Friday, November 30, 2012

Disney Cruise - Last Post

Of course, it all had to come to an end.  It was a little cloudy when we came back into port at L.A.

The debarkation was really organized.  We had to leave our luggage outside our room by 10pm the night before, so we used our backpacks for all our "getting ready" stuff in the morning.  At turndown service, the room steward left us some colored luggage tags.  All the rooms were divided into maybe 6 or 8 different groups, and each group had a different colored luggage tag.  Ours were red Mickey tags, others had blue Donald tags, etc.
For the last morning, they actually assign breakfast times.  We had the later breakfast time, so we didn't have to rush around getting ready.  Throughout the morning, there would be announcements like, "All passengers with blue Donald luggage tags have been cleared to leave the ship" so you'd know when to go get in line.
We had to wait in a line for a bit to go through customs, but even that wasn't too bad.  After customs, we walked through the terminal and saw big signs matching the luggage tags that showed us where we'd find our luggage.  We grabbed it up, got the shuttle to the hotel, got our car, and we were on our way home!
 Watching movies on Rob's Kindle

Not watching movies
Since we got back the Sunday before Thanksgiving, it was a nice gradual transition from vacation back to the real world.  We all had a couple of days to catch up on stuff and then a nice long weekend before we really had to be back in the swing of things!
This was SUCH a good vacation! We're tentatively planning another one for 2014 to the Caribbean; all the saving was definitely worth it.

Disney Cruise Part 8: Cabo San Lucas

We spent two days in Cabo San Lucas.  Cruise ships can’t dock there, so we got to ride on smaller tender boats to shore.  We booked a snorkeling excursion through Disney, so on the first day there, we rode on a catamaran around the bay, past Lover’s Beach and the arch, and then out to a cove where we anchored and hopped off the boat to snorkel.

The water was nice and clear, and since they made us wear life jackets, we didn’t have to worry about whether the kids were sinking.  Erin caught on right away and just floated around looking at all the fish.  The tour guides had some bread they were using to attract the fish, and one of the guides would dive way down and stir them all up to the surface.  There were A LOT of fish!  Sometimes we could barely see space between them.  Lots of blues and yellows.

Robbie took a while to catch on.  He’s not a super-confident swimmer yet, but he loves all kinds of animals, so we knew he’d really like the fish.  He had trouble trusting the snorkel and didn’t want to put his face in at first.  He was comfortable breathing through it above water, but just wasn’t sure about under water.  Rob and I took turns working with him, and finally Rob told him that if he kept putting his head back, he’d get water in his snorkel.  He put his hand on the back of Robbie’s head and that’s when Robbie decided to just do it.  He put his face in and almost immediately, we heard him shrieking through the snorkel, “Fishies!  FISHIES!!”  He was SO excited!  After that, he couldn’t get enough of it!  Even when he would get water in his mask or cough on a little of it, he’d fix it and move on.  We’re so glad he finally did it.

We got back on the ship that afternoon, and the ship actually went out to sea for the night and then came back to Cabo the next morning.  That was the night we had the fireworks for pirate night.

The second day in Cabo, we rode the tender to shore and we walked around and shopped with the other family from our table.  Rob’s Spanish came in handy again, because he negotiated everyone’s prices while we shopped!

Erin took a picture with the E in a big Mexico sign:

And a sad one where we joked that she wasn't allowed on that sidewalk:

We listened to this dad and his little girl for a little bit... they were really good.

We bought a few things and then walked to a beach.  Our kids have never been to a beach, so this was a big deal!  They loved it!  I liked watching them check it out.  Robbie was mostly excited about all the sand at first, but then he figured out that the waves are a lot of fun.  Erin played in the water and found quite a few shells.  We weren’t too far from the ship... It was kind of strange to see it that close to the beach.


Disney Cruise Part 7: Puerto Vallarta

Our first stop was in Puerto Vallarta.  We got a taxi just off the pier, and we went to a water park where we had booked a dolphin experience.  Sometimes Rob’s Spanish fluency really comes in handy!

The water park had a separate area where they do dolphin and sea lion shows, so that’s where we went first.  They put life vests on us and we got to go into the big tank and swim with the dolphins for a little bit.  They had two dolphins working with our group, and we got to spend quite a bit of time with them.  The kids LOVED it!  We did too, but it was fun to see how excited the kids were.
Wait!  These dolphins are fake!  What a rip off.

We got to pet the dolphins…

Get dolphin kisses…

Dance with them…

Have a “water fight” with them (basically dolphins Splashing and spitting mouthfuls of water at us)…

Touched their teeth…


Held them…

 (using the zoomed out shot here to show how big they are!)

Pretty neat.  Then we got to spend the rest of the day on the water slides and we watched the dolphins and sea lions perform a little later on.

There were hardly any people at the park, so we didn't have to wait in lines for anything!  That's a good day at a waterpark.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Disney Cruise Part 6: Formal Night and Pirate Night

One night was formal night, so we got to dress up for dinner.  The other nights, we could wear whatever.  We had our photo taken with the captain that night.

And one more picture of the kids in a window:

While we were waiting in line to have our picture taken, servers were walking around with trays of cocktails for the adults and apple juice with maraschino cherries for the kids.  I told Robbie to put his hand in his vest pocket and I'd take a picture of the kids looking sophisticated with their drinks... and this is what we got:
Looks like maybe he had one too many!

Robbie was a little worn out at dinner and he just completely zonked a couple of times.

Thursday was pirate night.  This is a really big deal for some people… we saw whole families in head to toe pirate costumes all over the place.  Robbie didn’t have any Mickey ears, so we got him a pirate-themed pair, and he really wanted a hook.

Erin brought her 50th Anniversary Mickey ears that she got several years ago.  At dinner, we all had pirate bandanas with our place settings, so we tied Erin’s around one of her ears.  Rob got a pirate hat, and I wore my bandana on my head.  The food that night was pirate-ish; things like johnny cakes and spare ribs.

(OH - these photos were taken at Animator's Palate - you can kind of see the black and white detail I was talking about earlier)

After dinner, we went up to the top deck for a pirate party.  All the characters come out dressed like pirates and sailors, and they do a little show.  Then there’s lots of music and dancing.  Disney is the only cruise ship that’s allowed to do fireworks at sea, so we had some fireworks, too.

Robbie taking a little rest on me during the party.  Won't be long before he's too big for that.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Disney Cruise Part 5: The Food

Because that’s an important part of a cruise, right?  We ate A LOT.  There are three free sit-down restaurants.  For dinner, you sign up for either an early or late seating, and you eat at 6:15 or 8:15, and then your show is the opposite.  We chose the late seating because the restaurant and show are less crowded that way.  You’re assigned to different restaurants every night, so you rotate through them and eat at some more than twice.  For dinner, you’re assigned a table number and depending on the size of your table, you might have one or two other families with you.  You eat with the same group at the same table number every night, even when you go to different restaurants.  They even keep the same servers assigned to you, so after a couple of days, they know what you want to drink, they know everyone’s name, and you get to kind of know each other.

The first night we were nervous to see what our dinner companions would be like, and we were relieved that we actually liked the other family at our table!  Phew!  They were really cool, and they had a boy and a girl not too far in age from our kids.  In fact, we found out they were staying in the stateroom right next door to us!  We ended up doing a lot of stuff with them, and the kids all played together.  Sometimes we’d visit on our verandas when we were both in our rooms.  It was a lot of fun having another family to hang around with like that.  This is the eight of us on our last day:

The servers are cool.  One night, several of us had baked potatoes, and we all needed lots of sour cream and bacon bits, so the next night when we showed up, there were bowls of sour cream and bacon bits waiting on the table.  Another night, Rob asked for a little bowl of maraschino cherries for our sodas, and the next night, we had bowls of cherries waiting for us the next time, plus the stuff for the potatoes!  It was pretty funny.

The servers also interacted with the kids really well.  The kids can order off the kids menu or the adult menu, and they can ask for seconds, or they can asked for their food to be a certain way, and the servers were always happy to do it.  They played and joked with the kids, and a couple of times, they cut our meat for us.  Not just the kids’ meat, but the adults, too.  Uh-huh.  Here are our servers, Adela and Noel:

Here's Adela getting down on Robbie's level one day when he was being shy:

We had no problem waiting til that 8:15 to eat dinner, because we could pretty much eat all day leading up to that if you want to.  You can eat breakfast and lunch in any of the three restaurants, because you’re not assigned anywhere for the other meals, plus there’s a buffet separate from those.  There’s one other restaurant that’s supposed to be a little nicer, but you pay extra for it and have to make reservations.  We ended up not going to that one because we were pretty happy with the food situation as it was.

The buffet is on the same deck as the pool, and you can eat inside or bring your food out by the pool to eat.  Also on that deck is a pizzeria, a place for burgers/fries/hot dogs, a sandwich/fruit place, several soda fountains, and a four-flavor soft-serve ice cream station.  All included!  The soda fountains (and hot chocolate dispenser, too) and the ice cream are self-serve, so you can really load up.  You can just be walking past and decide you want a slice of pizza or an ice cream cone or some fresh fruit, and there you have it!

Goofy's Galley - sandwiches & fruit

Self-serve ice cream!  I wish they had one of these at work.

This is inside one of the restaurants, Triton's.  It had an under-the-sea theme, following The Little Mermaid.  It's hard to see, but the back wall is a mosaic of Ariel and King Triton.

One of the restaurants didn't allow us to take photos because it was too cool.  :)  It was called Animator's Palate, and it starts out black and white.  There are black and white line drawings on some of the walls that look like sketches from a Disney animation studio.  As your meal progresses, the room slowly starts to fill with color... parts of the sketches fill in with color, and big paint palates on the ceiling start to light up with different colors.  By the end of the meal, the whole restaurant is full-color; the waitstaff has even changed from black and white vests to colorful ones!  Very cool.

One of the highlights of all the eating we did was on lobster night when I ordered a lobster tail and the waiter asked me how many.  :o  I told him one, but he brought two anyway, and THEN he shelled them for me!  (And yes, I did eat them both...)