Saturday, September 28, 2013

Part 3 - Bon Voyage

If you are like me then you have it all played out in your head how the day of boarding will go even with a few hiccups because you know they are inevitable. Well here is your warning now, I was going to try to make the 7 days into one post but the more I think about the trip the longer I can already picture this and if it is like the 1st day it won't follow what's in my head ;)

Staying with family was great, they even made us pancakes but by now we have realized that pancakes + road trip = car sick for our youngest. We actually didn't learn that until the day we disembarked but it helped piece together why he was sick on the way home. We repacked the car at their house because we knew it would be hectic trying to unload all our luggage at the Park n' Cruise, although our repacking and saying goodbyes put us behind our schedule until my husband remembered we were avoiding tolls. We decided to bite the bullet and pay the toll so we could get back on schedule. Where we live we don't have tolls and have absolutely no clue how they work but I will continue avoiding them because it didn't save us on time nor money by the end. We would drive 3/4 mile and have to pay, another 4 and pay, 1/4 pay... you get the idea. I think when we totaled it up it was over $20, honestly I stopped counting after $18, I just wanted to get off.

When we finally got to Park n' Cruise we quickly sprang into action unloading and then the waiting began. Last year we used this company and they were pretty small but word had apparently spread, they are very good and inexpensive, we were second in line for our cruise but had to wait about 40 minutes until the next shuttle to take us to port. The only reason I was frustrated was because we were suppose to check in at 12:30 and didn't make it until 1pm.

Crowds get me a little anxious...ok very anxious. So arriving I felt just thrown into the hustle not able to regroup but our boys did great keeping up not complaining much. 3 bags were taken to our room while we carried the rest, not a problem except carrying 24 bottles of water gets a little heavy.

I did find out you are able to take small suitcases as a carry on ::Note to Self:: next time put water in small rolling suite case. Going through the metal detectors is always fun with kids because they are asking a million questions about the process and why they are taking our stuff and then not wanting to go through it without mommy or daddy. Our goal was to take pictures of the whole process but running late and trying to keep up with where to go...well there are no pictures, sorry.

Minnie and Mickey were taking photos when we first walked in the terminal but we decided to just go ahead and jump in line to check in. We normally eat lunch at 11am central time zone and it was already 1pm eastern so food was a high priority but we were hoping to put everything in our room before. Check in went very smoothly because we had done everything online before arriving and had our passports ready to go, 5 minutes tops and we were on our way. They took a family photo that was scanned into their system so when they would swipe our card they could see not only each of us individually but know we were together.

Right before we entered the ship they took our family photo to purchase later...we didn't. As we walked onto the ship they announced us and several staff were lined up clapping and welcoming us aboard. To think there was over 4,000 passengers...

First we tried to find our room but were directed toward the dinning hall because the rooms were not ready yet. Passengers disembark by 9am and check in for the next group begins at noon, so we were off with all our stuff to the Enchanted Garden to eat. We were escorted to our seat and after dropping off everything headed to the buffet. Felt bad for those sitting near us with all our junk everywhere until I realized they were in the same boat (literally). The food was ok granted there were a lot of people so I was still on edge and didn't feel like I could look over the food to see what I wanted. Buffets are not for me because they are always so busy.

Finally time to check out our room and dump our bags! It was pretty much like the photos on their website. I was impressed.

Our boys were swept away by the tv...watching our ship sit at port. We were very curious how the beds were made, we knew the couch converted and the top bunk came from the ceiling but that is when we realized if we wanted it before bed time then we would have to ask. After relaxing a bit and watching the information channel we headed out to explore well and attend our mandatory emergency drill. During the drill we met a very nice family from New Jersey, they helped the waiting fly by.

We discovered the children's area, the Oceaneer's Club and Lab. They were having an open house so we decided to take a look. At the same time we registered the boys. During an open house first few days on the ship is a little insane to try to register. We got a surprise while there, we thought that our youngest was to young to be allowed to go but they said since his birthday is coming up (Christmas) and he is potty trained and verbal that he was allowed to join. They were out of straps so I had to carry their bracelets around with me until they got more, again don't register during open house. During an open house adults are allowed to enter the children's area otherwise only one adult must sign in to go retrieve your child. Our oldest loved it as soon as he saw the video games and my youngest was asleep.
There was a dance floor that was pressure sensitive. Depending how hard you stepped on it then a blob of color would start to spin taking off from the point you touched it. (performed many other functions) 

There were also several other rooms inside the club. This was the laugh factory, there was a comedy playing.
The toy story room was the boys favorite. When we left them most of the time we would find them here when we returned.
We headed back to our room as the ship started to leave port. From our veranda we were able to watch NASA drift off in the distance.

Oh and one of the reasons we went on this trip was celebrating my birthday just my little family, and the staff at dinner. As we started to sail my son sang happy birthday.

Dinner was casual, they ask for no shorts or flip flops. We had the late seating (8:15) so the first night was hard. We were scheduled to eat at Enchanted Garden and once we sat down we met our servers that would be with us for the next 7 nights. They were a great team, performing magic tricks to help keep the boys distracted so we could finish our meal. After desert they brought a sample platter and then they brought me a birthday cake, I was stuffed. There was another table next to ours, we became friends with them as the week went on, but one of the girls was also celebrating her birthday.

If eating with children at the late seating you can sign them up to eat and then be picked up to play at the oceaneer club. Just have to take them to the lobby area and find a team member in a yellow shirt. We never did this but thought it was a great idea.

Also make sure to give feedback to your servers, they bring food to you giving time in between each course unless you want to speed it up. With the kids and typically not eating every course we opted to have the next course within minutes of finishing the first.

Since we could barely move after eating a great meal we headed back to the room to find a seal waiting with the navigator (schedule for the next day)

Day at Sea - Sunday
An amazing thing happened, my youngest slept through the night in his own bed! Maybe this place is magic ;) Since it was a Sunday we ran up grabbed some breakfast enjoyed the view a little before going back to our room and worshiped God. It was important to us that our boys know that no matter where we are to take the time to do what we have been commanded.

Afterwards we grabbed our Navigator Schedule and headed out looking for an adventure. We headed to the Buena Vista Theater and watched Monsters University in 3D. Most of our family was having a great time but since we were one of the last to get in we were closer to the screen, honestly perfect spot for sliding in and out as need be, but my oldest has very sensitive hearing. We have tried to do movie theaters in the past and never have been able to stay the entire time. While he kept asking to go telling us he didn't like the movie we encouraged him to stay and he made it to the end liking it. Our youngest loved it.

Lunch and then off to see if we could swim. Every time we had seen the pool it had been crowded as it was this time but then we stumbled upon this little jewel.

There are 2 splash areas on the ship, Nemo's Reef for babies still in diapers and the AuqaLab. Every now and then you would have people come but for the most part it was always empty. It was kind of chilly because it was overcast and then we hit rain. We found the ice cream station, our stop every afternoon.
We went back to our room hoping to get the boys to nap...instead they watched tv and mommy and daddy napped. When we woke we found we were near a beautiful island...
 The only land we knew it could possibly be was Cuba.
 We spent a lot of time on our veranda, we loved not having to go up to look out. Even more of a bonus was it wasn't as windy as decks 11 and above.
 We had to kill some time before dinner so we took the picture frames we brought to the front desk so they could be signed by all the characters. On the last night they were brought back to our room, which was an exciting surprise for the boys. I have heard people bringing shirts, pillow cases, scrapbook paper, anything that fits in a ziplock bag for signing. Formal night at the Royal Court. It was very pretty and quieter compared to the Enchanted Garden.

 My son is very anti princess at the moment so when his menu had them on it our server Herry brought him a different one to color.
 The food was french cuisine. My husband had french onion soup for his second course. He said it was delicious, unfortunately the oldest didn't care for the smell and already had a headache.
We also hit rougher water, not horrible but enough that my husband wanted to get medicine to make sure he didn't get sick. As for my son they got him medicine as well and walking around helped. If he doesn't drink enough water he develops headaches quickly that leads to him throwing up so we definitely didn't want that happening.
 Of course the little one had to use the bathroom when daddy got back. Nearest bathroom was midship.
 We switched kids at dessert and took a few pictures.
 Big C explaining why he doesn't like princesses, their girls.
 In line to meet Micky while down below the princesses were taking pictures with guests.

Great detail went into the ship which I think helped make even special memories like the ones below even more special.

We are headed back to the central time zone. The few days after the trip we couldn't tell when we were suppose to be hungry.
Looks like I was right, the picture of the hilly island was Cuba and now on to Grand Cayman.
Lamp shades in our room.

Just 2 days and this has already turned into a longer post than anticipated.

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