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Old 05-31-2008, 10:59 AM   #1
rantnnravin
Whaddya mean there's no room in the suitcase? YOU CAN LAND A PLANE IN THERE!!
 
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April Showers of Happiness Magic 4/19-4/26 Western

Now that KC and Hypermommy have reached the end of their experience, I thought it only fitting to continue to allow other DISers the opportunity to relive the cruise vicariously through our family's experience. It probably won't be as entertaining as the tag-team trippie, but here's the first installment anyway:

Pre-Cruise Report
Thursday, April 17, 2008
I wanted to pack on the weekend before the trip. I really did. I wanted to have all of the laundry done by Sunday - all of the clothes we would need for the trip - I really did. I wanted to be sure that I brought all we needed without bringing too much luggage. I wanted to be organized and make sure that we had a little bit of everyone's stuff in each of the suitcases. I really did. But if I didn't want to be sitting in the internet cafe everyday doing work for my master's class, these best laid plans were not meant to be. Instead, I spent the night before the trip - the WHOLE night - doing laundry and packing.

Having just zipped up the last suitcase DH and DD would be bringing with them on the morning of April 17th, I heard the alarm clock. 5am. Islip Airport is 10 minutes from our house and their flight was at 6:30. Yep their flight. I had to go teach one last day. I had gotten them great "A16 & A17" passes for their Southwest flight, so we had plenty of time to wake DD8 up - as if it would be difficult - pack up the car and get them to curbside check-in. It was bittersweet watching DD drag her little suitcase through the serpentine line as DH wrestled with the 4 other bags. I drove somberly away from the airport and was home in minutes - leaving for work at the very same time they were scheduled for take-off.

At 4:30 pm, with nothing but my ipod and a small carryon, I thanked my DMIL for the ride to the airport and made my way to the waiting area for my own flight. My own "A17" pass got me onto the plane quickly and my ipod did a superb job of keeping my ears occupied as my eyes traced the eastern coastline of the continental US. It wasn't long before I could see Daytona and knew that I would soon be "home". I made my way through the airport with the ease of a professional - that is until I got myself discombobulated with those construction walls on the "B" side of MCO. A TSA officer bellowed at me and showed me where I should have veered left. With a shrug, I headed for the moving walkways and was soon on my DME bus and on my way to Animal Kingdom Villas.

DH and DD had called me during my lunch period earlier that day to brag about the beautiful weather and how there were so many animals on the Savannah outside our balcony. It was dark by the time I arrived, so not much to see. I was exhausted anyway - what with the marathon overnight-packing extravaganza. I gobbled down a monster sandwich DH had picked up for me at Mara and we went to bed.

Friday, April 18, 2008
I awoke before the sun, put on a pot of coffee, and made my way to the balcony to watch the sunrise. DH and DD followed soon after and we enjoyed watching the animals before heading to breakfast. DH had picked up the rental car the day before so we could get ourselves to the port early on Saturday morning. We headed to I-drive and Denny's. It was quick - but it sure wasn't cheap. (And it wasn't that good.) "We should've gone to Boma again," DH quipped. Adding an ever-so subtle dig about how DD and he had enjoyed such a glorious full day together the day before. We needed provisions for the cruise, so a trip to Publix yielded two bottles of wine, 2 bottles of Bahama Mama mixer, and the ever-important - and VERY LARGE - bottle of Malibu Rum. There was no way we were going to be PiRANTs in the Caribbean without a fair supply of rum. We also picked up a bottle opener, which made its way through the terminal at Port Canaveral without incident. We finished our trek off property with some souvenir shopping. I had forgotten - in my pre-dawn fog - to pack the Yankee Swap gifts, so we scoured the strip for something special for our DISboard friends. We found nothing suitable, so off to Downtown Disney we went. We wound up with an apron for DMIL, a wine bottle topper for ourselves, and DH found a set of Mickey Through the Years coasters and Mickey-head re-usable ice-cubes for the swap.

We returned to AKV with our treasures and promptly changed into our bathing suits to enjoy the Uzima pool (and pool bar) for the rest of the afternoon. All-too-soon it was dinner time and DH wanted to venture off property again to try out Crabby Bill's - unreasonably-priced, mediocre food. We would have been better off staying within Disney's boundaries. We decided to turn in early in anticipation of embarkation day...
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Old 05-31-2008, 12:11 PM   #2
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Thank you for giving us something to look forward to. I was wondering how I was going to get my Magic 'fix' again. Will you be posting pictures?
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Old 05-31-2008, 12:56 PM   #3
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Keep it coming, I'm enjoying so far...

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Old 05-31-2008, 07:30 PM   #4
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subscribing!
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Old 05-31-2008, 10:05 PM   #5
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Hey, we were at AKL on those exact days too! AND, we were at Uzima pool on Friday afternoon too! Ahhh...loved that resort. We ended up spending that morning just walking around the hallways for about two hours just looking at all the artwork, just beautiful, ha? Stayed in the DVC part of it, in a studio. Love your report so far, we did an all DW trip this time, transferred over to the BC after AK. Can't wait to hear more!
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Old 06-01-2008, 12:36 AM   #6
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Waiting for the next installment...great start!
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Old 06-01-2008, 05:18 AM   #7
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Great start!!!!! Can't wait to read more!!! Yep... should have stayed on property. Especially with gas costs these days. I figure the difference in price is made up by convenience and the fact that I don't have to spend gas to go anywhere. You lucky dogs staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge. That's definitely somewhere that Joey (DS12) wants to stay one day. Personally, I'm up for the Poly, but AKL would be a pleasant 2nd.

Okay.... so it's been like 18 hours since your last post. Time to post more now (/me ducking and running ---- you'd think I'd have learned not to tick off a PiRANT!).
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Old 06-01-2008, 05:25 AM   #8
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DH and DD had spent Thursday exploring the resort and enjoying the balcony of our Savannah room. Here are a few pix they took:


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Old 06-01-2008, 05:58 AM   #9
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Great pics! I may just have to stay there someday.

'course, that will probably require winning the lottery too :-)
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Old 06-01-2008, 06:04 AM   #10
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Saturday, April 19, 2008 - Embarkation Day

I couldn't force myself to sleep any longer, so I rolled over and put some coffee on. (The studios at AKV are small). DH has this thing about coffee when we're at Disney - it must be made with bottled water. So, we had picked up a gallon during our Publix adventure the day before. I used the rest to refill some 1-1/2 liter bottles to take to the port with us. Ah, the port. Just a few more hours and we'd be climbing aboard the Disney Magic...

It was 6 am. I slid past still sleeping DD and opened the drapes. She's usually getting up for school at this time, but she's on vacation too. I tried to be as quiet as possible pushing the glass doors to the balcony and taking a seat outside in the dark. I couldn't see any animals, but I sure did enjoy the quiet. All ten seconds of it. DH stomped his way out, crashed into the door-frame, tripped over the table and plopped himself down in the other chair. Well, "Good Morning" to you! Almost immediately, he spied a family of kudu who had wandered onto the path right up close to the hotel. I had heard some rustling in the bushes, but figured it was some birds. Nope, a few of them had managed to get past the hot wire and were exploring the zookeepers' areas. It wasn't long before the animal caretakers drove up in their jeep with a searchlight and spotted the three. Then they left, so I figured that maybe there wasn't a hot wire at all and that they were just tracking their whereabouts.

DD heard us chatting about the goings on and was soon in my lap, watching the antics of the adventurous kudu family. As the animals tried to find an entrance to the hotel, we enjoyed the sunrise together. Sunrise on the Savannah:


The kudu wandered over to what was apparently a nesting area for the geese and the birds made their displeasure known by stretching their wings, stomping their webbed feet, and honking and hissing frenetically at the larger beasts. The birds won and each time one of the kudu took an odd step in that direction, the geese would start their bullying behavior again and chase them away. It was hysterical and DD will still spontaneously break into the goose bully dance to get a laugh.
The zookeepers were back shortly after sunrise and tried to "drive" the animals back onto the savannah with the jeep. That didn't work so they got out of the jeep with very large shields and sticks and I became concerned. I needn't have been. The sticks were to bang the shields with - the noise was supposed to make them run away. All it managed to do, however, was act as a "human call" and soon all the balconies on the Uzima savannah were filled and watching the action. They did, eventually, get them around the wire and back where they belonged, which signaled, for us, the start of our own day.

We needed to get everyone showered and dressed and all the toiletries into the checked luggage. I needed to clean up the room and pack all of DDs new treasures, find a place for the laundry, keep out our paperwork, swimsuits, sunblock, etc. I needed to pack a carryon with whatever we would need until our stateroom was ready at 1:30. DH needed to pack the carryon with the adult provisions. We also needed to eat breakfast. It was now 7:30 am and we needed to be on the road by 9:30 at the latest. We were. We pulled away from AKL at 9:15 and we just needed to make a quick stop at the gas station before hitting the open road. But, when we stopped at the gas station on I-drive to fill the gas tank (so we wouldn't have to do so near the port) DH realized he had left his cell-phone charger plugged in behind the coffee pot. He tried the typical blame it on the wife game, but I countered with the "I didn't put it there, how was I supposed to know" card. I suggested simply calling the resort, alerting them it was there, and asking them to put it aside until we returned next Saturday and we'd pick it up then. No. We had to go back and get it - now. Grrrrr. So, instead of being on the road by 9:30, we were heading back to AKL at 9:30 so Dh could walk those loooooong hallways back to our room on Uzima trail to get his cell-phone charger - that he wouldn't need for the next week. It was 9:45 when we finally got on I-4.

coming up next...
Have you seen the view from the bridge? and other stories...
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Old 06-07-2008, 06:37 AM   #11
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Whaddya mean there's no room in the suitcase? YOU CAN LAND A PLANE IN THERE!!
 
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Saturday, April 19th, 2008

After about 45 minutes of driving, we were on the bridge. I had heard about the view from the bridge, but no words can express the absolute giddiness I felt when I saw those two beautiful red stacks when we reached the apex. As excited as I was, I couldn't seem to drum up the same level of enthusiasm from the others in the vehicle. "Oh, yeah cool," was the extent of the response from Dh and DD, well, let's just say, "zzzzzzmmmmmmmhhhpf" was all I could muster out of her. She had fallen asleep and Mickey Mouse himself couldn't have roused her. What I wasn't prepared for, however, was the wait - from the first sighting to actually arriving at the port was interminable. The ship is mammoth, so it is easily spotted from afar - apparently veerrrryyy afar. But we had another 10 minutes of driving before we were actually there.
But when we pulled into Port Canaveral and saw the magnificence of the Magic from up close, DD and I were ready to jump out of the still-moving car and climb aboard. Of course, we had to be directed to the drop off, where we unloaded the luggage and DD and I proceeded to the terminal while DH made his way to the rental car place to drop off the car. It was 10:50 and I was NOT a happy camper. There was a line to check in before entering the building. I really wanted to avoid the crowds, and instead we were right smack dab in the thick of them. But, we really NEEDED that cell-phone charger this week, you see. grrrrr. But I had his passport, so I was gonna check us all in.
I got to the first desk where they check your paperwork. I explained that as I was pulling the papers out of the bag, I noticed that I must have packed the brown booklet because the lady at the cruiseline desk at Animal Kingdom Lodge said I wouldn't need it.
"Let me see what you have." I handed her the paperwork.
"This isn't it. You'll need to fill out..."
"Whaddya mean? They checked those papers at the cruiseline desk at Animal KingdomLodge. They said they were fine. Even put everything in order." I was about to lose it.
"These aren't what you need. Do you have the little brown booklet" I attempted a knowingly fruitless search of my bag. "No, they're in the other bag." While checking my bag, I realized that I had handed her the printed contract, instead of the cruise documents she needed. I sheepishly handed them over to her. "Looks great! All set" Excellent, I thought, now we can take some pictures of the terminal and with the characters. I wondered which boarding number she'd give us. We're not that late. Maybe 3 or 4? "Just go right over to that line over there and they'll give you your boarding card." Huh? That was just pre-check-in. Great. tick...tick...tick.
I dragged the two heavy carry-ons and DD over to the serpentine line and was handed card #6 as we entered. Ugggh! Check-in was painless. The terminal was crowded and DH wasn't back from the rental place yet, so I didn't mind standing in the kids' club line. It kind of made the time pass more quickly than wandering around. DH finally found us on the line and we checked DD in. The lady was mean - bordering on nasty, when I told her that DD would have sign-out privileges. I know my kid. It's your rules. Stop eyeballing me. then she asdked for the password. I gave it to her. "Nope. that's not it." Yeah. That's it. Nope, starts with a 'd'" WhattheF...
Turns out, when I checked something for DMIL on her DVC account, I must've been logged into DCL and it changed the password. It shouldn't do that. Fixed the password. Got our pager. A quick trip to the restroom for all and they began to call numbers. Hooray!!!

Next up...Disney Cruise Line invites all guests with boarding card #6...
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Old 06-07-2008, 03:31 PM   #12
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how old is your daughter? why was the DCL person mad that you gave her signout priviledges? thanks for your report!
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Old 06-21-2008, 01:28 PM   #13
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Disney Cruise Line invites all guests with boarding card #6...

sorry for the delay in the installments, folks. I've been doing a lot more reading than writing the past few weeks...

Saturday, April 19th 2008 cont.
Embarkation


The embarkation process seems really strange to me - disorganized almost. Everyone gathers at the entrance to the roped off queue and as the boarding card numbers are called, people shove their way through to get on the line. Realizing there was no semblance of order, I shuffled our family up to the front so that A) I could watch the process and 2) we would be the first of the 6's. It worked well for us, as DH quickly picked up on how they cue the CMs directing boarding. So, before the announcement was even made, we had picked up our luggage and were moving toward the queue. Now, this line was a bit more organized and it was quite clear what the CMs were looking for - to me. Unfortunately, maaaannnny of the people ahead of us had not picked up on the "have ALL keys to the world cards and photo ID OUT and ready for inspection." I cannot tell you how many folk ahead of us were sitting there struggling with taking their card out of the plastic lanyard holders and shuffling around (going into wallets) for their photo ID - you know, if you hear the CM asking every single group ahead of you for the same thing, over and over and over again, you would think you might have it ready for them???!!! (Rant over - no pun intended). The funny thing is, the majority of those folks taking their cards and ID out of the lanyards and such were CASTAWAY CLUB MEMBERS - who have DONE THIS BEFORE! (okay I'll stop ranting - can you tell I needed this vacation ? lol)
Anyhow, the next 5 minutes were a blur. I wasn't really able to process or take much in because of trying to make sure that I followed all directions and understood what was expected. (A personal flaw I guess) Anyhoo, as we passed through the Mickey-head threshold, we showed our cards one final time, then it was: Wash your hands with the wipes (I had heard about the wipe stations on the DIS, so, while this didn't come as a complete surprise, I was shocked at how soon it began. Then it was time for pictures. Take this card, stand over here, smile, stand here, smile, now just the child, smile. In all this haste, I forgot to make sure my watch was facing forward, so that little bit of the embark picture bothers me. but, whatever.

Next was the entrance. I knew about this too, but it was totally cool how it all happened. Now, please know, I am sick of being the family photog and dislike seeing all of every important event through the lens of a camera, so I packed the camera away because I wanted to soak in all the magnitude of the day. But it was like a whirlwind. A CM leans over and asks our name DH and I both answer and it comes out over the loudspeaker: "DCL welcomes The Ranches Family" umm ok we'll be the "Ranches."
From there I was on a mission. It was late and I needed to make it to Rockin Bar D to make Palo ressies. We decided on brunch; but somehow wound up with brunch and dinner. cool. Until we found out that pirate night had been changed! whatthf? So we needed to try for another night. I looked at our KTTW card ( PLLPLAP) - yes you are seeing it correctly, Our dining rotation definitely showed us in Parrot Cay and Lumiere's 3 times each and Animator's once for the whole trip. Okay, whatever, I guess missing Parrot Cay on Tuesday won't be a huge loss... We got tuesday night also and left RBD feeling pretty proud of ourselves. It was about 12:15 now and we headed up to Topsiders for lunch and to allow DD into the Mickey pool. Thanks to the DIS, I knew to bring our suits. DH and I caught sight of our first poolside CM who had a tray full of the "drink o the day" in reusable plastic cocktail glasses. Perfect! We were going to ask our room steward for wine glasses for our aforementioned adult beverage cache, but these would foot the bill so much more aptly - and we could start the party right away - BONUS. We grabbed a table on the port side near the Mickey Pool and I watched our bags and sipped relaxation step #1 while DH took DD to Topsiders. When he returned, I headed in to get my lunch. We sent DD into the bathroom to change into her suit and let her splash around. They finally opened the slide at about 1pm and she had a blast. We would not see it this empty again unless we were at the pool by 8am - we did that only once.
We relaxed until 1:30 and headed down to our room. It didn't take much to get DD out of the pool because she was just as excited to see the room as we were. We were even more surprised when we opened the door and saw all those wonderful "Bon Voyage" decorations and the cake our TA had arranged for us! Thanks Keri from LBAC! In my excitement, I neglected to get a picture, but I DID call her and leave a message to thank her for her thoughtfulness while DH went on a quest to fill the ice-bucket and let our room steward know that we would need an ongoing supply of ice. DH wasted no time unpacking the um, err... provisions and mixed us up a refill of our souvenir glasses (cups). We settled out on the verandah with our cocktails and did some people watching before our 2:00pm DIS meet at the Promenade Lounge.

We arrived a few minutes late, but it wasn't difficult to find our group. There were about 6 or 7 families there, positioned in chairs and tables arranged in a circle.
We arrived as Maryann (Madgomez of TGM fame) was introducing herself and family and I took that opportunity to enter the circle and finally meet someone I had "known" for so many years on those boards.
Everyone was filling out lime green Mickey-head nametags that many of us wore for the remainder of the cruise.
I introduced our family and many more DISers arrived and introduced themselves as the rest of us chatted and got to know one another. The yankee swap was awesome. In my haste to pack, I had managed to forget the homespun yankee swap gifts from LI - but since many of us were actually from LI, it probably was so much the better. LOL DH picked out some apropos gifts at DTD and they became some of the most coveted items of the swap. DD fell in love with her gift, a Tallahassee manatee - from Hypermommy and Co. - and made fast friends with the little girl who chose the gift that she picked out for the swap.
John (TECHJPM) and Deb's DD, Leanne, and Jordan spent a LOT of time in the lab together and we ran into each other often on the ship and off. DH got a lovely tote - the blue stripes really accent his eyes -
and I got the much-coveted DCL litho!!! yay me!!! By the time we finished our yankee swap, we had taken over the entire Promenade Lounge. We took a few group photos and bid adieu - but this certainly wouldn't be the last anyone would see of each other.



Back at our stateroom, I took the opportunity to unpack our luggage before the muster drill. The drill was a non-event that was over before we figured out what was going on. They started call stateroom numbers, but I never heard ours. It didn't matter though, they released us super-quick and we finished our unpacking before the beginning of the sail-away party. I must say, I don't really quite understand all the complaints about the stateroom size or the storage space. We had plenty of space and loads of storage. I don't know if it was because I packed light, or that I'm a pack-rat by nature and adept at hiding things away while still having them accessible, but, we could've brought tons more stuff and still had room to spare. Nothing was ever all over the place and there was plenty of space in the bathroom for all of our toiletries. I didn't bring the much-touted "over the door shoe organizer" and never felt that I needed one. We were all moved-in by the time we left the stateroom for the Sail-away party. DH mixed up yet another batch of Bahama Mamas for the Sail-away party and off we went.

It was hot, hot, hot on deck and I really don't know how those CM's do all that jumping around for so long. But then again, these are also the bunch that keep all of our little ones entertained while we all chillax:

We got a spot right up front and waved our mylar streamers around for the 45 minutes until that much awaited, always imitated, never duplicated, Disney Cruise Line ship's horn.

it truly is a surreal moment when you hear that horn and realize you've pushed off from the dock and you're moving. The party ended with an appearance from the characters







then we went up to deck 10 to watch as the ship sailed out of the canal. People on shore are truly awed by the magnificence of this ship and they watched and waved as we passed.
Wilted by the heat, we headed back to the stateroom to relax and get ready for dinner.

up next... it's dinner time... already?.
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Old 06-22-2008, 07:26 AM   #14
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Dinner Time Already?

Saturday, April 19th, 2008
Our First Night of Magic


Our most-wonderful TA was able to get us switched to main-dining, so our dinner time was at 6pm. After wandering around deck 10 for a bit, we went back to the stateroom to enjoy our verandah and freshen up before dinner. Since had cabin 6138, and Parrot Cay wasn't far from where we were, I believe we actually left the stateroom at 6pm. - This is the biggest difference between WDW and the Cruise that I absolutely adore. You are never from where you need to be.

As we made our way across the center floor, we could really feel the boat rockin- and rollin'. So much so, that our assistant server, Eniko, spread her arms out, like an airplane, and veered from side to side on the way across. We followed suit and it was really fun. We were the first to arrive at our table. Our tablemates were a couple in their early 40's who left their triplet girls home. They were big Disney fans, this was their second cruise, they went to Disney often, but weren't sure if DVC was right for them. We and our other tablemates - a family of three from NJ that included a state senator, his wife, and their 10-year old son, who were also DVC members- spent the next few nights explaining how great DVC would be for their family. From what I understand, they eventually met with the DVC reps on board and even made an appointment to see the models when they got off the ship.

Our server, Rolly, was difficult to understand, had trouble getting our food orders straight, and was pretty dull. The one thing I had been looking forward to from all the hype on the boards was how great the dining staff was and how they got to know you and knew your preferences and were entertaining and took care of the kids. He did nothing of that sort. Eniko was the shining light, and was more attentive than he was. (We wound up tipping her more than we tipped him.) I truly do not remember what I had for dinner. It was tasty, but I wouldn't write to Tom Colicchio about it. After dinner, Rolly told us about that evening's show and how we would be at Key West tomorrow and dining at Lumiere's that night.

We went back to the stateroom to relax on the verandah before the show. I was looking at the navigator when Jordan said she wanted to check out the kids club that night. Since the show said it was a "variety show", I figured she wouldn't be missing much. This would be a great opportunity for her to practice navigating around the ship. We told her where the kids club was and had her lead us there. We taught her how to look at the signs, follow the arrows, and look for "landmarks." We taught her about "aft", "forward", "mid ship", "port" and "starboard" and how our stateroom was "level 6 aft, port side" and the kids' club was "level 5 midship". She led us to the aft elevators; but since it was taking so long, we decided to take the stairs. Once we got up the stairs, we helped her figure out which direction to walk to get to the kids' club. She was so excited to get to use her "big kid" privileges." We got there and watched and waited while she checked herself in. Good Girl! Off to the show.

I must say, it felt really strange not having her there beside us. That feeling would wear off around day 3. The show was really cute. I certainly wasn't expecting it have the whole song and dance and characters. I was disappointed that Jordan missed it. I must say; we are morning people. We are up at 5:30am and in bed by 9pm every day. We were really tired by the end of the show and, although we had no child in tow, we really weren't interested in "clubbing it". We stopped by the kids club on the way back from the show to check on Jordan. The kids' club staff was really great and let us right in to see her. She was having a ton of fun and wasn't interested in leaving with us, so we told her to check herself out and have them page us when she was on her way back to the stateroom.

Our stateroom hostess, had been in and Jordan's webkin and manatee were on her made bed and a cool Mickey head towel arrangement with chocolates was on ours. I wasn't in the mood for any sweets, so I tucked them away - so DH wouldn't gobble them down We sat on the verandah for a while. The moon was full (well almost it was full the next night) and bright and lit up the ocean as we went by. I think it was in those moments in the ocean air, watching the light from the moon dance across the ripples on the water, that DH decided that we would most-definitely be doing this again. We went inside after a while and DH explored the TV and I perused Sunday's navigator while waiting for the pager to alert us that DD was on her way. We fell asleep waiting. At 12:01, the pager finally buzzed. We decided to see how she did making it back and using her key card. By 12:03 we heard the card in the slot and the clicking of the lock. "Back so soon? Were you getting tired?" "No. They made me come back. They said they were closing." I smiled as she changed into the jammies I had laid out for her and climbed into her bed hugging her fuzzy friends. She was snoring before her head hit the pillow - and I wasn't far behind.

up next: Key West or It's five o'clock somewhere...
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Old 06-22-2008, 05:14 PM   #15
4newtocruise
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Join Date: Apr 2007
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Love IT!

Great trip report! It's funny to see my family in the pics!

I have to have a copy of the Dismeet group shot. Can you send it?

-Joan
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