For a text-only version of this newsletter, visit http://www.passporter.com/news/05142009text.php. 
PassPorter News Brought to you by PassPorter Guidebooks
May 14, 2009 * Issue 9.20

In This Newsletter 

From the Authors: Free Shipping & Photo Contest

Travel Feature: Sick at Sea

Disney Feature: Yachtsman Steakhouse From a Vegetarian's Point of View

Updates: What's New and Changed

Tips: Perfect Plane Pack, Perfect Postcards, Support Your Local School

Captain's Corner: T-Rex Treks

PassPorter PhotoPick: Spaceship Earth in bloom

Q and A: How was Tortola?

Our Sponsors:  We Recommend...
   
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Cool Links:
Stuff and Services

We encounter many Disney- and travel-related products and services. From among those we try, a few are good enough to use ourselves and recommend to you:

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Updates:
What's New and Changed

This week we have 3 news bulletins:

Disney Announces Christmas Carol Train Tour Disney is taking its show on the road with an immersive and interactive 40-city train tour including a 3D sneak peek of film footage from the upcoming movie "Disney's A Christmas Carol." Set amidst a snowy backdrop -- complete with all of the sights and sounds of Christmas including carolers, decorations, giveaways and many more surprises in each of the 40 cities. This family event is for guests of all ages and is free to the public. For more details, check out ChristmasCarolTrainTour.com.
Comments: 49

This updates page 259 of PassPorter's Walt Disney World guidebook

Disney Channel Summer At Se Sail with popular Disney Channel stars this summer aboard the Disney Wonder during the first-ever "Disney Channel Summer at Sea," presented by Kodak. Stars from shows like "Hannah Montana," "Sonny With A Chance, " "JONAS," "The Suite Life on Deck," "Camp Rock," "High School Musical, " and "Hatching Pete" will be on select 3- and 4-night cruises beginning July 9 - August 2, 2009. These special sailings will include onboard deck parties, autograph sessions, preview screenings, and live performances.
Comments: 49

This updates page 259 of PassPorter's Disney Cruise Line guidebook

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party Dates Changed The new party dates are September 4, 11, 15, 18, 22, 25, 29, October 1, 2, 6, 8, 9, 12, 13, 15, 18, 20, 22, 23, 25, 27, 29, 31, and November 1, 2009.
Comments: 49

This updates page 259 of PassPorter's Walt Disney World guidebook


Tip: Need more news? Read, sort, and search all the PassPorter news bulletins at the PassPorter News Desk!

Our thanks to AllEars.net and MousePlanet.com from which we get some of our news leads.

Hear some news? Be a 'PassPorter Reporter' and send it to us!
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Disney Tips:
From Fellow Readers

Our readers deliver a wealth of information! Send us your tips! You may see them in this newsletter and win a copy of PassPorter! And you never know -- your tip could even appear in a future edition of a PassPorter guidebook.

PERFECT PLANE PACK
'As the mother of a child with disabilities, I know first hand how hard is to keep a child entertained on the plane. My son has Cerebral Palsy and seizures. We have flown before and John, who is 15 but more like a 5 to 8 year old, got very restless. I packed him a bag that he could not open till the plane was in the air. The bag had little toys, crayons, and a coloring book, plus snacks that he could have on the plane (check with the airlines you are traveling with) as well as a stuffed animal to snuggle up with for a nap on the plane. He loved it and was content the whole way. I also had one for the return trip with things I bought from where we had stayed. He loved it as well and we had peace.'
-- contributed by Brenda
Save This Tip

PERFECT POSTCARDS
'We like to buy postcards featuring our friends' and family's favorite characters. Then we get them autographed and send extra special memories from our trip. It is also fun to send one to your children as a surprise when they return home.'
-- contributed by Suzanne
Save This Tip

SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SCHOOL
'Both of my children are in elementary school and I purchase several of the school t-shirts with their logo on them. This would be an easily identifiable way to not only locate them in a crowd but support our local school.'
-- contributed by Geraldine
Save This Tip


Want more Disney tips? Look for the concierge bell icon in future newsletters and throughout the PassPorter.com site. When you see the bell, tap it to view and save the tip to your personal tip collection!

For Walt Disney World fans, we've collected 500 of the best tips submitted by readers over the past six years. All have been edited for accuracy and categorized. For details, visit the PassPorter Disney 500 info page or the PassPorter store. For Disney Cruise Line fans, we have an e-book with 250 cruiser tips, as well as a special cruise line comparison section and seven customized packing lists. For information, visit the Disney Cruise Clues info page.

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PassPorter PhotoPick
 
Each issue we choose a special photo from the PassPorter Photo Archive which highlights something beautiful, interesting, humorous, or timely at Disney or around the world. Here is this issue's PassPorter PhotoPick:



Spaceship Earth in bloom

Photo by rescuesk

(click the photo or link to see a larger photo with details)

You can nominate photos as a PassPorter PhotoPick by giving ratings in the PassPorter Photo Archive (you'll need to be logged in to do this). If you'd like to contribute your own photos to the Photo Archive and be considered as a PhotoPick, please read our Photo Upload Guidelines for details and benefits.
 
   
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Q and A: With Jennifer and Dave


animalkingdom asks: "Welcome back, Decade of Dreams cruisers! Does anyone have any information on Tortola?"

Dave answers: "I took one of the bus tours of the island. Overall, it was worthwhile for the views. Tortola and the other Virgin Islands (US and British) are mountainous, so you have very attractive views in all directions when you're on a hilltop. Soper's Hole, on the island's West End, is a very small but attractive port for shopping and strolling - essentially, it's a yacht basin, and all shopping, dining, and services in the area cater to that crowd. Walking about in Road Town is just so-so. On the good side, the shopping has a local flavor - few of the big Caribbean tourist-focused merchandisers have found their way to Road Town, as it gets too few tourist visitors. I enjoyed shopping around in the Pusser's Rum store. They have tons of attractive sailing-oriented apparel, at Polo Ralph Lauren pricing. So, I didn't buy, but it was still fun. $10 for a bottle of Pusser's Rum was a fine price, though.

Overall, the main attraction of the BVIs is sailing. Excursions to the neighboring islands for beach/snorkel activities are generally the best choice, and give you the best taste of what the islands are most popular for - boating, drinking, and lounging."

Did our message board members agree with Dave? To see other answers that animalkingdom received, check out the rest of the thread on the PassPorter Message Boards..

Have a question? Post questions at http://www.passporterboards.com -- and if you're lucky, you may find that folks have already asked and answered the same question that's on your mind! 
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Future Newsletters:
Want To See Your Name in Print?


PassPorter News is published weekly, and this means we're always in need of articles! We're on the lookout for guest columnists who want to contribute articles to this newsletter. No professional writing experience is necessary, just a desire to share your experience with others! Not only is this a great way to give something back to the PassPorter community, but you get to see your name in 'print' and receive a $25 gift certificate for use at www.passporter.com.


For details and our article submission guidelines, please e-mail news@passporter.com. Articles about Disney and general travel are welcomed!
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Our Sponsors:
We Recommend...

PassPorter only accepts advertising from services of the highest quality -- we recommend these companies because we use them ourselves. Please support our sponsors and, in turn, support this newsletter! This week's sponsors are (in order of appearance):


Mouse Fan Travel - Great savings on select Disney Cruise Line sailings!

ALL STAR Vacation Homes - Choose from more than 150 homes within 4 miles of Disney!

PassPorter Travel Press - Free shipping on all PassPorter books!

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From the Authors: Free Shipping & Photo Contest

Hi, {{user('firstname')}}!

Free MediaMail Shipping Begins!
We're offering our very popular free MediaMail shipping deal on all new orders placed between now and next Wednesday, May 20 at 11:59 pm Eastern time. This is a great time to get a copy of the new PassPorter's Disney Cruise Line guidebook or a PassPorter's Walt Disney World 2009 edition for a summer trip! Order at http://www.passporterstore.com/store/ -- and click here for more details on our free shipping deal!

Reader Photo Contest -- Get Published in Our 2010 Edition!
Last year's full-color photo supplement was so popular that we're planning another special photo section for our 2010 edition of PassPorter's Walt Disney World! If you have an extra magical photo of Walt Disney World you'd like to see in gorgeous color in our guidebook, please share it with us -- we think reader photos really expand our scope and make PassPorter more magical! You can contribute a photo in several ways for consideration -- upload it to the PassPorter Photo Archive (preferred), post it (or a link to it) in the relevant thread on our message board, e-mail it to photos@passporter.com, or snail mail it to PO Box 3880, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Photos needs to be uploaded/posted/mailed by June 30, 2009 to be eligible for consideration. If your photo is chosen, the photo will appear in our 2010 guidebook attributed to you and you will receive a free copy of the guidebook. We look forward to seeing your magical photos!

PassPorter at the Ann Arbor Book Festival This Weekend
"Jennifer and Dave, what are you going to do after you get back from Walt Disney World?" "We're going to the Ann Arbor Book Festival!" The next stop on the Decade of Dreams Tour is right in our home base, Ann Arbor, Michigan, on Saturday, May 16 -- that's in just TWO days! We'll be exhibiting from 11:00 am-5:00 pm in the Michigan League on the University of Michigan Central Campus. Dave will also be speaking in the morning at the Writer's Conference and appearing on the Future of the Book Panel at 1:30 pm. Admission to the exhibits and Future of the Book Panel is free, and we'd love to see you there! 

TravelMamas.com Profiles Jennifer
Check out the excellent TravelMamas.com web site for a profile article of yours truly (Jennifer). Many thanks to site founder Colleen who interviewed me! Check out the web site while you're there, too -- it's an excellent resource for folks going to Disney destinations with kids in tow!

Coming Soon! PassPorter's Disney Vacation Club Guide for Members and Members-To-Be
PassPorter's Disney Vacation Club Guide is a comprehensive e-book covering every aspect of the Disney Vacation Club in detail and answers the most commonly asked questions to help you decide whether the Disney Vacation Club is the right investment for you. For those who are already DVC members, the guide brings together everything you need in one place, including a look at all the ways you can spend your points, lists of the various member benefits, and interactive worksheets for tracking your contracts, points, and reservations. Watch for more details on how and when this new e-book will become available in the coming weeks!

PassPorter's Disney Cruise Line 2009 In Stock!
The brand new PassPorter's Disney Cruise Line 2009 guidebook is now in stock and shipping the next business day. This is a great time to order if you haven't already, as bookstores do have them in stock yet in most cases. Order at http://www.passporterstore.com/store/dcl2009.aspx

PassPorter's Club Update
  • More than 1500 vacationers are now enjoying access to all our e-books, e-worksheets, and super-sized photo archive images. Thank you for your continued support!

In this issue, PassPorter Guidebooks Author Sara Varney shares information on Sick at Sea. Then PassPorter Featured Columnist Cheryl Pendry gives us a glimpse into Yachtsman Steakhouse From a Vegetarian's Point of View. Finally, Jack Skatt is back with a brand-new Walt Disney World Treasure Hunt.

Jennifer and Dave Marx
PassPorter Founders and Authors


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Travel Feature:

Sick at Sea: (But Not Sea Sick!)
Sara Varney, PassPorter Guidebooks Author

A Disney Cruise Line (DCL) voyage is truly a dream vacation. You plan, you book, and you linger over every page of PassPorter's Disney Cruise Line guidebook, choosing shore excursions and spa treatments. Then embarkation day finally arrives! You check in and confidently answer "No!" to the question asked of everyone, "Have you experienced any vomiting or diarrhea in the past three days?" And, admit it, you wonder if anyone ever says "Yes!" to that question! You may even wonder why the question is necessary.

The Norwalk virus or norovirus is a gastrointestinal virus sometimes referred to as "stomach flu." Norovirus can be found everywhere, not just on cruise ships, but because of the close proximity of the passengers on board, the virus can spread like wildfire on board a ship. It is the reason for the uncomfortable question during check in as well as the reason that you are handed an anti-bacterial wipe every time you turn around on a Disney ship.

Not every stomach upset is caused by norovirus, as I had reason to learn on a recent cruise, but every stomach upset that requires a visit to the infirmary (as mine did, when it arrived partway through my cruise) requires a 48 hour isolation period. According to the paperwork I received from DCL, "Isolation is a mandatory Federal Law issued by CDC (Centers for Disease Control), and not a rule issued by Disney Cruise Line." Bottom line – cruise lines simply cannot be too careful with that many people on board. And there is no point arguing - they are answering to a higher power on this issue!

So what happens when you get sick on a Disney cruise? Let me tell you, it's really not that bad! On my recent cruise, I was, ironically enough, among the people not bothered by the 16-foot waves. However, I do have severe food allergies and awoke one night to very familiar symptoms. (I'll spare you the details.) I had brought an over the counter "pink" medicine that normally does the trick but, like a fool or perhaps being a bit "Goofy," I left the stronger medicine at home. And I learned, when my roommate took pity on me the next morning and went in search of it, that Disney Cruise Line does not stock any type of anti-nausea or anti-diarrheal medication! Why? Because they need to know if anyone is experiencing these symptoms.

So it was off to the medical center for me. The medical center is located on Deck 1. There I was greeted by the friendly staff, asked to fill out some forms looking for many details including what and where I had eaten for the past three days, and then shown to an examination room.

A few minutes later, I met Dr. Le Roux, a charming physician from South Africa. After some questions and some poking and prodding of my abdomen, he determined that while my food allergy may be the culprit, there was also a good chance of it being norovirus. He explained the isolation policy – isolation of 48 hours from your last incident of symptoms. He also gave me the good news - he would be giving me medications for my symptoms. Best news I'd had all morning, as by this point I was so miserable feeling better was all I cared about. Isolation, shmisolation, just give me the pills!

I was given a packet of paperwork with instructions for the medications, a bill in case I wanted it for my records (although I was not charged for this visit or the medications), and the contact information for the guest services team who would be looking after me for the next 2 days.

Let me just say – if you have to be ill and in isolation, the Disney Cruise Line is definitely not a bad place to be. I was well taken care of, probably better than I would have been at home! While in isolation you receive the following:
  • Any shore excursions that you had scheduled will be canceled and refunded to your account, as obviously you will not be able to participate.
  • Board games, DVDs, and DVD players, toys (for children ages 3-17), and even pediatric popsicles are available upon request. (I watched The Da Vinci Code and Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium during my stay.)
  • Non-alcoholic beverages will be brought to you at no charge. I was brought ginger ale, bottled water, and Powerade within an hour of being back in my room.
  • Meals will be provided in your room from your scheduled dining room each evening. (No, you cannot order from Palo!) I was contacted each evening by our head server to see what I wanted. Room service is available 24 hours a day as well. Be sure to ask if you need or want something special. They were able to accommodate my request for toast and broth at 7:00 at night!
  • Afternoon Tea will be provided upon request.
  • Complimentary laundry service will be provided for any items worn or soiled while you were sick. I sent the nightgown and clothes that I wore that morning, and had them back cleaned and hung within 90 minutes!
  • You also have a Guest Services team assigned to you during your isolation. (Otherwise known as the concierge team, who normally services the guests in the suites!) Patty and Richard called me every few hours to check on me and see if I needed anything. They were absolutely wonderful! They were attentive and very kind. My stateroom host was also wonderful and made sure to keep an eye out for me. (Yes, this is partially to ensure that I am in my room where I am supposed to be, but also just a sign of the superior customer service.)
  • After 24 hours, you are allowed to disembark the ship if in port. You cannot participate in ANY group activities – no shore excursions, no island tours, etc. I walked around the port area in Tortola for a little while, bought some t-shirts and went back to bed.

Here are the most important lessons I learned. First, pack any and ALL medications you may need, especially if, like me, you have food allergies or other stomach issues such as IBS or Crohn's. Second, consider carefully what stateroom you book. We were in an inside Category 11 stateroom. While this would have been fine under normal circumstances, 48 hours without natural light has convinced me to never book an inside stateroom again, just in case. Third, while I accepted the isolation willingly, the doctor explained that many guests become upset when learning of this possibility. Please keep in mind that this is not a DCL rule, it is federal law as dictated by the CDC. And while yes, you paid a lot of money to be on the ship, DCL is just doing the best they can to ensure that everyone on the ship remains happy and healthy.

By the way, this is also a good reason to consider a longer cruise. Had I been on a three night sailing, I would have missed most of the fun!

Reader Comments (49) - Comment on this article

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About the Author: Sara lives in New England with her family. In addition to her work with PassPorter, Sara is also a Travel Planner for MEI & Mouse Fan Travel.

Questions, feedback, or corrections about this article, or just want to give kudos to the author? Share a comment here or e-mail us at news@passporter.com. Also check out our Article Collection for more great information!

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Disney Feature:


Yachtsman Steakhouse From a Vegetarian's Point of View: A Dining Review
Cheryl Pendry, PassPorter Featured Columnist

As a vegetarian, there's one word that strikes terror into me when it comes to dining out and that's "steakhouse." It instantly says to me that there will be nothing on the menu for me as a non-meat eater, and that I'll be confronted by information about the steaks and perhaps where they came from, and that's something I can't deal with.

That's the reason I put off visiting the Yachtsman Steakhouse at Walt Disney World's Yacht Club Resort for so many years. I had read in books about the refrigerated display that's there just as you walk in, and there was no way I wanted to see it, so it was with great trepidation that I first entered the restaurant, keeping my eyes firmly to the right, making sure that I avoided that sight.

Once past that, my fear subsided somewhat and I was able to take in the surroundings. It's a restaurant that uses mahogany wood to provide a subdued and romantic atmosphere and, looking at it, I couldn't help but think that it would fit in more with the rich theming of the Wilderness Lodge, rather than the brightness of the Yacht Club. It really is like stepping into a totally different atmosphere, but it's also refreshing to do that.

While dining here, we were on the Deluxe Dining Plan, so we were able to sample all three courses from the expansive menu in front of us. It was hard to know what to go for, but we had some excellent help from our server Susan, who knew the menu back to front and gave us some great advice, which helped us to decide what we wanted.

To be honest, deciding on the appetizers for me wasn't a problem, as I had already had a very good recommendation from a friend, who had told me not to miss the seared Maine diver scallops with Diamond white cheddar risotto and aged sherry vinaigrette. My friend was right and we shared those, savoring every wonderful mouthful. We also shared my husband's chilled seafood salad, and this wasn't just any seafood salad, it was packed with lobster, shrimp, and jumbo crab, and turned out to be a superb palate cleanser after the scallops.

The main course was perhaps where there was less choice, understandably, if you weren't a meat eater. There was only the vegetarian risotto or the salmon, which usually came with bacon. Susan immediately reassured me that it could be made without bacon, and it would still come with the Brentwood corn, fingerling potatoes, corn nectar, and crushed avocado. I decided to swap out my potatoes for creamed spinach and again, that was no problem. It's a signature of Disney dining that they'll handle any changes you want -- within reason of course -- with no fuss.

Because we were on the Deluxe Dining Plan, my husband went for an option that there is no way that we'd pay out of pocket for - the Australian Wagyu. If you haven't heard of this before, then you're not alone, as it was a new concept to us as well, but our server informed us that it was pretty much on a par with Kobe beef, which we had heard of, as one of the best steaks in the world. It was a 10oz strip loin, served with truffle mashed potatoes and Cabernet reduction. Of course, there's a price to pay for that and, in this case, it would have been $54. Yes, you did read that right, but as I say, when you're covered by the Deluxe dining plan, it allows you to experiment and try the most expensive choices on the menu!

I don't think either of us had any issues with our main courses, although it was very difficult for anything to compare to the wonderful scallops that we had started with.

We still had dessert to enjoy and, once again, we were able to pick one of the more expensive options, although here, it was me with the expensive tastes. The Artisanal Cheese Platter comes with four cheeses that I'd never heard of before and I like to think of myself as something of a cheese connoisseur. The samples were the Rogue River Blue, Zamorano, Boucherondin, and Saint Andre. These came with fruit, although I did feel that the fruit detracted from the flavors of the cheeses themselves.

For my husband, the antique apple tart with caramel gelato was a definite winner. He described it as the best he'd ever tasted.

The Yachtsman Steakhouse certainly lived up to its billing as a fine dining experience, although it comes without some of the frills that you find at some of the other signature restaurants on Disney property. It certainly doesn't have the stunning views of the California Grill, the superb décor of the Flying Fish Café, or even the unusual food that Jiko boasts, but regardless of that, what it does do is serve up first class food that you can't fault, in a charming and intimate setting. We found it remarkably quiet in the Yachtsman Steakhouse, despite the fact that there were a number of families in there. Somehow it didn't seem to echo like some of the other restaurants at Disney do.

So would we return to the Yachtsman Steakhouse? Most definitely, yes, and I never thought I would say that! As a result of our experience here, I'm starting to get over my fear of the word "steakhouse," and we're already planning a return trip here – perhaps even for this year's Christmas Day dinner. It was that special!

Reader Comments (49) - Comment on this article

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About the Author: Cheryl and husband Mark live in England and love to travel, particularly to Disney, and they have made numerous visits to destinations across America and Europe. They recently completed their tour of every Disney theme park around the world, which culminated in their visit to Japan, including the Tokyo Disney Resort.

Questions, feedback, or corrections about this article, or just want to give kudos to the author? Share a comment here or e-mail us at news@passporter.com. Also check out our Article Collection for more great information!

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