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Old 02-02-2013, 07:35 PM   #1
JackieO
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Magic-al 1/26/13

Our cruise was 6 nights so this will take me a few entries. I'll start with the introductions. Me (mom), my daughter (Maizie) 19, son (Ben) 17 and son (William) 8 and my parents. We traveled without my husband as he was working (and to be honest he's a bit of a scardy-cat about cruising).

This cruise was a birthday gift for Ben. Maizie got have her 5th birthday party in Carnation Cafe in Disneyland and then chose a trip to Disney World with two friends for her 16th birthday. Ben always felt like he had been jipped (even though he was present for both of those trips they weren't centered around him!) I figured he was right so we surpised him with this cruise for his 17th birthday.

We drove down to Galveston from Missouri. It was a 13 hour drive so we left EARLY (3am). We were all very excited so the drive was just part of the fun. We arrived in Galveston by 5:00 and checked in to our hotel (travelodge I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS HOTEL, it was filthy) We had time to go to the beach for a few minutes and then went to the Rainforest Cafe for dinner.

The next morning we had time to go down to the beach again, to run in some waves and comb the beach for shells. We dropped our van at Discount Cruise Parking and they drove us and our bags right to the terminal. It was nice to only make one trip in and it was cheap.

There was a little confusion as to what to do with our bags from there, we had lugged our bags up to security ourselves as we didn't want to have to pay a porter. Then at the door to security we were told we would have to use a porter to get our bags inside. After a few moments of confusion my dad broke down and got a porter to put our bags on his cart and roll them the couple of feet inside.

With our moods undaunted we headed in. We got through the security lines quickly and headed to the check in counters. That line was fast too and we were through with our boarding number (group 15) quickly. We had time to sit and be excited, and to wait in a small line to get our picture with Mickey.

It didn't take long to hear our number and we gathered up everything and made our way down the gangway where we were announced and cheered onto the Magic (this is the part in the story where you pause to hear the angles sing)

We made a quick stop at guest services to drop off our things to be signed by the characters. Then off to Topsiders for lunch. After lunch we headed to the spa for a tour (and received little samples of a teeth whitener which is AWESOME!!) Then to the kids areas for the open houses just to check everything out.

By then we could go to our rooms so we separated from my parents and all went to see our new homes and drop our carry-on bags. The kids and I spent a little time excitedly inspecting every drawer and closet and put out our fish extender.

After our quick safety drill we were able to watch the shoving off from deck 10, spot some dolphins in our wake and do some dancing at the sail away party.

When we went back to our room to get ready for dinner, the bags were there and so was our first fish extender gift. We were thrilled!!

We were in the first seating for dinner and met my parents and our dining servers at Animators Pallet. This was a highlight for my daughter who said she had been waiting for that moment since she saw the first Disney Cruise special on the Travel Channel years ago.

After dinner we stopped by the shops just to check them out. It took everything in me to stop my 8 year old from spending all of his money right then. We practiced some patience and good money management and headed to our first show.

After the show and a full day we were pretty tuckered out and headed back to room. Ben (the 17 year old) decided he wasn't as tired as the rest of us so he headed to Vibe. He took the wave phone so I was comfortable with him just going. Ben came back sometime around 1:00 but the rest of us were snoozing by then. We ordered cookies from room service and were lolled to sleep by Disney classic cartoons.

It was a great start to a great vacation!
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Old 02-02-2013, 08:47 PM   #2
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Old 02-02-2013, 09:05 PM   #3
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Looking forward to hearing about your cruise! What a fun picture of the family with Mickey!
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Old 02-04-2013, 08:13 AM   #4
javaj
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Looking forward to the rest of your report!

How was discount cruise parking, any issues when you returned? How far away was it from the terminal? Thanks!
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Old 02-04-2013, 11:02 AM   #5
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Great so far! Nice birthday gift!
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Old 02-04-2013, 04:52 PM   #6
JackieO
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Day 2:

Day 2 started early with our character breakfast in Parrot Cay. We had a very nice table right at a window. We enjoyed seeing our awesome servers again who were already getting to know us and brought gluten-free muffins for my mom and the dinner menu so she could choose anything on the menu to be made gluten-free for that evening. We met Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Dale, and Pluto, who each took a couple of pictures with us and spent a few moments hugging and playing with the kids.

After breakfast we headed back to our room to spend a few down minutes. William watched our new favorite channel (with classic Disney cartoons playing in a loop) while Maizie and Ben looked over the Navigator to plan our day.

We did a little shopping (noticing that there were some new items in the stores) this time William did buy a plush Dale that he hadn't stopped talking about since the night before. We then took our Disney World travel mugs up to deck 9 for some drinks and William went swimming while my parents and I soaked up some much missed rays. Maizie and Ben went off to do some Disney Trivia which they won handily.

Later I managed to talk William in to going to the Oceaneer Lab for Stitch's Great Adventure. I had to promise to wait at the door where he could see me until he decided if he wanted to stay and then go right back to the room to wait in case he called and be back AS SOON as the adventure ended. I did as I had agreed and he did have a great time but it was the only time he was comfortable going in alone.

Ben spent most of his day with his new friends at Vibe and only met up with us again at dinner. We had dinner that night at Parrot Cay, again my mother was able to choose her dinner for the next night to be made gluten-free.

After dinner we headed to the Walt Disney Theater to wait for good seats for Twice Charmed. We all LOVED Twice Charmed!! Great music, great dancing and a very clever story.

We were off to bed after the show. Ben, though, headed back to Vibe. Before he left he asked if he could wake me up later in the night to walked the empty decks with him because he had so enjoyed the calm the night before when the rest of the ship was asleep.

Maizie, William and I ended our night again watching Classic Disney Cartoons and being rocked to sleep by the sea.

Ben came back from Vibe around 2am and woke me. We went out to decks 9 and 10 and walked around enjoying the peace of the ocean and just chatting with each other about our day. This will forever be one of my favorite memories!
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Old 02-04-2013, 05:01 PM   #7
JackieO
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Originally Posted by javaj View Post
Looking forward to the rest of your report!

How was discount cruise parking, any issues when you returned? How far away was it from the terminal? Thanks!
We had no issues with Discount Cruise Parking. I don't know exactly how far they are from the terminal but they weren't more than a few miles. Our shuttle ride didn't take more than a few minutes. We allowed an hour to get from our hotel to the terminal because we just weren't sure how long dropping the van, moving the luggage and the shuttle ride but we were 30 minutes early so the whole thing went very quickly. Our van was safe and just like we left it when we got back to it. They have a red and yellow umbrella just outside of the terminal for drop off and pick up so it's easy to find when you get back. When we got back there wasn't a shuttle or employee at the umbrella but I called (the number was on their sign) and they were there within 2 minutes.

FYI the gas stations right across the street from the parking were much higher than other areas.
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Old 02-04-2013, 08:38 PM   #8
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Looking forward to reading more about your trip...I was on this same cruise with you, and at Animators the first night!
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Old 02-05-2013, 09:06 PM   #9
avinsmomma
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We must be from the sane general area in Missouri. We are driving to Galveston and mapquest shows it to be a 12 hour drive. Did you stop midway for the night or just do one long day?
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Old 02-05-2013, 09:33 PM   #10
JackieO
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Originally Posted by avinsmomma View Post
We must be from the sane general area in Missouri. We are driving to Galveston and mapquest shows it to be a 12 hour drive. Did you stop midway for the night or just do one long day?
We are from the Springfield area and we did the whole drive in one long day.
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Old 02-06-2013, 01:01 PM   #11
JackieO
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Day 4

Our 4th day started at 6:30 but we had set our clocks back before going to bed the night before to get on Grand Cayman time, so we'd lost an hour and it felt like 5:30 to us. Knowing it was going to be an early morning we had also ordered breakfast from room service the night before. We were going to spend the day in the water so we didn't take much time getting ready.

At 7:15 we headed to the Buena Vista Theater to meet my parents and gathered to be taken to the tender in groups. When I got there I realized that there were no towels there for us so I ran up to deck 9 to grab some from pool side.

When I got back we were all able to go into the theater as a group (they have you wait until your entire group is together). We had a little wait but were able to sit which was good for my mom as she had woken up with a very sore knee. From there we were taken to the tender and all loaded on for our ride to Grand Cayman.

Once at the dock we walked right into a small shopping village. There are not too many shops but enough for us to spend a little time (we were waiting for Cozumel to do most of our shopping).

We had booked an excursion outside of Disney and gone with Capt. Marvin's 2 stop Stringray City tour (a stop at Stringray City and a stop for snorkeling). Never having done anything like this before I was somewhat hesitant about going with an outside company with possible complications and being left behind if we didn't make that last tender at 4:00. Of course I had checked and rechecked the times of the tour and left plenty of time both before and after just to be safe, but you know, foreign country, me being the only one in our party with a passport.... you worry.

Everything went fine and I can HIGHLY recommend Capt. Marvin's! We had booked the excursion with a credit card but weren't charged until arriving. My mother was really having a bad day with her knee and had decided she wasn't going to be able to do the excursion but knew decided to ride the boat with us because she knew it was too late to cancel.

After shopping for a bit we decided to walk around the town a little as we had a couple of hours before we needed to be at Capt. Marvin's. We meandered around and came upon a little sign that lead us to a secluded free beach. It was small but we found some interesting shells and sea life and had a great view of the Magic just off shore. When we headed back to the road we ran into a very friendly local and asked how far it was to Capt. Marvin's he said we would want to get a cab. We walked to a nearby gas station where the attendant called us a cab and we bought some unusual sodas and candy.

The cab driver looked at the information I had printed about Capt. Marvin's and knew exactly where we wanted to go. Funny thing is he took us right back to the dock we had started from. In our wandering we had walked a block behind the building and missed it all together. We didn't mind though because we had seen some of the island and found that great beach.

Once we arrived at Capt. Marvin's my dad asked if they could get a discount since my mom wasn't going to be able to do everything. We thought it was a long shot but you never know if you don't ask. They said that if she didn't want to go she wouldn't have to pay, my Dad wasn't comfortable leaving her and they said that if he wanted to stay with her they wouldn't charge him either. They didn't have to do that and we were very thankful.

So we parted from my parents (who spent the day exploring, shopping and eating in a local restaurant) and loaded into a bus for the ride across the island to Capt. Marvin's dock.

We took a boat ride out to Stingray City where we were given a little lesson in how to handle the Stingrays and then we all got into the water. We were pretty apprehensive but we tried it. I even managed to feed them some squid but got pretty scared when I realized that holding squid in the water called in a lot more stingrays than I was ready for!

The kids decided to go back to the boat. The captain of our boat (Vernon) was bringing a large stingray over to whoever wanted to hold it and take pictures. I wanted to have a picture with it so he brought it over to the boat where the kids could take my picture (with our NOT water proof camera). After my turn, Vernon called for Maizie to come in and get her picture. She wasn't interested but he wouldn't hear it and somehow managed to talk her into it. (By the end of the day I was certain that Vernon had some kind of Jedi powers!) I couldn't believe it, Maizie jumped right back into the water and held the stingray, she even gave it a kiss and let it give her a back rub. Right after her, I was again surprised to see that Vernon had talked Ben into it, and before I knew it Ben was climbing in and holding that big Stingray too. We didn't manage to talk William into it but he enjoyed watching us and he can say he's swam with them.

After everyone had a turn holding the Stingrays we moved on to a deeper place where we could snorkel. They had snorkel gear, flippers and life-vests (for anyone who wanted them.) I went in without a vest and, as soon as I got in, a big wave went over my head.

Now I have to pause here to tell you I am THE biggest 'fraidy-cat when it comes to the ocean. It's my one true fear. I once talked myself into swimming out to a sunbathing platform in Hawaii and could not make myself get back into the water. I actually cried until a nice man brought his kayak out for me to use. I really only forced myself to do this excursion to keep from passing this fear on to my kids and to allow them to have the experience.

Once that wave went over my head I started to have a mini panic attack. I felt like I couldn't catch my breath and suddenly feared that maybe had been wrong and I really couldn't swim after all. I told the kids I needed to head back to the boat (which we had drifted from) to get a life vest. William started to get scared and I noticed that he was practically climbing up Maizie to get out of the water. Well that's all it took for MOM to kick in and I forgot my momentary fear and held William. I instantly realized that the water was so full of salt that I really was almost floating without the life-vest. With hardly any movement of the flippers I was able to move easily and had no problem floating right on top of the water to snorkel.

I was unable to convince William though and he decided he was ready to head in. As we made our way back to the boat Vernon came by and asked if we were ok. I told him William wasn't able to use the snorkel and we were heading back in. Vernon showed William how to use the snorkel and give him a tube to hold onto. He told William to look through the middle of the tube and somehow that made William feel safe (I'm sure Vernon's Jedi powers were again at work here). Vernon spent the rest of our time right there holding on to William. He only let go of him when William asked him to catch one of the fish in his hands. I was able to snorkel near them and VERY MUCH enjoyed it. It was beautiful and quiet and I'm so glad I had a chance to do it. I even managed to let the fish eat squid right out of my hand (right up until a small fish mistook my finger for the squid and took a nibble. It didn't hurt at all but I screamed and threw the squid.) We all thoroughly enjoyed this trip and I can not recommend Capt. Marvin's enough, they helped all of us to overcome our fears and do things we never thought we could do.

After a short ride back to shore and a bus ride back to the cruise ship docks we had a few minutes to look around in some of the little shops, bought a fresh coconut (which was more for the experience than the flavor) and caught a tender back to the Magic. We were back in plenty of time and when we were all showered and dressed in our pirate gear we could still see people filling back on board out our window.

We rounded out the evening with a great dinner and some limbo at Animators Pallet, got pictures with Pirate Mickey, Chip and Dale, and Captain Jack and watched fireworks from deck 10 at the Pirate Party.

After the party Ben headed back to Vibe and we headed off to order our good night cookies and fell asleep watching Donald swallow his alarm clock for the umpteenth time. (which somehow we never tired of!)
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Old 02-06-2013, 01:09 PM   #12
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Old 02-06-2013, 02:03 PM   #13
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Oh MY GOODNESS!!!!!

The picture of the stingray "hugging" you son is scary, LOL

I saw one of those on Castaway Cay last week and ran as fast I could.
He is a brave soul.

Looks like he enjoyed it very much.

Great report.
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