Saturday, October 3, 2015

Living the Dream: 2015 Disney Cruise Line Trip Report - Day 3…Nassau? Nah! Part 1

You can find Day 2 starting HERE.

I woke up a number of times, but not because I was bothered by being in a bed that was moving at 25-30 knots and occasionally swaying.  A curse of being A.D.D. is that the brain just doesn’t want to shut down much, and I sometimes have to almost exhaust myself to get a decent night’s sleep.  Silly me, I went to bed relatively early the previous night, and I found myself awake for good around 5:30.  The silver lining was that I was able to see my first cruise sunrise (which wasn’t scheduled to happen for nearly an hour and a half).

Around 6:30, I hopped out of bed and start preparing to check out the photo op.  I opened up the door to the verandah and listened to…nothing.  All I heard was the ocean.


Sheri hopped out of bed too and headed out while I grabbed the camera.


Rain behind us 

 Don't assume that your verandah is completely private

After a few minutes, I noticed that the lens was fogging up.  It was so humid outside, relative to the stateroom, that condensation was going to be a problem.  I went in and swapped our smaller lens for the 55-200 mm zoom lens and then repeated as each lens fogged up.

 Sheri was especially happy that a lifeboat was within jumping distance of our verandah

With sunrise done, I had a new mission in life: find a decent cup of coffee!  I headed out (armed with my camera, because I was guessing it would be quiet) and made my way up to Deck 11.  After waving to Nigel (still perched in the same spot by the elevators), I went through Cabanas and into the pool area:

…then into the Cove area…

…and up to Decks 12/13 to look around.

The view from the far forward area was breath-taking…

…no, seriously, it took my breath away!  We were steaming towards Nassau, which was just barely starting to come into view in the distant horizon.  We were probably doing a good 25 knots, which equates to a lot of wind up there!  I had the camera slung around my neck, and the wind was so powerful that it blew the strap up and over my head several times.  It was really neat, but it wasn’t something that I thought Sheri would like.  The boys…yeah, they’d get a kick out of it.

I headed back down to Deck 11 to the Cove Café, perused their coffee menu, and selected a mocha for Sheri and a cappuccino for me.  While they were making them, I asked if the crew/cast members if they were okay with me taking pictures.  Yep!

Coffee obtained and paid for, I made my way back to our stateroom to present the ambrosia to Sheri.  The verdict?  MUCH better than yesterday’s!  Yeah, Vista Cafe (Deck 4, mid-ship) was a lot closer, but I wanted to get some more outside pics :)  .

We decided to just lounge around for a while instead of grabbing breakfast immediately.  I took advantage of Disney’s free on-demand movies through the television.  Our selection?  The Emperor’s New Groove (Love that movie!).  I moved back and forth between watching the movie and looking out on the balcony to see how close we were getting to Nassau (the Atlantis resort was coming into full view now, and at least one of the other ships calling on Nassau this day was ahead of us and off of our port side.  Around 8:30 or so, we decided to head out for breakfast.  I had a feeling that Cabanas was going to be packed, so I suggested we try dining at Enchanted Garden, since we didn’t dine there the previous night (that was our rotational restaurant when we opted for Remy). Sheri agreed, and, sure enough, as we exited our stateroom, Reuben was there, all smiles, asking how we slept!  We headed forward to the atrium and then down to Deck 2.  There was no wait at all to get a seat, and, after our server got our drink orders, he recommended that we sneak over to the far side of the buffet as there was no wait.

That was a pretty good spread for breakfast!  Fresh fruit (honeydew, pineapple, watermelon), standard breakfast meats, Mickey waffles (you’re darn right I grabbed one!), eggs, cereal, granola, apples, bananas, oranges, biscuits and gravy, grits, etc…and it all looked good!

While we ate, I took notice what was going on outside the windows.  The Dream had arrived into Nassau and was doing the closest thing to a pirouette that a 130,000 gross ton ship can attempt.  We were swinging around to back in to dock.  As we talked to our server about whether or not he would be able to head into town for a bit today, we started backing in, and the ships that had already arrived ahead of us started coming into view.  We took our time; we decided that, with 6 ships joining us in Nassau, the entire town was going to be packed.  Carnival Fantasy, Carnival Ecstasy, and Norwegian Sky were already docked, and we were expecting Enchantment of the Seas and Carnival Conquest over the next few hours.  Because of this, we decided to take the opportunity to check out what the Dream had to offer and skip Nassau.

After thanking our server, we walked around the Enchanted Garden dining room a little bit.  This room was prettier than I had anticipated.

After leaving Deck 2, we decided to tour the ship a little.  Deck 3 was jammed with the Princess Meet-and-greet, so we couldn’t get around much there.  While tooling around Deck 4 by the mid-level staircase/elevators, I saw Peter Pan hopping up the stairs and bolting around the corner.  A family’s kids saw him and tore off to meet him, while the parents simply looked at us with a “what the heck just happened” expression on their faces.  We got a good laugh as the parents scratched their heads and went after the kids.  I was just about to comment on how I love the spontaneity of the characters when Peter ran up to us with the perfect child-like expression.

“Hi!  Have you seen Tink?  I’m looking for her!”

“Nope, but we’ll look, too!”

He smiled, sensing that we could role play well.

“So, what adventures are you planning on doing today?”

“Well, we have a mixology class this afternoon that we’re going to over in Skyl...”

“What’s mixology?  Is it a class?  Is it like school?

I tried not to laugh.  Peter Pan is awesome!

Sheri and I looked at each other for a second…

“Well, it’s where you learn to make adult beverages” (keeping in mind that we’re talking to a boy who would not grow up).

“What’s ‘Adult Beverage’”?

Uh oh…



“Ya know what Captain Hook drinks?  Rum?  It’s like that.”

Not even blinking, Pan fired back with “That stuff? I don’t like it at all!  Oh well…gotta go!!”

And, with that, Peter Pan bounded off for his next adventure.

Awesome, awesome…AWESOME!!

With that encounter done, we started checking out the art on Deck 5.  The Midship Detective Agency kiosk only had one person in line, so I hopped in to get set up.

Hey…it’s for research, okay?! (that’s what I keep telling myself).

For those who might not get that joke, the Midship Detective Agency is somewhat akin to the Magic Kingdom’s Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom game, where you hold up a card that is read by cameras at certain places, and you interact with the screens to try accomplishing a task.  For me, I chose the 101 Dalmatians game.  Sheri donned the camera and grabbed a few pics while I "researched".

 Mosaic, Deck 3

We poked our heads into the Vista Gallery to look around, and I dreamed about which pieces of art we'd purchase if we hit the lottery.  While looking round, I found the artwork that I thought many of my  Lodgeboard/Moose friends would appreciate the most:

That’s for you, Squid, Buz, Ed, RMD, Zurg, Bris, Pat, Brian S., TVT, Loubon, Klombar,  etc.

Since we were heading aft, we continued through the District and hopped up the aft stairwells to check out some more of the various pieces of art.

I’d strongly recommend you take the time to slow down and tour the ship…some of the artwork is simply awe-inspiring!


Friday, October 2, 2015

Living the Dream: 2015 Disney Cruise Line Trip Report - Day 2…I Dream about Magic (I Wonder if it’s Fantasy?), Part 5

The previous installment can be found HERE.

As we started unpacking everything, we noticed that there was PLENTY of storage space for two of us, and I think that we could have fit four people’s clothes in what we had pretty easily (within reason…so long as they all didn’t bring their entire wardrobe).  We did notice, though, that the last bag to arrive had a little moisture on it, along with an interesting aroma.  I wonder if someone had something break in their suitcase and had the resulting liquid land on our case.  No major worries, though (hakuna matata, right?), as the contents of the bag were almost completely dry.

Sheri went to freshen up a little, while I headed out to the verandah to watch the Florida coast slowly fade away.  I then grabbed our phones, turned off the cellular service as well as any roaming capabilities, connected us to the ship’s Wi-fi, and signed up for the free 50 MB of data.  When I checked the Disney Cruise Line App on the phone, I noticed that it came alive once I was connected to the ship’s network.  That being done, we chilled for about 20 minutes and looked at the current day's Personal Navigator until it was time to start getting ready for our meal at Remy.

Around this time, Sheri started making these phantom jerking motions, quickly followed by, “did you feel that?”  Feeling nothing, I assumed dementia was setting in…oh, okay, yes, I could feel the ship moving a little, but it was nothing major.  It was more of a lateral shimmying that we felt.

It took a bit of research (and a lesson from Don, our Skyline bartender), but I found that ships might have some motion when they’re heading away from and towards Florida.  The Florida Current, which connects to the powerful Gulf Stream Current, flows between Cuba and Florida from southwest to northeast.  Cruise ships leaving Florida are cutting across this current, which, if my maritime understanding is correct, can lead to a little motion (I was in the Air Force, not the Navy, so don’t be too upset if I’m wrong).

We donned our Remy clothes, and, at 6:45, we made our way up to Deck 12.  We checked in, gave our bottle of 2013 Chappellet Signature Cabernet Sauvignon to the hosts, and were seated in Meridian, which is a nautical-themed bar located between Palo and Remy.  The motion was a bit more pronounced up here, which made sense, since we were another 40 or so feet higher.  She was definitely feeling it, but it appears that either she wasn’t the sea-sick type or the scopolamine patch was working.  There were only two other parties in Meridian at the time, including a larger party of eight who appeared to be celebrating someone’s milestone birthday.

We were seated next to one of the windows in the restaurant that overlooked the water, and it was apparent that it was a lighter reservation day for Remy.  We were one of three tables seated in the room.


Alexia, from Marseilles, France, was our server, and she quickly introduced the concept of Remy as she created our first concoction: the Colette Cocktail.  This was a flute of Taittinger Champagne with pear-infused vodka added.  An interesting note: when vodka is added to a sparkling wine or champagne, it kills the effervescence.  To counter this, they added a small cube of dried pineapple, which provided the bubbles that one would expect to see.

This was an EXCELLENT start to the meal.

After this, we had new silverware placed in front of us (yes, true SILVERware).  Then, a small spoon with a large crouton cube was placed in front of us.  I knew exactly what this was, and I could not wait to try it.  It is an executive chef’s interpretation of tomato soup, flash fried.  The instructions were to eat it all in one bite, which we both did.  Ooooohhhhhh, man….it was just as good as I had anticipated!

The plate and spoon were removed, and, after bread was offered, a martini glass was then placed in front of us.  This was foie gras with macadamia nuts over a caramel base.  With my lineage coming from the Alsace-Lorraine region between France and Germany (where foie gras is king), I knew I had to try it.  The foie gras was whipped to a mousse-like texture, and we were instructed to eat it from the bottom-up (making sure we got caramel, which cut the saltiness of the duck).  It……was….abso….lutely….a….maze….ing!!!!!  The meal had already paid for itself, even though something was missing.

Has anyone else noticed that we haven’t ordered our dinner yet?

The champagne, soup, and foie gras were all from the kitchen…extra courses in the experience.

Alexia returned with a special menu to see if we might be interested in a Kobe beef and/or a caviar course, but we passed.

She then presented us with the bi-fold menus and explained how the menus were created.  Chef Arnaud Lallement from l'Assiette Champenoise -- a Michelin three-star restaurant in Reims, France (that’s the highest rating in the Michelin system), teamed up with Walt Disney World's Grand Floridian Executive Chef Scott Hunnel (of AAA 5-Diamond rated Victoria and Albert’s and multiple semifinalist for the James Beard Award) to come up with a French menu and an American menu, where guests could pick and choose between them for each course.  At Alexia’s recommendation, each of us ordered one “country.”  Sheri took Lallement’s French menu (Saveur), while I ordered Hunnel’s American fare (Goût).

Soon after, the sommelier on duty that night stopped by and let us know that he had our bottle but also inquired whether we wanted to try a separate glass of wine to go with the early, lighter courses.  We let him pick, and he returned with two glasses of Chardonnay that paired very well with the seafood…VERY well!

The first courses came out, along with more silverware.  Sheri received langoustine (aka, Norway Lobster), and I had Gulf shrimp with a nice herb sauce.  We each tried our own and then the other’s plate, and we reported to Alexia which country won the battle for that particular course.  This course was a draw.  The langoustine was soft, buttery amazingness, but the shrimp….yumm!!!

The next course came out, and I’ll be honest…I can’t remember what I had, nor could Sheri.  I didn't want to take pictures of each course in a restaurant like this (sorry, folks).  It was around this time that the sommelier decanted our cabernet, and it sat nearby, just out of reach, mocking us.  I remember that this course was another draw between France and America.

The next course paired an amazing lamb from America (for me) with the best flippin' piece of fish (for her) that I think we have ever tasted…it was a halibut served on some sort of confit.  Viva la France – they took the lead (much to the delight of our server).  This course was presented with a little flair, where the plates were covered and revealed to both of us at the same time.

As this course was being served, the cabernet was served.  I may or may not have shed a tear or two of joy when I tasted the lamb with the Chappellet.  We offered a little to the sommelier in case he hadn’t yet tried this winery, and, as we expected, he was already familiar with their wines.  You know what that meant....more for us!

They cleared that course's plates and silverware out and presented yet another main course (complete with another simultaneous reveal).  I think my course was a short rib with a Bourguignon sauce (I could have died happy after this meal), and I think Sheri had her own different lamb course, because I remember her commenting that she had eaten more lamb today than she ever had before.  Another draw.

Following all these courses, we thought we were done.


It was time for le course du fromage.

Alexia cut off 10-12 different cheeses for us to try, ranging from the mild to the stronger bleu.  We loved nearly all of them!  I think that both of us selected a brighter orange cheese that came from the Normandy region.

The wine was gone, but there was still coffee to enjoy as we began the dessert course(s).  There was so much that we simply couldn’t remember exactly what we had.  I’m pretty sure that one of us had a plate that included custard served inside an egg shell, a raspberry mousse, and a light chocolate square.   Another dish had several small French pastries called canelles with rum and coconut.  Finally, there was a plate with two different mini-pies (or tarts)…I’m not sure what they were, but they were great.

The meal was winding down, but it wasn’t over yet.  We engaged in a short conversation with one of the two other tables to be seated after us.  They were celebrating their 22nd anniversary at Remy and were doing the same thing that we did (each selects a country’s set of dishes and shares).  They agreed that France narrowly defeated America.

The chef behind the doors stopped by to check in on what we thought of the meals that he and his staff created for us.  I almost hugged him.

The last item before the check was presented: a couple of lollipops, a small box of fine chocolates, and a rose for Sheri.

Alexia should have dropped the mic and walked off.  The meal was about as perfect as it could have been.  We settled up on the check and got a picture with our fantastic server.

Thanks, Alexia and the rest of the Remy staff…it was truly a fantastic meal.

We decided to call it a night after such a great experience.  The ship’s movements seemed to be much more muted (perhaps we’ve made it through the current?).  When we opened the door to our stateroom, we found the next day’s Personal Navigator, a few additional chocolates, and the ever-popular towel animal.  Another nice touch with the turndown service was the accent pillow on our bed, which was turned over to display, “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes”.

It was time to see if the motion of the ocean helps or hinders sleep.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Living the Dream: 2015 Disney Cruise Line Trip Report - Day 2…I Dream about Magic (I Wonder if it’s Fantasy?), Part 4

The previous installment to this report can be found HERE.

After deciding that we could live here forever, we decided to head up to Cabanas, up on Deck 11, for our first meal onboard.  This buffet is traditionally a popular stop, so I fully anticipated that it would be jammed with people gaining their first 2-3 pounds on the cruise at this time.  Before leaving the room, however, Sheri insisted on another selfie of us.

(I DON’T LIKE TAKING SELFIES!!! #113likesonFacebooklater #youallareenablingwifey)

We walked out (remembering to grab both key cards on the way) and made our way to the elevators.  Reuben found us and asked how the room was (seriously…Mr. Deeds).  We immediately liked Reuben and let him know that we were planning on hiding in the stateroom for another cruise.

We must have timed it right, because there was nobody waiting for an elevator, and one arrived within a few seconds for us.  The elevator opened up, and who should greet us on Deck 11 but none other than Nigel from Finding Nemo!

We were greeted by a crew/cast member handing out hand wipes (this was our first experience for this…and it was definitely not the last).  We headed to the right and noticed that it was actually fairly quiet in Cabanas.  I wondered if maybe we made it after the big rush early on and that a lot of people were just getting into their staterooms.

Hey, whatever works, man…I’ll take it!

We found a table on the starboard (which side?) windows, and I stayed around to watch the camera while Sheri grabbed her lunch.  While she was gone, I simply stared out the window, which overlooked the parking structure along with the bridges and Port Canaveral/Cocoa Beach.  I took a few minutes to reflect where I was and what I was doing.  It had been a rather intense few months for us, with all the volunteering that both of us have been taking on in addition to our jobs and the parenting thing.  It wasn’t going to be easy to fully relax in a mere three nights, but I was going to try to shed a few layers of stress.  As I sat there, I reflected on the fact that I had started my career as a travel specialist only six months earlier and have absolutely loved every second of it.  My business was experiencing growth unlike what I had imagined; I had estimated what I thought I could get in supplier bookings over my first year, and I had found myself already more than 2.5 times my annual estimate in bookings after only six months, and I was looking to expand into the cruising industry.  Here we were, on our first cruise, soaking up the experience.  The crew members were probably wondering what was wrong, as I’m sure I had a smile plastered on my face as I just sat there looking outside for several minutes.

Sheri returned a few minutes later, and I transferred responsibility of the camera over to her while I headed out to find sustenance.  I’ll be honest here – I wasn’t expecting too much regarding the quality of the food on the Dream.  I had read multiple outlets that said that the food, especially the buffet food, was average at best.  Still, I went in with an open mind and looked around for a little variety.

I had worked hard for a bikini body for this trip (and failed miserably…besides, there was no way I was waxing my chest, which might win a contest on another cruise line), so I went fairly light on the amount of food.  A little peel-and-eat shrimp (when in Rome…), a slice of pizza, a couple of lamp chops, and a slice of rib roast.  Yeah, I know what y’all are thinking, but that’s actually taking it fairly light for me; besides, I could still see quite a bit of the plate, so I could have fit a LOT more on there if I wanted to. I grabbed some water in an effort to continue my test at not having any regular or diet soft drinks for a while (nearly two months as I am writing this, and my knees are feeling a LOT better).

You know what?  The food is pretty darned good!  This reinforces the notion that food is such a subjective item.  Each person will have their own perception of how “good” or “bad” food is, so don’t let online reviews sway you either way.  Sheri agreed that the food at Cabanas was a pleasant surprise.  We sampled each other’s food (she actually liked the lamb, which was almost perfectly cooked).

We talked as husband and wife as well as friends during the meal…something that, with the hectic schedules that both we and our boys have, doesn’t happen too often.  The previous night at the Boardwalk Inn was the first night in nearly 13 months that we didn’t have the boys with us, so we were going to try emphasizing being married to each other over being parents for a few days.  All the parents out there know what it’s like, right?  Don’t get me wrong…the boys will never forgive us for going on a Disney Cruise without them, but I’ll bring it up when they’re married and going in ten directions with their kids.  I bet they’ll understand then.

Another layer of stress starting to melt away.

Sheri headed up to grab dessert, and I hopped on the phone (stupidly) to check my school e-mail for advising/teaching disasters awaiting my response, my Hotmail account for ongoing issues that were adding to my stress levels, and my travel agency account to see if anyone had any questions for me.  It looked like the world was going to continue with me off the grid for a couple of days (maybe).  Sheri returned, and I hopped up to grab my dessert – carrot cake!  Sheri got cheesecake, so we were able to sample different offerings.

Sheri also got a cup of coffee to go with her dessert.  Okay, I’ll have to shoot from the hip here…the coffee in the restaurants…well…Len Testa (I’m assuming that he was the one that wrote the coffee review in the Unofficial Guide to Disney Cruise Line) mentioned that you might question your will to live after trying the dispensed coffee onboard.  We’d have to agree with Len on this one.

Divine intervention (or plain old good timing) came to us, as a crew member approached our table with the Drink of the Day…the Bahama Mama…in a souvenir cup.  Sheri and I both bought one, and, just as we were starting to pay for it, Jimmy Buffett’s Boat Drinks starts playing in the buffet.


The dessert was decent, but we both agreed that the main course offerings were the shining stars at this meal.  We’d have no regrets recommending dining at Cabanas!

One of the mosaics located inside Cabanas

After lunch, we went up a level to Deck 12 to check out Remy and Palo.  There were a couple of cast members there, and, after we talked for a bit, one recognized our name and mentioned that she just left us a message about our dining reservation that evening at 7:00.  We asked if it might be possible to see the wine list as we were still trying to decide if we wanted to order wine, opt for the wine pairing, or bring our own bottle in for the meal (merging Napa Valley with Disney Cruise Line).  The wine menus were locked away, unfortunately, but they did give us a short tour of the restaurant, complete with showing us a bottle of 1947 Cheval Blanc (trivia time: that’s the wine that food critic Anton Ego orders in Pixar’s Ratatouille).

We could not wait for 7:00 to come around!

We decided next to check out the pool area next to see the pools (obviously), water slides, Aquaduck, Funnel Vision, and the adults-only Cove area.  We headed back down through Cabanas and out to holycrapitishotterthanthesurfaceoftheSUN!!!!  We decided to stay in the shade as much as possible.  In an effort to make things cooler, Frozen was showing on Funnel Vision.


Am I a bit of a fixer-upper?

We looked around as we walked towards the adults-only section.  The Cove…..ahhhhhhhhhh.  We grabbed a bit of air conditioning as we checked out the Cove Café.  We then hopped up to Deck 12 and 13 to check out Currents bar, mostly to see if the smoking section nearby could be noticed at the bar.  If one stays to the right part of the bar, you might be okay; those sitting on the left side of the bar, however, might notice the smoking area a little bit, depending on the direction of the wind.  We didn’t buy any drinks there; instead, we continued working our way forward to the full “I’m King of the World” front of the ship (well, as close as you could get).  I pointed out the concierge lounge section to Sheri, and it appeared to be really quiet in there (from what I could see).

View of the teens-only pool area, accessible through Vibe

The heat was REALLY starting to impact us, so we headed back down to Deck 11 forward and went inside to check out the Senses Spa area on the ship.  I contemplated seeing if we could purchase day passes for us for the Rainforest area.  It sounded like there may still have been availability (it’s first-come, first serve, and they only give out a specific number of passes for the length of the cruise).  Though it was tempting to have access to the lounger area, showers, etc., we decided to pass.  We got a tour of the fitness center as well as the couples massage room, the “wrap” room, and more.  I told Sheri that, if she wanted to try one of the treatments that they offered, to go for it.  This technically was part of her Mother’s Day present from us (Senses Spa).  She decided to grab the literature but hold off on booking anything.

The 3:00 spa raffle was about to start, and it was getting a little crowded in the spa area, so we headed back out and toured around a bit more up on Deck 13 before getting back into the a/c.

We decided that we had time to sample a cocktail at Skyline, so we made our way back to the District and, again finding ourselves being the only ones in the bar, hopped up to the bar itself.  We met the lead bartender, Don, along with two others, Ray and Efraim.  All three introduced themselves and Ray set us up with drink menus.  When we opened up the menus, we realized that they were electronic tablets that flashed to life.  I decided to put my faith in the hands of Don and asked him what his favorite drink was.   He immediately replied with, “I like Jack, so it has to be The Blues.”  Sheri opted for the Paris 75, and Don went to work on them, giving both of us glow cubes in the drinks.  The Blues has Jack Daniels, Peach Schnapps, Cointreau, and lime juice, served in a martini glass with a sugared rim.  Sheri’s Paris 75 was somewhat reminiscent of our favorite Epcot drink, the Grey Goose Slushie found in the France Pavilion.  The Paris 75 has Grey Goose citron, peach schnapps, blue curacao, and pineapple juice, also served in a martini glass with a sugared rim.

We tasted our concoctions, and I immediately bonded with Don, thanks to his recommendation.  I anticipated that the Jack would be overpowering, but Don mentioned that he lime juice cuts the whiskey and mellows it out a bit.  Sheri definitely liked her drink, too.  We tasted each other’s drinks, with me knowing full-well that my drink was safe from Sheri stealing some sips (she is not a whiskey fan).  As we talked, the Chicago skyline gave way to New York City.  A poster in the bar on the back wall quietly changed with the new skyline, and new music tied to NYC started playing in the bar (think “New York New York” and “Memories” from the musical Cats).  We told Don that we were scheduled to be part of a private Mixology class in Skyline tomorrow, and he smiled and said that he would be the one leading the class.

Yep, we found our bartender for the cruise.

We couldn’t stay too long to talk, because we had to start prepping for the mandatory muster drill, which was scheduled at 4:00.  We paid (and gave an extra tip to the Skyline crew) and promised that we would be back, and we hopped on the elevator back to Deck 7 to our stateroom.  Yes, Reuben was right there again, asking how the afternoon was going.

We relaxed for a few minutes in the cool air, and then I decided to check out our verandah.  I unlocked the door, figured out how to open it, and stepped out to see what it was like.  While I was out there, I heard the emergency blasts of Enchantment of the Seas as they were conducting their own muster drill.  Carnival Sunshine appeared to be preparing for their own drill, too.

  The Florida love bugs were in a particularly amorous mood around the verandah, so I closed it back up and watched the safety video that was looping on the television.  Since we also wanted to see the Sail Away Party, which followed immediately after the muster drill, we decided to head up to our muster station about 15 minutes early in the hopes that we might be able to get done quicker.  We headed to Deck 4 and found Station K in just a few minutes.  There were crew members already there helping cruisers find their ways.  It was definitely warm, though we were fortunate to be in the shade.  We checked in early along with a couple of other families and hung out, watching the Enchantment of the Seas sail off in front of us.  Carnival Sunshine was in the process of casting off, too, as we saw the mooring lines slackening and retracting into the ship.  At precisely 4:15, we heard the blasts from our ship, indicating that the muster drill was commencing.  We listened as best we could to the directions on how to don the vests (Sheri was taking notes, I think) along with how they would handle children in the various kids’ areas.  All the while, the Sunshine moved out alongside and then ahead of us and started its journey to the southern Caribbean.

Soon after, we were released from the drill, and an entire sea of humanity headed the same direction…towards the aft stairwell/elevators.  We were on Deck 4 but were planning on going to Deck 12 to view the Sail Away Party from above.  About 2,500 people seemed to have similar plans, and we encountered one of only a few bottlenecks on the ship.  I looked at Sheri to see if she was okay taking the stairs, and, as she looked at the lines for the elevators, agreed; I don’t think she realized that we had 7-8 flights of stairs to ascend.  Around Deck 7, she was staring daggers at me and stopped at our stateroom to grab a water bottle before continuing up.  At Deck 9, I think she was trying to find an actual dagger to use against me.  We crawled the last few steps up to Deck 11 (my joke regarding how much my Fitbit was going to like this didn’t go over too well) and collapsed next to Nigel to catch our breath.  We flitted through Cabanas and found a drink station near the pool area to ice up and water down Sheri’s bottle.  I told her that we only had one more flight of stairs to go up, and then we could relax and enjoy the show.

I think I was glad that I couldn’t hear what she called me under her breath.

Deck 12 wasn’t too crowded at all for the Sail Away, so we grabbed some handrail and started baking in the sun as there was no shade.


Immediately, I told Sheri that, if she got too hot, to let me know so we could get out of the sun.  I didn’t want to have her feeling sick as we left the port.

I decided to bring my phone out and Periscope the Party, and it was a great theory.  Within a minute or two, several friends started following the feed, and I got to have a conversation with them while the show went on below us.  A 95 degree day with 80+% humidity, though, does wonders to an iPhone, and, for the first time ever, my phone indicated that it was overheating and shutting off to cool down…in the middle of my Scope.

Oh well.  I tried.

I made sure Sheri kept drinking water, and I didn’t even mention that I could tell we were starting to push away from the terminal.  When we starting moving forward, I asked her if she could tell we were moving.

We decided to head to the starboard rails to watch us float by Port Canaveral and Jetty Park.  I noticed the sign for the Port Canaveral Webcam and pointed it out to Sheri as we went by it.  There was a really exuberant family to our left waving like crazy, and I told her that they were likely trying to get on the stream to wave to friends/family watching.  We didn’t realize it until after the cruise was over that the family to our left was part of a Facebook group for our cruise.  If you go to and find our cruise (Disney Dream, September 11, 2015), you can see us at around the 3:05 mark until the 3:17 mark.

As we neared Jetty Park, we saw quite a few people out there watching the ships leave.  The Captain announced that he was going to fire off three of the Dream’s six horn songs.  The breeze from our movement was nice…dare I say refreshing.  As we continued out towards the ocean, Sheri and I watched a Brevard County Sheriff’s boat escorting us out, doing circles, running up and down the length of the ship, etc.  Soon enough, we were past the beach and in the ocean.

We decided to head back to the stateroom to see if our luggage had been delivered, and, sure enough, three of our four bags were there.  As we started to bring the bags in…POOF, Reuben arrived and helps us with the bags.  He asked if we had them all, and I mentioned (in no panic at all as I’m sure they were still delivering the bags) that we had one that hadn’t arrived yet.  He asked what our dining plans were, and, when we said, “Remy”, he immediately asked if we had our formal wear or if those clothes were in the missing bag.

That, folks, is service right there.

We assured him that we were good on the clothes and thanked him.  He said that he’d look for the bag and POOF vanished into the bowels of the ship.

About 3 minutes later, there was a knock on the door, and Reuben presented us with our last bag.

That guy is freakin’ AWESOME!!!

(We end this day with this post)

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Living the Dream: 2015 Disney Cruise Line Trip Report - Day 2…I Dream about Magic (I Wonder if it’s Fantasy?), Part 3

Part 2 here.

The first thing that everyone instinctively does when they board a ship for the first time is look around.  We looked up and saw the famous chandelier hanging in the atrium.  Pictures simply don’t do it justice…you have to see it in person to get a full appreciation of how beautiful it is.

The next thing we looked at was Admiral Donald.  Every current DCL ship has a bronze statue in the atrium with one of the company’s famous characters.  It just so happens that Donald has always been my favorite; after helping a family snap a picture with everyone in it, I hopped up and grabbed a picture with Donald.

I looked at Sheri, and I received that “this is so cool” face from her as she looked around the atrium.  This part of the ship was absolutely beautiful.  We still had a little time before we could get in our stateroom (we boarded around 1:10 pm), so we moved to the starboard side and headed toward the forward portion of Deck 3, where the shopping area and the Walt Disney Theater were located.  

I explained that the shops onboard would remain closed whenever they were in port.  We continued around and found ourselves by the Bon Voyage bar, located on the port (left…to help you remember, both “left” and “port” have 4 letters) side opposite where Guest Services is located on the starboard (right) side.  We then took the stairs up to deck 4 and started heading aft (towards the back of the ship).  Sheri had seen pictures of the art gallery online, so I pointed out where it was as we passed the Vista Gallery.  Sheri also looked to her right and snapped a picture of the Halloween decorations that adorned one of the windows.

As we continued down the corridor, we found the D Lounge, where quite a few gatherings/events would take place during the cruise.  I had another area I wanted to explore, though…the District!

The District is family-friendly until later in the evening; around 9:00 pm, it becomes an adults-only location.  It is comprised of a number of venues, including the District Lounge (often with live music), Pink (Champagne bar, which will be discussed later), 687 (think Sports pub), Evolution (Dancing center), and the place that ultimately became our second stateroom, Skyline.  We walked into the District and immediately found ourselves in District Lounge.  Pink was just off to our right, and we had heard so much about it that we had to see it for ourselves.  We walked in, and Sheri immediately started snapping pictures, all the while exclaiming how neat it looked in there.  Pink is designed to elicit the feel that you’re actually in a bottle of champagne.

Sheri’s more of an “automatic” picture-taker, whereas I am the one that fiddles with the white balance, shutter speed, etc, to try getting the “perfect” picture.  Yes, I am also the one that forgets to turn the settings back to the default and the mode back to auto (which, in the process, incurs the wrath of my wife…Hell hath no fury like a woman who misses a good shot because the camera was not set up to auto).  After she took a couple of pictures, I switched settings to try to get a better “ambiance” set of pictures in Pink.  We would definitely be back here (hint: foreshadowing).  I valued my life and turned the settings on the camera back to Auto before handing the camera back to Sheri.

We left Pink out the back door, which deposited us at the entrance to Skyline.  I have heard a lot of good things about this one, so I immediately made a beeline to the entrance, and the doors automatically opened for me, as if to say, “Welcome, Mush.  We have been expecting you.  Please do come in and make yourself comfortable.”

Hey, who was I to argue with a set of automatic doors?  We went in…

…and found that we had the entire place to ourselves.  Kewl!

I explained to Sheri the reason for the name of the location.  Behind the bar had screens of the Chicago Skyline displayed, complete with a little animation if you looked closely.  Also, music from Chicago was playing (“My Kind of Town”, selections from the Broadway musical, Chicago, etc.).  Sheri grabbed a picture but was cursing at the flash:

Mush and his obsessive need for the perfect pic to the rescue:

(for those photo geeks, ¼ second shutter, 3.5 on the F-stop, auto white balance, ISO 400)

I was pretty sure we’d be coming back to this one, too (of course…I already said that this became our second stateroom).  I immediately fell in love with the atmosphere of this place.  Its maximum capacity was probably around 30 or so patrons.

We exited and looked around Evolution for a minute or two...

…before making our way to the aft elevators/stairs.  It was around 1:25, which meant that they were to start opening up the stateroom areas in the next few minutes.  The elevators appeared to have a bit of a wait, so we opted for the stairs as our stateroom was only 3 decks up from where we were.  As we started up the stairs, we were welcomed by the various Disney/Pixar art that was located all throughout the ship.  The art in the stairwells were much bigger than the ones located near the elevators, and we paused for a brief second to look at what welcomed us at the stairway landing. 
I decided that we were going to need an art tour of the ship J .

Deck 5 was still roped off to guests, and we turned to continue up the stairs and saw the rope at Deck 6, too.  We fully expected that we were just a few minutes early as we ascended up the final set of stairs to our temporary home on Deck 7.

There was no rope blocking guests from the staterooms.

We could go to our room?


I think we were one of the first to enter the hallway.  As previously mentioned, 7158 was on the port (remember?  four letters…just like “left”), and it was located only about 10-15 feet away from the stairwell.  I noticed that we had our Remy invitation/letter waiting for us, but I left it up there for Wifey to see.

  As we approached our stateroom door, our stateroom attendant, Reuben, popped out of a door that we didn’t initially see and immediately smiled and introduced himself to us.  If you have seen the movie Mr. Deeds with Adam Sandler, he popped up next to us in a similar way that the butler in that movie did to everyone.  He let us open the door and then showed us how to use the Key to the World (KTTW) card to activate the lights in the room (FYI: any credit card-shaped card worked, but we just used the KTTW card).  Reuben told us that he would be around if we needed anything from him at all. 

He closed the door, and Sheri and I got our first look at the stateroom.

Yep...we liked.

In my preliminary research of cruise lines, I knew that staterooms often had a small feel, but that Disney Cruise Line was continually rewarded for having some of the larger staterooms among all of cruise lines. 

I agreed…definitely not a bad size.  I immediately started looking to see if we could have brought the boys with us and could have stayed in this room without killing each other. 

King bed for Sheri and me.  The sofa converts to a single (Aaron could handle that), and the notch in the ceiling let me know that we could bring that berth down for Eric. Yep…4 could fit in here, and there was even a curtain to pull between the king bed and the remaining living area.  We immediately noticed what we have read before: the king bed was raised so that guests could store their luggage underneath.  Sheri grabbed the camera and started taking pictures around the room before I destroyed it with bags:

I (eventually) figured out how to start cooling the room down.  I peered out our window without opening the verandah door (to help keep it cooler in the room), and I saw that we had a good view of the Carnival Sunshine nearby.  I then grabbed the current day’s Personal Navigator.

Continued HERE.