Kevin Smith -- April 2002 -- Walt Disney World (PORR) / Disney Cruise Trip
29 April - 4 day Wonder Cruise (w/o Freeport)
We cannot count the number of times Nan and I have been to DL. Our last visit was December 2000. Living in Arizona, travel by car is around 6 hours and by plane 55 minutes. This was our first visit just before Christmas to DL. We enjoyed it soooo much, we are planning to go again this December.
Our first trip to WDW was in '95. We have since made 4 additional trips to Orlando. On our last trip in January / February 2000, we traveled with another family - spent 4 days on the Wonder and another 7 at WDW and Universal Studios. Even though 2 were for business, time was found for a trip to the parks or Pleasure Island.
We wanted to celebrate our birthdays and spend time as a couple. Our first option included driving or flying to LA with a day at DCA and taking a cruise to Mexico. In pricing out this trip, it was not too much more to go to WDW. Going back on the Wonder made the little difference a quick decision.
I first located this web site in October/November of 2000 just before our first DCL trip. The past few months, I've been a regular. I can't say "thank you" enough to persons who host and provide information through these boards. You all made our trips a success.
I filled out our cruise interests through an internet travel agent. Within 12 hours, we had a reply from Carole. We spent 3 day's e-mailing each other to finalize details. Carole was OUTSTANDING!!! She offered suggestions and was upbeat about some of the changes we made, and comments we wanted noted on our DCL reservation. We wanted to be wait listed for early dinner seating and wished having our past Serving team - Wira & Gusti (more on this later). A CAT 11 was booked and deposit offered the following week we started working with Carole.
I spent the next few weeks watching flights through Expedia and other travel sites. Continental offered a great price connecting through Houston. Our personal and business carriers of choice are Delta and American Airlines. Since both were negotiating contracts, and there was a small threat of a strike, we chose another to avoid a possible last minute scramble. All things considered, I would gladly choose Continental again.
Daily phone calls were made to CRO to request "specials" at one of the moderates. Since we stayed at Riverside, we wanted to try two nights at Port Orleans. Finally got a rate for just under $100 per night (final price included all "the small print" expanse).
Due to this boards recommendation, we chose Avis for our rental car. Normally Hertz has gotten our past business, but there have been too many posts praising the Avis location near port. Again, these boards were right on target - more later.
OK - now that all the boring stuff is out of the way....on to the trip report.
Friday, April 27 --- travel day.
After 60+ days of planning, this day was finally here - yea! My Mom came to stay at our house and watch our 14 month old DD Kristen. DD Karin(7) and DD Kelsey(4) were taken to Nan's Mom and Dad's house. Dad dropped us off at the airport an hour before departure. We must have looked like Grade School children skipping through the airport. Our flight connected through Houston and was pretty uneventful. Landing at MCO after 10pm, the Avis counter was almost empty. I was greeted by a rep who inquired if we had any direction needs. While the counter rep was completing our reservation, the first person highlighted directions on the map. She even circled areas of 2 grocery stores - Wal-Mart and Gooding's. Nanc had located our checked luggage, and off to the parking garage we went. A Chevrolet Cavalier had a perfect size trunk for persons that "over pack" ----- like us. Our first stop was at Wal-Mart. This place was a zoo. They were pretty busy and in the process of restocking shelves. The final nightmare was during checkout. This was the cashiers 2nd day and assistance was needed during and at the end of each customer. Check out took over 20 minutes - twice as long as it should have. I felt soooo sorry for this employee as it was obvious little training was offered and she was made to "learn on her own". Persons before me were not so kind and started taking the long wait out on her. In speaking with her, I felt she really wanted to do the job hired for...just not given time and appropriate instructions. I spent two years as a Trainer and discussed my impression with the Manager on duty. Since Wal-Mart did not have much of a wine selection...we went to Gooding's. Yes, I know, their prices are OUTRAGIOUS, but we both really like one type of wine. All in all, I'd of rather paid the incredibly high prices at Gooding's and get to my hotel an hour sooner....yea - I did say an HOUR SOONER. We arrived at Port Orleans after Midnight. Checking in was over in 5 minutes and a very informative Porter was loading our luggage on a cart and into our room 2 minutes after we arrived. Our room was in Building One facing the courtyard with a view of the river from the balcony.
Saturday, April 28 --- Dumbo do-or-die at the parks
"Fast Pass - to the front row...no back"
Our main reason for a day at the park was to allow Nan a chance to ride some E-ticket rides she couldn't go on during our Jan 2000 trip - because she was expecting. She really-really loves roller coasters. I woke up early to take some video and photos of the resort. The weather was wonderful and the grounds are just beautiful. Disney must have trained a group of ducks to fly when I started filming on the river. The pool and attention to details in the courtyard were fabulous. Back to the room with Baguettes and coffee/hot chocolate. We were too tired to do EE at MK, so we went to MGM. Got in the park just before rope drop and waited 5-10 minutes for front row at RnR. Since the stand by line was getting longer, we got Fast Passes to ride it again. ToT was next with enough wait time to use our Fast Passes for back row on our return at RnR. Nan and I liked RnR sooooo much, we AGAIN got Fast Passes and went to watch the Muppet 3D show. A little shopping and return to front row at RnR. A few more stores later and we were on the road heading back to PO. Picked up some lunch at the food court to eat by the pool. Back to the room for a nap and to get ready for our evening at Epcot. Normally, we squeeze every minute possible at the parks. It was wonderful touring at a relaxing pace. Revived and ready to go, we drove to the Boardwalk resort and took the International Gateway to World Showcase at Epcot. The area is really beautiful for their Flower and Garden event. After visiting a few countries it was time for PS at Le Cellier in the Canadian Pavilion. Service and food at this restaurant has always been excellent...this evening was no exception. Just thinking about their cheese and bacon soup makes my mouth water - and arteries stiffen. I have the recipe if anyone wants a copy. After a lovely dinner, we toured different countries and worked our way to Mexico to see Tapestry of Nations. Saw American Adventure and listened to Davy Jones sing a song or two. Waiting for the second show of ToN, we marveled at the set up of a wedding reception overlooking the lake. 50-80 people were treated to dinner overlooking the parade and fireworks show. Am sure some big - BIG bucks were dropped to send off the happy couple. Gotta tell ya - the thought of buying a wrapped gift and crashing the dinner for prime Illuminations seats came across our mind. After ToN, we headed toward the International gateway and watched Illuminations from the bridge. This is a much shorter and less crowed than heading through Spaceship Earth to the parking lot. Boardwalk Valet got us our car in less than 5 minutes. We were back at PO while some were just getting out of Epcot's parking lot - again, our thanks to all for this tip. After returning some packages to the room, it was off to Downtown Disney via a ride on the river. While waiting to get on the boat, a family walked up and asked about the wait. When "Captain Jack" told them it would be 10-15 minutes to get them in a boat, both parents went ballistic and started arguing about the delay. I must comment on how Captain Jack (his first name is Jack - also Captains the boats) handled this obnoxious couple. As they continued to hurl insults about the operator they spoke with and the delay, Captain Jack remained calm and professional. Personally, I'd have taken their children to dinner and tossed their parents into the river. The impatient couple dragged their children off the dock and continued to be poor examples muttering nasty comments as they headed toward the bus stop. As our boat approached, we both acknowledged Captain Jack for handling this situation in such a wonderful matter. As the boat left the dock, another approached ---- half full. If this family waited another 3 minutes...their kids would have been eating instead of waiting for a bus to come. When parents act this way, you can only feel sorry for the children and the CM's they choose to take their days frustration out on. Hint ---- if you feel yourself approaching "type A" attitude...take a minute before taking it out on someone employed to offer you a "magical experience". Enough said...I'll get off my soap box. Some stores were only open for 30 minutes - so, Nan went into "emergency shopping mode". The last stop was closing the HUGE Disney store. Boarding the last boat to PO with fireworks from Pleasure Island topped off a fabulous day.
Sunday, April 29 --- Wonder cruise - Day One - Embarkation
"To the islands....Mon"
Some early video/photos and car packed, we said good bye to PO. We liked this resort soooo much and look to return on our next trip. A short drive to Grand Floridian with a walk around the grounds before breakfast at the café. The food and wonderful service was enhanced with a table by the window and a view of the water. Staying or fitting in some time at GF is a must on every trip to WDW. The drive to Port Canaveral was about an hour and fifteen minutes. We stopped off at the ship to drop off our luggage and headed to the Radisson to return our car. Less than a block before Avis is a gas station and convenience store with an ATM. This would be a great place to pick up some beer or soda if you don't want to stop in Orlando. The van was about to leave but waited for us to turn in our car. We were checking in at Port ten minutes later...just before Noon. I highly recommend tipping the driver a little extra. Upon our pick up...extra room was made in the first van for us. During check in, we requested to speak with Chris Dunne - DCL Port Operations Ground Services Manager. On our Jan 2000 cruise, we had a challenge and were denied boarding. This was a crushing blow and the minutes thinking we were not going to cruise seemed like hours of terror. Chris overcame our challenge, and seeing how this effected us she gave us a better stateroom. Miss Chris has always held a soft spot in our hearts and it was a blessing to see her again. Having named our DD's after people we've known...Miss Chris is one of the many Chris's we've met that came to mind naming our youngest DD ---- Kristen. Boarding complete, Nan got in line and I started taking some photos of the boat and the port building. At fifteen minutes past twelve, the doors opened and the boarding process began. Just before twelve thirty, we were on the gangway getting our embarkation photo. It was disappointing not to be "announced" after your photo is taken. Am not sure if they stopped this completely or just for this sailing (DCL - if your reading...I vote you bring this back). Everybody appeared to be directed to Parrot Cay, so we headed to Beach Blanket for Jumbo shrimp and a table on deck. About fifteen minutes before One, Nan and I split up. Nan went to Vista Spa to book a Surial Bath, and I to Wavebands for dinner at Palos during Castaway Cay day around sunset. Nan avoided the tour and signed up for a pedicure and our Surial Bath. I was the first to arrive at Wavebands, I was asked to take a seat and the reservation process would start shortly. The servers were just setting up their laptops and announced to those starting to crowd near them to sit down and relax. I started talking and did not notice a podium setting up at the front door with numbered tickets for the day you want reservations. When I realized that I needed to go and get a number ---- ended up with number eight. This kind of pissed me off knowing I was the first in the room and ending up having others making reservations before me. Note to all...stay by the front door and get a ticket. The process is pretty slick...there are four stations, one for each day, each station calls you up by number. Even with the mishap, I was out within fifteen minutes. Next, on to Cadillac lounge to request our past server team of - Wira and Gusti. The sign out side the lounge informed us that early seating was full and requests to dine earlier wasn't possible. Even with the sign...most people in line were attempting to switch to early seating. Some were frustrated to be placed on a wait list and they would receive a voice mail if the change would be possible. The person taking my Server change request excused herself...and....just like Disney magic...out came Wira. He has received some promotions, and his current responsibilities could not allow him to add/change seating assignments. It was great to spend a few minutes speaking with him. As fate would have it, we would have missed super dinner companions had a change been made ---- and --- we ran into Wira all over the ship and shore. Finally, I headed to guest relations to sign up for wine tasting. Wine tasting conflicted with our spa appointment.....so I went to the spa and was able to change our reservation. It appears the Surial bath was only offered during our day at sea. Reservations complete, I met Nan at our stateroom --- 2648 deluxe outside. We booked a CAT 11 but were upgraded to a CAT 9. 2648 is ALL THE WAY Aft on the Starboard side. I would not hesitate staying there again. The only time you notice some noise is from the side thrusters during docking. In the room was our Castaway Club returning cruiser gift - a very nice "gym style" bag embroidered with DCL name/logo complete with a water bottle. We looked on the back of the card attached to the bag for time/location of the returning cruiser party...nothing there. I called Guest Services and found out it would start at five fifteen during Castaway Cay day - forty-five minutes before Palo reservations - ressies completed. Our Stateroom Hostess Ionie from Jamaica introduced herself and asked our preferences and special need/requests. She came back minutes later with ice for our collapsible cooler. We really did not need this, since the room refrigerator kept everything cold. I initially had some doubts as it seamed a little warm when we first got into the room. Will assume they turn them off during stops at Port Canaveral - once at sea...everything got real cold. Once you remove the rack, you can chill two bottles of wine and six bottles of water/soda. Two of our three bags arrived, so we started unpacking and getting our room set up. With the third bag unpacked it was now time for the safety drill. We headed up the back steps to Animators Palate. The drill lasted almost twenty minutes. Then, headed to the upper decks to walk around and enjoy the sail away party. Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and Pluto joined the countdown ending with the ship's horn playing, "When you wish upon a star". The music, bubbles and the Bahama Mama's sure put everybody in a party mood. When most started heading down to dress for early dinner/show, we enjoyed another beverage in the ESPN club. A short run at the room to freshen up and off to see Hercules the Muse-ical. There are some really funny zingers in this show...for all ages. Before leaving on our trip, I laminated cards with photos of each child and included a note from each of our children. It basically stated each child's name, age and requested their favorite friend of Mickey to sign a T-shirt we purchased at Mickey's Mates. I approached one of the character's attendants and showed them the note attached to each shirt. The attendant gladly accepted the shirts and would have them signed and returned to Guest Services the following day. This was an outstanding tip learned from these boards. Nan and I did not have to attend numerous character appearances and wait in lines that at times were very long. Anyone wanting a nice souvenir to take home should do this. I'd be happy to send anyone the Power Point file used to create the cards - all you need to do is change some information, add a digital photo and print it out. Please send me an e-mail if I can help you. Our first dining assignment was at Tritons. We were the first to arrive at a table of eight. Minutes later, we were joined by Eric and Elizabeth from Green Bay. They were also traveling without their three children so we had a lot in common. Our Head Server was Gaspare - Server was Marijan - Asst Server was Gane. These guys were really - really nice...we were just spoiled by Wira and Gusti. Gane prepared the bottle of wine we brought and never spoke about or charged a corkage fee. The four of us closed the restaurant savoring conversation without having to attend to our children. We all missed our kids terribly but agreed that parents need a vacation as a couple now and then. Nan and I got drinks and walked on the upper decks before turning in for the evening. Ionie left a pair of towel swans on our bed - they were really cute.
Monday, April 30 --- Wonder cruise - Day Two - Nassau
"Hello pretty lady, want your hair braided"
I have a love for photography, so I get up early each morning in hopes of a sunrise. Was hoping for the kind of sunrise that you shoot a whole roll of film. It was very cloudy and looked like rain. Picked up some Omelets and surprised Nan with breakfast in bed. There were numerous announcements canceling most of the excursions and they would be adding extra activities on board. Before leaving we again spoke with Rebecca from the Shore Excursion desk. She offered wonderful suggestions on places to go and included a map with locations of Disney recommended stores. It was raining and appeared Nassau had gotten allot already. We walked into town with numerous cabbies offering rides, and offers for Nan to get her hair braided. The first buzz phrase of this trip was, "Hello pretty lady, want your hair braided"...stuck with us through the whole trip. It's a five or ten minute easy walk from Prince George Warf to the shopping district, however you can get a cab for $4 per person each way. Nan was in search of a watch &/or a tanzanite ring - I a leather wallet. After numerous stops, we really did not find anything either of us wanted. Did get some 100% Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee (8oz whole bean - $16.95) and some Barcardi rum made in Bahamas ($8 per ltr). I recommend some really cool T-shirts that start out black and white and change into vibrant colors in sunlight ($18 to $23 each). A better description can be found at www.justaddsun.com It started to pour so we took a cab that dropped us off within steps to the gang plank. After changing our wet clothes, we watched "Castaway" staring Tom Hanks in the Walt Disney Theater. What a great place to watch a movie...wonderful sound with a huge screen. Later on, Nan went to watch Spy Kids while I napped and took some video/photos since the weather cleared up a little. Tonight's dinner rotation was at Animators Palate. Dinner was wonderful and we again closed the restaurant yakking with Eric and Elizabeth. Not wanting our evening to end, we all went to listen to David Williams play the piano in the Cadillac lounge. Before turning in, we bought some presents at Mickey's Mates and Treasure Ketch. In front of The Walt Disney Theater, they were holding a silent auction. The following items were offered;
Animator's Palate Paintbrush centerpiece (started around $50)
Floor lamp used in the suites (began at $100 + shipping)
Hand painted plate to celebrate the Millennium (around $50)
Set of shot glasses from each of the Lounges ($20 or $30 starting bid)
Waterford goblet etched with DCL celebratory cruise (I think $100 starter)
Framed Castaway Cay wall hanging - same one above your bed ($100 opening bid)
We fell in love with the Castaway Cay wall hanging and watched the bids during the cruise - more on this later. Took a moonlight stroll on deck and filled out postcards to send back home from CC. Ionie made a towel monkey and hung it by the clips on a pants hanger. She used Nan's glasses for the eyes. Sleep on the ocean came fast.
Tuesday, May 1 --- Wonder cruise - Day Three - Castaway Cay
"Private Island Good"
Mickey's voice woke me up early. Photo/video gear in tow, I went to the upper decks in search of some photo opportunities. The island was in sight and it was VERY windy. Our past cruise, the weather was bad and we were unable to dock at CC. I had visions of us AGAIN not making the island. Standing at the bow of the ship, it was very interesting to see how the ship maneuvered into place. The Captain held for almost twenty minutes with the back of the boat pointing toward the dock. The side thrusters were churning up allot of sand. The amount of power used made our room and upper decks vibrate a little. This amount of time seemed like an eternity. Visions of finally setting foot on the island felt like waiting for Santa on Christmas Eve. I started dancing and running toward the room as the ship started backing toward the dock. Nan was awakened by the noise and wondering why I was sooooooo excited. We returned to the upper deck to watch the docking process. It appears someone dropped one of the aft guide lines used to pull out the larger ropes. It was interesting to see them scramble on dock to retrieve this line. I believe this was one reason we were delayed over an hour getting off the ship. We grabbed some breakfast at the buffet and got our beach gear ready. Numerous announcements discussed the delay in getting off the boat, spa appointments scheduled on the island would be held on the ship and additional programs were added. I believe they were anticipating cloudy/rainy weather. Nan and I were in the first group to get off the boat. First stop was to mail postcards to our DD's and the other family we have enjoyed traveling with. We were giggling and almost skipping toward the first tram. Stopping only to pose for and take photos with the ship in the background. I shot a half roll of film of the island and ship on the tram - this was the photo time I had been waiting for. The sun in early May is strong enough to cause severe sunburn. Numerous announcements suggested applying sunscreen - sorry to say, some did not and there were some hurt'in campers that evening on ship. Can only imagine how hot this island gets in July/August. If you burn easy...SPF 8 won't cut it...go for 30+. A quick stop at the She Sells Sea Shells shop and on to the tram toward Serenity Bay (adults only beach). We were on the first tram heading to the other side of the island. Selecting an area with an umbrella, hammock, lounge and beach chairs just past the cabanas. The view in every direction was breathtaking - We are world travelers and put this island in our top five of scenic beauty. A beverage brought to you on this beach is the ultimate luxury - our second buzz phrase of the trip was, "private island good" from a yogurt commercial. We spent the morning marveling at the color of the water and sugar white sand. Lounging with a book and walking through the pale turquoise blue water is a memory I'll never forget. We had lunch at the adult beach and packed up to visit the shops and snorkel at the family beach. At this time of the afternoon the water is pretty stirred up. It was difficult to see more than three or four feet. We should have followed to snorkel first - next time. We swam all the way out as far as you were allowed to go and did not see any fish. On our return to shore, around the "ship wreck", Nan spotted six yellow tailed fish. She called me over and we held hands as they swam around us - how cool is that? Turned in our gear and walked around the family beach to scout out a spot for our next cruise - with the kids. Stopped one more time to shoot some photos and take in the beauty of the ship and island. Would have loved to stay on the island longer, but we wanted to attend the returning cruiser-Castaway Club party. Since dinner tonight was at Palo's, we go all dressed up - I wore a dark blue pinstripe suit and Nan looked lovely in her floor length purple gown. We had photos taken in the Atrium. The mixer was held in The Cadillac Lounge with starters and drinks with the Captain. It was a pleasure to meet and share experiences of past DCL cruisers trips. We held a short but enjoyable conversation with Captain Henry. When Nan offered the month/year we missed the island - HE KNEW THE DATE. I found out that he only misses Castaway Cay 4-5 times out of 104 sailings last year - not bad odds. Was given the impression he does not take missing the island lightly. Just after the Captain came to visit, we needed to leave to make our Palo reservations. We invited our dinner mates (Elizabeth & Eric) to join us. Seated at a booth for four near the window. Our server was Georgia from Italy. She was awesome and brought us enough food to feed a small country. We all found it hard to finish our soufflé. Then, Georgia brought us two more deserts for all to share. Just when we thought the food was going to stop, Georgia brought a large plate with happy birthday written in syrup with two cookies and sang to us. We were instructed to place our finger on the edge of the plate and make a wish. Then, mess up the writing with a cookie and feed the first bite to each other. Eating the cookie at the same time would make the wish come true - wish granted. We passed on watching "Voyage of the Ghost Ship" and returned to our stateroom to change. I forgot to change the door hanger from "Privacy Please" --- to --- "Service Stateroom Please". So, Ionie did not enter our room. She was about to stop working for the day and came running up to us wanting to know if we needed anything. Before going to her cabin, she dropped off a card with a phone number to call for anything we needed --- She was wonderful. Changed to more casual clothes, and went to Dueling Pianos at Barrel of Laughs. Gary and James are extremely talented. They got the crowd singing and laughing. I filled out a request card - "Root Beer Rag". I know Billy Joel released this song - possibly on "The Stranger" album...not sure if he wrote it. Gary made a fuss over the selection and requested I sing a few bars ---- I knew I was in trouble when I answered it was instrumental only. He sat down at the piano and played this complicated song with passion and excellence. When finished, the entire audience gave him a standing ovulation. All I could do was stand and clap till my hands hurt. A few audience participation songs later and they needed to stop - Wavebands was holding 70's disco music dance. Because we want to forget this era (music only), we strolled the upper deck and checked on the silent auction. The more we saw this wall hanging, the more we knew it needed to come home with us. It appeared a Physician and another passenger were battling for top spot. That was ok - it only matters who ends on top ---- when the auction closes.
Wednesday, May 2 --- Wonder cruise - Day Four - Day at Sea
" Enjoy the food you love with the wine you like"
Mickey's wake up call seems earlier this morning - either lack of sleep or events of yesterday are catching up. Our final full day on board and still no sunrise. Was able to see a little color between the clouds. The early morning time on the upper deck is wonderful with or without a colorful view. I ordered coffee/hot chocolate and beat room service by just a few minutes. Went to Tritons for breakfast and was greeted by no other than - Wira, our past server. He directed us to a wonderful table with very attentive servers. After a wonderful meal, Nan went to the spa for a pedicure and I to the room to start some packing. Well, a little packing...my ESPN mug was calling me...so was the sports club. We hung out on the upper decks before returning again to Tritons for Lunch. Were seated with a honeymoon couple who their business celebrated annual accomplishments by taking its employees on vacations - hey, where can I get an application. After another trip to the shops and a brief check on the silent auction, we head to Palos for wine tasting. This was something I enjoyed with Steve (Father of the family we enjoy traveling with) on our last trip. Since then, we have experimented with different wines only to find one or two we both can agree on. This $12 per person event is very informative and I'll use any excuse to spend time at this fantastic restaurant. Looking out the 270 degree view at the back of the ship, the level of service they provide with great food and wine --- what more could you ask for. The best phrase we heard was, "Enjoy the food you love with the wine you like". Have always tried to choose the best food/wine combination and will now follow the above advice. After wine tasting ended, we headed directly to Vista Spa for our Surial Bath. If you unsure about the Suriel Bath - just do it! Put this down as some special time together as a couple. Hehehehe - did I plan this right...share great wines, then have a playful mud fight with the one I love. Was the boat rocking....or....did we even care. Wow...were we in here an hour - man, this fun went fast. Then, off to Scoops for some ice cream and lounging on the upper deck. Back to the stateroom to change into tropical attire and off to, what else, check on the silent auction and watch Disney Dreams. This show is an absolute --- DON'T MISS. Nan cries at Hallmark commercials and the water works started as Tink sprinkled pixie dust on the ship. Catching a few minutes of the family version of Dueling Pianos, and watching other parents children dancing and singing on stage made us think of our DD's, and how much fun they would have hamming it up in this show. Time was running out on the silent auction, so, you guessed it, back to check on the picture. No new bids had been placed and I spoke with a CM in Treasure Ketch that was controlling the auction. The official time showed just a few minutes remaining and I was warned to make my final bid, as the sheets would be picked up very soon. After signing the sheet, this CM closed the auction. Nan and I high-fived each other and hugged knowing we would remember this special time with a unique wall hanging. We informed this CM that we were late for dinner and would like to return to take some photos around the picture. Skipping and giggling to Parrot Cay, we apologized to our dinner mates and server staff for being late ---- all of them knew why and the smiles on our faces told the whole story. Not wanting to delay everybody's dinner, I asked our Server Marjan to surprise me with his selection for dinner. He attempted to narrow it down between lamb and pork tenderloin. I allowed him to make this choice. We had a new diner guest joining us. His name was Lewis and is employed as a Landscape Designer by the Walt Disney Company. He has spent ten months over the past two years living at Castaway Cay. After hearing this...we became instant friends. After barraging him with numerous questions, I asked a stupid question, "What does it feel like to live on this island?" - He answered with the biggest grin on his face - that said it all. He was very interesting to speak with and offered the following "GRAND TIP". DCL in contemplating docking at CC till 2:00 AM before sailing to Port Canaveral. One of the main reasons they do not do this now is a pest problem that becomes difficult to enjoy the island after sunset. Swarms of white/black flies are attracted to --- humans. Lewis is working with a University on a research project to eliminate the pest problem. They have devised a trap that uses the carbon dioxide given off from the generators. The flies are attracted to the trap and eliminated. How cool it's gonna be to celebrate the farewell party ---- from the island. Ok back to dinner - I've probably lost half of you but I'll finish anyway. After starters were finished, Marjan brought me both - lamb and pork. I finished as much as I could and could only pick at desert. We exchanged addresses with Eric and Elizabeth and returned to have our photo taken with the wall hanging. In speaking with the CM controlling the auction, she informed me this was the third of three auctions this picture was offered --- they won't be offering this wall hanging again - woo hoo!!! Then, back to the room to finish up the rest of our packing. Our bags outside the room just a few minutes after 11:00PM. I think we were asleep before our heads hit the pillow.
Thursday, May 3 --- Wonder cruise - Debarkation
"How does one successfully become a stowaway"
Up early to view a cloudy Florida shoreline. The boat approaches port very early in the morning. Final day...still no sunrise. I took some final video and returned to the room with coffee and hot chocolate. With a final check of the room to see if we forgot everything, we gave Ionie her envelope and thanked her numerous times for her hard work and special touches. Time to say good-bye to our new friends and eat a limited breakfast at Parrot Cay. With the rest of the envelopes handed out, it was time to leave the ship. I can understand that everybody is focused on finding luggage, getting through customs and arranging transportation to their final destination. But, there are 8-10 very large paintings on the long walls of the port customs building. Take the time --- No, make the time to walk along both walls and view these wonderful wall hangings. I was tempted to take some photos - but the armed guards and "no photos allowed" signs stopped me. We hailed a porter and had our bags taken to the Continental ticket counter outside by the busses. In choosing an airline that has an offsite luggage check in, we did not need to take our checked bags to the airport. As slick as this was, we may consider cruising after time spent at WDW on our next trip. It seemed much more convenient and you save time, travel lighter and can request a smaller car. We spent some time saying good-bye to Chris Dunne, and went to wait for the Avis van. Check in luggage loaded in the rental we drove to Belz outlet. Belz has 2 Disney clearance centers within walking distance of each other (I understand there is another near Downtown Disney - will visit next time). As usual, we found some great bargains at both shops and I was glad we kept our carry on luggage light. Oh, I packed an empty tote bag...knew we would fill it. Return to Orlando airport and 30 minutes later we were in the air. We were greeted at the Phoenix terminal just outside the door by our excited DD's - and relieved Grandparents.
Items to improve for next time;
I'll end with a note of thanks to those who post/reply to these boards. We could not have done as much as we did and still had the time to relax and enjoy some quiet time without your assistance.
Wishing you and yours...calm seas and great seats for Disney Dreams.