|04-16-2013, 01:00 PM||#1|
Earning My Ears
Join Date: Jan 2013
Magic!!!!!!!!!! When You Wish upon a Star! trip report
This is the trip report of our surprise birthday, spring break, Disney Cruise Line vacation for our fun-loving kindergartner I will call K.
We live in northeastern Oklahoma, so we had a 9 hour road trip to get to our spring break destination in Galveston. We headed down for the long drive to Houston on Monday morning to stay the night with some gracious relatives. That evening they treated us to dinner at Floyd’s restaurant in Sugar Land. It was very good. Hopefully Floyd will open up restaurants in Oklahoma soon.
Tuesday, March 19th (embarkation day and K’s 6th birthday)
We woke up early and had a wonderful breakfast prepared by T’s (my Handsome Hubby’s) aunt. She had also thrown a surprise birthday party with cupcakes and presents for K. She received a lot of gifts that were appropriate for the surprise trip.
We were all packed up and ready to drive one more hour to Galveston Island. Disney Cruise Line offers two complimentary character calls as a part of their package. I thought it would be neat to schedule them the day of the cruise since it would be K’s 6th birthday. At 9 a.m. I had my cell phone sitting on my lap anxiously waiting for Goofy to call. All the adults in the room knew about the call, so we were all anticipating for it to happen. At first I thought I had scheduled it wrong after waiting a minute or two, but finally my phone started to ring. I answered the phone and followed the instructions then placed it on speakerphone and handed it to K. Goofy in his authentic voice, enthusiastically told her how much fun they were going to have together on a 4 day Caribbean cruise. She handed me the phone back after he said goodbye and was clearly confused. She was wondering how Goofy knew it was her birthday. She was real happy he called, but didn’t catch on to what he had said. We hugged our family good-bye and thanked them for the wonderful hospitality and headed on down to Galveston.
At 9:30 a.m. I had my phone ready and waiting again. This time I had scheduled Mickey to call. A little after 9:30 a.m. it rang again and I gave it back to K. She was grinning from ear to ear as she listened to Mickey, who she thought was Minnie, tell her about the upcoming cruise. Once again she really didn’t listen to what Mickey had to say. She just thought they were calling because it was her birthday. Our cruise was still a surprise at this point.
As we crossed the bridge over to Galveston island, the trip started to become real to me and I started getting excited. K is in the backseat inquiring if the hotel we are going to stay at has a pool. I reassured her it surely does. We were driving east on Harborside Dr. and K points and says, “Momma look, it’s a Mickey Mouse boat!” We all commented on how big and beautiful it was and we continued driving a little ways farther. We got to EZ Cruise parking and rolled down our window. The attendant politely showed us where to park for Disney Cruise Line and K started asking questions. “Why is he telling us to park over there?” I tell her if we are going to get on that big ship we have to park in a certain place. She squealed with delight and I tell her Happy Birthday!
EZ Cruise got us to the terminal quickly and it took us about 25 minutes to go through security and to get checked-in and our “Keys to the World” cards issued. We had an 11:00 a.m. port of arrival time. After check-in we found seats among all the other excited families and waited for the boarding announcement. I heard there could be characters in the terminal, but there weren’t any that early. My friend who came later did see Minnie in there. They started boarding around noon and we were in boarding group 4. It didn’t take long for them to call 4. We took a family picture in front of a DCL backdrop and K’s face was beaming. We got to the entrance and a CM (Cast Member or Disney employee) at the door asked us our last name so they could announce us. T also mentioned that it was K’s birthday and they announced that too. There was a receiving line of CM members who clapped for us as we entered. Another CM greeted us inside the atrium and told us that guest services would give us a birthday button for K to wear and that we also could go and enjoy lunch around the corner at Parrot Cay. We did go and stand in a short line at guest services to get our birthday button and to turn in a photo mat for the characters to complimentary sign. After that we headed up to deck 9 to enjoy a lunch at Topsiders instead of Parrot Cay. We wanted to sit outside and enjoy the port action to start off our cruise.
Our K got a lot of attention with her birthday button. Several CM’s wished her “Happy birthday Princess.” It was obvious within the first 10 minutes of being on the Magic that the services were going to be outstanding. After lunch K was begging to swim. I had a swimsuit for her, but the temperature outside was a windy 68 degrees. I asked her if we could go explore the ship instead and find the kids clubs. She agreed to that as long as there would be swimming in her future. There were a few kids in the pool and we found out later that the water was actually warm. It was warmer than most hotels with indoor heated pools.
We went to deck 5 and found the Oceaneer’s Club. We stood in a very short line and then a CM waved us over. She was very sweet explaining everything to us. She attached a band to K’s arm and we spent some time exploring the Club and the Lab. K never got use to her wristband; she especially hated sleeping with it on. We actually had it cut off for our port day and then reattached for our next day at sea. We put it in our in room safe while it was off of her arm, so we wouldn’t lose it and get charged $50.
After visiting the clubs it was late enough that we could finally access our cabin. Our cabin was forward on deck 6, room 6313. It was an inside cabin tucked in a small quiet hallway. The hallways are narrow and we got stuck behind a family who was having a hard time getting their KTTW card to work. It finally worked for them once they had it going the right direction. We opened up our room door and our cabin was decorated for K’s birthday. It was a total surprise to all of us! Our travel agent arranged for the special decorations. It was very festive. There was a blue metallic hanging spray with the Disney characters all over it and it said Happy Birthday. There was a similar matching one that was on the table top. There was also a long banner that said Happy Birthday in front of the curtain divider and a Happy Birthday magnet decoration on our bathroom door. We unpacked and relaxed for a little bit, checked out all the TV channels (mostly Disney) and waited around for our muster drill.
Whenever they make ship board announcements you would hear the seven note chime, When You Wish Upon a Star. We are still humming that tune weeks later. They made an announcement for the muster drill in many languages. We headed down to deck 4 and found our life boat at the F station. They lined us up along the ship wall like sardines. It wasn’t much fun but a necessary drill for all cruise lines. Once we cleared muster we went back up to deck 9 to get ready for the Sail Away party. We joined the crowd and grabbed a blue streamer-thingy to wave in the air. The crew was already dancing and we joined in as much as we could. It was shoulder to shoulder, so line dancing was a little difficult. Soon the characters came down the stairs and danced on the stage too. Then we all joined in on a countdown 10,9,8…….and then we heard the ship blast it’s horn. The horn is also to the tune of When You Wish Upon a Star. It was very cool!! The ship did not start moving right away. K became impatient waiting for the ship to pull away. Finally we could feel it moving and we slowly left Galveston behind.
We had brought all sorts of motion sickness medications. We didn’t need any of them at all. T took a Dramamine one night just to make sure he slept well, but never felt seasick. Once we got out to sea you could feel the boat rocking gently, but we never found it bothersome. I actually kind of liked it. One night’s movement was much more noticeable, but still enjoyable in my opinion.
After the deck party we went back to our room to get ready for dinner. I always had the hardest time orienting myself which direction our cabin was. T always knew which way to turn. Every time I would be in the front I would lead us the wrong way.
We had main seating at 5:45 p.m. Disney seated us with some friends of ours at table 11. Our friends had booked the cruise later than us and were assigned late dining. We were all very happy to be seated together. Our dining rotation started at Animator’s Palate and then we had Parrot Cay for 2 nights and finally Lumiere’s. Our server was Juan from Colombia?? and Marut from Thailand?? They were both very attentive and our kids just loved them. Our daughter got sang to for her birthday and the kids at the table left with Nemo origami made by Juan and Pluto portraits by Marut.
After dinner we walked around and then made our way to the Walt Disney Theater to watch Villian’s Tonight. It was a fun show and I think it turned out to be K’s favorite. She laughed at jokes that I know she didn’t even get. We all enjoyed the show and then headed back to our cabin to turn in for the first night.
The next morning we went to Parrot Cay for breakfast and saw Marut working. He showed us where we would be sitting that night and then we went through the buffet. The food was fine. I’ve had better for breakfast, but the selection was nice.
After breakfast we saw everyone lining up for a princess gathering. T held the spot in line for us as K and I ran back to the cabin. K was surprised that I had packed her Sleeping Beauty dress and we quickly put it on, grabbed our autograph book and met T back in line. We waited in a long line, but it was worth it. We were talking to a nice family in line ahead of us and found out that we knew their relatives. They were from Tulsa and on their second Disney cruise. We took pictures with all the princesses and also Alice from Wonderland and then went back to the cabin to change into swimsuits.
Next it was time to head up to the Mickey Pool. It wasn’t too crowded when we arrived but it was packed full within the hour. You couldn’t walk through the chairs and tables that people had crammed around the pool. People even had chairs in front of the railed entrances for the pool. It really was chaos maneuvering around that area. The weather was still a little cool on the top deck, but enjoyable on deck 9. We enjoyed lunch at Goofy’s Galley and Pluto’s Dog House. We really liked the ice cream and the free soft drinks offered. We did not bring our own larger cups. I saw people with them, but I didn’t really find it necessary.
We finally lured our kid out of the pool to eat lunch and we went back to the room to put on some dry clothes. K was ready to try out the kids club, so we grabbed our wave phone and headed to deck 5. We learned the check-in process and I told her I would come back for her in a few hours. They had a Snow White event planned that I thought she would love. I came back to get her and she was glad I was there to pick her up. She said she was getting ready to ask them to call me. K didn’t enjoy the clubs as much as I thought she would. She makes friends easily and had a great time in the pool, but for some reason the club wasn’t as fun. She said they were playing hide n seek and nobody came to look for her and she stayed hiding and missed the beginning of “do si do” with Snow White. I’m sure it was all a miscommunication, but K was ready to cut off her bracelet for the remainder of the cruise. We went ahead and did cut it off and saved it for the last day at sea.
We then met our friends to make a princess craft in the Promenade Lounge. It was a foam crown that you glued on feathers and sparkles and decorated with markers. We glued magnets on the back and the kids put them on the outside of the cabin doors.
We went back to the cabin to rest a bit and to clean up for dinner. It was semi-formal night. It still seemed pretty casual. I did see some people all dolled up for photos but they were in the minority. We met our friends at Parrot Cay and enjoyed our dinner. We were always one of the last tables to be finished. I don’t think we were slow eaters. We must have been one of the last tables to receive our meal each night. Our kids colored on the menus, but it was nice to have the Kindle or I-Pad to keep the kids occupied. The evening dinners seemed to last a while.
We left dinner with origami birds for the kids, and got in line to take a picture with Mickey in his tux. We waited about 10 minutes and then we headed to the evening show. K wanted to sit up close this time, so we managed to get front row seats. The show for the evening was Twice Charmed. It was a twist on the original Cinderella. The show was outstanding. You can tell the actors and actresses put their heart and soul in every performance.
After the show we went out the door to the Promenade deck. It was night time and the air was warm and humid. You could see lightning way off in the distance. We could see a light way up ahead of our ship, but we were too tired to stay out to see what it was. I think we were getting closer to Cozumel. In fact late that night, lying in bed, I could tell the ship slowed down or even stopped. It got much quieter and the motion was almost non-existent. I think we must have been sitting right off of Cozumel waiting to dock in the morning.
Thursday morning, March 21st was Cozumel day. We got up and gathered up our belongings that we would need for our shore excursion. We excitedly went up to deck 10 to show K that we had arrived at Mexico. We most often used the stairs to get between decks because we found the elevators to be way too slow. It was warm and sunny and the island looked just like how we remembered it from previous visits. We took some pictures and video and decided we needed to go get some breakfast. Topsider’s was very busy that morning, so we decided that we could go through the buffet line quicker at Parrot Cay.
After breakfast we waited for the announcement that we could disembark. It wasn’t too long and then we headed on down to the lower deck to step off the ship. There was a lot of people congregated waiting to get off, but the line moved fairly quickly. We had to have our KTTW card scanned before we could leave the ship.
We were docked at the downtown cruise pier. There were 4 other ships in Cozumel that day and they were all at the newer pier. The water was clear and turquoise as we walked along the concrete pier. Our ship towered over us as we walked in its shadow. The Disney Magic was absolutely beautiful.
As we got closer to land the high pressure sales people started swarming us. We already had our shore excursion booked so our plan was to find a taxi. We had to walk through a maze of storefronts and kiosks to get to the designated taxi area. We saw human statues that would jump and scare people. K was mesmerized by them. Finally we got to the taxi area and were on our way to Nachi Cocom.
Nachi Cocom is a private beach club that only allows 100 guests a day. We booked this shore excursion to avoid the crowds that 5 cruise ships would bring into town. Nachi is on the western side of the island. It was about a 15 minute taxi ride to get there. We turned down a secluded gravel road and had reached our destination. We grabbed our belongings out of the taxi and were immediately greeted by a lady who had 3 sombreros waiting for us. She took our picture with a small digital camera and then directed us to the beach. A waiter escorted us to our own palapa and the far end of the beach. The sand was really deep and difficult to walk in. We had two lounge chairs and a small table under a palapa shade. The beach and water were beautiful. There were shells and coral in the sand and numerous palm trees all over the property.
K was excited to get in the water. It was hard for her to be patient letting her sunblock dry before she could jump in. My Hubby and K enjoyed playing in the water. I only got in up to my waist. The water was a little chilly, but enjoyable. We brought snorkel gear, but Nachi doesn’t have much to see right from the beach. T found a conch far out, but that was about it.
Nachi had unlimited drinks and you get to have a 3 course lunch while you are there. I had their guacamole and fajitas, which were awesome. T had chicken wings and fresh Grouper that he said was the best he ever had. K went with the predictable hot dog and French fries.
We stayed at Nachi for about 3 ½ hours and had a wonderful stay. If you go, make sure you bring your own sand castle toys. I paid $5 for an old plastic pail that I’m sure someone had left behind from a previous visit and Nachi was selling over and over again. Instead we decided to take it with us and just left it behind in the taxi.
We put on dry clothes, bought our sombrero picture and had them call us a cab. The taxi arrived in less than 5 minutes. We left Nachi a little early to do souvenir shopping in downtown before we boarded the ship.
I forget how pushy the sales people are in Mexico. They were constantly bringing stuff up to me trying to get me to buy. K ended up getting a pink sombrero magnet and a pink dolphin Cozumel t-shirt. T and I decided to make our sombrero photo from Nachi our souvenir for the visit.
We let K interact with one of the human statues that intrigued her and T gave him a tip in his jar that was clearly marked.
I took lots of pictures in Cozumel only to find out I had a smudge on my camera lens. I have a slight blur in the corner of all my pictures. Bummer!
We walked back over to the pier to get back on board the Disney Magic. It was really hot and humid outside and we were all sweating. While waiting in line to board, a CM from the ship had silver tongs and a silver tray of rolled, chilled hand-towels available for us to take and cool off with. We all took one and K draped them over her head and shoulders.
Once we were back on board we went to our cabin to clean up and relax before the big Pirate party and fireworks that were going to be later that night.
That night we had dinner once again in Parrot Cay. It was the perfect restaurant to be in for the pirate theme. It is decorated in tropical décor. Disney provided everybody a pirate bandana to wear on our heads for dinner and for the deck party later on. From what I could see everybody in the restaurant wore their bandanas along with other pirate garb they had brought from home. We had pirate tattoos on our cheeks that we had brought along with us.
During dinner Marut, our server, grabbed our friend Molly and K from our table and they got to join in on a lengthy pirate march around the restaurant. The girls had a blast and were ready to do it again. Food was pirate themed and very good that night.
Later that evening we went and let K take pictures with Chip and Dale donned in their pirate attire and then we went to see an Illusionist show in the theater. The show was good, but was kind of slow between acts. I enjoyed the theater performances much better.
After the evening show we went up to deck 10 to enjoy the late night pirate deck party. We were on deck 9 for the sail away party and it was quite crowded. This time we went up a deck and looked down on the festivities for a better view. K felt like she was missing out on the dancing since we were up top and was a little cranky about it. It was a late night for her, but we thought her earlier nap would have helped. We had a great spot on deck 10 and could see everything. Captain Hook came and tried to ruin the deck party but Mickey Mouse zip-lined directly over our heads from the top of the ships funnel to the stage and then directed us to the sky on the starboard side for a fireworks display. The fireworks were way better than I expected. You can’t compare it to a 4th of July celebration, but it was quite good. After the party we went back to our cabin to turn in for the night. Our room steward had made us a towel monkey that was hanging from a hanger wearing K’s sunglasses. It was really cute! Previously he had made us 2 elephants which is K’s favorite animal. The last day he made us a snake with chocolate candies for eyes.
Friday, March 22nd was our last day at sea. We got up and had breakfast at Topsiders and ran in to Marut again and then went straight to the Mickey Pool. We were there early and there wasn’t a crowd. K went down the Mickey slide a dozen times without having to wait in line. This time the pool area wasn’t as crazy. We enjoyed the atmosphere much better. K found friends that she had played with earlier and had a great time. We let her stay in the pool a long time. It was close to lunch time when she finally was ready to get out.
There was a character dance party scheduled in the atrium that sounded fun, so we ran back to the room and put on clean, dry clothes and raced back to the lobby. They were playing fun music and a few kids were dancing around in the middle of the floor. K watched for a few minutes and then joined right in. She had a great time out there freestyle dancing and doing flips. It was close to time for the characters to appear and she needed to go the restroom. We quickly dashed over to one of them and we heard them announce the characters while we were in there. K was frantic to get back out to the lobby. We found our way back to the dance party and the crowd was dense. K wiggled her way in through the crowd and I lost her. I scanned the crowd over and over and couldn’t find her. It doesn’t help that I am too short to see over anybody. I knew she wasn’t in any kind of danger, but I was worried if she needed to find me she wouldn’t be able to. I ran up the stairs and looked down over the event and I thought I saw her. I hurried back down to find out it was the wrong kid. I thought she would be by Chip and Dale but I quickly found her dancing with Minnie. By this time the crowd was more spread out and you could move freely between characters to dance with whoever you wanted. She worked her way around the room and danced with everybody. At the end of the party confetti fell from the ceiling and the characters went up the stairs with their handlers and waved good-bye to everybody. It was the most fun character experience on the ship.
We found T up on deck soaking in the sun and met up with him for lunch. We went and had the seafood buffet at Topsiders. It wasn’t that good. I had some filet of cod that was tasty, but the rest…..not so much. We got hot sitting out in the sun, but it was a nice break from the cold weather they were experiencing at home.
After lunch K was ready to try the Oceaneer’s club again. She went for a “Where’s Tink?” activity and a Peter Pan character interaction. We dropped her off and I told her I would come back in a few hours. In the meantime T and I went to Shutters where they display all the pictures that the ship photographers had taken. We searched the displays until we found our family and were able to get 3 complimentary photos for booking our travel with AAA. Then we went spent some time out on deck watching freighter ships pass by and enjoyed the experience of being out at sea.
At 4 p.m. I went to pick up K. This time she enjoyed herself more, but once again was ready to leave. All the kids in the club were going to put on a show called Friendship rocks with Mickey Mouse in the theater, but she didn’t want to stay to do that. The CM in the club went ahead and gave K the t-shirt that all the kids were going to wear in the show because she wanted her to have one. We decided to turn in K’s wristband for the cruise and said good-bye.
We left the kid’s clubs and took a stroll around the Promenade deck. We were able to go in the bow of the ship and see all the anchors and ropes. Afterwards we went up to deck 9 again to get some pop at the self-serve station and decided to get some pizza to snack on too since lunch wasn’t that great. We got a table by the Goofy family pool and were able to watch some short Pixar films on the outdoor funnel vision screen while enjoying our snacks.
It was time to head back to the cabin to relax a little and clean-up for our last rotational dining restaurant called Lumiere’s. It is the fanciest of the three restaurants. We met our friends down at table 11 for dinner and all of us tried escargot for an appetizer. It was smothered in garlic and butter, so it tasted fine. I don’t think I would eat it plain. The servers did a parade of flags for their home countries to the song “It’s a Small World.” We all waved our white napkins in the air to cheer for them. K and Molly wanted to join in the parade.
After dinner T decided to relax in the room and skip the final show, as he wasn’t feeling very good. K and I went on down to the theater and she insisted on front row seats again. She managed to score us two in the middle section. The show for the final night was called Disney Dreams. It was the best of all the shows. It had a lot of characters in it. It was a happy show with no villains whatsoever. At one point during the Little Mermaid, bubbles filled the air in the theater and another time during the Beauty and the Beast it snowed! At the end confetti rained down on us. It was an amazing ending for our last night on the ship.
It was getting late and we went back to the cabin to check on T. He was feeling much better and had started packing our bags that had to be set out in the hallway by 10 p.m. We skipped out on the “Until We Meet Again” party with the characters in the lobby. I think it would have been fun, but we were running out of time.
Saturday morning I woke up around 5 a.m. because our ship was making a strange sound and motion. I’m pretty sure we were doing a 90 degree turn in the Galveston ship channel. Shortly everything stopped and got quiet and I knew we were docked.
There was a channel on the TV that was a live camera that looked out over the bow of the ship. It was a nice feature to have since our room did not have a window. It was sad to turn it on in the morning and see the port of Galveston instead of the big blue sea.
We got dressed and left our cabin for the last time and met our servers and tablemates for breakfast in Lumiere’s. We had our carry-on bags with us and enjoyed one last meal.
We got in a line after breakfast and waited for them to announce the debarkation information. We didn’t wait too long and we then exited the ship. We got back into the terminal and our luggage was divided up by characters. We had Donald Duck on our tags and T found our luggage very quickly. We passed through customs and we were back out on the streets of Galveston.
EZ Cruise had a pick up area and we were finally directed by someone to the right place. We waited just a minute and we were back at our car ready for the long drive home.
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