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Old 11-23-2009, 10:56 AM   #46
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The pic of kiddies in the window is great. I have been trying to convince my DW to go on a cruise, she is scared of the ship and the afraid that he movement will make her sick. I have told her the same thing, "you will never feel the ship moving". Guess I should keep her away from your TR.
I would suggest avoiding hurricanes! We didn't really feel anything when the ship was in harbor or protected waters. And the seas were calm on Tuesday, which made for pretty easy sailing, too. I'd always have the pills handy though!

This was our first cruise, so I'll give some pros/cons and our overall impressions at the end. That'll force you guys to keep reading.
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Old 11-23-2009, 12:49 PM   #47
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Day 4: Monday, November 9

We awoke to the same rolling seas, but also warmth and bright sunshine. The captain's report had downgraded the wind to a "strong breeze". All I know is, I could see palm trees bent over practically in half.

Palm trees...what the..? Hey, we're in Nassau!



We made our way up to the breakfast buffet on deck 9 and had a pleasant meal outdoors on the back deck. From here, we could enjoy the captain's expert maneuvering of the ship into the dock. They did a full 180-degree turn and backed in, prompting me to comment to Julie that he was doing a "Crazy Ivan". She got the movie reference right away. This is why I love her--not only does she put up with my stupid jokes, but she gets my film quotes too. +1 bonus point if you can name the film (that's a fairly easy one).

We were suddenly jolted from our reverie by the sight of GIANT SEAGULLS ATTACKING ATLANTIS!!



Ahem. (tapping) Is this thing on?

As we sailed into the harbor, we noticed a few small boats here and there. Dave then announced that we had just passed a "green booty". Scanning the seas, I failed to see any Star Trek Orion slave girls, but did see a green buoy, which I assume is what he meant.

We had struggled with the question of whether or not we should get off at Nassau. Julie and I love to travel, and we love to explore new places. We looked at the list of excursions, and most of them cost an arm, a leg and 2 minor internal organs for a group of 7 people, however. Our kids are beginning (at best) swimmers, so the water parks didn't make much sense. We had read the good and bad about Nassau on the boards here. MIL had wanted to go into town to look for fabrics (she's a quilter), but was still feeling sick and decided not to go. Strolling through markets and haggling with aggressive vendors is not my idea of a good time. And we didn't see much available that would appeal to young children.

So we decided to stay aboard. The ship, of course, had plenty to offer, and we were maximizing the value of the money we'd spent on the cruise this way. We spent the morning in the Goofy pool, watching Lilo & Stitch (a favorite) on the Dumbotron.



Later, we migrated to the Mickey pool, since the boys were more comfortable in the shallow waters.



The crowds were relatively light, given that we were in port, and we enjoyed it. It did seem like quite a few people (with kids) had decided to stay aboard with us, however.

The aroma of hot dogs overwhelmed me, so I gave in and went to the Dog House for lunch. The hot dog was pretty decent. I could have used more french fries, though. The deck 9 free beverage station was nice and convenient, although the ice dispensers had broken down and some poor guy named Johan drew the short straw and had to stand there, shoveling ice continually into cups for the passengers. "Are you the new high-tech ice machine?" I asked. "Yeah, all the way from Sweden," he replied, not missing a beat. Gotta love Disney Cast Members.

In the afternoon, there was a slew of Oceaneer Club activities that Sarah and Dave wanted to try: Ratatouille Cooking School, Toy Story Boot Camp, and The Goofy Files. We tried not to look too happy when dropping them off for the afternoon. Scotty stuck with us, though, so we wandered around and found some characters. First up were Mickey and Pluto. Note the bunny ears I snuck in on Pluto:



Heh. Still got it.

We also found Chip and Dale, whom Scotty fell completely in love with. We loved the fact that we got him to pose with them.



We admired the clear blue waters of the Caribbean for a little while. Here's a better shot of Atlantis, and the only picture of just the two of us we got the whole trip. Julie's doing the ol' "hold the camera out and point it back at yourself" trick with that one.





We picked up the kids in the evening. They said they had a good time, but didn't do anything else in the kids' club after this. I don't know if they didn't like it or just wanted to be with mommy and daddy, but we didn't force them to do anything they weren't excited about. Dinner that night was at Parrot Cay, the island-influenced restaurant.



As you can see, we didn't do a whole lot of picture-taking in the dining rooms. Sorry. It's hard for us to stop eating long enough to take pictures.

FOODIES: For an appetizer, I went with "Jamaican Marinated Chicken Tenderloins in a sizzling spicy Jerk Sauce with a Chunky Blue Cheese Dressing", followed by "West Indies Romaine Salad with a Creamy Romaine Dressing topped with West Indies spice-dusted Croutons", and a main course of "Island-spiced Grilled Rib-Eye of Beef topped with handmade spiced-butter, Corn on the Cob, and Double-Baked Potato". Dessert was the "Sweet Temptations", a trio of Creme Brulee Cheesecake, Lemon-Meringue Pie, and Chocolate-S'More Vanilla Cake.

NON-GOURMET ENGLISH TRANSLATION: Chicken tenderloins, fairly mild. Lettuce w/ croutons and dressing. Hard to screw that one up. Steak and a twice-baked potato with cheese on top. Pretty much heaven for a meat-and-potatoes guy like me. My wife liked the chocolate-marshmallow thing more than I did, but the other two desserts were terrific. Two thumbs up for this one!

The in-laws once again turned down the show and went to their stateroom, where they were spending an inordinate amount of time. They had said they wanted to see the kids' reactions to everything, but it wasn't exactly going as planned. In any case, we weren't going to sit in our rooms. We took the kids to see Toy Story: The Musical.

This one was...ok. Of the shows we watched, the songs were the least memorable, the staging seemed less inspired, and the story was somewhat disjointed in being compressed to 45 minutes. The cast members gave it their all once again (some really terrific performers), but this one just seemed a bit lost in the translation. I will say that the kids enjoyed it quite a bit, and were entertained by the outlandish costumes.

With that, it was on to bed. Once the shows are over, the adult options are basically drinking/nightclubs/dancing, with a couple of games. If you don't drink and aren't much of a dancer (like, say, us), your options are limited. This isn't a criticism, just an observation. We were happy to stroll the decks at night, and wander the gift shops trying to decide on souvenirs.

One other note: if you're interested in meeting any of the musical cast members, find the women dressed in white uniforms attending to the characters at the greeting areas throughout the day. Most of them are singers/dancers in the shows at night.

Coming up next: our day at Castaway Cay, where we finally set foot in the Bahamas. And why does our room smell like vomit?
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Old 11-23-2009, 01:48 PM   #48
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My youngest loves these guys as well!
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Coming up next: our day at Castaway Cay, where we finally set foot in the Bahamas. And why does our room smell like vomit?
This dosen't sound good!!

Talk about suspense, good work.
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Old 11-23-2009, 01:50 PM   #49
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This was our first cruise, so I'll give some pros/cons and our overall impressions at the end. That'll force you guys to keep reading.
I will think about whether or not to show DW after I proof read first .
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Old 11-24-2009, 10:49 AM   #50
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My youngest loves these guys as well!


This dosen't sound good!!

Talk about suspense, good work.
It wasn't good. Not at all. I can't get the Castaway Cay day up quite yet, though, because I need to scan a couple of pics from the underwater camera.

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I will think about whether or not to show DW after I proof read first .
Nice! Don't worry, there are plenty of pros. The cons have more to do with my wife and I wondering if cruising really fits our "style", such as it is.
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Old 11-24-2009, 11:16 AM   #51
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Great pictures of Nassau from aboard the Wonder. Sounds like you had a good day.
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Old 11-24-2009, 11:41 AM   #52
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They did a full 180-degree turn and backed in, prompting me to comment to Julie that he was doing a "Crazy Ivan". She got the movie reference right away. This is why I love her--not only does she put up with my stupid jokes, but she gets my film quotes too. +1 bonus point if you can name the film (that's a fairly easy one).
Nice. I don't recall where I read it, but someone was commenting on American actors playing Russians speaking English with a Russian accent. When Russian actors play Americans, do they speak Russian with an American accent? And what would that even sound like?

Um, maybe it's just me, but I don't think I would risk the bad karma of quoting a movie about a Russian Naval Commander who may or may not be planning a surprise attack. While standing on a boat.

Great update. I'm looking forward to the vomit smell. Well, reading about it anyway!
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Old 11-24-2009, 08:50 PM   #53
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Great pictures of Nassau from aboard the Wonder. Sounds like you had a good day.


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Nice. I don't recall where I read it, but someone was commenting on American actors playing Russians speaking English with a Russian accent. When Russian actors play Americans, do they speak Russian with an American accent? And what would that even sound like?

Um, maybe it's just me, but I don't think I would risk the bad karma of quoting a movie about a Russian Naval Commander who may or may not be planning a surprise attack. While standing on a boat.

Great update. I'm looking forward to the vomit smell. Well, reading about it anyway!
Well, I liked Sean Connery's approach in Red October, which was just to say the heck with it and talk like Sean Connery, Welsh accent and all. In retrospect, this worked much better than Harrison Ford's attempt at a Russian accent in K-19.

And the Russian Naval Commander turned out to be a good guy! So I'm sure we were totally ok on the boat. Besides, I risk bad karma for the sake of cheap jokes all the time.

The vomit is coming....
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Old 11-25-2009, 01:39 PM   #54
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Day 5: Tuesday, November 10

We awoke to noticeably calmer seas, which was a relief. It was nice to be able to walk straight down a corridor. We were up and on deck 9 for breakfast by 8:00 a.m., early enough to see Castaway Cay fast approaching. After eating, the kids and I wandered the top deck, checking out the island as the captain did another Crazy Ivan to dock the ship.

I turned to Scotty. "Do you know where we are?" I asked. "We're in California," he said proudly. As we all know, California is a tiny island located a couple hundred miles off the eastern coast of Florida. (Note to self: buy map.) Of course, he gets a pass, being 3 years old.





Now this was exciting. I was looking forward to Castaway Cay more than anything else on the cruise. Gimme a tropical beach anyday.

The island really is just a tiny piece of land. You can see the entire width and breadth of it from the top deck of the ship. It's certainly big enough for Disney's purposes, but it still felt like a remote, secret getaway, which is probably what they're going for.

On the plus side, my in-laws were now feeling better and wanted to join us on the beach. On the downside, my FIL decided he needed a wheelchair. So, instead of being first off the ship, we were at guest services. I pushed him in his chair down to deck 1, where we made our way off and then spent several minutes gathering towels and waiting for a cast member to arrive in a golf cart, which would transport the in-laws and their wheelchair to the village, where they'd have to get another, all-surface wheelchair. Got all that?

We chose to walk to the beach, seeing as how it was a short walk, and we wanted to take pictures and stop at the post office along the way to mail postcards.

Note to future cruisers: we found out the hard way that the post office does not sell postcards. Naturally, they are available in the shop at the village. So we had to postpone that for later. As we walked in, we passed Captain Jack Sparrow, taking pictures. We skipped him, since the kids aren't old enough to watch the movies yet. Closer to the village, we found Mickey, posing for pictures against the backdrop of the beach and the beautiful Disney Wonder. Figuring this was our one shot to get a picture with Mickey with little wait, we got in line.

Just 2 families remained ahead of us when a stray passing cloud began to drizzle rain on us. The cast members, unsure of how long it would last, announced they were moving Mickey to an alternate location. We followed them over to Scuttle's Cove. There, we became one of only 4 families to obtain the rare and scenic "Scuttle's Cove Trash Can" background for our picture.



Naturally, the sun returned approximately 90 seconds after we finished. We had a great day for the beach--mid-80's, sunny, moderate breeze to keep the bugs away. Perfect.

We made our way to the family beach, and found the in-laws waiting for us on a chair under an umbrella, with FIL sitting comfortably in his all-terrain wheelchair. It's basically a wheelchair with huge donut-shaped plastic wheels. I was hoping for a 4-cyl. engine, GPS and satellite radio, but alas. Anyway, the beach is beautiful:



From here, Julie and MIL took the kids down to the water while I went and got snorkel gear. I had read on these here boards that the best time to snorkel was the morning, before the waters get churned up and cloudy. I put on my gear and went right in. The water temp felt roughly mid-70's or so, which is about as warm as the ocean ever gets back home in DE, so it felt fine to me.

The cruise write-ups all tell you about the snorkeling lagoon, and how Disney sunk a few items under the sea for intrepid swimmers to discover, which sounds really cool. What they fail to mention is that you have to swim the width of the English Channel to get there. I have no idea how far it was, but I finally made it as far as the distant lifeguard, who helpfully suggested that if I was tired, I should head back in. Thanks, buddy.

By this time, the water was between 10-15' deep, so I had to tread water (aided by my life vest, of course). I went out in search of the sunken items, trying to follow the boot--uh, buoys. My mask kept fogging up about every 10 feet, so it was slow going, and I had a little salt water in my nose/mouth. I did manage to find the shipwreck, though:



For some reason, my cheap disposable underwater camera didn't take magazine-quality pictures. I tried going further, but then I ran into these guys:



I asked them if they knew how to get to Sydney, but they just ignored me. At this point, I was done. I was exhausted, and didn't want to fight through a school of strange fish. So, I turned in. I was a little disappointed I didn't find Mickey, but I was tired of swallowing salt water and cleaning the mask every few seconds. 3 hours later, I reached land.



We spent the rest of the morning playing on the sand and in the water.



At lunch time, I schlepped FIL and his wheelchair (just what I needed after all that swimming) over to Cookie's for lunch, which was really a nice spread. Burgers, dogs, chicken, ribs, etc. Good stuff. And soft-serve cookie-dough ice cream, which I had never seen before, but was a cup of awesomeness, just as it sounds.

The in-laws were ready to go back to the ship by then, so we spent some time taking them back and sorting out the wheelchair situation. With that finally resolved, we rented bikes for the afternoon in order to explore the island a little more. The kids loved it. My wife...did not. She had not ridden a bike in 20 years, and apparently riding a bike is not just like...well, riding a bike. She struggled, but just couldn't get the balance, which proved extremely frustrating for her. I felt terrible, especially since the kids were having a blast. She soldiered down the runway for a while, and then finally said she couldn't keep going, but for us to go on ahead. I felt horrible for her.

The kids raced ahead, and we found the observation tower on the bike path. They had a great time climbing up and using the binoculars to look back at the ship.



In case you're interested, here's the north side of Castaway Cay (but not the back side of water):



Both Sarah and David declared bike-riding on Castaway Cay to be one of their favorite trip activities. I was surprised how much they enjoyed it.

Afterwards, we found Mommy and spent some time browsing the gift shop (there's only one place to get Castaway Cay merchandise, after all) and taking pictures.

For me, Castaway Cay was easily the highlight of the trip. I loved this place. I would have been happy if Disney had cancelled all other stops/days at sea and just spent the week here. 8 hours ashore did not feel like it was enough.







Bidding a reluctant farewell, we climbed back aboard the Wonder and got dressed for dinner, again in Parrot Cay. This was Pirate night, which involved a new menu and later on, the Pirates In The Caribbean Deck Party.

FOODIES: I chose the Buccaneer's Sun-Ripened Pineapple (with a coconut-crusted banana and orange glaze) for the appetizer, and the main course was Jack Sparrow's Barbecue Marinated Beef Short Ribs (with Tamarind Barbecue Sauce, Onion Red Bliss Mashed Potatoes and a Plantain Chip). Dessert was Walk the Triple Layered Chocolate Gangplank Cake (and fall into a rich Dark Chocolate Sauce).

NON-GOURMET ENGLISH TRANSLATION: Sweet, juicy, tender and heavenly pineapple. I did not touch the coconut banana thing. Ribs, bbq sauce and mashed potatoes: fantastic. Ribs fell right off the bone. I have no idea what a plantain chip is, so I left it alone. Chocolate cake, which was terrific. This was my favorite meal of the cruise.

The in-laws went straight to their room once again, and we put the kids down for bed. We left our connecting door open so the in-laws could check on the kids while Julie and I went to see the debut of A Christmas Carol in the Walt Disney Theater (in 3-D). How cool is it that they can show first-run movies? Sure, it helps that they own the movies, but still.

The movie was...well, weird. It had nice visuals and acting. Stayed faithful to the story. But the tone was odd. For the most part, it was very dark and dour, and there were some scary/creepy scenes that we were surprised made it into a PG movie. But every so often, there'd be a scene that felt like it was lifted straight out of Looney Tunes. At one point, Scrooge is shrunk down to 6 inches and being chased while talking like Chip and Dale, for pete's sake. Like I said, very odd tone shifts.

We went back upstairs to get ready for the Pirates party (we weren't dressing up or anything, but did want to see the fireworks). We opened our stateroom door, immediately looked at each other, and said, "Why does it smell like vomit in here?"

A quick investigation revealed that poor Big Dave was the culprit. He had blown chunks all over the Happiest Boat on Earth.

Or at least, the sofa bed and the wall. Worse, he was still sleeping in it.

We got him out of bed, half-awake, and Julie bathed him while I stripped the sheets and called housekeeping. A guy named Rodrigo drew the short straw and came up to help. He went to work dis-infecting the sofa (complete with rubber gloves and mask) while we got Dave cleaned and dressed. It goes without saying that Rodrigo got a very nice tip.

Ever want to see the sofa bed taken apart? Here you go:







By the time Dave was back in bed and everything was clean, the fireworks had already begun. If we craned our necks enough, we could just make out a few bursts from our porthole. We never found out what made Dave sick. He never had a fever, never showed signs of motion sickness, and was fine the next day.

In the next installment: how much coin can we drop in the gift shop? And Stitch attacks my son!
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Old 11-25-2009, 02:36 PM   #55
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There, we became one of only 4 families to obtain the rare and scenic "Scuttle's Cove Trash Can" background for our picture.
Hey, at least Pluto isn't rummaging through the trash looking for a snack!

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Burgers, dogs, chicken, ribs, etc. Good stuff. And soft-serve cookie-dough ice cream, which I had never seen before, but was a cup of awesomeness, just as it sounds.

...

NON-GOURMET ENGLISH TRANSLATION: Sweet, juicy, tender and heavenly pineapple. I did not touch the coconut banana thing. Ribs, bbq sauce and mashed potatoes: fantastic. Ribs fell right off the bone. I have no idea what a plantain chip is, so I left it alone. Chocolate cake, which was terrific. This was my favorite meal of the cruise.
You're making me hungry. I'm booking my cruise now.

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A quick investigation revealed that poor Big Dave was the culprit. He had blown chunks all over the Happiest Boat on Earth.

...

Ever want to see the sofa bed taken apart? Here you go:
Seriously, what kind of father are you? You waited until after it was cleaned up to whip out the camera?!


Looks like everyone had an awesome day! (Well, except for Rodrigo, that is...)
Now I really can't wait to take a cruise.
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Old 11-25-2009, 03:12 PM   #56
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I took my son to see A Christmas Carol and found it quite disturbing. Sorry your son got so sick. Maybe the "California" water didn't agree with him.
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Old 11-26-2009, 06:27 AM   #57
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For me, Castaway Cay was easily the highlight of the trip. I loved this place. I would have been happy if Disney had cancelled all other stops/days at sea and just spent the week here. 8 hours ashore did not feel like it was enough.
That paragraph right there is the reason our most recent cruise was the "double dip." We got two stops at Castaway Cay! If you ever cruise again, definitely look into that one!
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Old 11-26-2009, 09:34 AM   #58
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Sorry to hear Big Dave was sick, at least he was fine the next day. Something must not of sat right in his belly.

Castaway Cay looks amazing, glad to hear you guys had a great time. This is what I look forward most if we end up going on a cruise.

The bikes sounds like a fun idea and a great way to explore the island a little.
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Old 11-28-2009, 09:54 AM   #59
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Seriously, what kind of father are you? You waited until after it was cleaned up to whip out the camera?!


Looks like everyone had an awesome day! (Well, except for Rodrigo, that is...)
Now I really can't wait to take a cruise.
I was kicking myself afterwards for not turning on the video camera and getting some footage of poor Rodrigo spraying everything down in his Hazmat get-up. He probably would have given me a funny look, but it would have been worth it!
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Old 11-28-2009, 09:56 AM   #60
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I took my son to see A Christmas Carol and found it quite disturbing. Sorry your son got so sick. Maybe the "California" water didn't agree with him.
Yeah, we're glad we didn't take the kids before previewing it ourselves. They'll have to be a little older for that movie.

We're very thankful that whatever made him sick, it didn't last.
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