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Sue Holland -- November 2003 -- Walt Disney World (BCR) / Disney Cruise (Magic) Trip


Note:  As Sue spent a great deal of time at Pleasure Island and in other adult venues,
on this trip, this report has some information that may not be appropriate for young readers.

Who/When/Where

Who: Sue (me), DVC member
Appearances by:

  • Leesa, Comedy Warehouse regular
  • Patty, Patron of the Arts
  • Sheila, Frequent Travel Companion
  • 20+ internet friends, all of whom deserve a mention but this would get far too long (and I fear missing anyone like I did last year <g>)

Dates: November 4 - 15, 2003

INTRODUCTION

Early November is the time of year for my favorite WDW trip. I absolutely love the Food & Wine Festival at Epcot, and with enough DVC points at Beach Club Villas I look forward to spending 2 weeks there sampling all of the great food & wine in between periods of lounging at Stormalong Bay. Several friends are usually there during this period as well, which makes it a really nice trip! However, this year I only have 4 nights for the Food & Wine portion of the trip because I booked a 7-day cruise for the 2nd week. Last February I was having such a good time on the DVC Members-only cruise I ended up booking extra cruises for September and November to take advantage of the (minimal) savings they offered for rebooking within 3 days (DVC members). Cruising is my other favorite vacation, but I think next year I'll preserve my 2-week Food & Wine trip and fit in any cruises in other months.

Tuesday I'll turn 45 - hard to believe, but I keep telling myself 45 isn't old anymore <g>. Maybe when I'm 85 I'll admit to being old! I won't leave for WDW until noon so that I can work out on my way to work and then be there for birthday cake. I'll have a conference call to do after I arrive, but then my friend Patty should arrive to do Food & Wine with me before it's time for Comedy Warehouse. Wednesday I'm on my own at this point, and I hope to spend time with DVC friends on Thursday and Fortress friends on Friday. That time will be spent at Food & Wine, and of course Comedy Warehouse. Hopefully I'll get some time relaxing at Stormalong Bay, too. Greg is back from NYC and will be working at the Comedy Warehouse at least one night before doing his work at SuperSoap that weekend, so I'm looking forward to seeing him again. Friday night a bunch of us have a private event booked at the Yacht Club - a cocktail/hors d'oeuvres thing which should be fun.

When I thought of booking the cruise I asked my friend Sheila if she would be available this week and of course she immediately said YES. We've traveled together with our families and solo for years now, and travel well together. She's done 2 prior Magic Cruises with me, but both were to the Eastern itinerary so this will be her first time seeing the Western ports. I've been to these ports twice before on Holland America Line (HAL) cruises. I gave Sheila the excursion book to see if there were any she wanted to book - she knows not to trust me to make the selection after the Rainforest Hike incident in St Maarten this summer <g>. As it turned out there weren't any physically demanding excursions to select on this cruise, so she's safe! Her priority for this cruise is to relax - she doesn't care what she sees or doesn't see in the ports, so we'll just take it easy and not play commando tourist.

We've got about 100 people from the DIS boards who will be on the cruise, and we've planned a "meet" prior to the Sailaway Party. We also have a wine tasting on deck 7 planned for Monday and are having a mini golf tournament in Cozumel. Other than those plans, I think we'll just wander around Key West, spend time at Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman, do some shopping after golf in Cozumel, and definitely eat dinner at Palo one night. In September we had rain on both days of the cruise (3-night), with Castaway Cay being a total washout. Hopefully we'll have better weather this time, although whatever happens won't ruin the trip for either of us - just as it didn't ruin the cruise last time.

I'll be posting live through Friday 11/7, but doubt I'll post at all during the cruise unless I see an internet place I can bring the laptop to in one of the ports. That's not very likely to happen, though - especially if it's Grand Cayman since I don't feel like dragging a laptop with me on the tender riding to shore! One other thing I don't expect to do this trip is spend time in the parks (other than Epcot for Food & Wine). With so little time, I don't see the point in rushing off to the parks when I know I'll be back soon after Food & Wine has ended.

The plans (subject to change) so far...

Tue 11/04: Work, Drive to BCV, Food & Wine, Comedy Warehouse
Wed 11/05: Food & Wine Festival, Comedy Warehouse
Thu 11/06: DVC Update, Food & Wine Festival, Comedy Warehouse
Fri 11/07: Food & Wine Festival, Fortress meet at Crews Cup, Comedy Warehouse (?)
Sat 11/08: Embark Magic cruise
Sun 11/09: Key West
Mon 11/10: At Sea
Tue 11/11: Grand Cayman
Wed 11/12: Cozumel, Mini-golf tournament
Thu 11/13: At Sea
Fri 11/14: Castaway Cay
Sat 11/15: Leave Magic, Food & Wine Festival, Drive home

DAY 1 TUESDAY NOVEMBER 4, 2003

Who: Sue, DVC Member (45 today)
Adie & Lisa, Kelly & Cheryl - Fortress/DVC friends

Plan: Work, Drive to BCV, Food & Wine, Comedy Warehouse

Actual: Work flew by since I went in late and left at noon <g>. They had a surprise birthday party for me, which was really nice. I knew the people in the building would have cake, but I didn't expect to see all of my department heads (including those from outside the building and one who is out on medical leave) there, along with some co-workers, staff, and even Tim (my ex)! They had cute gifts - the main one was the cow bell. We work in a rural area, where there are lots of cows, so of course there is a cow store in the area. Tim would call and the my staff would have no idea if I was in my office or not - I move quickly and quietly <g>. He's been saying to them "put a cow bell around her neck", so that was the inspiration behind my new authentic cow bell! There was also a tiara with huge gems, lol - maybe I'll wear it when I meet some fortress princesses on Friday.

I was on the road at noon, at the front desk at Beach Club Villas before 3. The cm checking me in was very nice, and noticed the bouquet of Happy Birthday balloons (from work) I was holding. My studio was ready, so in no time at all (and 2 trips carrying stuff from the car) I was on my way up to the 4th floor. My view is the front entrance - not too exciting, but it beats the service road & dumpster view. Besides, I'm not likely to be sitting out on the porch looking at anything. The studio seems to be in good shape - everything is still pretty, everything works, etc. I didn't have time to unpack, as it was almost 3:30 and I was hoping to get into Epcot before my 3:30 conference call started.

I found the secret stairway near the room and walked quickly into Epcot. My PAP didn't work at the turnstile, but the cm pushed a few buttons and let me in. Just in time, as they were beginning role call on the conference call. By using the speaker button I could hear the call without having to have the phone stuck to my ear, and with the mute button they didn't know I wasn't in the office <g>. It was warm outside - warm & humid. Here I was wearing knee-length capris and a ¾ sleeve black top - yuck! In my haste to get here I didn't stop to think about how warm I was going to be.

It wasn't too crowded, which was nice. I started by heading towards France, checking out what a few new things looked like as I walked around. My first stop was at the champagne stand to buy the white chocolate mousse (thanks, Adie & Lisa), which was fantastic!!! It had gotten a poor review on radp, but I thought it was delicious. I sat on a wall since juggling a phone, umbrella & mousse was too much while walking. I also made sure I stayed away from people as much as possible while I was on the call, so I didn't disrupt their vacations. I continued walking during the call and stopped at the Octoberfest booth in Germany to buy some wine. I got the Graf Piesporter Michelsberg Spatlese, and LOVED it! Mmmmm, that was a good wine - sweet, but that's how I like it! The call ended shortly after I sat down with my wine. I then had to call the office with some news, and found out one of the "experts" on our side of a big lawsuit needed to ask me some questions for the case, so I took care of that. Finally about 4:30 I was finished with work and on vacation! Something worth noting - on Food & Wine opening weekend someone posted on radp that portions of wine were barely a swallow - less than last year. What I've seen tonight is they're using a different wine glass than in previous years, which is bigger, and filling it up much fuller. I'm definitely getting more wine than I did last year - and everyone else's glasses tonight appeared to be the same as mine. The new glasses are clear, with no logo (cheaper).

I walked a little ways past Mexico, then returned & rode the boat ride there. It was a full boat! Afterwards I walked to Canada and then turned around to backtrack the way I'd come. It was starting to cool off , and was really nice. I noticed I missed a lot of the stands walking from the other direction, though. There was a 5pm wine seminar about to start between France & Morocco, so I got in line and went in. They had a guy talking about pairing food & wine, and we had 4 wines to sample --a sauvignon blanc, pinot noir, cabernet & reisling. I liked him - he basically said ignore the rules & if you like a certain wine with a certain dish, then drink it & enjoy yourself <g>. The wines were all good too, but I didn't like the cabernet enough to finish it - generally I don't like red wines, so this was no surprise.

After the seminar I continued to France and stood in line to buy one of the goat cheese & tomato tarts (thanks, Johnathan). It was quite large, and absolutely delicious! Johnathan said it was his favorite thing at the festival, so my expectations were pretty high, and it did not disappoint. It was a bit tricky to eat while walking, though. I wore quite a bit of flaky pastry on my black shirt <g>. On the way through Germany I had to stop for another glass of the spatlese <g>, and then as I passed Canada I bought a piece of the delicious maple walnut fudge for later tonight. I have no room for anything else, but it's all so wonderful!

As I was walking I passed the 5th Dimension performing at the theater outside at the USA. They sounded good, as always. Several years ago they performed in my town during a festival, and as a board member I got a couple of free tickets - they put on a good show. Off Kilter was also performing as I walked by - sounding great and looking even better! I was running out of time, so I didn't linger.

Back at Beach Club Villas I went up the back staircase and found an autographed card with a picture of Mickey Mouse - thanking me for spending my birthday here. Very nice touch! I put my fudge in the fridge, updated the report, and was surprised at the volume of email from the past 6 hours! For some reason this morning I wasn't able to load any Hallmark or Amer Greeting s cards (did them at work instead), but tonight a friend (wrinkles, gray hair, forgetfulness…you know who you are <g>) had sent one and it worked. Guess my laptop is getting old & fussy, too <g>.

While I was updating the report I lost the aol connection - I forgot the Orlando numbers still have an idle time feature where they boot you off. Oh well, I took that as a sign it was time to go OUT again, and left to drive to PI about 7:20. I went to Comedy Warehouse to see if anyone I knew was there yet, but it was still a bit early and hardly anyone was around. I walked over to the Marketplace and stopped in Ghiradelli briefly, but they weren't giving out samples at that time. Plus, it was freezing in there - they always keep it so cold! Back at Comedy Warehouse the line was forming, so I joined David & Bonnie for the first show.

Jim Roberts was on the keys tonight - always nice to see him. The 8:15 cast was Joy, Mary, Jake, Matt & Philip. They opened with a cute poem called "You won't get that variance." Matt & Jake did a Fill in the Blank scene in Nome, Alaska using 2 audience volunteers. The volunteers did a good job with their suggestions, but the scene never really took off in my opinion. Up Your Alley was next, hosted by Jake as Jim Thompson. His costume was unreal - he took off his shirt and instead was wearing a midriff top tied in the front, with bright lame frilly long sleeves. The image of the hairy chest above where the shirt was tied and the belly sticking out below the shirt is forever seared into my memory, lol! Jake did a great job with the character - Jim Thompson was very gay, and at one point Matt came out to bring him a drink and he'd also removed his shirt and was just wearing a sash (like a beauty pageant contestant). It was funny because it was so unexpected. The Up Your Alley was about music, and Philip was the Beast (from Beauty & the Beast) there to prove that music does not soothe the savage beast. Joy was Singa Long, the world champion karaoke singer. Mary was Dr something (most likely a musical term I wasn't familiar with), who is a physicist musicologist who's proved the scale includes H in the next dimension. She had some funny lines, and started rambling into ditziness and explained that sometimes when you're as bright as she is the thoughts don't come out in order <g>. The closing song was an embarrassing story about a guy who urinated in a sink at a ballgame because he thought it was a urinal. Overall the show was just ok - it had a great cast and lots of potential with some of the characters and suggestions, but never really came together.

After the first show I checked upstairs and saw Adie, Lisa, Kelly & Cheryl were in line. I talked with them for a while - for some reason they thought there was no 8:15 show tonight??? They loaded me up with chocolate - lots of goodies from my favorite chocolate store on the east coast, and some from WDW. Now the hard part will be getting it home without melting, since it's way more than I can eat while I'm here!

The 9:15 cast was Mary, Philip, John, Jake & Joy. They did Styles, where the scene had to be done in various styles of music, movies, theater, and tv. John & Philip were building a road, and they did an excellent job in this structure. Philip was the foreman, since he was the son of the owner, then John decided he was attracted to Philip but later learned they were really brothers - twin brothers. Philip had told his dad John had died, so he could be the only son. John & Philip moved between the styles effortlessly, and the scene kept getting funnier & funnier - very well done.

They did Schmeopardy next, hosted by Philip as Bob HeadLooksLikeaNipple. Joy was a phlebotomist named Emma Tobin, who draws blood for the fun of it. Jake did his Decklin character, who was a fighter pilot and crop duster. Mary was a Disney cm mortician named Corella. The game moved quickly, with several very clever questions. To the answer French horn, Jake's question was "What kind of kissing do unicorns do?" LOL! They ended with an embarrassing story that was really just an "I'm stupid" story from some guy who was hunting and thought a cow was a bear. Overall it was a great show - lots of fun, and much better than the first one.

We talked about staying for the next show vs leaving now, and we ended up leaving. Cheryl was hoping her husband had arrived & was in the mood for sex (Adie announced this to everyone at CW as we were leaving), Kelly was operating on only 4 hours of sleep the night before (I didn't ask her why), Adie was enjoying knowing this trip was longer than usual so she didn't have to cram CW into just a few nights, and Lisa dutifully was a good wife and agreed to go home with her. I didn't feel like staying by myself - how pitiful is that, lol! We hung around outside talking for a while, then since Kelly is staying here at BCV I gave her a ride home. As it turned out, we're on the same floor and our units are just a few doors away - small world!

I enjoyed my maple walnut fudge, which is something I'd never think to get anywhere else but at Food & Wine! I finished up the report, watched the news on tv, and spent some time online before calling it a night. It was a good first day, and it feels great to be here.

DAY 2 WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 5, 2003

Who: Sue, DVC Member
Leesa, Comedy Warehouse regular
Adie & Lisa, Kelly - DVC/Fortress friends

Plan: Food & Wine Festival, Comedy Warehouse

Actual: Well, I meant to get to bed relatively early, but ended up having too much fun with a couple of friends who were competing (from the same house) sending birthday wishes. When the phone rang at 12:30 am I knew it had to be someone who "saw" me online, and it was. After talking & laughing on the phone, I was too keyed up to sleep so I stayed online a while longer.

I woke up shortly after 7 and wasn't able to get back to sleep so I got up around 7:30. The studio was nice & quiet until noisemakers started moving about in the hallway. I had no noise from the connecting villa, even though I'm sure they're sold out. I'd brought a couple asiago cheese bagels with me, so after puttering around awhile and a short workout I toasted half of a bagel and enjoyed it out on the porch, along with some hot chocolate.

Around 9:30 I went down to Stormalong Bay, only to find the towels all padlocked! The cm said I couldn't have any until 10 a.m., which seemed a bit ridiculous. People staying here paying $200-400/night for their rooms should be able to expect the cm to give them a towel even though the pool isn't officially open. I wasn't planning on going into the water before 10, but wanted to sit on a towel rather than a nasty old plastic chair. Oh well, I sat on a nasty old plastic chair until 10 and then went to get my towels. They were issuing wrist bands, but I told the cm I would put it on my bag but I wasn't wearing it. He didn't seem to mind or care, and just handed me on. I like the old handstamp better - there's no way I'm wearing a 1-inch strip of paper around my wrist when I'm lounging by the pool.

Alright, enough bitching <g>. Stormalong Bay was very uncrowded, perhaps due to the number of clouds in the sky and the threat of rain. The lazy river section is the only part I use, and it is still closed off while they're working on the bridges in that area. I don't imagine I'll be back to Stormalong Bay this trip, without the lazy river. It'll be easier to just go to the Villas' quiet pool if I have time for that.

Around noon it was starting to sprinkle so I packed up and dropped my stuff off in the studio, pulled a denim dress on over my swimsuit and headed into Epcot in search of lunch. It felt brutally hot in there, as the sun had come back out. I walked to the South Africa stand and got the Cape Indaba chenin blanc - ok, but not something I'd bother getting again. The spatlese is still tops on my list. I walked back to Mexico and got a chicken/chorizio quesadilla, which was delicious but huge. This will be the only one of these for this trip - unless I'm sharing one with someone. I was full at that point, and it was too hot to linger, so I stopped in Spain to pick up some gazpacho with olive bread (gazpacho smells delicious, olive bread most likely will go in the trash) and then at the cognac stand I got the flourless chocolate cake. Wow - does that look decadent! I carried the gazpacho & chocolate back to the studio, figuring I would eat them later.

On the way out I ran into Cheryl & hubby Kevin as they were entering Epcot, so we stopped to chat for a little while. It felt good to get back into the air conditioned studio - I think I'll wait until almost sunset before heading back into Food & Wine later before Comedy Warehouse. I'd brought the rest of a bottle of the Zambra Sangria (sold at the Spain booth, I still have 2 bottles from last year) so I sipped on that out on the porch while finishing one of the books I'd brought along (one less thing to carry on and off the ship).

By 2:30 it was pouring outside - so hard visibility was cut way down. I took my shower, and was pleased to find better water pressure than last November. That was my only complaint last year, so it was nice to see improvement. I spent the next couple of hours updating the report and catching up online while watching General Hospital and hoping the rain would end by the time I was ready to head out. I tried a couple bites of the chocolate flourless cake, and WOW is that good! Another new favorite, although this one isn't much of a surprise!

Shortly after 5 I ventured back out and ran into DVC friend Dottie & Joe! They were rather wet from their afternoon in the rain at Epcot, and we stopped to swap food & wine recommendations. It was so nice running into them unexpectedly like that - but that's what I like the best about coming this time of year. It's pretty common to run into people I know here.

It wasn't raining at this point, but the "dry" period didn't last long. Actually, with the humidity I'm not sure I could call it "dry" even when it wasn't raining. Picture the most disgusting, muggy July or August weather, and this is what we're having right now. It's extremely unusual for November, and is expected until at least the weekend. Tonight I headed towards France to start making my rounds. In South Africa I got the Durban chicken. It started raining while I was in line and I was getting aggravated that the cm was calmly chatting away with 2 ladies ahead of me, about his plans to visit Ireland and other countries when his year is up with Disney. Luckily another cm saw me standing there being ignored and took my order, got the chicken, and then rang up the sale - since the first guy was too busy. The chicken was a bit dry - when it's not dry it's excellent, but when it's dry it's just ok. I'd forgotten to take a knife, so it was a challenge to eat - but I didn't feel like going back in the rain to get one. Next I went back to Octoberfest in Germany and ordered the spatlese. They were all out of that - grrr. The cm suggested the semi-dry riesling (Dr L Mosel Riesling), and although I like the spatlese better, this was very good. I must be in a german wine phase or something.

I strolled around in the rain with my umbrella and wine, stopping only to watch Off Kilter for a few songs and think naughty thoughts inspired by the lead singer. Hopefully he doesn't read these reports - I'm not one of those women who go nuts over him, but I can appreciate why they do <g>. With the rain continuing I decided to just return to the studio until it was time for Comedy Warehouse.

The back stairway door was closed completely, so I had to use the regular door and take the elevator. There was 1 other person in the elevator with me - an attractive woman who was about the age I figured Kelly's mother might be. Kelly's very pretty - and I thought this might be mom. I asked her if she was Kelly's mom and she looked a little freaked out for a moment, and said yes! She figured out I must be Sue - it was nice meeting her. I offered Kelly a ride to CW tonight, then we went our separate ways. Back in the studio I updated the report and ate the rest of the chocolate flourless cake thing. Mmmmmm - that has got to be at or near the top of my list of favorites this year.

At 7 I went to get Kelly and we drove over to Downtown Disney. She told me when her mom came in and said I'd identified her as Kelly's mom, they stood in front of the bathroom mirror together trying to figure out what I'd seen to think of the connection. LOL - it was just dumb luck, more than any family resemblance. Leesa called shortly after we arrived, so we joined her for a walk to Ghiradelli for a chocolate sample. They have a new peppermint product now with white chocolate over brown chocolate, with mint flavor. Sounds interesting, but they weren't selling individual squares and it wasn't worth $10.25 to me to find out if I would like it. We made a quick stop at McDonald's for Leesa, then returned to PI.

We stopped at the Rock & Roll Beach Club bar so I could chat with Clinta for a few minutes. Adie & Lisa arrived and hung out with Leesa & Kelly. Soon we headed up the hill to Comedy Warehouse. People were waving at me from the line, and it was my friends Pete & Judy from NJ. They're great people, and I always enjoy spending time with them, but this trip it wasn't possible. We chatted for a while in line, and then I joined Leesa at the back door along with regulars Bob & Virginia.

Tonight Jamie was on the keys. The 8:15 cast was Matt, Greg, Mary, Krista & Joy. Joy was wearing her hair down, and I'd almost forgotten how pretty she looks with it like that - she's got nice hair! Everyone else looked good too, and it was really nice to have Greg back on that stage for the night. After the opening number the first structure was the dreaded Story Telling, with Greg & Krista telling "The Friendly Cat". It'll never be my favorite structure, but the story they told tonight was actually very good. It was a bit sick, but that added to the humor. They were a couple unable to have children, with an empty marriage until this cat came into their lives 2 years ago. This poor cat had 3 legs, a bad eye, was missing an ear --and they'd fashioned wooden legs themed to each holiday for the cat because until then the cat would fall down every 4th step! I love cats, but still enjoyed the story of this pathetic creature very much. <g>

They did Forgotten Songs, and I thought 2 of them were really good tonight. Mary & Greg were Grace & Hiram dressed in shawls singing "Lawrence of Arabia". They were a couple who moved to Arabia because their apt is $24/month, so they're there for the low rents (lawrence). I didn't get it at first, and a lot of the audience missed it until Greg explained it. Krista & Joy were Connie & Francis singing "Where's the Beef?" They were going to see the Chippendale dancers, and Matt came out shirtless again tonight and pretended to be a Chippendale. They had a bunch of fake money and Joy tucked some into his pants, while Krista acted like the stereotypical lust-crazed woman watching male strippers. It was funny! Matt sang "Weiner Schnitzel" with a German accent, doing a German dance. Now it was time to pick on dogs, as his song was all about his fitness plan - he gets a daschund, chases it around for exercise, then cooks it up and eats it. It sounds pretty gross, but I thought it was very funny when he was performing it (but then, I'm not a dog person <g>).

Next was Should Have Said, with Krista ringing the bell. Mary was in a bank being robbed by Matt as a dumb criminal. Greg came in as the cop. The scene was fairly short, which was a good thing since it didn't really go anywhere. The closing number was about a guy who hates that his wife leaves the cap off the felt tip pens. When Mary created a verse saying sometimes she likes to be felt all day, I was very glad to not be sitting next to Adie. Sure enough, Lisa said she had to start fanning her, she got so hot & bothered over that innocent comment. Who would have known Adie has a pen fetish??

After the show I talked to Mary for a bit, then went to see Greg a while. We were all back for the next show, of course! The 9:15 cast was Greg, Mary, Christine, Krista & Joy. They did Emotions, with Joy & Chris creating a scene in a spa. I snuck up to where Kelly, Adie & Lisa were sitting for a piece of Kelly's pretzel after it arrived - thanks Kelly. She later considered that buying me dinner, and I won't print what Adie said I was supposed to do in exchange. Yikes - let a lesbian into a group of hetero women and it's never boring! Needless to say, Kelly & I ignored Adie's helpful suggestion. <g> The cast did Up Your Alley next, about flying airplanes. Chris was host Lois Common Denominator. Greg was funny & borderline dirty as Anthony Carlson, founder of MSDRT (Male Stewards Deserve Respect Too) - a flight attendant. Krista was Aileen Shocka, a psychic type weirdo who helps people get over their fear of flying for $45/hour. Mary was Amelia Earhart, who wasn't missing after all - after going around the world she wondered what to do next and so went to Disney World. It was a funny & fast-paced scene.

Afterwards I complimented Christine on her recent weight loss and we hung out inside talking to Krista until the next show. When the next show was seated I visited with Adie, Lisa & Kelly again, who were seated across from long row this time. The 10:30 cast was Matt, Greg, Krista, Christine & John. They opened with a poem "My favorite kangaroo" and did a good job. The poem is almost always an entertaining opening number, although I like the name rhyme game best for the higher energy it can create. Christine rang the bell in Should Have Said, where Matt was working on an assembly line. Greg came in as a guy who sped up the line, John was a co-worker missing an arm, and Krista was the supervisor. Not much else to say about this scene <g>.

They did Freeze Dried Musical next, led by Matt. It started out as a musical in the style of Mary Poppins, about medical technology, taking place in a bedpan as the lead character is searching for the holy grail. Chris & Krista were stuck in the bedpan, and soon Matt realized the scene was set to wait for someone to come and urinate on them on the stage, so he threw out the bedpan location and moved them to The Gap. He also got a new musical style suggestion and dropped Mary Poppins in favor of Snoop Dog. Greg came in as a legless person needing to use the Gap's bathroom, and did so while Chris & Krista watched to see if his urine would turn the water blue - a sign he'd found the holy grail. It was quite a bizarre musical, and of course it had a happy ending - Greg's legs even grew back!

Scene Freeze was next, where each actor creates a scene based on one word, then they all switch between the scenes. This can be hysterical or it can fall flat - tonight wasn't one of the better nights, but it had some funny moments. Chris had cat, Matt had money, John had potato, and Krista had voluptuous.

Adie, Lisa & Kelly left after this show, so we said goodnight to them. Normally I don't stay for the late show, but since it's Greg's only night and I knew Mary was coming back in I decided the hell with sleeping - I wanted to be here. Blame them for the report not getting posted last night - there was no way I was going to get online at 2:45 when the report was finished, because I know I wouldn't just get on & get off quickly.

Carol Stein & her husband were at the 12:05 show and we sat next to them. Carol shared her pretzel with me, and I tried desperately to get Adie's earlier comment out of my head, lol! We had a nice chat before the show. The 12:05 cast was Greg, Mary, Christine, Matt & John. Greg led them in a 1-act play, where Mary & Matt were working in a car wash. They also did Cliché, where Christine was tortured in a school in South Park. The cliché was "The bird having no roost of its own roosts in anything." I understand Matt did an excellent job of impersonating the characters on South Park but since I've never watched the show I didn't have a clue what it all meant. The structure was still enjoyable, and Chris struggled with it because the clues were creatively done so that she didn't have each word separately. Eventually she figured it out, and since we were out of time the show ended right then. Oh, I was wanting to get out of my seat and go down to slap the idiot in the front row who kept saying the words out loud. John was leading the torture and kept shushing her, but he had to do it at least 4 times!

We said our goodbyes to Greg and talked to him again for a little while. I'm looking forward to seeing him again next month when he's down again. I talked to Mary a bit and then headed out. Leesa caught her ride home on Lynx, and I drove back to Beach Club Villas. I ate the gazpacho, and after a tiny bite of the olive bread threw the bread in the trash as anticipated. The gazpacho was very good - cool & refreshing, but with a little kick to it. I've been very happy with the food & wine festival so far this year.

I finished up the report, but since I've got to get up in less than 4 hours to meet DVC friends in the morning, I knew I'd better not get online until later in the day. Except for the crappy weather, today was a good day. It was relaxing, even a little boring at times, but it was my choice to be "bored" so it's not a complaint. I would have spent more time out at Food & Wine if it hadn't been pouring all afternoon and extremely humid! I'll hope for better weather Thursday & Friday, and if it sucks those days too, there's always the next 38 years until my DVC expires to try again!

DAY 3 THURSDAY NOVEMBER 06, 2003

Who: Sue, DVC Member
Darla, DVC Points Co-Queen
Deb (Darla's sister), Rich & Deb, Adie & Lisa, Dottie & Joe - DVC friends
Patty, Patron of the Arts
Nancy, Pop Century Chef, Still a newlywed

Plan: DVC Update, Food & Wine Festival, Comedy Warehouse

Actual: After lights out at 3am, I wasn't entirely thrilled to hear the radio come on shortly after 6:30. However, I had a gallon of magaritas I needed to deliver to Darla at the DVC member update breakfast thing, so I got my rear in gear. I don't think she was planning to drink them at 8 am, but you never know about those people from Ohio! I toasted the other half of the bagel for breakfast, and carried a Disney cup with my cappuccino powder over to the Boardwalk. I left the studio about 7:30 and walked over to Boardwalk's Community Hall. Along the way a woman passed me, then looped around, saying "that must be Sue" - it was Barbara F from the DVC boards, who I'd never met before. We stopped to chat for a little while, and it was really nice to meet her.

As I got into the Boardwalk I ran into Rich, Deb, Darla & Deb. Adie & Lisa were at Community Hall already, and I saw Rick Gabauer and his oldest daughter inside as well. They're such a nice family - it was good to see them again. Debbie & Mari arrived later, and Dottie came in just as things were starting. Pete & Judy were on the other side of the room - what fun having so many friends there! The presentation lasted almost an hour, which is unusual, but we had fun. Afterwards a cm took most of us on a tour of the Saratoga Springs models. Work called as we were heading in, trying to set up an appointment for me with our attorneys about the lawsuit - trouble is, they had no idea when the attorneys wanted to see me so I suggested they find out & call me back (duh <g>). Pete chided me for conducting business in the hallway, lol.

Once inside the model Karen (ranbom) from the DVC board introduced herself and wanted to talk about HAL Alaska cruises, so I went with them out to the hall to discuss it. I'd never met Karen before, but she's just as nice in person as on the boards. Darla, Deb, Rich & Deb arrived then, so I hooked up with them and toured the models. We took a group photo and hung around talking a while, then went to Darla & Deb's studio upstairs and hung out there for a bit. We agreed to meet for Food & Wine at 11:30, so Dottie & I walked back to our homes at the Beach Club Villas. She stopped at my studio to pick up my cell phone charger in the hopes it works for Joe's Nextel. This was after we got lost inside the Boardwalk, but we found our way out eventually (Deb was surprised to see us pass her & Rich's villa).

I was on my way to the fitness center when the phone rang. Dottie & Joe decided to go to Future World and invited me along, so I skipped the workout in favor of spending time with friends. I hardly ever see them! They returned the charger, since it didn't work for his phone. We walked into Epcot and immediately found Darla, Deb, Rich & Deb. We wandered around a while, then Joe, Dottie & I went to ride Spaceship Earth while the others went to get cheese soup in Canada. We met them later in Mexico, and began the trek around World Showcase. In the beginning at least it seemed like we stopped at each stand for somebody to get something - it was fun seeing the different items up close but I didn't try any.

We stopped in South Africa and did a wine seminar where we had 3 different wines. After that we stopped at Octoberfest so I could try for my wine, but the spatlese was still out. They had a kabinett that wasn't on the menu, and I tried that instead - good, but no spatlese. We kept walking, talking, laughing & eating our way around the World. I tried a bite of Dottie's pizza from Italy - much better than I expected. We decided to do the Sam Adams beer seminar, and were first in line. We had 5 glasses of beer - yikes! I managed to drink 2 of them, and a couple sips of the other 3. After 4 glasses of wine with no food, 5 glasses of beer was the last thing I needed! They had a weird chocolate beer that will be sold around Valentine's Day next year. It smelled interesting (like chocolate) but the taste was just too strange to me. It'll be sold in a 750 ml bottle, so be sure to look for it starting in mid-January.

After the beer we continued walking. Throughout our morning it rained most of the time, which was a pain! In France I got the goat cheese & tomato tart & let some people try it. It's really a huge portion, and so good! Darla & Deb went back to the resort and the rest of us continued on. They got some port & stilton cheese, and we tried Joe's sangria flan from Spain. We sat at the Off Kilter area chatting, until we decided to end today's Epcot adventure. I bought a gazpacho and flourless chocolate cake for later, but since it was already after 2:30 I wasn't sure when I'd be hungry to eat them - maybe after Comedy Warehouse tonight. With the weather so crappy, and being so full, I knew I wasn't going to make another trip in for dinner tonight! I walked back with Dottie & Joe, then went up to the studio in time for General Hospital. It was a fun day wandering around with my DVC friends, and I look forward to doing it again with them next year!

I got online to finally post yesterday's report, and talked to my friend Kathy to make plans for tomorrow. I think this would have been the first birthday trip in 5 years I haven't spent time with her, but thankfully a schedule change is making it possible for us to get together if the weather is ok. The equipment attached on her wheelchair can't get wet, so hopefully the rain will be finished by tomorrow morning. Later on I ate the gazpacho and had more of the sangria. I wanted to try them together, since they're both sold at Spain, and they go well together. Too bad I was still stuffed - ugh. I've still not touched a single piece of birthday chocolate - very unusual for me, but I did arrange safe transportation for it to get home while I'm cruising next week <g>.

Last night Leesa had given me a screen saver she'd made for my birthday, so I loaded it up on the laptop. It was fabulous! She had a birthday song, an assortment of mostly Comedy Warehouse pictures, with funny captions to go along with it all. I was laughing out loud, and loved it - thank you, Leesa!! It's a keeper <g>. Patty called and we made plans for later tonight and tomorrow. I'll be juggling my original plans around for Friday, but it's shaping up to be an excellent final day here at WDW.

Around 6:30 or so I left BCV and drove to Downtown Disney. As I was hanging around near the entrance to Pleasure Island waiting for it to be 7 o'clock, I noticed Nancy was standing there! She purposely got me a belated birthday card because she knew she wouldn't see me until afterwards, and never mentioned coming out tonight. I was thrilled to see her, and we went to the first comedy show together. Before the show she was able to fill me in on her new job over at Pop Century - I know how much work it is to open a hotel, but it's also a lot of fun.

Carol Stein was on the keys tonight. The 7:20 cast was Mary, John, Matt, Karl & Christine. Matt rang the bell for Should Have Said. Mary started a scene about reading in a Barnes & Noble, where Christine was the store clerk. Matt ended it fairly early - although the scene wasn't bad, it was just ok. They moved on to Styles, which was more fun. Chris & Matt were in a scene about scrapbooking. They were a married couple who's daughter (Karl) was marrying John tomorrow. John died, so Matt pretended to be him in order to marry his daughter, and peeled John's skin off to disguise himself. It was definitely weird, but it was funny.

They did Scene Freeze, with Karl having football, Mary had "her body", Matt had boring and John had unmarried. This was also fun - they did a good job moving between scenes and everyone did well. Nancy left to meet a friend after this show, and I waited for Patty to arrive. She missed the back door, but she & her friend Mike made it in time through the regular door.

The 8:15 cast was Matt, Mary, John, Karl & Krista. John & Mary did Story Telling, which was sick enough to be funny. I think I like the twisted stories but get bored with the "normal" ones. The story was called Smelly Balloon, and they were a mother/son. Mary had hired a fake clown for John's birthday and the clown ended up stealing a lot of their stuff, including his sister. The clown was on crack cocaine, too - like last night's disabled cat, this clown's problems just kept growing as the story progressed.

Schmeopardy was next, with John as host Alex Tribeca. Karl was an AK worker named Leo, who was also a lion. Matt was Henri Potter, a french chef who also owned an occult bookstore. Krista was a drug dealer named Sheila. Overall it was a pretty good show. After the show Mary came over and we all headed outside for a while. She & Patty added to my chocolate stockpile, with some stuff that I've not tried but I'm sure I'll love! Patty & Mike decided to go have dinner, and I went to the back door only to find out I was late and they had already started letting guests in! Oops - I went upstairs and was fortunate that Dave the manager found a single seat for me in the row behind long row, so it worked out just fine.

The 9:15 cast was Mary, Lisa, John, Christine & Brian. Oh Kelly - if it makes you feel better you can pretend Brian really sucked, even though it's not true. They opened with the name rhyme game, which Brian won. He got to pick what they do next, and he set up a great scene! (Kelly, stop cursing at me <g>) They did a soap opera-style scene called As the World Slowly Sinks. Each actor had a particular role - Christine was a sexaholic, Brian was a priest, Mary was a bank robber, Lisa was Mary's spouse, and John was the town drunk. It was a crazy scene - Christine started out by coming on to the priest Brian, and came out on stage at the slightest hint of anything that could be suggestive. The whole thing was great fun to watch, and the audience was hysterical.

Next Christine led the others in a Madrigal. This is where they take 4 fake tabloid headlines and sing them, then interchange the words to make new headlines. They started with "Michael Jackson dancing and dating with J Lo", "Boy George is actually Ben Affleck", "President Bush has sex change operation" and "Britney Spears is a natural brunette". The madrigal was excellent, too - very funny and the audience loved it.

Up Your Alley was next, about ping pong. Lisa did an outstanding job as the host Anna Nicole Smith. She had her down to a tee, except for not being fat. She came across like a complete pig, just like Anna <g>, and about as bright as a fencepost. The contestants were Brian in blonde braids as the ping pong champion from Sweden (female). Chris was a Chinese person named Ping Pong, from the Pong dynasty. Lisa wanted to know if there were any old rich men in her family, then kept telling Chris one day Chris would be her granddaughter, lol! Mary & John were the national Conjoined Identical Twins Ping Pong Champions. Between them they had 3 arms. Her name was Pingaretta and his was Bingalingadingdong. This scene was great also, and overall it was an excellent show. I was really glad to have my last Comedy Warehouse show of the trip be so good!

I drove back to Beach Club Villas and actually found a close parking spot since it was relatively early. It's still a hike into the building - this isn't Old Key West! I took the elevator up to the 4th floor and then walked down the long hall to the other elevators. My room is just around the corner from the elevator, but for some reason I forgot I was already on the 4th floor. I rushed into the elevator before the doors closed, then wondered why it wouldn't take me up - duh! When I realized I was already there I sheepishly left the elevator, then tripped on the carpet while walking down the hall. Hopefully they don't have security cameras in this area, or some Disney security cm got a chuckle tonight!

Back in the studio I went online (losing the damn connection 3 times - what a pain), did some email, updated the report, and ate the rest of the flourless chocolate cake. Today was a lot of fun, despite the lousy weather. It was great seeing so many friends, and meeting a few new people for the first time. I think I'm starting to overdose on the food & wine stuff - I love it, but I feel like I'm cramming a week's worth of eating/drinking into 4 days! I'm definitely looking forward to next year, when I have more time - as long as I keep myself from booking another cruise next week. Tomorrow's my last full day, and plans have changed several times since the trip began. Hopefully the weather will improve and it will be another wonderful day!

DAY 4 FRIDAY NOVEMBER 07, 2003

Who: Sue, DVC Member
Kathy, Good friend & gorilla lover (aka Silverback Slut)
Patty, Patron of the Arts
Fortress friends - Adie & Lisa, Kelly, Merry Elbow, Wilbur & Amy, Roxanne, Marti, Susan, Patti, Shan, Cis, Cheryl & Kevin, Debby & family, Jean
Sheila, Frequent Travel Companion

Plan: Food & Wine Festival, Fortress meet at Crews Cup, Comedy Warehouse (?)

Actual: Last night I had an email from Sheila saying she'd been given the day off from work, wanting to know if I had room for her to stay here Friday night. Of course I agreed to tell the long list of hunky men who were competing to stay with me that Sheila would be here instead - I'm such a good friend <g>. I filled her in on the current version of today's plans, and Sheila should arrive early afternoon. I decided to save the last asiago cheese bagel for us to share tomorrow morning, so for breakfast today I managed to suffer through cappuccino and a chocolate covered oreo. <g>

I showered and got most of my stuff packed up and ready for the cruise. Dottie called to see if I wanted to go to the Magic Kingdom with her, but I couldn't do it since I already had plans with other people - hopefully next time, as it would have been fun. Kathy & I goofed around via IM, both thrilled that the weather was sunny for a change & we were going to have a fabulous time strutting our stuff around Epcot with Sheila & Patty - the 4 fabulous babes of Food & Wine <g>.

I decided to make a quick trip over to Downtown Disney to the Festival of the Masters. This is a HUGE art festival that's held every year on this weekend, but this year I didn't have time to really see much of it. Mary's husband is an artist and has a booth there this year, so I decided to head over and stop by to say hi to him. I know where his booth is located, so didn't have to waste time looking for it. I had a nice visit with Jason (his art is gorgeous), and got back to Beach Club Villas before 11.

Patty was going to be delayed by a car problem, so around 11:30 I decided to head out and start wandering around until she called to say she was on her way. First stop was the gift shop at the resort, where I was unsuccessful at finding the 2004 calendar. Although I hate to retire the 2003 Comedy Warehouse calendar I had made last year, it wouldn't be "special" if I did it every year, so it's back to the WDW calendar for next year. I'll have to look for it in Epcot, or wait and get it at the shop at All Star Movies in a couple of weeks.

The side path to Epcot was blocked off AGAIN - I pick 4 freakin' days out of the entire year to stay here because of that walkway and the lazy river in Stormalong Bay, and what happens - both are closed during my stay. Arrgh - oh well, I'll keep chanting Sheila's latest saying "I'm not at work", lol. That helps put things in a more positive perspective, for sure!

Patty called just as I got to the Epcot turnstiles and said she was about 20 minutes from arrival, so I turned around and headed back to the resort to wait for her. It's confusing enough finding your way around here when you stay here - and I didn't want her getting lost somewhere between here and Epcot <g>. Soon she arrived and we headed to Food & Wine!

We started with France, where we shared a delicious goat cheese and tomato tart. We wandered around a while. Patty thought it was too early to be drinking - what's up with her??? She soon got over that mistaken assumption, thank goodness. She tried the crab cake in the USA - impressed that it was real crab, but the crab cake otherwise was just ok. After Germany we stopped at the Australia exhibit and decided to purchase the passports which got you 5 wine samples for $5.

Our experience in Australia was less than wonderful. First the cm selling the passports tried to tell me if I used a $10 Disney Dollar for my $5 passport I would not get any change. Those of you off of aol can well imagine what phrase went through my mind at that point - this cm was out of her freakin' mind. I wasn't about to get into an argument so early in the day so I told her I'd take 2 passports - problem averted. It was hotter than hell in this Australia area, but we fortunately found 1 table that was half in the shade. We ran over there before anyone else could grab it. By the time we were on our 2nd wine this guy in godawful dreadlocks sat down next to our table and started blowing into this wooden thing, making the worst noise you could imagine. We looked at each other and knew it was time to move on. We stood at the entrance, in the shade, away from the noise.

Sheila called to say she was in the park, so we told her were to find us. When Patty & I went in for our 5th wine the cm stationed there told us we were going in the exit and needed to turn around and use the entrance. Again, we were thinking "What the ….???" We were going the same way we had the last 4 times, and nothing was marked either enter or exit. Again, slapping her would only get us ejected so we turned around and came in the other way (nobody was in front of us - it was totally stupid). On our way out the cm smiled and told us to have a good day - we refrained from smacking her.

Sheila arrived and I made the introductions. We continued walking towards Mexico, where Patty got some watermelon water in an attempt to sober up. Continuing on, Sheila got some port at the cognac stand and I got some gazpacho & sangria from spain. We walked & talked our way around the world until it was time to head back & meet Kathy. Kathy actually found us first, coming up behind me and verbally accosting me. It was great to see her! I introduced her to Patty, and she already knew Sheila. We sat over in the shade in Germany and had a nice visit. Patty had to leave to pick up her car, but hopefully we'll see her later tonight. That law firm called me about the lawsuit at work, so I took care of that and then Mo Rockin' started performing. They're good performers, but we wanted to be able to talk to each other so we got up and kept walking. We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around, shopping, and enjoying each others' company. I got another glass of wine in Germany and after Kathy left Sheila & I each got a flourless chocolate cake to bring back to the studio for later. We left Epcot at that point, and got back to BCV after 4:30.

We ran into Wilbur and his daughter Cary on our way in, and then found Adie & Lisa at the elevator and talked to them for a few minutes. Merry Elbow showed up briefly - on her way to her villa to get dressed for tonight. I updated the report for a few minutes, grabbed my party favors, and then we walked over to Crews Cup just before 5. Most people were already there, and the cast members were putting out the food prepared for us.

Everyone passed around the little gifts we'd brought for the group, and Shan opened the bags of Christmas ornaments we'd bought her to replace some of the ornaments her housekeeper stole before disappearing. It was fun seeing everyone again, and meeting Susan for the first time. Merry Elbow got up and sang her latest song parody, which ended with a big reference to Kevin's Batman underwear. Poor guy - all of his wife's friends think he wears Batman underwear <g>. Adie & Lisa agreed to store my chocolate until Kevin drove it home Sunday - it got added to tonight, with the most memorable piece being a big white chocolate penis on a stick. I don't normally like white chocolate, but I'll have to give this one a try, lol!

Sheila & I said our goodbyes around 6:30 and went to drop the non-chocolate gifts off in the studio. She remarked how friendly everyone was, and how nice it was they included her in the "loot" - thanks, guys! Earlier we'd thought about attending a play later tonight, but when we found out it was a 2.5 hour play and it was at least 40 minutes away, didn't start until 9, and we couldn't confirm there were still tickets available - we decided it was best to skip it. Two of the guys from Comedy Warehouse were in it, otherwise it wouldn't have even been considered. Instead, we decided to head back into Epcot. The fortress people were shocked I was not going to Comedy Warehouse, but although I love it there, I wanted a change of scenery and didn't want to be getting home late and then staying up late writing show recaps tonight. Besides, I think the last time I was in the parks at night was during my 40th birthday trip, 5 years ago!

We experienced a line cutter at the turnstiles. This man got behind me while Sheila was going through security, and she got behind him. He had 4 passes for all of his family and supposedly wanted to run them all through. The cm told him each person had to use their own, so he called his family over to cut into the line with him --we thought that was pretty rude, but I didn't have any metal lunchboxes with me to hit him upside the head. We started wandering towards France, and immediately noticed how very crowded it was. Yuck - this was not what I had in mind at all! The lines at the food booths were very long - dozens of people at some. It's so much nicer during the day, so this will be my only night visit to Food & Wine. That was my punishment for skipping Comedy Warehouse, I guess <g>.

We worked our way through the mob, and it didn't get less crowded until we were back around Japan and Germany. We waited in line in Italy for quite a while, and each got a glass of chianti. Sheila liked it; I didn't. She very nicely offered to take mine and got me a glass of the wine I know I like from Germany, so we went over to that line next. We rode the boat ride in Mexico with our wine - I was surprised they let people do that, but I'd seen it done the other day. When we got back to the International Gateway I asked Sheila if she wanted to make another loop or just go back, and she wanted to get out because it was too crowded. We decided to walk around the loop to the Boardwalk and back to Yacht Club & Beach Club. We ran into Deb & Deb on their way into Epcot and chatted briefly. The Boardwalk area was pretty busy, with lots of people milling about. We dodged the ones not paying attention to where they were going, and eventually came back to Beach Club Villas.

Sheila watched some tv while I finished up the report, and then I got online for a while. We were not hungry at all, but we had to eat that flourless chocolate cake. It really wasn't that big of a burden, though <g>.

This concludes the "land" portion of the trip. For anyone reading on the dvctalk yahoo group, this is the last installment that will appear there. The rest will be on the disneycruise yahoo group. If you are reading from anywhere other than dvctalk, you'll get the rest of the report where you're used to getting it.

In summary, this has been a terrific but short trip. Four nights is better than nothing, but I will return to longer trips without a cruise for future Food & Wine Festivals. I don't when I've ever eaten so much food and drank so much wine in such a short period - I would rather pace myself more. The weather was certainly miserable this trip - either too hot, too humid, or raining (or a combination of those). It's very unusual for November, so hopefully next year we'll be back to our normal gorgeous FL weather. I loved being at Beach Club Villas - in my opinion it's the only place I'd want to stay during Food & Wine. I still prefer Old Key West overall, but for this trip the BCV is perfect.

As usual, a big part of what made this trip great are the many friends I was able to spend time with. There are far too many to list here, but thanks for sharing part of your day/evening with me - it was fun spending time with each of you, and I look forward to the next time!

Tomorrow Sheila & I leave on the Magic western cruise, so I'll be offline until I get back home on November 15th. I'll get some photos posted that weekend, and will send out the link once they're ready.

DAY 5 SATURDAY NOVEMBER 08, 2003

Who: Sue, DVC Member
Sheila, Frequent Travel Companion

Plan: Embark Magic cruise

Actual: After a good night's sleep at the Beach Club Villas we got up around 7-7:30. The morning was lazily spent doing any last-minute packing, and we shared the bagel for breakfast. On the way out we stopped at Downtown Disney briefly. I introduced Sheila to Jason at his booth at Festival of the Masters, then we went to Virgin so she could buy a couple books to read. Shortly after 10 we were on our way to the cruise!!

Just as we pulled onto the Beeline Expressway I realized I'd left the laptop case in a drawer in the studio - arrgh! Sheila claimed that's what happens when you're 45, and she'd damn lucky she didn't find her butt bouncing along the side of the freeway <g>! We turned around and went back to Beach Club Villas, where I ran up and retrieved the case out of the drawer while the housekeeper was in there cleaning. We made a fresh start just before 11 and got to the port shortly before noon.

Most of the embarkation process is very quick & painless - until you get inside and have to join the endless line of people waiting to board the ship. That took a good 20-30 minutes, and we bypassed the photo opportunity spot to get on board faster. After being announced, we headed straight to Rockin' Bar D to make our Palo reservation. We wanted Monday at 7, but the closest they had for a party of 2 was either 6 or 9. We took the 6! We didn't bother trying to book the champagne brunch or high tea - frankly I don't like enough or eat enough to make them worth it, and Sheila's just looking to relax and isn't worried about not having more than enough food as it is!

We went up to Topsider's Buffet next, and I tried the orange mango soup - not bad, but I like the strawberry on the Wonder much better. We got some lunch and sat inside because that's where we saw the first available table. Two months ago with Patty on the Wonder the ship seemed empty for the longest time, but today this ship felt mobbed right from the start. After lunch we stopped by the spa and Sheila booked a massage for tomorrow. By now it was time for the staterooms to be ready, so we found ours (#2098, oceanview) and checked it out. They'd sent the usual Castaway Club gift - a nice beach towel and 2 pins. Since I got the towel 2 months ago, I gave Sheila this one.

I glanced over and saw a bottle of champagne on the little table - and a platter of yummy-looking little desserts. That was odd - but there was a card accompanying it - a Happy Birthday message from Adie & Lisa. I called them later from the pool to thank them - that was so sweet of them. The dessert tray had a great assortment of mini treats - key lime pie squares, pistachio squares, chocolate things, coconut chocolate chip bars, and chocolate dipped strawberries! Everything was delicious - I cut a corner off each one, lol. I think we'll buy some raspberry liqueur and make kir royales with the champagne - yummm!

None of the luggage had arrived, and we had our swimsuits on under our clothes, so we went up to deck 9. We of course used the stairs since it's only 7 flights <g>. Sheila knows she won't let me kill her with an excursion this time, but she says I'm going to kill her with stairs. Hey, with all the extra food/drink we'll be consuming, we NEED every step, lol! We laid out by the pool for a while. Sheila enjoyed the jacuzzi and I enjoyed just laying in the sun with a cool breeze and no cares or worries. After about an hour I returned to the stateroom, where my large piece of luggage had arrived.

I got that unpacked and called maintenance because our room safe would not work. Within minutes an engineer was there, and diagnosed it as a dead battery. He had to send the carpenter to take care of that, which was also handled very promptly. More luggage arrived, and I got the rest of my stuff unpacked before Sheila returned. The laundry is right by our stateroom so I went over to do some ironing while Sheila unpacked. The family next door has a wild bunch of monster boys - if Chris was one of them he would have been grounded or smacked! At 4 we went up for the life boat drill, which is far more pleasant on a shady November afternoon than it is on a hot sunny September day!

Following the drill I updated the report for a few minutes, then we went up to deck 10 for the Sail-away Party. Sheila asked for a head start for the 8 flights, and ended up waiting for me up top. We found the DIS group - easy to spot in the lime green matching shirts David and his wife had made for us. We talked to several people, blew some bubbles, but just before sailing we moved out of the noisy area to the shady side of the ship. Just before the ship's horn sounded Sheila called her son and I called Tim - they both got to hear it. We were right by where it sounds, and the noise was enough to almost blast us over the railing into the ocean, lol!

It's always pleasant sailing away, and today was no exception. HAL's Zaandam followed us out of the port. Once the sun went down it got pretty cool, so we decided to wear our warmest clothes tonight! On the way back to the stateroom we stopped at the new Cove Café. This is the old teen area, which has been redone for the 18 & over crowd. They sell coffee drinks, teas, wines, alcoholic coffee, and some fancy drinks. Inside they've got several sofas and small gathering areas, with plenty of magazines, books, some internet stations, and board games. There's a large bar area, jukebox, and a big-screen tv. The prices were not too bad - not as good as on HAL, but not as bad as I'd feared Disney would be gouging people. The coffees without alcohol (espresso, latte, cappuccino, frappuccino & mochaccino) are mostly $2.50, while those with alcohol are $4.75. I imagine we'll be in there for an alcoholic coffee at some point <g>!

We also stopped at Lumiere's to look at the menu for dinner tonight. Neither of us were thrilled with it, but since it's the first night we're going to show up in order to meet our table mates. Captain Hook came by to flirt with us, until some chick in a cm costume dragged him away to pose for pictures with kids. We've decided to skip the show --it's the welcome variety show, which isn't bad, but we're in a "been there, done that" kind of mood. The only real priority this trip is relaxing, so we may do a whole lot of nothing, and love every minute of it!

Back in the stateroom there was an envelope from DVC with a couple of lanyards and invitations to some events. We ate the chocolate covered strawberries - didn't want to risk them going bad <g>. Sheila took her shower while I updated the report and went back to the laundry to iron tonight's pants. I could easily go to bed now - it's so soothing being on the ship! I ended up not being able to iron my pants - some woman was in there ironing a stack of clothes, as slowly as you could possibly imagine! I went back and took my shower, then got dressed for the evening.

The lunar eclipse was beginning, and it was right ourside our porthole. We decided to go walk around on deck for a while, since there was still 1.5 hours until dinner. We did several laps on deck 4, checking the progress of the lunar eclipse each time we came around. Eventually we went up to deck 9, and went into Cove Café to each get a glass of wine - merlot for Sheila, la crema chardonnay for me. We took our wine back down to deck 4 and sat on one of the comfy cushioned deck chairs there until it was time to go to dinner.

Dinner our first night was at Lumiere's, the French restaurant. We were at a table for 8 next to the window, but only 1 other couple showed up for dinner. Dennis & Janet are an extremely young-looking couple celebrating their 35th wedding anniversary here on their very first cruise. They were both really nice, and we were glad we came to dinner. It would have been weird for them to be all alone at this big table. Our serving team was efficient and unobtrusive, and didn't lecture us about their expections for an "excellent" rating on the comment card!

For dinner Sheila got the fried camembert cheese, mixed garden salad, and beef tenderloin. I got the garden salad and a chicken breast. The salad was good - I ate part of it, but all of the 2 croutons with goat cheese - that was delicious. I also ate part of the chicken breast & part of a baked potato, but none of the mounds of steamed vegetables on the plate. For dessert we both got the white chocolate dome, which sounded much better than it really was. It had some sort of cake-like bottom, then a dab of chocolate with raspberry, all buried in whipped cream and then a shell of white chocolate over that. The chocolate/raspberry center was good, but the rest wasn't worth it - so neither of us finished that.

After dinner we browsed through the shops. I was mainly looking for a watch battery, since my watch died at 6:15 tonight. They don't sell them here, so hopefully I'll find one in Key West tomorrow. I ended up buying a cute new DCL metal license plate with a picture of the ship on it. It'll hang on the wall in my office with a couple other license plates. I also got a medallion Christmas ornament with the picture of the ship, and the cm said I could have the Captain autograph it on Thursday.

We went down to deck 3 to check out Beat Street, and just about gagged from the cigarette smell before we even got near the door to Rockin' Bar D. We won't be spending any time in there - no matter how appealing the cabaret show is. Instead of the Cadillac Lounge they have Sessions on this ship, but it smelled bad too. The new Diversions is a sports bar, and it smelled nice - but we most likely won't be sitting in front of a big-screen tv watching football any time this week <g>. I think Cove Café is the place for us - or Promenades if the entertainers don't suck. Those venues are both non-smoking.

Sheila headed back to the staterooom and I did a couple more laps on deck 4 before I headed down there as well. We haven't met our stateroom steward yet, as we left for dinner a little earlier than he probably expected. There wasn't any towel animal, but he did leave a couple of chocolates along with tomorrow's Navigator. Sheila read for a while and went to bed. I finished up the report and then read for a while.

It's great to be back on board the ship. Although HAL is still my favorite cruise line, the Disney ships are familiar and comfortable. The cabin is in excellent shape, the ship looks great (of course it's only been out of drydock 2 weeks now <g>), and we're both ready to relax for the next 7 days!

DAY 6 SUNDAY NOVEMBER 09, 2003

Who: Sue, DVC Member
Sheila, Frequent Travel Companion

Plan: Key West

Actual: I got up at 6:30 - having been awake off & on for a while before that. During the night we went through a thunder storm, so I heard some of that and saw the flashes of lightning. Someone had posted on DIS that this cabin was noisy, and it did have it's share of creaks & groans - nothing too disturbing, though. I'll take creaks and groans over kids screeching or people talking anyday!

I got cleaned up and dressed, and let Sheila know where I was going. She let me use her watch so I didn't have to carry the cabin clock with me <g>. After climbing the 7 decks (huff, puff) I got some cappuccino and then walked a mile on deck 4. At the start there was a pretty rainbow, but by the time I came around for the next lap the sun had risen enough that it was no longer visible. It's also pretty warm, and very humid!

At 7:30 I returned to the stateroom, where Sheila was up & dressed. We went to the spa up on deck 9 for the 7:45 Abs, Hips & Thighs class. Around 5-6 other people were there for the class, but Sheila didn't get to stay because she was wearing Tevas instead of sneakers. I don't think she was too upset at leaving, since the room was fairly warm. It was a great class - tough, but not a killer. Afterwards I went into the gym and used the free weights to do some upper body work, then went out and wandered aimlessly on deck 9. I ran into Sheila, and although she'd already eaten a light breakfast she offered to sit with me while I ate something.

She got a great table by the railing behind Topsiders and I got a plate of melon. It was delicious, and it was really nice outside. The ship is moving very slowly, so it's not very windy. It looks like the Carnival ship in port with us yesterday is following us. It was getting close to 9 so Sheila headed to her spa appointment, while I did another lap or two on deck 4, checked the Lumiere's brunch menu, and then returned to the stateroom. The wind & humidity ruined my hair almost instantly last night, so I took another shower to wash my hair again. Still no sign of the cabin steward - we've not met him and I have no idea what he even looks like.

Just before 10 I went upstairs to Diversions for the DVC Member Celebration, where Sheila joined me later. The room filled up with lots of DVC members - every seat was taken. I prefer the afternoon reception on the Eastern itinerary - I'd much rather have hors d'oeuvres and free wine than have coffee & pastries! I skipped the food and just got a seat. The Celebration was basically a party for DVC members, for DVC to say thanks for being members and for referring others. There wasn't any selling going on, and they didn't do the usual member update stuff. Everyone had a raffle ticket and they would call a number and ask that person a trivia question (the cm would give the person the answer) and then the person would get to pick out a prize. My number came up really late, so all that was left were t-shirts and a tote bag I already had. The shirts are all size XL - but it's so freakin' cold in the stateroom I might decide to wear it to bed! Either that, or it can be a sloppy-looking swimsuit coverup.

We dropped our loot (DVC baseball caps, luggage tags, shirt, and the points charts for the cruise rebooking incentive) in the stateroom - still no sign of our steward! This is a bit ridiculous. We went up to Lumiere's for brunch, as we sailed into Key West. Sheila got a ham & cheese omelet and I ordered the fruit plate. The fruit was pretty pitiful - very small portion and I didn't like the kiwi sauce they put all over it. I had a couple bites of Sheila's omelet and part of the fruit. We decided to share a dessert - a strawberry crepe! This was definitely the highlight of the meal - it was delicious, and definitely large enough to share. The waiter was behind me, about to take my plate away when I dipped my spoon into the chocolate sauce - he pulled his arm back and Sheila laughed and suggested he dare not take my chocolate or I was likely to stab his hand with my fork, lol!

After lunch we went out on deck 4. The ship was docked but hadn't been cleared yet. Unfortunately we didn't get the dock space right at Mallory Square like when I was on HAL years ago, so if we want to watch the Sunset Celebration we'll have to do it on shore. We went back to the stateroom to pack up what we wanted to bring ashore, and soon the announcement was made that we could leave the ship. We met our cabin steward at this point, and let him know we'd be leaving the cabin early each morning (7-8am), so he's going to start doing our cabin early. He'd assumed since we had late dinner that we were up late at night and slept in each morning, which makes sense.

It was hot & muggy when we got off the ship. We stopped first at a Little Switzerland (jewelry store) to see about a battery for my watch. They couldn't help me there but suggested I visit their other location, where the jeweler was working today. We found it easily and dropped the watch off. From there we walked along Duval Street to the very end and stopped at the tourist-tacky Southernmost Point of the USA. We took some pictures, and then began the long trek back. Getting the battery replaced was only $10, which seemed like a good deal to me.

Overall I was not at all impressed with Key West, and it's not a place I have any burning desire to return to. I'm sure I have an unfair picture based on the fact that 3 cruise ships had dumped their passengers into port today (including a mega-monstrosity from Carnival), but I don't see anything here that interests me. Everywhere we went people were standing on the sidewalks smoking, and it was disgusting walking through that. I was uncomfortable too with the people basically begging for money or sleeping on walls outside buildings. I know people who love Key West, but from what I saw on this visit, it's not for me.

We got back on the ship around 2:30 or so, glad to rest our weary feet! We snacked on some of the pastries in the stateroom, and I updated the report. We decided to head up on deck to sit & read for a while. Sheila got a bowl of ice cream and I later got a slice of pizza. The pizza here is good - tastes better than it looks. We read for a while, then I decided to go wander around some. I was starting to fall asleep laying there! When I got up to deck 10 it looked like HAL's (Holland America Line) Veendam was casting off her ropes, so I talked to a couple of people which watching that process. It's so cool how the ship slides out sideways from the dock, then travels backwards to deeper water to turn around. I hate seeing a HAL ship sail away, for some reason - guess I always want to be on board rather than left behind!

I did another mile on deck 4, then returned to the stateroom to relax a while. I called Chris and talked to him, then the cabin steward (Clefas) stopped by with our invitation to the Castaway Club reception Tuesday. Sheila got back shortly after 6 and mentioned the Carnival Glory had just left. Damn - I missed it! Looks like the Magic is the only ship that stays in port into the evening here at Key West.

Tonight is a casual night, and we're eating in Animator's Palate. The show tonight is Who Wants to be a Mouseketeer, which we knew each other preferred to skip without even asking. I absolutely can't stand that tv show, lol, and can only take so much of this version too. Plus, to me it's very bizarre to go to your show before dinner - I just can't get used to that!

We were dressed & ready by about 7, so we went to the Promenade Lounge for a glass of wine before dinner. The waiter was going to get the Moscato wine I like, but came back to say they were out of that wine ship-wide. Instead, he recommended a riesling kabinett that I sampled and liked. Sheila got the La Crema pinot noir. The lounge was fairly busy with people enjoying a quiet drink, when all of a sudden a group of families with about 6-7 hellions arrived. Their kids were elementary school age or younger, and were sliding across the dance floor in their socks, doing somersaults (with idiot mother clapping & encouraging them), being carried upside down by idiot dad, and generally rough-housing and making a racket. I was horrified, as were several others - based on the glares I saw coming from other tables. The parents didn't see anything wrong with the brats' behavior, and Disney didn't do or say anything either. The entertainer got on the stage and started playing - decent job on the piano, but he couldn't sing at all. It was difficult to enjoy him though, with the monsters slipping & sliding in front of his show! We finally couldn't stand it any more, and moved to a table behind a wall, as far away as possible. It's such a shame that lounge with pleasant adult entertainment was essentially ruined for that time period by those clueless breeders who let their kids run wild.

At 8:30 we went to dinner, and met 2 of the missing table mates from last night. Dana & David are a young couple from near Washington DC, on their first cruise. They're really nice, and we're happy with the entire table. Head Waiter PJ stopped by to introduce himself and give us our tickets to the character breakfast tomorrow (no way in hell, lol). It didn't sound like anyone from our table would be attending! PJ offered to take care of any special requests, and since there wasn't anything on our dessert menu that appealed I asked if he could get me a sugarfree chocolate mousse from Lumiere's instead - he said yes.

For dinner I had the gazpacho, which paled in comparison to the gazpacho at the Food & Wine Festival last week. For my meal I had an appetizer caesar salad and had them put a chopped chicken breast on top. It was plenty, and a better choice for me than any of the big entrees. Sheila got the duck & goat cheese flatbread and the maple glazed salmon entrée. Janet got the cannelloni, which looked good and was actually a decent sized portion (not too big) - I may get that next time. For dessert I had the mousse from Lumiere's and Sheila got the cheesecake. The cheesecake is delicious - the best thing on this menu, but it's too big for me and I know I'd stuff it down regardless! So, I avoided it. They did the light show in the restaurant tonight, followed by the servers parading around. As we were leaving our server came out with a birthday cake for me - oops! I told him my birthday was earlier in the week, and he said he'd do a cake again Friday. I'd rather he just skip it, since the cake's nothing special, but I didn't want to be rude or appear unappreciative.

After dinner we went up to deck 10 and watched the ship pull away from the dock, turn around, and sail away from Key West. We had just enough time to get to the Buena Vista Theater (movie) to see the 10:30 Cold Creek Manor. We sat in the back row, and were hysterical when we sat down. There is much less leg room in this row - I had extra space, but Sheila is not much taller than I am yet her knees were hitting the back of the seat in front of her. A couple guys further down the row were sitting sideways, and we all laughed watching other people come in, try to sit down, and then move to another row. It reminded me of a candid camera set-up <g>. The movie started, and by a little after 11 I'd had enough. I was tired, realized it wasn't a movie I would like, and didn't want to be there until 12:30 since we're going to the 7:15 exercise class. Sheila decided to leave also - she thought the movie was just too weird.

She went out on deck 4 briefly and I went back to the cabin. I finished up the report while she did some reading, and it was lights out by around midnight. Today was a fun day, despite less than ideal weather. We did a LOT of walking, and other exercise, did some relaxing, and enjoyed dinner with our table mates. I'll most likely be booking another 7-day cruise the Monday I get back - being on the ship makes me uncomfortable not having the next one booked, and Sheila's available so it looks like December 2004 we'll do the eastern itinerary again. I'll pack warm clothes for the ship's indoor areas next time - it's positively freezing here!

DAY 7 MONDAY NOVEMBER 10, 2003

Who: Sue, DVC Member
Sheila, Frequent Travel Companion

Plan: At Sea

Actual: I'd set the alarm for 6:30, knowing our Tone Zone class started at 7:15 up in the Vista Spa. I'm not sure I was sound asleep at that time, but the alarm definitely feel like it came way too early! I got up and started getting ready, so I'd be out of the way for Sheila to do the same. The sun came up but the clouds obscured most of the view - when I came out of the bathroom Sheila was sitting up in her bed watching the sunrise. A little after 7 we made the climb up to the Vista Spa for the class, in order to be sure to get in. It was a pretty big group today - I'd say at least a dozen people, which for this tiny spa is a lot!

The class was good - not too strenuous but we felt the muscles working. Afterwards Sheila got some lemon water in the spa (just water with lemon slices) while I worked out with the free weights for a short while. After that we went down to deck 4 and walked a mile, then returned to the stateroom to gather up our stuff for the day & change into swimsuits.

We set up our chairs on deck 10 forward by the adult pool. It was pretty cloudy, but eventually the sun took over. We had a fairly big breakfast at Topsiders and were up at our chairs by shortly after 9. We alternated between sitting in the pool and relaxing/reading on our lounge chairs. We met a really nice couple from Michigan and ended up talking dvc with them before he went off to the DVC presentation. Eventually Sheila moved into the shade, and a little later I did the same. I got a small ice cream cone and then around 1:45 returned to the stateroom to take a shower and rinse out my swimsuit. She returned shortly after 2 with a plate of chocolate chip cookies, and got cleaned up for our 2:30 wine tasting.

Disney has a wine tasting activity today, also at 2:30, but our is an informal gathering of people from the DIS board. We agreed to bring wine and meet on deck 7 aft, which is a small deck most passengers don't know about. We had about 12 people, and 12 bottles of wine! David hosted the event, and we tried each wine as a group as David or the person who brought it explained the history of the wine. David also was very knowledgeable about wine in general - it was actually educational as well as fun. By the time we finished though, we were staggering <g> after 2 straight hours of drinking wine!

Sheila went down to the stateroom to sleep hers off, while I decided to walk around deck 4 to walk mine off! I kept stumbling and tripping walking on the marble flooring - thank goodness nobody was around to see me! I did a mile out on deck 4, then returned to the stateroom to get my book and go sit up in the shade to do some reading. I came back around 5:15 and washed my hair & got dressed for the evening. Palo serves my favorite wine - I hope I can manage to drink a glass without my face falling into my plate tonight!

We headed up to Palo shortly before 6 and were seated right away. This is such a lovely restaurant, and the service and food is always excellent. Our table was by the window and we had a view of the sky changing color for about 20 minutes or so before it got dark. For an appetizer we both got the buffalo mozzarella and tomato thing, which was excellent. I'd asked about my Moscato wine, but they confirmed the entire ship is out of it so I stuck with water. For my entrée I got the filet mignon with port wine reduction and gorgonzola cheese sauce. It was delicious, but huge. I doubt I ate half of it, but it was plenty. The presentation was terrific, too. Sheila got the chicken stuffed with shrimp scampi, and our server also brought us the special pasta of the day - penne pasta with chicken & sun dried tomatoes in a blue cheese crème sauce. Everything was great! For dessert I had the chocolate hazelnut souffle with chocolate and vanilla bean sauces, Sheila got the cappuccino cheesecake, and I also asked him to bring the pistachio tart with berry compote - to which he added a scoop of pistachio gelato. We didn't finish anything but had more than enough to eat! The pistachio thing was really good - a light, flaky crust and inside was a layer of pistachio topped with a layer of berries. All in all it was a wonderful meal - definitely the best food on the ship.

After dinner we checked out the cocktail party but the free drinks were mai tais or Shirley Temples. Wine wasn't an option, so we skipped the drink. We watched people lining up for portraits with the characters in formal wear, and were dismayed at the number of slobs who were wearing shorts or jeans despite all the documentation asking them not to. Of course, it's Disney's fault for allowing it. Most people looked really nice, and the little kids in tuxedos or suits were adorable. The under-dressed crowd did detract from the overall atmosphere.

We went to the 8:30 show in the Walt Disney Theater. For the first time, Disney has brought a show on the ship that is not a Disney show - and it sounds like it's very recent (maybe this is the first cruise???). It's Siegfried and Roy present Darren Romeo, the voice of Magic. We didn't know what to expect, but it ended up being fabulous! Darren Romeo is this cute young guy with a great singing voice who also does terrific theatrical magic tricks. He seems very personable, and one section of the show was a montage of impressions of a wide variety of singers - usually parodying the words to their song. His black leather pants and little black tank top were the perfect costume for him, too <g>. He got a standing ovation when the show ended, which was definitely well deserved. They had him set up for an autograph session shortly after the show, but we didn't stick around for that.

We went back to the stateroom and found a towel elephant waiting for us. Neither of us wanted to put up with the smoke in Rockin' Bar D, so although the cabaret show is no doubt very good, we'll skip it. It's a shame they allow smoking in the bars where there are shows - I can see designating a bar for smokers to smoke and listen to music, because there's also one set aside for non-smokers. It's times like this the Carnival Paradise starts to look good, lol --but I want to stick with HAL and Disney. We decided to make it an early night, and just did some reading the stateroom.

It's been a glorious day - nice weather, very relaxing, nice people all around. This is what cruising is all about!

DAY 8 TUESDAY NOVEMBER 11, 2003

Who: Sue, DVC Member
Sheila, Frequent Travel Companion

Plan: Grand Cayman

Actual: I was up early again (6:20), with Sheila up shortly after that. We'd anchored at Grand Cayman by 6:45 and it looked to be another gorgeous day. Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Sea came in after we got here. We got dressed and headed up to deck 4 to walk 6 laps (2 miles) for a while before our 8am Hollywood Arms & Abs class. There were only 6 of us in class today, which was to be expected since we're already in port. The class was pretty easy compared to the others - I would have liked for it to be longer to get more work done.

After class we went to Topsiders and had breakfast out on deck. There are 6 cruise ships in port today, so it should be VERY crowded in Grand Cayman! We've got an Oceana ship, Carnival Inspiration, NCL, Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas, Celebrity and us. We changed into our swimsuits and got our beach bags packed, then headed up to get tender tickets about 9:30. I was pleased to find no wait/delay at all. We got our passes and immediately boarded the tender. The tenders hold quite a few people, and soon we were on our way to Grand Cayman.

With 6 ships in port the island was a total zoo. People were shoulder to shoulder, and it was just nuts. At the end of the pier a guy was asking who wanted to go to Seven Mile Beach, so we and a family from NJ took his taxi (mini van) for the hair-raising ride to the beach. They drive on the other side of the road here, and just like on most of the islands the roads are narrow and the drivers are wild. I don't think I'd ever rent a car here. He dropped us off at the Hyatt, and instructed us on how to walk to their beach and turn right - which put us on a condo's beach but nobody bothered us. The fare was only $3/person each way, which was about as cheap a beach day as you can ever hope for!

We spread out our towels - Sheila in the shade, I started in the sun. The water was gorgeous and the beach was clean & uncrowded. We'd arranged with the driver to come back for all of us at 12:30, so we had just about 2.5 hours to relax. He was right on time waiting for us when we returned, and took us back to the cruise ship docks. Our dock had a huge mass of people standing in a very disorganized line, and we overheard someone saying it was a 45-minute wait from where she was. It turned out to be the line for the tender back to NCL's ship. It was horrible - poor people standing in the hot sun waiting up to an hour or more for a damn ride back to their ship - what an awful way to spend your vacation.

We wandered around a little bit, but it was too crowded and we decided to just head back to the ship. We found a couple of pirate statues and posed for touristy pictures --one of them was Big Black Dick, which we giggled over <g>. The duty free liquor place (Tortuga) doesn't deliver to the Magic, and since they have to deliver what they sell, we weren't able to buy anything. I'm not sure why, and don't really care - we just thought it was odd.

We walked back to the pier and bypassed all those poor NCL souls (why anyone would cruise NCL is beyond me - this is just further proof I won't be repeating a cruise with them) and walked right onto our waiting tender for the ride back to our ship. Aaaah - that's how it's supposed to be! We stopped at the stateroom for a minute, then I updated the report while Sheila went up to walk around on deck 4. I headed up there when I finished on the computer.

I walked a mile on deck 4, then walked around up on deck 10 taking some pictures. At scoops I got some peanut m&m's without any ice cream and then got a magazine from the stateroom and sat in the shade on deck 4 to read. At 3 I returned to the stateroom hoping to catch General Hospital, but they didn't have ABC operating. I worked out, then met up with Sheila back at the stateroom. We decided to shower & get cleaned up before the Castaway Club reception rather than afterwards, since we were so grungy. The show tonight is Hercules, and neither of us are interested in attending again.

Around 4:45 we went up on deck to watch our ship sail away from Grand Cayman. There were only 2 other ships with us at this point - the others left without our realizing it. We left at 5, setting sail for Cozumel. At 5:15 we went downstairs to Beat Street and joined the Castaway Club reception. This cruise there were almost 900 repeat cruisers on board, so they set receptions up in Rockin' Bar D and Sessions. We grabbed a table and asked the waiter for wine instead of the drinks they were serving - he brought us each a glass of white wine. I got a plate of hors d'oeuvres for us to share - coconut shrimp for Sheila and eggrolls and wantons for the both of us. It was all good, and hit the spot since I hadn't really eaten since breakfast. In no time at all the wine had gone to our heads, so we did the responsible thing and flagged down another waiter to get a 2nd glass before the reception ended <g>. Hey, free wine is not something to pass up on a cruise!

We were among the last to leave, and went to sit upstairs on deck 4 inside with our wine. We watched people walk by, talked to the cruise booker, talked briefly to the dvc person, and chatted away the next hour or so. After early dinner let out, the area became really hectic - way too many people, characters & kids - so we left! We went up to deck 9 to get some ice to chill our wine (classy broads always put ice cubes in their wine <g>) and then sat in Cove Café until it was time for dinner. I really like this venue - too bad we're eating dinner at night, as this would be a great place to sit & have an alcoholic (high-calorie) coffee drink in lieu of a real dinner.

At 8:30 we went to our dinner at Lumiere's - tonight is the Small World menu. Our table mates are great, and we're enjoying their company at dinner. I ordered the quesadilla appetizer, which was ok but not great. It was larger than I expected, so I barely ate half of it. Sheila got the scallops appetizer, which she said was very good. I also had the chilled cucumber soup, which was somewhat bland but good. Sheila had the chicken fettucini alfredo, which was very good but a huge portion. I skipped the entrée and had an appetizer greek salad, which was also very good. One of our tablemates had the prime rib, and declared it the best prime rib ever. For dessert Sheila got the rather ordinary chocolate torte, and ate the top layer. I got the sugar free strawberry shortcake because nothing appealed to me. The apple pie was the most popular item at our table, but I knew the portion was way to big so I didn't order it. After we ate our desserts our serving team and PJ (head waiter) came over and brought me a birthday cake, getting everyone to sing to me. PJ is such a trip - very nice guy, but absolutely flaming - which makes him a lot of fun! He kissed me - figures it's the gay guy, but what the heck! The cake got wrapped up in a big aluminum foil swan and brought back to the stateroom for some other time (or it may end up in the trash, with all the other food available).

We went back to the stateroom after dinner and I updated the report while Sheila read tomorrow's Navigator. She was laughing at me on the way to the stateroom, saying she couldn't believe after all these cruises (this is my 6th on Disney) I still can't figure out the difference between forward and aft. I'm constantly headed in the wrong direction, until I hear Sheila say something. For some reason I get turned around easily on these ships!

We headed upstairs for the 10:30 showing of Under the Tuscan Sun, careful not to select the back row this time! The movie looked really good - I enjoyed what I saw of it, but kept nodding off. Finally about an hour into the movie I just went back to the stateroom to go to bed. I enjoyed what I saw of the movie, but was exhausted. Tonight we turn our clocks back an hour, then tomorrow night we turn them forward again. So, we get an extra hour of sleep tonight and lose an hour tomorrow night.

Today was another wonderful day. Spending a couple of hours at Seven Mile Beach was fun, and worth doing once. I think next time I'll just stay on the ship, though - it's easier and just as relaxing. Grand Cayman is cleaner and not as poor as many of the islands, but since I'm not a snorkeler or diver, there really isn't anything I need to see or do on the island. I'm here to enjoy the ship, and to enjoy cruising, so not being nuts about Grand Cayman or Key West isn't a problem at all and doesn't take away from my enjoyment of this cruise. The only thing I really don't like is the cruise is over half finished at this point - we're going to hate leaving on Saturday!

DAY 9 WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 12, 2003

Who: Sue, DVC Member
Sheila, Frequent Travel Companion

Plan: Cozumel, Mini-golf tournament

Actual: With the time change, the sun was shining brightly through the window before 6am. I woke up, expecting it to be much later, but it was barely after 6. Eventually I looked over at Sheila's side of the cabin, and she was sitting up awake in her bed, too - so we decided to start the day!

We got cleaned up & dressed, then did 2 miles on deck 4. The fitness class today was a "stretch and relax", and I go to classes to work, not relax. I can relax in bed or on a lounge chair, lol! The ship was rolling quite a bit this morning - I noticed it when I woke up and my bed was rolling from side to side. I enjoy the movement though - makes me feel like I'm on a cruise ship! Walking was a challenge - we looked drunk, but it was just the ship moving beneath our feet. After walking we headed to Topsider's for breakfast, knowing we weren't going to eat a regular lunch. I'm not sure I'll last today, since I had a small pancake and thing of yogurt, which doesn't stick with you as long as a bacon/egg meal. There are always food options available if I'm hungry when Sheila isn't though.

After breakfast we walked around on decks 9 & 10, looking for land. We could see some way off in the distance, but it seemed strange the ship was moving so slowly when we had so much ground to cover by all ashore time. Our arrival time is 10 am, but there are people on excursions getting off starting at 9:40 - not sure how they'll do that (hold your nose and jump from deck 4??). We returned to the stateroom to drop off the orange juice we'd taken from Topsiders - to be used for mimosas later in the cruise when we open the bottle of champagne.

I changed into shore clothes, packed up the bag I planned to bring with me (mostly to tote back whatever I buy), then headed up to deck 4. Docking was amazingly smooth - even when the ship hits the bumpers you cannot feel it. We're next to Royal Caribbean's Enchantment of the Seas, the NCL ship is in the 3rd spot, and Celebrity Century is anchored out in the water and will have to tender their passengers in. There are also 5 more ships down at the other dock, 3 miles outside of town. Those passengers will have to take a cab to get down here to the shopping. No HAL ships are in port today - but I think 3 from Carnival.

We walked across the street and began the trek up the street past all of the shops. We only went into the big ones, and skipped the small ones. Neither of us like having shopkeepers standing in the doorway trying to lure you inside. One man in a busy marketplace actually came over and touched me, which surprised me. He jumped right back where he came from, almost as soon as he did it. We mostly browsed our way up the street, going as far as Cinco del Sol, the started the real shopping. My arms hurt from carrying my bag! I got a big bottle of kahlua for Tim, Christmas ornaments for people at work, coffee for someone at work, some peanut & almond candy for people, a pretty fish for my desk, and a shirt for Chris.

We decided to skip the mini-golf thing. Partly we thought it would be too hot, and partly we thought we were running out of time and we had no idea where it was, anyway! No way was a lugging my heavy bag of stuff while golfing, so we agreed to miss it. We were going to go to Carlos & Charlie's, since it's an institution here in Cozumel. The guy tried to seat us - at a table already occupied with a smoker and her husband. It's so popular they seat every seat, and it doesn't matter if it's 2 unrelated parties or not. That wouldn't have been a problem, but no way in hell are we sitting indoors with a smoking smoker. Plus, the music was blaring - it's a real party place, but a bit more than we had in mind. We ended up leaving, figuring the idea of drinking there is definitely more fun than the reality!

We found a nice new shopping area right by the ship and wandered through there before returning to board the Magic. After dropping our stuff in the cabin we decided to get coffee drinks up at Cove Café. We climbed the 7 flights of stairs, and found it's not open! Ugh - we later checked the Navigator and evidently because we're in port it's not open until this evening. Oh well, we had to make do with the champagne and orange juice. Of course, neither of us knows how to make a mimosa, so we ended up with 2 very different drinks. I took the one that was more champagne, and Sheila took the one that was more orange juice. Neither are very good, lol! We'll have to get a shot of raspberry liqueur later. We used a knife to cut the cork down some in order to recork the bottle and put it back in the fridge.

We took our mimosas up on deck 4 and did some reading. It's so fabulous lounging around on a beautiful cruise ship, surrounded by other cruise ships - this is the life! When my mimosa was gone I got up and walked a mile, then returned the glasses to the stateroom. I went up to the spa to use the free weights, then put a load of laundry in to wash and did a short workout during that time. The machines here are small, but they tell you exactly how many minutes are left until your load is done, which is a nice feature. The laundromat is so busy, I didn't want to be rude by having my clothes finished but still occupying a washer or dryer. Speaking of rude - what is up with people taking pool towels back to their staterooms and then tossing them out into the hall when finished??? I swear, we're floating with a ship full of pigs or something sometimes - either leave the damn towel with the others in your cabin for the steward to take care of, or haul your lazy butt back up to deck 9 and return it yourself! Sheesh!

I finished up my laundry, after a short wait for a dryer. I passed the time talking to a guy about what we each did in Cozumel, so it wasn't too bad. Sheila & I started our showers and got dressed for the evening. Tonight is MEXICALifragilisticexpialidocious night, with the same menu in every dining room and a deck party later on. The show tonight is the movie Brother Bear - neither of us are interested in sitting through a cartoon with a theater full of kids. We need more entertainment like the Darren Romeo, or anything not geared towards a 5-year old. We didn't bring any Mexican clothing to wear, but will probably see quite a bit tonight. We passed a little girl earlier who had a beautiful dress she must have gotten on Cozumel today - very pretty.

We headed upstairs to Sessions (same location as Cadillac Lounge on the Wonder) since it's adult-only all of the time. We figured if any bar had chambourd, this would be it since they specialize in cognac and champagne drinks. The bartender was very nice, and explained how to make a kir royale. We bought 2 shots of chambourd, which should last for the bottle of champagne. We mixed up a couple in the cabin, and they turned out excellent! We brought them back up to Sessions and sat at a table by the window. They've got these cool headphone things like in Virgin Megastore, where you can listen to any cd you want. They've got 76 cd's loaded in there, representing all types of music. I saw the same thing in Cove Café - pretty nice. One of the piano players started work, and he was pretty good - definitely not a Carol Stein, but ok as background music.

When we finished our drinks I swapped the dirty champagne glasses for clean ones and ran them down to the stateroom. We still had about 20 minutes to kill before dinner, so Sheila stayed & waited for me up in Sessions until I returned. When it was time we headed up a deck to Animator's Plate for our 8:30 dinner.

Tonight we were joined by 2 people who missed their dinner. Kim & Millie were a mother/daughter (adults) who were on the ruins tour with our tablemates Dennis & Janet. Our other couple wasn't feeling well and left before dinner was brought out, but the 6 of us remaining had a really nice time. They had sangria on the menu tonight, so of course I ordered a glass - it was delicious! I had the cheese arepas appetizer, and really liked them. It's cornmeal and cheese, with just a tiny bit of spiciness. Sheila got the crab & lobster fritters, followed by the taco salad. She said the fritters didn't have enough crab & lobster in them, and the taco salad was spicy but good. For an entrée she got the grilled sirloin steak, which was kind of tough and nothing special. I couldn't handle an entrée again tonight, so I had the appetizer caesar salad with chicken on top - pretty boring choice on my part! For dessert we both got the white chocolate cheesecake on hazelnut crust. It was a little round thing - not as heavy as regular cheesecake, but still plenty filling! It was very good.

After dinner it was 10:15 so we went out on deck 4 and watched the last stragglers board the ship, then watched us cast off from Cozumel at 11. It was a gorgeous night out there - nice breeze, pretty lights, etc. We were the only ship that stayed into the evening, which I thought was strange.

We headed back to the stateroom to turn the clock forward an hour, reversing what we did last night (what was the point in that for 1 day??). I finished up the report and then did a little reading while Sheila watched the news on tv.

Today was another terrific day. Skipping mini-golf was the right decision for us - if it had been scheduled for first thing when we arrived we would have been more likely to do it. Hopefully the people who showed up had a great time! I always enjoy shopping in Cozumel for some reason, even though I hate people accosting me on the street like they do here. Having 9 cruise ships in port on the same day is WAY too much - that's just plain ridiculous! We're lucky we had one of the 3 good spots, otherwise we'd have been tendering in or taking a cab to get to the shops. We also improved our minds today with the lesson on how to make kir royales <g> - a skill that will certainly come in handy!

DAY 10 THURSDAY NOVEMBER 13, 2003

Who: Sue, DVC Member
Sheila, Frequent Travel Companion

Plan: At Sea

Actual: Today is our final sea day, and we had lots of relaxing to fit in (tough life, huh). I was up around 7 and got dressed to do some walking. Sheila was awake when I left, so I let her know where I was going and she met me later. Since I'm planning to walk the Disney half marathon in 2005 and you need to average 15 minute-miles in order to finish in time to get a medal, I wanted to see what my normal time was. I brought a clock and timed the first mile - between 16 & 16.5 minutes. That was disappointing, but the wind is very strong today and on one side of the ship I'm walking straight into it. Hopefully I'll get a better time tomorrow when the ship is standing still.

Sheila met me as I finished the 4th lap, and we decided to walk at her normal pace and time her mile. It was 18 minutes with the wind. After we finished her mile we went back to the stateroom and changed into our swimsuits, then went up to deck 10 to set up our lounge chairs. Holy cow - it was so windy it was hard to walk up here! We dragged a couple of chairs behind a wall, but that wasn't enough to really provide shelter. We dropped our stuff on the chairs and went to have breakfast, figuring we'd deal with it later.

Breakfast was at Topsider's - it's so nice eating outside on the deck, along the railing. I can't imagine eating inside a restaurant when this is available. They had french toast again today so I got some of that and my usual apple sliced & spread with peanut butter. While we were eating I thought of the hidden deck on deck 7 aft, and we decided to try that instead.

We went back to deck 10 to retrieve our stuff and return the lounge chairs to their proper place, then went down to 7. It was windy here, but nowhere near as bad as up on decks 9 or 10. We lounged on our chairs, dozed a little, did lots of reading, and ended up spending 4 hours out there. I was shocked when a mother and 2 young girls came out and each kid threw an empty gatorade bottle overboard. I think they'd put a note in it or something - romantic thought, but it's littering and shouldn't be done! Guess the "don't throw anything overboard" rule doesn't apply to everyone, sadly. We had other people come out to use the deck from time to time, but they were all really quiet and just enjoyed the solitude out there.

Around 1:30 we went up to deck 9, where I got a slice of cheese pizza and Sheila got a plate of french fries. I also got us a small german chocolate thing that we shared. The lunch was a seafood buffet, with lots of big shrimp, crab legs, and other stuff I know Sheila likes, but I don't think she wanted that much to eat. When we finished we escaped the bedlam on deck 9 and headed down to find chairs on deck 4. Once we had those, I ran back to the stateroom to update the report, then returned to join Sheila. We sat there reading and watching the people passing by.

We moved to the less windy side, but were continuously sprayed with salt water from the waves. We lasted perhaps an hour, and went back to the stateroom around 3. Between the wind and the salt spray our hair was pretty much standing on end, and feeling really gross! While Sheila showered I walked up to deck 9 to replenish our little peanut m&m bowl. The line at scoops was huge, and when I finally got up there I saw the m&m's were almost gone, so I made the trip for about 10 pieces of candy, lol! Oh well - perhaps it's a sign I don't need to be eating them! On the way up and back I noticed how busy the ship was - lots of people were out & about (fully dressed - not swimsuits), and the hordes of children were everywhere. They were sliding down the railings on the staircases, climbing poles on deck 9, jumping down the stairs, running wild darting between people. Sadly, while some of these children were unsupervised, in several cases the idiot parents stood there watching their behavior but not correcting them. I wonder if these same parents would be the first to sue Disney when their little darling falls of the railing she's sliding down.

I got back to the stateroom just as Sheila had put on some warm clothes. With the wind it actually feels a little cool. She went up to deck 4 to browse through the shops, while I went in and took my shower. We watched Legally Blonde 2 on the tv - cute movie. Around 5 I went upstairs to deck 9 and brought back a cappuccino for me and hot chocolate for Sheila. We both needed something warm, and I was surprised how cool it felt up there! With a little of the birthday cake the warm drinks hit the spot.

Around 6:30 we started getting dressed for dinner - tonight is semi-formal, which we're treating the same as formal night. It's the Captain's Gala Dinner, served in all 3 restaurants. We'll be in Parrot Cay - our first time, since we were in Palo last time we were scheduled here. Our tablemate Janet has been asking about the warm chocolate lava cake since the first night, so she'll finally get to experience it tonight. Dennis has been looking forward to lobster (Sheila too), so he'll have that tonight.

We mixed up a couple of kir royales and took them up to Promenade Lounge since it's the only non-smoking lounge. The champagne is holding up very well with our makeshift cork in the bottle, and we've got enough for tomorrow night as well. As we were ready to go I noticed a run up the back of my pantyhose - yikes!! I think the rough tile floor in the bathroom must have snagged it, and since I'm wearing all black tonight they had to come off! Luckily I had another pair, so it worked out fine. I'm wearing the same dress I wore to Palo, but with different jewelry. It's simple, skintight, and probably not memorable as having been worn before unless you're a lesbian from Ft Lauderdale <g>. Sheila wore a sparkly dark blue dress - very pretty.

The Promenade Lounge was quite busy - it seems many guests prefer a non-smoking venue to enjoy a drink before or after dinner. We chatted with one of the servers (Petra) until it got too busy for her to hang out with us. The entertainment started at 7:30 - a singing duo who were pretty awful the other night but tonight they did a nice job. They even got a guy from the audience up on stage to play the electric guitar with them, and he did really well. They played a lot of songs from the 60's, and several people got up and danced. Overall it was a nice way to spend an hour or so before dinner. We also had a great view of the people passing by, and it was fun seeing that most people were dressed nicely.

We headed to Parrot Cay at 8:30, and joined our table mates. There's not much on this menu other than chocolate lava cake that appeals to me, but I ordered the fruit cocktail appetizer and grain fed chicken breast entrée. The fruit was weird stuff - pineapple, mango & something else I don't really eat. The chicken breast was delicious, and appeared to be from the Dolly Parton Chicken Farm - it was huge! Even though I ate more tonight than other nights, there was a lot left and for the first time our server thought I didn't like it. He wanted to bring me something else, but I was definitely not hungry! Sheila got the shrimp appetizer, and lobster tail entrée. The lobster was great, especially since they take it out of the shell for people. Dessert was warm chocolate lava cake - what can I say, this thing is an orgasm on a plate! I think it's better than the souffle at Palo, but unfortunately it's only available on the 7-night cruises. Definitely don't miss it if you like chocolate at all.

After dinner our server Pirom talked to us for a while, giving us some behind the scenes information about the ship and how thing are run in the kitchen. He was very interesting - it's amazingly efficient on any cruise ship, and Disney is no exception. We left eventually, and went back to the stateroom to find a monkey wearing my sunglasses, hanging from the divider between the bed area and sofa area - very cute!

The gala dessert buffet (chocolate) starts at 11:15 tonight, but neither of us are interested in eating anything so soon after chocolate lava cake <g>. I thought about going up myself just to take pictures of it, but the thought of getting changed & crawling into bed sounded more appealing! Today was another wonderful day - cruising is so terrific! Even with the high winds and skipping most of the activities (or perhaps BECAUSE of skipping most of the activities) it was a really nice relaxing day - just what a vacation should be. Tomorrow is our last full day, and we'll be at Castaway Cay.

DAY 11 FRIDAY NOVEMBER 14, 2003

Who: Sue, DVC Member
Sheila, Frequent Travel Companion

Plan: Castaway Cay

Actual: I got up around 6:30 and headed out to get cappuccino and try to do some walking while Sheila was getting ready. Up on deck 9 it was very windy - the awnings next to the Goofy pool were making a lot of noise flapping in the wind. According to the tv, today's winds are higher than yesterday's (gale force). I tried deck 4, but one entire side was getting wet with a steady mist of sea water, so I didn't last very long there. Sheila was almost finished getting ready when I returned to the stateroom so we hung out watching the weather information on the tv until it was time to head to the Vista Spa for the 7:45 Tone Zone class.

The class was very good - then we stopped in the gym briefly so I could use the free weights. The class did a lot of upper body stuff today, so I didn't do much with the weights. We went down to the stateroom and changed into our swimsuits, packed our beach bags, and headed up to deck 9 for breakfast at Topsider's. We were docking at Castaway Cay, and from the stateroom watched us pull into the dock.

Breakfast was busier and noiser than normal, which was expected. It's been nice all week, but if it had been like today I think we would have done room service instead! When we finished eating they announced the ship had been cleared, so we went ashore. Unlike September, the weather was absolutely perfect today - bright blue sky and no threatening clouds. A brisk breeze kept it from getting too hot, also. We walked to the far end of the family beach and grabbed a couple of chairs and an umbrella there. It was nice in the beginning, but once more people came it wasn't very relaxing. We were amazed at the number of nasty people in foul moods - bitching at their spouses, telling their children "I'm sick of you", and even one lovely mother who pulled her sissy crying son aside while telling him "remember, you can't trust your father". Seems dad had splashed some water or sand near the boy and that got him crying like a baby (he was around 8 - didn't appear disabled, but surely will be beaten up by bullies on a regular basis if this keeps up). Serenity Bay (adult beach) probably would have been more peaceful, but we were already set up here and didn't want to move.

At the Head's Up Bar someone got married. It was so funny to be on the beach and hear the bridal march being played, lol! We didn't go over to see the wedding, since it's none of our business - but hopefully the couple had a nice ceremony.

Around 12:30 we packed up our stuff and went to Cookie's BBQ for lunch. I got a couple of ribs but one was too fatty to eat and the other only had a few bites of meat - not good at all. I ate a little potato salad (I liked it better than Sheila did), and one of their delicious and huge chocolate chunk cookies. Sheila had a hotdog and cookie - neither of us wanted to eat too much, but at the same time those cookies can't be passed up!

We stopped in the shop on the island and bought a couple of things, talked to our tablemates Dennis & Janet, and then walked back to the ship. I went up to deck 4 to see how long my mile walk takes without the wind, but it was still 16 minutes. Sheila came up to read on deck 4, so after my mile I sat with her and finished my book. I don't have time to read at home, so I was glad to finish all 3 books this trip. Shortly before 3 I went down to the stateroom and began packing while watching General Hospital.

Mickey & Minnie and Chip & Dale were right outside our window, posing for pictures with guests on the dock. Sheila came back around 3:30, saying it had gotten chilly in the shade up on deck. After GH I took my shower before continuing to pack stuff up. At 5:00 the ship was ready to sail away for the last time, so we went up to deck 4 to watch us cast off and begin the sad journey back to Florida.

It was really chilly up on deck - we were wishing we'd brought sweatshirts to wear, and will remember them for December 2004! We watched the sunset from inside where it was warmer, figuring if it got colorful I'd run outside to take a photo. It ended up being a very bland sunset, though - not photo worthy. We stopped by the Promenade Lounge and picked up a couple of empty champagne glasses from Petra, and promised to come back a little later to visit with her. We'll wait until after 6, when the first seating people will have cleared out to go to dinner.

Back in the stateroom we finished getting ready for the evening, and made kir royals with the last of the chambourd and champagne. There was barely enough for a half-size glass for each of us, but I figured I could get something else later. It's been great having the champagne and chambourd here in the stateroom. We filled out the guest comment card, and then went upstairs to the Promenade Lounge. We talked to Petra when she had time - she reminds me of my friend Nancy, except with a British accent. The lounge was very busy again tonight, and everyone was enjoying themselves. It was a nice evening.

At 8:30 we went into Lumiere's for our final dinner. Tonight was the "Best of" menu, which is also served on the last night of the 4-night cruises on the Wonder. I got the chicken tenderloin appetizer, which is wonderful! I'd like this as my meal - maybe next time. Sheila got the crawfish & lobster bisque, which she said was good. We all got the filet mignon and lasagna roll entrée. The lasagna was very small, but plenty considering all the rest of the food - and it tasted very good. The filet was also good, but I'm not much of a beef eater. Kim & Willie from the other night came and joined us for coffee, since we have 2 empty seats at our table - it was nice seeing them again. For dessert Sheila got the deep dish apple-cranberry pie, which she said was very good. I got the chocolate decadence, which was just ok - not worth the calories. We said goodbye our tablemates and after a quick browse through the shops we headed back to the stateroom to get the luggage put out. We thought about one last walk around the deck, but it was too windy and we didn't feel like getting sprayed with sea water again.

It's hard to believe the cruise is just about over. Today was a great day - everyone we talked to loved the day at Castaway Cay, which is pretty typical. It's a shame Patty wasn't here this cruise, as the weather was absolutely perfect this time. Tomorrow we'll get off the ship, and after a stop at the Food & Wine Festival in Epcot I'll be driving home.

DAY 12 SATURDAY NOVEMBER 15, 2003

Who: Sue, DVC Member
Sheila, Frequent Travel Companion

Plan: Leave Magic, Food & Wine Festival, Drive home

Actual: As is typical on the final morning of the cruise, I woke up early. It was actually 5:15 and we were already docked at Port Canaveral. There's not much to do at that hour, so I slept off and on until getting up around 6:30 or so. I went up to make my cappuccino and agreed to meet Sheila on deck 4. The Zaandam was just getting back into port, so I watched her back into her slip. A dolphin was leading the way, popping out of the water repeatedly.

We'd decided to skip breakfast in the Lumiere's in favor of grabbing a little something at Topsider. The restaurants are just too crowded on the last morning, especially since people have some of their luggage with them. It's not worth the hassle to end the cruise with such an unpleasant experience! We headed up to Topsider about 7:30 and I got a ½ bagel for breakfast. Sheila had a few of the banana mini-loaf things from Cookies BBQ yesterday, so she was all set. We sat out on deck and had a quiet breakfast, then about 8am we strolled off the ship with no wait, saw our luggage sitting there and rolled it out to the car. It couldn't have taken more than 5 minutes to exit, retrieve the luggage, and exit the building. Quite a change from my earlier Disney cruises where I was stuck in a mob of people inching my way to the terminal, searching through hundreds of bags for my luggage, and then standing in line to get through customs again!

We were on the road by 8:15, and arrived at WDW by 9:15. We laughed when we saw my mylar birthday baloon was still inflated and still floating in Sheila's car! It's 11 days old now! Sheila decided to make a stop at Downtown Disney and head home, while I decided I might as well stick around for 1 last opportunity at Food & Wine. I walked from the Swan to Epcot, and since World Showcase wasn't open yet I went to Future World. I walked right onto the Living with the Land ride, then did Spaceship Earth and Test Track. It seems ironic that I did more in the parks this morning than I did the 4 days preceding the cruise, lol!

After Test Track it was just past 11, so I headed towards France for one of those great goat cheese & tomato tarts. It was delicious, but I think a week of cruise-ship eating left me filled up, as it was a challenge to finish the darn thing. I also tried the Sparr Alsace One wine, which was very good. I don't normally like French wine, but this was sweet enough that I'd actually order it again next year. I sat on a quiet shady bench to enjoy the food & wine, and when finished headed back towards Canada and the Spain booth. There I bought a couple of bottles of the sangria, since I never did find it locally last year. At the cognac stand I got one last piece of the flourless chocolate lava cake - yummy! That concluded Food & Wine for me for 2003, but I'm looking forward to 2004 already! I walked back to the Swan and made the 3-hour drive home with no problems.

SUMMARY

It was a wonderful trip, and a great cruise! Except for some hot/humid/cloudy weather in Key West early in the week, the other days were pretty close to perfect! We really enjoyed relaxing and not running to see the shows or take part in other scheduled events, and didn't feel like we were missing a thing. We got lucky this time with our dinner companions - they made the evening meal something to look forward to, which is how it's supposed to be on a cruise. You just never know until you get there, though <g>. I think we did a pretty good job avoiding kids where possible. We did run across a few who were in monster-mode, and not surprisingly we ran across several parents who made us realize why the monster kids were out of control <g>. For the most part though, the majority of the kids and other adults on board were very nice - having fun, but not behaving badly or out of line. We enjoyed watching the boys in their tuxedos and suits on formal nights, and the little girls with their hair braided and pretty dresses. Some of them were just adorable! I still wouldn't cruise with one, though - not unless they were at least 10-12 years old, but that's my choice. Although I don't consider Disney the top cruise line in the industry, it's clearly the best choice for people who DO cruise with their young kids. Thank goodness they also do a good job providing a nice vacation for those of us who choose to cruise without kids.

The Ofoto album is ready, and can be found at: http://www.ofoto.com/I.jsp?c=34p4jkm.45r9rn67&x=1&y=8ue65j

I'll be headed back to WDW in just 9 days - spending 3 nights at All Star Movies over Thanksgiving since I have a long weekend from work. I don't have any more Disney cruises booked at this point, but expect to remedy that situation fairly soon, once I nail down some plans I'm thinking of for 2004.

CRUISE HIGHLIGHTS

  • Tablemates - we've had some clunkers in the past, but this cruise we got lucky, with friendly talkative normal people! Dinner was a pleasure each night.
  • Dining Room team - our servers were terrific, taking care of our needs without being intrusive. They appear to enjoy their jobs, which makes a big difference!
  • Skipping shows in favor of relaxing was a great decision. We only saw the new show, since we've seen the others before. It was so nice having that time to just sit back with a glass of wine and champagne and do some people-watching.
  • Cabin 2098 worked really well for us. We were closer to the aft staircase than midship, so we usually headed in that direction. The guest laundry was directly across from the cabin next door, so it was very convenient. We had no ship noise in the cabin, and other than some bubbles in the porthole glass, everything was perfect.
  • Deck 7 Aft is a hidden treasure. We'll be sure to spend time here on any future windy sea days.
  • DIS wine tasting was such fun! David did an excellent job sharing his knowledge about wine, so we learned in addition to sampling a variety of wines.
  • Fitness classes were great - well worth getting up early for. With all the food on a cruise, you've gotta do something, lol!
  • Darren Romeo show was also great. It's the first time a non-Disney show has been brought on the ship, and I hope they do a lot more of this. The kids enjoyed it as well, but it wasn't put together as a kiddie show, like the usual Disney shows. I'd go see this one again next year if it's still around.
  • Promenade Lounge turned out to be a favorite spot for us (and the many others who don't want to be choking on cigarette smoke) this cruise. In the past the entertainers here have ranged from bad to awful, but the duo here this time were actually pretty good. The servers are friendly, the location is great for people watching & convenient to all the restaurants, and it was just a very pleasant way to spend a couple of hours before dinner.
  • Cove Café - what a great addition this is! Unfortunately we never spent as much time there as we would have liked. Hopefully next cruise <g>.

CRUISE LOWLIGHTS

  • Promenade deck (4) is too narrow - it's a constant challenge when walking to get out of the way of joggers, since it's not as wide as it should be (like on HAL).
  • Fitness Center/gym is way too small for the number of passengers on board, and the air temperature at time was much too warm for working out.
  • Crowds/kids - for the most part we were able to avoid both, having learned from previous cruises. We were especially appalled at the hellions using the dance floor in the Promenade Lounge as a playground even when the entertainers were performing, and an idiot parent sat there applauding the kids' antics. The guests who might have been on the dance floor dancing instead sat at their tables glaring. Disney could have (should have) feigned concern for the kids' safety and asked their parents to get them off the dance floor.
  • Guest laundry facilities were running almost 24 hours a day, usually with people waiting in line. They really need more of these to make it more convenient for people.
  • Beat Street - the clubs are basically off limits to anyone who doesn't enjoy the stench of cigarette smoke. We (& others we met) skipped all of the cabaret shows solely because smoking is allowed and you could smell it out in the hallway. It's a shame, as those shows are generally very good. I'd like to see smoking banned in Rockin' Bar D until after the cabaret show each evening. Smoking could still be permitted in Sessions & Diversions, since it's banned in Promenade Lounge.

Until next time - thanks for reading.

Sue Holland

WDW1972@aol.com


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