Cruisers: Me 41 DS 12 DD 8 This was our first cruise. I started reading the Disboard back in August when I booked my trip. I never posted because I did not need to. I read every question/answer and trip report. Thank you to everyone that posts. If you are reading this for the first time. Make sure you use the search functions on this board. All your questions have already been answered. I felt like I knew everything I needed and more. This is my pay it forward trip report. I hope it helps someone. Friday 12/30 Travel Day: I used Disney to book all the travel flight, hotel and ground transportation. I figured it was our first cruise and did not want to chance anything. I was a little nervous because I am a control freak and having someone do my flight arrangements was scarey. On two of the legs we were not sitting next to each other. I went to the check in counter each time and the gate agent moved people around so we were together. Piece of cake! We traveled from Phoenix to Orlando via Dallas and got in at 4:30 pm. Stayed at the Hyatt so we just took our bags up one floor and walked across the beautiful mall area. The Hyatt room was great. The kids loved the pool at night. (although someone fell off the 7th floor onto the pool the night we were there and the event made the local news). We just missed the drama. There are a lot of posts about the Hyatt. I can tell you the rooms are beautiful. Our room overlooked mall/gate entry. It was all decorated for Xmas and was beautiful. We walked into the Mall and ate. There are tons of restaurants to choose from. We had a great evening. Saturday 12/31 Day One We left our luggage in front of our room at 8:30 AM. We walked to the lobby and checked in for the Disney transfer bus. We went down at 8:35 am and were assigned to Captain Mickey bus #1. The bus left at 9:30 am. Right on the dot! Travel to the ship was about 40 minutes. Rounding the corner to see the ship is priceless. I had been so excited since I booked the trip because I knew what we were getting into. Even though my kids looked at pictures and clicked on the Disney interactive boat picture I knew they did not understand what the trip would be like. Well when you drive towards the boat and it comes into view, their mouths dropped. They got it! We arrived at Cape Canaveral at 10:30 am. The line was fairly short and within 15 minutes we were checked in. Fill out all your docs before you get there. It will be quick if you do. We received boarding group 4. (which I was surprised because we were so early .but it was ok). I checked the kids in to the Ocean Lab and received by pager. They gave us their navigators right there so the kids started circling what they wanted to do. We hung out and took pictures! At 11:45 am they started boarding. We were on the ship right at NOON!! I was amazed how quick it was. We went up to Topsiders Buffet and sat on the outside deck. Within minutes the kids were gone exploring. They were amazed. DD liked the Mickey pool. DS would not be caught dead in it .too old. He liked goofy. We found a bathroom and put on swim suits. The kids swam and at 1:30 we went to our room (2578). Two bags were already there and by 2:00 all 5 bags had arrived. Our room was great. No noise or issues. (do research the room numbers on the board it will make a difference) Saturday was New Years eve so we knew that it would be a dressed up night. We explored the ship. We dropped off two pillow cases and a mat for a frame at guest services (GREAT idea I read on the posts THANK YOU!). We went to the sail away celebration. It was great. We stayed up on deck 10 to watch. We went to the all aboard show. Dont miss the shows. They really are wonderful. Dinner 8:00 Dinner - Our rotation was Animators Palate, Parrot Cay, Lumiere, Lumiere, Parrot Cay, Animator Palate, Lumiere. Saturday Night was filled with partys . It was a long night. The funniest part was at dinner right before our dessert they passed out horns for New Years eve. EVERYONE started blowing them. It lasted for 20 minutes. Even the servers were banging the metal food warmers. It was hysterical. Here are all these people dressed up and we all went nuts. That stared the mood! We were seated with a couple from Holland and their DD7. The little girl did not speak English but seems to have fun. My DD and her giggled and smiles at each other. New years eve party was great. We stayed in the Atrium and were one back from the stage. People were dancing and great. A couple woman were drunk and almost spilled beer on a lady and a pushy mom tried to get to the front after we had been there for an hour. That was the only time that guests acted badly. EVERYONE was so nice and happy the whole time. I was amazed. What a way to start 2006. It was magical. Sunday 1/1 Day Two Key West We had our character breakfast at Parrot Cay. It was great. They moved those characters quickly. It works though. We did not do autographs so it was just picture time for us. We went to Key West at 12:00. I did not book an excursion here as a result of reading others posts. We walked Duval Street and rented an Electric car for two hours. Great time! We drove to the beach and to the south most point and took pictures. We went to Hemingways house. Drove by the fort and headed back to the ship. There is not a lot to do with kids in Key West. We went back to the ship and discovered Bingo!! My kids (mostly DS) loved it! Dazzler and Pikey were great doing the bingo. More on that later .we did not win this day! DD loved the drink station and Plutos dog house. While we played Bingo she would go up and get food/drinks and bring them to Rockn bar D. It was fun for her to have the freedom and we loved to eat. The chicken tenders and fries were really good!! We went to the show and headed to dinner. The kids loved Gary Delana. Very funny! At Dinner Our servers Julio and Gideon were great. They made a lot of the kids. Right before dinner they came to me with a cake and started singing happy birthday with all the waiters. I started laughing and saying its not my birthday. They said what? I said no. We all laughed and kept singing. Well, when I filled out or original paperwork I put that my DS would be celebrating a bday in early December. They messed up and thought it was me. We joked about that the rest of the week. The servers made each dinner experience special. DD went to the Lab for a girls party. She loved it. I had to drag her out at 12:15 in the morning!! Monday 1/2 Sea Day: Busy pool days. We hung out at the pool for a while. Ate, ate and ate! We went to Bingo and won the raffle. Very exciting. It just fired up the kids to want to play more bingo. Bingo is not cheap but lots of fun. Especially when you win. We went to the Golden Mickey Matinee. That really freed up our evening to just hang out before dinner. It was a dress up night again. We had 3 nights to dress up because of New Years eve. We did all the picture ops when we were dressed. When will we every get dressed up again. (before the cruise I thought this was a pain. Now that I look at our wonderful pictures I am glad we dressed up) Dive In Movie was Miracle. DS loved it. He made a bunch of friends in the pool that night. I just sat in a chair and watched the movie til 12:15 AM. DD went to the lab. I had to drag her out again!! Tuesday 1/3 Grand Cayman We did the semi submarine excursion at 8:20. The tendering was fine. The seas were calm and the kids liked going across the water. The excursion was fun. It was better than a glass bottom boat. We saw two ship wrecks and a reef. The guy on the sub gets out and scuba dives in front of you with food in his hand. It makes all the fish come to him. A little weird but it was cool to watch. We went on a tour of the island after the sub ride. It cost $20 per person. They drove us to 7 mile beach, Hell and the Turtle farm. We mailed post cards from Hell. It took about 1.5 hours and was just about enough for the kids. They were ready to go back to the ship. We made it back in time for the Narnia movie. DS went to the Matinee. DD went to the kids lab. Of course we went to Bingo and WON!! DS was handling the card. We won $144. I cashed it out and let the kids split the money. They liked that. Tonight was the Pirate night. Lots of fun. We brought hats and a parrot to wear. The party at night was great. The fact that Disney is the only ship with fireworks is incredible. They do a great job throwing the party. We watched from deck 10 and ended up right where the characters came up and danced. Very cool. Dive in movie Pirates of the Caribbean was great. The kids loved being in the pool and watching. Wednesday 1/4 Sea Day Normally this is the Cozumel day but we were going to Nassau instead. Sea Day was not as busy as the first sea day. I think people get tired. The sun gets to people so it was not as bad as Monday. We hit the pool for a while. We went to Bingo in the morning and won again. This time we won $133. The kids were psyched! We went to the Matinee again. Which freed up the evening . It was relaxing. We played shuffle board and walked the track on deck 4. DS went to dodgeball before dinner with the other kids. He had a blast. What great programs they have for kids. We went to a movie at 11:30 and lasted til 12:15. We were all asleep! Thursday 1/5 Nassau I was really nervous about Nassau. Most of the posts were negative about Nassau. I was concerned about getting off the ship and having the aggressive people approach us. Well, we LOVED Nassau. I booked a room at Comfort Suites ahead of time ( thanks to the posts). We walked out and took a taxi. One guy pulled us aside to try to get us to take a tour. I just said no and asked where to get a taxi. It was harmless. We paid $4 each to get to Paradise Island. We checked in and our room was ready right on the 2nd floor. It was a 5 minute walk to Atlantis. We arrived at the pool at 10:00 and had a blast. If you have kids that are old enough and enjoy water. This is the place to go. The kids did all the slides except the big drop. The aquarium in the middle was great. We went on the beach for a while too. It was cloudy so we left about 2:00. We went back to Comfort Suites to shower and change. It was a great day and our favorite port. Had to be back to the Ship by 3:30 for Bingo. (our life revolved around bingo) We did not win the $3000.00 jackpot! But we had fun yelling Dazzler get on with it This was another dress up night. DS decided to pass on dinner and go to the kids lab. They reserved the Mickey Pool and had a pizza party. It was great because these kids think they are too old to go on the slide but would love to go on it. They had it all to themselves. DD and I got dressed up and had really nice pictures taken of the two of us. They came out great! We had a great night and then went to the Dive in movie Parent trap. It was windy at night. We just put on some sweat pants and wrapped up in towels. We had fun. Friday 1/6 Castaway Cay We arrived at 7:30 to see that it was windy and overcast. They announced that all excursions except Sting Rays were cancelled due to winds. We headed off the ship at 8:30. The kids went in the water and it started to pour. It lasted for 15 minutes. After that it stayed overcast and windy. The kids swam and snorkeled for a while but it was too cold. We went back to the ship and changed into pants. We went back on the island and had a great day after all. We ate at Cookies and went to the game Pavilion. We played pool and just hung out. We rented bikes and rode all over the bike paths. It was a blast. We probably would not have done any of this if the weather was good. All in all we had a great day. I can see why people want to do a double dip to Castaway Cay. We went back to the ship and hung out! The last feeding frenzy! Attend the Disembark presentation. It will calm your fears if you have not been on a cruise before. Then head back and start packing. We headed to dinner. Gave out our tips and took pictures with Julio and Gideon. Gideon did his last magic trick for us. They were wonderful. We joked that we did not why we were tipping the Head Server. (aka the white jackets). What did they do anyway? We tipped them anyway! By the time we got back to the room our luggage was gone. We went to Shutters to finish our picture selection. Went to the Character farewell and headed for one last piece of pizza and ice cream. It was a magical trip! Saturday 1/7 Disembark Day We had a flight at 12:23 pm so we hit Topsiders Buffet and then headed off the ship. The Disembark was great. Our luggage was in Minnie purple and was all in order. We carried it off (could not find a porter) went to the American counter outside and jumped on a bus. We were at the Airport by 9:30. It was amazingly easy. My entire experience was positive. I would do it again in a heartbeat. The crew and incredible. The ship was everything and more I expected. I cried before we got there because I was so excited, cried in the middle and cried at the end. All tears of joy! Dream Big!! Other Stuff *I went to the Fitness Center every morning at 7:30ish. It is great. Nice equipment. Lots of it. No wait in the mornings. *Magnets on door Fun to have a sign or magnets. There werent many that had them. We put Disney magnets and an AZ magnet. It helped the kids find the room. * Sign on window We had a port hole. We wrote HI in sticky notes on the window. When we docked in Key West we could see our room. * Hidden Mickeys Get the sheet at guest services. My DD did the hunt in the lab with the kids. Then we took the sheet and went to find some. Lots of fun. * Late Dinner was the best. I dont know if I could have handled the early dinner rotation. You lose track of time anyway so the kids werent even tired at 8:00. *Get your kids in the clubs early My DS12 stayed away til the sport type events and felt he missed out on making some friends early on. Also, let them check in and out. They will love the freedom and responsibility. You will too! *Shutters Buy the big packages and start taking the pictures. On Friday swap out what you dont want and if it is less than your package then they will refund you what you dont take. They are really flexible about it. *Food I thought it was great. The chicken tenders and fries were really good. DS ate a couple every day. DD liked hot dogs. The salad at Goofy Gallery with Raspberry dressing was good. Paninis too!! The dinners were good. I know people say that they have had better. Sure you have, but overall I think the food was great. The donuts were Krispy Kremes!! Yeah! I liked the cheesecakes the best! And how can you beat the drink station. Can you imagine if you had to pay for the soda! *Iron/Washers I used them after the early dinner rotation started. I did not wait more than 5 minutes for the Iron. When I did a wash I walked right up. I would say you need to watch when your time is up for the washer or dryer. It helps to get your stuff right out. *Bring a blow dryer I could not have used the one in the room. *Read and research These boards are great. The passporter book was great! I felt like I had everything I needed to make the trip stressless!! Thanks to all! *Take pictures!! It is amazing how quickly you forget the little details! Pictures say it for you. Take opportunity for professional pictures. You dont have to buy them. But may get a gem!