Friday, 9/28/01...This morning I woke up to a dark room, even with the curtains opened it didn't look very promising. It was raining, cloudy and the Captain announced that we would sit a few miles away from Castaway Cay for a while, with the hopes of the storm blowing over. Well, in the meantime, our Program Director Jim assured everyone over the loudspeaker that there would be added entertainment this morning so we could stay busy if we choose to. They also announced that at least one person from each stateroom present themselves in the WD Theatre for the Disembarkation Presentation. Reading posts from this web site I learned that they repeat these procedures on TV all day, we decided to stay in our stateroom and start packing. (In hindsight good decision!) (They DID repeat the Disembarkation Procedure, all day, and all night continuously.) I let DSs sleep late, while DH and mom relaxed in the room. I set out to start packing. Next trip, I have vowed to bring fewer clothes for the boys. They practically lived in their bathing suits, except to change for dinners. And fewer shoes for all of us! We went to Lumieres for breakfast and had a delightful waiter who we hadnt had before. He was so funny! Kept pushing the fruit, good for you, fruit. He was hysterical. (You had to be there!) Before we knew it the Captain announced we would be able to go ashore, approximately 11:30am. Our two teens took off with their friends from Common Grounds. They rescheduled the childrens stage show. So we rushed to get over to the WD Theatre; our 7yr. old was scheduled to join in the celebration on stage for Discover the Magic. It was cute; all the little-ones who participated in this very short stage show received these neat t-shirts that said, I Discovered The Magic, Disney Cruise Line. Really nice shirt! (I want one in my size!) Immediately after the show, I took one walkie-talkie and left the other with my husband. I also learned from this site that one person should walk ahead and save chairs. (Although I doubted wed have a problem.) While DH, DS and mom were slowing leaving the theatre I decided to go on ahead to Castaway Cay; I was very antsy to get on the beach! (Sun or no sun!) I get all the way to gangway on deck 1 and wouldnt you know it, I didnt bring my picture ID! Ran up the stairs to the 8th deck (great exercise!) got my picture ID, and left note to DH and mom to bring theirs! Ran back down, they give you towels as you leave and also an umbrella (with Mickey on it!) since it was still drizzling a little. I had my trusty camera, and camcorder and took wonderful pictures before the island got too crowded. Rather than wait for the first tram to pull up, I decided to walk to the beach. Just follow the path, great picture spots. Got a nice spot on the beach, raised the umbrella in hopes that there would be a sun to shield. It stopped raining maybe 10 minutes later. My DH radioed me when they got off the tram as to my location. Note, if the beach umbrellas arent already open when you get there be careful opening them yourself they are very heavy to lift and secure. We brought our own snorkeling equipment, but no lifejackets. It is recommended because no matter how good a swimmer you, you do get tired, especially if you swim out to the end and back! There was an extremely long line for the snorkel rentals, so I went to a side window just to ask if I could get a few lifejackets, the cast member cheerfully handed them to me. (No cost) I found out later that the lifeguards have them at their wooden stations. DH and I set out to snorkel CC. Maybe we were in the wrong place, but we swam all the way out to the rope, and back and didnt really see anything that exciting. I expected to see some Disney mementos in the water. We saw a small stingray and a few small plain fish. Nothing colorful or different. We were one of the first in the water too? Did we miss a something? Was all the good snorkeling over at the adult beach? The water was warm, and extremely salty. Try not to get it in your eyes, (especially if you wear contacts), it burns a little. After snorkeling, I took DS to the activity center in the water and was dismayed to read that adults couldnt use it. Girls just want to have fun, TOO. It was only for kids 14 and under. BORING! I wanted to see how far I could pull myself along the rope before falling in the water! Come on Disney get some adult activities in the water. Because we got to Castaway Cay so late, they served lunch right away. The line for the buffet moved quickly. They did not serve pizza, so I had to ask the server behind the counter for two pieces of American cheese on burger roll for my picky DS. They obliged with no problem. I heard the BBQ ribs were excellent, so we tried them NOT we actually enjoyed the cheeseburgers much better! After lunch, DH took nap on lounge chair, Mom read book and DS and I went souvenir shopping at She Sells Sea Shells. It is a good idea to go early it gets very crowded before your ready to board ship. Take note, their postcards cost $.55 and $1.00 and not many to choose from. Buy them on the ship, better deal, and better selection. Plus youll have more time to write them out. Well before we knew it, they called everyone out of the water (3:45 approximately). Where did the day go? The sun never came out, but at least it stopped raining and we got to enjoy the water a bit. We were hoping the Captain would let us stay later. Mom left before us so she could take her time. We took the second tram back to the ship and the line was very long already! I left DH and DS on line while I went on ahead to mail our postcards. I heard so much about the Castaway Cay postmark, I figured, why not. The post office was directly across from the ship. Make sure you get there BEFORE 4:00pm. I got there at 4:02pm and the fellow told us quite sharply that they were closed. The woman next to him behind the counter said if I give her exact change she would mail them the following day. I thanked her over and over and left. Where has common courtesy and friendliness gone? I sent a postcard to myself at our home address, Im curious to see how long it takes and if I get it at all. I read from this site that they call it snail mail, sometimes taking as long as a month to reach its destination?! Our Concierge came to our room about 5:40 and told us they would do our guest check-out and leave our invoice under the door at about 4:00am in the morning; whew. I told them about this web site and they were very much interested in it. (I have since forwarded them this web address. Hope they enjoy it as much as we do and get some tips from it.) They helped us fill out the tip forms and Martin told us he would bring the envelopes to our dinner table for us to distribute. We tipped everyone above what the suggested amount was. The night at Palos, we left extra for our server Louisa also. She was outstanding! Before dinner we returned the beeper to the Oceaneers Club cant forget that. After dinner, knowing that we had to have our entire luggage outside our stateroom door by 11:00pm, we decided to skip any activities tonight after the Farewell Variety Show. It was sad to be leaving. When we returned to our room we found a picture of the ship from Martin & Laura, our concierge. And my DSs teddy bear had tears in his eyes made out of tissues from our hostess Anastasia! Very touching! She was very, very sweet. Still didnt realize how much more there was too pack it took me until 11:30pm to have everything packed and tagged. (Funny, at first everything was folded neatly and organized, and then desperation set in as I noticed the time and I just started sticking clothes anywhere they would fit. Did you know that dirty clothes thrown in a laundry bag dont pack as well as when theyre clean and folded! It was exhausting trying to fit everything! Our hostess took the entire luggage downstairs herself, with a cart. Unbelievable! There were 7 big, heavy pieces! She works very hard. Our two oldest DSs were sad to be leaving their newfound friends. They exchanged contact information and took lots of pictures. They were glad they got connected with Common Grounds and enjoyed their counselors. My youngest DS wasnt all that happy with the Oceaneers Club he enjoyed a few activities with them though. It depends on the child. A few times I took him to the Mickey pool to enjoy the slide and water. Very crowded though unless you go first thing in the morning. (Note the Clubs wont take them swimming; so you need not worry about that.) We are looking forward to trying out the Oceaneers Lab next time. Miscellaneous The character breakfast is scheduled for you, they will tell you a few days in advance. One of the crewmembers took seriously ill and we had to detour a bit to another island before going to St. Maarten. Once close enough to the island, the Magic sent him off in a smaller boat. Later on we asked about him and were happy to hear he was doing well. The Captain was great and made up the lost time during the evening hours as we slept. During one of my shopping excursions on the ship I smelled something burning. I mentioned it to the cashier and she sent someone out in the hall to investigate. Sure enough, the hall was filling with smoke and they sent the customers out and closed off that area very quickly. Everything was very well organized. Although its a bit chilling to see crewmembers hurrying about with their life jackets on. Jim, the program director, quickly got on the loudspeaker and let everyone know what was transpiring. No one was left wondering. Within a half an hour it was discovered that a motor had burned out somewhere on the ship (I dont remember exactly what he said, but he did explain). All was back to normal shortly after that. Dont miss the night they serve desert at 11:00pm in Lumieres. Mmmmmmm to die for! Take your camera the ice sculpture is awesome, and dont miss the various other items made entirely out of chocolate and some with various other ingredients! Saturday, 9/29/01 This morning was the last time Mickey would wake us up for this year. With one eye open, we got up and went down to breakfast. Knowing we would never be up for the 6:45am seating, I asked our head server the night before, if it was possible to change our seating to 8:00am. The ship was not very crowded and our request was thankfully honored. We got lucky. After breakfast we headed off to get our luggage and disembark the ship. Very sad. Getting the luggage was very easy, passing through customs, just as easy. Once you leave the terminal, you cannot return due to security make sure you dont forget anything. We walked across the street to the parking lot to look for Tiffany Town Car. We asked them to pick us up at 9:00 am. Evidently we entered the parking lot from a different entrance than he did and did not see our driver; after looking around the parking area we noticed a shuttle van from the company. I left my family and luggage by the van and walked over to another entrance, found a driver, but unfortunately he did not have our name on the card he was holding?! The other people had not shown up yet, so he walked over to the van with me, called his dispatcher and off we went with him, while another van was sent for the people still on the ship. Thank you TTC. Again, we were fortunate and were able to fly stand-by on an earlier Delta flight rather than wait till 2:10pm. (Although Orlando airport is huge hanging out for four hours is not our idea of fun.) We were able to make the 10:50 flight; although it was delayed until 11:30am. There were some questionable people booked for that flight. Delta security covered all bases very well. Although once on the plane, one fellow in particular did everything in his power to make the passengers a little edgy. If this was his idea of humor, he is sick and we were not amused! I was nervous during the flight and the stewardesses assured me, all areas had been covered. Thank you Delta! As he picked up his luggage when we landed, he was joking about it with the friends who came to meet him. Cold weather and our limo were waiting for us at the airport! The trip home is barely a memory since most of us slept half of the hour ride home. Well back to reality laundry, cooking, dishes, no shows or dancing at night, laundry, school, work, various appointments and more laundry. There was some down-time when we got home, very depressing its taken some time to get back to the routine and catch up on sleep. (Thankful to read that others have gone through the same feelings.) Notes: TAKE zip lock bags to pack food, ice in. BRING a soft-sided cooler. WEAR bug repellent if your out in the evening in Florida the night before you sail. BRING hi-lighter pens in different colors to mark your Navigators as to what your interested in doing. One for each family member. BRING a portable clock; there are no clocks in the staterooms. WEAR alot of sunscreen, sun is brutal. HOLD onto your hat while on deck. It can get very windy. Mom couldn't wear hers at all (Tie-on would have been better.) BRING sweater to WD Theatre, some nights were a bit chilly in there. BEVERAGES you pay extra for include a tip. AT buffets, ask for childrens trays so food doesnt touch, if someone in your party is picky about that. TAKE off the charging privileges on your younger childrens cards (in case of loss or their own excitement to charge charge charge!) IF possible, bring your own drinks. BRING waterproof camera for underwater shots or Surial Bath! TRY to get to picture opportunities early or very long lines later. IF you bring your own laundry detergent, dont bring powder it wont dissolve. Bring liquid detergent instead, or you can buy there. Each wash is $1.00 and dryer is $1.00, but once through the dryer cycle is not enough even for lightweight items. Thinking back on this vacation we loved it it certainly was a dream come true and worth waiting all those months for. It came when we really did need it. Nobody knows better than Disney how to give you the time of your life! Thank God for our safe journey and GOD BLESS AMERICA! Can't wait for our next trip. Would love to take two weeks next time, one on ship, one in Disney World. (Haven't told DH yet! I better start saving!) Last but not least, THANK YOU to Dreams Unlimited who sponsors this site. NOTHING could replace all the valuable information provided, the friends met or the words of encouragement and support we received on these DIS Disc Boards. Hope you enjoyed reading as much as I've enjoyed writing! Good-night!