She laughed...and said, "Yes!"


Earning My Ears
Apr 28, 2001
Hello! My girlfriend, Sudipa, and her brother, Angshu, visited me from Australia in December. They were supposed to come in September, but couldn't because of the September 11th attacks. I surprised them with a Disney vacation and a short three day cruise on the Disney Wonder (December 20th, 2001). I am very indebted to the board for providing me with helpful advice while planning out every step of my vacation. I thought that it might be interesting for everyone to read our trip report from the point-of-view of the surprisee.:) Sudipa went back to Australia recently, and I asked her to write a trip report for all of us and for the sake of posterity. My experience at WDW and on the Wonder was fantastic. I got shivers down my spine while I read this report thinking of all the exciting and charming things that happened during this vacation, and I hope some of the magic and wonder rubs off on everyone reading this report too! Thanks a bunch for making my vacation such a grand success! Happy Reading! :)


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The Best Kept Secrets - Reflected by Sudipa Dey

It all began to unfold on Tuesday 18th December 2001...6am in Houston to be precise. My brother Angshu and I were woken up by Shuvo, my boyfriend, to have breakfast...a meal we usually skipped because sleeping in always seemed a much better option. I got up nonetheless as I knew Shuvo had been working hard in the kitchen since 3 am'ish - he'd woken me up during the night with all the clatter in the kitchen.

On the menu was what seemed like spicy scrambled eggs, Mickey Mouse face shaped waffles and orange juice. Angshu and I sat down to eat and Shuvo suggested we watch a video. I didn't see the point to that because we were so sleepy but didn't bother saying anything. I was too busy pouring the syrup carefully into the grooves in Mickey's eyes, mouth and ears. Mmm I love eating Mickey's ears.

The video was about Disney World and I drifted off and thought about our trip to Disneyland several years ago and how much fun it was. At the same time I couldn't understand the point of watching this video. But then a segment came on about the Disney Cruises to the Bahamas and I thought maybe Shuvo was trying to give us an idea of what to expect on the cruise we were going on that Friday from Miami on a ship called the Norwegian Sea. These conclusions were not bad considering it was around 6:10am and I'd only been asleep for a couple of hours!

Out of the blue Shuvo asked us if we wanted to go to Disney World. I said yes I would. Then Shuvo asked if we wanted to go today?!?!? Angshu asked him if he was pulling our leg. Shuvo said he wasn't and that if we wanted to go we had 4 hours to get ready. It took a while to sink in but once it did there was a mad rush to pack.

We were going to be in Disney World for about one day before the cruise and 3 days after the cruise. The Disney World experience was significantly different from the Disney Cruise experience and for the sake of order I will consolidate and described the entire Disney World experience first before describing the WONDERful Cruise experience. Read on to find the crescendo of surprises that were still awaiting me on the Disney Wonder! :)

Disney World

Later that afternoon we found ourselves being driven in a limo from the airport to the Courtyard Marriott in Downtown Disney where we were to stay the night. Shuvo hadn't actually booked a limo, it was a free upgrade courtesy of Happy Limo in the spirit of Christmas, and so the 'surpriser' was also pleasantly surprised. None of us had been in a limo before so it was quite an experience.

After dumping our bags we rushed off to Magic Kingdom for 'Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party'. It was so beautiful...the weather was great, they had fake snowflakes, free hot chocolate and cookies, short queues for the rides and best of all, the park was open till midnight. I could 'feel' the magic.

Next morning we moved to Disney's Polynesian Resort before heading back to Magic Kingdom. We had a great time. The park wasn't too full so we got to go on all the rides we wanted to. Alien Encounters was really freaky...yes I was terrified...especially when the alien was breathing on the back of my neck. We had to go on Splash Mountain 3 times before I managed to keep my hands in the air during the 5-storey drop for the photo. Splash & Space Mountain are definitely my favourite rides at Magic Kingdom.

That night we met two other friends (Gaurav and Upayan), and went to dine at 'Ohanas at the Polynesian Resort where we completely pigged was all-you-can-eat so what can you expect??? The food was delicious, the atmosphere great and the view of the lagoon spectacular (the water parade happened to be passing at the time)! Halfway through the meal hula-hoops were brought out and we did our best to keep them swinging but it's so hard on a full stomach (yeah I know...excuses excuses). After dinner we headed over to the Volcano pool where we played everything from Marco Polo to Water Polo till about 1am.

Next morning (December 20th) we made our way to 'Ohanas, this time for the 'Character Breakfast'. The magic of Disney was yet to touch Gaurav so we hoped meeting the characters would do it for him. It may have but he wasn't going to let us know. I got to take photos with my favourite canines, Pluto and Goofy, so I was very happy. We departed for Port Canaveral straight after breakfast in a limo, this time it was planned. Gaurav and Upayan were visibly excited, for us three it was a case of 'been there done that'.

We returned to Disney World on December 23th after we disembarked off the Disney Wonder. We stayed at the Hotel Royal Plaza in Downtown Disney for the remaining three days of our vacation. Shuvo even got us a room with a Downtown Disney view, and a jacuzzi! We decided to spend the rest of the day at the Disney MGM studios.

It was late in the afternoon when Shuvo, Angshu and I got to MGM and so we didn't get to see everything. But of what we did see, Walt Disney - One Man's Dream was very inspirational and Fantasmic! was just amazing. I thought The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith were the best rides in the park. They are not as scary as they seem.

The following morning we went back to MGM for the backlot tour. Personally I think once you've seen one, you've seen them all. The rest of the day was spent at Epcot. It was already decided that lunch was going to be at Restaurant Marrakesh for the belly dancing show. On the way we bumped into Aladdin and I got to take a photo with him so I was over the moon. Unfortunately for the guys the belly dancing show was cancelled so that was a big disappointment. First time Disney lost it's magic, but not for me, I'd just met Aladdin :)!

Of all the parks, we got to see the least of Epcot. I guess what all of us will remember most is IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth. I've seen great fireworks in Sydney on New Year's Eve but nothing as spectacular. I guess the biggest difference was that we got to be so much closer to the fireworks and could hear the music it was choreographed to.

The last day of our trip (December 25th) was a gloomy one. But nothing was going to stop us from enjoying it! Animal Kingdom is a must see because I don’t think there is any other place like it. The first thing we did was the Kilimanjaro Safari. The attention to detail was amazing. Our tour guide was from Nairobi and the terrain looked like what we had seen on TV about Africa. The animals were free; if they had boundaries it wasn't visible to us.

Next we tried the Kali River Rapids. It wasn't scary at all but we got soaked to the skin especially since we went around a second time. The wait for It's Tough to be a Bug was looong. The wait wasn't too bad though because the show is held under The Tree of Life, which is the centrepiece of Animal Kingdom, and during this time we got to admire this amazing work of art; apparently it's 14-storeys tall and hand-carved with over 325 animal images. It was the best 3D show I have ever seen! Not only do you 'feel' stuff but they also utilise your sense of smell. Ever imagined what it would feel like to have a stink bug break wind in your face?!?!? Go and find out :).

The last thing we did at Animal Kingdom was the DINOSAUR ride. This was by far the scariest of all the Disney rides. You have to go on it to know what I'm talking about. My heart stopped beating when I saw T-Rex running towards our jeep even though I knew it was not real. I would've loved to go on it again but there was no time - we had our flight to catch.

Now I will tell you about my experience on the cruise. I liked the way Shuvo had broken up our Disney World stay into two parts - staying at Disney World before the cruise set us up for the exhilarating cruise experience, and returning to Disney World after the cruise somewhat numbed the pain of getting off the Disney Wonder.

Disney Wonder

On the morning of December 20th, Angshu, Gaurav, Shuvo, Upayan and I headed for the Disney Wonder. What can I say except that the closer we approached the better it looked. Yes it is HUGE. Once we had completed the formalities, we boarded the ship. They gave us a 'Love Boat' style welcome. I had thought the ship was impressive from the outside but what I saw on the inside was mind blowing. I couldn't help but gawk! We quickly checked out our rooms and all but Shuvo headed for the Beach Blanket Buffet for lunch. Shuvo was going to make reservations for our 'special' dinner at Palo's on the last night. The buffet had a Bahamian theme that day and the variety of food was endless.

We had finished lunch and the guys were looking out for 'hot chicks' when we got a call from Shuvo to come and see what was sent to us in our room. We dashed down to the room to find Ioulia, an old school friend of mine who I had not seen for 3 years, trying to hide in the corner...behind nothing. I couldn't stop screaming, I was sooo surprised. After a lot more of the same kind of screaming, we thought Shuvo and Ioulia had better grab some lunch before the buffet closed.

At 5 pm there was a sail-away party with a live band. We danced a bit and spent the rest of the evening exploring the ship. That evening we were to dine at Triton's, an underwater setting named after Ariel's father. We met our servers Kumar, Ferhat and Daniel there and they informed us that they would be taking care of us for the rest of the trip. The food was great and since Kumar had basically recommended everything on the menu, we pretty much covered all the dishes between the 6 of us.

That night we headed over to Route 66. We all danced together a little and then Gaurav and Upayan went off to have shots and Angshu and Shuvo went to watch them?!?!? Ioulia and I kept dancing, we probably looked like idiots but we couldn't care less. Later we all crashed in Ioulia's room. We attempted to do an all-nighter but nothing could keep us awake. When we woke up the Wonder was just about to dock at Nassau.

After lunch we went to see what Nassau had to offer. There were tour guides, taxi drivers and hair braiders near the dock eagerly waiting to get hold of our US dollars. We found out it was going to cost $25 per person for a tour of the island which we decided to skip to go to Atlantis, a resort situated on Paradise Island.

Atlantis has to be one of the most beautiful structures I have ever seen. It looks like something from a Disney Cartoon! It's supposed to represent the Lost Continent of Atlantis. It's too hard to describe so please take a minute to check out a picture of it at this link: We walked though the resort and headed for the beach. There we basically just did silly things like trying to jump and run into the very big waves to see if we could withstand the force and stay standing.

On the way back to the dock our cab driver told us many things about Nassau and Bahamians. He told us the best place to eat Bahamian cuisine is at the Poop Deck and that there is a club where the ratio of girls to guys is 10:1. Too bad for the guys we were setting sail that Bahama-mama's for them!!!

Dinner that night was at Animator's Palate. The walls were fitted with screens, which transformed classic scenes of Disney animations from black and white to colour as our meal progressed. The servers also put on a surprise show, not a very long one...just a short dance routine. Disney really knows how to make every moment memorable!

Next morning (December 22nd) Shuvo and I woke up early (as the boat docked at Castaway Cay) because we had an appointment at the Vista Spa & Salon for a Surial Steam Bath. We were given different kinds of mud, which we applied to our body and face and then [we] went to the steam-bath chamber to unwind. It was a very sensuous and relaxing experience.

Once that was over we went to wake up the others as the other guests were already making their way to Castaway Cay. The weather was wonderful and I thought the island looked beautiful from the boat, but it looked more so when we were on it. It was 11am by the time we were ready so we rushed to make it in time for the beach volleyball match that was about to start.

I used to play volleyball in high school so I thought it wouldn't be too bad. Boy was I wrong! It's one thing to play on the court and so much more difficult on sand...takes helluva lot more effort. The team I was in thanks to me...but at least I can say we won :-). The guys started to play soccer and after a while Ioulia and I got bored so we headed for the water. It was beautiful but FREEZING cold initially and then we got used to it. Ioulia found a frisbee so we tried playing with that for a while but it kept coming back to her. The guys joined us later. We swam a bit, took silly photos, had a few water fights then decided to try something different.

There was so much to do and so little time! We wanted to do the bike trails, kayaking, snorkelling, and boating to name a few. We decided to go kayaking first and paired up: Gaurav & Upayan, Angshu & Shuvo and Ioulia & myself. It's amazing how much energy only 10 minutes of kayaking takes, no wonder they only had half hour rentals. Oh I have to mention that Gaurav & Upayan tipped over once; which Upayan later said was 'a lot of fun'. We also had a race to see who could make it back to shore first. There was a bit of a misunderstanding about which part of the shore was to be reached so to save controversy I'll say it was a draw!

That evening we went to watch Disney Dreams. My favourite part is when Tinkerbell touches the ship with her wand and you have to go there to know what happens next. When the show was over, I felt very sad because our trip was coming to an end. In a little more than 12 hours it was going to all be over. Three days was too short a time, a fortnight would've been ideal...and expensive. [Having so much fun had also made time fly by faster]. Well it wasn't really the end of our trip, I kept forgetting we were going to spend a few days at Disney World before heading back to Houston, but nothing could compare to the cruise!

That night Shuvo and I were to have our romantic dinner at Palo's. We had decided to meet the other guys at Parrot Cay for a drink before heading to Palo's but we were late packing and getting ready. Fortunately we had breakfast at Parrot Cay the next morning so Shuvo and I had a chance to experience its ambience. We'd both bought special clothes for this dinner as it was our first date - yes it took him that long to ask me to dinner :)! Shuvo looked so handsome in his gear. He wore a maroon shirt and patterned tie under his black sports jacket. He bought me a blue/black (depending on which angle you looked at it from) dress, which shimmered in bright light.

I was ready to go meet our friends but Shuvo said he had something to show me. I thought maybe our photos were up at Shutters. I was wrong, he took me to a little open area on Deck 7 at the back of the ship where I had never been before. There was no one there probably because it's too difficult to find. It was a beautiful night, the sky was clear so we could see the moon and the stars. We had just passed Freeport so could see the island's lights. It looked like millions of fireflies to me.

Shuvo started telling me how he didn't want this to end and about how much fun he'd had, he asked me if I had too (I think). He said he wanted to spend more time with me and be with me (I think) and a lot more but its all a blur. Then he said he was going to give me something and I had to tear it out. Tear it out?!?!? I couldn't understand him; he wasn't making any sense!!! Shuvo took out a small pouch and gave it to me. As soon as I held it, I knew there was a ring inside. OHHH he's proposing!!! I thought, but then maybe he's not because he's meant to put the ring on my finger, not give it to me in a pouch!

I tried to take the ring out but couldn't, it was stuck inside the pouch (Jennifer, Shuvo's work buddy, had tied it in with string to prevent it slipping out). I didn't want to damage it so I gave it to Shuvo to pull out. I don't know how long it took him because I was in a daze. While he took it out, Shuvo got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. I couldn’t believe it! We'd talked about this with his parents the day before we'd left for our trip and he had given the impression that he wasn't going to be ready for another 5-6 years but then he'd told me once before that he'd propose when he is ready to set a date for the wedding. Set a date now for 6 years later?

There were a million and one things going through my head while Shuvo slipped the ring onto my finger. I started laughing because I just couldn't believe it. Then I got a good look at the ring. The diamond was HUGE and it sparkled sooo brilliantly. I was so dazzled, I asked Shuvo how much it cost him!...he responded by pointing out that I still hadn't answered his question! Of course I said 'YES'.

I don't know how I made it through dinner - I was dying to tell the other guys. I hardly ate a thing even though the food both looked and tasted delicious. I apologised to Angelic, our server, after every course and she understood. Shuvo on the other hand ate every morsel...from both our meals :). He said the pressure was off him so he could relax now. At the end of our meal, Angelic brought out a decorated plate with 'Congratulations' written on it with different coloured sauces. It was such a beautiful thing to do.

We went for a walk before heading back to our room. No one was there so I tried calling Ioulia, Gaurav and Upayan but they weren't in their rooms. A short while later Angshu showed up. I showed him the ring and he was shocked but very happy for us. He said Ioulia had gone to her room so I called her to come over. For some reason she seemed not to notice the ring so I pointed it out. It turned out she thought we were engaged from before and I just hadn't been wearing the ring in case I lost it :).

Shuvo and Angshu were tired so they went to sleep while Ioulia and I went to find Gaurav and Upayan. We found them playing table tennis so I asked if we could play doubles. I tried to keep my left hand in view in every possible way but they wouldn't notice. Finally I gave up and just held my hand up. It was sooo funny seeing their expression change. They asked each other if Shuvo had said anything about this. They didn't know that no one but Jennifer knew. Ioulia and I cracked up because they were so shocked that they couldn't continue playing and decided to retire to their room.

The following morning we had to wake up early to complete customs formalities for re-entry into the US as we were international passengers. I was very impressed with how well it was done. At breakfast I showed off my ring to Ferhat and Kumar. After that we disembarked the ship and headed back to Disney World.

We were with Disney for 8 days and there was magic every day. After everything that has been happening in the world in recent times it was good to get away to a place where all is beautiful and people are happy. It was definitely the 'bestest' holiday I have ever had and I want to thank Shuvo for making it happen and for making it so memorable. I can't imagine being proposed to in a better way or at a better place! He has spent so much time planning and replanning (after it got postponed due to the September 11 attacks) this vacation. Love his 'can do' attitude.

You are my kind of guy!
Best wishes to you and your fiancee...who, by the way, did a great job spreading the magic!

HMMMN now where might you take your HoneyMoon?
Hi Everyone,

I just wanted to thank you all for helping Shuvo plan our Disney Trip and making it so WONDERful. I had the 'bestest' time of my life...and that's not just because I was proposed to :-)...that was more like the icing on the cake. Thanks again!!!

:bounce: Sudipa.


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