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Old 07-23-2009, 11:10 AM   #1
Narnia_girl
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Smile July 09 WONDER w/Dis Stars & New Menus; updated 9-3-09

Our new-to-cruising family includes myself, my DH Rick and our children, Andrew (DS18), Christian (DS14) and Caroline, (DD8).
We generally take family car trips; a cruise is a big departure from what we are used to doing.

This first post is about planning so if you are more interested in actual trip details skip ahead.
Also, all the pictures on these first couple of posts will be public domain images. That's because on day two of our trip
I asked my son to check out something on the camera and he deleted all our pictures from that day and the first day. ugh!


2008




It’s early October and I’m trying to think of a family trip that we can enjoy to celebrate our upcoming 20th Anniversary.
Maybe a cruise or trip to Walt Disney World during the kids school break in January?

I have been asking my friends for advice and have contacted my neighbor’s granddaughter who is a Disney travel agent.

Oct. 17
Been communicating back and forth with travel agent. Trying to fit in the dates and times and not completely keel over at the cost.
Thinking how awesome it would be to give them this gift on Christmas morning and then be able to leave 3 weeks later during a school break (extra long weekend).

Oct. 21


Going back and forth with the idea of two staterooms in a lower category rather than one bigger stateroom. It is our anniversary after all. Can’t the kids stay in their own room?

Oct. 23
Maybe we should do Walt Disney World instead of a cruise?

Nov. 5



Seriously concerned about Christian missing any more school. If we go in January, he would have to miss a least two more days of school.
He’s missed 7 or 8 days already due to illness. Need to look into going in June instead. No one in the family knows about the trip yet….


Nov. 8

Had a June trip all picked out when Andrew mentions CIY camp. Scrap the date and move into July. July is more expensive than June!

Nov. 9

BOOKED!!! Wow, I did it! I booked a cruise on my own, without telling Rick. He’ll probably freak out!
We sail July 9. I have to get reading and planning a way to surprise them with this. What a great Christmas present this will be!

Dec.
Planning my presentation to the family on Christmas morning.

Dec. 25, 2008



We opened all the family gifts at home like normal. It was a nice morning.
Since we usually get a family gift the kids were happy to get a new computer monitor and figured that was their big gift.

Suddenly I “found” a big box at the very back of the tree. It was labeled “To Rick”. He opened the box while the kids looked on.
Inside was a calendar page for the month of July 2009. The day, July 9 was circled in red.

Hmmm, he figured we were doing something in July. Also inside were three silver wrapped boxes.
Each had a number on it and one of the children’s names.



*Caroline got #1 and opened it. It was an ornament of a starfish. Hmmm, a beach vacation?

*Christian opened box #2. It was a glass ornament of a ship inside a life buoy and had the words “Bon Voyage” written on it.
I don’t think they quite got it yet, but I didn’t want them to ponder for too long so I had

*Andrew open his box, #3. Since the trip had morphed into a graduation present for him, too, I thought he should have the honor of opening the final information source. It was a long box with a Disney Cruise brochure inside.

There was general disbelief and looks of surprise. "WE'RE GOING ON A CRUISE?"
Caroline was whooping and hollering. Rick looked seasick. Just kidding, he was probably in shock.
The kids immediately put on the DVD and watched all about the cruise. That day Caroline told everyone at the family Christmas dinner about our big gift!

May 1, 2009. Ordered passports for everyone.
Early May. Discovered DIS boards; joined May 11
June 1, 2009. Passports arrived.

May:
Explore options to do after the cruise to help with the post-cruise let down. Decide on two days at Universal Studios/Islands of Adventure. After getting much advice from the DIS boards we decide to stay on-site to utilize the Front of the Line perk reserved for resort guests.



Both Rick and Andrew’s birthdays are at the end of May. Christian’s is at the end of June.
I give them their “combined gift” on Christian’s birthday...just two weeks before the trip: a stay at the Royal Pacific Resort, two days at Universal Studios/IOA and they will all be taking the Nassau Segway Tour excursion!






One thing I learned: Our travel agent was very nice and easy to work with. But she had no experience with DCL.
We basically paid rack rate and got no onboard credit; not much in the way of suggestions or advice either. Next time we'll go with a more experienced agent.

next up: Day one...first flight, first palm trees, first Florida!
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Last edited by Narnia_girl; 09-03-2009 at 10:30 AM.
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Old 07-23-2009, 11:14 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Narnia_girl View Post
We opened all the family gifts at home like normal. It was a nice morning.
Since we usually get a family gift the kids were happy to get a new computer monitor and figured that was their big gift.

Suddenly I “found” a big box at the very back of the tree. It was labeled “To Rick”. He opened the box while the kids looked on.
Inside was a calendar page for the month of July 2009. The day, July 9 was circled in red.

Hmmm, he figured we were doing something in July. Also inside were three silver wrapped boxes.
Each had a number on it and one of the children’s names.



*Caroline got #1 and opened it. It was an ornament of a starfish. Hmmm, a beach vacation?

*Christian opened box #2. It was a glass ornament of a ship inside a life buoy and had the words “Bon Voyage” written on it.
I don’t think they quite got it yet, but I didn’t want them to ponder for too long so I had

*Andrew open his box, #3. Since the trip had morphed into a graduation present for him, too, I thought he should have the honor of opening the final information source. It was a long box with a Disney Cruise brochure inside.

There was general disbelief and looks of surprise. "WE'RE GOING ON A CRUISE?"

Radical!!
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Old 07-23-2009, 01:15 PM   #3
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Since I know you read my most recent DCL trip report, I'll jump in here on yours to say great job so far! I love the illustrations you used in lieu of photos! Very original. And funny! Keep up the good work!

TCD
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Old 07-23-2009, 05:25 PM   #4
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Liking the trip report - and the pics you're using - very creative.
I also like the way you told the family about the cruise. Good idea. Can't wait to read more.
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Old 07-24-2009, 06:59 AM   #5
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thank you for the encouragement!
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Old 07-24-2009, 07:34 AM   #6
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Smile moving on....

We’re off…….

Night before & Day 1, Tuesday:
Rick worked a full day so we left on home about 6:30 p.m.—we are on vacation! Got two miles away when he realized he forgot his flip flops. Turn around and go back…

We drive the two hours to St. Louis and check into the Riverport Holiday Inn Express where we will be leaving the van for the duration. It’s an okay hotel (wrote a Trip Advisor review) but we spent a horrible night there, mainly because Christian was having trouble breathing. I think hotel rooms are just germ farms and he always manages to be the farmer.





We stagger to breakfast in the morning and then take the hotel shuttle to the airport. This will be our youngest children’s first flight. We are flying Southwest so I printed the boarding passes at home and we were in A boarding—that means we all got to sit together, oh, and no checked luggage fee.
The flight goes well and they enjoy it, including the bumpy portion when we passed over some storms. When we land, we take the tram to the main terminal (another thrill) cross the street to a parking garage and pick up our car from Budget. This was a smooth, quick procedure. At the airport we see our first palm trees. We are from Illinois. The only palm trees in Illinois are plastic.



Our next stop is Downtown Disney. It is miserably hot when we get there and we head into McDonalds for lunch. It is very crowded and noisy and not all that clean either. But when we come out the weather has grown cloudy, and miraculously—much cooler!

We enjoy the Lego store the most, with Christian buying the fill-up-cup and having so much fun filling it. We also enjoy the Lego sculptures and take lots of pictures. Caroline loves the Disney store where we buy an Ariel outfit for her doll, Kit.



You buy a large cup here for $15 and can fill it with any Legos from the wall. Of course the challenge is to pack in as much as possible. Christian did so and counted over 1500 pieces afterward!


Andrew enjoys the music themed stores and after a few hours we leave DD and head for Cape Canaveral. Drive there in a rain storm. Easily find our hotel, the Residence Inn and check in.


At this point we are pleasantly surprised to learn that the Residence Inn will be having BBQ that night and it’s free. That takes care of the “what’s for dinner” discussion. The meal was generous (cheeseburgers and several side dishes, plus drinks). As we are hauling our stuff into the hotel a man tells us about a tourist who was killed on the beach that day—struck by lightning. We are very sorry to hear this.

(to the left of this counter is another one with more food on it)

The hotel itself is very clean, up-to-date and the staff was top-notch. Our suite was perfect. The pool was a very large size and included a nice hot tub, although by the dark there were lots of floaties in the pool (bugs and leaf debris). Our daughter decides to get out of the pool because as she says "there are too many bugs I don't recognize"! Our overall impression of this hotel was excellent.


After dinner we visit Ron Jon’s Surf Shop (not sure why it’s so famous?) and stop at Publix to buy a few food items, and some bottled water to bring onboard.



We also drive out to see the port. Of course our ship is not there yet, but we get to see the terminal where in just a few hours we’ll be embarking on a DISNEY CRUISE!! Since we can't enter the port parking lot we pass on by until we get to military men and a fenced road...whoops...screeching U-turn.....

Back at the hotel, we put the bottled water into the freezer (thanks for that tip, TCD). Rick has also purchased 1 (ONE) gigantic can of beer. He enjoys a beer every once in a while, but not enough to drink a 6-pack in three days. We generally enjoy a glass of wine but decide it’s not worth the hassle for such a short trip.


We checked into this hotel about 6 hours ago and it looks like we live here. I spend the rest of the evening repacking suitcases while the kids watch TV shows we don't have at home. Did you know there is a game show inside a Taxi Cab? My husband and I choose not to subscribe to cable TV at our house so naturally our poor, deprived children miss out on high quality programming like Taxi Cab trivia. They think we are Amish. Why do I mention this? Because when we get onboard the cruise with Disney stars, I won't even recognize most of them.
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Old 07-24-2009, 07:49 AM   #7
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Just wanted to tell you that I'm enjoying your trip report!!

I love the way you told your family. Cash Cab is a favorite of ours!!!!

BTW - since I don't have any younger children anymore - I would not have recognized any of the "stars" either. I read another trip report where she talks about the experience and didn't recognize a single name!!!
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Old 07-24-2009, 07:53 AM   #8
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More...more.....

Great job so far.
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Old 07-24-2009, 08:12 AM   #9
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Yahoo another great trip report to sink my teeth into!!!
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Old 07-24-2009, 08:15 AM   #10
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love the report so far

I would recognize some of the stars, but some I might not. Now put basketball players on the ship and I can name them all
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Old 07-24-2009, 08:33 AM   #11
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Another great installment!

Funny you should mention Cash Cab. I'm not sure if it's a new show, but I had never seen it before either, until just a few days ago. It's pretty entertaining, but from what little I've seen, there aren't many winners on the show. The questions are a bit tough.

Funny comment about the palm trees. Whenever we are at WDW or another place with lots of tourists, it never fails that people are taking pictures of palm trees, or freaking out about a lizard, or some other entertaining nonsense. The family and I are always amused by this. But, my two youngest daughters have never seen snow. Never. So, whenever they do get to see snow, I imagine that they will react like a northerner seeing a palm tree, and the locals will be amused by them. But I digress.

Keep up the good work!

Glad to see some photos (not that I didn't like the clever illustrations).

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Old 07-24-2009, 09:50 AM   #12
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Can't wait to hear more...
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Old 07-25-2009, 05:27 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MagicMe View Post
Just wanted to tell you that I'm enjoying your trip report!!

I love the way you told your family. Cash Cab is a favorite of ours!!!!

BTW - since I don't have any younger children anymore - I would not have recognized any of the "stars" either. I read another trip report where she talks about the experience and didn't recognize a single name!!!
:lol I only recognized one!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Skyw View Post
More...more.....

Great job so far.
thank you

Quote:
Originally Posted by alwayslisad View Post
Yahoo another great trip report to sink my teeth into!!!
It's fun to relive it!

Quote:
Originally Posted by DMMarla07860 View Post
love the report so far

I would recognize some of the stars, but some I might not. Now put basketball players on the ship and I can name them all
NFL players for me!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tri-circle-D View Post
Another great installment!

Funny you should mention Cash Cab. I'm not sure if it's a new show, but I had never seen it before either, until just a few days ago. It's pretty entertaining, but from what little I've seen, there aren't many winners on the show. The questions are a bit tough.

Funny comment about the palm trees. Whenever we are at WDW or another place with lots of tourists, it never fails that people are taking pictures of palm trees, or freaking out about a lizard, or some other entertaining nonsense. The family and I are always amused by this. But, my two youngest daughters have never seen snow. Never. So, whenever they do get to see snow, I imagine that they will react like a northerner seeing a palm tree, and the locals will be amused by them. But I digress.

Keep up the good work!

Glad to see some photos (not that I didn't like the clever illustrations).

TCD
thank you! Your daughters can come see me in Illinois anytime between Dec. and March and they might get snow. And yes, we were amused by the lizards!

Quote:
Originally Posted by scootch View Post
Can't wait to hear more...
thank you!
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Old 07-25-2009, 05:41 PM   #14
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Loving it narnia girl!!!!! Give us more~
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Old 07-26-2009, 11:52 PM   #15
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: You missed a whole day of posting! I was looking forward to reading more and noticed you hadn't posted on Sunday. I was on a roll and couldn't wait to read more.

Great TR so far Narnia_girl
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