Wednesday October 9, 2013


We have been planning this trip for about a year and after months and months of planning we managed to hit the road a mere 10 minutes after our targeted time.  We were on the road by 9:10 a.m.  We dropped Zak and Blue off at Carol’s parents – they just love dogsitting their grand-dogs!


We pulled up to the border crossing at about 10:15.  We had been apprehensive about the border since the US government has been shut down.  It turned out to be one of the quickest and smoothest crossings in several years.


Since it was Wednesday we stopped at the Cracker Barrel Restaurant in Cicero NY for chicken pot pie – YUM!  Then the shopping began.  Carol returned a mystery item to Barnes & Noble (guess I won’t be getting that book for Christmas) before we carried on to the Destiny USA Mall in Syracuse where Carol visited the Disney Store.  Christmas decorations were on sale so she stocked up!


Mattydale was next, quick visits to K-Mart and The Christmas Tree Shop.  She didn’t find any treasures at either one, but it gave me some good quality reading time.


We were at the airport by 2:45 and quickly checked in for our 4:27 flight.  Surprise – we pulled away from the gate two minutes early and after a very smooth flight we touched down five minutes early.  Friends John and Cathy were waiting for us near the luggage pick-up area and as soon as our luggage arrived we all hopped in their rental car and made our way to the POP Century Resort.  Of course, there was a brief detour – shopping at D-Street.  Carol got the Jack Skellington Vinylmation she has been obsessing about and we were on our way!


We checked in and then met John & Cathy along with their friends Brock and Brent in the food court where we had a snack before taking our luggage to the room.  Since this our first night of vacation it seemed appropriate to have a drink, so we tossed the luggage in the room and met John, Cathy and their daughter Lizzie at the pool bar for a cocktail.  By midnight we were all yawning after a long day of travel so we called it a night.


Tomorrow we are off to Hollywood Studios and the Halloween Party.

Thursday October 10, 2013


We were both up at 6:45 and I dashed off to the food court to fetch coffee for my sweet bride.  I fiddled at the computer for a few minutes and before I knew it the phone chirped.  It was John, he was ready for breakfast.  We headed to the food court and Carol joined us just as we finished eating.  She went to the Concierge Desk to pick up our Halloween Party tickets and was done by the time John and I finished nursing our coffees.

We headed back to the room and at 9:20 hopped in the car and were off to Hollywood Studios. 

We wandered through the shops on our way back to the Sorcerer Hat.  John and I had to stop to model some Mickey ears.

Our first attraction was The Great Movie Ride.  It was also the first ride that broke down.  We stood in the theatre and watched the pre-show three times before they started seating guests but they opened both sides of the queue and things moved along quickly.

We scurried over to Toy Story Midway Mania to use the FastPass+ we had pre-booked using our Magic Bands and “My Disney Experience”.  Carol snuck ahead of me during the first round and carried that lead through the second round but I edged past on the third screen and carried a slim lead through to the end.  Ca-Ching!  Yea Me!  John beat us both, but of course that doesn’t count – what does count is that he beat Cathy by a huge margin!

Some good friends from the Disney fan site were also at Hollywood Studios so we all met at Starring Rolls for a cold drink and a snack.  We spent a laugh-filled hour catching up on each other’s lives.

John and I headed over to Star Tours for a ride while Carol and Cathy did some shopping.  We reconnected with them at Oscars and headed to the parking lot.  John wanted to see if we could make it to the new Be Our Guest Restaurant in time for a late lunch.

We took a ferry from the Magic Kingdom parking lot and headed directly back to Fantasyland.

Success, there was no line when we got to Be Our Guest at about 2:30 p.m.  Lunch was great, John, Cathy and I had the sliced turkey sandwich and Carol had roast beef.    By the time we finished eating the restaurant had closed and cast members were setting the tables for dinner.  John managed to get a few pictures in the Beast’s dining room before we carried on.

We took a ride with Ariel on the Voyage of the Little Mermaid.  It was the first time Cathy had seen this new attraction so we took our time as we strolled through the queue.  The theming and décor is very well done and we took time to appreciate it.  The ride stopped just as we approached and was stopped for about five minutes before resuming.  Hmmmm – two ride malfunctions in a day!

We carried on and spent a few minutes admiring some other new elements in the redeveloped Fantasyland, Mickey’s Storybook Circus and the Big Top Gift Shop.

This was more walking than I have done in several years and because of the exercise and the heat I was beginning to wilt.  The other three weren’t far behind me so we decided that a nice soothing ride on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority might be a great thing to do while we whiled away the time until Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party began.  As we approached the ramp which carries riders up to the loading platform, everything stopped moving.  Yikes – breakdown number three!  The cars started moving again in just a few minutes and we were quickly aboard.  Within about two minutes it stopped again stranding us for just a few minutes in front of Space Mountain.  It was a great opportunity to get a few pictures, then we were underway again!

We still had some time to waste so we walked over to the Carousel of Progress and took a spin through the decades.  The cast member who delivered to opening message did a terrific job – he did the whole spiel while pretending to be an audio-animatronics figure and he did a very convincing job.


Party time was approaching so we wandered down Main Street to the park entrance to pick up our party wrist bands.  We were looking for a snack before the party started so we headed to the Bakery on Main Street, hoping to pick up something light and eat it at a table in the air conditioned comfort of the restaurant.  What a shock – we knew they had converted the bakery to a Starbucks – what we didn’t know was that they also removed all the tables.  What a dumb move that was!  None of us like Starbucks coffee and our tired legs were really looking forward to a few minutes at a table.  We left without buying anything, quite disgusted actually.  All the tables outside the Ice Cream Shop were occupied so we picked up some ice cream and ate it at a table in the Tomorrowland Terrace, near the Noodle Station.

We sat at that table and people-watched for a while and soon it was 7:00 p.m. - they announced that the park was closed to normal guests and the Halloween Party was beginning.  We headed over through Liberty Square to the Haunted Mansion – it’s only natural that you ride the Haunted Mansion during a Halloween Party!  It’s a great ride, one of our favourites, and they have made a few minor changes lately so we paid close attention, looking for changes as we rode.

Parade time was approaching so we headed to Frontierland and staked out a good vantage point to watch the parade.  In my opinion this is the best parade Disney does.  The music is fantastic and the Disney characters are all decked out in Halloween costumes.  It is very entertaining!

After the parade we headed toward Main Street and passed through the newly opened area where the Fantasyland Skyway used to be.  It now has Rapunzel themed rest rooms.  The centerpiece of the new area is a tower just like the one in the Tangled movie.

By 9:00 p.m. we had found a spot in front of Cinderella Castle and stood waiting for the 9:15 “Celebrate the Magic” show.  By this time my legs were really failing, I spent quite a bit of time leaning on a nearby fence while we waited for the show to begin.  I rejoined John, Cathy and Carol just as the lights dimmed.  This amazing show uses light and music to fully captivate your imagination.  The castle is transformed into a canvas on which the Imagineers paint a myriad of pictures and movies.  Words cannot do it justice – you really have to experience it – it will take your breath away.



Ten minutes after Celebrate the Magic was over the “Wishes” fireworks extravaganza began.  As much as I enjoy the fireworks, I was truly relieved when they were over.  As I hobbled out toward the exit Carol pointed out that we had been in the Magic Kingdom from 2:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. and she didn’t have a single bag in her hands.  She hadn’t bought a thing.  Wow, that may never happen again!  We boarded the monorail for the return trip to the parking lot.  It felt great to sit for a few minutes!


We were back at the resort by 10:40 and stopped at the food court for a quick snack.  We were back in the room shortly after 11:00 p.m. and crashed almost instantly.  What a great day!


Friday October 11, 2013


Today was EPCOT day – the Food & Wine Festival – and we have been looking forward to grazing our way around Future World. 

Once again John and I met for breakfast at about 8:00 a.m.  We ate it beside the pool and then took a slow stroll toward Hourglass Lake and the Generation Gap Bridge.  We were both still stiff and sore after yesterday’s marathon and it took a while to get the kinks out.  Carol spotted us just as we approached the bridge and handed off her camera so I could get a few pictures. 

There was hardly a ripple on the water and the buildings at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort were reflecting beautifully on the water.  There were also some huge turtles swimming near the bridge.  Wow!

Cathy had gone off to spend a “Mother/Daughter” day with Lizzie who lives in the Orlando area so it was just John, Carol and I touring today.  We headed out to EPCOT at about 10:15 and arrived at Soarin’ at 10:50, just before our FastPass+ expired. 

When we were boarding the line stopped when we reached the front.  The group ahead of us were the last to board and we had to wait for the next flight.  Bonus!  This allowed us to ask for Row 1 in B Section – the prime viewing area.  John and I really enjoy this ride, Carol – not so much.

Carol scoured a few shops and the Festival Centre while John and I crossed Future World and took a spin on Test Track. 

When we finished the ride Carol was waiting at the exit and we headed to World Showcase to begin our gastronomic tour.  There are 30 kiosks set up around World Showcase Lagoon, each featuring food and drink from different countries or regions.


We began our adventure at Australia where all three of us tried the garlic shrimp.  Delicious.  Carol and I split a tasty Pavlova (custard and fruit in a meringue shell).


I guarded our table (table space is always at a premium) while Carol and John went off to Brazil and Argentina.  John and I sampled Seared Scallops from Brazil while Carol savored a grilled beef skewer from Argentina.

We passed a few countries on our way to China where Carol and I each had an order of Chicken Potstickers.  They were OK but quite similar to steamed dumplings you can get almost anywhere.


We stopped at a country called “Cheese” where John and I each tried a local delicacy, Almond Crusted Blue Cheese Soufflé with Fig Jam.  Yummy!


In Germany Carol and I enjoyed Roast Bratwurst on a Pretzel Roll, one of our favourites from previous years.  Then all three of us had a piece of Apple Strudel served with an excellent Karamel & Vanilla Sauce from Werther’s.  Wow – it was good!

Naturally no trip to Germany is complete without a stop at Werther’s.  Carol and John each bought some caramel candies and a bag of caramel corn.  As we left the building my smart mouth got the better of me again.  I picked a random couple who were entering the store and said, “Don’t go in there!  That stuff is addictive.”  I was astounded with the lady’s reaction.  She said something like, “Oh my God, oh my God!”  She was visibly excited . . . it was almost frightening . . . then she said, “You don’t know me but I read your blogs.”  Jane and Tony from San Antonio Texas have apparently been following our travels for a while and knew we were at EPCOT.  They were surprised but pleased to run into us.  Jane said that she was quite worried about Carol a few weeks ago.  She knew that Carol was at EPCOT for the annual pin trading event but when there was no blog update she was afraid that something was wrong!  No Jane, all was well, Carol was simply too busy, and having too much fun to blog!  Jane gave Carol a very unique gift, Food & Wine Festival ear rings she had hand made.  Very cute!


We are always surprised to hear how much other people enjoy following our little adventures and we really like to hear from them.  So Jane and Tony, welcome to our trip report!

After our surprising encounter with the Texans we headed on . . . clockwise around the lagoon.  We hadn’t walked more than a hundred yards when a woman appeared in front of us, a huge smile on her face.  “Hi,” she said, “I’m Cyndy from Louisville Kentucky and I read your blog all the time.”  Wow, what a small world, two encounters in one day.  There really is something to that “six degrees of separation” theory.  Welcome to our trip report Cyndy!

We carried on toward Belgium and took a break at America Gardens.  We found a table with an umbrella outside the restaurant and used it while we sampled THE WARES FROM Hops & Barley nearby.  John had a Lobster Roll, he and Carol both had a Grilled Lobster Tail and Carol split a Cranberry Bread Pudding with me.


We were all getting quite full by this time but Carol and I wanted to cap off our roving lunch with a Belgian waffle so we passed a few more counties while we made a bee-line for Belgium.


That did it; it put us over the top.  All of us were pooped so we caught the Friendship Boat from Morocco to Canada and headed toward the exit. 

Carol popped into the Art of Disney Store looking for a new David Doss print she has her eye on.  He wasn’t there and his prints weren’t in stock but she found one she really liked . . . a Lady & The Tramp print by Michelle St. Laurent who was there signing them.  I was outside waiting with John when she came out and told me I had some Christmas shopping to do.  So in I went and got the chore done!

We stopped for a ride on Spaceship Earth before heading back to the resort.   We arrived back at 4:00 p.m. and I enjoyed a well earned nap.  Aaahh!

At 5:45 we headed to the poolside bar where we met John & Cathy along with their daughter Lizzie and her fiancé Jeff for a drink.  At 7:00 we moved to the food court for dinner and at about 8:15 headed back to the room.  It was time to pack up and get ready to head to the cruise terminal in the morning.

Jeff & Lizzie

Saturday October 12, 2013


We had a leisurely start planned for this morning, but Carol and I were both awake early.  I guess we are just too excited about boarding the Fantasy, neither of us could roll over and go back to sleep.  So we were out of bed at about 6:00 a.m.

I wandered down to the food court for coffee which we enjoyed in the room as we wasted time reading and playing on the computer.  John came by at about 8:00 and by about 8:30 Cathy had all of their packing done.  We loaded everything into their rental car and headed out for breakfast.  We had arranged to meet some friends for a bite before we left the Orlando area.  Deb and Linda were waiting at Earl of Sandwich when we arrived.  We haven’t seen them since last October so we sat and yakked for a half hour or more before ordering our breakfast.

Carol had some trouble opening her plastic bottle of orange juice so she handed it to me so I could crack the plastic seal.  Ooops!  I found out the hard way that the neck of the bottle was cracked.  I gave the bottle a good shake and sprayed frosty orange juice all over Linda and Deb.  I was really surprised when, just seconds later, Deb tossed her coffee in Carol’s lap.  Gosh, it’s nice to get together with dear friends and have a good old-fashioned food fight!

All too soon it was time to go, Deb and Linda had places to be and we were anxious to get to the cruise terminal.  We said our good-byes and piled back into the car.  Next stop – the ABC Liquor Store.  John and I needed some scotch to sustain us though our arduous voyage!

We pulled into the Dollar Car Rental office in Port Canaveral at 12:25 and spent a hot, frustrating hour standing outside the office waiting for a shuttle bus to take us to the cruise terminal.  Apparently Dollar Rent-A-Car had no idea there were three cruise ships sailing out in late afternoon.  At one point I went inside to enjoy some air conditioned comfort but a couple of screaming children quickly drove me back outside into the furnace.


The shuttle finally arrived and delivered us to the port at 1:45.  The check in was very smooth and we walked through the giant Mickey ears at 2:00 p.m.  

The cast members announced our arrival and cheered as we entered the magnificent atrium; we were cheering inside as well!  The good thing about our late arrival was that our staterooms were ready.  We immediately headed up to our stateroom to drop our bags off. When we got to the stateroom everything was in order, our dining rotation slips and excursion tickets were waiting for us. There was also a lovely welcome gift from our travel agent Suzy, and the welcome gift from Disney Cruise Line. We were quite hungry by this time so we dropped off the bags we had carried with us and headed off to the Enchanted Garden for a late lunch.  Unfortunately, it was too late.  The restaurant was closed.  Dang!

We made our way to Deck 11 and had a light lunch at Cabanas.  Cathy and John did a bit of exploring around the ship while Carol and I returned to the cabin.  I snored for a while as Carol unpacked.  Soon the horns were sounding for the 4:00 p.m. lifeboat drill.  We assembled in our designated muster location, the Walt Disney Theatre on Deck 4 and sat through the mandatory safety lesson.

The four of us wandered up to Deck 11 and sat outside the Cove Café for a few minutes.  The noise level started to pick up as time for the “Sail Away Party” approached. 

John and I decided that it was time to do a “quality check” on our scotch.  We had just started on our way down to the cabin when the horn sounded and the thrusters fired up to push us away from the dock.  We scurried shuffled down to Deck 6, poured some Highland nectar and then joined the ladies along the rail on Deck 13.  They were holding the Canadian flag up to the rail so our family and friends back home could pick us out on the webcam.  Alas, the camera stayed glued to the Carnival ship which sailed out a few minutes ahead of us.  The only thing our family saw was the stern of the Fantasy as it pulled away from the camera.  Maybe we’ll have better luck when we sail again next May!

Dinner time was approaching so we headed back down to Deck 6 to freshen up before heading to the Royal Court for dinner.  We were seated promptly at 5:45 and met our table-mates Jeff and Jill from the Seattle area.  Jill’s sister is our Travel Agent, Suzy from Mouse Fan Travel.  Our servers for this cruise are Milan from Serbia and Tamryn from South Africa. Our table in the Royal Court was nicely situated so that we could see through a port hole and watch the lightly rolling sea.


After dinner we stopped in briefly at our cabins before heading to the Walt Disney Theatre for the nightly stage show, “A Fantasy Come True”.  The show was OK – not great, just OK.  It was saved by a comedy routine performed by Buckets and Boards, a duo from Branson Missouri.  They had us in stitches.  We’ll be sure to catch their lounge shows later in the cruise.

After the stage show we wandered back to the adult lounge area on Deck 4 Aft and had a nice quiet drink at Skylines, where the animated scenes in the fake windows rotate to show the night skylines in seven European cities.  We sat through London, Budapest and Paris.  Mickey Mouse and a number of Star Wars characters appeared in hotel windows in the London scene and Gusto’s Restaurant from Ratatouille appeared in the Paris scene.


Our whirlwind tour of the three cities in Europe ended at about 10:45.  We were pooped after another travel day, snoring ensued!

Sunday October 13, 2013


I heard Carol roaming around in the cabin and asked what time it was.  She told me it was 7:25 and that our Room Service coffee would be there momentarily.  Sure enough, at 7:30 sharp there was a rap on the door.  Coffee was served!


We had a very light snack for breakfast since we were scheduled for an 11:30 a.m. brunch at Palo.  We didn’t want to waste any capacity on standard breakfast fare when we knew that all those gastronomic delights were just ahead.

By 9:00 a.m. we were out roaming the halls, just poking into some of the nooks and crannies of the ship.  We explored the gallery of Disney art near Shutters on Deck 4, strolled around the Promenade Deck and had our picture taken with Daisy Duck.

We headed toward the adult nightclub area on Deck 4 Aft where there was a special reception for Gold and Platinum members of the Castaway Club being held in The Tube.  Carol, my personal supermodel, posed for a few glamour shots along the way!

They served a nice selection of fresh fruits and light hors d’oeuvres at the Castaway Club reception, but once again we did our best to exercise constraint!  Palo was just ahead!  Captain Mickey joined the party and posed for us.

At 10:45 it was time to go back to our cabin and change into our fancy clothes and head to Deck 12 Aft and Palo.


What a delight!  Palo is upscale dining with an Italian theme.  All of our tablemates were there and we were escorted to a nice round seating area, a private little nook off to the side of the main dining room.  The background depicted a scene from Venice and we all enjoyed the brief fantasy – for about 90 minutes we felt as though we were actually in Venice.  And the food – it was exquisite!  A buffet of breads, cheeses, savories, sweets, seafoods, caviar . . . an almost endless variety.  Our server was from France and she took orders for our entrees, all of which were excellent.  We finally tore ourselves away from Palo at 1:00 p.m., very full and totally contented.


Carol and I changed and headed to Deck 13 Forward and Satellite Falls.  We cooled off in the refreshing waters of the falls while Cuba passed by on our port side.  Shortly after 2:00 p.m. the sandman was beckoning so I went back to the cabin for a snooze; Carol headed to the adult pool on Deck 11.

Sleep eluded me so I fiddled on the computer for a while.  Carol splashed in the adult pool, had a soak in the hot tub and then read her book for a while.  Suddenly, at about 3:00 p.m. the band struck up a tune and the Quiet Cove was converted to the Noisy Cove.  She came back to the stateroom and changed; we both chilled out for while and then took our books to the Cove Café where we sat reading inside for a while.

Dinner time was approaching and it was “Formal Night” so we went home and changed into our “formal wear.  We have a pretty relaxed definition of “formal” so I put on a pair of slacks and a golf shirt . . . and off we went to Animator’s Palate.  Along the way we ran into Goofy so we stopped for a picture.

John and Cathy were directly behind us as we approached the restaurant and shortly after we were seated Crush, the turtle from Finding Nemo, started entertaining us.  We much prefer the new version of Animator’s Palate, it’s a big improvement over the Magic and the Wonder.

After dinner we changed back into our super casual clothes and watched the Aladdin show in the Walt Disney Theatre.  It’s a terrific show, staged much like the version playing in the Hyperion Theatre at Disney’s California Adventure.  The carpet and the genie steal the show.  All four of us really enjoyed it!


Then we struck out looking for adventure.  We didn’t find it!  What we did find was a nice drink at O’Gill’s Pub and a somewhat less than captivating magician at The Tube.  The Jason Bishop magic show was not what we expected and left us unimpressed.  We left at 11:00 p.m. before the show had finished, returned to our cabin and turned in.


It was a nice day.  Good weather and no agenda; the first chance we have had to relax since we left home!

Monday October 14, 2013


Today I woke filled with stress and dread.  I heard Carol heading to the Head.  On shore that room has many names, it’s the rest room, the lavatory, the loo, the dumper, the crapper, the brown room, the library or the office.  In Canada it’s the washroom; in Saskatchewan and Alberta it “the warshroom”.  But at sea it’s always the head.  Carol was walking toward it and I was filled with dread; did I get it right this time?


I vaguely remembered being there myself earlier in the night and I wasn’t sure that I had been able to resist my natural instincts.  Since my mother started potty training me almost 65 years ago it has been drummed into me again and again, “Put the seat down.”  When I left my mother and got married it was only natural that my new wife took over the mantra, “Put the seat down.”  So for 65 years I have been doing my best to put the seat/lid down.


On this cruise all of that changed.  You see, the lid and the seat on the toilet cover in our stateroom are sticky.  They nestle together very tightly and when you lift the lid - the seat lifts up with it, snuggly nestled inside.  Of course, this is a big problem for my wonderful bride.  She needs that seat to protect her delicate feminine tush from that germ-fouled porcelain bowl.  I suggested earlier in the cruise that it was easy to simply reach under the lid and pry the seat free. 


I was wrong.  She quickly told me, “Yuck, I can’t do that; the seat is all covered in germs, bacteria and tiny little poop molecules.”


“But wait,” I replied, “the seat is supposed to protect you from the nasty old bowl, so it must be clean.  It has to be clean.”


“Don’t try to distract me with facts or logic.” She said, “Just put the lid back up and the seat down.”


Wow, what a challenge.  The flush button is located on the wall behind the seat so it has to come down in order to flush, then I have to fight 65 years of training and ritual and remember to put it back up.  And why is it OK for my hands to pry that germ-infested thing apart but hers cannot?  That seems to me to be quite sexist, but apparently my opinion counts very little.


This is a situation clearly designed to ensure that I fail.  There is no way I can consistently remember to raise that lid and pry that seat down.  I will fail and I will be forced to atone.


This morning I failed and coincidentally, I am sure, we are pulling into a port lined with gold and diamond shops.  It just has to be a coincidence . . . but atonement should be easy!


Knowing there was a solution available, I quickly shrugged off all the stress and guilt and fell back to sleep.

Carol and I were both out of bed by 7:20, just before our Room Service coffee arrived.  After vegetating over coffee for a few minutes I called John and we made our way to Enchanted Garden for breakfast.  Meanwhile, Carol went to the spa for some pampering!


John and I had an average breakfast at Enchanted Garden.  The buffet food is identical to that served at Cabanas but there is no omelet station at Enchanted Garden.  The servers who took far too long to bring our juice and coffee would supposedly bring us a la carte dishes but they were so slow with the beverages we decided we didn’t have time for specialty dishes.  Tomorrow we will go to Cabanas.


After breakfast John and I wandered the deck for a few minutes then returned to our cabins.  I had a shower and got ready for our big excursion in Grand Cayman.  We were booked for a short island tour.


At about 10:00 a.m., just as we sailed in to the big bay at Georgetown, Grand Cayman, I took my book to Deck 11 and met John and Cathy at the Cove Café.  Carol joined us within a half hour.  She was all oiled up and relaxed from her spa experience.

Our tour didn’t begin until 1:30 but we decided to catch the tender ashore.  We dropped our stuff in the cabins and made our way down to the Walt Disney Theatre to pick up our oh-so important tender tickets.  With our tickets in hand we walked to midship and took the stairs down to Deck 2, crossed the gangway and boarded the tender on the top deck for the short hop across to Georgetown.  It was steamy and hot.  The temperature was mid-80’s but the humidity was intense.  It felt as though you should be able to grab a handful of air and wring it out!


We wasted time while we waited for our tour by visiting the souvenir shops conveniently located at the terminal.  Within 20 minutes all four of us had tiny rivers running down our backs.  We found a short-term solution in a gelato shop.  The ice cream was delicious!  We walked across the street and walked a few blocks of downtown Georgetown, then returned to the cruise terminal to wait under the shade of a canvas canopy until our tour began. 

John and I wanted to go here . . . the girls said "No!"

We were very pleased when we boarded the bus and found that the air conditioning worked well.  Aaahhh!


Our bus driver/tour guide, Barry, gave us a whirlwind tour, pointing out many local sights, the ESSO gas station, Burger King and KFC were among the points of interest he highlighted.  We saw the library which was founded by Christopher Columbus’ nephew in 1494 . . . at least I think that’s what Barry said.  He spoke the native dialect of English and he spoke it very quickly.  It was quite difficult to follow.

We stopped at a place called Hell.  Naturally it was hot – and naturally it led to plenty of bad jokes.  As we debarked the bus Barry urged us to have “a Hell of a good time!”  The main feature in Hell, aside from the heat, is a rock formation.  It’s an oddity to see rocks in the middle of all that sand.  The rocks are comprised of coral which calcified and then once sea levels fell and it was above the water line it began eroding into some unique patterns.


Trivia:  Here’s a unique bit of trivia which might win you a free drink in a bar sometime!  Hell has a gift shop and in that gift shop you can buy a refrigerator magnet!  Amazing – but true!  If you need proof just contact John and he’ll e-mail you a picture of the magnet he bought!

Here we are in Hell!

Soon we were back on the bus getting the Hell out of Hell. 

Next stop – the Turtle Farm . . . a very interesting place.  It is operated by the Cayman government in an effort to preserve and sustain an endangered species.  They have a breeding program which enables them to release about 50,000 young sea turtles into the wild each year.

There were turtles everywhere, big and small, young and old.  You could pick up a turtle, pet a turtle, there was even a small pool where you could wade through about two feet of water filled with turtles.  Cathy was OK with holding a small turtle but she drew the line at swimming with the turtles.

That was the last stop on our tour, Barry took us back to the terminal where we reboarded our tender and enjoyed a hot humid breeze on our way home.  Note:  I did not but any gold or diamonds.  The only thing I bought for Milady was a small dish of ice cream . . . but it appears that all is forgiven!

We were back aboard the Fantasy at about 4:00 p.m. when suddenly we all noticed that we were hungry.  In the excitement of going to Hell and back we neglected to have lunch.  We went directly to Deck 11 and Cove Café where we had a light snack of finger foods.  As we nibbled we saw Gareth, half of the comedy duo Buckets & Boards who was ordering a coffee.  We told him how much we had enjoyed the show the previous night and that we would be sure to see the show that evening.

Dinner time was approaching so we scurried to our staterooms to freshen up.  I needed a shower and some dry clothes!  This was our first dinner in the Enchanted Garden and we were looking forward to seeing the ceiling transform.  Alas – we missed it.  Either it didn’t happen or we were too engrossed in conversation to notice.  Jeff and Jill spent their day snorkeling on a nearby reef and had a great day, so we shared lots of stories!

After dinner we signed up for the Midship Detective Agency game and struck off in search of a murderous Muppet.  It’s cute . . . we got about half way along in our search for clues when fatigue hit us like a brick wall.  We decided to finish the quest the following day.

We grabbed our laptops from the cabins and headed to the Cove Café to check e-mail.  The Cove is an Internet Café and the connection there is much faster than in our stateroom.  The dogs send an update every night (Grandma does the typing) but we were a bit too early so we’ll try again tomorrow!


John and I enjoyed a soothing sip of scotch in our cabin as the four of us struggled to keep our eyes open until 10:45 when the Buckets & Boards show in the Walt Disney Theatre.  We were surprised at the crowd already seated when we arrived at 10:30 . . . but we shouldn’t have been surprised.  They do a very entertaining routine.  Our ribs were sore from laughter when we fell into be at midnight!

Tuesday October 15, 2013


We slept well.  Very well!  We were up and dressed by the time our 7:30 coffee order arrived.  We each took a hot cup of coffee out onto our balcony and watched a rainbow off in the distance.  It’s a port day but we have no excursions planned so it will be more like a sea day for us.

We met John and Cathy at 8:30 and enjoyed a nice breakfast at Cabanas before everyone went their separate ways.  Carol headed off to buy some Disney Cruise Line pins and charms for friends.  Naturally there was a charm she just had to have for her Pandora bracelet; it’s Minnie Mouse’s handbag with “I Shopping” inscribed on the bottom . . . I plan to torture her by wrapping it and putting it under the Christmas tree!


I spent a few minutes in the cabin updating the trip report and then made my way to the Cove Café where I uploaded it to our web site.  I really hadn’t expected to do any updates while we were at sea, but the speed in the café is not too bad.


Carol and I had agreed to meet in the café so I sat reading my book until she joined me at 10:30.  We spotted land from the café window so we got on the Forward Elevator and went back to our stateroom to watch the approach from our balcony.

John and Cathy spent the morning roaming and exploring the ship.  They had a Goofy encounter on the Promenade Deck. 

They arrived at our cabin arrived about noon, just as we were docking at Costa Maya.  We had lunch at Cabanas on Deck 11 Aft before heading ashore.  We had no agenda or destination, the plan was simply to set foot on the ground at this relatively new Mexican resort area.

We took a few pictures of the Fantasy as we walked the pier, then caught a shuttle tram to the shopping area. 

Some local performers were waiting to greet us.


Costa Maya is in a huge Mexican jungle, a very remote and uninhabited area where the Mexican government began developing a resort area about fifteen to twenty years ago.  Naturally, they started by building a straw market, and that’s where we ended up today.  I hate straw markets!  “Come to my shop!”  “Come, I have a bargain for you!”  All of the persistent vendors make me crazy. 

We walked around the area for about an hour . . . Cathy bought some kind of trinket and we all rushed back to the shuttle for our return trip to the Fantasy.  It was blazing hot, almost as hot as Hell, and the AquaDuck was beckoning.

We dropped our things in the cabins, stripped off our wringing wet shirts, put on our bathing suits and dashed off to the AquaDuck.  Our last time on the Fantasy I was recovering from knee surgery and had to hobble around with a walker.  The AquaDuck was out of the question . . . so I have been looking forward to riding this waterslide for about a year and a half!  It didn’t disappoint . . . I really enjoyed it and I hope to get a chance for another ride on Thursday or Friday.


After the AquaDuck we headed to Satellite Falls where we soaked away all of that Hellish heat.  The rain falling around the falls combined with a gentle breeze and cloudy skies brought some welcome relief from the oppressive temperatures.  By the time I went back to the cabin for a nap I was actually cool.

Soon dinner time approached.  Carol and I headed to the atrium on Deck 3 looking for character pictures.  We didn’t find any that we wanted to line up for but we did pose in front of a backdrop showing a castle hall scene, then went into the Royal Court to join our tablemates for dinner. 

We celebrated John and Cathy's 35th Anniversary.

The cast members, the serving staff, presented the anniversary couple with a nice chocolate dessert of some sort and then sang a song for them.  Since the servers come from all around the world they have developed a universal song that is used for all occasions, birthdays, anniversaries, even bar mitzvahs.  The tune is “Happy Birthday” and for an Anniversary they simply substitute “Versary” for Birthday.  Head Server Lubo started it all off by announcing that they would be singing "in English."  It really sounded comical when they all sang “Happy Versary to you!” . . . it reminded me of that Chinese Restaurant scene in the movie A Christmas Story – Fa-ra-ra Fa-ra-ra Fa-ra-ra.

After dinner Carol and Cathy went off to trade pins with the officers while John and I went to the stateroom and enjoyed some sweet highland libations.  The girls called from the Cove Café shortly after 8:00.  We hauled the laptops up for them and everyone checked their e-mail.  We sat for over an hour, laughing and yawning.  After a long, hot day we were struggling to stay awake.  We moved out on the deck, hoping that a nice frosty ice cream might revitalize us.  Nope – it didn’t work.  We sat out beside Eye Scream for quite a while, there was a nice breeze to cut the heat and it was quite amusing watching the children try to make soft-serve ice cream cones.  Some were quite skilled at it; others were disaster-prone, just like me!


At 10:00 p.m. we conceded . . . the fight isn’t over, but the sandman won this round!

Wednesday October 16, 2013


The phone rang at 6:30 a.m. and Mickey said “Hey pal, it’s time to get up, there are big doin’s goin’ on”. The wakeup call was for Gary, he and John were going on the port excursion to the Mayan ruins in Tulum. Cathy and I opted for a less strenuous day that started with doing laundry. Yeah – big doin’s goin’ on!  When we had finished doing a couple of loads each we met up and headed towards the tourist Mecca of Cozumel. We left the ship around 10:30 a.m. and wandered through the shops in the immediate area of the ship. We each made a couple of purchases after doing some successful bartering. Cathy cam back to the ship with a pair of earrings and I bought a silver chain and 3 bottles of Diet Pepsi.


We got back to the ship at about 12:15 p.m. and headed directly, without stopping for anything, to Cabana’s; we were hungry and thirsty. We found a nice secluded table, it wasn’t busy at all. Everyone must have left the ship for the day. We had a leisurely lunch and planned our afternoon sans husbands. I decided that I would get a day pass at the Rain Forest and Cathy went for the pedicure. We agreed to meet at the pool after we were finished in the spa.


I had never taken advantage of the Rain Forest before, lots of my friends have recommended it and some get passes for their entire cruise. This was going to be a first for me. I went in and got my bracelet that opens the door to the Rain Forest, then went into the change room and put my stuff in a locker. The Rain Forest is directly across the hall so it was easy to find. I had left my glasses in the locker so a kind lady who could see helped with the instructions etc.


My first stop was the Jacuzzi; there are two of them at the very back of the spa area, at the very back of the ship. You are able to lie out there and see the ocean and today, the town of Cozumel. Part of the glassed in area is open and there was a nice breeze coming in off the ocean. Each tub is built for 2 people; I was the only one out there so I had my pick. I got in and started looking for a button make things work. The kind lady showed up again and pointed it out to me and read the directions. (If I do this again I will leave my glasses on). I found that there wasn’t a lot of pressure from the jets so I tried the other side of the tub I was in, nope still nothing, so I moved over to the other tub. It had a bit more power but the water was cold. I decided to venture further into the forest.


I saw the stone benches and had heard they are very nice to lie in, so I plopped myself down. They were nice and warm, but I was wet from the lukewarm tub and the breeze was a little cool so I was actually not comfortable temperature wise. I lied there for a couple of minutes and decided it was boring so I moved deeper into the forest.


My first stop was the shower called the Waterfall, it looked interesting. There are multiple shower nozzles on the ceiling, different shapes and sizes; each one produces a different effect when the water starts gushing through. There is also a spout on the side of the shower that when the water came out acted like a waterfall. I pushed the first button and a cool mist started, I didn’t really want cool but it was OK, then a nice warm gentle shower started and it felt great, and then out of the spout came gush of frigid water – holly cow! I jumped out of there as fast as I could. I continued pushing buttons and continued jumping in and out of the showers. There are four in total, one was call a Cool Mist Experience, and it was. Another was called the Thunderstorm and it was like being caught in the rain at home, the other was called Rain Forest and it was nice when it was warm and birds were singing but when the Tiki Gods got mad and started spewing burning hot water on me to be followed by ice water from the Arctic I decided that it was time to try something else.


My next stop was the steam room and it was pleasant but after about 5 minutes I was too hot! I left that room and went into the wet sauna, I sat down and quickly jumped up, the bench was really hot. There was a hose there that ran cold water so I cooled a spot down and sat for about 5 minutes until I decided I didn’t like that either. My last stop was the dry sauna. This room has a view off the aft of the ship, it is lovely and hot and one should know that if they don’t wear shoes they will burn their feet. I now know this.


I decided that the Rain Forest was not really my cup of tea, so I headed back to the change room. I took advantage of all the wonderful pampering products that were available in the shower room and slathered myself with creams and lotions. I feel I did get my $16 dollars worth and it was something that I had wanted to try for a long time, so I was happy.


I arrived at the pool before Cathy so I staked out two lounge chairs and then went to dangle my poor feet in the pool. Cathy arrived shortly after and we went for a plate of fruit and a sandwich from Flo’s V/8 Café. We sat in our loungers relaxing for a while and then got in the hot tub; we spent quite a bit of time there but eventually got too hot so we went over to the pool and just floated and soaked until we started to look like prunes. We got out and decided it was time for ice cream so we each got a cone and came back to the loungers to enjoy it.


It was after 4 p.m. by then and the wet bathing suit needed to go . . . so we headed up to our cabins. It was a great cruise day for us.  I’ll let Gary finish this with his story about the adventure to Tulum.

John and I met at 7:00 a.m. for breakfast at Cabanas and at 8:15 we were seated in the Walt Disney Theatre waiting for our tour group to be led out.  There were 93 of us heading out to tour the Mayan ruins at Tulum.  The ferry was moored just down the dock so in just a few minutes we were seated in the ferry for a 35 minute ride to Playa del Carmen.  After a smooth crossing to the mainland we were marched through a few blocks of the town and boarded a bus for the 38 mile drive to Tulum.

We followed a good four-lane highway all the way and arrived at the archaeological park at about 10:45.  Our two guides, Luis and Demo, did a terrific job.  We were all equipped with an audio receiver and headphones so we could easily follow their dialogue as we followed them past the mandatory straw market and into the park.

Tulum far exceeded my expectations.  Carol and I visited Chichen Itza about 15 years ago and while smaller than it’s big sister, Tulum reflects the same pride and respect as Chichen Itza.  The people in the Yucatan area are descended from the Mayans and are very proud of their heritage.  The park was immaculately clean and astoundingly well maintained.  Demo explained the history and significance of the buildings and temples and then sent us off to spend a few hours roaming the park on our own.

Wow – it’s incredibly beautiful!  I'll let the pictures do the talking.

I highly recommend a visit to Tulum!

After a refreshing cervesa we boarded the bus for our return trip, arriving at Playa del Carmen just in time to board the 4:00 p.m. ferry to Cozumel.  We boarded the Fantasy at 4:30 and I went straight to the shower.  A cool mist felt very soothing on my crispy forehead!  The Mexican sun is hot and strong!

We decided to skip dinner in the Animator’s Palate.  It was Pirate Night and we were all too tired to enjoy all the Pirate hoopla.  John and Cathy joined us in our stateroom at about 6:00 p.m. where John and I sipped a scotch before dinner.  Isn’t it odd that the Scots were able to invent a magic elixir that can soothe leg muscles knotted by a long hot trek under a Mexican sun?

Our dinner at Cabanas was terrific.  We were quite surprised, the food at Cabanas was better than anything we have had in the main dining rooms.  Oshane from Jamaica and Ronald from India treated us with service far better than that we have experienced in the bigger venues.  Tamryn, our Assistant Server is a delight but Server Milan has been a big disappointment. 

As we left the restaurant they were setting up for the 10:45 buffet.  I knew without a doubt that I would not stay awake until 10:45 so we strolled out slowly and took a few pictures along the way.  Very creative!

We stopped by the cabins to gather up our laptops and went to the Cove Café to catch up on e-mail.  By 9:00 p.m. my head was bobbing and my eyes were clanging shut.  A lot of walking, a lot of sun and no nap . . . a combination which put me to bed far too early.

Carol tucked me in then went back to Deck 11 for the Pirate Party and the fireworks.

She even loaded a few pirate delicacies on a plate and savored them before she crashed for the night.

Thursday October 17, 2013


This was a do-nothing-day!  We were at sea with absolutely no agenda and we followed that agenda to the letter.  After falling asleep at about 9:30 last night I expected to wake up at about 3:00 a.m.  Luckily it didn’t happen.  I rolled over as Carol was getting out of bed – it was 7:20 and our coffee would be arriving in just a few minutes.


We lazed on our balcony and in the cabin.  We even left the sliding door to the balcony open for a while – the humidity was low and it was a lovely morning.

John called at about 9:00 a.m. – he was sitting with a coffee on Deck 11 and he wondered if I could come out to play.  Carol said OK so I went off to join him.  Soon Carol came and said hello before she settled into a sunny deck chair to catch some rays.

John and I wandered aft and had a nice breakfast on the outdoor terrace behind Cabanas.  I picked up a coffee as we passed the drink machine and we sat near the Cove Café watching the world go by.  Before long Carol came over and announced she was soon going to the spa to soak up some more bliss.

Before she left I dashed crawled down to the cabin, changed into my swim trunks and headed back up with my book and laptop.  I was just a few minutes into a 45-minute soak in the hot tub when Carol left for the spa.  Once I was thoroughly poached I dipped in the adult pool.  It was my first time in the pool . . . on our first Fantasy voyage the ladders up and down into the pool were simply too daunting for my new knees.  I was able to scratch one more thing off my “catch-up list!.”

I read for a while and at 12:30 decided to go put on some dry clothes before lunch.  I met Carol just before I got to the elevator.  She apparently had a great session at the spa, they rubbed her from head to toe with sea salt . . . and she liked it!  It’s true folks – stuff this weird just can’t be made up.


After I changed we strolled aft to Cabanas and had a bite of lunch.  Carol returned to her lounge chair at about 1:30 and I headed to the cabin to do an update to the trip report.  By 2:45 the report was up to date and two full days worth of pictures, facts, half truths and outright lies had been uploaded.  I had earned a nap . . . Aaahh!


Carol and I both enjoyed a nap and relaxed in the cabin for the rest of the afternoon.

We were all dressed (it was semi-formal night so I had real pants on) and ready for dinner by 5:30 when John and Cathy arrived.  After a pre-dinner scotch we made our way to Animator’s Palate.

The animated show is quite unique, before dinner you draw a figure on your placemat.  During dinner scenes from Disney animated features play on large video screens.  Before dinner is over everyone’s drawing comes to life on those same screens.  It’s quite amusing.

After dinner we paused and had a couple of pictures taken on our way back home.  Carol did some packing (sad but true – we’re getting close to the end) and before long we headed to the Cove Café to meet John and Cathy.

It's not what you think - we're drinking water!

We sat for an hour or so chatting.  John is coming down with a cold and asked if we had any good Canadian drugs with us.  A few years ago we gave him a single Contac C capsule.  It’s an over-the-counter cold medication and a single Canadian pill knocked John out for two days!

John headed to their stateroom at about 10:00 p.m. while Cathy, Carol and I went to The Tube for the 10:30 magic and ventriloquism show by Taylor Mason.  When we arrived they were in the midst of a game called “The Quest”.  Teams of four people are given cards with their team number and the emcee, Frank, calls for different articles.  Teams have to run up to the stage and brandish the requested item(s) and their team number card.  We had no sooner found three chairs when Frank asked teams to bring four men’s belts.  Almost instantly a woman from Alabama or Arkansas was in my face, “I need y’all’s belt!” she cried!  I explained that my shorts had an elastic waistband; she dashed off to accost some other man.  Seconds later Frank asked for teeth and “Belt lady” was back asking to borrow my teeth.  This game really brings out the hidden inner decorum is some folks!  It was quite amusing watching grown men and women swap shoes to hobble up to the stage.  For the grand finale Frank asked men to come forward wearing a ladies bra.  The bras appeared instantly and men ran forward with them draped on their ears or stretched across their chests.  There were a few women running behind them clutching their bosoms and their team cards as they bobbled, jiggled and wobbled toward the stage.  Yup . . . good fun!  We howled with laughter.


Then came the comedy show.  It was very good; Taylor Mason knows how to work with a crowd.  He was able to taunt both the Microsoft Program Engineer from Seattle and the Naval Officer from Minneapolis.  How much naval protection does the Minnesota coast really require?  He played an electronic keyboard and sang a hilarious blues song about how wonderful his life was.  The cheery song sung to a blues beat was a riot!  The ventriloquism part of the show was good too.  Taylor was sort of dull during this part of the act but each of the dummies had a terrific sense of humor.


After the comedy show came a game called “Match Your Mate”.  Couples from the audience volunteer to answer questions for Frank in the hope that their spouses will give the same answer.  When Frank started looking for volunteers he asked, “Has anyone been married more than 30 years?”  Cathy was suddenly overcome with Versary anniversary enthusiasm and began waving her arms frantically.  Frank looked over, saw Carol and I and asked which of us she was married to.  “Oh,” she clarified, “My husband is up in the stateroom snoring.”  It brought the house down.


The contest winners were a young couple who have been married five days.  When Frank asked what was the most unusual place they have ever “discovered the magic” they were both quick to reply, “Our balcony on the Disney Fantasy.”  Frank asked “Daytime or nighttime?”  Once again the response was almost instant, “Both!”

After the show we rode up to Deck 11 and walked forward.  We stopped at Luigi’s Casa Della Tires.  Since we weren't sure we had each reached the mandatory 7,000 calories per day, we all had some hot, fresh pepperoni pizza.


Carol and I arrived back at our cabin at 12:30 and fell into bed.  I should have taken a picture of the clock.  I had not been up that late since New Year’s Eve.

Friday October 18, 2013


Once again we woke up just before our coffee order arrived at 7:30.  It was a magnificent Caribbean morning.  The sky looked like Andy’s bedroom in the Toy Story movies . . . bright blue skies with scattered puffy white clouds. Beautiful!

We loafed in the cabin with the sliding door open and enjoyed the ocean breeze, then headed out on the balcony to watch our approach to Castaway Cay.

I love the way they dock here, they approach the man-made harbor dead slow.  The entry channel is dredged out of solid coral and before they enter the narrowest confines of the channel the ship stops and the thrusters spin the entire ship on it’s axis, within it’s length.  Then the ship backs into position and the thrusters push it against the pier.  It’s quite a maneuver for a ship this large.

Once we were docked I called John and Cathy to see if they wanted to meet for breakfast.  No dice . . . John was still feeling under the weather.  Carol and I rode down to Deck 2 Midship and enjoyed a nice breakfast at Enchanted Garden'

We wandered the deck for a while snapping pictures then returned to our stateroom. 

We called Cathy to tell her we were all set to go ashore and she arrived at our door at 10:30.  Pleasant surprise – John was with her.  We left the ship from the gangway on Deck 1 Forward and slowly made our way to the shuttle tram loading area. 

We stopped to meet Donald Duck along the way, the first of three character encounters.

We took a very slow stroll through the shopping area on Castaway Cay; Carol browsed every shop and took pictures of every flower as we crawled toward our destination, Pelican Point.

The pier at Pelican Point is almost always quiet and almost deserted; a virtual oasis in the din and hubbub of Castaway Cay.  Today was no different.  We sat for almost an hour enjoying a shady seat overlooking the lagoon.  It was another hot humid day but we had a soothing breeze.  There were plenty of fish and birds to keep us amused as we enjoyed a few minutes of serenity.

At about 12:30 we headed toward Cookies BBQ for lunch.  There was a nice cool breeze running through the shaded dining pavilion as we ate.


After lunch we walked directly back to the tram loading area and hitched a ride back to the Fantasy.

We were back aboard by 1:30.  John went directly to his cabin to crawl back under a rock and recuperate; the rest of us headed to Deck 11 where we lounged in the pool and hot tub.  Carol and I sat reading for a while before the heat, the sun and the walking caught up to us.  We headed back down for some shut-eye.


By 4:00 p.m. we were up and moving again.  I read my book for a while and Carol did some more packing – our luggage has to be in the hall for pick-up by 10:30 tonight.

John wasn’t feeling like a pre-dinner scotch so we met everyone in The Enchanted Garden for our final dinner together.  After dinner we said our goodbyes to Jeff and Jill.  They have been great tablemates; we shared lots of laughs with them.  Jill presented us with a nice gift, some Disney note cards.  Thanks Jill!

Carol and I went directly to Shutters where she picked out ten pictures.  It was a tough call deciding which one to buy but she soon narrowed to down to ten.  We went to the Cove Café where John & Cathy were waiting.  John was still suffering but he decided to accompany us to the 10:45 comedy and juggling show at The Tube.  We arrived in time to witness the “Battle of the Sexes” game.  It had some humorous moments and kept us amused until the juggler, Mike Price began his show.  He was a skilled and competent juggler and very energetic, but the show was very loud and boisterous.  It was OK . . . but we would have enjoyed it more if he slowed it down, toned it down and cut out most of the screaming.


The last show of the evening was “If I Were Not Upon The Sea”, a comedy skit performed by the cruise staff.  We had never seen this one before so we decided on the spur of the moment to stay.  Great decision, it’s a wildly funny skit.  I thought Carol might have an accident, she was laughing so hard!  All four of us had tears running down our cheeks when it was over and we continued to hum the song and chuckle at the antics until we were back at our staterooms.


I tucked in at 12:15 – another night past midnight!  Wow!

Saturday October 19, 2013


We woke up at 6:40, just a few minutes before Mickey called to tell us to get out of bed, there were big doin’s goin’ on!  We were already docked at Port Canaveral.  Carol opened the curtains and it was pouring rain . . . torrential rain . . . cascading down in front of, and onto, our balcony.  Then the window-washers moved on to the next window and all was well.  They were working a few decks above us.

Skies were still dark by we were able to pick out the Disney Magic moored beside us.  It has just come out of dry-dock where it underwent a major refurbishment.

At 7:45 John and Cathy arrived and we all dragged our carry-on luggage up to Deck 11 where we had breakfast at Cabanas.  The ship is always congested on the last morning since everyone is dragging some sort of case or bag along with them.

After breakfast we headed down to Deck 3 Midship to debark and clear US Customs.  Wow!  The line to debark filled the atrium and then wound down the hall all the way to the Walt Disney Theatre.  Ouch!  We joined the line and didn’t move at all for about five minutes.  Once it did move we progressed quite quickly, out the hatch, down the ramp and into the terminal.  Just as we approached the desk where we would swipe our Key to the World cards to officially end our cruise the line stopped again.  They announced a ten-minute hold while the crowd at US Customs cleared a bit.

Ten minutes later we started moving again and within another ten minutes we had collected our luggage and were quickly processed through customs.  We were all seated in the Avis Rent-a-Car shuttle by 9:00 a.m.  It seemed like a long and tedious ordeal while we were standing still, but it really took very little time at all!


I was the first off the shuttle when we arrived at Avis and I was out with the keys to a Kia Sorrento before the baggage was all unloaded – astoundingly quick.  We were westbound on Highway 528 by 9:30 and pulled into POP Century at 10:30.  We dropped John and Cathy off there, said our goodbyes and headed on down the road to Port Orleans French Quarter which will be our home for the next two days.  Since we arrived before 11:00 a.m. we didn’t expect a room to be ready – but it was.  We were in our room by 10:50 a.m.

Carol unpacked a little bit and by noon we were back in the car on our way to Downtown Disney for lunch at Earl of Sandwich.  Construction at Downtown Disney has created a real traffic tangle!  It took us over 10 minutes to find a parking spot.  There were plenty available, but traffic has been rerouted in such a complicated way that it was hard to get to them.

By the time we got to Earl’s the line wound several times within the restaurant and then out the door and around the corner.  It was just too long for us to wait . . . so we went to Wolfgang Pucks.  It was wildly busy too so we decided to just return to our resort and eat in the food court.  Naturally Carol could not walk past the pin store.

I carried on to the rest rooms, got a drink from the water fountain and waited in the shade while Carol looked at pins.  Suddenly a friend appeared and said, “Hi Gary!”  It was Cheri from Georgia.  She and her husband Ken are here for the weekend.  We chatted with Cheri for a few minutes, then headed back home.

After a bite of lunch Carol went to the pool.  I uploaded some pictures and another day of the trip report before heading down to the pool to join her.  Just as I was about to change the phone rang – it was Carol telling me it was to hot to lay by the pool and some very noisy children’s games were underway . . . she was heading back.


We enjoyed a nice nap!


We both fiddled on the computer for a while and at about 5:00 p.m. boarded a boat for a voyage down the Sassagoula River to Downtown Disney.

Our first stop was The Art of Disney Store where David Doss was signing his newest print, Mickey and Minnie in front of a sweet little trailer at Fort Wilderness.  Carol just had to have one.



David was off on a break but would be back at 6:00 p.m. so we went to Earl of Sandwich for dinner.  The line was much shorter so we were quickly through and back to the art store by 6:30.

 David signed a print for us, Carol was delighted!

We wandered to the boat dock and caught the boat across the lake to West Side.  I sat on a bench reading my book while Carol hiked over to DStreet for some Vinylmation trading.  She lurked and watched the trade box until something good went into it, then swooped in and swapped for it.  Oh, she’s a sly one!

She met me back at my bench and we lined up for the return trip across the lake.  As we waited for our boat the moon rose behind the Rainforest Café.  The full moon looked huge!

Once we were back at the Marketplace dock we lined up to catch the boat back home.

We quickly dropped our stuff in the room, donned our swimsuits and headed to the pool for a soothing soak.  Aahhhh! It felt good.  I picked up a tasty Manhattan at the poolside bar and we sat enjoying the fresh air and the full moon for a while.  Back in the room we played at the computer before crashing into bed.

Sunday October 20, 2013


Today started off very badly!  We woke at 7:30 and no one brought coffee to our room . . . it was an abrupt return to reality!  Carol brewed some up using the in-room coffee maker and it tasted great but it just didn’t feel right.


Carol wandered down to the food court looking for friends Pam and Mike from Indiana; they were checking in early this morning.  When I joined them a few minutes later they were all chatting in a corner of the lobby.  Pam and Mike had checked in but their room wasn’t ready so they were heading off to Hollywood Studios.  We said our goodbyes at about 8:30 and Carol found an outdoor table where she waited while I bought my breakfast.  After breakfast we sat there for a while people-watching and sipping coffee.

By 9:30 we had changed into our swimsuits and were in the car heading to Typhoon Lagoon.  Skies were cloudy but the forecast was for 90 degrees. 

The water park opened at 10:00 a.m. and when they dropped the rope Carol dashed off ahead to get us a shady spot. 

We ended up in a great location but I was not happy with the silly little beach chairs they use.  The chair seats are about six inches off the ground . . . not good for an old, fat man with bad knees.  I snatched a chair from the patio at a snack bar not far away.  It was bar-stool height, but when the legs sank six inches into the sand it was quite comfortable.  Carol set one of the little beach chairs in front of it to serve as a footstool and I felt like the king of the beach.

We spent a half hour sloshing around in the surf pool then grabbed a pair of tubes and took a spin around Castaway Creek, the official name of the lazy river.  Aahhh . . . life can be so sweet!

Next on the agenda was Crush 'n’ Gusher.  We grabbed tubes and took a spin down Coconut Crusher.  This is the only slide they allow single riders to use . . . and Carol refuses to ride with me since the time in 2006 when I nearly put her into orbit!

After our first ride Carol had had enough, but I picked up another tube and went back for a second run.  I really like this water slide.


Back at the beach we took another brief dip then Carol went to take some pictures while I read my book.

For lunch we shared an order of chicken nuggets and then debated whether or not to have another splash on the surf pool.  The final decision was “Not” so we packed up, boarded the car and pointed it toward Port Orleans French Quarter.  We were back home by 1:00.

Have you ever studied those flags at the entrance to Typhoon Lagoon?  There's a handy chart located beside the gate to help you translate.  The flags over the entrance read "Typhoon Lagoon".  Off to the right of the entrance is another string of flags which reads "Piranha in pool" so please be very careful in the pool!

After cooling off and showering we hit the road again.  By 2:30 we were parking at Animal Kingdom. 

It was hot, HOT, HOT!  That forecast of 90 degrees . . . I am sure we had blown way past that!

We had two things to do, Expedition Everest and Kilimanjaro Safaris.  On our way to Everest we stopped just before the Discovery Island gate leading into Asia for a character meet and greet.  We had a 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. FastPass+. 

Both Mickey and Minnie were waiting for us!

Then we were off to Everest.  We had 3:00 – 4:00 p.m. FastPass+ and zoomed right on to the ride.  We asked for the front seat so they shunted us aside and put us up front on the very next train.  After one ride Carol had had enough but I wanted more.  I joined the single-rider line and took another high speed run through the Himalayas.

We slowly wandered in the direction of Kilimanjaro Safaris and stopped at Yak & Yeti as we passed.  We have difficulty resisting their egg rolls so today we stopped for a snack, a cold drink and a rest in the shade.


Our FartPass+ at the Safari was for 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. and we joined the line at about 4:10.

This giraffe strode toward our safari truck as though he wanted to ride with us . . . the drive sped away just before he reached us!

We could almost feel his breath!

This cute baby giraffe was laying right beside the road!


Are you talkin' to me?  Are you talkin' to ME?


We saw lots of animals, but plenty were missing as well.  It was so hot that many were pretty lethargic.  The cheetahs and the lions were sound asleep.

After our safari we headed to the exit and left the park at about 5:00.  Carol hadn’t been to the Character Outlet Store on Vineland Avenue yet . . . and that’s a must-do . . . so off we went.  I read my book in the car while she scoured the shop for bargains.  She came back with some cheap vinylmations to use as traders.


It was 6:30 and we hadn’t been to a single buffet all day . . . what to do?  We went to Sweet Tomatoes in the Crossroads Centre.  They have a terrific salad bar, good soups and breads.  This night they had something new – maple butter.  Yum, it was great – we ate so much fresh bread with maple butter that we didn’t have room for dessert.  I guess the maple butter was dessert!


We were back to the hotel by 7:30.  The bed hadn’t been turned down . . . there were no chocolates on the pillows . . . what a let down!


Carol did some packing and I fiddled on the computer.  Tomorrow we do our airline check-in here at the hotel and then drive to the airport for our 1:06 flight home.  Sigh!

Monday October 21, 2013


The longest day of a vacation is always that long, slow day when you make your way home.  It’s a painful process . . . but it’s always so nice to get home!  Carol is really missing the dogs – and according to their e-mails they’re missing her too!

We were up shortly after 7:00 a.m. and after our showers Carol packed away the rest of our gear.  We dragged two suitcases down to the Bell Services Desk and completed our airline check-in.  They took our bags and printed our boarding passes.  We wouldn’t see those bags again until we landed in Syracuse.

We had some time to waste before out flight so we drove to Downtown Disney and I had breakfast at Earl of Sandwich.

We wandered over to Pleasure Island to check out the construction . . . it’s boarded up all over the place!  A few of the restaurants are still open but everything else is closed and covered in construction hoarding.  Several building have been demolished and there were workmen everywhere.  It’s a very big project!

Carol took more pictures of the Characters in Flight balloon and we stood for a few minutes watching this fellow fishing!

We wandered back to Marketplace just before 10:00 a.m. when the shops were due to open.  Carol did some shopping while I drove off to the Hess station to gas up the rental car.  I waited in the car with my book until Carol returned at about 10:15.  We said goodbye to Mickey and headed to the airport.

After dropping off our car at the Avis compound we headed directly to security and were quickly processed through.  They were using the new high-tech scanners so my artificial knees didn’t need and extra scanning!  Bonus!  We stopped for lunch at Burger King before settling in at our departure gate.


The plane was a few minutes late arriving and after boarding we pushed away from the departure gate about eleven minutes late.  They made up the lost time during the flight and we landed in Syracuse about five minutes early.  We pulled out of the parking lot in Syracuse at 4:07 and drove north on I-81.  Naturally we stopped at Watertown to fill up with cheap American gas before crossing the border at 5:30.  There was no line at Canada Customs; we drove right up.  It was the most pleasant crossing we have ever had.  The officer was all smiles; after about three simple questions she said, “Welcome home!” and waved us through!


We picked up the dogs from Carol’s parents and were home unpacking by 6:30.  Carol will be busy doing laundry tomorrow!


We had a terrific time.  Carol and I really enjoy travelling with John and Cathy; we have very similar interests and tastes and we always have plenty of laughs.  For four weirdo’s who met through the Internet we sure do have a lot of fun!


Did you know that John is a vacation planner?  He is associated with MEI and Mouse Fan Travel and while he can book any sort of trip, he is a Disney specialist.  He can probably save you money on your Disney vacation and also give you some great tips which will add to your enjoyment.  Why don’t you send John an e-mail and ask for a quote on your next holiday.  Click here to send John an e-mail.