November 2007 4-night Disney Cruise and Walt Disney World Trip
Welcome to a different type of trip report. Thanks to Twitter (think really short blogs - only 140 characters each) and FlipVideo, we are doing an "as it happens" trip report this time. It should be interesting if nothing else! Oh, and more likely to get done! All comments in italics are supplemental to fill in when we couldn't twitter.
Friday, November 2nd
tom_streeter - Getting ready to go on vacation. Caribbean, here we come! 02:37 PM November 02, 2007
RadioCarla - We're finally on our way to Florida. Well, at least as far as Knoxville tonight. Will twitter along the way. 05:06 PM November 02, 2007
RadioCarla - Just stopped at Sonny's BBQ in Corbin KY. A tradition with us. Great food and service as usual. 07:36 PM November 02, 2007
RadioCarla - Just crossed into Tennessee. 69 miles to the hotel. 07:58 PM November 02, 2007
Saturday, November 3rd
tom_streeter - In Knoxville at quite possibly the noisiest hotel ever. It sounds lilke the freeway is in the room with you. But on to Florida!!!!!! 04:47 AM November 03, 2007
tom_streeter - Getting morning caffeine and hitting the road. GPS says 11 hours to Port Canavaral.
tom_streeter - Carla driving and me twittwering. I love road trips. It's either foggy or smokey -- the latter I think. It smells faintly bad. 05:33 AM November 03, 2007
tom_streeter - Coming into Chattanooga in some fog. The sun is coming up just a bit, so you can see that it's not that thick. Birthplace of the moonpie. 06:36 AM November 03, 2007
tom_streeter - Just crossed the GA state line. Now that the construction is done, getting through Chattanooga is painless. GA welcome center next. 06:44 AM November 03, 2007
tom_streeter - Done with breakfast (mmm...cold BBQ). On the road again. Sun's almost all the way up. Approaching Ringgold, GA. Great Locamotive chase. 07:09 AM November 03, 2007
tom_streeter - Crossing the southern loop around Atlanta. A bit of construction north of town, but a pretty clean shot thru downtown. Fog is gone. Clear. 09:00 AM November 03, 2007
tom_streeter - Got thru Atlanta too easy. Sitting in a traffic jam about 30 miles north of Macon. 09:30 AM November 03, 2007
tom_streeter - Still sitting in frickin' traffic in the middle of bum**** GA 10:02 AM November 03, 2007
tom_streeter - Two of three lanes of a major interstate closed. That's some good highway planning. 10:21 AM November 03, 2007
tom_streeter - I've decided that folks in GA drive either 80 mph or 12. Nothing in between. Are those banjos I hear? 10:30 AM November 03, 2007
RadioCarla - Exit 201 - finally through the stupid traffic. Tom's back driving and I'm back twittering. Stop-go traffic kills my knees. 11:53 AM November 03, 2007
tom_streeter - Rest area north of Tifton, GA. Making good time. Stretching to get out the kinks. Listening to Larry . Munson call the UGA game. Cool. 12:32 PM November 03, 2007
RadioCarla - Listening to the Georgia football game on XM. Only 66 miles left until we're in Florida. 01:42 PM November 03, 2007
RadioCarla - Just crossed into FL after a quick stop for a grilled chicken sandwich at Chick-Fil-A. Tasty! 258 miles to Port Canaveral. 02:51 PM November 03, 2007
tom_streeter - Last planned stop just outside Jacksonville, FL. 03:12 PM November 03, 2007
RadioCarla - 27 miles from our hotel near Port Canaveral. We'll check in and then have dinner at Florida's Seafood. Followed by grading for me. 06:15 PM November 03, 2007
tom_streeter - Sitting at the Sunset Bar + Grill looking out over the water in Cocoa Beach. 06:40 PM November 03, 2007
RadioCarla - Just had an incredible meal at Sunset Waterfront Cafe and Bar next to Florida's Seafood. This may be the new tradition! 08:09 PM November 03, 2007
RadioCarla - Believe it or not... we're sitting in the hotel room editing video and HTML for "as it happens" online trip report. Twitter on! 10:21 AM November 04, 2007
RadioCarla - Also, we worked out in the hotel pool for about an hour. Felt great. Taking our time getting to the terminal. 10:22 AM November 04, 2007
RadioCarla - Sitting at the DCL terminal, waiting for them to call our number. So glad we drove over here! Long waits for the shuttle at the hotel. 11:58 AM November 04, 2007
tom_streeter - They just called group 9. As fast as they're going, it shouldn't be more than 10 minutes. 12:17 PM November 04, 2007
tom_streeter - They just called us! 12:21 PM November 04, 2007
We boarded the Wonder right around 12:25 p.m. and headed up to Deck Nine as soon as we were on board. As we went by Guest Services, Carla grabbed the Navigator, wireless internet information and movie listings. A big difference in the movies available compared to our Celebrity cruise in August.
RadioCarla - Just had a progressive lunch of sorts: pizza from Pinnochio's, chicken tenders from Pluto's and ice cream from Goofy's Galley. Yum! 01:01 PM November 04, 2007
tom_streeter - On board and in the cabin early. Feels like I'm home. Cell phone getting turned off. Off to Diversions to watch football. 01:18 PM November 04, 2007
tom_streeter - Looks like no video uploads while on board because of the satellite bandwidth. But we'll keep twittering and grabbing video. Wi-Fi in cabin. Life is good. 03:05 PM November 04, 2007
We (and most of the rest of the ship) watched the Patriots-Colts game in Diversions (the sports pub on the Wonder). It's the first time we haven't been up top for the sail away, but we had a good reason and we still had our traditional Cuba Libre sail away drinks. Unfortunately, the alcohol made Carla sleepy and it seemed like it would never be time to go to dinner. We did get the table for two we requested and our serving team of Felipe from Peru and Elisa from Brazil seem great. Tom had the guinoa with grilled vegetables, fruit salad and the mixed grill (beef tenderloin, lamb chop, sausage wrapped in bacon and shrimp). Carla had the Crab Martinique, the Parrot Cay salad and the mixed grill. Dessert was French toast banana bread pudding for Tom and lemon meringue pie for Carla. We went straight back to our cabin after dinner and it didn't take long for us to wind down & fall asleep.
tom_streeter - End of the first day on board. A great day. The seas are a bit rougher than usual, but the motion is soothing. Walking the decks in the morning. 10:26 PM November 04, 2007
After setting the alarm for 5:30 this morning, we ended up going with our backup wakeup call that was set for 7:00 a.m. Then it was on to deck four and we walked two miles (six laps). We grabbed breakfast of fruit and pastries at Goofy's Galley and then ended to the Quiet Cove Pool. Here we made a wonderful discovery... though it's marked 4 feet, the depth is closer to 5 and the perfect depth for water fitness. Hurray! Tom did his full work-out and Carla did about half of hers because she needed to head to the Future Cruise Sales desk to book our May 4-night two Castaway Cay stops cruise. She lucked out because there was no wait to book it and we got exactly the cabin we wanted (5832 - Deluxe stateroom with navigator's verandah). Then it was back to the pool to work out a bit more and then bask in the sun. The weather is absolutely perfect - 82 degrees and 45% humidity.
About 11:30 a.m., we headed back to the cabin to check our email and order some room service lunch (cheeseburger for Tom and blackened chicken quesadilla salad for Carla). We checked our email and nothing urgent. Yippee! Downloaded the photos off the camera, resized them and updated this web page. Unfortunately, we couldn't get the FTP client to connect so we'll have to try uploading it later. (It worked about 30 minutes later.)
We have a metabolic composition testing at 2:00, followed by a deck chair massage at 3 and then the Disney Vacation Club celebration at 4:00. Oh, and our Castaway Club magnet is already missing from our door. (Guest Services got us two to replace it. )
The body composition analysis went fine as far as us finding out what our goal weights should be, but Eldred from South Africa gave us a 45-minute lecture that said nothing (think your least favorite class in college or high school) and then seemed to have problems wrapping his brain around the liquid diet we're on. (See our diet blog for more information on that.) He wanted us to come back to tell him more, but we politely declined. The deck chair massages afterwards were much better and much more relaxing. And we had a ball at the Disney Vacation Club celebration. We were the first ones to win a prize! And everyone there was asking how we knew so much about Disney and DVC. :)
We stayed in Diversions for a beer since Yuengling is available on draft again. All the bars have Bud, Bud Light and Amber Bock, but Diversions also has Yuengling, Guiness and Kirin. Very nice! Tonight is Palo for us so we're back in the cabin to change. We'll try to hit "Hercules: The Muse-ical" afterwards and we're definitely going to take a late night swim.
Dinner at Palo was fabulous as always. Dalibor from Croatia was our server and was wonderful. Tom had the grilled shrimp salad as his appetizer and Carla had the grilled portobello mushroom and polenta appetizer. For entrees, Tom had the grilled tuna and Carla had the veal scallopini. Dessert was panna cotta with berries for Tom and caramel gelato for Carla and we split an order of the chocolate gelato which was incredible. We were too late for "Hercules" and wandered about the ship a bit. We were popping into the Radar Trap when Tom noticed a cast member who looked familiar and realized it was Rose, our favorite server. She was in Wave Bands tonight rather than Diversions and will be at the family beach tomorrow. We'll definitely look for her there. Back to the Radar Trap (duty free shopping), we ordered a bottle of Jose Cuervo Gold and Bacardi 151. It will be delivered to our room on the last night. The cruise is flying by... The alarm is set for 6:30 a.m. for now. We'll see if we really get up then.
Up at 6:30 this morning and did an hour workout in the pool before breakfast. We're back in the cabin now applying sunscreen and putting the digital camera in its underwater enclosure. The plan for the day right now is snorkeling at the family beach in the morning, lunch at the adult beach (Serenity Bay), then more snorkeling after lunch. Life is good...
Things actually went as planned today. The temps were in the low 80s still and the humidity was low. We snagged some great chairs under a small palm grove near the snorkeling beach. The water was a bit nippy (78 degrees) at first, but you got used to it quickly. It took a little bit of time to get used to our equipment again and there was a stronger than usual current to fight in the morning, but we were back in the groove in no time. We saw our first jellyfish (just little ones) and lots of fish. Carla swam back about 11:00 and Tom headed back about noon.
Next up was lunch to Serenity Bay so we walked over to the tram stop and took video as we waited. The food was great as always. We both had the steak sandwich, though the grilled mahi-mahi looked good too. Tom tried some of the pork ribs later and we both indulged in some of the soft serve ice cream. After that, it was back on the tram and we checked out the Bahamanian retail shops. Nothing caught our eyes so we walked out to the Heads Up bar. We wanted to re-create a photograph of us from June of 2006. We met a very nice woman from Sacramento who took the photo for us. Then it was back to snorkeling!
The current was gone by now and we were both more comfortable with the equipment too. Tom showed Carla some of the things he had found in the morning after she went in including an area where hundreds of fish were schooling. It was like being in a National Geographic film. Once again, Carla ended in a bit earlier than Tom and by the time Tom came in, the cast members were starting to stack the chairs and take down the umbrellas. It was almost 4:00. The wait for the tram was a bit long, so for the first time ever, we walked back. It actually felt good to stretch our leg muscles after using the flippers most of the day. We stopped by the adult pool in hopes of hitting one of the hot tubs, but many other people had that idea so we gave up and hit to the cabin to clean up.
We took care of several things before dinner (like downloading photos and getting the confirmation for our May cruise) and then we headed to Diversions for a beer. Andy, the pub master, had a Nintendo Wii set up and we watched some other folks play golf before we got to try baseball on it. It was lots of fun! We also got our picture with Pirate Stitch and in front of the Christmas tree. It was so nice out that we walked around on Deck 9 until it was time for dinner.
At dinner, we discovered that we did have table mates: a really nice couple from the suburbs of Chicago. They have four kids, but left them at home to try out cruising first. We gave them our pirate banadanas so each child could have one since we already own several. For dinner, Tom had the "Pearls of the Caribbean" appetizer, the jerk chicken salad and the BBQ pork shank. Carla had the crab cake appetizer, the caesar salad and the shrimp & scallop pasta. We both passed on dessert thinking that we would get something at the Pirates IN the Caribbean party on Deck 9. After dinner, we went up to watch the fireworks, but soon realized we were too tired so it was off to bed for the night.
At 2:00 this morning, we were both woken by this banging sound like someone hitting a pipe or barrel in an uneven pattern. You could feel the vibration from it hitting as you laid in bed. Tom called the operator and Jeanne from the Philippines came to check it out in less than five minutes. She thought it might be something to do with one of the life boats and promised to check on it. In about five to ten minutes, it stopped.
We had set the alarm for 7:00 but decided to sleep in after the noise in the night. We have lots of things planned today, but we'll see how many of them actually happen.
Brunch at Palo was amazing and we got Dalibor as our server again. He was great. Tom had the Eggs Julia and the chicken caccitore while Carla had an omelette and the beef tenderloin. We finished up just in time to head down to Wave Bands for the Castaway Club party. At the party, Carla spotted our server from Palo on the Magic last year. She's retired from DCL, but her husband is now the assistant food service manager on the Wonder so she comes and sails with him whenever she can. Once again, we didn't win one of the clocks they were giving away.
Next it was back to the cabin for a quick rest and read before the Galley Tour. It was very interesting and we took lots of photos so Carla's mom can see the facilities. Afterwards, we grabbed our books and went to read on the deck chairs on Deck Four before Carla heads to the Art of the Theme Cruise Ship tour at 4:30 p.m. (It wasn't nearly as good as the galley tour. The cast member was just days away from getting off the ship and it showed. The time probably would have been better spent reading!)
The night began in Diversions as usual and we enjoyed Yuengling on draft while we could. Dinner was at Animator's Palatte and we enjoyed talking with our table mates plus sharing Disney tips with them. Afterwards, we rushed to get packed. We made it with five minutes to spare and then settled into bed. It was a rather rough night on the sea however and neither of us got a good night's sleep.
We were up promptly and finished gathering our things. We decided to skip the breakfast and just head off the ship. We easily spotted our new green luggage as we were coming down the escalator at the terminal.
tom_streeter - Just got off the boat. As close to a perfect cruise as humanly possible. Debark from cabin to parking lot: 12 minutes. Can't wait for May! 07:59 AM November 08, 2007
RadioCarla - Approaching Walt Disney World and will be at the Wilderness Lodge very soon! Can't wait! 08:59 AM November 08, 2007
RadioCarla - Waiting in front of WL for Miguel from the club level to come escort us up to the 7th floor to check in. 09:29 AM November 08, 2007
RadioCarla - Sitting on the 7th floor balcony at WL, enjoying breakfast from the Old Faithful Club. Our room's not ready so we're heading to the parks. 09:55 AM November 08, 2007
RadioCarla - Went to Animal Kingdom. Rode Dinosaur, Primeval Whirl and then had lunch at Flame Tree BBQ. Riding Expedition Everest next. 12:58 PM November 08, 2007
After Everest, we lost our head of steam and realized we were dead tired. Time to head back to the Wilderness Lodge whether our room was ready or not. Luckily, it was ready. :) Unluckily, our keys weren't giving us access to the 7th. :( Rachel came down to rescue and got us new keys. Unfortunately, they didn't work either and eventually, Mike cut us new keys and even tested them before delivering them to us. All of the offerings at the Old Faithful Club have been yummy. During the wine and cheese selection time, there was also buffalo chili and clam chowder with a great selection of wines and beers including Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Bass Ale. The dessert and cordials selection later was equally impressive. Carla was so tired that she fell asleep before 9:30 p.m. It had been a long day.
The alarm went off at 6:45 a.m. and we both began to rouse. We had decided to walk the exercise trail to Fort Wilderness for today's exercise and a good night's sleep certainly made it easier to get up. The morning light was gorgeous and the walk along the lake was lovely. It wasn't until we came upon some backstage areas that we realized we probably weren't on the official trail.
We took the boat back to the lodge and then had breakfast. After showers and such, it was on the boat to Magic Kingdom. The direct boat was packed so we took the boat to the Contemporary and then walked the rest of the way. It quickly became apparent that it was going to be a crowded day. We were very glad that we were just going so Tom could get his hair cut. The wait wasn't too bad, but the crowds kept increasing. After Janet from the Bahamas finished Tom's hair, we started heading out, but decided to do something we never have before first... we rode the double-decker omnibus to Cinderella's Castle. We had the front facing seat on the upper deck and a great view. We both ran our video and we can't wait to see what we got. The driver let us ride the bus back to the entrance and we heard the Trolley Singers again. After that, it was like salmon fighting upstream as we headed to the boat to Fort Wilderness.
As a special treat, we had booked the Wilderness Back Trail Adventure Segway Tour at Fort Wilderness. It was lots of fun! There were a group of about 12 of us and five were cast members in the environmental group doing it as a team building exercise. We signed the usual waiver first and got our name tags. They also asked for our address since the pins aren't available yet and will be mailed to us. Next, we watched a safety video and a video on the control panels on the Segway. Then, Ron (the guide with the pointer above) showed us the things to watch for on the Segway. Finally, it was time to mount our Segways. It was a bit apprehensive at first, but after some drills and lessons, we were all good to go.
We began our tour by trying to drive on mulch first and then headed out into the world (or campground). We started on the nature trail that goes behind the Settlement Trading Post. We stopped about halfway around the loop and then Ron, one of the guides, took photos for those who wanted them. (We were forbidden from taking pictures while on the Segway.) We returned to the Settlement Trading Post and then took a spin about Loop 100 next. After that, we went by Trails End and Pioneer Hall and on to the horse barn at the Tri-Circle D Ranch. Here, we stopped for a much headed rest break. Segways really put a lot of pressure on your feet, ankles and calves! We kept finding ourselves shifting our feet in hopes of taking some of the pressure off them.
After the break, we headed down the paved trail towards the Wilderness Lodge. Our guides Ron and Frank pointed out various plants along the way. After we got to the WL, we headed up on the trail we had walked this morning and were lucky enough to see some deer along the way. Just before the backstage area near River Country, we stopped and then turned back to catch another trail back to the paved walking/biking path. Then it was back to the starting point to finish the tour up. The whole thing ran almost 2.5 hours and was well worth the money.Next, it was time for lunch at Trails End Buffeteria and then a quick stop back at Wilderness Lodge before ending to the Boardwalk. We're Stein Club members at the Big River Grille & Brewing Works and they were tapping a spiced pumpkin cask conditioned ale this afternoon.
RadioCarla - Enjoying a pumpkin cask ale at Big River. Had a nice chat with Evan, the brewmaster. He's taking our suggestion from last month and doing a smoked porter in December. Unfortunately, we'll miss it. 04:21 PM November 09, 2007
It was a quick Boardwalk stop and then back to the WL for tonight's wine and cheese selections. For Friday, it was beef with rice or tomato-basil soup. It definitely hit the spot. Slipped back up for dessert (apple cobbler) and cordials (Bailey's) later on. Carla managed to stay awake long enough for the Electrical Water Pagent, but just barely.
The alarm was set for 6:45 again, but we hit the snooze until 7:30 a.m. Then it was off to the pool and spa for a pre-long drive work out.
RadioCarla - Just leaving the WDW Car Care Center. Worked out in the pool before breakfast. Heading towards Western Way and Florida Turnpike. 10:47 AM November 10, 2007
RadioCarla - Driving through Ocala. Will stop at the Whataburger in Gainesville for lunch. Making great time. 12:06 PM November 10, 2007
RadioCarla - The grilled chicken sandwich at Whataburger is the best! Wish we had them in northern Kentucky... 01:09 PM November 10, 2007
RadioCarla - Semi on its side blocking most of north I-75 right where it intersects I-10. We hopped on 10 to the next exit and US41 north. 01:50 PM November 10, 2007
RadioCarla - Drove through White Springs, a lovely little town. Would have stopped but it was the Florida Folk Festival so lots of people in town. 02:14 PM November 10, 2007
RadioCarla - Back on northbound I-75 at exit 460. 02:30 PM November 10, 2007
RadioCarla - Just crossed into Georgia. 02:38 PM November 10, 2007
RadioCarla - Stopped at Magnolia Plantation (exit 55) for gas and vidalia onion goodies. 03:58 PM November 10, 2007
RadioCarla - Near Pinehurst GA, we're seeing lots of cotton ready to be picked and listening to the IL-OSU game on XM. 04:48 PM November 10, 2007
RadioCarla - GO ILLINI!!! Woo hoo! 06:39 PM November 10, 2007
We were really lucky to get the Illinois radio call for the Illini-Buckeyes game. Unfortunately, we didn't get the UGA game though XM swore we would and no UC game either. Of course, the IL-OSU game was so exciting we didn't stop for over 200 miles! We arrived at the Residence Inn in Kennesaw around 7:00 p.m. All three of our teams won (Illinois, Georgia and Cincinnati). Yippee!!! We had a nice dinner at the Sidelines Bar and Grill next to the hotel. I spent some time booking hotels for our next Florida trip in late January / early February. We'll be sleeping in no time...
RadioCarla - On the road back home. Navigation says just under seven hours. It's another pretty (if chilly) day. 08:18 AM November 11, 2007
RadioCarla - Just crossed into Tennessee and stopped at the new welcome center in Chattanooga. It's still not completely done. 09:35 AM November 11, 2007
RadioCarla - We were going to stop by the Mayfield Dairy today, but unfortunately, they are closed on Sundays. Oh well... Maybe in January. 10:18 AM November 11, 2007
RadioCarla - Stopped for gas at the Sweetwater exit (60). Making great time again. 10:33 AM November 11, 2007
RadioCarla - Just crossed into Kentucky and stopping at the welcome center. Will be stopping at Sonny's BBQ in Corbin very soon. 12:00 PM November 11, 2007
RadioCarla - It's a 10 to 15 minute wait at Sonny's, but it's worth the wait. 12:43 PM November 11, 2007
RadioCarla - Already seated and our order is in. 12:57 PM November 11, 2007
RadioCarla - Another good meal at Sonny's and it will have to hold us a while since it's back to the shakes when we get home. 01:34 PM November 11, 2007
RadioCarla - Last scheduled stop at a rest area just north of Georgetown, KY. Should be home in less than an hour. 02:58 PM November 11, 2007
tom_streeter - 46 miles to go. It's gotten cloudy which is OK because it'll keep the sun out of my eyes. At the Rest Area at Georgetown, KY, by the way. 02:58 PM November 11, 2007
RadioCarla - Just pulling off at our exit. We've had some sprinkles, bu most of the rain seems to have held off. First rain of the entire trip. 03:50 PM November 11, 2007
We got home just in time because it started to rain hard about 30 minutes after we had the CRV unpacked. First thing we had to do was turn back the clocks since we had been out of town when the time changed. It was a fabulous trip, but it's good to be home.