Our Wonderful "Another B-E-A-U-tiful Day" EBPC & Halloween Cruise ~ October 2018 ~ Updated 12/14

Discussion in 'Disney Cruise Line Trip Reports' started by disneyfaninaz, Nov 4, 2018.

  1. disneyfaninaz

    disneyfaninaz It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!

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    We just got come home from another amazing DCL cruise. We avoided a major hurricane, the sea days were so much fun and going through the Panama Canal was epic! I’m still wading through laundry :laundy:and loading photos :surfweb:, but let’s get started, shall we!

    Cast of Characters:

    Our cast for this trip is small compared to our last cruises. It would just be 5 of us.

    Me: 25th Anniversary celebrating, Disney trip planning, retired mom of a college student.

    DH: 25th Anniversary celebrating, retired, indulging husband of my Disney dreams!

    DNC: Cruising buddy and planning co-hort.

    DNJ: DNC’s husband and all around good egg.

    DNM: Princess, uber Disney fan!

    Background:

    2018 shaped up to be a very busy year. We prepared for our one and only to graduate from high school and head to college out-of-town in the fall. We planned and enjoyed an epic 19 day trip to Europe which included 5 nights in London before our 10 night Mediterranean Disney Cruise in July. (Med Cruise Trip Report)

    One of the cruise itineraries that DH always wanted to do was the Panama Canal crossing. Unfortunately, they are 14 nights long and always in the Spring or Fall, right smack dab in the middle of the school semesters. While our DD was in school we made a conscious decision to not take her out of school (for any more than 1 day for travel) for vacations. We would travel over spring and fall breaks or over the summer.

    Well. . .DCL itineraries opened up for the Fall of 2018 in May of 2017. We secretly talked with our cruise buddies (who were also interested in the PC cruise) and decided that 2018 would be the year. Both our DDs would be graduated from high school, so we were free to go. DD would be well into her first semester of college (no fall breaks there).

    Traditionally, the PC cruise is considered a transitional cruise, so prices are generally less expensive. So, on May 16th, opening day for Gold CC members, I called and was able to book the Eastbound PC cruise in a 5C cabin on the 6th deck with a verandah. We got a great rate with only the 2 of us. We kept it a secret from our DD as long as we could. We knew she would be mad at us for going without her (and she was), but what are you going to do, we’re both retired!

    Planning:

    In the spring of 2018, I pulled out my Panama Canal folder and started thinking about airfare and a hotel in San Diego. The cruise arrives back to the US in Galveston, so we had to get airfare home from Houston. We fly Southwest Airlines whenever possible and were able to get good fares both ways.

    We’ve been to San Diego many times, so we decided one night before the cruise was all we needed. We booked the Marriott Springhill Suites Downtown. I was going to use points, but I couldn’t get a room with a harbor view, so we splurged so I could possibly see the Wonder come into port the morning of our departure.

    We also booked airfare home from Hobby Airport the day of departure and a shuttle service to Hobby.

    Ironically, the day that I could start booking excursions and check in online was the day before we left on our Med cruise in Barcelona. So, instead of 9PM the night before (being MST in Arizona), I am checking in at 6 AM, the morning of. I was able to get all our excursions and Palo booked without any problems. With the exception for Grand Cayman, which we booked a private tour with our neighbors, we booked all DCL excursions. We also booked 3 tastings, a Palo brunch with our neighbors and a Palo dinner just for us!

    The only other thing to do was plan our costumes for Halloween. DNM wanted to go as Cinderella so she told her parents they had to go as her ugly step-sisters and wear big butts! So that left Lady Tremayne for me and the Fairy “Godfather” for my DH.


    After that, we were all ready to set sail! :sail:

    Itinerary:

    Day 1 – October 18, 2018 – Travel Day, San Diego

    Day 2 – October 19, 2018 – San Diego, Embarkation

    Day 3 – October 20, 2018 – Sea Day 1

    Day 4 – October 21, 2018 – Cabo San Lucas

    Day 5 – October 22, 2018 – Sea Day 2

    Day 6 – October 23, 2018 – Sea Day 3

    Day 7 – October 24, 2018 – Sea Day 4

    Day 8 – October 25, 2018 – Sea Day 5

    Day 9 – October 26, 2018 – Sea Day 6

    Day 10 – October 27, 2018 – Panama Canal

    Day 11 – October 28, 2018 – Cartagena, Colombia

    Day 12 – October 29, 2018 – Sea Day 7

    Day 13 – October 30, 2018 – Grand Cayman

    Day 14 – October 31, 2018 – Cozumel, Halloween on the High Seas

    Day 15 – November 1, 2018 – Sea Day 8

    Day 16 – November 2, 2018 – Galveston

    Next: Our Adventure Begins
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2018
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  2. Magical_Suitcase

    Magical_Suitcase aka: kid-at-heart

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    Looking forward to reading about your adventures! This trip is on our list. I work at a local college so we have to travel outside of the semester. I plan to retire in 2020 so fingers crossed it will not be too long before we are cruising through the Panama. Thanks for sharing.

    Kate
     
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  4. disneyfaninaz

    disneyfaninaz It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!

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    Thursday, October 18, 2018

    Travel Day - San Diego

    Well, after a year and a half of planning, the day had finally arrived.

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    I woke up at 7:30 AM (too excited to sleep anymore), to discover a message from Southwest Airlines that our flight’s departure was delayed by 15 minutes to 1:45 PM. No sweat. We got another message later saying that the departure time was now moved to 2:35 PM. Okay?

    We had a shuttle arranged to pick us up at 10:45 AM to take us to the airport. Our shuttle driver picked us up on time and we were at the airport 20 minutes later. Fortunately, Sky Harbor is not very busy on Thursdays during the late morning hours. Since the flight was delayed, we decided to eat lunch at the airport and ate at Joe’s BBQ. It’s one of our favorite restaurants in Gilbert.

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    While at the airport we got notice that our flight was now leaving earlier at 2:15 PM. I used EarlyBird Check-in and we had A37 and A38 with TSA Pre Check boarding passes! We sailed through security, even though the Pre-Check line was longer than the regular line, and went to the gate and waited to board. Fortunately, the plane was not full and DH and I were able to sit by ourselves in a row! The flight was 50 minutes and we arrived in San Diego in no time at all. We recovered our checked bags and grabbed a taxi to the Marriott.

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    We checked into the hotel at about 4:00 PM. Not surprisingly, there were a lot of people at the hotel who were going on the PC cruise. It is a fairly new hotel right next to the harbor. It shares facilities with the Courtyard by Marriott. We had room 1614 with a partial bay view looking out to the North.

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    It was a very nice room with a king bed and little sitting area. The bathroom had a glass sliding door and the shower was glass enclosed and was wonderful!

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    The Wonder would be docking at the B-Street terminal and depending on which side she docked on, I would be able to see her from my window!

    I had been checking the weather before we left because of the very active tropical weather season, especially in the Pacific. Sure enough, there was a tropical storm that they were watching off the coast of Mexico. It was named TS Vincento. We got an email from DCL stating that due to the disturbance, Puerto Vallarta would be cancelled and we would get an extra sea day.

    We met up with our neighbors and decided to have drinks up on the 5th floor deck. It was a beautiful day in San Diego. We were a little early for happy hour and had to wait about 20 minutes for the bar to open. We all had hankerings for margaritas, but unfortunately, the bar didn’t have all the fixings needed. So, I introduced my neighbors to Tequila Sunrises. They were very good and refreshing.

    The company my DH worked for managed him out of San Diego. He would make monthly trips to meet with his staff and managers. He still keeps in touch with his fellow managers and arranged to meet several of them at The Fish House for dinner Thursday night. While I had met his friends before, I really didn’t want to have dinner with them while they talked shop. So, I tagged along with my neighbors who were meeting DNJ’s brother and his family for dinner. We went to Corvette Diner at Liberty Station. It is a 50’s themed burger joint. They had really good milk shakes and the waiters would do dance routines throughout the restaurant.

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    It was a great time. We headed back to the hotel and prepared for the next day when we would board the Wonder!

    Next: All Aboard!
     
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  5. buteraa

    buteraa Mouseketeer

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    Following along! Sounds like a great trip.
     
  6. disneyfaninaz

    disneyfaninaz It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!

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    I know what you mean. But, it was well worth the wait! Hope you can make the trip.

    Thanks for joining! It really was a great trip!
     
  7. darnheather

    darnheather DIS Veteran

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    Following along. Headed the opposite way in just 109 days!
     
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  8. FSU Girl

    FSU Girl DIS Veteran

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    Joining in! A Panama Canal cruise has always interested me. One day the dates will work with a vacation.
     
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  9. cheermom2four

    cheermom2four DIS Veteran

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    Joining also! I hope to some day take a pc cruise! Until then, I will live thru your TR :-)
     
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  10. lorimay

    lorimay My littlest Loves

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    So excited for your report!
     
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  11. disneyfaninaz

    disneyfaninaz It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!

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    Day 2
    Friday, October 19, 2018
    San Diego, Embarkation

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    I woke up at 5:30 AM, 5:45 AM, 6:00 AM and 6:15 AM to peek through my window to see if I could catch the Wonder coming into port. Finally at 6:15 AM I saw her start to pull in!

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    Afterwards, I went back to bed for an hour or so before we had to get up and go to breakfast at about 8. The Marriott offered a free breakfast, and shared the breakfast room with the Courtyard. Unfortunately, the breakfast wasn’t very good and I was a bit disappointed. We did see a lot of people wearing Panama Canal T-Shirts and DCL T-Shirts. We went to the deck on the 5th floor to take another look at the Wonder.

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    After breakfast the 5 of us decided to walk along the harbor towards Seaport Village. We saw several families who had just gotten off the Wonder waiting in the lobby for rooms.

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    We passed the USS Midway and stopped to watch a fishing crawler unload what looked like sharks at the fish processing facility there. We liked watching the sea gulls try to grab bites of the fish without being caught. Mine, Mine, Mine!!!

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    At about 10:15 AM we walked back to the hotel and checked out. I expected more people to be checking out, but the lobby was already clear as people got their rooms. We walked a very short walk to the terminal where we handed off our luggage to the porters and went to check in
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    We got to the terminal just at 11:00 AM, which was our Port Arrival Time. We went through security fairly quickly and checked in without waiting at all.

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    We were given the Voyager Navigator and the letter regarding the weather.

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    We found some seats in the waiting area for our boarding number to be called, which was 3.

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    The first thing I noticed was the number of, shall I say, “older” passengers. My DH and I are in our 50’s, but I felt like we were on the far younger side of the average age of passengers on board for this cruise. I knew there wouldn’t be a lot of kids, but I didn’t expect that. The second thing I did was make note of our dining rotation, which was TP, TR and AP. I wanted to make sure that our Palo dinner night didn’t coincide with Tiana’s Place. Fortunately, we were scheduled for Triton’s that night, so all was good!


    To be continued. . .
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2018
  12. disneyfaninaz

    disneyfaninaz It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!

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    Day 2 (Continued)

    Our neighbors waited to board with us so we could get our group photo taken. At 12:00 PM, they started letting Concierge and Platinum Boarding Number 1 passengers. There were a lot of platinum cruisers. Shortly after that, our boarding number was called and we made our way to another area where we got our picture taken.

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    However, where we usually just tap our KTTW and start up the ramp, we had to wait as there was a traffic jam on the ramp unto the ship. We probably waited 10 minutes before we could go.

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    It took another few minutes once we entered the ramp to actually get on the ship. Then they were announcing our name as we boarded! I took a minute to notice the Pumpkin Tree in the atrium and the Jack-O-Lantern stickers on the port hole windows.

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    The first order of business was to go to Cabanas for lunch. We found a table and put down all of our carry-ons. DNC and I had to go to the DLounge to make sure that our Palo luncheon reservations were merged so we could sit together. After a short wait, we also confirmed our dinner reservations.

    It was then time to get my peel-and-eat shrimp!

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    Before long it was 1:30 PM and we went down to deck 6 to see if our room was ready. We got off the elevator to a crowd in the area in front of the elevators. In another minute, the barriers were removed and everybody headed to their staterooms. We were in a full verandah stateroom, 6132.

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    Our neighbors asked us to come down to their room and check out their verandah. They were in a HC room, 6154, and their verandah was huge. It took up literally half of the aft of the ship. It was going to be nice hanging out there on Panama Canal day.

    Our stateroom host, Von, came and introduced himself and asked if we needed anything. We told him we would like ice in our stateroom every night. We chilled in the stateroom for a bit waiting for our luggage but it didn’t come.

    I decorated the door with my magnets.

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    We went up to Deck 10 and took some pictures. It really was another beautiful day in San Diego.

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    We went back to our room hoping for luggage delivery, but nothing had arrived. The Navigator App said that the muster drill was at 3:45 PM, but it really wasn’t until 4:00. A little before 4:00, we made our way down to Animator’s Palate for the drill. We had a different station than our neighbors this time. After the drill, we headed back up to our stateroom and found one of our pieces of luggage had been delivered.

    We headed up to Deck 9 to watch the Adventures Away party. But first, we had to get our Bahama Mamas, from Signals.

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    We had no idea at the time how much we would get to know the activities crew members over the next 2 weeks as they were doing their aerobic workout on stage. Natalie came on stage to introduce herself and before we knew it, the fabulous Wonder horn was blowing and we were on our way.

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    We stayed up on deck until we got to Cabrillo Point and then headed down to get ready for dinner. Both of our other pieces of luggage had arrived, but there was no time to change for dinner.

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    Shelter Island

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    Naval Yard Maintenance

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    Cabrillo Point

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    To be continued. . .
     
  13. disneyfaninaz

    disneyfaninaz It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!

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    Day 2 (Continued)

    Dinner for our first night was in Tiana’s Place. We haven’t been on the Wonder since they opened this restaurant and I was excited to see it. It did not disappoint. Our serving team for the cruise would be Nino and Yayan.

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    The details on the table were amazing.

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    We had the Let the Magic begin Menu.

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    I had the Chicken Bastillo and Clam Chowder

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    (I’ll just say right now, that I tried to get a picture of the menus and what I ate every night, but I wasn’t very consistent, my apologies for the Food Porn lovers out there).

    I also had the Pork Tenderloin Wellington.

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    I loved the details on the plates.

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    Dessert.

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    I had the Magical Express Sundae.

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    I had put on our reservation that DH and I were celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary. So tonight was the night they decided to celebrate.

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    I will say that while I love the theming of the restaurant, it was very dark where we were sitting. There was a row of lights on either side of the main aisle they could have turned on, but they weren’t. I also noticed how badly the chandeliers shook.

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    As per usual, dinner service was slower than usual on the first night, so we did not finish in time to see the beginning of the Pumpkin Tree lighting. One of the activities crew member told a story behind the Pumpkin Tree and then “This is Halloween” started to play and the tree came to life and lit up. It was very short.

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    Based on past history, I wanted to get to the stores as soon as I could so that I would be able to get a Panama Canal shirt in my size. I was lucky to get a Panama Canal logo-ed, T-shirt, pin, magnet, ornament and a book about the Panama Canal.

    After shopping, DNC and I went to see The Beverly Belles perform in the WD Theater. It was a scripted show with a lot of Disney movie tunes. The girls harmonized very well and their story was cute. After the show, I went back to the room to unpack. Just before 10:00 PM, DNC and I went down to Shutters for their drawing for some free photos. Unfortunately, we didn’t win.

    We found a card on our bed that we were to move our clocks ahead one hour tonight, so we did.

    Then we went to bed! Our first towel animal.

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    Next: Our first Sea Day!
     
  14. figment52

    figment52 <font color=royalblue>Oh man, I checked out the we

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    I see friends of mine in your dining room photo!
     
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  15. DnA2010

    DnA2010 Rope Drop!

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    Hopping on board, really enjoyed your updates so far!!
     
  16. Happy99

    Happy99 DIS Veteran

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    Looking forward to your review. The Panama Canal cruise we did in 2008 was one of our favorite cruises to date.
     
  17. KimmyD

    KimmyD Earning My Ears

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    I have never been on a Disney cruise, I am really looking forward to this!
     
  18. FSU Girl

    FSU Girl DIS Veteran

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    Looks like a fun first day. Tiana's looks so cute. We are booked for the Hawaii cruise, I'm excited to go on this ship.
     
  19. disneyfaninaz

    disneyfaninaz It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!

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    :welcome:Have a great time, I would go either way through again in a heartbeat!

    :welcome:

    :welcome:

    :welcome:

    It's a small world, after all!

    :welcome: and thanks!

    :welcome: This one ranks among my favorites as well.

    :welcome: I hope you can take a Disney cruise someday. They are awesome!

    Yes, Tiana's was great. I liked the nights when they had the band singing during dinner.
     
  20. disneyfaninaz

    disneyfaninaz It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!

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    Day 3

    Saturday, October 20, 2019

    Sea Day 1

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    We woke up about 8:15 AM to get ready for breakfast at Cabanas at 9:00 AM. We found our neighbors sitting outside so we sat near them. We ran into our server from our Alaska 2014 cruise, Shane. He actually recognized our neighbors. DH was talking to Shane about our DD being at Northern Arizona University and not being on the cruise with us and how she wasn’t happy with us. Our neighbors left to go to the Princess Gathering. While we were finishing breakfast a couple came over to us and said they couldn’t help but overhear (DH has a pretty booming voice) about our DD. As it turns out, they also left their kids at home and their oldest just graduated from NAU. Such a small world!

    After breakfast, I found myself over by the Disney Vacation Planning Desk on Deck 4. I tapped my KTTW and got put in the queue. Then I went met my DH in the atrium and took some pictures.

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    In the meantime, one of the new activities that we have never done before on any of the ships is the daily Photo Challenge. DNC picked up the clues. Today’s challenge was to find logos around the ship. We spent about an hour looking for the logos.

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    After a while I got a call from the desk that it was my time. I got tired of booking cruises and then hoping I could reshop them on my next one, so I decided to book a place holder so I could get a 10% discount on a future cruise. If nothing comes out for the summer of 2020, I’ll make another one on our Alaska cruise.

    We went to the Walt Disney Theater to hear Captain Ken Puckett, a retired Canal Pilot, give a talk about the “Introduction to the Panama Canal” at 11:00 AM. I bought our neighbors a copy of Capt. Puckett’s book before the cruise and they really enjoyed reading it. Capt. Puckett’s talk was very interested and funny. We very much enjoyed it.

    After the talk, we headed up to Cabanas for lunch.

    I think it was during the Captain’s noon report, that he told us because of a new developing storm, Hurricane Willa, we would be shortening our time at Cabo the next day and leaving earlier than originally planned.

    Funny story, at some point during the day, we had checked our DCL excursion tickets and noticed that DH didn’t have one for our Cozumel excursion, even though he was on the itinerary. We took my ticket down to the Port Adventures desk. Eduardo was very helpful and reprinted DH’s ticket. As we were walking away, he called my DH and started laughing. Evidently the next person in line behind us had DH’s original Cozumel excursion ticket. He was in room 6133. We gave the reprinted one back and got the original. It was so ironic that at the exact same time we would be at the desk about the same ticket.

    One of the special guests on-board the ship this week was the producer of the Oscar winning short, Piper. Marc Sondheimer was going to host a talk about The Pixar Pipeline. It was very interesting. He asked questions and threw Pixar swag to the ones who answered correctly. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to any more of his talks.


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    Both speakers had their talks aired and repeated on the stateroom TV.

    At 2:00 PM we had the first of our 3 tastings in the Cadillac Lounge. Jose, one of the bartenders there hosted it. He was very knowledgeable about how the different tequilas are made and he was very personable. I guess he would be if he’s a bartender!


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    We tasted a Patron silver tequila (with a little salt and lime), a repisado (with cinnamon and orange) and a very smooth sipping tequila, Casaamigos. The label used to be owned by George Clooney. He and Cindy Crawford’s husband invested an initial $600K and ended up selling for 1 billion. The Casamigos sells for $30 a shot. What a deal!

    Anyway we also tried a few different margaritas. I really enjoyed the Mango Margarita.


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    The tasting was a lot of fun. Afterwards, DNC and I finished the photo challenge.

    I noticed early on during our cruise is that the temperature in the main areas of the ship, i.e. dining rooms, Promenade Lounge, Buena Vista Theater, WD Theater, Azure and Cadillac Lounge were kept colder than usual. Fortunately, I had packed my DCL hoodie, because I definitely used it this trip.

    One of the things I wanted to do on this cruise was have data so that I could email my DD every night. I initially signed up for the free 50 MB package thinking that it would be all I needed. I talked to the Connect @ Sea rep and had my phone set to not use a lot of background data and drain what I had. I successfully emailed my DD the previous night with no problem. I was going check to see if she emailed back during the sea day, but I couldn’t get into the server. I went down to talk to the WiFi rep and he fiddled with my phone and got me in. When I left his desk I had 43 MB left and signed out. I went to the Guest Services desk to add my Disney Rewards to my onboard account. Literally a minute later I signed back into the server and had 0MB left. What???? Anyway, I went back to the guy, he couldn’t figure out why and gave me my minutes back.

    I then went up to the room to chill and read a bit before dinner. Seas were calm.


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    Dinner was in Triton’s tonight with the French menu.

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    I ordered the Iced Lobster and Jumbo Shrimp and Potage Parmentier.

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    For the main entrée, I ordered the Conchiglie Pasta.

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    Dessert


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    I ordered the Grand Marnier Souffle, but forgot to take a picture. It was delicious.

    Dinner was served a little faster tonight and we were done by 7:30. We went back to our stateroom, to find this.


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    We went to see David Gatti, a magician, in the WD Theater at 8:30 PM. He was originally from Venice, Italy and performs in Vegas. He had a wonderful accent. He specialized in sleight of hand tricks. He was both dramatic, but funny with the audience participation. His assistant wore a cute bellhop costume.

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    There was a family on board with a hearing impaired daughter. DCL provided sign language interpreters. Those 2 girls did a yeomen’s task at every show. We also saw them enjoy the ship as well.

    After the show, DH went to Disney Trivia with me in the DLounge. It would be the first of many trivia games that I would participate in over the next 2 weeks. I was one away from a tie breaker because I couldn’t remember the name of the dog from Disney Channel Show “Dog with a Blog.” Some games were more successful than others.

    Then it was off to bed.

    Next: Hola, Cabo!

     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2018
  21. disneyfaninaz

    disneyfaninaz It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!

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    Day 4

    Sunday, October 21, 2018

    Cabo San Lucas

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    Originally, we were to be in port today from 8:30 AM to 4:45 PM. However, due to a fast developing hurricane near Puerto Vallarta, the captain wanted to make as much head way as he could out to sea to avoid the disturbance, so our all aboard time was changed to 3:30 PM. Since we were doing a DCL excursion that would get us back to ship at around 2:30 PM we weren’t affected.

    As is my habit on all my cruises, I like to get up early and go on our verandah to watch us come into port. I was up at 7:10 AM this morning to watch the sunrise over Cabo before we anchored in the bay.

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    At about 8:00 AM, the crew started putting out the docks from deck 1 to transfer to the tenders. I had never seen these before.
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    Shortly thereafter, we went up for breakfast at Cabanas. Afterwards, we walked along deck 10 taking photos. We weren’t the only ship in port today. The tenders were waiting for us as well.
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    We had the Harbor Cruise & Scenic Drive scheduled through DCL today. We were to meet in Azure at 10:45 AM.

    Some of the decorations we encountered on our way to Azure.
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    When we arrived at Azure, they scanned our KTTW card and we were the number 2 sticker. Shortly after 10:45 AM we were led as group back to Deck 1 Aft where we caught our tender.

    When our tender arrived at the terminal, we were directed to wait in another part of the pier for our harbor tour.
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    To be continued. . .
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2018

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