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AllEars Western Caribbean Cruise 2014 Archives

May 16, 2014

2014 AllEars Group Cruise - Day 7

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Carol had ordered room service coffee for 7:00 a.m. so we were up and moving at 6:50. It was so calm and quiet that I thought we must be docked at Castaway Cay. Carol stepped out on the veranda and told me we were still at sea, sailing slowly. There was no sign of the Disney island from our verandah.

Nearing_Castaway_Cay

Nearing_Castaway_Cay

By the time our coffee arrived at 7:10 we had spotted land and before we knew it the bridge had activated the thrusters to spin the ship around and back us into our berth. I'm not sure I'd be comfortable spinning something this big and backing it up.

Turning_the_ship

Backing_in

Backing_in

Carol left before we were moored, she was heading to D Lounge to meet with the early debarkation group. Those who have signed up for the 5K run/walk get off first and are escorted to the 5K course. I stayed behind and spent some time preparing and uploading the daily blog for AllEars.net.

Castaway_Cay

About 9:00 a.m. I headed up to Deck 11 and had breakfast at Cabanas, then wandered the ship taking a few more pictures. A sea gull photo-bombed me. Do you see the gull below?

Castaway_Cay

Before I knew it, it was 10:30, time to go ashore to meet Carol. As I stepped off the elevator on Deck 1, I met Brenda. She was heading out to connect with her husband Dave who also did the 5K. As Brenda and I made our way toward the tram we met Barrie. The three of us rode the tram to Serenity Bay.

Brenda_and_Daisy

The_Airstrip

Carol and Audrey were sitting with their toes in the Caribbean when we arrived. That's Fran and Carol out in the water.

Relaxing_on_the_shore

We sat along the shore, with the waves lapping at our feet as Carol told me about the 5K course she had walked in the heat and humidity. She walked with friends Nancy, Karen and Susan and they all gave each other some moral support as they did their best to cope with the heat. Carol has been walking at home as much as possible, trying to get ready for the Castaway Cay 5K. She takes our Shetland Sheepdog Blue for a fast paced circuit of 2 1/2 kilometers on the walking trails near our home. Blue will be very proud of his Mommy!

At 11:30 we made our way over to Cookies II where our AllEars.net cruisers were meeting for lunch. There was a good turnout and we had a nice meal. The only downside was the downpour that happened just after Carol and I went through the line and picked up our lunch.

Line_for_lunch

We were thankful to be seated under and umbrella when the skies opened up . . . even then we got wet, but not nearly as wet as those standing out in the open. It rained hard for about 10 minutes and then the rain cloud passed.

Janice_and_Randy

Carol heard the tram approach at about 12:45 and we dashed off to catch it for a return trip to the Fantasy. Naturally Carol had to stop and take pictures of all the flowers along the way!

Flowers

Flowers

Flowers

Of course we had to stop at Mount Rustmore.

Mount_Rustmore

The_Fantasy

Just before we boarded we snapped a picture of Carol with her new 5K bling as she stood at a scenic spot with the Disney Fantasy in the background!

Bling

Then we spotted Olaf, he was appearing at the Post Office.

Olaf

We were back aboard at 1:15, still hot and sticky. We changed into our bathing suits and headed to Deck 11 for a soak in the adult pool in front of the Cove Café. The water was quite warm, in the mid to high 80's, but when we got out the breeze felt nice and cool. Carol was smiling as she showed me her goose bumps!

We headed back to our Stateroom shortly after 2:00 p.m. I napped while Carol did some more packing. By 3:45 we had showered and made our way to Shutters to finish selecting our pictures. We quickly settled on the 10 images we wanted to purchase, paid for them and Carol took them to the stateroom.

When she came back to the atrium we noticed a lot of blue shirts . . . that means characters are coming! I asked one of the blue shirts what was going on. He said, "It's the Farewell Party, all of the characters are coming in about 5 minutes." Carol had mentioned earlier in the day that we had no pictures with Pluto or Daisy. I asked him, "Where will Pluto be?" He told me exactly where to stand and we were first in line when the characters appeared.

Pluto

Pluto

Then we found Daisy.

Daisy

Daisy

Chip and Dale were an unexpected bonus!

Chip_and_Dale

Then it was time to head for D Lounge on Deck 4 for the AllEars Farewell Party. This was our last get-together, the wrap-up of our group cruise. We mingled and chatted over hors d'oeuvres and wine for a few minutes before the function was called to order.

AllEars_Farewell_Reception

Deb Wills had contributed an amazing table full of Disney paraphernalia as raffle prizes. Prizes were handed out for the Door Decorating Contest, the Trivia Challenge, the first to acquire a full set of AllEars Trading Cards, and a few other "spoof" awards. Then the raffle began. Those in our group received a raffle ticket for each and every meet they attended and those tickets were drawn randomly for prizes. As it turned out, there was a prize for everyone and everyone was a winner!

Prize_table

Carol was a big winner, she won a $100 Gift Card provided by our good friends at Mouse Fan Travel. The Grand Prize, also courtesy of Mouse Fan Travel was a there day stay at a Disney resort, including park hopper tickets and the dining plan.

I'd like to extend a big thank you, from Carol and I, to everyone who made this trip such a resounding success. Deb, Linda, Melanie and Barrie from the AllEars team took care of the social aspects of the trip.

Deb_and_Melanie

Mouse Fan Travel took care of all the travel arrangements and had four representatives onboard, Beci, Annette, Colleen and Sandy, who worked with Disney Cruise Line to ensure that out trip was filled with magic. Thanks to one and all!

The_Mouse_Fan_Travel_Team

The Farewell Party concluded at 5:45 and we all hustled off to Animator's Palate for our final dinner aboard the Fantasy. This was the night when we all drew characters on our placemats and then saw them come to life and dance later in the evening.

Animator's_Palate

Animator's_Palate

Animator's_Palate

The dining room is filled with some awesome technology. Not only do the paintings on the walls come to life from time to time, showing classic scenes from Disney movies. Then, all those sketches on our place mats come to life and dance, boogie and skate across the screens. The new generation of Animator's Palate is a unique experience. It's still amazing after the third time we've seen it!

After dinner we said our bittersweet farewells. We're ready to go home, we're missing our dogs . . . but it's tough to say goodbye to friends. Of course, we'll see many of them again at some other AllEars function.

Have you enjoyed traveling along with us? I hope so!

May 15, 2014

2014 AllEars Group Cruise - Day 6

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This morning we woke at 7:15. Cuba was visible through the haze on the western horizon and Haiti was just out of sight beyond the eastern horizon. I brought coffee back from Deck 11 and we enjoyed it on our veranda as we watched the Caribbean, and a few container ships, roll past. What a nice way to begin the day!

Container_ship

Deb Wills was hosting Cawfee Tawk at the Cove Café, It has become a tradition for AllEars cruisers to meet for coffee on "sea days". We stood and yakked for an hour and a quarter.

Cawfee_tawk

Cawfee_tawk

Carol and I, along with a few others, enjoyed looking through the wonderful "memory books" Deb and Linda brought along. One described their Adventures By Disney trip to Scotland last year and the other covered their beautiful wedding in Hawaii just a few months ago. It was a real treat to leaf through the photo journals and share such sweet memories with two wonderful women.

At 10:00 we headed aft on Deck 11 to Cabanas where Carol had orange juice and a light snack while I had breakfast.

Cabanas

Cabanas

Back at our cabin Carol changed into her bathing suit and struck out to Satellite Falls, I stayed behind to write and publish another day of the blog for AllEars.

I joined Carol on Deck 13 just before noon and we alternated dunking and scorching for a few hours.

Satellite_Falls

Carol had lunch at Cabanas and brought me back a nice snack from Flo's V/8 Café. I ate at poolside.

By 2:00 p.m. we were both hot and tired; we headed home where I napped. Once Carol was cooled down she headed off shopping. She bought a new Dooney purse and checked our pictures at Shutters before she came home to do her final preparations for the afternoon Pin Trading session.

We left at 3:15 and headed to The Tube on Deck 4 Aft. Deb Wills had provided about 100 pins and Carol was running the trading board for the hour long event.

Barrie_directs_traffic

All the pins were displayed on a cork board and traders lined up for the opportunity to trade two pins.

The_Pin_board

There was an initial flurry of trading for the first 15 minutes, followed by sporadic trading for the rest of the hour.

Trading_pins

Trading those popular AllEars Trading Cards was the really popular activity.

Trading_cards

Tables full of cards were scattered throughout the lounge and traders wandered from table to table striking deals as they tried to complete their sets.

Trading_Cards

Trading_Cards

Trading_Cards

At about 4:45 we headed home to change for dinner. It was semi-formal night at Royal Court. I put on long pants for the occasion!

With_Goofy

Dinner was great, at least mine was. I ordered parmesan crusted chicken with fettuccini, Carol ordered lobster. Her lobster was OK . . . not great, just OK. I couldn't finish all of my chicken and she was quick to gobble up the leftovers.

Royal_Court_dinner

Back in the stateroom after dinner we discovered some new towel art - the best one of this cruise!

Towel_art

I relaxed while Carol started to pack. Yes, unfortunately our adventure was drawing to a close. The following day we would be at Castaway Cay and the next day we would disembark and head home. Boo - Hiss!

At 9:15 we struck out for La Piazza on Deck 4 Aft; the AllEars cruisers were meeting for cocktails. There was plenty of chatter and laughter, I even saw a few AllEars Trading Cards change hands!

La_Piazza

La_Piazza

La_Piazza

La_Piazza

La_Piazza

La_Piazza

Shortly after 10:00 p.m. many of us made our way next door to The Tube where Buckets 'N Boards were scheduled to play at 10:30.

Buckets_'N_Boards

We had seen this pair a few times on previous cruises and were looking forward to their show. They didn't disappoint.

Tom_and_Margaret

This talented duo use various sizes of plastic buckets as drums, they tap dance, they sing, they play ukuleles, they play propane cylinders . . . and they do it all with a huge amount of energy and plenty of humor. It was hilarious!

Buckets_'N_Boards

Buckets_'N_Boards

Buckets_'N_Boards

Once again our ribs were sore as we headed to bed at 12:15.

2014 AllEars Group Cruise - Day 5

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We finally slept until our normal 7:00 a.m. Everything was peaceful and quiet; we were docked at Falmouth, Jamaica.

Carol went to Deck 11 and picked up coffee which we enjoyed on our veranda as we looked out over this scenic town on the north shore of the island.

Falmouth_Jamaica

As soon as the ship docks the crew scurries to start routine maintenance jobs. In the photo below you see a lifeboat lowered on its davits for maintenance while a worker hangs in a basket overhead spraying rust protection on susceptible areas.

Routine_maintenance

We had a nice breakfast at Cabanas and then strolled the upper decks snapping pictures of our surroundings. A Royal Caribbean ship, the Freedom of the Seas, arrived soon after we awoke, turned around in front of us and backed into the other side of the wharf.

Falmouth_Jamaica

The sun and humidity drove us indoors where we spent some time walking the halls completing our group trivia quiz. James, one of our fellow cruisers, developed a very challenging list of Disney Cruise Line trivia questions to help keep us busy all week!

Soon it was time to disembark so we headed to D Lounge on Deck 4 Midship. Our 11:15 departure group met there and we were led onshore right on time. It appears to be a brand new port area, everything is fresh and new, but of course it features the same jewelry shops seen in all other Caribbean ports!

The_port_at_Falmouth

After a short walk through the port area Carol, Nancy and I boarded our bus and began the short trip into the mountains to the Good Hope Estate.

The_bus_ride

A tour guide on the bus pointed out some of the highlights along the way, such as the school for tour guides and the water filtration plant!

Good_Hope

The Good Hope Estate is very picturesque and has an interesting history. The Great House was built in 1755 as a wedding gift for the 19-year old woman who was marrying the owner's son. The bride only lived 7 years and was buried inside the house. There are many activities at Good Hope, including zip lines, carriage rides, rafting, tubing, a playground for children and of course, the high tea we had signed up for.

Carriage_ride

Zip_line

We toured the property, dodging brief rain showers.

Flowers

Veranda

Drawing_room

Blue_room

Then Carol snapped pictures of some amazing long-tailed hummingbirds before we were seated for high tea.

Good_Hope_buildings

Sitting_for_tea

Having_tea

The service was good, but the food was disappointing; the scenery made up for any disappointment though. During the meal Carol kept darting outside to capture pictures of flowers and more hummingbirds.

Beautiful_vista

Hummingbird

Hummingbird

We caught a 2:00 p.m. shuttle bus back to the port where I spotted this unusual sign. Look very closely at that arrow!

Tours_this_way

Disney cruisers must be smarter than those on other cruise lines . . . Disney doesn't use this sort of sign to tell guests they're going the wrong way!

Back_at_the_port

I relaxed with a frosty Red Stripe beer while Nancy and Carol caroused the shops.

Red_Stripe

We were back aboard the ship at 2:45. After a hot and sticky time ashore in Jamaica, Satellite Falls sounded like the best place to be, so we dropped everything in our cabin and headed up for a relaxing soak! Aaaah!

At dinner the previous night, Brenda from Maryland dreamed up a great little fundraising idea to support Deb Wills' charity, the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. Brenda volunteered Melanie for hair-braiding. Those of us in the AllEars Cruise group were given the opportunity to contribute and Melanie would get one braid for every $5.00 contributed. We pretty quickly kicked in enough to buy 51 braids. Isn't that great team spirit? We were on Deck 11 at 3:30 p.m. as Melanie sat down in the chair to begin!

First_braids

After a few braids were completed we headed to our stateroom to cool off, it was a steamy day out! After a refreshing nap we headed back to Deck 11 and returned just in time to watch as the last few braids were completed. After 44 braids Melanie had run out of hair! The finished product look great and the process raised $300.00 . . . isn't Melanie a good sport?

Braiding_is_finished

Once the braiding was done, shortly after 5:00 p.m., Carol and I hurried back to our cabin to dress for dinner. We had been invited by Beci from Mouse Fan Travel to join her for dinner in the private dining area at Palo. The group included Beci and Annette, Deb and Linda, Janine and her mother Shirley, Colin and Richard, Dave and Brenda and Carol and I. There is just no better combination than good friends, good food and good drink. When this combination comes together in opulent surroundings such as Palo, magic sometimes happens. This was one of those magical times! Our server, Cindy from England, joined in the revelry with us and by the end of the evening we all had sore ribs - brought on by all the laughter.

Chocolate_Soufle

Panna_cota

What a wonderful time! Thanks to Beci for inviting us, and thanks to all for sharing so much laughter with us!

We tore ourselves away from Palo at 10:30 and decided to head to Deck 12 where the Pirate Night party was in full swing. We met Masayo and Gail and watched the stage show and fireworks with them, then stayed, leaning on the top rail as we watched the dance party below us on Deck 10.

Masayo_and_Gail

Deck_12

Captain_Jack_Sparrow

2014_May_Fireworks

It was 11:30 when we headed below deck to our stateroom. We turned our clocks ahead one hour, making it 12:30 a.m., and fell into bed!

May 14, 2014

2014 AllEars Group Cruise - Day 4

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It was a wasted day. A gloriously wasted day. This was exactly the kind of day we hope to have during a cruise!

For Carol and I, the cruise is not about the ports of call and the excursions. For us, it's all about the ship-board experience. It's about being pampered . . . it's all about the people we are cruising with. We enjoy cruising with friends or as part of a group. And we especially enjoy having the ship almost to ourselves when everyone else goes ashore in the ports. This was one of those very quiet days when everyone else was off enjoying some sort of shore adventure.

I awoke at 6:00 a.m. but Carol showed no inclination to get out of bed. I grabbed the camera and headed up to Decks 12 and 13 to take some pictures before other passengers began to stir.

Here's what I saw:

Adult_pool
The adult pool on Deck 11, in front of the Cove Café.

Small_Adult_pool
The small adult pool on Deck 12 above the Cove Café.

Satellite_Falls
Satellite Falls on Deck 13 Forward. Notice the shaded area full of deck chairs on the right. There are more deck chairs in full sunlight on the left.

Rain_clouds
There were very dark clouds on the northern horizon at 6:25, and two visible storm cells where it was raining heavily.

Aqua_Duck
This photo shows the area where the Aqua Duck water slide takes riders out beyond the ship's rails and over the ocean!

Donald_in_the_stack
Donald seems to have had a mishap beside the spot where the Aqua Duck passes through the forward stack.

Children's_slide
The children's slide beside the Mickey pool.

Family_pools
The family pools on Deck 11 with the Funnel Vision screen in the background.

Aqua_Lab
The Aqua Lab splash zone on Deck 12.

I moved indoors for a few minutes. Here is a sample of the decor in the main atrium at Midship.

Atrium_chandelier
The chandelier highlights the peacock theme.

Peacock_tail_feathers
The peacock theme continues with the spray of tail feathers at the bottom of the grand staircase.

Peacock_in_grille-work
Even the metal grille-work features peacocks!

Shutters
The photo studio, Shutters, is on Deck 4 Midship. There are a number of racks like the one pictured. The racks contain folders, one folder per cabin, and all photos taken by Disney photographers magically appear in the correct folder.

Running_track
Deck 4 is the promenade deck, with a walking/running track. Two and a half laps equals one mile!

It was almost 7:00 a.m. and I knew my princess would be stirring and looking for her coffee. I picked up some java on Deck 11 and headed back home. We savored coffee on our veranda and soon decided to head to Cabanas for breakfast. None of our playmates were there. We thought that was odd! It wasn't until later in the day that we were reminded - all of our friends from Tagrel.com had met for breakfast at The Royal Court. We were supposed to be there but we completely forgot! We're both very sorry Karen, chalk it up to a "senior's moment".

Heading_to_Grand_Cayman
Grand Cayman was a faint dark line on the horizon as we toured the upper decks, snapping photos on our way to Satellite Falls.

Carol_at_the_Rail

Grand_Cayman_on_the_horizon

I settled in a shaded chair at 9:15 and spent over 5 hours alternately soaking in Satellite Falls and relaxing with my book. Carol stayed a few minutes then headed off to Senses for her spa treatment.

Anchored_beside_us

Grand_Cayman

Grand_Cayman

We were anchored at Grand Cayman by 10:00 a.m. and it wasn't long before tenders arrived to shuttle passengers back and forth to the island. I continued to relax on Deck 13.

Tenders

Tender

Carol enjoyed the Bliss Treatment which lasted 75 minutes and included a Hot Stone Back Massage, a Foot and Ankle Massage, a Scalp Massage and a Hydrating Facial. She said the name was appropriate, it really was bliss!

Carol rejoined me at about 11:00; it wasn't long before Nancy, Pam and Susan arrived to remind us we missed breakfast. Dang!

We grazed around the food counters near the pools on Deck 11, chicken fingers and tuna wraps were the favorites!

It was close to 2:00 p.m. when we decided we had about all the heat we could stand. We stopped along the way for another plunge on the Aqua Duck. There was no line - absolutely no one in front of us.

Mulan_on_Tunnel_Vision

We marched straight up the stairs, flopped into our tubes and slipped and slid to our splash-downs on deck 12.

Aqua_Duck

Aqua_Duck

I had a nice snooze while Carol did some laundry. Before we knew it, it was time for dinner so we headed out in search of characters. There weren't many out and the lines were long so we settled for a picture of my princess on her throne.

Royalty

Dinner was once again in the Enchanted Garden, in the same booth seat we shared Saturday evening.

Enchanted_Garden

After dinner we headed back to the stateroom for a half hour, then went searching for some playmates to have a drink before the 10:30 show in The Tube Lounge. We encountered Donald Duck along the way!

Carol_and_Gary_with_Donald

Dave and Brenda, from Maryland, were not too far behind us in the line for a picture with Donald!

Dave_and_Brenda_with_Donald

On our way back to the Tube, Dave, Brenda, Carol and I bumped into Fran and Carol. We all headed to Skylines for a cocktail. When we arrived, there were Deb, Linda, James & Linda, so we joined them.

After a quick drink and a few laughs it was time to head to The Tube for the comedy and ventriloquism of Kevin Johnson. We have seen his show before . . . as we left I decided to be gracious and said to Carol, "He was OK but . . . " She said, "No he was not OK- it was bad!" She was right, it was a poor show.

We were back to our cabin by 11:30 and soon nodded off to sleep!

May 12, 2014

2014 AllEars Group Cruise - Day 3

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Carol woke me as she got out of bed . . . at 6:00 a.m. We set our clocks back last night and gained an hour, but we didn't reset our minds, so we awoke at our normal time. Carol dashed up to Deck 11 and brought back coffee which we sipped on our veranda as we watched Cozumel appear through the mist!

Cozumel_in_the_distance

Nearing_the_Cozumel_wharf

We had no excursions booked for the day, it was time to enjoy the ship while everyone else was ashore. Carol left at 8:45 and dashed up the wharf to the first jewelry store. She bought a "silver" necklace when we were here last October. It turned out to be something other than sliver and my sweet bride was determined to get satisfaction. I was a skeptic, but she came back smiling and bearing a similar necklace clearly stamped as genuine sterling silver. Sure hope it is . . . or that vendor won't know what hit him the next time my tornado is in town!

The_Fantasy

When Carol left, I went to Cabanas for a bite of breakfast and then went directly to the Cove Café where I sat outside reading my book. It seemed like no time until a friend passed and said, "Carol is looking for you in Cabanas." I joined her and sat as she had a light snack and showed me the new necklace.

We went directly to Deck 13 Forward and found a pair of comfy chairs in the shade at Satellite Falls. This has become our favorite "Adult Only" spot on the ship. Most passengers have not discovered it and it's remarkably peaceful. Friends Susan, Pam, Nancy, Margaret and Tom spent a good part of the day there as well. There is a shallow pool built around the bottom of the dome which you see in the photograph below.

Satellite_Falls

There is a 360° bench seat around the interior of the pool and the water covers the seat to a depth of several inches. As you sit with your butt and legs in the pool a cooling shower falls from the ring above you. The simulated raindrops fall about where your toes are when you stretch you legs out fully. You are surrounded by the "backside of water" and the ocean breeze carries a light cooling mist from the rainfall. If you prefer, you can stretch out with your back against the wooden slats that line the exterior of the pool and fully immerse yourself. It's a pretty blissful place. We need to make sure it remains undiscovered. Please don't tell anyone about Satellite Falls . . . mum's the word!

Carol left at 10:45 for her "Pamper Package" at Senses, the shipboard spa. The package included a 50 minute Full Body Massage, a Foot & Ankle Massage, an Indian Scalp Massage and a 25 minute Booster Facial.

Senses

I sat reading, periodically dunking in the pool to cool off. When Carol rejoined me at Satellite Falls she looked well oiled and fully relaxed.

We relaxed for another half hour or so and then went in search of food! After a nice lunch at Cabanas we made our way back to Satellite Falls and spent another slothful hour. Then it was time for the Aqua Duck - a giant waterslide which takes you out over the ocean as you wind your way down two decks to the splash-down zone. Great fun!

Aqua_Duck

Aqua_Duck

We were back to our stateroom at 2:30 - SNORE!

We sat on our veranda and watched as we pushed away from the wharf at Cozumel at 4:30 p.m. and began our overnight journey to Grand Cayman.

Sailing_away

Then it was time to head off to Deck 3 Aft for dinner at Animator's Palate. We encountered Minnie Mouse along the way so naturally we stopped for a picture!

Carol_and_Gary_with_Minnie

The characters from Finding Nemo performed during our dinner.

Dinner_at_Animator's_Palate

Crush was the emcee for the evening and he picked Carol and I to co-star in the show. I learned how to speak "Whale" and then told Carol, "I adore you Carol." in that loud and eerie whale drawl. I must have done well because the entire dining room was chanting GA-RY GA-RY GA-RY. It was quite a stirring evening!

Dory

Crush

After dinner we wandered through the shops on Deck 3 and I waited while Carol traded some pins and Vinylmations, then we returned to our stateroom. I spent some time putting this blog together while she wandered the halls dropping off "fish extender" items for our friends.

About 9:00 we wandered down to the adult entertainment area in search of playmates. We ended up at Skylines where we both enjoyed a cocktail with a small group of our fellow AllEars cruisers. We left just before 11:00, heading toward the Walt Disney Theatre. Along the way we met Fran and Carol who joined us for the Shawn Farquar magic show. We have seen Shawn perform before and we were once again intrigued and mystified by his sleight of hand.

The show ended just after 11:30 and we made our way home to fall into bed.

2014 AllEars Group Cruise - Day 2

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Carol and I have found that we never sleep past 7:00 a.m. while we're cruising, so she always orders room service coffee for 7:00 a.m. It arrived on time, as always, and this time she included a few small pastries. We were booked for brunch at Palo and the pastries were intended to tide me over until noon. The strategy worked well, by noon I was ravenous!

I headed up to the Cove Café on Deck 11 at 7:45 for the AllEars.net Cawfee Tawk meet scheduled for 8:00; Carol followed about a half hour later. We stood, sipped coffee and yakked, renewing acquaintances, for over an hour. There were plenty of familiar faces from past cruises and some newcomers as well. It's really quite easy to mix and mingle when we all share a love of all things Disney.

The_Cove_Cafe

The_Cove_Cafe

Carol and I left at about 9:20 and went back to our stateroom for a few minutes before heading down to The Tube, a lounge on Deck 4 Aft, for the Castaway Club Reception for Gold and Platinum members.

Castaway_Club_Reception

There were complimentary cocktails and finger foods; Cruise Director Ray thanked us for our continued loyalty to Disney Cruise Lines, then the guest of honor arrived - Captain Mickey. He posed for pictures with everyone as all the senior crew members mingled with Castaway Club members.

Carol_and_I_with_Mickey

Masayo_with_Mickey

Milton_and_Michelle_with_Mickey

After the reception we scurried back to our cabin to get dressed for our brunch at Palo. On our way to brunch we met Minnie!

Minnie

We really enjoy this upscale dining experience at Palo. There is a wonderful array of Mediterranean cuisine and the service is always outstanding. Our server, Jessyca from Peru, was superb. We had a very enjoyable experience. The food and the service were top notch! It was 2:00 p.m. when we finished.

At_Palo

We changed back into more casual clothes for the 2:30 p.m. Ice Cream Social on Deck 11. Ice Cream Social has become a bit of a misnomer.

Nancy_and_Mary_Jean_with_ice_cream

While everyone spends a few minutes enjoying ice cream, most folks spend far more time trading those highly coveted AllEars Trading Cards. There is a series of 66 different cards, each with a Disney themed picture and story. Each cruiser received a packet of 66 cards with their welcome gift, but the 66 cards were not the complete set, they were multiples of only a few cards in the set. In order to get a complete set, they had to find other cruisers in our group, compare cards and trade to fill blanks in each collection. The Ice Cream Social quickly became a spirited trading session!

Trading_AllEars_cards

Trading_AllEars_cards

How spirited was it? A certain gentleman from Ohio stole the entire collection of a lady from Maryland. Don't feel too bad for her, the collection was recovered and returned to her . . . and I have reason to believe that the gent from Ohio may have been framed!

Cuba passed by on our Port side as trading continued until 3:45, when the heat and humidity finally drove us indoors. Once again we were worn out and we took a well earned nap!

We were up and dressed for dinner by 4:45. It was formal night and there were plenty of photographers set up in the Atrium, so we struck out to stalk some characters. Yikes - the lines were huge! We managed to find Goofy at Preludes and his line was relatively short.

Two_Goofy_guys

Our dinner was in the Royal Court, Deck 3 Midship. It was very nice, I enjoyed baked brie, French onion soup, lobster macaroni while Carol had a lobster and shrimp appetizer, French onion soup and Chateaubriand. We both had creme brulee for dessert. Every dish was outstanding. This was probably the best meal we have ever had in the regular dining rotation.

Photo-bombed_by_Deb

There was plenty to talk about during the meal. Carol and Gail began to compare their Disney collections. One would say, "I have quite a few Disney Classic Collection pieces." The other would reply, "Me too!" Or, "I collect Disney buttons." "Me too. I have them all organized displayed in frames." It went on and on and on. There two ladies certainly have similar interests!

We sat talking for so long that we were among the very last to leave the dining room. Cast members were setting up tables for the 8:15 seating and began flashing the lights to urge us to leave. It worked!

We went back to our cabin and changed into more casual clothes before heading down to Deck 4 Aft. AllEars cruisers were meeting at La Piazza for cocktails at 9:15. A good number of our group were there and we had a very nice time chatting over drinks. We left the camera behind, so there are no incriminating pictures.

Carol and I rushed away at 11:00 to catch the adult show in the Walt Disney Theatre. It was a hilarious hypnosis show by Ricky Kalman. He used about a dozen volunteers from the audience to keep us in stitches. The highlight of the performance was cruiser Craig who thought he was the world's foremost hand puppet performer. He was convinced that each of his hands held a puppet and he sang a stirring rendition of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody as the puppets mimed the words! We roared with laughter.

It was midnight when we returned to our stateroom and hit the sack after a fun filled day at sea.

May 11, 2014

2014 AllEars Group Cruise - Day 1

Gary Cruise banner

I was too excited to sleep this morning. I tossed and turned for a while, trying to fall back asleep, but finally surrendered at 6:15. I tried to be quiet so Carol could sleep - that meant that the banging and clattering was subdued, but of course there was still too much banging and clattering. Soon she was up too and we enjoyed a few cups of coffee in our room at Port Orleans French Quarter.

I had a quick breakfast at the Sassagoula Float Works food court and by 8:15 we were on the road headed to Port Canaveral. Saturday morning traffic was very light and we made terrific time across Route 528.

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There is a special thrill as you climb a small rise, about two miles inland, when you get that first brief glimpse of the ship off in the distance. There it was! Just a minute later there was another hill and we had a much better view.

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By 9:30 I had parked, unloaded the luggage, and left Carol and the baggage behind while I returned our rental car just a few miles down the highway. The terminal was bustling with activity as the returning cruisers disembarked to begin their trip home and the embarking cruisers checked in their luggage.

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The Avis shuttle bus had me back at the terminal by 10:15 and it was time to say hello to some friends we had not seen in a while. There were so many familiar faces, people from previous AllEars cruises and people from Disney internet communities. We kept quite busy mingling and chatting until check-in opened at 10:45.

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We entered the terminal, quickly cleared through the security check point and rode up the escalator to the main concourse. Once we arrived on the third floor we were among the first to check-in and get our Key to the World cards.

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There were even a few Disney celebrities who dropped by to give us all a photo-op.

Olaf

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Minnie

Before we knew it was 11:30 and our boarding group was called to the loading bridge. Once aboard we made our way directly to The Enchanted Garden dining room on Deck 2 for lunch. We were joined by Dave and Brenda from Maryland, Masayo from Japan and Gail from Nevada.

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After a nice lunch we all caught the elevator to Deck 4 and checked in at D Lounge where both AllEars and Mouse Fan Travel had reception desks set up. Once we had all of our information, credentials and swag,

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Carol and I headed up to Deck 9 to find our stateroom. It was ready and our bags were sitting directly outside the door. Carol got right to work unpacking and getting us settled in for the week while I set up our internet connection. As Carol was decorating our stateroom door our Cabin Steward, Ekarat from Thailand, stopped to introduce himself and see if there was anything we needed. Service is always first-class on Disney ships!

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Before we knew it the emergency whistles sounded announcing the compulsory lifeboat drill. We headed to our assembly point, the Buena Vista Theatre on Deck 5 and joined the assembled throng as they demonstrated how to don your lifejacket. Soon the mandatory ritual was over and we headed to Deck 12 where we joined the AllEars.net group for the spirited and lively Sail-Away Party.

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We watched from the rail on Deck 12 as families below us on Deck 11 danced and sang along with Disney characters and cast members.

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It's always a fun-filled time . . . but tonight, when the ship whistle sounded "When You Wish Upon A Star" at about 4:45 we were still at the dock. It was about 5:20 when we pushed away from the pier and began our journey.

Many had already left the upper decks when Carol and I unfurled the Canadian flag and held it against the rail for our family who were watching at home on the Port Canaveral webcam. Most of the people in our group were texting friends who were watching the webcam, saying, "I'm beside the Canadian flag!" As we passed the camera at Fish Lips Bar & Grill some of them started receiving pictures of the ship on their cell phones - there we were with the flag! Cool!

We stayed at the rail until we reached the end of the jetty where AllEars blogger Kristin Ford and her two children were waving frantically. We were equally frantic as we waved back!

Kristen


By the time we had left the harbour it was dinner time. We all rushed down to Deck 2 for our 5:45 dinner at Enchanted Garden. Our dinner-mates are Masayo from Japan and Gail from Nevada. We had known them both from previous Disney trips and previous cruises. It was nice to catch up with them over a delicious meal. Our server is Tanapong (Tana) from Thailand and our assistant server is Jelena from Serbia.

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After dinner we visited with some of the surrounding tables of AllEars cruisers before heading up to our stateroom. Before long Masayo called and dropped off some very special items she had brought us from Tokyo Disneyland! Thanks Masayo! The three of us headed off to the Walt Disney Theatre to watch the "Fantasy Come True" stage production. We have seen this particular show several times, but it never gets old . . . talented cast members and lively Disney characters combine to deliver an engaging story. The song and dance numbers and the broadway-style staging are professional quality and, of course, it's all geared for the entire family!

It was another day of travel, followed by plenty of activity in the sun and fresh air. After the show the three of us headed back to our staterooms for a quiet night.

Tomorrow we will have a relaxing day at sea . . . come on back and see what we've been up to!

May 10, 2014

2014 AllEars Group Cruise - The Prequel

Gary Cruise banner

Carol and I are very excited to be joining some old friends, and some friends we have yet to meet, as we board the Disney Fantasy and sail the western Caribbean on the 2014 AllEars Group Cruise. We board the Fantasy Saturday May 10th for a seven day adventure.

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This will be our 10th Disney Cruise and our 4th AllEars Group Cruise. We really enjoy cruising and it's fun to enjoy the experience as part of a group who share so many of our interests.

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If you have ever wondered if Disney cruising might be right for you, or if you wondered what a group cruise would be like - come along and join us as we sail. I will be blogging daily to report on our activities and would love to have you along for the ride!

Here's a bit of a teaser to whet your appetite - a few highlights from our stay at Walt Disney World before we set sail!

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Tune in every day to see what we've been up to on our cruise!

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About AllEars Western Caribbean Cruise 2014

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to All Ears® Guest Blog in the AllEars Western Caribbean Cruise 2014 category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

2016 Star Wars Day at Sea Fantasy Cruise is the previous category.

Castaway Cay is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.