Saturday, September 14, 2013

September 2013 Super Vacation Part 2: Disney Cruise - the Beginning

Here the kids are, bright eyed, bushy-tailed and ready to head to Port Canaveral!
I did the iron on transfers on the shirts. EG loves Figment and Will loves Eeyore.
Everything we read about the check in process with Disney said it would be smooth and it was. So much so that we were able to check in, get a "walk on" boarding time, register for the kids programs and get their "trackable" armbands and still had time to sit around for a while.
Then, finally, it was time to walk through the giant black and yellow mouse ears and onto the gangway!
Oh, but first, here's a quick suggestion: when you check in for a cruise and they hand you a little paper card with your "walk on" boarding group number, don't lose it.  

Because guess what? When they call that number, and even though everyone in your party has their stateroom key card hanging around their necks and the kids have a "Mickey band" affixed to their wrists, they won't let you board unless you can show them that little paper card that you lost.

Then you'll start frantically digging through your pockets and carry on bags to no avail, at which time your easily stressed-out Aspie daughter will start loudly and frantically saying, "We can't go on the cruise?  Oh no! You mean we can't go? We'll NEVER get to goooooo!" 

Next your husband will start rolling his eyes, giving you that, "Really, again?" look.  Your son, as usual, senses this is one of those family moments where his best course of action is to stay very quiet and simply witness the dysfunction that is his family. Smart kid.

Then, as the sweat starts rolling down your back, you continue to frantically search all the same pockets you already searched, meanwhile the person at the gate asking for the boarding card just stares at you and the other passengers in that same boarding group number look at you in pity as they pass you by.

Suddenly, you notice two other cruise terminal employees standing nearby and you show them your stateroom key card and say, "Hi there. I seem to have lost the little card that says we are in boarding group 11. May I have another one please?"

Of course you think you have said this in a calm, pleasing tone but you notice that both employees sort of take a step back and then one nearly runs to the check in desk, hastily scribbles your last name and "11" in the boarding group spot and reaches out from a bit of a distance to hand over the new card so as not to actually touch the crazy, profusely sweating lady with the eye-rolling husband and the daughter who is exhibiting serious anxiety induced tics. 

But hey, aside from that, the embarkation process was a breeze. 

Once the drama subsided, we were welcomed aboard and quickly hit the deck 11 pools, buffets and enjoyed the sail away party.  

How Eliza Grace and Will approached the sail away party puts their personalities on display. Eliza Grace jumps right in with gusto and glee and Will tends to take it slow, staying a little apart, checking out his new surroundings. 

In this respect, EG = me, Will = Scott, there's just no denying it.

Take a look:

The bouncy, curly-haired Cast Member who was talking to Eliza Grace and Will is Caitlyn and she was our FAVORITE person on the ship.  She seemed to work 18 hours a day and we saw her everywhere: on stage, leading programs and activities, acting as a greeter at the evening shows and always with a smile, energy and a wonderfully upbeat Disney personality. She was even our Muster Station lead for the safety drill. 

Caitlyn bonded immediately with Eliza Grace over their shared love of Figment and she won Will over in due time.

First glimpse of Mickey at the sail away party!
I have to admit that I loved this massive "funnel vision" TV screen.  Don't tell Scott or next thing you know he'll have one affixed to the side of the house.
View of the DCL port terminal from the ship.
Drink of the day in hand, I was ready to say Bon Voyage.

As part of our cruise planning and prep we spent a great deal of time on the DISboards learning all the tips and tricks to make the most of our trip.  

One of the big suggestions was to be sure to decorate our stateroom door and decorate we did.  

Before you get too impressed with my graphics skills, I have to admit that there is a lady on DISboards who freely and willingly offers to personalize a host of Disney related graphics. So all I did was request the graphics I wanted then printed, laminated, trimmed and affixed magnets to them. Voila!
I had so many different ones that we changed them out every other day.

Needless to say, even if the kids forgot our stateroom number, they'd definitely be able to find it.
Scott and I took a quick ship tour on day 2, lead by none other than our Caitlyn, and she taught us the following very handy tips that I'll share here in case you should ever find yourself on the Disney Fantasy: 

1. See the stars on the carpet in the stateroom hallway above? If you are walking in the direction where the stars have a single point at the top, then you walking toward the forward of the ship.  If there are two points at the top when walking the other direction, you are walking toward the aft. 

This was true as well if you were on a carpeted area that had Mickey heads.  If the Mickey heads were right side up, you were headed toward forward, upside down and you were walking toward the aft. 

This one little tip kept us from backtracking up and down hallways all week.  They don't post signs for forward and aft IN the windowless hallways, so you are constantly trying to figure out what direction you are walking to get where you need to go. All the main dining rooms, night clubs, kids programs were in or near the aft of the ship and the stage and movie theaters were forward.  Our stateroom was midship deck 6.

2.  Caitlin also taught us that if the stateroom doors have a fish outside the door, you are on the port side and if they have a seahorse, you are on the starboard. Another massive time saver, especially when playing the Midship Detective Agency interactive game in which you have to go to specific artwork located all over the ship.

As our first evening at sea arrived we enjoyed hanging out on our veranda watching the beautiful sunset. Little did we know it was the last real bit of sun we would see for many days!

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