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Old 01-24-2005, 10:52 PM   #1
tksbaskets
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Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: SE Michigan
Posts: 4,225

Part I of our 10-Day Holiday Magic Cruise 12/17/04 - 12/23/04

OK, I know I’m not the first to review our 10-day Holiday voyage on the Magic, but I’m hoping some aspects of my trip report can help others planning their vacations. WARNING – it’s going to be long because I’m going to put it on two posts. I wish I was as skilled as Mary and could put in pictures.

Here we go! Our cast of characters: DH – Walt, ME – Teresa (aka TksBaskets) - compulsive planner, & DS’s Nathan & Scott who at time of sailing were just a bit under 14. Cruise history, ringing in 2003 on the 4-day Wonder NYE cruise. I’ll tell you up front, I’m an avid scrapbooker and I had an understanding with the DSs that they would pose with characters and they would smile for pictures since mom and dad were footing the bill for this wonderful cruise. They are good sons and they never gave me any teenaged angst about photos. Now the DH….perhaps should have had the same talk! He was a pretty good sport about my addiction too.

PRE-CRUISE: GETTING TO FLORIDA
We left cold, snowy, Dexter, MI Friday afternoon. DH got home from work at 3:55 and Metro Cars picked us up at 4 pm for our 7pm flight. We dressed in sweatshirts (it was 18 degrees that day) because we didn’t want to pack heavy coats. After trying to fit all our luggage into the trunk, kind of like fitting a puzzle together, we were off to Metro Airport in Detroit. We checked in and had plenty of time to get to our gate and have a bite to eat. After our last Disney trip where we had a connecting flight in Atlanta (a WHOLE other story, missing bags, missed connecting flights) I promised the family I’d never book another flight that wasn’t non-stop to Florida. The little extra was well worth family peace!

We arrived in Orlando and after we had our bags it was 10:45 pm. We had reservations at the Airport Hyatt – boy was that sweet. We rolled by the food court and bought the last 6 chicken nuggets and Filet of Fish they had. We all split a medium fry. The cheapest we’ve ever gotten away from McD’s. When we checked-in at the Hyatt they give you an envelope from DCL with instructions for the morning. After putting the DCL Magic tags on our luggage, we were off to bed.

EMBARCATION DAY 12/18/04: THE HYATT
The next morning we could have just left our luggage out in the hallway to be picked-up. DH was uncomfortable with that so we rolled our way down to the Bell desk where they checked our luggage and checked us off their list of DCL passengers who were staying overnight. We couldn’t check-in with the DCL transportation bus until around 10 am, so we enjoyed a pretty good buffet breakfast at the Hyatt. While we were there, we saw some fellow DIS cruisers dining as they had the AWSOME shirts that GaRry and Vicki had made. I experienced buyer’s remorse as this point because the shirts were so nice, and I had never gotten around to ordering the shirts for my family. After breakfast, we went back to the lobby and were directed to the DCL representatives and a sizable line to register for transportation. Only one member of every party needed to wait in line. They did have a Disney movie showing in a ballroom for the kids but my teens declared that “there are a bunch of little kids in there” and preferred to pull up a hunk of floor and play Game Boy. The line moved quite well and DH and I were soon signed up for the Winnie the Pooh bus. We waited until about 10:40 am and our bus was called. We all marched down after our DCL rep to the bus and were on our way! I met a very nice family on the bus who had surprised their two young sons with the cruise only the day before. I admire anyone who can keep that type of secret. It was nice that we met up several times throughout the cruise to share our experiences.

THE TERMINAL (Wasn’t this a movie that was showing on the cruise TV?!)
Any day in Florida is better than being in Michigan in December. I’m betting the temperature was in the 60’s that day. After a short detour to take a picture of the terminal building, we were able to move into the Castaway Club line and were registered in about 10 minutes. We all have passports and all our emigrations were smooth. There was a thread asking if it was ‘worth’ it to have passports for the entire family. I answer a hearty ‘YES’. DH and I also had our driver’s licenses along to use as photo ID for going on and off the magic. That way we could leave our PPs in the cabin safe. Our KTTW cards were quickly stowed into our DCL lanyards that we all managed to find a few days before our cruise from our NYE cruise. Another improvement: Our dining rotation was printed on our KTTW card. While waiting in line we gave the DSs the “charge only what you can pay” speech. They had charging privileges and money burning a hole in their ‘pockets’ from family for Christmas.

On our 4-day cruise, I was in such awe I missed out on a few little details I was determined to see this time. The first was having our names announced when we boarded the ship. We went through the ears and into the ramp to the ship around noon. We had our embarkation photo taken in front of a nice backdrop (an improvement from our last voyage) and walked to the Magic. This time I was alert to the CM asking who we were and where we were from. Then came our announcement “The …Family from Dexter, MI”. Of course DH and DSs were already in the atrium, but I savored the moment. We all had our picture taken with the Captain Mickey statue in front of Lumiere's. CMs are very gracious about asking if they can take photos with your whole family. Don’t be afraid to ask even when the Shutter’s photographers are there too. As a courtesy I always waited until Shutters was done before I took pictures of the boys with the characters.
We took a left at guest services and headed to Parrot Cay for lunch. It was our favorite place to eat from our Wonder trip and we enjoyed the buffet. Nathan and Scott were itching to get exploring and the tone was set for our cruise: They each had a two-way radio and were expected to be in the cabin each evening no later than 5:30 pm to get ready for dinner. They never let us down. Scott was anxious to get to Scoops – his favorite from the Wonder, and Nathan wanted to get a look at the Stack. They hung together pretty well the whole cruise. DH and I wandered the ship until about 2 when DSs called us and told us our room was ready.

OUR CABIN 7510: “Hey mom & dad, there’s gifts on the bed”
We felt right at home because we had booked the same cabin on the Magic that we had on the Wonder. We loved the location then and now. It is just forward from the forward elevators, very quiet, and on the side of the ship that usually faced out at port. Deck 7 is great – two decks up for fun in the sun, and an easy trip down for Beat Street and the dining rooms.
I had ordered from Shirley “The Perfect Gift”. She had crafted a great gift bag for the boys with two Disney beach towels, disposable water cameras, bottled water, and a message in a bottle. I had ordered the Spode Christmas Tree which Shirley added fresh greens. It was beautiful. DH’s comment was “how do you expect to get that home?.” Our first Castaway gift was waiting for us too. A beach towel and two Castaway Club pins. No luggage, but Sean – our cabin steward, had everything in ship-shape. Sean was great! I don’t think he ever had any time off because we saw him so often. We looked forward to the towel animals Sean made every night!

MEETING OUR DIS FRIENDS
We unpacked a bit and then headed to Deck 10 – portside for our DIS meet. I was a little nervous. Kind of silly, but I had been communicating with these people for 18 months, but had only met Vicki (cruisin’goose) and her son Greg a couple of weeks before sailing. My nerves calmed right down when I met Mary (WDWLVR) and her husband Mark (MarkRG). They had made great buttons for DISers and their families with our screen name and first name. Most people DISers wore them on their lanyards and were easily recognized all over the ship. DH was a little leery of meeting on-line friends, but relaxed after he met Mark and GarRy (wdwgoose). Everything was magical for me too as Vicki and Gary had extra shirts and I was able to purchase 4 for our family. We mingled for about 45 minutes and then went to strap on our very comfortable neck braces known as ‘life jackets’ and went to our muster station for the lifeboat drill. Perhaps because we were old pros at this, this lifeboat drill wasn’t as miserable as the one on the Wonder.

The Sail-Away Celebration was another ‘blur’ from our first cruise. I was determined to enjoy it and REMEMBER it this time. We went back up to deck 10 overlooking the Goofy pool to watch the show. I’ll tell you this is a great vantage spot for any action. Seabreeze was the band that rocked us for most of the cruise. DH and I enjoyed them most every night in the Rockin’ Bar D. What a fun spot! More about that later. A little after 5, the boys headed down to the cabin to see if we had luggage. The call came over our radios that all but one bag had arrived. Our sailing was a bit delayed as there was some type of medical emergency that required some poor cruiser to be taken away in an ambulance. Our prayers went out to them as DH and I went to the cabin for our first dinner in Animator’s Palate. Our luggage had indeed arrived and I took out every item that needed to be ironed along with DH’s suit and had Sean send it off for dry cleaning/laundry service. This I highly recommend to all of you. For a small fee, all my items were back hanging in our cabin by 5pm the next day. I took a tour of the spa and was intrigued by the facial. The line was way too long to book and make dinner so I signed up for one later that evening and was able to book it for our second sea day.

OUR DINING: TABLE #24.
Our rotation was ALP. I was looking forward to seeing what DISers we were linked with for dinner as I had emailed the coordinator for early dining on the board. When we approached our table, we discovered a nice table for 4. DH enjoyed the private time with our family, so I didn’t let my disappointment at not being with other DISers linger very long. As you can tell, I’m the more social of our team. It was nice not having to wait for others to show up to order. Our family has never been late for a meal, and DH is a stickler for promptness. Our entire dining experience was excellent. Our server was Marc from South Africa (who’s brother Rudy was a server on the same rotation), assistant server was Stoyan from Bulgaria, and head server was Pragalen also from South Africa. Marc and Stoyan were both very personable and made each meal special. As opposed to our Wonder HS, Pragalen stopped by about every-other night to chat and share the days experience with us. The actual sailing-away took place during our meal.

THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT
The other deal with DSs was that we would attend the evening entertainment together. We had time to stop at Shutters, where I purchased the 20-picture package, before the Welcome Variety Show, and visit the shops on board. Scott and Nathan purchased the first of many pins. I found a few things to buy including a ½ price DCL scrapbook – which I will only use for the stickers since I’m a Creative Memories album lover. The shows on DCL are beyond excellent (from my faint memories of entertainment on our Carnival cruise oh so long ago). We enjoyed everything we went to but a couple of entertainers really stood out. TAYLOR MASON is about the nicest, and funniest entertainer we’ve ever seen. He does a variety show mostly with his Ventriloquist puppets. Nathan and Scott were in hysterics during his short act. More about Taylor later. Freddy Fusion was a magician who was pretty funny too. The dancers and singers on the Magic are always enjoyable and they had a short act too. We met Brent, our cruise director from Australia. I thought it was fun listening to his accent and of course, like any man in uniform, was pretty good eye candy.

Pretty early to bed for our family, but not until we enjoyed a fruit and cheese tray from room service. YUMMY! We left an envelope with dollars in one of the drawers so the boys could order whenever they felt the need. They thought this was a huge treat.

DAY TWO: CHARACTER BREAKFAST.
The only downside of early dinner for our family, is early breakfast for this day and the last morning. The schedule for the character breakfast is printed on the dining tickets in your room when you arrive. We woke up to our Mickey Mouse call telling us it was time to start our day. Looking out our porthole, sunny blue skies!

Our serving team was waiting in Parrot Cay and we were the first to arrive. I don’t think their other two tables (one for 8, one for 10 I think) ever arrived before we did. The characters all come to the tables with the Shutter’s photographer. I surveyed the situation before we were seated and made sure the boys were seated where it was easy to get up and where the background for all the pictures would be OK. Didn’t want 20 pictures of the kitchen doors! Who know what we ate. It was OK, filling, hot, and enabled us to get several priceless photos of our boys and family with the happiest characters in the world. Don’t miss it!

THE TEN-DAY FLOATING BUFFET
I guess now is the time to confess we never had a meal that wasn’t on the Magic! I know there are probably wonderful places to eat at all the ports, but we figured with all the pre-paid options on the Magic, we’d work our schedule off the ship around our stomachs. Our routine ended up being breakfast at Topsiders where Nathan became addicted to the hash browns and occasionally Parrot Cay (DH & my preference but alas, no hash brown patties), lunch at Pluto’s Dog House. As stated in many trip reports – there must be something magical about the drawers they store the food in because the burgers are outstanding, chicken strips sublime, and French fries always hot and crispy. I think we tried everything on their menu, so if you need details, just ask! We always had dinner in the dining room.

KEY WEST
This was our only port that I hadn’t arranged for an excursion. We planned on taking the Conch Train Tour on our own. After lunch we left the ship. It was very easy to find the train depot. We paid our $ and embarked on a pretty enjoyable and comprehensive tour of Key West. I am thankful that God blessed Walt and I with boys who don’t enjoy shopping because their mom really doesn’t either. After our tour, we cruised down Duval Street in search of tropical shirts for DH and DSs. The best deal we found here was three shirts for about 100 bucks!! Of course we walked away saying, “what we have is fine.” We were back on the ship for a Pluto’s snack by about 3 pm. Scott recommends the bratwurst, Nathan the hot dogs, DH hot dogs AND chicken strips, and I say you can’t beat the cheeseburger. I told you we had everything on the menu. Nathan & Scott took off for the Stack where our family experienced the only glitch in our whole vacation.

THE STACK aka ‘We had more fun at Quartermasters’
This is the teen club. There is a wide age range 13-17. On our last cruise the boys loved the lab, which was a paradise for a pre-teen boy. Many computers with games, a few play stations – one as big as a wall, and plenty of activities. Well now they are teenagers and their club the Stack. From what I hear – parents aren’t allowed – it is set up much like a coffee house with couches and comfy chairs. There are three computers, only two having computer games, and one play station. The music is loud and there is a lot of time to ‘sit and chat’. DSs went this afternoon to the club to hang. DS #2 was happily playing on the computer while DS#1 watched and waited for the other computer. A much older ‘high school’ boy wanted to be in front of DS1 in line, punched him in the stomach hard enough DS2 heard it, called him “Fa..t “- a pile of sticks- and told him to find something else to do. DH and I found him in the cabin, visibly upset, and when he finally told me what had happened, so was I. DS2 was still in the Stack clueless as many teenaged boys are, that there was a problem.

I called the Stack (think Shirley McClain here from Terms of Endearment) and spoke with Lauren, one of the counselors in the Stack, and related what had happened. “Of course we are well supervised and visible, so sorry this happened, blah blah”. Here we were one day into a 10-day vacation and our son didn’t want to ever set foot in his club again. YIKES. Too make a long story shorter – Michelle called from the Stack and left a message I returned. We encouraged DS1 to return the next afternoon and she had a nice talk with him, developed some sort of code if this happened again, and all the counselors made a big deal about DS1 being in the Stack for the rest of the cruise, having him join in the games, etc. That said, both boys enjoyed Quartermaster much more than the Stack. Too bad that costs $$. They visited the Stack on a limited basis but were having a blast elsewhere so I got over it.

This night the entertainment was a showing of the “Incredibles” on the Walt Disney Theater. DH had not seen the show before. We all loved it! A little shopping and off to bed for us!

DAY THREE: AT SEA
Ahhh, we would have enjoyed about 10 of these. We woke up at the crack of 9 and headed up to Topsiders for breakfast. We met GaRry and Vicki outside of Mickey’s Mates and had a nice talk. Vicki and I went to the 10:15 Art of Entertaining at Studio Sea and watched Fruit & Vegetable carving. It was really interesting. I had to laugh when he kept saying what we could do at home. Right!! I’m happy when I carve a grapefruit to eat. We all hung out by the pool – it was a beautiful sunny day. About 80 degrees (as was most of the cruise) I had highlighted a bunch of activities that we didn’t get to. Played some ping-pong, boys lived in Quartermasters, and shopped a bit more in the stores. Picked up about 8 photos from the Character Breakfast in Shutters also. Walt and I found loungers on Deck 9 by the Goofy pool & I even judged a dancing contest.

Today we had a DIS photo in the atrium. If you have read Mary’s report, she has the photo there. What fun. Off to our rooms to prepare for Formal Night. I had a dress that had sparkles that ended up on much of the family! DSs wore ‘Regis’ shirts and ties with their black Dockers, DH was handsome in his suit. I have about $100 worth of formal picture to share if anyone wants to see how nice we looked! Do you know you get a nice portfolio for “free” if you spend enough on the 8 x 10s? I guess now is a good time to say, DSs and DH always wore Dockers (DH suit) to dinner with a nice shirt, or on semi-formal/Formal nights dress shirt and tie. My mantra was ‘it isn’t going to be us going against the suggested dress code.’ I did relent about day 4 and if you looked at any of the guys’ feet you would notice their sandals. It was a small concession for this testosterone-surrounded mom! We had our picture taken with Captain Thord Haugen in the Atrium and then went off to dinner.

DUCKY WILLIAMS
Walt and I went to the 11am Behind the Scenes with Don ‘Ducky’ Williams at the Buena Vista Theater. Don is the senior (and only) Character Artist for WDW. He sketched for about 45 minutes and told how he started with WDW. After his presentation he raffled off the drawings. Walt and both had tickets. Well, our luck wasn’t great. The tickets before his and after mine were drawn. Not ours. Small note. This session was for ‘guests over 18’. There were several children attending. Nathan & Scott had wanted to come but we told them it was adults only even thought they are very well behaved. I wish we had known because they would have loved it (plus we would have had two more tickets around our numbers). We knew for the next time. Several DISers had better luck. Mary won a great Stitch, and several other familiar faces were lucky too. Thus began my obsessions with Ducky Williams lithographs. We had received on our NYE cruise two years earlier and really didn’t know what a treasure we had. Ducky hinted that another would be on our way for this cruise! (as a side bar – from the magic of ebay I now own 5 more lithos!)

DAY THREE-NIGHT LIFE
This night we began our entertainment routine for the rest of the cruise – dinner, off to the Rockin’ Bar D for the Family Cabaret Show, Walt Disney Theater for the main show at 8:30, boys off to explore quartermasters or get room service in the room and watch movies, Walt and I back to the Rockin’ Bar D to listen to Seabreeze and then view the adult cabaret show where I would enjoy a spicy Bloody Mary. Warning: Make sure the server in the bar brings you back your own card) We were in such a routine by the third night we had ‘out seats’ and noticed several other couples in the same seats also.
The cabaret show was the magic of Freddy Fusion. What fun. The little kids all sat on the dance floor in front of the stage. It was very enjoyable with his magic duck. A lady was picked from the audience to perform with him and when asked to shake hands with the duck, she grabbed his foot – much to the delight of all. The cabaret show got done about 8:15 and then we raced to the Walt Disney Theater for a variety show. The show began with Gary Delena who was a very amusing singing comedian and closed with Christy Carlson Romano (the voice of Kim Possible) who sang and danced. Kind of a pop thing. The boys liked the comedian and were undecided about Christy. The young girls in the audience really seemed to enjoy the show.
The boys were off to the Stack/Quartermasters while Walt and I went back to the “D”. After a great pre-show performance by Seabreeze, Freddy Fusion had his adult show. Guess who got picked to come up on stage and perform with the duck?? Me. The show was similar to the family show, so I knew not to try and shake the duck’s foot! Freddy did manage to steal my watch and give it back to me at the end. I never felt him take it. DH grabbed my camera for a few photos of his cabaret star wife. It was fun that some DISers in the audience were there too and I made TKDLisa’s trip report! We stayed for a bit of the 60’s party then off to the room around 11:30 pm.

DAY FOUR – ANOTHER WONDERFUL SEA DAY
Another early morning for our crew – not. I think I was up a little before 8:30 and I was the first one up. Our first activity of the day was another “Disney’s Behind The Scenes” Featuring Kevin Neary – Author of “Ultimate Disney Trivia Books.” I had a 11:45 spa appointment, but we wanted to see as much as we could. While we were waiting for the presentation, we had a nice talk with the author. We soon saw Mary who we waved over to sit with us and Paul (paulcrsb I think), another DISer, joined us. Mary and Paul sat in the row below Walt and me. After an interesting presentation came the trivia ‘contest.’ The four of us joined forces and together were quite formidable! I had to leave at 11:40 for my appointment in the middle of the contest, but wished the team well and was off to the Vista Spa.

AH, THE SPA
Warning: You must have greater willpower that I do to get out of the spa for under a few Benjamins.

I signed up for the LT Oxygen Lifting Facial, which was 55 minutes of soothing relaxation. Tracey from Ireland was wonderful. I laid on a comfy spa bed under a fluffy blanket while she massaged my scalp, neck, and shoulders. (psst. Don’t ever tell the DH how much my little bag of facial care products were)

After my ‘spa’ I joined Walt on deck 9 for lunch where he was sporting an “I’m a Winner” medal. It seems Mary, Walt, Paul, & one other woman had the most correct answers. They were up on stage for a ‘run off’ and Mary was victorious. She won a mouse ears hat with tassel and a copy of “The Ultimate Disney Trivia Book”. I think Walt was a runner-up. He really enjoyed the presentation and spending a little time with DIS friends.

MORE FUN AT SEA
We all went to the 3:30 presentation by Ducky Williams called “Family Animation” in Animator’s Palate. It was a bit nosey and crowded but Walt and the boys got us prime seats. We all drew Mickey mouse under Don’s tutelage. No raffle here, but it was a nice interaction with this warm, wonderful man. Hercules the Muse-ical was in the WDT, but once was enough on our other cruise. We opted for dinner, cabaret show, and a showing of National Treasure in the Buena Vista Theatre. The cabaret show was Gary Delena from the previous night’s variety show. It was very funny and we all enjoyed it. National Treasure was better than our expectations, which were pretty high. Action, a little romance, and humor, rolled into a Disney film. What’s not to like? We thought about going to Pub night, but our towel animal and pillows were calling.

ARE WE ONLY ON DAY FOUR YOU ASK?? St. MAARTEN, 12-22-04
RHINO RIDERS 8:30 AM
We were up bright and early for our excursion. I tied to book the Rhino Riders through DCL but the excursions were full. I followed some sage DIS advice and booked the exact same excursion through www.shortrips.com. We were very pleased with the instructions from the company. Breakfast was a very quick trip through topsiders then off to find a taxi at the port. It was probably already in the high 70’s and nice and sunny. We met up with another family at the taxi dispatch area and they were going on the same excursion and rode in the van-like taxi with us. The day was again warm and sunny and we made it to the Rhino Rider dock by 8:15 am. Once we arrived, the guide suggested anyone with glasses purchase or put on straps to hold the glasses because the ride could get rough. We were able to put anything we wanted to stay dry in a laundry basket that they put under the counter in their office. Thank goodness we had those beach towels from the boys’ gift bag. The boats were pulled up to the dock, snorkel equipment was passed out, and our guide James gave us final instructions. There were 8 boats in our group, and another group leaving right before us (the official DCL excursion). You had to be over 16 to drive so Scott was behind me and Nathan rode with Walt. What a ride! We all drove in an orderly line out of the bay and through a marina area. We admired all the yachts while we went. One yacht even had a helicopter on the deck! The seats for the boats are hard plastic. Remember this for what’s coming. Once we hit the open ocean there were WAVES and James took off at full throttle. Not wanting to get lost, Scott and I gunned it as well. There were times the entire craft and motor were out of the water as we crested the 10-foot waves. I kept saying, “hold on little man” to Scott behind me and could here DH and Nathan “whoo hoo” – ing from their craft. After about 45 minutes we pulled into Happy Bay for our snorkeling. We all anchored in a group and swam to the shore. The waves were breaking on the shore at about 4 to 10 feet so snorkeling was non-existent. The boys did a lot of body surfing. I enjoyed a little bit. We took a few pictures with the disposable camera and soon it was time to swim back to the Riders.

Now I know how Tom Hanks felt in Castaway when he was trying to get beyond the waves breaking on the shore! We gathered up all our snorkel equipment: 4 masks, 8 fins and stood on the beach with our backs turned to the shore – first mistake. This HUGE wave hit us and knocked us all to the ground. Picture snorkel gear being swept out of our hands and then as quick as a wink, zipping back out to the ocean past our gawking eyes. Walt and I grabbed for whatever we could find/see/catch. Then we were paddling back out to the boats. I was the bearer of two masks and three fins and was doing a one-handed backstroke to the boats. DH had 2 fins and was helping the boys get past the big waves. I was very pleased once I reached the group of Rhino Riders and James assisted me getting into the boat (boy did he earn his tip!). All of our suits were FILLED with fine, white, and beach sand so the seats seemed a bit more padded on the way back to the marina. We enjoyed another wild, full-throttle ride in the open ocean back to base. This excursion was DH’s favorite. The guide was so nice about us loosing so much equipment. He said he’d look for it during the afternoon excursion. Walt put our limited snorkel equipment in the rinse tubs and we whistled our way to the outdoor shower to try and rinse off some sand – a futile exercise. We purchased the great photos that the Rhino Rider people took from the roof of their building on our way out and went to catch a cab. When I asked the driver how much to get back to the Magic, he said, “nothing – if you’d like to tip me that would be fine.” Never one to turn down a free ride, we all boarded the taxi. Guess what, we were all mixed in with the DCL excursion people (I noted some Disney stickers). I gave the driver a nice tip. We went back to the Magic and proceeded to rinse off half of Happy Bay in our little bathtub. This excursion was just a blast! We recommend it to anyone.

Remember those expensive tropical shirts in Key West? We were able to get some really nice shirts for Walt and the boys for $10 a shirt at the little shops right off of the peer.

BACK ON THE MAGIC
We enjoyed the pool and deck 9 hot tubs until it was time for us to get ready for dinner and the Castaway Club reception. I also made a quick trip to the service desk to beg my way out of the St. Thomas Mountain Bike excursion. I had a little extra time to read the excursion flyer and when I read that “there was a chase vehicle to follow the biking portion in case it is too strenuous” I knew that wasn’t the excursion for me. They were very nice to cancel and refund the excursion price to us. The tickets said they were ‘non-refundable’ but since I had health concerns, they did refund for us.
It was very nice with a free glass of punch and little snacks. We didn’t really munch much because dinner was only 45 minutes away. We did get a nice picture with Mickey Mouse J After dinner our family split up because none of us were too interested in Rhythm Extreme. Seemed a little too much like STOMP, which we had seen before. Walt and I were going to the Adult Cabaret show featuring Taylor Mason. Nathan and Scott decided to see Mr. 3000 in the Buena Vista Theatre. With big ‘ol smiles on our faces off to the Rockin’ Bar D we went. Walt and I again enjoyed Seabreeze before our show. TAYLOR MASON was hysterical. He did an entirely different show than his teaser variety act. Mostly he played keyboards and told jokes in between. “My wife and I play a game every morning” music “it’s called ‘guess my mood’” music “I never win” music and great look. The entire audience was rolling! Nathan especially was bummed that Taylor wasn’t doing a family cabaret show. Taylor told he hoped to see us all around the ship and that he was vacationing with his two sons and wife – you could tell his wife wasn’t at this particular show! He said he wanted us to bother him around the ship! What a nice guy.

We met back up with the boys in the room a little after 11pm. They were both enjoying their room service usuals. Scott had chicken noodle soup and Nathan had a PB & J sandwich. Being the good boys they are, they also ordered me a cheese tray! The boys were watching Shreck 2 for the millionth time….we were sleeping.

DAY FIVE – MY FAVORITE ISLAND – ST. LUCIA 12/23/04
We were able to sleep in a bit today as our horseback-riding excursion didn’t begin until 9:30 am. Walt woke up a little under the weather but was a real trooper. We met in Diversions and waited until it was time to disembark and head to our transport vans. It really is more carefree to take a DCL excursion. They handle all the details and you just show up.
We had about a 20-minute ride to the stables. St. Lucia is just stunning. This was the first time DCL ever stopped here. At the stables, Lynn gave us a little speech. All the horses at her stable were rescued and DCL chose her over the two big stable on the island because of this. We were offered an ice-cold beverage and a chance to use the rest room. We chose to put our bottled water in my backpack for our stop. Lynn chose our horses based on our ability and as everyone was mounting the others rode around waiting. I was one of the last to mount up and ended up on a stallion. Must have been because of the 10 trail rides I’d taken in my lifetime!! When she said, just don’t let him get too close to the mares, I did experience a small amount of panic. Didn’t want my horse doing the ‘wild thing’ with me on it! Not having looked under all the horses, I just kept Rohan back from all the horses a bit. We had a group of 15 and four guides including Lynn. The trail was just beautiful. At one point we were on a hill overlooking a mile of sandy beach. I thought this must be the most beautiful spot on earth. We rode about an hour to a private beach where we gave the horses a rest and we were able to swim and relax. I was a little worried that once I got off my stallion, I wouldn’t be able to get back on. Oh well, in for a penny, in for a pound! The guides to interested parties on a gallop up and down the beach one at a time. Another guide took people right into the ocean on my horse. Scott actually galloped twice. Must get his equestrian skill from me J Just kidding! Walt is the real athlete in the family. OK, so it was time for us to mount up. The guide suggested I shinny onto the hitching post and then just sit down onto my horse and it was a smooth move. We enjoyed the ride back to the stable and Nathan and Scott really had fun talking with the two local young men who were our guides. I enjoyed chatting with Lynn and finding out why she started the rescue stables. Back at the ranch we all fed our horses a whole banana peel and all as their treat. We enjoyed another drink and our family all purchased t-shirts from the stable. The proceeds all went to the vet costs for the horses. Smooth ride back to the Magic in time for a tasty late lunch. I saw Taylor Mason outside the Cove Cafe and I told him how much we enjoyed his show. I mentioned that the boys were disapointed they couldn't see the adult show and Taylor told us he was doing a special performance in the Stack for the teens the next night. That was good news for the boys and turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip for Nathan. Taylor even remembered his age an name when he saw him later in the cruise.

DOING LAUNDRY ON THE SHIP – MY ADVISE – DON’T!
DH was really looking a little green by this time, so he rested in the cabin. I thought this would be a great time to take our horsey jeans and other unmentionables down to the deck 7 laundry room. This is when I found out how far the laundry room (aft) was from my room. About 4 hours later and what seemed like a billion quarters chucked into the infamous dryers, my laundry was done. The $1.00 per pair of undershorts was looking pretty good by then. What was a real problem was people leaving their laundry in the washers or dryers and not checking back to see if it was done. One washer was sitting done for over 2 hours. We all left that, but I’ll let you know we did unload some dryers who were unattended for over an hour. We did fold the laundry and put it under the folding table. It amazed me that a few people came in and wigged out that their laundry had been moved, one 2 ½ hours after my partners in crime and I unloaded. I enjoyed spending time with my new laundry buddies. One was the woman I had met on the DCL bus. My advise would be to pack enough socks & undies to last the length of the trip and send everything else out to the laundry service. It wasn’t worth the time I spent.

PIRATES IN THE CARIBBEAN DECK PARTY
Tonight was Pirates IN the Caribbean night so the boys put on their new tropical shirts. They looked sharp. I had purchased a tropical ensemble at home so I was ready too. Walt decided to have room service (as he was still flat in bed) and I started praying is was just something he ate, not the dreaded Norwalk virus. “Don’t tell anyone Dad’s sick to his stomach” I told the boys. Off the three of us went to Lumier’s for dinner. Mark and Stoyan were very concerned about Walt. The head servers were all dressed in fancy pirate wear and our serving team had sashes and pirate bandanas on their heads. Boy they earn their money don’t they! We got to save our menus that looked like a treasure map. Another fine meal. I must say, the portion sizes are just right. We would have the soup, appetizer, main course, and desert and would be pleasantly full, not stuffed. (Exception coming on Christmas day). We did bring Walt a to-go sprite and a piece of cheesecake after our meal, but he wasn’t up to eating anything. Off to see WWTBA super M. I guess Christy Carlson Romano was under the weather too because we had a substitute host. We sat right behind Taylor Mason and his younger son. His wife was chosen to be in the panel – which were teased for the most awful advise they gave at the beginning. They did improve as the game went on. We were never picked, but it was fun to watch.
Back to the cabin to check on the hubby – still down and out. I dragged the boys up to deck 10 to get ready for the show. They were more interested in the arcade, but I insisted. I actually ended up going to the cabin for our sweatshirts as there was a really high wind on deck. We wondered if the fireworks would go off. Many people were dressed like pirates. One couple could have been in the movie. Lots of Cast Members dressed in great costumes were dancing in the crowd. The dancers on stage led a cute line dance.

Once the show started both boys were grinning from ear to ear. Captain Hook took over the ship. He was actually about 20 people down from us on the starboard side of deck 10. His pirates started dancing on the stage. Then two pirates repelled across from the aft smokestack right down to the stage while another repelled down the forward smokestack to the stage. Of course Captain Mickey appeared on the Port side rail on deck 10 to save the day. The fireworks were fired out of the aft smokestack out the starboard side and were spectacular, Love American-Style fireworks. They were actually fired off in two waves. After the show, the boys went to the cabin to “check on Dad” (read as play game boy).

I went down to check out the buffet. WOW what a spread. I was still pretty full from dinner but took a trip down the dessert table. At the end Marc handed me my napkin and silverware and asked if Walt was feeling better. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a man with a smoked turkey leg. Anyone who has enjoyed this treat at MGM knows they are wonderful! You look a bit like Henry VIII eating it but Arguh, it’s pirate night. They had them in a huge cast-iron oven and I took three for my guys and headed to the cabin with my booty. Poor Walt was too ill to even eat his favorite WDW treat. The boys gobbled theirs up and we put Walt’s in the cooler. Unfortunately we didn’t close it all the way…..

Happy and hopeful that Walt would feel better in the morning off to bed we went.

For those of you still with me, this completes part I of our trip report. I’ll post part II after I type it up. I hope you enjoyed this and got some tips for your future DCL vacations!
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Old 01-25-2005, 08:45 AM   #2
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Theresa! Great report so far. It's interesting getting other people's views of the same cruise. I never saw the turkey legs at the pirate buffet. DH and I had Palo that night, so we were completely stuffed when we walked out onto the deck and saw the buffet line. The kids would have gone for a turkey leg though.

I'm sorry about your son's STACK experience. That's one of the main reasons we haven't booked again, since I know my kids wouldn't do well in that environment.

We also really enjoyed Taylor Mason's shows. I didn't know he had done a kids one in the stack. It was pretty cool that he went to college with Charlotte, huh?

Looking forward to the second half of your report.
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Old 01-25-2005, 09:09 AM   #3
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Teresa - great report! I love reading others reports even about the same cruise because we all see different things.

I really enjoyed the time we spent with you and Walt and hope we get to cruise together again in the near future (and for that we'll link dining resevations)!

Can't wait to read part 2!
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Old 01-25-2005, 10:25 AM   #4
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I knew if I left my drauers in the dryer long enough someone would come along and fold them for me.

Just kidding. We do the same thing and bring enough clothes for the entire trip.

Wish I knew more about the 'Pirates in the Caribbean' before we left. It was more of a blast then I expected and the buffet down there was...well to die for!!

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Old 01-25-2005, 12:08 PM   #5
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Can't wait to see the rest of your report :D I for one enjoy the longer and more detailed reports. It makes me feel as if I'm there
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Old 01-25-2005, 01:09 PM   #6
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great report- i love long reports- the more details the better- it makes me more excited for my cruise ( if that is possible!!)

looking forward to reading more; thanks for taking the time to post
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Old 01-25-2005, 02:08 PM   #7
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Thanks for the nice comments. Especially about the length. As I was on my 8th page in Word, I wondered if I was being too verbose!

It is fun to see how another person views the same trip.

Lisa, I think now that Nathan & Scott know not to expect much out of the Stack it won't be such a disappointment to them. Like I mentioned, Nathan made up for it in Quartermasters $$

I'll start typing part II tonight after Scott's Solo & Ensemble previews.

Take care!
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Old 01-25-2005, 03:27 PM   #8
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Hi, Teresa, thanks for the report! It was nice "seeing" it all again. I think you may have seen me in the spa on your tour the first day. I was the "model" for the collagen facial.
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