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August 2008 Archives

August 11, 2008

Panama Canal Cruise EB August 2008 Disney Cruise Line

Lori & Michael's 25th Anniversary Cruise

This is my first blog with AllEars.net (actually my first blog ever). Let me introduce myself.

My name is Lori and my husband, Michael, and our 16-year-old son, Aaron, live in Beaverton, OR. We're in the 'burbs of Portland. J Michael and I both grew up in Southern California (San Fernando Valley and Ventura) with Disneyland in our backyard. We have many fond memories of family vacations and even our high school grad nights spent at the original "Happiest Place on Earth".

Lori, Michael, Aaron

Our first family trip to Walt Disney World was in 1993 when our older son, Brandon, was 7 years old (he's now 22) and Aaron was a few months shy of his second birthday! I remember wanting to stay at the Polynesian, but "settling" for a tower room facing the Magic Kingdom at the Contemporary Resort. How perfect! That was only the first of countless travels to the World; each giving our family new adventures and wonderful memories.

Unfortunately for us we didn't join Disney Vacation Club until 2000! What were we thinking??? By this time we had not only made several visits to the World, but we were lucky enough to cruise on the maiden voyages of both the Disney Magic and the Wonder. With DVC, we have had even more visits to the World, Vero Beach, Disneyland, and twp one-week cruises on the Magic.

Back in 2006, I was excited to hear about plans in 2008 for the Disney Magic to return to the west coast. We had tried unsuccessfully to get on the first Disney cruise through the Canal. This time I was determined to get a cabin on one of the Panama Canal cruises. So, January 31, 2007, at a very early hour here on the west coast, I was on the phone with DVC and snagged the perfect cabin for our family, mid-ship, Deck 8. I'm certain my shouts of joy were heard all around the neighborhood!

We've watched the countdown tick away one day at a time for over a year. Unbelievably, one week from right now we'll be onboard! We have our passports, we have our airline reservations, we have our transfers from LAX to the port and from Port Canaveral to MCO (don't want to think about that), we have a couple of excursions booked (more on that later), Michael and Aaron have reserved their tuxedos from CruiseLineFormal.com, we've made arrangements for our puppies and our house (thanks, Brandon!), and now we just have to pack. Five more days of work and then we can be on our way!

Yes, we are celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary. The date was actually back in May which would have been perfect for the Westbound cruise. However, Aaron would have disowned us if we didn't take him along! Originally, Brandon planned to join us, but life has taken him in other directions. He chose to stay home to hold down the fort and care for the doggies.

P.S. As you can see, we are well-prepared for "Pirates in the Caribbean" and always ready for fun!

Lori, Michael, Aaron


August 16, 2008

Panama Canal Cruise EB August 2008 Disney Cruise Line

Lori & Michael's 25th Anniversary Cruise

My name is Lori and my husband, Michael, and our 16-year-old son, Aaron, live in Beaverton, OR. Travel with us as we sail from Los Angeles, CA to Port Canaveral, FL
Lori, Michael, Aaron

We made our reservations for this vacation waaaay back on 1/31/2007. Our original plans called for 4 of us to travel, but our oldest decided he wouldn't be able to make it. Disney Vacation Club and the Disney Cruise Line allowed us to drop him from the reservation in one easy phone call and they were quick to refund his fare to our credit card. (We used DVC points for two and paid cash for two.) A few months later we decided we wanted to use points for our other son and it was also very easy to convert that payment from cash to points with one simple call to DVC.

This is the first cruise where we could take advantage of online check-in and online reservations for excursions and Palo. A few days before our booking window was to open I realized that they didn't show us as Castaway Club members (i.e., repeat cruise guests). Castaway Club members are afforded several nice little perks one of which is a 90-day booking window for excursions and Palo reservations. It took a few phone calls to get to the bottom of this oversight, but I finally got it straightened out.

Early on May 19 I was online to book the couple of things we really wanted to do. One excursion was already full! I was very surprised and extremely disappointed. A call to the Cruise Line made me feel a little better. The excursions are not necessarily full and neither are the Palo or spa reservations. Many guests do not have internet access (imagine that!) and will book on embarkation day once they board the ship.

I did secure a dinner reservation at Palo, Aaron is set for the teen cruise in Puerto Vallarta, and we're lined up to snorkel in both Aruba and on Castaway Cay. In the days and weeks since May 19, I have checked back on excursion availability numerous times and have found that groups or sessions have been added to many. I was able to book myself on the zip line tour in Cabo. I seem to have grabbed the last spot available in that group, but I'm hopeful that Aaron will be able to join me.

Breaking News! Less than a week before we sail: I just checked back again and I was able to reserve a spot for Aaron! Yeah! The best part? Aaron is excited, too! I got a hug and a thank-you! (This tour is just not Michael's "cup of tea"; he may choose to explore on his own like checking out Sammy Hagar's Cabo Wabo or trying to find a great cigar.) We also are booked on a city and shopping tour in Cartagena; emeralds,.here I come!

So, the moral of this online reservation story is that the booking window is only slightly important, be flexible, and check back often!

Michael and I have no particular plans yet for Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco. The planner in me is really uncomfortable with this, but I'll try hard to loosen up and just go with how we feel on those days.

I know this trip is not a project per se, but I do have some goals for myself.
Number one: Relax.
This could be a challenge, but a massage on the first sea day should help get both Michael and me on our way.

Number two: Read.
I'm finally getting around to the last Harry Potter book. I'm visualizing myself on the verandah, feet up, and totally engrossed in my page-turner.

Number three: Exercise and don't overindulge.
Regular visits to one place I've never before set foot: the Disney Magic fitness center. All right, so this one may be tough. I'll make sure to wear that new bikini within the first couple of days as it may not fit too well after that!

Next up will be packing. The goal here will be to bring enough to minimize the amount of laundry we'll need to do on the ship, but not too much so that we need to purchase additional luggage to get everything home. Don't laugh. We've had to do this more than once from WDW.

Men's dress clothes can be tricky to pack not to mention taking up a lot of space. We've rented tuxes from CruiseLineFormal.com twice before and found their service to be very convenient. The boys simply visit a local tux shop for a complimentary measure. Then, we use those numbers to order online (or via an 800 phone number). On embarkation day, our room steward delivers the order and the guys are set! It's a good idea to try on everything as soon as you can to confirm proper fit; minor alterations can be accommodated if discovered early. At the end of the trip, you simply put everything back together on the hangers provided and the room steward handles the return. Easy.

Let me share another lesson that we learned the hard way. Before leaving town, contact your credit card provider notifying them that you will be traveling outside of the country. The last time we cruised, our credit card was rejected in one of the ports. Fraud protection kicked in! Of course, this is a good thing most of the time, but not when ship-to-shore phone rates run $2.50 per minute and our bank didn't want to accept an online "okay" to release the card (although eventually they did). This time we called ahead. The Disney Visa folks took my info regarding travel dates and ports noting all of this in my account. Another Visa we have through our credit union was not as accommodating. They assured us that fraud protection would kick-in and could be released with a phone call, and, no, they couldn't do anything about it ahead of time. (Maybe it's time to trade in that card".)

So, here's our schedule for the 15 nights:

· Sunday, 8/17: Port of Los Angeles

· Monday, 8/18: At Sea

· Tuesday, 8/19: Cabo San Lucas

· Wednesday, 8/20: Puerto Vallarta

· Thursday, 8/21: At Sea

· Friday, 8/22: Acapulco

· Saturday, 8/23: At Sea

· Sunday, 8/24: At Sea

· Monday, 8/25: Panama Canal

· Tuesday, 8/26: Cartagena

· Wednesday, 8/27: At Sea

· Thursday, 8/28: Aruba

· Friday, 8/29: At Sea

· Saturday, 8/30: At Sea

· Sunday, 8/31: Castaway Cay

· Monday, 9/1: Port Canaveral

Follow our journey on the Disney Magic. The call sign is C6PT7.

This link will show you in red dots where the Magic is. You can use the ZOOM in and out feature to get a better idea of where the ship is.

To see all cruise ships sailing click here. Then you can click on any area of the map to get a closer view.

Wow. This almost feels too good to be true. This trip will definitely be one from the bucket list; a trip of a lifetime.

Next installment: embarkation day!

Follow my Panama Canal Cruise Blogs. Beginning entries at the top, for most recent entries scroll down.

Follow our journey on the Disney Magic. The call sign is C6PT7

This link will show you in red dots where the Magic is. You can use the ZOOM in and out feature to get a better idea of where the ship is.

To see all cruise ships sailing click here. Then you can click on any area of the map to get a closer view.

August 18, 2008

Embarkation Day - Disney Magic Panama Canal Cruise August 2008

The big day finally arrived and we are in our home-away-from-home for the next two weeks! Yeah! Even yesterday, it felt like we wouldn't get everything together in time. After packing and re-packing twice, we managed to fit in nearly everything, kept our checked bags under 50 lbs., and still have some extra space for special treasures we find along the way.

Lori and Aaron

And, what would a great vacation be without a snafu or two? When we got home from dinner last night, we found the A/C in our house had died. Of course, we were on day 3 of 100+ degree temps; fairly unusual for Portland. Sleeping was tough. And, it didn't help that we stayed up late to catch all of the great swimming action at the Olympics. And, it didn't help that there was lightning and thunder overnight causing the dogs to bark, whine, and shake. Sleep usually comes at a premium when we travel to WDW. Will the same be true for this cruise?

Once we got going this morning, everything went like clockwork. Got to the airport with a couple hours to spare, checked in, scanned through security, and boarded our little plane for LA. A relatively quick two hours later we were landing! In that time I managed to read an entire book -- start to finish. Okay, so it was only 80 pages, but a delightful story called "About Alice". Thanks, Donna!

One thing I was a little concerned about was the logistics when we arrived in LAX. I knew we needed to collect our own luggage, but I thought we might be a little early to find the Cruiseline folks. No need to worry as they were right there waiting for us! After a fairly short drive to the port we had our first glimpse of the Magic! Not quite the same as coming over that hill in FL and seeing the entire ship there in front of you, but lovely nonetheless. We waited a bit to check-in and then we waited to begin boarding. Things have changed quite a bit since we first cruised on the Magic 10 years ago.

Michael Enjoys

Once onboard we headed straight for Parrot Cay for a bite to eat. None of us had eaten much and everything tasted extra good.

Safety Drill

Now it was time for Adventures Away, the exciting sail-away deck party. The first time the horn sounded I cried. I'm such a sap (as in sentimental, not the HR database that I support -- no, I am not thinking about work!)

Lori and Michael at Sail Away


When we finally made it back to our stateroom, our luggage had arrived and we had a nice welcome from the Disney Vacation Club. Eventually, we made it to dinner. Our rotation begins in Parrot Cay and we have the very last dinner seating at 8:30pm. Toney and Marija are our servers and I think they will make this a very enjoyable trip. Apparently, we are sharing our table with others, but none joined us tonight; just the 3 of us at a table set for 8.

After dinner, Aaron headed off to the Stack for some 411 with the other teens. In the meantime, Michael and I headed back to the stateroom to change. We intended to go to Rockin' Bar D, but our eyelids have other ideas. Definitely time for some sleep.

Stateroom Door


Tomorrow will be our first full day at sea and we have lots to do - a visit to Vista Spa, Bingo, and a talk about the building of the Panama Canal, among other things.


Follow my Panama Canal Cruise Blogs. Beginning entries at the top, for most recent entries scroll down.

Follow our journey on the Disney Magic. The call sign is C6PT7

This link will show you in red dots where the Magic is. You can use the ZOOM in and out feature to get a better idea of where the ship is.

To see all cruise ships sailing click here. Then you can click on any area of the map to get a closer view.

August 19, 2008

Day at Sea - Disney Magic Panama Canal Cruise August 2008

I woke up feeling like a new woman this morning. Amazing what 6 consecutive hours of sleep can do!

Michael and I headed to Lumiere's for brunch. I have no idea what time Aaron got in last night (or this morning) from his teen get-acquainted soiree. He was still out when we returned from breakfast!

Next up Michael and I had our appointment at the Vista Spa. The last (and only) time Michael had a massage was on our last cruise (5 years ago) at Castaway Cay in the cabana on the beach. It was lovely, but when it was over his first words were "we should have done this at the beginning of the trip instead of the end." So, here we are, first day at sea and we were both enjoying a hot stone massage. But first we got to spend about 20 minutes in a bubbling hot tub with a gorgeous view of the foggy, overcast Pacific. After the wonderful massage, we sat out on the verandah again this time with the sun glistening off the water as we enjoyed fresh fruit and green tea. What a grand experience!

Back to our stateroom where we connected with Aaron who is finally awake, showered, and dressed watching Ironman on TV. It's already 1:30pm so we dash to Parrot Cay for a quick bite and then Michael and I are off to Diversions for our next phase of relaxation for the day: martini tasting! Michael thoroughly enjoyed himself and I was pleasantly surprised. We got to sample 4 different types of martinis including a Manhattan (John & Laura - you would be proud!) Our favorite was the classic, traditional gin martini. Michael even won a free martini of his choice because he answered one of the quiz questions!

Lori Enjoys the Martini Tasting

Right now Michael and Aaron are playing bingo and I'm contemplating a group cycle class.

To get ready for cycling, I had a bottle of water and then took a quick 10 minute nap. Well, it was only supposed to be 10 minutes. Cycling will have to wait for another day. Aaron came back from bingo and we just sat out on the sunny verandah for awhile watching the flying fish.

This evening we got to see a play that was brand new to us: The Golden Mickeys. It was fabulous. The music, the costumes, the story - just terrific. My favorites were Snow White, Tarzan, and the Toy Story characters. They even had Stitch doing Elvis!

Aaron has a Golden Mickey ticket


Dinner tonight was in Lumiere's; formal night. Once again we were 3 at a table for 8. Seems kinda strange. Our head server said the missing 5 are entertainers on the ship and they could be working. If they ever show up, I bet we will have fun.


Lori and Michael Formal Night


For dessert, they brought us a special cake to honor our 25th wedding anniversary.

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Big day tomorrow! Zip line and rappel in Cabo!

Lori.

August 20, 2008

Cabo San Lucas - Disney Magic Panama Canal Cruise August 2008

Day 3 - Cabo San Lucas

Today is the day of the excursion I have been most looking forward to and neither Aaron nor I was disappointed! All of the spin classes, treadmill running and walking, stairmaster climbing, and personal training I've done the last several months finally paid off today in a big way.

Aaron and I did the Canyon Canopy Adventure. I lost count of the number of zip lines we took. We cared less about the heights and more about the speed. How fast can we go? I actually earned the nicknames "crash" and "crazy Mexican driver" from our guides. More than once I kinda forgot to brake coming into a platform!

In addition to the zip lines, we got to climb some steel ladders (my choice) or rock climb (Aaron's choice). Before we went up, we had to go across the river by way of a commando bridge. The best way to describe this bridge is with a picture or two:

Wowza. I can't believe I did this! I can't believe I did any of this stuff! This excursion was so outside of my normal comfort zone. I did it!

If there were any downsides to this trip, it might be the hour drive there and back although our transport was a nice, air-conditioned 12-passenger van. For me the biggest downside was that my eyes were watering profusely (don't know why). Tears were just streaming down my face, but I certainly was not crying. Fortunately, Aaron let me borrow the sleeve of his shirt.

Lori and Aaron's  Canyon Canopy Adventure Cabo San Lucas

Lori and Aaron's  Canyon Canopy Adventure Cabo San Lucas

Lori and Aaron's  Canyon Canopy Adventure Cabo San Lucas

Lori and Aaron's  Canyon Canopy Adventure Cabo San Lucas


Lori and Aaron's  Canyon Canopy Adventure Cabo San Lucas

Lori and Aaron's  Canyon Canopy Adventure Cabo San Lucas


Michael tendered to shore and walked into town in search of cigars. He found one little whole-in-the-wall shop with some "cubanos", but he says they are a bit dried out. Unfortunately, the 2 shops recommended by the cruise line were closed. He found another shop, but they were in the midst of inventory.

He also dropped in to Cabo Wabo, but they would only allow cigarettes and no cigars. So, he walked back, stopped for a beer near the dock, and then tendered back to the ship. He enjoyed lunch at Lumiere's and later took a dip in the pool to cool off. When Aaron and I returned to the ship, Michael was at the movies seeing "Kung Fu Panda".

Another excursion that I had considered was a trip to view the Los Arcos famous rock formation. We were in luck! As Aaron and I waited in the Promenade Lounge to check-in for the Canopy Adventure, the ship cruised right past the arch!

Los Arcos

Aaron and I just wanted a little snack and decided to order room service. How decadent! Well, our phone wasn't working so we headed out to Guest Services. Lo and behold, all of the phones on the ship were out and they were working hard to restore service. So, we made a bit of junk food run: pizza, soft ice cream, and pop. Hit the spot!

After a quick nap, we headed out to play bingo. Not really my thing, but my family says I'm lucky so I joined them. It was definitely on the corny side, but we won some prizes! First, Michael won a DCL drawstring bag with a nice pen and travel wallet. Then, guess who won the bingo blackout game and $219? Me! Woohoo! I got to do the "bingo boogey" to claim my prize.

Dinner tonight was in Animator's Palate. Even though we've seen the show here 5 times now, we still enjoy it. And, tonight we had a special guest. And, since I had read Deb's blog from the westbound trip I had a good guess who it might be. Sorcerer Mickey!!! What fun!

Sorcerer Mickey at Animator's Palate

After dinner we intended to go to the adult version of a comedian-musician at Rockin' Bar D. Too tired. Time to call it a night. Aaron was so sleepy he barely made it through dinner, but he headed off to the Stack to connect up with new friends nonetheless.

Tomorrow, we dock in Puerto Vallarta. We've decided to take a cab into town to wander around and do a little shopping. Oh, and tonight we have to turn our clocks ahead an hour for the second time. I sure don't like this idea of losing any time on this magnificent ship!

P.S. To all of my friends out there ...are you reading this? Give me a shout back. So far I'm excited to be blogging about all of our experiences, but I'll stay motivated if I know this isn't going to a black hole!

You can send a comment to Lori via our Blog Contact Us Form. Be sure to select General Blog Comments and we'll foward them on to Lori.

August 21, 2008

Puerto Vallarta - Disney Magic Panama Canal Cruise August 2008

This morning I tried to get up early. I think I rolled out around 8:30am. I decided to try to do a little exercise. After all, the Portland Race for the Cure is only a month away and I need to be ready. So, to all of my Team Melanie friends, guess what? I ran, but not on a treadmill! I finally moved my running outside! Yeah! Three laps around deck 4 is one mile. I ran one and walked one as the Magic moved sideways into its spot at the Puerto Vallarta dock. What a great way to start the day!

After breakfast, we took a taxi into town and wandered through some shops. Aaron found a nice leather wallet and Michael found some more cigars. He's not had much luck with the Cubanos, but he's enjoying the Mexican cigars.

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When we returned to the ship, Michael and I headed to the pool for a dip to cool off. About 30 minutes into a relaxing time, it started to rain. Gee, feels like home. We thought it might be a brief shower, but it is about 4 hours later now and still pouring. I feel bad for Aaron as he is on an excursion - a teen cruise. But, right now, Michael and I are off to Palos for dinner!

I mentioned before that this is our 5th Disney cruise. We've had Palo brunch once or twice, but it paled in comparison to dinner. I'm running out of adjectives to describe everything! First we selected a wonderful bottle of wine.

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Then, Sylvester from India took over. We had a leisurely meal - 3 hours! Everything was so incredibly delicious.

For appetizers he brought out 3 things: shrimp with asparagus, Portobello mushroom over polenta, and eggplant with salad greens. We both liked the shrimp the best, but we were split on the other two. Then, he brought a pizza that was to die for. After that we had our main course(s). Sylvester chose lamb for Michael and filet for me. On the side, he brought lobster ravioli. We shared everything and could not decide on a favorite. Everything was outstanding. Well, you can only imagine what was next. Dessert. And, Sylvester had to bring 3 different things for us: tiramisu, custard, and their signature chocolate soufflé. Typically given a choice I would pick just about anything but chocolate. Not tonight. The soufflé was amazing.

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Tomorrow we have another day at sea. I'll be spending it in the gym.

Oh, Aaron made it back from his teen cruise in time to attend dinner in Parrot Cay. He was only 1 at a table for 8. This is pretty funny. Who are our mystery tablemates? Will we ever meet them? Aaron's cruise was fun, but it was raining cats and dogs. They gave the kids ponchos, but pretty much everything got soaked. Hey, they are teenagers and they didn't really care! He's definitely made some friends and is having a good time. (I should mention that he raved and raved about his dinner. Even though he was alone, Toney and Marija took good care of him.)

We broke down and used our cell phones this evening. (Mexico rates, 59 cents per minutes with AT&T) I have one of those really big milestone birthdays coming up in a few months and I've decided how I want to spend it: at Palos with our good friends. One call was to invite them to join us next February. The second call was home. The A/C is fixed and didn't cost us an arm-and-a-leg. Thanks for taking care of everything, Brandon and Ashley!

I can't remember exactly what we have on the schedule for tomorrow. I think we have a margarita and tequila tasting (yahoo!) and Aaron says there is a $10k jackpot I need to win with bingo. Okey-dokey.

There are two things I still want to tell you about - maybe I'll do one tomorrow. Cleanliness (Donna - listen up, you're gonna love this!) and towel animals.

Enough for this evening. I just can't believe what a fabulous time we are having on this trip. Disney truly knows and understands service and family. Yes, this trip is expensive, but for my travel dollar it is the best bargain around.

August 22, 2008

Day at Sea - Disney Magic Panama Canal Cruise August 2008

Here we are with another day at sea.

Michael and I are sitting on lounge chairs on deck 9 facing the beautiful blue Pacific.

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I just read through many messages forwarded to me from Deb. Thank you so much! You're making me cry again.

Can I tell you something? After my "intro" blog was posted, I was feeling a little uncomfortable. I've been reading various internet sites and following newsgroups for years and years. Anyone remember rec.arts.disney??? I read, but I rarely post. This blogging was really putting myself "out there" which is out of my comfort zone (again).

Then, it occurred to me. I drive a custom painted PINK car (a MINI, of course). How can I possibly be concerned with standing out? There are more people in the Pacific Northwest that recognize me than I care to think about! (I've included a photo; note the Disney princess antenna ball and my license plate - MNI MSE.)

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Anyway, thank you all for your thoughtful notes from Australia, New York City, and many places in between. Amazing.

Hey, I just missed a great photo op at the adult pool. It was Stitch! Just as I was about to snap my photo someone stepped in front of me. Oh well. Next time.

This morning first thing Michael and I both got some exercise. He got going earlier than me and had a pleasant power walk on deck 4. I waited to join the Run/Walk 5k group that met in Preludes. I thought we might run or walk as a group, but we all just did our own thing. I managed 1-1/3 miles today - half walking, half running.

I'm definitely still recovering from last night's two bottles of wine. That was probably not too smart, but it was soooo good. I still can't get over the whole Palo experience. We're on the waiting list for another dinner. Crossing my fingers that they call!

We played bingo again this morning. Apparently, my luck has run out although Michael won another travel wallet and a piece of art work. We had tickets for the margarita tasting this afternoon, but it conflicted with another bingo which Michael and Aaron really want to attend. Fortunately, we were able to exchange our tickets for another tasting later next week.

As for me, I'm thinking a nap or maybe a dip in the pool this afternoon sounds good. I suppose I should read a few pages of Harry Potter, but right now that seems like work. Check out the photo with Aaron and Captain Bingo aka Pikey! He is aware of LOTS of folks from the DIS boards that are onboard and they are trying to get the word "tangerini" on the internet; you know, google it up! Now, I'm just not sure if that's tangerini or tangerineee or tangeriney! By the way, that would be the color of the card for the 2nd bingo game.

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So, let me tell you about cleanliness on the Disney Magic. Many of you probably recall news stories about flu viruses on cruise ships taking out significant numbers of travelers. I think it may have happened on one Disney cruise, too. Well, Disney passes out sanitary hand wipes to each and every person as they enter any restaurant for every meal. Plus, they hand them out when you re-board the ship from any excursion. Each bathroom (including those in the staterooms) has instructions posted on the most effective way to wash your hands. I have to say, I'm pretty impressed! I thought Disney did a great job before!

The silent auction bidding opened today. I have my eye on a very cool poster from Fantasyland with "It's a Small World" characters. It brings back fond memories. As a little girl I remember skipping down the very wide "aisle" heading towards Small World at Disneyland holding hands with my dad. He would always wonder why everyone seemed to have a long face (maybe it was the heat?). He always wore a smile and whistled a happy tune when we were at Disneyland. Come to think of it, he smiled and whistled most of the time no matter where we were. I do miss him.

Anyway, back to the silent auction. For anyone that traveled on many of the early Magic & Wonder cruises, you may remember that they handed out trading cards featuring the ships, the plays, the Oceaneer clubs, etc. In an auction on a prior trip we were able to buy a custom framed set of all of those cards.

This afternoon we have a Castaway Club event at the Goofy pool. Did I mention that this cruise has 2036 return guests? The most return guests of any Disney cruise to date! We were each given a "Castaway Club Challenge" card with quiz questions like find a crew member that was part of the opening team of DCL (Captain Tom!) and find fellow cruisers that have sailed more than 10 times.

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We were lucky enough to meet Barb and Tony who are on their 63rd sailing! Can you believe it? I thought they might not have made many trips to WDW since they must always be at sea. Wouldn't you know they live near Celebration! Anyway, it was fun chatting with them. Oh , the only bonus question for adults was to find someone that sailed on an inaugural voyage! Yeah! That one was easy! We were on both!!!

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Now we'll get ready for dinner. We're back in Lumiere's with a French menu. Right now we're in the stateroom watching "Snow Buddies" on TV and a storm brewing outside.

Before dinner we chose to go to Studio Sea for a rousing round of "Who Wants to be a Mouseketeer." Several folks got a chance in the hot seat; a 7-year-old girl won the grand prize! I was impressed; she needed very little assistance from Mom.

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As I mentioned we were in Lumiere's.


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Aaron was thrilled to get his escargot. And, for my dear friend, Jim, check out this crème brulee. Nice, crusty brown top!

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The real highlight of this evening however was our special guests: Beauty and the Beast! One of my most favorite princesses.

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Well, everyone thanks once again for all of your kind notes. Enjoy!

You can send a comment to Lori via our Blog Contact Us Form. Be sure to select General Blog Comments and we'll foward them on to Lori.

Follow my journey from LA to FL via the Panama Canal!

August 23, 2008

Acapulco - Disney Magic Panama Canal Cruise EB August 2008

We awoke this morning already docked in Acapulco. We didn't have any excursions scheduled, but decided to just get off the ship and walk a bit ...just to say we've been to Acapulco. Well, that's about it.

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We can say we've been to Acapulco and I don't think I'll be in any hurry to return. Apparently, the area near the dock is considered the "old" part of town. Definitely old, dirty, and run down. After about 30 minutes we'd had enough and headed back.

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Our timing was actually good as it started pouring rain not long after we settled back in our room. You can see from some of these photos just how windy it was while we were out.

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We had a yummy lunch at Parrot Cay - "South of the Border" theme. Aaron and I were thrilled to make tacos and they had a poblano chicken on the buffet that was simply delicious! After lunch we headed to deck 9 where it was still raining heavily, but we waited under cover until the ship pushed away. We wanted to hear the horn again. Just can't get enough of it! "When you wish upon a star"

Next up was the chore I'd been dreading since before we left home. Laundry. Yuck. This is one place that is not "cashless". The washers and dryers all use quarters (detergent machine, too). Of course, the dryers take longer than the 40 minute cycle to dry and the wash cycles are only 30 to 35 minutes so there's always a line for a dryer. Two loads of wash took about 3 hours out of my day. The good news? I finally got started on my Harry Potter book. 50 pages down, 700+ to go!

I'm thinking tonight it's time for me to try a margarita or two. And, if I can stay awake, maybe we'll hit the dance floor after dinner. Actually, I believe we have a deck party this evening. Excellent. I need to make up 3 hours! Stay tuned ..I'll let you know how it goes. Right now it is time to get dressed for dinner and head to tonight's show, "The Art of the Story."

(My apologies. The whole laundry thing has put me in a crummy mood. I definitely need an attitude adjustment.)

Attitude has been adjusted! A little Captain-and-Coke followed by a marvelous play did the trick.

The Art of the Story was a delightful show. Apparently, this one is rarely presented. It was five "themes" beautifully woven together. First was the storyteller (Hunchback of Notre Dame) followed by song (Mulan), then sound (Tarzan ...now that guy had quite the six-pack!), then emotion (Beauty & the Beast), and lastly light and color (Lion King).

After the show, Aaron and I found a secret spot. Shhh, don't tell. Deck 7 aft. Wow. Check out the sunset! And, we spotted some dolphins! How cool is that!

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lori51.jpg

Dinner was "Mexicali" in Animator's Palate. I could have ordered one of everything on the menu! My favorites were the Sangria and the beef burrito appetizer. Tonight during dinner Aaron challenged his dad to a wood-naming contest. They took turns naming different kinds of wood until one of them gave up (oak, cherry, maple, pine, etc). I'm not sure who won, but it was a fun topic of conversation! Minnie dropped by, did a little dancing, and invited us to her Fiesta Grande Deck Party. I need to head up there now.

Minnie's Fiesta Grande Party


One quick story. This morning, Michael asked me what day it was and I had to check the Navigator to figure it out!!!! Yeah!!! I know I'm on vacation when I can't remember what day it is!

Whoa. This ship is really rockin' and rollin' tonight. We were hanging out at the Quiet Pool for an adults-only party. A number of folks were in the pool. The water was sloshing around so much it almost looked like someone had put in Jacuzzi jets! The "report from the bridge" says we only have 4-8 ft swells, but it sure feels stronger than that.

Tomorrow will be the first of three sea days all in a row culminating Monday in the Panama Canal.
Lori.

You can send a comment to Lori via our Blog Contact Us Form. Be sure to select General Blog Comments and we'll foward them on to Lori.

Follow my journey from LA to FL via the Panama Canal!

August 24, 2008

Day at Sea - Disney Magic Panama Canal EB Cruise

Thanks again for all of your notes! I love fan mail! Up to this point, I've only been a celebrity at my local Starbucks drive-thru and that's just because of my car.

A special thanks to my friends at home - pdxmavs (do we have a date in Feb???), Craig (275 days!!!), and Sara (Barley's mom).

One person asked about Panama Canal crossing times. Here is what I know so far. Crossing day is Monday, Aug 25. The "Report from the Bridge" says we arrive at 6am and depart at 7pm. I promise to pass along more info as I find it. There is also a link to cameras along the Canal to enable you to watch the ship move through the locks.

This morning I finally went to the fitness center. I had planned to run on the treadmill, but since this ship is still a-rockin' and a-rollin' I was lucky to be able to walk holding on! I think I'll go back to running on deck 4.

After breakfast, Michael and I attended a very special adults-only presentation by Don "Ducky" Williams. Fabulous! I've read reviews from other folks that have heard him speak and seen him draw. What a thrill for us to see him in person! We didn't win the drawings for his sketches.this time, but he let slip that something special is coming to all of us in a day or so. A lot of his artwork will be auctioned in a special session later in the cruise. Michael and I talked about getting each other something for our anniversary. I think we just decided on some artwork......perhaps we'll be able to get his autograph, too.

Ducky Williams

Ducky Williams

Ducky Williams

Ducky Williams

Ducky Williams

So, Aaron is back among the living now (almost 1pm). He came in about 2:45am this morning! The teens got to take over the Oceaneer Lab and make flubber! I'm thinking the big kids enjoy this stuff at least as much as the little ones. Tonight they get to take over Ocean Quest (the place for pre-teens). Should be another wild night for him! He's having a blast.

We grabbed a quick lunch and headed to Animator's Palate for a wine tasting - the wines of Italy presented by Michael Jordan (no, not that one). This Michael Jordan is the Master Sommelier at Napa Rose at the Grand Californian at Disneyland Resort. He was very entertaining while he educated us on a few of the wines of Italy. We tasted 4 and then they unveiled a 5th called "Magic-ally", a sparkling red that would be delicious with chocolate covered strawberries or that decadent soufflé from Palos. This one was a little too sweet for us, but we did discover another new red that we like.

Wine Tasting

Lori at the Wine Tasting

Michael at the Wine Tasting

Next up we have a Disney Vacation Club mixer in Rockin' Bar D. I just poked my nose outside and it is beautiful! No rain, little bit of a breeze. Shoot, too much going on! I haven't seen a schedule for tomorrow yet. I think we have another wine tasting; France this time. Afterwards I think I'll schedule a nap and a dip in the pool.

One thing I just have to say. Is there anyone reading this that thinks Disney cruises are only for families with children? WRONG! We are having such a fabulous time doing adult activities, keeping waaay too busy, and, to be perfectly honest, I hardly ever see any children. I did pass by a photo session with princesses this morning ...so sweet! My turn will come; we have been invited and RSVP'd to a princess party next week!

The DVC mixer was fun. Free drinks and snacks and we visited with some very nice folks. When that ended, we were able to pick up our limited edition pin sets. Each stateroom was guaranteed one complete set, if you wanted it. Since Michael and Aaron are both pin collectors, we were able to secure a second set. AND, we were able to secure one of the limited edition framed prints (only 10 produced). Yeah!

Hey, I wanted to tell you about one of those little Disney touches that will put a smile on my face every time I walk down the hallway. Music. In the stateroom hallways they always have a Disney tune playing softly in the background. This afternoon I heard Jiminy Cricket singing "When you wish upon a star", "You've got a friend in me" from Toy Story, and "So this is love" from Cinderella.

So, Michael and I were going to skip the show tonight, but Aaron popped in and insisted that we go. It turned out to be great fun! Ron Kalmon, a hypnotist, entertained us. He put about a dozen folks under and had them doing some funny things (nothing too embarrassing).

Dinner was the island theme in Parrot Cay for us. Instead of naming woods, tonight I got Michael and Aaron started on movie titles: take turns naming movies with single word titles like Dumbo, Tarzan, Crash, Goonies, etc. They carried on for a long time!

Parrot Cay

Have you ever noticed Sebastian on the lights before?

Sebastian in Lights

(I've also included a photo of a "sanitation station". As I mentioned, these are everywhere usually with a crew member handing out the wipes.)

lori59.jpg

Aaron headed to the Stack and Michael headed to deck 9 for a cigar. I wasn't ready to sleep yet, so I went to the Buena Vista Theater for a movie: Made of Honor. The theater was packed! It was your basic chick-flick and, even though I had never seen it, I could guess the ending. It was still an enjoyable show.

Tomorrow we have another day at sea and then we'll be at the Canal!

Lori

P.S. To our friend, Jim, we'll be thinking good thoughts and sending positive vibes your way on Monday. Good luck!

You can send a comment to Lori via our Blog Contact Us Form. Be sure to select General Blog Comments and we'll foward them on to Lori.

Follow my journey from LA to FL via the Panama Canal!

August 25, 2008

Day at Sea - Disney Magic Panama Canal Cruise August 2008

Another day at sea! Yeah! First thing: sleep in. Check. I decided I've spent enough time in seminars and tastings and lectures, etc., etc. So, I cancelled our wine tasting reservation in exchange for time on deck in the sun and in the pool.

Well, first I did promise Michael I would tag along with him to the cigar seminar in Sessions. We got there a little early. He got acquainted with several folks and started chatting up the crew.

I excused myself and headed to the Walt Disney Theater for a presentation by Captain Ken Puckett, Snior pilot and Port Captain. It was the family presentation on what we can expect tomorrow as we head through the Panama Canal. Very interesting! I'm soooo glad we have a stateroom with a verandah.

According to the various announcements, they expect us to get to the Canal and have the pilot board about 6:30am and enter the first lock about 840am. I'll correct this as soon as we get tomorrow's navigator. (See below.)

Back to today. After lunch, Michael and I finally headed out to deck 10 just above the Quiet Cove pool. Lovely. It was windy, but the ocean is much calmer than it has been the last few days. We swam, soaked up the sun, enjoyed a cocktail, and watched pool games. Very relaxing afternoon.

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Bingo this afternoon was in the Walt Disney Theater because they expected a large crowd. The last jackpot was a free 7-day cruise! A gal from Washington state won it! Before that giveaway, they had 3 cash jackpots. Michael hit bingo on one of them - along with 5 other people. They each won a little over $200! Yeah!

Next we cleaned up quickly and headed to tonight's show: Twice Charmed. This is another one we had not yet seen. Very sweet. The music was terrific and the performance was outstanding, as always. When we left the theater, our signals were mixed up and Michael got separated from Aaron and me. Minnie was in the atrium lobby and I got a picture with her! Michael rode the elevator with the parents of the actor who played the Grand Duke - they were very happy!

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Dinner was semi-formal this evening and we were in Lumiere's for the "princess" menu. Aaron snapped a picture of his dessert and then he got one of me with my dessert, a weird look on my face, and someone sneaking bunny-ears! Good grief. Can you believe the stuff I put up with? Hehehehe I love my family! (And, we continue to be only 3 at a table for 8...)

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When we got back to our room, we found a special surprise. A limited edition lithograph designed by Ducky Williams entitled "Smooth Sailing with Peter Pan". Ducky will be available for autographs later in the week.

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Well, tomorrow will be an early and long day with the crossing of the Canal. We'll be on our verandah and on decks 9 and 10 moving around all day. I'll take as many photos as I can and I will share! The camera battery is charging now!

Sweet dreams!

Here is the tentative schedule from the Navigator:

7am Passing under Bridge of the Americas

8:40am Arriving at Miraflores Locks

10:20am Departing Miraflores Locks

10:50am Arriving Pedro Miguel Locks

11:50am Departing Pedro Miguel Locks

1:00pm Passing Gamboa

3:00pm Arriving Gatun Locks

5:20pm Departing Gatun Locks

Wow! I'm excited!!!

No Internet tomorrow. *sigh*

Lori.

Panama Canal Disney Magic Approximate Times

Remember these times are One hour behind Eastern Time

Here is the tentative schedule from the Navigator:

7am Passing under Bridge of the Americas

8:40am Arriving at Miraflores Locks

10:20am Departing Miraflores Locks

10:50am Arriving Pedro Miguel Locks

11:50am Departing Pedro Miguel Locks

1:00pm Passing Gamboa

3:00pm Arriving Gatun Locks

5:20pm Departing Gatun Locks


Link to Panama Canal Cameras

Disney Magic Enters Panama Canal

From Lori

We were up early this morning - before 6am. Apparently, it rained overnight, but it is beautiful now. I think we are about 30 minutes behind the published schedule.

First round of photos -

Boat pulling away from Magic from dropping off Canal Pilot.

Many, many, many other ships "parked" outside the canal. We see no other cruise ships.

In addition to the Bahamian flag, we are also flying the Panamanian flag.

Rainbow off port side

Starboard side buoy (it's red, green for port side) We are entering the channel now.

These rocks are just outside the channel. They were debris from when the canal was built.

Approaching the Bridge of the Americas.

Passing under the Bridge of the Americas.

Disney Magic Panama Canal

Disney Magic Panama Canal

Disney Magic Panama Canal

Disney Magic Panama Canal

Disney Magic Panama Canal

Disney Magic Panama Canal

Disney Magic Panama Canal

Disney Magic Panama Canal

Disney Magic Panama Canal

Keep checking back for more photos today!

Disney Magic Enters Panama Canal - Bridge of the Americas

More photos from the Bridge of the Americas:

Disney Magic Panama Canal

Disney Magic Panama Canal

Disney Magic Panama Canal

Disney Magic Panama Canal

Disney Magic Panama Canal

Keep checking back for more photos!

On the phone with Lori

Going thru the 2nd of the MiraFlores Lock.

It's a beautiful day, althought it rained this morning, the cruise director arranged for beautiful weather.

A couple of the photographers have gotten off the ship and are taking pics of folks on the ship.

There is so much traffic today, that they have ships going both directions at the same time.

Ok, this might be it for now, the call keeps dropping (Skype).

Deb

Miraflores Locks Part 1 - Disney Magic Panama Canal

Photos from the Panama Canal Webcam as the Disney Magic entered the Miraflores Locks.

Miraflores Locks Disney Magic Panama Canal

Miraflores Locks Disney Magic Panama Canal

Miraflores Locks Disney Magic Panama Canal

Miraflores Locks Disney Magic Panama Canal

To see the engineering marvel of the locks, focus on the lower part of the ship. Look at the lifeboats, then move your eyes below to the yellow line and then below still to the dark area and port holes. Follow the location of the portholes thru the next few photos.

Miraflores Locks Disney Magic Panama Canal

Miraflores Locks Disney Magic Panama Canal

Miraflores Locks Disney Magic Panama Canal

Miraflores Locks Disney Magic Panama Canal

Miraflores Locks Disney Magic Panama Canal

Miraflores Locks Disney Magic Panama Canal

Check Back Later for More Photos

Miraflores Locks Part 2 - Disney Magic Panama Canal

The technology is amazing. First, we have the technology of the Canal much of which has been in place since the 1930s. And, we have today's technology. Deb Wills is watching the ship from the webcam on the locks and we are using SKYPE to talk about what's happening. Way cool. (Deb's Note: It was awesome to speak with you Lori. And if that still isn't enough technology for you.... After the call with Lori ended, my friend Masayo in Japan called me on SKYPE. The next time the Disney Magic docks in the US, Masayo and I will both be on the ship!)

And, keep your fingers crossed, we have internet access today. Michael had heard we might not.

Here are more photos -

Locomotives to pull us thru the locks

Miraflores Locks Disney Magic Panama Canal

As close as I could get on deck 10 forward!

Miraflores Locks Disney Magic Panama Canal

Bridge used before Bridge of the Americas was built; now just used as a backup or during emergencies.

Miraflores Locks Disney Magic Panama Canal

Picture on our TV of Magic in the lock. Check out those massive gates and the ship ahead of us!

Miraflores Locks Disney Magic Panama Canal

One of many targets

Miraflores Locks Disney Magic Panama Canal

Lots of folks came out to greet us!

Miraflores Locks Disney Magic Panama Canal

Miraflores Locks Disney Magic Panama Canal

We think the webcam is the one on the left! Hi everyone! Did you see us waving!!!

Miraflores Locks Disney Magic Panama Canal

One of the original locomotives

Miraflores Locks Disney Magic Panama Canal


Two Disney Magic photographers hopped off to take pics of us!

Miraflores Locks Disney Magic Panama Canal


More photos to come.....

Miraflores Locks Part 3 Disney Magic Panama Canal

Deck 7 aft (our no-longer-secret spot!) - You can see the container ship next to us also heading northbound. So much traffic from Pacific to Atlantic today that they have both lanes working northbound. (I learned at yesterday's lecture that we actually move from south to north.) Also, there is one little place in Panama where the sun rises in the Pacific and sets in the Atlantic. I'm still having trouble getting my head around that one. (

Miraflores Locks Disney Magic Panama Canal

This series taken from deck 7 after show the massive gates closing. 254-259

Miraflores Locks Disney Magic Panama Canal

Miraflores Locks Disney Magic Panama Canal

Miraflores Locks Disney Magic Panama Canal

Miraflores Locks Disney Magic Panama Canal

Miraflores Locks Disney Magic Panama Canal

Miraflores Locks Disney Magic Panama Canal


These rowboats are used to get the lines from the locomotives to the ship. Same method used in the 1930s. They've tried newer technologies, but always ran into problems. (Hey, if it's not broken...!)

Miraflores Locks Disney Magic Panama Canal

I must take a moment and thank my sweet husband for all of his help with these blogs. I've been writing and taking photos, and he's been putting it all together which can be the most time-consuming part. Thanks, Honey!

(Deb Again - Thank YOU Lori and Michael for taking the time to share this with us)

We'll get this installment off now and send another later. Looks like we're about to enter the Pedro Miguel locks. Wow. This is way cool!

Lori

Stay tuned for more photos later.

Panama Canal Disney Magic

Lori just emailed (4:30pm EDT).

We are approaching Gatun locks right now.

HUGE storm!

No longer can see the "islands" hidden by clouds.

Here is a photo of one of Gatun Locks. This is NOT the lock the Disney Magic is at right now, but gives you an idea of the weather in the area.

gatun1.jpg

The only camera for the Gatun locks is at the end of the Magic's voyage. Depending on weather, perhaps in an hour or so.

Panama Canal Cruise Pedro Miguel Locks Disney Magic

I never thought I'd feel this way on this cruise, but I was hungry! Michael and I first popped back down to Deck 7 aft to see the Pedro Miguel locks closing and their row boats. You will notice in the pics that these locks have double gates.

For lunch today, they had a BBQ on deck 9 - ribs, rib eye steaks, chicken, salmon & shrimp kabobs, veggie kabobs, corn on the cob, cole slaw (YUM), a variety of other salads, and a variety of breads including corn bread and garlic bread. Of course, they had their usual wide variety of desserts. Needless to say, my hunger is gone!

Panama Canal Cruise

Right now we are passing through "the cut". We first crossed under the Centennial Bridge and passed over the Continental Divide (a big rock - looks like it has stairsteps, terraced). The cut is simply that. They excavated, or cut, a swath through the mountains to create this passage. Pretty darn amazing. The vegetation (at least on the starboard side) is clearly lush rain forest. One thing we neglected to pack was binoculars. They would have come in very handy today.

Pedro Miguel Locks

Pedro Miguel Locks

The weather today is phenomenal. Although, it is very hot when the sun is not hiding behind a cloud.

It is about 3:20pm and we are nearing the Gatun Locks. Guess what? The weather has changed drastically. No more sun at all. Now we have some serious lightening, thunder, and rain. This is how they replenish the 52 million gallons of water dumped for each ship that crosses! Quite a spectacular storm.

Pedro Miguel Locks

Pedro Miguel Locks

Pedro Miguel Locks

We seem to be completely stopped. We have an APL container ship right across our bow. (Are you impressed? I am really getting into this lingo - starboard, port, bow, stern, aft, midship, forward. Hahaha)

The ship has moved and we are once again moving, approaching the Gatun locks. Still raining.

Photos for this blog to follow.

Lori

Pedro Miguel Locks Photos Part 1

Pedro Miguel Locks

Pedro Miguel Locks

Pedro Miguel Locks

Pedro Miguel Locks

Pedro Miguel Locks

Pedro Miguel Locks

Pedro Miguel Locks

Pedro Miguel Locks

Pedro Miguel Locks

More to follow...

August 26, 2008

Gatun Locks Panama Canal, Disney Magic Cruise

It's almost 6pm and we are in the Gatun locks ...waiting. We've been watching the APL container ship in the lock next to us move ahead. Very cool to see the water level change. I have a photo of the closed gate showing the lower level in front and higher level above.

My goodness. We've been going through the Canal now for nearly 12 hours. I'm glad our dinner seating isn't until 8:30pm. We should be able to see our way to the open ocean by then. I think we're in Animator's Palate tonight. Once again -- my sign for a great vacation - I can't remember what day it is exactly or the time or where I'm supposed to be.

The rain let up for a bit, but started in again. It is getting dark outside, but I can still see some blue sky up ahead.

Earlier Aaron and I dashed down to deck 4 to take a peek out the port side. Nothing much to see, at least not compared to our primo view on starboard. The narrator did say when we get back to sea level that we would be able to see the French canal on the port side heading into the jungle. Of course, it will be pretty dark by then; maybe we won't see much. (The French made the first attempt at building a canal long, long ago.)

Tomorrow we dock in Cartagena. I wasn't sure I even wanted to get off the ship, but did finally book a city tour & shopping excursion for us. After a so-so experience in Acapulco, I'm looking forward to this tour. Two items to shop for: emeralds and coffee. Hmmm, sounds like a great combo to me!

The container ship is heading out of the final lock. We should be doing the same shortly. It's been like a game of cat and mouse in this last lock. I'm sure the Captain will zip past the APL as soon as we are clear.

I want to say a quick thank-you to Deb Wills. We have been online emailing each other and chatting over SKYPE all day. It's been great fun sharing! And, thank you for posting all of my notes and pictures. (Deb's Note: It was an awesome day Lori - thanks so much. Also, I am way behind posting Lori's photos....but I'll do my best to get them up later today.)

Dinner tonight was in Animator's Palate; a new, special menu "West Meets East". I think it was good; we had a bottle of chardonnay that has made me completely loopy. Back to red wine tomorrow. I do remember having lobster. Delicious. Did not even need dipping butter.

Did I mention that I created a monster with the name-movies-with-single-word-titles? Michael and Aaron are so competitive; neither will give up! Tonight, however, Aaron started something new and far less competitive. He is asking trivia-like questions about different countries. Much more civilized. Which country has a ratio of 21 moose to 1 human? Canada! Where was the hamburger first created? Germany! Which country's name does not follow typical English spelling rules? Qatar (not Qu, just Q).

Lori

Gatun Locks Photos Panama Canal, Disney Magic Cruise

Gatun Locks Panama Canal

Gatun Locks Panama Canal

Gatun Locks Panama Canal

Gatun Locks Panama Canal

Gatun Locks Panama Canal

Gatun Locks Panama Canal


Gatun Locks Panama Canal


Gatun Locks Panama Canal


Gatun Locks Panama Canal


Gatun Locks Panama Canal

Gatun Locks Panama Canal

August 27, 2008

Gatun Locks Web Cam Photos Panama Canal, Disney Magic Cruise

The last lock the Disney Magic entered as it passed through the Panama Canal on it's way to Florida!

Gatun Locks Panama Canal


Gatun Locks Panama Canal

Gatun Locks Panama Canal


Gatun Locks Panama Canal


Gatun Locks Panama Canal


Gatun Locks Panama Canal


Gatun Locks Panama Canal


Gatun Locks Panama Canal

Cartagena -- Disney Magic Panama Canal Cruise

Slowly cruising into the port of Cartagena. Busy place!

We're off shortly to grab some breakfast and then head off on our excursion.

This is actually an historic day for the Disney Magic as this ship has never before stopped in Cartagena! As we got off the ship we were greeted by much music, dancing, and entertainment. The local media was everywhere.

Cartagena

Cartagena

We climbed into buses. Each of us was given a radio to aid in hearing the guide speak.

Cartagena

We were taken on a tour of the old city, the walled fort, and La Popa (a monastery).

Cartagena

Cartagena

Cartagena

Cartagena

Cartagena

They took us to two different places for shopping. Similar to Acapulco and Puerto Vallarta, there were lots of street vendors pushing their wares.

Cartagena

We even saw a guy selling the chance to have your picture taken with a sloth! (Of course, you take your own picture.)

The second shopping area was the "mall" with shops recommended by the cruise line. We picked up a couple of packages of coffee and checked out the emeralds. Unfortunately, nothing really jumped out at me.

The weather is warm, but overcast. When we got back to the ship, we went to Pluto's for some tacos and now we're just relaxing. Aaron and I napped and watched "Sky High" and "Music and Lyrics". Michael was on deck with his cigars and a good book.


The show this evening was a Broadway review of sorts.
Two stars from the Broadway production of Beauty and the Beast performed. Sarah Litzsinger, the longest running Belle, and David DeVries, who played Lumiere, sang and shared stories. Their final song, "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes", of course, made me cry. It was beautiful.

We snuck in a quick bingo game, but didn't win anything this time.

This was "Tropical" night in the dining room and we were in Parrot Cay. Our server, Toney, has figured out how much Aaron likes guacamole and manages to squeeze in an extra course of that for him. It is really good!

Aaron and his Guacamole

Lori.

August 28, 2008

Day at Sea - Panama Canal Disney Magic Cruise

This day started off rather quiet. Michael and I had a nice breakfast at Lumiere's. Aaron was sleeping in for a change (HA!). I think he came in around 3am.

After breakfast, Michael went to deck 9 for a cigar and to catch up on email. I headed to Diversions for a "future cruise" presentation. We now have a quote for our February cruise. I can't believe it has been 5 years since our last cruise. Waaaay too much fun to wait that long again. Six months seems about right! (pdxmavs - are your bags packed yet?)

About noon things started getting crazy for Michael and me. After a quick dip in the pool, I spent only 5 minutes drying and then we went to the atrium on deck 4 to preview art for the Don "Ducky" Williams auction. Amazing art work. The last item to be auctioned was the original painting for the lithograph that each stateroom on this trip received. Do you know it sold for $7000? Holy cow. I did actually bid on it ...very early on!

After the auction, we rushed to get some food before heading to the Tequila and Margarita tasting. If there are typos or if I embarrass myself with this blog, blame it on the Tequila. Wow. That was great stuff!!! We will definitely be paying a visit to Yelena (the Bar tender) at the Promenade Lounge later this evening. I have never done Tequila shots and I just had three plus two mini-margarita samples!!! Yowza. I'm feeling really good.

Tequila Tasting

The Tequila tasting was 3-4pm. However, the silent auction was closing at 4pm so Michael snuck out a bit early. We managed to win both items that we wanted!!!! Check out the craziness when it was all over!

Post Auction Crowd

(Okay, so after the Tequila wears off, will we be feeling any buyer's remorse? No!) Michael got the "only 1 of 2" print of the Panama Canal crossing. (The other one was auctioned on the westbound trip last May.) And, I got my Fantasyland - It's a Small World art! Yeah! Here's to happy memories with Mother and Dad!!! Happy 25th anniversary, Honey.

By the way, the ship is moving very slowly today. We must be relatively close to Aruba. Whatever. We could just sail in circles and I would be happy.


Tonight's show was a singing magician
. He was okay. Dinner was back in Lumiere's with the Master Chef's menu. We got a picture of Fitz for Deb!

Michael, Fitz and Lori

Afterwards, Michael and I went back to see Yelena at the Promenade Lounge. We are trying two "after dinner" Tequilas. They are delicious.

Tomorrow we're in Aruba - arrive early and leave late! We have a snorkeling excursion that should be fun. The only hitch is that the "Celebrity Entertainment" for tomorrow is Aly and AJ. Nothing that we are interested - oopps, Aaron wants to see them.

Lori.

August 29, 2008

Michael Phelps Honored at the Magic Kingdom

Olympian Michael Phelps had a parade in his honor at the Magic Kingdom today. Thanks to Tim Smith for these photos.

Olympian Michael Phelps

Olympian Michael Phelps


Olympian Michael Phelps

Olympian Michael Phelps

Olympian Michael Phelps

Olympian Michael Phelps


Also see LindaMac's Blog on the Parade.

Aruba - Panama Canal Cruise Disney Magic

Aruba!!! From what we've seen so far, this is a lovely place. We were up early for our excursion - sailing and snorkeling. The water is the most amazing blue and green. We saw some cool fishes many like ones we used to have in our aquarium at home: ribbon fish, gorgeous blue tangs, butterfly fish, black spiny sea urchins, and so many others. The catamaran stopped in two places. The first place we stopped was a shipwreck from WWII, the Antilla. Pretty cool. The second place was called Catalina Bay.

Aruba

Aruba

Aruba

Aruba

Aruba

Aruba

Aruba

Coming and going we got lots of great photos of the ship (can never have too many of those!).

Aruba

Aruba

Aruba

Aruba

Aruba

We grabbed some lunch and a quick shower then headed back out on the island. Aruba is really a charming place. LOTS of shopping opportunities. Michael found some more Cubanos and is enjoying one now out on the verandah. Of course, jewelry is the hot commodity here and I was sucked right on in. Michael indulged me with two wonderful things: rainbow sapphire earrings and a ring the color of the Caribbean sea - blue diamonds! I am definitely one lucky girl.

We hurried back to the ship to attend tonight's show - a rock concert with lots and lots and lots of screaming girls. Seriously, the show was with Aly and AJ. (Michael passed in favor of his Cubanos and a good book.) I will admit to actually recognizing one of their songs called "Into the Rush". They used to play it during the pre-show at the movies back home (really!).

Dinner was in Animator's Palate this evening and it was time for"M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E". The Mickey Mouse Club! The menu was "around the world" - yummy. The three of us were Thai-Greek-Chinese-USA-English-Canadian-Mongolian. After dinner we had a rousing round of the Mickey Mouse Club song complete with the Fab Five!!!! How great is that? We also had a really nice visit with head waiter, Fitz.

Mickey Mouse Club Dinner

Mickey Mouse Club Dinner

Mickey Mouse Club Dinner

We adjourned dinner and headed to the Promenade Lounge to visit our new favorite bartender, Yelena. Yes, we were back for more tequila. I found this stuff that is like kahlua only better. Patron XO over ice.

Promenade Lounge

Promenade Lounge

Promenade Lounge

Now we are reading, having a cigar, and blogging (that would be me) while enjoying our after-dinner tequila drinks.

All-aboard was 11:30pm and now we've sailed away.

Promenade Lounge

Promenade Lounge

Two days at sea before we land at true paradise: Castaway Cay.

Tomorrow morning we have a character breakfast. Thank goodness it doesn't start until 10am.

(Yesterday's blog was a bit light on pictures; today should make up for that!)

Lori

August 30, 2008

Day at Sea - Disney Magic Panama Canal Cruise

Day 13. I'm feeling sad already, but there is still lots to look forward to! The first thing I did today was get out of bed in time to see the sunrise. Of course, my photo does not do it justice. I also decided I needed some exercise so I headed to deck 4 and walked for 3 miles. I also swore off the lifts (elevators) and took the stairs exclusively.

Disney Magic

This is another sea day and it was our turn for a character breakfast this morning. We had Mickey's Island Jam in Parrot Cay. It was fun to finally have a few moments with Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, and Dale. (Chip missed our table.) I know I've talked about all of the wonderful meals we've had on board, but have you noticed none of them have been breakfast? This is definitely their weak point. If more than just the coffee were served hot, they'd improve by leaps and bounds. Cold waffles and toast just don't cut it for me.

Disney Magic

Disney Magic

Disney Magic

Disney Magic

Disney Magic

After breakfast, Aaron and I attended another bingo session. The big jackpot continues to grow. Neither of us won anything this morning.

I spent some time doing a few housekeeping things - sorting thru lots of papers like Navigators and other notes. I also took care of gratuities for our servers and room host. I finally decided to do the onboard airline check-in. Here's hoping our luggage makes it all the way back to Portland with us and doesn't make any long-term stop in Chicago. Fingers crossed.

Michael and I spent some time at the pool this afternoon reading, sunning, swimming, and drinking. It was very relaxing.

Disney Magic

The show tonight was two-fold: crew talent show and "dancing with the officers". Both were outstanding! One member of the activity staff that we've come to know - Ponz from the Philippines - sang and he was fabulous. The gal that is the art auctioneer started off the show with a juggling and balancing act. Then, some of the ships officers presented dances that they had been practicing with guests! They were really good! Don "Ducky" Williams even had a number with Nikki, the ship's choreographer.

Tonight is the night for the big deck party: Pirates in the Caribbean!!! I must say that Disney Cruise Line sure knows how to through a party. Wow. We had a special dinner menu and the cast members were all dressed up along with most of the guests. Great fun. After the meal, but before dessert the serving staff started parading around the dining room with guests joining in on the celebration (and Limbo for the limber). On deck, there was much singing and dancing and, of course, the characters celebrated with us! Mickey flew in at the end to save the day and move the party to the sky above us. Disney Cruise Line is the only cruise line to have fireworks at sea, and they were awesome! (No comparison to our July 4th experience at Grand Coulee Dam in Washington!)

Disney Magic

Disney Magic

Disney Magic

Lori.

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About August 2008

This page contains all entries posted to All Ears® Guest Blog in August 2008. They are listed from oldest to newest.

July 2008 is the previous archive.

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