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Sue Holland -- February 2003 -- Walt Disney World (PCR) / Disney Cruise (Wonder) Trip


Note:  As Sue spent 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
  • Leesa, Comedy Warehouse regular
  • Den & Kathy (figaro), radp friends
  • Sheila, frequent cruise companion

Dates: February 4 - 8, 2004

INTRODUCTION

I love cruising, although I generally don't consider anything less than 7 days to be worth the effort of packing, getting to the pier, etc. However, my reality does not allow for unlimited vacation time, so when my friend Sheila & I were talking about booking a long weekend 3-night Wonder cruise I decided to go for it. The 3-night cruise basically gives me 3 nice dinners, a day spent on the ship, and a beach day (Castaway Cay - assuming it doesn't rain). Since we've seen most of the shows before, we don't do the running around that most passengers do. Instead, we concentrate on relaxing! Sheila hasn't seen Golden Mickeys yet, so if she wants to see it this cruise (instead of waiting until November), we'll do that. I saw it in September with Patty, and it was a great show - better than Disney Dreams for me. We'll try for a Palo reservation for Friday night while we're in Nassau, and will use that day to enjoy the ship while most of the other passengers are ashore. Hopefully Castaway Cay will be a nice beach day, but if the weather doesn't cooperate I'll be happy relaxing on the ship. We might even decide to skip the crowded beach in favor of the peaceful ship - we'll see!

Sheila & I have cruised together several times, and we're extremely compatible travelers. We're both up early, enjoy doing the same things, but are also ok with doing solo activities. She even joins me walking the deck, going to fitness classes, etc. She claims she's never letting me pick another shore excursion, but since I didn't do anything exerting on our cruise last November and have nothing crazy planned on this one, I think she's going to be agreeable to a mountain biking excursion in November 2004. Enough time will have passed since her last bad experience, she won't be as quick to say NO <g>.

So, we booked the 3-night cruise and that was going to be the whole trip. That's now part 3 of a 4-part trip, although the report will only cover parts 2 & 3. Part 1 will be a business trip to Tallahassee. From there I go straight to part 2, which is an overnight at Pop Century in order to attend Comedy Warehouse and see my friends Kathy & Den while they're in town. Part 4 is after leaving the ship I'll drive to Sawgrass Mills in Ft Lauderdale, where I'll stay for a couple of nights while working in Miami the next 2 days. The Tallahassee thing just came up suddenly, but the benefit is it gets me to WDW earlier than I would if I was at work that day. Instead of working until 3 and arriving at wdw around 6, I'll fly into Tampa at 1:15 and should be to WDW by 2:30 or so. The challenge will be packing as minimally as possible but still having the right stuff for 2 business trips and a cruise!

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

Wed 2/4: Meeting in Tallahassee, Fly to Tampa, Drive to WDW, Comedy Warehouse
Thu 2/5: Drive to Port Canaveral, Board Disney Wonder
Fri 2/6: Nassau (stay on ship), Palo
Sat 2/7: Castaway Cay
Sun 2/8: Leave Wonder, Drive to Sawgrass Mills (business trip to follow)

DAY 1 WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 4, 2004:

Who: Sue, DVC Member
Leesa, Comedy Warehouse regular
Den & Kathy (figaro), radp friends
Sheila, frequent cruise companion

Plan: Meeting in Tallahassee, Fly to Tampa, Drive to WDW, Comedy Warehouse

Actual: Yikes - Tallahassee was at least 20 degrees colder than at home, with temps in the upper 30's this morning! I attended my meeting and enjoyed seeing so many people who I only see at these things. It was worth the trip just for that, but don't tell the taxpayers of Florida <g>. Unfortunately it ran a little long and I had to leave without saying any goodbyes - getting to the airport with about 15 minutes to spare before they started boarding my plane.

The drive to WDW was pretty easy, once I was past the traffic near downtown Tampa. It was really nice having a relatively short drive, especially since I'm still not at 100% strength since getting sick on my last trip to WDW. Arriving at Pop Century I found the line to check in was extended back to the first turn in the queue. The wait ended up being about 25 minutes, which in my opinion is about 23 minutes too long! I really hate Disney's apparent attitude that guests can just wait - I find that really offensive, and of course it's worse at the cheaper places because they cram so many families in here.

This time I was given a room in the 80's, and it ended up being the infamous DUH building! Thank goodness I'm on the other side, away from any noise from the road. I had some unpacking/repacking to do in order to transition from the 1st business trip to the cruise, and took care of that fairly quickly while watching General Hospital. I made a cup of cappuccino and laid down while reading my email. I had to laugh when I thought back to myself 10 years ago - I would have bolted out of the room and rushed to catch a bus to one of the theme parks, but now it's not a priority at all. I booked this night for 2 reasons - to go to Comedy Warehouse and secondarily to make the drive to the port tomorrow shorter.

I tried to change my May reservation to Saratoga Springs since I'll be here the week it opens, but they didn't have any studios available. I could have booked a 2 bedroom villa, but since it's going to be just me I do not need all of that space! Around 5 I went out for a walk, and discovered a few areas of Pop Century I hadn't seen before. My primary destination was the food court though, where I visited with Nancy for a while. Too bad she doesn't work mornings, as Sheila won't get to see her this trip.

I went back to the room to relax and watch the local news/weather, then headed out to begin the adventure of Disney transportation to Downtown Disney around 6ish. The wait for the DD bus took forever - at least 30 minutes. During that time at least 3 buses had come for each of the other parks except for Animal Kingdom, which closed 90 minutes ago. When the bus finally arrived people in line started cheering. The bus filled to standing room only and still enough people were left behind to completely fill the queue area. It was miserable - but I guess that's all you can expect when staying in the ghetto of Disney <g>.

As we approached Downtown Disney there were fireworks being set off over the lake. I have no idea what they were for, but they were a nice treat. I headed immediately to Wolfgang Puck's Express at the Marketplace and ordered a bowl of the tortilla soup for dinner. They changed the Disney Dining Experience discount from 20% to 10%, but since it's not a Disney restaurant anything is more than should be expected. The soup was great, and I was lucky to find a table inside since it was so chilly outside. After dinner I found Marti at the DVC kiosk and stopped to visit with her. The guests there asked if we were sisters, saying there's a resemblance.

I continued on my way, stopping for a chocolate sample at Ghiradelli, talking to the cm there, and then wandering through World of Disney to stay warm. I entered Pleasure Island, stopped to say hi to Clinta, and then arrived at the Comedy Warehouse by 8. Joe was outside so I chatted with him until Kathy, Den & Leesa arrived. Jim Roberts was on the keys tonight.

The 8:20 cast was Joy, Mary, Jake, Christine & Krista. Kathy & Den had been raving about how the shows had all been so good the past few nights, and tonight's cast was certainly good, but the audience kind of sucked. It wasn't a bad show, but it was a letdown compared to the other nights, and it was mostly the fault of the weird audience. They opened with a short but cute poem called "I just love pomegranates." Jake & Krista created a Fill in the Blank scene about watching Rocky & Bullwinkle, using the entire audience to fill in the blanks. Madrigal was next, which was very good. Christine led the other 4, who each started singing a different tabloid headline. They then mixed up the words to create new songs, which is always funny. The original 4 headlines were "Michael Jackson likes women", "Jets win another superbowl", "Janet Jackson shows all", and "Kerry beat Dean with a ball bat."

They also played Up Your Alley this show, hosted by Mary as Latoya Jackson clutching big fake boobs under her shirt. At the end of the show she exposed them, which was funny. Christine was an old lady named Scarlet O'Hara (probably the original - I'm not in the DUH building for a reason <g>), Joy was a weirdo named Monica who works in security at Sears, and they had a stay at home mom from the audience. The topic was watching tv, and this volunteer claimed to spend all day & night watching trash talk shows on tv, with her favorite being a "big girls gone wild" on Maury Povich - a real class act. We talked to some of the cast after the show, and soon it was time for the next one.

The 9:15 cast was Mary, Krista, Jake, Matt & Joy. Mary directed Joy & Matt in a scene about archaeology, interrupting frequently for the audience to make suggestions. It was a freaky scene, with Joy being named Regis & Matt named Kelly, but Joy ended up being Matt's mom and had slept with the archeology professor (Jake) to get the test questions in advance so she could get a good grade & pay off her gambling debts. After sleeping with her though, Jake gave her a D on the test! The whole scene was quite silly, and the audience gave some good suggestions. Towards the end Krista came out and sat on the side of the stage to watch the action, and Mary called for the scene to be wrapped up in a ballad sung by Krista - she was surprised, but she had to do it, and did a great job.

Jake then created a very short poem called "Dog". They did Actor's Nightmare next, with it being Krista's nightmare. The others had 3 real scripts from which they had to get all of their lines, and Krista had to improvise her lines and make all the rest of it make sense in a scene set in a hospital. The scripts were really different - lyrics to soul songs/poems, a play written in very ancient language, and an ordinary play. Krista really did a great job with it, though - this had to be one of the most difficult Actor's Nightmare scenes I've seen. They closed with an embarrassing story about a guy whose shoe got caught in the escalator at the mall. Sheila arrived after the show, and joined us for the next one, meeting Kathy & Den for the first time.

The 10:30 cast was Jake, Mary, Christine, Lisa & Matt. They opened with the name rhyme game, which Mary won. She rang the bell for a Should Have Said scene with Christine as a masseuse and Matt as her client. It seemed kind of short, but it was very funny. Next was Forgotten Songs, and all 3 were great! Jake was Barely White and Mary (didn't catch her name) were lounge singers singing "My sheep, my love". Jake was making references to his "ewe", and Mary was singing "baaaa" as a backup - it was hysterical! Matt came out as a cowboy to sing "Warped confessions of a cowboy" and his song was great, too. We learned all the sordid cowboy secrets <g>. Christine was Twinkie and Lisa was Bebe, a pair of pop singers performing "Shake it". The others came out as backup, and Jake was hysterical with his shirt tied up and a pair of floppy boobs under his shirt.

Schmeopardy was next, hosted by Christine. Jake was Huey, a coalminer. Mary was a telemarketer named Sara Lee, because nobody doesn't like Sara Lee <g>. Matt was an idiot astronaut wanna-be named Sal. He kept playing the wrong game, and was very funny being so damn stupid! Overall it was a great show, and we were sorry to see it end. I said goodnight to Mary, and introduced her to Sheila (only problem is, I've introduced them before and they both remembered - it's that damn DUH building affecting me).

Kathy & Den were driving Leesa home, then would be calling me to bring me drugs (Kathy is a registered nurse and keeps a stash of legal drugs) that hopefully will help with some of my lingering cold symptoms. Sheila & I drove back to Pop Century and I was surprised to see many empty parking spaces at the far end where we're staying. I updated the report and waited for Kathy & Den's call, while Sheila did some reading. I met Kathy & Den close to 1am to pick up the drugs, talked to them for a while, then returned to the room to get some sleep.

It was a good first day. The Comedy Warehouse was terrific tonight, and I enjoyed spending the evening with the friends who were here.

DAY 2 THURSDAY FEBRUARY 5, 2004:

Who: Sue, DVC Member
Sheila, Frequent cruise companion

Plan: Drive to Port Canaveral, Board Disney Wonder

Actual: Sheila was sure she'd be awake by 6:30-7:00, so we decided to skip the alarm and I asked her to make enough noise so I'd wake up by the time she was out of the shower. As it turned out, the previous room occupant had set the alarm, and at 6:15 the damn clock was beeping loudly! I turned on the light while Sheila found the clock and shut it off. It wasn't the end of the world - I'd much rather get woken up too early than too late. Sheila took her shower while I got online to post the report, then I took my shower. We headed out to walk around the resort around 8, letting Sheila see the different areas. It's nice & warm today - a great day to be cruising!

We had breakfast in the food court - yogurt granola parfait for me and kids' breakfast platter for her. The yogurt thing wasn't bad, but I doubt I'll get it again. It was too hard to pick the raisins out of the granola, and I'd rather not eat those things. Sheila said her breakfast was good, except for the potatoes being salty. We were back in the room about 9, and relaxed watching the DVC station to try to spot Marti in the footage. Around 9:30 we brought our stuff out to the cars and hit the road for the port, after a brief stop at OKW to drop off a package of information for Angelo. Surprisingly we ran into a freak rainstorm, but it ended by the time we got to the port.

Check in went very quickly, both outside and inside. As usual there were people wandering aimlessly like they didn't have a clue where they were going. Boarding started at noon and we were onboard shortly after that. Since sitting inside in a restaurant has zero appeal to us on a cruise ship, we headed up to Beach Blanket Buffet on deck 9 so we could eat outside. The buffet is the same at both locations, but Parrot Cay just doesn't work for me at lunch. They had the delicious chilled strawberry soup, which we both got. Neither of us ate too much - Sheila added some of the shrimp and a piece of cheesecake. I had a small caesar salad and the chocolate mousse, but the mousse wasn't worth the calories so I barely touched it. It was really stiff, and not very flavorful. The oatmeal raisin cookie was much better, which is pretty sad!

For this cruise we decided to cheap out and go with an inside cabin since it's only 3 nights. I doubt we'll do that again <g>. The cabin is lovely, and the same as the ones with portholes or verandahs, but I think we're really going to miss natural daylight since we tend to wake up as the sun rises. Instead, we'll be in the dark and will have to rely on an alarm clock to be up at a certain time. Our cabin is a category 10 down on deck 1 - hereafter referred to affectionately by us as the dungeon. We laughed that of course they'd put the scum down in the dungeon. Luckily our dungeon didn't connect to the dungeon next to us, so we didn't have to worry about hearing the torturous screams of the scum staying next door <g>. We only have neighbors on 1 side, which is nice. This time I suggested Sheila take the bed and I'd use the daybed/couch thing. Normally we're cruising on my points so I've always had the bed. Now I'll get to see if she's been lying about the daybed being comfortable <g>.

We looked over the schedule and thought about the introductory yoga class at 5:15. A friend had mentioned stress reduction to me last night, and I was thinking yoga might be worth trying. However, doing so would have us on a non-stop round of rushing to different places/events this afternoon & evening, which was contrary to our goal of relaxing. I'm still coughing and having trouble breathing whenever I do too much (like walking across the room <g>), so this trip I'll be using the elevators to go upstairs and won't be doing the fitness stuff. Kathy's drugs didn't seem to help a whole lot, unfortunately - I think I just need time.

Tonight is Golden Mickey's, so we'll probably go see that. We spent some time out on deck 4 reading until 1:30 when the cabins were ready. It was shady, so I covered up with Sheila's jacket - I looked like I was on an Alaska cruise, lol. At 1:30 we found our dungeon, after initially making the mistake of using the forward staircase. We have to use the midship staircase and then walk forward to the end of the hallway. Sheila's luggage was there, so she was able to unpack. Mine didn't arrive until after 2, most likely because they were delivering to the non-scum passengers first <g>. One of my raggedy outfits needed ironing, so I went up to deck 2 to the laundry across from our last stateroom and took care of that before it got busy. We also learned (thanks to Sheila) that our lifeboat drill station is inside the theater! How nice that we don't have to line up out on deck with hordes of other people - we may actually get to sit down for this one!

Sheila ended up falling asleep, even though she really wasn't drunk like I'd led my friend Kathy to believe. We had fun portraying Sheila as this wild drunken woman, even though between the 2 of us we probably don't drink enough to get a single person drunk <g>. We did the lifeboat drill, which I catnapped through in the comfort of the Walt Disney Theater. Afterwards we returned the lifejackets to the stateroom and got ready to head up on deck for the sailaway party. Tonight we ended up booking a late dinner at Palo, so hopefully I'll still be awake by then <g>.

The sail away party was nice - as usual we sat away from the noise & crowd, finding a nice table & chairs in the sun. We each had people to call to hear the ship's horn blow, but my people got cut off and it blew while I was redialing --so they missed it! We went over to the railing once the ship started sailing, and stayed there until we had left the channel and were out in the ocean. I love sailing away, especially knowing I'm on the beautiful ship rather than on land watching others sail away! We walked around a while, then returned to the stateroom briefly before going to the 6pm showing of Haunted Mansion. Even though Golden Mickeys was tonight, Sheila decided she could wait until November so we opted for the movie instead. The movie wouldn't be running at any other time that was convenient for us.

There was only a handful of other people at the movie, which was really nice. Most people were at dinner or at Golden Mickeys. We enjoyed the movie, although I think we were both glad we didn't pay to see it at the movie theater. It was kind of strange, and although parts were funny, other parts just dragged. After the movie we browsed through one of the shops and then went to the atrium to hunt for pins for some friends. They'd released special DCL pins for passholders, so I got 2 of each for Rose from the fortress. Sheila went down to the cabin to get her pass and came back up so we could get another 2 sets. These pins were limited editions of 500 and 750, and each passholder could buy only 2 of each per night. I didn't want to be bothered with this pin craziness another night, so we took care of it tonight! A lady wanted the pins but couldn't buy them because she wasn't a passholder (her husband works for abc so they're considered cast members). We let her buy one of the sets from us, and the other set is for my friend Cheryl.

We went to the dungeon to store the treasured pins and eventually got dressed for dinner at Palo. Our steward had already made up the room, and we were glad to see he'd made up both beds without being asked. We had a towel swan and a few chocolates, too. We got to Palo a bit early and were seated at the bar to wait for our table. I ordered a glass of the moscato I like and Sheila had a glass of merlot. We chatted with the bartender until they came to bring us to our table. Dinner was fabulous, as it always is here. Our server was Christo and he did an excellent job catering to our every whim. We both had the buffalo mozzarella and tomato appetizer, which was delicious. Sheila got the salmon entrée, while I decided to try a pizza instead of an entrée. I ordered the margherita pizza, and it was also excellent. I barely ate half, but brought the rest back to the dungeon in case I decided to finish it for lunch some day. Sheila was too full for dessert but I ordered the pistachio torte. For some reason it wasn't as wonderful as I remembered it from last time, although it was good. The chocolate souffle would have been better, but it just seemed too rich and filling for so late at night. We were out of Palo shortly after 10:30, and rolled back to the dungeon.

It was too windy to walk out on the deck, so we decided to call it a night and go to bed. I read for a while and Sheila watched tv. Between the movement of the ship and the engine noise I knew I'd sleep well tonight!

Today was a very nice day. It's so great to be back on the ship, and even though I refer to our cabin as a dungeon I'm very happy to be a prisoner here <g>. Dinner was outstanding, and we really enjoyed just taking it easy today. We're both looking forward to the next 2 days of doing nothing but relaxing!

DAY 3 FRIDAY FEBRUARY 6, 2004:

Who: Sue, DVC Member
Sheila, frequent cruise companion

Plan: Nassau (stay on ship), Palo

Actual: We got up around 8, which is unheard of for us but since there's no daylight to tell us it's morning it wasn't a surprise. I slept very well on the daybed, and won't feel badly about any of my guests being there on future cruises <g>. With the ship's engine noise I didn't hear anything else, which was nice. Ship noise I don't mind - people noise drives me up the wall! Sheila heard the baby next door very faintly around 6:30, so we were very thankful that this cabin is not a connecting room! We've raised our babies and don't want to listen to someone else's on our vacation.

We got dressed and headed up on deck. Land was in sight and we always enjoy watching the ship dock. We found a table & chairs by the window on deck 9 and sat there to watch the ship dock. After the ship was tied down we went into the buffet and got some breakfast, returning to our original table to eat. When we finished with breakfast we went up to walk around on deck 10 and saw the Carnival Fantasy pulling in at the next dock (they were in port with us yesterday), and HAL's Zuiderdam was just approaching the harbor. We watched the Fantasy dock then ran downstairs to change into our swimsuits before going back up to deck 10 to watch the Zuiderdam arrive on the other side of our dock. It was pretty cool having been on both ships, and although I do enjoy the Disney cruises, the Zuiderdam is a nicer ship and nicer cruise overall. Disney is comfortable to us - like a 2nd home, since I can't afford HAL more than once a year.

Once the Zuiderdam was docked for the day we set up camp on a couple of lounge chairs and spent the day reading, catnapping and people watching. We ended up staying out there until 4pm, but it was so comfortable the time passed quickly. We took a break for lunch around 2 and got some fast food. I tried the chicken wrap from scoops, which I'd always avoided because I'd assumed it was a regular-sized (too big) whole wrap. Instead, it was a couple of 1-inch slices of a chicken caesar wrap. It was loaded with chicken, so 1 slice was really enough - especially since I needed to save room for cookies <g>. Sheila got the seafood wrap and some french fries, along with a cookie & brownie. We ate back near our chairs, then continued reading a while longer.

We walked around on deck 4, but kept running into barricades because they were working in one area or another. It became too much of a pain, so we headed down to the stateroom for a while. I updated the report while Sheila read. We really prefer the layout of this stateroom, with the bed being all the way in near the far wall and the couch/sitting area coming first. In the oceanview staterooms the bed comes first but the room is so narrow it's a pain to get around the bed to reach the sitting area. I'd rather have the bed by the window anyway - like on HAL ships. Only when there's a verandah does it make sense to have the sitting area at that end of the room, in my opinion.

At 5 we went up to deck 4 so I could talk to the cruise booker about possibly adding another cruise to 2004 or early 2005. The 2005 points aren't set yet (DVC), so I picked up another copy of the 2004 sheet. If I can find the right cruise companion perhaps I'll add a 4-day cruise in either September or October, reducing time planned at WDW. We met some nice people in line who were also frequent cruisers from Florida, and enjoyed talking to them while we waited. By the time we finished it was after 5:30 and it was time to hit the showers to prepare for the evening. This day has flown by!

We walked around on deck 10 and watched the Zuiderdam sail back to Ft Lauderdale, then ended up in the wonderfully smoke-free Promenade Lounge for a glass of wine. I got the moscato and Sheila ordered some red wine from Australia. The server brought us some appetizers as well, which was nice. The lounge was deserted when we got there, but steadily more people arrived until it was almost full. They had a male/female duo performing, and the female half was pretty pitiful. Think of a cat being tortured and you'll have an idea how lovely her singing was. The guy was pretty good - he positively shone compared to her. I think Carol Stein on the piano would have been a better choice for this venue.

Just before 8:30 we headed to Triton's for dinner. The atrium was full of the princesses and long lines of little girls waiting to meet them and have a picture taken. Our table was against the mosaic on the back wall, and unfortunately the tables were crammed in so closely it was ridiculous. Even the servers had a hard time with it. We had a delightful family of 4 sharing our table --2 unmarried sisters, their mother, and their 25-yr old niece (daughter of the sister not cruising). They were from Charleston, WV and were great dinner companions. The other couple arrived but when they saw how cramped the seating was they refused to sit at our table - the staff found them some other place to eat.

The food was not bad, but nothing special. I got the mixed greens salad and the pasta. The pasta was better than I expected, and I ate about half of it. Sheila got the escargot (a lot more garlic than the escargot she loved on the Zuiderdam) and the salmon (very good). For dessert I got the apple tart (ok) and Sheila got the sugar free chocolate cheesecake (somewhat bitter). We bid our table mates goodnight and returned to the stateroom. We had a towel monkey hanging from a hanger between the sleeping and sitting areas.

We'd planned to see movies tonight, but neither of us wanted to be getting out of a movie at 1:00 am! We also weren't interested in the big chocolate buffet our server told us would be set up at 11:00 pm. We decided instead to go up on deck and watch our ship cast off from Nassau at 11.

Once up on deck we decided to check out the chocolate buffet after all <g>. It was nothing compared to what HAL does for a chocolate buffet, but we each picked up a couple of small things and put them in the refrigerator for tomorrow. At 11 we cast off from Nassau and sailed out of the harbor before we returned to the stateroom to turn in for the night.

It was a nice relaxing day, although it went by too quickly. It's depressing to think we'll be packing tomorrow night! However, we'll make the most of another WONDERful day on the ship!

DAY 4 SATURDAY FEBRUARY 7, 2004:

Who: Sue, DVC Member
Sheila, frequent cruise companion

Plan: Castaway Cay

Actual: Yesterday we had the brilliant idea to leave the tv turned on to the camera at the front of the ship overnight. That way we figured when it became daylight we'd know it, but of course daylight via tv is not the same <g>. Instead, the dungeon was illuminated by the tv all night (not a problem), but Sheila did wake up before 7 and notice it was now daylight. I don't think she was woken up by the daylight - I think she just happened to wake up because that's the time she's generally up by. In any event, I decided to get up too. Even though we don't have anything to do or anyplace we had to be, I hate the thought of sleeping away my cruise!

We decided to head up on deck and watch the ship arrive at Castaway Cay while walking around with our cappuccino/hot chocolate. We did several laps on deck 10 and I was thrilled to do so without coughing or having trouble breathing finally! We sat on deck 9 for a while, then eventually went in for breakfast after people started going ashore. The Mickey waffle was delicious, and we each ate some other stuff as well. After breakfast we went down to the dungeon to collect our water & sunglasses, then went ashore.

We'd agreed we were skipping the traditional Castaway Cay beach day this time, so instead we just walked for a couple of hours. We walked from the ship down to the bike rental place, then walked the bike path (3 miles round trip) and back to the ship. We forgot the pedometer, so I'm not sure how many miles in total we did. The bike trail ends beyond the adult beach, but at an area where you're not allowed on the beach. It was pretty rocky out there, and not a beach you'd really want to spend time on. They had ice cold water stations set up at the end and along the trail, which was really nice.

We browsed in the shops, and then went to Cookie's BBQ. We decided to skip the real food and instead just got cookies. I also had a little fruit and Sheila got a strawberry frozen yogurt cone. The little birds were really aggressive, so we had to keep waving them away from our cookies! We walked back to the ship and were onboard around noon, ready for a relaxing afternoon.

Up on deck 10 we discovered they had all of the lounge chairs stacked up and under covers, so we untied one and pulled out a couple of chairs before recovering the rest of the pile. I don't know what they're thinking to have the chairs all put away like that, but we weren't about to let it stop us. Unfortunately, it turned really cloudy and was actually rather chilly up there. At one point I went down to deck 9 and brought us both back a hot chocolate, and by 2:30 or so I'd finished my other book and was ready to get out of the cold. Sheila stayed up on deck a bit longer and I returned to the stateroom to update the report, shower, and begin packing.

Our invitation to the Castaway Club reception had been delivered, so we needed to be cleaned up in time for that at 5:15. We're also planning for that to essentially be our dinner, perhaps with a call to room service for the tomato soup they do so well. We'll just need to bring our tips to our servers tonight (yes, we tip the full amount even though we chose to not be there 2 of the 3 nights - anything less would be unfair to them and inappropriate) since we don't want to eat at Animator's Palate and won't be at the sit-down breakfast in the morning either. Animator's Palate is something I definitely recommend for a first-time cruiser, but it's such a "been there, done that" experience for us. The menu doesn't have anything that I really look forward to, and we'd both rather skip the big multi-course dining.

Around 4:30 we went up to deck 4 and did a couple of laps before stopping to watch them release the ropes so we could sail away. It's always fun to see the cast members waving from the dock, wearing Mickey gloves. We had just enough time to run downstairs and pick up our tip envelopes, then go back upstairs to deck 4. The Castaway Club reception was in Studio Sea, and we were among the first to arrive. I love this reception, and wish they hadn't turned the dvc reception on the Magic into what it's become. In the past at both receptions they had free drinks and good hors d'oeuvres. Now the dvc thing is coffee and the same old pastry you get at breakfast - I miss the old receptions!

Anyway, tonight's reception was excellent. Besides all the cold canapes that I don't eat they also had fried mozzarella sticks, mini pizza, mini quiche, chicken wings and the best part of all - lightly breaded chicken tenders with almonds. That chicken was so good I ate 2 of them. We chatted with a couple of crew who stopped by, and noticed the annoying people at the next table were whining & demanding the Captain come over to their table quickly because their precious granddaughter wanted his autograph. In reality, the kid was too young to give a crap about the Captain's autograph, but they planted the idea in her head. They complained to the booking person, who then told the Captain to head there next. It reminded me of the obnoxious people at character breakfasts who feel they shouldn't have to wait their turn. Once the Captain got there, they occupied his time incessantly, taking at least 3-4 different pictures, and just yammering on and on. When the Captain came to our table we behaved like normal people and made small talk for a brief period and let him continue on his rounds. We didn't bother asking for an autograph, either <g>.

Barb & Tony of the castawayclub.com website were at the reception so I went over to introduce myself and chat with them briefly. They're on Disney cruise #36 or 37 right now - I don't know if anyone has cruised more than them. Since they mostly do the 3-day cruise, the Wonder is like a 2nd home to them, just like the Comedy Warehouse is a 2nd home to me.

We left the reception at 6 and walked down to Animator's Palate. I went in and found our servers and gave them their tip envelopes and explained that we were not going to be at dinner that night. That accomplished, we browsed through the shops and then returned to the stateroom to update the report and order a light dinner from room service.

We both ordered the tomato soup, and Sheila also got the manicotti. I tried part of one manicotti, and it was excellent. The soup was good, too. For dessert we ate what we'd picked up at the chocolate buffet last night (pecan tart for me, vanilla square and éclair for Sheila). We had more than enough to eat, especially following the reception. Going to dinner at Animator's would have been too much! We hung around watching CNN until it was time to go upstairs for the 8:30 showing of Teacher's Pet. I stretched out across Sheila's bed and promptly fell asleep - waking up to her tapping my arm & saying it was almost time to go!

We arrived at the Buena Vista Theater with about 10 minutes to spare and tried to ignore the obnoxious boys in the row ahead of us. When the movie started I was horrified to see it was a dumb cartoon! Sorry animation lovers, but I'm not a cartoon fan and this one in particular was very juvenile. At least with cartoons like Hercules or Aladdin there was some humor thrown in for the parents in the audience. Thankfully the movie was short - 1 hour & 15 minutes, and then we were out of there. There couldn't have been more than a dozen people in the theater, and I really wish they'd quit with the kiddie movies every night. Face it - most kids are either at the show with their families or in the kids' clubs. Give the adults who are repeat cruisers something to see as an alternative to the same stage shows (comment card suggestion).

We went up to deck 9 to see if Scoops was open, but it had closed at 8pm tonight. Since it was so windy up there we decided to just return to the stateroom. We put our luggage outside in the hall, then Sheila did some reading while I watched a little tv before turning in for the night fairly early.

Today was another nice day, but the 3-night cruise is definitely way too short! I don't think I would have changed anything about our day today except maybe to have a real movie instead of that cartoon <g>.

DAY 5 SUNDAY FEBRUARY 8, 2004:

Who: Sue, DVC Member
Sheila, frequent cruise companion

Plan: Leave Wonder, Drive to Sawgrass Mills (business trip to follow)

Actual: We were up by 7 this morning, once again sleeping with the tv on so it wasn't completely dark in the dungeon. We got dressed quickly and were up on deck 9 by 7:30. What a shock it was to open that door and find it windy & freezing outside! I'd checked the weather and knew it was supposed to be cold, but it was still a shock. We got our cappuccino/hot chocolate made at the beverage station then went into Beach Blanket Buffet for breakfast.

Since it's the last day they had eggs, bacon and continental stuff. There weren't any of the nice extras like omelets or waffles. We found a table and took turns going through the line so we didn't leave our stuff unattended. We ate quickly and then went downstairs to exit the ship, and were in the 42 degree windy parking lot before 8 o'clock. Sheila headed back to Ft Myers, while I went south and drove to my next hotel in Sunrise (Ft Lauderdale). I'll spend the next 2 days working in NW Miami, which is about 30 minutes away from my hotel (which is 1 mile from the major outlet mall Sawgrass Mills). My room wasn't ready, so I shopped for a while and picked up some great bargains on clothing, then met Adie for her early birthday lunch at Wolfgang Puck's Grand Café. Cissy called while we were at lunch, and told me her sister Shan had a dream last night that I was pregnant!! As the mother of a 17.5 year old, that had better NEVER happen to me! I'm not about to start over <g>.

SUMMARY:

This was a very short trip (too short), but I had a great time despite being under the weather for most of it. I was really happy to sneak in a night at Comedy Warehouse, and especially glad that it was during Kathy & Den's visit. The cruise was wonderful - but way too short. I've referred to my stateroom as the dungeon, and hopefully you realize that's tongue in cheek. If not, start searching now for your sense of humor and don't bother writing me to complain about my comments <g>. Would I book a dungeon room again? It's exceedingly doubtful - we both really want daylight, and trying to make the tv substitute for a window just doesn't work <g>. However, we chose the dungeon this time and I don't regret it, if only because it will keep me from making that mistake on a longer cruise. For 3 nights I can handle a less-than-ideal situation far better than I would handle it for 7 nights!

Palo was the highlight of our dining, and even though we ate really late it was still a wonderful experience. We were not rushed at all, and our waiter was wonderful. Definitely don't miss Palo if you're cruising on Disney!

Our table mates were terrific too, but unfortunately we only spent 1 night with them. Neither of us eats big meals, and since we've eaten off these menus so many times we prefer to skip some of the dinners. If we were new to DCL we most likely would have attended a dinner every night, even though we'd end up overstuffed & uncomfortable. We skipped all the shows, including the one Sheila hasn't seen yet (Golden Mickeys). She decided she could wait until November to see it, and we enjoyed going to see Haunted Mansion instead. Yes, the movie wasn't anything great, but it was kind of fun to see the similarities to the attraction at WDW. We could have skipped that cartoon the last night - yikes! Next time we'll interrogate a cm at the movie theater to find out who is in the movie, what it's about, etc - before we make plans to attend.

The Castaway Club reception was very nice, as always. It was nice to meet Barb & Tony, whose web site I've used quite often to view updated menus or navigators for my assorted Disney cruises. I'll be taking a look at the 4-day Navigators soon, I'm sure <g>.

We found service on the ship to be excellent, with everyone being very friendly regardless of their position. On my HAL cruises the crew tends to avoid eye contact - it's almost a cultural thing, as if they are supposed to be invisible unless they're serving you. On Disney they'll make eye contact & say good morning or some other greeting.

My next Disney trip will be a short weekend in late February. I booked a Saturday & Sunday night at Pop Century, and will return home Monday. My next big trip will be the 10-day HAL cruise on the Rotterdam to the Panama Canal. Chris is coming with me for that one, since it falls on his spring break. If you do not want to receive the HAL report, let me know - otherwise I'll leave you on the list. Tim L - I'll send that report to your allcruisetalk list and not disneycruise.

Until next time - thanks for reading.

Sue Holland

WDW1972@aol.com


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