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Sue Holland -- February 2003 – Walt Disney World (Offsite) / Disney Cruise 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
    • Appearances by:
      • Leesa, Comedy Warehouse regular
      • Tracy and Tyger, Comedy Warehouse regulars
      • Adie and Lisa, Darla and Steven, Donna and Joe, Dottie and Joe - DVC friends
      • Debbie and Don, Rich and Deb, Chris - DVC friends
  • Dates: January 31 - February 6, 2003
  • Travel Method: Personal car, Disney Cruise Line
  • Resort: Leesa's condo and Disney Wonder
  • Experience: Extremely experienced

INTRODUCTION:

Originally my February trip was going to be another 3-day weekend at Old Key West, taken more towards the end of the month. Then DVC announced they had taken over the Disney Wonder for the February 2nd sailing for a DVC Members-only cruise. I waited for the details of this "special" cruise - expecting a reduced rate like we've gotten in the past, and laughed at the gall of Disney to then jack the prices up slightly (so much for it being any sort of a "deal") for this cruise only. The explanation I heard most often was we were getting a second day at Castaway Cay, and that costs Disney money. LOL, I think the truth is the second day MAKES them money, as nobody can spend their money elsewhere on these two days. In any event, I initially had no desire at all to do this cruise. Of course, I should know to never say never!

Several DVC friends were planning to do the cruise, and I enjoy their company but figured I wouldn't be cruising with any of them until the kids were grown and it was just the adults left. If I had young children I'd welcome cruising with other families with kids, but since my kid is pretty much grown up I prefer to stick with the company of adults. I've done the 4-day Wonder cruise once before, and frankly any cruise of less than seven days and which only goes to the Bahamas is normally not something I'd do without a really compelling reason. I love many things Disney, but for me the cruise is not where they shine. However, I fully expect to have a great time spending those four nights on the ship socializing with friends - some of whom I only see infrequently. My friend Leesa has let me stay at her place after a night at Comedy Warehouse to start many of my trips this past year, so I decided to bring her along and give her the cruise as a Christmas present. This will be her first cruise, so it will be fun seeing it all through the eyes of a cruise virgin!

We opted for late dinner seating this time, which I'm eager to try. Generally I don't like to eat late, but sometimes early dinner just cuts into the afternoon too much with prep time (unless you're naturally gorgeous - I am not ). Unfortunately, on Disney when you have late dinner you see your show BEFORE dinner - what the heck is up with that??? I know, it's good for the little kids - sigh. I would have preferred dinner around 8, show at 10, but that's not how they do it. Leesa in particular is a night owl, although she's been trying to adjust her sleep schedule somewhat in preparation for the cruise. Unlike most people, if she does not get enough rest, she physically might not be able to move - and my biggest fear is the last day will come when we must get off the ship way earlier than she's used to, and she might have trouble. On the other days the worst that would happen is she misses whatever we're doing during the first part of the day. I'm somewhat of an early riser - I'll be up and out, walking the deck, having a light breakfast, so we'll have to figure out how to get in touch if she's still sleeping.

The Wonder is much more casual than the cruises I'm used to, so I'm going to take advantage of that and pack accordingly. The fancy dresses will stay at home, even though Darla has said she'd have to turn her head away when I come by in slacks . The daytime weather looks pretty good, getting pretty close to 80 degrees. Nights should be cool, but not cold. I opted for a cabin down on Deck 2 (#2076), without a verandah this time. Since it is Leesa's first cruise I didn't want to get an inside (aka walk-in closet) stateroom - having the large window is so much nicer. From Deck 2 we'll have a great view of the waves/water as we cruise along - although realistically, we won't be doing much cruising except after dark. Most of our time we'll be anchored somewhere.

Since the cruise leaves on Sunday and my workweek ends on Friday, I'm spending the couple of nights before the cruise at Leesa's and the Comedy Warehouse. Hopefully Tracy and Tyger will be there Friday night, too. I think the trip is going to go very quickly, and I look forward to relaxing on the cruise.

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

  • Fri 1/31: Work, Comedy Warehouse
  • Sat 2/1: Relax and prepare for cruise, Comedy Warehouse
  • Sun 2/2: DVC Member Cruise begins
  • Mon 2/3: Castaway Cay
  • Tue 2/4: Enjoy ship while in Nassau, Andrea McArdle's show
  • Wed 2/5: Castaway Cay,
  • Thu 2/6: Breakfast, leave ship, drive home

DAY 1 FRIDAY JANUARY 31, 2003:

Who:

  • Sue, DVC Member
  • Leesa, Comedy Warehouse regular
  • Tracy and Tyger, Comedy Warehouse regulars
  • Patty, friend new to Orlando

Plan: Work, Comedy Warehouse

Actual: It was a shortened day at work, which was good because I wasn't in the mood to be there anyway - I had a vacation to get to! I went in late following a medical appointment, and then left early, which makes for a pretty nice day. However, I woke up to find I had no electricity (a definite problem when you need to blow-dry your hair)! A call to the electric company told me they knew about the problem and it would be fixed within two hours - so I took my shower and shaved my legs by candlelight . If I was only going to work this morning I would have just gone back to bed until the power came on, but I didn't want to miss my 7:40 appointment before work. The power came back on before I needed the blow dryer, and I was able to finish packing now that I could see clearly!

Work was pretty easy and I thought I'd leave about two but right at 2pm I suddenly became the most popular and needed person out there! I finally ran out around 2:45, before anyone else decided I had the answer to one of their problems. The drive was uneventful and I arrived at Downtown Disney around 5:30. I parked by Nancy's car since we'd be transferring Leesa's suitcase later, then called Leesa and left a message on her voice mail. I figured she was either in Virgin reading or at the movies, so I headed to the West Side. I'd taken off my glasses (going without contacts for a few weeks - not happily, though) and saw a petite person in a blue jacket (all blurry) near the DVC booth and thought to myself that maybe that's Marti. She was wearing her glasses and starting pointing and calling my name out loud - yep, it was Marti ! She was the last person I ran into on my last day of my last trip, and here I run into her again on the first stop of this trip - what a coincidence. She introduced me to her DVC co-worker and a couple of custodial CMs who wanted to meet me because they thought I was her sister! I never thought about it, but we could pass for sisters pretty easily. Anyway, she's a lot of fun, and I spent the rest of her shift with her, and then a little after 6 we continued walking down the West Side.

We stopped outside Wolfgang Puck's and watched three baby ducklings with a few adult ducks - they were very cute. They were used to eating from the outdoor tables, which really isn't a very good practice but they're hard to resist when they're so cute. A large group of cheerleaders was seated at several of the outdoor tables on the Café side, and they were clapping, yelling cheers, and doing that awful teen girl laugh - completely destroying any chance of anyone else sitting out there for even a semi-quiet meal. There were large groups of cheerleaders wandering around, too - high school age I'd say. Marti headed to her car and I went inside Virgin to look for Leesa. She called while I was in there, and was at the movies next door. We made plans to meet at Comedy Warehouse, and I went back outside.

At Bongo's I got a beef empanada for dinner - very good, and just the right size. I walked back under the PI bridge to get to the Marketplace and had my chocolate sample at Ghiradelli, eating it on a bench facing the stage by the lake as I updated my notes. It was a beautiful night! Returning to PI I met Leesa up at the Comedy Warehouse and chatted with CMs Susan and Jennifer a while. Tonight is the first night the four new subs will be performing; one of them will be in each of the first four shows. They're all subs - Greg and Jen's positions have not been filled yet. Leesa mentioned Mark Lainer was back from CA and would be working tonight, which was good news also! I was sorry to see him leave a couple of years ago, and like him as a person as well as an actor.

We ran into Tracy and talked to her before heading down to the backdoor. Once inside we were able to save a seat for her since the show was not going to be full. The 7:20 cast was Jake, Mark L., (new) Mark, Karl, and Matt - all guys! The guy who answered the phone was a bit of a jerk, which dragged the information collecting process out a bit and was not a very good omen. The new Mark is tall and slender (like Brian), young, black, and very expressive with his face. The first show can be pretty tough, and the first audience can be somewhat lackluster, but we thought Mark did pretty well. Time will tell if he's good enough to be here, but he seemed to be trying and also having fun.

Mark L. led Mark and Matt in a scene that took place in a haunted house, then they played Up Your Alley hosted by Jake as Decklin. The topic was women. Karl was Dr. Ruth, Mark L. was Gerry Atric - a 48 year old who looks old because he's been married 400 times, and Mark was funny as Charles - a man who's living as a woman for a year to learn more about them. Overall for a first show, it went well. On the way out we complimented the new Mark, and stopped to talk with Mark L. Last year his mom was going through cancer treatment at the same time I was, and we'd shared experiences while that was going on and after his mom passed away. He was glad to hear that my appointment today showed I'm free of any suspicion of cancer at this point (almost one year).

We went outside and I went upstairs to get Tracy, added to the backdoor pass, then we went back in to long row. The 8:15 cast was Jake, Mark L., Karl, Mary, and Lisa. Lisa's the sub, and is a petite young blonde. She did a terrific job, and has a nice singing voice as well. They opened with the phone call, and got a normal person this time. Mark L. came out to do the first verse, but flubbed his line and stopped to start over. He joked it was his first night, lol! He kept messing up every time and after the 3rd try he yelled backstage for someone else to come out and start it . Karl came out, and Karl flubbed his line, too! He tried twice unsuccessfully and then Mary came out and Karl went backstage. It was comical, because this never happens so many times in a row! Mary did her verse, but most of the audience didn't react because I think they were too young to "get it". Lisa came out and nailed a really funny verse right off the bat, which got the show going beyond the goofing around. Mark L. came out again, pretended he forgot his line, and called out the next person - he did this twice until finally he was the last one left and then he did his verse. It was unusual, but they made it funny.

They created a play, led by Mary and starring Mark L. and Lisa building a doghouse. The audience suggestions were all mostly sexual, but a few times the actors changed the meaning completely. A suggestion of stripper started out as a person but soon became someone stripping wood. A suggestion for dream job - gynecologist - became OB/GYN who delivers babies. The scene was funny, and both Mark L. and Lisa did a good job. Next was Schmeopardy, hosted by Karl as Wink Narcoleptic. Mary was a toll booth collector named Turnita Pike, Lisa was Burger King, and Jake was Decklin again as a hog castrator. Karl kept messing up Mary's name, and every so often Matt would come out to either offer him a drink or other drug to help him.

After the show Tracy went up to meet Tyger. Patty had sent me a text message during the first show (very cool - I had no idea how to reply though, lol) and was waiting at the back door with a friend visiting from Japan. The four of us sat in long row and Tracy and Tyger ended up seated on the seats below us. The 9:15 cast was Mary, Cindy, Matt, Jake, and Joy. Cindy is the sub - petite slender young lady with dark hair. We were not particularly impressed with her tonight, but beyond that I'll keep my thoughts to myself. Everyone needs to form their own opinion, and she may be much better next time I see her. It was a tough show in terms of the audience - due to a large group of very disruptive drunk men who kept yelling things out inappropriately. They summoned security and stationed a big burly security officer at their row, and had some lady manager down front glaring up at them (1/2 way back). What good she did, was a mystery - glaring at drunks from a distance isn't going to shut them up! They carried on the entire show, with Matt even calling them morons at one point. I know removing them during the show would have been even more disruptive, but at least the nonsense would have ended. In any event, it's possible the distraction in the audience made it harder for Cindy, but who knows.

Since the shows each had a sub working their first night, they tended to do the easier structures. So, we saw Schmeopardy and Up Your Alley twice tonight, and the phone thing all four shows. This show they did Styles, with Mary and Cindy at Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts. An Up Your Alley about ants was next, hosted well by Joy as Ivana Littleboogie. Jake was Toby, a kid who kills ants with a magnifying glass in the sun. Matt was Flik from It's a Bug's Life, and Cindy was an elderly lady named Aunt Lila.

We talked to Mary after the show, then went outside. Tracy and Tyger went home, then Nancy came out on her break. Before we knew it we were on our way back inside again. Patty and Manuel came back for this show as well. The 10:30 cast was Joy, Rich, Mark L., Mary, and Matt. In this show the sub was Rich - who used to be a manager at Wolfgang Puck's Express on the West Side. He was always so nice and customer-oriented over there, but I'm not sure if he's still there or not. He's young, black, tall, and slightly stocky - and did an excellent job! Years ago when he was a teen he'd been in an improv workshop Mary taught for an anti-drug coalition and tonight he was finally working doing improv and doing it onstage with her - a very nice story!

They did Song Cue, with Mary and Rich creating a scene where she was trying to sell him an engagement ring. Rich kind of reminds me of Philip - his high energy level on stage is very similar to Philip's. The scene was interrupted three times for them to create a song. They sang "I think $12,300" as a classical song, "The most beautiful jewelry shop in all of Chattanooga" as a rock song, and "Anything for her" as a polka. They both were excellent, and we were particularly impressed with Rich since he was so new! Schmeopardy was next, hosted by Matt as Alex Quebec. Mark had the cow outfit on and was Bo Vine, a cattle rustler who disguises himself like a cow and wrestles with his conscience. Joy was a lady who works at churches getting rid of organs - donating them to the homeless since they're bored all day not going to work and they can sleep inside the organ. Rich was Charles Lightensworth, who founded Piccadilly Square and was a pickle maker. It was a funny game, and a very good show. We talked to Mary after the show and Leesa went over to say hi to Rich, who recognized her from when she used to eat at Puck's. Mark stopped to say goodbye, and then Leesa and I left with Nancy. After transferring Leesa's luggage we were on our way.

Back at her condo I finished up the report and got it posted by shortly after 2, and read some of my email. Everything else can wait until Saturday, when I may have more time. Today the plan was achieved, and the day exceeded my expectations. The good health news of course was great to hear, and it was a real treat running into Marti and then finding Mark working tonight. I was glad to be able to see the first show of all four new subs, as that's always special. I hadn't planned on Patty coming out tonight, but I was glad to see her, as well - and meet her friend. Overall, it was another great day!

DAY 2 SATURDAY FEBRUARY 1, 2003:

Who:

  • Sue, DVC Member
  • Leesa, Comedy Warehouse regular

Plan: Relax and prepare for cruise, Comedy Warehouse

Actual: I woke up around 7:30 and started reading some of yesterday's email. Today is the final show at the Diamond Horseshoe Revue at the Magic Kingdom, but since Leesa doesn't have access to the parks being there for that is out of the question. There's a private party being held in the saloon later for the cast and people affiliated with the show, and another party at the house of one of the cast members. Several of the Comedy Warehouse cast are involved (either they formerly were in that show or are married to people who are/were) so hopefully the shows at CW will be good tonight and not all subs.

I showered and went online - my friend Diana IM'd to tell me the bad news about the space shuttle accident. Shortly after 10 I went to Leesa's room and mentioned that it was after 10 (hint, hint ). I do want her to be able to get to sleep at a decent hour tonight so there's no problem getting up tomorrow when we have to leave for the cruise. She was awake, and got up.

By afternoon we were ready to make a trip to Target (Leesa jokingly asked last night on the way home if I wanted to stop at Wal-Mart - yeah, right). We stopped at the Atlantic Bread Company in the Target shopping center and found out it would open in a couple of weeks - this will be the closest location to me and I'll be sure to stop here when I'm in town! We got what we needed at Target, returned to the condo to put stuff away, then drove to Downtown Disney. We parked at Pleasure Island and took the bus from there to Old Key West. After saying hi to Angelo and the guys at Bell Services we went back to wait for the Trumbo Ferry to arrive.

We took the 4:20 ferry to the Marketplace, enjoying the nice ride. I can't wait until they have some of the building construction at the new DVC resort next to the Marketplace - it will be a fantastic location for me! We stopped in Ghirardelli for a chocolate sample, then walked to the West Side. They had the Marketplace end of Pleasure Island blocked off, and a CM was telling people the Island was closed all night for a private party (not true). Upon further questioning he said the Comedy Warehouse, Adventurer's Club and 8-Trax would be open, but nothing else. We later found out the closed section was only closed until 9pm.

We headed to Wolfgang Puck's Café and were seated immediately because we were a party of two (larger parties had a wait). The table sucked though - across from the doors to the beverage area and we got wind blowing every time the door to the outside tables opened. If we didn't have our jackets I would have asked to be moved. I got the delicious tortilla soup and Leesa got a pepperoni pizza and a lemonade. The food was excellent, and our waitress started out not very well but improved towards the end (tip time ). We got 20% off with the DDE card, which brought the check to about $18 plus tip. We went to the car to drop off Leesa's leftover pizza and I put on a warm sweater since it was cooling off quickly. On the way back we ran into Jamie (keyboard player) and walked a while with him. He went to work, and we headed back to Ghirardelli at the Marketplace.

This time we bought caramel squares, lol, saving them for later. By the time we got back to PI it was time to get to the Comedy Warehouse and the line had started forming. The family from Ft. Pierce was there, wanting to know why they weren't invited on the cruise tomorrow . I talked to them for a while and Leesa wandered around the area. When the line went in Leesa and I headed downstairs to the back door, where we were joined by Bob and Virginia. I hadn't seen them since Greg's party, so it was nice catching up with them again.

The 7:20 cast was Chris, Karl, Matt, Jen Br., and Todd. Matt and Karl created a scene having the audience Fill in the Blank. They were at Downtown Disney and Matt was trying to sell pins in exchange for finding a date for his John Wayne-like sister (Jen Br.). It was pretty good! They did Cliché, torturing Jen Br. who had to guess she was in jail in Key West and the slogan was "Fate is not without a sense of irony." Todd led her torture. They did an excellent job giving her clues until she had the entire thing but had to break down most of the words to form the real words. For example, one clue was "snot", which was actually the end of "is" and the word "not". She finally figured it out though, and it was a lot of fun. It seems everyone I talk to loves Cliché, and it really made for a great first show!

After the show I talked to Jen Br. briefly and then chatted with Todd for a while. Outside we met David and his lady friend, along with Bob and Virginia again. We all sat in long row together for the next show, with Tracy and Tyger further back. The 8:15 cast was Joy, Jen Br., Todd, Matt, and Karl. They opened with a pretty good poem called "Rosy Toboggan" and then did Emotions. Todd and Joy were in a social security office and had to each remain acting in a certain emotion until a new one was called for them. Normally I love this structure, but tonight it wasn't nearly as good as usual. Next they did Forgotten Songs, and this was the first time I'd seen all three of the songs just bomb. Jen and Todd were new parents singing "Hello sleep", Karl was a fisherman singing "Who hit Nellie in the belly with a dirty old fish?" and Matt and Joy were munchkins singing "Go home." Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse, they dragged out two stools - for the dreaded Story Telling. The actors were Matt and Jen, both of whom are excellent, but it was still just ok. Matt was the pope and Jen was his niece helping translate for him telling the story "Stinks to high heaven" about St. Peter cutting the cheese.

After the show Bob and Virgina and David and his friend left, and Tracy and Tyger joined us. Nancy stopped by while we were outside, too. The 9:15 cast was Brian, Chris, Joy, Karl and Matt. They did Conducted Story, and it was very good. Christine did the conducting and the story was called "My philosophy is to have fun." Joy died first, dying by a couch. Brian and Matt both became pieces of furniture and she ended up being squished between them in a death she seemed to enjoy . I guess if you have to die, laying on top of Matt is a pretty good way to go - but of course it was all good clean Disney fun . Brian died next, by fuzzy mints, in the style of a Shakespearean tragedy. Matt was the last to die, in a musical death explaining the saying "It's for the birds". Brian came in as a big bird and basically covered Matt in bird poop to kill him. It was kind of sick, but still funny. Karl then wrapped up the story in the style of a slide show, which I hadn't seen before. The stage would go dark and the actors would move around - when the lights came up Karl had to explain their positions as he finished the story. He ran about 4-6 slides, and it was very good.

The embarrassing story they ended the show with had quite a few guests saying they were shocked (and disappointed that the actors took it). This twit told everyone she was on vacation with her boyfriend, was in the bathroom standing on the toilet, he came in to use the toilet, she refused to move, so he peed on her. That just seemed too gross to be funny, but they took it. I tend to think if it was a different actor taking the suggestion it might have been refused. After the show Tracy and Tyger left, and Nancy came out to spend her break with Leesa and me.

The 10:30 cast was Brian, Jen Br., Chris, Todd and Matt. Todd opened with the phone and got this awful woman who kept telling him he was asking too many questions and wouldn't answer him. She refused to say what she did for a living, made up a name for her husband, refused to give any hobbies, etc - so they finally hung up on her and called the phone in another row. This guy kept making jabs at the lady while answering - pointing out that he wasn't afraid to answer the question. During the song, Brian got the uncooperative lady back by calling her a drug dealer and someone else made a jab at her husband. The audience roared with laughter both times, and had given the second phone guy lots of cheers when he answered the phone.

They did Song Cue, where Chris and Matt were a couple who ate nothing but lots of fried food. Matt was making this disgusting near-heart attack noise for a long time, until finally Chris gave him some oxygen. It was a funny scene, and they were interrupted by Jen Br. three times to create a song. They did "Maybe you" as a rap song, "Stop it" as a blues song, and a broadway song called "Physician heal thyself." Next was Actor's Nightmare, where three actors read all of their lines from three different scripts and the actor who's having the nightmare has to improvise lines to make it appear that the scene makes sense. It was Jen's nightmare, and it was the best one I've seen ever. The three plays chosen sort of complemented each other in terms of being a similar style, so she was able to make sense of it more easily. She threw some twists of her own in there, and although it got a bit weird and had some sexual undertones it was a lot of fun to watch.

The closing song was a story of when something went wrong, and a woman told about being stuck on an 8-hour bus ride sitting near the bathroom stall and next to a man who's opening comment was "So, you know I only have one testicle?" before proceeding to tell her his life's story for the next 8 hours! They did a good job with the song, but the funniest part was after the show ended. The technicians always play a song as people leave the club, and will pick one that references something in the show - usually the last structure. Tonight the song was "One is the loneliest number", lol - referring to the guy on the bus.

We talked to Todd briefly on the way out, then drove back to Leesa's. I finished up the report and got it posted. Today was a relaxing day, with a great meal at Puck's and some very good shows at the Comedy Warehouse shared with other friends. The second show struggled badly, but the rest of the night more than made up for that.

Tomorrow we board the Wonder for the 4-day DVC Member cruise, and meet several of my DVC and Fortress friends for what is sure to be an incredibly fun time! It'll be interesting to see what "special" things they have planned for this cruise, too.

DAY 3 SUNDAY FEBRUARY 2, 2003:

Who:

  • Sue, DVC Member
  • Leesa, Comedy Warehouse regular
  • Adie and Lisa, Darla and Steven, Donna and Joe, Dottie and Joe - DVC friends
  • Debbie and Don, Rich and Deb, Chris and - DVC friends

Plan: DVC Member Cruise Begins!

Actual: Today starts the DVC Member Cruise portion of this trip. To recap, Disney Vacation Club (DVC) has taken over the Disney Wonder for this 4-day cruise and made it exclusive for DVC members and their guests. I'm bringing along a friend who has never cruised before, and will be meeting several DVC friends - most of whom have cruised the Disney ships repeatedly, and I think all of them have cruised on some line or another. This will be my second cruise on the Wonder, fourth on Disney Cruise Line, and 9th overall. This portion of the story begins at my friend Leesa's condo near wdw, where I spent last night.

I got up around 7:45 and took my shower. When I finished I could hear noise that sounded like someone packing a suitcase - Leesa was UP!!! She was finishing her packing and was focused really well today, which was great! I made my hot chocolate and got online while she took her shower, then we finished getting our stuff together before leaving around 10:15 or so. It was a quick drive to the terminal and the entire checking in process went very quickly - even though it felt like we were constantly having to stop to show our photo id. They have security set up at the entrance to the terminal now, which is a much better arrangement. This makes boarding the actual ship go faster when that time comes.

We rode the escalator up and went to check in, meeting Chris and her mom Mel in line behind us. They are both so much fun - I'm glad they're on the cruise. After Leesa and I checked in we went and joined Rich and Deb, Darla and Steven, and Chris' son Mitchell in the line waiting to board the ship. The queue area was completely filled and and the line extended the length of the terminal 2.5 times by the time we boarded. Chris and Mel joined us and Chris introduced me to her son Mitchell - warning him that I really don't like kids very much so he needs to be on his best behavior around me, lol! Mitchell wasn't sure what to think - but he stood up to shake my hand. For the record, he seems like a very well-behaved kid, and is cute as well. Steven was eating a big bag of potato chips and Darla was laughing about how that looked - like the "studio trash" had arrived . Years ago I think it was Rich that coined the phrase "studio trash" when he was staying in a studio rather than the usual 2-br villa.

Donna and Dottie arrived and went to check in, then the boarding started. We missed the announcement and whatever shenanigans they did, but that's a "been there, done that" thing for us anyway. Getting on the ship went quickly, and we were herded to Parrot Cay for the buffet lunch. Since dinner wasn't until 8:30 it was actually possible to eat lunch! The buffet was nice, with lots of food. They had these hand wipes for everyone, but I'm not worried about being germ-phobic beyond normal everyday hygiene practices. The buffet had salads, vegetables, pork, roast beef, pasta, chicken cacciatore, mahi-mahi, pasta alfredo, breads and a wide variety of desserts. Most of the desserts I thought looked better than they tasted, but I only tried a couple of things - plus a cookie (those are always good). Leesa tried a wider variety and said most of it was pretty good. We had fun catching up with everyone.

By 1:30 people started heading to their staterooms, and so did we. Our luggage hadn't arrived yet, so we checked out our gifts. I got a nice Castaway Cay beach towel and a couple of pins for being a Castaway Club (repeat cruiser) member (gave one of the pins to Leesa). From DVC there were a couple of special pins for this cruise - one for each of us, plus a cheap fan. The Disney Collectibles people also left a couple of different pins and some postcards. It was nice - and we'll also each get a t-shirt and a lanyard with another special cruise pin. All around the ship they have SS Member Cruise logo items replacing the usual Wonder stuff.

Leesa and I decided to wander around the ship. Since we're using the elevators, we're having to wait forever to get anywhere. The elevators here are absolutely tiny - I don't know how my friend Kathy managed it on her last (and final) Disney cruise - but I remember she spent an awful lot of time waiting as several elevators came that were too full for her to get into. At least with Leesa and I being small, we can squeeze in to just about any space. One elevator had 6 people on it, and it was full - that's ridiculous! We went up to deck 9, then had to get another elevator to deck 10 (I forgot we weren't doing stairs). We walked around, took pictures, then Adie and Lisa called to say our luggage was outside our stateroom so we went back down to unpack.

Leesa needed to take some medicine and rest, so after unpacking I called Adie and Lisa and went up to join them on deck 10. I used the stairs, since I could - kind of huffing and puffing as I climbed 7 stories! I found them and sat to chat with them. They were excited to have booked the mud room thing (private room - you smear mud on your naked bodies and then do whatever until your time is up). Adie found out the price was good for up to three people, so they added me to their party --they'll just tell me when to show up ! Somehow I think I may be busy doing something else that day, but their invitation was a nice gesture, lol!

Around 3:30 we returned to our staterooms. Leesa was laying on the couch, so I got to work updating the trip report. We did the mandatory lifeboat drill at 4pm and for a change I was actually on the shady side! Usually I roast out there, but today it was very comfortable. After the drill we dropped off our life jackets and headed up to deck 10 for the DIS meet.

We found our DVC friends easily and admired the buttons that Mark from the DIS board had prepared for everyone. Donna was telling us how she realized she'd forgotten to put on her deodorant so as she was walking through the terminal she fished it out of her bag and shoved it under her shirt to put it on right there, lol! No sense wasting time finding a restroom! I went to find Mark for my button and ran into Shontell Crawford. I met her mom Gale and chatted for a few minutes - I knew Shontell was cruising and was glad to run into her so quickly. My next stop was Mark and his wife Mary - Mary had already gotten my bag ready and told me my button had something extra on it. I laughed when I saw it - they did the regular button but had a ribbon hanging down with a "Diva" glittery sticker on it! I'm the Diva of DVC, after all . We chatted, then I went back to our big group.

Frankie and the West End Boys began playing, and it felt like we were at Pleasure Island! Leesa went over to take a bunch of pictures, while I visited with my DVC friends. It was a perfect day - great weather, good music, terrific company - I am really happy to be here! When we sailed away they blew lots of bubbles and shot streamers over the crowd. The Sail Away Party seemed to be better attended than my previous Disney cruises, but it's always pretty crowded. Debbie found us and introduced us to her husband Don, and Peggy found us as well. Cheryl from DVCtalk came over to introduce herself - it was such a fun time being on board and having so many familiar and friendly faces.

After we started moving it got chilly really fast, so Leesa and I headed down to the stateroom. I love the view of the water from deck 2 - it's great being close to the ocean, and I really think a verandah would be too cold for either of us (plus they're much higher). I updated the report while Leesa did some reading. She was pretty tired and decided she didn't want to see the show, which was fine with me. I'd see it again if she wanted to go, but I won't miss it since I've seen it before!

Leesa stayed in the stateroom to do some reading while I wandered around. I like the stateroom, but can't spend a lot of time there when there's a whole ship to enjoy. I checked on our lanyards and the DVC people said they're making them now and they'd be delivered to our stateroom tonight. I went and browsed through the shops, and ran into Donna's Joe in one of them. We chatted a little bit before I headed out. After a lap around the promenade deck (deck 4) I climbed up to deck 9 and got some hot chocolate from the beverage station before returning to deck 4 to finish the mile. When I returned to the stateroom Leesa showed me an invitation to the Castaway Club reception had arrived, so we'll go to that tomorrow night. It's great that since we have second seating we can do the reception and not be too full to eat dinner.

We dressed for dinner - tonight we eat at Triton's, which is the most formal of the three regular dining rooms. I wore a dressy black and fuchsia pantsuit and Leesa wore a long black dress. We met the others at Triton's, where our servers had created two large tables for us. At our table we had Adie and Lisa, Debbie and Don, and Mari and her daughters Tara and Shelby. Our servers were very good, and we weren't rushed at all during the meal.

Nothing really looked all that appealing to me, but I did order a glass of the moscato that was my favorite wine at LeCellier. I got the melon in port wine sauce, which was just ok. I ate some of it, but not all. I also had the chilled vichyssoise (sp?), which was onion, leeks and almonds. It was very mild - not bad, but not something I'd go out of my way to have again. For an entrée I got the grilled chicken breast, which was very moist and tender. My dessert was the Grand Marnier soufflé with chocolate sauce, but I wasn't impressed and left most of it. Leesa's beef tenderloin was very dry, and looked awful. She loved the cauliflower soup but didn't care for the beef. She got the chocolate mousse cake, which was pretty good - especially when dipped in my chocolate sauce! Some of the others had escargot, shrimp, sea bass, or lamb shank - it was all pretty decent (except the beef), but nothing to write home about. It was typical for a Disney cruise, but substandard for some other cruise lines. Lisa had brought her duct tape and scissors to dinner, but ended up not having to use them. We'd heard there were only about 300 kids on board this cruise - normally there are closer to 1,000 or more, so this is REALLY nice!

After dinner I went to the other table and talked to them for a while, then we finally all left the restaurant. Leesa and I decided to hang around with Adie and Lisa, so we stopped at Wave Bands to see if Frankie was playing. Leesa wanted to see them, and I'd leave her there if they were there. The '70s party was still going on, and the place reeked of cigarette smoke, so I never got past the doorway. Smoke can trigger her illness, along with her allergies, and nobody else wanted to put up with the smoke so we left. I checked at the front desk and saw Frankie would perform in about a half-hour (at 11:15) so we decided to walk on the deck for a while. Lisa was all dressed up and wearing pumps - I know the people on Fortress will be shocked to hear that, lol! We almost made one lap before Leesa started slowing down, and I knew she needed to get inside and sit down. We sent her in to check for Frankie, and the three of walked several more laps quickly.

When Lisa's pumps started bothering her she went in to use the internet café, I think looking for Adie's girlfriend Judy (aka Babe). Adie and I walked several more laps - she thinks we did 10 miles, but I'm not so sure . We walked pretty quickly for a solid hour, so it was probably maybe 3-4 miles. We went inside and she went to retrieve Lisa while I headed down to the stateroom. Leesa was on the couch reading - the cabin steward had turned down my bed but had not made up the couch for her. You'd think when two women are traveling together they would just assume they're not sharing a bed, but it seems I always have to tell them. We folded her bed down and hopefully when the steward sees it in the morning he'll figure out we'll be using both beds! Leesa never watched Frankie, due to the crowds, noise and smoke. Our steward had left a swan made from a towel on my bed, along with a couple of chocolates.

I finished up the report by shortly after midnight, and went to bed to read tomorrow's Personal Navigator. We plan to be off the ship early in the morning, so we'll see how that goes.

Today was a wonderful day. I'm surprised at how happy I am to be back on the cruise, and what makes it so special is having a bunch of friends on board. It really adds to the fun to have familiar faces around, and I'm looking forward to the next three days.

DAY 4 MONDAY FEBRUARY 3, 2003:

Who:

  • Sue, DVC Member
  • Leesa, Comedy Warehouse regular
  • Adie and Lisa, Darla and Steven, Donna and Joe, Dottie and Joe - DVC friends
  • Debbie and Don, Rich and Deb, Chris and Mel and Mitchell - DVC friends

Plan: Castaway Cay

Actual: I woke up at 6, not knowing what time it was. I'd set the wake up call for 6:30, so I just stayed in bed rather than waking Leesa by playing on the computer. Promptly at 6:30 Mickey called to let me know there were "big doin's" going on around here, and to be sure to wash behind my ears. I took a quick shower and got into a swimsuit, then woke up Leesa and made a cup of cappuccino. The weather was 68 degrees already even though it was just past 7am, and it looked like it would be a great beach day.

Leesa took her shower and Adie and Lisa came to get us at 8. We went up to Beach Blanket Buffet on deck 10 and got breakfast to eat outside on deck. I had a little scrambled eggs and bacon (very good), a half-bagel (kinda tough) and a little Mickey waffle (just ok). They also had donuts/pastries, an omelet station, cereals, fruit, and other stuff I don't remember. It was a little chilly eating out on deck, but once we got off the ship it felt a lot warmer.

After breakfast we went down to deck 1 just as they were letting people off the ship. Adie and Lisa had gone to an 8:30 event and would catch up with us later. Leesa and I got towels and took the tram from the ship. After walking a while we took the next tram to the adult beach (Serenity Bay), meeting up with Shontell Crawford and her mom. We rode out with them, and enjoyed their company. They were headed for massages, while we went directly to the beach to see if any of the others were there. We didn't see anyone, but we were getting eaten alive by what we thought were no-see-ums. They turned out to be sand fleas, and the CM said they were attracted to anything white (like the lovely white beach towels Disney provides, lol). I laid in a hammock for a while and Leesa took a walk on the beach but we were both miserable with the damn bugs so we decided to call it quits.

At the tram stop we found Adie and Lisa just arriving (by foot - Adie again insisted she walked 10 miles but I think it was more like 1 or 2). We told them about the bugs and showed them the ones that were still on Leesa's cooler, so they decided to skip this beach as well. We took the tram back to the family beach and decided to give it a try. Since we were near the far end there were not many people, and there were NO bugs! We set up camp and relaxed on the beach.

Leesa went to walk along the beach looking for small shells and taking pictures, Adie went snorkeling and Lisa and I sat on our chairs reading. I gave her a trashy Soap Opera magazine and Adie tried to get me interested in one of her magazines - one I'd never heard of but since it was for women it must be like a Ladies Home Journal or something . When Leesa came back she mentioned seeing my DVC friends further down the beach, so while she sat and read the rest of us went down and joined the others for some conversation and laughter. They'd bought a couple of six-packs of beer for something like $22 plus change each, but they came with a free soft sided cooler. It was fun talking to them, and eventually people started thinking of getting lunch.

Adie, Lisa and I went back to get Leesa and we headed to Cookie's BBQ for lunch. The lines were really short - much nicer than I've ever seen it. I got a couple of ribs and a bite of delicious potato salad. The ribs were very tender - I was able to pull the meat right apart with only a fork. They had the delicious jumbo chocolate chip cookies, too - I think we all ate one at lunch and I brought another one back on the ship with me. After lunch Adie and Lisa went back to the ship, Leesa wandered around looking for more shells, and I walked around taking a few pictures before joining Rich, Deb, Donna, Joe, Chris and Mel further down the beach. Leesa and I agreed to meet back at our chairs at 2, but we were both a little early and headed back to the ship then.

I took my shower first, then updated the report and watched General Hospital while Leesa took her shower. After a lazy relaxing day we were due for a fairly busy evening and mapped out our strategy for fitting it all in. We found there would be time to dress for dinner after the show tonight, so we put casual clothes on until then - I wore my Comedy Warehouse cast shirt so even though those people couldn't really be here, their images were on vacation .

When General Hospital was done I went up and used the Internet Café to catch up on some of the email and reply to a few people. Adie saw me and stopped by to chat on her way to her stateroom - it's so nice to just run into friends on this cruise! I got offline and went down to the stateroom to check on Leesa. She'd fallen asleep on the couch, so it was going to take her a while to get moving again. We agreed to meet up on deck 4 before the ship was due to sail at 5, and I went up on my own to do some laps around the promenade deck. At 4:55 as I was coming down the deck I noticed we seemed further away from the dock than normal so I stopped and saw that we were already moving! I kept walking, and soon found Leesa, then Lisa joined us - they missed the sailing away but we can try again Wednesday.

We wandered around and took some pictures, then it was time for the Castaway Club reception. On the way I introduced Lisa to Shontell, and we chatted briefly. The reception was incredibly crowded and filled three of the clubs instead of just Wavebands. Normally there are 150-300 repeat cruisers on board, but this time there were over 1,000! The buffet was excellent - fruit, canapés, egg rolls, chicken wings, fried cheese, mini quiche and my favorite was the "kids' sushi". This was rice krispie treat wrapped in chocolate, then sliced - the only sushi that will ever pass these lips, lol! I found a couple sitting at a table with three extra chairs so we joined a very nice couple. We talked DVC (of course ) with them, and I got a couple of glasses of white wine - and put the second one in the refrigerator in the room until before dinner. When the reception ended Leesa went to the stateroom to rest, Lisa went looking for Adie, and I headed to the Walt Disney Theater for the show.

They did the DVC version of Who Wants to be a Mouseketeer, with all DVC questions. I ran into many of the others, so there were 12-13 of us who saw the show together, plus Shontell came and sat in the row in front of us. It was such fun seeing the show with the others, and it was amazing how little some DVC members knew about the different resorts! The higher questions were very difficult - like what type of wood is the boardwalk at Boardwalk Villas made from, and how many teepee chandeliers are in the lobby of Villas at Wilderness Lodge, who the hell cares, lol! None of us were called to be contestants, and none of the contestants won a free cruise, but it was fun.

When the show ended I went back to the stateroom to update the report and get changed. We left around 8 and stopped at the Shore Excursion Desk for Leesa to book a glass bottomed boat tour for tomorrow afternoon, then stopped at the front desk and then deck 4 to see what the 50% off a future cruise deal would mean if you were using points. There was a long line of people waiting to get information on the future cruises, and the discount was "up to" 50% certain dates, meaning it was much less than that for many dates. The savings didn't amount to very many points saved.

We headed to Animator's Palate for dinner and joined the others. Dinner was much better tonight! I skipped the appetizer and then tried the chilled gazpacho and loved it! I'd never had it before, and was quite pleased with it. For my meal I had the herb crusted lamb chop, which came with a delicious risotto. None of the desserts looked spectacular so I decided to try the kahlua truffle, which was just ok. I was hoping for more of a coffee flavor rather than actual kahlua soaking cake underneath the custard. Truffle lovers might love it, but I guess I'm not a truffle fan. Leesa had a sirloin steak tonight and it was much better than last night's beef. She also got the salmon appetizer but didn't like it, and the butternut squash soup, which she liked but not as well as the Wolfgang Puck version. She got the NY cheesecake for dessert, and that was excellent.

After dinner we talked to the friends at the next table, then looked at the pictures in Shutters (taken of guests by the ship's photographers). Leesa decided she was done for the night and went to the stateroom. I changed into sneakers and went walking around the promenade deck with Adie and Lisa for a while. It was a gorgeous night and I was actually warm walking the deck.

When I got back to the stateroom Leesa was in bed. Tonight's towel animal was a dog, and he's wearing my sunglasses. Our cabin steward is doing a good job taking care of us, but we don't see him much (we don't need to, since he's doing his job). Tonight's DVC gift was a blue mesh tote bag that says "member" along with the DVC name. It's not something I'd ever buy, and honestly seems a little tacky by DVC standards, but hell - it's free, it wasn't expected, so I'm glad to receive it!

Today was a great day. Once we got away from the sand fleas, Castaway Cay was really nice. The Castaway Club reception was very crowded but very nice - this is one area where DCL does a better job than HAL. The best thing though is being here with everyone else - that's really making this cruise extra special!

DAY 5 TUESDAY FEBRUARY 4, 2003:

Who:

  • Sue, DVC Member
  • Leesa, Comedy Warehouse regular
  • Adie and Lisa, Darla and Steven, Donna and Joe, Dottie and Joe - DVC friends
  • Debbie and Don, Rich and Deb, Chris and Mel and Mitchell - DVC friends

Plan: Enjoy ship while at Nassau, Andrea McArdle show

Actual: Today the ship is in lovely (not) Nassau from 8:30 am until 1:30 am tomorrow. Since Leesa's never been, she decided to go ashore and do a glass bottom boat excursion. I've done one of those in Grand Cayman and was bored enough to know it wasn't something I wanted to repeat. I plan to stay onboard and enjoy the ship while so many people are gone for the day!

Since we didn't have to get up early (Leesa's excursion was 2:30pm) I didn't put in for a wake up call. Instead, the sun woke me up around 7. I got up and dressed, then went up on deck with my unmade cappuccino - just adding hot water at the beverage station. I love a cruise ship early in the day before everyone else is up and about! We were on the final approach to Nassau and I figured it would be fun to watch the ship tie up at the dock. The Carnival ship and 2 from Royal Caribbean were already docked, and we'd be the fourth (and final) ship for the day.

I ran into Mary and Mark from the DIS boards up on deck and chatted with them for little while, then continued walking. Next I stopped to talk to Don (from our group), who told me about the navy ship escorting us in. I continued walking around and stopped up by the front of the ship, and soon Mel and Chris came by and joined me. We chatted while watching the ship dock - it's amazing how they can turn this thing completely around and back it into a parking space without the passengers even feeling a slight bump. I can't park my car that well, lol!

They headed to Triton's for breakfast and I returned to the stateroom. To my surprise I got back just as Leesa was leaving - I was shocked that she was up and about so early! She's sure Nancy will never believe it, but it's true . It was almost 9am, so we went upstairs to Beach Blanket Buffet for breakfast. Today I found the yogurt and added some granola and sliced almonds to make a delicious breakfast - much better than yesterday. I also had one of the small croissants, but that wasn't anything special. We ate outside at a table by the railing and it was a gorgeous warm sunny day!

After breakfast Leesa went to wander around in Nassau while I put on my swimsuit and went up to deck 10 near the adult pool to lay on a lounge chair. It was a perfect day, with a breeze that kept it cool enough to not get sweaty, but the sun was warm enough to keep it really comfortable. There was nobody around, either - so it was extremely peaceful - like having my own private ship! I did some reading and enjoyed the beautiful day, then decided a cookie sounded good. I got up and walked around to see if they had any at Scoops, but they only had fruit. I figured there were some in Beach Blanket Buffet but didn't feel I should go in there with just a swimsuit and bare feet so I went back to Scoops and got some melon.

Soon Leesa arrived, and told me about her morning in Nassau. She ran into some of the other DVC friends, which was nice. I wrapped my wrap thing around my waist, put on my sandals and went with her to Beach Blanket Buffet for lunch. As soon as we got inside a CM discreetly and nicely asked me to leave - to put on a t-shirt. I saw plenty of women in a swimsuit with just a waist thing wrapped around, but I guess since mine is a bikini top I couldn't get away with it! I wasn't really hungry anyway, so I told Leesa to just get her lunch and I went out on deck to get a table. I saw Debbie, Don, Mari, Tara and Shelby and went to chat with them about their day, then returned to wait for Leesa. She got what was almost a Thanksgiving dinner (turkey), lol, and enjoyed it. While she was eating I remembered I'd wanted to try some chicken fingers while I was on the ship, so I went over and got a couple of them and brought them back to the table. They were good, but I think once is enough .

When Leesa went to get dessert (with instructions to find me something chocolate) I went over and joined Darla, Rich, Deb and Dottie for a few minutes. Leesa came out carrying two plates full of desserts, lol - two banana chocolate pastry things, four chocolate chip cookies, pecan pie, two brownies and a yummy chocolate mousse or pudding thing. We looked like absolute hogs walking back to the stateroom with all of that, and as we passed Scoops the smartypants CM working called over to us asking if we needed any sweets for dessert . Some of the stuff was good, some was just ok - I'm sure some will end up in the trash but we at least tried everything.

Leesa rested in the stateroom for a little while and I put on some clothes over my swimsuit and left the ship to take some pictures. I never left the docks but spent a solid 30 minutes walking to another dock to get a good picture of the Wonder. Our friend Nancy wanted a picture of Donald Duck hanging from the back of the ship, so I took a couple of those as well - in case Leesa doesn't get a chance to do that. It's great that with digital we can easily share pictures. I got back to the stateroom around 2pm, just as Leesa was leaving to meet her shore excursion. I dropped off my camera and then went back up to deck 10 for another hour of reading in the sun. I brought a new Disney guide book - Making Memories by Dann Hazel and Josh Fippen, and I was absolutely loving it! Besides covering all the usual stuff they have a bunch of helpful tables and their perspective of taking a trip that will make memories to last a lifetime is terrific. I also got a kick out of being quoted in there a couple of times, lol, and especially finding my name in the acknowledgements - each time was a really cool surprise!

At 3 I gathered up my stuff, got a small ice cream cone from Scoops and returned to the stateroom to update the report and watch General Hospital. At 4 I went up to deck 4 to talk to the cruise sales manager about possibly booking another cruise for either the week of Labor Day or the second part of my November trip. It turned out if you're planning to cruise on points you don't have to stand in line - I found that out after waiting 15 minutes . People booking on points just call member services within three days of the cruise ending.

I walked some laps around the promenade deck, enjoying the great weather. When I finished I went back to the stateroom to shower, then went back up on deck for a while. Leesa figured she probably wouldn't see the show, which wasn't a surprise when she kept saying "Andrea who?" each time I'd mention Andrea McArdle was singing for us, lol! I got dressed for the evening and left around 6 to wander around and see the sunset from deck 10.

I ran into Mari while on my way to the theater and went back to see her stateroom, then went and joined the big group (Darla, Rich, Deb, Chris, Mel, Dottie, Donna, Joe, Debbie, Mari, Adie, Lisa, Shelby and Mitch in the Walt Disney Theater. Along the main walkway in front of the shops they had laid out a red carpet and CMs were applauding as people came down. What they didn't know was a camera was recording their arrival and shortly after they entered the theater they would see themselves on the two giant screens!

The show consisted of Andrea McArdle, her singing daughter Alexis, and keyboard playing husband Ed. Her daughter has an incredible voice, too - and sang a couple of songs she had recorded. Hubby wrote lots of music for the Super Bowl shows and other shows, and we saw clips of many of those. Andrea sang a song from each of the big Broadway shows she was in (Beauty and the Beast, Les Miserables, Aida, and Annie) plus a patriotic tribute to the astronauts who were killed last weekend. She closed the show with "Tomorrow" from Annie - which of course was the highlight for everyone! It was a great show, and a wonderful opportunity for everyone on board - much better than typical cruise ship entertainment .

When the show was done some of us ended up in the shop, where I bought a photo album specifically for this cruise. Adie and I went to meet Leesa at Wavebands for the 7:45 Cabaret show featuring comic magician Rich Purpora. This was his "family" show, cleaned up for all the kiddies, and he involved the kids in all of his stuff. Even though it wasn't "adult" it was still very funny, and he's a good entertainer. I've seen him on previous Disney cruises with Sheila, and imagine I'll see him again.

Next we headed to Parrot Cay for dinner, where service took longer than normal. Our server apologized and said tomorrow we'll be back on track, so I hope she's right. The floor show takes up time, and some people didn't stick around to watch. The servers basically just parade through the dining room while lively music plays - personally I'd rather skip that part and just get the meal finished so we could get to wherever we wanted to go next. Debbie and Don skipped dessert in order to get to a 10pm show. Adie, Lisa, Leesa and I stuck around for dessert and just made it in time for the 10:30 show.

My dinner was pretty good. I skipped the appetizers and got a creamy sweet onion soup that I didn't really care for. For the entrée I got the mixed grill, which had a cute little tiny beef tenderloin, small lamb chop, part of a grilled sausage, and a few shrimp. It also came with macaroni and cheese, but it was just ordinary elbow macaroni and Velveeta - nothing special. I gave my shrimp to Lisa but ate most of the rest of the meat and it was all very good. Leesa got the BBQ chicken wings appetizer, some sort of salad, and a steak. For dessert I got the sugar free chocolate mousse and it was so good I was tempted to wipe out the inside of the bowl with my finger to get every last bit. Leesa got a bowl of berries, but she said they weren't as good as she'd hoped. As everyone knows, Disney Cruise Line isn't who you book if you're looking for fine dining !

After dinner the four of us went back to Wavebands and joined Debbie and Don for the Match Your Mate game. This is like the Newlywed Game except the three couples represent different lengths of marriage. It's always funny, but I only stayed through the couple selection process and left before any questions started because I wasn't willing to put up with the smell of cigarette smoke. We were in the non-smoking section but it still was disgusting and I wasn't about to stink by staying there. I checked email and then worked on the report a bit before joining Leesa up on deck 9 at the end of the Tropical Deck Party. She said the game was really funny - it's too bad they do it in a smoking venue.

Thankfully the deck party was almost finished - I don't dance and really don't like those deck parties at all, but we both were interested in seeing Frankie and the West End Boys perform since they're so familiar to us from our many nights at Comedy Warehouse. I got there in time for the last couple of songs, and then the Disney DJ started up with recorded music. One of the guys in the band who knows Leesa came over to chat for a while, but it was difficult with the loud music. He's enjoying playing on the ship, and they'll be here through February 22nd. Afterwards AJ (Jim Robert's wife - she plays sax in Frankie's band) came over and talked for a while also. I returned to the stateroom to finish up the report and Leesa stuck around for a while longer.

Tonight we had a towel elephant, and the DVC gifts were t-shirts and free drink coupons. The t-shirts are a good quality, the same as what's in the parks. On the back they put the S.S. Member Cruise 2003 logo and on the front it says "Members are Magical". We're supposed to wear them for the sailing away party tomorrow.

Today was another great day - relaxing but also full of things to do the second half of the day. The weather could not have been nicer, I loved getting to hear Andrea McArdle sing "Tomorrow" in person, and it's been fun spending time with everyone (but not in the mud room ).

Tomorrow is our final day, and we'll be back at Castaway Cay. As far as I know, this is the first time a ship has gone there twice during a cruise, so it's kind of fun to be a part of that!

DAY 6 WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 5, 2003:

Who:

  • Sue, DVC Member
  • Leesa, Comedy Warehouse regular
  • Adie and Lisa, Darla and Steven, Donna and Joe, Dottie and Joe - DVC friends
  • Debbie and Don, Rich and Deb, Chris and Mel and Mitchell - DVC friends

Plan: Castaway Cay

Actual: We slept with the drapes open again, with the sun coming up just before 7am. I was up and out early, getting cappuccino made up on deck and walking a mile or so around deck 10. Leesa was awake when I left but decided to stay in bed a little longer. I returned around 8:15 to see what Leesa was planning to do. She got dressed and we headed out for breakfast. We met Chris and Mitch and ate with them - I had yogurt with granola and almonds again, and part of a hash brown. I took one of the chocolate brioche things - it ended up being a dinner roll with chocolate icing and sprinkles on top - totally disgusting!

We left the ship and went to meet the others at our spot on the family beach. It was a gorgeous day - even better than Monday was. At 10 we joined the DVC group picture, which was so big I doubt we'll be able to find ourselves . Back at our chairs we sat around talking and laughing, having a great time in the sun. I can't possibly convey what a nice day it was on that island sitting around with a group of friends! Leesa went off hunting shells and came back with quite a collection.

The lunch at Cookies' BBQ was different today, and I think we all preferred the regular meal. There were no ribs, but they had seafood jambalaya, salmon, pork medallions, burgers, hot dogs, BBQ chicken and a couple of salads. I tried a tiny pork medallion, and the glaze was tasty but the meat was like shoe leather. I had a few bites of a Greek salad, but it had no lettuce and no feta cheese - very strange. I ate part of Mel's burger, and a delicious chocolate chip cookie, and that was enough.

We didn't spend too much time on the beach after lunch, as the sun was pretty strong and there was still a lot to do since we have to leave the ship tomorrow. Rich, Dottie and I went to the Heads Up Bar to take pictures of the ship, and then I returned to the ship - meeting up with Adie along the way. I showered, started packing, and watched General Hospital while writing up this very brief report. At 4 I went up to the front desk to charge my tips and get the slips for each person, and also stop by the DVC desk. I was hoping they were waiving the banking deadlines for people adding on, but they were not. If they were, I could have bought points, banked the 2003 allotment and received another allotment on April 1st - it would have been like getting a bonus year. However, if I buy now I'd have to use the 2003 points before 3/31/03 and I don't think I can do that, so I guess there's no sale to be made.

Leesa went up and took care of her tips, then we went up on deck to get a drink while the ship sailed away from Castaway Cay for the final time. Leesa and I went up to deck 9 and traded in my coupon for a rum punch. She kept hers and gave it to me since the non- alcoholic drinks were just soda and she didn't want that. The rum punch soon went to my head, although I'm not sure why. We went down to deck 4 and watched while they released the ropes and the ship moved sideways away from the dock. It's amazing how they move this big ship as if it was nothing at all! Once we'd backed out of the dock area we headed inside. We met Dottie at the elevator and Leesa went upstairs with her while I put the rest of my rum punch in the fridge in the stateroom and grabbed a cold lemonade for Leesa. I went up to deck 9 and gave Leesa her lemonade, then used the other coupon for another rum punch. They had Goofy dancing on the stage, but that soon ended and the party was over. Leesa went down to the stateroom to pack her stuff, while I walked around deck 10.

I ran into Debbie and Mari, and stopped to talk with them for a while. They may book the same cruise as me for later this year - I hope they do, as it's so much more fun with friends! Yes, I do plan to book another Disney cruise - the 7 day western Caribbean with my friend Sheila this coming November. She's never been to those ports, and although I have a couple of times I know she'll be comfortable going off on her own to do any excursions I'm not interested in - just like Leesa was on this cruise. This will give me three cruises in a 9-month period, which makes me feel like a very lucky person!

Eventually I grew tired of being wind-blown, and poor Debbie had lost most of her champagne to the wind (thank goodness she said it tasted awful so she didn't care), so we headed back downstairs. They went to Bingo and I returned to the stateroom. Leesa finished her packing and rested a bit. Once down, she wasn't getting up soon - not for the 6:30 Disney Dreams, not for the 7:45 Walk the Plank game show. I skipped Disney Dreams as well, since I've seen it a couple of times and I'm not sure if Sheila will want to see it again in November.

The game show was not my style - I left before it ended, when I couldn't stand it any longer. It also wasn't well attended - very small crowd. I went back to the stateroom to check on Leesa, and she was up. The person delivering tonight's gift woke her up (that's a good thing). The gift is gorgeous - it's a beautiful Steamboat Willie teapot, along with a DVC member tin which I'm assuming has some tea bags inside. It's really nice, and a great gift even though I don't drink tea! I have to admit, the daily gifts have been nice, and they've taken great care of us on this cruise. It's pretty safe to assume I'll be on the next one .

Dinner tonight is the Master Chefs series, which is the "best of" different Disney restaurants. The menu is the same regardless of which restaurant you're scheduled to be in, although the dress code for Tritons remains relatively fancy compared to the casual Parrot Cay and Animator's Palate. Our dinner was in Tritons, and we headed up to meet the others just before 8:30. Leesa was exhausted and lasted about 5 minutes before returning to the stateroom and going to bed.

The portions tonight seemed larger than other nights, or maybe we were just getting tired of eating! For an appetizer I got the honey mustard chicken tenderloins that were breaded in crackers - absolutely delicious, and the best thing I ate on the entire cruise. I skipped the soup/salad and ordered the filet mignon and lasagna roll for my entrée. The filet was huge, but what portion I ate was nice and tender. The lasagna was full of beef, and reminded me of the LA Lasagna at Planet Hollywood. I like the LA Lasagna but didn't care for this beef version. For dessert I got the Celebration Cake, which was yellow cake, cheesecake, strawberries and white chocolate. It was ok, but not worth finishing. I brought back a Chocolate Decadence for Leesa, which was chocolate cake with chocolate mousse on top, and a side small parfait of chocolate mousse and other stuff. All the desserts had a white chocolate medallion with a full color logo from the DVC S.S. Member Cruise 2003!

After dinner I returned to the stateroom, where Leesa was sleeping. I finished packing and put my suitcase out (it had to be out by 11pm, which is absurdly early for such a thing). I portioned out the cappuccino I needed for tomorrow morning and then took what little was left up to deck 9 to make a half cup for tonight. I sat and filled out my comment cards from DCL and DVC before turning them in and walking some laps. It was so windy I didn't last long on deck 9 or deck 4. On deck 4 I kept getting wet from the spray of the ocean, and once outside it was hard to find a door that could be opened to get back inside.

I stopped by Wavebands, where Frankie's band was playing, but it was a little too smoky for me to stick around. Instead, I finished up the report and went to bed.

Today was a perfect Castaway Cay day, but it's very sad that this cruise is coming to an end. I really don't recommend the 4-day cruises - you really only get three full days, and that is not enough. However, they've been terrific days!

DAY 7 THURSDAY FEBRUARY 6, 2003:

Who:

  • Sue, DVC Member
  • Leesa, Comedy Warehouse regular
  • Adie and Lisa, Darla and Steven, Donna and Joe, Dottie and Joe - DVC friends
  • Debbie and Don, Rich and Deb, Chris and Mel and Mitchell - DVC friends

Plan: Breakfast, Leave the ship, Drive home

Actual: We docked in Florida by 6am, and had to be at breakfast in Tritons at 8. I got up just before 6:30 so I'd have time to do some laps on the deck as the sun came up. I HATE being back in Florida and having to go back to work tomorrow, but I guess all good things must come to an end. Leesa was up and in the shower when I left the stateroom, which was a very good sign. I made my cappuccino and walked around on deck 10, stopping to chat with Mel for a while. It sucks being back in Florida, but at least I have about an hour to enjoy being out on deck before having breakfast and then returning to the real world.

I got Leesa and we stopped on deck 4 briefly. I walked a lap while she was watching a dolphin play. By 8 we were seated in Triton's for our final meal of the cruise. Since we'd just finished dinner 12 hours before I wasn't particularly hungry. I got a yogurt and added some granola, then ate a small croissant and a muffin. It was way more than I needed, but somehow the "all you can eat" mentality is hard to resist at the end of the cruise, and I knew it was all good. Leesa got fruit and a traditional breakfast with eggs, bacon and pancakes. People were definitely less excited at this meal, lol! When we finished eating we all said our goodbyes and left the ship.

One advantage to late seating is by the time you get off the ship more than half the luggage is already gone, making it very easy to find yours! Usually we're first seating and we wander the rows searching for our luggage, but this time I spotted it from far away and walked directly towards it. We rolled our luggage out to the car and were at Leesa's condo an hour later. I posted the last few days reports, and Leesa put all of our pictures on a CD for me. The drive home took three hours and was uneventful - except for wishing I was still on the ship!

It took most of the rest of the day/night to go through the pictures and select the ones for posting in the Ofoto album, then uploading them via dialup modem! The album has some Comedy Warehouse pictures at the beginning, but most of it's the cruise. The url is http://www.ofoto.com/I.jsp?m=6814414102.95014287703andn=605360072

SUMMARY:

I was definitely skeptical about this cruise, but I have to admit it exceeded my expectations. Let's get the negatives out of the way first, so the report can end on a positive note . Four days is NOT long enough - it's like a tease to have three full days then get thrown off the ship. The only way I'd do another 4-day cruise would be if it was another DVC Members Cruise. Dining on DCL is mediocre at best. This cruise our servers were slow, and I can't recall anything that was truly great except for a chicken finger appetizer! Some people had food that was overcooked, somewhat cold, or seemed to have been sitting around. If you're looking for fine dining on a cruise, better book somewhere else. The smoke in Wavebands was bad enough to make me leave just as an event I enjoy was getting started. It's a shame they can't either ventilate those rooms (Holland America seems to have figured out how to do that) or make the venue smoke- free. The sand fleas at the adult beach on Castaway Cay were a disappointment, and it was the first time any of us had encountered that there.

Ok, now for the positive stuff . Having two days at Castaway Cay was wonderful, and with perfect weather and great company those days were better than I'd ever imagined they'd be. Leesa enjoyed the shelling while I enjoyed sunning and socializing. Nassau was a nice chance for me to enjoy the ship while everyone else went ashore - it was wonderfully peaceful! The ship was not a floating kiddie-land like it usually is, with only 300 kids rather than 1,000 or so. THAT was really nice! We never saw any unruly or misbehaving kids anywhere on the ship, and other than the screaming toddler being ignored by her parents on Castaway Cay it was possible to forget kids were even around. The kids in our group were all great kids/teens, and a pleasure to be around.

DVC did a super job making the cruise special! All over the ship there were special DVC touches, from the flags, signs, and other décor. The Who Wants to be a Mouseketeer show was revised to be all DVC-related. They added special programs which I don't think any of us took part in - things like you'd see on a 7-day cruise but not a 4-day. The gifts every night were a nice surprise, and made us feel very appreciated. Our stateroom on deck two mid-ship was terrific, and convenient to everything.

The best part of the cruise though was the company I kept. Cruising with a large group of friends makes it so much more fun, especially when the group doesn't try to stick together the whole time. I don't think I ever went anywhere on board without running into someone I knew, and that was really nice! If there's a 2004 DVC cruise I'll definitely be there! Until then, I'll be calling tomorrow to book the 11/08/03 Magic Western Caribbean cruise with Sheila. We've got the Easter Caribbean on HAL in June with our sons, but by November I'll be wanting to get back on a ship again .

My next big trip is mid-March in a grand villa at Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort, although I'll probably take a weekend trip just for Comedy Warehouse before then.

Until next time - thanks for reading.

Sue Holland
WDW1972@aol.com

 


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