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Old 05-29-2005, 07:43 PM   #1
jott3
Mouseketeer
 
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Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Indianapolis
Posts: 235

Trip Report: May 7-14, 2005 Western

Here are some highlights from our recent cruise on the Disney Magic. If you have any questions or comments, please let me know.

Cast of Characters / Special Considerations
Joy (jott3) and Stephen, both age 31. This was my third Disney Cruise and Stephen’s second. We went together on the Wonder once and the next year I took my Mom. This was our first 7-day cruise, and our first time on the Magic. We were celebrating our 10th Wedding Anniversary!

Due to a foot joint injury, I had to use a walking boot, cane, and sometimes a wheelchair on the cruise. We were still glad to be there, though, because for a long time we thought we would have to reschedule the trip.

Photos
http://photos.yahoo.com/jott3

Itinerary: 7-Day Western Caribbean Cruise
Saturday, 5/7/05 Embarkation at Port Canaveral
Sunday, 5/8/05 Key West
Monday, 5/9/05 Day at Sea
Tuesday, 5/10/05 Grand Cayman
Wednesday, 5/11/05 Cozumel
Thursday, 5/12/05 Day at Sea and 10th Anniversary!
Friday, 5/13/05 Castaway Cay
Saturday, 5/14/05 Debarkation at Port Canaveral

Orlando Airport Hyatt
We flew into Florida a day early and stayed at the Orlando Airport Hyatt. It was very nice being able to go from the plane after a long day of flying straight to the hotel, especially because we were tired and my foot had swollen quite a bit on the plane. The check-in process was very smooth and the clerk explained how the Disney transfer check-in process would go the next day. He also gave us a newly remodeled handicap room, which was pretty close to the elevators. The room itself was large and very nice. It had a king size bed, a sitting area, large television, a balcony overlooking the inside of the airport, and a nice tiled bathroom with a glass shower.

On Saturday morning we got ready, had the breakfast buffet at the hotel restaurant and went to the hotel lobby to check-in for our Disney transfers to the port. We got about 45 minutes early at 8:15 am, and it was a good thing because they started helping people earlier than we had been told. Cast member Roy was extremely friendly and helpful. He took us down to the bus early and we were on the first Disney Cruise Line bus to the port. It is always so exciting to see the Disney video on the bus and then to see the ship for the first time!

Embarkation
After the bus dropped us off at the terminal, Disney had a wheelchair waiting for me. We went to check in at the Castaway Club line, which was already quite long. A cast member saw us and said to wait somewhere else and we were helped very quickly. While we were waiting to board, another cast member came and said we could keep their wheelchair for the trip and it came in very handy during the week. We had originally considered booking a wheelchair with an outside vendor, but had decided against it because I thought (incorrectly!) that I would be able to handle the walking. The Disney wheelchair was not in exceptional condition, but it was nice having it available and there were times during the week when I definitely needed it.

There is a special seating area in the terminal for the handicapped passengers, and they let us board the ship first at about 11:30 am. We met a nice family with two kids who were staying in the concierge level (apparently they get to board early, too). Be sure to get in line early, because people started lining up right away in the queue line behind the Mickey Ears.

We went straight to Rockin’ Bar D to make Palo reservations and were one of the first families there. Luckily we were able to book everything we wanted. On our first trip, we did not want to miss any of the regular restaurants so we did not try to book Palo. On my second trip with my Mom, I tried to book Palo, but they were already booked by the time we got there. We were put on a waiting list, but nothing opened up.

Next we went to Guest Services and made reservations for the wine tasting. Then Stephen ran up to the Vista Spa to book his first Aromastone Therapy or “stones” massage.

The next order of business after the reservation scramble was lunch. We headed to Parrot Cay since the Deck 9 buffet is usually so busy on the first day. We had met James, another Disboard member before we boarded, and we ended up having a nice lunch with him and his wife, D.Anne.

Stateroom
Our room was not completely finished when we arrived at 1:30 pm, so you might want to leave additional time if possible. We had Stateroom 7072, a Category 5 Deluxe Stateroom with Verandah on Deck 7.

When we arrived the stateroom gifts surprises I had ordered for my husband were there and he did not even see them at first. I ordered the Bon Voyage Stateroom Celebration, which included a Captain Mickey and Minnie banner, centerpiece, hanging decoration, and cake. I also ordered the Romance Basket with champagne, chocolates, and a photo album. All the items are delivered on the first day, even though the brochure says you can select the day. This way fine, but I had really wanted the basket delivered on our anniversary instead. The brochure should be updated to reflect the actual procedure.

We met our Stateroom Host, Mario from the Philippines, soon after. He was always very friendly and did a really good job of keeping our ice bucket filled (especially important since I had to keep using ice on my foot), keeping our room cleaned, etc. Our one request for a Do Not Disturb sign was handled. Later in the week someone stole it from our door, but we got another one from the housekeeping cart. Mario always left us towel animals and chocolates at turn-down service. Some of the animals were a swan, a frog, and a peacock. The others were kind of hard to tell what they were!

Our room was nice, and since we had the same category before we knew what to expect. There is plenty of storage for two people. There are multiple shelves in the bathrooms for toiletries, the closet was large and easily held our suitcases, shoes, and lots of clothes. There is also a dresser, a large steamer trunk, shelves above the television, and lots of drawers in the desk. We never filled all the storage spaces.

I really liked having the verandah on this trip since we spent more time in the room than we would have if I was not injured. I definitely prefer the Plexiglas verandah over the metal verandah that I had on my last Disney Wonder cruise. The Plexiglas verandah feels more open and you can see the water while sitting down in the chairs. With the metal verandah, all you see while sitting down is the sky and the metal.

We are nonsmokers, but we did have smokers in the rooms near us with verandahs. There were a few times we went on the verandah and there was an odor. It was not unbearable, though, and we are pretty sensitive to smoke. We had brought a small air freshener spray with us, so that helped.

Dining / New Menus!
After we got our Key to the World cards at the terminal, we saw that we had our anticipated LAPLAPL dining rotation, the same as on our previous Disney cruises. We had the second seating at 8:30 pm, which is later than we normally eat dinner at home, but has always worked well for us on our cruises.

Our Server was Ivana from Croatia, our Assistant Server was Kendall from Trinidad, and the Head Server was Alain from France. Ivana was very sweet, but seemed a little frazzled the first few nights, maybe because of the new menus. She arranged for us to receive a cake for our anniversary. Kendall quickly began to remember our drink orders. Alain was not around that much, but he did take our lobsters out of the shell one night and always stopped by the table to say hello.

Our tablemates were two other married couples: Mary and Jude from New Jersey, who were also there to celebrate their anniversary and booked another cruise for next year while onboard, and Wendy and Shane from Nebraska, who were there to celebrate Shane’s birthday and also joined the Vacation Club while onboard. We all got along really well and the dinners were always very pleasant. All of the tablemates on our Disney cruises have been really nice.

One exciting facet of this trip was that we got to try the new menus! I was a little nervous about this at first from what I had read on the Disboard. Overall, the selections were very good. The new menus are very well designed with color pictures and usually had ample choices. We thought the food should have been warmer on several occasions, but that was usually our biggest complaint. The coffee was always too hot for me, and sometimes too strong.

Our first dinner at Lumiere’s was the new Let The Magic Begin menu. The service between salads and the entrée was very slow on the first night, but that improved over the course of the trip. Also, Stephen’s food always seemed to be given to the wrong person on the first night, but it was kind of funny.

Stephen had the Oven-Roasted Duckling with a Dark Cherry Sauce. He said the duck was very moist and as good as he has had in any restaurant. I had the Lobster and Porcini Mushroom Tagliatelle. I did not really like this dish that much. There was very little sauce, I never saw any mushrooms, and the lobster seemed a little overcooked.

The next day we had dinner at Animator’s Palette and it was the new Prince & Princess menu. It is always nice seeing the room change from black and white to color. My appetizer was the crisp ravioli with spinach and cheese, which was unusual but tasty. Stephen had an Asian-inspired seared tuna and rice dish for his main course. He thought it was very good. I had the chicken and mushroom Wellington. The puff pastry was slightly soggy, but the dish looked nice and tasted good. I also had the new glass slipper dessert, which was almost too cute to eat. It was a molded white chocolate slipper with fruit-flavored mousse inside. Our table joked that none of the men would order it because it was too feminine, but then I saw a man at the next table with it, and he seemed just as impressed as I was!

Our next dinner was the new Golden Mickeys menu at Parrot Cay. We both had the Tomato Risotto with Shrimp appetizer. At first we were skeptical on this one, but it was one of the best items we had on the cruise - very creamy and flavorful. Stephen had the blue crab and seafood soup, which he liked. We also both had the Chipotle Grilled Sirloin Steak on the Bone, which was also excellent and not too spicy. Stephen had a sundae for dessert, and I had the Golden Mickey Award. I thought it might be similar to the glass slipper from the night before, but instead it was a round layered chocolate dessert with some fruit sauces on the plate. It was good, but it really reminded me of a fancy version of a Ding Dong cake!

The next day we had dinner at Lumiere’s again, but this time it was the new California menu. Stephen had a Calamari and tomato appetizer, a salmon pasta entrée and an apple roulade for dessert. He did not particularly like any of these items, though they were not bad enough to send back or request something else. He said the calamari was barely warm, the salmon was unremarkable and the apple dessert had no flavor (I tasted it and I have to agree on this one.). I fared much better with this menu. I had the shrimp and soba noodles appetizer, which was excellent. I almost wanted to ask for another serving it was so good! I also had the pork tenderloin and polenta, and the flourless chocolate cake, both of which were excellent.

Our next dinner was the relatively new Pirates in the Caribbean menu at Animator’s Palette. When we arrived we were given bandanas and keepsake menus. It would be nice if Disney had the give-away menus for all the meals. Ivana put the bandana on the men at the table, which was pretty funny. We both had the Cannon Smoked Barbeque Chicken Drumsticks appetizer. It tasted very good, but I found it to be a bit messy and it took awhile for me to finish it. It also felt like we were kind of being rushed on this night, but it was so that we could make it to the deck party and fireworks in time. Stephen had the Captain Hook’s Coconut Crusted Oven-Baked Snapper, but he thought it was kind of boring and did not have very much flavor. I had The Black Pearl’s Oven-Roasted Beef Tenderloin. For dessert, we shared the Walk the Triple Layered Chocolate Gangplank Cake and The Lost Banana Treasure. All the other food was very good from this menu.

The next dinner was the new Atlantic Meets Pacific menu at Parrot Cay. We both had the lobster tails. It was very good and definitely better than the lobster pasta I had earlier in the trip. Our anniversary cake was also presented to us on this night. Ivana took a picture of us with the cake, plus another picture of everyone at the table. We ended up taking the cake back to our room because we had already ordered our desserts.

We missed the new Till We Meet Again menu in Lumiere’s the last night to go to Palo (see separate Palo section).

Compared to Carnival, Disney seems to do a much better job at the dinners. From matching tablemates up, to the helpful servers, to the menu selections, food taste, and presentation, Disney seems to excel in this area.

Regarding the other food onboard, the room service breakfast was not as good as on previous trips. The pastries did not seem especially fresh to us. However, it was always delivered promptly at the time we requested. We had room service for lunch on Grand Cayman day. We ordered manicotti, pizza, chicken tenders, and oatmeal cookies. The Disney room service menu is better than on Carnival because you can order warm food. Carnival only had cold sandwiches and salads.

The Deck 9 food was the same as usual. We especially liked the chicken tenders and hamburgers from Pluto’s Dog House. The pizza from Pinocchio’s is ok, but nothing fancy. It is like you would find at an amusement park. We went to the Deck 9 buffet once for breakfast (Grand Cayman day) and once for lunch (Cozumel day). It always seems pretty hard to find a table near there, too, so we did not go very often. The Asian lunch buffet at Parrot Cay on the Monday Day at Sea was surprisingly good.

The tickets for the Parrot Cay Character Breakfast with the date and time were in our stateroom on the first day. We were scheduled for 9:30 am on the Monday Day at Sea. This time was assigned because of our late dinner seating, and it seemed a little late for breakfast to us. We were the only people from our table to attend. We saw Mickey, Minnie, Chip & Dale, and Goofy, and even got our pictures taken with some of them. The cast members were eager to use our camera, even though photographers from Shutters are also there taking pictures. Stephen also got a little video clip of Chip & Dale dancing right by us!

Palo
As I mentioned earlier, this was the first cruise that we were actually able to book Palo reservations, so we went all out and signed up for the High Tea, the Champagne Brunch, and dinner one night.

We had High Tea at 3 pm on Monday, the first Day at Sea. We sat right by the window and had a wonderful view of the sea. This was probably my favorite Palo experience on the trip. There were only 4 or 5 other tables in use, though, so it seemed kind of sad and empty. The loose tea is served first in individual teapots, and then several courses of foods are served. Stephen had the Darjeeling tea, and I had the California Fields.

The teas were ok, but they were not the best part of the meal. That honor would have to go to the scones with apricot and raspberry jams and Devonshire cream. The scones were warm and flaky, the jams were extremely flavorful and the cream was smooth and rich. Stephen liked the little finger sandwiches better than I did, but they were very cute. Next a dessert tray was brought to the table. The chocolate éclairs had authentic pastry cream inside and were delicious. The English trifle was also very creamy and tasty.

We had the Champagne Brunch at 10:30 am on Thursday, the second Day at Sea. Our Server was Zita from Hungary, and she was the same person we had made our reservations with on the first day. She gave us a tour of the buffet, which was very difficult for me since I had my leg in a walking boot and was using a cane. I felt that the servers and other patrons kept bumping into me, so I did not like that part at all. The food tables were also in an odd configuration, so it was hard to get to everything.

The Champagne Brunch was nice, but we did not like some of the foods on the buffet. Stephen tried the caviar, which I assume is an acquired taste. He thought it was fishy and “absolutely disgusting”, which I thought was kind of funny (not that I tried it!). We also ordered a pepperoni pizza, which was excellent, and a chicken Parmesan and pasta dish that Zita said was a fairly new addition but had been popular so far. It tasted good, and was more similar to chicken Marsala than a typical tomato-based chicken Parmesan.

The funny and sad thing about our brunch was that we were sitting right next to another couple who spent the entire time complaining about their cruise. They said Palo was the best food they had on the trip, but the rest was not good at all. Apparently they hated the Tulum Ruins shore excursion in Cozumel (our tablemates Mary and Jude liked this excursion, but were not impressed with the small beach), and they felt the Disney Cruise was too “caustic”, whatever that means. I felt bad for Zita, because they left without signing a receipt or leaving a tip.

We had dinner at Palo at 6:30 pm on Castaway Cay day, and it was definitely busier than on our previous visits. We had originally booked for 8:30 pm, which was our regular dining time on the trip. However, on Thursday night we had a message in our stateroom that said we could basically either come at 6:30 pm or not come at all. We thought this was kind of rude, but we called back and said we would be there at 6:30 pm.

Our server was Emmanuel from the Philippines, and he was very nice. There was also an assistant server, but he only came to our table once the whole time. The server kept offering us more food, but we just were not that hungry. I do not know how other people eat so much at Palo!

Stephen had the Iron Horse Brut Fairy Tale Cuvee Sparkling Wine, which he had tried earlier in the week at the Wine Tasting, and I had the Classic Bellini. We toasted to a great trip and ten happy years of marriage.

We shared the fresh-baked bread, dips, Parmesan cheese, olives, and pancetta that come to the table at the beginning of the meal. The roasted pepper and garlic dip was our favorite. I tried the black olive tapenade, which was good but too salty for me. We also shared a delicious Pizza Lucana, which had barbequed chicken, black olives, and spinach.

Stephen had the Traditional Fish and Seafood Soup with roasted garlic crostini, which he thought was good and had lots of large pieces of seafood. I had the Warm Shrimp Salad with crispy pancetta, white beans, and grilled asparagus, which was very light and tasty.

We were already getting full by the time our entrée arrived. We both had the Grilled Filet Mignon with a port wine reduction and a Gorgonzola cheese sauce, which was delicious.

By dessert time, we were really stuffed. The Chocolate Soufflé is just as delicious as everyone says it was. We liked it a lot better than the chocolate soufflé we had at an expensive local steakhouse. We only got one soufflé, but we should have gotten two and skipped the Sweet Pizza with vanilla olive oil that was topped with fruit. We really did not like it very much, but it may just have been because we were not even hungry anymore.

Unfortunately we missed the Till We Meet Again menu in Lumiere’s and also the Farewell Variety Show since Palo took so long. The service seemed a bit slow, but we were sun burnt and tired from Castaway Cay and packing. Definitely try to do most of your packing before Castaway Cay!.

We would definitely book dinner at Palo again, but probably not for the last night. The service charges were well worth it, and we always left an additional tip each time we went to Palo.

Onboard Activities / Entertainment
On Saturday we saw the Welcome Aboard! Show with The Physical Comedy of Darren Streblow, the Science and Magic or Freddy Fusion, and the Disney Magic Dancers.

On Sunday we went to the Art of Entertaining Appetizers demonstration at 10:15 am in Studio Sea. The chef made Crab Cakes with Chili Remoulade, which were crispy and delicious. He did not actually cook them there, but mixed the ingredients together. He did have some prepared so that everyone could taste them. We were also served a glass of white wine. This was the first time I had ever eaten crab, so that was memorable. We wanted to attend some of the other Art of Entertaining events during the week, but unfortunately the times always conflicted with other things we had planned. We skipped the Who Wants to be a Mouseketeer Show and opted to watch the Key West sunset from our verandah instead. Later we saw the Comedy of Darren Streblow at Rockin’ Bar D.

On Monday we saw The Golden Mickeys show. Be sure to get there early to get a good seat – it was completely packed. I had already seen this show, but Stephen had not. We also went to the After Party in Rockin’ Bar D with music by High Frequency. Again, get there early for a good seat.

On Tuesday Stephen swam at Quiet Cove pool in the morning while I read in my book. I did not go in the pools because I was concerned about the stairs and ladders with my foot problem. That night we saw the Dangerous Comedy of Wilde & Haines. They were ok, although I have seen better juggling acts on other cruise. A little boy named Tristan who was invited onstage stole the show and even conned them out of $10! We also saw the Cabaret Showtime, which was the Comedy and Venriloquism of Lynn Trefzger.

On Wednesday Stephen had his Aromastone Therapy or “stones” Massage at Vista Spa at 8 am. He liked this treatment because it is 25 minutes longer than their standard massage. The treatment is like a Swedish massage, but the therapist used the stones every so often for added warmth. They also put some stones on your upper body while they work the legs and feet. At the end, the therapist recommended products but was not as pushy as they were on Carnival. The Vista Spa was nicer than the Carnival spa. They give you a locker, robe, and a basket to hold any personal belongings. The men’s locker room was nice and had lots of sitting space and extra towels. That night was the Pirates in the Caribbean Party, including fireworks and a buffet including large smoked turkey legs, ham, and fajitas on Deck 9. We had heard the fireworks were very short so we were not expecting that much, but they were very good and longer than we thought they would be. After that two pirates walked right past us and Stephen got good pictures of them.

On Thursday we decided to go see Finding Nemo at Buena Vista Theatre. This was our first visit to the theatre. We had always heard how small it was, but it had stadium seating and was as big as some of our movie theatres at home. The kids clubs took up the last few rows of the theatre. The kids were a little loud, but it was still probably quieter than the first time we saw the movie in a theatre at home. Next we went to the Wine Tasting at 2:15 pm in Sessions. I am not a big wine fan to begin with, but we both thought the wine selections were not that good. There were three reds, three whites, plus the Iron Horse Brut Fairy Tale Cuvee Sparkling Wine. The best part was when the sommelier opened a champagne bottle with a knife! Later we saw Disney Dreams again (which I still like better than the Golden Mickeys) and a Variety Show with the Rock ‘n’ Roll Comedy of Gary DeLena

On Friday we missed the Farewell Variety Show on the last night to go to Palo. We originally thought we would make it, but as I said earlier Palo took a lot longer than we expected.

Overall we had plenty of activities to keep us busy, but in some ways we felt that the Carnival Fantasy ship we were on last year had more adult activities than Disney. Carnival had midnight comedy shows, the casino, etc. On this trip it sometimes seemed like we had a lot of time to kill in between the shows and dinner and at other times where there was not a planned activity to attend.

Shore Excursions and Ports
In Key West we did the Conch Train Tour Shore Excursion. We met at Rockin’ Bar D. The cruise staff asked for anyone who needed extra time to go ahead and start walking, but pretty much the entire room got up and left. That made it extremely difficult for those of us who could have used a head start.

I was already having a hard time keeping up on the ship, and right after we got on land a little boy kicked my cane and foot and about knocked me down. They boy and his Dad just looked back at me and did not even bother to apologize or see if I was ok. I thought this was extremely rude. When we got in a big line outside the ship, I had Stephen go talk to the leader and see if we could go ahead and start walking to the train station. We did, and that made it easier. However, it was quite a hike for someone wearing a walking boot and using a cane. I was exhausted and in a lot of pain by the time we got there and my boot had ripped a hole in my leg near my knee. This excursion was off to a great start!

Overall, I did not really like the excursion regardless of the pain I was in. We saw lots of landmarks, but just drove past them quickly. It was hard to really see anything from the train and there were always people in the way when taking pictures. Key West did not seem all that nice to us, at least from the train. If we ever go back, hopefully we will be able to do a more active excursion.

The next day we cancelled our previously booked Shore Excursions for the other ports – the Grand Cayman Stingray City Observatory and Island Tour for both of us and the Cozumel sub for me. Luckily Disney refunded the money to us because of my injury, so that was really nice since everything says non-refundable.

On Grand Cayman, Stephen took the tenders to go shopping before lunch, but after the initial rush to get ashore. The tenders could be accessed from either end of the ship. He said getting on and off was a bit tricky, but the ride itself was pretty smooth. He looked around and did some shopping. I just hung around on the verandah. I actually saw him coming back to the ship on the tender and he made a shaky little video of it - I am just a little blue speck on the side of the ship. He came back with some pictures and a nice pearl necklace gift for me.

In Cozumel, Stephen went on the Atlantis Submarine Expedition Shore Excursion after we had lunch at the Deck 9 buffet. Supposedly only 1% of the population has been on a real submarine, so that is cool. They went to a depth of 115 meters and he took a lot of pictures. He said it was a bit of a production to get to the submarine. They had to walk to the taxi stand, take a taxi to the port, and then take a boat out to the submarine. The submarine also had several stairs to get in and out of it. This definitely would have been too much for me to handle. Later he did some shopping and came back with some diamond earring studs for me. I just hung around on Deck 9 for awhile after lunch, and then I went back to our room. The Carnival ship was parked right beside our room, so I didn’t really want to spend a lot of time there that day since I could not see anything except the ship and all the people staring into our room!

It would be really helpful if Disney cast members in the call center and on the ship were more knowledgeable about the Shore Excursions in general, but especially with regard to accessibility issues. It would have been very useful to know how much walking was involved, if using stairs or ladders would be required, etc.

I realize that other countries do not have all the rules and regulations about accessibility that we have here, but there must be some way Disney could set up some handicap accessible shore excursions. I would have been willing to book them even if they were more expensive than other excursions. I know I saw other people who were “stuck” on the ship, and they probably felt the same way. It was kind of depressing not to get off the ship in Grand Cayman and Cozumel.

Castaway Club Gifts and Reception
Our Castaway Club gifts were waiting for us in our room on the first day. I was a little disappointed that it was the same towel and pins I had received on my last cruise, but it is still nice to receive a gift at all and now we have two matching towels.

The Castaway Club Reception was held at 5:15 pm in Rockin’ Bar D on Grand Cayman day. We shook hands with the Cruise Director, Rachel Quinn from England, and Captain Thord Haugen. Rachel was always very perky and nice, but we saw her so much during the trip that at one point I joked to Stephen that I was sick of seeing her! We had a small plate of snacks and some free drinks. They kept mentioning the repositioning and California cruises here and elsewhere throughout the trip, and that kind of became annoying after awhile. It sort of seemed like they just wanted to get rid of us so they could get on with those trips!

Castaway Cay
This was Stephen’s first time at Castaway Cay. On our first trip in February 2002, the ship was unable to dock due to high winds. On my next trip with my Mom, we were able to dock with no problem and I felt terrible that Stephen wasn’t there to see it. We started getting nervous about docking the night before because it really would have been upsetting if we were not able to dock again. Luckily there were no problems this time and we got off the ship as soon as the announcement was made and started heading to Serenity Bay. It was quite a hike to the first tram stop for me. After spending time relaxing, reading, and swimming at Serenity Bay, we went back for lunch at Cookie’s BBQ. The food was not nearly as good as on my last trip and it was not very warm. Also, the soda was very flat and the ice cream machine was being worked on so there was a long line. I didn’t make Stephen go stand in line for that.

After lunch we managed to find an umbrella and chairs at the family beach. Stephen rented snorkel equipment and went to Snorkel Lagoon. He saw a few fish, and even got some pictures with the disposable underwater camera we had packed. The pictures came out pretty good. You might want to bring more than one, though, because he ran out of film before he finished snorkeling.

Don’t forget to apply lots of sunscreen and apply it multiple times throughout the day, especially if you go swimming or snorkeling. Don’t forget your legs like we did! The next few days were pretty uncomfortable for us. You might want to pack Solarcaine, just in case.

We started heading back to the ship and stopped for some t-shirt shopping at the She Sells store.

Next we had to start packing our stuff. We won’t try that again. I suggest trying to pack most of your stuff earlier, because you will probably be really tired after a long day in the sun at the island.

Accessibility Issues
The Embarkation considerations (see above) given to me by Disney were greatly appreciated.

The safety drill on the first day was extremely difficult for me. I didn’t think it would be that bad, so I just walked using my walking boot and cane. There were way too many people in a very small amount of space and the crew members were not considerate to those of us with physical problems. They kept making me move around and get even more crushed together with people. It seemed to last a really long time, too, compared to other drills I have attended. Plus with the big life jacket on it was hard to see where I saw going, especially while trying to use the cane. Afterwards a lot of people were trying to get into the elevators, even though they were told to use the stairs. That made it really difficult for those of us who really needed the elevators.

It was hard getting used to using the cane when the ship was moving. There were a few times I thought I was going to fall, but luckily I didn’t.

The wheelchair was somewhat difficult to maneuver on the ship. There are a few door jams in particular that were easier to get over if pulled backwards. The raised doorways on deck 9 were also a problem. The hallways to the staterooms were difficult, mostly because the stateroom hosts usually had their carts, laundry bags, and vacuums in the way. It was a really tight squeeze to get the wheelchair through there sometimes.

The wheelchair also had to be lifted over the door jam in our stateroom, since it was not a handicap room. We were able to fold it up and put it near the desk so it was not in the way too much. On the days the ship was docked we moved it out onto the verandah to make more space.

The stateroom was a little difficult to navigate when using a cane because there is not a lot of walking space to begin with. The bathrooms were difficult because they are so small and because of the step up you have to take to get in them. The shower/bathtub also required an even bigger step to get in, but I managed with Stephen’s help. I assume the handicap rooms would be much more accommodating in space and features.

The elevators are very small, and we had to sometimes wait several times before we could fit the wheelchair. Also, the doors would sometimes close before we could get the wheelchair over to the one that opened.

There are probably at least 15 sand wheelchairs available on Castaway Cay. However, they are pretty difficult to get in and out of. You also need a very strong person to push you around and to hold onto the chair when getting in and out of it. We did not see a way to take them on the tram to Serenity Bay, either. We left it at the tram stop, and luckily it was there when we returned. It would be really nice if Disney parked the sand wheelchairs near the ship instead of after the first tram stop. That walk was pretty far for me with my walking boot and cane.

Overall we still had a great cruise, although things obviously would have been easier if I was not injured. We probably would have rescheduled the trip except for the fact that it was for a one-of-a-kind special occasion that we had been looking forward to for more than a year. Also, because of the California cruises, the ship would not have been back to the same itinerary until hurricane season and I did not really want to risk that (although when I sailed in September 2003 the weather was perfect besides a little rain).

Debarkation
We had breakfast in Lumiere’s at 8 am. This time is assigned to late seating dinner guests. In the future I would probably skip this and just go to the buffet and leave on our own schedule so we could debark before the rush to get off the ship by 9 am.

The debarkation and luggage area was the busiest I have ever seen it. We found our luggage with no problem, but there were no porters to help carry it. Stephen had to go stand in line about 15 minutes to get a porter, and then we spent about 10 or 15 minutes in the custom line.

Once we were finally out of the terminal, the rest went pretty smoothly. We were on a Delta flight, so we were able to check our luggage in right at the port. It is definitely worth booking with one of these airlines so you don’t have to deal with your luggage at the airport.

Next we got on a DCL bus and made our way to the airport. It is always sad leaving the port and not knowing when we will be back. Stephen has his heart set on a European cruise for next year, so it may not be any time soon.
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Old 05-29-2005, 08:59 PM   #2
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I am glad you had a good trip. We were also on the same cruise and ran into you guys a couple of times. We were also celebrating our 10th anniversary. I totally agree with you regarding the over and over announcements about the California cruise. We felt the same way, that they could not wait to get our cruise over with to get to the "big" cruise. Also, I think some of the staff were leaving, and had a don't care cause I am going home on Saturday attitude at some points. They could have given us more "attention or treated special", I felt. Also, I agree about the adult activities. We got really bored on the last sea day, really nothing to do till the late afternoon. It was really windy to be out on top deck sunning all day. This was our first 7day cruise. But, like you guys, overall we had a great time. Just not sure when we will go again. Nice meeting you and hope your foot feels better soon.
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Old 05-30-2005, 09:20 AM   #3
bratray
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thanks for taking the time to post your report- great reading- i really enjoyed your pics we had a great time on the cruise too, except when my son got sick and so did i near the end of the trip- must have been some type of viral bug going around! oh, well i still enjoyed myself
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Old 05-31-2005, 05:37 PM   #4
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I enjoyed your trip report. Thanks for sharing! We have not cruised yet, but when we do I believe the 4-day will be "just right" to start with. We are so used to all the action in Orlando. Glad you were able to travel despite the foot.
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