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Old 04-06-2010, 07:57 AM   #1
Sonnyeclipse
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Western Caribbean Aug 22 - 29, 2009 - Our First Disney Cruise

Background about the vacation, and a little about us...

This has been a long time coming and I’m sorry for the delay. I wrote all of my notes out upon our return in September and life just got in they way….until now.

First let me start off by saying we are a family of five, and are obsessed with Disney. We head to WDW on a regular basis and don’t want to go anywhere else. There is myself, my DW, DD (11) and twin DS (7).

During Xmas 2008, my grandmother joined us for Xmas as we live in Hershey, PA but my wife and I were born and raised in Nova Scotia, Canada. We had a great Xmas and one of the topics that came up was that we should all do a cruise together in 2009. Unfortunately, she passed away suddenly a few months later.

We decided we were going to do the cruise anyway in her honor and booked our first Disney cruise to the Western Caribbean. We chose the Western as my wife and I had been on a cruise many years before and had done most of the ports of call that were offered on the Eastern itinerary.

Months of planning and scouring the boards went by and it almost became and obsession for me. I couldn’t get enough information and spent hours reading trip reports and getting very excited about this vacation. I am very knowledgeable about vacationing at WDW but the cruise was a whole new world for me so I had to learn everything I can as I am a planner at heart and need everything organized.

After many months of waiting, the day finally came. We packed our bags, headed to the Harrisburg airport for our flight to Orlando and our first Disney Cruise…..

Up next….Day before the Cruise.
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Old 04-06-2010, 02:35 PM   #2
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Old 04-07-2010, 07:12 AM   #3
Sonnyeclipse
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Day before the Cruise

We arrived at the airport, checked our bags and headed through security to our gate. The Harrisburg airport is a great airport to fly out of as it is never busy. We were flying Delta, connecting through Cincinnati to Orlando. Our flight went suprisingly well and we were in Orlando by 10:30am.

We wanted to fly in the day before just to make sure we were there as I had read horror stories about people trying to fly in the day of the cruise and going through all kinds of stress getting to the boat. We had booked a room at the Residence Inn in Cape Canaveral. We had a lot of time so our plan was to head to Downtown Disney for lunch before making the drive to the coast.

I had booked a lunch ADR at the T-Rex café and we arrived shortly before our 12:15 ADR. We were promptly seated and were really taken by the beauty of the restaurant. I had seen it in pictures but seeing it up close was impressive.


We ordered our lunch, burger for me, salad for DW and all of the kids got chicken strips. The food was pretty pricey for what you received but I knew that going in so it cushioned the blow a bit. The food was very tasty though and it was a really good burger (and it should have been for the price I paid…)



One thing I had heard was that this restaurant was very noisy and boy, was that ever the case. It was tough talking at times as it seemed like we could hear everyone else’s conversations very clearly. There was also the constant roaring and the occasionaly meteor shower. Despite that, we enjoyed our lunch and I would recommend you check this place out, but I probably won’t go back a second time.



We did browse around a few of the shops but didn’t buy anything as we wanted to save our money for the cruise. After about an hour, we headed to the car and headed for Cape Canaveral.

One point here is we did rent a car. I looked at all options on how to get to the port from MCO and the rental car was the most economical. We rented through Hertz as their office was right in front of where we were staying. It was a bit of a pain at MCO as they are offsite, but for the price, we put up with it.

We drove to Canaveral and it was a nice drive. The road was not busy at all but there was n’t a whole lot to see either. As we pulled into Canaveral, we saw the cruise dock and a Carnival ship was in. The excitement was really starting now.

We checked in at the Residence Inn and were very impressed with our room. It was spacious and very well suited for a family of five. I would recommend this hotel to anyone staying the night before a cruise as the rooms are nice, staff is helpful, and it is very close to the port. We did notice when dropping our bags, that one of them had a very large rip in it. This didn’t surprise me as it was kind of in bad shape to begin with.

We had some time left in the afternoon so we thought we would check our Ron Jon’s surf shop. It was very big and there was a lot of stuff there. I ended up buying a hat and we bought a few fridge magnets (always get some on every vacation). We also had to make a trip to Wal-mart to replace our torn bag. We hit Wal-mart, grabbed some dinner and headed back to the hotel.

I headed over to return the car when we got back to the hotel. Our plan was to use Hertz transportation in the morning to get to the port as it was free if you rented with them. I was disappointed to find that the first shuttle didn’t leave until 11 AM. You see, we were booked in two adjoining cat 11 rooms and our plan all along was to get to the port early and try to upgrade as we had read that this was typically cheaper than just booking a Cat 4 to begin with.

So, I arranged for transportation with the Residence Inn. It was a charge but to me, I needed to get there early to try and get the upgrade so I paid the money. The first shuttle left at 9:30 and I was going to make sure we were on it.

We took a quick swim and we saw some weather heading our way so decided to head up to the room, have some snacks, watch TV and call it a night. The big day is tomorrow and sleep is not coming easy for any of us.



Up next…..Day 1 The magic on the Magic begins……
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Old 04-07-2010, 08:24 AM   #4
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Can't wait to read your next installment!
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Old 04-08-2010, 09:53 AM   #5
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Day 1 - The Magic Begins

We were up early and very excited to get going this morning. The Residence had a free breakfast so we took advantage of that while we waited for our shuttle time. At around 9:10, we went out and stood in the lobby with a few other families and were on the first shuttle…mission accomplished.

As we left the Residence Inn behind, we quickly saw the Magic in the distance. It was a little smaller than I expected but it was absolutely breathtaking to me. We couldn’t believe it was really here. After all of the waiting and planning, our first Disney cruise was about to begin.



We entered the terminal and there was a small line to get through security. When we hit the top of the escalator it was fairly empty. We headed over to check in and didn’t have to wait in line at all. We gave the lady all of our paperwork and she was very friendly and helpful. I asked about an upgrade and she did indicate that there were some available and finished checking me in and pointed us to the counter that I needed to go to next.

We headed over and spoke to the supervisor who informed us that yes there were upgrades available and we could have a deluxe family stateroom with a veranda. Wow, this was great. I was never real keen on the connecting inside staterooms we had but went with it due to cost. Then, she gave us the price, and our excitement left us. It was much higher than we anticipated and we told her we couldn’t do it.

We walked away a little down and depressed as we really got our hopes up on getting the upgrade. After a few minutes, DW came over to me and said “let’s go for it”. That was all I needed to hear and we headed back to get our upgrade. We received a stateroom on Deck 8 with a solid veranda. The supervisor was trying to get us a clear veranda but none were available. We were happy anyway so we changed our stateroom and headed over to sign in our DS to the kids club.



After that, we took a few pictures and just kind of hung around as the terminal started to fill up. The next thing I knew, the supervisor that upgraded us came through the crowd to tell us she had gotten us a stateroom with a clear veranda. I couldn’t believe she went to the trouble of finding us to make this change. That is what I love about Disney, they are all about making us happy. We changed our cabin and then prepared to board.




We boarded the ship and one of my DS started to cry. When we asked him what was wrong, he said “Gram did this for us”. (we had used some of the inheritance to take this cruise). We headed up to Topsiders to get some lunch. On my way to the buffet, the water package selling pitch started. I was asked twice if I wanted to purchase the water package, both times I politely said no as we had brought our own beer, water and soda on board.

We grabbed some lunch and I was a little underwhelmed by the selection at the buffet. My kids found it hard to find something the liked. We headed outside to eat and were asked at least three more times if we wanted to purchase the water package. I was starting to get pretty frustrated and was trying to be polite but it was getting tough. The same person even asked me twice. Note to Disney: Lay off a bit on pushing the water package….

We toured the ship and then it was time to head to our room.



I must say I was very impressed and loved the veranda. We unpacked our stuff, changed into our bathing suits and headed up to the pool. We hit the Goofy pool and it was nice as it was very uncrowded at the time. We finished our swim, toured the ship some more and then headed back to get ready for the emergency drill.




I was very impressed with how organized it was and it seemed like before we knew it, we were back in our cabin and heading up for the sail away party.

My wife and I splurged on the very expensive sail-away drinks (and were asked about the water package a few more times) and settled in for our party. There were some ominous clouds coming and we were a little worried about getting it in but we did. After the party, a waiter took our dirty drink glasses and gave us new ones. A nice touch.





We headed to the cabin and went out on the veranda to watch us sail away. The kids were thrilled as we saw a turtle and ray down in the water. I was loving the veranda! We changed for dinner and headed for Parrot Cay.

We met our server and assistant server, Alvin and Bulani (not sure if I spelled it correctly but that is how it was pronounced). We were a little nervous about meeting our table mates and they arrived shortly after we did. It became pretty obvious that we didn’t have a lot in common as he was a brain surgeon who basically lived in a mansion in California. They had the air of money all over them. They were pleasant though and we had a good conversation. Their son was being nothing short of a brat and my DW didn’t even know he was there for awhile as he spent the first part of dinner under the table.



I had the cream of mango and papaya cold soup (very good) and then the Caribbean roast chicken which was also quite good. Then the lemon meringue pie for dessert. All in all, the meal was quite good. We finished up and went to drop the kids at the clubs.

Our 2 DS were excited and basically ran right in when we dropped them at the Oceaneers club, our daughter, not so much. She is very shy and was nervous about going to Ocean Quest alone. We dropped her off, and headed to the show.



The show that night included Ron Pearson and Carl Andrews. We were particularly impressed with Ron Pearson and made a point of saying we were coming back the next evening when he had the stage to himself. We then headed up to Rockin Bar D for some drinks and watched the Leonard Brothers perform.

A game of Magic Quest started and we were near the back so didn’t participate. Once the game started, we immediately regretted it as it looked like a lot of fun. When the game was over, we headed back to our cabin to find DD sitting there. She wasn’t impressed with Ocean Quest. Uh oh, our nights without kids may be over….

I took DD with me and we picked up the DS’s from the club and they had partaken is some face painting. We headed back to the cabin, ordered some snacks from room service, made our plans for tomorrow and called it a night.

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Old 04-08-2010, 10:12 AM   #6
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Nice first day report! Sounds like they are really pushing the water package.
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Old 04-08-2010, 10:16 AM   #7
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Nice first day report! Sounds like they are really pushing the water package.
It was really bad and maybe we were just unlucky and ran into the water package guys more than normal or maybe that is normal. It was probably my only complaint of the whole cruise.
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Old 04-08-2010, 11:17 AM   #8
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Enjoying your report and pictures!
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Old 04-08-2010, 01:17 PM   #9
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Also enjoying your report. Just how bad was that upgrade price? I'm trying to figure out what it would be from cat 5 to 4.
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Old 04-08-2010, 01:44 PM   #10
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Also enjoying your report. Just how bad was that upgrade price? I'm trying to figure out what it would be from cat 5 to 4.
It was around $900. It was cheaper than if we had originally booked a Cat 4 but still a little more than I expected for a port upgrade price.
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Old 04-08-2010, 02:39 PM   #11
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wow! and that's from cat 11 to a 4 for 7 days! seems like a good deal. Thanks!
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Old 04-08-2010, 02:41 PM   #12
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Yes, it definitely was a deal. I just read stories of people getting upgrades for much less so the $ figure shocked me a bit when I first heard it.

We are booked for next year and went ahead and just booked a Cat 4 on the Dream as we loved it so much.
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Old 04-08-2010, 09:30 PM   #13
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Really enjoying your trip report! My dd and i are going on a western cruise in about 10 months and love to hear about other's experiences! Keep the TR coming
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Old 04-09-2010, 06:55 AM   #14
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Day 2 - Key West and our first trip to Palo

Day 2 began with room service coffee and some early time on the veranda. I was really loving the veranda and will probably never cruise again without one. Eventually, everyone got up and we headed up to Topsider’s for breakfast.

It was the usual buffet fare and it took us a bit to get our bearings as to where everything was. There was a wide variety for everyone and we had a good meal. I was a little concerned going in as the variety for the buffet yesterday wasn’t that great but it must have been because it was the day of boarding.

We had a few things planned for the morning since we weren’t hitting Key West until 12:30. We headed to Rockin Bar D first and did the paper plane making. It was a lot of fun and the kids really enjoyed it.



After, the boys wanted to go to the kids club to make flubber so we dropped them off and did a little more exploring of the ship. We then headed back to Rockin Bar D for Bingo. I had read up a lot about Bingo and decided that the electronic cards were the way to go. There wasn’t a whole lot of people there and we ended up winning the first game….along with 5 other people. After Bingo, we picked up the boys from the club and headed up on deck for lunch.

We had a combination of Pinocchio’s Pizza and Pluto’s Dog House and were having a pleasant lunch until the fighting began. If anyone has twins, you know how tough it can be as they spend so much time together that fighting is inevitable. It ended up getting so bad that we all went back to the room and I even considered staying in the cabin with them to punish them while DW and DD went to Key West. I thought about it and decided that I didn’t want to miss Key West and would have to think of something else if the fighting continued. We watched the boat dock in Key West and headed down to disembark.




We didn’t have any excursions for Key West as I figured we would just walk down Duval St, browse the shops and hit the Southernmost point. I had read there was a bus service so I figured we could walk down and get the bus back.

We strolled down Duval St, hitting some T-shirt shops and I drank a few beers along the way. It was HOT. I was starting to regret walking as we got further down Duval and I thought it was never going to end. It was a very interesting walk as there were some interesting people to see and a lot of different shops to browse. We had forgotten to pack shoes for our DS for formal night so we tried to see what we could get and were unsuccessful.



Check out this place. Those are dollar bills all over the ceiling.



We finally reached the southernmost point and did the picture thing. DW took the picture and I don’t know what the heck the camera was set on but you can see the result below.



I looked around for the bus and couldn’t find any sign of any bus anywhere. DW asked someone and they didn’t seem to know about it either. Great….now we have to walk all the way back in the heat.



We made our way back sticking to the next street over from Duval. The boys had some fun chasing a few chickens around that appeared to be roaming free and about halfway back we had to stop to get drinks at a local store. Well, as we left the store, a car pulled up and a scene erupted between a husband and wife that was not appropriate for children so we high tailed it up the street and finally arrived back in the square by the ship.

DW hit the shops while I tried the Key Lime Pie on a stick (fantastic, by the way). We took a few pictures, relaxed in the shade and boarded the ship again.



DS looks so tiny when standing by the ship..


We sent the kids to the clubs as DW and I had Palo reservations for the evening. DD was hesitant to go back to Ocean Quest but knew it was important to us to have this dinner so agreed to go. We went back to the cabin, changed, and headed up to wait for Palo to open as we had one of the first reservations of the evening. On the way we saw DD in line at Topsiders and she looked like she had made a new friend. Outstanding! Maybe, now she will enjoy the kids club.




We were seated and our server promptly came over. She was from Brazil and started talking to us about her history and how she and her husband worked on the ship together. She was very friendly and it started the meal off on the right foot.

I started with the Quattro Formaggi (pizza) and DW had the Grilled Portobello. Both were fantastic. I don’t think I have ever tasted a pizza like that before and DW agreed that it was very good. I then had the tenderloin and DW had the chicken. The tenderloin was fantastic and DW liked the chicken but didn’t love it. We were really enjoying our dinner so far though and it was nice break for just the two of us. We were seated by the window and the sun was low in the sky. It was great.




We finished up with the Tiramasu and called it a night at Palo. We headed back to the room to change and hit the veranda to watch us leave Key West. It was a beautiful sight and we watched the sunset over the ocean. Did I say how much I loved the veranda? DD came back to get something and had indeed met a friend at Ocean Quest. Yippee!!!



We changed and headed to the Walt Disney Theatre to watch Ron Pearson. His show was fantastic. It was hilarious and if you haven’t seen him and he is on any upcoming Disney cruises that you do, make it a point to see him.

After the show we headed back to the cabin, to find DD sitting there. She had been ditched by her new friend. Arghhhh!!! The three of us decided to go catch the 10:15 showing of Earth in the Buena Vista theatre. We made it about an hour in and the pager went off. One of our DS was hungry and wanted to be picked up.

We left the theater, picked up the boys and headed back to the cabin for some room service pizza. We ate our pizza, and then all fell asleep watching TV. It was a long day and we had an early morning in Grand Cayman the next day.

Next up…Day 3 a rough day at sea.
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Last edited by Sonnyeclipse; 04-19-2010 at 11:18 AM.
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Old 04-09-2010, 08:26 AM   #15
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Wow, that was a full day! I completely agree with you on the verandah. Disney was my first cruise and I'm a little claustrophobic so my husband was concerned I'd freak so we went with the verandah and never regretted it. I especially love going out there at night and watching the water go by, sooooooo relaxing and just gorgeous!
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