Walt Disney World & World Travels

Archive for June 2009

A new way to watch Wishes,  is at the Fireworks Dessert Party.    This new experience is available to guests from June 23, 2009 – August 28, 2009 at the  Tomorrowland Terrace Noodle Station. 

Each night the Fireworkds Dessert Party will open one hour before the nighttime spectacular and includes a self serve buffet with a wide variety of sweet treats and beverages and exclusive viewing area for the fireworks.   

Reservations are not required, but are recommended due to expected popularity of this experience.  Seating is limited, walk-ups may be available on a first-come,  first-served basis.  Price is $17.99 for adults 10+ , and $9.99 for kids 3-9.  The Disney Dining Plan is not currently being accepted.  Prepayment will be required when making reservations.  To make reservations call your travel consultant or Disney Dining at 407-WDW-DINE.

These are the questions from my 1st post in this series:

  • What should I pack?  What did I pack that I didn’t need and what do I wish I had brought?
  • Do I need a passport or should I have one even if I don’t need it? What are the new passport rules?
  • How are the cabins? Can you see/feel the difference between the different categories?  Is it worth paying for the ocean view? 
  • When will my documents arrive?
  • What should I know to make it easier and more relaxing?  

Packing:  my packing list was probably a little different than most because I needed to have “business/cruise casual” clothes for work/seminar times & then regular clothes.  I was actually really happy with what I took as far as clothes.  Casual comfy shorts & tees are perfect for most everything except dinner.  I wore sundresses at night for dinner and felt that I was dressed appropriately-not too casual and not too dressy.  Make sure you have bathing suits & a cover up is nice to have.  If you get cold easily, you may want a light sweater for dinner & the shows.  What did I forget to pack?  I should have packed the charger for my camera!  I actually took less pictures than I would have liked because I was afraid the battery would die before the end of the trip.  What I didn’t need was my hair dryer.  There’s nowhere to plug it in the the bathroom and there is a built in hair dryer that worked just fine.

Passport:  Right now, American citizens do not NEED a passport for cruises that start and end in the same port.  However, if anything were to go wrong–miss the ship in Nassau, get sick and need to emergency fly back to the U.S.–you would be in for a lot of headaches without a passport.  I would strongly recommend getting the passport, it’s worth it for the peace of mind.

Cabins:  I was impressed with the size of the cabins.  Any DCL cabin that is “Deluxe” has the split bath, a really great feature.  The split bath is a sink & toilet in one bath and the other bath has the shower & sink.  Makes it super easy to get ready with multiple people in a cabin.  That is an upgrade that I think is worth paying for!  I was in a Category 6, Deluxe Cabin with Verandah and LOVED IT!!!  I really liked being able to go out on the verandah but if it came down to not being able to go or having a verandah I’d take a Deluxe Ocean View Cabin in a heartbeat.  The “port holes” are quite large and give a good view and natural light.  I like having a view, but I’m also a little claustrophobic.  The inside cabin would be fine for those who aren’t bothered by claustrophobia and are a great choice for families that need 2 cabins or the the Cat 5 Deluxe Family Stateroom with Verandah.

Documents:  Your cruise documents will arrive when they arrive…..don’t worry, arrival a few days before your trip is not unusual.

What should you know: 

*The kids clubs are amazing!  Even if you think your kid(s) won’t want to go much, register them while you’re still in the Cruise terminal!  You’ll be surprised how little you see your kids on this trip because they will be busy having the time of their lives!  After touring the kids clubs, I wish I could go there! 

*Even with kids, choose 2nd seating for dining.  Yes you’ll be eating a little later, but (1) you’ll never go hungry on the ship as there is food available all the time! (2) you’ll have more time in ports before needing to be back on the ship and (3) the new Dine & Play allows the kids to dine with you, have their food brought quickly and then the counselors will pick them up at the restaurant.  They go play in the clubs & you enjoy the rest of your meal child free!

*The Vista Spa offers specials through out the cruise, check your navigator for each day.  They also offer a day pass or cruise pass for the Rainforest Room.  Great way to enjoy the relaxation of the spa with out the pricier “treatments”.  Go to the Spa to purchace the pass.  No charge for fitness equipment or exercise classes but make sure you bring your gym shoes or you won’t be allowed to participate.

*Gratuities can be pre-paid before you sail, which is very convenient!  You’ll get envelopes & tickets with your servers’ names on them for you to hand out the last night of the trip.  Better than worrying about having cash for that. 

*Don’t pack the credit card you’re going to use for your room charges.  You’ll need it in the cruise terminal when you check in.  If you forget and have the credit card in your luggage, don’t worry.  They’ll set your Key to the World card up to be paid in cash at the end and you can go to guest services on the ship at anytime and give them your credit card info.  If you’re doing a Land & Sea package, you will already be set with your KTTW Card from your resort portion of the trip.

*Carry a day bag for when you get on the ship.  Have your bathing suit, sunscreen,sunglasses, camera & your ID, Passport & Credit Card.  That’s all you’ll need until your luggage arrives in your cabin.

While it may sound self serving to say this, I strongly recommend using a travel consultant that specializes in Disney and Disney Cruises.  Don’t miss out on an amazing dinner at Palo because you didn’t know there was an adult only restaurant on board, a couples spa treatment on the ship or a cabana massage on Castaway Cay or excursions in port.  If you have a travel consultant that doesn’t mention any of these options or specials that might apply to your cruise dates, you need to find a new agent immediately!   Other than that, relax and enjoy.  You’re about to embark on a wonderful experience!

Pulled into Port Canaveral early in the morning, can really feel it in an AFT cabin when the Captain backs the ship in…..

What do you do on the last morning?  Well, since I had 2nd dinner seating, that meant 2nd seating for breakfast today.  We were told that wherever we had dined for dinner the night before is where we were to go for breakfast and our waitstaff would be with us again.  I was up and ready way too early for breakfast so I spent a lot of time wandering around the ship, taking more pictures and people watching. 

I joined a fun group of girls for breakfast at Triton’s.  I had a wonderful omelet, bagel that wasn’t hot and again only 1 cube of cream cheese, pastries & coffee.  Service was wonderful again, and I loved having had them for the whole cruise! 

We all split up after breakfast and headed out, some to the airport for their flights home and the rest of us to Disney World.  I had figured I would meet up with everyone after going through customs, but they moved us through so quickly that didn’t happen.  When you leave the ship, you hold all of your paperwork and as you go through they look at what they need.  First it’s your room key, swipe it and it updates that you have left the ship, then you go down an escalotor in the terminal to where your luggage is waiting.  There are Porter’s waiting at the bottom of the escalator, ready to help.  I was thrilled for the help, and my Porter asked about my luggage tags (Orange Goofy).  That’s how they seperate the luggage, makes it really easy to find!  He grabbed my bags, and led me to the line for Customs.  I handed the customs agent my delcaration, she asked the purpose of my trip, and then waved me through.  I was shocked at how easy it was!  My Porter led me outside, and got me set up for my ride back to Disney World.  If it took 10 minutes to get off the ship, I’d be shocked.  My only disappointment was that I didn’t get to go back on a DCL Bus.  I was put on a Mears shuttle van, that ended up being full.  The driver was nice, but the ride wasn’t as comfy as the bus and no videos to watch 😦     

Last stop was of course Animal Kingdom Lodge.  I gathered all of my bags, which was more than I came with…..Ran down to Mara to buy some Zebra Domes to take home to the family and then waited for the Valet to pull my truck up for me. 

It wasn’t a direct drive home, thanks to some advice from 2 of my new friends on the cruise.   I stopped at the Disney Outlet in Orlando–a lot of good deals!  Then stopped at the Disney Outlet in St. Augustine–good deals here as well!   After that, the drive was slow because the rain wasn’t done with me yet.  Torrential downpours along the way that brought traffic to a standstill in Jacksonville FL, GA & again in SC.  It was a very long/slow drive home and I finally got there around 10pm.

Our last night at sea.  It seems like we just boarded but now Cruise Director Christian is on a continous loop on channel 14 doing a Debarkation Presentation.

After a wonderful day on Castaway Cay, I came back to the ship to get ready for a busy night.  Tonight was our last “business” event, a private cocktail party in the Cadillac Lounge, show, dinner, packing & ?????

Our cocktail party was great.  There were appetizers, and Bahama Mama’s.  We “graduated” from the program and received diplomas and a group picture.  We spent some time discussing what we had learned durning the cruise and how that would help us when we got home.   A fun time!

We were able to get a little last minute shopping done before our evenings performance.  Tonight we saw:

” Disney Dreams”    ‘An Enchanted Classic  For every kid and every kid-at-heart, this Classic Disney tale lets you discover the power of dreams as your imagination escapes into a world of enchantment and adventure.  With a little Faith, Trust, and Pixie Dust, a youg girl’s wish becomes a dream come true in the spectaculal fantasy.  Join Peter Pan, tinker Bell and all your favorite Disney Characters on a quest to make Dreams Come True!’

During our cocktail party, Rita our wonderful trainer/facilitator had told us to look at the parents in the audience during tonights show and to notice that they’ll all have tears in their eyes.  Well, I’ve got to tell you, I couldn’t see if anyone else had tears in their eyes, because I DID!  This was an amazing, touching, heartwarming show and the entire cast was superb!  Leave it to Disney to even cap it off with fireworks!  I can’t express how much I loved this show, just promise me that if you’re sailing on the Wonder you won’t miss it!

Dinner this evening was at Triton’s and we weren’t sure what to expect.   It was very nice, seafood with a touch of french influence.  Not being a fan of escargot, I played safe and ordered the chilled jumbo shrimp and french onion soup.  I had the seared sea bass for my entree, very fresh and cooked just right.  The other big winner of the evening at our table was the 3-cheese lobster macaroni.  This will shock everyone that knows me, but I can’t remember desert.  I’m sure they were good, but obviously not that memorable. 

After dinner we went back to our cabins to pack.  All of our luggage needed to be tagged and in the hall by 11pm and it was already 9:30pm.  When we got to our cabin, I realized that they had not left the tags for my bags, just the airport ones for my room mate.  I called guest services and they said they would send them up in a little bit.  Ok, I started packing and trying to figure out what to put in which bag and what to leave out…….My room mate needed to call guest services for something and while on the phone mentioned that we were still waiting for the bag tags.  They told her that I would have to come and get them.  Great, it was now almost 10:30 and I had to go to deck 3, mid from deck 5 aft.  Not horrible, but I was tired and running out of time.  We went, passing our cabin attendant on the way and thanking him for all he had done.  Got the tags came back and ran into him again.  I told him that my bags would be out in a few minutes, now that I had the tags.  Here’s where I was gently reprimanded, and reminded that I had been told on the 1st day that if I needed anything, he was my go to guy and he had plenty of bag tags.   So learn from my mistake, and if you need anything at all, check with your cabin attendant before running allover the ship.  It’ll save you a lot of time and effort!

Bags were packed, tagged and placed in the hall a few minutes before 11pm.  We considered going to Cadillac lounge or the Wave and finding others from the group and then decided that was just too much work.  Instead we discussed the trip and enjoyed the view from the verandah before calling it a night.

Awaking to the bright flash of lightning and boom of thunder I was a little worried about my upcoming day at Castaway Cay.  It was early yet, we hadn’t even pulled in so I held out hope for a nice day.

After we docked but before allowing anyone ashore, I started the morning by going up to Beach Blanket buffet by myself for breakfast.  Lots of yummy choices, and I tried most of them ;):  Egg McMuffin type sandwiches (with a slice of tomato), Mickey Waffles (cherry topping, chocolate sauce and whipped cream available), pastries, potatoes, and so much more.  As I got to the end of the line, I asked a CM where the coffee cups were.  He insisted on getting my coffee for me and on taking my tray for me.  He asked where I’d like to sit and I jokingly told him “somewhere dry with a pretty view” –there are outdoor tables and it was still wet out.  I would have been happy most anywhere, but he found me a great table with a view of the family beach on Castaway Cay.  I really would have been fine carrying my own tray, but loved the service!   Food was great!  Loved the cherries on the waffle and the tomato on the egg muffin.  Coffee was Nescrape, but what’s a girl gonna do, gotta have something to start the day.

Castaway Cay is Disney’s own private island and I wish it was mine!   It was raining and dreary when I walked off the ship but Castaway Cay was still amazing.     I started my own little tour of the island by walking past the Post Office (anyone know the name of the postmaster?  check the trivia area for the answer)   along to the snorkeling lagoon where a few brave souls were snorkeling in the rain.  I continued on and checked out the Family Beach and the Sports beach.  It was still drizzling, so the beach was pretty quiet.  I did see a cute little guy having fun playing soccer on the sports beach.  Next stop on my walk was Grouper Game Pavillion.  This is where you’ll find ping pong tables, billiards, basketball and other games to play–by the way, they’re all free!    If you go past the pavillion & sting ray adventure area you’ll come to the Teen Beach.  Yep, the teens get their own beach.  I did not see it, because only teens & CM’s are allowed but I hear it’s pretty cool.  I just continued to walk along in the rain, enjoying my time alone on this beautiful island.  The plants & flowers were all gorgeous!  I only wish I had been with someone that could tell me what some of the things I saw were.  The last part of my walk was along the former airstrip on the island.  If you’re ever flying above, you’ll know this is Disney’s island because it says “Castaway Cay” along the runway.  I finally made it to the most heavenly place, Serenity Bay Beach.  Why is it so serene?  It’s the exclusive beach area for Adults 18 & older!    I had done my research on the walk out, checked out the family areas & now was looking forward to laying out in the sun on a quiet beach.  The beach was quiet, the sun was a little reluctant to shine but eventually came out and it was perfect!  Clear water, shells & sea life every where you looked.  Brightly colored fish, huge conch shells (with the conch inside), sand dollars and even live starfish.  After walking the beach and checking out the water, it was time to lay out and  have a frozen beverage delivered.   They come to your beach chair, take your order and deliver wonderful concoctions, it really doesn’t get much better than that!  Then you realize that you’re getting hungry….your food is still covered on the island.  There is a big cookout at Cookie’s BBQ (next to family beach) and for the adults, there’s a cookout at Serenity Bay.  We enjoyed steak, burgers, grilled chicken, mahi mahi, ribs, salads, and desserts.  I heard great reviews of the ribs & mahi mahi, I loved the steak it was cooked perfectly.  The salads; a greek  tomato,olive & feta salad was to die for!  SO GOOD!  Of course, desserts were pretty good to….soft serve ice cream, chocolate chip cookies, yum!  —–I believe the “menu” is slightly different at Cookie’s BBQ, no steak or fish, more kid friendly sides.

This little island has something for everyone!  Families can spend time together or the kids can go to Scuttles Cove, (the kids program area) and teens off to their beach while Mom & Dad can get a massage in a beachside cabana at Serenity Bay.   There are excursions ($) and activities (free) for everyone including a 5k run, Character meet & greets, family whale dig, hula dance and so much more.  There is shopping available at:  She Sells Sea Shells & Everything else–Castaway Cay logo merchandise and at Bahamian Retail featuring Bahamian Arts & Crafts. 

I was a little sad leaving this heavenly little island but I look forward to going back someday!

A great new program is available on the Disney Wonder.  It’s called “Dine & Play”  It’s for families that have the 8:15pm dining.  The Youth Activity Counselors will come to the entrance of the restaurant (Triton’s, Parrot Cay & Animator’s Palate) to bring registered kids to the Oceaneer Club and Lab.

What does that mean???  The kids will come to dinner with you.  Their food will be served quickly and after 45 minutes, the counselors will come pick them up at the entrance of the restaurant.  Mom and Dad now get to enjoy the rest of their meal at a leisurely pace without grumpy, sleepy, bored kids at the table with them.  The kids also love this, because they don’t get stuck sitting at dinner being bored when they’d rather be back in the club hanging out with their friends.

This is a great option for families with 2nd seating!  Don’t worry about watching the clock, your server will let you know when the counselors have arrived.

Tonights theme is Pirates!  Pirates in the Caribbean party will be after dinner (which is pirate themed) and before we see Toy Story the musical, we get to meet Captain Jack Sparrow.

I have to say, Captain Jack Sparrow was awesome!  He must have spent almost 5 minutes with everyone that came through and it was a different experience for everyone.  The photopass photographer was in hysterics.  Talking to several CM’s later, they all love working with Captain Jack because he’s soooo much fun.

Toy Story the musical was AWESOME!!!!!   Of course, no cameras/video allowed, so I can’t show you anything but it was amazing.  The cast is very talented and the actor (actress) that played Sid was out of this world incredible.  Really truly the high point of the show!  I don’t care if you’re sailing with or without kids, DO NOT MISS THESE SHOWS!  In all seriousness, the show(s) are great for all ages and should not be missed.

Dinner tonight was at Parrot Cay.  Perfect place for the evenings theme!   

I did not order a drink with dinner because we were treated to wine with our meal.  The choices were a Chardonnay & and Cabernet.  Chardonnay’s and I don’t like each other all that much, so I went with the Cab.   I started with the Baked Crab Martinique–jumbo lump crab baked in a creamy cheese sauce severd with colorful tortilla chips and Plantain chips.  This was really good!  Big chunks of crab with lots of creamy cheesey goodness!  I wasn’t overly fond of the plantain chips, they were a little soggy in my humble opinion.  I followed that with the Cold Cream of  Mango & Papaya soup.  YUMMY!  It was perfect, not too heavy but creamy.  You could add some rum and it would make a lovely tropical drink–just a thought.

Since my server Nino’s recommendations had been so spot on, I continued to let him lead the way.  His entree recommendation was the Mixed Grill–grilled sirloin steak, lamb chop, bacon wrapped sausage, and jumbo shrimp on mashed potatoes, served with asparagus and grilled tomato with a Cabernet mushroom sauce.  To be honest, if I had picked I would have gone with the pan seared grouper or maybe the Island spiced grilled rib eye of beef.  Good thing I didn’t pick, Nino was right again!  This meal was incredible.  The sauce was to die for good, the steak was cooked to order perfectly rare, lamb chop was tender, shrimp were cooked perfectly and even the sausage was good and I’m not a sausage person.  

Somehow after all of that, I still managed to order (and eat) dessert.  Normally I would order whatever was the most chocolately option but I’m trusting my server and he says to go with the French Toast Banana Bread with coconut ice cream and caramel sauce.  I will say Nino was on a roll!  This was a rich, decadent dessert and I wasn’t able to finish it.  The coconut ice cream really made it work!  After all that food it was hard to believe that the evenings festivities were going to start up while we were still in the restaurant.  We had to join a conga line and do the limbo.  Those that didn’t participate cheered and waved napkins.  It was crazy and hilarious and a lot of fun!

As soon as we were done with dinner it was time to head up to Decks 9 & 10 for the Pirate Party. –fyi, if you didn’t bring any Pirate gear and wanted some, it was available for sale in several locations–  Rita our Facilitator for the trip had told us we would want to be on deck 9 port or deck 10 port/center for the best view of the fireworks.  Yes, you read that right, I said FIREWORKS!  Only Disney does a fireworks show at sea!!!!  Before the fireworks, the show starts with a lot of dancing and singing along.  There are several special guests through the party and it culminates with the fireworks.  I don’t want to give away too much but I will say that as a group of women between 21 – 70  we had a BLAST.  I saw a couple of kids that slept on their daddy’s shoulder, but most were dancing the night away.  Fun for all ages!

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