Feb 18-25 Magic Trip Report Yep, this is late, but tardiness is the norm for me lately. First of all, this was another GREAT DCL cruise! Me I'm a single mom traveling with my 11 yr old son and we have always loved our yearly DCL cruise. I was afraid after taking an NCL Hawaiian cruise with his dad last summer that DS11 would feel too old for Disney, but that didn't happen...the NCL cruise made him appreciate DCL all the more and although he's a bit old now for character watching, he definitely loves it better with all it's "magical" offerings. My DS 11 and I flew down the Fri night before on a VERY crowded SW flight. It was President's Day weekend so flights were booked 3 months out. We had "A" boarding passes but flight was already almost full...thought DS11 and I would be separated but this nice older lady stopped us and offered to take the aisle to give us window and center...very nice...then she entertained us with stories of her travels...she'd been everywhere and done really cool stuff, a very full and interesting life...thanks kind stranger! Spent Fri night at MCO Airport Marriott at an awesomely reduced rate thanks to Priceline. Hotel was very nice but the nicest thing about it was breakfast.... a fellow DISer, my wise and wonderful ChocolateSista, better known on the boards as the chocolate-loving Geffric, along with her handsome younger son, were doing us the honor of giving up valuable park time to drive out and meet us I'd met other DISer's before but she is extra special cause we share the same chocoholic tendencies and are therefore known as the"ChocolateSistas"! We were supposed to have met last Nov but due to my son's sudden illness, I wasn't able to make it Well, let me tell you it was so wonderful to finally meet her...she's even sweeter and nicer in person than on the boards...AND pretty too...skinny and cute, even with all the chocolate she wolfs down, just how does she do it? And in her honor, I ordered the chocolate-chocolate pancakes and they were super yummy, but super big, so Geffric's Teenheartthrob gave me a bit of help...not only handsome but good manners too...would've been the perfect kid except, he was wearing an Illinois cap but that was quickly remedied when we presented him with a Tarheel t-shirt of his very own...he did a good job of masking his enthusiasm, but who the heck could ever NOT be truly elated with such a gift Well, our time with them was fun but as all good things come to an end, so did breakfast...they were off to the parks for coaster-riding . and we were off to MCO to catch the DCL bus to Port Canaveral! Did I mention this was our 6th DCL cruise, 5th on the Magic with our first being a 4-night on the Wonder? Well, obviously we LOVE it and have kept the same stateroom, Cat 9, deck 2, over the years. Last year Disney surprised us with a free balcony upgrade(Cat 5, deck 7) and it was pure heaven, but we stuck with the good ol' standby this time and it worked out well as DS11 LOVED being merely steps away from the awesome new Ocean Quest. I was afraid he'd spend all his time on Deck 2 playing video games and miss out on cruise stuff but that didn't happen. He'd meet his friends there in the morning, play a few games, then head up to the sports deck for more fun and when they got tired and hungry, Pinochio's pizza and the soda station were just a hop, skip and a jump away. He loved having sign-out privilages and I loved being able to relax on deck with a good book and not have to check him in and out of clubs. I'm very blessed with a son who's very good about "reporting" to me so I'd know what he was up too. Moms worry, ya know...even when they're watching the sea go by with a Pina Colada in one hand and a Mickey bar in the other! We honestly love the days at sea the best. I could easily skip docking at other islands, with the exception of Castaway Cay of course. More on that later. Breakfasts...I'm a latte lover so I'd head up to the Cova Cafe for my morning treat...combined with the yummy pastries offered and comfy seats outside by the rail, it was the perfect daily start! When I finished, I'd head over to Topsiders and fill a tray with bacon, muffins and hashbrowns to hand deliver to my sweet DS11 back in the cabin. He's not a morning person, much less a breakfast eater but being a mom, I had to know he was starting out with a full belly and since I was up on the top deck anyway, it really wasn't a problem grabbing him a bite on the way back down. Lunches...if nothing good at Topsiders, then pizza it was! Pinochio's is wonderful and did you know they've made the old ice cream bar into a FRUIT bar with all sorts of yummy wrap and specialty sandwishes...YUM! They still have a soft-serve machine with chocolate and caramel syrup bottles available...must confess I miss the old ice cream bar better, where they'd do it for you and offered many more toppings...I'm not much of an ice cream do-it-yourselfer...probably saved me about 5 lbs though Let's see....dinners. Dinners were great as usual and we absolutely LOVED our waiters....had Parrot Cay-Lumiere-Animator's Palate rotation, which is great because it puts you in Lumiere's for formal night and Parrot Cay for Pirate Night I must say in year's past, Disney had always been good about seating us with wonderful dinnermates. This year was the exception...sat with a couple with no kids, he was friendly and hilarious but she was a bit, um, into herself and tried too hard to empress, often getting caught in her own lies...at first it drove me nuts but if we hadn't loved our waiters so, we definitely would've changed. But it worked out not everyone can get along and her boyfriend was fun enough to make up for her downfalls and she actually got teary-eyed when we parted the final morning...whoda thunk? Shows ..great as usual .the comedians were hilarious, as were the shows and although the new Twice Charmed was ok, as a mother of a boy, I can say we truly missed the good ol' Hercules show, an alltime favorite of ours. Also disappointed they moved "Who Wants To Be A Mouseketeer" to Studio Sea and no longer offer a free cruise to the winner....oh well, times are changing and I guess so must DCL. Did I mention how much we LOVE sea days? So wonderful and relaxing but so much to do too if you want to. Generally I'd catch some rays and read my book in the morning and head up for an afternoon nap. Luckily one day I happened upon the movie theatre where the delightful David Duffy was giving a presentation on the new WDW "Cinderellabration" show. He's in charge of all the shows at WDW, very interesting man and was very entertaining and informative. After a GREAT presentation, he asked who'd gone on the most cruises....another couple and I tied with 6 cruises each and as a prize, Mr. Duffy gave out a Cinderellabration music CD but he only had one, so I got a Mickey pin instead with a promise to receive one later in the week. Did I mention I LOVE to win stuff....I was thrilled! I did receive the promised CD later in the week as he was doing a signing and I ended up with a free signed copy....I was one happy camper. I had also signed up for a Galley Tour on Thursday, but when Palo's called with an opening to Afternoon Tea, I just couldn't resist....Tea at Palo's is a must...wonderful service, yummy food and a great view to boot....absolutely loved it! St. Maarten.....we'd done this island before and most of the excursions offered, with the Golden Eagle Catamaran being our all-time favorite. Desperately want to do the Americas Cup Regatta but are waiting for DS11 to hit the minimum age of 12 for that one. Last year we had a great time on Orient Bay Beach, but this year we decided to do something a little different. Years ago, before DS11 was born, I'd stayed on the island for a week and witnessed how close the airport landing strip was to the beach....literally just across the road....and planes land very close and right above you....one guy got in trouble recently for throwing a football up and actually hitting the bottom of a landing plane. Also, I remembered seeing people standing on the beach feeling the backdraft of planes as they took off. My son loves planes and it sounded fun so why not see it for ourselves? Well, the first problem was getting there. It's at Maho Bay Beach, and no taxis want to take you from the cruise port to that part of the island...not enough cruisers want to go there plus you have to deal with the bridge which closes and causes traffic backups. After trying several taxis, we finally found a very nice driver willing to take us there and pick us up. It was a beautiful drive along the coast and thru the main marina...lots of beautiful and very $$$ yachts for sure. He dropped us at a beautiful "beach" and I tipped him extra for our prearranged 3pm pickup back to the ship. Only problem was, once he'd left and we got a good look around, I knew immediately he'd taken us to the WRONG beach...not on purpose though....I'd asked for Maho Bay Beach and he thought I'd said Mullet Bay Beach...big difference, about a 3 mile walk difference and NO taxis in site...yikes! So DS11 and I, always the adventurers, started walking. We passed a couple in a car reading a map and I asked to look at it. They were very nice and pointed out the way but warned we had a VERY long and VERY hot walk ahead of us. We thanked them and started walking again. Not two minutes later, they pulled up beside us. They were tourists from Boston and insisted they drive us, were afraid for us to walk alone and couldn't stand the thought of something bad happening to us....very nice people...we're lucky that way, seem to meet kindest people in the oddest situations. I offered them money for gas or even for a free drink but they wouldn't take it...very sweet couple...I wish them well. So we were finally at Maho Bay Beach and low and behold, a plane was landing right over our heads and it was the coolest thing ever! The beach was pristine and the water clear and blue and perfect. What a great place. Thought we'd mosey over to the nearby bar and get a few sodas to cool down but, watch out!....this was the famous Sunset Bar where topless woman get free drinks and you can imagine my surprise to see quite a few "free drinkers" sitting around...with hands over DS11's eyes, we quickly headed back to the beach and plane watching. After building sandcastles and frolicking for a bit, we noticed a small crowd gathering near the end of the runway. It was almost 2pm and time for one of the big planes to take off. There was a BIG sign warning of great personal harm and injury if you were to stand in that spot while the planes took off.....but these people weren't afraid...they'd done it everyday that week and said it was a blast. So we decided to join them....and OMG...what a mistake THAT was. The plane that was taking off, a Boeing 737, happened to be MUCH bigger than the ones earlier in the week and those of us congregated there were in for a BIG surprise. While several brave men stood directly behind the plane, I positioned myself to the side with DS11 even farther to the side. When the engines started, we all felt a very strong hot wind and laughed at how good it felt, thinking that was it and it was over....but nooooooo....as I was starting to walk away, a force bigger than I'd ever felt before hit me in the back, knocked the breath out of me and sent me flying through the air towards the water luckily I landed on my feet, others did not .most frightening experience ever...was sure I was gonna die and my first thought was if it did this to me, what did it do to DS11 who was a good 30lbs lighter??? Luckily he was ok didnt get the blast I got but was still a bit shaken up. Well after the initial hot blast, and the second harder blast, then came the dreaded SAND blast....it was awful...but more awful for DS11, who, from where he was standing, got the full force of the sand blast. Luckily he had his back to it, but the blasting sand left his back bright red and a bit painful. We were both in shock at first...couldn't believe it...especially since the blasts had thrown several grown men who were standing directly behind the plane through the air and into the water .and they were BIG guys. We were all in a state of shock and immediately started laughing hysterically, just happy to have "survived" and felt REALLY foolish. One of the men who'd been thrown into the water was cut up pretty badly and I was thankful DS11 and I hadn't suffered the same fate. It was a really dumb thing to do and although it was an adventure, never again! Shortly after, we caught a taxi back to the ship and the taxi driver was surprised we were brave enough to do it and said the bigger planes(Boeing 747) sometimes flipped Jeeps and they now send airport security guards to run off the stupid tourists who were dumb enough to try it....gee, sure wish those security guards had run "this" stupid tourist off Pirate Night....once we'd gotten back to the ship after our life threatening, sandblasting beach excursion, we headed to the Theater where the premiere of "Eight Below" was being shown....great movie and SO wonderful to see it on a Disney Ship! After the movie, we headed to Parrot Cay for the fun Pirate Night dinner festivities...wore our pirate scarves and other pirate accessories brought from home and danced around the restaurant...a total blast! As we had late seating, we then headed up to top deck for the Pirate Party which was AWESOME!! Danced and ate til we were pooped....DS11 headed down to the cabin but I stayed on the pool deck long enough to catch the first part of Pirates of the Caribbean being shown on the wonderful new big screen over the Goofy pool. So relaxing sitting in a lounger watching a great movie, under the stars with a warm breeze blowing. But I'd had an exciting day and was exhausted so soon headed back to the cabin. DS11 was already asleep and I too soon fell asleep with a big smile on my face...another wonderful day on our wonderful Disney cruise. St. Thomas....we'd been to the beaches before and although we'd done the Atlantis Submarine two years before, DS11 wanted to do it again. To be honest, I really wasn't very impressed the first time we did it. Yes, it was really cool to be in an actual submarine but we really didn't see much except a few odd fish a some coral. Not worth the $$$ I thought. But this time was different....so cool and so glad we did it! Weather was beautiful and the submarine crew were hilarious. Not only that but once we went down, several sharks became "territorial" and decided to escort us on our journey. It was SOOOO cool to see them up close and in their own environment...words can't describe. We saw LOTS of other fish too, a turtle and really beautiful coral formations....definitely a great trip! We did the morning tour and for lunch I'd promised DS11 at trip to the Hard Rock Cafe'....but much to our chagrin, it'd closed the previous fall so our trip into town was a waste. Tried to hunt for bargains instead, but found none so headed back to the ship and drowned our sorrows in yummy pizza and room service....not bad at all! Castaway Cay what can I say PERFECTION! Love it, love it, love it! We took our time getting off the ship, wanting to avoid the lines out and lucky that we did because the island surprised us with an early rain shower. But it passed quickly and as soon as the sun came out, DS11 and I headed towards the already crowded beach where I easily found two lounge chairs, under an umbrella no doubt, and luckily located next to where DS11s buddies were sitting. The day was gorgeous. I sat and read in the shade while DS11 and friends frolicked on the beach .ahhhh, paradise! After a yummy barbecue lunch of ribs and chicken, I headed back to my lounge chair while DS11 and friends headed to the pavilion for games and escape the sun for a while. We were booked for the 3pm Stingray Excursion and it was incredible .Id done this in Grand Cayman but at Castaway Cay, not only are their stingers removed, but its in a controlled atmosphere and perfect for kids. We absolutely loved it loved swimming with the beautiful creatures and highly recommend this to everyone. One of the perks for being the last group of the day was DS11 and the rest of the kids got the privilege of knocking down the incredible sandcastle sculpture made by the Stingray staff. The staff on the island are great and swimming with the stingrays was the perfect ending to a perfect day oh, how I wish I was back there now I did do several incredibly embarrassing things on this cruise, but the one that we laugh at the most was one night, around 2am, I was awoken to loud vacuuming right outside our cabin door....it started and stopped, and started and stopped, literally driving me nuts...so I decide to get up and ask them to wait til morning, I needed my beauty sleep afterall! So I get out of bed, and without combing my hair or even putting on a robe, I walk into the hall(in my pajamas of course) and ask the men to please stop and let me get some sleep. By this time, they were down the hall a bit so I had to walk a few feet from my cabin. They were very nice, apologized and left. Happy that the noise had ended and wanting to resume sleep, I headed back to my cabin only to find my cabin door shut and locked...I'd forgotten to bring my stateroom card...yikes! So I knock on the door hoping to wake DS11 so he'll let me in...but this does not happen. DS11 is a DEEP sleeper and he heard nothing...unlike my neighbors, who, to my embarrassment, all poked their sleepy heads out wondering what was going on, just to see some silly woman, in her pajamas, with messed hair and most frightening of all, no makeup So I apologized and went to guest services where they kindly and quickly cut me a new card, and thankfully said nothing of my um, appearance....thanks again, Guest Sevices...you rock! Well, inevitably, the cruise came to an end and we tearfully left the beautiful Magic and headed home. It was another great cruise and hopefully we'll be lucky enough to do it again next year! Thanks for listening ..