July 09 WONDER w/Dis Stars & New Menus; updated 9-3-09

Discussion in 'Disney Cruise Line Trip Reports' started by Narnia_girl, Jul 23, 2009.

  1. Narnia_girl

    Narnia_girl DIS Veteran

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    Our new-to-cruising family includes myself, my DH Rick and our children, Andrew (DS18), Christian (DS14) and Caroline, (DD8).
    We generally take family car trips; a cruise is a big departure from what we are used to doing.

    This first post is about planning so if you are more interested in actual trip details skip ahead.
    Also, all the pictures on these first couple of posts will be public domain images. That's because on day two of our trip
    I asked my son to check out something on the camera and he deleted all our pictures from that day and the first day. ugh!


    2008


    [​IMG]

    It’s early October and I’m trying to think of a family trip that we can enjoy to celebrate our upcoming 20th Anniversary.
    Maybe a cruise or trip to Walt Disney World during the kids school break in January?

    I have been asking my friends for advice and have contacted my neighbor’s granddaughter who is a Disney travel agent.

    Oct. 17
    Been communicating back and forth with travel agent. Trying to fit in the dates and times and not completely keel over at the cost.
    Thinking how awesome it would be to give them this gift on Christmas morning and then be able to leave 3 weeks later during a school break (extra long weekend).

    Oct. 21
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    Going back and forth with the idea of two staterooms in a lower category rather than one bigger stateroom. It is our anniversary after all. Can’t the kids stay in their own room?

    Oct. 23
    Maybe we should do Walt Disney World instead of a cruise?

    Nov. 5

    [​IMG]

    Seriously concerned about Christian missing any more school. If we go in January, he would have to miss a least two more days of school.
    He’s missed 7 or 8 days already due to illness. Need to look into going in June instead. No one in the family knows about the trip yet….


    Nov. 8

    Had a June trip all picked out when Andrew mentions CIY camp. Scrap the date and move into July. July is more expensive than June!

    Nov. 9

    BOOKED!!! :cool1: Wow, I did it! :banana: I booked a cruise on my own, without telling Rick. :scared1: He’ll probably freak out!
    We sail July 9. I have to get reading and planning a way to surprise them with this. What a great Christmas present this will be! :dance3:

    Dec.
    Planning my presentation to the family on Christmas morning. :santa:

    Dec. 25, 2008

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    We opened all the family gifts at home like normal. It was a nice morning.
    Since we usually get a family gift the kids were happy to get a new computer monitor and figured that was their big gift.

    Suddenly I “found” a big box at the very back of the tree. It was labeled “To Rick”. He opened the box while the kids looked on.
    Inside was a calendar page for the month of July 2009. The day, July 9 was circled in red.

    Hmmm, he figured we were doing something in July. Also inside were three silver wrapped boxes.
    Each had a number on it and one of the children’s names.

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    *Caroline got #1 and opened it. It was an ornament of a starfish. Hmmm, a beach vacation?

    *Christian opened box #2. It was a glass ornament of a ship inside a life buoy and had the words “Bon Voyage” written on it.
    I don’t think they quite got it yet, but I didn’t want them to ponder for too long so I had

    *Andrew open his box, #3. Since the trip had morphed into a graduation present for him, too, I thought he should have the honor of opening the final information source. It was a long box with a Disney Cruise brochure inside.

    There was general disbelief and looks of surprise. "WE'RE GOING ON A CRUISE?"
    Caroline was whooping and hollering. :dance3: Rick looked seasick. :scared: Just kidding, he was probably in shock.
    The kids immediately put on the DVD and watched all about the cruise. :happytv: That day Caroline told everyone at the family Christmas dinner about our big gift! :santa:

    May 1, 2009. Ordered passports for everyone.
    Early May. Discovered DIS boards; joined May 11
    June 1, 2009. Passports arrived.

    May:
    Explore options to do after the cruise to help with the post-cruise let down. Decide on two days at Universal Studios/Islands of Adventure. After getting much advice from the DIS boards we decide to stay on-site to utilize the Front of the Line perk reserved for resort guests.

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    Both Rick and Andrew’s birthdays are at the end of May. Christian’s is at the end of June.
    I give them their “combined gift” on Christian’s birthday...just two weeks before the trip: a stay at the Royal Pacific Resort, two days at Universal Studios/IOA and they will all be taking the Nassau Segway Tour excursion!




    [​IMG]

    One thing I learned: Our travel agent was very nice and easy to work with. But she had no experience with DCL.
    We basically paid rack rate and got no onboard credit; not much in the way of suggestions or advice either. Next time we'll go with a more experienced agent.

    next up: Day one...first flight, first palm trees, first Florida!
     
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  3. RoyalVizier

    RoyalVizier <font color=purple>I'm sorry... I'm a gutless flip

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    Radical!! :cool1: :dance3: :cool1:
     
  4. Tri-circle-D

    Tri-circle-D <font color=peach>Throwing some love to TCD<br><fo

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    Since I know you read my most recent DCL trip report, I'll jump in here on yours to say great job so far! I love the illustrations you used in lieu of photos! Very original. And funny! Keep up the good work!

    TCD
     
  5. OurOhana

    OurOhana Mouseketeer

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    Liking the trip report - and the pics you're using - very creative.
    I also like the way you told the family about the cruise. Good idea. Can't wait to read more.
     
  6. Narnia_girl

    Narnia_girl DIS Veteran

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    thank you for the encouragement! :flower3:
     
  7. Narnia_girl

    Narnia_girl DIS Veteran

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    We’re off…….

    Night before & Day 1, Tuesday:
    Rick worked a full day so we left on home about 6:30 p.m.—we are on vacation! Got two miles away when he realized he forgot his flip flops. Turn around and go back… :rolleyes:

    We drive the two hours to St. Louis and check into the Riverport Holiday Inn Express where we will be leaving the van for the duration. It’s an okay hotel (wrote a Trip Advisor review) but we spent a horrible night there, mainly because Christian was having trouble breathing. I think hotel rooms are just germ farms and he always manages to be the farmer.

    [​IMG]



    We stagger to breakfast in the morning and then take the hotel shuttle to the airport. This will be our youngest children’s first flight. We are flying Southwest so I printed the boarding passes at home and we were in A boarding—that means we all got to sit together, oh, and no checked luggage fee.
    The flight goes well and they enjoy it, including the bumpy portion when we passed over some storms. When we land, we take the tram to the main terminal (another thrill) cross the street to a parking garage and pick up our car from Budget. This was a smooth, quick procedure. At the airport we see our first palm trees. We are from Illinois. The only palm trees in Illinois are plastic.
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    Our next stop is Downtown Disney. It is miserably hot when we get there and we head into McDonalds for lunch. It is very crowded and noisy and not all that clean either. :headache: But when we come out the weather has grown cloudy, and miraculously—much cooler!

    We enjoy the Lego store the most, with Christian buying the fill-up-cup and having so much fun filling it. We also enjoy the Lego sculptures and take lots of pictures. Caroline loves the Disney store where we buy an Ariel outfit for her doll, Kit.
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    You buy a large cup here for $15 and can fill it with any Legos from the wall. Of course the challenge is to pack in as much as possible. Christian did so and counted over 1500 pieces afterward!


    Andrew enjoys the music themed stores and after a few hours we leave DD and head for Cape Canaveral. Drive there in a rain storm. Easily find our hotel, the Residence Inn and check in.


    At this point we are pleasantly surprised to learn that the Residence Inn will be having BBQ that night and it’s free. That takes care of the “what’s for dinner” discussion. The meal was generous (cheeseburgers and several side dishes, plus drinks). As we are hauling our stuff into the hotel a man tells us about a tourist who was killed on the beach that day—struck by lightning. We are very sorry to hear this.
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    (to the left of this counter is another one with more food on it)

    The hotel itself is very clean, up-to-date and the staff was top-notch. Our suite was perfect. The pool was a very large size and included a nice hot tub, although by the dark there were lots of floaties in the pool (bugs and leaf debris). Our daughter decides to get out of the pool because as she says "there are too many bugs I don't recognize"! Our overall impression of this hotel was excellent.
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    After dinner we visit Ron Jon’s Surf Shop (not sure why it’s so famous?) and stop at Publix to buy a few food items, and some bottled water to bring onboard.

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    We also drive out to see the port. Of course our ship is not there yet, but we get to see the terminal where in just a few hours we’ll be embarking on a DISNEY CRUISE!! Since we can't enter the port parking lot we pass on by until we get to military men and a fenced road...whoops...screeching U-turn..... :eek:

    Back at the hotel, we put the bottled water into the freezer (thanks for that tip, TCD). Rick has also purchased 1 (ONE) gigantic can of beer. :3dglasses He enjoys a beer every once in a while, but not enough to drink a 6-pack in three days. We generally enjoy a glass of wine but decide it’s not worth the hassle for such a short trip.


    We checked into this hotel about 6 hours ago and it looks like we live here. I spend the rest of the evening repacking suitcases while the kids watch TV shows we don't have at home. Did you know there is a game show inside a Taxi Cab? :confused3 My husband and I choose not to subscribe to cable TV at our house so naturally our poor, deprived children miss out on high quality programming like Taxi Cab trivia. :rolleyes: They think we are Amish. ;) Why do I mention this? Because when we get onboard the cruise with Disney stars, I won't even recognize most of them. :rotfl:
     
  8. MagicMe

    MagicMe DIS Veteran

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    Just wanted to tell you that I'm enjoying your trip report!!

    I love the way you told your family. Cash Cab is a favorite of ours!!!!

    BTW - since I don't have any younger children anymore - I would not have recognized any of the "stars" either. I read another trip report where she talks about the experience and didn't recognize a single name!!! :rotfl:
     
  9. Skyw

    Skyw DIS Veteran

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    More...more.....:cheer2:

    Great job so far.
     
  10. alwayslisad

    alwayslisad DIS Veteran

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    Yahoo another great trip report to sink my teeth into!!! :love:
     
  11. DMMarla07860

    DMMarla07860 DIS Veteran

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    love the report so far

    I would recognize some of the stars, but some I might not. Now put basketball players on the ship and I can name them all:lmao:
     
  12. Tri-circle-D

    Tri-circle-D <font color=peach>Throwing some love to TCD<br><fo

    Joined:
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    Another great installment!

    Funny you should mention Cash Cab. I'm not sure if it's a new show, but I had never seen it before either, until just a few days ago. It's pretty entertaining, but from what little I've seen, there aren't many winners on the show. The questions are a bit tough.

    Funny comment about the palm trees. Whenever we are at WDW or another place with lots of tourists, it never fails that people are taking pictures of palm trees, or freaking out about a lizard, or some other entertaining nonsense. The family and I are always amused by this. But, my two youngest daughters have never seen snow. Never. So, whenever they do get to see snow, I imagine that they will react like a northerner seeing a palm tree, and the locals will be amused by them. But I digress.

    Keep up the good work!

    Glad to see some photos (not that I didn't like the clever illustrations).

    TCD
     
  13. scootch

    scootch DIS Veteran

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    Can't wait to hear more...:surfweb:
     
  14. Narnia_girl

    Narnia_girl DIS Veteran

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    :lol I only recognized one!

    thank you :flower3:

    It's fun to relive it!

    NFL players for me!! :rotfl:

    thank you! Your daughters can come see me in Illinois anytime between Dec. and March and they might get snow. And yes, we were amused by the lizards! ;)

    thank you! :flower3:
     
  15. ilovecraigandcooper

    ilovecraigandcooper Mouseketeer

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    Loving it narnia girl!!!!! Give us more~
     
  16. Carol G

    Carol G Mouseketeer

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    :confused3: You missed a whole day of posting! :surfweb: I was looking forward to reading more and noticed you hadn't posted on Sunday. I was on a roll and couldn't wait to read more. :banana:

    Great TR so far Narnia_girl
     
  17. Skyw

    Skyw DIS Veteran

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    Still waiting.....popcorn:::laundy:
     
  18. Narnia_girl

    Narnia_girl DIS Veteran

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    Sorry! I know I missed a whole day...two days. It's these kids...they are out of school and wanting to be on my computer all the time. I'm having to fight for the time I need to post! :rolleyes:

    Let's move on........
     
  19. Narnia_girl

    Narnia_girl DIS Veteran

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    Thursday
    Our sleep Wednesday night is great (probably because our previous night had been awful!) and we awake in the morning excited to get started. I want to be at the terminal about 10 a.m. so I keep pushing the gang to get moving. We pack our frozen water and single beer into the collapsible cooler.

    Breakfast is enjoyed on the patio at the Residence Inn. Right around 10 we leave the hotel in our rental car and head to the port.


    Rick drops us and the luggage off with the porters and drives the rental car back to Budget. He later reports that it was quick and easy. I give the bags to a porter, and notice the abundance of security dogs.

    [​IMG]


    The kids and I walk around to the front with our carry-ons and enter the terminal. Security is very quick and all they ask about the cooler is whether it has any ice (no).




    Then up the escalator and over to the check-in lines. The terminal is almost empty.

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    We are about the 8th family in line at this point (10:20 a.m.) and the check in desks say they open at 11:00, but actually they open about 10:30.
    The check-in clerk is very friendly and it’s a quick procedure. We then head to the security photo area and have our pictures taken. Afterwards the boys look at the ship’s model while I take Caroline to register for the kids club. Rick returns from the car rental at this point and has his security picture taken.

    Now it is wait time. We walk outside and look at the ship, we look at the ship’s model, Mickey comes out and has his picture taken a hundred times, then Minnie switches places with him. My boys aren't interested in having their pix taken and Caroline is too shy, so I just try to get quick shots of the characters between other kids hugging them.

    [​IMG]

    A few times we hear buzzes about the Disney “stars” passing through the terminal and we catch a glimpse of them waiting in a private room. Caroline is getting impatient.
    About 11:30 I decide to stand in the short line that has formed. My family follows. At this point we realize all our pictures up to the Minnie one have been deleted. :sad2:
    I had asked my son to see if he could check how many that card would hold and he accidentally deleted them all. It’s a bummer for sure, but we’re just starting our cruise so we try to shake it off. Christian is especially upset as he has taken many posed shots of his Lego character as he is writing a picture story; and of course, we lost all the Downtown Disney shots (not sure when we’ll ever get back there).

    From here on, the photos are mine.


    [​IMG]
    view of ship from waiting line.


    Just then AbsyBabsy walks up and introduces herself and we chat about the surprise cruise she and Degrapevine sprang on their daughters.

    At about 11:50, the Disney stars board, we are introduced to the “family of the day” and then it’s time to board #2 passholders (that’s us!).

    It all passes by in a rush and I realize I should have taken a posed shot in front of the Mickey ears earlier, it’s just too quick and too many people to do so now. Our cards are scanned and we are on our way!
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    Just beyond these gentlemen's heads you can see the photographer's background. They have four of these set up and everyone stops to have their picture taken. It's pretty quick.

    Then we are announced and we are on board in the Atrium!!

    I had thought we’d go on to Parrot Cay for lunch since I’d read on DIS board about it being open even though they don’t send you there, but when they directed us to Beach Blanket Buffet I obeyed like a lost sheep and headed up top. And it was great, our kids loved being able to be on a ship for the first time, eat in the open air and look out over the harbor. (I think someone said later they actually were turning people away from PC because the Disney stars were in there, but not sure if that's accurate.)

    Some of the foods we enjoyed were tilapia (very good), strawberry soup, roasted potatoes, sweet-sour pork (very good), roast beef (so-so), fresh fruit and mac & cheese.

    [​IMG]
    You can see here that for older kids or adults they give you a tray and plate. For little ones, they get a divided tray a la cafeteria style. This works well, I think. :thumbsup2

    [​IMG]
    Smile with your mouth full!



    On the way to BBB we meet another DIS board friend and she generously gives us all the lanyards we need! We also get to see what will become Caroline's favorite spot on the cruise.


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    This trip is the first time she's seen the ocean!
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    After lunch the guys decide to play ping pong while Caroline takes her first dip in the Mickey pool which at this point has 4-5 kids in it.

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    She also tries the water slide, which she loves.
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    Later the guys move over to the foosball table and Chip & Dale came strolling by and played with them. None of them had a camera with them, so no pics.



    Andrew and I decide to check out our rooms at about 1:20, we head down to deck 6 and find the ropes still up, but while deciding if we should wait or not, they drop the ropes and we are free to settle in.


    [​IMG]


    The kids are in one room while Rick and I are in another. Our cabin steward, Chris, has the beds set up perfectly for each room.

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    kids room--beds apart. Note how narrow the space inbetween the boys' beds. This will be a very important factor later on.

    This sofa transforms into a single bed which Chris had made up each night for Caroline.


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    our room--beds together.
    If you look at the desk, you can see the little clock that is in each room. Can you read the time from that vantage point across the room? (1:30?) Now imagine it's pitch black. That clock does not light up. That's why DISers say to bring your own lighted clock if you want to know the time.


    These are sideways cat. 11s and they really do have a good layout.


    I unpack a gift bag that I had brought along for the kids. It contains Mickey headbands for the Pirate party, disposable cameras including an underwater one, a Pirates of the Caribbean night light and other little gifts.

    After unpacking some (mostly we live out of the suitcases), we head back up to deck 9 to enjoy the view.

    This Carnival ship is in port with us and we will see them again.
    [​IMG]


    The kids discover the joys of Pluto’s Dog House and Pinnochio’s Pizza.
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    Andrew decides those fruity drinks being offered around the pool are too good to resist and accepts one. The CM does ask if he’s 21 and he responds truthfully (no). So he gets the virgin drink.


    Thus concludes the first half of first day onboard.
    Next up: Thunder/Lightning



    [​IMG]


    What I learned:
    *Checking in for our whole family (including absent hubby) was easy.
    *Having read numerous trip reports I knew that being in the terminal was the start of vacation and a special part of our day. Our 8-yr. old did not realize this and perceived it to be one big WAIT. I should have prepared her for what to expect because her whining was a not something I expected!

    *Take pictures of the Mickey ears before you are walking through them!

    *If you walk under the Mickey slide and follow the wall just a bit you'll find a bathroom where you can put on your swimsuit.

    *I gave the kids disposable cameras but they did not get these out til day 2. If I had to do things over I would have given everyone a camera and charged them with taking lots of pictures. My one regret of this trip is not enough pictures. No one else in my family seems to think of taking pictures so if I didn't take it, it didn't get taken. I think I finally show up in a picture on Castaway Cay day so you know I really did take a cruise. :sad2:
    [/LIST]
     
  20. BethA

    BethA DIS Veteran

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    On our last trip out of 300+ pictures I was in 5!!
     
  21. Narnia_girl

    Narnia_girl DIS Veteran

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    :hug: Now I don't feel so bad!
     

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