Day 1 Eastern Cruise January 21, 2006 There was myself, DH, DS11 and DS15, plus friends of ours, with their two kids, DS11 and DD 8. This was our second cruise, but our first to the Eastern Caribbean, and the first for our friends. We had gone in January 2004. We got to the port about 11:00, went through security, received our boarding number, 5, and proceeded up the escalator. The line for returning cruisers was shorter, so we went into that line. I asked if the ship was full, hoping to upgrade, but the cast member said that yes, they were indeed full. Both our friends and us stayed on Deck 2. We were in 2081, midship. We had stayed in that room before and enjoyed the location. Its close to the restaurants so you dont need to wait for he elevator to go up to dinner, or down to change, and its close to the laundry room! After getting our key to the world card, we really didnt know what to do. In the past we had hurried to get in line, but with the boarding number that isnt necessary. Several families, us included, ended up close to the ropes on the floor. The wait wasnt long once the boarding numbers were called. I did check out our Key To the World Card and saw what our dinning rotation would be. When they began calling the boarding numbers, it went more smoothly than I had thought it would. When they started calling numbers, we kept track of what number was next, it was not the easiest to hear, but not totally indiscernible. Of course we were standing near the lines. People did gather somewhat, but most people tending to start making a line when they were expecting their boarding number to be called. Once they started calling numbers, it did go fairly fast. At last, our number was called, and we headed through the ears to have our picture taken. The background was the same as when we had cruised before, but it makes for a great comparison to see how much the kids have changed since our last cruise. We went immediately to guest services to have the kids key to the world cards turned off. We had purchased the Disney cruise lanyards in the terminal, and they worked great. (We did learn something new in the terminal: When my husband went to purchase the lanyards, they wanted his key to the world card and not money) We then went up to topsiders to start enjoying our cruise. The kids quickly wanted to take off exploring. DS11 wanted to change into his bathing suit, which I had carried in my carry on case, and DS15 took off to explore. My friend and I went off to the Vista Spa, she had read the spinning classes filled early and she was gung ho to make sure we signed up. I had not even been near the spa before, so it was a new experience. The exercise area is awesome, and the view is really nice. We signed up for two 8:30 classes, the third interfered with our character breakfast and galley tour. Our rooms were ready at 1:30, but our luggage was much slower coming this time. We were a little worried that DS11 wouldnt have dress clothes for dinner. But eventually all the bags appeared, but it was close! I sent my DS15 to turn in my pillowcases to be signed by the princesses, and they were delivered Friday night after dinner. Also after talking it over with our friends, I sent DS15 back up to get tickets to the galley tour. Although they galley tour was not mentioned at all in the Navigator Saturday, he was able to secure us 4 tickets! Thanks to the Dis Board, I knew in advance that I could get the tickets to the tour. We had lots and lots of hangers, seemed more than last time. And yes, the beds do lift up nicely to put your big suite cases underneath. Last time we didnt do that, and it made a big difference. Our beverage cooler in the room had worked like a small refrigerator last trip. This time it was not working in anyway shape or form. My friend said something to her room steward, and they were brought a small refrigerator that fit under the desk! Might be worth asking for? We went and checked out Ocean Quest and found that even though DS11 wasnt planning on being in the clubs, he was required to be registered to use Ocean Quest. So we went up to deck 5, got him registered, received the pager we didnt want or use, and headed back down to our room. When he went to Ocean Quest, he did need his key to the world card to check in and out. I was excited to see that we had the PLAPLAP rotation since it would be nice to be at Lumiers during formal night, plus I had scheduled Palo brunch for Monday morning and the character breakfast wouldnt be until Thursday. By Thursday I wished we had had the character breakfast earlier in the week because after two days in port (and the early customs check in on Wednesday) Thursday would have been the perfect sleep in day. We LOVED the big screen over the goofy pool! Now, no matter where you stand, you can see whats going on on stage! Plus they would show the audience, which was really cool, especially if you were the one on the screen. For movies at night it didnt work out cause of the rough weather, but during the sail away celebrations and pirate night it was a terrific improvement. I had thought that our dinnertime was 6:00, but checking our tickets, found that it was 5:45 which I really didnt like. I was confused about how the staggered times worked. I assumed that each restaurant staggered their guests to make it easier on the staff, but the way it worked, each restaurant started at a different time. The first night, Animators palate was 5:30, Parrot Cay was 5:45 and Lumiers was 6:00. So, depending on the first restaurant you start with, that was the time you were to eat dinner each night. I felt more rushed to get ready for dinner eating at 5:45, I cant image how 5:30 would be! Sometimes I would get completely ready, except for my dress, and go to the program I wanted to attend (for example Martini tasting), and then rush to my room, change and head up to dinner. I prefer the 6:00, but with the staggered rotation, I may try the late seating next time. And everywhere you went hand wipes, with staff to hand them to you when you went into dinner. Dinner was great, our servers were ok. They both did their job, and did their job very well, but there was none of that joking around or getting to know each other that we had experienced on our first cruise. Its hard to describe how much that little extra that the servers do can add so much to the cruise. My DH and I discussed it at length because you wouldnt think that would make such a huge difference, but having servers who make you feel special adds so much to your cruise experience. Now I still rated them highly, because they did do their job, and were polite, but that is where it ended. And it could have just been personality conflicts, or that our servers from before where just extra special. But I noticed how other servers were acting, and how many were being hugged goodbye on that last night, so there are servers who have that extra special quality, but not all of them. Also, since I am on the subject, our room steward either was new, or very tired. I never saw her smile, and when I would speak to her she always seemed to have a blank look. We must have been the last on her list, because it was always late before the room was ready at night. Yet again, she did her job, but she seemed not to have that special Disney extra. Our friends had a great steward who often talked to them. Just the luck of the draw! After dinner, the kids went off exploring. We changed and headed to see Sky High in the theatre, we didnt go to the All Aboard show. When we got back to the room, I changed the clock an hour ahead. That is a hard hour to lose!