David Hastings -- June 2003 -- Disney Cruise Trip (Magic, Western Caribbean)
Cast of Characters
This is the second cruise for all of us (see October 2000) except for Beth. This is her first cruise.
In case you are wondering why this report is so late coming out this is actually the second time that I have written it. The first one took a long time to write because of the job that I had at the time. I was a Nabisco sales rep. and working a LOT. Well, about a day or two after finishing the report the hard drive on my computer crashed. And I mean crashed hard. I had been waiting for the weekend to send in the trip report and now I could kick myself for not saving it on a disk. A friend who works in computers thought he could retrieve it but to no avail. So here I sit. As Yogi Berra said, ďItís like déjà vu all over againĒ. Luckily, I took good notes on the cruise. I hope you enjoy detailed reports, because thatís what mine tend to be. When I read other peopleís reports, I like as much detail as possible, as I really start to feel like I am there. (I suggest that you make the coffee strong and grab one of those coffee cups like they use on Friends.)
As I stated above, we have cruised once before. That was a Halloween cruise to the Eastern Caribbean on the Disney Magic. As much as I love going to WDW this had to have been my favorite vacation ever. I was anxious to book another cruise but we had a trip to WDW planned for 2002 and I didnít know when we could raise the money for another cruise. As soon as the WDW trip was over I really started thinking more and more about it. Disney had announced the new Western itinerary and I started throwing out hints about how great that sounded. Well, the wife was pretty much ignoring me until my in-laws came to the rescue. Jimmy (brother-in-law) started talking about cruising again and Dot, my mother-in-law, joined in as well Debbie finally agreed that it sounded like a good idea. I think that part of her reasoning was that my MILís health is not what it used to be and this was probably going to be the last chance for us all to spend some quality time together. Needless to say, within minutes we were at AAA booking the cruise. We were all very excited, especially with the prospect of visiting ports that we had never been to before. The only bad news was that the cruise was 53 weeks away as we had to go during summer vacation and we needed some time to raise the money We did not want to go into debt to take this vacation. It was a long way off but it really gave me something to look forward to. In the end, the year flew by and before we knew it, we were packing for what promises to be a great vacation
Friday, June 20, 2003-
Our cruise starts tomorrow but our trip starts today as we are flying out one day early. We are staying at the Airport Hyatt tonight. It should work out great because it will allow us to have a relaxed morning tomorrow instead of a morning of travel Considering how early you have to arrive at the airport nowadays plus having to worry about delayed or cancelled flights we figured that flying out the night before was definitely the way to go. Plus, weíre hoping that Disney transportation from the hotel will arrive us at the terminal a little earlier than if we flew in on Saturday morning.
Debbie took the day off of work today so she and Caity can take care of the last minute details that always have to be done. I had to work today but I planned the week so that Friday would be as easy as possible. I started the day at 5:00 a.m. (Iím a Nabisco sales rep.) and really hustled and ended up finishing at about 2:40 p.m. When I got home I loaded the last of the suitcases into the car. As a side note, we are terrible about overpacking. We probably could realistically bring about half of what we actually carry with us. But, darn it, if the airline allows two bags apiece, we will have two bags apiece. After loading the car, I took a shower and changed my clothes and we left the house at 3:40. We picked up Dot (from now on referred to as Grandma) at 4:00 and made the five minute drive from her house to the airport. I dropped the others and the baggage at Southwest Airlinesí curbside check-in. Then I drove the car over to the daily parking lot and dropped it off. The cost would be $7 per day, not too bad. When I got back to the terminal the others had completed the checking in. We had even been issued our boarding passes right there at curbside- very convenient. We were way too early but with the new security procedures and with everyone being told to arrive early we didnít want to take a chance. Southwest Airline issues boarding passes on a first come- first serve basis and we wanted to be among the first group aboard so that we would all be able to sit together. As it turns out, with Grandma being in a wheelchair, we would have been boarded first anyway. Plus, I really didnít mind being here early. At home, we would be sitting around waiting for our vacation to start. Here, we feel like our vacation has already started. I know, Iím splitting hairs, but give me a break. Iíve been waiting for this vacation for a year.
We hadnít eaten any dinner yet so we decided to look around. Grandma, Debbie, and I ended up getting barbecue sandwiches from Beach Bully BBQ. Caity got a Bacon Double Cheeseburger from A&W. All were very good- especially to me as I hadnít eaten all day. After our meal we decided to head on over to our gate and proceeded through the security checkpoint. Even after divesting myself of all cameras and the cell phone I still set off the metal detector so they took me aside where I had to sit down and remove my shoes and lift my feet one at a time so they could be wanded. Then I had to stand with my arms outstretched and even had to unbuckle my belt as the wanding continued. The security people were very polite and efficient so I didnít really mind. Besides, itís not like I was about to complain or anything. Grandma, between her wheelchair and her artificial knees, is carrying more metal than the airplane, and was subjected to a similar inspection Once we put our clothes back on we located our gate and found some comfortable chairs to settle down in. Itís just as well, because shortly afterward they announced that our flight had been delayed 1 hour and 20 minutes in Baltimore due to weather and now we wonít be departing until 8:40. Well versed in the art of survival Debbie and headed to the snack bar to pick up some candy bars. At least starvation will not be a threat. While we were waiting Caity called some friends to say goodbye (okay, to brag) and we settled in with books and magazines
At 8:15 I noticed that there was still no plane parked outside and a couple minutes later they announced that the plane would be delayed an additional hour due to a broken bridge- you know, the walkway that runs between the terminal and the airplane. Eventually, the plane finally arrived and we ended up taking off at about 9:40 and arrived in Orlando at 11:15 p.m. As we taxied to the gate the flight attendant announced, ďThank you for flying with us. No one loves you or your money more than Southwest AirlinesĒ. Not the official send-off, Iím sure, but I thought it was pretty funny (and refreshingly honest).
At this point we are really starting to feel tired. Thank goodness we are staying at the Hyatt which is located right here in the airport. After tipping both the skycap and the bellhop (we had way too much luggage to carry) we were settled in our rooms Debbie, Caity, and I were in one room with Grandma right next door. While we were checking in we met up with Jimmy, my brother-in-law. He was extremely stressed out because after arriving a couple of hours earlier he had become separated from his fiancé, Beth, and still had not located her. They had not been allowed to check-in earlier as the rooms were all booked under my last name and apparently I had to be present. At this point, when I say he was stressed out Iím basically using that as a euphemism for ANGRY. You know us guys. Sometimes worry comes out as anger. Well, things calmed down quickly as Beth showed up just a few minutes later. Apparently, she and Jimmy had both been walking circles around each other as each was trying to find the other. It just goes to show that it can happen with adults just as easily as it can with kids. I resolved to try to always have a meeting place in case of separation.
With everyone finally settled in Debbie and I took a few minutes to put the DCL luggage tags on our bags because we found out when we checked in that they will be collected from in front of our rooms at 8:30 tomorrow morning. What a relief that we wonít have to lug all those bags anywhere else. At this point it is about 1:00 a.m. and weĎve just had it. Iíve been up since 4:00 this morning. It has been a tough day for travel but as I drift off to sleep I am very thankful that we are already here in Florida. If we had had to deal with all the travel delays on Saturday morning just hours before the cruise it would have been much more stressful. In spite of the tough day I fall asleep with a smile. After all, tomorrow we will be returning to the Disney Magic.
SATURDAY, JUNE 21, 2003- Departure-
I woke up to the alarm at 6:45 a.m. I usually get up at 4:30 for work so I figured that Iíd wake before the alarm but no chance after the long day yesterday. I started the coffee and while it was brewing I grabbed a quick shower. While Debbie and Caity are showering Iím going to go downstairs to see what kind of breakfast places are available and also what time the Disney Store opens. I had checked the prices on the room service menu- 3 egg omelet- $3.75, Pancakes- $9.75, English Muffin- $2.75. íNuff said. While I was getting dressed I turned on the channel which shows arrivals and departures. The flight that we would have taken in doesnít arrive until 10:10. I just canĎt say it enough, it sure is nice to be here already. I took the elevator down to the terminal level and walked across to the Disney Store which I was surprised to find was already open. I was hoping to buy a blue glitter lamp to use as a nightlight in our stateroom Jimmy had one on the last cruise and the effect was really neat. The light looked just like water reflecting off the walls. No luck. I also checked the new Music From the Parks CD for Disney World but it was basically the same as the last one that I had bought so I passed.
I left the Disney Store and walked on down to the Food Court area to see what was there and I spotted a Cinnabon (Woo! Hoo!) so I purchased a 4-pack for the six of us to split. They are really large. I also bought myself a coffee as the coffeemaker in the room is pretty small. The Cinnabon was great and the coffee was excellent- very smooth and not a trace of bitterness. After breakfast Debbie left with Jimmy to drop his car in the long- term parking lot. He and Beth live in Atlanta and had driven down yesterday. At about 9:40, when they got back, we headed on downstairs to catch the Disney shuttle. We met up with the DCL representative right in the lobby of the hotel and before long we were on the bus and heading toward Port Canaveral In what seemed like a very short time we were crossing the bridge and getting our first view of the Magic. Even though this is our second cruise, we were still very excited by our first view of this beautiful ship. This time it felt almost as if we were coming home.
The security check was extremely quick and in no time at all we were in the terminal. Just as we went in it started to rain- heavily. Hopefully, it will be finished before the sail-away deck party. Check-in was quick and we joined the crowd waiting to board. Even though we hadnít asked they put us near the front due to Grandma being in a wheelchair. I love the moment when you are crossing the gangplank and you officially leave the terminal and step onto the ship. As we entered the atrium our names were announced and we knew we had arrived. Like a rookie I headed over to Paloís to make our reservations only to find out that they were taking reservations at Rockiní Bar D which is right off the atrium. Oh, well, it was kind of neat traveling through the ship virtually alone. On the way back I spotted a table that they had set up and I picked up our complimentary AAA mugs that can be used for soft drink refills throughout the cruise. As it turns out, we only used them occasionally so I am glad that we got them for free When I got back to Rockiní Bar D I made our reservations for Tuesday night and then it was finally time to meet the others at Topsiders for lunch. Topsiders is at the extreme rear of the ship (aft) on the top deck. The midship elevators were busy so I walked all the way back to the back of Deck 3 to catch the aft elevators. When I got there no one else was around except for the crew members who were operating the elevators. I got on one alone and the CM asked me which floor I wanted so I told her Deck 9. She said, ďOkay, letís make this an priorityĒ, inserted a card into a slot, punched 9 on the keypad, and we had an instant express elevator. Cool.
I arrived at Topsiders just as the others were sitting down with their trays. I got in line and joined them about three minutes later. Iím not even going to try to cover everybody but hereís what I sampled- Sliced Ham, Sliced Turkey, Chilled Shrimp, Chicken Breast with Tropical Fruit Salsa, Broiled Filet of Salmon with Red Onion and Tomato, Chilled Orange and Mango Soup, and Black Beans and Rice Everything was okay but the Chilled Shrimp were excellent. For dessert, I had a slice of Mocha cake and Coffee. All the traveling and rushing around is over, now the relaxation begins. Ahhh, thereís no place I would rather be than here, on this ship, right now. Is there any better feeling than the first few moments of what you know will be a great vacation?
After lunch we headed back to the stateroom to start unpacking and when we arrived in the room we realized that the ship was leaking. Well, to be specific, the sprinkler head in our stateroom was leaking. Drip, Drip, DripÖ I called housekeeping and someone was in the room in under five minutes and he told me that it would be fixed within the hour. Within a few minutes a crew of about six guys showed up and basically dismantled our whole ceiling. I actually would have liked to see what they were doing but the stateroom was just not big enough for all of us. So Debbie, Caity, and I decided to go and visit Grandma in her stateroom. WOW. I just donít know how to describe this room. It is on the same deck as ours (Deck 6) but right at the back of the ship. The room is a handicapped room and has PLENTY of room for her to negotiate in her wheelchair. It also has a HUGE bathroom that she can roll right into. There is a walk-in closed that we found to contain an extra roll away bed. Very convenient in case the handicapped person needs some around-the-clock attention. I stepped out onto her balcony and was amazed. It is at least twelve times larger than ours. Very impressive. My only complaint is that it has no railing but a solid wall which blocks most of the view of the ocean. The nice thing about this balcony is that it is located where the profile of the ship slopes a lot so the roof only covers about one half of it. This would be perfect for sunbathing. All in all this is a very impressive room and I am very glad that she will get to enjoy it as we are not sure whether her health will allow her to cruise again.
When we returned to our room the workers were all gone and the leak had been repaired We decided to go ahead and get the unpacking done while we waited for the Lifejacket Drill. Everybodyís favorite thing. We were on Deck 4 underneath the lifeboats and were looking out across the water where we could see a very large Carnival Cruise ship berthed. It looks nice but has none of the classic beauty of the Magic. During the drill it really started to pour and I knew that the sail away party would be held indoors. After the drill we dropped off our lifejackets and headed to the atrium. The atrium is located in the center of the ship. It starts on Deck 3 and rises up through Deck 5. It is a fairly large and very attractive open space. We found some spots along the railing on Deck 5 that overlooks the atrium and all the festivities going on below. We arrived just as the party started I expected it to be a little disappointing being held indoors but I was absolutely wrong. The party was loads of fun. They played an excellent selection of fun, lively music that had all the kids up and dancing. The CMís were great- very energetic and entertaining. We would see them throughout the week at different events and they were always top notch. Kudos to Disney for finding these people Towards the end of the show the CMís were joined by the Disney characters which, of course, really got the kids excited. (As a side note. At no point during this cruise did we find the children on board to be obtrusive at all. The were obviously busy doing their own thing and were never underfoot. When we were around the kids, mostly at shows and mealtimes, they were never misbehaving. In fact, we kind of enjoy seeing kids having fun so we actually spent some time at the family pool.) At the end of the party there were loud pops as streamers flew from above and floated down to those below. I got a great shot with my video camera as one of the poppers was right next to me. It was interesting seeing paper streamers hanging off of the million dollar Dale Chiluly chandelier. The deck party turned out to be loads of fun and a great way to start the cruise.
After the party Debbie went with Grandma back to her stateroom and Caity and I decided to take a tour of the ship. First, we decided to check out the secret deck at the rear of Deck 7 since I had never seen it before. As we looked over the railing I noticed that the wall below us sloped down at about a 45 degree angle and overhung the verandah on the deck below us. I told Caity that I think it must be Grandmaís verandah. I was determined to find out. I set a penny on the top and let it slide down until it dropped down onto the verandah below. Weíll check later to see if it is indeed on her deck. We continued walking around the ship and I bought a Bahama Mama from a very attractive CM who was walking around with a tray full. Hey, anything I can do to help lighten her load. Actually, the main reason that I wanted it was for the souvenir glass. (Which turned out to be plastic, anyway. I really should have known.) Caity left to go to the teen orientation at Common Grounds. I stopped and made an appointment for a haircut Then I went to Grandmaís room to join Debbie and her mom on the verandah And, what do you know? I found the penny. We just sat and relaxed and enjoyed the beautiful afternoon as we watched the ocean rush by. These quiet, relaxing moments are some of my favorite. This, to me, is what cruising is all about.
At 6:00 we headed back to our room to change. Then we headed to the Walt Disney Theater to see the Welcome Aboard Variety Show. The acts are Dan Riley doing comedy and music and Rich Purpura who will be doing comedy and magic. Weíve seen Dan before and heís pretty good but Rich stole the show tonight. He was excellent and VERY funny. After the show we went up to get Grandma who had decided to skip the show and just join us for dinner. This was basically what she did all week. She tires very easily nowadays and was just as happy staying in the room and enjoying the movies that are always available.
Dinner tonight was in Parrot Key. This was easily my least favorite restaurant on the last cruise but Iíve heard that it has improved considerably. As soon as we were seated our servers came and introduced themselves. Our main server was Sasha from Croatia. Caity was impressed saying that he reminded her very much of Jude Law. Our Assistant Server was Paula from Jamaica. I loved her accent. Perfect for a Caribbean cruise. She was kind of quiet and shy but did a very good job. I think Debbie was disappointed to find that the Head Server was different from our last cruise. Last time we had an attractive man with a strong French accent. But I wasnít complaining. The Head Server this year is a very attractive woman whose name unfortunately escapes me. Hey, fair is fair. And yes, donít worry, we are very happily married. Now on to the really important stuff- the food.
Iím only going to cover what Debbie, Caity, and I eat as this report is going to be way too long as it is. (Hey, I heard that sigh of relief!) I had two appetizers tonight, the Chicken Wings and the Seafood Newburg. For my entrée I had the Baby Back Ribs. Everything was very good. Not the best ribs that I have ever had but quite good nonetheless. For her appetizer, Debbie ordered the Fruit Salad with Honey Lime Dressing. For her entrée she ordered the Whole Roasted Chicken. Caity also got the Fruit salad for her appetizer and ordered the Boneless Chicken Breast from the Lighter Fare portion of the menu. It just sounded the best to her. Both the girls enjoyed their meals. For dessert I ordered the Bourbon Pecan Pie (excellent), Debbie ordered the Chocolate Espresso Walnut Cake, and Caity got the Lemon Meringue Pie. We all ate way too much and decided to just head back to the room after dinner. This restaurant has definitely ďkicked it up a notchĒ as Emeril would say. When we got to the room I made the mistake of laying down and immediately fell asleep. Debbie finished unpacking the last couple odds and ends before crashing. Caity stayed up and watched the movie íEvelyní (starring Pierce Brosnan) on TV and then went to bed about 12:30. It has been a wonderful day today and it feels so nice to be falling asleep on the Magic once again.
SUNDAY, JUNE 22, 2003-
I woke up this morning at 7:30- very late for me. At home, Iím used to getting up at 4:00 for work. Boy, it sure didnít take long for me to get into the vacation mode on this trip. Today is Key West day and we donít arrive until noon so there was really no reason to be up early. Although, I must admit, I do miss seeing the sun rise over the water. I just donít miss it enough to set an alarm. I got dressed quietly so as to not wake the others and walked up to the drink station on Deck 9 to get some coffee for Debbie and I in our AAA mugs. I thought the coffee was really good, especially for a drink station. I left Debbieís coffee by the bed and took mine out on the verandah where I looked through todayís Navigator and updated trip report notes. Ahhhh, this is the life. A few minutes later Debbie and Caity woke up and Debbie joined me on the verandah for a few minutes. She and Caity decided to go and get some breakfast but all I really wanted was my coffee so I enjoyed that a while longer and then went inside to get a shower.
Afterwards, I made my way to the salon for my haircut appointment. Just before the cruise I had decided to cut my hair very short for convenience sake. I was really enjoying the short haircut (no more combing, just towel dry) but the lady who had cut it had left me with a flattop. I didnít want that, I just wanted it even all around. Why not get it done on the Magic? The price was $28, but I thought the experience was well worth it. The chairs in the salon are located directly in front of large picture windows that give a great view of whatever the ship may be passing. As I was sitting there we were pulling into Key West and passing very closely by the Carnival Pride which had arrived before us. It was all very interesting By the way, the girl who cut my hair, whose accent sounded Baltic, was, quite honestly, stunning. Without exaggeration, she could easily have passed as a supermodel She also did a great job with my hair and I was very pleased.
Haircut taken care of, I headed on up to Deck 10 to take some pictures and video of Key West. It was very windy up there and it felt great not having to be constantly pushing my hair out of my eyes. It was interesting seeing Mallory Square after having seen it so many times on the live web cam for the last few months. I used to always make sure I checked it out when I knew the Magic was docked. Now, Iím actually on the Magic looking back towards the web cam. I know, little things excite me. While I was up there Caity called me on the walkie talkie to let me know that they had just finished playing Bingo. They had a lot of fun and this quickly became their favorite pastime on the ship.
We went and picked up Jimmy and Beth from their room and went on up to Deck 9 to grab some lunch before leaving to visit Key West. Debbie and Caity got pizzas from Pinocchioís. Caity got the cheese and Debbie tried the vegetarian. They both loved their pizzas and Debbie proclaimed hers to be the best that she has ever had. Strong words considering how much we all love pizza. For myself, I picked up a Chicken Sandwich from Plutoís Dog House and I must say it was very good The fast food restaurants on this ship are much better than you would expect. Dessert for all was ice cream from Scoops. Yea, they have cones now!
It had rained just a little as we were eating but it looked like it was starting to clear so we decided to head on out. We had not really planned on doing too much. We have never been to Key West before so we mostly wanted to just spend some time casually looking around. (Come to think of it, isnít that the only way to look around a place like Key West?) We had a couple stops planned but that was about it. We disembarked from Deck 1 just as it started raining again (not too hard) so we walked up the dock and looked around a few shops which were close by. Then we spotted Mel Fisherís Shipwreck Museum which was one of the places that we wanted to visit. A friend of Jimmyís had highly recommended this place and I was willing since I have seen a couple shows on TV highlighting some of his discoveries. It turned out to be pretty interesting and Iím glad we went in but Iím not sure it was worth the $9 per person. You did get to hold an actual gold bar which was really neat. I probably enjoyed it more than the others as I already had an interest in shipwrecks.
After visiting the museum we decided to find Sloppy Joeís. It is a Bar & Grill made famous because it used to be frequented by Ernest Hemingway. Also, the Sloppy Joe sandwich was invented here. It has become a Key West institution. Well, we found it without any problem but it was PACKED and very noisy. Not really the place to have a quiet drink. I was a little disappointed. Iíve been checking their web cam for the past few weeks in anticipation of the trip and almost felt like Iíve been here before. But it wasnít what I expected. In all fairness, it is probably much nicer when the cruise ships arenít in port. Still, being the tourist that I am, I bought a t-shirt and two glasses
At this point, Caity said that she had a headache so she and Debbie decided to head back to the ship. We live in a beach town (Virginia Beach) and I think that all the tourist shops that weíve been passing just looked too much like things that we see all the time. Jimmy was looking for a shop to buy a bottle of liquor to take back to the ship. We finally found one and it was kind of interesting. The shop was very small with a porch and you couldnít go in but told the man at the door what you wanted and then he would bring it too you. You would pay and be on your way. Itís a lot different than Virginia where the state runs all the liquor stores. After buying his ďmedicineĒ Jimmy and Beth decided to head back to the ship as well as Jimmyís knees were starting to bother him. I wanted to keep looking around so I told them that I would see them later. Back in my high school days (late 1970ís, please donít do the math, thatís rude) I was a surfer and a huge Jimmy Buffet fan. Well, in preparation for both of our Disney cruises I have become a Parrothead once again. I was determined to stay until I discovered that laid-back, off the beaten path Key West that Iíve heard so much about. It didnít take too long. I just roamed around and found myself amongst quaint shops and houses with gingerbread- like touches. Definitely the kind of architecture that you associate with Key West. Also, the vegetation was beautiful. Lots of flowery vines and things like that.
Another feature of KW which I find endearing are the roosters and chickens which roam around at will. I stopped to film a rooster and he crowed right on cue. As I was walking I started to notice that all the business signs had a familiar theme. ďThe U.S.ís Southernmost RestaurantĒ or hotel or real estate office or whatever. You name the business and I can tell you where the most southern location can be found. I looked for a street sign and discovered that I had reached the end of Duvall Street so I headed over a couple of streets and found that famous landmark showing the ďSouthernmost Point in the U.S.Ē and took a picture of it. It was too crowded and I didnít want to stand around waiting to ask someone to take my picture so I decided to just mosey on back to the ship. I decided to walk back on Whitehead Street for a change of scenery. It was a very beautiful walk. On the way back I passed the Lighthouse Museum and the Hemingway House but I only stopped momentarily for some pictures. As I got closer to the ship I also passed the Shipwreck Museum (a different one), the Key West Aquarium, and went into the Hogís Breath Saloon where I bought a glass. At this point, I was ready to get back on the ship but first I stopped on Mallory Square to take some pictures of the Magic. Mallory Square is where you can find the street performers during the sunset celebration. We wouldnít be coming as we will be in Lumiereís during the sunset.
When I was about to board the ship I noticed quite a few people in the street (obviously not Magic passengers) who were posing for pictures with the magic behind them. Obviously, they were seeing the ship for the first time and were very impressed. I tried to act humble as I went on board. When I got back to the stateroom I found Caity alone and she told me that Debbie had left in a cab to pick up some prescription medicine for her mother. It was something that she has to take every day but had forgotten to bring any with her. Apparently, Debbie had been trying to call me on the walkie talkie and I discovered that I had accidentally turned the volume down earlier when I had intended to turn it up. I felt bad because I knew that Debbie would have liked for me to be with her.
Well, there wasnít anything I could do at this point, so Caity and I decided to go to Scoops for some ice cream. I was really craving a nice, cool snack. I had actually done quite a bit of walking today. We took our ice cream down to the room to eat it and shortly afterwards Debbie returned. I was right. She had been very nervous going out on her own but as it turned out her cab driver was very nice and was also dealing with a mother who had a lot of the same health issues as Debbieís mom. He provided a sympathetic ear and I am extremely grateful for all his help.
We all just decided to stay in and relax until it was time to get ready for dinner. Tonightís meal will be at Lumiereís, my favorite. I was quite excited After dressing for dinner, we headed to Grandmaís room with the intention of taking her up to Deck 10 to watch the sunset. I know Mallory Square is the place to be but Iím not missing Lumiereís for anything. Caity and I crashed on Grandmaís balcony while Debbie dressed her and then we just decided to watch the sunset from there. It really didnít make any difference. It was very overcast out and everything was just gray. There was no color at all and you couldnít even tell exactly when the sun fell below the horizon. I felt bad for the people who had paid for sunset cruises but I suppose they had fun anyway. We went down to the restaurant and went in through the side door because of the wheelchair. Sasha saw us and came and took the wheelchair from me and literally ran up the aisle while pushing Grandma in her chair. We all thought it was funny but apparently it frightened her at the time.
I ordered two appetizers tonight. I got the Shrimp Medley and the Balls of Seasoned Melon Both were excellent and very light and refreshing. I talked Debbie into ordering both as well since I knew that she would love both of them. Caity just got the Melon Balls. For our entrée both Debbie and I ordered the Garlic Roasted Beef Tenderloin which was served with mashed potatoes and a green peppercorn sauce Believe me, it was just as good as it sounds. For her entrée, Caity ordered the Cheese Ravioli which is served in a tomato basil sauce. For dessert, bopth Debbie and I ordered the Grand Marnier Souffle with chocolate sauce. We had this on our last cruise and really think that itís excellent. Itís rich, but with a cup of coffee- fantastic. Caity ordered the Vanilla/Chocolate Dome with raspberries. She skipped the raspberries but declared the rest to be very good. Lumiereís does desserts very well and we all left satisfied
After dinner I went up to drop off my cameras and Caity changed into something more comfortable and then we met Debbie at the Buena Vista Theater. They were showing ĎChicagoí which we had not yet seen. When we sat down, to my surprise, I discovered that I had ample leg room. On our last cruise we had come to this theater and I had to sit through the whole movie with my legs turned sideways. It was very uncomfortable. Well, it must have been just that one row because tonight was fine. They were selling drinks and snacks in front of the theater but I wasnít hungry so I just ran up to Deck 9 to grab a cup of coffee from the drink station. The movie was pretty good and when it was over we just headed back to the room and crashed in bed around 1:00 a.m. Today was our first full day on the Magic (on this cruise) and it was wonderful. I wish the others had enjoyed Key West a little more. It was much more enjoyable after I got away from the main tourist areas and got to enjoy some of the quaintness of the Key West. Tomorrow is a day at sea which we love. Is there anything better than falling asleep on the Magic? Not much.
MONDAY, JUNE 23, DAY AT SEA-
WOO! HOO! No work today! Thereís nothing like waking up and realizing that you are on vacation. I woke at 7:30 and went on up to the drink station on Deck 9 (as you can see, I made good use of the drink station) and picked up some coffee for Debbie and I. I left hers on her bedside table and took mine out to the verandah to read through the Personal Navigator to see what was going on today. I also grabbed Saturdayís Navigator which contained information on Grand Cayman and Cozumel. It is absolutely gorgeous out today. The weather is perfect. The seas have been calm and I have felt almost no motion at all. You wouldnít even know you are on a cruise ship. Before long Debbie joined me and we both relaxed with our coffee.
After awhile we decided to head on down to Lumiereís for breakfast where we were joined by Jimmy. I got the Eggs Benedict (MMMMM!) and the Chocolate Chip Pancakes Debbie had a Denver Omelet, Roasted Potatoes, Blueberry Pancakes, and a Cinnamon Bun. Caity had a Cinnamon Bun and the breakfast which comes with Bacon, Eggs, and Sausage (the latter made it onto my plate). Jimmy also had the Eggs Benedict and he had French Toast. Breakfast was very good but we all ate way too much.
After breakfast, Debbie, Caity, and Jimmy went to play Bingo and I went back to the room to read on the verandah for awhile. This is why I like the sea days. Donít get me wrong, I love visiting new places and I canít wait to see both Grand Cayman and Cozumel. But if relaxation is what you need, then the sea days are ideal. There is plenty to do on the ship so you can stay just as busy as you want. But if you just want to relax, take it easy, and recharge those batteries, this is how to do it. I read for awhile, worked on the trip report for a while, and, yes, Iíll admit it, I enjoyed a bit of solitude just watching the ocean go by. Right now we are just off the coast of Cuba but even with a pair of binoculars it is too far away to see. I remember hearing on the radio that a large number of ancient structures had recently been discovered off the coast of Cuba and I canít help but wonder if we are over those ruins right now.
After awhile, Debbie and Caity returned from making their contributions to the Bingo pot. Day by day the pot builds and on the last day there is usually a very large payoff. Iíve got my fingers crossed. Just before 1:00 Debbie and I headed to Preludes. We were taking the Disney Behind the Scenes Stage Works Tour of the Walt Disney Theater. It was pretty interesting, a couple people from the production side were there to talk and answer questions. The only disappointment was that we werenít allowed on or behind (or under) the stage because of pyrotechnics that were in place. I still enjoyed it, but I may have skipped it if I had known that the behind-the-scenes stuff had been cancelled.
After the tour Debbie, Caity, and I went up to Plutoís for lunch. We all ordered Cheeseburgers and they threw in a hot dog since at first Debbie couldnít decide. We also got fries with it. Iíve got to admit, the food was fantastic. They REALLY do fast food right on this ship. Maybe itís being at sea in the open air but that cheeseburger was among the best I have ever had And the hot dog, which we shared, was just as good. We skipped Scoops this time We were just too full.
After such a hearty meal we felt a need to burn some of it off so we headed back to the stateroom to change into our bathing suits. Then we headed to the family pool so we could swim with Caity. Surprisingly, the pool wasnít too crowded for a sea day. We had a lot of fun and swam for about an hour. At this point, we noticed that Jimmy and Beth had brought Grandma up in her wheelchair so we all found a table and sat around visiting for quite awhile. Then, Debbie and Caity got up to play ping pong and I headed on back to the stateroom for some more time on the verandah. As you can tell, I love the verandah and will postpone the cruise if I have to so that I can raise the extra money for a verandah room. When the girls returned we watched a little TV in the room and ended up dozing off. Luckily, I woke up about 7:00 because Debbie needs time to get her mom ready for dinner
Dinner tonight was at Animatorís Palate. For our appetizers tonight Caity and I each got the Caesar Salad and I also ordered the Smoked Salmon on Crisp Potato Cake. Sasha brought out a bunch of extra appetizers so I also had the Lobster and Shrimp Wrapper which was rolled in a soft crepe with avocado puree. Debbie got the Butternut Squash Soup. For my entrée I ordered the Maple-glazed Salmon with Green Beans and Smashed Potatoes. Debbie got the Roasted Chicken Breast with Smashed Potatoes, vegetables and Cabernet Sauce. Caity ordered the Cheese Cannelloni. For dessert I ordered the Triple Chocolate Cake and Caity got the New York Style Cheesecake. It was another very good meal that we all enjoyed very much.
After dinner Debbie, Caity and I went to the Buena Vista Theater to see The Recruit. We all loved it. I thought it was much better than Chicago, which I also liked. After the movie, we went back to the stateroom where we all crashed after setting all our watches and clocks back one hour. Yea, an extra hours sleep. It was a wonderful day today, and I fell asleep wondering what Grand Cayman would be like
TUESDAY, JUNE 24, 2003-
I woke up about 6:00 and looked out the verandah door and I could see a low land mass that I knew must be Grand Cayman. So I grabbed my camera and my video camera and my AAA mug and headed on up to Deck 9. I filled my mug with coffee at the drink station and went on up to Deck 10. I found that Grand Cayman is not very impressive visually from the harbor but I got some pictures and video anyway. Sitting in the harbor to the right of the Magic was the Carnival Inspiration and the Celebrity Century was pulling in as well. After grabbing a few more pictures and video I returned to the stateroom and went out onto the verandah with my book, todayís Navigator and the Shopping Grand Cayman folder that came in Saturdayís Navigator. I was looking through all this stuff when Debbie joined me a few minutes later. She was awakened by noisy kids in the hall who I assume were up early for excursions. Since the main goal of this vacation was relaxation we had not booked any excursions but plan on tendering over to the island at some point and just looking around for awhile and, Iím sure, doing a little shopping Debbie and Caity went up to Topsiders for breakfast but I still wasnít hungry after the big dinner last night so I just stayed behind and enjoyed my coffee. Debbie also picked up breakfast for her mom.
At little after 10:30 we headed on down to Deck 1 and walked right onto a tender. Grandma isnít going ashore since she is wheelchair bound and the tender isnít wheelchair friendly. It has gotten to the point where she has trouble walking even short distances. I assume that Jimmy and Beth will be heading ashore later but their schedule is a little different than ours. They tend to stay up most of the night and sleep in very late. (Jimmy owns his own business and can set his own hours. He is also a musician which accounts a lot for his late schedule.) Anyway, we had to wait for the tender to fill up so it was closer to 11:00 before we left. The water is a deep royal blue. In less than five minutes we were on Grand Cayman. On our last cruise we had done the island tour excursions but I think that I enjoyed them more than Caity and Debbie did. So this time were just being much more casual. We basically just visited a LOT of tourist shops picking up things here and there. I got a really nice t-shirt and a coffee mug. Believe, it wasnít that easy finding a decent t-shirt. Most of the ones in the tourist shops are really cheap and thin. Basically junk. But I finally found one. We also visited a jewelry store where Debbie picked up some silver earrings All she had brought from home was gold earrings which I guess didnít match all her outfits. Jewelry shopping is painful to me so I waited outside enjoying the beautiful day while she picked them out. Caity also got a t-shirt and a small stuffed turtle.
On the way back to the ship we stopped at one last shop located right there by the dock and picked up some postcards and I also got a bottle of Tortuga Rum Liqueur. Since it was duty-free the sales lady actually had to leave the store to escort us to where security was checking our I.D.ís to let us back onto the tender for the ride back to the ship. When we got back to the ship Debbie went and got her mom and Caity and I went and dropped off our purchases and then we all headed on up to Topsiders for lunch. Today was the American Buffet. I got the Fried Chicken, the Whitefish Florentine, Red Beans & Rice, and the Chilled Shrimp. For dessert I got the Cheesecake (excellent) and something called a Chocolate Dome with Vanilla Sauce. It was a dome- shaped piece of cake (duh!) which was very, very moist. Almost like a pudding. This was very good. Debbie got the Sliced Ham and the Chilled Shrimp and some other stuff that I donít recall. Having skipped breakfast all my attention was on my own food. For dessert she also got the Chocolate Dome. For her meal Caity went to Plutoís and picked up a Cheeseburger which she brought back to eat with us. Afterwards, she went to Scoopís for ice cream. She also ended up eating a slice of Cheesecake and part of a Chocolate Dome. All in all, lunch was pretty good. Topsiderís is never great, but always okay.
After lunch, we decided to do laundry. BOO! HISS! This has got to be the most unpleasant duty of the cruise. There are just not nearly enough washers or dryers on board Thatís why I figured that now would be a good time. With a lot of people ashore, maybe things wonít be so bad. Well, I did find two empty washers with no problem, but when the loads were dome the dryers were in use and I had to check the other laundry room but I finally did locate a dryer that I could use I just had to gather up my clothes and cart them down a few decks and LUCKILY the dryer was still empty when I arrived. I just washed enough clothes to get us through the rest of the week. When all was done it felt good knowing that I was done with laundry duties for the week. It really is very unpleasant. The laundry rooms are VERY small, hot, and usually crowded.
After returning to the stateroom I put away the laundry and just relaxed for awhile until Debbie returned from visiting her mom. They had spent a nice afternoon together After awhile we all got dressed and headed on over to the Walt Disney Theater for the ĎWho Wants To Be A Mouseketeer?í show. Iíve got to admit, I was terrified that I was going to be picked. I am very nervous in front of a lot of people. I know that when they pick seats (randomly) to see who plays, if an empty seat is picked they take the person in the next occupied seat. Well, I had about fifteen empty seats beside me which greatly increased my odds for getting picked. When they announced the row number and it was our row I really panicked. Luckily, another seat was chosen and I dodged that bullet. The show was entertaining, as always. The first three players all went out at the $80 mark. The last player was a really nice girl named Morgan who appeared to be about twelve years of age. She did really well (with her mothers help) and actually made it to the final question before she decided to just take the money. It was a good move as the answer they were going to pick ended up being wrong. It was very fun as the girl was getting very excited as they kept getting answers right And yes, I do realize that a twelve year old girl was up there doing what I was frightened about doing. Hey, we all have our foibles.
The show ended right at 7:30 which was our reservation time at Paloís so we really had to skeedadle (that means hurry where Iím from). Debbie and I got there about four minutes late but Jimmy and Beth were there and had checked in so all was good. Grandma had decided not to go with us this time. Since Caity was too young to go she was going to pick up something for Grandma from Topsiders and take it to her room. We were seated immediately and met our waiter who informed us that Paloís had a brand new menu which had just started yesterday. Luckily, the items that we wanted from our last cruise were still there. For appetizers, Jimmy and I ordered the Fried Calamari. Nobody does Fried Calamari like Paloís does. Jimmy ordered it for both of us last year and I expected it to be tough but it was nice and tender and seasoned perfectly. This year it was just as good For her appetizer Debbie got the Mixed Green Salad and Beth got the Fried Buffalo Mozzarella Sticks. They looked really good but it is a pet peeve of mine when people think that appetizers are automatically for sharing so I didnít ask for any. For our entrée Jimmy, Debbie, and I all ordered the Filet Mignon with Port Wine Reduction Sauce and Mashed Potatoes. Beth ordered the Seafood Tortellini. Our steaks were wonderful and Bethís meal looked good as well. For dessert Debbie and Beth ordered the famous Chocolate Soufflé while Jimmy and I ordered the Panna Cotta. Dinner was absolutely superb. Palo is definitely not to be missed.
Afterwards, we just crashed with Caity in the stateroom and watched ĎA Guy Thingí on TV. It was a pretty cute movie. After it was over Debbie and Caity fell asleep but I was still wide awake so I grabbed my book, my new Sloppy Joeís shot glass, and my bottle of Cayman Island Rum Liqueur and went out on the balcony to read. I donít do shots but I sipped on the rum as I read my book. Ahhhhh, this is the life. It was an absolutely beautiful night and I had to force myself to go to bed at 1:00 a.m. so that I would be well rested for tomorrow Another wonderful day on the Magic.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 25, 2003, COZUMEL-
I woke up at 6:30 this morning without the alarm. We have room service bringing us pastries between 7:00 and 7:30 so I decided to head back to the laundry room (for the last time!) to iron a few things including the shirt that I will be wearing for the semi-formal night on Thursday. With that done, I am set for clothes for the rest of the cruise. Yea! Early morning is a good time to get this done. I got back to the stateroom and about five minutes later breakfast arrived. As always, the coffee was the best thing but the pastries were very good.
Just before 9:00 Debbie, Caity, and Jimmy left to go play some Bingo (gee, whuda thunk?) so I went back up to the Deck 10 to do my usual picture and video thing as we had already arrived in Cozumel. Wow, I must say, the harbor at Cozumel is just gorgeous. The water is a very light blue and the buildings and lay of the land is much more appealing than at Grand Cayman. The ship is docked with the left side facing the island which makes it visible from our verandah. And, even more importantly, Dot will be able to see it from her verandah as well. Even though we donít have to tender in this port she has decided to just stay aboard It just tires her out too much, even though she has a wheelchair.
I walked to the bow (I figured that I should use an actual nautical term every now and then) and in the distance I can see another pier at which I can see the Carnival Inspiration and the Celebrity Century. They are about three miles away so I couldnít actually see the names but those ships have been more or less traveling with us so I knew who it was. There was also a third ship but it was hidden behind the others so I donít even know what cruise line it was. I ended up taking a lot of pictures in this harbor just because it is so beautiful. Probably too many, if there is such a thing. Finally, I headed back down to the room and just relaxed for awhile while I waited for the others to return from donating more money to the Bingo Pool. ;-) At this point I very anxious to go ashore even though we donít really have anything planned other than shopping and looking around a little.
When they got back from Bingo I found out that Jimmy had won again- $53 cash and free raft and snorkel rentals at Castaway Cay. I donít think I mentioned that he had won a small pot before. I think heís just about breaking even- so far. Jimmy went back to his room I assume to throw his money on the bed and roll around on it for awhile. ;-) Debbie, Caity, and I headed on down to Deck 1, descended the gangplank, and stepped onto Mexican soil for the first time. We were docked at the Punta Lagosta Pier and walked up it stopping to take numerous pictures of the Magic. When we reached the island we found a nice pedestrian bridge which took us across the very busy road that runs along the shore (Avenue Rafael E. Melgar) and came out right on the second floor of a two- story shopping center The shopping center is really nice and seems quite new and is attached to ĎSenor Frogsí and íCarlos & Charliesí. Basically, we spent our whole time ashore at this mall. But, we didnít mind. It was a lot of fun. I ended up buying four shirts, Caity bought one, and Debbie just decided to save her money for Bingo. Actually, she has never been as big a souvenir buyer as I am. Mostly, I just buy shirts, glasses, and mugs. I love my vacations and I love to take at least a couple mementoís home with me. You know, as if all the pictures and video that I take arenít enough. Anyway, after a couple hours of shopping we decided that we had really had enough so we decided to head back to the ship. We did stick our heads into ĎSenor Frogsí out of curiosity. I have seen this place on TV and just wanted to see what it was like in real life. While we were in there we saw a waitress give a customer a shot and then roll his head around afterwards. I had seen this on that íWild Oní show on E! so I kind of got a kick out of it. Itís not really our thing though so we headed on out. Somebody at the bar did give Debbie a present as we were leaving, I guess trying to entice her into staying It was a parrot in a tree constructed out of balloons and could be worn as a hat. Of course, Debbie doesnít have to be drunk to put something like that on so she wore it on the way back to the ship. Caity and I walked with her but tried to pretend that we didnít know her.
In spite of her ďhatĒ Security let her on the ship and we immediately dropped off our purchases and picked up Grandma to go grab some lunch. This was part of the reason that we had come back. At this point, we were all starving. I had only eaten one croissant for breakfast and I had to eat soon. Even though it probably would have been fine, we were too nervous about eating on shore. You know, Montezumaís Revenge. If you donít know what that is, donít ask. Anyway, we were all in the mood for pizza so we headed to Pinocchioís. Once again, it was excellent. Then I went to Scoopís twice and got a bowl of ice cream each time (with Peanut M&Mís, of course).
The ship was practically empty so we changed into swimsuits and laid out by the pool for awhile. As I said before, it just doesnít get any better than this. Iím on the Disney Magic, laying by the pool, in the beautiful harbor of Cozumel, drinking an ice cold Corona (with lime), and reading an article in Menís Journal about Jimmy Buffett. I wish this day could last forever.
After getting all the sun that we thought we should we headed back to our stateroom and watched íSweet Home Alabamaí as we took turns in the shower and got dressed for dinner. We are getting ready earlier than usual since we will be seeing íFinding Nemoí at the WD Theater at 5:30. As usual, on the way to the theater I ran up to Deck 9 to fill my coffee mug at the drink station. Debbie and Caity ended up buying Smoothies from a roving server in the theater. Debbie got a strawberry and Caity got a chocolate. Thatís my girl. They looked really good but I was more than happy with my coffee. As everybody knows by now, the movie was very good. Pixar has really got it going on. íThe Recruití was more my style but I really enjoyed this It was obvious that the kids loved it because the theater was packed and they hardly made a sound.
After the movie, Debbie, Caity, and Jimmy went (Okay, letís say it together) to play Bingo. I just went back to the room and crashed for awhile. I noticed that the sun had gone down and went out on the verandah to take some nighttime pictures of Cozumel. I did not bring a tripod with me and was going to rest the camera on the railing for the time exposure but unfortunately it was pouring down with rain. I guess Iíll try later. I did see a lot of people running up the very long dock trying to get to the ship but they were all soaking wet. After awhile it was time to pick up Grandma and roll her down to Lumiereís for dinner. The others will meet us at the restaurant as Bingo will run right until dinner time. By the way, Jimmy and Beth had visited Cozumel earlier and when Jimmy went to play Bingo Beth decided to return to Cozumel for awhile on her own. Hopefully, she will make it back in time for dinner. Debbie, Caity, and Jimmy got to the restaurant about five minutes late. Not too bad. Beth hadnít arrived and Debbie was worried so she went to check on her. It turns out that Beth had slipped and fallen running to the ship and had aggravated an earlier back injury She was laying down in the room but came back with Debbie and joined us for dinner Everybody present and accounted for.
I had two the appetizers tonight. I got the Crab and Lobster Fritters and the Cheese Crepes which were Pan-fried Cornmeal and Cheese. Both were very good but I actually had two helpings of the Fritters since they were so good. (As usual, Sasha brought extras of everything.) Debbie got the Mango and Papaya Cocktail and Caity got the Caesar Salad. Just to be fair I figured that I better have two entrees as well I got the Marinated Roasted Sirloin Steak and the Grilled Shrimp over Chorizo-Achiote Rice. Both were excellent. Caity and Debbie only ordered the grilled Shrimp. Slackers. For dessert I thought Iíd get the Bananas Flambé, just because Iíve never had this before. They were very good but I was disappointed that they blow out the flame before they serve it. Debbie got the Pina Colada Bread Pudding and Caity ordered the White Chocolate Cheesecake. Dinner was fabulous. I love Lumiereís.
After dinner we went up to Deck 9 to enjoy the Mexicalifragilisticexpialidocious Sailaway Deck Party. Iíve got to say, this party was great fun. The family pool was covered to allow dancing and the Cruise Staff really did a great job of keeping the party lively and fun. The music selection was excellent. Not what I usually listen to at home but perfect for a dance party. None of us danced but we all really had a great time enjoying it from the sidelines. There is just something about a huge crowd doing the Electric Slide in unison that is just fun to watch We had planned to just stop by but ended up staying for the whole party. Iím really glad we did as it was certainly one of the highlights of the trip. After the party Debbie and I headed back to the stateroom and Caity went to the arcade to play for awhile. We watched some of íSix Weeks Noticeí and Debbie crashed but Caity got back before I fell asleep. By the way, we left Cozumel during the Sailaway Party (duh!) and the waves right now are classified as rough- 8 to 13 feet. I love it, weíll be rocked to sleep tonight.
THURSDAY, JUNE 26, 2003, DAY AT SEA-
Debbie woke up first this morning at about 8:00 and I woke up just after as she does not move around as quietly as I do. Thatís okay, though. Iím well rested and who wants to sleep away a vacation as great as this? This morning Bingo is at 10:45 but the Bingo cards go on sale about an hour early since they expect a huge turnout. The girls grabbed their showers and then went for breakfast. All I really wanted was some coffee for reasons that you shall see later so I went and got that and then took my shower while they were at breakfast. Afterwards I headed down to Mickeyís Mates and purchased a DCL glass, coffee mug, and a map showing all of DCLís ports-of-call. The Captain will be signing these maps at 12:00 at Treasure Ketch which is the store right across the hall from Mickeyís Mates. The map really looks nice and comes pre-matted. I was hoping to find a DCL frame but they had none that were the correct size. Iíll just have to get it done after I get home. Unfortunately, it will make transporting the map home much more difficult.
I returned to the stateroom where I dropped off my mug and glass, picked up my book, and headed up to Deck 9 where I got a cup of coffee (wow, big surprise) and found a table near the family pool. This area has the best music. I have about 50 minutes before the signing session with the Captain so I updated my trip report for a few minutes and then pulled out my book and read for awhile. I had finished an Ann Rule book this morning and I am a few pages into the new one. Itís called íRound Ireland With A Fridgeí by Tony Hawks (not the skateboarder). It is an interesting book that I found on a trip to Manteo in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Apparently, Tony Hawks is a fairly young entertainer from England who accepted a bet (after a few drinks, of course) that he couldnít hitchhike around Ireland in one month while traveling with a small refrigerator. It sounds strange, but I thing itís going to be an interesting travelogue which just happened to begin with a barroom bet. By the way, since I digress anyway, I should point out that the number one book on this cruise is, BY FAR, the new Harry Potter book. They are everywhere. I hope the Captain had the forethought to jettison some ballast of offset all of these HUGE books that everyone is carrying around Apparently, it was released just a day or two before the cruise began.
Anyway, a few minutes before noon I headed on down to the Treasure Ketch. I got in line with about seven people ahead of me. I was a little early and had about a ten minute wait. It worked out well, however, as a CM came by handing out some extra stuff for the Captain to sign. He gave me a large DCL card and a couple small trading cards that had a drawing of the Captain. I was very happy as Debbie and Caity can use the small cards in their scrapbooks. The Captain was very pleasant and I was very happy to meet him.
Afterwards, I met the others for lunch at Parrot Key. Still no luck for Debbie or Caity on the Bingo front. Maybe next time. Lunch today was the Seafood Buffet. Iíve really been looking forward to this. On our last cruise I somehow missed the fact that there was a seafood buffet and I ate a late, HUGE, breakfast that day. There was no way that I could even eat a bite at lunch time. This year I was prepared. I had skipped breakfast and I was plenty hungry now. Iíve got to admit, I more than ate my share this time around. I was too busy eating to make notes on what the others had but here are the items that I tried- Jumbo Chilled Shrimp, Crab Claws, Fried Calamari, Lobster Quiche, Tomato Mashed Potatoes, Saffron Rice, and Roasted Pork Loin. For dessert I got the Crème Caramel (Flan) and the Royale Chocolate which was basically a tort. Everything was excellent but the standouts were the Pork Loin and the Royale Chocolate. Itís kind of ironic that after looking forward to the seafood buffet for so long I ended up liking the Pork Loin the best. What can I say? It was the best.
After lunch Debbie and Jimmy went and picked up Caity (not a big seafood eater) and they went to buy their Bingo cards for the cruiseís final game. The final game of the cruise has an accumulated pot which can be in the thousands. It is very popular and the cards go on sale very early. Once again, I left the Bingo playing to them (Thank God, there is no Casino on board) and I went back to the stateroom and changed into my bathing suit. After eating such a large meal, the only appropriate thing to do is to head up to Deck 10 for some serious relaxing in a lounge chair. On the way I picked up a Pepsi from Plutoís and then laid in the sun for about an hour and a half. Okay, mostly I dozed off. Hey, I am on a well deserved vacation. This is exactly what I need. The good thing is, it was somewhat overcast so I didnít have to worry about too much sun Iíd gotten just the right amount by the time I got up. Back in the stateroom, I updated the trip report and read some more of my book. I know it all sounds boring but it has been very relaxing (my keyword for this vacation) and one of the most enjoyable days so far.
Shortly after 5:00 Debbie and Caity returned to the room from playing Bingo. I was in the bathroom drying off from my shower and I knew from how quiet they were how their luck had gone. The final jackpot was over $8,200 and Caity was just two numbers away from winning when the pot was won by someone else. I swear, losing is almost worse when you come close. Then Debbie decided to add up how much they had spent on Bingo this week and was really depressed to see that they had spent $460. The way I look at it, you have to go in with the expectation of losing and just play for the fun of it. If you end up winning some money, all the better. And they really did have a lot of fun playing this week. Thatís the main thing I told her not to worry about it. Besides, I like beans and franks.
We left a little after 6:00 to head to the WD Theater for Disney Dreams. Debbie almost stayed with her mother to watch it in the stateroom on the live feed but I talked her into going with us. In the end, she was glad she did. I knew that we had all really enjoyed this show on the last cruise but it was even better than I remembered it. Caity summed it up pretty well, ďCorny, but in a good way.Ē Just the thing for Disney fans like us.
Dinner tonight was in Animatorís Palate. Tonight is the Captainís Gala so everyone was dressed really nice. All the girls were pleased to see Sasha dressed in a tux. As I said before, he really did look very much like Jude Law. I donít know. To me, he looked more like James Bond. But to tell the truth, I could care less if he looked like Gollum. Tonight was all about the food. Captainís Gala is the highpoint of the trip to me. I only had one appetizer tonight as I didnít want to fill up too much, too early. I ordered the Grilled Shrimp which were very good. Debbie and Caity both got the Fruit Cocktail with Orange Blossom Honey. For my entrée tonight, I created my own Surf and Turf by ordering both the Grilled Beef Tenderloin and the Baked Lobster Tail which is served in the shell with Lemon Butter, Young Green Beans and Oven Baked Rice. I donít know how to describe just how good this meal was. It was truly phenomenal. The tenderloin was excellent, of course, and came with Béarnaise Sauce, which I love. The lobster was easily the best that I have ever had. And my parents are from Maine, so I know lobster. The tails were split and seasoned to perfection with just the right amount of seasoning. I donít know what the seasoning was but I know it contained paprika. The tails were then baked and the result was amazing. I could not get enough. Of course, Sasha offered to pour a little clarified butter over the tails and it would have been rude to say no. For her entrée, Debbie ordered the Lobster as well and Caity ordered Roasted Chicken. As usual, Sasha brought out some extra entrees and Jimmy and I did our best not to let anything go to waste. For dessert, we all ordered the Chocolate Lava Cake except for Jimmy who ordered the Cherries Jubilee. The Lava cake was excellent, as always. Perfect with a nice cup of coffee. Dinner tonight was the best ever. All I can say is that I have experienced a small piece of heaven
After dinner Caity went to Quarter Masters for awhile and then joined the rest of us who were on Grandmaís verandah visiting and talking. There were some clouds a lot of lightning in the distance. I love watching storms at a distance over the ocean. At one point there was a huge glow on the horizon and we couldnít figure out what it was so I went inside and turned on the TV to the channel that shows our route and our current position on that route. It turned out that the glow was Miami.
A little after midnight we went back to our stateroom to go to bed but I stayed up until about 1:00 a.m. reading on the verandah. The cruise is rapidly coming to a close but I chose not to think about that. It has been another wonderful day.
FRIDAY, JUNE 27, 2003, CASTAWAY CAY-
Debbie and I both woke up around 6:30 this morning. The movie ĎHow to Lose a Guy in Ten Daysí is coming on at 7:00 and Debbie has been trying to see it all week. So weíre going to watch it before heading out to Castaway Cay. We got dressed real quick and headed on down to Guest Services to charge our tips to our room account. They printed up little cards to put in our tip envelopes We then headed on up to Topsiders which wasnít open yet so we went to the drink station on Deck 9 for coffee and Danish. We made it back to the room right at 7:00. The movie ended up being really good. Kate Hudson- what can I say?
After the movie I went up to Deck 10 to do my picture and video thing. Yeah, like I didnít get enough on our last cruise. While I was doing that Debbie went to Topsiders and took a tray of food to her mother. Then she and Caity returned to Topsiders and had breakfast and I sat there with them while they ate. Once again, I ate so much for dinner last night that Iím just not hungry yet
After eating we hooked up with Jimmy and Beth and headed on down to Deck 1 and off the ship. We caught the tram over to the family beach and then walked to the far end where we found some lounge chairs under palm trees and umbrellas which will provide us with some shade in between our times in the sun. Beth walked back to Cookies and found a table where she sat down with a pile of postcards. Debbie, Caity, and Jimmy went to pick up our rafts and headed right to the water. I spent about an hour doing my picture and video thing, but to be honest with you my heart just wasnít in it. I was very anxious to hit the water. Last trip I spent so much time touring the island that I never really got to do any swimming. So I was kind of hurrying this time, but I still got plenty of good shots. One thing that I noticed immediately is how much better this island looks now than it did in 2000. Donít get me wrong, it looked great before. But the landscaping is just phenomenal now. I felt like I was back in WDW. With my duties done I left my cameras with Beth (still working on postcards) and joined the others in the water. Ahhhhh, sheer bliss. We swam for quite awhile and then we all joined Beth at Cookies for lunch. I think we all just got Cheeseburgers.
After lunch the others all headed back to the beach but I headed back to the ship so I could pick up some lunch for Grandma. I didnít mind. I am from a beach town and I have done SO much swimming in my life that a little goes a long way now. On the way back I stopped at He Sells/ She SellsÖ and bought two t-shirts and a couple glasses. Then I hoofed it back to the ship taking lots of pictures on the way.
Back on board I went to Plutoís and picked up a cheeseburger and a drink for Grandma and delivered them to her room. I visited with her for a few minutes and then left her to eat and headed back to my stateroom to begin the terrible job of packing. Boy, how depressing. I know itís a cliché in these reports, BUT THIS WEEK SURE WENT BY FAST! After a couple of hours the others returned Itís funny, but I donít remember Caity being this pink. In fact, as the day wore on, the pink gradually transformed into a deep red. She ended up with a pretty decent, but not serious, sunburn. Basically, the rest of the afternoon was spent with people getting washed up as we continued our packing We didnít want to be stuck in the room tonight dealing with this. We got almost all of the packing done and then headed over to the Farewell Variety Show. Wow, this show was really excellent. The juggler, Chuck Gunter, was very good and very funny. There was also a ventriloquist, Michael Harrison, who was excellent. Without exaggeration, this man was hilarious. I actually laughed so hard that my stomach started hurting. The show ended with a large musical number which included almost all of the performers and characters that we had seen all week. For the finale they played the song íRemember the Magicí while they showed clips of the ship on two large screens up front. Also included were many shots taken during this cruise. Boy, how sad. It really makes it hit home that this wonderful cruise is just about over. Regardless, it was a great show and Iím glad we didnít miss it.
After the show we headed over to Parrot Cay for dinner. Tonight is the ďBest ofĒ dining menu. For my appetizers tonight I ordered the Seafood Medley and the Chicken Tenderloin in Cracker Crust. Debbie and Caity were allowed to order something that wasnít on the menu and got the Fruit Cocktail that they enjoyed so much last night. For our entrée we all three ordered the Filet Mignon of Beef and the Lasagna Roll. Caity skipped dessert tonight but Debbie ordered the Apple Cranberry Pie and I got the Chocolate Decadence and I also had the Banana Crème Brule Napoleon which Sasha had brought out extra. Both of these desserts were excellent. Iíve got to tell you, if you are on a diet, do not book the late seating for dinner. Apparently, they do not want to have any food left over because we got all kinds of extras all week. Believe me, Iím not complaining. Iím sure my job will work the extra weight off of me as soon as I get back home. Anyway, both my desserts were excellent In fact, the whole meal was great. This restaurant has definitely improved since our last cruise. Dinner tonight was very fun and festive with the servers and assistant servers parading around the restaurant carrying their home countryís flag to the accompaniment of íItís a Small Worldí Also tonight, we handed out the tips and offered our thanks and appreciation for their hard work all week. We will actually see them again at breakfast tomorrow but Iím sure weíll be rushed so we took care of it tonight.
After dinner I went back to our stateroom to finish the last of the packing and get the bags in the hall. Debbie went to her momís room to do the same. We were in a hurry because we really wanted to make the 10:45 showing of Shanghai Knights We couldnít quite make it and would have been about fifteen minutes late so we decided to just catch the movie at another time. We really hate missing the beginning of a movie. Okay, itís mostly me but they agreed that waiting would probably be a good idea. So we just stayed in the stateroom and finished up the last of our Customs paperwork. Debbie and Caity went to bed around 11:45 so I went out to the balcony to read for awhile. I also enjoyed some more of that wonderful rum liqueur. This will be my last time enjoying the sounds of the ocean just before going to bed. These nights out here reading have been very peaceful and relaxing and I am really going to miss them. At home Iím usually in bed a little after 10:00 and not looking forward to work the following day. I felt like I could have stayed out here all night but knew that I would have a busy day tomorrow so at 12:30 I went to bed. I know that when I wake up we will already be in Port Canaveral. SighÖÖ.
SATURDAY, JUNE 28, 2003, DISEMBARKATION-
Debbie and I woke up just after 6:00 when they slid our express checkout under the door They knocked to let us know it was there. Everything looked alright so I guess we wonít have to stand in line at Guest Services. I looked out the balcony door and indeed we are already in our berth at Port Canaveral. I can see that the Carnival Inspiration has also returned. We gathered together the last of our odds and ends and I packed, and I really mean packed, our carryon bags. Just before 8:00 Debbie went and got her mom and we all left our staterooms for the last time We found our table at Parrot Cay and saw that Jimmy and Beth had already arrived We all ordered the Express Breakfast which included Scrambled Eggs, Bacon, Sausage, and Hash Browns. It was good and we all made short work of it. Then came the sad task of saying farewell to our servers. There is no denying that your servers are a large part of your cruising experience and ours were wonderful. If we get to cruise again any time soon we will definitely request Sasha again.
After breakfast all the ladies had a restroom break and then we headed to the Atrium. On our last cruise we had the early seating for breakfast and when it came time to leave the Atrium was wall-to-wall people packed in ready to leave. This time we walked into an empty Atrium and if we werenít the last people to leave the ship then we were close to it. Consequently, when we went to retrieve our luggage it was sitting there all alone. Excellent, no searching. A porter was there offering services and we eagerly accepted (8 bags). We went through customs with no delay at all. All they did was throw our declaration forms in a box and look at a picture I.D. of each of us. It took about twenty seconds. Then we went outside where they had a bus with a lift (for Grandmaís wheelchair) waiting for us. Kudosí to Disney for being very organized. We boarded and then had a short wait as the last few stragglers came off the boat and then joined us I guess we werenít the last oneís after all. At least they had cartoons showing in the bus while we waited. We were in no hurry. Our flight isnít until tonight.
At 10:20 the bus pulled out of the terminal parking lot and we were on our way. As we were pulling out the cutest girl who was in the seat in front of me was waving out the window and saying, ďBye, bye, cruise ship. Bye, bye, swimming poolĒ. Our driver was really excellent and told us some trivia as we were heading out. He said that the Disney Magic holds just under 2,000,000 gallons of fuel and that when she is running on two engines she goes about 57 feet per gallon. If all five engines are running she only goes about 6 inches per gallon Wow.
Our driver was also pointing out things of interest along the way. As we were crossing the bridge near the terminal a Manatee broke the surface of the water. He also pointed out some Eagle and Osprey nests- some of which had occupants. We also crossed over the John River which was named by Ponce Deleon as he was searching for the Fountain of Youth. Of course, we all know that the fountain of Youth is the spa on the Disney Magic. ;-)
After about a one hour drive we arrived at the airport and found a porter and went to the Southwest desk where we were told that we couldnít check-in until four hours before the flight. That will be 4:15 p.m. That means we will have about five hours to kill in the airport with eight large bags and two carryonís. Then, after we check our bags we will have four more hours to wait. Wow, this didnít seem so bad when we made our reservations. If we didnít have the bags to deal with we could have found somewhere to go but as it is we are stuck here. I didnít mind the wait so much. We have books and magazines, and there are plenty of shops in the airport. It was just aggravating dealing with the bags. Well, what could we do? We stacked our bags near a bench and made ourselves at home. Maybe I can build a suitcase igloo and sleep for a few hours
By 12:45 we were all getting hungry so Caity and I went and picked up Cheeseburgers and Cokes from Burger King. The food was actually pretty good and gave us something to do. After lunch, we took turns walking around the airport while someone stayed behind with the bags. I can easily spend a lot of time in a bookstore so thatís what I did. At about 5:30 we decided that we better pick up something for dinner. Debbie and her mom are diabeticís and have to stay on a schedule This time we went to Pizza Hut and picked up some Personal Pan Pizzas. At this point we had checked our bags so we were able to eat in the restaurant. I did notice that when we ordered both lunch and dinner we actually had to give them some money. This is a concept that I will have to reacquaint myself with. You sure do get spoiled on a cruise ship.
After dinner we went on through security. There were really long lines but we were put right through because of Grandma being in a wheelchair. Normally, I would have felt a little guilty but we have been here so long that we were extremely grateful We finally arrived at our gate (after 7 hours in the airport) and found some comfortable chairs to wait out what we hoped would be the last two hours. Well, it just wasnít to be. They made an announcement that the plane was running about half an hour late. At this point I was getting tired and was not too happy so I went to Seattleís Best Coffee and consoled myself with a Mocha Latte It was excellent and just what I needed.
We finally boarded the plane at 8:45 and the plane left the ground at about 9:20. As soon as we were airborne the flight attendant came by offering coffee. I guess she was just a flight attendant but in my eyeís she was an angel sent straight from heaven. I considered giving her a kiss or maybe even a marriage proposal- both of which my wife would have disapproved of so I just settled for a ďYes, pleaseĒ followed by a heartfelt ďGod Bless YouĒ when she handed me the cup. Maybe, Iíll survive this travel day after all. Come to think of it, travel day doesnít seem quite appropriate as I have spent 90% of it sitting on my butt and only about 10% of it going from here to there. Anyway, Iíd had my second cup of coffee in as many hours and things were definitely looking up.
By the way, the flight home was somewhat bumpy due to weather until we achieved a cruising altitude of 41,000 feet. I made sure I waved to the fellows on the space station as we went by. At 10:20 we began our decent into Norfolk. Re-entry was smooth and we were on the ground at 10:50. Itís nice to finally be home but truth be told I wish I were back on the Magic.
Letís face it, I didnít leave much out of this report so I donít have much to add. It was a wonderful cruise from beginning to end. I think the only thing that I would change would be to book an earlier flight for the return home. The flight we took was incredibly cheaper than any of the early flights but I think that next time Iíll tighten my belt and go for it. If you have been patient enough to read this long report then I want to thank you. I hope you enjoyed the report even a fraction of how much we enjoyed the cruise. If you are cruising soon please write a report as I would love to read it. Until then, take care and as Jamie from Off Kilter says, ďHave a Disney Day!Ē.