Sue Holland -- January 2006 -- Walt Disney World (OKWR) / Disney Cruise (Wonder) Trip
As Sue spent time at Pleasure Island and in other adult venues,
January 5 - 12, 2006
As usual, the final version of this trip ended up rather different from the original plan. Initially this was to be a WDW only trip, basically a long weekend in order for me to do the Disney Half Marathon for the 2nd time. However, when we cut our November trip short I had some vacation days left so rather than extend the WDW trip to a week, I decided to book the 4-night Wonder cruise. SB has never been on a cruise, and I’d love to get him on a nice HAL cruise some day. I figure this DCL cruise will be a nice introduction, and assuming he likes it I know he’ll love HAL. Instead of booking a studio like we normally do, I opted for a 1-bedroom villa at Old Key West for the WDW portion of the trip. The main reason was that big Jacuzzi tub and thoughts of what fun we could have in there! Also, they say a Jacuzzi is good for your legs after a long run, so that made sense too.
SB has been out of state recently, and is flying in for this vacation, then we’ll return home together. We found a good fare on Southwest Airlines, and I booked him on the complimentary Disney’s Magical Express bus service from the airport. This will be his 3rd time using it since October, so he’s an old pro by now. Instead of making the trip to the airport to pick him up, I can use my time getting settled in the villa so once he arrives we’re ready to start having fun. He’s looking forward to spending time in the parks as well as Comedy Warehouse, and has turned into a real WDW lover! When I mentioned before the trip that after a night at Comedy Warehouse we could get a later start the next morning, he said he wanted to be up early to be at the parks when they opened, lol! That was fine with me, as I enjoy the parks most during those uncrowded morning hours.
As the trip got closer, I started doing some serious soul-searching about this half marathon. Last year I had to walk most of it (alternating walking & running) because an injury kept me from training the 3 months leading up to the race. I only signed up again to see what my time would have been had I been able to actually run the 13.1 miles. However, I had no injuries this year but lost my focus/desire in June and have not done the distances necessary to complete the race by running most of it. I’m sure I could finish in the time allowed, but my finishing time will not be significantly faster than last year. I also remember my legs being very sore for at least 2 days after the race last year, and had some concerns about being unable to fully enjoy the first half of our cruise if that happens again. Those elevators on the cruise ship are so small & often crowded – I’d rather use the stairs, unless I’m in pain! When I checked the weather, I was dismayed to see the forecast was calling for 38 degree temperatures at the start of the half marathon. When I was training I’d notice it was more difficult for me to run when it was in the 40’s – I never had the opportunity to run in the 30’s! It also meant sitting around in those cold temps for 1.5 hours before the race – and SB would be standing around outside for several hours. He can handle the cold better than me, and was perfectly willing to be there (with a heavy jacket, gloves, hat, lol) but I think it’s a bit much to put him through. So, considering the pros and cons, I decided to skip the half marathon. I will stop by the Expo to pick up my packet (including the “free” shirt), and turn in the computer chip. The negatives of running far outweighed the positives, and this way we’ll have a 2nd morning for the parks and won’t have to be up at 2:30 in the morning to start the day!
The weather is supposed to be quite chilly (to me) while we’re at WDW, especially at night. Thursday we’ll spend some time together at the villa, then head over to join Leesa for a couple of Comedy Warehouse shows later in the evening. Friday morning we’ll be up and out early – heading to Epcot first for a couple of rides on Soarin’. Hopefully we can get a fastpass with an early return time, and also do standby right away without too much of a wait. SB loves this ride – it’s his idea to do it twice! After that’s done we have an 11:55 lunch reservation at Sci Fi, so we’ll travel over to MGM Studios. While there we hope to see the vehicle stunt show since we missed it in November. Later in the day we may return for the Osborne Lights, and then might head back to Epcot unless we’re too cold. Saturday we’ll head to the Magic Kingdom and start on the Big Thunder Mountain side. I didn’t make any lunch reservations, but since we’re in the neighborhood perhaps we’ll end up at Concourse Steakhouse at the Contemporary. At some point in the afternoon I’ll throw in a load of laundry and get our stuff packed for the cruise. Saturday night will be Comedy Warehouse!
Sunday morning we’ll drive to Port Canaveral and board the Wonder for 4 nights! It’ll be such fun to see his reaction to everything – I don’t think he really has any idea what a cruise ship is like. He doesn’t know we have a verandah stateroom, but he’ll like that it’s the first cabin away from the elevators (no walking down long hallways). We’re booked at Palo for dinner on the first night, and will be having brunch there on Wednesday. When we’re at Nassau we’ll probably stay on the ship, but we’ll get off at Castaway Cay for a while. He’s not much of a beach person, so we’ll see how he likes it. Thursday we’ll be back in Florida gain, and might stop briefly at WDW on the way home.
The current plans (subject to change) so far...
DAY 1 THURSDAY JANUARY 5, 2006:
Who: Sue (47), DVC Member
Plan: Work, Drive to WDW, Check in OKW, Marathon expo?, Comedy Warehouse
Actual: I worked until noon, and then hit the road. I’d had trouble sleeping the night before and was a bit tired, but thankfully the weather was perfect and there were no traffic delays at all. Coming onto Disney property I noticed how few cars were on the road compared to my previous visits! I had about 15 minutes to kill, so I filled the car up at the Hess station over by the Boardwalk, then drove over to Wide World of Sports. A fairly large group was assembled outside waiting for the Expo to open at 3pm. It opened right on time, and we began the slow crawl through the Milk House and downstairs to where the registration packets are handled. I heard someone commenting that they make us walk a marathon just to get our stuff, lol! I got my t-shirt and returned my computer chip since I wasn’t going to be running Saturday. There were some mixed emotions since I couldn’t share the excitement of the other people there, but overall I’m glad to be out of it!
From there I drove over to Old Key West, and had no wait to check in at all. They didn’t have a 1-bedroom villa on the top floor, which doesn’t seem right since I requested it 11 months ago! However, since I was unloading the car myself it was easier to be on the ground floor. I ended up with building 46, which is one of my favorites (on the canal – beautiful water view). I brought our stuff in but only unpacked a few things for the next couple of days. The rest can stay in the suitcases and I’ll re-consolidate what we need for the cruise.
The 1-bedroom is beautiful, and in good condition. After mostly staying in studios, I forget how spacious these units are. I don’t think SB has any idea we’re in a different size room, so it’ll be fun to see his reaction. After getting settled I got online for a while and waited for SB’s Magical Express bus to get here. He got in around 5:45, and after picking up a few things at the store we returned to the villa to get him settled in and fed. He loved the villa, and noticed that nice Jacuzzi tub. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to enjoy that tonight!
Around 8 or so we drove over to Downtown Disney and parked outside Pleasure Island. We went looking for a snack, and eventually ended up at Wetzel’s Pretzels over on the West Side. He got a hot dog, which was excellent! We also got the Wetzel’s Bits (little pretzel pieces) and they were just ok – somewhat tasteless, but probably better with one of the dips. We returned to Pleasure Island and waited for the first Comedy Warehouse show to end. Leesa met us on the bench, and we caught up with her until it was time to go back inside.
Carol Stein was on the keys tonight, and the 9:05 cast was Brian, Jake, Krista, Mary & John. They had a very long phone interview with some strange people from Maine to open the show. You know, the kind of people who either don’t answer the questions or do so with very few words. It was like pulling teeth. They did Actor’s Nightmare, where everybody except 1 person reads all their lines from scripts to different plays. Tonight it was John’s nightmare, so he had to improvise his lines and at the same time make everyone else’s lines make sense to this particular scene. Next Krista came out as a drunk Judy Garland and sang “I Touched Myself”. She was really good – gorgeous voice of course, and the lyrics were really funny!
They played Up Your Alley with an audience volunteer as one of the experts. The topic was 1st grade teachers, and the host was Krista as Stefanie (big blonde hair piled up on her head, wearing a sash like a beauty queen). Mary was a 1st grade girl named Dicken Jane because her parents didn’t know whether they were having a boy or a girl and liked both names. Brian was Sister Mary Bonafaccio from the catholic school. It was really funny, and overall it was a terrific show.
It was great being back, and seeing everyone again. We visited with Mary after the show, and since we originally hadn’t planned on coming out tonight seeing her was a bonus. We went outside briefly, then returned for 1 more show.
The 10:15 cast was Mary, Jake, Lisa, Robby & Matt. They opened with a poem called “That Igloo’s Too Hot”. Next they did a new structure, where 2 actors start a scene then the others come in. The scene changes, but the character each actor creates remains the same. It was the first time I’d seen it, and it’s a little hard to explain. The scene was set in a mortuary, and it was pretty funny.
Next they created a musical, under Jake’s leadership getting audience suggestions. This was hysterical! It was set in Kalamazoo, Michigan and featured the Winnebago Indians who used to be pirates in the Caribbean before settling in Michigan. Matt was the red man who was falling for Lisa the white girl and might some day have a rose baby. Robby was the white man & Lisa’s father, and Mary was Matt’s mother. They all did great, and it was tough keeping up with all the jokes in there. They also did World’s Worst Occupations, where an occupation is suggested by the audience and each actor portrays the “worst” example of that job. Overall it was an excellent show – really good!
We said goodnight to Mary, and Leesa, then headed back to OKW. It’s great coming back to this nice big villa! As a solo traveler I didn’t fully appreciate how much better a 1-bedroom was, but now I do. I won’t book one for my solo trips, but it sure is nice for the trips with SB. It was a great first day, and we’re looking forward to the rest of the trip.
DAY 2 FRIDAY JANUARY 6, 2006:
Who: Sue (47), DVC Member
Plan: Epcot, MGM, Sci Fi lunch, Osborne Lights?
Actual: I’d set the alarm for 6:30 and got up then, leaving SB to sleep longer (since he is lower maintenance when getting ready to face the day <g>). Breakfast was cappuccino and biscotti for me and a cup of hot chocolate for him. We were out the door by 8:15 and drove over to the Boardwalk Resort. The Epcot boat was at the dock, so we rode over to Epcot and stood around until it was time to enter the park. Everyone headed to Soarin’ but the crowd was nothing compared to what I saw in November! We got our fastpasses for 9:57 and then entered the standby line. The posted wait was 20 minutes, and it was probably closer to 30 by the time we got seated. We had the front row, which is definitely the best! We both love this ride, and when we got off we had 5 minutes to wait until our fastpasses were good.
The second ride was also good, even though we were in the 3rd row. It was well after 10 by the time we got out, and decided to leave the park at that point. We left through the front entrance and caught the bus to MGM Studios – that bus arrived just as we did! SB was hungry so we went directly to Sci Fi Dine In and they said they’d be able to take us when they opened at 11:00 (instead of our 11:55 ADR). We were seated shortly after 11, and were given the back seat of a car that had part of a large party in the front 2 seats (the rest of them were in the car across from us. SB thought the restaurant was really cool, and I knew in terms of menu that the burgers were the best bet here so I shared that information with him. I had the BLT soup, which was pretty good – creamy tomato basil soup with lettuce and bacon. SB had the chili appetizer and the burger. Everything was really good, including the service. I cannot imagine how people can eat the food provided on that dining plan, as even though SB is a big guy he struggled to finish his chili and burger (I ate a few bites of the burger, too). There’s no way he could have eaten a dessert too!
After lunch we wandered back to the Lights, Motors Action Stunt Show. It was only noon and the next show was at 1:15 so we sat on a bench in the sun and relaxed. Eventually they started letting people line up underneath the bleachers, and then at 12:45 let us into the seating area. The show was good, although SB liked it better than I did. I enjoy the stunts, but I don’t like the amount of time it takes to get things set up properly – they do a good job filling what would otherwise be dead time, but I guess I’m too impatient to want to sit through it again.
We left the park and rode the boat back to the Boardwalk. We stopped in the Boardwalk Bakery and bought a couple of cookies, then sat on a bench along the water with our snack. Eventually we headed out to the car and drove back to Old Key West. It was a beautiful afternoon, and when the wind didn’t blow it was pretty pleasant. We did some stuff online and watched some tv, drinking some wine he had brought for the trip. The view from our porch is so pretty, and it’s nice & relaxing out there.
We ended up deciding to skip the Osborne Lights – too cold & crowded, although I would have wanted to go if it was warmer. The crowds wouldn’t be as heavy as they were Thanksgiving weekend! We spent the rest of the afternoon in the villa, and decided to see a movie. Munich was playing at 7:15 and seemed like a movie we both would enjoy, so we headed over to Downtown Disney around 6:30.
We got our tickets ($9.00 per person) and the girl working there was laughing listening to SB do his routine ($9.00 for a movie???? Movies weren’t that expensive before I went to prison this last time…..movies were only $4.25) He wanted some food, and asked how far Earl of Sandwich was. I laughed and told him there’s no way we’d get over there and through the line in 20 minutes! We tried the Wolfgang Puck’s Express at the West Side, but there was nothing he wanted. I mentioned Bongo’s and we went to the counter service window there (he was in the mood for a sandwich). We got the Cuban sandwich and a beef empanada, then SB put the bag of food under his jacket when we went into the theater. I guess we didn’t have to hide it though, as the people who sat in front of us came in with a bag full of WG Puck Express pizzas!
The sandwich looked much better than I expected, and he said it was very good. He also liked the empanada, which he’d never had before. I ate most of the fries with the sandwich, even though I really wasn’t hungry! The movie was almost 3 hours long and I absolutely hated it. There was too much foreign language, and some of the time they didn’t put the subtitles on the screen so you’d know what the heck was being said. There was a lot of killing, as I expected, but in this movie they focused on showing the graphic and gory details. After the movie when I told him how much I hated it, he admitted he didn’t like it either. Although in his case, the killings & gore were ok. Next time it’ll be a chick flick or comedy!
We returned to Old Key West and used the Jacuzzi tub. Our only problem was finding the button to turn it on, but eventually we were ok. I’d brought some bubble bath, and we had bubbles everywhere! They kept generating and we kept patting them down so we didn’t have a stream of bubbles overflowing the tub, lol. We stayed in there for a few cycled – plenty of room for 2 adults – then headed to bed.
I realize we only did 2 rides on Soarin’ and the stunt show today, but we had a nice time and enjoyed the rest of our non-attraction time. Those were the only 2 priorities today, and the lunch at Sci Fi was fun as well. The only thing I’d do differently is not go to that movie, lol!
DAY 3 SATURDAY JANUARY 7, 2006:
Who: Sue (47), DVC Member
Plan: Magic Kingdom, Comedy Warehouse
Actual: We were up late last night, so I set the alarm for 7:30 instead of 6:30. When I woke up and realized I could have been out there on the marathon course, I only felt good things – knowing the decision to drop out was the right one. I finished up yesterday’s report, and took my shower. With the 1-bedroom villa I was able to keep the laptop in the living room, so for once he’s not trying to sleep while I’m typing on the computer and watching the news/weather on tv! Breakfast was a repeat of yesterday for both of us, and we were out the door around 9:30 or 9:45. The Magic Kingdom bus arrived just after we reached the bus stop, and we were on our way!
Although we were arriving so late, the park was very uncrowded this morning. We stopped along Main Street and asked a man if he’d take a picture of us. He was waiting for his family to come out of the bakery, and said he had all the time in the world. His first shots were kind of dark since we were in the shade, so he suggested we move up the street into the sun, where he took a couple more shots. He was such a nice guy, and seemed to enjoy taking the pictures. As we were walking to the sunny area another guest asked for their picture to be taken, so when he finished with us he went to take their picture.
We headed first to Big Thunder Mountain, which had a 10-minute standby wait posted. In reality it was less than that, as we never even slowed down before boarding the train. Unfortunately it was so uncrowded they were only loading the first couple of cars of each train, so we weren’t able to ride in the back. Next we walked right onto Pirates of the Caribbean, then decided to try Space Mountain since the crowds were so light. The standby time was listed as 20 minutes, but once again it was barely half that. We were lucky and got the first 2 seats, so he sat behind me. He forgot to take off his baseball cap, and at one point it went flying off. Fortunately it flew back and hit the girl behind him in the face <g> and she held onto it! When we pulled back to the unloading area she gave him his hat back and was laughing about how she was on the ride & all of a sudden this hat hit her in the face, lol! She was probably around 9 years old, and was with her 2 older sisters. They met up with their waiting parents and told them all about the hat incident.
SB wanted to ride the Tomorrowland Transit Authority, which is always ok with me – so we did that next, then decided to go get lunch. We left the park and rode the monorail over to the Contemporary Resort. The Concourse Steakhouse didn’t open for lunch until noon, so we had about 25 minutes to wait. We sat in the Outer Rim Lounge and went back over when it was almost noon. There was a line waiting to be seated, but it moved very quickly. We had a table in the sun, with a great view of the monorail. We shared a small Caesar salad, which was good but could have used a little more dressing. He got the steakburger, which was excellent. His coke was refilled before it was ever empty – our server really paid attention to that. I had a glass of Riesling and the onion soup, which was also excellent. I like that their soup isn’t as salty as it is at some places. We were pretty stuffed, and headed back to the monorail to go “home”.
The resort monorail developed problems and had to be turned off & restarted at the Polynesian. They did the same thing at the Grand Floridian, and then after we’d gone part way to the Magic Kingdom it kept stalling. After 3-4 failed attempts, they finally had us ride in reverse back into the GF station and get off the train. The next monorail was waiting, so once it could get into the station we boarded and rode over to the Magic Kingdom. From there we went to the bus stops and had to wait for the bus to Old Key West. We spent the afternoon just doing “at home” stuff – laundry, packing for the cruise, watching football (him) and General Hospital (me), and relaxing together before we went out for the evening. We shared the 2nd bottle of wine he’d brought, and this time our “cork adventure” (his term) went a little faster. I was in charge of opening the bottle, but I can’t ever use the kind of corkscrews the DVC units provide. So, it takes repeated attempts and the cork comes out in at least 2 pieces – then we clear out the little floating pieces when we pour the wine (how sophisticated we are, lol). I tell you, screw cap wine is the wave of the future, and I can’t wait for the day everyone does their wine that way! Dinner was a ham sandwich for him and leftover crackers, cheese and sausage for me.
Around 7:15 we left for Downtown Disney, and parked at Pleasure Island. We got our wrist bands at the Adventurer’s Club and then returned to Comedy Warehouse to meet Barbara & Roy before the first show. Parking was a nightmare, and we ended up finally finding a spot in the 3rd lot we tried. We visited with Barbara & Roy (also DVC members) before the first show, and enjoyed meeting them. Leesa joined us, and soon we were headed inside for the 1st show. Jamie was on the keys tonight, and the 8:00 cast was Mary, Robby, Lisa, Brian & John. Brian led the audience in writing a play where Mary & Lisa were in business making skunk perfume. They eventually opened a restaurant selling dead skunk as food, then began killing people to get even more meat for the restaurant. It was rather sick, but funny in a strange way. The rest of the show was Cliché, with Brian being tortured. He had to guess he was in a shower stall, and the expression was “Don’t answer the voices in your head – that’s what they want.” He struggled quite a bit, but it was entertaining!
The 9:05 cast was Lisa, John, Mark, Brian & Robby. They did Emotions, with John & Mark out in the middle of a desert. I always enjoy this one, and it was the high point of the show. Next John rang the bell in Should Have Said, where Brian was in a backyard in Canada. The final structure was Actor’s Nightmare, with it being Robby’s nightmare. Overall the show seemed to struggle to me, and I was looking forward to a fresh start with the next one!
The 10:15 cast was Joy, Mary, Lisa, Jenn & Brian. Right from the start there was more energy with this show, and from start to finish it was much better (like it normally is). They did Fill in the Blank using 2 audience volunteers. Joy & Brian were a married couple who each had affairs while she was in rehab for 3 years for assorted drug and pepsi addictions. Next was a fairly brief Madrigal led by Lisa. The 4 tabloid headlines were “Jennifer Lopez eats Ben Afleck’s baby”, “500 pound woman has a gorilla”, “car crashes into moon”, and “Elton John gets divorced.”
They also did Up Your Alley, hosted by Brian as Sideways Johnson. The topic was socks, and the 3 experts were Mary as Martha Stewart, Jenn as the sock fairy (who steals 1 of each pair of socks from the dryer), and Lisa as Socks (the Clinton’s cat). It was very funny, and Lisa spent most of her time swatting at yarn, napping, stretching & using the litter box. I talked to Jenn & Mary briefly after the show, said goodnight to Leesa, then SB & I left for the evening.
We hadn’t really had dinner, so we drove over to Crossroads and went to the McDonald’s drive-thru. Back at the resort we hung out for a while, then went to bed happy knowing the next day we were leaving on a cruise! Today was another great day – I love being here, and I’m so glad he likes it too. I’ll post the cruise portion after we get back to Florida on the 12th.
DAY 4 SUNDAY JANUARY 8, 2006:
Who: Sue (47), DVC Member
Plan: Board Disney Wonder, Palo dinner
Actual: I was up around 7:30, and SB slept until 9. I finished the biscotti and had some cappuccino for breakfast. He’ll be waiting until we get on the ship, since I didn’t bring a 3rd packet of hot chocolate! I finished packing up our stuff and we were on the road right about 10. Arriving at the terminal went very smoothly, and we were part of group number 10 for boarding (boarded about 12:15).
When I booked the cruise I assumed our dining rotation would be TAAP, since on every one of my 8 previous Disney cruises I’ve had that. It always seemed to be the “adults” rotation, particularly at 2nd seating. Based on that I wanted to book Palo on the night we were scheduled for Triton’s, since that would be my least favorite menu of the 3. I love the pirate night menu, and want SB to see the colors change in Animator’s Palate, so that left Parrot Cay or Triton’s to be missed. I thought Parrot Cay had a few things he’d really like (ribs, mixed grill, chicken wings) so I went ahead and booked Palo for tonight assuming we’d be scheduled for Triton’s. When I checked the website the week before the cruise, I saw we were on the PTTA rotation (you can tell based on your dining time – we were given 8:30). I decided not to change the rotation or the Palo reservation – this way we’ll be in the most formal restaurant for “dress up” night tomorrow, and he can at least see Parrot Cay if we go there for the buffet today after we get on the ship. As it turned out though, Parrot Cay was filled so we were directed to Beach Blanket Buffet.
The food was very good – I especially liked the pork scallopine. He liked that too, and tried the steak, shrimp, and a number of other items. We ate out on deck, where it was a little cool but comfortable enough. By the time we finished eating it was almost time for the cabins to be ready. We wandered around a bit, then headed down to deck 7. We’re in cabin 7548, which is midship and the first cabin away from the elevators. He hates to walk, so this way there’s no long hallway to walk down!
One of our suitcases came quickly, so I unpacked that while he relaxed on the bed. The cabin is very nice – he liked it very much. The verandah is so nice to have, and hopefully we’ll be able to make use of it at some point. Right now the sun was beating down on that side and it was a bit warm! This being Sunday and SB being a sports guy, he was concerned about football games – something that never entered my mind! We went down to Diversions, where the 1:30 game was playing. I could smell the leftover smoke (smoking is permitted after 9pm) but it was tolerable. We found a table in front of the biggest screen in the room (oh joy) and watched the game for a little while. I went up to the bar to get us drinks, and met a very drunk man who wanted to impress me by talking about his experience as a bartender and specifically the drink called a long slow screw. Yikes! This was not my idea of fun! Finally I get back to the table with our drinks and SB is fussing because it took so long (grrr). We got a Bahama Mama for him and a BBC (bailey’s cream of coconut, banana) for me. Mine was really good, but a bit filling – so I didn’t mind when he drank most of it, lol! He got a hot dog from the snacks they set out, and it was pretty good. Once the drinks were done I decided to take a break, and left for a while.
I checked to see if the 2nd suitcase had arrived, but there was no sign of it. I went down to deck 4 and walked a mile, then wandered around briefly before returning to check on the suitcase again. Still no sign of it, so I went back to Diversions to join him. You’d think I’d deserted him for days, lol – he asked why I was gone so long (35 minutes) <g>. We weren’t there too much longer, then returned to the cabin & found the other suitcase waiting. I unpacked, and then it was time for the mandatory lifeboat drill. The new life jackets are so much more comfortable than the old ones! The drill lasted about 10 minutes, then we dropped the life jackets off in the cabin and he headed up to Diversions for the 4:30 game. I puttered around the cabin briefly and then joined him. This time the place was filling up.
He would have been happy to sit in Diversions and do nothing but watch football for the next 4 hours, but I insisted on doing the sailaway. Unfortunately, some player got hurt and by the time we got up to deck 10 we were already quite a ways from the dock! Up to this point he didn’t understand what the big deal was about experience the sailing away – and frankly I was ready to tell him to go do something that is physically impossible! However, once he got out there he was so glad I dragged him up there, and thought it was really cool. We stood up on deck 10 and stayed until we were out in the open ocean. By then I was freezing, as I’d forgotten to bring my jacket when I left the cabin. Eventually we went back inside – him to Diversions, me to the cabin to update the report. The sun was setting from our side of the ship, and it was gorgeous! I went back down to Diversions to join him about 5:45, knowing he hated being there alone and wanting to spend time with him rather than at the laptop.
We stayed until halftime, then returned to the cabin & relaxed until it was time for dinner. He was amazed at how smooth and steady the ship was. We were dining in Palo tonight at 7 and left shortly before then. I wore a black dress, and he wore dress slacks and a sports coat. I think this is the most dressed up we’d ever been when going out somewhere, and it was nice to see him like that! We were greeted at Palo and seated right away at a table by the window. Our waiter (Kristo) was excellent, and did a wonderful job for us. I’d told SB the service & food quality were far beyond what we’d see in any old restaurant, and it didn’t take too long for him to start seeing that. Kristo would thank us each time he had the opportunity to do something for us (bring another drink, refill our water).
We decided to each get one of the specials that were not on the regular menu. SB had the atlantic cod over risotto, and the seafood soup as his appetizer. The soup was a broth loaded with a lot of clams, scallops, grouper, and other seafood. He was amazed by the taste, but couldn’t believe his taste buds when he tried his entrée – he said it was the best thing he’d ever eaten! I started with the buffalo mozzarella and tomato appetizer, then had a penne pasta with chicken entrée. I could barely eat half the pasta, but it was delicious. At one point SB knocked his knife on the floor, and picked it up. Kristo was at our table within a minute, quietly saying he’d heard a noise and asking which utensil needed to be replaced! He also told us we were not permitted to leave without dessert, so we ordered one chocolate soufflé and one pistachio torte. We didn’t even finish half of either of them, we were so full. The more times I have the chocolate soufflé the less impressed I am – it’s still good, but not that “to die for” experience it was in the beginning.
When Kristo came back to get our signed check for the meal & drinks he noticed SB had barely touched the second beer he’d ordered. SB was in the restroom – I explained to Kristo the beer was fine, but SB was just too full to drink it. He offered to put it in a cup for us to take with us, but I said no thank you. At that point he said he was taking it off our check! I thought that was really nice, and completely unexpected and unnecessary since we’d ordered the beer!
After dinner we tried to stop by Shutters to see the embarkation photo but it was an absolute zoo there. Hundreds of people were lined up for dinner at Animator’s Palate, despite being told there’s no reason to line up! You couldn’t see a single picture because the line of bodies filled in all of Shutters. SB was fussing at the crowd and I was getting irritated with him (after all, I didn’t purposely look for a mob to walk us through <g>) but it passed. We went to the Walt Disney Theater and got seats for the 8:30 Hercules.
We had 10 minutes to wait for the show to start, which wasn’t bad. I moved from one side of him to the other at least 3 times, trying to see over the big head of the little boy who kept moving from his mother’s lap to standing at an empty seat. I noticed when I moved, someone behind me also moved, so eventually I just said screw it and didn’t worry about what the kid’s head blocked! Then there was another lovely child TALKING out loud for the longest time, without any of the parents or grandparents taking him out or shushing him – they did get involved when the younger sister began choking & coughing, but again did not ever remove either noisy child. It was unreal – I realize this show is for the early seating guests, where most of the kids are, but I almost hate coming to shows on a Disney cruise. On HAL cruise shows there will be some kids, but I’ve never seen anyone who’d sit there while their kids were disrupting others and do nothing!
SB really liked the show, more than I did. I thought it was soooooooo corny, and full of really bad puns. I did enjoy the music, but that’s about it. After the show we went back to the stateroom and talked about what we felt like doing. We went out on the verandah and he was amazed how nice it was out there, and how beautiful with the moon reflecting on the water. I was glad I got the verandah, as we are enjoying it even though we’re not spending hours sitting out there. We left the door open to enjoy the night air and the sound of the ocean hitting the ship. Cruising isn’t what he thought it would be at all – he’s loving it! We ended up staying in and spending our first night of cruising without other people around.
DAY 5 MONDAY JANUARY 9, 2006:
Who: Sue (47), DVC Member
Plan: Nassau (stay on ship)
Actual: This morning I was up around 7, once it was light outside. All was peaceful until the 2 little kids from next door went out on their verandah and started talking loudly the way kids do. I think that woke up SB, but that wasn’t a bad thing as it gave us more hours in the day <g>! I finished up yesterday’s report, we got ready, and headed up for breakfast at Beach Blanket Buffet around 8:30. We were approaching Nassau by then.
Breakfast was good – with the usual assortment of eggs, meats, fruits, etc. SB found us a table by the railing and since it was in the sun it was comfortable out there. The sky was clear blue, and there was a strong breeze. We were able to watch the ropes being tossed, and the men securing the ship to the dock. I always enjoy watching that, and it seemed he did too. We walked around the ship a bit after breakfast, and spent some time standing up on deck 10 forward. There ended up being no other cruise ships in port with us today, which surprised me. It must have been a good day for those guests who chose to go ashore!
We returned to the stateroom and changed into our swimsuits, then went up to deck 10 by the adult pool and relaxed on a couple of sunny chaise lounges. At some point SB went and got me some water, and also got a burger and hot dog. I tried each, but wasn’t impressed. He thought they were both good, though. We never used the pool, but enjoyed laying in the sun. Eventually he returned to the stateroom for a nap, and I stayed up on deck doing some reading until around 1pm. We laid around the stateroom the rest of the afternoon. About 2 we ordered some room service – chicken noodle soup and a BLT for him, fresh fruit bowl for me, and an All Hands on Deck (crackers & cheese) for later with our wine. I also had to order the Big Island Cookie (chocolate chip) as well as the oatmeal raisin cookie! The food arrived within 25 minutes as promised, and we took it out to the verandah.
Unfortunately, most of it was just plain awful! The BLT came on focaccia bread and it was dry and tasteless. The chicken noodle soup had no flavor either. Both portions were tiny, even by my standards! The fresh fruit was good and the cheese/crackers was good. I don’t think we’ll bother with room service again though! At 3 we watched General Hospital, and a while later I took another shower and then headed down to Shutter’s to buy our embarkation photo. I walked on deck 4 for a while, since I knew he wouldn’t be interested in doing that.
Around 6 we went downstairs to see Golden Mickeys. Once again we had people sit in front of us who kept moving kids from lap to lap, destroying my view in some cases. This time we were seated in the very last row though, so when I moved it didn’t affect anyone else. Eventually the family stopped moving the kids around, but the mother and grandmother talked loudly through the entire show! They were so obnoxious, and I debated asking them to please shut up, but didn’t want to get into an ugly confrontation on vacation and wasn’t sure it would do any good anyways. We must be magnets for rude people or something! The show was terrific, and SB really enjoyed it (except for the loudmouths in front of us).
We returned to the stateroom and our steward was working in there, so we headed back down to the shops on deck 4. We did some browsing, which means after 5 minutes he went to sit outside and wait for me <g>. We got a frame for the embarkation photo and got some Mickey peppermints for him. When we returned to the stateroom the steward had finished, so we relaxed a bit before getting dressed for dinner. Tonight is “dress up” night ship-wide. SB wore a dark suit, while I wore the black dress from last night (since different people would be seeing us).
We were about 5 minutes early, so we hit the mob of people waiting for dinner. Once the doors opened we were inside in no time, and taken to our table. We have a table for 4 and lucked out tonight – the other couple was not there. I knew he preferred to eat with just us rather than with other people, but Disney doesn’t have tables for 2. He had a Caesar salad and shrimp cocktail, while I had the mixed garden salad. We both had the tenderloin entrée, and everything was excellent. It obviously wasn’t Palo-quality, but it was very good. Since it was just the 2 of us we were able to be served fairly quickly, and our server did a good job of getting us out of there even though we never asked. For dessert we ordered a crème brule, and I ate about half of it.
After dinner we went to the stateroom to change back into comfortable clothes and went up to WaveBands. Michael Harrison was doing a 10:15 adult comedy/ventriloquism show and we wanted to see that. His comedy was ok – the show dragged through that point. However, once he started with the ventriloquism (first with a tennis ball) he was hysterical! I won’t give away any of what he does, but if he’s on your cruise, do NOT miss him! He’s doing the family show the next night, but I almost think that will be a let-down after this one (besides being over-run with kids <g>). After the show the 70’s Disco Night started, and we stayed for that. The cast members were really great getting people involved, and in no time they had some really funny guests out on the dance floor. We watched the Gloria Gaynor contest and then the John Travolta contest – all great fun! I’ve never been able to attend any of these events in the past because I wasn’t willing to stink like a cigarette butt, but now that smoking it banned in this club I’m able to go.
I was falling asleep in his arms, so we headed back upstairs to bed. I asked him if he’d enjoyed himself today (since this is all new to him) and he said “immensely”. He’s also willing to cruise again <g>.
DAY 6 TUESDAY JANUARY 10, 2006:
Who: Sue (47), DVC Member
Plan: Castaway Cay
Actual: I was up around 7 again, just after sunrise when the sunlight brightened up the stateroom. I expected him to sleep in, but he was awake and wanted to get up by the time I’d brushed my teeth. So much for puttering around on my own while he sleeps, lol! We were pulling in to Castaway Cay, and it looked like another gorgeous day! I ran up to the beverage station to make my cappuccino, then returned to the stateroom and finished yesterday’s report while he showered & got ready.
Around 8:30 or so we went upstairs for breakfast at Beach Blanket Buffet. The food on the buffet is basically the same each day, with just a couple of exceptions. We ate outside again, and noticed big dark clouds that caused it to drizzle slightly at times. Eventually they cleared though, and the day was gorgeous!
After eating we disembarked the ship with no wait at all, and rode the tram over to the beach. We decided to stay at the end of family beach, down by the Head’s Up Bar. It was very peaceful there, even later when more people came. I don’t recall there being any kids near us at all! When the bar opened we walked over there and got a beer for SB and a Snowflake for me. The Snowflake was the drink of the day, and was delicious – coconut cream, pineapple juice, rum & rainbow sprinkles). We both dozed off a bit and when we woke up it was time for lunch at Cookies’ BBQ. I had half of a hot dog, corn on the cob, and of course a giant cookie. He had a burger, ribs, corn, and some salads. Everything tasted really good, and we had no wait at all to get our food or find a table. We went back to our lounge chairs for another hour or so after lunch, then caught the tram back to the ship.
We sat on the verandah briefly, I updated the report, then I decided to go walk a mile on deck 4 while he was watching tv. We watched General Hospital, then I wandered around a bit while he showered. We went out to deck 4 to watch them load everything onto the ship, toss the ropes, and sail away. At that point it was time for the Castaway Club reception, which was held in WaveBands. There was a pretty good turn out, and the drinks & food were great. They no longer had the chicken tenders, but did have coconut jumbo shrimp, chicken wings, mozzarella sticks, cold canapés, fruit, jalapeno poppers and some sort of little quiche. Captain Henri addressed the crowd, and we were out of there about 5:45.
We headed up to deck 5 to the movie theater and saw Sky High – cute movie, but not something we would have paid to see at home. We had a little time to hang out in the stateroom before dinner, and I called room service to see if we could get an entrée from the restaurant menu delivered to the stateroom. On HAL this is permitted, but not on Disney. So, I changed into a dress and we went down to our dinner seating (not hungry at all) at 8:30.
We were surprised to see our table set for only 2, and the server explained the other couple had moved to early seating. We were thrilled to end up with our own table. SB had the crab cake, gumbo soup and snapper. I ordered the pineapple and snapper. Everything was good except the gumbo, although nothing was really outstanding. I think I may skip this dinner if I do any future Disney cruises. We left before dessert, which means we missed the wait for the limbo dance they do. That’s not really my thing, and I knew he wouldn’t mind missing it either. We went back to the stateroom and watched the fireworks from our verandah – a perfect view.
DAY 7 WEDNESDAY JANUARY 11, 2006:
Who: Sue (47), DVC Member
Plan: At Sea, Palo Brunch
Actual: I was up shortly after 7 again, and left SB sleeping. After showering and getting dressed I went up on deck to make my cappuccino, then wandered around deck 4 and spent some time in a lounge chair there. Eventually I returned to the stateroom, where he was awake. We spent the morning in bed, watching tv and being lazy. Our brunch reservation at Palo was 10:30, so we headed up there around 10:20. It was a beautiful day outside, and the view from Palo was really nice.
We were seated at the same table as the other night, and had Kristo (Hristo) for our server again. He took us up to tour the buffet, brought us our drinks (orange juice for SB, extreme mimosa for me), then we were ready to hit the buffet. SB loved the stone crab claws, Alaskan king crab legs, and jumbo shrimp – none of which are things I eat. The sticky buns were very good, too. We ordered one of the pizzas, and they made it half margherita and half pepperoni. At that point he was stuffed, but I ordered the eggs benedict knowing I would only eat a portion of it. He tried it too, and liked it. It’s the best eggs benedict I’ve ever found (it’s not something I order elsewhere as it’s just not good enough). SB ended up with a small portion of the tilapia while I had chocolate flan for dessert. Overall everything was wonderful and it was a great brunch. Best of all, I didn’t feel like I was ready to explode. Unfortunately, he did!
We went back down to the stateroom to rest for 30 minutes, and then were going to head to the pool. He ended up not feeling like leaving once he got settled, so I grumbled a bit and went up without him. I don’t mind going up alone, but I would have preferred to not spent the last 30 minutes waiting to go up – although I realize he didn’t know he wouldn’t feel up to going to the pool.
I changed into my swimsuit and went up to deck 10, and was lucky to find a single chaise lounge available in the area I like. It was beautiful for an hour or so, then got very cloudy. I read some magazines, then returned to the stateroom around 2pm. SB was in the middle of the movie Cinderella Man, which I knew I didn’t want to see because it’s about boxing. I took another shower and packed up most of our stuff to get a head start on that chore. When the movie ended we watched the rest of General Hospital, then I went out for a walk while he continued watching the Alito hearings on CNN. I can only take that for about 5 minutes, lol. We also finished up the wine we’d brought on board (the moscato no longer served in Palo).
Tonight’s show is Disney Dreams, and our dinner is Animator’s Palate. We ended up going to Diversions for a drink and missed Disney Dreams. SB probably would have liked it, but since we saw 2 shows already that’s ok. At Diversions I ordered a cosmopolitan (martini) and was surprised at how it tasted like alcohol. He said it tasted like cough syrup, lol. On HAL cruises they must use more grenadine, as they taste much better. Around 6:30 we went back to the stateroom for a while before dinner. Neither of us was hungry, but I did want him to see Animator’s.
We spent some time out on deck 4 before Animator’s opened, which was nice. Our table was towards the back, but the location didn’t matter at all. The serving teams seemed to be having a rough night – several items were dropped (heard dishes/glasses crashing). Our assistant server seemed to be in a daze – he poured water but never greeted us or spoke to any of his tables. When he brought SB’s soda, he put it at an empty seat at the table next to ours, lol! The couple over there wondered what was going on, but once we realized it they just passed the soda over.
SB had a Caesar salad and the roasted chicken breast – both of which were very good. I had the gazpacho and the herb crusted veal chop, which I enjoyed. For dessert we shared a piece of cheesecake. SB missed most of the “show” since it began just after he left for the restroom, but at least he caught the end of it. We gave our tips to everyone, and returned to the stateroom after dinner. I packed up the rest of our stuff and had the 2 suitcases out by 10:30. We spent the rest of the evening relaxing in the stateroom.
DAY 8 THURSDAY JANUARY 12, 2006:
Who: Sue (47), DVC Member
Plan: Possible WDW stop, Drive home
Actual: Our assigned breakfast today was 7:45 in Animator’s Palate, but we’d told our server we were planning to eat while on the road home. We weren’t interested in Beach Blanket Buffet since it was just continental (SB is an eggs/sausage kind of guy) and I knew from experience it would be mobbed. We decided it would be better to hit the road and stop somewhere along the way. Earl of Sandwich was a consideration, and that’s where we ended up.
We left the ship right around 8, picked up our luggage and arrived onto WDW property by 9:15 or so. Earl of Sandwich is great at this time of day – no lines! We ordered a club sandwich for him and the caprese for me, and had no wait at all. We ate inside, then left to begin the drive back to Ft Myers.
Overall it was a great trip. The Old Key West portion of the trip was really nice with the 1-bedroom villa. We enjoyed our theme park time, and of course Comedy Warehouse. Concourse Steakhouse was another new restaurant to him, and both this lunch and the Sci Fi were things we’d repeat in the future.
The cruise was also really nice. I love cruising – I could stay on a ship for weeks at a time, but his limit seems to be 4 days. We don’t have another cruise booked yet, but it’ll most likely be another short one. It may work out that the Disney Wonder is our best bet, as this ship is clearly the nicest of the 4-day cruises.
My next trip will be a solo weekend to WDW in early February. Until then, thanks for reading and feel free to ask any questions about the cruise.