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Old 02-12-2013, 09:13 AM   #1
NikkiFB
Earning My Ears
 
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Not the Trip We'd Meant to Take! 1/18/13, from Galveston to The World

I hadn't really planned to write a TR but started jotting down notes for my trip scrapbook and realized I was writing a TR without meaning to! Hope this is helpful to anyone doing the new 8-nighter from Galveston!

EARLY PLANNING

We knew we wanted to do a Disney cruise when we moved to TX from Southern California, and then found out DCL was sailing from Galveston. We started saving up those pennies and booked the 8-night itinerary that included Costa Maya, Cozumel, Grand Cayman, and Key West. When DCL changed things up and ditched that itinerary, we rescheduled for this 1/18 cruise we were actually really pleased---not having to navigate Mexico with little kids---saving a bunch of money by not needing to do port excursions---and getting a day at WDW (to satisfy our Disneyland withdrawal) was wonderful for us! This was our first-ever cruise.

WHO WE ARE

Nikki (me, aka Mom); Scott (DH/Dad); DS1 (age 8) and DS2 (age 4). I wouldn't necessarily say we are Disney fanatics, but we did LOVE living close to Disneyland and have missed it a lot since we moved!

PRE-TRIP NOTES

--We got passports (when we thought we were doing a Mexico itinerary). Still glad we had them for this trip; I'm definitely of a "be prepared" mindset.
--We got trip insurance from USAA. Didn't need it, but both kids had had nasty colds/respiratory infections in the weeks before the trip, so I'm glad we had it just in case they had not improved.
--At 75 days out we booked a Palo brunch and booked an early bus to Hollywood Studios on the WDW day. We didn't book any other excursions.
--We packed most of our clothing in plastic travel/Ziplock bags and squished all the air out of them... and were able to fit everything in two large suitcases (+ hanging bag for formal stuff).
--Pirate Night: The kids wore Halloween pirate costumes from Costco and the Children's Place Outlet. DH cobbled together Goodwill leather vest + hideous shirt + chopped off sweatpants. I wanted to convert "real" clothes into something pirate-ish, so I wore red capri pants, a top with flowy sleeves from the Banana Republic Outlet, a Goodwill denim vest, long scarf tied around the waist, giant gold hoop earrings, and a big brass key ($2 from Michaels) on a necklace chain.

SOME THINGS THAT WORKED FOR US:
--DH didnt think he wanted a lanyard, but I insisted we get some before the trip and he used his all week.
--Instead of a purse or backpack I carried a beachy-looking tote bag everywhere on the ship. Light, cute, and vacation-y looking, with plenty of room for my dSLR camera, notepad/pen, Advil, lip gloss, navigators, Nook, etc. I also had a lanyard but instead of wearing it I looped it over the bag handle so it was always handy.
--We chose not to put a credit card on our account. We wanted to be sure we stayed in control of our spending, so we tried to guesstimate a budget ahead of time and we put cash (our spending budget + tips) on the account on the first day. Throughout the trip I jotted down any spending in my notebook& not trying to be obsessive about it (we expected to add money to the account later in the week!) but just not wanting any surprises. This came in handy later on when we sat down to check our account statement up against our actual shopping.
--Wed asked for gift cards for Christmas, so the kids had their own plastic to spend. We took the g.c.s with us to Disneyworld, then put the rest on the ship account and let them shop in Mickeys Mates before the end of the cruise.
--Earplugs. We had a room that adjoined with the one next door& and our neighbors were rather, um, enthusiastic in expressing their frustration with one another, especially around bedtime. Thankfully my kids are solid sleepers and were unaware, but the earplugs that I grabbed on a whim before the trip came in very handy for me on a few nights.
--We liked Topsiders for breakfast, because we are usually up early and it was usually fairly empty up there. Lunchtimes were much busier.
--Cove Café&. we went there for the first time on the 3rd day, and couldnt believe we didnt find our way there sooner (and more frequently).
--Guest Services staff was very helpful and we had an easy time scheduling/canceling/rescheduling various tastings.
--I was very relieved that the main stage shows had afternoon matinees. We had main dinner seating, so would have had to go to the shows at 8:30---difficult with kids who normally go to bed at 7 and 7:30. We were glad to see Twice Charmed, Villains, and Dreams in the afternoons!
--We tried to be selective about waiting in lines for characters. My kids LOVE all the friends, but we waited to see many of them later in the week when the lines were much more manageable.
--We did not bring something to be signed at Guest Services, but I did make autograph books for my kids& they are really into the whole experience of meeting characters and collecting signatures. I used the free printable set from CapturingMagic.me (you have to sub to their newsletter and they'll send the download). I had the 4x6 pages printed cheaply at Costco, adhered them back to back before binding, and took Sharpies along for signing.
--We did bring an over-door shoe holder thing, and found it handy for collecting all the random stuff that would have been laying around the room otherwise.
--But we did NOT bring a power strip, and found we didnt really need it anyway. The plug behind the tv and the wave phone plug were sufficient for keeping our e-readers and game players charged up.
--I found the hair dryer to be okay, and was glad I didnt drag my own along.

SOME THINGS WE'D DO DIFFERENTLY (or we wish had been different):
--Go to Parrot Cay for lunch on embarkation day. Deck 9 was crazy.
--Take photos of dinner menus, and jot down what we ordered! It didnt seem like a big deal at the time, but now I wish I remembered more about it.
--Consider bringing a portable dvd player and movies to watch in the evenings after the kids go to bed. Unless they upgrade this, the rotation of options on tv left a lot to be desired on an 8 night trip.
--Avoid the scrambled eggs at Topsiders. This was the only truly bad food item we came across. (There were other mediocre things, but this is the only one we purposely avoided. Well& this and the coffee from the beverage station. Blech.)
--Do more tastings. We did two wine tastings and mixology; I wish we'd done others as well. I also wish I'd jotted down the names/notes on the various wines we tasted in the tastings and in Art of Entertaining. It was nice to get recipes from AofE, but we wished the wine tastings had included take-home notes.
--Neither of the boys really liked having lunch in the club/lab. After the first day of trying that, we made sure either to give them lunch before going in, or pick them up before lunch time and hit a buffet.


Okay---that's the basics! Back with daily journals and some pics later on!

Last edited by NikkiFB; 02-12-2013 at 03:01 PM.
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Old 02-12-2013, 09:28 AM   #2
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I'm in...can't wait to hear more!
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Old 02-12-2013, 02:56 PM   #3
NikkiFB
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FRIDAY 1/18/13: Galveston

We left San Antonio around 8:30 a.m. and arrived in Galveston at about 12:15; we had a 12:30-1pm check-in time. We stopped at a McDonalds on the way to the port to use the restroom and get the kids a little snack to tide them over through check-in waits and until we could get lunch on the ship. When we pulled up at the terminal, a porter took our two big suitcases, Scott went to park the car, and the boys and I waited on a bench (and took some photos).



When Scott came back to the terminal, we went inside, checked in, got kids club Mickey bands for the kids& then boarded the ship right around 1:00. (Had we known better, we'd have skipped the kids' club line; we were pre-registered so could have gotten their bands at the club later.) We were a little disappointed not to see any characters in the terminal, and the sail away photo was a pretty ho-hum deal with a plain DCL-logo background (taken in a long, industrial-looking corridor). It didnt feel like an occasion, just a time to get a photo for the sake of getting a photo.

My favorite moment was finally crossing the gangplank and getting our first closeup view of the Magic. DS2 kept asking Are we on the Mickey boat now? and it was fun to take that first step ONTO the ship and be able to tell him "NOW we are on the Mickey boat!!"



Our stateroom was ready when we boarded, so we went directly there and dropped off the few things wed carried on. We went to grab some lunch at Topsiders. The buffet was fine but seating space was few and far between; thankfully we didnt have to roam for TOO long before finding a table outside where we could watch the dock side.

After lunch we made the kids suffer while we toured the spa, then went to our muster drill in Animators Palate, then BACK to the spa for the raffle drawing. The kids were very antsy and tired of waiting through adult things& we finally decided to ditch the raffle and go over to watch the sail away party, and just before we walked out DHs name was called and we won a free mini facial! THEN we were more than happy to leave and find some kid-friendly stuff to do! Sadly, we'd sacrificed the deck party for that free facial; when we got out there the characters were just finishing up their dance and were heading off stage. We went upstairs to Deck 10 to watch the last of the dancing, and to wave to the port workers and other ships and tugs as we pulled out of the harbor.





Though it was a nice sunny day, it was cool and windy up there, so we went back inside and down to tour the kids areas during their open house. By the time we got there, the Labs open house hours had ended, but we were able to go into the Club for awhile.

Our first dinner was in Animators Palate. Wed requested a table to ourselves and got it (most of the tables we saw seemed to be individual families).





We ordered a bottle of wine, and enjoyed half of it (and saved the rest for the next dinner; our server took care of it and had it waiting for us again the following night). Our servers Inyo and Pong were beyond excellent; they really made our week special! We all liked watching for the changes in the restaurant throughout dinner, but the kids LOVED it. DS2 had been waiting all day to see Mickey, and when Sorcerer Mickey came out at the end of the dinner time, the look on his face was just pricelesshe simply lit up. Our table in Animators was at the center front on the main aisle where Mickey paraded; nice and close up for a kid whod been waiting months to see his best friend (but though I tried, Mickey moved too fast for my camera! I was also busy watching my kids enjoy the show so I gave up on trying to take pics at the same time!)

None of us were up for sitting through a theater performance that night, so after dinner we went back to our stateroom and watched Have a Laugh cartoons until the kids went to sleep.

Last edited by NikkiFB; 02-12-2013 at 03:02 PM.
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Old 02-12-2013, 03:16 PM   #4
NikkiFB
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SATURDAY 1/19/13: At Sea

As is typical, the kids (and I) were up early. We went up to Deck 9 for an “explore,” and made our way around the ship to snap pics and enjoy the quiet.









At 8 a.m. we had our character breakfast in Parrot Cay (our first of three-in-a-row meals at PC). The food was just okay but it was a good way to kick off the trip and get to see some “friends” up close and personal. DS2 especially was excited to get to hug and talk to his friend Mickey. Each of the characters came by with a handler (this was different than character meals we’ve done in the parks where typically there are no handlers). It’s a big restaurant and we had to wait awhile for all the friends to come by, but they all eventually did… and it did help having the handlers to keep things moving.



After breakfast there were several different things going on that we wanted to try. DS2 and I sat in on the Disney Jr wake-up dance party, but he only wanted to watch, not dance. DH and DS1 went to play Family Feud. We met back in the Promenade Lounge afterward and the boys made paper airplanes while I went to the first Art of Entertaining session (appetizers: a shrimp/lobster martini). DH took the boys to the kids club/lab for Flubber making and Mousketeer training; they also had lunch there. DH and I grabbed some lunch at Goofy's Galley then went to a Texas wines tasting in Sessions. The five wines were from a single TX vineyard; living in TX we’d kind of hoped for a different “theme” but we enjoyed it anyway. The wine stewards are incredibly knowledgeable (of course we are pretty ignorant so I guess everything's relative! LOL).

We picked up the kids from the Club and Lab and went to see Twice Charmed, with the promise that afterwards we’d go up for ice creams and hot chocolates! After that snack we stopped for the boys to make sparkly door hangers in the Promenade Lounge, then went back to the room to dress for formal night. We came down for the Captain’s Reception a little after 5; we stood in line to shake hands with Captain Robert (I think DS2 was confused and disappointed to find that Mickey is not actually the Captain!!), then for some family pictures. It wasn’t yet crowded in the Atrium so we had time to listen to the band and singer before we went to dinner in Parrot Cay. That evening we first struck up some conversation with the family at the table next to us—a chat that turned into a nice friendship over the course of the trip.



We’d hoped to have time after dinner for the kids to get into pj’s for Pluto’s Pajama Party, but dinner was a bit slow so they went to the Club in dinner clothes (we at least took their ties off!). For the hour or so they were partying, we went to Sessions and listened to live piano music and tried some martinis; I don't remember what DH ordered, but I had the Eco-Tini and it was yummy!!
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Old 02-12-2013, 07:32 PM   #5
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Great start! I would have been extremely upset by the "um" noise coming from next door. Some people have no common decency.
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Old 02-12-2013, 09:42 PM   #6
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Thanks for sharing details of your cruise. I am getting very excited for my family's first Disney Cruise.
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Old 02-15-2013, 10:14 PM   #7
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Great start!
We're doing the same cruise in March. Driving from SA with the same check-in time. Sad that characters don't stay in the terminal but good to know so we won't be disappointed.
Looking forward to more!
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Old 02-18-2013, 04:37 PM   #8
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Great start! I'm looking forward to reading about the rest of your trip as we are doing this same cruise March 1.
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Old 02-18-2013, 07:02 PM   #9
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I have been looking for a trip report on the 8 nighter out of Galveston. We are in SA too! Where did you find that dress!!! Simply perfect for the cruise!
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Old 02-20-2013, 01:06 PM   #10
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I'm looking at this since our planned trip to DLR in May looks like it is being quashed by DH's boss so this is a very viable option! Looking forward to more updates
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Old 02-20-2013, 11:37 PM   #11
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Can't wait for more updates. I have been looking for TR for the 8 day w/WDW.
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Old 02-21-2013, 07:35 AM   #12
NikkiFB
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trinity524 View Post
I have been looking for a trip report on the 8 nighter out of Galveston. We are in SA too! Where did you find that dress!!! Simply perfect for the cruise!
Thanks! I picked it up at Marshall's a couple of years ago for a Navy Ball.

Hoping to add more updates soon!!! Thanks everyone for reading. It was a great trip---feel free to ask if you have any questions about the itinerary or anything.
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Old 02-21-2013, 05:23 PM   #13
NikkiFB
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SUNDAY 1/20/2013: At sea

(With apologies for this photo-less post. Believe it or not, I took photos exactly once on this day, when the kids met Capt. Hook! Plenty of photos of Castaway Cay coming in the next installment, to make up for this texty one!)

We started Sunday morning with breakfast at Topsiders; my intention had been to eat VERY light (knowing we had a Palo brunch reservation at 10:30)… but I forgot about the brunch and ended up with a full plate of fruit, a sausage, and a bowl of chilled muesli. Oops! … and yum!

DH had some birthday money to spend, so he booked a spa appointment for himself this morning, the Elemis Deep Cleanse Grooming Treatment (shave + facial, 45 mins., $75). While he was spa-ing, the boys and I just relaxed in the room and watched cartoons. Scott came back with a very smooth face, but with a story: apparently he was not clear enough in his “NO” to the spa’s suggested products, and found himself with a bill for SEVEN HUNDRED AND FIFTY DOLLARS worth of spa product added to our onboard account!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This is a guy who gets $5 haircuts at work (he’s in the Navy) and showers with whatever soap and shampoo happen to be on sale at Target. I’d heard stories about the spa’s notorious hard sell, but I was shocked!! He laughed it off, but it made me anxious about what they’d try to hook *me* for when I redeemed my free facial gift certificate from the boarding day raffle…

Anyway, after we dropped the kids at the Oceaneer’s Lab for the Pig’s Pasta Palace contest, we made a stop at Guest Services to change a wine tasting booking. We’d initially booked it for 12:30 that day, following our Palo brunch, but we had a hunch that we wouldn’t feel like it that day. It was easy to reschedule, and we were so glad we did! We had a fantastic brunch; at 10:30 we seemed to be among the first people there. Our server was attentive, professional, helpful, and nice to chat with—but without being hovering or annoying. We each had a mimosa and coffee, attacked the amazing buffet, ordered a grape pizza (my favorite food of the morning), I ordered eggs benedict and he ordered veal (I think), then we went back to sample from the dessert table. Thank goodness we had cancelled the wine tasting... I can't imagine having done that on such a full stomach!!!

When we couldn’t do any more damage at Palo, we left and collected the kids. They’d been wanting to get lunch from one of the poolside restaurants so we took this opportunity to let them get pizza and chicken strips from Pinocchio’s and Pluto’s. Then we went to Animator’s Palate for some drawing classes; we drew Daisy and then Stitch. (DS1 has loved drawing classes at the parks, but he found this one kind of frustrating... especially Stitch for some reason.)

We enjoyed the afternoon matinees of the stage shows, but DS2 did NOT want to go to the show that afternoon; he had his heart set on buying a Jake (& the Neverland Pirates) doll he’d seen at the gift shop, and then he insisted he wanted to go back to the room and rest! So DH and DS1 went to see Villians in the Walt Disney Theater; DS2 and I went to the shop for Jake, and then to watch more Have a Laugh cartoons in the room.

When we met back later, the boys wanted to do Ratatouille’s Cooking School in the Lab, so we dropped them off for that and then went to the Cove Café for lattes and pastries (we were finally ready for a SMALL snack after our brunch!). Scott used the headphones to watch/listen to the NFL playoff game that was showing on the tv in the café; I took my knitting and got a few relaxing rows done!

That evening we had dinner (again) in Parrot Cay; on the way there we saw Captain Hook so stopped for a photo. (I can’t believe those were the only photos I took this whole day! Embarrassing!) (Also, our experience: we were kind of sick of Parrot Cay by this point. We had our character breakfast + formal night dinner there on Saturday, and dinner again on Sunday… in a way it was starting to feel like “home” but we were ready for a new atmosphere!)

After dinner, DS2 was ready for bed, but Scott practically insisted that I needed to go see Villains (he liked it best of the three big shows!). DS1 was happy to see it again, so we went together. I didn’t love it as much as Scott did, but it was fun and clever and enjoyable… I was glad I saw it.

Last edited by NikkiFB; 02-22-2013 at 10:10 AM.
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Old 02-21-2013, 07:50 PM   #14
ShelleyLynn
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I am loving your trip report! We leave next Friday on the same cruise! Was the weather on your first 2 days at sea warm enough for kids to swim? Was it warm enough to feel comfortable in shorts during the day? What advice do you have about clothing for those days? I am finishing our packing this weekend and want to make sure I have what I need. I so hope to have warm weather at sea those first 2 days! I am sure I will think of more questions so thanks for your insight!
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Old 02-22-2013, 09:45 AM   #15
NikkiFB
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Originally Posted by ShelleyLynn View Post
I am loving your trip report! We leave next Friday on the same cruise! Was the weather on your first 2 days at sea warm enough for kids to swim? Was it warm enough to feel comfortable in shorts during the day? What advice do you have about clothing for those days? I am finishing our packing this weekend and want to make sure I have what I need. I so hope to have warm weather at sea those first 2 days! I am sure I will think of more questions so thanks for your insight!
My guess is that the weather this time of year may still be iffy.... but I'd think it'd be more reliable now than it was for us in mid-January! It was too cool for ME to swim those first few days, but there were a few kids in the pool even the very first day leaving Galveston! People were definitely swimming early in the cruise, and it got a lot busier at the pools as the trip went on. (By the time it was warm enough that I would have wanted to swim----it was too crowded for me to want to swim!)

I would think you'd be safe with shorts by now, though for us it tended to be cool/breezy. I mostly wore capris and was comfortable, and I also brought a denim jacket and wore it quite a bit, especially in the mornings. I found packing difficult too; I tried to take just a few basic "bottoms" and then enough tops to mix and match around (for me and also for the kids... they did wear shorts most days). For dinners I brought a few maxi-dresses; I knew I didn't need to dress up that much, but they were EASY to pack and to wear!

Have an awesome cruise!!!!!
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