Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Vacation the second part: Still cruisin'!

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First, answers to a couple questions from part 1: StitchinKat, Disney may go to Alaska in 2010! And aimeewrites, not to worry...Disney sailed their ships over to the West Coast in Summer 2008, and now that they're building two new ships, chances are good for this year or next!

Now, on with the show!

When we left you last, we were on board the Disney Wonder, about to set sail from Nassau. ship The crew got a rare night ashore, and had to be back on board by 2am! We were insensible the whole time, and awoke to find ourselves docked at Disney's private island, Castaway Cay!

This was the view from the deck... flying dutchman ...note that, as our cruise director delighted in telling us, there was only one other ship in port: The Flying Dutchman.

At 9, there was an intriguing item listed on the schedule: Pirate Treasure Hunt. We weren't sure whether we'd be doing some sort of competitive scavenger hunt immediately or not, but since we had not had breakfast yet, we were happy to hear it was a go-at-your-own-pace thing. We were handed envelopes filled with goodies: treasure map Clutching our envelopes, we dashed off to the breakfast buffet in the sit-down restaurant (where we ate the first night), Parrot Cay. parrot cay
I have to say that I wasn't initially that excited about the private island. I mean, I like seeing and exploring new places, but this was a "manufactured" island, in my mind. No culture to explore, and I figured it'd be so generic and kind of boring. How wrong I was! It was the best; normally, when you're on a cruise and get to a port of call, you have to take a 20-minute cab or bus ride just to get to a beach, then you have to schlep back to the ship, wet and sandy. Here, we stepped off the ship and were a 5-minute walk (or open-air shuttle ride) away from the sand. There were copious clean bathrooms and foot showers. There were all manner of games and gaming equipment available. AND, all the food was still free! Plus, the island was very beautiful, with lots of natural vegetation. There was an adults-only beach (too windy and cold the day we were there), although the family beach was so large that you were never tripping over other people.

We had fun exploring the island while hunting for clues. I won't ruin the pirate treasure hunt for anyone by giving away any of them. I was hoping the prize would be a pin, but no such luck (not that my thirst for pins was not already satiated by the daily "free pin with purchase" at the gift shop on board). Instead, we each got a "piece o' silver" stamped with the Castaway Cay logo--only available on the island.

It still seemed a little chilly to snorkel, so we hung out on the beach and enjoyed the barbeque (at the adult beach, you could even get grilled rib-eye steak!) until it warmed up a bit. Heather relaxing
Then, we were ready to snorkel! This is the view of the snorkeling area. No waterproof camera rig, unfortunately. There's no natural reef within the guest area, although they have put in a bunch of "fish condos" and seeded coral. Instead, they have sunk some ships and other stuff, and helpfully marked them with buoys so you don't have to search that hard. =) The two highlights were seeing a fish literally change color in front of my eyes (nope, it wasn't a cuttlefish OR a flounder, nor was it lying on the bottom) from gray-green-reddish to white-sandy-colored. At first, I thought I was losing it, but Michael saw it, too! It looked kind of like a large snapper. If you have any ideas on what it might have been, please comment! The second highlight was seeing a black-spotted white eel with a yellow tummy. He was wrapped around an old ship's anchor, and I remember thinking as I dove down to get a closer look, "WOW! I wonder what food he likes that Disney puts around here so he will stay for us to see him!" Later, I picked a cup out of the water and swam it over to a lifeguard stand, and he asked if we'd seen anything good. I told him about the eel, and he replied, "REALLY? You're sure it was black and white with a yellow tummy? You didn't get too close did you?" "Welll, I did dive down to it...." He flinched. "Those things are really aggressive; we'll have to fish him out of there tomorrow." Yikes. Ignorance really is bliss.

We snorkeled for about an hour and a half, and I was ready to quit; the water was COLD! I shivered horribly for a while after we got out. Only one way to warm up after that... Hammock + fruity drink...works every time.

Soon, we headed back to the ship to get dressed for the night's festivities. That's right...it was PIRATE NIGHT!! The menus were even pirate-themed! Our server was very entertained by Michael and I speaking in nothing but pirate. "Avast, ye lubber! Bring me a flagon of yer finest water, I be full parched!" I got a very nice compliment from a ten-year-old kid, who, when we walked past, looked at me and said, "Now that's a good pirate costume!" =)

Later, on deck, there was a pirate show. I tried to get pictures of Mickey zipping in on a flywire to defeat Captain Hook, or the fireworks (!) that went off afterwards, but they didn't turn out so well. It was so chilly on deck that Maria and I started just jumping up and down to keep warm. Well, it's not too far of a journey from there to full-out dancing. No pictures of us, but here's Michael's nod to piratical garb: We had plenty of space on the dance floor, since most everyone else was in line for the buffet: But, since we'd just eaten (late seating)...we didn't even get in line! I know, I know...passing up a buffet on a cruise ship just seems so wrong!

When we got back to the room, we were greeted by probably my favorite towel animal... Instead of the typical square mints, the monkey held gold coins in his mouth. Arrrrr!!!

The next day started off unfortunately...Michael came down with a sinus infection. The shipboard doctor was quick but expensive, and Michael spent the rest of the day wandering in a fog and slurping free Sprite. I tried doing a few things on my own while he napped, but they just weren't very fun. I was all excited about pin collector bingo, until I found out the minimum cost was $40!! Yikes! I just wanted to put some markers on a board, you know? "Adult Pool Games" were a little too adult...hold a banana between my legs and pass it to some random stranger? Don't think so!!

The show that night was another revue, but we were still amazed by the costumes and set pieces. I think these turned out pretty well for low-light, no LCD screen...
Dinner that night was highly anticipated... I'd been excited about this restaurant concept since I heard about its predecessor on the Disney Magic, The Ink and Paint Club. It starts out all black and white "rough animation" and ends up completely colored. And here's my biggest fail: During dinner I didn't take One. Single. Picture. I was apparently so enthralled with the "show" (even though it didn't flow like I had imagined) that I couldn't be bothered to snap any pictures. So, you're just going to have to go yourself!!

So, with a kiss goodnight from the cute towel bunny, it was all over but the disembarkation (that word is hilarious!!)

Arrrr...thar be Disney cruises on the West Coast sometimes, ye scurvy scamps!

Tune in next time for KSC...not KFC...and Disney World proper!


Daffycat said...

Everything sounds wonderful except snorkeling (I don't like water) and the sinus infection. The thought of the two of you speaking in pirate has me rolling!

Annie said...

This is better than any other ad I've ever seen for Disney. It's all I can do to keep from jumping on a plane to get there!

Susan @ Real Girl Designs said...

I'm sorry that Michael got the sinus infection, but it sounds like you had a fabulous time otherwise. I definitely want to take one of those cruises - you've definitely whet my appetite!

Unknown said...

The Disney Wonder will be based in the Port of Los Angeles starting in 2011.

The new Disney Fantasy will be based in Florida starting in 2012.

Nima said...

good to read about the cruise...glad to know that you enjoyed

Old Geek-outs