July 6th Western Cruise

wendym

I work to go to Disney!
Joined
Nov 16, 2000
This was our second cruise - me, Wendy, 32/33 high school teacher and my mum, Doreen, 68 and going through her second childhood!! We did the eastern Caribbean one last year and loved it.
We started off our vacation a week before at our timeshare in Orlando and spent the night before the cruise at Hilton in Downtown Disney.
Please accept my apologies for my spelling - I promise I am not an English teacher!!

Sat 6th July
We left the Hilton at about 9.15am and only made 1 wrong turn. We were at the port by 10.30 and dropped off the luggage. The first view of the ship is always awe inspiring. We returned the car to Avis and because we had no luggage easily got the shuttle bus back to the ship. We started chatting to the two gentlemen on the bus and it turns out 1 of them was stormkrow! I had told mum all about somebody organising a vow renewal on our cruise and here we were speaking to him. We met him and his wife on deck 7 aft on Sunday - they are wonderful people and we were glad they enjoyed the ceremony. I just hope I marry somebody as romantic – or as my sister would say just hope you marry somebody! We checked in very easily and stood in line ready to board chatting to people. We were onboard by 12.30 and they announced our names and where we came from. Well did the young photographer not come up to us and ask where in Scotland we were from – she was also from Aberdeen and lives 10 mins from us. We chatted later on the week and she even knows some of my ex pupils!! I took mum to the buffet and then went to Palos. I was 3rd in line and easily got my reservations. I then went back to the buffet and had some lunch before we headed to the stateroom. It was the same category as last year but actually seemed bigger. We met out stateroom attendant – Claude from the Bahamas and he was charming. Our Castaway club gift of a beach towel was lying on the bed. We unpacked our carryons and headed up to the pools for a cocktail. We had already signed mum up for the rainforest room but as we were having cocktails she announced she fancied a manicure – of course by this point there were few times left and the time she took we later realised clashed with the Castaway Club party so it finally had to be made for later in the week.
I then decided to go for a swim before the lifeboat drill. This was easy and then we did some more unpacking before the sailaway party which we enjoyed with some Bon Voyage cocktails.
After the welcome aboard variety show we got changed for dinner. We had a different dining rotation and anxiously awaited our dining companions. They were 10 mins late which added to our anxieties. Our servers were lovely though – David from England and Anita from Crotia. The head server was Christofe who used to be in charge of Palos – he even remembered us from last year. Last year we thought him rather aloof but he couldn’t be nicer this year. Eventually our table mates as Amanda called us turned up. We shouldn’t have worried as they were a delightful family from Oklahoma Amanda (11), Boo (6) Bob and Dee Dee. We started off in Parrot Cay with a lovely meal – our servers eager to please. The children loved the banana bread.
I think I finished the evening off with a stroll up on deck before crashing out. Well that was the plan but I remembered we would need some small change for tips for room service and went to the safe – well would it not open. Turns out my key was demagnetised so I had to get somebody up to open it!

Sun 7th
My 33rd Birthday
We woke up to a call telling us our room service breakfast was coming and we enjoyed that before having a stroll on deck 4. I went to the church service at Offbeat while mum went to the rainforest room.
Then we celebrated my birthday with a champagne brunch at palos with a wonderful view of us docking at Key West. We ate ourselves silly – I had a goats cheese and sun dried tomato omelette and mum had pancakes. We then got ready for Key West. Mum went parasailing and I went along for the ride. She had a great time and we got a great view of the island and the ship. After a quick shower it was back to sight see. We had a great time on Duvall Street and had drinks at Ricks and Fat Tuesdays and I got a henna tattoo on my wrist which unfortunately has faded. We went back but not before buying some key lime pie and had room service and then headed out for the sunset celebration at Mallory square. It was great fun although there were some suspicious characters hanging around. There was a bagpipe player, a guy juggling cats, fire eaters and stalls. We actually went back to the ship to view the sunset with cocktails before having our meal at Lumieres. I was presented with a card from the characters and a cake as well as being serenaded – a great way to celebrate my birthday.

Mon 8th
Day at Sea
Another room service breakfast – it is a wonderful way to wake up! While mum went to the rainforest room and the shopping talk I went to the Dazzling deserts talk. I had done the Art of Entertaining series on the last cruise when Corey had been the chef “why, because it is expensive and I’m not paying!”and he was excellent. This chef wasn’t as good but it was interesting. He made a caramel flan which we all got to taste as well as some champagne. It was too hot to sit on deck so I grabbed a booand went to the Promenade Lounge – a mimosa helped complete the scene!
We had the Asian buffet at Parrot Cay. I went to the Behind the Scenes tour and even got to stand on the stage and then I went for a swim. It was then time for the Castaway Club Reception. There were some lovely nibbles and cocktails. The captain made a nice speech and he and some of the other officers came round to chat.
It was time to get changed for formal night – I was lucky enough to have been asked to be a bridesmaid last year and the bride wanted us to have dresses that we could use again so this was the perfect opportunity. We went to Hercules and then to Sessions which we had never been to before. We had marvellous martinis – shaken not stirred and then went to Animator’s Palate – the baked tomatoes were awesome. I went to the sock hop for a short while and then we finished off the evening by going to the desert buffet in Lumiere’s – more chocolate!

Tues 8th
Grand Cayman
This was an early start as we had to tender but it was very efficient. We ordered room service breakfast for 7am and were at the theatre by 7.40am and got on the 3rd tender by 8am. From the tender I could see where we were going to and could see we could easily walk it. We were at Captain Marvins by 8.15am. They were just as friendly in real life as they had been by email. We didn’t see Ruth as she was on vacation but they were all great. I cannot recommend them enough. They offered to watch our bags while we went for a coffee at the English bakery down the road. It was such a nice place – they even put chocolate hearts on the cappuccino.
Mo took us in his taxi to the dock – so we got to see some of the island. Marlin and Le mar were our guides and were excellent- there were about 20 of us on the boat. There were 3 snorkelling stops and iced water and fruit juice were always available. The final stop was at the stingcity sandbar. This was where fishermen used to clean the fish so stingrays used to come for the food. We got the opportunity to hold them, feed them and some people even kissed them! They feel like velvet and nobody got stung. I was so glad we did this on our own as some of the other boats were packed – our guides were able to help us.
On the trip back I felt rather ropey, slight sea sickness so I took it easy once we reached Georgetown. We went to the Wreckers pub and mum ad some lunch – I just had a soft drink! We shopped our way back to the ship, sampling lots of rum cake and fudge. We had a drink at Hard rock – I had stingray beer which is a dark beer and then took the tender back to the ship. Like others said they made this so painless and there was always officers overseeing everything.
We ordered room service and then went to the Cinco de Mayo deck party and had the 2 for 1 margaritas. I went to see Return to Neverland and mum went to the rainforest room. It was then time for Palos which was excellent as always. I had a strawberry salad appetizer, fillet of beef and the soufflé.

Wed 10th
Cozumel
After another room service breakfast – can’t you tell we love this aspect of the cruise! We got ready for the beach. I had toyed with the Tulum ruins but decided it was too long a day. So after research on the internet I opted for Mr Sanchos beach. This was an excellent choice. We were off the ship by 10.15am and after walking through the shopping mall – far cleaner than I was expecting- we got a taxi. This cost $15 for both of us and the driver was nice and friendly. This beach was just beyond Play del Sol beach but I am sure it wasn’t as crowded. To get to the beach you walk past some small shops, the beach is clean and there are lots of chairs and loungers. We set up camp at a table near the bar and we had our own waiter. He watched our stuff although there were lockers. The sea was gorgeous and the bar had swings instead of seats. We had lunch of nachos, dips, wings, ribs and some wonderful Papaya Mahi’s and of course Sol beer. For the whole4 hours we were there it only cost us $30. The rest rooms were spotless and there were outdoor and indoor showers.
When we left there were plenty of taxis and we took one back to the main town for $15. We again shopped our way back to the ship – wonderful silver jewellery. We had a drink at Adobe’s – I looked into Carlos and Charlies but decided that I had enough to drink at that point. Again we had room service before we went to see Lilo and Stitch which was hilarious.
Tonight was Mexicalifragi……. deck party so we get decked out into island gear. It was a blast and there was a great Mexican buffet. I haven’t said much about our servers but they were excellent. They were so good with the children even cutting their food with them and getting more cherries with them but they were also great with the adults, never rushing us.

Thurs 11th
Day at Sea
Today was our character breakfast at Parrot Cay – it was fun but the photographer didn’t seem to think that adults like mum and I would like our photos taken – however we enjoyed watching the children interacting with them. Again mum and I went our separate ways but we were going to meet up for the Q & A session with the Walt Disney Theatre cast. This was very interesting and there was only 10 of us plus the cast. We had decided on Lumiere’s for lunch and this is when we got to meet last year’s server – Juliano. Mum was sure she had seen him in the distance on the Sat but because we were on a different restaurant rotation we hadn’t seen him again. Well today she spotted him and she went up to speak to him – so unlike her. It took him a moment but he remembered us.
I watched the adult pool games for a while – I thought they were a hoot and John is hilarious. Then while Mum was having her manicure I booked next year’s cruise. Mary Jo is a cutey and she agreed to help keep it a secret. The $200 stateroom credit was to good to pass up.
Tonight was the Captain’s Gala so we went along for the cocktail reception –Mai Tais and Cosmopolitans – and to see everybody dressed up. Disney Dreams was excellent as ever and then I went to Dan Riley’s show. His songs were hilarious but I was disappointed that so much of his later adult show was the same. The Captain’s Gala menu at Animator’s Palate was lovely – ate too much as usual. We both had a riot at the 70’s time warp disco.

Fri 12th
Castaway Cay
We docked early and had a lovely view of the island as we ate breakfast at Lumiere’s. we got off by 9.45am and set up camp at the family beach. We went for a swim before it got to crowded and then went for a walk to the shops and then to Heads up Bar for a konk cooler. By this time it was time for Cookies BBQ – we loved the frozen yoghurt. Then we took the tram to Serenity bay. Last year because of the tides it was quite a steep slope in to the water but this year it was just perfect. In fact if we ahd known it was so good this year we would have gone straight there. There were a lot of jelly fish stings at the family beach this year. At the adult area it is had to believe all the crowds are so close by. We had to have a drink at Castaway Air Bar – I think I drank as much this vacation as I have all year!
I went to the disembarkation talk while mum went to the spa and I stayed to watch the Children’s farewell show – I was in tears and I didn’t know any of them! I think the counsellors deserve a medal – the children behave so much better for them than their own parents. After the final variety show – Rich Purpura is a scream it was time for It’s a Small World menu. I love the waistcoats the servers wear and the final flag waving. We had small gifts for everybody – for David a bottle of Glenfiddich – we didn’t think it would be for somebody so close by!, for Christophe a calendar and Anita some chocolates. We also had Scottish dolls for Amanda and Bo. They all deserved their tips. Christophe then let the cat out of the bag by asking if we had rebooked – I had managed not to say but my face gave it away! He then said we had to make sure we asked for the same team again and I am going to.
We missed the final goodbye in the atrium because we spent so long chatting to everybody and then it was time to get the bags out – so glad we don’t have to carry them! We weren’t too late as we ahd to get up for immigration at 6am!

Sat 13th July
Welcome Home
Immigration was very easy and we were back in the room by 6.20am waiting for our breakfast. We were back in parrot cay and it was a lovely way to say goodbye to everybody. We were off the ship by 9am and very easily got a porter to take our cases and escort us to where the rental car vans pick you up – glad we were not trying to get Avis as there was a huge can. We were the only one in the Hertz one and it wasn’t too long before we were off to Orlando in our car.
Just as we were approaching Animal Kingdom Lodge the heavens opened so we were very glad to drop the car off with the valets. I had only booked a standard room but I was incredibly lucky and got a room on the Kudu Savanah and got into it immediately. At various times we had zebra, giraffes and Thompson gazelles outside the room – I love the thommies! Because it was still raining we took the bus to the marketplace and had lunch at Puck’s express – had a voucher to get 1 free!
We did some shopping and then back to AKL – I took a book to read overlooking 1 of the savannahs but then the rain eased off so I headed to the pool. I just was on the top of the slide when the lifeguard blew for the pool to be cleared but they let me down the slide!!
Enjoyed a nap before our meal at Jiko. We have eaten 3 times at Boma but wanted to try here – we had free glasses of wine with the DC card. The food was outstanding as was our server. Mum wanted the Moroccan chicken but for some reason it came with mashed potatoes – she hates those with a vengence so she asked for cous cous instead. We all agreed that this was much more appropriate. I had the grains and veggies with tandori tofu which was excellent. We finished it off with coffee and gavua sherbet and stone fruits. To complete an excellent day we went back to the pool and hot tubs – I love how these are open 24 hours.
The next 10 days were spent at WDW and Universal Studios - I hope to get those days finished in the next few days and will post them too - don't hate me too much!
Wendy
 

llachance

DIS Veteran
Joined
May 14, 2002
I traveled with my Mom and daughter (15yo) on the same cruise.....in fact we went to AKL before so we did the trip just the opposite......had the same dinner rotation too. Agree that the photographer didn't seem to want to take pictures with adults at the character breakfast....even tried to skip my 15YO for the younger kids that were at the table, kind of disappointing because my mom had really gotten into the mood (she was reluctant when I first suggested the trip to her) and it would have been fun to have more pictures! I also rebooked for next year except that we are going at Christmas because my daughter will be in school next summer.
 

Minnie's Guy

Mouseketeer
Joined
Mar 12, 2001
Our cruise is only a few weeks away and I'm
enjoying your reports. So glad to hear about
Mr. Sanchos, we decided to do this also.
My 'boys" (DH and 2 DS) will also do Capt. Marvin
on their own (while I do laundry or relax on the
ship!). Thank you again.
 

KarenNY

<font color=darkorchid>Chat Host<br><font color=gr
Joined
Aug 15, 1999
Wendy,
Sounds like you had a fabulous cruise. We just booked parasailing in Key West and Capt Marvin's in Grand Cayman. Your report on these sounds quite positive, so I think they're good choices. Thanks
 

FantasticDisFamily

<font color=navy>Sent <font color=red>on a <font c
Joined
Jul 26, 2002
Sounds like a marvelous trip Wendy! Quick question - you mentioned heading for Mallory Square to watch the sunset. Is there actually time to watch the sunset from shore or do we have to be back on board ship before the actual set?
 

wendym

I work to go to Disney!
Joined
Nov 16, 2000
I can heartily recommend both Fury for parasailing and Captain Marvin's for snorkelling - we felt safe with both of them.
As for the sunset, we had late seating for dinner (8.30pm) so there would just have been time to be back before dinner (I think you have to be back on board for 10pm) but I think we got a better view on deck 10. We got to enjoy Mallory Square and then see the sunset on the ship - IMHO paying for a sunset cruise as a lot of people did would have been a waste.
Wendy
 

llachance

DIS Veteran
Joined
May 14, 2002
We paid for a sunset cruise and enjoyed it tremendously. We got back to the ship in time for our late dinner seating (although if they keep the earlier schedule you can't do that in the future). It was nice being out on the water, listening to great music and folklore as the sun was setting. You can also check with Shirley (the Perfect Gift person) and she can give you all sorts of Key West hints since she was born and raised there.
 

taswira

"Let It Go" - but carefully guard your secrets!
Joined
Jan 1, 2002
Originally posted by llachance
Agree that the photographer didn't seem to want to take pictures with adults at the character breakfast....even tried to skip my 15YO for the younger kids that were at the table, kind of disappointing because my mom had really gotten into the mood>
As an adult with no kids, on my first DCL cruise I accepted the way things were and had NO pictures of myself with any characters. My next cruise I "claimed" the same "rights" as kids. I stood in line for my favorites - Chip & Dale, Mickey, Minnie. Adults pay a lot of money for DCL cruises, and the characters are a major part of what makes it a DISNEY cruise. Adults who cruise DCL (especially those <I>without kids</I>) do so because they are still young at heart and while onboard it's wonderful to "believe" that the characters you grew up with are "real." I plan to take my mom on a Disney cruise in the future. She will <I>expect</I> some attention from the characters. DCL should realize that teens and adults who are true Disney fans can feel cheated and hurt if they are denied the character experiences. Just MHO - but it's a subject I feel VERY strongly about.
 

Hopkins

DIS Veteran
Joined
Aug 18, 1999
I enjoyed reading your report and ... HAPPY 33rd BIRTHDAY!

Thanks for sharing your trip.
Tina
 

wendym

I work to go to Disney!
Joined
Nov 16, 2000
Tina - thank you for the Happy Birthday. A lot of my friends took great delight in writing in my age in my cards - I am the oldest of our group!
Taswira - I agree totally with you and I stood in line many times to get photos. I am sure if we had said something we would have got photos taken but we still have them from last year and the characters were the same - it is just us that are a year older!!
Wendy
 

taswira

"Let It Go" - but carefully guard your secrets!
Joined
Jan 1, 2002
wendym - Have you ever noticed that at least every few years the characters (their costumes) actually change? I was (in a stroller but I remember <I>everything</I>) at Disneyland the day it opened. Mickey didn't look so great back then, although I thought he did at the time. I've compared pictures and found that the costumes keep improving and the characters keep looking more "real." And sure, I have photos with them, but will make a point to get at least a few new pictures with my favorites on <I>every</I> DCL cruise from now on, because for me it's a big part of the experience and the memories.
 

wendym

I work to go to Disney!
Joined
Nov 16, 2000
I got a great one with Peter Pan and Wendy this year!! So 2 Wendy's for the price of one.
 

FantasticDisFamily

<font color=navy>Sent <font color=red>on a <font c
Joined
Jul 26, 2002
Hey guys what do you mean "looking more real"? And what is this costume reference? Do you mean these guys AREN'T real?!?!?:confused:
 

taswira

"Let It Go" - but carefully guard your secrets!
Joined
Jan 1, 2002
Originally posted by FantasticDisFamily
Hey guys what do you mean "looking more real"? And what is this costume reference? Do you mean these guys AREN'T real?!?!?:confused:
They ARE if you BELIEVE! And when I am in the parks or on the ship, I BELIEVE!
 

wendym

I work to go to Disney!
Joined
Nov 16, 2000
Of course they are real and don't let anybody tell you otherwise!! Oh boy I am so glad my school pupils can't see this - they already think I am nuts but then they also know an easy way to get "Miss" side tracked is to ask about Disney!
 

FantasticDisFamily

<font color=navy>Sent <font color=red>on a <font c
Joined
Jul 26, 2002
Whew! You had me worried for a minute there.

Speaking of teaching, I had a student in my office on a conference this afternoon regarding a paper he is doing. (University level) Most of my students stay away from anything Disney because they know my interest. Well this guy decides to do his International Marketing paper on Disney Paris. Long story short he was having trouble getting the time line straight and had WDW as the FIRST park in the 80's! I suggested he do a little more research before turning that paper in!:rolleyes:
 

KarenNY

<font color=darkorchid>Chat Host<br><font color=gr
Joined
Aug 15, 1999
Weny, did you do the 2 hr (8:30-10:30) or half-day (10-1) snorkle with Capt Marvin?
 

KarenNY

<font color=darkorchid>Chat Host<br><font color=gr
Joined
Aug 15, 1999
Thank, Wendy. How early do you have to show up for it. That's the one we're doing. We booked a 2PM parasail on Key west- sounds like that was a good idea too.
 



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