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?
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.
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.