation, as we saw the Dream for the first time. Now, as the Dream faded away, couldn't help but feel a bit...empty.
We had the rare opportunity to go on back to back MAW trips. Its really hard to compare 1 week out in Cali at Disneyland / Universal and an actual cruise. What i will take away from this cruise, is the fact that my kids were 1 year older, thus i think they will appreciated it a little more with their relative age. We went to Disney for the first time ever 2 years ago, and i know for a fact that my youngest 2 recall nothing of it whatsoever. As adults, the pure relaxation of a cruise ship cannot be overlooked. I lost track of the # of times when i'd just look out over the water. That blue water.... you just want to jump in and sink away. I remember how big a deal it was, to see the Pacific, during our 10 year Anniversary years ago, in comparison to the Atlantic Ocean. Never before have i seen water like this:
What also can't be overlooked... is the cleanliness of this ship. I honestly don't / can't understand how they do it. Unless everything is coated in fine film of Teflon, how do you possibly keep a ship that is being used by over 1000 people so clean??? EVERYWHERE we went... the place was spotless. I'm far from a germa-phobe, but having 2 kids who have compromised immune systems, it feels good to know a place goes out of their way to stay clean. And they even hand out disinfectant wipes upon entering any eatery. Sure you'd have the occasional mess at the drink station, but that is because you have 10 YO's mixing coke, with Sprite, with Lemonade. But the rooms, the hallways, the theater... ever the bathrooms were immaculate!!!
99% of the people were fantastic! Sure, there were a few kid "issues." I recalled one night, around 1:30 am, these tweenagers were hanging out on Deck 11, they were rather noisy and obnoxious. I'm like, "Okay... were are their parents at???" I'm talking like 8-11 kids. I also encountered some "ME" adults. Meaning, they were all about themselves, oblivious to their surroundings. When awaiting for an elevator, sometimes the people who are waiting first aren't right in front of the doors when they open. I try to allow these people first access, especially if they have kids. I can't tell you how many times the doors would open, and people would come out of nowhere and walk right into the elevator, bypassing those who've waited over a minute or so. Same goes for that auto doors, leading from the elevators to Deck 11. The passageway is just barely wide enough for 1 person. So usually, if i found someone coming through already as i approached, i stepped to the side and allow them to fully pass prior to me entering. I can't tell you how many times I've almost had to rub shoulders with people who were too impatient to wait. But to me, these were small infractions, hardly worth of of ruining such a magnificent trip. All in all, this was a MAGNIFICENT trip, that will give my entire family a lifetime worth of memories.
Special thanks to Make A Wish for making this possible, and the good folks who care enough about us to provide Fish Extenders to our family, despite me telling them prior to that it was too last minute for us to contribute. But in the kindness of their heart, still hooked us up anyway.
Until next time...
Thanks for sharing about your family's trip. And best wishes to you!
Thank you for this awesome report!!! I am sorry to know that you have children with health issues, however, you are doing the best that you can with them to give them an awesome life:) May God continue to bless each of you:)
Hey! We were on the cruise with you, but as we are now on the "teenage" schedule (read: late dining, lots of adult pool time, something we never had when our kids were younger!), our paths didn't really cross. Still, I loved reliving the cruise through your trip report and viewing your wonderful pictures! I'm glad you all had a wonderful time! God bless!:goodvibes
I didn't spot myself in any of your pics, but we may have crossed paths just the same! I agree that first cruises are tough. We had a hard time figuring out the balance between sleeping and doing all of the activities, too! But, hopefully we will all get a chance to cruise again some day and plan even better! Thanks for sharing!
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