Greg Ferguson -- October 2001 -- Walt Disney World (BCR) / Disney Cruise Trip
October 24, 2001 through November 1, 2001
After Lisa and I settled on what we wanted to do for our honeymoon, we immediately went to AAA to set everything up. Through AAA, we purchased the Land and Sea Package with the Romantic Escape option. The package included:
En Route -
Lisa and I were married on Sunday, October 21, 2001, right along the beautiful San Diego Bay across from the downtown skyline. We chose not to leave for our honeymoon until Tuesday morning, giving us a day to get all of our affairs in order. Unlike out past three trips to WDW, we decided to fly during the day instead of taking a red-eye flight to Orlando. Since our WDW reservations did not begin until Wednesday, we spent our first night in Orlando at the Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport. It was great! We landed at the airport, departed the plane, retrieved our luggage, and walked right over the check in desk for the hotel. Since it was the early evening, our room was ready and we moved in immediately. After settling in, we ate dinner at McCoy's Bar and Grill in the hotel. Lisa enjoyed a veggie pizza, while I ate a wonderful Thai chicken salad. We both found the food to be very tasty and the atmosphere very soothing and calm, which was a nice break from the fast-moving airport environment. After dinner, we retired to our room and found a bottle of bubbly on ice, with a nice note from my parents. Thanks again Mom and Dad! One bottle of champagne later and a quick call to Victoria and Albert's to confirm our PS for the following evening and we were sound asleep.
DAY 1 - Wednesday, October 24, 2001 - Epcot
By 7:15am the next morning, we checked out of the Hyatt and began searching for a Mears shuttle to take us to Disney's Beach Club Resort. After a short 10-minute wait, a shuttle arrived and we were on our way! We arrived at the Beach Club Resort around 8:30am and were able to get into our room immediately! Since we planned on using our package option for Victoria and Albert's that night, we asked the CM about it. She said that the Romantic Escape option was part of the Land & Sea package (which officially started the next day) and could not be included on the extra WDW day that we added to the front of our honeymoon. I told her that we already had a PS and that no one ever informed us of this policy. She told us not to worry, she would get it taken care of and have someone bring everything up to our room in a few minutes. Relieved, we then found our way to our wonderful room! Perched up on the third floor, we enjoyed a great view of Stormalong Bay, with the Boardwalk, Swan and Dolphin Resorts in the background. We actually had two balconies; one very small one that could only handle one standing person comfortably, and very long second balcony with a set of chairs and a small table. As we unpacked, there was a knock at our door. It was the hotel manager with our special honeymoon package that included the Disney Honeymoon watches, the two Disney Honeymoon pins, and our Romantic Feature information. He informed us that everything was in order for our dinner at Victoria and Albert's that evening and wished us a wonderful honeymoon.
Starving by this time, we walked over to the Boardwalk Bakery to grab a bite to eat. Lisa and I split a cinnamon roll and an egg sandwich, washing them down with a little O.J. Both hit the spot, but were basic fast food fare, nothing special. After breakfast, we slowly walked over to the rear entrance of Epcot. Because of the "new" operating hours that week, Future World opened at 10:00am and the World Showcase at noon. We wandered around Future World for a little while, checking out one side of Innoventions, Ice Station Cool and the Living Seas. The line for Test Track was already an hour long, so we decided to hit that later. We then headed over to the Land and got in line for the Living with the Land attraction. When we got into the pavilion, I could not believe the size of the line. The wait was roughly 30 minutes, which is not bad at all, but not what I expected for Living With the Land in late October. Don't get me wrong, I really like this attraction, but I have never seen a line that long for this ride, except during the summer.
By the time that we got off Living With the Land it was noon and the World Showcase was now open. And not only that, it was now lunch time!!! The Epcot Food and Wine Festival brochure outlined the special food and drink options that were being offered around the WS. We decided to start on the right and work our way around the lake. First, Lisa got the Tuna and Oil Salad from Ecuador and a Moscova Beer from Russia that claimed to have peach in it. She liked the tuna very much and was quick to affirm that it was spicy. She did not however like the beer and gave some to me. It was ok, but not great. My first attempt at food was Russian Kielbasa and Pierogis. I found them tasty, but nothing different than I can buy at our local supermarket. Making our way by a few pavilions, we arrived at Morocco, where I thoroughly enjoyed a Marrakesh Combo from the Mediterranean booth. It included seasoned beef and lamb in an incredible sauce, on top of some couscous. Happy at this point, but not nearly satisfied, we arrived at the Germany, Switzerland, and Austria table, where I virtually inhaled some Schweinerippchen (pork ribs) with Spaetzle (a dish of tiny noodles or dumplings made with flour, eggs, water or milk, and salt). This dish was my absolute favorite from all of the Food and Wine Festival items. The pork just fell off of the bones and the spaetzle, with its delicious gravy, was heavenly. And let's not leave out Lisa; she purchased a bit of the Knyphausen Rheingau Riesling, a rather sweet wine that we both enjoyed very much. Next came South Africa, where we shared an order of the Sugar Cane Chicken Sticks. These were vary good, and surprisingly spicy. Finally, I had enough to eat, but with a little room left for dessert, Lisa tried the Scandinavian Chocolate Dream Log, which she liked very much. Very thirsty by this point, I grabbed a cup of the Watermelon Juice from the Mexico booth. It was delicious and really hit the spot perfectly!
After completing our first circle of the WS, we headed back into Future World. The Test Track line was now much lower, so we did our best impersonation of crash test dummies. Next was Spaceship Earth, followed by a few shops. By this time, we were nearing 5:00pm and decided to head back to the Beach Club to rest a bit and get ready for our big evening at Victoria and Albert's.
Since we had never visited the Grand Floridian before, we decided to head over a little early. We got a taxi at the Beach Club and $17.00 later we were at the steps of the Grand Floridian. It is beautiful!! The lobby is amazing! There was a CM playing the piano and soon afterwards an old school swing band appeared on the second floor. We arrived at Victoria and Albert's about 45 minutes early to confirm the location of the restaurant. The host greeted us very warmly and told us to come back in ten minutes to be seated.
When we returned, three other couples were also waiting to be seated. Lisa and I were again greeted very warmly and then escorted to our table. We were then introduced to our servers, Victoria and Albert (they are all "named" that here, it was not a coincidence); two very nice people who both made our experience wonderful. Victoria presented us with our personalized menus and explained the various options to us. Instead of the single bottle of wine or champagne that came with our Romantic Escape package, Victoria offered us a modified version of the wine pairings at no extra charge. We happily agreed and were very glad that we made that choice! As we perused our menus, a harpist began to play, and did so on and off again throughout our meal. The overall ambiance of V&A's is just magical and very, very romantic.
For our meals, Lisa and I selected the following:
Appetizers: Maple Leaf Duck with Golden Delicious Apples and Pomegranates Alaskan Sable with Sweet Dumpling Squash Ragout Soup: Carrot Ginger Cream Entrée: Yellowtail Snapper with Toasted Vegetable Couscous Cheese: French Brie and English Stilton with Burgundy Poached Pear Dessert: Kona Chocolate Soufflé
Appetizers: Maple Leaf Duck with Golden Delicious Apples and Pomegranates Alaskan Sable with Sweet Dumpling Squash Ragout Soup: Duck Consommé Entrée: Venison Loin with Sun Dried Tomato-polenta and Ratatouille Cheese: French Brie and English Stilton with Burgundy Poached Pear Dessert: Vanilla Bean Crème Brulee
Everything was absolutely delectable!! The portions were perfect, not too small and not too large. Everything went so well together. Duck and pomegranates?! Who knew they tasted so good together? Obviously, the chef knew! And the wine pairings were wonderful! Our palates enjoyed an incredible evening that night!
We requested to have coffee with our dessert and Albert brought out these two glass "things" that looked like chemistry lab equipment. Coffee grounds rested in an above receptacle that dipped into the lower chamber that had water in it. A heating element was placed under the lower chamber, which heated the water, causing it to turn gaseous and rise into the coffee grounds above, where it then cooled and basically brewed the coffee. Then, suddenly, the liquid coffee filtered back into the lower chamber and there it was! Given that I am not a coffee aficionado, I thought this contraption was amazing and really entertaining!
Once the meal was finally over, Lisa was presented with a single red rose from Albert, while Victoria gave us our personalized menus and a card. When we opened up the card, it revealed a message, printed on a sheet of dark chocolate, congratulating us on our honeymoon and thanking us for visiting Victoria and Albert's. From the beginning to the end, our visit to V&A's was spectacular! The service was amazing, the food was fantastic, and the ambiance was incredible! And best of all, it was all already paid for with our honeymoon, including the gratuity (but we gave them a bit more ourselves since they were so wonderful)!
DAY 2 - Thursday, October 25, 2001 - Stormalong Bay (Y&B) / Disney MGM Studios / DisneyQuest
After a quick breakfast of fruit and yogurt from Beaches and Cream, we headed down for a nice dip in Stormalong Bay. We spent a wonderful hour or so just swimming and relaxing. We found the famous sink holes and they were really cool! There was a floating marker above them so finding them was a breeze. For those of you who are not aware, Stormalong Bay is a sand bottom pool that is separated in two parts behind the Yacht and Beach Club. I really liked it a lot, but there were a few places where the water was shallow and the sand was gone, resulting in me banging my knee on the cement bottom. Not a problem at all, but something that you should be wary of.
After swimming, showering, and changing, we headed over to Beaches and Cream for lunch. Man, was I in heaven!!! I am a sucker for a good 50's style burger joint and that is exactly what B&C is. Lisa and I both ordered one of their Lime Rickeys, an interesting mixture of soda water, lime, and cherry flavors. They were fantastic!! I then ordered a cherry coke and a double cheeseburger and fries, while Lisa ordered a hot dog. Up until this point, I was convinced that the best burger place in all of WDW was Pecos Bill's at the Magic Kingdom, but Beaches and Cream blows Pecos Bill's out of the water. My burger was so incredibly good!! It was juicy and full of flavor!! I will never eat another hamburger any where else at WDW again!! As we departed, fully satisfied, I grabbed a raspberry coke to go. Yummmmmm!
On to MGM! We grabbed the boat from the Beach Club to MGM and arrived there around 12:30pm. Lisa's MGM priority was the Beauty and the Beast show. In all of our previous trips, we had skipped this show, but Lisa really wanted to see it this time, and I am glad that we did. Not only was the show really well done, but a random rain shower arrived overhead while we were safe and undercover watching the show. We could not have timed it any better. Next was Tower of Terror. I enjoyed TOT much more this time around (my second time ever) because I did not get stuck with the seat belt seat in the back row. I felt a lot safer with a restraint bar. After TOT, we hit a few shops along Sunset Boulevard and found some great souvenirs. Lisa and I picked up two artists sketches; one limited edition Halloween sketch with Huey, Duey, and Louie in their "Trick or Treat" Halloween costumes (plus we got it framed) and another sketch that had Minnie and Mickey dressed as bride and groom. We asked the artist to personalize the Minnie/Mickey sketch for us and she gladly put our names and wedding date under the two famous characters!
After sending these items to our resort room, we headed over to the Great Movie Ride, my personal favorite at MGM. Next, we checked out the "Walt Disney: One Man's Dream" exhibit and it was amazing!! I got into a little trouble with a CM when I took a few pictures (no flash of course) and he informed me that photos and video-recordings were not allowed in the exhibit. I apologized for my misunderstanding, then mentioned to him that the signage at the entrance to the exhibit was misleading. The sign shows a camera with an obvious flash being used. I am well aware that flash photography is very bad for paintings and paper, especially if they are older, so that was why I turned my flash off as soon as I entered the exhibit. Not to mention, you always hear, "For the comfort of those around you, please do not use any flash photography or exterior light video-recording..." at other Disney attractions and shows, so I thought that taking photos without a flash would be fine. I guess I was wrong. And it was a good thing that I had a digital camera because the CM asked me to delete all of the pictures I took of the exhibit, which I did, but what if I was using print film? Would he have confiscated the roll?
After the exhibit, we walked through a few more shops and just enjoyed the scenery. We skipped quite a few attractions at MGM, including Muppet Vision 3D, Star Tours, Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, and the Back Lot Tour because we had done them so many times before. We did notice that work had already begun on the Osbourne Family lights for the Holiday Season. For those of you who get to see them this year, you are in for a treat!
By 6:45pm, we were starving for dinner, so we went to the Hollywood Brown Derby early to see if there was any chance of getting in before our PS time. We were seated within 5 minutes and immediately congratulated by our host on our recent marriage. Lisa ordered the "famous" Cobb salad as an appetizer, while I got a Caesar salad myself. Both salads were very good. As our main courses, I ordered the barbecued pork tenderloin with buttermilk corn pudding and Lisa got the rotisserie half chicken, served over warm spinach and bacon salad with roasted sweet potatoes. I enjoyed my dinner completely, while Lisa left only the sweet potatoes. So far, the dining experience was wonderful, but then a small dark cloud appeared overhead. Throughout the meal, I got an uneasy feeling about our server. It seemed evident to me that he was not having a good day and as a result his attitude and mannerisms were a little off. He was not rude, nor did he give overall poor service, but when we ordered iced tea and a soda to drink instead of expensive alcoholic drinks and decided not to get dessert there, I noticed him make unpleasant grimaces. In addition, while we were waiting for our check, a Hollywood Brown Derby manager walked into our area with a "100 Years of Magic" special dessert, but he was uncertain where to deliver it, so he went back into the cast member area with it. Upon seeing the chocolate concoction, Lisa remarked on how neat it was. A few moments later another waiter came back to our area with the same dessert and asked our waiter, "Isn't this for table 26?" Our waiter then replied, "No, never mind it." At that moment, I did not think anything of it, but when we got our check, I noticed that we were table 26. Thus, that dessert was meant for us as a special honeymoon surprise from the Hollywood Brown Derby, and our waiter sent it away right in front of us. Granted, we did tell him that we were full from dinner, but we could have easily made room for a free dessert. He could have at least asked us. I thought about saying something to the manager, but decided that it was not worth the trouble.
As we exited the park, we grabbed a bus to Downtown Disney en route to Disney Quest. We chose to be let off in the Downtown Disney shopping district and cruise a few shops. Lisa adores the Christmas and the Disney at Home store, where of course we picked up a few things. We took a short cut through Pleasure Island as we made our way to the West Side and Disney Quest. As we passed Bongo's Cuban Café, I checked the take out window to see if they sold their scrumptious sweet plantains by themselves, but sadly they did not.
As we entered Disney Quest, I was a bit concerned because it appeared that a business was having a team building event there that evening. I pictured long lines to some of my favorite Disney Quest attractions, but I was pleasantly surprised. Lisa and I first headed over to Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for Buccaneer Gold. We got teamed up with two boys who claimed to be good, but had never actually finished the game with the highest ranking. Well, I am glad to say that our team kicked some major pirate you know what and we got the highest ranking!! Next was Virtual Space Mountain!! Lisa and I created separate coasters and had a great time experiencing them! At this point, Lisa was getting tired and ready for dessert, so we grabbed a couple slices of cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory Express and relaxed. After the delectable dessert, Lisa set herself up on an Internet station, while I played some video games. About an hour or so later, we were both positively pooped and we headed back to the Beach Club for the night.
DAY 3 - Friday, October 26, 2001 - Magic Kingdom / Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party
This morning, we rose early in order to grab one of the special "Character Breakfast" shuttles to get to the Magic Kingdom. Our PS was for 8:05am, but the park did not open until 9:00 officially. Soon after we arrived at the MK entrance, a group of CM's organized all of us waiting to get in for breakfast. They checked our names off of a list and then let us into the park. Ten minutes later, we were sitting in what in my opinion is the best breakfast buffet in all of WDW, the Crystal Palace. We had fresh fruit, croissants and jam, freshly made omelets, sausage and bacon; and of course lots of O.J. All of it was very good! Tigger, Piglet, and Eeyore all visited with us, and just before we left, we took a picture with Pooh, who stayed in the central atrium area of the restaurant.
By the time we finished breakfast, the park had officially opened. Lisa and I headed over to the Haunted Mansion first, then over to Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Next, over to Tomorrowland, where we hit Buzz Lightyear. And I am glad to report that even though Lisa got out to a large early lead in Buzz, I managed to come back to remain undefeated. After a quick jaunt over to the AAA Lounge for a free soda, we rode Winnie the Pooh and then saw the Legend of the Lion King for the first time. I was really impressed with the Legend of the Lion King show. It was really entertaining and well done.
Finally, it was time....time for something that I had been looking forward to for months...a Pineapple Float from Aloha Isle! Basically, the float is pineapple Dole Whip and pineapple juice. It was sooooo good and sooooo refreshing! I had never had a Dole Whip before and I am so glad that I found out about them! Thanks Intercot!!
Next, came the Jungle Cruise and Pirates of the Caribbean, followed by a nice finish to our unusual lunch...fresh caramel corn and a soda from Sleepy Hollow in Liberty Square. Ok, I know we did not have your standard nutritious lunch, but you have to splurge every now and then, right?
Around 4:00pm, we decided to head over to the Wilderness Lodge for dinner at the Whispering Canyon Café. I absolutely adore Whispering Canyon Cafe! This was our fourth visit to this restaurant and again they did a great job! We both ordered the all you can eat family style barbecue dinner that included endless helpings of pork ribs, pulled chicken, beef brisket, smoked turkey, corn on the cob, ranch beans, and slaw. As usual, the brisket was my favorite, especially with the maple barbecue sauce. Since it was just the two of us, we were given a secluded table in the rear near the fireplace. It was wonderful. We also thoroughly enjoyed watching some Whispering Canyon Cafe veterans toy with a friend of theirs, asking him to ask for ketchup. For those of you who do not know, the Whispering Canyon Cafe CM's have a long-standing joke when someone requests that particular condiment. At first, the waitress claimed that she did not have any idea was the guy was asking for, then after a few minutes the CM's brought him about 15 bottles of the stuff. It was great to watch!
After dinner, we headed back to the dock to grab the boat back to the MK for Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party. Lisa and I decided with the wedding and all that we would not bring costumes on the honeymoon; instead we got some Disney Halloween sweatshirts to wear that night. As our boat approached the MK dock, we could see large jack-o-lanterns hovered above Main Street and the castle was a dark purple color. It looked great! The music of the Haunted Mansion was floating through the air as we entered the main gate. We immediately noticed CM's passing out trick or treat bags to people, so Lisa and I headed over to get ours. Unfortunately, the CM we approached told us that they were only for kids. A little bit saddened at this point (I mean, I am a big kid after all), I shook it off and just moved on. We headed for Tomorrowland first and rode Buzz another time (still undefeated). As we exited the attraction, we noticed a trick or treat spot in front of the COP. I asked the CM at the end of the line if adults could trick or treat too. He told me sure, so Lisa and I stayed in the line to get a treat. Unfortunately, the other CM who was passing out the candy would not give us any, saying "Kids only." Thoroughly confused at this point, and a little frustrated, I decided to try to not think about it and just enjoy the attractions and all of the costumes. Unfortunately, as the evening progressed, I saw many adults, some in costume and some in less Halloween attire than us, trick or treating and having fun. I guess we went to all of the wrong CM's.
After riding Space Mountain, the Haunted Mansion, and Big Thunder, we decided to claim a spot for the first Halloween parade. A few minutes later, an announcement came over the PA system that the Headless Horseman had been seen. The next thing you know, there he was, charging down the parade route right by us! It was so cool! Ten minutes later, the parade arrived at our section and it was pretty cool, at least the first half was. The first half of the parade consisted of a great soundtrack and some really creepy floats with characters in costume and a bunch of villains. The second half, on the other hand, was Mickey's Halloween Hoe-down, with Goofy calling the shots to some square dancers. I thought it was pretty weak compared to the first part of the parade.
Once the parade ended, we headed back over to Main Street to watch the special fireworks. The fireworks show was really well done and a good finale for our visit to the Magic Kingdom. Even though the party had another two hours left, we decided to head on back to the Beach Club. I hoped that our Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party experience would have been more enjoyable. Oh well.
DAY 4 - Saturday, October 27, 2001 - Animal Kingdom / Epcot
Lisa and I returned to the Boardwalk Bakery for breakfast this morning. Since our last visit on Day 1 of our trip, I recalled reading that the best thing at BB was the Cinnamon Yummy, so we gave it a try. To be honest, we were not impressed. We split a Cinnamon Yummy and a breakfast burrito. The Cinnamon Yummy was very cinnamony, but it was pretty dry. Lisa and I are cinnamon roll purists and our ideal cinnamon pastry is hot, soft, and gooey. Unfortunately, the Cinnamon Yummy was none of the above. The breakfast burrito was good, but basic fast food breakfast fare.
We then grabbed the bus from the Boardwalk to Animal Kingdom. Even though Lisa is not a fan of Dinosaur, I asked her if we could go on it first so that we could get it done. I really like the ride, even though it does freak me out, but Lisa is not a big fan. She is not sure exactly why she does not care for the attraction, but it is not one of her favorites. After Dinosaur, we trekked around and viewed some of the animals on display, then took the train out to Rafiki's Planet Watch and Conservation Station. We checked out the joint, pet a few goats and were back on the train. One thing to mention though, since the first (and last) time we visited Conservation Station, they have added quite a few things to see and do along what was an excruciatingly dull and seemingly long walking path that leads from the train station to CS. I was glad to see them upgrade this section.
After returning from CS, we hit the Kilamanjaro Safaris and finally the Maharajah Jungle Trek and the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail. I got some great pictures of one of the tigers on the Maharajah Jungle Trek. I cannot wait to print them up! And we lucked out on the safari as well because lots of the animals were out and about for us to see and enjoy.
Lunch brought us over to the Rainforest Café (the one at AK, not Downtown Disney). I had hoped to eat at the Flame Tree Barbecue, but it is now only open seasonally and I guess we chose the wrong season to go to WDW. Oh well. But, I am not complaining because we had a fabulous lunch at Rainforest! I ordered the China Island Chicken Salad, while Lisa got the barbecued chicken wraps. We both enjoyed our meals very much. The servings are huge, but they taste so good and you hardly notice that you polish it all off. Too bad we did not have room for dessert, but if we had we would have because they looked really tasty.
Back to the Beach Club to freshen up a bit, then for our last taste of the parks, I wanted to go back over to Epcot. Man, was there ever a big difference in the crowd level between Saturday and Wednesday when we first arrived. The World Showcase was especially crowded with the Food and Wine Festival taking place. We primarily stayed in the WS, checking out the shops and a few of the attractions. While waiting for the film in the China Pavilion, a group of Chinese acrobats performed for the group. They were amazing! By around 6:00pm, we were famished and in serious need of something yummy, so we indulged in a famous Beaver Tail from the Canadian Pavilion. We added chocolate and maple to it and it was perfect!
At around 8:15pm, we headed over to Le Cellier Steakhouse. I could have sworn that the CM on the phone when I made the PS said to report earlier than usual to Le Cellier Steakhouse, but according to the hostess that was incorrect. We ended up waiting about twenty minutes or so and still got in before our official PS, so we were happy. One cool thing to note, while waiting, they gave us an iPAQ pocket PC (very similar to a Palm Pilot) to keep us busy. With it, we were able to take a quiz about Canada, see images of some of their more popular dishes, and view other information about the Food and Wine Festival. When the time came for us to be escorted to our table, the iPAQ screen changed color and displayed the message. It was really cool!
Dinner was excellent. I started off with the famous Cheese Soup, while Lisa enjoyed a small salad. The soup was really good and everyone who recommended it was right on! The bread sticks were very good; they were a combination of pretzel, sourdough, and one other I cannot recall. For my main course, I chose the Prime Rib and Yukon potatoes in a Burgundy wine reduction. It was very, very good! Lisa ordered the Grilled Pork Loin with grilled apple and parsnip puree, roasted onion broth, and apple chutney. We also each ordered a nice glass of a California Chardonnay and enjoyed a fantastic meal. We will dine here again.
By the time we finished eating dinner, Illuminations was over and the park was officially closed. It was really neat walking to the rear exit of the park as empty as it was. We planned originally to walk over to Boardwalk and check out the dueling piano bar, but after such a long day, we decided to just call it a night and rest up for our trip to the Disney Wonder the next morning!
DAY 5 - Sunday, October 28, 2001 - Depart to Port Canaveral / Disney Wonder
We needed to report to the Beach Club Resort lobby by 11:30am for the Disney Cruise Line bus, so we had a little free time in the morning. We chose not to try and cram in a little more park time and instead decided to sleep in a bit, have a nice leisurely breakfast, and just hang out at the BC until it was time to go. We packed our bags the night before and had them ready to go for the bellboy to pick up at 8:00am. For breakfast, we headed down to the Cape May Café for the buffet character breakfast. The theme of the buffet is Goofy's Beach Day, so we saw Goofy, Chip and Dale, and Minnie Mouse in really amusing beach garb. Aside from the characters though, this was one of the worst buffet breakfasts that I have ever experienced. My first problem was the layout of the food area. The buffet line was a large square that has no defined beginning or end, so people were constantly running into one another as they tried to get their food. And honestly, the food was just ok; nothing special at all. To me, one sign of a good breakfast buffet is an omelet station where a chef can make eggs to order. Many of the WDW breakfast buffet's have one, but not Cape May (at least I did not see one). For my money, the best breakfast buffet in all WDW, not to mention a fantastic character meal, is the Crystal Palace at the Magic Kingdom!!
After breakfast, we took a little walk over to the Boardwalk Resort and back. Returning to our room, we grabbed out daypacks, made sure that we had everything out of the room, and headed down to the lobby. We kicked back in the lobby for about 30 minutes, during which time I ran over to Beaches and Cream for one last Raspberry Coke. Yum!! At 11:45am, a Disney Cruise Line cast member announced that it was time to line up for the bus to Port Canaveral. After a quick ID check and a stop at the Swan and Dolphin for a few more passengers, we were off to the ship. The drive took about 1 hour and 15 minutes, during which time we enjoyed a video that explained how everything worked, such as boarding procedures, who to talk to about certain things, and where to go once on board. Just as the video ended, the bus driver flipped a switch and the two blinds at the front of the bus raised completely to the roof, clearing our view of the beautiful Disney Wonder docked at Port Canaveral! The feeling on the bus immediately became electrified!! Everyone, from children to adults instantly became excited!!!
Check in for Lisa and I was incredibly simple since we booked the Land & Sea package and had already checked in at the Beach Club days before. All we had to do was walk straight to the boat. CM's ran our Key to the World cards and let us pass to the next checkpoint, the x-ray machines. After our items were deemed secure, we walked onto the ship, where one CM announced the boarding of the Ferguson family and another took our picture. We then made our way to our stateroom, #7568. I was really impressed. The room was really nice. We had a king-size bed (or rather two twins pushed together) with two end tables, a couch with a pull out bed, a small coffee table, a mini fridge, a desk area with a large mirror, a small TV, a fairly large closet, separate restroom and bathing/showering facilities, and, best of all, an incredible verandah with two chairs. On the bed, we found our little honeymoon care package, which included a small bottle of champagne, two Disney Cruise Line champagne flutes, truffles, cheese and crackers, and a silk rose. In addition to the honeymoon care package we found our framed DCL pin set that we received for booking our package through AAA. This pin set is amazing. Within an 8x10 golden wood frame, surrounded by light blue matting, was a set of five pins that put together formed the ship. In the lower right corner lay a separate pin of the DCL logo. We had seen a photo of the set when we booked our trip, but had no idea how nice it really was until we saw it firsthand.
Figuring that my luggage would arrive sooner or later, we decided to head off to lunch at the Beach Blanket Buffet. The theme du jour was Italian. The food was good, not wonderful, but it was a buffet after all and I knew that the best food would be during dinner. Since I am a soda fiend, I immediately purchased a refillable soda mug from a vendor ($20.00 for the mug and all of the soda I can drink for four days). We then grabbed a table outside the restaurant and enjoyed the nice breeze and the great view of Cape Canaveral in the distance.
After lunch we decided to explore the ship a bit and reschedule our Palo reservation. As part of our honeymoon package we received guaranteed seating for one night of the cruise at Palo. While we were still at the Beach Club, we received a phone call from a DCL representative who informed us that our reservation was set for Tuesday evening, which conflicted with our rotation at Parrot Cay. Not wanting to miss any of the three rotational restaurants, we decided to move our Palo reservation to Wednesday night, when we were to repeat at Triton's. We headed to the Cadillac Lounge, where the Palo reservations were being made. We explained our situation to the CM at the door and he referred us down the hall. When we arrived there, a different CM sent us back to the Cadillac Lounge. A little frustrated by this point, we told the CM at the door what we wanted to do and he then allowed us to pass and to speak to a Palo representative, whom easily processed our request. Why this was so hard to get done, I will never know. Next, we went over to the Vista Spa and made our reservations for our aromatherapy massage (part of the honeymoon escape package). We decided to purchase a small upgrade that included an additional massage and a facial for two, as well as access to their "Rain Forest" section where they offered guests a variety of saunas.
After walking around the ship and snapping a few pictures, we headed back to the stateroom. Lisa's luggage had arrived, but mine had not. I found our stateroom host, Roy, and asked him if he knew why Lisa's luggage arrived and mine did not since they were loaded together. He said that he would look into it. The next thing you know, we could feel the ship beginning to move. Lisa and I immediately went out onto our verandah to watch the spectacle. "When You Wish Upon a Star" trumpeted from the Disney Wonder's horn! It was really cool! CM's from the DCL terminal were outside dancing and waving goodbye to all of us. As we pulled out of the dock and moved out into sea, a Coast Guard boat drove along side our ship. Once we reached international waters they returned to port and we headed on. Lisa and I just sat on our verandah mesmerized. We were finally on our first cruise!
My luggage finally showed up around 5:30pm, so I had time to get my clothes unpacked and the wrinkles out of my dinner attire. Since our dinner seating time was 8:30pm, we had time to see the first performance of the Voyage of the Ghost Ship stage show. It was pretty darn good and rather funny at times. Unfortunately, I am sad to report that our cruise was the final performance of this show. I am sure that they will replace it with something just a good though, so any future cruisers out there should make the time to see whatever shows they offer.
We headed down to Triton's around 8:15pm. When the doors opened, CM's waited to escort all of us to our assigned table. Lisa and I found ourselves seated with four other honeymoon couples. All of them were very nice, but it really was not until the second night that the group as a whole broke the ice. For my dinner, I chose the Duck a l'Orange, while Lisa ordered the specialty fish of the day. We both liked our meals very much. Unfortunately, during the meal, I finally started to feel the affects of the ships rocking. I asked Lisa if we could skip the dessert this one time since I was not feeling too well; to wit she graciously agreed, but I knew that she was sad and I felt really bad about it. I guess that the seasick tablets that I got from the ships doctor earlier that day did not work too well.
DAY 6 - Monday, October 29, 2001 - Nassau / Discover Atlantis Excursion* (Departs @ 11:00am)
As we awoke the next morning, we looked out our window to see land moving by slowly. Coasting by islands, we could see the homes and buildings go by, but most importantly, we could see the Atlantis Resort in the distance. It was a beautiful sight! Within 30 minutes, we docked at Nassau. Lisa and I took our time getting ready and then set off to Parrot Cay for breakfast. PC offered a buffet breakfast of the basic fare. The fruit was very good, but that was about it. The scrambled eggs were terribly watery and the bacon was very flimsy and chewy. Had I noticed the CM making fresh omelets I would had one of those, but I didn't see him until we were walking out of the restaurant. Oh well.
At 11:00am, Lisa and I met our excursion group at Barrel of Laughs. Prior to our wedding, we set up reservations for the Discover Atlantis tour, which included a harbor cruise/tour and a guided tour of the Atlantis Resort and Casino, including access to their incredible aquarium attraction, the Dig. The harbor cruise was very nice. It lasted about 35 minutes and dropped us off within walking distance to the Atlantis. As we neared the Atlantis a group of tour guides met our large group and split us into smaller contingents. Our tour guide led us straight into the casino, where we saw some amazing chandeliers inspired by the sun and the moon. Words cannot do justice in describing how beautiful and amazing these chandeliers/sculptures are. Finally, we worked our way to the Dig. The Dig is "an interactive maze of rooms and corridors that take you back 11,000 years to the ancient city streets of Atlantis." The Dig was incredible! All of the exhibits, large and small, were perfectly themed. In addition to the animals that you could view through the glass, one room offered guests the opportunity to touch sea cucumbers, horseshoe crabs, and star fish. Other rooms told the story of Atlantis, displaying its technology and casting some light on its demise. Overall, the Dig was a wonderful experience! I even made Lisa go back in with me after the tour was over to see it one more time.
Thoroughly satisfied with our experience, we decided to head back to the ship for a quick bite to eat, followed by a visit into town. For lunch we just grabbed some chicken strips and fries up on the main deck. Basic fast food fare, but it sure hit the spot. The most interesting part of it was the wind up there. It was blowing really hard and as a result French fries were flying everywhere; not ours, but somebody's. It was so bad that we could not even hold our tray of fries under the ketchup dispenser without fear of it blowing out of our hands. So, Lisa and I found a table where the wind was the least potent and I went back and got the ketchup.
Then, off the ship again and into town! Lisa and I walked around and checked out a few of the shops that the Cruise Line recommended, but we ended up not buying anything. Lisa received many offers to have her hair braided, but she turned them all down. The town itself was nice, but run down. It was very, very touristy and rather loud and busy for such a small town. After about 45 minutes, we decided to head back to the ship.
Once back aboard, we returned to the stateroom to relax a bit. I, needing a soda fix, went to refill my mug and forced myself to grab a slice of BBQ chicken pizza while on the main deck. It was pretty darn tasty! When I returned to the room, Lisa was now a little hungry, so we went back up to the main deck and each got a little soft serve with M&M's on top. Yummm!!
We then headed down to catch the afternoon showing of Legally Blonde in the Buena Vista Theatre. The film was entertaining and very funny. It is the theatre itself though that needs mentioning. It is beautiful!!! When the lights went down, the ceiling lit up as if a clear night sky was above us with hundreds of stars. The seats were very comfortable and the sound was really good.
Dinner this evening was scheduled at Animator's Palate. One word can describe this restaurant...amazing!! As we were seated, the entire restaurant, including the vests the waiters were wearing, was black and white, but as the meal progressed the restaurant little by little became alive with color! Mounted along all of the walls of the restaurant were large picture frames that displayed famous scenes from all of our favorite Disney animated features. In between some of the tables stood massive paintbrushes that connected to huge artist's palates on the ceiling. One by one, songs played from each of the Disney films represented in the room and as each played, the "painting" from that film became colorful. Once the meal was over, the grand finale ensued, whereby all of the "paintings" lit up with vibrant colors, as did all of the paintbrushes and palates! Beautiful Disney music floated through the air, as our waiters suddenly appeared in now very colorful attire. You could not help but applaud after it was over!
As for the meal itself....Heaven!!! Lisa ordered the Bahamian special...fresh grouper, while I ordered an incredibly moist and flavorful pork chop. But the best part was the dessert. Served on our own animator's palates, Lisa ordered the Strawberry Shortcake, while I got some New York Style Cheesecake. Lisa was not too impressed with her selection. She thought it was a little dry. I, on the other hand, loved my cheesecake! It was served with a variety of sauces that resembled paint on my palate. It was extremely tasty and made a perfect end to the meal.
After dinner, we made our way over to Barrel of Laughs to check out dueling pianos. It was a blast! The two performers were really entertaining, talented, and funny. But, with all due respect to those two, the person who stole the show was a woman in the audience, who upon seeing the male performer feeling around for something in his pants pocket, asked loudly, "What's wrong, is there a varmint in you garment?" We all cracked up, but the performer lost it the most and had to leave the room for a few minutes because he was laughing so hard.
DAY 7 - Tuesday, October 30, 2001 - Castaway Cay
By the time we awoke this morning, we had already docked in Castaway Cay. I immediately went out on our verandah to see the magnificent view. It was breathtaking! The water was crystal blue, the sand looked almost white, and the trees swayed in the light wind. A few white clouds littered the sky in the morning, but by the afternoon a few more clouds moved in. In the distance, we could see some dark clouds, but they never made their way to us.
For breakfast, Lisa and I visited Triton's. It was weird dining there in shorts and a tee-shirt, but they do not have a dress code for any meal other than dinner. We ordered a la carte from the menu. I got two fried eggs as I like them, along with some bacon and toast. Lisa ordered one of her favorites, French toast and fruit. The food was very good. Much better than our Parrot Cay buffet breakfast the previous day. What a difference freshly made food makes, eh?
After eating, we scooted up to our room and grabbed our stuff for our day of fun. Before the trip, we reserved the Castaway Cay Getaway Package, which included snorkel equipment and float rental for the entire day, plus a 1-hour bicycle rental. We decided to walk to the family beach, not wanting to wait for the shuttle since we were too excited. After staking claim to two beach chairs, we got our snorkeling equipment and headed into the water. Before I go on, I want to mention that even though I live in Southern California, just a hop, skip, and a jump from many beautiful beaches and the great Pacific Ocean, I am basically not a beach person and I really don't like going into the water. In fact, I cannot even remember the last time I touched the waters of the Pacific. That being said, I had the best time snorkeling!!! Maybe it was the warm, clear water. Perhaps it was seeing all of those live fish swimming around me!! Or maybe it was the fun task of finding the sunken Mickey statue!! I don't know, but it was great!! Lisa and I swam all over the snorkeling area for about an hour and we both had a phenomenal time! I even found myself in the middle of a school of fish that came my way while trying to avoid some other swimmers! It was so cool!
After turning in our equipment, we decided to grab the bikes and go for a ride. We rode all the way down the landing strip, to the adult beach, then turned off onto the hiking/biking path that took us down to the far end of the adult beach area. It was a nice ride. Forty-five minutes later, we returned the bikes, as Cookie's BBQ opened for business. Lisa and I, totally famished after snorkeling and biking, loaded up on some good munchies, such as BBQ ribs, hamburgers, chips, cookies, and fruit punch. The food was surprisingly good and there were even CM's there offering you refills on punch and more cookies if you needed it.
Upon finishing lunch, we checked out the nearby souvenir shack, bought a few things, and had them sent back to the ship for pick up later that evening. We then took the tram over to the adult beach for a little R&R. After claiming a few beach chairs, I got Lisa and I a couple of really delicious drinks. I had one called a Deep Blue Sea, a very sour, lemony mixture that hid the alcohol taste very well, while Lisa enjoyed the island specialty, the Conch Cooler, a mixture of a few rums, coconut, and a few other special treats. Both drinks were fantastic, but the absolute best drink of the trip was still to come later that evening....the Witch's Brew!
While we were kicking back, I noticed a CM approach two ladies that were set up next to us. Evidently, they had taken two live starfish out of the water and had them on their beach chairs with them. The CM politely informed them that they needed to put the animals back in the water. They claimed that they thought the fish were dead, but I could tell from where I was that they were not. Luckily, they complied and returned the starfish to the water. The moral of the story folks...leave only footprints and take only memories (oh and official Disney Castaway Cay and DCL merchandise too of course).
Not wanting to sit still, Lisa and I decided to go out into the water again, but to our surprise much of the water at the adult beach is very shallow and we were able to walk out quite a distance before the water level reached my waist. As we explored, we saw lots of different kinds of fish from those we saw while snorkeling. Again, it was a great experience.
Around 3:00pm, we hit the tired wall and headed back to the ship with some fantastic memories. After cleaning up, we checked out our daily Navigator and discovered that we were just in time to see Spy Kids at the Buena Vista Theatre. Since neither of us had seen it before, we headed over and enjoyed the show. It was really entertaining and a fun movie to escape reality with. By the time the movie let out, the ship was leaving dock and heading out to sea.
Since we had a little time before dinner, we went over to the mid-ship area to check out some of the Halloween festivities. Since the 31st was the last night of the cruise, the Cruise Director decided to hold all of the Halloween celebrations on the 30th so that any adults who wanted to party hearty could have the last day at sea to recuperate. It was great watching all of the kids. The CM's set up a trick or treat game for the kids whereby they could start at one of I think four places, get some candy, and a clue to guide them to the next trick or treat station. Kids in costumes, with parents in tow, were running around everywhere. It was great to kick back up above and just watch the fun.
Dinner brought us to Parrot Cay this evening, the ships tropical themed restaurant. While we waited for the doors to open, Lisa and I relaxed in a nearby bar, listened to the female lounge singer perform, and enjoyed a Witch's Brew, the specialty drink of the day that had a dark silvery blue tinge to it. It tasted so good, and for the life of me I could not taste the alcohol; but I knew it was loaded with it because with my empty stomach, I could feel it. As the restaurant opened, we grabbed our drinks and headed in. While listening to the sound of birds chirping all around us, we enjoyed an excellent meal. I ordered a combination of spicy chicken wings and pot stickers as my appetizer. They were wonderful, and as delectably spicy as advertised. For my main course, I got a steak, prepared in a Cuban style that was so moist and perfect. Lisa ordered fish again, but we cannot for the life of us remember what kind. We do recall though that we liked the meal very much though. My steak was perfectly prepared and Lisa's fish could not have been better! Dessert brought us Banana Flambé, prepared for us personally by the senior host. I don't know what was more fun, watching him prepare it or eating it....ok, I liked eating it much more. Once the meal was over, music blasted from above, as all of the CM's came out clapping and singing along to "Hot, Hot, Hot" by Buster Poindexter. The next thing you know, someone pulled out a limbo stick and CM's and guests alike took part in the fun! Another great ending to a wonderful meal!
After dinner, we headed back over to the mid-ship to watch some of the other Halloween festivities. This time, it was the adult costume contest and we saw quite a few interesting costumes. Finally, we headed over to Barrel of Laughs for another dueling piano's show. After nestling into our private booth, we ordered another set of Witch's Brew's and kicked back. This time we requested a few songs for the performers to play. One of Lisa's was selected, but none of mine were. Oh well. The show was great yet again!
DAY 8 - Wednesday, October 31, 2001 - Day at sea
Wednesday was our day at sea, when we planned to visit the Vista Spa and just enjoy the ships amenities. Breakfast was at the Beach Blanket Buffet. Again, basic buffet fare. It was good; better than Parrot Cay our first breakfast experience, but still no Crystal Palace at the Magic Kingdom.
Around 10:00am, we headed up to the spa and checked in. We both received locker keys, a robe, and a quick tour. We arrived a good thirty minutes before our massage time in order to thoroughly enjoy the various saunas in the Rainforest. There, they offered three different saunas for guests to enjoy, each with a different temperature and steam setting. Inside each sauna were stone and tile benches that were surprisingly comfortable. In the central chamber of the Rainforest, sat four special chairs, made of I think stone and tile, that when you lay on them, they actually warmed up based on your body temperature. Soon, our two masseuses came into the room to see if we were ready. We asked for a few more minutes, which they graciously obliged. After a quick shower to get any sweat off of our bodies and swim suits (yep, you have to wear them in the Rainforest section), our masseuses escorted us into our secluded room. Prior to the treatment, they explained everything that they were going to do and then they began. The massage was heavenly. The facial was nice too, but I liked the massage better myself. Once completed, our masseuses left the room so we could dress and then came in with a list of items that they recommended we should purchase. It was this part that I did not like too much. After a wonderful sauna and massage treatment, the last thing that I wanted was a sales pitch. According to Lisa, this is what they do at other spas as well, but I still thought it was kind of bad timing. We graciously declined their recommendations, charged their gratuities to our room and then headed back to the locker rooms to get dressed. Even though the final part of our spa experience left a little to be desired, we really enjoyed the overall experience very much.
Lunch took us to Parrot Cay, where they were having an Asian Stir Fry theme. In addition to the CM stir frying items while you waited, they offered many Asian style items in the buffet. I found the food to be pretty darn tasty, especially the desserts. I do not know what it was, I should have asked someone, but I ate this blue thing that was fantastic! Sorry I cannot be more specific.
After dinner, we headed over to catch a showing of Atlantis at the Buena Vista Theatre. By the time it got out, it was about time for the Disney Dreams performance at the Walt Disney Theatre. Disney Dreams was incredible!! An excellent show indeed! If it had not been for all of those rude people taking flash pictures even after being warned it would have been perfect. Oh well, what can you do? CM's tried to find the culprits and ask them not to do it, but it was a losing battle from the beginning.
Our PS for dinner at Palo was scheduled for 9:00pm. Unfortunately for me, it was near that time that the ship ran into some rather large swells. According to a CM, the 15-foot swells were from the tropical storm that was south of us, which later became Hurricane Michelle. Needless to say, the boat was rocking good, or bad depending how you look at it. In my case it was bad. We arrived at Palo and were immediately seated. A woman arrived at the same time we did and the host was surprised that she was alone. She told him that her date had lost his battle with the waves and was done for the night. By this point, I was still ok, not too bad off, but after sitting down, the rocking finally started taking its toll on me real quickly. After placing our orders, Lisa could tell that I was uncomfortable. I excused myself and went to the restroom to throw some cool water on my face. Lisa ordered me a large soda to hopefully help, but it did not. Our salad appetizers came and they were delicious. Then, came the main course. I had ordered a rack of lamb and Lisa ordered the Chilean Sea Bass. Lisa thoroughly enjoyed her sea bass. My lamb looked and smelled wonderful! Too bad, I did not even get to taste it. I cut my first slice, brought it towards my mouth, then realized that I just could not eat. Don't worry I did not get sick, but I did ask for Lisa's permission to go back to the room, which she again graciously granted. So, I left that wonderful meal and my beautiful new wife to take care of myself and lie down. I made it back to the room just fine and crashed. A little while later, Lisa came into the room with my dinner all wrapped up. Still, I could just not eat it; what a waste. By this point, Lisa was no longer sad. She had finished her entrée and dessert, as I had hoped she would. I did not want her to miss out on anything else because of my being seasick. She said that the server, upon learning that I had left, took very good care of her, offering her all kinds of excellent food, wine, and desserts. My thanks go out to that kind CM. Anyway, as you can guess, I survived, and yes, we are still very happily married. And no, I have not given up on cruising; next time, I will try the patch and skip those chewable things that they had on the ship.
DAY 9 - Thursday, November 1, 2001 - Port Canaveral / Disembark ship
The way that breakfast works on the day of disembarkation is that you eat at the same restaurant that you were assigned to dine at the first night of the cruise, with the exclusion of Palo. Plus, the meals were broken down into two parts, an earlier one for the early dinner people and a second for the later seating people. So, we lucked out and got to eat at Triton's and got to sleep in a little more than some people. Our server recommended the Express Breakfast, which included scrambled eggs, bacon, and sausage, which we both chose. As the meal ended, we said our good-byes to the other couples and our servers then headed out. Customs was a breeze. We found our bags really quickly, then didn't even get a second look by the customs officer. Once outside the terminal, we easily found the DCL bus to take us to the airport and within twenty minutes were pulled out. As we rode to the airport, we watched another DCL video that thanked us for taking a DCL vacation. We arrived at the airport much earlier than we originally anticipated when we made flight arrangements, so instead of sitting around for four hours, we decided to see if we could catch an earlier flight out. Luck must have been on our side, not only did we get an earlier flight out, but our new connection took us back through Minneapolis instead of Detroit, which would have added at least one hour to the flight time. We landed in San Diego around 8:00pm, found our luggage and our ride waiting outside, then headed home to recuperate.
Well, that is it! Thanks for taking the time to read this and I hope it helps some of you out in planning your future trips!
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