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January 2009 Archives

January 22, 2009

Disney Cruisin'

Last July Lee and I were invited on a media tour of the Disney Magic cruise ship during the time it was out here doing west coast cruises. (My blog entry about that is HERE.) And of course that made us want to do a Disney cruise. :-)

We talked about it, and several of you offered suggestions, and we decided to book a 7-night Western Caribbean cruise on the Disney Magic from January 24-31. We'll be in a category 9 stateroom (has the large porthole but no verandah) on Deck 2. Since you can't fly from California and go straight from the airport to the ship (unless you take a red-eye - and we're too old for that!) we decided to fly in on Thursday and spend a couple of nights at Walt Disney World - we'll be at Animal Kingdom Villas in a savanna-view studio for two nights.

So here we are just a few days away, and we're starting to figure out exactly what we're taking and setting clothes and other items aside. We've both read Passporter's Disney Cruise Line book cover-to-cover, which has given us lots of good information. And I have to thank AllEars guest blogger Lori Edelman, who wrote such a great blog on her Panama Canal Cruise last summer. She has been so patient and wonderful about answering all of my questions about cruising - there are things the books just don't tell you! Thanks, Lori!

We've booked a few excursions for our ports of call (Key West, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, and Castaway Cay), I have some spa treatments reserved, and we have dinner reservations for Palo on our final night.

Let's see...we've also figured out what we're wearing on all of the formal and semi-formal occasions (we decided to really go for it and dress up), and we have pirate attire, too. Though I'm still trying to figure out how not to bring 6 pairs of shoes! :-) It's definitely going to be the most clothes I think I've ever packed for a trip!

I'm planning to blog while on-board - as long as the internet connection cooperates with that plan.

We're excited - this is going to be a new experience for us, and we're looking forward to it!

January 23, 2009

Disney Cruisin' - Day 1 and 2

We're not actually cruising yet, but we are at least in Florida, so we are that much closer!

We left San Diego this morning at the very civilized hour of 9:30. We usually have crack of dawn flights which require us to get up at 4 a.m. - instead we got up at our usual time and still had time to eat breakfast and read the paper before we left home.

Of course the disadvantage is that we didn't arrive in Orlando until 7:30 p.m. - which meant we didn't get to go to a park at all tonight.

We used Disney's Magical Express bus service for the first time to get us from the airport to the resort. It was quite easy - we put the DME luggage tags on our bags when we checked them with the airline this morning, and then all we had to do was wander out to the DME desk at the Orlando airport and get on the bus they pointed us to - Disney takes care of picking up the bags and delivering them to our room. The bus was completely full (we couldn't get seats together!), but was only making two stops - Pop Century and Animal Kingdom Lodge. Most of the passengers got off at Pop Century. We were at the hotel about 90 minutes after we got off the plane, so that's not too bad. Our bags arrived in our room at 10:40 p.m.

Apparently Animal Kingdom Villas has gotten the memo from Boardwalk Villas, and our studio is almost allllll the way at the end of Kudu Trail - about as far as you can get from anywhere. :-) (We always seem to get the rooms at Boardwalk that are at the end of the hallway.) We are on the 5th floor overlooking the Arusha Savanna - we've been on Uzima Savanna the other times we've stayed here, so I am looking forward to seeing our view in daylight!

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After we quickly checked out our room we made the long trek back to the lobby to get something for dinner. It was about 9:00, but fortunately Boma was still open. There weren't very many people there and they were able to seat us right away. We always enjoy dining here, but tonight was especially nice just because it was so empty! Our server said it had been a very slow night. Boma is usually extremely noisy, and you can hardly hear yourself think, but tonight it was much more pleasant. We enjoyed the wide variety of foods on the buffet - I had a watercress salad and a tomato and goat cheese salad that were new to me, and both yummy. I missed my roasted vegetables, though, but there was an excellent rice dish, and the Marrakesh couscous was also good. For dessert, in addition to the zebra domes and chocolate mousse crunch Lee and I both tried the cocomisu (tiramisu with coconut), and that was really good.

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Empty Boma

It is COLD here - in the 40s when we arrived, and supposed to get down to 28 tonight. Brr. But it's supposed to be 75 tomorrow. I hope that's right!

Ok, it's now Friday afternoon - I wrote the preceding last night after we arrived. So I'll add in Day 2's activities, as well!

We had no place to be at any particular time this morning, so we attempted to sleep in. The screaming baby at 7:00 didn't help, nor did the exercise class that was apparently going on in an open area of the hallway at about 8:15. Oh-kaaaay....

It was a beautiful day outside, though still chilly (~42 at 9:00). The animals didn't seem to be too anxious to be out and about, either - we could see a couple back in the trees, but nothing close.

On our way down to The Mara for breakfast we could see Kidani Village out of one of the big windows - that's the new DVC Resort that will be opening in a few months. We are looking forward to our first stay there later this year.

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After a quick breakfast we stopped at the Disney Cruise Line desk to check in with them before we headed out. Since we are not on one of the Land/Sea packages we can't actually check in yet and get our stateroom key and all of that, but they still needed to take our information for our transportation to the port tomorrow - like knowing what room to come to tomorrow morning to pick up our bags! Which we have to have packed and ready by 8:00. The bus to the ship doesn't actually leave Animal Kingdom Lodge until 12:30, though. We were a bit concerned about that, but the ladies assured us we'd still arrive in plenty of time to be on board the ship well before 3:00. I guess we'll find out for sure tomorrow, but you'd like to think that Disney has this down to a science.

We took the bus to Animal Kingdom after that. That has to be the shortest bus ride between any resort and theme park here at Walt Disney World. Lee needed to get a new Annual Pass, so that was our first order of business. We plan to be back another three times this year.

Animal Kingdom was really not crowded at all. The weather had warmed up enough that it was very comfortable in the sun, but still cool in the shade - I wore my polar fleece pullover all day, but Lee was ok in shirt sleeves.

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Lee noticed that the Lesser Flamingos near the Tree of Life had what appeared to be some much brighter pink feathers than usual.

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After we got a Fastpass for the Safari we went over the Flights of Wonder show - on the way we saw DiVine putting on a show.

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Flights of Wonder was quite enjoyable. They had a bird we hadn't seen before - a sulphur-crested cockatoo named Pogo, who did all kinds of crazy movements when given some very subtle physical and verbal cues. He'd spin around on his perch, flap his wings and shake his head, ruffle his feathers - it was really fun to watch. And they had my favorite - Sluggo the Black Legged Seriema - who slams a plastic lizard to the ground multiple times. (Not that I have anything against lizards, but Sluggo does them in with such verve and enthusiasm!)

At the very end of the show when they bring out lots of different birds, one of the handlers had one we hadn't seen before - a Bateleur eagle, which is found in North Africa.

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We went on a really excellent safari after that - for a change many of the animals on the savanna were actually near the place we enter the savanna rather than where we exit. We even saw a baby giraffe - though from this photo you can't really tell how small it is in comparison to the adults who were nearby. Our safari driver was very good, and very enthusiastic - his name was Alex. He even made the lame parts fairly interesting.

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Next was the Pangani Forest Trail. One of the hippos was actually laying up on the bank of the pool in the sun. The researcher there told us some things about hippos that we didn't know:

1. Hippos forage up to 6-1/2 miles at night.
2. Hippos can run 18 miles per hour!
3. A hippo's mouth opens 150 degrees - it can bite a 10' crocodile in half.

We went to Expedition Everest after that. We hadn't gotten a Fastpass, so we used the single rider line - we only waited 10 minutes or so. For lunch we decided to try the Yak and Yeti counter service place - it's never gotten very good reviews (though it's usually classed as mediocre and not bad), but we thought we'd see what we thought. I definitely go with the "mediocre" label - we get better Chinese food at the grocery store near us.

The entrees are served in a large "Chinese takeout" container. I had the honey chicken, which had rice in the bottom of the container, then some broccoli and carrots, with the chicken on top. Lee had the kung pao beef, which also had rice on the bottom. and then the veggies had been stir-fried with the beef. He said it didn't have a lot of flavor - even though he picked two pretty good-sized pieces of chile pepper out of it. Both of them were nice and hot and fresh, though. Probably the best part of lunch was the two iced teas I got from the Tea Company stand that's across from Yak and Yeti. They had quite a selection of hot teas, and three different kind of brewed iced tea. Lee had the raspberry and I had the "traditional" black tea. They were both very good.

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We wandered around a little bit after that and visited some of the other animals around the Tree of Life before heading out of the park. There still weren't very many people in the park. The bus back to Animal Kingdom Lodge was sitting at the bus stop when we got there, and left soon after, so our timing was good.

When we arrived back in our room I went out to the balcony to see what animals might be on the savanna this afternoon. I was not disappointed - there were 4 zebras I could see under the trees, and a giraffe came cruising by soon after. There were a couple of East African Crowned Cranes visible in the distance, as well as a Roan Antelope.

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I caught one of the zebras doing its best "dead zebra" impression. :-)

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It has been fun to sit here and look outside periodically and just see how the animals have moved around. We've seen two different giraffes, several ankole cattle, and a blesbok and a greater kudu.

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Tonight we're headed off to Epcot to wander around and see Illuminations - which is at 8:00 and not 9:00.

And now we're back from that. It was another chilly evening, though not as cold as last night. The night before we left San Diego, since I still had room in my suitcase I threw in a polarfleece pullover and an extra pair of pants - and now I'm really glad that I did that!!!

It was strange going into the front entrance of Epcot - we are so used to coming in the International Gateway since we usually stay at Boardwalk Villas. Also strange was that there were no decorations whatsoever at the front of the park - we almost always come during the holidays, or Food and Wine Festival, or Flower and Garden Festival, so there are special decorations, but not this time.

Though Animal Kingdom was not busy today, apparently Epcot was - at 7:00 at night the standby line for Test Track was 60 minutes and Soarin' was 90 minutes. Wow.

We had dinner at Sunshine Seasons food court in the Land - mainly because it was inside! Though they have a nice selection of food, and after Tangierine Cafe it's probably our favorite counter service place at Epcot.

After that we wandered around Future World and World Showcase, taking some pictures.

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It seemed strange for Illuminations to start an hour early (normally it's at 9:00), and there were quite a few people waiting for it up towards the front of World Showcase, though the crowds thinned out as we got back to one of our favorite spots near Germany, where we only had to stand behind one row of people, and most of them were sitting down.

Illuminations is always a great show!

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It was Extra Magic Hours for resort guests from 8:00 until 11:00. We decided to take a ride on Spaceship Earth. Disney has stopped giving out wristbands during EMH - now they have Cast Members at the entrance to the attractions checking resort ids. We saw several people turned away because of that.

We were quite surprised when we got out of Spaceship Earth that the line was much LONGER than it had been when we got in it! Guess a lot of people decided to take advantage of EMH and ride it.

There was nothing else we really wanted to do so we headed back to Animal Kingdom Lodge. We need to get most of our packing done tonight since they will be picking up our bags at 8:00 tomorrow morning to transport them to the ship.

The cruise starts tomorrow (Saturday) - in 24 hours we'll be on the ship!

January 25, 2009

Disney Cruisin' - Day 3

First thing's first - we're on the ship! And quite nicely settled in our
cabin, but I'll write more about that later. It's been a great day.

(This entry will be a bit light on photos since I'm trying to get it
finished up in time!)

They told us at the Cruise desk at Animal Kingdom Lodge that they would pick up our luggage at 8:00 in the morning - but we got a call from Bell Services at 7:45 that they were sending someone up! Fortunately we'd done most of our packing the night before and had actually finished it up already.

We had a quick breakfast at Mara before going off to Animal Kingdom. It was another beautiful morning -- a little chilly at first, but it warmed up quite nicely.

At Animal Kingdom we wanted to ride the Safari again. It appeared to
again be another not-too-busy day at Animal Kingdom -- they were only running one side of the Safari loading area, and we pretty much walked through the Standby line all the way to the loading area.

We again had a pretty good safari - not quite as many animals as
yesterday, but still a large variety. Both the black and white rhinos
were especially cooperative. Our safari drive was not as animated and enthusiastic as Alex, but we actually learned several new things from her:

1. Rhinos have skin that is an inch thick, and they can run 35 mph.
2. Cormorants do not have waterproof feathers, which lets them dive
deeper than other birds, but then they have to spend a lot of time
afterwards drying off.
3. The darkest sable antelope in the herd is the dominant male.
4. The Patterson's eland can jump 6' vertically!
5. Thompson's gazelles can change direction in mid-air.

We had almost no wait for the bus back to Animal Kingdom Lodge, and in fact were the only two people on the bus. OK, OTHER than the driver.

It was about 10:00 and the bus wasn't picking us up until 12:30, so we had some time. The only thing we saw on the savanna was this
critter... which was NOT on any of the wildlife spotting guides. :-)

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The animal care staff was cleaning up on our savanna, so none of the larger animals were out - just some of the birds.

We went down to Mara to have a light and early lunch, since we knew we wouldn't be on board ship before 3:00 or so. The vegetable flatbread was VERY good -- pesto sauce, caramelized onions, goat cheese, and black olives. Yummy.

After lunch we went over to the Uzima savanna overlook -- and that was a happening place! We saw Thompson's gazelles, nyala, sable antelope, lots of giraffes in the distance (visiting over the fence with the giraffes on the next savanna), and Ankole cattle (when there's only one they're called Ankole cows). There were two cast members stationed there talking to guests, both from South Africa, and we visited with them for quite a while -- until it was time to go out and catch the bus, actually.

The bus arrived pretty much at 12:15 and left on time at 12:30. We had to make a second stop at Saratoga Springs to pick up their cruise overflow, but were on our way to the port by about 1:00. It was pretty exciting to drive over the bridge and catch our first glimpse of the ship in the distance!

Once we arrived we had to go through security check and then through the check-in line, but that all went very fast. Then, something we hadn't read about at all -- they took our picture and mapped it to our Key to the World card -- when we actually boarded the ship they scanned our cards and our pictures popped up on the monitor.

Since we boarded so late (about 2:30) our room was already ready, so we headed there first. A nice surprise awaited us -- Coleen, our travel agent from Mouse Fan Travel, had arranged a Disney Bon Voyage package for us, with stateroom decorations and a very nice cake too!

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The stateroom is not as large as our studio at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, but actually not too bad at all, and there's quite a bit of storage. though our suitcases were too big to fit under the bed, so we had to put them in the closet.

We went up to Topsider Buffet to have a late lunch -- all ship
services ceased at 3:30 for the life boat drill, and it was almost 3:00
by then. But since we had late dinner seating it was going to be 8:30
before we had dinner!

When we got back to the room the rest of our bags had arrived, and we got most of the unpacking done before the lifeboat drill at 3:30. Our station was on the sunny side of the ship and it was rather warm
standing there in the sun, but the drill was over fairly quickly.

And then it was time for the 4:30 Sailaway party. Crew members were handing out shiny streamers for us to wave during the party and sailaway. There was a lot of energy up on decks 9 and 10 and everyone seemed to be having a good time. The ship pulled away from the dock a little before 5:00. We wandered around a bit more - as far to the front of the ship as we could go on deck 9 -- and eventually went back to our cabin for a while.

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At 6:15 we saw the "Let the Magic Begin" show at the Walt Disney
Theater. At the sailaway party they said it was going to feature a
magician and ventriloquist, which didn't thrill us too much, but it was
cute and we enjoyed it - not something I'd want to do very often,
though.

After the show we went to Guest Services to sign up for a couple of
events - the Galley Tour and a wine tasting session. And then went back to the Vista Spa because I needed to try to rearrange a couple of spa treatments, and they were very accommodating. While there we checked out the gym, too. There was only one person there working out.

We had a little bit of time back in the room before dinner at Animator's
Palate. There were six people at our table, and we all had a nice time getting to know each other.

Dinner was quite good. For appetizer I had the Roma Tomato and
Portabello Mushrooms on Polenta Cake, which was excellent.
Lee had the Wild Mushrooms Risotto and Porcini Wafer.

Next we both had the Smoked Salmon and Trout with Goat Cheese Salad. They could have been a lot more generous with the goat cheese, though. And there was almost no dressing on it. Now, I don't like a lot of dressing, but this was really dry.

For entrees I had the Grilled Salmon with Creamy Risotto and a Barolo Wine Sauce, and that was very good.

Lee had the Grilled Fillet Mignon, Seared Scallops with Port Wine Demi Glace. He said the scallops were good but small, and the steak was good.

We do have to say that the portion sizes were quite reasonable -- not
huge but not too small, either. I still didn't eat all of everything
that I was served, but I didn't leave as much as I thought I might.

Dessert was the Double-Fudge Chocolate Cake for me (I'm sure that's no surprise to anyone) and the Chocolate and Peanut Butter Pie for Lee. The cake was good -- one of the better chocolate desserts I've had from Disney in quite a while.

Animator's Palate is an interesting restaurant - when you first walk
into it everything is black and white, including the server's attire,
but as the evening goes on there is more and more color, and just before the dessert course everything turns colorful -- including the servers!

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This is Esther, our assistant server. She is very nice and fun -- I
think we will enjoy her a lot over the next week.

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When we got back to the stateroom, "Ray" was on the bed to greet us -- wearing my sunglasses. :-)

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So that's the end of our first day -- we've taken a look at some of the
activities, and are not sure how we're going to have time to do a
fraction of the things we want to do.

Key West tomorrow!

January 26, 2009

Disney Cruisin' - Day 4, Key West

An absolutely beautiful day today! Blue sky and highs in the 70s.

We were still at sea when we woke up this morning -- we weren't due to
dock in Key West until about noon.

There was a DVC Members' Get Together at 9:00, so we went to that,
though we could only stay for 30 minutes since breakfast was at 9:30.
Just for going we received nice DVC baseball caps and DVC Member
lanyards (good for carrying around our Key to the World cards). And
later on someone posted the nifty "DVC Member" magnets on our stateroom
door -- we had seen those on a bunch of other stateroom doors and
wanted some of our own.

Speaking of: here is our door -- Lee made up decorations of his own
before we left home, and then there's the Bon Voyage from Coleen and
the DVC magnets.

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Breakfast this morning was the Mickey's Character Breakfast at Parrot
Cay. We were joined by all but one of our tablemates for breakfast.
We had a new assistant server this morning -- apparently Meg was not
feeling well last night and so Esther was filling in for her.
Meg isn't quite as much fun as Esther -- we will miss her.

Pluto, Minnie, and Dale quickly came by our table and posed for photos.

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The breakfast menu included the usual breakfast items -- eggs and bacon,
toast, pastries, Mickey waffles, omelets, cereal, pancakes, etc. One
of the pancake choices was whole wheat pancakes, and Lee tried those
and said they were good.

Goofy, Chip and Mickey were also making the rounds of the tables -
unfortunately Mickey passed us by.

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We went up on deck to watch the ship pull into Key West and dock. The
water is so blue!

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Over Key West we saw a lot of large birds circling around -- they were
really good-sized. They turned out to be vultures -- apparently the
cold weather they've had in Florida recently had driven them south to
warmer climates. Just a few more snowbirds wintering in the Keys, I
guess!

People started getting off the ship pretty much right at 12:30, which
was the stated time. Lee and I went up to Goofy's Galley to get
something to eat before going ashore - it hadn't been too long since
breakfast, but we knew we'd want something or we'd get pretty hungry in port!

Here's a picture of the Magic from the dock -- this isn't even half of the ship!

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We'd decided just to take a walking tour of Key West, rather than
booking a tour. There were some suggestions in our Personal Navigator
and also in Passporter. Passporter suggest visting the Chamber of
Commerce for a walking tour map, so we did that. They had a map for an
architectural tour of Key West.

It got us away from the heavily tourist-trafficked areas of Key West,
and that was nice. There were supposed to be pelican signs at each of
the stops, but we only saw two the whole time. Lee did a good job of
guiding us around and reading the info on the various houses. (I've
inset a larger version of the pelican into the photo so you can see it better.)

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Our only previous experience with Key West architecture is the Old Key
West Disney Vacation Club resort, and we could certainly see where they
got their inspiration.

Here's a house that shows of several Key West architectural features:
eyebrow windows, deep porches, the shutters, and a widow's walk.

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Though that one does not have the signature rail design that we saw on
so many houses (and at Old Key West the cut out has the Mickey ears
shape).

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There were also a lot of houses built in a Victorian style with lots of decorative "gingerbread" - I thought this one was especially attractive.

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We took a tour of The Oldest House in South Florida, built in 1829. It
has survived several hurricanes and a fire which destroyed much of Key
West in the 1880s. It was owned by a sea captain and his wife, who had
9 daughters. It's not that big a house - we're not sure where all
those people slept! The docent there gave us a nice tour of the house.

We struck out on our own after that -- I wanted to walk down to the Key
West Lighthouse and Ernest Hemingway's house. We didn't go into either
one - we were able to see a Hemingway cat on the porch, and that was
good enough for me. :-)

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Lee wanted to see the beach, so we went over to Fort Zachary Taylor
State Park after that. It took us a little while to figure out where
the entrance was, but we found it. There is a self-guided tour of the
Fort - it wasn't really that good, though. Going up on top was the
best part. And then there was a "nature trail", though there wasn't
much to see there. There were a fair number of people on the beach,
and we saw a number of other people who had apparently walked over from
the cruise ship.

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It was really a nice day for walking - there was a nice breeze and it
was quite comfortable even at a brisk walking pace. We did at least
8 miles. So we earned our dinner tonight.

We re-boarded the ship about 5:00 (All Aboard is 7:30), and we were
hungry so we got some pizza from Pinocchio's Pizzeria. That was
actually pretty good!

And we've been relaxing since then - and I've been working on photos
and this blog entry.

The ship departed quite promptly - at 7:34 we started to pull away from
the dock!

Dinner tonight was at Parrot Cay. Meg must still not have been
feeling very well this morning because tonight she was much better -
much more attentive and energetic and personable. She used to be
a Cast Member in the UK pavilion at Epcot, and she shared with us
some of the stupid questions the tourons would ask. "I like your
flag...but does it come in any other colors?"

Our dining companions all joined us - we all compared our days in Key
West. We all did a lot of walking, and none of us did too much to
enrich the local economy.

Tonight was "banana night" at Parrot Cay - banana drinks, banana bread,
banana desserts - but I don't like banana. Fortunately there were
non-banana choices!

I think we almost all had the Smokey Chicken, Vegetables and Cheddar
Cheese Fritters
, served with Pomegranate Barbecue Sauce. Yummy!!!

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For the Soup/Salad Course, I had the Cold Cream of Mango and
Papaya
, which was kind of like a smoothie, only not that thick. It
didn't photograph very well, so you're getting a picture of Paula's
Tropical-style Fruit Salad instead.

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Lee had the Cream of Sweet Onion Soup. He enjoyed it - it was a
good, but I don't care much for cream soups.

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For the main course I was torn - the Pan-Seared Grouper with Baby
Shrimp Lemon Butter
sounded really good, but so did the Barbecued
Pork Tenderloin with Prickly Pear Glaze
. So I asked TJ if I could
have just a slice of pork with my entree. He ended up bringing out
another order of it, and Lee and I each had two slices of the pork,
which was really excellent. I think I liked that better than the
grouper, though it was also good (but I think the Pan-Seared Grouper at
Brown Derby is better).

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Lee had the Caribbean Roast Chicken, though I think he got that
mostly because of the mashed sweet potatoes that came with it. :-) He
also enjoyed the pork. Paula ordered the pork, so that is pictured
below.

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In keeping with the banana theme, one of the desserts was French
Toast Banana Bread Pudding
, and several people (including Lee, of
course) had that. They enjoyed it.

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I had the Chocolate S'More Vanilla Cake, which sounded just ok
from the description: "Crackling Marshmallow Crust on Vanilla Cake
filled with Chocolate, served with Dulce de Leche Sauce." But it looked
really good, and it tasted even better! There was a lot more chocolate
than I expected, and it was a nice firm chocolate mousse-type filling.

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Paula had the Creme Brulee Cheesecake - that was a very large
piece, and she said it was really good even though it wasn't chocolate.

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When I got back to the room, Louie the Lobster was waiting for me - he
also was wearing my sunglasses. :-)

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At Sea day tomorrow, though we have several activities planned on board
ship. And tomorrow is Formal Night, so we'll get dressed up in our fancy clothes.
We're both enjoying this cruise thing!

January 27, 2009

Disney Cruisin' - Day 5 - At Sea

Ahhh...a day to relax at sea! Or at least what passes for us as "relaxing".

I'm not sure I like the late dinner thing -- we don't get out of dinner
until 10:30, and then we're too full to go right to bed...but going to
bed late means missing out on being out and about early when things are
still pretty quiet.

I really wanted to go to the gym this morning, so I got up at 7:30. We
were in there Saturday evening and there was NO ONE there...that's
because everyone is there between 7:00 and 8:00 in the morning! There
was a spinning class going on, all of the treadmills and ellipticals
were in use, and many of the weight machines. One of the exercise bikes
(which was what I wanted) was free -- but only because it had no TV.
That was OK, I just watched the sea go by as I pedaled away for 40
minutes.

I had a spa appointment scheduled at 9:45, and I still had to have breakfast
and shower, so I got some cereal and a yogurt parfait from Goofy's
Galley, and that worked out ok.

Lee was out having breakfast when I got back to eat and shower.

My spa app't was nice and relaxing -- I had the "Exotic Manicure", which
included a salt scrub and arm/hand massage as well as the manicure. I'd
read that the spa employees can be rather pushy about selling their
products, but Kadina obviously picked up early on that I wasn't
interested, and she never mentioned it. She got a bigger tip, too.

Lee went to the "Disney Innovations: Animation" presentation on the
"Top 10" introductions Disney has made to the field of animation, and
he enjoyed that. They included synchronized sound for cartoons, the
first full-length animated film, a sense of depth (everything from
Walt's original multi-plane camera to using computers), the use of the
photo copier to transfer sketches to cells, and computer generated
imagery (CGI).

We decided to eat lunch at Lumiere's, even though that's where we were
going for dinner tonight, but the menu sounded interesting. It was the
first time we had been in there -- it's really a beautiful restaurant.
And very unbusy -- the servers were really looking for things to do!

The food was quite good, and really nicely presented, but it was a bit
different from what the menu said. I had the Potato and Barley soup --
which had potatoes, but no barley as far as I could tell. And I also
had the salad nicoise, which was supposed to have potatoes in it, but
there weren't any.

Lee wanted to attend the virtual tour of the Bridge and Engine room at
12:15, but we were finished with lunch in plenty of time. He enjoyed
that.

And then it was on to a Wine Tasting seminar at 1:00. Joe, one of our
tablemates, was there, too. It was an interesting session, though of
the 6 wines there were only two that I really liked -- a Riesling
Kabinett from Germany and the Fairy Tale champagne that is made
exclusively for Disney.

Somewhere in there we took a closer look at the Magic's European
itineraries in 2010 and decided that we wanted to sign up for one of the
11-night Mediterranean cruises -- it sounds like it goes to a lot
of interesting places == and it's a "safe" way to see Europe!

We went to a Body and Metabolism analysis session in the Spa. They are
pushing an expensive detoxification program, of which we remain very
skeptical, but we did learn some other good things about our metabolic
rate, lean body mass, fat percentage, etc.

It was 5:00, and dinner wasn't until 8:30, so we went to Goofy's Galley
(since we were already on Deck 9) and had them make us a couple of
salads and some fresh fruit. The wind had REALLY come up, and was
trying to blow the lettuce off our plates!

Then it was time to get all "neat and pretty" for formal night. Lee had
found out that they set up a red carpet outside the Walt Disney Theater
for the Golden Mickeys show, and have "paparazzi" greet the guests as
they enter - and of course that's more fun if you're already dressed up.
We got some very favorable comments.

ll_formal.jpg

We also really enjoyed the Golden Mickeys show - some of it was a little
hokey, but most of the musical numbers were quite excellent - the woman
who performed Colors of the Wind had a wonderful voice.

After the show we still had an hour and a half until dinner so we
wandered around - we did get our picture taken at one of the portrait
stations, so hopefully that will turn out well. There was no one
waiting at the Future Disney Cruise desk and we took that opportunity to
book the Med cruise - we'll even have our same stateroom. :-)

We had a wonderful dinner at Lumiere's with our tablemates - I'm really
glad that Lumiere's was our restaurant for formal night - it's the most
elegant of the three. After four meals together we are all getting to
know each other, so dinners are more fun as we tease each other and our
servers.

No time for a lot of food photos -- but I had to post this one of the special
dessert for tonight -- "The Golden Chocolate, Chocolate Award". It was
very good.

lum1.jpg

Our waiter, TJ, took this picture of all of us -- what you can't see is
the reason we were all smiling so much, and that's because of what one
of his fellow waiters was doing behind his back, as seen in the next
photo.

lum_grp.jpg
lum_tj.jpg

The ship has been rocking and rolling a lot more tonight - the seas
are classed as "rough" this evening with 8-13' swells, and we have
"moderate" gale force winds - whatever that means. Ok, Lee just looked
it up - it's 32-38 mph winds. He was out on deck earlier and said it
was VERY windy.

Grand Cayman tomorrow - we have an early excursion, so we have to be
ready to leave the ship by 9:15.

January 28, 2009

Disney Cruisin' - Day 6 - Grand Cayman

The seas were quite rough last night - there was a lot of motion. I
think I'm very glad we're in the cabin we are, since it really didn't
bother us.

We arrived at Grand Cayman ~7:00 this morning - we were already
anchored when we got up at 7:30.

The weather was absolutely beautiful today. It was sunny with some
clouds, but not too warm - got to a little over 80, I think. There
was a pretty stiff breeze, so that helped make it feel cooler.

Grand Cayman is surrounded by a huge reef so there's no spot deep
enough for cruise ships for them to build a pier. So all the cruise
ships have to anchor off-shore and all the passengers have to take
tenders to/from the port. That's kind of a pain.

We had breakfast at Topsider - it was quite a nice breakfast buffet.
The oranges and grapefruit were especially good. They also had some
thick tomato slices that had cheese melted on top, and those were
good, though of course Lee didn't appreciate that.

Since we had a fairly early excursion we met in one of the lounges
and as a group they took us on-board one of the tenders. It held
about 200 people! There was a very nice view of the Magic from the
tender. If you go to the front of the rear smokestack, then go down
to the lifeboat from there, and then a little bit right, we think the
second porthole down is ours.

cayman_magic.jpg

We were doing the Cayman Island Tour and Stingray Snorkel. Touristy,
but it seemed like a good way to at least see some of the island and
do something in the water.

There were only 17 people on our tour, which was kind of nice, and
apparently a bit unusual. Once we got off the tender we got onto a
small tour bus, with our driver, Delroy. Did you know that they
drive on the wrong side of the road here? It's the first time
I've ever been in a country that did that, so it was different.

Our first stop was Hell. Which is a black rock formation on the
island, and a big tourist trap. But I had heard that you can send
postcards from there, postmarked "Hell", and of course make all of
the jokes about having been to hell anc back. There's an older man
there who dresses as the devil and wanders around - and there's a
wooden cutout of him that you can pose with if he's not available.
It was a short stop - only 15 minutes, but that was enough time.

hell1.jpg
hell2.jpg


Next was the turtle farm, where they breed green sea turtles, both to
release back into the wild and for the meat (turtle meat is
apparently very popular in the Caymen Islands). We saw the turtles
they use as breeders - it's a 4-1 ratio of females to males. The
females lay their eggs in the sand and the workers gather them up and
put them in the hatchery.

I had heard this before, but the sex of a turtle is controlled by
the heat of the sand around the eggs. Warmer sand = female turtles,
cooler sand = males. So in the hatchery they decide what they need
more of, and set the temperature accordingly.

You can tell males from females by the length of the tail - females
have shorter tails and males have longer tails. But you can't tell
the sex of a turtle until they are about 9 years old.

We were able to handle the turtles - if they got agitated and started
flipping their fins our guide told us to scratch them under the chin
to calm them down. That worked pretty well. Lee had his looking quite
content and blissful.

turtle1.jpg

There were also quite a few iguanas lounging about, and they were
interesting to see.

Stingray City wasn't quite what I expected - I was thinking of a
beach with a large cove or something. Instead we had to take a small
boat 30 minutes out towards the big barrier reef, where we got to an
area with a sandy bottom that was only about 3-4' deep. And there
were lots of OTHER boats out there too. They put a couple of anchors
in the sand to hold the boat in place and then we were able to get
out of the boat.

The stingrays are VERY used to people and come right up and swim
around, since they expect to be fed. They seem to recognize when a
new boat arrives they have a better chance of getting food, so we had
quite a few of them around us. They were pretty big, too. The older
ones had a more bristly skin, while the younger ones were softer.

stingray1.jpg

The water was not as warm as I was expecting and there was a very
strong breeze, so I was getting a little cold. Every once in a while
a swell would come in and we'd be up to our necks instead of waists.
Lee fed the stingrays (and one of them nipped him thinking his finger
was food!), and he enjoyed it. For me...well, I'm not that much
nto ocean stuff and it was outside my comfort zone...I'm glad I did
it, but it's not something that either of us would rush to do again.

The tour ended about 2:00, and by the time we got through security
and took the tender back it was about 2:45, and we were starving,
since we hadn't eaten since breakfast. We went up to Pinocchio's and
had some pizza, and then I tried a fish burger from Pluto's Dog
House. They had a pretty nice toppings bar, so I ate more of the
tomatoes and carrot sticks and olives and pickles than I did the
fish. Lee also got a sandwich slice and a slice of a lamb/couscous
wrap from Goofy's. They really have an interesting variety of
sandwiches and wraps there - there have been a few different ones
each day.

And then it was time for something we really haven't done much of on
this trip - a nap! Though I also did a load of laundry. I got in
just in time - when I went back to check the dryer all of the dryers
were full, and someone was ready to use mine when it finished.

The final tender returned to the ship about 4:45 and they off-loaded
everyone, closed the door, and we were underway before 5:00.

Tonight's show in the Walt Disney Theater was "Twice Charmed", which
was a re-telling of the Cinderella story - what if Lady Tremayne had
been able to break *both* of Cinderella's glass slippers? Of course
true love prevailed in the end. It was very nicely done and I
enjoyed it.

Tonight for dinner we were back at Lumiere's, with its normal French
menu. And our waiter is French, so that's quite appropriate.

I'd have to say this was my least favorite of the dinners we've had
so far. None of the appetizers appealed to me (escargot??? Ewww!),
so I had the tomato and basil soup from the soup and salad portion of
the menu instead. That was really good, though.

Lee had the Ratatouille with Piperade Vinaigrette, which
sounded ok to me except that it was served cold. So it was almost
more like a thick salsa.

And speaking of escargot...Paula indicated that she and Joe wanted to
try it, so TJ brought enough for all six of us. Paula, Joe, and Jan
went for it simultaneously - Jan and Joe said it was ok (though I
noticed neither of them offered to finish the three that were still
left!), and Paula immediately went for the chocolate milk chaser. :-)
It was pretty funny.

Lee and I both had the Normandy Salad, which had lettuce,
diced papaya, hearts of palm and red cabbage. I had seen the mention
of goat cheese croutons that were served with the mixed garden salad
and asked TJ if I could have those, too - they were good. :-)

None of the main courses appealed to me - a little too heavy on the
scallops, mushrooms and/or sauces, so I ordered the Oven Roasted
Chicken
from the "Lighter" menu, which came with garden
vegetables and baked potato. Not exciting at all, but it was just
fine - I actually really enjoyed just the plain steamed vegetables
and baked potato after all the much richer stuff I've been eating all
week.

Lee (and everyone else at the table except me and Jan) had the
Beef Tenderloin Provence, Burgundy Wine Sauce. And they all
said it was excellent. It came with something that looked like large
thick-cut French fries, but actually turned out to be fried parsnips.
They had a very different flavor, but I thought they were really
good.

Jan ordered the Coquelles St. Jacques which were scallops,
though it looked like a potatoes au gratin dish.

Dessert, though, was where Lumeiere's REALLY disappointed me. A
French restaurant - I'm thinking some kind of outstanding chocolate
dessert, like a mousse, or chocolate eclair, or torte or something.
Well, I would be wrong. There was NOTHING chocolate on the dessert
menu, except for a no sugar added chocolate cheesecake. TJ offered
to get me the Double Chocolate Cake from Parrot Cay (which I had
enjoyed on Saturday night), and Kathy and Jan decided they wanted
that too. But TJ came back empty-handed - since we are in the very
last dinner seating, the Parrot Cay kitchen was already closed. So I
boycotted dessert. Paula offered me as much of her Montelimar
Nougat and Pistachio Cream Sauce
, which had a chocolate shell on
it and I tried that - but it really wasn't substantial chocolate.
Sigh.

Lee had the Creme Brulee, and enjoyed that.

TJ brought out a Crepes Suzette for all of us to try - too much
orange/Grand Marnier for me, though.

I actually have a lot more stories about my dining companions, but
I'll have to do a separate blog on those. We are stll having a great
time together, and we are always one of the last 3-4 tables in the
restaurant.

We had a dinosaur awaiting us on our bed tonight. A small one,
fortunately. :-)

towel4.jpg

The seas are much calmer tonight - during dinner we actually forgot
we were on a ship because we just weren't feeling much movement at
all. Quite a difference from last night!

We turn our clocks back tonight, which means an extra hour of sleep -
yay!!!!

Cozumel tomorrow - we are going on an all-day excursion to the Tulum
Ruins over on the Mexican mainland. (Did you know Cozumel was an
island? I didn't, until this trip!)

January 29, 2009

Disney Cruisin' - Day 7

It was a very long day today, so you're getting a very short blog
entry -- I'll try to catch up further during our "At Sea" day tomorrow.

We took the shore excursion to the Tulum (two-LOOM) ruins on the east
coast of the Yucatan peninsula today. It was a lot of travel time --
30 minutes each way on a ferry to the mainland, and an hour bus ride
each way, so it made for a long day. It was well worth seeing,
though. The weather was beautiful -- in the mid-80s and a bit humid, but
there was a nice breeze.

Tonight is Pirate Night, with the special dinner, the deck party,
dessert buffet, and fireworks, so it's going to be a late night.

But here's a couple of pictures from Tulum:

tulum1.jpg

tulum_ll.jpg

At Sea day tomorrow -- it will be to nice to rest and relax! But
remember that extra hour we got last night? We give it back
tonight...

January 30, 2009

Disney Cruisin' - Day 7 - Cozumel Details

It's a beautiful At Sea day - clear and sunny, close to 80 degrees, and the sea is very calm. I don't know how it could get any better
than this! Right now I can see the coast off Cuba off in the
distance.

So, as promised, I will give a more detailed report on yesterday's
activities in Cozumel.

We enjoyed our extra hour of sleep, especially since we were due to
meet in the Buena Vista Theater at 9:15 to prepare for our excursion.
But since 8:30 was the new 7:30, we got up then and had plenty of
time for breakfast at Parrot Cay.

It was a pretty nice breakfast buffet - among other things I had one of
the cooked-to-order omelets. I was a little disappointed at the filling
selections - no spinach or basil, and only one kind of cheese
(cheddar) - I love feta and/or goat cheese in omelets. My tomato
and cheese omelet was very tasty, though. Since we knew we wouldn't
be getting much for lunch on our tour we tried to fill up on
breakfast.

They were staging the three largest (and longest) tours in the Buena
Vista Theater - they got us all ready to go, and as soon as they
received clearance that we could go ashore, they took us off in our
groups. Two of the tours - the Tulum Ruins tour that we were on, and
the Xcaret Eco Archological Park - were actually over on the
mainland, so we had to take a ferry over to Playa del Carmen, and
then buses from there. We had our own private ferry, and they got us
loaded and we pulled away from the dock by about 10:00. It was a
high-speed ferry, and the trip was pretty smooth (seas were fairly
calm). But it tended to wallow a bit from side-to-side, and the
Disney crew members who were with us offered "Sea Calm" to anyone who
might want it. We still heard some people complaining about how
rough it was, and one woman said she wasn't going to get back on it!
So I'm not sure how she got back to the ship. :-)

They separated us into two groups after we got off the ferry, and led
us to our respective buses. That was kind of an adventure - we went
off through side streets and past shops, and through parking lots and
after about 5 minutes were in a dirt lot with several buses. The
buses were nice and air-conditioned, though!

They got us loaded and underway as efficiently as they could. There
were two buses going to Tulum - we had the faster-walking group on
ours, since we arrived back at the bus lot first. Our driver
was Jorge, and our guides were Enrique and Diego. Enrique did all of
the talking on the way to/from the ruins, and Diego conducted the
tour of the ruins themselves.

The bus ride was about an hour. Enrique talked to us a bit about the
history of the area and the Mayans. There are a lot of natural
wells, or cenotes, in the peninsula - the Mayans called them "chen",
which is where the name Chichen Itza comes from. Tulum means
"fortress" - it was a walled city with walls on three sides, and
the ocean on the 4th. It was actually built relatively recently -
around 900 A.D. But it was abandoned in the late 1500s, and then
rediscovered in 1842.

The coral reef along the coast is the second largest in the world,
after the Great Barrier Reef. The Mayans somehow cut a channel through
the reef, and the two tallest towers of Tulum marked either side of the
channel. The Mayans apparently did a lot of trading - honey, furs,
and tobacco, etc. for silver, turquoise and so on.

Before we arrived at Tulum we had a 25-minute stop at a "Mayan
Trading Post" store - that's apparently where all the tour buses
stop. BIG tourist trap. A lot of the goods (obsidian and wood
carvings, Mayan calendars) are made locally, but it was nothing we
were interested in, and we were back on the bus about 10 minutes
early. As we got back on the bus we all were given a plastic bag
containing a Subway turkey sandwich, some fluorescent orange cheese
puffs, and a fruit and bran bar. There was a little plastic
superhero guy in the bag of cheese puffs. It was all safe to
eat, but the sandwich was pretty tasteless.

cheetos.jpg

When we arrived at Tulum itself, Enrique pointed out where we would
be meeting the bus when we came back from the tour of the ruins. We
were supposed to take a tram from the parking area to the ruins (it's
about a 1/2 mile walk), but one of the trams was broken down and there
was a long line so we opted to walk. And we got there before any of
the trams did! It was a warm day, but not too bad.

Diego took over at that point, and led us into the ruins themselves.
We went through a Mayan arch along the northern wall. The city was
far larger than I had been expecting, and there were a lot more
buildings than I had expected to see.

There was a very nice breeze, but it was hot if you were standing in
he sun, so Diego attempted to find us some shady spots as he took us
to various places to point things out and tell us about the city.
Unfortunately he didn't give us a lot of detail on what most of the
buildings actually were - I had to get that information out of a
booklet I bought at the entrance after we came out. It would have
been much more useful to have that book with me as we were wandering
around the ruins - there were things I didn't see because I didn't
know to look for them. Handing out a map of the ruins to everyone
would have been very helpful.

Things that he DID tell us that were not in the book...they have
found traces of paint on the stones, and think that the city was
painted blue and red. They do not know any of the names of the
buildings, so the names they have were given to them based on
appearance, location, or things they found inside. None of the
buildings were residences (at least not of the common people), but
there are a lot of stone foundations where the houses would have
been. Mayan houses were built of wood with thatched roofs that
would not have survived very long after the city was abandoned.
One of the "towers" on the left part of the main building was part
of their calendar system - when the sun rises on the mornings of
the vernal and autumnal equinox, it is perfectly framed in the
window of the tower.

He spoke to us for about 50 minutes, and then we had an hour and 30
minutes to wander around on our own. From what Enrique told us
earlier, Disney is a lot more generous with time than some of the
other cruise lines - they allow for 2.5 hours at the ruins, and a lot
of the others only allow only one hour, which is just enough time for
the guided tour.

We certainly had plenty of time to cover the entire site, but as I
said before, it would have been helpful to have a map. There were
signs at most of the buildings, but they didn't give the same kind of
detail. Some of the buildings were in good shape and still had a lot
of carvings - this is a close-up of some on the building called
Temple of the Frescoes.

tulum3.jpg

Oh, before I forget, there were iguanas all over the place - many
of them sunning themselves on the ruins. I called one of the
buildings the "Temple of the Iguanas" because there were so many
of them. :-)

tulum2.jpg

There is a staircase at the back that goes down to a very nice beach -
going to the beach had been listed as one of the things to do on
the tour. We spent enough time wandering around that we didn't get
down to the beach in time to make it worth getting our shoes and socks
off and then having to put them back on, but there were quite a few
people there - locals as well as tourists.

After we came back out of the walled city we went to the gift shop
where I found the booklet on Tulum...and there we saw the vicious
jagulars coming out of the jungle.

tulum_cat.jpg

We saw several different ones - they didn't want to get too close to
people, though.

The bus ride back to Playa del Carmen took about an hour - I think
ours was the last of the Disney excursions to arrive because the boat
left not long after we boarded. Again, the trip over was pretty
smooth - and seemed a little faster! We docked the same place we had
boarded in the morning, which was just down the pier from the Magic.
And we went straight back to the ship, so we never really stepped
foot on Cozumel at all!

We had a great view of the bow of the ship, which we hadn't seen up
close before. I hadn't noticed the other Disney characters in the
scrollwork. A bit subtle, but very nice.

magic_bow.jpg

It was about 4:45 by then. As you might imagine, we were quite
hungry, so after a quick stop in our room to drop things off we went
up to Goofy's Galley. Some salad and wraps hit the spot, and would
tide us over until dinner.

But we didn't have too much time to relax - it was Pirate night! We
actually had pirate costumes to put on.

cr0109pirates.jpg

Dinner was at Animator's Palate again, but this time it was the
pirate-themed dinner. We all received a rolled up "treasure map"
menu at our place setting, along with a "Pirates in the Caribbean"
head scarf. Fun. :-)

All the servers were dressed up in pirate costumes, too, and they
looked great. Dinner was rather rushed, though - part of that was
because I asked to receive dessert in time to make the pirate deck
party at 9:45, and the servers themselves were rushing, too. At 9:45
they had a procession with all the servers, and were getting the
guest to do the limbo and a conga line or something like that. Meg
was very disappointed that none of us participated.

I have to give TJ credit - he got my dessert, the "Walk the Triple
Chocolate Gangplank Cake" out to me as soon as the procession ended,
and Lee and I were able to make it up on deck in plenty of time for
the party. It turned out the "real" show didn't start until about
10:15. We went up to deck 10 where we could watch Captain Mickey
preparing to save the day when the pirates took over the stage.
Sorry, this isn't a great picture, but you get the idea.

capt_mickey.jpg

And after that it was time for fireworks in the Caribbean!
Apparently Disney is the only cruise line that does a fireworks show.
They weren't as impressive as Illuminations, but it was still pretty
cool to see them in the middle of the ocean! We learned later that
the wind changed direction just before the show started, and the
Captain had to change course so that the fireworks could go on as
planned.

cr0109fireworks.jpg

There was a dessert buffet set up on Deck 9 so we partook of that.
LOTS of different cakes, and even baked Alaska (though the inside was
really whipped cream and not ice cream). Some really good chocolate
chip cookies, too.

It was a great day, but quite long and full of activities. We were
definitely ready for a more relaxing day at sea today.

So I caught up on yesterday...but haven't had time to write about
today at all. Maybe tomorrow after our day on Castaway Cay...

January 31, 2009

Disney Cruisin' - Day 8 - At Sea

It was an At Sea day yesterday -- which was supposed to be our day to
relax, but we ended up filling it very well - though some of our
activities were very relaxing!

The weather was just about as perfect as you can get - sunny and about
80. Really beautiful.

Sorry, no photos today -- no time to prepare them.

It was spa day for me -- I had a hot stone massage in the morning and
a facial in the afternoon. The hot stone massage was sooooo nice...I
was like jelly after that. Mmmm. And the lady who did it was really
good - after she finished the massage she showed me about 6 different
exercises to loosen up the areas where she found the tightest muscles
-- my neck and upper back and hamstrings.

The facial was also very relaxing - I think I dozed off a couple of
times. She spent a lot of time massaging my neck and shoulders, in
addition to whatever she was doing glopping stuff onto my face.
I was all dewy and glowing afterward, though -- just in time for
Semi-Formal night!

I assume it is response to guest complaints, but I didn't have any of
the ladies who worked with me do anything to push the Elemis products
at all. They all said I could ask questions, but that was the extent
of it. I was very happy with that.

While I was off getting pampered, Lee was doing educational things.
He went to the Innovations in Theme Parks presentation, where he
learned all about movie makers designing theme parks. Trevor, who
was one of our lifeboat drill crew members (Station K rocks!), was
the presenter - we have seen him in lots of places and capacities all
over the ship.

He also did the Art of the Theme Ship Tour, which he found really
interesting. They wandered all over the ship talking about the
interior and exterior design elements (carpet, colors, art work,
etc.) and how it sets the theme for each area of the ship.
And they learned about the new ships, too - they will hold about 4000
passengers and 1200 crew (as opposed to 2400 and 1000), but they are
supposed to keep the same "not another floating milk carton" design
as the current ships.

We both took the Galley Tour in the afternoon. The Chef de Cuisine
for Lumiere's, Aneel (sp?) took us back into the kitchen and talked
about how they make all the food and how many people there are
cooking it, etc. It was really fascinating. The kitchen is
absolutely spotless - he said that there is a special crew who comes
in three times a day to clean it. One thing he didn't mention, which
TJ told us later, is that every time the servers enter the kitchen
they use a single door, and then immediately wash their hands before
going any further. They exit out a different door after picking
up the food.

Lumiere's galley connects directly with the pastry chef's kitchen,
and that area is shared by Parrot Cay and Lumiere's. There they gave
us fresh chocolate chip cookies -- Meg was actually handing those out
to everyone - we have seen her in a lot of different places over the
week! They bake about 4000 cookies a day!

From there we went into the Parrot Cay kitchen, which looked pretty
much the same.

We also learned that there are 5 galleys on board ship - Lumiere's
and Parrot Cay, Animator's Palate, Palo, and the crew mess below
decks. Topsider's is a satellite galley - the food is prepared
elsewhere, and only reheated there. All of the food is stored on
deck A, and brought up via elevators only accessible in the galleys.

All of the cooking is either steam or electric - no gas stoves or
ovens at all because of safety reasons. The ovens will steam or
roast or both - they can cook 500 baked potatoes at a time in one of
the ovens.

We were also impressed that the kitchens were quite cool - and he
said they are that temperature all the time, even when all of the
cooking is going on.

They are incredibly health and safety conscious. One woman on the
tour asked about allergies and special diets, and he said he has one
chef in the kitchen who works in a "clean" area, and whose job it
is to take care of those needs, and make sure that there is no
cross-contamination.

Last night was semi-formal night - the dinner menu was the Captain's
Gala. We were in Animator's Palate, and all of the servers were in
tuxes - they looked very nice. Our other tablemates were dining at
Palo, so we were at the table by ourselves. So we were able to spend
a lot of time visiting with TJ and Meg, and that was very nice. Joe
and Kathy came to join us after they finished dining at Palo and we
were the last guests in the restaurant. In fact, some of the servers
didn't realize we were still there, and suddenly turned on some loud
rock music, but Meg and some of the others who still realized we were
there were quick to tell them to turn it off since there were still
guests in the restaurant.

Today was Castaway Cay, and unfortunately our final night. We just
finished packing and putting our bags outside to be picked up and
then delivered to theh airport tomorrow. But I'll have to write
about all of that later - maybe on the plane home tomorrow.

It's been a sensational week, and we have really, really enjoyed our
cruise - just in case you couldn't tell. After the way Disney has
pampered and taken care of us for the last week, it's going to be
quite a rude awakening when we have to deal with the airport and the
airline tomorrow.

Sigh...do we *have* to go home?

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About January 2009

This page contains all entries posted to Salute to All Things Disney but Mostly Disneyland in January 2009. They are listed from oldest to newest.

December 2008 is the previous archive.

February 2009 is the next archive.

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