September 2006 – Disney World and Royal Caribbean Cruise – Enchantment of the Seas – Western Caribbean Cruise - Noreen & Cathy
WHO ARE WE?
Noreen - 38 years old; First Vice President at an Investment Banking Firm in New York City. I will be the author of the report.
Cathy – 38 years old; Vice President at an Investment Banking Firm in New York City.
Roz – 45 years old; Assistant Vice President at a company in New York City (a different company than Cathy and I work at). Roz ended up not being able to join us.
Travel Dates: 9/22/06 – 9/30/06
Travel Method: Plane, Rental Car
Accommodations: Offsite Villa, Cruise Ship
I’m a Disney Fanatic. Disney World is my favorite place to be. In 2005 I had an Annual Pass and went to Disney World 6 times with various different people. Considering I’m coming from NJ each time, I definitely got my money’s worth on that annual pass. My husband Paul and I own a timeshare right near Disney World – Vistana on Route 535.
My husband Paul and I went on our first cruise in May 2003 on Royal Caribbean’s Voyager of the Seas. Prior to that, I was leery of cruises thinking I’d feel trapped on a boat and bored. I love to be busy all day and our trip on Voyager proved that there are tons of things to do on a cruise. We booked a balcony cabin for that cruise and upgraded at the pier to the owner’s suite. We had a great time and decided we definitely want to cruise again. In October 2003 Paul and I went on our second cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Serenade of the Seas. Once again, we had a great time and confirmed that we enjoyed cruising.
Paul bought a small business in early 2005. He works 7 days a week and hasn’t been able to take any time off. He doesn’t want me to miss out on taking vacations so I spent several vacations in 2005 going to Disney World with various friends and family members.
In March 2006, my friend Cathy and I cruised on Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas. Paul couldn’t get away as usual, but still wanted me to go have a good time.
In August 2006, I convinced Paul that he needed to take a vacation and him and I took a cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas 9 night Eastern Caribbean Cruise out of Bayonne, NJ.
Cathy and I have been talking about taking another vacation this year. She broke her foot/ankle and was out of work for about 10 weeks so at first thought about a shorter weekend cruise. Our original idea was to do the Friday-Monday cruise on the Sovereign of the Seas, then I would spend Monday-Saturday at Disney World at my timeshare (Vistana). The Disney time would possibly be with Phil (my brother in law) and Peter (his partner) who I went to Disney with in 2005.
Cathy and I talked some more and she decided she wanted to go for a longer trip. I wanted to use my timeshare options also. Since I started using options this year, I have to use those that are left before the end of the year or I will lose them. We talked about going to the Atlantis in the Bahamas (I can use my options there) but they were booked for the week we wanted to go. We also looked at St John but they were also booked.
We started talking about a cruise but Cathy was worried about going in September and hurricanes. Her uncle recently got off a ship and told her he was sick and he’s been on ships for years.
We talked about a lot of different places and I suggested Disney World. Cathy was very worried about going to Disney with me because she knows I like to run around and do everything. She’s still recuperating and not getting around as well as she normally does. I told her I would go at a slower pace than normal. She didn’t think she could handle a whole week of Disney so we went back to talking about a shorter cruise and some time at Disney too.
We found the Enchantment of the Seas Cruise that leaves on Monday 9/25 and returns to Ft Lauderdale on Saturday 9/30. That doesn’t leave much time for Disney. So I’m going to fly down on Friday 9/22 to run around Disney. I’m going to meet up with another Disney fanatic (Kelly and his partner Bill from California) on Friday for dinner. Kelly and I are both Disney fanatics who plan our Disney trips meticulously and then put together detailed trip reports that we post on mouseplanet. That’s how we got in touch with each other – from reading each other’s reports we started emailing. Cathy is going to come down to Disney on Saturday 9/23. We will stay at Disney World until Monday morning then drive to Ft Lauderdale to get on the Enchantment of the Seas.
On 7/21/06 we booked our cruise directly through Royal Caribbean.
I booked an inside cabin #7631 for me (I’m perfectly happy in the inside when it’s just me and since it’s single occupancy I have to pay double). Cathy and I like to have our own rooms when we cruise. My cost was $559 + tax $46.11 and insurance $59 for a grand total of $605.11.
Cathy booked a balcony #7594 for herself (just down the hall from me). We wanted to be somewhat near each other. Her cost was $979 + taxes and insurance for a total of $1,025.11.
We tried to get rooms in the newer section of the ship. They had a balcony, but no newer insides so I told Cathy to get the new balcony.
On 8/2/06 my friend Kim called me to tell me that the price of my cabin category for this cruise has gone down. She told me to call Royal Caribbean and they would credit me the difference. I called and they credited me $85 (the price of the cruise went down by $55 and since the cost went below whatever the threshold is, the insurance went down by $30). This brought the cost of my cruise down to $520.11.
Cathy wasn’t able to take advantage as the price of her cabin category has gone up since we booked it.
On 7/21/06 I reserved a two bedroom villa at Vistana using my timeshare options so no cost. I’ll just have to pay a $45 split housekeeping fee. Whenever you use options to stay for several times instead of just a full week, you are charged this fee.
I reserved a spot at Avistar to park the car by JFK.
I booked a car rental online with National for a mini SUV to pick up in Orlando on Friday 9/22 and drop off in Ft Lauderdale on Monday 9/25.
I booked my flight on JetBlue using a gift certificate I received for my birthday so there was no additional cost. I’m flying down Friday morning 9/22/06 from JFK to Orlando and flying home Saturday 9/30/06 from Ft Lauderdale to JFK. The cost is $79 each way. Cathy and I are on the same flight coming home.
On 8/3/06 I was out to dinner with a group of friends and was telling them about mine and Cathy’s upcoming cruise and how good the price was. Roz (one of the friends) said she’d be interested in coming along too possibly. Roz hemmed and hawed a while about it. She also was looking at the Happy Hour Specials to see if this trip showed up (which would possibly eliminate or reduce the single supplement). Unfortunately, waiting didn’t pay off for Roz and the price has gone up substantially for the cruise. She decided she’d wait until the next trip.
Friday – Fly to Disney
Saturday – Cathy joins me in Disney
Sunday – Disney
Monday – Drive from Orlando to Ft Lauderdale to get on the Enchantment of the Seas
The Enchantment Itinerary is as follows:
Monday – Leave from Ft Lauderdale, FL
Tuesday – Key West
Wednesday – Cozumel
Thursday – At Sea
Friday – Coco Cay
Saturday – Return to Ft Lauderdale
I live in Northern New Jersey (Bergen County) so will drive to JFK to fly down to Florida. Cathy lives in New York City so will take a cab to JFK.
We will fly on Jet Blue. We booked our flights at the end of July. $79 each way on Jet Blue.
On Friday 9/22 I’m on flight #41 leaving JFK at 9:10am and landing in Orlando at 11:55am
On Saturday 9/23 Cathy is leaving JFK around 10 and landing in Orlando around 1pm
On Saturday 9/30 we are both on flight #12 leaving Ft Lauderdale at 12:35pm and landing in JFK at 3:25pm.
We booked the following excursion:
Cozumel - Talum Mayan Ruins Express for $79 per person
DAY BY DAY
The week before our trip
The usual being busy at work knowing I’d be out for a week. Since I just came back from the cruise with my husband Paul a few weeks ago, I felt like it was one after another. As the clothes were washed and dried, I just repacked many of them right back into the suitcase.
The day before our trip – Thursday 9/21/06
Nothing out of the ordinary. I worked late and didn’t get home until around midnight. Then I finished my packing.
I was up at 4:30am to walk Kiki (our dog), shower, get dressed, etc.
5:45am I left for the airport. Paul walked me out and put the big suitcase in the car for me. I made very good time getting to JFK. I dropped the car at Avistar and took the shuttle to the airport. I was on line at the Jet Blue terminal by 6:45am. I was wondering if I’d be able to bump up to the 8am flight instead of my 9:10am flight. However, the check in line took a really long time. Luckily, I chatted with some nice people in line so the time went quickly.
Going through security wasn’t too bad. No liquids are allowed on board including beverages, mascara, etc. I knew this in advance so all of my toiletries were packed in the checked luggage. Chapstick was OK to bring onboard thankfully since I’m addicted to that stuff. I didn’t get to the gate until about 8:20am.
Boarding was supposed to start at 8:35am but didn’t start until almost 9am.
There was a kid on the flight with a severe peanut allergy. All the passengers were asked not to eat anything with nuts or chocolate that we may have brought on. They were only able to serve potato chips and snack mix because there are no nuts or peanut oil in either item. That’s the first time I’ve seen that happen but it was comforting to know that they took this person’s allergy so seriously.
I was seated in an exit row on the aisle. There was a weird couple arguing over sitting in the middle vs. the window seat next to me. They didn’t have both of these seats booked just the middle and the other aisle so they separated when others came and sat in their assigned seats. The lady stayed in the middle and kept falling asleep and leaning on me. I kept trying to nudge her nicely to stay in her own seat. I ended up chatting with her husband for a little while. The flight was delayed. There wasn’t a reason given but we didn’t take off until after 10am. We landed about 12:40 and then taxied for while.
By the time I got off, got my luggage and the rental car (a white Jeep Liberty Sport) it was after 1.
I drove to Vistana to see if the villa was ready – they aren’t guaranteed until 4pm. Surprise it is – Room #2736 in the Cascades. It’s on the 5th floor (top floor) right across from the elevator.
I dropped my luggage in the room and plugged the camera in to charge.
I drove to Downtown Disney Marketplace. I was debating going to Animal Kingdom but didn’t think there was enough time.
My first stop was Guest Relations where I bought an annual pass for $462.21.
I went to Earl of Sandwich next for some lunch. I had the Caprese sandwich (fresh mozzarella, tomato, and basil) and a bottle of Coke for $7.94.
I stopped at World of Disney and bought a box of panties. With my annual pass discount they were $14.38. It sounds silly but I like the Disney panties and you can’t find them anywhere else for adults – they don’t sell them in the Disney stores or on line.
I left the Marketplace to head to Publix to get some water, soda, and breakfast items. Since I was passing Goodings, I figured I’d go there instead. The prices in Goodings were ridiculous so I left and headed to Publix. I know Goodings is catering to the vacation traveler who is at their mercy, but this was ridiculous. I work in New York City and live in Bergen County, NJ so am used to paying higher prices for most things. Publix had very reasonable prices and I was able to buy soda, cereal, a water camera, English muffins, bottled water, granola bars, raspberries, Snapple, and milk all for $43.37. I went back to Vistana and it took 2 trips to get the groceries upstairs and put away. It’s hot out so I took another shower and changed.
I left about 5:25pm to drive up to Mamma Dellas at the Portofino Bay Resort by Universal to meet Kelly and Bill for dinner. I got there very quickly and valet parked. It is very pretty and I wandered around a bit.
At 6pm I went into Mamma Dellas. It was like seeing old friends and this was the first time we met. There were hugs all around. We chatted like we’ve known each other forever. I couldn’t get over how much fun I was having. I felt more comfortable having dinner with Kelly and Bill then I do sometimes with people I’ve known for years.
I had the Risotto special that had peas and mushroom in it. Kelly had the same. Bill had a steak stuffed with crabmeat. We all enjoyed our food. We took pictures of the food. We took pictures of each other.
A lady working there serenaded us.
For dessert I had a white chocolate praline which had raspberry sorbet and candied cherries – it was really good. Bill had a very rich chocolate cake with chocolate fudge. Kelly skipped dessert.
Bill paid for dinner. That was completely unnecessary, but it was so sweet. I was really touched by how much they made me feel like family.
We wandered around the hotel grounds for a while just enjoying the night and having fun hanging out. I can’t express what a great time I had tonight with them. I was kind of sad that I would be leaving for the cruise Monday and I expected that I probably would have had a great time if I could have spent more time hanging out with them.
It was around 10 to 9 when we headed back to our respective cars. I booked it to get back to Vistana by 9pm. Me, my sister and my friend Lilly tried out for and were contestants on a new show on the Game Show network called Chain Reaction. Our show was airing this night. We didn’t win but I wanted to see us on TV. I was having it taped for me, but I wanted to see it when it airs too. Unfortunately, Vistana didn’t get the Game Show network.
I did some organizing of my clothes/suitcases then did laundry since I changed twice today.
I spoke to Paul for a little while. Then I spoke to my mother because she was worried about me meeting people that I met through the internet and that they would kidnap me. I ended up speaking to Cathy a few times since she was concerned about the packing restrictions.
I was up by 5:30am. I tried to sleep a bit later but was too excited to hit the parks.
I showered and got dressed. I had some cereal and an English muffin for breakfast. I wrote some notes for this report and called Paul to wake him.
On the way out I stopped at the General Store at Vistana and bought a small bottle of detergent and a postcard that says Vistana. Then I drove over to Animal Kingdom. I parked and walked over to the entrance. It was only 8:40am so we waited a bit before we were let through the turnstiles.
We were let in around 8:50am but held up by the tip board with ropes. A kid was chosen to roll up the curtain on the tip board. A truck with Minnie Mouse, Goofy and some other characters came by to welcome us to the park. Mickey Mouse was by the Tree of life.
The park was officially open at 9 and we walked quickly – still behind a rope – towards Asia and Expedition Everest. I walked right on. I could have been on the first train of the day, but I wanted the front row so waited for the next train. It was a great ride and I was able to pay more attention to the details this time.
I chatted with Paul as I headed out of Animal Kingdom. I was the only person on the tram leaving the park. The temperature is comfortable so far.
I drove over to Epcot and went right to Mission Space. I tried the less intense side and walked right on. It was great and like a regular simulator ride without the nauseating spinning. I sent an electronic postcard from Mission Space – one to Paul (my husband) and one to Jen (my sister).
I stopped in the character connection and had pictures taken with all the characters that were there. This is a great way to get to see them.
Next I headed over to the Land to go on Soarin. The wait was posted as 10 minutes so I got in line. It turned out to be more like 25 minutes.
I headed out of Epcot after Soarin. It was approximately noon. I was hot so stopped back at Vistana, threw some more laundry in, jumped in a quick shower, and then heated up some leftovers from last nights dinner for lunch.
I left around 12:45 to head to the airport to pick up Cathy. I was there by 1, but her flight was delayed. Rather than circling for hour I parked and went into the terminal to wait. I chatted with Paul for a little while. I waited by the baggage claim area. Cathy landed and came out by about 1:45. We got her luggage and drove back to Vistana so she could change.
We headed to the Magic Kingdom. Cathy was hungry and getting a bit cranky. We went to Peco Bills. She had a burger and fries, and I had some fries.
Pirates of the Caribbean had a 20 minute wait posted. I haven’t seen a line for this in a long time. The ride was good and we saw the Johnny Depp additions. I wonder how Walt Disney would have felt about the changes to one of his originals.
Next we went into the Country Bear Jamboree. This was cute and as corny as always.
The Haunted Mansion was next. There were some technical difficulties and ride stopped a few times.
We headed into FantasyLand at about 6:30. We got a fastpass for Peter Pan since there was a 40 minute wait posted.
Small World had a bit of a wait, but not too bad.
Mickey’s Philharmagic was next. We just missed one show so waited for the next. This is the best 3D show at Disney.
It wasn’t time for our Peter Pan fast pass so we went on Snow White. Then we went on Winnie the Pooh with a 15 minute wait.
7:30 so it was time for Peter Pan. Even with fastpass we waited almost 15 minutes. But it was an enjoyable trip to Neverland.
Buzz Lightyear was next. I did as horrible as usual but still had fun.
Carousel of Progress was open so we headed in.
Stitch was to be next on the agenda but it was closed and it was only 8:45
We stopped at the Main Street bakery. A cinnamon bun and coke for me. A croissant, coffee, and iced tea for Cathy.
We watched Wishes at 9pm – what a great show.
We wandered through the stores on the way out.
We were hungry but didn’t want a big fancy meal. Cathy was in the mood for eggs. We went to Perkins for dinner. I had salad in a bread bowl. Cathy had Eggs with toast. This was a really inexpensive dinner at about $12 each.
We went back to Vistana and did some more laundry. I went in the Jacuzzi. Cathy wants to sleep in tomorrow so I’ll be off to MGM in the morning and will come back for her around 1pm.
I was up bright and early around 5am. This is way too early since the parks don’t open until 9am. I showered, got dressed, and had breakfast (cereal and an English muffin).
I went to MGM and was there before they opened. The characters were under the hat so I had my picture taken with Mickey Mouse, and then with Donald and Daisy Duck.
I walked right onto the Great Movie ride. The cast member who was on our car as the tour guide seemed like he really loved his job. He was so happy.
I went to the Little Mermaid next but the show wasn’t starting for 20 minutes so I headed to Tower of Terror. I got a fast pass even though the wait was only about 10 minutes. I wandered through a few stores then went back to the Little Mermaid. The show wasn’t full so we didn’t have to go all the way to the end of the row. It was a cute show as always.
I went back to Tower of Terror and into the Fastpass Return line. There were more people there than in the regular line.
Disney Animation was next. This is cute.
I headed to the other end of the park and went into Muppets 3D. It’s really hot out today.
I wandered through some of the stores, and then headed out of the park around 12:30.
I spoke with Paul as I was heading out. Cathy called when I was on the tram. She couldn’t stay by the pool long because of all the lovebugs.
Once I got back to Vistana I took another shower and then we headed to Epcot. We got a great parking spot – the first one of the row that’s marked “reserved”. We were directed to park there; we didn’t go around a cone or do anything we weren’t supposed to.
Our first stop was Spaceship Earth which we walked right onto.
We went to Mission Space on the less intense side. Cathy was a little nervous at first. The wait was listed as 20 minutes but we walked right on.
Test Track was next. The wait was listed as 50 minutes, but the wait was only 15 minutes. I suggested the single rider line when I saw the 50 minute wait, but Cathy didn’t want to do that. Luckily, the actual wait was much less than what was listed.
We headed over to the Land and got fast passes for Soarin since the standby wait was listed as 45 minutes.
We had lunch at the Seasons food court. I had macaroni and cheese and soda. Cathy had the same. It was not very good and not something I would get again.
The waits posted all seem to be overstated today. Living with the Land had a 20 minute wait posted but in actuality it only took 5 minutes. This was the first time riding without the live guide. I kind of missed having him/her.
We both enjoyed Soarin.
We headed to the World Showcase and started in Canada. Cathy got some popcorn. It’s really hot out so we spent a lot of time walking through the stores to cool off. In Morocco Cathy bought some Baklava; she was snacking around the world.
We were in America at 5 so watched the Voices of Liberty perform and then watched the 5:15 showing of the American Adventure. It’s nice and cool in here. Cathy fell asleep.
In Norway we went on Maelstrom. I read good things about the Lalia perfume so smelled it, but I didn’t like it. Of course, that’s just my opinion. I did get my rice cream and that was delicious.
In Mexico we rode El Rio Del Tiempo.
Since it was so hot we decided not to stay and see Illuminations since it was still a few hours away.
We went to the Marketplace instead and went to World of Disney. I bought a few things, as did Cathy.
We were hungry for dinner but not sure what we wanted. Cathy was in the mood for Seafood so we went to Fulton’s Crab House. Cathy had Lobster and Crab. I had the crab cakes. I used to like crab cakes before becoming a vegetarian so figured I’d give it a shot. It was OK, but after a little while I started getting grossed out by them and stuck to the vegetables and potatoes.
After dinner we went back to Vistana, did some laundry, some packing, I went in the Jacuzzi and went to bed.
I originally thought we’d get on the road around 8am to drive down to Ft Lauderdale. Cathy wasn’t in that much of a rush and said we would probably hit more traffic that early and also we’d get to the ship and not be able to check into our cabins yet.
So we ended up checking out of Vistana around 10:15 and getting on the road then. We took the Florida Turnpike heading south towards Ft Lauderdale. I still had a lot of water and soda left that I brought with me and put in one of my carry on bags.
It’s LoveBug season. I don’t know if that’s the official name for these bugs but they look like they have two heads and are attached to each other. They don’t bite but they’re just there. In Disney there were some. Cathy said when she went by the pool she couldn’t stay long because there were too many of the bugs.
On the Turnpike, the bugs were out of control. There were tons of them hitting the windshield. It sounded like it was hailing, but it was bugs – gross. The windshield washer fluid wasn’t doing anything to help; it was just smearing the squished bug bodies across the windshield. It was so bad I could barely see as I was driving.
We stopped at a rest area to use the ladies room and the bugs were swarming all over. I’ve never seen anything like that. When we got out of the car and ran into the service area we were running spastically flailing our arms and jumping around. People were looking at us like we were nuts. When we got back into the car, some bugs came in too.
Unlike New Jersey, in Florida, you are supposed to pump your own gas. I heard that New Jersey is one of only a few states that don’t allow people to pump their own gas. They also had stuff to clean the bugs from the windshield. It wasn’t just us; all the cars were covered in them.
We asked the guy working there if he would pump our gas and clean our windshield. We offered to pay him $20 to do so. He seemed surprised by the offer and asked incredulously if we meant we would give him $20 after paying for the gas? We said yes and he was happy to oblige. Cathy said she would have offered him $50. It was nice to be able to see out the windshield again.
We were at the rest stop for over an hour with the bug fiasco and the gas line.
We finally get back on the road and we’re still finding bugs in the car. I’m kind of squeamish about bugs and don’t like to kill living things so would start screaming “A Bug, A Bug” when I would see them and Cathy would kill them. So we’re driving at a nice speed – probably around 85 mph and I see a bug on my sock of my right foot (which is on the gas pedal). What do I do? Lift my foot up in the air at Cathy, yelling about the bug on my sock that she had to remove for me. She did so quickly and my foot was back on the gas pedal and we maintained our speed.
We didn’t get to Ft Lauderdale to drop the car off until around 3pm. Surprisingly, once in Ft Lauderdale, there weren’t any more Love Bugs so I’m sure the National Car Rental people were thrilled when we dropped off this white car whose whole front and most of the sides were covered in black bug bodies.
We took a taxi to the pier. Check in was very quick. We were on the ship by 3:30. Our rooms are ready so we went to drop off our carry on bags.
I’m in room #7631. It is really tiny. It’s smaller than I expected. As soon as I opened the door I walked right into the bed. However, the room has the new bedding that Royal Caribbean is starting to use across the fleet. Cathy is just down the hall and her room is much bigger with a balcony. It’s not just the balcony, the room itself is bigger.
We went to the Windjammer to get some lunch and then had to grab our life jackets to go to the Muster Drill. We’re at different muster stations. I called Paul after the Muster drill and chatted for a few minutes.
My giant suitcase arrived and I unpacked. For such a small room, there is a surprising amount of storage. I got everything put away. To use the safe you have to swipe a credit card, so I had to hide the credit card in the room instead of being able to lock it up. I did not have a refrigerator in my room. I met my room steward, she was very pleasant and said she would keep my ice bucket filled.
Cathy and I went to the casino and we each quickly lost $20.
7pm we each went to our respective rooms to shower and get ready for dinner. The shower has a curtain instead of the sliding glass doors I’m used to on ships (my prior cruises were all on newer ships) so that was a little weird. I brought binder clips for the bottom of the curtain. The shower spray/pressure is better than I expected. The built in shower shelves for toiletries is nice.
7:45 We went to the theatre for the Welcome Aboard Show. The theater is much smaller than I’m used to. Paul Rudder, the cruise director spoke. The Royal Caribbean dancers performed. A very funny comedian performed.
8:30 we headed to the dining room as we have late seating dinner. There was an art auction in the centrum that we stopped at briefly and then went to our table. It was nice that they had a greeter at the door to show you to your table. We’re at table #180 which is a table for 10 with 4 honeymoon couples and us. Two of the couples were not very talkative, but the other two were very nice. They’re mostly from the Midwest with pretty heavy accents. One couple was from Indiana, one from Michigan, one from Florida, and I’m not sure where the 4th couple was from.
For dinner I had the following:
Appetizer – Vidalia Onion Tart
Entre – Shrimp Ravioli – still trying some seafood but not having much luck actually eating it
Dessert – Ivory Chocolate fondue
I ordered a can of sprite, but received a can of coke. That’s OK, I’ll have coke tonight.
After dinner Cathy and I went to the Singles Get Together in the Schooner Bar. I told her I would go with her (she’s single). Nobody else showed up. We stayed for a while and had a drink. I finally tried a BBC (Baileys, Banana, Pina Colada). It was frozen and very good.
As we were sitting in the Schooner Bar we were making some observations about our dinner companions. The couples we spoke with were very nice. However, a few of the people at the table were surprised when Cathy ordered a bottle of wine and commented on it. No one at our table was dressed for dinner. I didn’t expect formal wear since it was the first night and casual, but shorts and T Shirts is what most of them were wearing. Cathy and I chose this cruise since it was short, cheap, and fit our schedule, yet these were people on their honeymoon. We really didn’t have much in common with any of them. I don’t mean this to sound snobby or that we’re better than anyone, but it was a very different crowd than what I was expecting. When Paul and I cruised out of New Jersey last month, almost everyone we ran into (and our dinner mates) were all from the tri state area and we had a lot more in common with them. Maybe whoever was doing the seating arrangements for this cruise was new to this. On the last cruise Cathy and I went on in March 2006 on the Mariner of the Seas we were at a table for 6 and the couples we were sitting with were very nice and we got along great with them.
We went back to the casino and lost another $20 each.
After the casino we went back to our respective rooms. Someone took my “Do Not Disturb” sign right out of the door. I was here and heard the click, then opened the door. Three people were walking down the hallway. I asked them if they took it. They said No. I think I shocked them when I opened the door. They’re a bunch of liars since no one else was there. I called housekeeping and told them so they brought me a new one.
The phone is near the desk so it would be odd to set a wake up call as you would have to find your way to the desk in the pitch dark or feel around for a light while the phone is ringing.
Now that everything is put away and I feel more organized, I like the room much more. Yes, it’s small, but it’s very cozy. My big suitcase doesn’t fit under the bed or in the closet so it’s along the back wall at the end between the closet and the bathroom. It’s not in the way since that is space that wouldn’t be used anyway.
Tuesday 9/26/06 – Key West
I was up early so got ready. I went out on deck to call Paul.
Cathy and I were planning to meet at 8:30. I called her at 8:30, but she wasn’t ready yet and needed another 15-20 minutes. She was ready by 9 and we headed to the windjammer for breakfast.
After breakfast we went out into Key West. Cathy bought a T Shirt near the pier. We started walking up Duval Street. Cathy spent a previous vacation in Key West so pointed out various places she’s been. I bought a postcard.
I stopped in Diamonds Int’l to get Kim the free charm for her bracelet with her card. At the Hard Rock Caf I bought a pin. It’s very hot out.
I wanted to go to Kino Sandals so we made our way there. I bought a really cute white leather pair. They have the thing between the toes which I don’t normally like, but they were cute and cheap at $10.75 so I got them.
We would stop in various shops along the way for air conditioning. We passed the Blonde Giraffe but they don’t open until noon and it was just a little before 11am. We found Kermits (which is the place Kim recommended) and I got a frozen Key Lime Pie on a stick. It’s frozen and dipped in chocolate and really good. I even got $1 off for being a cruise ship passenger so my total was $2.69. Cathy had a regular piece of Key Lime Pie.
Roosters roam around the streets freely. I took a picture of one.
I wanted to go to the Southernmost Point but Cathy didn’t think she could make it that far. I told her I’d go and she can go back to the ship if she wanted. She was worried I’d get lost since I don’t have a great sense of direction. She pointed me in the right direction, gave me the map, and I was on my way. It was further than I thought. It was also very hot. I chatted with Paul while I was walking there. I found it and took a few pictures. I walked back up Duval Street (not the street I walked down on) since there were shops and things to look at. I called Paul on the way back and we chatted some more. I was telling him what I was passing and as I passed Hard Rock Caf again he mentioned he likes the hats so I got him one.
I was really thirsty and was passing a CVS so stopped in to grab a can of soda. They were all warm so I didn’t bother. I can’t believe how hot it is. The long walk isn’t helping. I felt so sweaty and gross. My face was beet red from the heat.
There was a bit of a line to get back on the ship. We have to be aboard by 1:30 to sail at 2. I got back a little after 1. Luckily there is ice in my bucket. I drank two cans of soda; I was so thirsty. Then I jumped in a nice cool shower. I put away the items I bought. I wore my new kino sandals.
I went out to the pool deck to look for Cathy. I found her at the art auction. Her stomach is upset.
I stopped at the Windjammer and had some nachos.
I wanted to try the Bungee Trampoline but needed to remove all jewelry and needed socks so went back to the cabin to get ready to Bungee. I headed back up and signed up for the Bungee jumping. I waited a bit for my turn, then got hooked up and was able to jump around. It was pretty fun. All the harnesses that you are strapped into aren’t that comfortable. Some people were really getting into it and flipping all over.
I found Cathy on the pool deck and we talked about canceling our Talum Mayan Ruins excursion. Her ankle is bothering her, her stomach is upset, and it’s really hot. So we went to the excursion desk and they were able to cancel it without any problems. The $79 each would be credited to our Seapass accounts.
We looked in the jewelry store for a bit. Cathy found some jewelry she liked but is torn between which to buy – emeralds or pink sapphires. During our last cruise (in March on the Mariner of the Seas) Cathy bought a beautiful matching necklace, bracelet, and earrings in St Thomas as well as art at the Art Auction on the ship. After browsing, Cathy went to take a nap and we made plans to meet around 8:20 for dinner.
I went to the Casino for a little while. I put $20 in a poker machine, played a bit and hit 4 10’s for 240 quarters. I cashed out when it was down to 200 quarter or $50.
Tonight is formal night. Many people were really dressed up which we didn’t expect on a shorter cruise. Not the people at our table, but the people taking pictures in the Centrum were dressed to the nines. Cathy told me she was spoiled because her first cruise was on the Mariner which was bigger and newer.
I had the following for dinner:
Appetizer – Caesar salad
Entre – Wild Mushroom Alfredo Linguine
Dessert – Grand Marnier Souffl
I ordered my can of sprite $1.73 and received Sprite tonight
I enjoyed my linguine very much. I guess I really should stick to foods without chicken, meat, and fish in them since I can eat them, enjoy them, and not have to convince myself it’s OK to eat them.
After dinner we stopped at the store for Cathy to buy this perfume she liked. We were too late for the 10:15 Battle of the Sexes so went to the Orpheum Theater for the 10:45 Show – Stage to Screen. It was OK.
We went back to the casino where I quickly lost $30 so called it quits.
At Midnight we went up to the Viking Crown Lounge for 70’s night. We had drinks – a Malibu Bay Breeze for me, and a Toasted Almond for Cathy. I used my Crown & Anchor (C&A) coupon for the buy 1 get 1 free so the total was $6.04. The bartender at first didn’t know what Cathy’s drink was then figured it out. He also only gave her glass. She asked about that and he filled it with milk. She was not a happy camper. It was crowded and we stayed for about hour.
We went up to our respective rooms and made plans to meet tomorrow at 10am for breakfast. We have to move our clocks back tonight by 1 hour.
I had an elephant towel animal in my room.
Wednesday 9/27/06 - Cozumel
Cathy and I met for breakfast around 10am and went to the Windjammer. I wanted a mushroom and pepper omelet from the omelet station but they were out of peppers so I just got a mushroom omelet. It was horrible; it was swimming in grease. When I cut a piece it squirted. So I tossed it and got some yogurt, granola, and fruit (honeydew and cantaloupe) and made a parfait. This was very good. I haven’t seen pineapple.
After breakfast we headed into Cozumel. We’re docked at the International Pier. I stopped at the Diamonds International at the pier and got Kim’s charm before we headed to downtown. At first, they told me I had to go downtown to get the charm, and then they said they might have it. We took a taxi to downtown for $3 each.
There were 2 Carnival ships in Cozumel that had to tender and a Disney ship was docked downtown. The Mexican President is in town so the main road is closed to traffic. I was able to stand in the middle of the street to take some pictures.
We browsed through various stores. Cathy is still looking for jewelry. It’s very hot out again. I’m kind of glad we cancelled the excursion to the Ruins. If it’s even hotter there than what we have downtown, we would not have enjoyed it.
We found Los Cinco Soles and browsed in there. I bought a postcard. Cathy saw a wooden wheelbarrow she liked for $79, but it would have cost $190 to ship it home so she didn’t get it.
We had lunch at Pancho’s Backyard. Kim recommended this place highly. It’s a very welcoming and comfortable open-air restaurant. There are ceiling fans so it’s cool (not cold like air conditioning). I had Internet coupons for free Margaritas. I had a frozen strawberry Margarita and Cathy had a frozen regular Margarita. I thought it was very strong and didn’t drink much of mine. I had sprite and she had diet coke. We started with nachos and guacamole. They also brought us fresh salsa. This was really good. The chips were warm. The guacamole was fantastic. I had the cheese quesadilla but asked for no beans so they brought me rice instead. Cathy had the shrimp quesadilla. The food was delicious. The waiter brought us fresh sodas when our glasses were almost empty. With tax and tip our whole bill was only $33. We really enjoyed our lunch.
I did not have any cell phone service in Cozumel. When I spoke to Paul from Key West, I told him I’d try to call him again but didn’t know when I’d have cell service.
We did some more wandering. We passed a Hard Rock Caf so I bought Paul a hat and a pin. We took a cab back to the ship for $3 each. We wandered around the shops at the pier and then boarded.
We headed up to the pool and went swimming. Cathy didn’t stay in the pool long and went to a lounge chair. I stayed in the pool for a while and chatted with a couple that was there.
I finally got out of the pool and walked around to the Solarium pool to see what it was like. We were in the main pool. It wasn’t crowded since we’ll be in Cozumel until 7 so most people are still off the ship.
It got cloudy and windy and started raining around 5 so we headed in. We exchanged our pool towels then went up to our rooms to shower and change. Cathy wanted to relax so we made plans to meet at 7. I stopped to drop off the gratuity form. I still have no cell phone service. The stores on board aren’t open since we’re still docked.
We headed to the theater for the 7:15 show. It was very good and lasted until almost 8pm.
The Crown & Anchor (C&A) Welcome Back Party started at 7:45 so I went once the show ended. Cathy went to the Casino.
The C&A party was held in the Spotlight Lounge. It wasn’t too crowded. They had a table set up with appetizers that could help yourself to and waiters walked around giving you drinks. They even had a platter of chocolate covered strawberries. I wrapped 2 of them up in a napkin to give Cathy, as they are her favorite. A band was playing. The loyalty ambassador spoke briefly as did anther guy (maybe the hotel director) then there was more music. I left around 8:25 and looked for Cathy in the casino. I didn’t see her so went to the dining room, she was there and pleasantly surprised with the chocolate covered strawberries.
It’s Italian night so for dinner I had:
Appetizer – Caprese salad
Entre – Scallop Risotto from the appetizer menu. I asked for it as an entre. I pulled the scallops off and gave them to Cathy and some of the other people at our table that wanted them.
Dessert – Tiramisu
We were talking with our tablemates and at one point the conversation turned to parking cars in New York City. One of the girls was so cute and could not understand the concept of how the cars in the garages are parked on lifts one on top of another pretty much.
After dinner we went to the Spotlight Lounge for the Quest at 10:30. We had drinks – a BBC for me and a Toasted Almond for Cathy. There were a few new Quests during this game and it was a lot of fun. We weren’t on a team, we just watched. However, I did lend a $20 bill to the team near us when they were looking for a picture of the White House.
We headed to the Casino after the Quest. I played my poker machine and hit 4 of a kind – Queens. I cashed out 200 quarters or $50, but ended up putting most of it back. I left the casino even for tonight. Cathy did well on her Double Diamond machine. She started with $20 and cashed out $100.
I had another towel animal when I went back to my room.
Thursday 9/28/06 – At Sea
Cathy and I had plans to meet for breakfast at 10. She was running late so we met closer to 10:30. We had breakfast in the Windjammer. I stuck with the yogurt, granola and fruit that I enjoyed yesterday.
Cathy went to lay by the pool. I went to the shops and bought an Enchantment of the Seas Album, 2 shot glasses, a pen, and a postcard. I went in the Casino for a while and ended up losing $40, but I did play for a long time with that $40.
I stopped at the Solarium Grill for a veggie burger and fries. The veggie burger was like a hockey puck, but I ate some of it since I’m having trouble finding food to eat.
At 2:15 I went to the Meet the Staff/Backstage tour. This was very good. The cruise director, an activities manager, and 2 of the production managers were there. They talked about their jobs and answered questions. Next we were split into two groups for the rest of the tour. We started on the stage where we learned about costumes, shoes, wigs, etc. They had various items for us to see. Next we went backstage and saw the areas they change in during the show, where things go and the stage sets. This was a very interesting tour and lasted until about 3:30.
I stopped at my room to get a Bingo coupon then went to the 4pm Bingo. I didn’t win anything.
I went up to the pool deck to look for Cathy but didn’t see her. There was an informal Belly Flop contest going on so I watched that for while.
Cathy and I went to the show – Can’t Stop the Rock, which was a pre-dinner show at 7:15. It was good. After seeing the backstage tour this afternoon I appreciated it even more.
We stopped at the Casino briefly for Cathy to play and then headed down to dinner at 8:30.
The bar waiter knows to bring me my can of Sprite every night without asking which is nice.
Appetizer – Mushroom in puff pastry
Soup – Chilled Berry soup – I did not like this
Salad – There was a Caesar salad for the table
Entre – I had pasta shells with marinara sauce that I didn’t like.
Dessert – Key Lime Pie. This was OK but after the one from Kermits in Key West it’s hard to compare
After dinner we were heading to the Orpheum theatre and Cathy didn’t feel well and wanted to go back to her room. So I headed off to the evening entertainment.
Win a Cruise Bingo (for a 5 night cruise) started at 10:30 with the Love & Marriage show to start right after. I didn’t play Win a Cruise bingo but wanted to have a seat in the theatre.
The theatre was packed. People were waiting in the back expecting a lot of people to leave after Bingo. A young guy from Michigan won the free cruise. A few people left but most stayed where they were.
The Love & Marriage show started close to 11pm. The contestants were chosen by raffle tickets in three groups (< 5 years, 5-25 years, >25 years). It was a funny show. The honeymoon couple didn’t get any points at all. The couple married 40 years won.
After Love & Marriage I went down to the dining room to take pictures of the Gala Buffet. They did a very nice job. It was more elaborate than I expected. I didn’t stay to eat anything.
I went back up to the room and got my beach bag ready for Coco Cay tomorrow.
Friday 9/29/06 – Coco Cay
Cathy and I had plans to meet at 10am. She called me at 9:30 because she still isn’t feeling well and wants to sleep for another hour. She didn’t want any breakfast. She also told me it’s pouring out and they stopped the tenders.
I went up to the Windjammer and had breakfast – fruit, yogurt, and granola parfait and some toast. I wandered around the ship a bit – still no cell service. I started some packing so I wouldn’t have to do it all later.
Around noon Cathy and I met for lunch. We were planning to go to the Dining Room since the compass said they were open. When we got there, it was closed and we were directed up to the Windjammer. There wasn’t much for me to eat there, but I had some corn.
Cathy still wasn’t feeling that well and didn’t want to go to Coco Cay.
After we ate I grabbed my stuff and got on the tender to Coco Cay. It was very cloudy out. I wandered around and took some pictures. After wandering some more, it started raining. I got on the next tender back to the ship. It took a while for the tender to get back. I did a little more packing when I got back and then did some wandering around the ship.
I looked for Cathy on the pool deck but didn’t find her. I like the glass circle on the extended portion of the pool deck where you can see down to the water. I started watching a movie “Keeping Up with the Steins’. It was silly but passed the time. I’m finding a lot of times when I’m kind of bored. I don’t know how to relax and like to run around all the time.
Cathy and I met around 5:20 after the movie and looked for a snack. The Windjammer is closed. We ended up at the Solarium Caf. I tried the pizza, which was horrible so I threw it out and had French Fries. Cathy had a cheeseburger and fries.
We went to the Casino and played for a little while. I lost $20. We stopped in the shops for Cathy to get eye cream.
Then we went back to our rooms to change. Our show is pre-dinner tonight. It’s the Farewell Show at 7:15. There were 2 comedy jugglers “Howie & Bert” They were very funny. They also showed bits of the Cruise in Review Video.
After the show we stopped in the Casino and then went to dinner.
Appetizer – Chips with Spinach Dip and Pineapple
Entre – fried Tofu with vegetables
Dessert – Sampler (included mini cheesecake, chocolate cake, and rum cake)
The bar waiter brought my Sprite.
I also had the Loving Cup after dinner drink
We handed out our tip envelopes.
I got most of my packing finished.
At 10:15 we went to the final – 1 game Bingo for $20. The Jackpot was over $5,000. I even convinced Cathy to play. Cathy was 1 number away and standing. The guy on the other side of me was standing too and he got Bingo.
I finished my packing, and then put the luggage out.
We went to the 11:30pm Late Night comedy that was hysterical. I don’t know why they have this the last night when people have to pack and be out of their room early the next morning. It’s the same guy from the first night so he’s been on the ship.
We had to be out of our rooms at 8am so headed to the dining room for breakfast. We were seated with two other couples. One couple was from Atlantic City, NJ and they were very nice. The other couple was from Florida and they were very odd. The guy didn’t stop talking for 2 seconds.
I had yogurt, fruit, and granola then banana pancakes with apple juice. Cathy had grapefruit and eggs.
I preferred the fruit, yogurt, and granola I’ve been making for myself in the Windjammer.
Our color, light blue, was called just as we finished eating so we headed off the ship. We found our luggage then walked to the taxi stand. It was very odd – a taxi was there and a guy loaded our luggage for us. We thought he was the driver. Then as we were getting in the cab and he asked “Isn’t there a tip for me?” Not really sure who he was – maybe a taxi dispatcher, so we gave him $5 and were on our way.
We had to rearrange some luggage and put the toiletries in the suitcase to be checked. The Jet Blue porter was very nice and got our luggage tags while we rearranged curbside. He then took our bags to be checked. I tipped him $10 for our two bags.
We went through security fairly quickly. I couldn’t bring my water. However, once near the gate you can buy water and bring it on the plane, which I did - $1.99. We were at the gate at 10:05 (too late to get the earlier 10:05 flight) so settled in to wait.
Our flight took off a little late at 1pm instead of 12:35. We landed in JFK close to 4pm. We got our luggage. Cathy took a cab home. I called Avistar who came pretty quickly. The guy was very friendly and I was the only passenger. I got my car and headed home. There was some traffic so it took longer than it should have.
Paul and Kiki were home to greet me when I arrived.
I always have fun on vacation. I realized I prefer the bigger ships with more to keep my occupied. Cruising is a good way for Cathy and I to vacation, as our vacation styles are very different. She likes to relax and lay by the pool, while I like to be busy. We can each do our thing and then meet for things like shows, dinner, excursions, or any other activities that we both are interested in. I also realized that my favorite vacation is still Disney World. I’ve become very self sufficient and am happy to run around and do things on my own if no one else wants to participate.
Thank you for reading my long detailed review. I'm happy to answer any questions.