January 4, 2011

 

Yikes – look at all that snow! Naturally the day we are leaving we wake to the biggest snowfall of the year. It was those great big giant snowflakes that go “thud” when they land. Fortunately there were only three inches on the ground and it was light and fluffy.

At about 9:30 I went out to shovel. Another two inches had fallen by then. I fired up the snow blower; just to be sure it was working OK. My neighbour will probably need it while we are away; he’s pretty good about taking care of the place for us. I did our drive with the blower and then shoveled his drive by hand before heading back indoors about 10:00 a.m.

Carol was muttering some meteorological expletives. “Dad-blasted snow!” “Mutter-fusted snow!” and stuff like that! She’s pretty excited about this trip and no-one or nothing should get in her way.

Our cruise documents had not arrived so we decided to wait a few hours until the mail came. We pulled out at 11:30 and swung by the mailbox. The mail was there – good! There were no cruise documents – bad!

We made a quick stop at Carol’s parents and dropped Zak off for his three week stay. We were back on the road shortly after noon. The closer we got to Toronto , the less snow we saw. By the time we pulled into our hotel near the airport there was no snow at all.

We settled in and rested a bit, and then it was dinner time. We ate at a restaurant just around the corner. By 7:00 we were back at the hotel and heading for a swim and dip in the hot tub before watching some TV. Ooops . . . the pool was down for maintenance – so was he hot tub – and the sauna was stone cold. But the steam room was hot – steamy hot. Neither of us had ever enjoyed a steam bath before and it felt good, after we turned the temperature down a few notches.

We were back to the room by 8:00; tomorrow we’re up bright and early (actually it will be dark and early) to catch our 7:00 a.m. Flight to Orlando . Ouch!


January 5, 2011

 

We had to be up for a 5:30 shuttle ride to the airport so we developed a fail-safe wake up system.  Carol set her cell phone for a 4:45 alarm.  I set the alarm clock in the room for 4:45 and then our “fall-back” in case of disaster was our 5:00 a.m. wake up call from the front desk.

 

I woke at 4:30 to the sound of Carol in the shower.  She was just too excited to sleep.  After six hours of my snoring she had had enough and got up to get ready.  So I was up before the cell went off.  I had just fumbled through shutting it down when the alarm clock sounded.  The clock was a challenge to turn off too!

 

I was in the shower by the time Carol handled the wake up call.  There we were, wide awake but still tired!  We were in the lobby on time and the shuttle was on time.  We whisked through the airport, cleared security, cleared US Customs and then sat to enjoy a few minutes savoring our last Tim Horton’s for a few weeks.  Air Canada surprised us - the flight boarded quickly, left on time and touched down in Orlando a few minutes early.  Then we hit the baggage claim.  I think Air Canada may have brought their own baggage handlers along; the wait was almost as long as the flight.

 

Soon we were aboard the Magical Express bus and on our way.  After quick stops at the Polynesian Resort and the Grand Floridian we pulled up at Wilderness Lodge.  We were checked in by noon but our room wasn’t ready yet.  We checked our bags with Bell Services and caught the launch to the Magic Kingdom .   We walked slowly up Main Street , snapping a few pictures along the way and soon we were enjoying a hot dog at Casey’s.  Yum!

We wandered further up Main Street to The Hub and took a few more pictures before heading over to Liberty Square .  Carol browsed her way through the Christmas Shop while I relaxed in Santa’s sleigh.  Yes, the Christmas decorations are still up but the cast member who checked us in at Wilderness Lodge said they would all be disappearing tonight!  It’s amazing how quickly they can put them up and take them down!

 

One look at the line for the Haunted Mansion and we doubled back.  It was huge!  We wandered over to Frontierland and planned to see the Country Bears but Carol got sidetracked by the pins for sale in Frontier Mercantile.  She emerged from the store just after the show had started so we carried on toward Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.  Lord thunderin’ bejeebers!  There was a huge line there too!  No wonder there was no one on the streets; they were all in the lines!

 

We boarded the train and took a ride to Toon Town then hiked over to Tomorrowland.  Along the way we stopped to see the new interactive entry to Winnie the Pooh.  Guess what?  Yup . . . a 70 minute wait!  We passed on the interactive line.  We headed on to Buzz Lightyear where the standby line read 30 minutes but we were shooting within 20 minutes.  After Buzz we hopped aboard the Tomorrowland Transit/Wedway Peoplemover and took a spin.  No line there!

 

Carol bought a special Mickey Mouse Christmas popcorn bucket - we took him for a ride on the Wedway too!

We’d been wandering around the park for hours and our early start was catching up on us, so we shopped our way down Main Street on our way back to the hotel.  Carol was shopping more diligently than I was so I dashed off ahead and found a nice bench in front of City Hall.  While I sat there waiting for her Mike and Michelle spotted me and came over to say hello.  They are running in the week end Marathon events, along with Michelle’s son Liam.  Soon Carol joined us and we had a nice visit before we headed off to the dock for our boat ride home.

 

The wind was blowing strong and the boat had some trouble pulling into the Magic Kingdom dock.  We had fun watching for about 10 minutes until the skipper decided to use the “upwind” dock.  It worked much better and we were soon underway.  As we walked from the dock to the lobby we gazed over to the hot tub, where we planned to go after dinner.  What’s that green fence around the hot tub?  Dang!  It’s closed!  The lifeguard said that we were welcome to use the tub at the Wilderness Lodge Villas . . . that became the new plan!

Our room was ready so we retrieved our luggage and got settled in.  We have a very nice room on the fourth floor overlooking the lobby.  Directly outside our door is a balcony with two rocking chairs looking directly across to the Whispering Canyon Café.

 

Soon it was time for our dinner reservation.  Carol went ahead to spend some time in the shops (not my favorite thing) and I joined her a half hour later for dinner.  We had a great time at Whispering Canyon Café – good food and a very entertaining show by the wait staff!  Just as we finished our friends Bob and Juanita arrived for their dinner.  We chatted with them briefly and then headed back to our room.

 

By 8:00 we were in the hot tub at the Villas.  Aaah!  That feels good!  After about 20 minutes in the steamy water we were fading fast!  We headed back to the room and settled in front of the TV with plans to get to bed early.  It’s been a long day and we’ll have a busy one tomorrow too! 

 

Note:  Our posts from here on will be sporadic at best!  Internet access is very expensive and very slow on the ship.  We will be checking in occasionally, but we won’t be posting reports from the ship.  I plan to write about our adventures every day and I might be able to post if we find a wireless connection at one of our port stops.  Just thought I’d let you know that you may not hear any more until we land in California .


January 6, 2011

 

I was dozing and thinking, “This is it, we sail today!”  when a loud clap of thunder woke me up.  It sounded like a moose was crossing the corrugated roof just beyond our balcony!

 

I was out of bed by 7:00 and quickly hit the shower to avoid the flurry as Carol began repacking.

 

I wandered the lobby taking a few pictures while Carol got ready and I had just settled in a comfy chair to read my book when she joined me.  Before long John & Cathy joined us and we headed for Whispering Canyon Café for our 9:00 breakfast reservation.  The restaurant wasn’t crowded so the cast had plenty of time to perform for us!  It was great fun!

We all hopped in John’s rental van and headed off to Port Canaveral.  We made a short (but vitally important) stop at the ABC Liquor Store.  Once we were fully stocked with scotch we were eastbound again!

 

We pulled into the Disney Cruise Line Terminal at about 11:00 and checked our luggage at the curb.  Carol and Cathy headed into the terminal while John and I returned the van.  The shuttle had us back at dockside before noon and we joined the ladies for check-in.  We had a bit of a chat with Ripkensnana and MyBob before their boarding number was called. The crowd was still very light so we had an “almost private” audience with Captain Mickey.  Then Mickey’s shift was ending so Minnie came to relieve him.  They both put on a bit of a show for us.

Before we knew it they called our boarding number and we were on our way.  Gosh it feels nice when you walk aboard and they announce:  “Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the Cruise family!”

Our stateroom wouldn’t be ready for another 45 minutes so our first stop was Beach Blanket Buffet on deck 9.  After a bite of lunch we headed down to our staterooms on deck 6.  Soon our luggage arrived and we (“we” means Carol) unpacked and got settled in.  Lifeboat drill was at 4:00 and once again we were in Artists Palette (you no longer have to wear or take the life jacket with you on the drill). 

 

As soon as the safety drill was over we headed up to deck 10 and staked out a prime spot along the rail to see the new Disney Dream as we sailed by.  Most people were waiting for the sail-away party to begin in the mid-ship area.  We walked right past them and found a terrific spot along the rail near the bow (the pointy-end).  The skies were overcast and the wind picked up as we waited. We had some time to visit with Bob and Juanita, Carol, Bob, Pam and Mike. It was getting cool so they all left so it was just John, Cathy, Carol and I left.  By 5:30 they had cast off lines and we were underway.  There was a glorious sunset behind us but no one noticed . . . all eyes were focused ahead at the Disney Dream.  OMG – it’s huge!  And that water slide looks so cool!  The cast and crew from the new ship were all on deck, lining the rails cheering at us and waving streamers.  We were cheering back and waving our white gloves!  The ships both had their searchlights panning the skies.  It was glorious!  As we passed the Captains began a game of dueling banjos with the ships horns.  When You Wish Upon A Star resounded around the harbor six times, three times from each ship!  WOW!  What a treat!  Carol and I both got a bit misty.

 

Click the arrow to see a video of the "dueling horns"

When it was all over we noticed how chilly it had become so we headed to the Walt Disney Theatre for the nightly 6:15 p.m. show.  The show was “Let the Magic Begin” – a spirited song and dance show followed by a short show by Bronkar Lee, a beat-boxer.  I hate Bronkar – he was making three different noises with his mouth while he juggled five balls and danced.  I cannot walk and chew gum at the same time - therefore I hate Bronkar!  We hope to see his show at WaveBands on Friday night, he’s a great performer.  During the show our Cruise Director, Christian, announced a few statistics.  The cruise is sold out, meaning that every cabin is occupied, but there are only 1,900 guests aboard and 1,400 of us have cruised with Disney before.  The passenger load is very light compared to a normal cruise – there are only 289 children aboard compared to the normal average of 1,100.  It’s unusually quiet around the children’s pool and the 29, 0 – 3 year old kids will probably be outnumbered by the care-givers in Flounders.

 

After the show we quickly changed clothes and headed off to Parrot Cay for dinner with our tablemates John, Cathy, Pam and Mike.  It was nice to sit, relax and catch up with friends over a good meal.  We loitered and chatted until after 10:00 and then the guys moved on to John and Cathy’s balcony for a nightcap.  After savoring a fine highland nectar it was lights out!  What a magical day!


January 7, 2011

 

I woke up just before 7:00 and looked out the sliding door – no sign of Castaway Cay yet!  I left the sliding door open and went back to bed.  Carol and I laid in bed watching the horizon jump up and down past the balcony railing.  The winds were strong and the seas were high.  The ship was rocking, the drapes were waving, spume was flying off the crests of the waves.  Uh-Oh!

 

Soon Castaway Cay came into view – the waves were crashing over the break-wall and the dock where we were supposed to land and disembark.  The dock was entirely soaked by the spray carried by the high winds. The captain turned the ship and lined it up to back into the dock but the thrusters could not hold us in position against the high winds while we backed into the dock.  He swung us around again and waited for the winds to subside a bit, then lined us up again.  Unfortunately the wind was just too strong again once again.  Then came the fateful announcement over the PA system – no Castaway Cay day on this cruise.  There was just no way we could dock safely - so we gained another sea day.  We had hoped to rent bicycles and do a bit of exploring on the island . . . it’ll have to wait until next time!

Carol and I headed up to Beach Blanket Buffet for breakfast and then made ourselves comfortable on deck 9.  Carol found a deck chair in the sun and I picked a table in the shade where I could sit with my new e-book reader, a PanDigital Novel, which Carol gave me for Christmas.  I was so engrossed in my new toy that I didn’t notice her leaving.  I was quite surprised when she showed up with the new pins she had just bought – there will be a new limited edition pin released at each port of call and she had just picked up the Castaway Cay pin.

Ursulinda had an up-close and personal encounter with Pluto!

We met John and Cathy at Beach Blanket Buffet for lunch and then meandered down to our cabin and settled in for a nap . . . Aaah! We needed that!  By 3:30 we were back on deck 9 looking for a comfy spot to settle when Cathy spotted us and let us know they were on the Overlook Lounge above the Cove Café.  We had a quick snack at Goofy’s Galley and then joined John and Cathy at the Outlook.  We relaxed and chatted for a while and then headed off to look at the art to be auctioned off on deck 4.  We stopped along the way to have some pictures taken with characters.  There are so few children aboard that the characters are running around the ship stalking the poor little tykes!

 

After checking out the art and our photos at Shutters it was time to go get cleaned up for dinner.  After our showers Carol went to the pin trading gathering in the atrium.  A little later I headed down to the Promenade Lounge where we had agreed to meet John & Cathy.  Carol met me there and John & Cathy soon joined.  We decided to move to the Cadillac Lounge, it’s quieter than the Promenade.  

After a drink we headed off to Triton’s for dinner, it was great.  Carol and I both had a seafood fettuccini with a light curry sauce.  It was very nice.  After dinner the ladies headed to WaveBands and got six seats for the 10:30 show featuring Bronkar Lee.  Mike led John and I astray . . . we didn’t want to go, but he dragged us back to his cabin for a scotch before the show.  Just to show that we’re good sports we had a Balvenie Doublewood with him.  Then it was showtime.  We took the drinks with us to WaveBands.  Bronkar was terrific – he spiced his show up for the “Adult Only” crowd and had the men laughing and the ladies screaming for more.  They seemed to really enjoy the way he handled his silicone juggling orbs.

 

After the show was over we wandered off to the mid-ship elevators and were heading back to our cabin after a long and pleasant day.  We had just said goodbye to Mike and Pam and turned toward the elevator when a stranger walked up, looked directly at me and said, “Princess Poopyknees?”  I was totally shocked and blurted out, “Yeah, that’s me!”  Of course, Carol, John & Cathy are now giggling hysterically.  There were about a half dozen people in the group of strangers and the man explained that he has been reading our trip reports for years.  His wife said, “Yes, he calls me in all the time and says - You just got to read this!”  By now I was laughing along with the rest of the group.  It was really a hilarious encounter.  They even remembered Beaverly . . . Moley, you've created a monster!  What happened to the six degrees of separation?  Seems like there are only two or three degrees these days.  I think he said his screen name on DisBoards is Sergeant something-or-other but I don’t remember exactly.  He also mentioned that he has read Carol’s pin trading blogs on AllEars.net    Sarge, if you read this on Carol’s web site please sign the guest book and let us know (again) who you are.  Wow, what a small world!

 

John & Cathy went for a stroll on deck while Carol and I headed back to our cabin.  We were still giggling sporadically as we fell into bed.  What a shame to be famous for poopy knees!  But hey, it’s fun!


January 8, 2010

 

Why would we be awake at 6:15?  What’s with that?   Gary got up to open the balcony door to let some fresh air in and we were surprised by the blast of hot humid air. We both decided that we might as well get up so Gary got dressed and went up for coffee while I watched the report from the deck on TV. This was another sea day and it was looking like nice weather.

The night before I had taken the time to actually read the personal navigator and I highlighted the presentations and shows I wanted to see. It was going to be a busy day. We had our coffee, got cleaned up and headed up to Beach Blanket Buffet for breakfast. There were not very many people yet so we took our time checking out the lineup of food, the omelet station got our attention this time.

 

After breakfast we started to walk around deck 10; the sun was shining and there was a light breeze. Just as we were passing by the big screen at mid ship the cruise director came on with his morning report. Christian was joined by Clayton, another cruise director and they did a half hour talk show, it was very informative and entertaining. After watching the show we continued our walk around the deck. We ran into John and talked for a bit then finished our walk.

We ended up back in the cabin about 9:30 a.m. and I decided that I was going to the shopping presentation. It was something I had never done on other cruises but since we had all kinds of time this cruise I thought it would be a good time to check it out. It was OK, not something I would do again. It was over at 11 a.m. and I raced from the Buena Vista Theatre to the Walt Disney Theatre to meet Gary . We found seats and settled in to listen to Don (Ducky) Williams. Ducky is a Disney artist with a very entertaining background. He tells his remarkable story of how he started with the Walt Disney Company. The whole time he is talking to the audience he is sketching Disney characters. At the end of the presentation there is a raffle for the sketches. I didn’t win but I sure would have liked one. 

When the presentation was over Gary and I decided to go back to the buffet and have some lunch. We met Pam and Mike in the line so we shared a table and enjoyed another very good lunch.

 

After lunch we went back to our cabin and rested for a few minutes, then I got changed into my Palo clothes and we headed back to the Walt Disney Theatre to listen to Ken Puckett . He is a former Panama Canal Pilot and maritime historian, His presentation traced the development of the Panama Canal from the 16th century to the marvel it is today. The presentation ended at 3 p.m. and I literally ran to Palo’s to meet Cathy and Pam for High Tea.

We were seated by the window in the restaurant and had the best view. We started of with two trays of little sandwiches and our individual pots of tea. We all preferred the cucumber finger sandwiches so another plate was delivered to the table. The next course was the most delicious scones with Devonshire cream and raspberry jam. Then the tray of petite fours arrived followed by a small sherbet glass of creamy vanilla sauce with strawberries topped with a raspberry. By the time we finished that it was time to waddle back to the cabin. I was exhausted.

 

When I got back to the cabin Gary was just getting ready for a nap, he had spent the last hour down at the adult pool watching the poolside entertainment. We both dozed for a bit and then got cleaned up for dinner.

 

It was a unanimous decision, we were not going to get dressed up for formal dinner, we would go to the Beach Blanket Buffet instead.  We met John and Cathy at The Cove Overlook Lounge and watched the sunset. Then we wandered around a bit waiting for the restaurant to open at 6:30 p.m.  We thought it would be a buffet but it was table service. The meal was okay; we all managed to clean up our plates but I like the buffet much better.

 

After dinner we decided to go to the cruise desk and book ourselves another cruise. There were some nice perks to booking on the ship so we took advantage of it. We are booked on the Fantasy for 2012, a seven-day Eastern Caribbean adventure. After we got that out of the way we went back to the cabin. John and Gary sat out on the balcony having a scotch while Cathy and I just did some relaxing.

 

We had originally planned on going back to WaveBands for the 10:30 show but the hot tub and pool won out.  It was very soothing, just what we needed after a busy day.  On our way back to our cabin we stopped to watch the last 2 ½ minutes of the football game which was being shown on the mid-ship jumbotron.  Wow, some folks take their football seriously.

 

We were back to the room shortly after 11:00 and crashed!


January 9, 2011

 

It was a wasted day – a gloriously wasted day.

 

I woke at about 6:30 and knocked on John’s door.   He joined me on a trek to deck 9 for coffee.  We filled our mugs and headed down to the Cove Café where we saw Pam sitting outside.  John and I joined her and shortly Linda came along and we all yakked for about 45 minutes.  I thought that Carol might be up and growling for coffee by this time so I headed back, refreshing my mug and filling hers along the way.  When I got back to the cabin she had just finished her shower.  She had already been up to deck 9 and picked up a coffee, so the edge was off her normal morning fury!

 

By 8:30 we were heading for Beach Blanket Buffet where I had a Mickey waffle.  I was hungry but I didn’t want to spoil our 11:00 a.m. brunch at Palo.  After my waffle we wandered the deck and once again sat a few minutes to watch Cruise Director Christian’s morning TV broadcast on the mid-ship jumbotron. 

 

Soon it was time for Carol and John to line up for pins, the special Panama Canal pin was being released at 10:00 a.m. and they were lined up by 9:30.  Like a sane and sensible person, I sat on deck 9 reading my book.

 

At 11:00 we met John & Cathy, Mike and Pam for our Palo brunch.  What a wonderful place.  Fabulous food, wonderful service and good company.  It just doesn’t get any better!

After brunch we changed and I headed to deck 9 and nabbed a table while Carol went to Guest Services to get some information about the next day’s excursion.

 

(Writer change) . .

 

I joined Gary at the quiet pool, it was nice and sunny so I found a spot out around the pool. Soon John and Cathy joined us. Cathy and I had a sit in the hot tub. It was getting close to 3 p.m. so we all went up to deck 10 do watch the Wonder pull into port. 

There were gale force winds up on deck 10, I took my glasses off as I was afraid they were going to be ripped off my face by the wind. Once we got into the lee of the island the wind diminished. The pilot led us up to the wharf in Oranjestad and before we knew it they were announcing debarkation. We had decided that we would wait until the next day to debark.

We went back to the cabin to get changed and rest a bit before the 6:15 show. We were able to pick up a Wi-Fi signal from shore so we got updated with mail and stuff. Then we headed off to the Walt Disney Theatre for the show.

 

The show was Intrigue, the Magic and Illusions of Mike Super. It was quite entertaining and the hour seemed to pass very quickly. After the show ended I went down to deck 3 to check out the pin cart and Gary went back to the cabin. I picked up a couple of pins then joined him back at the cabin to get dressed for dinner.

 

Our dining rotation was at Parrots Cay, this meant that we had done the rounds and we were back where we started. The menu was Caribbean flavor and very good. 

After dinner  everyone went back to their cabins, got changed into swim wear and met on Deck 9. We took the laptop with us and made a call to Moley, just to say hi, and of course have a few laughs. Some of us had a swim and hot tub, the guys had their scotch. Before we knew it, it was after 11 p.m. so we decided that we needed to get to bed, we had a busy day planned for Aruba .

January 10, 2011

 

We both slept well last night.  The ship wasn’t rocking, the engines were shut down and all was quiet.  I woke at 6:30 and within a few minutes Carol was out of bed too.  I went up to deck 9 and got us coffee and took a slow start to the day. 

 

At about 8:00 we headed off to Parrot Cay for breakfast, it was a nice change from Beach Blanket Buffet.  There was plenty to choose from on the buffet and it was not too crowded.  We both enjoyed it.

 

We headed back to the cabin and changed into our beach gear for our excursion to De Palm Island.  Soon we joined the excursion group in WaveBands for our debarking instructions, got our wristbands and towels and headed down to deck 1 to the gangway. 

The bus took us east past the airport, past the electric generating station, water desalination plant and finally past the brewery before turning into the dock.  We got off the bus and boarded a small ferry which took us a few hundred yards across a channel to De Palm Island.  There was a lovely view of the island ahead as we crossed, and a not-so-lovely view of the power station, desalination plant and brewery behind us.  

The island wasn’t the lush tropical paradise we were expecting.  It’s a few hundred yards of rock which an entrepreneur has covered with sand.  There is a small water park for kiddies and two very small beached where most of the sand has washed away to reveal the rocks beneath.  It is surrounded by lots of colorful fish and marine life, but the snorkeling area was crowded with bobbing bodies and the sea was a little too rough for us to venture out.  We snagged six lounge chairs which had been shoe-horned into a shady location near what we thought was the beach.  Ooops – we were at the snorkel area.  By the time we figured it out all the chairs at the beach were taken.  So we settled in under our shade trees at about 11:00 and headed to the beach.  Ouch – those rocks are really hard on the feet!  Carol and I got out to our ankles and had turned back when Pam came over and said, “Try the next beach, it’s much sandier.”  And it was!  It was 60% sand, 40% rock!  We grimaced our way out into some waist deep water and frolicked a few minutes.  Then I swam and pulled myself in toward shore with my arms as far as I could to avoid the rocks.  It was refreshing but I knew I was not going again.  I settled in under the trees and read my book.  Everyone else did much the same, relaxed in the sun or the shade.  We had a nice lunch in an open air restaurant built over the water and enjoyed the varieties of colorful fish swimming past.  Carol nosed around the shops but didn’t buy anything.  Soon it was 2:00 and we were ferried and bussed back to the ship.  Overall it was a disappointing excursion.

This little chameleon is about a foot long!

We stopped at the shops in the dockside welcome centre but there was nothing that caught our eye; we were back aboard by 2:45.  We were sticky from the salt water and salty breeze so we both had a shower and I took a nap.  Carol took the laptop up to deck 9 to read her e-mail and just couldn’t get past the ice cream shop without a cupful. 

 

Soon it was time for her to line up for the new pin release so off to deck 4 she went.  I joined her at about 5:15 and met our friend Juanita from Whitby in the hall by the shops.  We had a very brief chat as we dashed past each other and then I joined Carol.  The line snaked down the hall and around toward the Walt Disney Theatre twice!  Yup – a double loop around the circle where you enter the theatre.  There were hundreds of people – pin collectors are a strange bunch!  John & Carol were close to entering the shop when I arrived.  They pointed out “Sarge” (the Princess Poopy Knees stalker) behind them in line.  I had another chat and shared a few chuckles with Sarge, his real name is Chris.

There were a few pleasant surprises during the day.  First, Carol received a call from Guest Services – they had added her name to a list for a private session with Don (Ducky) Williams.  She has an appointment for 10 minutes with Ducky and he will draw any character she selects.  Now she’s stressed . . . what character to pick?

 

Then the host at Palo called – we have another brunch booking at 11:00 Tuesday January 11th tomorrow.  Hooray!

 

We headed to deck 3 at about 7:30 and I waited in the Promenade Lounge while Carol did some pin trading.  Soon John & Cathy joined me, and then Pam and Mike came along.  Carol came back with her pins and soon we were off to Tritons for dinner.  It was the regular Tritons menu with a distinct French influence.  Yum!  We all enjoyed it!

 

After dinner we were whacked out.  I suppose it was all the sun and fresh air, but I didn’t even have the energy to lift a glass of scotch.  Yup, I was that tired!

 

I read for a few minutes while Carol flipped around the TV; it was “lights out” before 11:00.


January 11, 2011

 

We both slept in, it was just after 7:00 when I opened my eyes.  I popped out on the balcony – it was already hot and humid.  Naturally my first priority was getting coffee for my precious bride so I dashed off to deck 9.  I came back and before long I headed back up to wander around decks 9 and 10.  I stopped at the forward overlook on deck 10 and spent about 10 minutes making sure the captain was steering us in the right direction.  After I was sure all was in order I headed back to the cabin, logged on to the internet and uploaded another day to the trip report on Carol’s web site. 

 

Carol was still in bed so I picked up my e-book reader and headed up to deck 9.  I found a shady spot beside the Quiet Cove Pool, it was already a steamy 90 degrees, and settled into my book.  Carol joined me about 10:00 a.m. and we did some low-impact people-watching (we waved at the occasional passer-by).

Soon it was time to get dressed for our 11:00 brunch at Palo, so we headed below deck to shower and change.  We met the gang on deck 10 and were promptly seated.  We had he same table and the same server, Vladimir from Costa Rica .  What a wonderful meal!  We grazed at the elegant buffet, ordered a few hot dishes from Vladimir , sipped a few mimosas and then vigorously attacked the dessert tables!  Pam had called earlier in the morning for another brunch reservation and was told they were full, but in the middle of our meal the Palo host, Marko, arrived and handed her a slip of paper confirming our reservation for January 16th, same time, same table and same server!  Great!

 

The Captain announced during our lunch that we were cruising at 17 knots with a trailing wind at 35 knots.  He chuckled as he told us that the ship was body-surfing.  The waves had risen and were now between 13 and 20 feet high.  Fortunately we are running in the same direction as the waves and slowly overtaking them.  It’s a smooth ride, just a bit of side to side motion.

After brunch Carol dashed off for her signing session with Ducky Williams.  He signed a litho and two of his postcards for her.  The rest of us changed and headed to the Quiet Cove Pool.  When we arrived Pam and Mike had grabbed a table right outside the door to Cove Café.  It looked very comfy but I knew I could not sit in the sun all afternoon so we carried on down beside the pool.  All the tables were occupied, but we grabbed a couple of free chairs and dragged them over to a shaded open area near the deck chairs.  As the rest of the group arrived we were able to add more chairs and finally one of the nearby tables was free, so we grabbed it and dropped it in the middle of our circle.  

We had a leisurely afternoon at poolside.  Dipping and drying was the best way to stay cool in the 90 degree temperature here close to the equator.  We have seen the news reports about our friends in Alabama , Arkansas and Georgia who are snowed in and all we can say is – neener, neener, neener!

 

By 3:00 our eyelids were getting pretty heavy, probably from the low-impact people-watching, so Carol and I headed off for a well-earned nap!  When we got back to our stateroom Carol saw a dolphin through the balcony door so we spent some time on the balcony watching – no luck, there was just the one.

 

We were up by 4:30 and watching from the balcony again.  Still no dolphins, we saw freighters, seaweed, shoes, and lots of other flotsam, but no dolphins.  Soon we got ready to head out to the Buena Vista Theatre and join the gang for a 5:30 showing of Tangled 3D.  We had seen it at home a few weeks ago but it was quite good so we went for an encore.

After the show Carol went to join the nightly pin trading while I got dressed for dinner.  Tonight we’re off to Animator’s Palette.

 

Dinner was great once again.  I had baked potato soup and salmon baked in phyllo pastry while Carol had mushroom risotto and roast chicken with root vegetables.  After dinner we returned to our cabins and changed before meeting again on deck 9.  The guys sipped on a scotch as we watched the captain navigate through about 30 ships waiting to pass through the Panama Canal tomorrow.  Carol and I took a dip in the hot tub and the pool, we had it all to ourselves, there was no one else in sight.  Bliss!  We were anchored in the middle of a small floating city.  We hit the hay at about 11;30; we’ll be up early tomorrow to watch our progress from the Atlantic to the Pacific!


January 12, 2010

 

Today actually started for me at the stroke of midnight. We had gone to bed when the captain came on the intercom and announced that we were going to be refueled and that there would be no smoking allowed on board. I hopped out of bed and went out on the balcony. Directly below our balcony was the tanker, the big tanker. I was captivated watching the ship pull along side the Wonder. They tied off the bow first with two lines, and then they moved to the stern. When they shot the ball from the Wonder to the tanker the first one hit one of the crew and just about knocked him overboard. His buddies thought it was funny, I could see them laughing. The second shot was right on and they attached the bow lines. The crew on the Wonder then pulled the ropes over and secured them on our end. The Tank crew then drew the lines taunt using a winch. When everything was secure they started feeding the fuel line over to the Wonder. At that point I decided to go back to bed. It took a long time to fall to sleep, the spot lights from the tanker were level with our window.

 

At 5:55 a.m. I could hear Gary on the balcony talking to John, they were planning their coffee meet. I waited until he had left then got up and got myself ready. I was on Deck 10 by 6:15 a.m. and met up with Gary, John, Mike and Pam. Cathy wasn’t far behind. We all drank our coffee and watched as the Wonder started towards the Gatun Locks.  While we were standing there Carol (ripkensnana) joined us and then a bit later our friend Bob from Whitby joined us too. We had quite a crowd. 

There were plenty of characters on deck!

The Wonder was the second ship to enter the locks. We watched the first ship go up the first step, then we entered the right hand lock, as we went up the first step the ship ahead of us went up the second step. By this time it was steamy hot and it was only 8 a.m. We all started to wander in different directions, Gary and I went back to the cabin to watch for a while from the balcony. Then we went back up to deck 10 to watch from the aft deck. We found a shady spot with a bit of a breeze, it was quite nice. When we left the last lock and entered into Gatun Lake we were getting hungry so went into the Beach Blanket Buffet for breakfast.

 

After breakfast we went back down to our cabin to sit on the balcony while the ship made it’s way through the Gatun Lake heading towards the Gaillard Cut. As we approached the Gaillard Cut we decided to go back up to Deck 10, we lasted about 15 minutes and had to go back to the cabin. It was just too hot standing out in the sun. Our balcony was a much more comfortable way to watch the scenery go by. At 12:45 p.m. we passed under the Centennial Bridge and neared the Pedro Miguel Locks. Gary and John headed back up to deck 10 for some photo shots of the bridge, I decided to stay put.

Gatun Locks

The Gaillard Cut

The Continental Divide

At 1 p.m. we had reached Pedro Miguel Locks and had to wait our turn; there was a passenger ship and a container ship entering the locks ahead of us. When they reached the second step we entered the lock. By 2:25 p.m. we were through Pedro Miguel, on our way to Miraflores Lock. When we arrive at Miraflores Lock we only waited about half an hour before we entered the first lock. I was amazed by the number of people waiting for us in a four story restaurant/bar along the side of the canal. There had to be four or five hundred people waving at us. The captain of course had to blow the horn and the “When You Wish Upon A Star” tune was received with a huge roar from the crowd. We pulled out of the second lock at 4:10 p.m. and made our way towards the Pacific Ocean . We sailed under the Bridge of Americas , saw Panama City to the east and then left the Panama Canal , making our way to Puntarenas.

Miraflores Locks

This crowd cheered the ship's horn!

The Bridge of the Americas

Panama City

It was 5 p.m. and I was exhausted.   Gary was still up on deck but I was done. I lied down on the bed with a blanket and pillow.  I heard Gary come in but it didn’t disturb me, the next thing I knew it was 7 p.m.  I struggled with whether to get up and shower or just roll over and go back to sleep. Gary was up and showered so I figured I better get moving too. The phone rang and it was John, on his way to the Promenade Lounge so Gary went off to join him. I got ready for dinner and then went down to the pin cart. There wasn’t anything new so I wandered over to the Promenade. They guys were having drinks and wolfing down peanuts; I decided to go upstairs to Shutters and check out the photos that were taken today. When I got back to the Promenade the guys had been joined by Bob and Carol so we all sat and chatted until it was time for dinner.

 

Dinner tonight was at Parrot Cay and it was lobster night. We met Pam and Mike at the door and all walked to our table together. We had one empty seat tonight, Cathy chose sleep over food. We all had lobster except Pam. It was wonderful, cooked just right. We took our time over dinner tonight, I think we were all just too tired to move. When we finally found the strength to leave it was all I could do to get back to the cabin. The three guys were meeting on deck nine for their evening scotch, Gary wore his bathing suit he was going to have a swim and hot tub. Tonight we set our clocks back an hour so we will have an extra hour to sleep. It will be another sea day – man I could get used to this!


January 13, 2011

 

What a great day! We gained an hour sleep but we were still up at 6:30 a.m.  It was sunny out and Gary opened the cabin door to let some fresh air in.  It was warm but not as humid as it has been. I kept my eye on the ocean; I knew being on the Pacific there would be various marine sightings. I saw a bit of movement so I stepped out on the balcony.  What a treat; we had a school of porpoise playing in the wake of the ship. John & Cathy were also on their balcony watching and Gary soon came rushing out. We watched them for quite a while then spotted a sea turtle floating along, beside a piece of debris. We also saw a stingray go by, then we spotted a flying fish. The guys decided to go for coffee while Cathy and I got ready for breakfast. While I was waiting for Gary to come back I went back out on the balcony just in time to see two dolphins swim by.

 

We all headed down to Tritons for breakfast.  It was the first time this cruise that we opted for a sit-down breakfast. When we walked into the restaurant our server, Frano, spotted us and came running over to escort us to a table in his area. We had a wonderful meal and I am sure we will make a point of doing a sit-down breakfast again.

 

After breakfast we decided to go down to the pool.  On our way we stopped on deck 5 to look at the art in the hallway and then we explored the Oceaneer Club and the Oceaneer Lab.  It’s no wonder the kids never want to leave these places, they are really amazing! 

We carried on to deck 9 and found a table.  Soon Pam and Mike joined us. I kept asking Gary what time it was, I had an 11:10 private sitting booked with Don “Ducky” Williams and I did not want to miss it. Gary finally gave me his watch to wear until it was time to leave. We went to the Treasure Ketch Shop for my assigned sitting.  Each sitting was for 10 minutes and “Ducky” would sketch one character for you. I had mulled over for two days what character I would chose; I finally decided on Captain Mickey. I figured since Mickey is where it all began and we were on a cruise that he would be a good choice. Ducky thought so too, he said that it was a good choice and there was a bit more to the drawing. We had a wonderful chat, all the time he was sketching my Mickey. At the end we said our goodbye’s, shook hands and posed for a picture, all in all I ended up with 20 minutes of his time - bonus!

I carried my treasure ever so carefully back to the cabin and stowed it away with my signed lithograph. It was then time to head to the pool. We met up with the gang and spent the next 3 hours swimming, eating, sun bathing and soaking in the hot tub. I then went back to the cabin to get ready for Bingo, the big prize was a cruise. Gary arrived shortly and decided he needed a nap. 

Cathy knocked on the door at 3:00 p.m. and we headed to the Walt Disney Theatre to play bingo ( Gary was still snoring). We each got our bingo cards which are programmed in an electronic machine that does everything except actually yelling bingo for you, it does tell you if you have a bingo. We found a couple of seats and waited for it to start. We were joined by Bob and Carol. The game started at 3:45 and Carol won the first game, she shared the prize with 3 other people. We played 4 games and then it was over! It was fun though, I may have to do that again before the end of the cruise.

 

Cathy and I went into the store to look around, we browsed through the pin book and Cathy found a couple of pins to trade for. Then we went up to Shutters and looked at some of our pictures. It was getting close to 5:00 p.m. so we decided we would go back to the cabins and catch the sunset. Our balconies face the west so we will have the luxury of watching the sun set every night. While we were sitting on the balcony we saw a few more porpoise swim by. Gary had been out but got back to the cabin just in time to take lots of pictures.

After the sunset Gary and I went up to Shutters, we went though all our pictures and eliminated the ones we knew we did not want. We came back to the cabin to get ready for dinner. I went down to see what was happening in pin world and Gary went to the Promenade Lounge to meet John and Cathy for drinks. I wasn’t long at the pin cart and joined them just as Mike and Pam were arriving. We all had our before dinner drinks and munched on peanuts.

 

Dinner was in Tritons and the theme was A Taste of California. It was a very good dinner once again and I ate way too much. We lingered at the table, I think everyone was just too tired to move. When we finally did leave we walked through Shutters and looked at pictures again. Then Gary and I decided we would call it a night, all this relaxation is wearing us out!


January 14, 2011

 

When we woke up this morning we were already docked in the port at Puntarenas , Costa Rica .  The ship pulled in at about 3:30 a.m.   I crawled out of bed at 6:30 and headed up to deck 9 for coffee.  Carol was getting up as I returned and we stood on the balcony and sipped our coffee while we enjoyed the vista of this beautiful port on the Gulf of Nicoya .  We heard last night that our private tour of the rainforest was cancelled; our guide had a conflict and had to back out.  We were not all that disappointed – we could sleep in!

We joined John & Cathy for breakfast at Parrot Cay and then began our trek to find an alternate excursion.  We stopped at Guest Services on deck 3 – everything was booked except for a coffee-picking excursion.  That didn’t sound too appealing so we just headed to the gangplank and on to the dock to see what we could find.  We walked past a few buses and quickly found our savior – Jairo (pronounced Hair-o) who served as our guide and Roberto our driver.  At 10:00 a.m. they took us away in a private eight-passenger van, just the four of us! 

 

Just a few blocks down the road we stopped along the beach to get a picture of the Wonder.

Then we headed further south along the coast to visit the Monkey Lady.  We pulled off the main highway onto a narrow gravel road, then turned onto a narrower dirt road.  The trees and foliage were dense and canopied the road.  I was a bit worried and began scanning the bushes for albino Costa Ricans playing banjos!  But everything worked out well.  Jairo picked up a few trays of cut-up fruit and we followed him as he shouted to call the monkeys.  They came down out of the trees, at least 15 to 20 whiteface monkeys.  Carol held the fruit in her loosely clenched fist and the monkeys would pry her fingers open to get their treats.  She fed them again and again, so did Cathy while John and I snapped pictures.  Then along came a coati, the coati is a distant relative of the raccoon.  He took fruit from our hands as well.

After about a half hour of monkeys and coati we boarded the van again and headed off to Crocodile River .  We stopped beside the river and walked out on a bridge to look down at the huge beasts swimming and basking below.

There were at least 20 of them in sight along the river, some up to 18 feet in length.  The river runs through pasture fields and our guide said that the farmer loses a few cattle to the crocs every year.  Ouch!

Our next stop was Villa Lapas, a hotel and resort complex which featured a rainforest canopy walk (an elevated rope walkway through the treetops) and a zip-line adventure.

We didn’t try either the canopy walk or the zip-line but we certainly enjoyed walking around the resort grounds, deep in the rainforest.  There were iguanas everywhere we looked, orchids growing on many of the trees, exotic flowers and trees of all kinds; we didn’t know where to look next.

 

All along the way our guide pointed our melon plantations, rice plantations, fields full of freshly planted teak tree seedlings and many other tropical crops.

Our last stop was the highlight of the tour.  We left the main highway about 30 miles south of Puntarenas and began climbing a mountain.  As we went higher and higher the road became narrower and narrower.  There were several “white knuckle” turns along the way and several cars had to back up to let us pass before we arrived at Villa Caledas, a luxury resort hotel perched on a mountaintop overlooking the Pacific Ocean .  Wow!  What a view!  

The hotel rooms are mostly individual cottages nestled into the side of the mountain surrounding the pool and dining rooms.  The grounds are terraced and beautifully landscaped with stone walkways connecting all the facilities.  Some of the walkways overlook sheer drops of several hundred feet.  The main dining room is perched on the very top with full Pacific views to the south, west and north.  You can sit and enjoy a cocktail of a meal while you watch a breathtaking sunset every day.  There is even a stone amphitheatre cut into the mountainside directly in front of the dining room.  Take a cushion and sit in the amphitheatre to watch the sunset – if you dare!  It’s very high and very steep.  Vertigo kept us from trying it out!  Yikes!

From Villa Caledas we headed back to Puntarenas and spent a few minutes poking around the dockside flea market before heading back to the Wonder.  We were back aboard, very hot and very tired, by 2:00 p.m.  What a great tour!

We stopped and picked up a bite at Goofy’s Galley and Pluto’s Dog House, then ate on the rear deck beside Beach Blanket Buffet.  It was time for a nap; a well-earned nap!  After resting I headed off to the pool for a dip and then spent some time in the hot tub soaking my aching knees.

 

Before I knew it the sun was heading for the horizon so I hurried back down to get some pictures of the sunset from our balcony.

Ho-hum . . . another amazing Pacific Ocean sunset!  Carol and Cathy went off to join the line-up to purchase pins while John and I savored a scotch on the balcony and watched the Captain pull us away from the dock.

 

Soon it was time to get ready for dinner.  We met for cocktails in the Promenade Lounge and then moved to Animator’s Palette for dinner.  Once again it was a terrific meal.

 

After dinner we changed into our bathing suits and met on deck 9 for a swim and a nightcap.

 

By 11:00 I was fading fast so we headed back to the stateroom.  Carol stopped on the way back to check the laundry room.  There were a few machines available so she started a couple of loads of wash while I played on the computer for a while.

 

It was a terrific day but very tiring, thankfully we now have two “at sea” days to rest up before we dock in Manzanillo , Mexico .


January 15, 2011

 

I woke and headed to the balcony at 6:30.  There was nothing but blue sea and blue water.  Not a cloud in the sky and not a ship in sight.  After fetching coffee in order to avoid the wrath of my beloved bride I went back outside and reveled in the nothingness.  I tried to use the GPS on the computer but I couldn’t read enough satellites from the balcony.  I took it up to deck 10 and got a good satellite read.  At 8:00 a.m. we were about 100 miles off the coast of Nicaragua , heading west-north-west at 24 miles per hour.  There was still nothing to see on deck 10, just 360 degrees of clear blue skies, blue sea and horizon.  It was spectacular.

The sky at 8:30 a.m.

We both had a shower and joined the gang for breakfast at Parrot Cay.  It was a character breakfast with Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy, Donald and Chip & Dale.  The characters made their way around the dining room and stopped at every table for photos.  It was a hurried trip for them but we did have a little time with each character.  Our servers, Allan and Frano, made us some hats out of napkins to fill in the time while we waited for the next character.

After breakfast we congregated on deck 9 beside the Quiet Cove Pool.  We dunked and dipped until about 1:00 when someone noticed that we hadn’t eaten for almost three hours!  So off we went to Beach Blanket Buffet.  We carried our trays back out to poolside and most of us spent the next 45 minutes dodging flying shells and juice as Carol and John devoured their way through a few bowls full of crab claws.  The sky was still that boring shade of blue with not a cloud in sight to give any sort of variety.

The sky at 2:30 p.m.

The sky at 5:30 p.m.

 

By 2:30 the sandman was making overtures and my yawns were disturbing folks at the neighbouring tables so Carol took me back to our stateroom and tucked me in for a nap.  Then she went out to look at the emeralds for sale on deck 4.  I vaguely remember her coming back, with no new bling!  Next thing I knew it was 5:00 – my normal one hour nap was 2 ¼ hours today!  Too much fresh air and sunshine I guess!

 

We sat on our balcony and watched another Pacific sunset.  There was not a cloud in the sky all day . . . so it was a good one!  We’re not seeing too many shows on this cruise; they always conflict with the sunsets!

We dressed for dinner, at Parrot Cay tonight, and headed down to get some pictures with characters.  We found Cinderella, Mickey & Minnie and Snow White before we joined the gang for drinks at the Promenade Lounge.  

After another fine dinner at Parrot Cay we went back to the room, changed and then went to the Walt Disney Theatre for the 10:15 show featuring the comedy and hypnosis of Ricky Kalmon.

 

He was great, about a dozen volunteers helped out.  Three men thought they were pregnant and their water broke on stage.  All the volunteers entered an air guitar competition and one fellow was convinced he was Susan Boyle and rose and sang every time her music was played.  We roared with laughter throughout the hour long show.  We got back to the stateroom at 11:30 and fell into bed after another fantastic day.  Tomorrow is another “at sea” day and we have brunch and dinner scheduled at Palo.  A Palo "double-dip"


January 16, 2011

 

We slept in until 7:00 and I immediately rushed up to deck 9 to get coffee for my dear wife.  I’ve tried to take very good care of her ever since she took me as her trophy husband almost ten years ago.

By 8:00 we were out on the balcony sipping coffee and enjoying a clear blue sky with scattered clouds.  We stood at the rail for several minutes and watched the show as we sailed beside a school of playful dolphins and flying fish.  Wow!

 

Before I knew it she dragged me down to deck 3 where we prowled around looking for characters and snapping some pictures.  We browsed through the shops on deck 4 and as we were heading back to our stateroom we ran across Goofy and Max.

 

We changed and headed off to Palo for our 11:00 brunch.  Pam and Mike were already seated when we arrived.  John and Cathy had to cancel; John was a bit under the weather.  We once again savored the array of food and enjoyed a leisurely time nibbling, chatting and soaking up the view off the stern of the ship.

The sky at 8:00 a.m.

Just another wretched day in paradise!

After brunch I changed into my bathing suit and Carol and I headed up to deck 9 where we found a table in the shade.  I settled in with my book and wasted the entire afternoon sitting beside the pool and visiting with folks who wandered by.  Carol flitted around the ship chasing characters and dropping off at special events.  She went to the auction of Ducky Williams art on deck 3 and joined me on deck 9 for a few minutes before heading off to a Disney Vacation Club presentation.  She wanted to win the $300 onboard credit but all she won was a new pin.

 

I know what you’re thinking . . . didn’t the poor guy have a nap?  Yes, I did - between 4:00 and 5:00.  Carol came back from the DVC presentation as I was waking up.

 

The skies were clear and another magnificent sunset was shaping up but we decided to skip it and see the show tonight.  We met John and Cathy and headed off to the Walt Disney Theatre for “The Art of the Story” It was a variety of song and dance numbers from Disney movies; some animated and some live performances.  It was entertaining, but not one of my favourites!

Arrrrgh - there be pin tradin' going on!

The four of us headed directly back to our staterooms and changed for our 8:00 dinner reservation at Palo.  It was a super time.  We enjoyed excellent food in elegant surroundings and good company.  Before we knew it two hours had passed and dinner was over.

 

The Pirates in the Caribbean Party was in full swing on deck 9, even though we were in the Pacific, not the Caribbean .  We changed and joined the party in time to see some dancing followed by the fireworks.  The party wrapped up at 11:00 and the late buffet opened on deck 9.  We looked longingly at the array of food, but we were far too full from Palo to even consider it.  Very shortly after 11:00 we headed back to our stateroom.  Tomorrow we dock in Manzanillo , Mexico at about noon.


January 17, 2011

 

Carol was up bright and early today.  Mickey gave her a wake-up call at 7:00 and she was out the door at 7:10 a.m.   Since the ship stores cannot be open while we are in port they were selling the Manzanillo pin at 8:00 a.m. rather than the normal 5:00 p.m.  Naturally she had to line up early.  It’s a particularly nasty addiction she has!

 

I got up after she left and headed to deck 9 for coffee.  I took one for Carol too and headed for deck 4.  The line stretched all the way from the forward door to the Treasure Ketch Shop through the Walt Disney Theatre lobby, down the hall past Mickey’s Mates, through the mid-ship elevator lobby and around the atrium.  Ouch – there are sure a lot of pin-aholics aboard!  Carol and Cathy were about half way down the line in the elevator lobby.  Once the shop opened the line moved quickly.  They were back to the staterooms by about 8:30.

We met for breakfast at Beach Blanket Buffet and as we ate the PA system came on.  Captain Henry announced that we were arriving in Manzanillo.  We all headed to deck 10 to watch our approach to the city.  They pulled the ship into the dock area, then stopped and turned it 180 degrees and backed it into the dock.  I am amazed at how easily they can manoeuvre a ship this size.  Manzanillo is Mexico ’s second busiest deep sea harbour with a huge container terminal just down from the cruise ship dock.

Soon the captain announced that we were clear to head ashore so we headed down to the gangway on deck 2.  We walked the length of the dock and stood for a few minutes looking around before Carol commandeered a van to take us on a private tour, the two of us together with John & Cathy, Mike & Pam.  The van driver, Victor, weaved his way through the narrow streets of Manzanillo and pulled into a spot that boasted 500 iguanas.  I didn’t see 500 of them but there were sure plenty around, and there were some big ones!  Cathy got to pet one, but she didn’t want to take it home.

Then Victor took us out into the countryside to see a banana plantation.  We stopped for a few minutes and saw the banana flowers before carrying on.  Victor took us all the way across the city to a high hill filled with luxury homes overlooking the beach and the harbour.  The view was magnificent.

By the time we absorbed the view from that hilltop we had been gone about 2 ½ hours and we were getting hungry and thirsty.  Victor dropped us off at the dock at 2:45 and we headed to deck 9 for a cold drink and a bite to eat.  We were back in the stateroom by 4:00 and had a rest before the show in the Walt Disney Theatre.  Tonight’s show was Circurious – a Cirque du Soliel style show featuring jugglers, acrobats and aerialists.  It was very good. 

 

After the show the ladies did some pin trading while the guys adjourned to Diversions for a pre-dinner drink.  The ladies soon joined us and we headed to Animator’s Pallette for dinner.

 

Our last stop of the day was back at the Walt Disney Theatre where John & Cathy, Carol & I enjoyed the “Match Your Mate” show.  Cruise Director Christian asked for three volunteer couples who joined him on stage to answer 10 questions and try to match the answers their spouses would give.  It was a hilarious way to end the day!


January 18, 2011

 

I smelled smoke and heard a siren.  I opened my eyes, crawled out of bed, crossed to the sliding door and opened the drapes.  The first thing I saw was the Wal-Mart across the street.  I thought, “I must be home!  But what are those mountains doing there?”  It was 6:55 a.m. and we were almost tied up at the dock in Puerto Vallarta .  I ran up for coffee (OK – what really happened is that I dragged my weary butt up to deck 9 for coffee) and we drank it on our balcony as we supervised the docking process.

Once everything was secure we both had a shower and joined John at Beach Blanket Buffet for breakfast.  We wanted to get away early and do some poking around in the old part of the city.  We headed out at about 9:30 and Carol commandeered a cab in the parking lot.  He agreed to take us to her timeshare resort for $12.00 US Dollars.  We shoe-horned ourselves into the Nissan Sardine Can and off we went . . . dodging and darting through the blaring horns and smoking buses.  Within seconds Cathy asked Carol if she could reach down far enough to extract a seat belt buckle from Cathy’s nether region.  They were crammed in so tight that it was an extremely difficult (but hilarious) manoeuvre.   It was fortunate for Cathy that Carol managed to remove that buckle before we hit the cobblestone streets.  They were rugged!

 

We arrived safe and sound – but well shaken and in mere moments managed to un-wedge ourselves from the Sentra.

The timeshare is beautiful.  Carol shares it with four of her girlfriends and they have been going there every second year for a couple of decades.  She served as our tour guide as we walked down the beach and along the Malecon, a sea-wall lined with sculptures, statues, shops, restaurants, hotels, condos and some very unique sand sculptures. 

We strolled the Malecon for a couple of hours, stopping along the way for pictures and ice cream before we finally came to the beach at the far end of the sea-wall. 

We stopped at one of the beachfront bars for a drink and spent a leisurely half hour fighting off the vendors walking the beach.  They are a very persistent lot and would not leave until each of the four of us had said no and scowled at them.  It has to be a tough way to make a living.

Carol bought a bracelet from one vendor, not because she wanted it, but because of his sales technique.  He was honest!  When he said, “Come and see my junk; I have the best junk on the beach!”  we all started chuckling and Carol forked over $5.00 for a piece-of-crap bracelet.  

We walked a few blocks up from the beach to the main drag and Carol once again negotiated with a cabbie.  $20.00 got us back to the Cruise Terminal in – you guessed it – a Nissan Sardine Can.   We are learning; the loading and unloading went much more smoothly . . . unfortunately the trip home was almost entirely on cobbled streets.  I think I lost a few fillings along the way!

Hooray – we made it back before 2:00 and Beach Blanket Buffet was still open.  We went directly there for lunch.  After lunch I went back to the stateroom for a lay-down.  The morning involved a lot more walking than my poopy knees are used to and they were reminding me!  Carol headed off to the pool.  I joined her and the rest of the gang at about 3:45, had a dip and watched many of the shore-tour groups return to the ship.  The all-aboard time is 4:30 and we are supposed to sail at 5:00.

 

Carol left the room at 4:45 to join the pin line.  The shop is scheduled to open at 5:30 for the special “Limited Edition” Puerto Vallarta pin.  We pulled away on time at 5:00 p.m. and headed out to the Pacific on our way to Cabo San Lucas.  The captain played musical horns with the adjacent Princess Cruise Line ship, The Sapphire Princess, as we left the harbour.  The Disney ships have a very distinctive horn!  The crowd on the Princess deck cheered us all the way out.

 

I headed down to deck 4 at 6:00 and met Carol outside the Walt Disney Theatre just in time for the 6:15 show.  Tonight the feature was the “Crew Talent Show” showcasing the talents of many of the crew members.  It was surprisingly good.  They sang, danced, played the piano, juggled and performed magic.  Our Stateroom Host, Maurice, brought tears to everyone’s eyes when he played and sang a song he had written about his life aboard the Disney Wonder.  It was a very enjoyable show.

 

Dinner tonight was at Parrot Cay and the theme was “ Mexicali ”.  Very nice!

 

We had every intention of heading to the 10:30 show in the Walt Disney Theatre but once we got back to the stateroom inertia set in.  We relaxed and hit the sack about 11:00.  All this fresh air and relaxation is killing us!


January 19, 2011

 

Wow!    It was a Wow day!

 

I sensed Carol getting out of bed.  It was dark.  She opened the drapes and slid open the sliding door.  Within seconds she was calling, “Come out here; you’ve got to see this.”  We were just a few miles offshore at Cabo San Lucas.  The town was twinkling on the hillsides and a huge full moon was hovering over the town as it slowly descended behind the mountains.  It was breathtaking.  We scrambled to get dressed (at 6:15 in the morning) and headed to deck 10 where we could have an unobstructed view.  The sun was rising to the stern as the full moon set off the bow.  It was an unbelievable vista.  Wow, what an amazing experience . . .  I looked around and saw the oddest assortment of people . . . everyone had done the same as we did, jumped out of bed, pulled on whatever clothes they could find and scurried up to the top deck.  One fellow had on a t-shirt, shorts, a white terrycloth bathrobe hanging open, white socks and red crocs.  He looked like an off duty clown.  I probably looked much the same, but we were all enjoying the view.  

All too soon the moon was down, the sun was up and we were firmly anchored off Cabo.  The captain gave the OK to go ashore at about 8:00 a.m. and the tenders began ferrying everyone to the pier.  Our whale-watching excursion wasn’t until 1:00 p.m. so we were in no rush.  We sat on our stateroom veranda and enjoyed a free floor show.  We were thrilled and amazed to see jumping stingrays.  Who knew they jumped?  Not us!  They seemed to work in groups, first one would jump two or three times, doing a 180 degree back flip while in the air.  Then his partner would do the same.  Seconds later another group would jump several hundred yards away.  It almost seemed as though they were competing!  They kept us entertained for almost an hour.

 

We joined John and Cathy for breakfast at Beach Blanket Buffet at about 9:15 and took our time before heading for a tender to take us ashore.  We joined the group assembled in the Buena Vista Theatre at 10:15 and by 10:30 we were heading to deck 1 to board for the short trip to the pier.

 

The harbour area at Cabo San Lucas is a bustling tourist area.  The vendors abound, selling all sorts of tours and excursions, but they aren’t nearly as persistent as they were on the beach at Puerto Vallarta .  We roamed up and down the board walk area and wandered through a few shops, posed for some pictures with the living statues, stopped for an ice cream, and then it was time to head back to the pier for our excursion.  

We checked in at the Disney Excursion desk on the dock and within a few minutes we were led to our boat, the CaboMar.  The boat was a catamaran, about 60 or 70 feet in length and would have easily held over 200 people.  When we got to the top deck we met up with Bob and Carol, they had commandeered a table for all of us at the stern of the boat so we had an excellent view. There were fewer than 50 of us aboard so we had plenty of room to move around for pictures.  Our first destination was the very tip of the cape, where Los Archos (the arch) and the sea lion colony are located.  The captain held the boat there for about five minutes and did a few 360 degree turns so everyone had a good view.  As we watched the guide gave us an interesting commentary about the Cabo area and the different species of birds and sea life we were seeing.  And the other crew members brought us a variety of snacks and beverages.  

The captain headed out to deeper water in search of Pacific Grey Whales.  He found them – lots of them.  We probably saw a dozen grey whales, they spouted and breached again and again as we followed their progress down the coast.  They are really awesome creatures!

 

The captain pointed us a bit further south and promised is a look at some Humpback Whales.  Sure enough there they were, three of them, once again performing the blow and breach routine.  Wow!

 

Soon the guide came on the PA and said, “You are in for a rare treat today.  We don’t normally see three different species of whale on the same day, but there are Great Blue Whales nearby.”  Off we went to find them . . . and soon we did.  There were two of them, a mom and a calf.  The calf was big and the mother was HUGE!  They are the biggest species on the planet and they are unbelievably large.  We followed them for what seemed like half an hour and watched them blow and breach five or six times!   Wow!  

Two whales at a time!

Then it was time to head for shore.  On the way back to the dock Carol screamed “Oh My” and we all turned to look out the back of the boat. There was a humpback whale jumping completely out of the water. We docked and headed directly to the tender which had us back aboard the Wonder by 3:30.  I downloaded our pictures while Carol lined up for the new Cano San Lucas pins being released.  She was back all too soon, shut-out.  The pins were all sold before she made it into the store.  By this time I was pooped and laid down for a nap while Carol headed to deck 10 to see more whales.  I tossed and turned for a half hour, couldn’t sleep so I headed off to find her.  I saw a few more whales from deck 10 before connecting with Carol on deck 9.  She was whaled-out and so was I.  It was very windy on deck so we picked up a light snack at Goofy’s Galley and headed back to the stateroom.  

Carol started a load of laundry and began to pack up a few things while I had a shower and fiddled at the computer.

 

We passed on the show, it was “Dreams” and we have seen it a few times before so we took it easy and enjoyed another Pacific sunset before joining the gang at Diversions for a pre-dinner drink.  

Another Pacific sunset

Dinner was once again followed by scotch on deck 9 for the guys and then we headed off to the Walt Disney Theatre to enjoy the comedy and ventriloquism of Michael Harrison.  He was great, we laughed until it hurt.

 

After the show John, Cathy and Carol went to Tritons to investigate the chocolate buffet.  I’m not a chocolate fan so I passed and headed back to the room.  It has been a long and tiring day . . . but wow . . . it was a good one!


January 20, 2011

 

We woke up at 6:15 . . . so turning the clocks back an hour last night didn’t gain us any sleep.  Oh well, it will be a relaxing “at sea” day; unfortunately it’s the last full day of our cruise.  Sometimes it seems we’ve been on the ship forever and at other times it seems it has all just zoomed by.  How can that be?

I went for coffee and fiddled at the computer, Carol did a bit more packing, whimper, sigh!  It was a cool and overcast morning. 

 

Before long John and I went for breakfast at Beach Blanket Buffet while Carol and Cathy joined the line up for the Los Angeles Port Pins.  They stepped in line at 8:00 a.m. and waited two hours until the store opened.  The line stretched from the Treasure Ketch shop around the foyer of the Walt Disney Theatre, down the hall to the mid-ship elevators and all the way around the atrium.  At 9:15 John and I went to relieve them in the line and give them a break.  We found them in the line in the atrium.  Some people had been in line since 10:00 p.m. the previous evening.  I just don’t understand pin people!  They’re nuts!

 

I went back to the room and picked up Steve Barrett’s book about Hidden Mickeys on the Disney Cruise Line ships.  John and I headed to deck 10 Forward where we began Steve’s Hidden Mickey Trek.  We were soon chilled and since we had already seen all these Mickey’s a few years ago on the Deb & Steve Cruise we decided to scrap the trek.  We found a nice table by the Quiet Cove Pool.  We had a spot in the sun, sheltered from the wind and enjoyed some solitude.  All the totally sane people were inside where it was warm and the totally insane folks were in the pin line.  That left John and I and a few other semi-loco folks on deck 9.  Soon Carol joined us, they were shut out of pins.  The lady directly in front of them in the line got the last of the 500 pins.  Ouch – so close – that’s gotta hurt!  Carol was able to get one from a friend who got an extra ahead of her in the line. She’s still trying to get one for Cathy, a little wheeling and dealing on deck 4 might work . . . she’s pretty good at that

 

We headed back to our stateroom where Carol did some more packing while I read my book and tried to stay out of her way.  She says that’s the best contribution I can make to packing . . . and I like it that way too! 

 

At one point during the packing I looked out to the balcony and saw the water boiling.  I called Carol immediately and we stood on the veranda for about 5 minutes watching the dolphins leap and play.  Just as we were leaving the school of dolphin a whale breached, only a few hundred yards west of the ship.  Wow!

We had lunch at Parrot Cay and then headed to Shutters to finalize our photo selections.  John & Cathy were there looking at their pictures so we consolidated our selections and bought a 30 credit package to share.  Then Carol went to the shop to buy a purse she’s been admiring all through the cruise. 

 

I was feeling guilty about all the buffets we’ve been wading through, so I headed to the gym.  I spent a half hour on the stairmaster and worked up a good sweat, then hit the treadmill.  My knees won’t let me run anymore so it was a four mile walk at a quick pace.  Then I decided to work a bit on firming up my abs, so I  . . .

 

. . . what? . . . do I detect some scepticism?   You doubt my story?  Well, okay, I admit it, I had another nap!  Yup, another nap!  But I did go up to deck 10 for a brisk walk.  Really, it was a brisk walk.  I walked very slowly, but a brisk wind was blowing!

 

After watching yet another Pacific sunset from out veranda we dressed for dinner and headed to the Walt Disney Theatre for our last show, “Remember The Magic”.

After the show Carol and Cathy went to do some pin trading with the officers and then they joined John and I at Diversions.  Soon Pam and Mike came as well and after a drink we headed to Animator’s Palette for dinner.

Our servers, Frano & Allan

Once dinner was finished we rushed back to the stateroom to finish packing and place our luggage in the hall.  Then it was time to see the characters for the last time in the atrium.  John and I had one last scotch in his room before we all called it a night.  We have a big day coming tomorrow – it’s time for Disneyland !  

January 21, 2011

 

I woke at 5:15, there was a light shining through the window and sliding across the opposite wall.  I got up, opened the sliding door and looked out.  We were sailing up a channel in the Los Angeles harbour.  I went back to bed!

 

Carol got up about 6:30 and I soon followed.  We were moored by this time.  There was a large home-made banner across the pier welcoming the Wonder to her new home and there was a large contingent of news photographers taking pictures of the ship as the sun rose.  It was a nice welcome to California !

Soon we were showered and ready to roll.  Our luggage had been hauled away last night so we just had a couple of small bags to carry as we went to Animator’s Palette for breakfast.  We said goodbye to our servers, Allan from the Philippines and Frano from Croatia .  The girls wanted to pack Frano up and smuggle him off the ship!

 

We sat for a few minutes in the Promenade Lounge and then it was time for our group, the Donald Group, to debark.  We were off the ship, through customs and piling into our stretch limo by 10:20.  This thing was a super-stretch, we felt like royalty.  Too bad we didn’t think to get a picture.  The driver whisked us to the Disneyland Hotel and we were checked in by 11:15.  Our rooms weren’t ready so we checked our bags and headed to the parks.  Of course the girls had to stop at the shop in the hotel, then the pin kiosk at Downtown Disney, then DStreet, then . . . you get the picture!

 

It was fun for Carol and I to watch John and Cathy as they saw things for the first time.  Just like we did in 2005!

By 12:00 we were in the Magic Kingdom and walking up Main Street .  Ouch – there is a lot of construction going on.  There are barricades in Town Square and all along Main Street where they are working on street repairs.  It is so chopped up that they have cancelled parades until the rehab is completed.  Bummer!  As we passed through Town Square I heard someone shout, “Princess PoopyKnees!”  It was Twinks and LuvsPiglet.  It was out first face-to-face meeting and we had a nice, but brief chat.  They had just left for New Orleans Square when Miss Bianca and Bernard arrived.  They too were heading to New Orleans to hook up with Pam and Mike.

By 12:00 we were at Carnation Café chatting with Oscar, the longest serving Disney employee.  He started at Disneyland in 1956, just months after the park opened.  Soon we were seated and enjoying that amazing potato soup they are famous for!

We headed through Adventureland to New Orleans Square and John, Carol and I rode Pirates of the Caribbean .  It’s quite different from the Florida version and we really like it!  John and Cathy headed back to the hotel to settle in, Carol and I headed off to the Haunted Mansion for a ride before we headed to the hotel.

Just as we exited the park and were walking through Downtown Disney Carol received a text message from John saying, “This room is un-freaking-believable!”  And it was.  We have adjoining rooms on the second floor of the Dream Tower overlooking Downtown Disney.  The bathroom is bigger than our entire stateroom on the Wonder.  We are in the newly renovated rooms and they are awesome.  An aside to our travel agent, SuzyQ of MouseFanTravel.com – Suzy, you done good!

We unpacked and got settled then headed back to the Magic Kingdom .  We ran into Carol and Bob in Downtown Disney, they are in the Magic Tower .  Our first stop was the train station; we took the grand circle tour of Disneyland and then headed up Main Street and turned toward Adventureland.  Next stop the Jungle Cruise.  We met Pam & Mike and chatted for a few minutes.  The Indiana Jones ride was down when we got there so we headed on and rode Pirates of the Caribbean and then headed to the River Belle Terrace for a bite of dinner.  It was getting close to 8:00 p.m. when they were scheduled to assign seating for the Fantasmic Dessert Party so Carol lined up for our seat assignment while John, Cathy and I carried on to Haunted Mansion and then to Winnie the Pooh.  We left Critter Country and went back to Adventureland.  Indiana Jones was running so the three of us took a ride.  It stopped several times during the course, it was not a good ride, but at least we got through.  Carol was waiting when we finished, she was the first one in line for Fantasmic seating and got front row centre seats.  We headed over through Fantasyland and rode Alice in Wonderland and then the Nemo Submarines.  It was almost time for wishes so we made our way to the hub where we stood for the show.  They sure do a great job with the fireworks in Disneyland !  As soon as “Remember Dreams Come True” fireworks were over we joined the crowd heading to New Orleans Square for Fantasmic.  We were seated right away, there was no one else in our section of the preferred seating area!  Bonus!  We had plenty of room and excellent service from our server Shane.

 

After Fantasmic we slowly made our way to the exit and then wandered through Downtown Disney on our way back to the hotel.  It was a busy day and we were pooped but very satisfied.  We sure saw a lot!


January 22, 2011

We were up bright and early.  I grabbed a bagel at the coffee shop near the pool and by 8:30 we were off.  We caught the monorail at Downtown Disney and rode it to Tomorrowland.  We meandered over to Toontown in time for the 9:00 a.m. early entry to Toontown Morning Madness..  What a treat – we had a full hour before this portion of the park opened to the public. 

There were no more than 50 or 60 people there and plenty of characters.  We roamed among the buildings, watched the show in front of Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin, took lots of pictures and then rode Roger Rabbit’s ride.

Soon it was time for our first Tagrel.com meet at Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.  The gang assembled at about 10:15 and there were introductions all around.  Plenty of internet friends were meeting face-to-face for the first time.  We gathered for a group photo at 10:30 and then at 10:35 moved into the queue to ride as a group.  Ursulinda and LuvsPiglet were the first to board.  As Carol and I were boarding we saw Ursulinda and LuvsPiglet finish their ride.  This meant that the Mr. Toad ride was full of Taginators.  No one but Taginators on the ride!  Who’d a thunk that would happen!  We had a lot of ground to cover in just a few days so we soon said our farewells and headed off to Pinocchio for a ride.

 

 Then I dashed off to get a table at the Golden Horseshoe for the Billy Hill & the Hillbillies Show.  Carol took John and Cathy on a tour through Sleeping Beauty’s Castle and John & Cathy took a ride on the Sailing Ship Columbia while Carol joined me for lunch at the Golden Horseshoe.  John & Cathy arrived and got their lunch just before the show started and we laughed non-stop through the rollicking musical revue.  We managed to commandeer two tables; John, Cathy, Carol and I sat in a box beside the stage while Mark, Judy, Kristen, Hannah, BetsyAnn, Miss Bianca, Harvey, Pam and Mike sat front row centre.  Everyone had a great time!

After lunch the four of us headed across the concourse to California Adventure for a whirlwind tour.  We started by riding Monsters Inc. and then toured the Animation Building and spent a while watching the amazing Zoetrope.  Then we carried on to the Hyperion Theatre for the Aladdin Show.  This spectacular song and dance revue is one of our favourites, and the genie always steals the show.  We lucked out once again and got front row centre seats on the mezzanine.  There are no better seats in the house!

Next on the agenda was the California Screamin’ Meet.  Just as we were beginning to assemble beside the attraction a group of Tags arrived, escorted by a cast member.  He was escorting them to the FastPass line for a “Magic Moment”.  They invited us to join, so nine of us hopped in the FastPass line and off we went.  The cast member rode with us and then offered to take the entire group over to the Tower of Terror for a quick trip through the FastPass line there as well.  Wow, what a treat!  The Screamin’ Meet kind of took a turn, but it looked as though everyone was happy with the double-whammy FastPass.  The four of us skipped the trek to the Tower of Terror and headed back to the hotel to put our feet up for a few minutes.

We were heading back to California Adventure by 6:00 for our 7:00 dinner at Wine Country Trattoria.  It was tasty!  After dinner we wandered over to Toy Story Midway Mania and took a spin with Buzz and Woody!

Then it was time to return to the Trattoria and wait to be seated in the preferred area for the Wonderful World of Color show.  This was our first time at the new show and it was fantastic!  It takes place on the lagoon in the Pacific Pier area of California Adventure.  There are hundreds of high pressure fountains and water cannons in the lagoon and they are synchronized with music, coloured lights, lasers, animated cartoons projected onto water screens, and just about every other visual technique known to man!  It is just breathtaking!  The water seems to hang in the air at time, at other times the lasers make it seem as though comets are streaking through the water.  Fellow Taginator Jellyrolls described it as “The Bellagio fountains on steroids!” – and she’s right!

 

We arrived back at the Disneyland Hotel at 11:30, tired but contented after another great day!


January 23, 2011

 

John, Carol and I hit the road early today, early entry once again!  By 8:00 a.m. we were lined up at the Disneyland gate, watched them welcome the Family of the Day and then took part in the countdown.  Half way down Main Street we stopped at the bakery for breakfast, a quick muffin, and then walked through the castle to Fantasyland.

The crowds were very light so we got plenty of rides in.  We all rode Mr. Toad, then Pinocchio and Dumbo.  John and I wedged ourselves into a teacup for a spin, Carol stayed on the sidelines to immortalize the memorable event on film!  We all rode Alice and then hopped on Casey Jr. Circus Train for a ride around Storybook Land .

We took a detour to New Orleans Square and rode Pirates one more time, then headed to Town Square where we met Cathy at City Hall at about 10:30.  Through the castle once again and we knocked off a few more Fantasyland rides – Storybook Land , Peter Pan and Snow White.  The gang headed for Redd Rocket Pizza Port for lunch while I scooted over to Indiana Jones for some FastPasses.  Ooops!  The ride was down, no FastPasses.  I met them at Pizza Port and we enjoyed sitting for a few minutes (well, they did – I’d been sitting most of the morning).

 

After lunch we headed to Buzz Lightyear and helped Buzz defeat the Evil Emperor Zurg.  Everyone was starting to drag their heels by this time, so we slowly shopped our way down Main Street , stopped to see Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln, took the train on a Great Circle Tour around the park and then made our way to the exit.  On our way through Downtown Disney we stopped at Hagen-Das for an ice cream. 

 

Back at the hotel, Carol and I put on our swim suits and headed to the hot tub for a leisurely soak.  Aaahhh - we sure needed that!  Then it was time for a short nap – needed that too!

 

We were up and ready to go at 5:00 p.m. when John called, they had decided to pass on dinner at the Blue Bayou.  We were all dragging and I suspect they wanted to spend their last night at the park just slowly wandering and soaking in the atmosphere.

 

Carol and I headed for the park and went directly to Buzz Lightyear for a second spin.  When we had finished saving the universe I dashed over to the Golden Horseshoe and grabbed a table.  Carol shopped her way over and arrived just as Billy Hill and the Hillbillies took the stage.  Another riotous performance!  They have several different shows so it’s not the same every time!

From the Golden Horseshoe I headed to New Orleans Square to cancel our reservation at Blue Bayou and then met Carol at Indiana Jones for her first ride.  This time it was non-stop; much better that way.  Hopefully the technical glitches are fixed!  From there we wandered through The Hub and had dinner at The Plaza Restaurant.  I like the cobb salad and Carol always goes for the fried chicken, truth be told, the food is much better than the Blue Bayou.

 

Since we were so close, we rode Buzz one more time and then shopped our way down Main Street once again. 

On our way out of the park Juanita texted – they were leaving in the morning and had a fistful of FastPasses they couldn’t use.  We met her in the World of Disney Store and she handed over 20 FastPasses from the extra DVC points they recently bought.  Thanks Juanita – it’s gonna be a busy day tomorrow!

 

We were back in the room by 8:30 – wiped out after a few long and busy days.


January 24, 2011

 

How can we be so tired at night and still wake up so early in the morning?  I was up at 6:30 and Carol followed just a few minutes later.  We drank a pot of coffee and took it slow and easy.  John knocked on the door at 8:15 and we visited for about a half hour before they left for the airport.  We said our goodbyes in the hotel lobby and headed to Disneyland .

 

Downtown Disney was so quiet at 9:00 a.m. that we wondered what was going on.  When we got to the bag check area no one was going through.  Turns out the park didn’t open until 10:00 a.m.  So we went to La Brea Bakery for breakfast and then shopped in World of Disney for a bit.  By 9:45 we were on Main Street USA and the into the Emporium waiting for the park to officially open. 

We watched the countdown and then waited for the crowd to disperse before we headed to Tomorrowland.  We met Pam and Linda near the Plaza Restaurant and visited for a few minutes before heading on to Buzz Lightyear.  After riding Buzz we took a spin on Space Mountain then I scooted over to California Adventure to pick up our picnic lunches at Wine Country Trattoria.  We bought them to get the preferred seating package for World of Color.  Carol did some pin trading at Westward Ho and toured a few shops while I was gone.

When I got back, there were Billy Hill & the Hillbillies on the veranda at Pioneer Mercantile.  Linda came by and took my picture with the Billies, then I took hers.  We headed into the Golden Horseshoe Tavern and ate our picnic lunches while we waited for the 12:15 Billy Hill show.  We do not recommend the picnic lunch.  I was struggling with a piece of cold fried chicken, looking for any form of meat on it.  Carol picked it up and broke it in half to show me where the meat was – but there wasn’t any.  She picked up my other piece and broke it – no meat there either.  Then she tried her two pieces – Yikes – no meat at all.  The coleslaw and potato salad were OK – not great but OK and the apple strudel was good.  We were still hungry when we finished so we each had a sundae. As usual, the Billies were great!

After lunch we went to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and took the wildest ride in the wilderness before returning to the Jungle Cruise for a ride in the daylight.  We headed to California Adventure and looked for PhotoPass Photographers as we left Disneyland .  There were none in front of the train station.  That’s odd!

In California Adventure we found several photographers and had some shots taken.  They told us that most of their Disneyland comrades hang out in front of the castle, so back to Disneyland we went.  The first photographer at the Partners statue was some sort of depraved lunatic who posed the family ahead of us in about fifteen different poses.  It took forever.  When our turn finally came he started the same process.  Hold your arm here, lean in, lift your chin, hand on your chest . . . we finally had to say that’s enough.  All we wanted were a couple of shots with the statue and the castle in the background.  Later we looked at our pictures – he missed the castle!  How can you do that?  Isn’t that what it’s all about?

 

We found another photographer closer to the castle and got some good shots and then headed to Tomorrowland where we caught the monorail to Downtown Disney.  We were back to the hotel by 3:00.

There was no nap today, we rested a bit and by 4:00 we were heading back.  We caught the monorail and headed to the Haunted Mansion .  It was closed – Boo!  Carol had yet to ride Winnie the Pooh so we carried on to Critter Country and took a spin around the Hundred Acre Woods.  We spent a few minutes exploring the shops around New Orleans Square and then headed to Café Orleans for our 5:30 reservation.

 

The food was great, the décor was wonderful, the group sitting nearby was horrible.  There were six adults and nine children under the age of six.  I don’t think they were related because no one acted like a parent!  The adults were seated at one end of the table and all the children at the other end.  There was no form of supervision at all.  The noise level was incredible!  At one point two little girls, about 5 years old, had a screaming contest.  I’m not exaggerating . . . they stood about two feet from two of the adults, covered their ears and screamed at the tops of their lungs.  They really were trying to outdo each other and the adults were blissfully unaware.  I wanted to go over and spank the parents but Carol wouldn’t let me!  I daydreamed about one of them going into anaphylactic shock and the whole group rushing off to the hospital – no luck there either.  Naturally they all had special diets so they kept our shared server very busy.  Our service was deplorable.  There were huge and painfully noisy time gaps between our soups, entrees and desserts.  At last the family from Hell left during our desserts – for a few seconds I thought I had gone deaf.

 

It was getting to be time for the World of Color show at California Adventure so we headed out of Disneyland and across the concourse.  We diverted through Condor Flats for a quick ride on Soarin’ and then carried on to the World of Color viewing area.  Our seating area was better than the first time we saw the show.  It was great, this really is a great way to wind up your day.

 

The parks were closed and we were bushed so we headed back, through the Grand Californian Hotel and Downtown Disney.  We were back to the hotel by 9:25.

 

Tomorrow we head home to the cold!  Brrrr!


January 25 - 12:45 p.m. AC Flight #792 Los Angeles to Toronto