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Old 12-13-2012, 07:44 AM   #31
dolphingirl47
I will post my goodies once I am back
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Day 3

True to form on our first morning in the USA, I was wide awake at 4:00 AM. Graham was still fast asleep. So I quickly went to the bathroom, checked my emails and Facebook and then I went back to bed. I managed to sleep until about 6:00 AM, when the dawn chorus was in full swing. Recently I had read reviews on Trip Advisor where people had complained about the noise caused by Grackles at the hotel. Our room was overlooking the pool and palm trees by the pool where just heaving with Grackles. I have to admit that I quite liked the dawn chorus and I have always loved Grackles. We got up and had a shower. I put the coffee machine on. All the rooms at the hotel have balconies and Gulf views. We were also overlooking the pool and our view was partially obstructed by a roof- top, but the view was still pretty nice. We had a spectacular sunrise that morning. Graham had started to take photos with my little point and shoot camera, but I decided that this warranted getting out my proper camera. Once the sun was high in the sky, we had our coffee out on the balcony.

















After we had our coffee, we decided to go for a swim. The pool opened at 7:00 and we were a bit earlier than this so we had to wait a short while. I had expected that the pool would be heated, but it was not. We did not quite need an ice breaker, but the water was cold. Before I could think too much about this, I went into the water and started swimming. Graham, who was already in the pool, was quite surprised that I had gone in. I did about 10 length and could feel my muscles unknot. Even though the water was so cold, the swim was lovely. We did get a few funny looks from people who were on their balconies. I think they thought that we were crazy to go swimming that early in the morning during winter. I was hoping for a hot tub to warm up, but unfortunately the hotel does not have one. We dried as much as we could and then wrapped the towels around ourselves and headed back to the room.







Once we had completely dried off and got changed, it was definitely time for breakfast. On the way to the hotel restaurant, we dropped off the towels by the pool. I also had another matter to take care of. I had set my favourite jewellery artist a challenge a while ago. I had emailed her a photo of my favourite handbag, which is a lilac Dooney and Bourke bag with purple Tinkerbells and swirls and fuchsia hearts and asked if she could make some jewellery based on this. She was up for this. I sent her the materials and she set to work. For simplicity, we had agreed that she would send the package to our hotel in Galveston. So I had to retrieve this from reception. Once I had my package, we went to breakfast at the Jetty restaurant at the hotel. We had the choice between the a la carte menu and the buffet. We both went for the buffet. We had coffee and orange juice. I had Fresh Fruit, Scrambled Egg with Peppers, Onions and Ham, Sausage Patties, Biscuits and Gravy and Breakfast Potatoes. Graham had the same, but also had some plain Scrambled Egg, Bacon and French Toast. We both enjoyed our breakfast and left absolutely stuffed.

After breakfast, we quickly went back to the room to drop off my jewellery and to pick up the things that we needed for the day. I also put on my sunscreen. I had bought bio- degradable sunscreen for Cozumel and did not want to have to bring multiple bottles or tubes of sunscreen. I know however from past experience that this is not the easiest thing to use and if I wanted to avoid looking like a clown, I was better off putting it on in front of a mirror. With that task out of the way, we headed out.
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Old 12-13-2012, 08:00 AM   #32
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Our destination for the day was Moody Gardens. Neither of us had any clear idea of the distances involved and we set off walking. Very close to the hotel, we spotted an IHOP, which meant that breakfast the next morning was taken care of. We had walked for quite a while when we came across a Walmart. I had discovered one little problem the day before. Graham had only packed sandals and trainers, but no formal shoes. Neither is permitted at Palo. So we needed to get some formal shoes for him. Walmart seemed to be as good a place for this as any. This was the right decision. We got a pair of Dr Scholl shoes for Graham for only $30. I realised that I had never brought my water shoes so I got a pair of those for $7. I also spotted some huge bottles of Moscato for around $8. I did not want to have to carry this around all day, but decided to get some wine to enjoy on our balcony later.

When we came out of Walmart, Graham spotted a bus. He decided to ask the driver if this bus was going near Moody Gardens and was told that it did not, but the next bus that would come through would go to Moody Gardens. That bus came a couple of minutes later. That was definitely a good thing as it would have been a long walk. The bus dropped us by the hotel and from there it was a 5 minute walk to the visitor centre. Moody Gardens is essentially an educational charity although it does also have a hotel, a golf course and a mini water park. This last thing is a bit of a surprise as the big Schlitterbahn water park is right next door. The educational part consists of a Rainforest pyramid, the aquarium pyramid and the Discovery Pyramid, which is essentially a hands on science museum. They also have a paddle wheeler that does hour long trips on the nearby lagoon, an IMAX screen and what they call a ride film, which is a cross between an IMAX screen and a simulator. We got a combo ticket, that gave us access to all those things.









Our first stop was the Rainforest pyramid. The first part of this was a bit odd. It was a relatively dark space with words printed on the walls and ceiling and sounds of the rainforest. This part seemed to go on forever. Ultimately this led to an underwater viewing area for giant sea otters. There was a handy bench in that area so we sat down and watched them for a while. We then had to go up some stairs that first led to an overlook of the dry part of the sea otters' habitat and then the actual rainforest pyramid. We started our tour on the canopy walkway. This is a relatively new addition. There is a bit of a recurring theme in Galveston. A lot has changed in Galveston since September 2008 when Hurricane Ike made landfall and caused a lot of devastation. The irony is that this was one of the three hurricanes that we were surrounded by on our first cruise. All the pyramids at Moody Gardens have been built to withstand much bigger hurricanes than Ike. Indeed it was not the hurricane itself that caused all the damage, but a flash flood that was associated with it. The water forced open the gates to the loading bay and flooded the Rainforest pyramid. It is a miracle most of the animals survived and only about 20% of the plants that are very sensitive to salt water were lost. When they were getting ready to reopen the Rainforest pyramid, they added the canopy walk. From there we got a close up of Scarlet Ibises, doves and other free flying birds, a sloth and a couple of monkeys that seemed to be as curious about us as we were about them. We got talking to one member of staff who was impressed that we had seen a sloth in the wild in Costa Rica. We then followed the walkway down to the ground level where we saw an ocelot, a Chinese crocodile, parrots including rare Hyacinth Macaws, turtles and fish. I was really surprised to see stingrays. I had always assumed that stingrays are saltwater fish, but apparently there are also fresh water varieties. There was also a huge variety of tropical plants although I have to admit that my attention was mainly captivated by the animals. One thing that I had particularly looked forward to was a walk through butterfly garden, but we did not see many butterflies.







































When we finished with the Rainforest pyramid, we decided to head over to the Discovery pyramid . However, this was not due to open until midday. So we decided to head back to the visitor centre to get something to drink. In the end, we never made it back to the Discovery pyramid. I got excited when I saw that orange soda was one of the options at the fast food outlet. I really love the American orange soda and could not wait to have some. Unfortunately they had run out and I decided to be virtuous and just have some water. Once we had finished our waters, we had a quick look at the gift shop and then went back outside to walk towards the boat dock. This was the day before their annual Festival of Lights opened and preparations were in full swing. It looked quite impressive what they were putting together there and it is a shame that we did not get to experience this. What caught my attention most was ice skating rink. They were just putting the finishing touches to this when we walked past. This was huge. I initially thought that they were using an artificial skating surface, but the fact that a Zamboni was parked outside indicated that this was genuine ice. I found this utterly fascinating considering that there was just a tent between the ice and the rather strong Texas sun.

After we had a look around in the grounds, we went down to the boat dock. It was still a bit early so we sat down at some picnic tables and were amused by the grackles. The paddle wheeler looked very impressive. It is actually only a replica, but it still looks impressive. As soon as they were ready, we got on the boat. Initially we found some seats outside. It was a little windy out on the bayou so we soon found some window seats inside. The boat trip lasted one hour. There was not a great amount to see, but it was a lovely relaxing way to spend an hour.



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Old 12-13-2012, 08:04 AM   #34
dolphingirl47
I will post my goodies once I am back
I have always been too worried to use the pillowcase
 
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Once we had finished our boat ride, we headed over to the aquarium pyramid. The first exhibit we came to was the seals and sea lions. They have a number of California Sea Lions and Harbour Seals and one Fur Seal. A couple of the animals were born in captivity, but most of them were rescues that cannot be released as they would not survive in the wild. They have a very cute pup that was born at the aquarium to two of the rescued harbour seals. We spent a while observing them and it was not quite clear who was watching who. The Fur Seal particularly kept swimming over to check us out. They have a bunch of smaller tanks with all kinds of different fish and marine life. They also have a walk through tunnel with sharks, eels and stingrays. Apart from the seals, my favourite exhibits was the penguin habitat. I was also fascinated by the sea turtles, which are also all rescues.









Once we had finished in the aquarium, we decided that we had seen enough for a day and headed back towards the hotel to catch the bus. We had a bit of a wait, but the sun was lovely and their was a bench so that was no hardship. When the bus came, it felt like we were getting a tour of the whole of Galveston. Still, it was nice to just sit. We got off at Walmart again and decided to get a bottle of the Moscato. For some reason we could not find it again, but we came across a display with a different brand of wine that also offered the huge 1.5 liter bottles of Moscato and was only $1 more expensive. So we got this and then got a taxi. We asked the driver to stop at our hotel and Graham quickly took the things that we did not need to the room and then we carried on to the Pleasure Pier.

When I first started to research Galveston, I had spotted that they have a Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. I had wanted to eat at one of those for a while, but had never got around to it. I won't eat most seafood, but I like shrimp. So I decided that this time, we would finally eat there. We ended up sitting outside on the decking and had a nice view over the Pleasure Pier. Graham had a Budweiser and Top Sirloin with Fried Onion Strings, Mashed Potatoes and Chargrilled Shrimp Skewer. I had Shrimpers Delight (Tempura Shrimp, Coconut Shrimp, Peel and Eat Shrimp with Fries, Tangy Asian Dip, Cajun Marmalade and Cocktail Sauce), which I washed down with a very nice Margarita. We both had some water, too. Neither of us had room for dessert even though they had some rather nice ones.





When we had finished our meal, we could not spot any taxis so we decided to walk back to the hotel. This turned out to be quite a hike. Still, it was a lovely evening and we got to see a beautiful sunset on the way. When we finally arrived at the hotel, we checked if we had to pre-book the cruise shuttle for the next morning. They only run one shuttle per hour and the 10:30 shuttle was already fully booked so we booked two seats on the 11:30 shuttle. I was not overly happy about this as our check in time was 11:30 to 12:00, but there was nothing that could be done about it. Once we had sorted this out, we went straight to bed and as soon as my head hit the pillow, I was asleep.
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Old 12-13-2012, 08:08 AM   #35
dolphingirl47
I will post my goodies once I am back
I have always been too worried to use the pillowcase
 
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Thats wonderful that you got special jewelry made. I hope you share pictures of it.
It should show up nicely in the formal night photos, but here is a sneak preview:





And this is the bag it is based on:



Corinna
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Old 12-13-2012, 08:23 AM   #36
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Now that's a proper "pat" of butter! I miss that part of living in Germany, along with the wonderful broetchen!
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Old 12-13-2012, 08:27 AM   #37
dolphingirl47
I will post my goodies once I am back
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Now that's a proper "pat" of butter! I miss that part of living in Germany, along with the wonderful broetchen!
I have to admit I am not overly keen on butter, but I miss proper German bread.

Corinna
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Old 12-13-2012, 08:31 AM   #38
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I have to admit I am not overly keen on butter, but I miss proper German bread.

Corinna
I totally understand. There's nothing like it anywhere that I've found.
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Old 12-16-2012, 04:45 AM   #39
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Off to a good start beautiful necklace Corinna
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Old 12-16-2012, 06:10 AM   #40
dolphingirl47
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I love this necklace. I am hoping to post the next installment tonight and this is the beginning of all things Disney.

Corinna
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Old 12-16-2012, 02:23 PM   #41
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I'm all caught up. What a wonderful start to the trip. Moody Gardens sounds just like my kind of place.
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Old 12-16-2012, 03:10 PM   #42
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Souunds like a lovely day at Moody Gardens. We have a Bubba Gump Shrimp Company here in Long Beach. We have been meaning to try it and never have yet.

I can't wait to hear about and see the Magic!
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Old 12-16-2012, 05:19 PM   #43
dolphingirl47
I will post my goodies once I am back
I have always been too worried to use the pillowcase
 
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I'm all caught up. What a wonderful start to the trip. Moody Gardens sounds just like my kind of place.
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Souunds like a lovely day at Moody Gardens. We have a Bubba Gump Shrimp Company here in Long Beach. We have been meaning to try it and never have yet.

I can't wait to hear about and see the Magic!
We loved Moody Gardens. There is really something for everybody there.

I am glad that we finally have made it to Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. I have actually walked past the one in Long Beach. I have to say though that we probably won't return. There is a lot better food to be had elsewhere. The food was OK, but no more than that.

Corinna
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Old 12-16-2012, 05:37 PM   #44
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Day 4

That day I managed to sleep until 5:00 AM and for once being awake so early suited me down to the ground. As we were overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, I was hoping that I would see the Magic coming in. We could see some moving lights in the distance, but could not make out what they were. I checked various marine websites to see if I could figure out where he Magic is, but they were all out of date and provided contradictory information. So eventually I took to the webcams and soon the Magic showed up on one of the port webcams, which meant that she was be past us. So I told Graham that we had missed the Magic and may as well head for breakfast. As soon as Graham opened our door, he spotted some Mouse funnels that were slowly moving into view. He called out to me to get the camera. We stayed on the walkway for a while watching the Magic arrive. At some stage, there seemed to be no more movement and I checked the webcam again. The Magic was actually tied up. We had no clear idea where the port was in relation to the hotel and in my wildest dreams I had not anticipated that I actually would be able to see the Magic docked from the hotel. We stayed there for a little while longer as I was hoping that they would sound the horn, but no such luck. So I put my camera inside and we headed off to breakfast.











As planned, we had breakfast at the IHOP. We always have enjoyed our meals there, but it had been quite some time since we last had the chance. The restaurant was only about 150 yards from the hotel, but finding the entrance proved a bit of a challenge. We walked around the whole of the building before we found it. This initiative test was worth it though. We both enjoyed our breakfast. We both had Coffee and Orange Juice. Graham had a T Bone Steak with Fried Eggs and Pancakes with Strawberry Syrup. I had Mini Sirloin Steaks wrapped in Bacon, Fried Eggs, Hash Brown and Pancakes with Butter Pecan Syrup. Not only was the food delicious, but my breakfast was only $7, which was a bit of a bargain.

Once we finished our breakfast, we slowly walked back to the hotel. We rearranged our luggage a bit and packed what we had taken out. I then relaxed with my iPad and checked out what was happening online and Graham just chilled out. At about 11:00, we did one last check if we had packed everything and then headed down to the lobby. We settled down on some comfortable seats and waited until the time to get on the shuttle arrived. I got a little antsy with about 5 minutes to go to the scheduled departure time and went outside.

Not only was our booked shuttle time later than I would have wished anyway, but the shuttle was also running late. I was not too happy about this. Eventually the shuttle did turn up about 15 minutes after the scheduled time. It took a little while for everybody’s luggage to go on. We got chatting to some of the people on the shuttle. We also drove through the historical district of Galveston. We had not even realized that this was there and this definitely needs to closer look at some stage. We had people or both Carnival and the Disney Magic on the shuttle. Unfortunately we dropped people at the Carnival terminal first. By the time we got to our terminal, it was 12:06 and I was starting to go crazy. There was no need for this though. When we walked into the terminal, there was no line at all for repeat cruisers so the fact that we had missed our check in time did not matter at all. Better still, they had already started open boarding. So once we completed check in, we could proceed straight on board. We had our embarkation photo taken and there was no line for this either. We were on the Magic around 12:20, which I think was the earliest time I was ever on a ship.



I have to say that in the run up to this cruise, I was in two minds about this. The Magic has always been my favourite ship and it had been over 2 years since I had last been on her so I was very excited. On the other hand, I was also a little worried. I remember only too well how utterly lost and miserable I felt at the beginning of the Panama Canal cruise as I did not know anybody on the ship. I knew that the people that we had grown close to over the course of our previous 4 cruises on the Magic had either left the company or have moved to the Dream or the Fantasy. All worries disappeared as soon as I sat foot into the atrium. I felt right at home. It took a little while for it to sink in though that we were really on the Magic. When we got on the ship, we were announced and them intercepted by another cast member, who tried to send us straight up to Topsiders. I asked if Parrot Cay was not open and she confirmed that it was. They have always tried to direct people to the buffet on deck 9, but this was a first that they did not even mention Parrot Cay.

When we got to Parrot Cay, we spotted the first familiar face. They always have a server standing outside with sanitizing wipes. That day it just happened to be Sompong, who had been our server on our last cruise on the Magic. He recognised us and said that he had wondered what had happened to us as we had not been back for so long. We told him that we had been cheating on the Magic with her slightly younger sister, but were glad to be back. We promised each other that we would catch up later and we proceeded to the podium. We were told that they were quite busy and were asked if we were willing to share a table. We had no problem whatsoever with this. We ended up sitting with a very nice extended family, most of whom were first time cruisers and and for all of them, it was their first cruise on the Magic. It turned out that one of them worked for an airline as well and another one absolutely loves Dubai so we had plenty to talk about.

Other than the great company, lunch was a bit disappointing. The selection was not as good as I am used to and the food also was not as nice. This was a sign of things to come. As soon as we were seated, we were asked what we wanted to drink. It then took a good 20 minutes for our drinks to arrive. Again, this was a sign of things to come. The biggest disappointment for me was that there was no Chilled Strawberry Soup. This is what I always look forward to most on the embarkation lunch. At least Graham got his peel and eat shrimp. He had assorted salads with this and then went back for some chicken and carved beef. I had some Pork Schnitzel, which was nice, with Mashed Potato. I also had some Macaroni Cheese and Corn Dog Nuggets from the kid's table. I also asked Graham to bring me back a slice of the beef when he went for his hot food. This was very rare, but quite tasty. I was then sent to get some dessert. I had a chocolate cake and I brought Graham back a White Chocolate and Raspberry dessert.

When we all had finish our lunch, we said goodbye to our lunch companions and all headed our separate ways. I was quite surprised that it was already 13:30 and therefore the cabins should be ready. I could not believe how long we had taken over lunch. Time definitely flies when you are having fun. We were in the perfect place as our cabin was on deck 7 aft. So we gathered our carry on together and headed for the aft lifts. This was one of the aspects of the holiday that I was really looking forward to. When I had booked this cruise, I narrowly missed a veranda cabin and therefore booked an Ocean view. As we normally cruise in inside cabins, this was already a treat. However, I really was hoping for a balcony cabin. A couple of weeks later, I spotted that the balcony cabins had opened up again. So after a bit of soul-searching, I decided to contact Disney Cruise Line to see if they are able to let me pay the difference and change the category. The difference was less than £50 total for the two of us. They were able to do this without any problems. I had not told Graham this although keeping this a secret had been killing me. I was really looking forward to see his face when he walked into the room and realised what was going on. As it was, it was a bit of an anti-climax. He walked into the room and just said “This is not a porthole.” He did however go and check out the balcony.



I decided to take some photos of our cabin when Graham called out to me. He had spotted some dolphins. When I stepped out on the balcony, I could not see any evidence of dolphins, but they soon came back. There were probably half a dozen dolphins playing alongside the ship. It was great to watch them. Once they got bored, I headed back inside to decorate our door. I had a nice selection of magnets and also had something new - a door spotter. Ever since we have started cruising, I have always participated in the Fish Extender gift exchange. On our Hawaii cruise, this got a bit out of hand and not only was every inch of space in the cabin taken up by gifts that I had received, but I also had to buy an extra bag and pay to check it in. So Graham asked that there would be no further Fish Extender exchanges for me. I respected that. However, I could not face the idea not to have something hanging from our fish. I then spotted that the person who had made my assorted Fish Extenders had branched out into something called door spotters. They are a panel of fabric embroidered with a character and personalised. The one that she had on Etsy had magnets on the back and where designed to attach to the door itself. However, I asked her if she could modify it so that it could be hung from the fish by the door. So I still had something nice hanging from the fish without risking that people would leave gifts.











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Old 12-16-2012, 05:43 PM   #45
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Once I had finished decorating the door, we headed up to the spa. I had given Graham a "gift certificate" for a Rainforest Room pass for his birthday. So I needed to do something about this. We did the usual guided tour of the spa, which also included the Rainforest Room. Getting a pass for the Rainforest Room had suddenly become complicated. Not only do they now a variety of length available, but there are various add ons. On one of our cruises on the Wonder they offered a couple's pass that included a session in the Exotic Rhassoul. They were offering this on this cruise, too, but they also offered a different number of scrubs that could be used in the steam rooms and in the experience showers. We just went for the standard couple's length of cruise pass. I also needed to make a hair appointment. I had tried to get my hair cut before the holiday, but had run out of time. I also wanted an up do for formal night. It was suggested that I make an appointment to have my hair cut for that afternoon and then discuss the hair appointment for the next day with the stylist. I agreed to this and made an appointment for after the safety drill.

At that point, I said goodbye to Graham. I had a number of things that I wanted to take care of. My first stop was Wavebands to sort out our Palo reservation. When I first considered booking this, Disney Cruise Line had been telling people that Pirate Night is on the Wednesday. This had suited me down to the ground. We do not like Pirate Night dinner in the dining rooms and the Wednesday happened to be my birthday. So I made a dinner reservation at Palo for that night. Once people had come back from the first cruise out of Galveston, it transpired that the initial information was incorrect. Pirate Night was actually on the Tuesday night. When I became aware of this, I asked Graham what he wanted me to do. I have to say I was looking forward to my birthday dinner at Palo, but I also liked the idea of spending Pirate Night at Palo. Graham made a very wise suggestion. He said that is should leave if as it is and try for a second reservation once I get on the ship. So that is just what I set out to do. Normally there are usually long lines for Palo reservations on the first afternoon, even on the quieter sailings. This time there was no line at all. All the Palo staff present were assisting somebody when I arrived, but I was first in line. That was already encouraging. I then overheard that the restaurant manager told one couple who could not make up their mind that if they decided to go ahead to just give Palo a ring on the day and they would fit them in. That sounded even better. Sure enough, when it was my turn, I had no problem getting a reservation for Pirate Night. I was happy.

With this issue sorted out, I had a few other things that I wanted to take care of. In all my cruises, I never had a chance to have a look at the Teen Club. I had wanted to have a look for a while, but during the open house, where this would have been an option, I usually had a meet scheduled. This time round the meet was not until the following day so I made good use of this. I headed straight to the teen club for a look around and I have to say, I was impressed. Vibe on the Magic has a really cozy feel.

















Once I had a good look around, I decided to check out the Tween Club, Edge. I had previously had a quick look at this during one of their Open Houses, but this was just a quick in and out. I had a closer look at Edge on the Wonder during our Panama Canal cruise. I have to say even though Edge on the Wonder was an afterthought and the conversion from the old conference rooms to Edge was pretty much done over night, I much prefer Edge on the Wonder. It just has a cozier feel to it. On the Magic, Edge has a bridge mock up and a lot of computers and for some reason; this makes it look almost sterile.









As I still had some time, I decided to take some photos in the kid’s clubs as well. I had been in the Oceaneer’s Lab during our Transatlantic cruise in 2010 as they were offering Adult Flubber there one evening. I also managed to have a look at the Oceaneer’s Club on the Wonder last year, but on neither occasion, I had my camera with me. So I had to put this right. The Oceaneer’s Lab did not do a lot for me, but I loved the theming of the Oceaneer’s Lab.



















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