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Disney through the eyes of teens
|Adrienne Krock, editor|
|A Break in the Bahamas|
It was just like any other day at school when my best friend broke the news. Katie Pirtle, with whom I had gone through a lot together with since kindergarten, was leaving me. Would I ever see her again? Nothing in my life could compare to this. Her news hit me like a blow: "I'm going to the Bahamas!"
Katie's grandmother was treating her entire family, to a seven-day Disney cruise to the Bahamas. While I madly crammed for an algebra quiz, Katie would be buried in the sand on a tropical isle off the coast of Florida. While I fretted over my upcoming Constitution test, Katie would be snorkeling in the clear, warm water of Trunk Bay, surrounded by fish of the most vivid colors she could imagine.
When she returned, all I heard about was the cute head waiter on the Disney Magic cruise ship, and his British accent that stole Katie's heart. I decided I had to know more about this mysterious salad-tosser, and about her cruise experience in general..
Katie and her cousins, aunts and all had already been on an Alaskan cruise about two years ago. When she first heard about this cruise to the beautiful Bahamas, she couldn't conceal her excitement. However, that this would be a Disney cruise made her hesitate for just a moment. "I was a little apprehensive... you're kind of wondering how much Mickey you can take -- a whole week of just solid Disney." However, she did look forward to finding out exactly how unpredictable the trip would be. "You know Disney."
Cruise ships look marvelous in the commercials and are huge in person, and seeing can be believing. "When I first saw the ship," said Katie, "I thought it was so beautiful. Just gigantic." Comparing the ship's length to the height of the Eiffel Tower in France, Katie added,. "It was just so huge and you feel so minute against its massive size."
When she first got there, Katie wanted to explore the ship before taking advantage of any of the ship's perks.
"There were so many little things and hallways and corridors. There were just so many different places you could go," she said. "And there was free food all the time."
When I asked about the ship's crew, Katie's eyes lit up and a smile flashed across her face. "That's a whole other chapter!" Most of the men were British, "And you know how I like my British guys... they were so nice." Katie emphasized that the crew would do anything for the passengers. If you wanted something they would go get it for you. "They were always happy. It was kind of scary," she joked.
The atmosphere on the ship was comfortable and relaxed. A kid on a huge cruise ship might expect to feel a bit intimidated, but Katie said she was totally at ease walking up and asking for an ice cream cone. "There's nothing to be afraid of. I mean, you're on a boat so, where's any criminal gonna go?" She said. "You don't feel insecure at all because there's a lot of nice people around."
Katie said she did find a lot of "spoiled people" on the cruise, and that some of the kids were downright mean. She noted however, that she didn't let a few bratty children ruin an entire week at sea.
Service was great. Maids did their job in the cabins, and left everything unrelated to housekeeping alone, as they should. "When they laid out your towels, they would fold them into animals." The point Katie kept coming back to was that the entire crew was pleasant. "Very courteous."
Being a Disney cruise, Katie was unsure whether everything would be aimed at satisfying little children. For example, the ship had a huge movie screen, and there was also a club for little childrn that provided fun and play while parents watched, or left their children in the capable hands of a crew member.
Katie learned however,that the ship offered a lot of things for everyone to do.
"They had stuff for everybody. They really did. They had a private pool, just for adults, and they had a club that only teens could get into." This club, called Common Grounds, is restricted to teens between 13 and 17.
What's a cruise without entertainment? Well, judging by the daily brochures, it looks like there was something to do every hour: Line dancing, volleyball challenges, variety shows, magicians... but when I asked Katie what she thought of the entertainment, she rolled her eyes
"Here's the bad part.: The entertainment was not good. It was cheesy. Most of it was aimed at little kids." The Pirtles made the best of it and had fun anyway. The shows weren't a total loss, but if she could, Katie would ask the entertainers to put in a little more effort to hold the interest of older kids. "You know, some jokes little kids would get and some that teens would get."
Food was a different story. "I don't know where it came from!" There was so much food on the ship, nobody could complain of an empty tummy. "And every night they would have a different theme. They had about three restaurants on the boat, and you switched from restaurant to restaurant each night."
At the Animator's Palate, Mrs. Pirtle's favorite, the room magically changed as you ate. Pictures of Disney characters on the walls, first in black and white and then in color, switched frequently. The wall would show Dumbo one minute, then Timon the next! The most beautiful part was that at the beginning of your seating, the characters were all black and white. Over the course of your meal, color gradually began to flood the room, until everything was lively and bright!
People of all tastes were satisfied on the cruise. "They had so many different types of food. There was a place where you could get free ice cream all the time and free pizza all the time. There were buffets, and really strange foods; exotic food. But it was really good food." When I jokingly mentioned escargot, Katie said, "They had that one night! My grandma got it... they really did have it! They had everything. If you wanted it, they'd have it."
Nutritious nourishment wasn't the only good part: "Desserts galore!" The sweets on this ship were a true luxury. "The desserts were great. And they were all fancy. They'd be shaped into cool stuff, and they were all deluxe. They'd make it all exotic and neat."
Another neat thing about the ship was the ship's whistle. Katie described it as "awesome." When the whistle blew, she explained that it would play the first part of 'When You Wish Upon a Star."
The ship is only half of the vacation, though. There were a few days when passengers could get off the boat and explore those wonderful, lush islands. Katie's favorite was St. Thomas Island, where she, and her brothers snorkeled in Trunk Bay, a perfect, liquid dream. This was one experience that Katie wishes she could share with those who were unable to escape for the week: The warm water, the tranquil, quiet stillness, the graceful movements of the fish, and the elegant swaying of underwater plants.
Another dream Katie realized was parasailing. "My dad and I signed up for parasailing, which is something I have totally wanted to do every since I first saw it on TV when I was little. I thought I'd never get to do it, and finally, here was my chance." This adventure took place on Disney's private island, Castaway Cay. "It was really, really beautiful. You're just flying. It was for about 15 minutes, and then they just slowly reel you in. You're so high! It's incredible. You look down and the people are just dots." Katie confessed that it was a little frightening at first, but after a while she felt secure, and relaxed as she soared over the water.
Katie's mention of Castaway Cay sparked me to ask what her thoughts were about this exclusive island. "It was pretty there; just like all the other islands. But it wasn't my favorite, because it was all just Disney." Castaway Cay offered free snorkeling, but Katie saw no fish or underwater wildlife. "It was like Mickeys you could swim up to. It wasn't that fun, it really wasn't great. It was totally just... commercial." But rest assured, there were real fish to snorkel with at other islands.
The whole Mickey thing was one part of the cruise that Katie would change. "Tone it down a bit. Enough is enough." She did admit, though, that it wasn't as bad as she had anticipated. This is a Disney cruise, after all.
"I definitely always think of the Bahamas now. I'll always remember, especially Trunk Bay and parasailing. And I'll always remember the cruise ship and how great it was. Everything about it was just so nice. It was, probably one of the best experiences I've ever had in my life. I always think about it and it really is quite refreshing."
As you can see, this cruise was well worth the week of make-up homework Katie was assigned. "I wouldn't have wanted to go anywhere else with my family... It was so beautiful, it was just beyond words."
We can't all be fortunate enough to go on a Disney cruise to the Bahamas, but at least we can all share in the wonderful memories that are a part of the vacation.
"It was the most beautiful place I've ever seen in my whole life.
I've never seen any place like it, and I don't think I ever will."
I am 13 years old, and a typical junior high student. I live with my mom, dad, and little brother. My family and I have annual passes to Disneyland so we go quite often. I love school, and science has always been a favorite subject of mine. I am in band and hope to be involved in music for the rest of my life.
Right now, my career goal is to become a deejay. In my mind, that is the coolest job in the world! My hobbies include: listening to and playing music, reading, writing, messing around on the computer and hanging out at Disneyland. We have seven cats (four of them found us), a black Labrador, and I have a goldfish.
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