As promised, in this installment of the TR, you'll get expert cruise tips and free color photos (at least 2 in every package). Lets start right off with a tip so I don't have to think about them any more.
TIP #2: This TR is best paired with a couple glasses of Merlot.
Thursday morning is finally here and the kids are wired. Despite having slept very little during the night because they are so excited, they are going bonkers. Luckily for us, my DW is sending them to school this morning. Talk about torture for the kids (not to mention their teachers), but DS11 did have a test he could not miss and we only live 1 hr from port. I stay at home and try to keep busy cleaning the house and finishing packing. Around 11:30 my DW and kids are back, we load up the luggage, and are off. Well, not quite - you people with kids know what happens next – someone has to go to the bathroom – but they did not have to wait long because I’m quick.
We are at the port by 12:45 after driving an hour with the hyper kids, and have to wait in line to pull up to the luggage drop off area. It does not feel like Disney unless you have to wait in a line. Drop off the wife, kids and luggage and finally get my first moment of peace and quiet to relax while I drive the 200 feet to park.
TIP #3: If you are going to drive to the port, I recommend getting there around 12:30 – 1:00 to avoid long lines. You miss the “nut cases” who want to be the first on the ship and you miss all the Disney busses coming from Orlando. Unless you've just been at the park and really need that "cattle" feeling.
By the time I’d walked back, my DW and kids were already upstairs in line for check in. The line for Castaway Club members was short and we quickly got checked in. Somehow I was given a KTTW card with someone else’s name. That was fixed and we met up with our friends and got in line to register the kids and get our pager. So far, everything has been quick and smooth. We could already have been on board, but we took our time and just chatted with our friends. Finally, I coax them to go aboard. As we stepped into the atrium, they announced our family name and we felt like movie stars (autographs at 3 on the lido deck).
The infamous model of the ship at the Disney terminal. The real ship does not have half its side torn away, so don't worry, you won't sink - probably.
DS11 about to pass thru the big ears. Look at that line - NOT. (see tip #3)
We had reservations at Palo for 8:30, but we really wanted 7:30, so I immediately went to Wavebands to change our reservation. There was no wait and they were able to give me a 7:30 dinner time. We wanted the earlier time because we were scheduled at Palo for the last night, and knowing how long Palo meals can take, I knew we’d never get the suitcases out in the hallway by 11:00.
After that, it was 1:30 and I knew our room would be ready and that is where I found DW and kids getting ready for the pool. We had room 2120 which is in the general area of the last 2 cruises we’d been on. It was close to the aft elevators, and many people worry about noise from the elevator lobby, but we never heard anyone there.
Mickey Ears not only notify others that you are a Disney freak and fellow DISr, but that you have no life too.
On our last cruise (HAL, not Disney), we had two rooms. One for the kids and one for us which were right next to each other. But the rooms on HAL are smaller and a lot cheaper. Ideally we would like to have booked a separate room for the kids – a room for them on the Wonder and a room for DW and I on the Magic would be ideal. But we were all stuck in one room. Seriously, it was fine. The nice thing about this room as opposed to some we’ve had on other cruises is that the main bed is in the middle and the kids are at the back, with a curtain divider. This way if we come back to the room later, or need to use the restroom in the middle of the night, I don’t have to go through the kids sleeping area. I asked the stateroom host (Johnny) for wine glasses and he said it had to come from room service. So I called room service and asked for wine glasses and they said that it would take about 30 minutes.
Darn, here it is almost 2:00 and I’ve yet to have a drink of the day. Instead I’m trying to apply sunscreen to two boys who are bobbing up and down because I’m in the way of the TV. They watch less than 1 hr of TV a week at our house, so they could stay in the cabin all day and night watching the Disney channel.
Finally, we are up on deck 9, hanging out by the Mickey pool while the kids go down the slide a jazzilion times. We get ourselves lunch at Goofy’s Gallery (panninis and wraps) and Pluto’s Dog House for the chicken tenders and fries. Before we can even sit down, we are hit up by a staff member for the DOTD. We are told that if we get it in this Official Disney Cruise Line DOTD Plastic Glass, then we can get more DOTD for only $3.95 and what a great deal it is because you get more in the Official Disney Cruise Line DOTD Plastic Glass. Yes, I realize “plastic glass” really makes no sense, but I don’t know what else to call it. Its not a cup and its not a mug, but it looks like glass. Have some more Merlot and it will become more clear. Anyway, the suckers that we are, bought one. Only one because DW is cheap and says we can share. The DOTD is good (anything more than 10 proof would be right now), but there are two big negatives to getting your DOTD in the ODCLDOTDPG. First, you’ve got to remember not to leave it on the table and keep it with you at all times lest you have a sudden urge for the DOTD and are without your money saving cup – I mean glass. However, walking around with your empty glass is like walking around Nassau with 100 dollar bills in your hand asking “Does anyone have anything to sell?” You’ll be accosted several times a minute by cheerful Disney staff wanting to refill your plastic glass for only $3.95 plus 15% gratuity, plus any additional amount you wish to give for their tenacity. Thing is, even without your empty glass, you’ll still be hit up to buy the DOTD if you are anywhere near the pool. The only real way to keep them at bay is to buy a DOTD and then not drink it, leaving your cup full all the time. But that’s no fun.
DS7 spent no time before we found him chillin with his new girlfriend in the hot tub.
So now its around 3:00 and the Mickey pool is being closed because some kid had an accident. Obviously it was not #1 because the crew would not be able to tell, and if they could then the pools would never be open (including the adult pool). Once the pool closes, it can’t reopen for a minimum of 3 hours. So all the kids head over to the Goofy Pool, which was already pretty crowded. And all the good parents head over there too.
DW goes to the spa to book a massage for Friday and when she comes back I go to Guest Relations to book the beer tasting for my friend and I, also for Friday. DW spent a little bit more than I did.
She booked some sort of special for $109 where she got 20 minutes of back & neck massage, 20 minutes of exfoliation, and 20 minutes of who the hell knows what else. She also bought the Rainforest day pass for both of us, for $15 each.
DS7 in the Goofy hot tub now that the others were closed. Wait a minute - that's not the same girl.
(OMG this TR is going to be a lot longer than I planned. You people are getting a TR designed for a 7 night cruise at the price of only a 3 night cruise.)
Dang, 3:30 and everything is shutting down. Can’t even get another snack or drink. So the next 30 minutes is spent watching the kids in the pool, nursing the last little bit of DOTD, and walking around on deck taking photos of what my DW terms “everything and everyone but our ***** family”. Why don’t you go and unpack the suitcases honey.
Anyway, its now 3:50 and we drag the kids down to the room to get ready for the lifeboat drill. We put on the life vests and leave the room not having any idea where we are supposed to go. We just follow the herd. Luckily, we are still docked because if this had been a real emergency, we would be found in the Bleach Blanket Buffet line waiting to be served instead of the lifeboat boarding line. Last time we cruised, our mustering station (Dijon) was in one of the dining rooms. This time we were right under the lifeboats. I’m still not sure which I would prefer in an emergency. Being first on the lifeboats, or getting one last meal in before the ship sank.
So we are all standing in rows with orange life jackets on and all the kids are blowing into the whistles. What’s funny is you can’t walk 5 feet without someone handing you a sanitizing wipe, but all these germ infested kids (yes, they are ALL germ infested no matter how much soap you use), are putting this plastic in their mouths that every other kid on every other cruise has slobbered on.
So after that fun filled activity, its back up on deck to do what we love doing on cruises – drink and eat. The kids are back in the water (Mickey pool is still closed), and we watch the sail away party. The weather is perfect. A little after 5 the ship starts to move away from the dock and soon we are going down the channel pretty quickly. About halfway down they sound the “when you wish upon a star” horns. I get goose bumps whenever I hear it. Once, DW and I were at Sandals in Nassau laying out by the pool and in the distance we heard that sound as the ship was either coming into or leaving port, and as amazing as being at Sandals without the kids was, it made me wish I were on the Disney cruise (still, without the kids).
We are the kind of people who like to be up on deck 10 looking down on the party instead of being trampled to death.
Now that land was quickly trailing away, it was time to get ready for the show. We all headed back down to the room and I noticed there were no wine glasses. So I called again, and they apologized. I told them I really had wanted them before 6:00. They arrived about 10 minutes later. Two wine glasses, stems crossed over a serving platter. It was a wonderful presentation. I opened a bottle of wine that we had brought on board (14 Hands), poured two glasses and we left for the show – The Golden Mickeys. Our friends were already seated and we joined them. The show is fantastic, as are all of Disney shows. No other cruise line comes close, IMO.
[EDIT] After the show, we fed our kids. It was 7:15 - 7:30 and only the Pinocchios Pizza and Plutos Dog House were open. It was fine because they had food that the kids liked, but it would have been nice to have at least one line of BBB open. [END EDIT]
Then we and our friends checked the kids into the kids club.
The older sons (11 years old) were allowed to check themselves in and out with the stipulation that if they leave, they have to be together and page us. The 4 adults (me included) then headed to the Cadillac lounge to listen to music and talk.
About 10 after 8 we head back to our rooms and refill our wine glasses. Our friends also brought wine on board, except they are not classy and just used the regular water glasses provided in the room. I hope they don’t read this
Tonight we were at Tritons, as we had gotten the TAP rotation as we requested. (So far, no disappointments with anything). Our server was Boris and he had the table all set up for the kids already. It was super nice, but we were only having the kids dine with us tomorrow night as it was kind of late for them to be eating. I am so disappointed that I did not get photos of my food. Normally I always do, but with our friends as company, I completely forgot. For starters, I had the escargot and duck confit. The escargot was really good. Normally, when I get escargot they can be very small and too rubbery. These were large and so held more butter and garlic sauce (the real reason I eat escargot). The duck confit was also wonderful. I then had the tomato and basil soup (yummy) and the avocado and citrus salad. The salad was just OK - the citrus slices were canned and not fresh. (If I sound picky, you have not met my DW). For my main course I got the "Triton's" Seared Sea Bass with a Mushroom Herb Risotto, Sweet Onion Marmalade, and garnished with a Potato Crisp. I only ordered one main course because I knew I’d be getting some of DW’s Grilled Beef Tenderloin. They were both delicious. For dessert I got the Triton's Sweet Temptations - A Trio of Crème Brûlée, Chocolate Mousse and Praline Petite Choux and I also ordered the Grand Marnier Soufflé’. I don't remember what our friends got, but there were only empty plates after each course, so they must have liked it.
DW and I at Tritons.
After Tritons, we headed to Match Your Mate, which is like the old dating game. This game highly depends on the personality of the players. They get the couple that have been together the longest, one that are relatively newly wed, and then a couple in-between. There was a really funny couple from Dallas that made the show. I think many of the questions are used every time over the years.
It was now 11 and we got the kids from the club and put them to sleep. Checking DS7 in and out of the clubs seemed much easier than I remembered from the past cruises. I think the arm band, although a little bulky, made the process much quicker. Having the split bathrooms is one of the best things about Disney staterooms. We could have both kids brushing teeth at the same time and NOT fighting with each other over who is hogging the sink. It saved time and our sanity, if only for 3 nights.
Room all ready when we came back to sleep.
One part of the split bathroom.
And the other. Notice you can see the DOTD in the official "plastic glass" in the reflection.
Back when we used film cameras, DW used to be a lot more annoyed when I took these kinds of photos.
Only products made in the USA are good enough to be flushed.
DW also wanted to sleep but I was still awake so went back out. I wandered around on decks 10 and 9, then headed down to the Promenade lounge, then over to Wavebands, Diversions and the Cadillac Lounge. Other than about 15 people dancing to disco in Wavebands, I felt like I was on a ghost ship. By 12:00 I called it a night.
Here are some of those random shots I took and one last additional tip at no extra cost.
Tip #4 (or 5 - I'm too lazy to go back and check) Blue anchor is toward the Back of the ship. Red towards the Rear. No wait, that's wrong. Red towards the front. Yeah - that's it. Don't even ask about port and starboard.
People (who are not my family) boarding.
Not much going on at 11:50 at night. Waiting until midnight and watching the hot tub drain on these people was pretty much the only opportunity for entertainment at this hour.
Come back tomorrow when I post another exciting adventure to my TR with the not so catchy title.