Sunday, June 27, 2010

Not a good start...Day 1 and 2 of our two week vacation

Day 1:

This definitely hasn’t been the ideal beginning of our trip….we left Seattle at about 9 pm on Tuesday night - we got through the airport ok, though security lines were long and it’s always hectic with the kids. Our flight was originally delayed but then ended up being on time which was good. We were on the plane by 11:20 or so, and arrived in Atlanta at 7:30. The kids slept the whole flight and I tried- but didn’t. They were both asleep on me so by the end of the flight I was exhausted and uncomfortable. Luckily our flight in Atlanta was the next gate over, so no running through the airport to catch our connecting flight. We boarded at 8:30, and arrived in Florida at 10:30am. 

 When we got to Florida, we noticed camera crews in the airport and herds of people. There was a Harry Potter plane that had just landed and rumors were the cast was on it arriving for opening day of Wizarding World of Harry Potter on the 18th @ Universal Studios. Because I was tired, and just wanted to get out of there, we didn’t hang around. (much to the dismay of the kids).

We hit up Starbucks, and headed to the main terminal to find the Disney Express busses to take us to the hotel. We are staying at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort- a moderate resort according to their classifications. Our room wasn’t ready yet so I decided to tackle the problem that had arisen the night before- replacing my phone. It has been dying slowly but crashed completely at SeaTac airport.

I grabbed a taxi after checking in and embarked on a nightmare of getting lost, and long lines in the tmobile store. It was awful considering how tired I was. With new phone in hand, we headed back to the resort. By this time it was close to 2 pm. We had food in the big food court, and got hydrated (it was 100 degrees at this point). We took a walk around the resort, which was simply beautiful. Beaches, hammocks and an awesome pool and kids play area. It is themed to look like Caribbean villages. The resort is so big you need to take an internal bus to get around- it would take nearly 30 minutes to walk from our room to the front desk.

We got checked in at 3, and called down to bell services to get our bags brought up and realized Piper’s luggage was missing…we had it shipped down (a luggage company that is insured, and they ship fed ex) last week so I was not foreseeing problems…but her suitcase was missing leaving only her dress, a nightgown and a swimsuit on her back. Not ideal!

After many phone calls they assured me they would find it but most likely not before we have to leave for our cruise Fri morning. However I was authorized to spend what I needed to replace the items in the meantime to make sure she has things for the cruise and I will get reimbursed.

We planned to go out for dinner but by this point I was too tired, so we ordered pizza in. Both kids crashed by 8 pm which made me think we were adjusted to the time zone already.

Day 2:

The next morning we all got up between 9:30 and 10- so late for us!

We had a good morning spent at the Downtown Disney area- but it was SO hot (about 95 degrees). We walked around at the outdoor Lego imagination center, and the big World of Disney Store. Piper bought a baby Simba animal, and Aidan got a small lego set.

We had lunch and the kids played in the fountains and then we headed to the big toy store. They have many stations there with unlimited toys for a certain price. Piper spent the rest of her money on a fill a box with My Little Pony things (all Disney outfits, etc) and Aidan made a build your own Light Saber.

We headed back to the hotel because it started thundering, and right when we got here it started pouring. So odd considering it’s in the high 80’s right now.

We waited until the rain tapered off a bit before heading out to Target to replace all of Piper's clothes.  We took a taxi each way but it was pretty close by so not too big of a deal.  We went over to the food court in the hotel for a quick dinner and then a walk back to our room. It was so pretty at dusk!  The kids even saw a bunny hopping around the resort by our room.  After a bit we crashed for the night- tomorrow was the cruise!!

Day 3 of our two week vacation- first day of our cruise!

Day 3- Checking out of our hotel and onto the cruise!

we got up around 7 this morning- got ready, got packed and went to breakfast. It was about 85 this morning and we ate outside by the pool. We were wearing our suits so we decided to swim and play until 10 when we would need to head back to our room to change into the clothes we would leave in.

We met our cruise staff at the hotel lobby area and started the check in process here- which later turned out to be a godsend. We left the hotel (100 people just from our hotel alone) at 12:15 or so and it took an hour and 15 minutes to get to the port.

The ship is massive- for those who have never been on it or seen it before that’s all that was being murmured as we pulled up to Port Canaveral. We went through an xray machine, up a set of escalators into a very nice terminal and skipped all the check in lines here. I stopped for less than 5 minutes to get P and A their kids club bracelets (bulky but oh well) and my pager that is linked to them. Again- the line was much longer for new sign ups but I was prepared and had done it online.

We got into the ship within minutes and immediately headed up to deck 9 for the lunch buffet. For a buffet it was amazing! Salmon, shrimp, amazing pastas, steaks, etc. So many choices. We got ate then headed to our stateroom. Tiny tiny tiny! And besides the handful of suites on board we have the nicest room! But that is how cruise ships go, and I was expecting it. P and I are sharing the queen bed and the sofa flips upside down in a weird way to become a twin bed. The living space is small but nice- and the balcony makes it all worth while. We have 2 half bathrooms that are the size of a person each. Lol. Everything is themed lovely- obviously very nautical and there is a large steamer trunk and a very big closet for storage.

After we checked out our room we headed down to the lounge to meet up with some of our friends we had met on a message board. All of our kids instantly hit it off and the grown ups were really great too. Someone to talk to when I get a free moment!  We then checked out the massive lobby area.

At 4pm we had the mandatory safety drill- we donned our life jackets from our room, headed down one deck to the lifeboat stations and did the drill, which lasted about 15 minutes or so. A major pain when it’s in the upper 90’s and no wind, but its over quick.

We then decided to walk around and explore a bit- we peeked in the kids clubs, looked at the shops, and some of the restaurants, etc. We ran into some characters in the lobby and I got some cute pics of the kids with them:)  At this point I lost my ipod though :( I need to go to guest services tomorrow…

At 5:00 there was the sail away party (yay for a yummy cold drink!).  We peeked up there and also listened from our verandah.

Our dinner is early seating at 5:45 so we headed down for that. The service is amazing- on this cruise, the wait staff follows you to the rotational restaurants each night. So you get to experience different gourmet dining venues but keep your staff with you, They took the time to ask questions about us, where we were from, did magic tricks for the kids, colored with Piper while we were waiting, etc. They are amazing, We ate tonight at Animator’s Palate- a restaurant that starts in black and white and “magically” changes to color by the end. It was pretty neat an there was a little show at the end that was great. All food is free, and meals are courses. The kids stuck to kids food, but I got mushroom risotto and a baked potato cheese soup to start and a phyllo wrapped salmon (sooo good) and a apple cobbler for desert (along with a much needed latte).

After dinner we had about 40 minutes to spare before the show of the night so I dropped the kids off in the clubs for a bit, and went back to the room to organize luggage/hang clothes a bit. At 8:30 we headed to the big theater for a Broadway scale live show. It was called the Golden Mickey’s and it highlighted many of the songs in the movies throughout the years. Numbers from Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Toy Story, Lion King, Mulan, Pocahontas, etc. And there was a very cool Tarzan act with this guy (Tarzan) swinging on ropes doing acrobatics. It was very cool.

After the show we came back for a bit to the room, and looked at our navigator to see what else was going on that night. It was 9:30 by this point (kids have normal bedtime of 8, but it’s vacation…). We decided to head up to deck 9 under the stars and watch Enchanted on the big open air movie screen. We sat in deck chairs and even though it was 11:30 when we left, it was still warm out, even with an ocean breeze.

Kids crashed as soon as we got back into the room, and I am currently watching things sway (we are passing through a bit of a storm I think) but it’s calming down.

Tomorrow is our first port! We leave the ship at 9:30 and head to Blue Lagoon Island to play in the sun and sand all day. Then to Nassau in the late afternoon.

Day 4- Blue Lagoon Island and Nassau Bahamas

Full day 4- New Providence and Blue Lagoon Island

Today we started the day by having room service delivered to our room for breakfast (free! Gotta love all inclusive food) and the kids struggled a lot to get going. I had toast and coffee on my verandah and watched as we pulled up to Nassau on New Providence Island.

We docked at around 8, and met our tour group downstairs before disembarking (Aidan ran into Peter Pan on the way down which was neat). We followed them through downtown Nassau a bit and headed to the smaller docks where we boarded a large catamaran and headed for Blue Lagoon Island. The boat ride was about 30 minutes and we passed gorgeous waterfront mansions and the Atlantis resort on Paradise Island.

When we arrived at Blue Lagoon Island, everyone was exclaiming how beautiful it was, and there truly are no words. The water was crystal clue and shallow. We encountered fish in the lagoon too which delighted the kids. We had full access to all the water floats, tubes, mats, etc so the kids had fun with that. Our lunch was included, as were 2 drinks each- and the food was surprisingly good. The beaches had perfect sand, amazing hammocks and chairs for everyone, palm trees everywhere (P found a coconut on the ground and was so happy). I was able to play in the water, enjoy a couple drinks and read while the kids played all day.  Oddly the island was so quiet. The island has resident dolphins so the kids went to watch them for awhile as well. There really are no words to describe how beautiful this island is.

 We took a boat back around 2, and walked around the straw market for bit, and then I saw Starbucks. I have never booked it so fast in 90+ degree heat before. Lol. The kids were laughing so hard at me.

We went back to the boat around 3:30 or 4 and I dropped Aidan at the kids club (his request) and Piper and I went to get ice cream and watch Aladdin on the big movie screen on deck.

Dinner tonight was at Parrot Cay- a Caribbean themed restaurant. Our servers (who as I mentioned, follow us with each restaurant) knew us by name immediately, confirmed our drink orders and were incredibly attentive to the kids. Andres (our main waiter) even cut the kids’ food and bribed Aidan to eat more.  First though, we got our pics taken by the ship's photographers.

After dinner Aidan wanted to go back to the kids club- so I dropped him off (which is why half the photos are of Piper, or P and me taken by other people). Piper and I turned the corner and found Tiana. Piper was so happy she got all choked up and then told her she would miss her as she walked away- and made the girl playing Tiana pretend to cry. It was so cute. Piper and I then took a stroll on deck 4 to watch the beginning of the sunset before having to go in.

The show that night was Toy Story the musical- another Broadway scale show. The toys were life-size and looked just like the toys in the movies. Hamm, Rex, Slinky, everyone (inc Woody and Buzz obviously). It was good. The little martian guys were my favorite (in the claw machine).

The kids decided not to do anything after the show so we came back to our room and watched How to Train Your Dragon (one of the movies constantly on the movie channels along with Leap Year, Dear John, The Last Mimzy and the Golden Compass- totally random, I know). The kids ordered cookies and milk from room service and I got the gourmet cheese platter. Once again, love the free room service!!!

Tomorrow we dock at Castaway Cay- Disney’s own private island. Should be another fun beach day- along with parasailing for Aidan and I and stingray encounters/snorkeling with P and I,