Friday, January 2, 2015

Disney Cruise!!!

Finally I found a moment to get back to blogging!  Ever since we returned from the Disney Cruise on Nov. 23rd it has been one thing after another, from Thanksgiving, December B-Days, family stays, and everything else that comes with the holiday season.  But before I get into all that I wanted to spend some time talking about our great trip aboard the Disney Magic.
On November 15 we loaded the family on a plane to Orlando FL. Once we arrived we took a rental car to a hotel near Port Canaveral, FL. where we meet up with the rest of our family and spent the night before embarking on the cruise the following morning.  Our cruise companions consisted of:  Nina/Lois Bush (Olivia and Liam's grandmother), Woodall's (Charlie's sister Carolynn, Jim, her husband, and three children, Callahan, Evans and Jane), The Old Woodall's (Charles and Mary, Jim's and Catherine's parents), and the Barrett's (Catherine, Andrew, her husband and two kids, Nathan and Jackson).

Liam getting some Daddy time in our hotel.
Liam's first trip, what a great traveler.

About to board the Magic!

Ships away, Bon Voyage!

Now, I have to admit that when this trip was booked I had some reservations (haha, double entendre!) about taking a 4 month old on a 7-Day cruise.  I envisioned all four of us having sleepless nights and cabin fever.  I was also worried how Liam would deal with all the change and stress of first time traveling.  Plus, the cabin is quite small and the whole family slept within a foot of each other, Olivia in bunk bed, Liam in a pack n' play, and us in a queen bed.  All that being said I would say we had a very successful trip!  Liam was a fabulous traveler, barely fussed and pretty much slept through most of it.  However, the night before we left he did start a bedtime trend were he would begin to cry around 2 am and every other hour after until his 5 am bottle.  That was a little hard and made for a very sleepy Mommy.  But other than that Liam slept and ate as scheduled, sleeping through every dinner, which made for a pleasant dining experience.
O's cousins Callahan, Evans, and Jane,
watching the sea.

The vast ocean, goodbye US.  Hello Caribbean!

Olivia had such a great time with her cousins, as well as Nathan and Jackson Barrette.  This trip was not only great for the kids but great for the adults.  There was a Kids Club and Oceaneers Lab that was free babysitting for kids over the age of 3.  All the children had wrist bands that were little GPS's, so that we knew where they were at all times.  Both clubs are connected through a passage way in the boat.  In the clubs, the staff interacted with the kids, having cooking classes, meeting characters, and other activities.  There was also a day care for the babies, that cost $9/hr, but was worth it when we wanted to go ashore or see a movie.

Lots of beer and yummy mojitos were consumed
Water  Lab, one of the water features, along with a pool that had a huge
screen in front of it that played Disney movies all day long.
O was a water baby for the week
Liam's ride and what he did for a week
Once the trip was almost over none of us wanted to go home.  I loved being out at sea, unattached from the trappings of real life.  No cell phones, no TV, no computers, no work, no distractions.  It was just quality time with the fam and I loved it.  Not to mention all the fun there is to do on the boat, as well as the adventures at each ports o' call.
The first port of call was Cozumel, Mexico.  Once we arrived our family, both Woodall's and Nina traveled to a location were we swam with dolphins.  Everyone got to swim with the dolphins, while Nina observed with baby Liam.  At first I was a bit hesitant letting the dolphin kiss my cheek, but they are such sweet and very intelligent animals.  We loved learning more about them, it was a neat experience!

Mommy and baby

Daddy and baby ;)

Evans, Callahan and Olivia look drunk after their dolphin experience.
O got a hold of Mexican orange soda, so maybe she was. :)

Sweet Evans

The Magic!

The Aqua Dunk water slide hanging out over the boat.

As you might notice in the profile pic of the boat, there is a water slide that goes out over the side of the boat.  It is called the Aqua Dunk water slide and it was super fun and scary all at the same time.  You have to climb up a flight of stairs next to and as high as the smoke stack of the ship.  Then you get inside this thing that looks like a coffin with water splashing behind your back.  A clear door closes in front of you completing the coffin experience.  Then there is a count down by Dewey duck, when completed a trap floor falls away dropping you vertically down the tube, which goes out over the side of the side of the ship!  The ride only last a few of seconds, but the free fall takes your breath away and the speed at which you travel through the water slide is amazing.  I now know what it feels like to be a bullet leaving a gun!
Our view every morning
Creatures of Grand Cayman. Large iguanas roamed the island and would
cross the road at any time.

The next port of call was Grand Cayman Island.  Unfortunately due to high winds and swells we were unable to dock in Georgetown as scheduled, having to pull into a protected cove about 15 minutes from Georgetown.  We were delayed getting ashore because of the weather as well as the rumored high seas caused us to have to cancel our scheduled port adventure of jet skiing and swimming with sting rays.  Boo, our first but not last weather adventure aboard the Magic.  We made the best out of it, putting all the kids in the Kids Clubs and heading ashore to do some shopping. The waters at Grand Cayman were beautiful and a shade of blue I have never seen before.  Wish we had more time to spend a day at the beach!

This is a pic of the side of the boat as we were pulling up next to it on our ship tender.  Due to the swells it was a bit tricky getting on and off the boat to our waiting tender.  As the swells would rise the tender and its attached gang plank would rise with it, leaving you only a couple feet above your head to scoot on and off the ship.  It was entertaining watching people run from the tender onto the Magic, it was kind of thrilling because at any moment you could be squished!
After we left Grand Cayman we had a couple of nights of high seas.  Thank Goodness I didn't get sea sick, but the high seas made it difficult to walk and at times made me dizzy.  It was fun watching people walking around the boat, everyone looked like they had one too many drinks.  On nights like these I couldn't wait to get to bed and just sleep it away.  Although there would be times the ship pitched and rolled so violently that I would startle out of a sleep and grab Charlie's arm.  It felt like we were going down like the Titanic.  Our waiter who had been working on cruise ships for 10 years said that one night in particular was the worst he ever felt and majority of the crew was sea sick.  This made me feel better because Charlie would make fun of me and say, "This is nothing, I lived on a 378' CG Cutter and experienced ten times worse than this".
There was so much movement on the boat that I actually had land sickness for over a week when we came home.  I literally felt like I was on a moving boat in my own home, a very strange and not so fun feeling.


 After Grand Cayman, the next port of call was Jamaica, the one stop I was looking forward to the most.  We did not have an adventure scheduled due to the fact that all the afternoon adventures were booked and the baby nursery didn't open up early enough to put Liam in.  But we made the best of it put the baby in the nursery and took Olivia off the boat for a little shopping.  O picked out a drum toy, while I bought "his and her" bamboo beer steins.  Charlie's stein said "Jamaican me crazy man", which he kept seeing over and over again when we pulled into port.  It was kismite that he got this mug.  We left the enclosed shopping area, which was surrounded by extremely tall gates and entered true Jamaica.  We felt all eyes on us immediately.  It reminded me of Tijuana Mexico, everyone trying to sell you something.  Cha was quickly approached by a local named "Richard" to buy a "bamboolin", a bamboo stalk that is cut and stringed to be some sort of violin/drum.  Cha got suckered and bought the "one of a kind" instrument, ha! He has grown quite proficient with the bamboolin and is currently trying out for the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra. ;-)
After being heckled by a group of young adult Jamaicans about my shapely bum we then decided it might be best to get back to the boat.  Despite our adventure, I really liked Jamaica.  I had no idea it was so green and hilly.  If we return I would love to visit the beaches and hopefully do an adventure or two.  Maybe Cha can go back on a bamboolin scholarship and learn from the masters!

Our fabulous server, Carmen from Spain.  She was our rotational dining server on the ship and followed
our entire party to each restaurant, every night.  She was great with all the kids!

Happy Jane, it is difficult getting her to smile for
the camera, but I had no problem on Pirate Night.
Uncle Jim
Callahan getting some smiles from Liam

These are some cute pirates

 The night we pulled away from Jamaica was Pirate's of the Caribbean Night on the boat.  Everyone on the boat dressed in pirate attire.  The guests really embraced this theme, we saw a lot of wanna be Johnny Depp's and ladies in pirate wench outfits.  Not sure who was more excited about Pirate night, the kids or the adults.  After dinner there was a dance performance on the pool deck, were Pirate Micky zip lined above our heads, pirates propelled down from the Aqua Dunk stairs and Captain hook and Peter Pan made an appearance.  The party ended with fire works shooting over the ship, which was my favorite part.  I kept thinking, I hope other ships don't think we are in distress!

Every night our steward would clean our room, turn down our beds, and make a different animal out of the towels.  This night was a crab and as you can see O was getting ready to take one of the many chocolates left behind.
Everyday on the cruise from the very beginning to end is filled with character meet and greets.  O has an autograph book she used at Disneyland and we filled it up with all the characters she met on the boat
Jake and the Neverland Pirates
Elsa and Anna!!

Group hug
Running from one character meet and greet to another
Sophia the first, love how O is studying
her signature.

I happened to be in the glass elevator when they met Cinderella.
Peter Pan!
So sweet!

 You can tell by the pics that O really enjoyed meeting Peter Pan.  She loves the movie and has watched it a gazillion times.  He was by far the best character, he really looked and played the part of Peter Pan.

 O was scared to meet Captain Hook, Peter Pan's nemesis.  I took Liam to see him to show her that he was not scary.  Hook made the almost fatal mistake of putting Liam's hand on his hook, but what Hook didn't know is Liam has a supernaturally strong grip!  I was cracking up because Hook was having a hard time peeling his little fingers off the hook.  Liam is clearly not afraid of Hook and was just showing him who is boss.

Santa Goofy

Donald Duck poolside

Liam is all tuckered out seeing all the characters
Princess in training

Liam likes beating up princesses

One night before dinner, O had a princess photo shoot in our cabin.  Thank you, Callahan for letting her borrow your Rapunzel wedding dress for the week!   Thank You to Aunt Carolynn for bringing an extra princess dress in the first place since I dropped the ball.

Throughout our stay professional photos were taken of every event and meet and greets.  Here are just a few:

Pirates Night, O is feeling the theme!

Ahrrrrr....The Bush/Woodall pirates,  Evans and O kill me!

O loves Minnie
Sweet Mickey
Santa Goofy
Animators Palate
Animators Palate was our favorite restaurant on the boat.  The original Disney animator sketches would display on the walls throughout our meal.  The restaurant would transform from all black and White to full color throughout the meal.  Our last meal at Animators Palate we even did our own animation that became part of the dinner show.  It was a lot of fun seeing our drawings come to life!

Nina, Evans, and O
Mouseketeers forever!  Love you sweet heart and had the time
of my life with you as always!

 I was hoping to get a pic of all the cousins before we disembarked, but as you can see the only pic that turned out ok was the funny faces pic.  I think most of the kids were very tired of dealing with parent paparazzi all week.
We will for sure be seeing you soon Disney Cruise, as there is already another Disney Cruise in the works for the Bush/Woodall/Barrett clan in 2016!

This is the sign of a good trip, when she can no longer stay awake.  Pretty much five min into the flight the entire family except me passed out.  We had so much fun and want to thank Nina Bush and Charles Woodall for making this all possible.  Can't wait to do it all again with you all!  We had so much fun!

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