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Old 12-10-2012, 12:42 PM   #1
socababy
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Panama Canal or Bust!! December 9 - 23, Not so LIVE, Trip Report!!

Hard to believe that I have just set sail on my 5th DCL cruise this year! I can’t think of a better way to end the year than to escort the beautiful Disney Wonder through the Panama Canal to her new home in Miami! My family is surely going to miss her being on the west coast.

As soon as I heard about the possibility of a PC cruise, I was determined to be on it. I am fascinated by the Panama Canal and it is a bucket list must see for me. The rumors about the proposed December date started circling during my kid’s winter break last year. As soon as they returned to school after the new year, I immediately went into the school office to ask if I could get permission to take my kids out of school for 2 weeks. This cruise hadn’t even been confirmed yet but I wanted to get all my ducks in a row! I am a planner! I was told by the office to do it now while they are in elementary school because it would be just too hard to do when they get older. Permission granted!

Traveling on this cruise are my 3 kids, Josh (9), Dylan (7), Katelyn (5) and me, Christina. For those who haven’t read any of my past trip reports, my husband passed away 4 years ago. This trip will be a big step forward for me as it will be the first vacation with just the 3 kids and I! All of our past vacations have included family, friends, or a combination of the two. This time I will be outnumbered 3 to 1! I just keep telling myself “I can do this!” So knowing that I was going to be all alone on a ship for 14 nights with 3 kids, it was a must to splurge and get a suite! I gave my DU agent Marla a maximum price that I wanted to spend and she was able to book a 1 bedroom suite on opening day (8532) for less than my budget! Deposit was made…this dream trip was going to happen! During the course of the next few months, this cruise would have 2 price decreases. Each time Marla was on top of it and refunded the differences! Fast forward to sometime around August, someone mentions on our meet thread that a Royal Suite (8530) has become available. I go and take a peek and see that it is below my original budget and decide to go for it! We, along with my ILs, were fortunate to sail in a Royal Suite last April. Beautiful suite and I knew the extra space would be great.

This cruise always seemed so far away but now that it is here, it feels like the months flew by, if that makes any sense! One of the perks of the Royal Suite is unlimited internet. My hope is to update this trip report each day. If accessing Photobucket is as hard as it has been in the past while on the ship, pictures may need to be added once I return home. I am really hoping to complete this trip report because the last few trip reports I have started but then didn’t finish the last couple days on each! I promise I am going to try to complete this one!

Embarkation

With 6 pieces of checked luggage and 4 carry ons carefully stacked in my car, we were off to the port at about 10:15. My Ils are fantastic…not only are they driving us to the port, they are staying ay my house to watch my fur baby Daisy! I really don’t like to board her for a week long trip, much less 14 nights. So they were gracious enough to offer to watch her! We arrive at the port just after 11. I have really found the San Pedro port to be very smooth. Porters were right at the curb to collect our luggage. We said our goodbyes to grandma and grandpa and headed into the terminal. There was no one in line at the Concierge check in so checking in was no more than 5 minutes. The kids did have their first argument of the trip. Dd and I are gold CC members while the boys are silver. They didn’t like that they didn’t have gold lanyards as well. I’m not sure why they care since they don’t wear their lanyards anyway! I assured them that their next cruise they will have gold too!


We went to the Concierge waiting area where I was able to say hello to a couple DISers! We didn’t wait long because they started boarding just before 12. The ship is even more beautiful with all the holiday decorations up! A beautiful chocolate display with an ice sculpture of the ship was on display in the atrium.



As we headed to Parrot Cay for lunch, we passed by the large gingerbread house in the Promenade Lounge. It smells so good!

I always feel like vacation has started once I am seated in Parrot Cay on the first day having lunch. The kids ate what is surely to be their first of a thousand helpings of mac and cheese. I wasn’t too hungry so I just had a salad. My stomach was in knots! I think I just had some ‘vacation alone with the kids’ anxiety! LOL

After lunch we headed to the Cadillac Lounge for the Concierge Reception. I was so sad to not see my favorite concierge host Tawanda. When we saw him 10 weeks ago, he said he was due back from vacation the day we boarded for this cruise. I’d later learn that he is now on the Magic! Such a nice guy and was sad not to see him. I didn’t recognize the 2 concierge hosts but would learn their names are Jennifer and Rodrigo. They were busy when we first walked in and we sat there for over 30 minutes before Jennifer came up to talk to us. The kids were restless and didn’t want to sit there anymore. I briefly went over some things with Jennifer and by then it was after 2 and the rooms were ready. I wanted to make a couple spa appts with the CM at the reception because I didn’t like the times offered when I went to book online but the kids were ready to go. I just wish it hadn’t taken so long for a Concierge host to approach us but then again there was only 2 of them. I will look into a spa appt later.

We head up to our room and it is of course beautiful! I am very happy to see that there are 2 lounge chairs on the balcony in addition to 4 chairs. I plan on spending a lot of time on that lounge chair! The kids just want to kick off their shoes and relax but we need to go down to the Promenade Lounge for the DIS meet. We stayed down at the Lounge long enough to get some of the room changes for the FE and to meet some other DISers. After I heard from the kids for the 100th time that they wanted to go back to the room, we headed back up. By the time we got back to the room, all of our luggage had arrived. I started unpacking and then started decorating our door with our magnets. My kids love decorating the door with magnets. I let them place them randomly on the door and then I secretly go behind them and put them in a more orderly fashion! LOL Before we knew it, it was almost 4pm and time for the muster drill. Our location is ‘C’ on deck 4. I’m glad it went rather quickly because the kids were already fighting about being too close to one another while standing in line. The older couple next to me just smiled sweetly at me as the kids were fighting with each other and I just asked she pray I come home with my sanity after these next 2 weeks! After the drill, we went back to the room where I finished unpacking. Maybe it’s because the kids have done a few cruises this year but they didn’t want to up to deck 9 for the sail away party. They prefer to stand on the balcony and wave to the Cms on the pier waving their big white Mickey hands. So we did just that. Captain Thord must be in a hurry as we pulled away from the pier at 4:45, 15 minutes early! We were already on our way when we heard them do the count down up on deck 9!





We have early dining at 5:45 with the following rotation…APTAPPTTAPTAPT. So funny to see so many letters on the KTTW card! The knots in my stomach have passed and the kids and I are starving! We head to Animator’s Palate where we are reunited with our requested server Salomie. This is the third time she would be taking care of us on a cruise and we love her. Her assistant server is David from I believe Portugal. He seems very nice albeit a little quiet. Dinner seemed slow tonight but maybe it was because we were all so hungry! The kids all had pizza, fries and green beans. Well, the boys did. Katelyn barely touched her food. This is typical of dd and I typically make her eat most of her food before she can get up. There have been times we are the last to leave the restaurant because dd is still eating. Since I will have 14 nights of this, I chose not to engage in this battle. She did not get to have dessert though! I had calamari with a wonderful spicy tomato sauce for dipping, a white bean and arugula salad and grilled chicken on top of a bed of sweet potatoes and a creamed corn mixture. Overall, everything was really good! Dessert, on the other hand, was blah. If you have read any of my past trip reports, this is an area I feel DCL can improve on. I ordered an apple tart with vanilla ice cream and the tart tasted like it was burned. Oh well, a few less calories won’t hurt! Josh did not want dessert and Dylan ordered chocolate ice cream. Dylan was out of his chair when the ice cream arrived and as he was climbing over the arm of the chair, he kicks his ice cream with his foot and it goes crashing to the floor, glass dish shattered. I just took a nice deep breath because I know this won’t be the last time something like this happens with my sweet Dylan. He can be absentminded at times and just doesn’t pay attention to what he is doing! I always say he has book smarts but doesn’t always have street smarts! Salomie brings him another ice cream and by the time he finishes it, it is 7:25. I’m bummed because we missed the tree lighting ceremony in the atrium at 7:15. We go check out the tree anyway and take some pictures in front of it.


At 7:45 we head to the Cadillac Lounge where Jennifer is meeting us to escort us into the Walt Disney Theatre through the secret way for the “Let The Magic Begin” show. This is one of the perks of concierge that Tawanda introduced us too! I’m not sure how much we will use this perk though as the theatre didn’t get completely full and it is a lot to ask 3 kids to sit in a seat for 30 minutes before a show begins. We’ll just play it by ear each night. This show isn’t my favorite but seeing the look on dd’s face as she sits in the front row with Disney characters dancing on stage just feet in front of her is priceless and worth me sitting through the show! We were told by Christiaan our cruise director that there are only 1800 guests on board. Later I asked one of the kid’s club Cms how many kids there are and I was told about 250. After the show, the kids were finally getting what they wanted…me dropping them off at the club/lab. I told them they wouldn’t be closing down the lab/club because I wasn’t sure how much longer I was going to last. I was so tired! I went back to my room and read the new navigator and then went online to check my email. Yes the internet is slower than at home but I have had pretty good luck with it in the past. At about 10:30, I went and picked up the kids. In my mind it was already 11:30 because we were moving the clocks forward one hour tonight. Before retiring to bed, I filled out my room service card for some coffee, fruit, muffins, and cereal to be delivered in the morning. As I always do, I opened the balcony door and fell asleep listening to the beautiful sound of the ocean!
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WONDER...Jan 1999 Land/Sea, Feb 2011 MR, Nov 2011 MR, Apr 2012 MR, Apr 2012 HI, Sept 2012 CA Coast, Dec 2012 EBPC, Aug 2013 Alaska, May 2014 WBPC
DREAM...Aug 2012, May 2013
FANTASY...May 2013 EC, June 2013 WC, Jan 2014 EC, Dec 2014 EC
MAGIC July 2014 Med, Aug 2015 Dover to Barcelona, Aug 2015 Med

Last edited by socababy; 01-24-2013 at 11:51 AM.
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Old 12-10-2012, 05:00 PM   #2
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How fun to read a live trip report, thank you for sharing!

We did the EBPC in 2008 and my three kids were close to the ages that your kids are now. They had a blast and it is tied with the Alaska cruise as their favorite!!

Have a great time, can't wait to read more!

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Old 12-10-2012, 06:09 PM   #3
jetskigrl

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I can't wait to follow along for this one. I really wish that this had been one of the cruises that we had been on with you (not that we didn't enjoy the other two but I really want to do a PC one of these days)

We were at the port to give you a send off. We barely made it too. We arrived at 4:30 and usually have plenty of time for the kids to ride their scooters before the ship leaves but this time we were surprised to see it start moving before the countdown and horn (I even asked DH when we saw the ship moving if he thought we missed it).

It was definitely a different departure than usual. We were surprised by how fast the ship pulled out of there and really noticed how close the tail end of it came to the opposite side (where we were standing). We all looked at each other said said "wow, that was close" It is not usual for us to be able to see the crew members in that back work area but this time we could see all the way across it to the walking path. And there were definitely more crew members along the windows waving goodbye this time....

We are certainly going to miss having the ship here too!!

I hope you all have a wonderful cruise and I can't wait to read your future updates
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Old 12-10-2012, 06:12 PM   #4
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Sounds like you are off to a great start - can't wait to read more. I've been thinking of all you all day! Have a great trip!

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Old 12-10-2012, 08:21 PM   #5
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Enjoy your trip...going through the Canal is awesome, we did it in 2008. I have a few friends on the ship with you!

Jen is great btw, she is actually an officer on The Dream. She was our Host in Sept on The Magic, we had the same suite you did. She was great! It was our first time doing concierge and she and my DH kept making me call her for stuff!

Oh, you are so right about the desserts!
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2005 August - Surprise Trip for kids!! CSR; 2006 August - Surprise Trip for kids at CSR again!! 2007 August - 3 nite Wonder & AKL FD 3peat!!
2007 December 8 - 7nite Eastern on the Magic! 2008 August 17 DCL Magic EB Panama Canal; March 2011 WDW trip with friends. 2012 Aug 25 DCL Bahamas Magic from NYC;2012 Sept 12 DCL Canadian Magic;2013 Aug AKL Kidani;2013 Aug DCL Fantasy

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Old 12-11-2012, 08:52 AM   #6
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Day 2 - At Sea

I had placed my room service order to be delivered between 7:30 - 8:00 and just like my experience with RS on past cruises, they were ringing the door bell at exactly 7:30. I actually couldn’t believe my kids were not up yet as they are all early risers, even when they are on vacation. Trying to not wake the kids, I quietly pour myself a cup of coffee and add my pumpkin spice creamer I brought from home. I can only drink coffee with flavored creamer so I always bring my own. Took my coffee and bowl of fruit and went and sat out on the balcony. It was a little chilly but not bad with my robe on.

I had about 15 minutes of peace before the kids woke up. The kids slowly ate their cereal, fruit, and muffins while watching tv. I did discover that Katelyn had eaten her chocolate chip muffin on her top bunk bed and had crumbs everywhere! She is not allowed to eat in her bed at home so I wonder why she thought she could here?? I guess that is what I get when I was laying in my own bed working on this trip report! After they finished eating, it was time to do some homework. See, I am not totally irresponsible for taking them out of school for 2 weeks! They will get their work done!

We then slowly get dressed and I drop them off at the lab/club around 10:45. While I am grateful for the lazy morning since those never happen at home, I am a little bummed I missed the first lecture at 9:30 by Captain Puckett, former Panama Canal pilot who is now retired. Today’s lecture was on the early history of the canal. I did some reading before the cruise so I do know some of the history. I hope to catch the next one!

After I drop the kids off, I came back to the room to just relax. The movie Elf was playing so I watched some of it. I have never seen it but from what little I saw, it looks really funny. I will need to watch the rest later. At noon I go and pick up the kids and we head to Beach Blanket Buffet for lunch. The kids have some shrimp, pasta, cheese, turkey, and bread. Even Katelyn ate well! I had some spare ribs that were fabulous, some swordfish that was not (way too fishy!) and a salad. Pasta sounded good and as a last second decision, I got some bolognaise pasta that was so good! I’m so glad I got it! Dylan decided he wanted dessert at the buffet so he brought back some carrot cake and a trifle looking dessert set in a pretty champagne looking glass. He had placed the glass on the plate next to his carrot cake and can you guess what happened next?? This is my sweet Dylan we are talking about…he tries to go around his brother and tilts his plate. As he does, the pretty trifle falls over and lands right on his jeans! The trifle had a raspberry glaze on top that is now all over his jeans. I really wasn’t planning on doing laundry but will now have to because I can’t let the stain sit for 2 weeks. Ugh! He finishes his dessert and the rest of us go out for some ice cream. I am very excited to see pineapple coconut flavored ice cream! They had this for just one day on the Hawaii cruise which I was so bummed about because it is very good.

We head back to the room because Dylan had to change his pants. We gather our FE gifts and start out on our journey to deliver to 75 rooms! This is definitely the most rooms we have done on one cruise since I opted to deliver to everyone. We started on deck 8 and made our way down. Once we finished deck 5, I dropped the kids off at the club/lab since they were over delivering the gifts. I finished up deck 1 and 2. All in all, it took about an hour to get them all delivered. I like to think we walked off our lunch! I came back to the room and layed outside on the balcony. Not a cloud in the sky! Just beautiful blue sky, warm sun and super smooth seas! Perfect!

Such a far cry from the weather we had for the Hawaii cruise. Fingers crossed this weather continues for the duration of our trip. After taking a little siesta on the balcony, I decide I deserve to take a bath in the nice large Jacuzzi tub! I haven’t taken a bath in at least a year and let me tell you, it was wonderful! LOL After my bath I went and picked up the kids and came back to the room to snack on cheese and crackers sent to us by concierge. Yummy! I got the kids dressed for dinner and then we headed downstairs around 5:20 to the atrium to have pics taken. I love having the kids take pics with the white background.



They have turned out great on our past cruises. They are going to have to be phenomenal for me to purchase the cd this cruise with a price tag of $400. Yikes! Got the pics done and we then headed to Parrot Cay for dinner. Dinner was much faster tonight. The kids had their usual mac and cheese and pizza. Everyone, including Katelyn, ate all of their food. They must have worked up an appetite in the kids club/lab because we didn’t do anything else all day. Parrot Cay and its menus is not my favorite. I had a Caesar salad which was okay. I chose the Mixed Grill for my entrée. It had a lamb chop, shrimp, bacon wrapped sausage, and asparagus on a bed of mashed potatoes. It actually turned out to be great! I also ordered a glass of Pinot Noir which was great. I did bring on 2 bottles of Pinot Noir but was too lazy to run back upstairs after taking pics to get it. Dylan had a mickey bar for dessert and I had a sundae that was made with cookies and cream ice cream! Finally a dessert I like! Josh and Katelyn had a mickey shaped rice krispie treats that concierge had brought us when we went back to the room after dinner.

The show tonight was the Comedy and Ventriloquism of Kevin Johnson. He performed briefly during the show last night and he was really good. The kids were laughing and when I asked them if they wanted to see him again, they all said yes but then they decided during dinner that they’d rather go to the lab/club. I dropped them off and headed to the shops. They had quite a bit of xmas themed Disney items. I ended up getting the kids santa hats with mickey ears that I am hoping to do a photo session with them one of these nights. I also got a xmas themed trading pin for each of them. I ran into DISers LindaBabe and Jeff Spencer and his wife while shopping. It’s been fun running into DISers everywhere on the ship! I then headed back up to my room and watched the rest of Elf that I didn’t see earlier today. I got a page on the Wave Phone at 9:30 that dd wanted to be picked up so I ran and picked her up and shortly after picked up the boys. I was surprised how a day of doing nothing can really make you tired. Once again I fell asleep to the sounds of the ocean!
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WONDER...Jan 1999 Land/Sea, Feb 2011 MR, Nov 2011 MR, Apr 2012 MR, Apr 2012 HI, Sept 2012 CA Coast, Dec 2012 EBPC, Aug 2013 Alaska, May 2014 WBPC
DREAM...Aug 2012, May 2013
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MAGIC July 2014 Med, Aug 2015 Dover to Barcelona, Aug 2015 Med

Last edited by socababy; 01-24-2013 at 11:57 AM.
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Old 12-11-2012, 09:01 AM   #7
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Enjoying your trip report!
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Old 12-12-2012, 12:03 PM   #8
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Enjoying your trip report! My fiance and I will be on the return Panama Canal cruise next year for our honeymoon! Can't wait!
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Old 12-12-2012, 01:05 PM   #9
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Can't wait to read more of your trip report.
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Old 12-12-2012, 05:14 PM   #10
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Enjoying your report! Looking forward to hearing all about your cruise live!
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Old 12-13-2012, 09:29 AM   #11
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Day 3 - Cabo San Lucas

I woke up at 7:30 and was shocked that the kids were not up yet! I went out on the balcony and laid on the lounge chair hoping to spot some whales. No such luck! The kids got up around 8:30. That is unheard of in our house as all my kids are early risers. They also woke up with their appetites…they were starving. Dylan wanted to eat breakfast at BBB so I didn’t order anything the night before. We got changed and walked upstairs just as we were right alongside Cabo San Lucas! BBB had the usual items you would find at the breakfast buffet but the view of Cabo San Lucas while eating breakfast made this the spot to be. Absolutely beautiful blue skies!

I had DCL excursions planned for Cabo and Puerta Vallarta but cancelled them about 2 weeks ago. I know I wanted to just soak up some sun and the kids wanted to play in a pool so I decided to just stay on the ship. After breakfast, we went back to the room to do a little homework and then get changed for the pool. We got to the pool around 11:00. I have never seen the ship/pool so empty! There was only about 10 kids playing in the Mickey Pool.





My boys went to the sports deck for a short while and then came back to the pool. We stayed at the pool until 2ish when the kids were asking to go to the club/lab. I didn’t want to leave because the sun felt so good! The kids won so we went back to the room, got the kids bathed, changed and then dropped them off at the club. I then headed back up to deck 9. I went to the adult pool but the chairs at this point were all taken. I go up to deck 10 and head all the way aft to position myself right in the sun’s direct rays! I had to play musical lounge chairs 4 different times though. The ship is anchored in the bay with just one anchor so the ship moves a lot side to side. I was sitting port side and kept losing the sun behind the smoke stacks! I finally wised up and headed to the starboard side where I didn’t have to deal with the sun hiding behind anything. I lounged listening to my Ipod until 4:15. I then headed back to the room to shower. I went and picked up the kids at 5:15 and we headed up to deck 9 to get some drinks for dinner. Tonight we decided to skip the dining room in favor of having Palo delivered to the room! I thought after being lazy at the pool all day, a relaxing meal in the room would be the perfect ending to the day!




A room service CM came to the room around 6 to set the table for dinner and about 20 minutes later the appetizers arrived.



We had the cold antipasti dish, calamari, an arugula salad with balsamic dressing and some yummy bread. Shortly after our entrees arrived, grilled tuna and Beef Wellington. The kids did well and at least tried everything but they were still hungry so I sent the boys up to deck 9 to get some chicken fingers. Just as we finished our entrees, our 2 chocolate soufflés arrived! Josh didn’t want any so dd and I finished one while my king of desserts Dylan ate the other one. So yummy! This is one dessert that is very good and I plan on ordering it again this trip!

The show tonight was the Comedy and Percussion of Buckets and Boards. This kids wanted to go back to the lab/club instead of seeing the show so I went and dropped them off. After a day in the sun, having a very filling Palo dinner and 2 glasses of wine, I just wanted to sleep! I told the kids they could only stay until I just couldn’t keep my eyes opened anymore. After dropping them off, I went to the Port Adventures desk to ask questions about a High Seas Character Campout that was advertised in the Navigator for Dec 15. You have to sign your kids up as space is limited. All my kids want to do it but I have a feeling I will be getting a phone call in the middle of the night to pick up dd. I only lasted until 10 when I finally wanted to go to bed so I went and picked up the kids. After a day in the sun, we were all ready for bed.
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WONDER...Jan 1999 Land/Sea, Feb 2011 MR, Nov 2011 MR, Apr 2012 MR, Apr 2012 HI, Sept 2012 CA Coast, Dec 2012 EBPC, Aug 2013 Alaska, May 2014 WBPC
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MAGIC July 2014 Med, Aug 2015 Dover to Barcelona, Aug 2015 Med

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Old 12-13-2012, 10:32 AM   #12
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What a perfect day! Swimming, relaxing in the sun, dinner from Palo delivered to the room. Ah, the life on DCL!
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Old 12-13-2012, 11:07 AM   #13
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Sounds like a fantastic trip for you and the kids! Congrats on scoring the nice suite, too. Guess no "tastings" this trip for you, LOL!

I am on the fence about excursions in Cabo and PV on the May PC cruise. Checking reports to see what folks are doing.

BTW, you can order hot breakfast to be delivered in your suite, right?

Have fun!
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Old 12-13-2012, 11:32 AM   #14
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I've been on 7 cruises but have never been able to try DCL. The RS sounds amazing!
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Old 12-13-2012, 01:28 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CarolAnnC View Post
Sounds like a fantastic trip for you and the kids! Congrats on scoring the nice suite, too. Guess no "tastings" this trip for you, LOL!

I am on the fence about excursions in Cabo and PV on the May PC cruise. Checking reports to see what folks are doing.

BTW, you can order hot breakfast to be delivered in your suite, right?

Have fun!
That's funny about the tastings! I was debating doing one but it definitely won't be mixology! Not unless I can find someone to watch my kids! For those of you who didn't read my Hawaii TR, I was just a little tipsy after the mixology tasting!

Yes all the suites can have hot breakfast delivered from Tritons, we just haven't done it yet. They can't deliver until after 8:30 since the restaurant opens at that time. My kids typically get up earlier than that so it is easier just to order some muffins and cereal for them to eat.
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WONDER...Jan 1999 Land/Sea, Feb 2011 MR, Nov 2011 MR, Apr 2012 MR, Apr 2012 HI, Sept 2012 CA Coast, Dec 2012 EBPC, Aug 2013 Alaska, May 2014 WBPC
DREAM...Aug 2012, May 2013
FANTASY...May 2013 EC, June 2013 WC, Jan 2014 EC, Dec 2014 EC
MAGIC July 2014 Med, Aug 2015 Dover to Barcelona, Aug 2015 Med
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