and Dave's Western Caribbean Cruise Adventure
Dates: May 10-21, 2002
Transportation: Northwest Airlines (from Detroit Metro
Airport), Avis, and Tiffany Town Car
Ship: Disney Magic (Inaugural Western Caribbean Cruise)
Resort: Dolphin Resort
Parks: Kennedy Space Center, Disney's Animal
Kingdom, Epcot, Disney-MGM Studios, Pleasure Island
Restaurants/Eateries: Orbit (KSC), Fischer's
Seafood (Cocoa Beach), Flamingo's (Radisson), every restaurant/eatery aboard the Disney
Magic, The Dolphin Fountain, Chevy's (off-property), Bongo's Cuban Cafe, Restaurant
Marrakesh, Palio, Yorkshire County Fish & Chips, and 50s Prime Time Cafe
Background: This was a R&R trip (relax and
research) for Kennedy Space Center and the Disney Magic. We also spent three nights at
Walt Disney World just for the fun of it.
PassPorter Travel Press, an imprint
of MediaMarx, Inc.
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||Day Two -
Saturday, May 11, 2002
was one of the few times in my life when I rose with the sunshine and sprung out of bed.
(Im not a morning person.) Today was our cruise! At last!
Having woken first, I got some work out of the way and double-checked our carry-on. For
those unfamiliar with the cruise, your luggage is collected upon arrival (or even earlier
if youve booked a land/sea package or airport transfer with Disney) and you dont
see your bags until later in the day. Thus, you want to have a well-stocked day bag. Ours
had our PassPorters (with passports), cruise documents, sunscreen, sunglasses, hats,
books, snacks, bottled water, camera, camcorder, and extra batteries. Some folks like to
pack swimsuits so they can take advantage of the pools, as they arent very busy on
embarkation day. The most important thing, of course, is those cruise documents and photo
By 8 am we were ready and went down to eat breakfast at Flamingos in the Radissons
lobby. The restaurant was full, but we were seated quickly. Breakfast was buffet style
with fruit, pastries, cereal, bacon, scrambled eggs, hash browns, biscuits and gravy, plus
an omelet station. The chef at the omelet station didnt balk when I requested an
egg-white only omelet. It appeared you could order breakfast off a menu instead of the
buffet (we saw a family receive plated meals), but we were not presented with a menu so were
not sure about that. Breakfast came to $21.50 for the two of us.
After breakfast we returned to our room and hauled our luggage down to the lobby of the
Radisson wed reserved two spots on their free Radisson shuttle to the
terminal at 10:00 am. Many of the other folks waiting for the shuttle were wearing tie-dye
lime green shirts which identified them as "DIS Cruisers" (from http://www.disboards.com). We ended
up riding over to the terminal in a small shuttle really, it was more like a van.
We assume a larger shuttle arrived soon after ours to pick up the 20 or so people who were
waiting with us. The shuttle ride was just 5-10 minutes, and as soon as we arrived a cast
member met us and collected our luggage. Then we just walked across the street, showed our
photo identification to the security guard positioned outside the terminal, and entered
the gorgeous Disney Cruise Line terminal building.
Our first glimpse of the Disney Magic as we walked across the parking lot
When you enter the terminal, a long escalator takes you up two stories to the check-in
counters, waiting area, and boarding ramp.
Inside the Disney Cruise Line Terminal
Having arrived at quarter past 10:00 am, only a few check-in counters were open (both
were for Castaway Club members and Concierge guests, interestingly) and there were only
about 20 cruisers in the terminal. No one was in line to board yet, and we toyed with the
idea of being the first guests in line, but scrapped the idea. We had at least two hours
before boarding began and we preferred to explore the terminal rather stand in the same
spot. So we got in line and completed our check-in, all in about 10 minutes. We were
informed that boarding would begin at about 12:30 pm, and our stateroom would be ready by
The check-in counters
Upon check-in, we were each given a blue "Key to the World" card with our
names these cards function as stateroom keys, charge cards, and identification. You
need to keep the cards on you at all times, so we just tucked them in our PassHolder
pouches (for us, those pouches were invaluable on this cruise). Other interesting facts
about the cruise cards:
- Our birth years were noted in the lower right-hand corner of the card, presumably for
the cast members to verify that we were of drinking age.
- Our dining rotation and table number is noted on the front of the card. We got
"LAPLAPL," which means that we eat at Lumieres on the first night,
Animators Palette on the second night, Parrot Cay on the third night, and so on.
- A signature strip is on the back of the card. Sign it as soon as you get it it
may be hard to sign later when oil from your hands rub off. Plus, you really should sign
it before you use it for charging.
- To open your stateroom, insert your card into the slot with the "Mickey" end
first (Mickey appears in the upper left-hand corner of the card.)
We were also given one copy of the days Personal Navigator upon check-in.
Personal Navigators look like newsletters they are published daily and contain a
listing of the activities for the day. Once we had the Navigator in our hot little hands,
we immediately read it to see what was planned for the day. We already had a good idea of
what was going on thanks to our research, but a few items were new or at different times.
Weve learned from past cruises that our activities on this first afternoon are
crucial. There is so much going on, and so many important things to accomplish in a few
short hours, that a plan is really important. One of the things we did beforehand was
create a worksheet for our activities today the idea was to test the worksheet on a
real cruise to see if it would be good for our cruise guidebook. So we sat down with the
Navigator, a highlighter, and our worksheets to fill in the blanks and coordinate our
activities. Once our plan was agreed upon and settled, Dave and I both took a copy of this
worksheet and tucked it into our PassHolders. I also folded up the Personal Navigator and
put it in the PassHolder, along with my highlighter.
Now all that remained was to look around the terminal and take notes. We explored the
terminal from end to end and took lots of photos. We were particularly interested in the
café at the far end of the terminal, as wed managed to miss it on our two previous
trips. It is just around the corner across from the boarding area. The café, called R.E.
Freshs Gulf Stream Coffee, opens at 11 am and serves fresh-roasted coffee,
espressos, blended coffee drinks, tea, hot cocoa, bottled soft drinks, pastries, New
York-style pretzels, and bags of potato chips. Heres the drink menu:
Fresh Roasted Coffee
Ice Coffee 2.25
Café Au Lait 2.25
Espresso (Double) 2.75
Café Latte 3.95
Iced Latte 3.95
Café Mocha 4.25
Iced Mocha 4.25
Café Vienna 4.75
Iced Vienna 4.75
Mocha Frost 4.50
Caramel Frost 4.50
Gourmet Ice (Strawberry or Kiwi) 3.75
Hot Tea 2.25
Iced Tea 2.25
Chai Tea 3.95
Hot Chocolate 3.50
The pastries were mostly just muffins of various sorts (blueberry, chocolate, etc.) and
sticky buns, each for $2.25.
The café offers a reasonable amount of seating a few tables and chairs, plus some
bar stools. The seating area also offers a very nice view of the ship. We didnt try
anything from the café, but it appeared to be a very popular place once it opened.
Perhaps our fellow cruisers needed a caffeine fix, or had skipped breakfast. We knew that
there was a huge buffet awaiting us onboard in just a couple of hours, so it was easy to
Other things we discovered on our exploration of the terminal:
- The Disney Magic model in the center the terminal offers a cutaway view of the ship if
you walk around to the back of it. I missed this on my first two visits I must have
seen the front and assumed the back was the same. The cutaway view is really fascinating!
Beyond giving you a peek at the many guests areas youll get to know on your cruise,
it gives you a behind-the-scenes look at cast-only areas such as galleys, engines, and
- There is an outside viewing area at the far end of the terminal. Even if the doors are
locked or the weather isnt so great, there are huge windows that afford a delightful
view of the ship you are about to board. Comfy seats are arrayed below the windows.
- Clean restrooms and drinking fountains are at the other end of the terminal. Payphones
are also across the way.
- A large seating area is situated across from the check-in counter. TVs show Disney
animations and large display cases show off photos of the ships and various memorabilia.
- At about 11 am, Disney characters came out to meet and greet cruisers. We saw Goofy,
Chip and Dale, Donald, and Mickey. Because this was the Western Caribbean cruise, the
characters were all dressed in Mexican garb.
- Mariachi Cobre (from the Mexico pavilion at Epcot) played for us in celebration of the
inaugural Western Caribbean cruise.
By 11:30 am, the terminal was crowded. Really crowded. We couldnt remember the
terminal being so crowded on our two previous cruises. We figured that guests would be
less likely to take Disney Cruise Line motorcoaches to the terminal for the 7-night
cruises than for the 3- or 4-night cruises, meaning theyd be more likely to arrive
earlier. We asked a cast member if the crowds were typical for a 7-night itinerary and he
confirmed it. Based on these crowds, it pays to arrive early and get into the boarding
line as soon as possible. By 12:00 pm, the line to board wound out of the roped off area,
down the length of the terminal, and was starting to double back. Wow! We hopped in line
once we were confident wed taken all the notes and photos we needed.
Finally, at about 12:15 am, boarding began! Around this time, we spotted Deb Wills and her
friends in line behind us, and conferred as to when we wanted to dine at Palos. It
took about 20 minutes before it was our turn to board, and then another 15 minutes to go
through security. Be sure to have your Key to the World card handy for boarding.
Once aboard, a cast member asked for our name and location, and then announced
"Saludos Amigos! Please welcome the Marx family from Michigan!" And then we were
standing in the three-story lobby of the Disney Magic, ready to embark on our exploration
of this gorgeous ship.
Standing in the lobby of the Disney Magic for the first time, I took a deep breath. I
was so excited to finally be here! Alas, there was no time to do much more than savor the
moment. It was almost 1:00 pm and there was so much to do. So worksheets in hand, Dave and
I went off in separate directions.
My first stop was the Oceaneer Club and Lab, Deck 5 midship. These areas are normally
restricted to registered kids and their parents during the cruise, but on the first
afternoon the doors are open to anyone who wants to take a look. So I went up two flights
of stairs (the elevators were busy stairs are faster and good for me!) and
videotaped the Club and the Lab for later reference. I also picked up copies of the
Personal Navigators for kids they were out for the taking in the Oceaneer Club.
There are separate Navigators for ages 3-4, 5-7, 8-9, and 10-12. The kids Navigators
give information for the entire cruise rather than just one day as the regular Navigators
do. I also picked up a copy of the participation form that parents/guardians need to fill
out if they want their kids to participate in the Oceaneer Club or Lab. The childrens
areas looked like a lot of fun almost made me want to be a kid myself so I could
come here and play. I highly recommend that anyone with kids between 3-12 sign their kids
up early for the programs from our observations, the earlier the kids get involved,
the more likely they are to enjoy it.
Next stop: Common Grounds, the teen hangout on Deck 9 midship. This large room, styled
like a coffeehouse, is exclusively for teens ages 13-17. This open house was our one
chance to see what it was like. When I entered at 1:15 pm, the room was completely empty
and I took plenty of videotape. I also picked up a copy of the Teen Navigator, which
listed activities for the entire week.
A glance at the time showed it was 1:30, time to sign up for shore excursions. Now, I
should note that we did have the option of signing up for our shore excursions by phone 60
days in advance, but we just couldnt decide and thus never did any advance bookings.
But wed finally worked out several options for each port, so I headed downstairs to
the shore excursion desk on Deck 3 midship. There I found forms to fill out and put in
collection boxes. I should note that the Key West shore excursion order form was separate
from the order form for Grand Cayman, Cozumel, and Castaway Cay, no doubt due to the fact
that we would be arriving in Key West in less than 24 hours. Its also worth noting
that the primary guest on the stateroom account (the one whose name the cruise was booked
in) needs to sign the shore excursion order form.
I listed several excursion choices for each port, as follows:
1. Catamaran Racing
2. Back to Nature Kayak Tour
3. Key West Catamaran Sail & Snorkel Tour
1. Stingray City Snorkeling and Discover Cayman Tour
2. Atlantis Submarine Expedition
3. Stingray City Snorkel Tour
1. Tropical Jeep Safari Tour
2. Atlantis Submarine Expedition
3. Kayaking Adventure
1. Bicycle Rental
By the way, we received a booklet of information about the shore excursions with our
cruise documents before the cruise. You can also find information on shore excursions at http://www.disneycruise.com
Now it was time to check on our stateroom, so I went up two flights to Deck 5 aft. We were
in stateroom 5628, just down the hall from the movie theater. As soon as I arrived at our
stateroom I could see that some of our luggage had already arrived. Inside the stateroom,
I made a beeline for the verandah this was our first experience sailing with our
own verandah. It took a few minutes to figure out how to open the door (you need to pull
the door by using, but not turning, the handle and its a heavy door!). The
verandah was delightful, although at the time it simply overlooked the dock where I could
see crew members loading luggage and supplies. I knew that the view out our stateroom
would always vary throughout the cruise, and that was an exciting prospect.
The next thing on my agenda was to stop in Sessions (Deck 3 aft) to meet with the Food and
Beverage staff at 2:00 pm. Id learned about this meeting when I called Disney before
the cruise to inquire about soy milk at breakfast, as I am lactose intolerant. In Sessions
I met up with Dave, and he and I met with one of the staff to discuss my needs. A note was
made about my request for soy milk, and I was directed to let my server at dinner know
about my needs as well. Easy enough.
By this time, we were both starving we hadnt had time to eat yet, due to
boarding later than we anticipated. So we scratched off the next item on our agendas (the
walking tour for me and the shore excursion presentation for Dave) and headed up to Deck 9
aft for the lunch buffet in Topsiders. The food was plentiful, fresh, and delicious,
with lots of choices, including cocktail shrimp! We loaded up our plates, grabbed a
complimentary soft drink (fruit punch for me, ice tea for Dave), and took a seat outside
beside the childrens pool. Ahhhh. To sit and relax for a bit
the sun was out,
the temperature was about 75 F, and the entire cruise was before us.
During lunch, Dave reported that he was successful at accomplishing his tasks. He checked
out Flounders Reef Nursery during its open house and took photos. He secured
massages for he and I in the cabanas on Castaway Cay (the second appointment of the day).
And he reserved Palo for the six of us (me, Dave, Deb, and her three friends) on Monday at
8:30 pm. Deb caught up with us and reported that she was successful in reserving Palo for
all of us on Wednesday as well. Great! She also took the liberty of booking the champagne
brunch for the six of us on Thursday. Oops, wed forgotten all about the champagne
brunch and high tea that they serve on the 7-night cruises! (They dont have these on
the 3- or 4-night cruises.) Deb tells us that they are still taking reservations for the
high tea up at Palo, so after lunch I go up to see if I can reserve spots for us. Alas,
they are all booked up, so I put my name on the waiting list and go back down to our
You may be wondering, "Why all the running around, Jennifer?" After all, this is
the first day of our cruise we dont want to wear ourselves out early. But the
truth is there are a lot of things to reserve early if we dont want to be
disappointed later. Here is a list of things that should be done on the first day
like us, you probably wont do all of them, just some of them:
- Reserve dinner at Palo (the adults-only
restaurant), plus the champagne brunch and high tea (on the 7-night cruise)
- Reserve spa treatments (on the ship and/or on
- Make appointments at Flounders Reef Nursery
- Register your child(ren) for the Oceaneer
- Pick up a stroller/wheelchair at Guest
- Book shore excursions
- Meet with the food and beverage staff about
any special dietary needs
Dave and I met back at the room at 3:45 just in time to get ready for the
mandatory boat drill at 4:00 pm. We returned to the room and took down our life jackets on
the top shelf of the closet. Then we checked the back of the door to find out where our
assembly station was located. The drill siren sounded and we headed down to Animators
Palette for the drill. Everything was orderly and went according to plan. My only gripe
was the parents who allowed their kids to carry rather than wear their life jackets. While
it may save whining and complaining, it really does the kids a disservice if there
is a problem, the kids who practiced with their life jackets on will be much better
prepared for the real thing.
After the boat drill, we head on up to Deck 9 midship for the Sailaway Celebration. Cast
members were handing out special Inaugural Cruise cardboard fans, which I suppose were
intended for us to wave as we sailed away. We found Deb and friends on Deck 10 overlooking
the party and parked ourselves there to watch the festivities. Nearby, I noticed the DIS
Cruisers had congregated to party together many of them had bottles of soap bubbles
to blow, which I think is a fun idea. The ship pulled away from the dock at exactly 4 pm,
just as the horn blew its signature "When You Wish Upon a Star" melody. We were
Back in our stateroom, the rest of our luggage had arrived so we unpacked and organized
our things. Once our suitcases were empty, we stored them under the bed (it has a 9"
clearance, which was just enough for our cases). We stored our valuables and wallets in
the safe, which I originally secured by using my Key to the World card (you just swipe the
card through the slot to lock it). When Dave realized that only I would be able to unlock
the safe (because it only works for the card you locked it with), we unlocked it with my
card and re-locked it with our AAA card. Then we hid the AAA card in the room so we could
both access the safe.
The small refrigerator (really, its a cooler) in the room was large enough to hold
my carton of soy milk, a bottle of sparkling apple juice, and a bottle of Pellegrino, but
I had to remove the wire shelving first.
We also watched a bit of the shore excursion presentation on TV, which they repeated
throughout most of the week. After that, we just relaxed until it was time for the Welcome
Aboard Variety Show in the Walt Disney Theatre, Deck 4, Forward.
Tonights show featured the The Gizmo Guys and Michael Harrison. The Gizmo Guys (see http://www.thegizmoguys.com/) are
two comedians/jugglers Allan Jacobs and Barrett Falker who were quite
amusing. Michael Harrison (see http://www.majesticentertainment.net/mh.htm) was a wonderful
ventriloquist he brought up a boy from the audience, put a mask on him, and used
him in his ventroliquist act. It was hilarious! All three of these performers appeared for
shows in Rockin Bar D later in the cruise, too. The Gizmo Guys arent scheduled
to appear on the Disney Magic again this year, but Michael Harrison is apparently a
regular we discovered that hed been a performer aboard a January sailing of
the Disney Magic earlier this year. So perhaps youll see him on your next cruise,
too. In addition to the two comedy acts, there were some short song/dance numbers from the
regular Disney cast.
After the show, we stopped by Studio Sea (Deck 4 midship) to watch the Mickey Mania game
show. I was hoping wed get picked to play, but it turned out they only wanted pairs
of parents and children to be contestants. So we simply watched the game it was
fun, but it would have been more fun if wed been able to participate. This was the
only time during the cruise we really felt excluded from an activity, though.
We went back to our stateroom to dress for dinner. Because tonights dinner was at
Lumieres, Dave wore a jacket and tie and I wore a pink sleeveless dress with a
shawl. When we arrived at our table (#55), Deb and her friends were already seated. Our
server, Sasha, came over to introduce himself. He already knew about my request for soy
milk, and explained that whenever I wanted some I only had to ask. He was very
Here was tonights menu at Lumieres:
Deep fried Camembert Fritters with Red Current jelly or Marinara Sauce
Shrimp Medley served with Cocktail Sauce
Pearls of Seasonal Melon with Port Wine
Escargot with Diced Mushrooms and Garlic Butter
Cream of Cauliflower Soup
Mixed Garden Salad tossed with Red Wine Vinaigrette and topped with Goat Cheese
Cheese Ravioli served with a Tomato-Basil Sauce
Garlic-roasted Beef Tenderloin served with Mashed Potatoes and a Green Peppercorn
Herb-crusted Sea Bass with Sauteed Spinach and Champagne Sauce
Braised Lamb Shank served with Portobello Polenta and a Red Wine Sauce
Roasted Duck Breast with Sauteed Parsnips and an Orange Sauce
Chefs Vegetarian Selection of the Day
(Additional selections of sirloin steak, grilled chicken breast, fresh fish, or
"lighter fare" are available. Kindly ask your server.)
Chocolate Caramel Torte with Raspberries over Hazelnut Crust
Carmelized Apple Tart with Vanilla Sauce
Grand Marnier Souffle with Chocolate Sauce
Chefs Sugar-Free Dessert
Chicken Noodle Soup
Macaroni and Cheese
Chefs Entrees of the Day
Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Meatballs in Tomato Sauce
Mickey Ice Cream Bar
Assorted Ice Cream
Chefs Dessert of the Day
I eat as healthy as I can, so I asked if the mixed garden salad could be served with the
dressing on the side. The server said it could not because it was pre-made. But he offered
to bring out a plain salad and serve the dressing on the side, and I agreed. For my main
entrée, I ordered the sea bass. Dave had the escargot and the roasted duck breast.
Everything we ordered was good, with one exception: my salad. What I received a very
boring iceberg lettuce and carrot chip salad. The server then wanted to put the dressing
on for me, but the way I use dressing is to dip my fork in the dressing then get a forkful
of salad (this method means I use less dressing). So I had to make a big deal about how I
just needed him to leave the dressing at the table for me, which he seemed to think was
very odd. But he did leave the dressing for me to use.
For dessert, I requested a bowl of fruit (as all the desserts looked too decadent for me)
and Dave ordered the apple tart. Again, my bowl of fruit was incredibly boring just
some melon wedges and grapes. I realized at this point that I could request special items
like this, but it just wouldnt be any fun. After this evening, I ordered off the
regular menu and ate around the things that werent so healthy (whenever possible).
Everyone else at our table enjoyed their choices and seemed quite satisfied.
Its also worth noting that Deb and Linda ordered the 7-Night Wine Package, which
they offered to split three ways with Dave. (Dave and I would have ordered it also, but I
am not drinking these days.) The packages cost $145 for the classic selections and $265
for the premium selections (this is the package that Deb, Linda, and Dave shared). The way
it works is that you get a bottle of wine with dinner each evening, which you chose from a
pre-selected list of about 20 kinds. If you want, you can have two bottles one night and
no bottles on another night. The packages represent a savings of about 25% over regular
list prices for wine. A cast member was stationed in the lobby when we boarded, offering
this package to guests. I believe you could also request the package on your first dinner
We were one of the last tables to finish dinner around 10:30 pm this would be
typical for us for the rest of the week. We all had such a good time talking and laughing
that eating took just a bit longer.
After dinner, we bid adieu to our friends and went back to our stateroom to crash. What a
long day it had been! The only thing I can remember is the wonderful feeling of gentle
rocking as I lie in bed, just moments from sleep. Ah, how nice it was to be cruising
Next: Day Three
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