The Yours, Mine, and Ours HalloWonder Mystery Tour!!!

Discussion in 'Disney Cruise Line Pre-Trip Reports' started by CatDenver, Apr 9, 2013.

  1. CatDenver

    CatDenver Mouseketeer

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    Welcome to my pre-trip report on my October DCL cruise or as I like to call it the Yours, Mine, and Ours HalloWonder Mystery Tour. It’s my first cruise! :cool1: There are still 200 days to go, but who’s counting….ME! Having read every post on this board, or at least it feels like it, I figured I could kill time writing my pre-trip report. :coffee:

    Side note: A sure sign I have spent waaaay too much time on the DIS DCL board is that I can now answer questions about DCL cruises without having actually been on one! :thumbsup2

    First an introduction to my own cast members starting with me. I’m Catherine, the chief vacation planner for our family. My husband, BJ tried to share the title with me by planning our trip to Lima, Ohio to visit family but when he booked us in a Comfort Inn which made the Bates Motel look like a 5 star resort :scared: and was located next to a truck stop and a railroad track, I fired him as a planner. He admits that the research I do has resulted in some great vacations so he’s never again asked to help. Trip planning is one of my many joys and I love when there’s one to be planned. With each trip, I try to outdo the previous one! My regular day job is with a technology company that’s headquartered in the Bay area but a good number of the employees, including me, work from home. Love it!

    My husband BJ (Bernard Joseph) is retired from manufacturing and works part-time as the school librarian at our kids’ school. He’s a sports fanatic, primarily NFL and NBA. When we cruise in October, I’m betting he’ll have to pop into one of the bars on Sunday to check scores and see how his Fantasy Football team is doing. :happytv: He lived in Chicago before we got together and we’re both now in the Denver area. We’ve been married 13 years, the second time for both of us.

    The Yours of this trip is BJ’s son Patrick. Patrick is 32 and moved to Denver from Chicago just before BJ and I married. He’s a great guy, handsome, funny, and kind-hearted. I’m hoping he meets the girl of his dreams on the cruise. Not sure how many single, unattached women can be found on Disney cruises! :cheer2:

    The Mine is my daughter Nicole, also 32. She’s a package deal :bride: as she is coming with her husband Kalen. The two of them live in Pismo Beach, California, as a result of Kalen’s job transfer. She landed a position at one of the local wineries so we’ll be well stocked with wine on the cruise!party: I love the whole BYOB that Disney allows! They are the only experienced cruisers of our group as they honeymooned on a Carnival cruise a year and a half ago. The two of them are real hoot and tend to be the life of any party.

    Finally, we have the Ours………..Michael, 11, and Catie, 9. We took a lot of ribbing from our friends about having children at our age (I was 39 when I had Michael and BJ was 47….do the math!) but I am convinced they help keep us young! :cheer2:The two of them have had to listen to my updates about the cruise and Disney cruising in general. While Catie is in the spirit of it and as excited as I am, Michael is more pragmatic, like BJ, and says it’s too far off to get excited. :eek: The acorn didn’t fall far from that tree!

    Next up: Making the Decision to Take a Disney Cruise AKA Vacation Analysis Paralysis
     
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  3. Jiminy'sGirl

    Jiminy'sGirl DIS Veteran

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  4. CatDenver

    CatDenver Mouseketeer

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    Im not sure at what point I began to consider :scratchin a Disney cruise as family vacation. I do remember wanting to plan something different from our usual family trips. Initially I thought renting an RV and driving from Colorado to Alberta, Canada would be fun. But the more I looked into the RV parks and the lack of creature comforts plus the fact that the RV is a living room, dining room, bedroom, and bathroom smooshed into a 28ft vehicle, I nixed that idea. :scared1:Maybe for another time. Like when Michael and Catie reach an age where they no longer bicker because she frowned at me or he looked at me weird. :crazy2:

    So however I got the idea for a Disney cruise, I started by requesting the DCL DVD. I was mesmerized :love:from the start with the beauty of the ships. They reminded me of the ships from those old classic movies I love like An Affair to Remember and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. I was pretty sure this was going to be our next big trip. And to convince the rest of the family that this would be a fun and exciting vacation, I had them watch the DVD.:happytv: In his true stoic fashion, BJ showed some interest but was very low key about the whole thing. At the end of the day, hes pretty easy going and trusts me given my vacation planning track record. Catie (DD) was taken in right away :yay:and spent the next few weeks talking about when we were going to take a Disney cruise. I wasnt 100% sold so true to my nature, I began to do more research. :surfweb: I started googling Disney cruise reviews to try to gather info about the ships, the ports, staterooms, etc.
    And then it happened. pixiedust:

    I found it&&&..the DIS board! :disrocks: It was as if the heavens opened up and the angels began to sing! :dance3:

    It was almost overwhelming when I first started navigating around the DIS but I soon discovered it was a planners dream come true. :lovestruc So much information! It was like being locked in a virtual library with the only topic being Disney cruises. So I ventured in, reading posts :coffee: that were mostly in English but still requiring some deciphering. I wasnt sure what Palo was:confused: but clearly making reservations early was crucial. I learned quickly there are several topics that will always be debated on the DIS no matter how many times its been discussed: passport or birth certificate; bring your own drinks to the pool or follow the DCL rules; abide by the DCL dress code or do your own thing, tip concierge or dont tip, cabanas:beach:- waste of money or the best thing ever. And the acronyms were unbelievable. I thought the Air Force and the IT world I work in had cornered the market on the use of acronyms but theyve got nothing on the DIS board. OBC, OBB, CM, GTY, FE, EBPC, KTTW, WBPC&..it was a true alphabet soup. I actually lurked on the boards for almost a year before I created an ID and started posting. Still not happy with my ID of CatDenver :rolleyes:after seeing so many creative ones but, cest la vie!

    In spite of the confusion :confused3 around acronyms and terminology, I educated myself until I finally decided that it was time to make a firm commitment. I still had to work out the timing since we have school age children but I thought fall break would be an ideal time. I also had to figure out which ports we wanted to cruise. BJ proposed Alaska, which would have been nice but it was far more expensive than a Caribbean or Bahamian cruise and they dont have that as an option in October. And given that he has had tropical fish tanks as a hobby in which he created his own mini reef, he would love seeing the real thing. I figured for Alaska well do an OBB in October. (See, Im learning!) :cool1:

    By the way, the analysis paralysis comes in because all of this occurred over about an 11 month period of me thinking and researching all this. :hourglass

    So I finally reached out to a DU TA and committed to the October 26th Bahamian cruise on the Wonder. At this point, we were a party of four for this trip: me, DH, DS (11), DD (9). So I splurged on a 1 bedroom concierge, as I decided we would make this a belated birthday celebration:bday: for my DHs 60th birthday which is earlier in October, a huge milestone!

    Next: And Then There Were Seven
     
  5. CatDenver

    CatDenver Mouseketeer

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    I thought I'd post a few pictures of my family to give the readers a visual of this cast of characters.

    This picture is three years old and before Nicole and Kalen were married. It's one of my favorites! Left to right: Patrick, Michael, Nicole, Catie, Kalen

    [​IMG]


    Here's a group picture minus Kalen from his and Nicole's big day.
    [​IMG]

    I'm looking forward to getting some current family pictures on the cruise!
     
  6. CatDenver

    CatDenver Mouseketeer

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    As I said earlier, when I originally booked the cruise only DH, DS, DD, and I were going. I knew the older kids didn’t have it in their budget because of other travels and obligations they had. How they got included is a kind of a bittersweet story. First, I need to provide a bit of history of the last few months.

    Last August my mother-in-law passed away which was hard for my family though we were anticipating it. A month later my father passed, the day after his 85th birthday. I was actually flying to San Diego to be with him and my mother but he died about 24 hours before I got there. It was a very difficult time and I found myself reminiscing about my childhood. He was such a great dad! Lots of wonderful memories! It really impressed upon me how important family is and for me to do my best to keep creating great memories for my kiddos.

    Fast forward to this past January. I was the chairperson for the fundraising event at the kids’ school. It’s always a fun time so Nicole and Kalen flew out from California to attend. They spent a week with us and we had such a great time. As I dropped them off at the airport, I found myself crying as we said our goodbyes. The whole drive home I cried for missing them. It was then that it occurred to me we never had a family vacation with all of the kids. The closest we came to one was going to Pismo Beach for Nicole’s wedding but you know how weddings can be. It was an amazing time but with so many family and friends in town it wasn’t the same as taking a family vacation.

    So I decided I was going to tap into my stock options that have been sitting for several years and bring them along. I sent Nicole a text and asked if they’d want to come with us on the cruise and let us pick up the tab. When their plane landed she called me right away, absolutely incredulous. Needless to say, they were all for it. I then texted Patrick and asked him the same question. He too couldn’t believe it but immediately said yes. My only request of them was that they buy their own plane tickets to get to Houston.

    I called our TA and added the older kids to the trip. And then there were seven.

    Next: Fish Extenders and Port Excursions and Onboard Activities…Oh My!
     
  7. sherilynn

    sherilynn Mouseketeer

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    I'm in!

    I must confess to having a little addiction when it comes to reading trip reports. You will develop this problem after your cruise when you are forced to live vicariously...... ;)

    Can't wait to read more!
     
  8. DisneyMama629

    DisneyMama629 DIS Veteran

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    I'm on this cruise with you! Too bad I recently started dating a great guy! Your stepson and I would have gotten along great!
     
  9. Jiminy'sGirl

    Jiminy'sGirl DIS Veteran

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    :rotfl:

    Love this!! But, since good guys seems few and far between, don't be too upset about meeting one!! ;)


    and to Cat:

    Beautiful family!!! Wow!!!
     
  10. wiigirl

    wiigirl DIS Veteran

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    Beautiful family! :goodvibes
     
  11. CatDenver

    CatDenver Mouseketeer

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    Like Heather said, good guys are few and far between! So glad you found one! :-)

    Thank you both! I love them all!
     
  12. CatDenver

    CatDenver Mouseketeer

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    Okay, so the trip is booked, air travel and transfers are done. What remains are the details……the real fun stuff! There are fish extenders and gifts, onboard activities, what to do in Galveston the day before sailing, port excursions…….so much to research and plan! :surfweb:

    Let’s start with the FE. First, it took a bit of research to figure what it is and how it works. :confused: Right as I started to understand it, I read a post from someone who was unhappy with the quality of the items she received from her last participation in the FE on her cruise. Her beef was that she took so much time making her gifts and she didn’t feel some of her fellow FE’ers reciprocated. :mad: I consider myself a pretty fair, non-judgmental, see both sides of the story person so if she felt that way, whatever. But as I thought about it, how hurtful it must have been to the people who have participated with her, wondering if their FE gift is good enough. It made me stop and think, :scratchin well, what is the purpose of the FE? Is it to score some cool stuff or is it more about the spirit of connecting with fellow travelers? What is really behind the FE? Out of curiosity, I googled the history of gift giving and found an interesting article on the psychology of gifting. If you’re interested here’s the link: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/11/health/11well.html It’s a quick read. I think it offers some explanation of why the FE tradition exists on Disney cruises. In particular this stuck out to me:

    They (researchers) have found that giving gifts is a surprisingly complex and important part of human interaction, helping to define relationships and strengthen bonds with family and friends. Indeed, psychologists say it is often the giver, rather than the recipient, who reaps the biggest psychological gains from a gift. :hippie:


    So there it is. It comes down to people on the cruise wanting to ‘bond’ :grouphug:for a brief moment in time with their shipmates. That may not always be the case and certainly if you’re comparing what you give versus what you get the motivation may be somewhat different. Different strokes for different folks.:rolleyes1

    So back to my prepping for the fish extender, I made my FE about a month ago after looking at numerous pictures of examples on the DIS and on Facebook. Blowing an inch thick of dust from my sewing machine, I whipped one up in a couple hours. It’s not Etsy worthy but it’ll get the job done…I hope! I have images of coming back from the pool and seeing it in pieces in a heap on the floor! :crazy2:

    The harder part was deciding what gifts I would give. After reading that woman’s tirade :furious:I agonized a bit not wanting to make or give something that someone would think was ‘lame’. I flashbacked to 5th grade in the year 19…oh, never mind the year, when we had a Christmas gift exchange in class. My mother bought and wrapped a bottle of Jergens lotion for me to give as a gift. Side note: I googled vintage Jergens to find a picture of it and came across a Pinterest page for Jergens. Hmmm, okay. Anyway, I still remember the poor girl who got that bottle of Jergens. She was very vocal :mic: in her dissatisfaction. Wow, did I feel bad!:worried: My only consolation was someone gave a gift even lamer than mine, black socks! Rest assured my fellow travelers there will be no Jergens or black socks from this girl in your FE! :thumbsup2

    So back to the present, I started making the gifts a couple weeks ago. No, they’re not that complicated to make. Like most of you dear readers, my time :hourglass is chewed up with work, husband, kids, and school so it’s taking a while. Thank goodness I have 6 ½ months until the trip! But a funny thing has happened. In the last few days my DIS meet group has been communicating more on the board and we’ve got a Facebook group as well. Now that I’m seeing pictures of people and hearing a little bit about who they are, where they live, their significant others, children, parents…..well, the making of gifts has taken on a new significance. I’m no longer making gifts for these faceless strangers but for people who I’m getting to know and will meet soon enough. As I’m sewing I’m thinking of house shoes in the hallway and first in line before there is a line for Magic’s inaugural Galveston cruise and cabin crawls and family time celebrating birthdays and anniversaries and good friendships. All of these bits of information about these people who I’ll be sharing a ship with for 7 nights will be floating (pun intended) about my brain as my sewing machine whirls away! So however my gifts are received, my fellow travelers should know that they are made with the desire to bond if only for a short period of time as we share a magical moment pixiedust: in all our lives…..cruising with Disney! ::MickeyMo

    And on that note, dear reader, it's Friday night. Time for a cold beer :drinking1 and a rousing game of Settlers of Catan with the family. Cheers!
     
  13. DisneyMama629

    DisneyMama629 DIS Veteran

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    Great update!
     
  14. Jiminy'sGirl

    Jiminy'sGirl DIS Veteran

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    Just as we suspected.... It truly is better to give that receive!!!
     
  15. nerick8

    nerick8 Earning My Ears

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    Well said. We just took our 9th Disney cruise, but participated for the 1st time in the FE gift exchange. Some of the items were really cool, some were just OK, and we are still trying to figure one out. I realize that not everyone can sew, and some items are store bought, but appreciated all of the effort put into all items.
     
  16. CatDenver

    CatDenver Mouseketeer

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    We interrupt this pre-trip report to bring you.....winter, part deux! :eek: Yesterday I had to drive to my company's Broomfield, CO office, about 45 minutes from where I live. I left a very nice and DRY Aurora only to drive into a spring snow storm. This picture is the courtyard of the campus.

    [​IMG]

    And now back to my ruminations of port excursions, Castaway Cay and tropical drinks! :coffee:
     
  17. CatDenver

    CatDenver Mouseketeer

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    These last several days of snow have made me really long for the day when were stepping off the ship in Key West, Nassau, and Castaway Cay. Even as I type this theres still snow on the ground and its 33 degrees outside. :( BRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!

    [​IMG]

    So, on to port excursions&.I have to admit that of all the planning for this trip, this part has been the most challenging. There are so many options and to add to the complexity so many varying opinions of which are the best and worst excursions. :confused3 And its further complicated by the stance of those who dont even get off the ship at Nassau because they consider it an undesirable port. When I first chose our itinerary I wanted to a) make sure we had at least 3 sea days to enjoy the ship and b) have port options where we could get in one snorkeling excursion. Initially I was most excited about Nassau and Key West :cheer2: and mildly interested :scratchin in Castaway Cay. Not sure why I doubted that Disney would do something amazing with their own island but my initial impression was that it was just a beach. Well, clearly I had THAT all wrong. At this point, Castaway Cay is sounding like it will be the highlight of the three. Where Nassau sounded so exotic at first, now Im having images of being hounded by street hawkers followed by getting held up at gun point. Is there a t-shirt somewhere in there? Actually, I tend to be an optimist and adventurous so Im sure Nassau will be just fine. It will likely be where we do our snorkeling. :fish:

    Now, Key West, I have to say, is another port I initially was excited about :cool1: but then read about some bacchanalian festival occurring around the time well be there. The reports I read are that it involves a lot of drunken naked people. I grew up in a college town so it wont be anything I havent seen before. But not sure I want the younger kids seeing that just yet. Key West seems to have a Bohemian air about it. One person posted about a woman coming out of her house stark naked to walk her dog right past her, DH and their young children. :eek: And Im betting that the people who choose to run around naked are likely people who really have no business running around naked. Recently someone shared a YouTube video of a portly (Im being kind) gentleman in a Speedo dancing on the beach like he didnt have a care in the world. Hes become my model of what I expect to see in Key West. All that aside, Im still looking forward to Key West so I can do cheesy tourist things like getting our picture taken at the southernmost part of the U.S., buying Kino sandals, and eating key lime pie on a stick. If we happen to see a naked person or two along the way, que sera sera!

    Castaway Cay is really the surprise port for our itinerary because I knew nothing about it and thought it was no big deal, just a glorified beach. Yet its the one port where the opinions are consistent&&&..its amazing! Would it be wrong for me to hope for a tropical storm that could force us to skip one of the other ports and keep us at Castaway Cay? I know, not likely. The one thing Im grappling with on Castaway Cay is to cabana or not to cabana. The pros are that it would be great to have a place to hang out, our ground zero on the island. DH and DD have that Irish skin that burns just thinking about the sun so the cover would be good. And the chaises and hammock look fabulously cozy! But the price tag on it is pretty steep! :scared1:So far Ive been really splurging on this trip to make it an amazingly awesome family event. However, I have to admit Im still on the fence with the cabana. Youngest DD saw several YouTube videos of cabana tours so shes working overtime to convince me to go for it. Well see. :beach:

    Were roughly two 2 ½ months away, June 28th to be exact, from when I can start booking excursions online. Sometime before then well have to have a family meeting :grouphug: to discuss what our plans are for the three ports. Jeez, doesnt that sound so Brady Bunchish? The exception is that well have to Skype with DD and DSIL for that discussion. Definitely post Brady Bunch!
     
  18. Jiminy'sGirl

    Jiminy'sGirl DIS Veteran

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    Holy snow, Batman!

    I was raised i nSt. Louis (my parents still live there) and I do not miss snow one bit. The pizza and the Cardinals, yes. Snow and humidity? No.

    I am excited about CC too... I would LOVE to have a cabana, bu given our recent decision to (probably) upgrade to concierge I don't think I should push my luck! Besides, we booekd this cruse thinking it was our one-time DCL moment so we better go all out... however, I am already thinking about adding on a 3 night from Port Canaveral after our next trip to WDW!!! :lmao:

    Can't wait to hear what you decide for your port adventures!! I am thinking the following:

    Key West - rent electric cars and hit the tourist highlights (I must see Hemingway's house)
    Nassau - maybe walk around for an hour or two and see some of the architrcture and soak up a little locall flavor (it is very possible only my Dad and I will do this), then head abck to the ship for lunch and relaXation
    CC - play, play play every possible second we can!
     
  19. CatDenver

    CatDenver Mouseketeer

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    [​IMG]

    Okay, since you mentioned the Cardinals I've got to post a picture of me with DD at a fundraising event this past February that had a sports theme. My BFF and her husband photo bombed us! When I was a kid we lived across the river from St. Louis in Belleville, IL so I grew up loving the Cardinals! I definitely don't miss those Midwest winters!


    Your port adventures sound great! I too want to see the Hemingway house and I'm sure DD will too. The running joke with her is that she'll end up being the crazy cat lady :crazy2: so we need to get a picture of her with the Hemingway House cats.
     
  20. Jiminy'sGirl

    Jiminy'sGirl DIS Veteran

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    Too funny.... My husband grew up in Belleville!!!!!!
     
  21. CatDenver

    CatDenver Mouseketeer

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    No way!!! What a small world! I went to Douglas Elementary from kindergarten through 3rd grade in Belleville. At the time my dad was stationed at Scott AFB.
     

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