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View Full Version : Mac Family DCL Magic/ Western May 1-9, 2009



momof three
06-20-2009, 02:06 PM
Travel dates: May 1-9, 2009

Travel Methods: personal car and hotel shuttle.

Accommodations: My hubby, three kids and I stayed in a cat 7 and cat 11 across the hall from each other. We also stayed at The Residence Inn in Cocoa Beach the night before the cruise. The rest of my family is scattered all over the ship. We have different needs and wallet sizes. In all we have nine cabins.

Cast of Characters:
Mily (me), Jim (hubby), Chris 11, Josh 9, Grace 5
Dawn (cousin), Noah 14
Bobby (brother), Debbie (SIL), Ashley 13, Maggie 9
Mark (brother), Lauren ( Ex-SIL), Paige 9, Joey 4
Tori (sister), John (BIL), Kate 13, Sarah 8, Matty 6
Brooke (sister), Jeff (BIL), Jenny 10, Samuel 8, Zach 7, Nicholas 7,
Mom & Dad

Other Stuff to Know: This is a surprise trip for our Mom. She has no idea that all six of us and 15 grandkids will be on board. She thinks she and Dad are tagging along on my families vacation to babysit our three children.

To protect my standing in my family I have changed a few names. (After all I still have to share Christmas dinner with these folks.) The trip report however was written on facts. Well, the facts as I experienced them. Iím sure a few family members will argue that my perception of the details is ďslightlyĒ different then theirs. Hey, they are welcome to write their own trip report to express their experience.

DCL Experience- My husband, kids and I sailed on the Wonder last year. Everyone else is newbieís.

The Planning begins:
Last year my hubby, three kids and I had the pleasure of cruising on the Wonder for four blissful days. We fell in love and by the end of our adventure we booked a 7 day Western Caribbean on the Magic. We decided to bring my Mom and her babysitting services along with us. We adored the kids clubs on board. However, both my husband and I love to snorkel. Neither of us was comfortable with leaving the kids onboard while we were unattainable underwater without one of us or Grandma available in case of an emergency.

A few weeks after we returned from our cruise my sister Brooke called. She asked if we would mind terribly if she, her husband and their four children cruised on the same cruise with us next year. Of coarse not, this was great news!

After she cleared it with me she let it slip that she had already called our sister Tori and our cousin Dawn. (Technically Dawn is our cousin but our parents raised her since the age of six so to us she our sibling.) She wanted me to talk to our brothers. Brooke figured that the boys would be a hard sell. They are just not the Disney Dorks that their sisters are.

By the end of the week all of us girls and our families were booked. They boys werenít so easy to convince. Then sometime over Thanksgiving week our brother Mark suddenly announces he is in. The details are sketchy but I heard that something about a dune buggy tour in Cozumel was mentioned to him by my brother in law Jeff. Apparently, that info proved to be more appealing then a week at sea with his family and The Mouse. We should of let our husbands do the talking a lot sooner.

Mark ran into the snag with his ex-wife and taking their children. She was not happy about her children leaving the country without her. At first my brother thought this was insane until all of his sisters agreed with his ex-wife. We let him know that his ex is a normal Mom for feeling this way. At that point Mark manned up and took the high road. He realized if he wanted his kids to experience this family vacation then he needed to bring his ex, Lauren, as well. It took a few weeks but eventually Lauren agreed to this arrangement. Dawn added Lauren to her cat 8. Mark paid Dawn the price increase. Then he booked him and the kids in a cat.10 on the same deck. The hope is that this way the kids will have both parents near by. I know the idea of bringing the ex on your familyís vacation sounds ridiculous to the rest of the world. Lauren has been best friends with our sister Tori since childhood. We all get along great with her. So much so that my sisters and I joked that we wished we could just take Lauren and the kids and leave Mark at home.

It was about this time that our Dad, who we had asked several times to come, decided to join us. So far we had managed to keep Mom in the dark about the rest of the family joining us on this trip. Dad was determine to keep the secrete. We let Mom know that Dad was now coming along but she was still clueless about the rest of the family. How he has managed to live in the same house with my Mom and not let this slip is beyond me.

We moved Mom out of the cat 11 she was sharing with my boys and booked my parents in a Cat 7. Then I moved my husband into the cat 11 with my boys because we had to have an adult listed on each room. Much to my Fatherís constant protesting the six of us kids pitched in and paid for our parentís cabin.

My brother Bobby broke down in January he and his family booked. He couldnít stand the idea of the entire family going on this adventure without him. Iím pretty sure he had been dragging his feet on booking because his wife Deb isnít so wild about certain members of my family. She has been known to do everything in her power to avoid my familyís celebrations and holiday.

As our party size grew we linked each of our dinning reservations. Who ever is stuck figuring out table assignment for this cruise has just got to love us. That table size just kept growing. We know excursions together are not happening. We didnít even attempt this. Everyone handled there own excursions, Palos and spa stuff. It just seems easier to let everyone go their own way.

In January I stayed up until mid night and diligently booked my families excursions, Palos and spa stuff. My husband and I our going alone on a snorkeling adventure in Grand Cayman. My hubby and I are taking the kids on a catamaran tour in Cozumel. I was able to book a massage for me. My sisters and sister in laws are doing brunch at Paloís without the guys because they donít want to bother with having to get dressed up.

A few weeks later I once again was up until midnight booking a special night at Paloís for Mom and Dad. I did this for two reasons first because midnight is way past my Dadís bedtime and second because my parents (gasp) still donít have a computer.

The game plan:

The plan is that my kids and I will pick up my Mom and Dad at noon the day before we sail and drive to Cape Canaveral. We told my parents that Jim (my hubby) will drive up later because he canít get off work early. We have booked the park and cruise package at The Residents Inn. We will leave the cars there while we cruised.

Jim is actually leaving later in the day. He will drive to MCO where he will pick up my sister Tori and her family. Mark is also making a pit stop at the airport to pick up Bobby and his family. Brooke and her family are driving from WDW where they will be for two days before the cruise. Dawn is driving Lauren and the kids up when work is done for the day. They are all staying at The Countryside suits on the park and cruise package and will take the hotel shuttle to the port in the morning. My sisters are going to text me when the group number before them was called to board the ship. That should give them plenty of time to get on board and out of site before we bring Mom on board. We are hoping and praying all goes well and we are able to pull this surprise off for our Mom.

I had asked for advice here on Mouse Planet on where we could surprise my Mom without disturbing other guest. I got great advice about the fact that Diversions is rarely used while in port that first afternoon. I thought this was great idea until the week before we sailed. I e-mailed the rest of my family my ďbrilliant plan.Ē Idiot me! What was I thinking? You would think I was a stranger in my own family to think this plan would work. My brother Bobby is a Minister. He and his wife do not drink at all and he can be a bit preachy about it if we decide to indulge in a drink. None of us wanted to deal with the ďissueĒ that we all knew was bound to erupt on this vacation during Momís moment. Needless to say a bar is not exactly the ideal meeting space for my family.Yeah, so I was awarded the ugly stepchild award for my family this year. Stupid me didnít just tell one person and get put in my place privately. No, I had to send out a mass e-mail. Jeez, talk about a brain fart!

After this massive oversight on my part my sister Brooke and brother Bobby have decided to take over the surprise location assignment. This is probably a good thing because growing up they were the mastermind manipulators of the family. Yes, Bobby, the boy who grew up to be a preacher wasnít always so saintly. If the past is any indication I have no doubt that the two former rebel hellion Mac children will resort back to childhood the second they see each other. Iím afraid to even try and imagine what these two have baked up as plan to make this work. I have to admit my trepidation is defiantly based on legit fear. Lets just say Preacher Boy and his trusty side kick Mom of Four have quite the reputation in our small home town. My poor parents have spent many a night apologizing to other parents and our local sheriff when these two were teens. They eventually grew up before they did too much damage. Who knows what they might do to my poor Mother to pull this off.

The only details I am currently privy to is that we are to take Mom and Dad to lunch at Parrot Cay when we board. They are all going to the buffet on deck 9. When we are just about finished I have been given orders to text Brooke. I will be given my next orders then. My siblings have informed me that I am now on a ďneed to knowĒ status since I almost messed up our whole ďmission impossibleĒ family vacation.

One week before we sail:
The swine flu has hit. There is very good reason to believe we will not be going to Cozumel now. I decided to get on line and see which excursions still had openings in the other ports. I dumped our catamaran snorkeling tour in Cozumel. I just thought this was best. If we do end up going to Cozumel Iím not sure I want to get off the ship now. I was able to book my husband and me on a snorkeling tour in Key West. Then the kids and I will be joined by my parents on the Sting Ray City snorkeling tour in Grand Cayman. Hubby is going snorkeling in Grand Cayman with my brother in law and brothers now.

I also pre paid my tips today via my visa card. This just seemed easier then having to deal with this on board. I do plan on bringing some extra cash for tips because last year our service was amazing. If this crew of cast members is anything like last years they will be earning more cash then the standard tips.

4/28/09- 4 more days until we sail:
Several other cruise lines announced tonight that they are canceling their stops in Cozumel this week. There is still no official word from Disney. All you get when you call is a recorded message saying they are monitoring the situation. Itís really annoying to be in this limbo state.

I feel like were staring in the Disney version of Whereís Waldo. Who knows where in the world is the Mac family will be sailing to on Saturday. Iíve even heard rumors that we may be doing the Eastern Caribbean instead of the Western. Whatever, as long as there are trained councilors in the kids clubs and no one cancels my planned spa appointment Iím good.

4/29/09- 3 more days until we sail:

Finally at around 10a.m Disney announced that they are canceling Cozumel. That will now be an at sea day. The on 5/7 which is suppose to be an at sea day we are going to Nassau. We have brunch reservations at Paloís that day. I called Disney and so far that reservation stays the same even though this is now a port day. We will probably just keep this reservation and treat this as an at sea day. I do think Disney will change the day at Paloís to the new at sea day (Wed) but will have to wait and see if our own Mouse Planet resident Drince is right about that.

Day 1- Saturday, 5/2/09
I wonít bore you with all the hotel details. I will just note that the Residents Inn was very nice and super clean. All of my family members made in to town with no problems.

My family did text me a little before noon to let me know that the plan was in motion. Whatever that meant as I still had no details. The text informed me that we were good to go and could leave the hotel now. I was to make sure I stopped at the information desk at the top of the escalator after clearing security to let them know we were here.

My husband then dropped my parents, the kids and I at the port with the bags. He then went back to the hotel and parked the car and grabbed a cab to the port. This was about $12.00, only took about 15 minutes and was loads faster then waiting for the hotel shuttle. By the time he was back our bags had been curb checked and we all went through security to enter the port.

When we got to the information desk at the top of the stairs the cast member tells us they have been waiting for us. She called another cast member over to us. This CM had my hubby and Mom go to the kids club check in area to get the kids set for their clubs. Then she walks my Dad and me around the huge line to the front of a check in desk. (Sweet, I am liking this whole avoid the line to check in treatment!) A cast member named James quickly and efficiently checked us in. We were then escorted us to the new (at least from last year) security photo station where we all had our photos taken. They use these when they scan your key to the world cards. The photo pops up on the cast memberís computer screen so they know its you. Then we were taken to and escorted through the Mickey gang way. We did the quick photo welcome aboard photo op. At this point I am thinking my siblings are good. Obliviously they got a hold of the right cast members. I am
expecting the big surprise to be as we walk on board and they announce our family. Wrong.

After we are announced another cast member escorted us to Parrot Cay. As we get closer Iím thinking the family will be at the table waiting. Wrong again.

We got the kids and parental units settled in at lunch. I then made a mad dash to Rockiní Bar D to check on our Paloís reservations. Score one for Mouse Planet. Drince was correct. Palo has moved to our new port day on Wednesday. So with the new reservation card in hand I raced over to the excursion desk. I was expecting huge lines amazingly the only people in line are my brother Bobby and my niece. He was reworking their excursions. We exchange hugs and greetings. I was able to book my husband and me on a snorkeling tour in Nassau. My brother thought that sounded like fun so he added him and his wife to the tour as well. He also added his wife and two kids to the sting ray city tour that I had booked with my kids and parents. Bobby then tells me to stall for another 25 minutes. (The cabins should be cleared for guest at that point.) After lunch I am supposed to take the aft elevators and drop Mom and Dad in their cabin. Then my family needs to get to the public deck on deck seven.

This sounded simple enough. Sure I could handle this. Easier said then done. My Mom was in vacation mode and wanted to check out every little detail of the ship on the way up to the cabin. Personally, the Disney freak in me loved watching this but we were on a mission and gosh darn it she needed to get with the program. Finally, we dropped them off and followed orders. We quickly made it to deck sevens public deck.

I finally got to see my family. I have to admit it was driving me bonkers knowing my entire family was at the hotel next door last night and I couldnít go see everyone. We shared hugs and kisses. Then my nephew bolts through the door and announces Mom is on her way.

Earlier, Craig, who was my parents assigned stateroom host, had been brought in on the plan. He was amazing! While we were all gathering on deck seven my brother contacted him via the walky talkies they borrowed from my nephew. Craig then knocked on my parentís door introduced himself and told them that he was ready to take them on their ďdeck tourĒ now. That it was his duty to show them all the necessary functions of the deck. My Dad played along and they headed out the door with Craig.

Craig opens the door to the public area on deck seven and is saying something to the effect of this is our special look out here. We all yell surprise as Mom walks through the door. The ironic part was it took Mom a few seconds to register that it was her family on the deck. That delayed reaction was so funny to witness. It obliviously clicked in her brain after a few seconds and then the tears started. She was over whelmed with emotions. She was just so floored that we managed to pull this off without her knowing about it.

The gleam in my parents eyes the entire trip made every step of the planning and saving so worth it. My parents have always lived a very frugal life in order to give us kids all that they could. They would never in a million years even begin to dream of a vacation like this. In fact I know if either of them knew what this cost they would probably have heart failer right there on the spot. They would have never allowed us to spend the money on a gift like this for them. My parentís faces said it all the entire trip. I never thought I could top seeing WDW through my own childrenís eyes but this was way better. All six of us kids felt so blessed to finally in some small way be able to thank them for all the sacrifices they have made for us over the years.

Eventually we had to split up and get to our own cabins to prepare for the lifeboat drill. I was able to unpack my family at this point. We had two cabins this trip one cat.7 and a cat.11 across from it. Last year we did a family suite for the five of us. Iím still not sure which I prefer. I liked having an extra cabin to split up a bit but our family suite last year was mid ship. The cat.7 are all in the aft. I definitely felt more movement. I also ended up sleeping in the cat.11 twice and I actually preferred the inside cabin to our cat. 7 because there was a slight rattling noise that came from the ceiling in our cat.7. I never was able to figure out what it was but it did annoy me a bit that first night. After that I got use to it. Honestly if my husband were not traveling with me I think I would save the cash on the verandah cabin and just do an inside cabin. The no natural light thing didnít bother me at all.

Everyone then went up to deck nine to The Sail Away party. One of the servers comes up to us and asks if any of us want anything from the bar. My sister Brooke and her husband ordered two Bahama Mama. As they are ordering my brother Bobby actually said to Brooke ďyou know that has alcohol in it, this is a family vacation your not going to drink that in front of your children are you?Ē This really ticked me off. Who is my brother to tell two responsible adults that they shouldnít have a drink? I hadnít planned on ordering a drink at the moment but now suddenly a drink sounded really good. I ordered a pina colada. My sister Tori and her husband, my parents and Mark all also ordered drinks. My family is hardly a big drinking family. My brother knows this. (I had a total of three drinks the entire cruise.) All of us are just so sick and tired of how every time we all get together Bobby thinks we should all have to live according to Bobbyís law. No way, no how was that happening this trip. We were starting this trip out with the line clearly defined. We are all capable of making our own decisions this vacation. He got the message loud and clear and backed off.

The Sail Away Party was very entertaining. The kids were having a blast they loved getting to go up on the stage to dance with the characters. It ended with the famous when you wish upon a Star horn. I just love that moment.

After the Sail Away Party we all hung out on deck 9 catching up and let the kids swim in the Mickey pool. Most people were heading off to dinner or the show. We did most of the other shows on board but tonight we just wanted to hang out and enjoy being a family. We had the later seating for dinner which was nice because we didnít have to rush. We also pretty much had the pool to ourselves.

Our dinner was at Parrot Cay at 8:15. This time frame had some good and some bad points. (Iíll point these out as we move along the trip) Tonight I liked the time because I didnít feel we had to rush off to dinner. It was nice to relax and hang with the family. We were seated at 3 tables of eight and one four top all next to each other. The older four kids grabbed the four top and we all filtered in differently in the rest of the seats throughout the trip. God bless our amazing team of servers Oliver and Scott. They were outstanding the entire trip and trust me my family put them through the paces. That first night I remember I had Grouper as my main course and it was very good.

We then took our kids to their kids clubs. We had the beeper just in case the kids needed anything but were never beeped. We went down to Rockiní Bar D to watch the Match Your Mate game. Great laughs at this one.

My hubby picked up the kids around 11p.m. and apparently all the kids gave him a hard time about having to leave the clubs.

I ended the night on Deck 9 (adult only area) with my sisters and Lauren (Markís ex). We stayed up talking into the wee hours of the morning. Debbie (Bobbyís wife) was invited but didnít want to join us. This was the perfect ending to a perfect day.

Day 2- Sunday, 5/3/09- Key West:
We didnít disembark until noon today. Perfect, my plan was to sleep in. My daughter had other plans. She was up by 8a.m. I called room service and had them bring her cereal and me caffeine. When the room service guy showed up my parents were walking down the hall at the perfect moment. They followed the server in and asked if I would like them to take Grace to breakfast with them. Yes! Thank you so much! I grabbed some shorts and a tee-shirt and had Grace dress quickly. They also asked me for her swimsuit as the plan of the day for them was to relax and to lie by the pool. They told me they would just keep her since they were technically in charge of my kids this afternoon when Jim and I went snorkeling. Actually, the kids were going to their clubs but Mom and Dad were the official beeper watchers incase the kids paged from the kids club.

After I handed Grace off I tried to fall back to sleep. It wasnít happening. So I ate her rice krispies and had my coffee on the verandah. Not a bad way to start the day. I have to admit those were the best darn rice krispies I have ever had. Iím sure it was probably the sea air, view and solitude that improved the taste but I rather enjoyed this moment.

Around 10a.m. I went across the hall and woke the boys. Jim went to the other cabin to shower and like me had a solo breakfast on our verandah. I got our sons to get dressed and moving along. By the time we got on deck 9 breakfast was over. The boys were thrilled about this. I let them eat what they wanted. Josh knew a good thing when it came his way and he went straight for chicken fingers, fries and a coke. Chris went with turkey and veggie wraps, fresh pineapple and milk. So Josh pretty much blew brilliant parenting theory that if I insist my kids eat a healthy diet most of the time that they will naturally make healthy choices. Then they both topped it off their breakfast with soft serve ice cream. Yeah, I know horrors of horrors arenít I a rotten Mom. Give me a break Iím on vacation. As long as I donít have to cook it or clean up after it they could of eaten M&Mís and snickers bars for breakfast for all I cared. Usually I am very fussy about my childrenís diets. I figured one week of less then optimum food wasnít going to kill them. I even joined them in the soft serve ice cream, what the heck, I had no intention of playing food police on this vacation.

Jim and I had booked the Key West Catamaran Sail and Snorkeling tour. The crew and catamaran were great. The water conditions not so much. It was super choppy. The swells were coming over the side of the boat. It was a beautiful day weather wise so I have to say I was pretty surprised by the swells in the ocean. They took us out about seven miles and dropped us off at a reef. The conditions were horrible. Both my husband and I are avid boaters and strong swimmers. I got half way there and realized that the water was so choppy that I wasnít going to see much anyway. I was being pelted by saltwater and drinking it (not by choice) it was going down my snorkel. To me this wasnít worth it so I went back on the boat. My hubby toughed it out. Even he admitted that there wasnít much to see. Jim gets back in the boat and is hosing himself off when we hear ďhey look itís a shark.Ē Sure enough on the port side of the boat there was a shark. Jaws himself (okay not that big but a SHARK no less.) was a few feet from where we were just in the water. At this point I am thanking God that everyone was now in the boat. I know sharks are everywhere in the ocean. I live in Florida. I know the risk. Iím just awfully glad I didnít meet Jawís face to face today.

After the snorkeling adventure Jim and I decided to go back to the ship to give my parents a break from our kids and have a late lunch. It was so nice of my parents to keep an eye out for our children so we could enjoy some alone time.

We found my parents and most of the adults in my family at the adult pool. Turns out my kids and the cousins all preferred the kids clubs then hanging with the grandparents or their own parents. I went down to the kids clubs to check on all the kids and all of them refused to leave. Iím telling you the kids councilors are the best ever! Jim and I enjoyed lunch on deck 9 at the adult pool with my family.

Around 4 in the afternoon I fought with my kids to get them out of their clubs. We took all the kids up to the sports deck and we had a family challenge dodge ball game. Here we were all of us late 30 and 40 something ďkidsĒ acting like total school yard brats. Our children were much more well mannered then their parents. That was until they realized it was okay with us if they declared all out war on the grown ups. The best game was when my Dad and Mom ganged up with the grandkids to take us kids and spouse on. They whipped us something good. A week later I was still sporting a huge bruise on my left arm from the shot my niece Maggie pegged me with.

After the dodge ball show down we all took off to get cleaned up for dinner. My boys wanted to skip dinner and go back to their club. My daughter, Grace, had already made it clear earlier that she was not going to dinner with us because the Oceaneer club was having a p.j. party with Goofy at 7:15. She was not going to some boring grown up dinner when she could be ďpartying with the Goofster.Ē Her cousins were all pleading to go as well. I had no idea what my siblings were doing with their kids but I let my kids order room service for dinner and took them to their clubs.

My hubby, parents and I went to The Walt Disney Theatre to see a show with Alfred and Seymour. We ran into my sister Tori and her hubby John, Dawn, her son Noah, Lauren and my nieces Paige, Jenny and Maggie. We all really enjoyed the show.

Dinner tonight was at Lumiereís at 8:15. The only children at our tables tonight (not by choice mind you) were Bobby and Debbieís two girls. Both clearly wanted to be in the kids club but Deb wasnít going for this. For some reason she got it in her head that the girlís had to eat a proper dinner with us. Debbie is an only child from a very prim, proper and in my opinion boring family. I think (okay I know) she believes our family is not the best influence on her children. To some extent I see her point. Iím not always thrilled with some of my family members and their decisions either. Hereís the thing they are family. You just have to accept and love them for who they are. Debbie is famous for trying to keep her girls separated from the family as much as possible. Unfortunately for her my brother adores being with us. As for their girls well my dodge ball bruise is from their little south paw Maggie. Itís clear she has Mac family blood flowing through her veins. I wish Deb would just surrender and realize we arenít such a bad group. Okay, we are a little rough around the edges. Judging from the little time I had to endure with her family, when I was forced to wear what was arguably the most putrefying purple people eater looking brides maid dress ever, her family is no bowl of cherries either.

For dinner I decided to be daring and try escargot. What the heck if I didnít like it I could order another appetizer. Well, I ended up with the shrimp medley. Yeah, I donít think Iíll be trying snails again in this life time. For my main course I got the duck and it was fabulous. For dessert I went with crŤme brulee.

After dinner Jim and I went to get Grace out of her club. She was in party mode and wasnít leaving. We surrendered to the gracious Kidís Councilorís. Iíll say it again. These are by far my favorite cast members ever! Our boys also were not ready to call it a night. Okay fine by us. I guess we would just have to tuff it out in the adult clubs tonight.

All of us adults, minuses Debbie Downer who made her girls go to bed, went to see the comedy show staring Michael Harrison. You wonít believe what that man can do with a tennis ball to get a laugh. Loved him. Great way to end the night.

We battled the rug rats to get them out of the kids clubs. Grace just about fell asleep in my husbands arms on the way back to the cabin. It didnít take long at all for me to drift off to sleep tonight. That annoying sound from the ceiling that bugged me so much last night was still there but tonight I didnít let it bother me at all. I slept like a baby.

Day 3- Monday, 5/4/09- at Sea:

Both my daughter and I slept in today. I woke around 9, ordered breakfast through room service and took a quick shower before it arrived. I woke Grace about 20 minutes later when breakfast showed up.

After some lazing around I took Grace over to Jim and the boys. I had a scheduled massage this morning at the spa. When I got there they took the basic medical info. I was then introduced to my Russian massage therapist Boris. (I didnít make his name up, honest, it was his real name.) He led me to the massage room we had a brief talk about where I carried tension. For me I carry it in my shoulders and lower back. He then left the room so I could disrobe and cover up. He knocked before he re-entered the room. He was pretty strong. At first I was going to ask him to lighten his touch until I felt my back begin to pop. Iím not sure where this guy got his training but let me tell you my back has never felt this good. Itís been over a week since my massage and I still feel like a new woman.

After my massage I snuck down to Parrot Cay and had lunch by myself. I know it was selfish but I was on day three of a week with my family. My massage had put me into a blissful state of peace and serenity and I didnít wish to destroy that just yet. I love my family but peace and serenity are just not a part of our daily lives together.

I found most of my family by the Mickey pool. The little kids were having a ball. The older children were off playing pin pong further down the deck. We lazed around for a while. The kids were all enjoying the freedom of never ending pizza, soda and ice cream.

Then Grandpa uttered the magic words to all his Grandkids. The Hannah Montana Movie was showing in the theater. Grandpa was offering to take all the kids who wanted to go. God bless my Father! Iím not sure if my dad is the worlds greatest Grandpa or just insane. Either way he saved me from an afternoon of my daughterís ear piercing shrieking in the theater. About the only thing I find of interest in the movie that I was sure to get drug to by my daughter was its stars name. Miley Cyrus and I do share the same first name. My parents were pretty progressive for a couple of late 60ís hippies. Although they spelled it differently, itís pronounced the same. I actually was named after a character in the Elvis Presley movie Blue Hawaii. Other then the same name as its star I have zero interest in seeing this movie. I do have to admit that itís been nice to finally, after spending years with what was considered a weird name, to have a name that my kids and their friends think is cool.

My two younger kids were happy as all get out to go to the movie with Grandpa. Our oldest was asking to go to the kids club. Jim and I were free. The next few hours were ours. We locked ourselves in the cabin and thatís all the information I am sharing about that.

Tonight was Formal night. The show was The Golden Mickeyís. Despite the fact that I had shopped for and lugged everyoneís formal clothing the kids and my husband were really gripping about having to get all dressed up. I knew my sister Tori, who lives in California, had decided that packing formal clothing for her three kids with todayís airline restrictions being what they are on baggage was not making her kids dress up. She was planning on feeding them first and then sending them to the kids clubs. I compromised. Something I donít do much with my kids at home. I didnít make them get dressed up. Jim took them up to deck 9 to feed them while I showered and dressed. I did make them come to the show with us tonight. I just felt like they were missing too much of the Disney experience by living in the kids clubs. Besides I wanted some family time with my kids.

We arrived at The Golden Mickeyís. My entire family showed up for this one. We had to arrive early because we took up something like three rows. My Mom was not pleased to see that my children were not dressed up. What I didnít know was she was hoping to get a professional photo of all the grandkids tonight. Opps! Thank Goodness my sister was also about to show up with her kids in shorts. I wouldnít be the only one in trouble with Mom. Dawn showed up and Noah (my 14 year old nephew) is in a pair of jean and a tee-shirt. He also was planning on hitting the teen club and skipping dinner. My Mom was peeved at this point. She starts to tear us a new one when my little sisters walk in. We were now off the hook big time. That the great thing about big familyís. Usually there is someone who messes up more then you do and all the attention gets divert to them.

Tori and Brooke walk in wearing those putrefying purple people eater brides maid dresses from Bobby and Debís wedding that was like 18 years ago. They have been a family joke for years. I couldnít believe they still had them. They also paid to have them altered. They added some crazy hot pink fabric to them in order for them to squeeze their post pregnancy plus 18 years of life bodies in them. To put it gently, I donít think any us could have fit even one cheek of our Lane Brant sized backsides into these dresses now. I thought they were ugly before. This brought them to a whole new level of ugly. It would have been more appropriate to wear them to Twice Charmed two nights later. As they looked like something Cinderellaís evil stepsister would have worn. At the moment they were behaving like them as well.

In walks Deb and she is all flattered that my sisters wore her dresses again. My sisters are hamming it up big time saying how they just loved these dresses so much that they had to bring them on the cruise so everyone could see them. In the meantime no one in my family can keep a straight face, including her husband, which is not going over to well with Deb. The family seated behind us in the theatre is also busting up because they are totally getting the joke. Being the proper girl Deb is she is holding it together but underneath it you can see she is mad as a hornet. My Mother was also not amused. My sisterís were being shot daggers from Mom.

Then Ashley, Debís 13 year old daughter, goes ďThese were your brides maids dresses, remind me not to take you with me when I shop for my wedding dress.Ē I lose it at this point as does her husband. Deb then looks at her daughter and in the best Desperate Housewives Bree voice says ďYes, dear of coarse the bridesmaids dress were ugly.Ē ďThat was the point.Ē ďI looked amazing on my wedding day.Ē ďYou really should applaud your Mother for how cleaver she is, after all I look hot tonight, one canít say the same about Drusilla and Anastasia over there can we dear.Ē My family was high fiving Deb big time for that come back. She nailed my rotten sisters bad and quite honestly they deserved it.

After that show we actual watched The Golden Mickeyís. It was very a cute story. I lovedthe Cruella DeVill number. Tarzan is not bad on the eyes either. Hey whatís not to like about a hot guy in a loincloth swinging through the air? Made my night.

Dinner was at Animatorís Palate (no show tonight) we dinned off the Golden Mickeyís menu. This was my least favorite menu of the trip. I ordered Swordfish and ended up not eating it. I could have had something else but nothing really appealed to me and I was full from soup and salad. Our servers really tried to get me to order something else. They even offered to have something made that was not on the menu. I just wasnít hungry.

After dinner I walked out of the dinning room and saw that my Mom had my sisters in a pow wow out on deck 4. I knew they were getting an ear full from Mom for the stunt they pulled tonight. I avoid that area like the plague.

Jim and I gathered our kids and went to bed. We had an early meeting time planned for our excursions in Grand Cayman tomorrow morning. Grace and I let the boys have the verandah cabin tonight. We slept in the inside cabin. I left a 7a.m. wake up call and a door hanger order for room service delivery at the same time. Then I hit the sack.

Day 4- Tuesday, 5/5/09- Grand Cayman:

I was awakened around 6:45 when room service called to inform me that breakfast was on its way. I got up grabbed a few bucks out of the envelope I had of dollar bills stashed in the desk so I could tip the room service server.

I quickly ate my breakfast and then showered. I then woke Grace and we brought breakfast across the hall. The kids all ate while Jim showered and I packed up two day bag for us to take on our excursions. The kids and I had to be at our meeting spot at 8a.m.Jim didnít need to be at his until 10:00am.

I arrived at my meeting spot where I see Brooke, her four children, my niece Paige (Mark and Laurenís daughter) and my parents. I had no idea that Brooke had signed up for this excursion. Iím betting dollars to donuts she hasnít a clue that Deb and her kids are also booked on this excursion. I quickly plop down next to Brooke and inform her that Deb is booked on this outing. She gets an evil smile on her face and says yeah I know. I beg her to be nice. My Mother pops up and informs her that there better not be any shenanigans on this trip.

Debbie and the girls arrive and my sister goes over and apologies for last night. All is forgiven and we move on. Although I did notice that they kept their distance from each other pretty much the whole day. We all get checked in. Brooke did have to turn some sort of wavier permission slip in for Paige that allowed her to take her off the ship since Lauren and Mark were not with us.

In Grand Cayman the dock is too shallow for ships to pull into so we had to take a tender ferry. This was an experience with ten kids along. We managed but Momís disposal water camera didnít. Itís still somewhere on the bottom of the ocean floor. I had an extra, if thatís all that didnít make it on the tender, we were great.

We make it to the dock and they take us on a short walk to some waiting vans. They ask how many our in our party and my Dad tells them there are 15 of us. We then had to step aside and let the rest of the people by. They called another van for us and a few minutes later it arrived.

The van arrives and we pile in. This was an experience. Grand Cayman is a British Colony so they drive on the other side of the road. Then everyone, I mean everyone, drives crazy. I donít think they care what a stop sign or stop light actually means they just go and they go fast.

We made it safely. Donít ask me how? Here we find out that the large group we were with on the ship was divided into several smaller groups. Each with two van loads assigned to a boat. Turns out the boat we are getting on is docked behind someoneís house. We are actually parked in their driveway. Our guide has us exit the van and walks us around the house, through the backyard, to the boat which is docked in a canal off their backyard. Then on the dock is the hugest Iguana I have ever seen. At this point I am wondering what the heck I have gotten into and why in the world did I bring my parents and kids with me? As we approach the dock the Iguana scurries away. We soon came to learn that they were all over Grand Cayman. They just hung out. Itís kind of like seeing stray cats in the USA. No one makes a big deal about them they are just part of life here. It was actually kind of cool.

We board the boat and are introduced to our captain whose name I canít remember but he was the nicest guy from South Africa. He lets us know that we are waiting for one more van load and then we will be good to go. The van arrives with a few more people. One of them is, Kaja a councilor that the kids all knew from the Oceanners lab. He had earned shore leave. He was also a newbie for this excursion. Kaja was so awesome with our kids on this excursion. I couldnít help but feel bad for him. The guy finally he gets some shore leave and we bring half of the kids from the club on the excursion with him.

Our captain takes us out several miles in the ocean. As we are headed out to sea the crew of the boat gave us the whole spiel on how to stay safe and follow the rules. We then get to this natural sand bar that is in the middle of nowhere. A few other boats are there too. The first thing I notice is how absolutely beautiful the water is. Its aqua and you can see the bottom of the ocean floor. The captain drops anchor and out of nowhere comes several dozen stingrays, all sizes, from bigger then my five year old to babies. It was just incredible.

The captain and his helpers hop off the boat and then we all jump in as well. It was only maybe three feet deep. We spent a good 45 minutes swimming, touching and playing with the rays. My nine year old was a bit apprehensive but Kaja spent a few minutes talking to him and it was him that got Josh to get in the water to experience this. I was so grateful for that. This was a once in a life time experience. Iím so glad he was able to get Josh to take part in it.

We have done the sting ray excursion on Castaway Cay. This can not compare. This is loads better. They are two completely different experiences. I highly recommend this excursion. I have grown up on the water and snorkel all the time. This was by far my all time favorite moment in the water ever. It was so peaceful and beautiful. This experience blew my mind. Iím so glad I got to share it with my extended family and my children. I just wish my husband could have been with us.

We got back to the port after another eventful van ride. We actually were side swiped by another van and both vans just kept on driving as if nothing happened. Space Mountain is nothing compared to a van ride in Grand Cayman. We were all grateful to make it back to the port in one piece. My family headed back to the ship.

Jim was scheduled to be done with his excursion in about an hour and we had made plans to meet up at the dock. The kids and I made a mad dash across the street to do some shopping. We didnít end up buying anything but we ran into Dawn and Noah. They had gone on an underwater helmet dive excursion that they said was very cool.

We met up with Jim and my brothers at the dock. (My brother in law went back to the ship) They all agreed that the snorkeling in Grand Cayman was awesome.

We decided to go to lunch. I wish I had taken better notes because the restaurant we went to was wonderful. The food was great and the view was spectacular. As I sat there I could barley contain myself with how incredibly happy I was. I am such a blessed woman to live this amazing life.

We then went back to the ship and got cleaned up. The kids wanted to go back to their friends at the kids clubs. Jim and my brothers were talking smack about some ping pong challenge. I took an opportunity to take an afternoon nap. This was heaven. I canít even remember the last time I had an afternoon siesta.

The show tonight was the Disney Movie Planet Earth. I wasnít up for sitting through a movie so I was in no hurry. I got the kids out of their clubs and we went up to deck 9 for a swim. Who do I run into but Deb and her girls? The kids were all in the pool out of ear shot. Iím not there more then three minutes when Deb starts up about how she is disappointed with our new President and the current administration. I let her have her tangent because I have learned through the years when they start you canít stop them. After about 20 minute when she was finally done. I simply said ďI voted for the guy.Ē The look on her face was shear shock. Itís ironic to me that she assumed that because my personal convictions are fairly conservative that I would automatically vote for her candidate of choice. This floored her. My five simple words shut her up. She excused herself, gathered her kids and left.

Tonight was pirate night. Dinner was in Parrot Cay which just felt right for pirate night. The menu was fun and themed for the night. My kids did come to this dinner as did most of the children in our family tonight. A few minutes into the meal I look over and my daughter was sound asleep curled up in her chair. Dinner was at 8:15 and she had been going strong all day. I excused myself and carried her back up to our cabin to go put her to bed. Jim offered to take her but he had already pulled one night duty with her. I figured this was only fair.

I get her in her pjís and to bed. A few minutes later there is a phone call from room service. They told me the dining room was sending up my dinner. They wanted to know if they should send Graceís dinner as well. She was out for the night so I declined her dinner. This was above and beyond as you can not normally get the dining room food in your room unless you are staying in one of the suites. I really appreciated this extra special treatment. I defiantly felt special dining on my roasted tenderloin and the cold mango soup was terrific. Since I hadnít ordered dessert yet they sent two so I could have my pick. This was so very sweet.

Jim came back up to the room after dinner and he took over with Grace. I took the boys to the Pirates in the Caribbean Party. Okay here is one day that I wish we would have had early dinning. It was an early port day. We had been in the sun most of it and we were pretty spent from being in the sun all day. By the time they finished dinner and we made it up to the party both deck 9 and 10 were a mad house. We actually just sort of hung out on deck 10 more toward the forward. We really couldnít see the party that well but we did get to see Mickey fly in and save the day. We also had a great view of the fireworks. That was so cool.

Again this year we avoided the late night buffet. I was stuffed from dinner. So were the boys. We decided to call it a night. It had been a great day but a very long one. I let Jim know we were back. Chris decided to crash in the verandah cabin with me and Grace. Josh and Jim slept in the inside cabin tonight. We were all asleep in a matter of minutes.

Day 5- Wednesday, 5/6/09 Ė At sea:

This was the one day I was looking forward to the most. My sister and sister in laws had a brunch reservation at Palos this morning.

I woke around 8 and got Grace and Chris moving along. They were going with my hubby, brotherís and parents who were taking all the kids to a character breakfast this morning. I took them across the hall to Jim and Josh. Then I was given a gift to be able to shower and dress for brunch without juggling the whole Mom thing. Moms of the world will understand what I mean about that being a gift.

A few minutes before I was ready to walk out the door there was a knock on it. I opened it and found my Mother on the other side dressed to the nines. She informs me that Deb has decided not to go with us gals and has offered her spot to Mom. Itís probably not allowed to switch someone out last minute but I figured I would just have the server charge the $15 service charge to me for Mom. That way no one would be the wiser. Besides after my run in with Deb yesterday I was thrilled to not have to deal with her at brunch today.

Mom and I met Lauren, Dawn, Tori and Brook at Paloís. If there is one meal that you must do on the ship it is brunch at Paloís. Incredible doesnít begin to describe this experience. If you are a foodie you will be in heaven. There were tables and tables of appetizers, chesses I had never heard of before, crab, shrimp, caviar, loxís, amazing pastries and breads. The list goes on and on. Then you order off the menu for your main course. (Yeah, like there is room for this) I had the veal and it was to die for. It just melted in your mouth. We were all too full to even think about dessert. The dessert table did look amazing but I honestly thought I would pop if I ate one more bite. If I ever get a chance to do this again I am starting with dessert.

That afternoon a bunch of us went to see the family hypnosis show staring Rickey Kalmon. This was a hoot. The people who were chosen out of the audience cracked us up. My hubby thinks it was a set up. I say who cares if it was (although I think it was for real) we all found it wildly entertaining. He hypnotized one guy to think he was Hannah Montana at a sold out concert. It was so funny to see this grown man rocken out thinking he was Miley Cyrus. Then he had this one lady (mid 40ís) convince that she was the number one fan of the Jonus brothers. He pointed out people in the audience and told them they were the members. She was screaming for her husband to get the camera and take her picture with them. It was great.

The show tonight was Twice Charmed. This was my favorite of the cruise but only because I have seen Disney Dreams before. The story is about what would happen if the glass slipper never made it back onto Cinderellaís foot. It was very well done. The stepsisterís were the bomb. Donít miss this.

Dinner was semi formal night and we dinned in Lumiereís. Tonight my boys were willing to get dresses up because Lobster was on the menu. My boyís actually decided to wear their formal wear. Oh well, at this point I didnít care. Besides, I got some great professional photos of them. Grace went to the kids club. Most of my family was at dinner tonight. I donít think that much lobster was ever consumed in one sitting ever. Most of the kids ordered it. The guys all ordered seconds. It was crazy. I was getting embarrassed by the amount of lobster tails we ate.

We rolled out of dinner. Josh and Grace were ready to call it a night. Jim offered to take them up to the cabin. I told Jim to crash in the outside cabin and that Chris and I would take the inside tonight. Chris and Noah wanted to go up to the sports court to join some friends in games up there. I changed into a swimsuit and meet the girls at the Jacuzzi. Chris and Noah were told to come and check in with us there in an hour. Eventually Noah and Chris came back to check in and asked if they could hang in Dawn and Lauren cabin watching a movie and ordering room service. Lauren was okay with that. She ended up with her daughter and my niece Jenny there as well. Dawn and I checked in on them a few times. Eventually the girls went back to their cabins. Chris ended up crashing there that night.

My Mother, Tori, Dawn, Brook and I ended up playing gin rummy in my cabin until around three in the morning. We took advantage of late night room service and pigged out. A round of Mickey bars in the wee hours of the morning shared with those you love is pretty cool.

Day 6/ Thursday, 5/7/09- Nassau:

I woke to the phone ringing around 7:00 a.m. It was my sister Brooke. This had better be an emergency. Iím on vacation and my kids are asleep else where what could possibly be so important at this hour of the morning? She wanted to know if I had her beach towel. She thought she left it in my cabin last night. My response was ďIf you did you will never see it now because itís going overboard.Ē Oh please, like that couldnít wait a few hours.

Now I was up. Iím not one of those people who can go back to sleep once I have been awaken. I decided to get moving along and went to breakfast by myself. I left a note for Jim on the cabin door so he would know where to find me. I went to Lumiereís and truly enjoyed the solitude why I indulged in a Denver omelet and a chocolate croissant. Just as I was finishing up my husband and kids walked in. I hung out and waited for them to eat. While they were eating Lauren and her kids showed up and joined us.

The kids wanted to go to their clubs so we dropped them off. We then went up to my parents cabin to hand off the beeper to them as we were scheduled to go on a snorkeling excursion and had to be at our meeting spot at 10:00 a.m. Brooke was in my parentís cabin when I arrived. Mom and Dad were considering getting off the ship this afternoon and going to The Atlantis Hotel to check it out. Brooke and her hubby were staying on board. I was in charge of her kids tonight why they went to Paloís. She offered to return the favor now so Mom and Dad could go to Nassau this morning. This made sense why should Mom and Dad be stuck on board if Brooke was staying. I went back down to the kids clubs and had the councilors add a note to my childrenís file that Brooke and her hubby had our pager and were able to take our children out of the club if need be. I also let our children know what was going on. My Mom then comes to find me because she has decided that she and Dad are staying on board because she promised Deb that she would be available for her girls. She was afraid Deb would freak if Brooke was in charge. Okay, Iím not getting in the middle of that. I let Mom know that I had already switched everything for the kids so she didnít need to worry about our three kids.

Jim and I grab our gear and head to our meeting spot. We get there and Bobby and his oldest daughter Ashley were there. Deb decided she didnít want to go and Ashley is taking her place. I ask Bobby if Mom knows this because she is planning on staying on the ship to look after Ashley and Maggie in case of an emergency. Of course he has not told Mom any of this. He found a house phone and called my Momís cabin where she is waiting for them and the beeper. He apologized to her and tells Mom and Dad to enjoy themselves in Nassau.

I knew it was coming. As soon as we get on the boat Bobby ask me to have a chat with him. He wanted to know why Deb was so upset with me. I told him the truth that she was probably peeved that I dared to vote for someone other them her presidential choice. This in my opinion was a dumb reason to be mad and even lamer reason to ruin her whole vacation over. He kind of got what I was saying. Although he did have to add that he was shocked that I voted the way I did and could see why Deb was disappointed in me. Oh please, if we all walked this earth choosing only to associate with people who voted the way we did then life, in my opinion, would be pretty boring. Get over it. Letís move on already. I certainly would not let something as silly as this have me hold up in my cabin and not enjoying my cruise.

The boat we went on was a bit older and I wasnít sure how this excursion was going to turn out. No need to worry. They only took us out a few miles, the snorkeling was amazing. I never knew there was a reef here. We saw tons of different kids of fish and beautiful coral. The water wasnít a pretty as Grand Cayman but the snorkeling was great. I think if I were given another opportunity to go to Nassau I would do this excursion again.

We went back to the ship. I let my sister know we were back on board and got our pager. I then went to gather up the kids. Grace wanted to hang out with us but the boys wanted to stay in their clubs. After getting cleaned up we went up to deck nine to let Grace swim and have a late lunch. Suddenly the pager goes off. I get a message that reads: Josh walked into a wall. He is fine. He does not want you to pick him up. He has ice on it and will probably soon be sporting a new bump on his forehead. Figures, thatís my boy. I still went down to check on him. He was fine.

The boys paged again about an hour later. The kids club was getting ready to put on a show in the Walt Disney Theatre. This would require singing and dancing. They wanted out of this and to join us at the pool.

We were all having a good time hanging out by the pool. Thank God we were not in it at the moment. I look over and this little girl pukes in the Ear of the Mickey pool. In the blink of an eye the life guards clear and close the pool. Then out of nowhere comes a team of guys in blue jumpsuits. That pool was drained in no time and scrubbed over every inch. I couldnít believe how quickly Disney was on this. This made me feel like they really do care about our health and well being on the ship.

We went to the cabin and had the kids change. We joined a good portion of my family at The Walt Disney Theatre to see Disney Dreams. I absolutely love this show. It delivered. All of us enjoyed it. If you ever get to go on a Disney Cruise donít miss this show.

Tonight diner was at Animatorís Palate. I canít remember the menu but I do know I left full and satisfied. It probably had something to do with the fact that Brooke and her hubby was enjoying dinner at Paloís tonight. My parents also had a Paloís reservation earlier this evening so they were not at the table to lend a hand. No surprise Bobby and Deb were absent. Tonight was the big show at AP I stupidly talk all four of Brookeís kids and my three into eating dinner in the dining room tonight. They were all well behaved but 7 kids in the best of circumstances is a lot. I missed the show last year. This had been Jim and my Paloís night when we were on The Wonder. I was really looking forward to this. To be honest I was pretty let down. I didnít think it was all that cool. Maybe I was expecting too much. Maybe it was because I was dealing with seven kids.

After dinner I took Brookeís crew back to their cabins (two cat 10 connecting) and got them all changed into their pjís and in bed watching a Disney movie. Brooke and Jeff showed up shortly after this.

By the time I got back to our cabin Jim, Grace and Chris had crashed. Josh was up watching some t.v. I asked him if he wanted to go up to deck nine with me.

We snuck out of the cabin, grabbed a soda at the beverage station and he whipped my rear in two games of ping pong. We also shared a few laughs and some good conversation. It was close to midnight before we made it back to the cabin. Josh crashed with me in the outside cabin tonight.

Day 7/ Friday, 5/8/09- Castaway Cay

Is there a better feeling in the world then waking up to a slight ocean breeze, seeing sunny skies and knowing that every person you love is about to spend a perfect day on Castaway Cay with you? When I woke Josh was sitting out on the verandah, already dressed in his swim trunks and rash guard watching us floating up to the island of all islands. I hopped out of bed to catch a glimpse of this beautiful vision. I threw on my swimsuit and cover up. Quickly brush my teeth and hair, by then Josh already had our beach bag over his shoulder, we were set to go.

I knocked on Jimís door and discovered that he had already ordered breakfast for us. They were all up. He and Chris were also dressed and ready to go. I grabbed a croissant off the room service tray and took Grace across the hall to change her into her swimsuit. We were at the gangway waiting when the doors opened.

We are a beach family. What I love about a Castaway Cay day is that I get spoiled from the second we arrive. No driving around the parking lot forever looking for a place to park. No having to pack a picnic lunch, cooler, dozen towels, all the sand toys, and kidís bogie boards. I donít have to lug all the junk and watch my husband fight the elements to get that darn umbrella to stay stuck in the sand. Then when we leave there is not several layers of sand coving the back seat of my SUV. At Castaway Cay I donít have to deal with any of this.

Itís like being a kid again. You simply grab your key to the world card, I.D., sunscreen and go. They have all the stuff there on the beach waiting for you. All I have to do is grab a towel as we walk off the ship. It gets better they take the towels back at the end of the day and they wash them. Brilliant! I love it. Mouse Magic is the best!

They even have a tram that delivers you to the beach. We walk farther down the family beach to an area surrounded by palm trees with plenty of chairs and umbrellas. This was right in front of the kidís water playground and truly was the perfect spot for our crew. With in the hour my entire family was sprawled out in the sun enjoying the day. We were in and out of the water playing with the kids. Some of us snorkeled. My nephew and brother in law went parasailing. The kids filtered in and out of the kids clubs which are on the island on Castaway Cay day. It was just a lovely day.

Oh and the food. They opened the BBQ around 11 until 2ish. When is the last time you ate at the beach on real dishes and silverware? I really enjoyed a Mahi Mahi sandwich. There were ribs, chicken, burgers, hotdogs, salads, fruit, yummy pastries and soft serve ice-cream. They also have the soda stations available all day. Naturally they also had a bar as well as servers who combed the beach to bring you drinks. At one point I had a raspberry pina colada. Truly, I could live here every day of my life. I think Disney should offer cruises that just stay here all week. I just love this place. They made us get back on board at 5p.m. I think we were the very last group of people to board the ship.

I stopped at guest services on the way back to the cabin to have them print out our on board account. I wanted to see how much damage we had done. It was really cool because they broke our bill up by person. I liked this break down because it was nice to see exactly what we had charged and who charged it. We did pretty well with our budgeting. We had $600.00 of on board credits in our account to start off with thanks to booking on board last year and our awesome travel agent who floated us another $100.00 per cabin. I had charged my Momís and my Paloís brunch, we bought some photos, did some amazing excursions, I had a massage and we had three drink charges. In all we never ever felt cheated out on anything. We did it up right as they say, at it least in my opinion. After everything was said and done. We owed only $271.00. Later that night I paid that off in cash. We were able to leave with a zero balance on our account which I was happy about. I hate coming home to a huge visa bill after vacation.

I skipped the show tonight. Jim took the kids to it so I could get us packed up. This was so much easier with everyone gone. I was also able to slip downstairs and pay off our account. My timing was pretty good because I only had to wait a few minutes in line. Last year the line to guest service on the last night was huge. I was very glad I avoided this.

We had our final dinner at Animatorís Palate. Everyone in the family showed up for this. It was bitter sweet. We had an amazing vacation but we knew it would be over all too soon. Once again our food and service was outstanding. I think I had lamb that night. If not then it was on another night. When ever I had it was very good.

Jim took our two younger kids up to bed after dinner. They were spent from being in the sun all day. Chris and I joined some of my family and watched the Til We Meet Again show. This year that was harder to watch because last year I knew we had booked again for this yearís trip. This year I so wanted to book another Disney Cruise but itís not possible if we want to do those responsible things like pay the house payment and feed our children. Next years vacation will probably end up with us camping, in a tent in our own backyard, where if I budget it correctly I might be able to spring for the supplies to make smores. Yeah, this trip pretty much cleaned out our vacation fund for a while.

We then ended up on deck nine with some of my siblings, my parents and some of the older kids. We just hung out talking. No one wanted to think about tomorrow.

Saturday, 5/9/09- The day they make us leave:

I was in no hurry to get up and moving today. Unfortunately, I could not delay the reality of the day. We were supposed to be out of the cabin and at breakfast by 8:00am. Yeck! I so did not want to leave this trip. I squeaked out every last possible minute but eventually we made it to our final breakfast.

I hate goodbyes and I had a ton to dole out today. We made our way through customs. Jim grabbed a cab and went to get our car. The kids, my parents and I stayed behind and said our goodbyes to my family as the all left via there hotel shuttle. Jim loaded us and the bags in our SUV. Then I drove him back to pick up his van and he went to pick up Toriís family to drive them to the airport.

We were driving across the bridge in a depressed state when my cell phone rings. It was Mark. He asks if I have my annual passes on me. What kind of a question is that? I have to drive right past WDW to get home. Would they be anywhere else but on the lanyard around my neck? He informs me that he already called Dawn. She and Lauren have theirs. He wants us to meet at The Magic Kingdom after he drops Bobby and family off at the airport. I asked my parents and they are up for it. I called Jim and he declined (I know, sometimes even I wonder why I married him? Just kidding heís a great guy!) He wanted to get home but was all for me taking the kids. This was definitely lifting my spirits. It was the best way I can imagine to end our trip.

Mily

If any one is interested I ran our numbers when we got home for the 5 of us (two cabins and one was a verandah, we could of saved about a grand by doing two inside cabins.) with everything our vacation cost us $7139.90 It broke down as follows:
Cruise Ė$6062.90, suggested tips-$420.00, other charges to our cabin-$271.00, extra tips(these are not required,our service was outstanding)-$150.00, hotel for the night before with parking for the length of the cruise- $129.00, gas-$57.00, tips for porters and cab fare $50.00. The grand total $7139.90

*We also had $600.00 in on board credit. Had we not had this our charges to our room would have been $871.00 Making the total real cost of this trip $7739.90 for the five of us. I also only added the gas for my SUV because my sister and brother in law paid to fill Jimís van since he picked them up and drove them back to MCO.

We went in May and pulled the children out of school because when we priced a summer cruise it was going to cost us about $2600.00 more. Spring break and Christmas were in numbers that make me see red. The winter months were a bit less but we were really looking for good weather. We didnít want cold water or to be wearing jeans and sweaters. If we were going to the Caribbean we wanted Caribbean weather. Our weather could not have been more perfect. We had one small sprinkle of rain in Nassau that lasted tops ten minutes. Every other day was just beautiful weather wise. It was in the mid 80ís everyday with little to no humidity.

The price of the cruise includes your cabin, all on board entertainment, all on board food this includes room service, snacks and all meals (the only time you pay extra for food is if you choose to go to the adult only restaurant Paloís which is $15.00 per person), non alcoholic beverages at meals and on deck nines beverage station, lunch and non alcoholic beverages on Castaway Cay.

You pay extra if you choose to do spa treatments, excursions, to eat at Paloís, buy professional photos (these add up fast unfortunately there is no photo pass deal on the cruise), alcoholic beverages, and tips.

In our familyís case cruising is pricey because we have three children. What I mean is cabins are typically set up for four guests. This is on every cruise line not just on Disney. Cruise lines typically charge the adult fare for the first two people cruising in a cabin regardless of age. Then the price for the third and forth guest drops considerably. All cruise lines require that at least one adult is listed in each cabin. That meant our family either had to book a cat. 4 family suite for the five of us or two cabins. Since we choose to do two cabins we were required to put my husband in one cabin and me in the other. Then two of our children were the second passengers in each room which meant we paid full fare for them. Over all this was still a bit cheaper then a family suite but not much. It would have been considerably less expensive for us to book two connecting cat.10 inside cabins but my husband insisted on a verandah. So we paid dearly for this extra perk.

To help with a price comparison my brotherís family of four stayed in a cat.11 inside cabin and they paid approximately $3200.00 for their cruise. As you can see staying in an inside cabin and only traveling with four people has huge budget benefits. Larger families once again are forced to deal with an industry that really isnít made for us. Single cruisers also get hosed as they have to practically have pay for two people in order to cruise alone.

We could have spent less and traveled on another cruise line. We didnít choose this option because quite honestly Jim and I have been on other cruise lines and they couldnít compare. The service, entertainment and food on a Disney Cruise are first rate. If we were going to do this trip we wanted to do it with a company that we knew could trust to do it right. Disney as always delivered. It also annoys me how most other cruise lines charge a lower fare when you book and then right before you leave you get a bill for all these extra port fees and taxes. I much prefer Disneyís pricing where you know the grand total when you book and itís all paid off 90 days before you sail. You then only have to budget for tips and the extras you choose while on board.

I admit this is hardly a budget vacation. This was something we really wanted to do and we saved for quite a while to do it. We had the time of our lives, ate like royalty, were pampered in every way possible and did things I probably will never do again in my life time. I know it will be several years before we get to take a trip like this again. I donít regret one penny we spent.

jsilkey
06-22-2009, 08:36 PM
Amazing! I have never been on a cruise. It is great to travel w/ you vicariously ;)

jillybeaner21
06-23-2009, 07:07 AM
Mily,

what a magical and blessed vacation that was. I've never wanted to do a Disney cruise more than I do now haha. I just loved your trip report, I laughed at your sisters (omg sooo funny with the dresses) and teared up when you surprised your mom. We're doing a big 20 year anniversary reunion at WDW in June of next year and now I'm trying to convince the family we should do half at the world and half on a Disney cruise.

Thank you soo much for sharing your trip with us!

-Jillian

adkinsfamily
06-23-2009, 07:31 AM
What a wonderful trip report Mily!!! (I had always wondered how to pronounce your name thinking it was like Mill-e). I plan on printing it and showing it to my husband as part of my arsenal to get him to say yes to booking on DCL (except I think I'll keep the last page with the price out). Glad that you had a wonderful family trip and that you have those wonderful memories forever!

bkwrm
06-23-2009, 02:53 PM
Mily,
your trip report was great! After reading it I immediately wanted to book a DCL cruise, but unfortunately that will have to wait for quite awhile as we're heading to WDW for 7 nights in October and that will blow our vacation budget, too. Thanks for all the detailed info and the funny bits about your family. Hey, I think your family might be related to my quirky family....lol.:)

momof three
06-23-2009, 04:43 PM
Mily,

what a magical and blessed vacation that was. I've never wanted to do a Disney cruise more than I do now haha. I just loved your trip report, I laughed at your sisters (omg sooo funny with the dresses) and teared up when you surprised your mom. We're doing a big 20 year anniversary reunion at WDW in June of next year and now I'm trying to convince the family we should do half at the world and half on a Disney cruise.

Thank you soo much for sharing your trip with us!

-Jillian

My sister Brooke hated those darn dresses from the day we first saw them. Brooke is one of those people who lets you think you won the battle but always wins the war. Turns out she had all four of these dresses packed away for years. She was just waiting for the right moment to drag them out again. The reason she only had two of them with her is because the largest dress was a size 6. We all past that years ago. She actually had a friend of hers help her take them apart and made the four dresses into two that would fit us now. She talked Tori into wearing it that day.

We have done a WDW trip with most of us as well. We all agree that the cruise was a much better family trip. I hope you guys have a blast on your family reunion vacation.

Mily

momof three
06-23-2009, 05:34 PM
What a wonderful trip report Mily!!! (I had always wondered how to pronounce your name thinking it was like Mill-e). I plan on printing it and showing it to my husband as part of my arsenal to get him to say yes to booking on DCL (except I think I'll keep the last page with the price out). Glad that you had a wonderful family trip and that you have those wonderful memories forever!

I have the world's greatest parents but they can't spell worth beans. My name is always pronounced wrong. It's actually supposed to be spelled Malie for the Hawaiian way or Mylee for the Chinese's way. Until Miley Cyrus became famous I spent a great deal of my life teaching people how to say my name. To complicate things more my first name is actually not Mily on my birth certificate. My parents had a huge fight over my name the day I was born. My parents are strict Catholics and my Father wanted a bibical name on my birth certificate. I have never been called by this name. I didn't even know it was my name until I got to school and the teacher called me by it the first day. This is why all three of my children have normal common names.

I hope your husband comes around. This is the best family vacation. I hope I get to read your DCL trip report one day.

Mily

disnut8
06-27-2009, 08:50 AM
Great report! I loved how you put the bad with the good. It's tough going on a trip with extended family (I've been on a few with mine). I can identify with a lot of the things your family went through (the Bobby comment about the drinks, the sister-in-law comments about politics). I'm glad you had a magical vacation despite all that.

TinaMouse
06-28-2009, 10:54 AM
What an adventure, Mily! Seriously, girl. You're amazing. I would've punted your SIL, even though I would probably drift toward that political leaning. To say what she did (politics and the drinking thing) is just stupid. The only thing I could think of is if you had a recovering alcoholic in the group or something like that, and out of deference, no one drank. But to put that on you guys, adults all, is bizarre. To stay away from you all and in her own cabin for most of the rest of trip was even more stupid!

The dress thing is funny, even if a bit mean spirited. I like practical jokes, but you (they) always must consider the audience to know how it will be recieved. Oh well.

Did you ever get the pic with all of the kids for your mom???

Thanks for the trip report. It was awesome! I was all "aboard" until I saw the price. YIKES! That's 2 of my trips to WDW for 11 days each, WITH airfare. I know it was worth it. I do. I've done the Carnival-route and I know it doesn't compare with what you did. Maybe some day. But for us, one DCL would be 4 years (2 trips to WDW, one every other year) in the saving.....Do you think it would be worth that??? Is it that great??? I have friends who unequivocably say YES!....

momof three
06-28-2009, 05:25 PM
What an adventure, Mily! Seriously, girl. You're amazing. I would've punted your SIL, even though I would probably drift toward that political leaning. To say what she did (politics and the drinking thing) is just stupid. The only thing I could think of is if you had a recovering alcoholic in the group or something like that, and out of deference, no one drank. But to put that on you guys, adults all, is bizarre. To stay away from you all and in her own cabin for most of the rest of trip was even more stupid!

The dress thing is funny, even if a bit mean spirited. I like practical jokes, but you (they) always must consider the audience to know how it will be recieved. Oh well.

Did you ever get the pic with all of the kids for your mom???

Thanks for the trip report. It was awesome! I was all "aboard" until I saw the price. YIKES! That's 2 of my trips to WDW for 11 days each, WITH airfare. I know it was worth it. I do. I've done the Carnival-route and I know it doesn't compare with what you did. Maybe some day. But for us, one DCL would be 4 years (2 trips to WDW, one every other year) in the saving.....Do you think it would be worth that??? Is it that great??? I have friends who unequivocably say YES!....

I am so use to my SIL and Brother that this stuff never gets under my skin any more. Were family you put up with eachother and love eachother no matter what. I only told Deb who I voted for to get her to shut her up! I just wanted peace and to be able to enjoy my escape time from the real world. I really was not trying to be mean. I certianly didn't think she would end up avoiding the family the rest of the trip.

By the way she is over it now. She and her daughters are joining my parents, Brooke's and my family for a 4th of July at my parents. It's all good.

The dress thing was all my little sisters doing. It was mean, funny, but mean. The thing is Deb hasn't always been Mrs. Innocent with Brooke. Deb has dished out her fair share of digs over the years. I think this drives my poor Mother more insane then any damage they do to eachother. Bobby and Brooke have always been close and Deb is not thrilled about this. It's all, in my opinion, rather childish and silly. Although, I admit at times rather funny to watch. Family issues. What can I say! Every family has them.

We never did recover Mom's underwater camera but we have tons of pics from the trip so all is well.

I totally get the issue with what this cost. It took me years to convince my hubby it was worth trying out. We did the 4 day first. Also, we are a family of five so that makes it big bucks for us. You only have four so that would really help bring your cost down. The only way I was able to wrap my cheap skate mind around spending the bucks on it was to try and match apples to apples for a land WDW trip. For us it was kind of like staying at the Polynesian or GF on the deluxe dp, having every possible add on (spa, tours, sports ect.) all with top noch service and entertainment. I'll confess this was still very hard for me to take that step and book the first DCL. I'm one of those budget Mickey pass holder gals who will not pay rack rates to stay on site. If I don't score a great pass holder rate we don't go. This was my dream trip and even when we had saved the money, were paying cash and my hubby was finally on board with booking it was still difficult to make that first call to my TA an put that deposit down on our first DCL. I couldn't shake the feeling that I could put a kid through a year of school with this kind of cash.

To answer your question yes, in my opinion, it was worth every penny. However, I don't think we will be going again any time soon. I would love to but it's just not the kind of money we can afford to spend on a family vacation every year. In our house hold this kind of trip may happen once every 10 years. Now a three or a four day may happen again sooner. My kids started saving the week we got home. They have already figured out if we stay in an inside cabin and leave Dad at home (we often do WDW w/out Dad so in their minds they don't see why we can't do a DCL w/out him) we should be able to go on a three day next year. I still think it will be a while before we go and no way would Jim stay home.

Mily

EJ4Disney
06-29-2009, 05:58 AM
WOW, is all I can say. What an adventure!!

I second your thoughts on cruising. I love it. Thanks so much for sharing.

Yes they are expensive but the memories are priceless. I have NEVER regreted a vacation. Be it a cruise or a trip to WDW or any other destination. You just can't put a price tag on memories. They will sustain you till the very end.

Again, thanks for sharing. Your did a great job.

Ellen

wwomant
06-30-2009, 10:18 AM
Thanks for the great trip report! I've never cruised but this trip has me dying to cruise Disney style! :)

Meisha B
06-30-2009, 02:05 PM
Loved your TR, had a few things I wanted to say and ask and can't remember of course! But, I loved Castaway Cay too...I'm a beach person as well. But, there was something else you said or did that I felt identical and it brought back my fond memories of my cruise the week before. I am SO glad you wrote a TR, I love reading about the cruises and I wanted to hear how the surprise went.

Meisha B
06-30-2009, 02:15 PM
Another thing, the dresses did crack me up. I thought that was a good one! Glad to hear that you are all getting together for the 4th.

Our cruise the week before was only 1600 for my DD and I and that was Cat11. I would do it again in a heartbeat for that price. But, that was a good deal that I may not be able to get again. But, the little wheels in my head are turning trying to figure out how and when to go again and bring my DH this time. I think about the shorter ones, but after a 7 nt don't know if I could do it. And, I look at it like since it includes so much it is cheaper than a regular vacation for us. My next problem is staying away from WDW to save $ when I go for the cruise. In my mind, it doesn't make sense to go all the way there and not go to WDW....lol.

You didn't say...how was the day at MK?

And, I loooove your avatar!!!

momof three
06-30-2009, 02:52 PM
Another thing, the dresses did crack me up. I thought that was a good one! Glad to hear that you are all getting together for the 4th.

Our cruise the week before was only 1600 for my DD and I and that was Cat11. I would do it again in a heartbeat for that price. But, that was a good deal that I may not be able to get again. But, the little wheels in my head are turning trying to figure out how and when to go again and bring my DH this time. I think about the shorter ones, but after a 7 nt don't know if I could do it. And, I look at it like since it includes so much it is cheaper than a regular vacation for us. My next problem is staying away from WDW to save $ when I go for the cruise. In my mind, it doesn't make sense to go all the way there and not go to WDW....lol.

You didn't say...how was the day at MK?

And, I loooove your avatar!!!

Meshia:

We did a four day last year, as much as we loved the seven day, I have no doubt that if we ever get to go again it will be on a four day at most. Either that or we will have to loose a kid before we cruise again. Just kidding. It's just too darned pricey for a family of five. I'm fine with that. It's better then not going at all. This was a once in a life time trip for us and I'm so gald we did it.

Wow, what a great price you got for you and Mac. (By the way great name!) I have been saving some Mickey Mom money for a while. Since we live close I try to take each of my kids for a Mom and me weekend trip to WDW each year. I have been thinking about taking my eldest on a three or four day next year with just the two of us. I haven't looked into prices yet. This gives me hope that I might be able to pull it off if I keep saving. I really didn't mind the inside cabin at all so I know this will save me a ton of money if I am able to swing this.

I'm glad you had a great trip with Mac. I'm still waiting for the reat of your trip report. So far I love it.

Mily

TinaMouse
06-30-2009, 08:48 PM
Actually, an inside cabin was great for me. Unless you're prone to claustrophobia, it's fine and you save $$$! (Of course, this is coming from someone who has never had the luxury of a verandah....I'm such a goober!)

Meisha B
07-01-2009, 07:44 AM
I liked the inside as well, but again it was just 2 of us. I'd definitely book inside again.

Teenkerbell
07-09-2009, 08:46 AM
What a wonderful cruise report! Thanks so much for posting it. I'm so glad you got to go with your whole family; I would LOVE to take a vacation with my extended family. We haven't done that in years.

Oh, yeah -- I live in Bradenton, too, and if I ever meet a Debbie who's married to a minister named Bobby, I'm running the other way! Kudos to you and your family for seeing the good in her.

momof three
07-10-2009, 05:56 PM
Oh, yeah -- I live in Bradenton, too, and if I ever meet a Debbie who's married to a minister named Bobby, I'm running the other way! Kudos to you and your family for seeing the good in her.

Wow, it is a small world after all.

Don't worry odds are you won't run into Bobby and Deb in Bradenton. They live in South Carolina. They are truly very good people. I love them both a bunch. They just need to be a bit more accepting of other peps lifestyles and choices.

Mily

Teenkerbell
07-11-2009, 11:04 AM
Wow, it is a small world after all.

Don't worry odds are you won't run into Bobby and Deb in Bradenton. They live in South Carolina. They are truly very good people. I love them both a bunch. They just need to be a bit more accepting of other peps lifestyles and choices.

Mily

I understand; I think we all have relatives like that. ;) But differing opinions is what makes the world go 'round, right?

Martini Mom
07-13-2009, 07:31 PM
Hi, thanks for the awesome trip report!! Very entertaining, it made me wish I was from a big family!!! I got teary reading about how much you enjoyed your parents reaction to the trip....what special memories!!!!

I know what you mean about traveling with a family of 5, we just booked our 4 day cruise, March 14-18 2010 and had a really hard time deciding on the room category. We ended up with two inside cabins, cat. 10. We are still waiting for WDW resort prices for our trip, I think they will be available soon. There sure are not many choices for a family of 5.

Thanks again for all the great info!

Lara

momof three
07-14-2009, 07:10 AM
Lara:

I'm so glad you booked. It is the best! You will love it! March is a beautiful time of year in these parts. FCAT testing (public school test the kido have to take) is March 9-19 next year. If you can do WDW then it should help with crowds. I hope you have a wonderful trip.

Mily