May 3 – 10 Western Caribbean Trip Report

Discussion in 'Disney Cruise Line Trip Reports' started by bobbi565, Feb 19, 2008.

  1. bobbi565

    bobbi565 DIS Veteran

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    Feb. 3, 2008: Planning

    Actually, my obsessive planning began long before today, as we booked our cruise 14 months prior to embarkation date, but I will start with our 90 days out reservations. Maybe folks can benefit from my experiences. The cast of characters are:

    Me :hippie: – 42, a former high school teacher turned stay-at-home mom for the last three years preparing to return to the classroom in the fall.
    DH :earsboy: – 44, a newspaper editor and larger than life character who is still an eight-year-old boy at heart but with the patience of…well, someone who’s not a saint.
    DS :yay: – 5, my drama king preparing to start kindergarten in the fall and the originator of much of our domestic chaos.

    [​IMG]

    This will be our second cruise, our first being a 3 night in January of 2007. After a near disastrous attempt to fly from BWI to MCO to make our cruise, and finding that DS 4 at the time was terrified to fly :eek: , we decided to drive this time. The plan is to leave here on 4/30 and drive to a little beachfront resort in Myrtle Beach, SC. We will stay there two nights, and then head down to the Country Inns & Suites on 5/2 for an early boarding time on 5/3.
    After receiving a confirmation of final payment on the morning of 2/1 from my TA (Karen Nunn of Small World Travel… :lovestruc LOVE HER!), I was psyched to make ressies on the stroke of midnight 2/3. I figure we’ll have the APL… dining rotation again, so I was looking for dinner at Palo on Sunday night, brunch on Monday, and a manicure/pedicure treatment for me Monday afternoon. That way, DH and I will have a nice grown-up evening after a day of fun on Key West with the little guy. I’m not really excited about the regular rotation menu at Parrott Cay, and we’ll be there again for Pirate Night (perfect!), so that will be a good night for Palo. After a relaxing brunch the next morning, I’ll get to spend a couple of hours in the spa getting pampered and pretty for formal night! :cool1:
    Anyway, when a few minutes before midnight rolled around, I got on our kitchen computer and logged on to the DCL site. I kept refreshing the “My Cruise Plans” link until I no longer got the message that that section was not yet open to me. At that point, I got the dreaded message telling me that either my balance was not paid in full or my birthdates were not entered correctly. Having been warned of this by my friends on the DIS board, I logged out and in repeatedly for five minutes with no luck. Can you say screaming, crying, gnashing of teeth, tearing of hair :scared1: ? Let’s just say it wasn’t pretty. After a panicked midnight call to my TA’s voice mail (did I really think she’d be waiting by the phone?), I finally tried another computer and got on immediately. Miraculously, I got all my first choices!!
    The only other thing to book was Stingray City with Captain Marvin’s. After much deliberation and finding out that all my pals on my cruise meet thread are going on the 10:00 ½ day trip, I went ahead and booked it to. My TA had suggested that they could drop us off at the Turtle Farm after, but I guess that since it was moved to Boatswain Beach, that is no longer an option. They’ve offered to drop us off at the nearest bus stop and informed us that the busses run every half an hour. I’m kind of paranoid about missing the right bus and not catching the last tender back to the ship. I have no idea how long everything will take. I know my boys will love the Turtle Farm, but they might not enjoy Stingray City as much as I will, so now I’m contemplating ditching Stingray City! DH does not swim (or even FLOAT) and DS can be very nervous/skittish/cautious, and the rays might be too intense for him. I continue to deliberate on this. Any suggestions? We’re scheduled to do the 3 hour Stingray City and snorkel tour from 10 – 1. Will we have plenty of time to get to and from the Turtle Farm before the last tender at 4:30 :confused3 ?
     
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  3. fairfax

    fairfax DIS Veteran

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    Glad you got all your ressies! Great TR so far.
     
  4. Disney owl

    Disney owl DIS Veteran

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    looking forward to reading more
     
  5. kalel29

    kalel29 Dis Dad #101

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    Sounds interesting...:surfweb:
     
  6. misslissa

    misslissa DIS Veteran

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    Ah... the midnight panic phone call. I remember it too clearly!!!!!!! I can't wait for this report :cool1:
     
  7. bobbi565

    bobbi565 DIS Veteran

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    You might find your name in it! :goodvibes
     
  8. bobbi565

    bobbi565 DIS Veteran

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    Well, after booking dining ressies and excursions, there seems to be a planning lull that’s mind numbing for an obsessive planner like me! The solution? Find all sorts of cruise related tasks to keep you busy! :thumbsup2 The first order of business had to be starting to plan the NEXT cruise! We made the mistake of not rebooking onboard last time and missed out on that big discount and obc, which was a little frustrating when we booked two months later, so we’re not going to make the same mistake this time. So here I go again, back to Passporters to check the rate and weather charts and figure out when will be the optimum time to book our 2009 Land and Sea outing since I will be returning to work as a teacher. It will be DS’s first trip to WDW, so I’m extremely excited! It’s looking like the best time is June 21 – 28. Since DU is running a double credit special until the end of this month, I've concocted a plan with my TA there to book now for their OBC, and then rebook onboard, combine the ressies, then get my original deposit back. That way I get TWO OBCs plus the onboard rebooking discount!:cool1:

    So, during this planning lull, I’ve occupied my time with some designing! Cruising the magnet thread has become one of my hobbies, and I’ve come up with the three door magnets below:

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    Borrowed these name badges:

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    And made some calling cards to pass out to new friends!
    I’m also thinking about little details to make the cruise more fun. From the board, I found this fun item to have delivered to our stateroom to surprise my little boy.

    http://goodypak.com/catalog/index.php?cPath=41

    I’ve also started having second thoughts about my excursion plans. After my concerns about Captain Marvin’s and my boys’ possible reactions to Stingray City :scared1: (yes, I refer to my husband as one of my boys!), I decided to cancel that one and just spend the day at Boatswain Beach. I know they both will be really excited about the Turtle Farm, and I was worried that we’d be too rushed to try to do it and make the 4:30 tender back to the ship. There really seems to be a lot to do at Boatswain, so I think that’s the safer option for us. To get my stingray fix, we booked Castaway Ray’s Stingray Adventure on CC. It seems much less threatening, and if my little guy doesn’t care for it, we won’t be stuck for hours on a boat with an unhappy boy! :goodvibes

    What's next? I guess it's the countdown to buying last minute supplies and then...packing!
     
  9. ImTooExcitedToSleep

    ImTooExcitedToSleep dis veteran

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    Borrowed?????
     
  10. RLccweems

    RLccweems DIS Veteran

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    I love your door signs....very nice!
     
  11. bobbi565

    bobbi565 DIS Veteran

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    Do you mind? :confused3 You posted them on the magnet thread, so I thought they were fair game! They look fantastic! :thumbsup2
     
  12. ImTooExcitedToSleep

    ImTooExcitedToSleep dis veteran

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    No problem, just giving you a hard time (cause I recognized that it wasn't my work). :)

    By the way....I'm happy to do them for anyone that wants them, just PM me.
     
  13. bobbi565

    bobbi565 DIS Veteran

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    Thanks for your blessings! :worship: I didn't want to bother you to personalize them for me when it was easy enough to do myself. But I really like how your design is a little different than most of the other name badges I saw on the magnet thread!
     
  14. purplepeg

    purplepeg DIS Veteran

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    Hey postcard buddy, glad I found your report.:cool1: I will live vicariously through you:rotfl2:
     
  15. bobbi565

    bobbi565 DIS Veteran

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    Welcome aboard, purplepeg! I'm really enjoying your TR and all the funny stories about your girls. I think I will have one more pre-cruise report that will include all the shopping and packing mayhem, and then you'll get to relive the Disney Magic from our points of view! :cheer2:
     
  16. bobbi565

    bobbi565 DIS Veteran

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    In the Home Stretch
    This will be my last installment on pre-cruise planning, as we leave at the end of the month! :banana: I’ve been in a shopping frenzy!! I’ve gone ahead and bought a tuxedo for DH, got a great deal at JC Penney’s. I’ve also gotten some beautiful dress sandals for me for formal night and new dress shoes for DS (the third pair this year :scared1: ). I found a DISer on eBay who makes beautiful custom embroidered fish extenders, so we bought one.
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    The meet thread for my cruise has just a few families participating in gift exchanges, so it shouldn’t be too expensive or time consuming. I also bought a nice frame with a large mat for signing to leave at guest services with a set of sharpies. We got a really nice rolling soft sided cooler at Wal-Mart and plan to stock it at ABC Liquors before checking in at the port. :thumbsup2
    A fellow DISer called purplepeg (be sure to check out her trippie) sent us a postcard for DS when she went on her Western back in February. I had heard that it can take months to receive a postcard when sent from CC, so I figured that would be enough time. Well it showed up in something like 21 days, so I stashed it away and decided to give it to DS when it got a little closer to departure date. When we were a little over two weeks from the cruise, I slipped it into the mail that DH was looking through one night and said, “Daddy, is that mail for Joel?” He replied, “Why yes, I think it is.” So I grabbed to postcard, handed DH the camera, and showed DS the picture. “Who is this card from?” I asked him. He got a big smile on his face and said, “Mickey!”
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    So I read him the note from Mickey telling him how he can’t wait to see him and describing all the fun he would have. My DS, who acts like a little wild man whenever he thinks anyone is paying attention, gets all quiet and bemused whenever he’s genuinely surprised and delighted, so the sweet little grin and slightly confused expression shows that he really bought it!
    [​IMG]
    Thanks again, purplepeg! :lovestruc
    I’ve made some headway on the packing: I’ve assemble my first aid kit, packed the hanging shoe holder and pop-up hamper, and I’ve got all the shorts and swimsuits ready to go. Even if it starts getting to be shorts weather in Maryland in the next two weeks, I have a leg waxing appointment on the 25th (we leave on the 30th), so my legs are in the process of getting too furry to expose to the public until after the torture session! :laughing: I’ve also got an accordion folder of all my confirmation documents and magnetic door signs. I’ve actually decided to only print a few on actual magnetic paper, some that have our names on them but no specifics of the cruise. The ones that have this cruise’s dates on them are printed on photo paper and will go into vinyl display protectors with magnet tape on the back. That way I can use them again on the next cruise.
    Speaking of which, we went ahead and booked our 2009 Land/Sea with DU! They were running a double credit special (might still be) of which we decided to take advantage. I was told I can then rebook onboard, get the 10% discount and their onboard credit, and then transfer that ressie to DU when I come home. Tracy at DU will then make sure we’ve got our preferred resort and stateroom and cancel one reservation. ;)
    Nothing left to do but finish packing and count down the days! See y’all when we’re back on terra firma… :woohoo:
     
  17. naner

    naner Mouseketeer

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    Great start to your report - enjoy your trip!
     
  18. purplepeg

    purplepeg DIS Veteran

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    I can't believe you are so organized.:thumbsup2 Way to go. Thanks for the plug for my trippie:worship: I love the pictures of your son getting his postcard. It really means alot to me that you posted them here. I love the look on his face. I can vividly remember sitting in our stateroom at the desk writing it:) Now it's time for your trip:cool1: I can't wait to hear all about it when you get back.
     
  19. bobbi565

    bobbi565 DIS Veteran

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    We were up and left Maryland by about 9:30 in the morning of April 30. I had been so crazy with packing and preparations, I had barely slept! :yay: We drove to Myrtle Beach on the first day and spent two nights at a fantastic oceanfront resort called Dunes Village. On May 2, we hit the road again and headed down to Florida. If you want to know why we chose to drive for such a long distance, check out my 2007 trippie! :eek: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=1392872
    After driving all day, we hit Port Canaveral at about 5:00 PM. The skies were clear, and we had plans to meet up with fellow DISer imheather and her family for dinner at Grills Restaurant and Tikki Bar and introduce our 5 year old DS’s before the cruise. First we checked in at the Country Inn & Suites and were very impressed with our Kids Quarters Suite! DS was beside himself with glee about the “ladder bed,” although when bedtime arrived, he chickened out of sleeping in the top bunk and chose the twin bed instead, and DH was delighted with the wireless internet access in the room. The kids’ area is defined by a partial wall about 6’ high, ending about 2 – 3’ from the ceiling. It’s really like a separate room! We got our stuff settled in and headed out to Ron Jon’s, a mandatory stop anytime we’re near Cocoa Beach, and waited to hear from imheather.
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    The boys went nuts shopping at Ron Jon’s and I picked up a shell choker and a tank top. 5:30 was rolling around, the time when imheather expected to arrive in port, and my cell phone rang. Apparently their plane was held up for about an hour on the tarmac after arriving at MCO, and they experienced another delay when picking up their rental car. So the boys and I headed over to Grills on our own. I called ahead and we arrived there about 20 minutes later and were told there was about a 25 minute wait remaining. We took our pager and went out to the pier, and I got us some drinks while the boys watched the boats. :cool2: After about 15 minutes, we noticed an open table outside. We weren’t sure if we had to wait to be seated there, so we sat down and were greeted by a server fairly quickly. Right about then, our pager went off, so I returned it to the hostess and told her we were seated outside. The menu was quite varied, the food and drinks were good, and the view was fantastic. Even though the place was not really family oriented (at least not for very young children) we enjoyed the outdoor dining.
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    After dinner, we went back to the room and relaxed in anticipation of our big adventure!
    The next morning, I was up with the sun, as always, and getting everything back into the car. I sampled the free hot breakfast (really underwhelming!) and found the hot items somewhat limited. They had scrambled eggs, hot waffle irons with pitchers of batter to make your own, and a ham & cheese biscuit stuffed with flakes of ham and a Velveeta like substance, along with the requisite fruit, cereal, pastries and beverages. At about 9 AM, the boys were up, and we checked out and went to ABC Fine Wine & Spirits. We picked up some beer for us and jdabi and a bottle of champagne. As we were at the car loading the cooler, the very nice sales clerk came out the door and, noticing our license plate, asked if we were from Maryland. We told him we were from Columbia and he replied he’d relocated from Laurel, MD (a town just south of our hometown)! We headed for port and got to watch a line of tall masted sail boats cross through the drawbridge on the way to port, a very exciting sight to DS. We got to the Disney terminal at 9:45 and were directed to wait in the parking lot across from the terminal. At about 10:05 we were directed to proceed and were the first car to enter the terminal. :cheer2: We checked our bags, and DH went to park while DS and I passed quickly through security and walked straight up to the Castaway Club check-in counter. We received out lanyards and our boarding ticket marked with Group #2 :banana: and were directed where to check DS in for the OC. :thumbsup2 We walked over to the snack bar area and were told to return in about 10 minutes when it opened. We found a seat and in a few minutes DH came in proud of his parking spot in the first row under a shady tree.
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    After exploring the port for a while, we went back to the snack bar area and got DS his bracelet for the OC (we’d registered online) and went to the snack bar to get a bag of pretzels for DS. While waiting on line, I felt a tap on my shoulder, I turned to find a woman pointing at the green wristband I was wearing (the agreed upon membership symbol from our DIS board meet thread) as she asked me, “Excuse me, are you from the DIS board? I’m imheather.”
    “Heather!” I cried, “It’s bobbi565! So glad to meet you at last!” We introduced the kids (she had both DS and DD with her) and the boys immediately ran off like a couple of maniacs through the port. She informed me that she’d seen LJC1861 who, according to her trippie (loving it, by the way!), was the first one into the port, and Dawn414 who was on line checking in. We found the DH’s and introduced them, and stood around chatting while the boys vegged out in front of the cartoons (love the matching slack jawed countenances!).
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    Suddenly, Mickey and Minnie appeared, and before we could blink, an enormous line materialized. Even though DH agreed to wait on line while I chased DS around the port, before too long, DS decided it would be more exciting just to wait in line for his Minnie picture (Mickey disappeared after only a couple of minutes). On our last cruise, the first time encountered by a character (the big cheese himself) DS was too frightened to go near, exclaiming “Mickey’s too huge!” so I was delighted at the passionate embrace captured in this photo.:love:
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    Finally, at 12:00, boarding began and our group was quickly called to get in line. Soon we crossed through the giant ears behind a family of four from Frederick, MD and had our KTTW cards swiped by a Cast Member from Havre de Grace, MD as strains of “It’s a Small World After All” played in my head. :grouphug: We had our embarkation photos taken, and I required DH’s assistance to pull me to my feet after squatting to sling what must have been a 60 pound day bag over my shoulder, then we were announced and the Magic began!
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    Next, the James Gang onboard and Sailing Away!
     
  20. purplepeg

    purplepeg DIS Veteran

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    I'm so excited to read about your adventure. Looking forward to more:cool1:
     
  21. bobbi565

    bobbi565 DIS Veteran

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    Thanks, purplepeg! I guess I spent too much time on precruise, looks like everyone has lost interest! But I've almost got Day One Onboard ready to post with lots of photos, to I'll put it up soon, just for you!
     

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