Shortcuts: Day 2-First Day At Sea Day 3-Cabo San Lucas Day 4-Puerto Vallarta and the Search for the Golden Nectar Day 5-Hi-Diddle-Dee-Dee-It's a Nippy Day at Sea Day 6-Cabo Touch and Go, Part 1 Day 6-Cabo Touch and Go, Part 2 Day 7-Final Day at Sea, Part 1 Day 7-Final Day at Sea, Part 2 Good Day L.A. and See 'Ya Real Soon This is my first TR and I'm a terrible writer so bear with me-I'm doing this for your benefit, so slack is appreciated Day 1-Doubletree Pre-Cruise, Embarkation and Let the Magic Begin Ready to travel to mexico with me? Here we go! List of characters: Me, the mom, also known as T.Q. (that stands for tequila queen, if you were wondering). DH-a.k.a. Divot (it's a military thing-just go with it). DS(6)-a.k.a. BASS (a camp name that we came up with as a family- Brave Adventurous Smart Son). DD(3)-a.k.a. GG (for gingerbread girl-she likes to run away and is always looking for trouble). This adventure began in early April, 2010. I had always wanted to go on a Disney cruise but didn't seriously consider it until the west coast cruises were offered. We have been APs at Disneyland since DS was born, so the parks are old hat to the kids(and exhausting to T.Q.) and I knew this was a way to have quality family time and lots of alone time with Divot as well. So....I am normally a very laid back person, think type B-- but I turn into a commando when it comes to vacation, especially Disney, which basically you have to be if you want to get anything accomplished while you are there...So I plan and obsess and devour the boards and listen to the podcast and read the Passporter guidebook and soak up any and all information that I possibly can before the cruise. This crazy behavior goes on for 9 months and I think that Divot must be a saint for putting up with my madness without complaining. Well, in June Disney offered a little pixie dust with kids sail free and gave us a refund of over 1000.00 yippie! More people booked the cruise after this and they started showing up on the Dis meet boards. I organized the FE exchange because I couldn't wait to get started and we ended up having a great group of participants. Now, fast forward to January 30, 2011-it's time, it's finally arrived, what we've been waiting almost a year for! January 30: We booked the Doubletree in San Pedro with Hilton points, so we got the room, breakfast, parking and shuttle to the port for free. This was a great deal and I really had no expectations where the hotel was concerned, it was a place to sleep and a ride. We live 90 minutes from the port and Divot's family lives in Huntington Beach, so we visited family instead of checking out the port area. From what I did see of the area, I was unimpressed and wouldn't want to walk around much at night. I signed up for the shuttle immediately and was told that the first one leaves at 10:30 What?? That's no good for this obsessive over planner, I have to get there before the hoards, don't you people get it? Anyway, we drive to the in-laws, have dinner and get back to the hotel around 9:00. The hotel was just okay, it looked worn and tired, like they know their clientele would only be there pre-cruise and they didn't care about impressing them, actually they totally failed at attention to detail. I'm really not picky- as long as the room is clean and I feel safe it's all good, however, when I turned the kids' bed back there were several stains (looked like blood) on their bottom sheet and there were stains on the pillows as well. I called housekeeping to bring new sheets and noticed that the "new" pillowcases had holes in them. Oh well, I'll take holes over stains and it was way past the kids bedtime at this point so let's just get to sleep 'cause tomorrow is THE DAY! There was just one problem-T.Q. couldn't sleep. I do have a history of insomnia but it hadn't been a problem for some time, so I looked at the clock all night until I finally had to get up (around 5). What time does the port open again? Oh, not for 4 1/2 more hours, what do we do until then? We had breakfast at the hotel, which was standard fare (fruit, cereal, oatmeal, eggs, sausage, bacon, french toast, waffles, pastries...) Around 9:30 saint Divot drove myself and BASS over to the port to drop off the luggage and get an early boarding card, then he and GG took the car back to the hotel and grabbed the shuttle at 10:30. Arriving at the port: We got to the port at 9:45 and grabbed a porter to help with the bags. Divot and GG took the car back to the hotel and BASS and I went to check in. After going up an escalator to the second floor of the building, we were directed to the health questionnaire and after they determined we didn't have any contagious diseases, it was on to the check-in counter. Now, I just happened to get the CM who was starting that day and the process took a really long time, but I'm happy to be on vacation, so I go with the flow and remain my usually patient self. Next, we show our KTTWC to a CM before entering the security line and she hands me a #3 boarding card. We then go quickly through security (there were no lines at this point) and went to check in at the kids club desk. The registration for the kids club was not up and running and we were directed to the sitting area next to the desk. We waited until 11 and in that time the line to register had grown exponentially. The CMs waved us over only to discover the computers had not turned over from the last cruise, so more waiting...but this turned out to be a good thing, because Divot and GG walked up at the exact moment the computers were up and running. The remaining time in the terminal went by quickly thanks to our Dis-group get together, it was great putting names to faces and meeting everyone's families. Boarding: Began at 11:45 and we were on very quickly and decided to go to Parrot Cay since it was overcast and drizzly that morning. This turned out to be a mistake-What I should have done was go to guest services and sign up for the Tea with Disney friends (used to be Alice) because when I did get there (less than an hour after boarding began) both teas were completely full and they said that they would not be adding anymore, basically we were out of luck. I decided not to mention this bit of sadness to the kids and I hoped they had forgotten all about the tea, even though GG brought her Alice dress and had been talking about the tea for months-I felt like a failure for letting them down, but there was nothing I could do. Oh well, on to lunch at Parrot Cay: I thought this was a good place to start the cruise, especially on a overcast, drizzly L.A. day. It had a tropical caribbean feel to it-just what we needed! BASS has a life threatening tree nut allergy, so the head chef came out and went over the buffet with us. He told us that everything was safe on the buffet, but no desserts other than the hand dipped ice cream. I am usually not a fan of buffets but this was decent, with the exception of the salmon which was a little dry (I found this to be the case with most of the fish throughout the week). The kids buffet offered mini corn dogs, chicken tenders, mac & cheese and spaghetti & meatballs. Also, I feel the need to comment on the coffee, it was fine, totally not the grey dishwater that I had been expecting-I didn’t even open the Starbucks VIA packets that I brought along. After lunch, the kids were really excited to check out the Oceaneers club/lab and of course they loved them! After meeting some of the counselors and a bit of exploration, we headed up to deck 9 to check out the Mickey pool. Even though it was in the mid 60s outside, the pools were kept in the 80s and in port without wind this was tolerable. BASS and GG wore themselves out in the pool and on the slide until 1:30 when the room was ready. Of, course being the wonderful mom that I am, they always had a fresh cup of hot chocolate and their kiddie robes waiting for them when they got out of the pool. TIP: If you plan on swimming-bring robes, the towels do nothing to protect you from the wind and it does get very cold, especially on sea days. The room: We loved our location (5520 secret porthole) it was really quiet and having the window was great. The split bath came in handy when we were getting ready for dinner, although I only used the room shower once. TIP: Shower in the spa, it is so much better than the room and they have a sauna, robes and Elemis products for you to use. One downside to arriving early at the port is that our luggage was on the bottom of the pile and we didn’t get any of it until after 5, this translated to a mad scramble to get ready for dinner (we had the early 5:45 seating) TIP: Don’t show up at the exact seating time, wait 5-10 minutes later or you will just be standing in a huge line to get into the restaurant. another TIP: The complaints regarding lines are valid. There were lines from he**, especially for character and princess gatherings, so either show up 15-20 minutes early, or sneak out of the restaurant between courses to get pictures taken. After exploring the room, we head to the muster drill (no lifejackets required ) and discovered that showing up early is a mistake, especially with a 3 year old. What seemed like an eternity later, we were dismissed and went straight to deck 9 for the sailaway party. Strangely, the horn didn't blow at the end of the countdown, it missed the cue and was late, does this happen often? Oh well. Dinner: We had PTAPTAP rotation because I wanted to be in Triton’s for formal night and Parrot Cay for Pirate night. So, our first dinner was in Parrot Cay and it was good. Sorry, I didn’t get any pictures, I guess we were engrossed in the newness of it all and I forgot. I had an amazing salad with shrimp and avocado with a citrus dressing, I also tried a side of the grouper, which looked good but tasted fishy. Divot got the mixed grill which he proclaimed was just ok, he thought the veal was the best part of it. BASS had the burger and fries, GG had chicken tenders with mac & cheese and they both had Mickey bars for dessert. Service: Our servers were Joel (from the Philippines) and Duran (from Jamaica) and they were outstanding! Joel has been a server with Disney for 6 years and was very good with the kids and always on top of BASS’s allergies. He did magic tricks, made origami animals out of the kids menu, made hats out of the napkins and took the time to give us information about shows and things we shouldn’t miss around the ship. After dinner we explored the ship and lined up for the Welcome Aboard show. TIP: The line on the right side to enter the theater was much longer than the one on the left and if you want to get a good seat I would show up 30 minutes early. The show was entertaining, BASS liked it, but GG fell asleep in the middle of it and Divot carried her back to the room. We had a fun and busy first day, we were all ready to fall into bed. I was worried about someone getting seasick because the boat was really rocking and rolling the first night out (especially with my tendency toward insomnia). I ended up really liking the rocking motion and I think it actually helped me to sleep better. I was also worried that the bed and pillows would be hard and I was prepared to give a generous tip to get a feather pillow, but I didn’t need to-everything was really comfortable. We brought a sound machine to drown out noise, but I never heard a peep from either neighbor. The cabin above us sounded like a heard of elephants but they went to bed about the same time we did so it was never a problem. Well friends, this is the end of day1. Next up, our first day at sea.