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Old 11-15-2010, 01:12 PM   #91
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Oh My Goodness!! It looks like you all had so much fun at MNSSHP!! What a great idea to head to Port Canaveral and get settled in before heading back to the party!! And love the kid's suite! What a fun way to begin! Can't wait for more.
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Old 11-15-2010, 07:38 PM   #92
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Cannot wait to hear more! Great report!!!
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Old 11-16-2010, 03:28 AM   #93
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Loved your MNSSHP installment .. you all look like you had a fabulous time. I love the grave-diggers and the pirates too. I love the way they do the make-up. Halloween has to be my all time favourite time at the parks as they do it so well. And Hallowishes is stunning. I am so gutted we missed it this year.
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Old 11-16-2010, 12:07 PM   #94
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What a great time at MNSSHP! Sounds like you really got your bang for your buck with the rides and candy!

I've never been to Cocoa Beach. Can't wait to hear all about it!
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Old 11-16-2010, 03:58 PM   #95
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Originally Posted by BettyBeBop View Post
Oh My Goodness!! It looks like you all had so much fun at MNSSHP!! What a great idea to head to Port Canaveral and get settled in before heading back to the party!! And love the kid's suite! What a fun way to begin! Can't wait for more.
It was really a terrific start to the vacation! We were so glad we had already settled in that night too when we got back in the wee hours! Thanks for reading, more to come soon!

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Cannot wait to hear more! Great report!!!
Thanks so much, I'm glad you are enjoying it! Hope to have more up very soon!

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Loved your MNSSHP installment .. you all look like you had a fabulous time. I love the grave-diggers and the pirates too. I love the way they do the make-up. Halloween has to be my all time favourite time at the parks as they do it so well. And Hallowishes is stunning. I am so gutted we missed it this year.
Oh, that's a shame you did not do it this year. I agree, it was wonderful and the park was so lovely. Its hard to feel like Fall in Central FL when it's 90 degrees out but being on Main Street took us right there!


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What a great time at MNSSHP! Sounds like you really got your bang for your buck with the rides and candy!

I've never been to Cocoa Beach. Can't wait to hear all about it!

Yes, I guess we really did make a good value of it after all! I would have liked to see more characters in their costumes, and to have seen the Villains show, but you really need at least 2 nights to do it all. The kids wanted to ride too, of course, so ride we did!!!

Cocoa Beach was lovely! We wished we had more time to spend there. But we have some great pics and did get to spend a little while enjoying the surf sun and sand!
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Old 11-18-2010, 05:40 PM   #96
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Cocoa Loco (Part 1)

After quite an exhausting day on Thursday, most of us did not awake until well past mid-morning Friday. Ron and the older kids were up first, somehow they managed to even make it to breakfast before it closed (10 AM). They brought back some for me and Sarah, a bagel and cream cheese and two ginormous plate sized Belgian waffles. We did not wake up until around 11:00 or so. It was so nice to sleep in and just get up whenever I felt like it.

While us girls were snoozing, Ron and the kids took a morning swim in the pool. We were pleasantly surprised by the pool at CIS- we werenít expecting much but it was actually pretty big, and had a nice Jacuzzi with small waterfall and also a kidsí splash pool.








Meanwhile Sarah and I were up and getting ready for the day, so after the swim, we were all ready to head out. Our plans for the day werenít too fixed. We knew we wanted to go to Cocoa Beach, maybe see some of the Air Show displays, go shop at Ron Jon, and we had to make another stop at Wal-Mart as we had still not found any adhesive magnet strips to use for our door magnets.

We went to Wal-Mart first- this was a different one than we had been at the day before, and ran through a Mickey Dís drive-thru for some frappes. The Air Show practicing was in full force and it was hilarious as we sat in the drive-thru and every time one of us would speak a plane would fly over and we (and they) couldnít hear anything. As we passed over the causeway, docked on one side we could see the Royal Caribbean ship departing that day. On the other were Para-surfers (a combination of Parasailing and Surfing-something that prior to that day I didnít know existed!)








After our quick jaunt to Wally World, where luckily I found the magnet strips I needed, we stopped at tourist mecca Ron Jon Surf Shop for a little shopping. Ron and I had been here many years before in the early 90ís and it was even bigger than I remembered!






The kids and their souvenirs- a tiki and congo drum.









Due to our late start, we didnít have as much time to spend the day relaxing as Iíd have liked. We had a pre-cruise Dis meet at Grills by the port for an early dinner at 3:45. (The time was picked intentionally early for two reasons: one, they wouldnít give reservations past 3:45 and, two we wanted to be there early enough to see the Royal Caribbean ship sail out at 4. )

So, with the day passing quickly, we were going to just walk over to the beach access near Ron Jon (since we had free parking there). But we had a minor issue. Some of our feet were absolutely torn up from the night before. I had worn the most comfortable pair of shoes I own (some really old flip flops) but still had managed to get blisters along the straps. Sarah had new shoes, and even though she had been in the stroller most of the time, her feet were in terrible shape. Savannah was hurting too. So instead of making the couple block trek, we decided to drive to a closer beach access.


Ron had also heard from someone local that there was a big display of the Air Show planes and such at the Cocoa Beach Pier, so we decided to check it out. We didnít know where we were heading but we just drove until we found it, which luckily it wasnít far and we found it without difficulty. There was indeed a huge Air Show display area set up in the parking lot but we were disappointed to see no planes out for viewing. We were lucky to snag a metered parking spot, and even luckier that it still had some time left on it. We added a few quarters, happily dispatched our shoes, and trudged through the thick sand to the beach.




It was a lovely day to chill out. Albeit a tad windy, the sun was out, it was warm, and the surf was up. We wished we had some more time to have spent out there, for sure. Surfboards and Boogie Boards were available for rent right on the beach for a reasonable cost, had we had longer to spend the boys would have rented some for sure.












***Continued in next post***
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Old 11-18-2010, 05:45 PM   #97
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Cocoa Loco (Part 2)

***Continued from Part 1***

Watching the air show practice above was fascinating as well. The planes would soar by, and then dip down as if in a free fall only to pull up right above the surface of the ocean. You can see in the picture below how the smoke trails dive down to the water level. Amazing!







We spent a half hour or so enjoying the beach, chasing after Sarah who didnít understand the concept that all of the sand toys and such lying around on the beach werenít all hers (a theme to be repeated often in the coming week, unfortunately).

About the beach itself, the sand is soft and plush and the facilities nearby are good (restrooms in the pier available), however the water on the east coast of FL isn't as nice as on the West Coast. Its' greener and more dingy. I've also heard there can be a sharp drop off here but we did not swim so I can't verify that. The surf and waves are what the draw is on the East coast though, for sure!

We then headed up to the pier. It isnít a fishing pier, more of a retail shopping and dining tourist trap. Although again, had we not had kids with us and more time to kill, we would have loved to waste some hours relaxing at the pier tiki bar with some drinks and watching the surfers and planes.













Then, just like that it was already time to head back to the hotel to get cleaned up before heading to the pre-cruise meet at Grills.

Grills Restaurant at the Port:





(as viewed from the Magic the next day!)




We arrived at Grills fashionably late at about 3:50. As we approached the hostess stand we informed them we were with a large party that had the 3:45 reservation and gave them the name of our cruise mate Joanie who had organized the meet. We were met with basically blank stares and a declaration that there was no such reservation, that they donít do reservations. I was pretty sure that Joanie didnít just make everything up, so upon our insistence they checked the book again (if they didnít do reservations, now WHY did they have a book?!?!?!) Then we heard mention of a party of 11. I knew we were supposed to be 18, but one of our group is a family of 7 and they were driving down and were not positive they would make it in time. So the mention of a group of 11 did click for a second with me, but apparently not with them. Then they finally realized they had the book on the wrong day and voila! -they found the reservation which had in fact been changed from 18 to 11. Well now we were halfway to figuring out what was going on. Then another lady joined the conversation and supposedly tried to call the phone number they had for Joanie to inquire when they would be arriving, which they told me was disconnected. So now all the red flags were flying high, I knew something here just wasnít right. Are you sure youíre at the right restaurant they asked me? Yes, we were. It was in fact the right date, right time, and the right reservation (of which you guys claimed you donít do), but since they did not make any offer to seat us or anything I waited off to the side frantically scrolling through my PMís on the DIS on my phone looking for the one with Joanieís phone number (as it turns out was the only one of many phone numbers exchanged pre-cruise that I forgot to put in my contacts). Meanwhile Ron and the kids decided to walk around the restaurant and deck outside in hopes of if everyone else was there they would spot him.


Then, magically I was approached by Judy (TJBaggott). Wouldnít you know, the entire group was there, they had been for a while. They had been seated and were already enjoying appetizers and drinks. We didnít see them because the foyer/entrance is at a higher level than some parts of the dining room, including down where they were seated. They had in fact seen Ron and the kids milling about outside and wondered what they were up to, but figured maybe we wanted to just check the place out Ė or that one of us was still in the car or something. So at least 15 minutes later and absolutely no thanks at all to the hostess staff at Grills we had finally ďmetĒ at the meet!



The restaurant was fairly busy for being such an early hour, although the main show is definitely the parade of ships sailing by, and that happened shortly after we were finally able to find our party and get seated.
Bon Voyage to Royal Caribbeanís Monarch of the Seas!







We were happy to finally meet two wonderful families, Judyís family and Joanie and Sam (sssteele). They were wonderful! What great folks, we really enjoyed getting the opportunity to relax and enjoy everybodyís company before the chaos that would be the cruise for us. We were sad (especially Savannah) that our other cruisemate Vickiís (mvlimmex) family was still in north GA and did not make it in time for the meet.


Happy DIS Families!




The company was fantastic. The restaurant was very casual and the food was OK, but a bit pricey for what it was. You are definitely paying for the view and atmosphere if you eat here. Our service was very good as well. Food, like I said, decent but pricey. We had an appetizer of cheese sticks and peel & eat shrimp. The cheese sticks were good but in hindsight the peel & eat shrimp was an impulsive purchase that was regrettable since we would have all the ďfreeĒ peel & eat shrimp we could eat just the very next day.








For entrťeís both Ron and I chose grilled fish sandwiches, which were good but not amazing. They were rather small, and were more thick roll than juicy fish. But the flavor was good. Brendan had a HUGE cheeseburger in paradise, and the girls had chicken and cheese stick kidsí meals respectively. For drinks we all had sodas/tea and Ron had a couple of beers and I had a specialty drink (Lazy Pelican, which was supposed to be more like a fruity martini but tasted more like a margarita). We also got a chocolatey cake dessert which was just OK (the cake was frozen and had an aftertaste). In the end our bill was around $80 which we thought was very pricey at the time. In retrospect with appetizers and drinks, and dessert, we actually did have a lot of food and drink. The company was just the best, though!

The plan afterward was to head over to the Radisson where Joanie and Sam were staying and enjoy the fabulous pool there. Unfortunately they reported that the Radisson resort had become ground zero for a biker cruise departing the next day and that the pool area had literally been swarmed with bikers, some with rather questionable taste in garments and tattoos. (Joanie and Samís favorite was the bald guy with an entire face tattooed on the back of his head so it looked like someone was staring at you if you were behind him.) Instead we just headed back to the CIS to chill at the pool there. The kids had such a blast, and finally really started to get to know eachother.






Fellow cruiser Jonathan (Fastpaks) and his family were also going to meet us at the Radisson, but I texted him the change in plans. They would eventually end up meeting us and Judyís family at CIS where we enjoyed talking cruise a bit by the pool and recounting their adventures over the last week (and boy did they have some adventures!!!!)

After night fell, Jonathan, Amy and Adam headed to their hotel (which I hear was also, umÖinteresting) and Judy and I retired inside to do some laundry. I also had some packing adjustments to make, including separating all of the chocolate out of the MNSSHP candy to bring along with us, since it would melt (or freeze, as it turned out) in the van had we left it. I also had to cut out and assemble all of our door magnets for the cruise. I had ran out of time right before we left and had hurriedly just started printing magnet designs willy-nilly, not paying much attention to which ones I had printed and which ones I hadnít. In the end I ran out of ink about halfway through the printing so I did not have nearly as many magnets as I would have liked, nor did I end up having some of the designs I had hoped to have displayed. In any event, cutting them out of cardstock and sticking the magnet strips took a good couple of hours.

When we finally retired for the night well after midnight we were exhausted, but yet, still too excited to sleep. After all the day we had awaited for two years had finally arrived and in just hours we would be sailing away to paradise!

Up Next: Where The Boat Leaves From!!!
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Old 11-18-2010, 07:13 PM   #98
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Great update and wonderful photos! I wish I could have met you all before the cruise (and spent more time with everyone during!)

Jane
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Old 11-18-2010, 08:56 PM   #99
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It all looks as fantastic as I remember. I wish we could go back to that day!
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Old 11-18-2010, 11:26 PM   #100
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[QUOTE=nenner1;38996615]



This brings back memories. We ate here on our first trip to Florida in 1992. By the time we were finished it was getting dark and we walked out the end of the fishing pier. We watched a fellow catch a small shark.

Wonderful pictures - what kind of camera do you have?
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Old 11-19-2010, 01:43 AM   #101
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[QUOTE=smeecanada;38999483]
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Originally Posted by nenner1 View Post



This brings back memories. We ate here on our first trip to Florida in 1992. By the time we were finished it was getting dark and we walked out the end of the fishing pier. We watched a fellow catch a small shark.

Wonderful pictures - what kind of camera do you have?
Funny, I was going to say the same thing. I grew up about 30 minutes to the North of Cocoa and the pier was a place that I would frequent. I'm pretty sure I lived there in the late '80s and played beach volleyball all day. In fact, its a little funny how now you can just walk up on the pier. It used to be that you would have to pay in order to go up on the pier to go to the bathroom. The addition of the side stairs is interesting as I don't remember them. Jen the pick of your little one with the pier in the background is all I remember.

It was a definitely a pleasure meeting you all that night. My wife and I were so unsure about what to expect because we had never done anything like this in really any fashion. Its a bummer that we couldn't make it to Grills as we talked A LOT about joining you all but just couldn't get out of AK fast enough.

As far as the hotel, I didn't think Trip Advisor was going to let me review them cause it was so scathing, but I just checked and it has been published. You all stayed in a palace incomparison. I'm looking forward to another installment.

Jonathan
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Old 11-19-2010, 11:19 AM   #102
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[QUOTE=smeecanada;38999483]
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Originally Posted by nenner1 View Post

This is where DH and I ate the night before our first cruise and it was awesome! We even got to watch the ships sailing out from the restaurant there. Our hotel was within walking distance of the pier and we had a ball! We are planning to eat here again with the kids and MIL before we get on the Dream next year. Can't wait to hear more about your trip!!!

~Morgan~
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Old 11-19-2010, 12:00 PM   #103
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Great updates

keep them coming

We Love MNSSHP too
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Old 11-19-2010, 12:56 PM   #104
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Great update and wonderful photos! I wish I could have met you all before the cruise (and spent more time with everyone during!)

Jane
Thanks Jane! Yes, I agree we saw far too little of you over the course of the cruise! Isn't it funny how you can go the whole cruise never seeing some folks at all but see the same ones over and over again?

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Originally Posted by livingis2me View Post
It all looks as fantastic as I remember. I wish we could go back to that day!
Yep. It seems like so long ago now!!!

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Originally Posted by smeecanada View Post

This brings back memories. We ate here on our first trip to Florida in 1992. By the time we were finished it was getting dark and we walked out the end of the fishing pier. We watched a fellow catch a small shark.

Wonderful pictures - what kind of camera do you have?
Thank you! My camera is a real bone of contention around here. It is a Canon S3 IS, which is now quite an older model. We got it for our first cruise in 2007, and it has served us rather well over the past few years. It is not a DSLR though and I have been looking to upgrade for awhile but the cameras I have been looking at are very pricey so needless to say we still have old faithful here. Since it still takes really good pictures I always lose the argument that it's time to upgrade! (although I try to say it is the photographer not the camera!!!)

We really enjoyed the pier too! Wish we had more time to really spend out there,we could have for sure!!

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Funny, I was going to say the same thing. I grew up about 30 minutes to the North of Cocoa and the pier was a place that I would frequent. I'm pretty sure I lived there in the late '80s and played beach volleyball all day. In fact, its a little funny how now you can just walk up on the pier. It used to be that you would have to pay in order to go up on the pier to go to the bathroom. The addition of the side stairs is interesting as I don't remember them. Jen the pick of your little one with the pier in the background is all I remember.
Wow, so cool that you remember that. Ron used to go to Cocoa all the time back then too, there was a group of kids that would ride in some dude's bus over on the weekends to surf. You do still have to pay to get to the Tiki Bar at the far end of the pier. I think it was only $1/pp or so though.

Quote:
It was a definitely a pleasure meeting you all that night. My wife and I were so unsure about what to expect because we had never done anything like this in really any fashion. Its a bummer that we couldn't make it to Grills as we talked A LOT about joining you all but just couldn't get out of AK fast enough.
Well, maybe it's good you guys didn't get there, since according to Grills we weren't actually there! Ha ha!!! Just kidding! It was a great meeting you all as well, I'm glad you took the time to come over and hang out with us! IMO I was actually fine with going to the Radisson..Joanie and Sam said it was quite a wild party (which frankly I think we would have enjoyed! ) but in the end it turned out to be a really fun time by the pool at CIS.

Quote:
As far as the hotel, I didn't think Trip Advisor was going to let me review them cause it was so scathing, but I just checked and it has been published. You all stayed in a palace incomparison. I'm looking forward to another installment.

Jonathan
Thanks, I can't wait to read and see what this place was like!

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Originally Posted by myelton01 View Post

This is where DH and I ate the night before our first cruise and it was awesome! We even got to watch the ships sailing out from the restaurant there. Our hotel was within walking distance of the pier and we had a ball! We are planning to eat here again with the kids and MIL before we get on the Dream next year. Can't wait to hear more about your trip!!!

~Morgan~
Oh wow, you can see the ships? That is very neat! We really did like it a lot and like I said wished we had more time to spend that day. I'm pretty sure we will be back in the future!!

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Great updates

keep them coming

We Love MNSSHP too
Thanks so much, there really was just no other way to start out a Halloween cruise! It set the tone for sure!
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Old 11-19-2010, 01:14 PM   #105
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Thank you! My camera is a real bone of contention around here. It is a Canon S3 IS, which is now quite an older model. We got it for our first cruise in 2007, and it has served us rather well over the past few years. It is not a DSLR though and I have been looking to upgrade for awhile but the cameras I have been looking at are very pricey so needless to say we still have old faithful here. Since it still takes really good pictures I always lose the argument that it's time to upgrade! (although I try to say it is the photographer not the camera!!!)

We really enjoyed the pier too! Wish we had more time to really spend out there,we could have for sure!!
I know what you mean. We upgraded our Canon A75 (which we still have) to a Canon SX100IS prior to the 2008 EB REPO cruise.

While I love the zoom capabilities of the new camera - I'm not happy with the delay when shooting with the flash and pictures seem to blur alot more than previously. Was looking at some old photos taken on the A75 the other day - man that camera takes good pictures - just wish the zoom was better. Was discussing the issue with DH as I was going thru our photos from the cruise previous to yours the other night. Haven't reached a solution here either. Don't really want to jump upto a DSLR - mainly due to price and bulkiness.
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