Jennifer 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.


Updated 11/21/03

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PassPorter Travel Press, an imprint of MediaMarx, Inc.

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Day Three - Sunday, May 12, 2002

Thanks to an early night last night, we were up by 7:00 am. Getting ready was relatively simple, though I noticed that the shower’s water pressure wasn’t as strong as on my two previous cruises. In fact, it wasn’t strong enough to rinse out my hair after I’d conditioned it, and I actually had to jump back in the shower when I realized it. Yuck! I learned my lesson from that day forward – don’t use Disney’s shampoo/conditioner (it doesn’t rinse well) and allot extra time for rinsing.

We breakfasted at Lumiere’s, which opened just as we arrived at 8:00 am. We were seated a table for four – our tablemates were from the East Coast and on their first cruise. We ordered from the breakfast menu and I spoke to our server about getting soy milk for my mueslix. He brought three choices to the table – Lactaid, Rice Dream, and a soy milk (which I cannot remember the brand of at the moment). I chose the soy milk and a small pitcher of it was brought to my table. Beyond the cereal, I also ordered fruit cocktail, wheat toast, and an egg-white only omelete with veggies (they had no problem making an egg-white omelet for me). Dave ordered the lox and bagel, an omelet, and some pastries. We both had OJ. Breakfast took about 5 minutes to arrive from the time we placed the order. I wanted to do the Walk a Mile at 9:00 am but it was almost 9:00 and Dave wasn’t done eating, so we arranged to meet during the walk later.

Checking my Personal Navigator for the meeting place, I went up one flight to Preludes on deck 4. The instructor arrived shortly and we all (about 12 total) headed out to the walking/jogging track on deck 4. I learned that one revolution around the track was 1/4 mile, and so we walked four times around at a brisk pace to achieve one mile. The instructor set the pace, and the guests followed by behind at varying paces. Dave caught up with me in the fourth lap and finished it with me. We then went our separate ways again, with plans to meet at Topsider’s for lunch at 11:30.

After the mile walk, I went to the Vista Spa to try out a couple of their free "seminars." The first was called "Eat More Weigh Less" which explained the benefits of eating smaller meals 5-6 times a day. About 15 guests, mostly much older than I, were in attendance. Immediately after the first seminar was "Detoxification for Weight Loss" with ways on detoxing internally (i.e., herbs) and externally (i.e., body brush). Samples of detox products sold in the salon were passed around for sampling, but there was no hard sell. The instructor also mentioned that the spa does personal Metabolism Analysis for $25. I thought this sounded interesting and signed up for an analysis on Thursday afternoon.

With a bit of free time before lunch, I went down to the Internet Café to catch up on e-mail. The Café was a bit more crowded than I remembered on my two previous cruises, and there was just one seat available at the time. I signed up for the unlimited plan ($89.99 for unlimited access throughout the week) and checked my e-mail and the message boards. As I was finishing up, I glanced out the porthole near the Internet Café and saw that the water color had changed to a brilliant blue. We must be approaching Key West!

Lunch at Topsider’s was unmemorable, though I’m sure it was satisfying enough. We finished lunch quickly so we could get back to our staterooms and change into our swimsuits – we thought it would be wise to underdress our suits for our shore excursion. With our daybag packed, we set forth to the Off Beat Club, our designated meeting spot for our particular shore excursion. Once there, we were instructed to sign both our tickets and a standard disclaimer, and then turn them in to the cast member. In return, we were given a small, square sticker with a Disney character printed on it. Presumably these are used to identify us to cast members and excursion employees. We ended up waiting for 20 minutes in Off Beat because the excursion personnel were running a bit behind due to an earlier sail. When we were ready, we all filed out as a group and took the stairs down to deck 1 to debark. Thanks to our PassHolder pouches, we had our Key to the World cards and photo identification at hand when it came our turn to present them. A quick swipe, a few steps, and we were off the ship! No tendering is necessary in Key West. The weather was sunny and very hot (probably around 90° F), though there was a cool breeze near and on the water.

Once everyone had reconvened, an excursion employee met us. It seemed the catamarans were not yet back, so we had 15 minutes to wait. Dave and I took the opportunity to dash off to a convenience store and purchase some sunglasses (Dave broke his and I lost mine). We found inexpensive pairs at a little shop on the wharf (near the Hilton Resort) and raced back to our meeting location to board the Catamarans. It was only 40-50 yards from the ship, so it was very convenient.

Dave without his sunglasses yet.

As we were a group of 13, the crew split us into teams of three -- one for each of the three catamarans. We were in a group of five: Dave, three other guys, and me. Our skipper was an experienced sailor named Tom, and he explained the ropes to us. No prior experience was needed, but it was important to listen carefully and follow directions. He suggested that one person act as the timekeeper, two people trim the jib, and two people man the tiller. He hinted that guys were better at trimming the jib and manning the tiller due to the strength needed. While I felt I had the strength to do it, I thought it would be diplomatic to volunteer as timekeeper so the guys saved face. In retrospect, I probably should have not volunteered as timekeeper specifically to avoid being shunted away from a "masculine" role (speaking as a feminist). I feel I could have done that without making a scene, but I took the easy way out. Oh well. I’ve resolved to do better the next time I’m in a situation like that.

Our Catamaran!

The role of the timekeeper is relatively simple. Set and keep watch on a 3-minute countdown, which serves as the signal to start the race. Our skipper gave me his watch to use, which was pre-set with the 3-minute countdown. I was also directed to call out the time in increments as the start of the race approached. In addition to keeping time, I was responsible for the handheld radio – I was to listen for incoming transmissions from one of the other two catamarans, and relay our own information. I was told to sit near the bow of the boat to help balance it out. And when the boom (the long horizontal beam that moves with the sail) shifted to the side I was sitting on, I was to move to the other side.

Dave and another guy were responsible for trimming the jib sail, which generally meant pulling in the ropes when instructed. Our skipper told them how much to "sheet in" (tighten) or "let out" (loosen). They sat in the middle of the boat.

The two guys manning the tillers sat in the back of the boat. The tiller is a stick attached to the top of a rudder – you use it to move the rudder and thus turn the boat. The skipper also gave instructions on when and how hard to turn the tiller.

Before we motored out of the harbor, everyone stored their items in a water-resistant area near the back of the boat. The skipper forewarned everyone that area can get wet if there is a lot of splashing, and expensive cameras have been ruined before. We bagged our digital camera in a plastic bag and then put it in our backpack. We would recommend bringing a disposable camera along for this excursion, however.

Amenities on board included complimentary canned soft drinks (Coke, Diet Coke and Sprite, no water) were available on board for the taking. There’s virtually no shade, so be sure to wear sunscreen, cool clothing, a hat, and sunglasses.

Once we were out of the harbor, we put up the sail and made our way to the "race course." The course was nothing more than three, orange buoys in the water, which we circled around. As we neared the course, I radioed to the other boats that we were ready to begin the 3-minute countdown. Our goal was to be between two of the buoys when the 3-minute countdown ended. I yelled out the time – "30 seconds"… "20 seconds"… "10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1" and we were off! Of course, our speed didn’t change, only our attitudes. We were racing to win!

We did three course races, repeating the same procedure for each one. Our boat came in first place on the first race, second place on the second race, and first place on the third race. We won!

The sail back to the marina was refreshing. The sun dancing on the water was spectacular, and the ocean breezes were intoxicating. It felt really good to be sailing. None of our party felt in the least seasick, and everyone seemed to have a great time.

Back in harbor, we unloaded ourselves and our stuff. "Rum" punch was available in a cooler for anyone of age. I tried a taste – it was hard to tell there was much rum in it at all. Before we left, we all gathered around to take a photo of our team holding the regatta cup.

Our crew holding the winning cup!

The entire excursion lasted about 3 hours. Afterwards, I realized that I’d missed a few spots when I’d applied my sunscreen (the tops of the backs of my arms, and the tops of the front of my thighs). I had bright-red sunburn in those spots. Thankfully, they were very small areas – my SPF 30 sunscreen and hat had served me well otherwise.

As we said goodbye to our skipper and teammates, the skipper gave us his business card, which reads as follows:

Key West Cup
P.O. Box 4815
Key West, FL 33041
(305) 293-8812

Tom Johnson
Tour Operator

And a little poking around on the Internet turned up an e-mail address:

Would I recommend this excursion? Yes! It isn’t for everyone, however. It’s very active, very sunny, and requires a bit of competitive spirit. Our skipper mentioned that the team before ours had two individuals who were blind and one who was deaf, and they were able to win the race, too! I also noticed two young teens on one of the other boats. I would avoid this excursion if you get seasick easily, are very sensitive to the sun/wind, and/or prefer more sedate activities.

Back on the wharf, we decided to walk around town and get a feel for the place. I stopped at the restroom inside the Hilton Resort to change out of my swimsuit and generally cool off. We then wandered about the streets for a while, taking photos and checking things out. We thought about getting a bite to eat, but didn’t find anything too appealing in our brief look. We walked up Greene St., across Simonton, down Eaton, across Duval.

We ended up at the Conch Train Depot (corner of Front and Duval). We’d noted that the Conch Train was one of the shore excursions, so we thought we’d try it out. An inquiry at the ticket booth revealed that the last train was just about to depart. We ran up to it, gave the "conductor" our money ($20/adults, $10/kids ages 4-12), and took a seat.

The Conch Tour Train at the Depot.

We were delightfully surprised by the Conch Train Tour. We covered a lot of ground on the tour, and the "conductor" seemed very knowledgeable about Key West. For example, we learned why all the porch ceilings are painted blue – to discourage bees and hornets (they think it is the sky and won’t nest). You can get more information on this 90-minute tour at A map of Key West and a list of some of the sites seen on the tour is available at the site. Note that you can order tickets for the Conch Tour Train online at 10% off. I really enjoyed the train tour, and I think most everyone else would as well. Young kids might find it boring, though.

After our train tour, we checked the time – it was already 5:30. Time to get back onboard! We took a slightly circuitous route back so Dave could pick up some conch fritters. I didn’t think they’d let him on board with them, but they did. He got them in Clinton Square, which is near Mallory Square and the harbor. He says they were greasy, but good. We also stopped at the Key West Chamber of Commerce and picked up a bunch of brochures and guides.

Getting back onboard was easy. We just put our packs through the security scanner and presented our Key to the World cards and photo identification. We were back in our stateroom by six, with just enough time to shower and make the 6:30 pm showing of "Who Wants to be a Mouseketeer."

The Walt Disney Theatre (Deck 4 Forward) hosted the "Who Wants to be a Mouseketeer" game show, which is modeled after the network "Millionaire" show. The show began with a cast member asking for volunteers from the audience to sit on a panel. Those guests who appeared most enthusiastic were chosen (and they were all adults). Once the panel was seated on stage, the host came out and explained the rules of the game. Essentially, a "computer" would choose seats in the audience randomly. If you were seated in the lucky seat, you got to come onstage, sit in the "hot seat," and answer Disney trivia questions. If no one was sitting in the seat that was called, the next person to the right was chosen. For this reason, we realized it would have been better to sit in a less-popular row. Alas, our seats were not chosen. But it was fun to watch the two contestants try to answer the questions. Neither contestant got very far, but it looked like they had a good time. Oh, by the way, the contestant who answers the questions correctly gets a free cruise! The random nature of this game was a bit disappointing, but it was still entertaining.

After the show, we went up to Deck 10 Aft to watch the sunset at 8:00 pm. What a glorious sight!

The sunset view from Deck 10.

The Key West sunset was not overrated in any way. From our vantage point, we could see the crowds in Mallory Square below the ship – there were quite a few people watching the sunset.

Mallory Square from atop the Disney Magic.

Dave enjoys the sunset.

Tonight’s meal was at Animator’s Palate (Deck 4 Aft). We joined our tablemates and regaled each other with tales of our adventures. Deb and friends had gone shopping, but otherwise decided they could have stayed onboard and been just as happy.

From the menu, I ordered the Lobster and Shrimp Wrapper to start with and the Maple-Glazed Salmon as my main entrée. Both were delicious. One thing I want to note is that the portions are small compared to what you might get at a Walt Disney World restaurant. But that is just as well – there’s food everywhere if you really aren’t satisfied at dinner. Besides, our server was always offering extra dishes for us to try. It would be hard to go hungry on the cruise.

With the dessert course came the "surprise" at Animator’s Palate. The lights dimmed, color infused the walls and pictures, fiber optic cables lit up brilliantly, and the servers appeared with multi-hued vests in place of the black-and-white ones they’d donned earlier in the meal. We’ve seen this before, but it was still fun.

After dinner we relaxed in our stateroom then went up to Rockin’ Bar D (Deck 3 Forward) for the Match Your Mate game. The place was crowded and the adults seemed eager to have fun. The host asked for three couples – a newlywed couple, a couple who had been married between 10-15 years, and a couple married more than 30 years. Somehow that seemed to leave out a lot of couples from participating. Once the couples were chosen, they were brought onstage for introductions and good-natured ribbing. Then the men were sent off while the women answered various questions (i.e., "what was the most interesting place you ‘discovered the magic?’") The men were brought back and questions were compared. The contestants had a fun time, and the audience roared with laughter. It really was quite good. In the end, the couple married who had been married 10 years won.

Back in our stateroom, we admired the towel animal (a snake) and examined the Personal Navigators for tomorrow. We were looking forward to our first full day at sea! Until tomorrow…

Our first towel animal!

Next: Day Four

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