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Old 01-10-2009, 09:31 AM   #46
strega7
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After I had such a long horrid day, it was great to come home and see you posted a trip report.....now make my weekend better...
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Old 01-10-2009, 02:21 PM   #47
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Originally Posted by SandieT View Post
Andrew & Deanna,
I too am having such a fun time reading this. I have never really read these but now I am hooked. I am motivated to try one of these myself. However since I will be responsible for ALL packing/planning etc (See earlier post) we will see how much time I have. (I also have an elementary school yearbook to get to the printer the week before we leave. Last year I put about 2500 photos in it. )
I love the shirt /autograph idea AND I will be purchasing a shiny new journal to document our trip. I put together photo books (iphoto) and it will be nice to write captions to go with the photos.
VERY glad to hear that you are enjoying it...and that some of our tips will help (yeah, the Journal thing saves me! ). sounds like you have alot to do...why is it that people that get involved tend to get way involved and do things to the Nth degree (myself included!). We are way to involved in our Kid's football program (I'm Vice President an an assistant coach, Deanna is team mom for not one, but two teams!). but it's fun...crazy, but fun. 2,500 pictures is alot to deal with! good luck with that!

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Originally Posted by strega7 View Post
After I had such a long horrid day, it was great to come home and see you posted a trip report.....now make my weekend better...
I'm torn here, do I say..."good!" implying that I'm happy that you had a Horrid day, or "oh no! hope it gets better"...I guess I'll go with #2. Never good to have had a horrid day. And I'm glad I can brighten it just a little!

So...officially now, on to the next chapter. I have my M&M's, and my diet coke, have to go log into photobucket so I can include those fancy pictures!

Enjoy the next chapter!
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Old 01-10-2009, 03:46 PM   #48
DisneyZell
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Chapter 5: Finally! Day 1 onboard the Magic!

So, it was that magical time...and just to remind you which boarding group we were in....

Woohoo! We're #2, We're #2!!

it was time to board. This was our third Disney Cruise, but the tingling never stops. The excitement that it was time to get onto the ship...the anticipation (and planning) over and time to shift to vacation mode fully. As you read, our plan was to get to Orlando a few days early so by the time we hit the ship we would be in full relaxation mode. We were. There was little to no stress at this point, just the fun of heading for that Mouse Ear entry way to the magical ship. Woohoo! At this point there was no considering a week from then when we would be getting off. That was one disadvantage of getting to the port so early, seeing all those folks DISembarking...sad really, but I digress

Naturally we had to take the obligatory boarding picture.

Here is all of us decked out in our shirts and New England Patriots Santa hats.

And then...the moment had arrived...

"The Disney Magic proudly welcomes back, The Zell Family!"

"The Disney Magic proudly welcomes back, The DeChambeau Family!"

Woohoo! we were onboard! Lots of clapping for us (because let's face it, dressed like that we had to be celebrities or something. Surely no one else would dress like this. But I digress). At entry you have a choice for where to go to get lunch. They try to direct you to a dining room (I have never really understood why they don't tell you to go directly to topsiders, maybe the dining staff wants people to take care of at this point? but again I digress. Just for your information, I finished the M&M's and now am on to little bags of chips which are normally for the kids' lunches. Don't tell DW! ).

Ahem. Anyhoo, we decide to hit the top of the ship. But we are taking it one step further this year than we did the last time we cruised. Last time we hit topsiders and sat outside to eat, and then went to the pool. My suggestion to all of you, and what we did, was to go and get a couple table by whichever pool you feel you will be spending the most time at. This way you don't have to move, and frequently by the time you’re ready to swim, the chairs and tables are all occupied. So we did just that. Grabbed a couple tables, one person sat at each while the others went to go get lunch. This worked out perfectly. By the way, we chose the Mickey Pool. Check it out.

Yeah, not alot of people in the pool yet!

OH, by the way, I was just looking at my pictures. To give you an idea of what your in for, we are on page 4 of 13 of pictures. Not sure why I'm telling you that, because most likely you don't care. But I thought it was kind of cool...and frankly this is my story!

As we were on the ship by noon, we have about 1 1/2 hours until we could go into our staterooms. But that is ok with me. I love to sit and people watch. It is VERY interesting to see what people wore to board the ship. It ranges from shirts, t-shirts and flip-flips to one family who was dressed like they were going to the country club. Long sleeves and everything. Now, I understand some people travel before they get on the ship, and everything, but boy, they must have been really, really hot!
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Old 01-10-2009, 03:47 PM   #49
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Chapter 5: Finally! Day 1 onboard the Magic! part 2

so, time for lunch. the lunch spread at topsiders is awesome. tons of different types of food. The funny thing for me was that DS6 liked what I think was chicken fried steak (the closest thing I can really compare it to was weinerschnitzel from Germany (no, not the hotdog chain) which is really thin pork deep fried. That's what it looked like, but I'm assuming it was chicken fried steak). He just isn't the most adventurous eater in the world.

All the kids enjoy their first meal on the Magic!

While eating there were roaming characters (shocking for a Disney ship!). It was very cool and we got some early pictures, and some additional autographs for the shirts.

DS6 and DS10 with Goofy

It was also time to hit the pools. DS6 and DND8 hit the Mickey pool while DS10 and DNS11 hit the Goofy pool. But before they went we got a shot of all of them in the empty Mickey pool.

All the kids in the pool.

Then it was off to the different pools for a while. But of course the characters kept coming...which had no problem dragging the kids out of the pool!

DS6's first picture with Pluto. I love the ear thing.

DNS11, DS10 and dS6 pose with Chip and Dale. Chip and Dale, in case I haven't told you, is DS10's favorite. Now that I think about it I think I told you that back when I talked about the shirts. Now that I'm continuing to talk about it I'm boring you even more. Time to move on???

Shirt signatures...yes we made it this far and they were still signing shirts! woohoo!

Then it was back in the pool. DW and DNW went to sit by the Goofy pool while DNH and I protected the stuff. It's a tough job, but someone has to do it. I purchased the first beer of the cruise (Red Stripe) because the ones we bought weren't cold (because you can't bring Ice through X-ray...or because they just want to charge you more money...hmmm, this IS Disney!). We sat and enjoyed our beer and found The Panini place. I can't for the life of me remember what that is called. But they had some killer sandwiches which we got, and let the eating frenzy begin. My goal was to eat at least every 20 minutes on this cruise, and I was making sure my average stayed up from the very beginning.

shortly after this was the first trip (followed closely by the second trip) to the ice cream machine. Now, I think the very first time we cruised they had Scoops open where you could order a hand scooped ice cream. I honestly don't remember if that was any good (I COULD go back and look at DW's journal from that trip, although, I'm not sure where it is, and I'm not sure if she had realized she SHOULD journal yet). However, the past two trips I have been a big customer of the ice cream. Not at this point, but quickly I discovered something even better. They have these little tiny bowls for the ice cream. Is that good enough?? no way, jose. Conveniently located just steps away from the ice cream machine is the famous drink station on Deck 9.

I love the drink station. I know that someday I will go on another cruise line (it's just bound to happen, Disney is getting WAY to expensive). And I know I won't get the drink station as I think pretty much Disney is the only ones who do this. But to me, this is like having a soda fountain in your house that you don't pay for, and that someone else refills and takes care of. Anytime, day or night, you want a soda? Deck 9. need some ice? Deck 9. Anytime. Sprite? Deck 9. In my case, Diet coke? Say it with me, Deck 9! Anytime! But I digress.

Wow, I need to stop doing that. I didn't even finish my thought before wandering off that time. Eh, it is what it is.

So...again, steps away from the ice cream machine is the drink station. Which has cups. These cups, by the way, are much larger than the ice cream cups (mainly because they aren't for ice cream, but I don't let something like that get in my way). So you simply get a large cup, walk over and fill it to your heart’s content with ice cream. Add some syrup and you are all set.

Now, if you are a patient person (note that I am not, but DS10 is), you can mix and mold your ice cream in a cup into that ice creamy treat known as a milkshake...which you can then sip through a straw. Consider that Disney charges a arm and a leg for smoothies, and I don't even know if they have milkshakes...this is a pretty good (and free! well, ok, not really free any more than my charges on that cute plastic card at All Star Sports was free). Needless to say I was in heaven, and I was all settled in for vacation. Beer, Panini's and ice cream. What could be better? Pizza! Oh wait, I'm getting ahead of myself there. I didn't hit Pinocchio’s until later in the cruise. so sorry.

Now...drum roll please! It was that time. DW with her eyes on her watch like a hawk realized it was exactly 1:30, time for her and DNW to dash down to deck 6 (that's where we were!) to get the room ready. Always fun to do that before the kids see it. So off they went. They put the magnets on the doors (a MUST by the way) and hung the fish extenders.

Ah yes, the mighty fish extender, or what is frequently referred to in DISspeak as FE. I don't think that anyone on these boards has any idea that it's a whole other language. It took me weeks to figure out what the heck CM meant. And even longer for DW, DH DS6 all that. I figured maybe everyone is actually in the military and these were all military codes. But eventually I DID figure them all out. OK, DW figured them out and shared them with me. She is much smarter than me.

So I remember the first time I saw FE. I read and re-read the post to try to figure out what the heck FE could be. Obviously there were gifts involved, and people would give you things (which I always find to be a positive thing). But FE? Again DW to the rescue. Fish Extender is what FE means.

For all of you who are new to DIS, or haven't read these threads, don't worry if you are still scratching your heads. I was too. But fortunately for you, I have a picture which will make it all clear.

Here is ours! our neighbors was exactly the same.

DW spent a lot of time on this...using her sewing machine to put everyone's names on it, and designing the whole thing. The mickey heads at the top went through a couple of iterations. originally they were going to be black, but unfortunately the black spray paint ate the foam balls (oops!). So that got nixed. DW decided white was good and away we went! Pretty darn cool if you ask me.
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Old 01-10-2009, 03:51 PM   #50
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Chapter 5: Finally! Day 1 onboard the Magic! part 3

Now, door magnets. Some people do them, some don't. Some people just do one or two...some do more. We are somewhere in between. I had a great time creating ours for this cruise, and this year we even bought the magnet paper (best deal, by the way, is Wal-Mart if you think of it soon enough to ship it to the store. I think it was around $6 for 5 sheets. However we didn't do it soon enough, so we had to do Sams Club who would ship it faster. It was around $8 for 5 sheets...so not too bad!

Here is our door decorated with Magnets:

Top of the door. The mickey ears are key. IMHO!

Middle of the door

Bottom of the door. OK, this one actually didn't go up until Pirate night...but I figured I'd be nice since, by the look of day 1, this report might last for another year.

bottom of the door (That's our Dog, harley who was in the Kennel right next to Mulan, our neighbors dog). Our dog one says "have you seen my family? Call 1-800-Kennel. the one I made for our neighbors said something like "they get to go on a cruise, and I go to jail!". Pretty funny. Now, Mulan doesn't really like Harley, he is a bit overbearing as he is young. She tries to avoid him at all costs, and I'm sure even being in the kennel next to him stressed her out! So I made another one where we have a picture of the two of them with "BFF" across it. Little inside joke.

This one was my favorite...hopefully you can make it out.

Anyway, they got the rooms all set up and we all traipsed down there. We got our Castaway Club gift:

Pretty cool (and useful as we found out) bag.

And we got a basket from Shirley with sand toys and Candy...and DW had Shirley stick in a German Weiss beer. Yum! Life was good for me.

Luckily we already had three suitcases so we started unpacking and getting the room all ready. I'm sure you don't need to hear about that excitement. But one of the things we unpacked as the Christmas Tree and some decorations for the Balcony door.

Decorations on the balcony door

I have pictures of the tree, I swear I do...but I have no idea where they are...so I'll just stick em in later.

The time came for our DIS meet which we skipped on the last cruise. We decided we wanted to follow through on this one, so we went down. It was a quick introduction and everyone recognized everyone's screen names, etc. Very cool to immediately have some people to know around the ship and several of them we chatted with regularly throughout the cruise. I highly recommend it. You can participate as much or as little as you want in the DIS stuff...but it's neat. oh, and don't....DO NOT skip the fish extender gifts. that's GREAT!

Alas it was the time that all knowledgeable cruisers dread...that time when you don't look your best...and look even worse with a big orange life preserver around your neck. Now, last time we cruised we got to be in Animator's Palette. You get to sit and relax (as much as you can with a big orange noose around your neck). This time we got to go to Deck 4 and stand in the sun. That stank. Naturally there were people that were late...which just ticks me off.

OK, folks. It stinks...not any fun. But if your late, you make everyone else wait for YOU. I think that's just plain rude. Many people kept trickling in. Rude, rude rude! I hate waiting for people. And believe me, I don't like being there either! But I digress.

it was over soon enough and it was time to sail away! We got a great spot on the Goofy Pool (in case you don't know, they pull a top over the pool so you can dance and party under the big screen). Speaking of big screen...

Yup, those 4 red shirts are us on the big screen! woohoo!

We danced, we screamed, we saw the characters and generally had a good time. they gave everyone streamers which looked very cool all around you. Everyone was very good natured and seemed to be having a good time. This was all very fun...except...last time they had a contest and people won stuff. Harrumph...apparently Mickey is getting cheap! But we counted down...and then the magical horn sounded. Yeah! We are ready to go! Very exciting!

But of course the ship didn't move that instant. We got to go up on deck to check it out.

DNH and DNW, aren't they cute?

Oh my gosh! It's 5:00! time to go get ready for dinner. We are those crazy people who do early seating. It seems to work for us. We all got gussied up (is gussied even a word? Even if it is I'm sure I hacked it), and headed for Animators which was our first rotation. We got table 16, unfortunately. But more on that later.

Our main server was Toby from Australia. Toby was in his final few weeks before getting off the ship. Needless to say his service level was less than stellar. Last cruise we had Adrian from the UK. He went above and beyond so we were really spoiled. The drop off was tremendous...as Toby went below and behind. It was very unfortunate. Our assistant server was Nadja from Germany. She somewhat made up for Toby's lack of interest or whatever...but only barely. She was new...I think 6 weeks in. Interesting combination. It took her a while to get in the groove, but she definitely was the better of the two.

Dinner took FOREVER. If we weren't the last people to leave the dining room we were very close. And it wasn't because of us...we were sitting around a lot. Toby would disappear for long periods of time. Not sure what he was doing. We had to ask for the desert menu's, which was weird. The whole thing was very strange.

BUT, of course we had pictures.

DW and DNW looking beautiful at dinner

DS10 and DNS11

DS6 and DND8

Two very good looking men at dinner. Yes, the one on the right is me.

Shortly thereafter we went back to the rooms, met "P", our room steward (his name is much longer...he told us to call him P...thankfully!). He was great. We told him what we needed, namely Ice in the beer!, and we were on our merry way. He seemed nice.

Then it was off to the welcome aboard show. Most of that was the same as the last time we cruised, but they did have previews of a hypnotist and a juggler/comedian. Both were extremely funny and we looked forward to seeing them later in the cruise.

After the show we hit the stores. Time to help Disney cope with the economy. We walk in and what do my eyes see??? All 2008 cruise stuff is 50% off! Holy cow! Just like at WDW, T-shirts, Hats Towels and mugs were 40% off, and Christmas was 50% off.

now, I've been around Disney for quite some time...and other than a few clearance items I don't think I have EVER seen a Disney sale. Holy cow!

I don't think we bought much...but we knew we would be back. And back, and back, and back...and back.

When we got back to the room, we got our first Towel animal...

Mr. Snake came for a visit

It was only the first night...but it was time to deliver some FE gifts! We split it up. I think it was around 30 total. Dw and DS10 took 6,7,8 and DS6 and I took 1,2,5. It didn't take long, and I don't know about DW and DS10, but we followed some other DISers around so they could find the rooms for us! Yes, I'm generally lazy.

Back to the room...the kids wrote in their Journals (their "homework", and we relaxed. Time for Bed...

Oh yeah, this was a double dip cruise...so Castaway Cay twice...tomorrow was Day #1! Woohoo!

So that's it. whew. I'm tired. My hands are tired and I'm out of chips (shhhhh). My soda doesn't have any more ice so now it tastes like water. Yuck.

We are supposed to get snow tonight 4-6 inches...so thank you for letting me imagine myself back on the ship...where it was just a tad nicer!

Until next time...go make someone's day!

Next up: Chapter 6: The first Dip
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Old 01-10-2009, 04:00 PM   #51
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It's so funny because I saw you guys out by the pool area but didn't know then that you all were DISers - our DS11 was the first in line at Pluto's and then we walked right past where part of you all were sitting on our way into Topsiders to meet DH for lunch. DS12 was nearly first in line at the ice cream machine.

BTW, the Panini place is Goofy's Galley

Keep the chapters coming!
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Old 01-10-2009, 04:52 PM   #52
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I'm lovin' your report and pictures. When it's my turn, I want to be first at the terminal, too!
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Old 01-10-2009, 07:32 PM   #53
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I wanna go back right now!!!!!!!!!

I'm looking into booking the westbound repo. We want to renew our vows for our 25th. It'd be great if your family were there too! Any thoughts of somthing like that?
Keep up the good work,
LM

PS Just love the pirate joke thread. I found it this afternoon and it made me laugh!
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Old 01-11-2009, 11:06 AM   #54
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As always...still enjoying your report! Thanks for the update. By the way, did your neighbors have the connecting cabin next door? My parents will be in that one and I wanted to make sure they are fairly quiet. Thanks, Marci
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Old 01-12-2009, 08:08 PM   #55
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I see DH in the white shirt behind the lovely ladies at dinner. Gives me the ability to drift back to cruiseland.....

We had David from Czech Republic as our server and Ali as our asst server. My DD's were in love with David - he was very good looking. He was a very good server, not great but very good. Ali was ending his first 4 month contract and I would suspect he won't be back. He was OK but I don't think it was his thing. Sorry your servers weren't that good. It can really make the dining experience seem to drag.
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Old 01-12-2009, 08:42 PM   #56
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if your servers are that bad can you ask to be switched?

i know there are crappy people all over but it's something you really don't expect at disney
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Old 01-13-2009, 01:39 PM   #57
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I love your trip report! I am literally on the edge of my seat. I can't wait to hear how the rest of your trip went. It sounds like you have some really GREAT neighbors I'm not so sure about DNH, did you contemplate putting one of the seven drawfs on his shirt?(Say grumpy?? ) And the magnet of the 2 dogs BFF the black and white tibetan terrier is the cutest dog I've ever seen i believe you said his name was Mulan

Please write soon, this trip report is starting to get good
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Old 01-14-2009, 07:21 AM   #58
DisneyZell
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nzdisneymom View Post
It's so funny because I saw you guys out by the pool area but didn't know then that you all were DISers - our DS11 was the first in line at Pluto's and then we walked right past where part of you all were sitting on our way into Topsiders to meet DH for lunch. DS12 was nearly first in line at the ice cream machine.

BTW, the Panini place is Goofy's Galley

Keep the chapters coming!
Ah yes, Goofy's Galley! that's it! don't know why I couldn't remember that.

Yeah, the people watching was fantastic.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kay1 View Post
I'm lovin' your report and pictures. When it's my turn, I want to be first at the terminal, too!
It's always good to have something to shoot for, and I highly recommend this one...it's pretty neat. But again, don't tell DW!

Quote:
Originally Posted by BearFan View Post
I wanna go back right now!!!!!!!!!

I'm looking into booking the westbound repo. We want to renew our vows for our 25th. It'd be great if your family were there too! Any thoughts of somthing like that?
Keep up the good work,
LM

PS Just love the pirate joke thread. I found it this afternoon and it made me laugh!
AH! I'd love to do the westbound repo...But DW doesn't like the idea of pulling the kids out for that length of time. My dream, however, is to take a 10 or 11 day cruise. 7 days is great, but just as I'm truely getting relaxed...it's time to pack and get off

Quote:
Originally Posted by strega7 View Post
As always...still enjoying your report! Thanks for the update. By the way, did your neighbors have the connecting cabin next door? My parents will be in that one and I wanted to make sure they are fairly quiet. Thanks, Marci
Yes, our neighbors were in the connecting cabin. Not sure what your asking, though. you want to be sure your parents are going to be quiet? I don't think I want to comment on that Their cabin was great too, no complaints, but they just weighed in, their nickname is Sailingshamus.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SnowWhite2 View Post
I see DH in the white shirt behind the lovely ladies at dinner. Gives me the ability to drift back to cruiseland.....

We had David from Czech Republic as our server and Ali as our asst server. My DD's were in love with David - he was very good looking. He was a very good server, not great but very good. Ali was ending his first 4 month contract and I would suspect he won't be back. He was OK but I don't think it was his thing. Sorry your servers weren't that good. It can really make the dining experience seem to drag.
Ah, that guy. That whole table was extremely loud and annoying. Just kidding!

Thanks about the servers..your absolutely right they can make a dining experience drag out. The way I look at it is this: the server can make a vacation better, but even a bad one can't make it worse.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kurby View Post
if your servers are that bad can you ask to be switched?

i know there are crappy people all over but it's something you really don't expect at disney
Great question. I've read where people have done that. But remember this was just our first night, so we figured maybe it was an off night. Turned out it wasn't, but more on that throughout the trip report.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingshamu View Post
I love your trip report! I am literally on the edge of my seat. I can't wait to hear how the rest of your trip went. It sounds like you have some really GREAT neighbors I'm not so sure about DNH, did you contemplate putting one of the seven drawfs on his shirt?(Say grumpy?? ) And the magnet of the 2 dogs BFF the black and white tibetan terrier is the cutest dog I've ever seen i believe you said his name was Mulan

Please write soon, this trip report is starting to get good
Hmmm, your writing style seems familiar. Yes, DNH could have been Grumpy, in fact we discussed that on the next cruise we would give him that Moniker. He didn't agree, however. Mulan is cute, but NOTHING compared to Harley, sorry. Mulan has this annoying habit of pulling to get away from all people when she is walking. Also, when you go to visit her house she runs to her food to eat it...like I'm going to get down there and eat her food. Sheesh!

OH, everyone....Sailingshamu is our neighbor. Welcome aboard Kim!

And now...without any further ado (whatever ado is. Sounds alot like poo), here is the next chapter!
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Old 01-14-2009, 10:14 AM   #59
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Chapter 6: The first Dip!

I start today's chapter while we are getting an arctic front coming through the state of New Hampshire. How sad it is to look at pictures of us in short sleeves (or no shirts at all). *sigh*

Ever since our first cruise we had wanted to do a double tip (two trips to Castaway Cay for those of you who don't speak DIS or DCL). We love Castaway Cay as most people do, and feel like each time we go we discover something new, either from reading the boards or from exploring on our own.

So it was Sunday, December 21 (4 more days until Christmas on the high seas!). Today we would begin with our character breakfast.

But before I get to that I need to rant a bit. I'd love to hear from the folks who were on the ship with us if they agree with this comment or not. It really seemed like everything was rushed for us on this trip. Now, part of that could be that we drew the Character Breakfast first, but we had Character Breakfast and Formal Night on the same day, followed by Pirate night the next night...it just seemed like everything was very front-loaded and that made total relaxation take a bit longer than it might have otherwise. But I digress

The last cruise I got lots of pictures of the sunrise. This cruise I got one, and it happened to be today.

The Sun rises as we head to Castaway Cay.

There is something very calm about the sun rising while you are on a ship...pretty cool. But sleep took priority the rest of the week. Remember, I was still sick!

Some pictures from that morning:

DS10 in the upper bunk

DS6 in the lower bunk

After the wonderful service of the night before we had to head right back into the dining room and our servers for Character Breakfast. But before that we did a little shooting around the ship.

DS10 and DS6 pose by Mickey

DS10 and DS6 pose by the tree. The Christmas decorations, by the way, were beautifully done. In no way was it overboard Disney, but was, in fact very classic and nicely done throughout the ship. Disney just does a nice job with stuff like that and I hope all of you get a chance to sail during the holiday season and see it for yourself.

DS10, DS6, and DW pose by the giant gingerbread house. This thing was impressive. a good 10 feet tall on a ship! crazy stuff. It looked so real.

But enough decorations, on to the character breakfast. Now, I'm generally not a huge fan of the sit-down breakfast. I like to pick my own stuff, and I have some strange things that I get at breakfast. For instance, I love Bacon (who doesn't you ask, and that would be a logical question). It's not that I love bacon, that's pretty normal. But I love to dip my bacon in syrup. Again, not totally insane. But I discovered on the last cruise we took that it would be nice to pour a lot of syrup into a bowl by itself so that the dipping could cover the bacon completely instead of just spinning it around on the bottom of a plate.

Of course I COULD order a bowl of syrup to go with my bacon. But our server was already a little off...can you imagine his face if I ordered a bowl of syrup? so you see my dilemma. Topsiders is clearly the place for me....but I will not let the neurotic needs of my bacon eating to stop my children from seeing characters. Go ahead, say it...I'm a great Dad. I know. I can't help it.

So let's see, we got visits from Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy, Chip and Dale. And what character breakfast would be complete without pictures:

DW an DS10 (no characters here unless you consider DS10 a character which he is).

DS6 and I hanging out at breakfast. Notice the hat? Cheap hat from WDW!!

DS6 and Minnie. Doesn't he look thrilled!

DS10 and Minnie. on the other hand he DOES look thrilled. And he has checkout privileges. I think we better keep our eyes on Minnie this week.

Pluto and the boys

Chip and the boys. At least I think it's chip. Chocolate colored nose from eating all the chocolate chip cookies? Frankly if eating chocolate turned your nose that color, DS6 would have one too...he is lovingly dubbed "Chocolate boy".

And of course, the signing of the shirts. for those of you that asked if we continued to do that through the cruise, here is another example.

Goofy stopped by as well (are you sick of the pictures yet?

Once the characters stopped coming, our assistant server went to work...trying to show us that she doesn't stink like the server does. She made us hats.

DS6 is Peter Pan!

DNH is Goofy! and he is wearing a Goofy hat too!

DW gets something on her head. I honestly don't know what that is.

DS10 is goofy as well. enough said.

All the kids and Captain Mickey!

our table with our hats. No, I have no idea what is on my head either.

Whew...sorry about the many, many pictures. But I had to get them out there. Character Breakfast is good to go to. You get a nice opportunity to take pictures and I didn't feel rushed, unless how you sometimes can feel at WDW from what I understand. As you could also see, they were willing to sign the shirts too which was nice. One thing I found throughout is that the handlers for Mickey are not as patient as the rest of the handlers are. I don't know if it is a perception that they have to keep Mickey's image clean or what, but it's definitely different than the other characters. However, he does strike quite the image in his captain outfit which you don't get on the land. All-in-all I was happy with the character breakfast. The food was ok (no syrup, so how good could it be???). And we finished around 8:30. it was time to dock at Castaway Cay for the first dip...very, VERY exciting.
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Old 01-14-2009, 10:14 AM   #60
DisneyZell
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Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Brentwood CA
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Chapter 6 part 2

We love Castaway Cay. In my opinion there is no better port of call. So we had to go watch the docking so we headed up to our room to watch off the balcony.

you can see the island coming into view, and you can see DW and DNH peering over the rail. This is an exciting event for all of us. You can usually see some folks scurrying around getting the island ready for all of use to disembark.

The first two cruises that we took with Disney we didn't do any excursion type stuff. This time we decided to do the Extreme Getaway package. What a great name for a package. Reading that name I assume that we will be doing some mountain bike riding, skateboarding, some rock climbing, and maybe even some parachuting.

Alas, but that's not what we get. This package includes. the stingray adventure, bike rental for an hour, snorkel gear, and tube/float rental. Oh well, what can you do!

So we got ready to go, kids in their suits and slathered (I like that word, it's just fun to say. Say it with me, slathered) with suntan lotion and got our sand toys ready to take to the beach.

The boys, slimed up and ready to go.

We got off the ship at 9:30, handing those great pieces of plastic (I now knew were evil money sucking cards...more commonly known as keys to the world) to the CM's who wanted to know we were leaving the ship. Right off the ship was a very cool setup with a Christmas tree and two sand snow people.

DS10 and DS6 putting up with yet another picture.

The snow people were cool!

they also had a bubble machine going making it look like it was snowing. Ah, snow on Castaway Cay. Typical Disney! for me, a lot of what Disney does right are the little things that other companies wouldn't bother doing. For instance these snow people. Not necessary because life would be just fine without them, but it's so neat to see when you get off the ship. Another example is below:

The tram is dressed up like a reindeer!

We stopped by She sells sea shells and more to look for shirts. I really wanted a Castaway Cay shirt...as did everyone else. They had some nice designs. But we didn't want to haul the shirts all over the place, so figured we would come back later.

Big tip for all you first time cruisers...you can buy the shirts anytime...and have them brought to the ship. They will take them to the stores onboard where you can pick them up. They get new shipments in when the Wonder docks...so stop by the store on your way to the island...buy what you want and have it delivered to the ship. Shirt sizes sometimes aren't available later in the day...so if you see what you want, buy it!

Our stingray adventure was at 10:00 so we headed over there. It's pretty funny, once you get past the family beach things just calm (and quiet down). We didn't venture very far on our previous two visits...so this was neat to see. We go there, and got our snorkel stuff and went down to the water to check out the rays. They have 50 stingrays in the lagoon, so they are everywhere.

DS6 checks out the rays

DS10 gets in on the action

About this time we got yelled at to get out of the water that we weren't supposed to be down there. Now, I don't mind getting yelled at (happens all the time at home Just kidding baby-cakes!), but they didn't tell us not to go down there...sheesh! a little touchy! But later I figured out it was because they had not taught us the stingray shuffle.

So we had to go back up under this canopy and hear about rays, the different types, and how big they can get. They can get very large, some 6 foot wingspans, and I think one that gets to 25 feet or something (she had a rope that she used to demonstrate how large they can get). The interesting thing for me was her comment that they don't want to sting you because they lose their stinger and are without it while it grows back. I'm thinking to the Crocodile Hunter who took one to the chest...but I didn't bring that up as I figured if no one else was thinking that they are better off anyway.

And then we find out that they clip the stingers of these rays. Naturally. that makes sense. Disney wouldn't do something where there is even a risk of getting zapped. Whew!

Finally it was time to feed them. They brought out these u-shaped things that had basically a track for the rays to take to get the food. They teach them to enter on the right, go across and leave on the left. How do they know where the food is? They have a black piece of plastic that they use as the target. Guess what shape the target is? yup. I hope all of you got that...or again you need to do some serious Disney research before you board this ship!

This part was very entertaining. Basically you hold the food between your fingers while holding your hand flat against the ground and the target. The ray will cross in front of you and use their mouth to grab it. But it's not really a mouth, more like two plates grabbing together to get the food. I didn't feel unsafe at all.

there was, however, a woman that did. She nearly jumped out of her skin when the ray came near her hand the first time. The second time she made it to the point of the ray taking the food before losing her mind. Finally the third and fourth times she did ok, just a little whimpering. It was pretty interesting. good that she was willing to face her fears...but not sure what she thought the ray was going to do...eat her?

DS10 did awesome...he loves animals of all kinds...so he jumped right in and volunteered over and over again. DS6 was squeamish the first time, but did ok after that.

I really enjoyed it. It was a strange feeling with these plates sort of marching over your hand, but you could reach down and feel the rays, they felt like rubber except right down the middle of their backs which were raised spines. pretty cool. The lady who was helping us was very nice and patient, I'm sure she has answered all these questions every day for quite some time...but she answered them all and seemed interested the whole time.

Now we were done with that and had about 20 minutes to snorkel (part of the package). Before we went down there I was really concerned that the water would be too cold to snorkel...and it was a bit chilly. But once you got in it was fine. DS6 took some convincing to snorkel...he really wasn't interested, but once he got out there he had a great time. It was fun to float along after the rays...and to look for the ones that were buried in the sand. These creatures are truly neat...and do a great job hiding in the sand (thus the stingray shuffle...where you shuffle your feet while you walk so that they will feel the vibration and swim away. if you step on them in the wild they will sting you...which I wouldn't imagine would be a good addition to your vacation!).

Eventually our time was up...and it was on to the next thing...Bike rentals! We had talked about this for a while and thought it would be neat to explore the island. it was. We all picked out our bikes...and helmets for the boys (DW and I did not wear helmets. We are the rebellious types). And headed out. They have a path to the old runway, and then a path out to the lookout tower and back. So we did that...stopping along the way for *gasp* pictures.

our strong men.

Brothers to the end!

The observation tower is great, and I recommend you take a look if you go the Castaway Cay. You can pretty much see the entire island...and it's a great view. And if you go, look around on the ground near the tower...there are some funny "Disney" items around to look for. I won't spoil the surprise on those. The view was unbelievable...and you realize just how much of the island is left untouched. naturally this will have to change when they bring on the new ships...with all those additional passengers they will have to expand everything.

the first time we cruised we ran for the beach with the first group off the ship thinking we would have a hard time getting chairs. But since then we have learned that you don't need to do that. there are plenty of places to put your stuff down and it shifts throughout the day. So DO get off the ship early as you want to spend as much time on the island as you can, but don't feel like you have to race down to the beach. the only caveat to this is...if you want a hammock. Hammocks are in short supply, so if you want one of those...race away! but I digress.

DS6, DS10 and DW with the ship way off in the background. Check out the unbroken greenery all the way. There were a few folks out there at the same time as us...but for the most part it was like we were Castaway's! They also had viewers so you could check things out. And the viewers were free. I found that kind of weird for a Disney island .

DS6 on his bike

Riding beauty

DS10 and I spent most of the ride back racing. DS10 always, ALWAYS has to be in front. I'm not competitive...so naturally I let him ride in the front the whole way. NOT! it was fun trying to trick him so I could get around him. And of course we just ended up having to wait for the other two...and I was exhausted. Man was I out of shape!

We returned the bikes. We were supposed to meet DN's for lunch at 12:30. But we were starving, and the thought of waiting just didn't work. So we grabbed lunch at Cookies. Here we had a dilemma. Tonight was Formal Night (which is fine), but more importantly tonight was Palo night for the adults. I didn't want to spoil that so I ate sparingly. I had a fish sandwich and some fruit. Both were very good. I did, however, have several ice cream cones. I think it was snickers. boy do I wish they had the same ice cream they have on Castaway Cay on the ship...then again maybe I'm not...as I already ate way too much without it being unbelievable!

We then got a couple of floats and a couple of tubes and headed for the water.
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