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Unread 10 Feb 20, 09:58 PM  
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A Grand Adventure May 2019 - Day 4 - we're on a boat

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Friday 17 May 2019

As I write this, the rain is pounding against the windows and the wind is whistling around our building & Patrick Wolf is on the record player. Were the only building higher than 2 floors in the areas, so we sit high in the sky, already at the peak of Muswell Hill, so its a little lively (our living room window pane looks like its bowing in the force of the wind). It feels wintery and grey, but today in the TR had to be my most anticipated day of the trip. We were finally getting back on DCL, heading south to the Bahamas it cant be further from where we find ourselves today. So, shall we transport ourselves from a bleak winters day to a glorious late spring in Florida?

I was up before the alarm this morning, ready and rested after our early night the night before. It was still dark outside when I through myself into the bathroom to get ready. I was quickly out again, popping on the coffee and ousting R from her slumber. It was a very big day, and we were starting it in my favourite place.

At 5.30am I took the following snap of the TV:

Glorious weather and extra magic hours at Magic Kingdom? Yes please!

A little not quite sunrise from our balcony

We finally headed out of the room a little before 7am, peeking down at the fountain as we waited for the lift down to the lobby

I just love the Villas lobby area, so pretty.

We were ready for the day

Now whilst our room had no sunrise views at all, we had somehow conspired to get out of the building in time to see the last of mother natures show and by goodness was this worth being up and about so early. Look at that glow.

Yup, its sunrise spam time. The first of the trip, but it wont be the last

R was even inspired to get her phone out to take a couple of pictures

The Grand Villas were glowing yellow in the reflection

Finally dragging ourselves away from the pretty we headed over to our usual entrance to the main building to find it all boarded up gasp! There was so much work going on at the Flo for the new bar that took over Mizners, but the grumpiness at having to walk back around to the front of the building was slightly alleviated by the super cute safety signage. Look at how cute Mickey is!

The lobby of the main building was blissfully quiet

More signage for the refurb. Im really going to miss Mizners

Despite our little detour it was only 7:10 when our monorail pulled in to the station

Monorail selfie? Sure, why not

There wasnt another soul on the car with us so silliness was to be expected

Mother nature was still putting on her show for us too it was even prettier in person

Then just 5 minutes after the monorail pulling in to the Grand we were standing here

and it looked like the most beautiful start to the day.

We headed off to the right tunnel, waiting to be let on to Main Street, but I couldnt resist wandering off for a moment to take a couple of photos.

Back at the tunnel, we were at the head of the pack, but had already agreed that there would be no rushing, no stressing, just a gentle walk up through Main Street and into Fantasyland once Extra Magic Hours started

We realised, I think on our last trip, that the morning dash was stressing us out too much. Too many runners, too many pushchairs being rammed into our ankles. We dont need it. It only tends to be Seven Dwarfs Mine Train that causes the madness, so we decided to shift it to fast pass or late night visits only. Everything else (for now lets see how things change when Tron opens up) is fine with a calm stroll over

No time was this clearer than with rope drop today. Bare in mind that this was EMH rope drop, same as yesterdays visit to Epcot. It was crazy crowded, more so than the old role drops for normal hours when the welcome show was at the train station. They had widened EMH to the non-disney owned area hotels since our last visit and by golly did that have an impact.

Cats members released the crowds onto Main Street at 7:45 and we mosied slowly towards the castle, lingering in the hub for a few before heading into Fantasyland once they started letting EMH guests in.

We had hoped to go through the castle, but that was closed this morning so we wandered around the right side of the castle and headed straight to Peter Pans Flight

It felt like we had the line to ourselves so I indulged in a few empty queue line pictures

Even with our slow approach we were through and back outside of the ride at 8:14. Not so shabby. We were on a bit of a time crunch this morning, so we decided to head onto one more ride before heading back to the hotel. Small World it was!

We didnt get our own boat, but we did luck out and get the front row.

Edited at 10:13 PM.
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Unread 10 Feb 20, 10:05 PM  
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It was a slow ride and the boats were starting to get backed up in the Africa room.

My animatronic soul mate

It ended up being a 30 minute cruise. Slightly longer than anticipated

So it was time to head on out, the grand plan being stopping in on Main Street for breakfast at Starbucks

But it was such a glorious day that we took a slow walk down by the castle. The moat was drained on one side, but on this side the water had been refilled so it didnt look all icky.

People though! All those people were waiting for regular rope drop.

We were even treated to an early morning viewing of Disney bunnies

it really was just the most gorgeous morning

We got to Main Street Bakery at 8:45 to find the line out of the door. Of course, so many people were just arriving, wanting their morning coffee as they headed into the park. We waited for a little while but the line did not move at all so we decided it was time for plan b. We hopped back out of line and down Main Street, heading out of the park and onto the monorail round to the Grand.

We landed at Gasparilla Island Grill when we got back to the Grand for a couple of rather delicious croissant sandwiches with tater tots, and the most heavenly disgusting sugar filled nightmares of iced coffees. That would keep us going!

My croissant was filled with cheese and eggs, Rs had bacon in addition.

We were sat next to the sweetest family in Gasparillas who had the cutest little girls who loved my skirt. They were adorable.

Once our tummies were filled with cheesey goodness, we headed back to our room to pack up our last few bits and pieces. We called bell services to take most of our luggage they would pop it in their luggage storage until we got back to the Grand. If you are heading to another hotel they would arrange for it to be transferred over there too (as long as its on property of course) so handy.

We called a Lyft (who we find generally much more reliable than Uber) a little before 10am and headed on down to the port cochere at the DVC building to wait for our driver. Now you can arrange for a transfer to the port directly with Disney, however you are then tied to their schedule. We did this on our first cruise back in 2014 and ended up waiting around the hotel lobby for hours, not arriving at the port until after 2pm. We agreed that next time we would make our own way there, so 5 years later almost to the day we were hopping in a car and heading directly to the port at a time that suited us.

At 10.05 Jose pulled up, loaded our bags into the car and we were off. Its such a strange journey going from the super built up area around Orlando, too some super rural areas where it feels like you dont see any signs of civilisation for miles.

I checked on the Disney Cruiseline app as we travelled. Look its finally happening!

It gets exciting when you start going over the bridges that criss-cross over to the Port, and then it becomes a game to see who can spot the Disney Dream first. R won this time.

Even from a distance she is a glorious ship.

The lovely Jose dropped us off at 11.15am. It took a little longer than anticipated as we got snarled up in traffic back in Orlando, but we were still here in good time. With a decent tip the journey cost $77 cheaper than the $45 per person charged by Disney and gave us that much needed control over our plans.

We dropped off our suitcase with the porter, keeping our carry on case as it had my other lenses. I just dont trust that cases wont get thrown around as they are moved onto the ship. The lenses are pretty fragile and kinda pricey, having one smashed at the start of our trip would be heart breaking.

Once we had handed off our case, we hopped in line to get into the cruise terminal. First you need to show your cruise documents and ID to the security guard on the gate, then join the line to get into security at the building where they scan you and your luggage, like a simplified airport arrival. The security line was a little crazy, we had arrived before a school group about 30 17/18 year olds who were all very excited to get on board. We would be avoiding them once on the ship

Finally we were through security and heading up the escalators to check in to the cruise proper. As this was our second cruise we got to skip the longest line and head to the Castaway Club check in area. We were given a form to complete as we got in line to confirm that we were not ill, but did not have time to finish completing it before we were being called over to the check in desk. The CM was lovely and had us checked in quickly, but then had issues with printing our key cards so we had a little bit of a wait whilst she sorted that out. It didnt take long before she was handing over the key cards and our shiny lanyards proclaiming our silver status in the Castaway Club, and the little card confirming our boarding group. We were issued with boarding group 2! Perhaps a little pixie dust for being patient with the key card issue? I dont know, but it was a lovely surprise and meant that we would be boarding very soon indeed.

No one was boarding as yet and the terminal was super crowded, the line to meet Mickey was crazy and it felt like there was nowhere to move it tripped my anxiety and I ended up in a bit of a tizz, to say the least. It wasnt long until the family of the day was opening boarding, and then group 1 was called.

Moments later it was our turn to walk through those ears. The whole process from getting out of the car outside and our names being called as we walked onto the ship was 40 minutes.

It would only be late at night when we saw this area as quiet again

We decided to head on up to the top deck whilst it was quiet and get some lunch.

To Cabanas!

We found ourselves a nice quiet table by the window where this was our view. Not so shabby!

Firstly, did we all know that you can get POG juice in the dispensers at Cabanas? This was a very exciting discovery for me, I dont remember it being an option back in 2014, but you can bet I would be taking advantage whilst we were here.

R headed up for food first whilst I sat and calmed down with my cup of delicious POG juice, watching the world go by outside and pinching myself that we were back on DCL.

R returned with this little plate of delights from the buffet

And I decided to take another photo of my POG juice. No regrets.

I wish they sold those cups on board. They have little Mickey heads all over.

I wandered up to the buffet next. It had got busy whilst I was faffing, but I took a full walk around to see what was available without meat and ended up with a plate of carbs, veg and cheese. Sounds about right.

The veggies and rice were delicious, as was the mac n cheese. The mashed potatoes not so much American mash tends to be too lumpy for me and this was no exception. What can I say, Im a fussy mash eater.

You might have noticed additional drinks in that last picture. Whilst I was touring the buffet R had succumbed to one of the cast members wandering around with the first drink of the cruise in its specialty mug. Of course she bought a couple for us, and those mugs are now sitting in our kitchen cabinets. The drink wasnt too bad either, fruity and surprisingly boozy.

You can see the CM hawking the drinks in the background there.

Fed and suitably boozed up, we headed on out for a bit of a wander around the ship. First up, the cutest little Mickey statue that lives outside the theatre

so cute

The ship was still pretty quiet as long as you avoided the lobby, so we took a little while just wandering to get our lay of the land. Or sea, as it may be. It was slightly like being through the looking glass we have only been on the Fantasy, which is the Dreams sister ship. Everything was very familiar, but just slightly different, slightly different dcor, different names, things moved just a little.

Whenever you got near the lobby you could hear the cast members announcing the guests onboard, and lots of excited voices. It was rather lovely.

Can we take a moment to appreciate that chandelier? Its gorgeous.

with lots of hidden Mickeys too!

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Unread 10 Feb 20, 10:11 PM  
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It was almost 1.30 by this point which is when the usual time for you to be able to head into your stateroom for the first time. We were obviously very excited so headed on to our deck to wait for the ropes to come down. Our second rope drop of the day!

R was ready. And completely sober.

We were on deck 9, the same deck as our first sailing, but last time we were mid ship. This time we chose to book a stateroom in the aft the very aft of the ship.

Our room number

And we had a magnet on our door! I forgot to pack this, which Im a little gutted about that

Welcome to our stateroom.

(I was so excited that we got our Castaway Club gift, however it remains sat in my wardrobe, unused).

The sitting area (the sofa converts to a super comfy bed)

Happy out of focus Kirstys

Heading back towards the door closet on the left, split bathroom on the right

Look at the logo on the towels!

the shower / bath

Can they sell the shower curtains please? This would be so cute in our bathroom

the second bathroom

R was rather happy with our veranda

This was the reason why we chose this stateroom its huge! Better pics to follow later in the afternoon when we were less over excitable.

Our view over to the NASA building

We were in a little bit of a hurry as we wanted to take a quick peak into the spa before the DVC members event. The spa is just by the adult only pool & we were keen to book in a manicure & pedicure for the following day. We were offered a tour and proceeded to explore the space. It goes on for ages! Alas, we didnt love it. We seemed to be taken to doctor after doctor who were keen to freeze our faces and freeze our fat. No thanks. But as gluttons for punishment, we did book in for those mani / pedis whislt fleeing the doctors who were convinced they could take 10 years off our faces.

Onto the DVC event! As I am fairly certain I have mentioned before, we became members on our last cruise (I might have been drunk. Dont judge, I have very poor impulse control), so this was our first cruise as existing members. We figured it would be a little awkward, as these things usually are, but there would be free drinks and a chance to win a $500 stateroom credit, so why not?

Our first ship mirror selfie

There were free drinks, which were plentiful, and lots of info about different benefits. We were slightly horrified to find out that the price per point would be going up to $210 a point in June. $210?! When we bought in 5 years before it was $160 a point. Apparently Disney is selling some harder to find contracts at an even higher level now too ($260 for the Grand!) so drinks or no drinks, we would not be adding on. If you do fancy buying DVC, they tend to have the best offers when you buy on DCL

Post DVC event we had time to nip back to the stateroom briefly to freshen up before we had to dash down to the muster drill. We were inside, with seating, which made a nice change from our last cruise, in Evolution. Basically, you tap your room key, sit down, wait for everyone to show up, have a safety information presentation, and then get released back into the ship. Most people were dashing up to see the sailing away show, we were heading up to the adult only area at the front of the ship to watch the actual sail away from Port Canaveral

look at how beautiful that sea is. Sigh.

We hung out for a while, but it got a little busy and there were a lot of children running around up there and knocking into me (like dogs, small children can sense fear and just run at me) so we decided to head back to the stateroom and get ready for our evening.

There are no photos, so did it really happen? But we headed to the theatre and watched the Golden Mickeys. No photos allowed. It is essentially Disneys greatest hits, but it is rather adorable, if a little dated (the footage of Bob Iger looks like it was filmed in 1993). Worth a watch, but not sure we would go again.

We headed back to the room briefly before our dinner reservation, taking the time to hang out for a little while on that gorgeous balcony.

Not so shabby, right?

The sun was starting to go down which made sitting out on the balcony even lovelier. It was bliss.

Now, in the planning of this lovely endeavour (and the last one), R and I may have spent quite a lot of time singing Im On a Boat -
(not for little ears there are a few lively words) and of course, as we stood here, on our gorgeous balcony watching the sun go down as we sped away from Florida there may have been a verse or too sung. Sorry neighbours.

I'm on a boat and, it's going fast and
I got a nautical themed Pashmina Afghan
I'm the king of the world on a boat like Leo
If you're on the shore, then you're sure not me-oh

Its our DCL anthem.

Silliness over, we spruced ourselves up and headed on up to Meridian for pre dinner drinkies.

R went with the Alexander, I went with the Pink Cadillac. They were both delicious. Meridian is up by Palo and Remy right at the top of the ship, and tonight we were dining at Palo so it was the perfect location for our pre dinner drinks.

And look at those napkins! Theyre fabric and have the DCL logo embroidered onto them. Very fancy.

The waiter from Palo was soon popping into the bar to collect us for our reservation, so we picked up our drinks and headed on to our table, just in time for the end of the sunset

We both adore Palo. Its a gorgeous restaurant, the food is amazing and the CMs are just lovely. It is an upcharge ($45 per person plus tip) but by golly is it worth it.

Now apologies in advance Herc stayed in the room so these are all camera phone snaps of varying quality.

First up they bring out the bread - three different types, all made in house and all delicious

Then out came the antipasto they plated the meat separately, but the rest went on a plate in the centre for R and I to serve ourselves.

Its all delicious, especially the olives, and the parmesan and balsamic. Yummmm.

We had been here for a while by this point, our cocktails were gone and our waiter was ready to top us up with our next drink.

We both went with Martinis, rather than wine, but heavens knows what they were the details have been lost to time. I do remember that they were delicious though.

Next up starters

R had the Soft Potato Gnocchi

I went with the tomato and mozzarella salad

After starters this lovely little palette cleanser comes along its lemony and fresh and delicious

Then on to mains!

I could not decide between the mushroom risotto or the grilled Portobello mushroom, spinach and polenta. I went with the portobello, but out came both:

Not going to lie, that was really intimidating. And both dishes were really rich, but delicious.

R went with the dover sole which was filleted and served at the table. Apparently this was amazing.

Then the lovely CM brought out the scallops for R as she had been mulling over these vs the dover sole

Again, delicious all round.

Our drinks had vanished by this point, so our lovely server brought out 2 more at our request.

We did get a little rest time before dessert, thank the heavens, otherwise we would have stood no chance at all. R wanted her one true love, the chocolate souffl, which takes a little while to prepare. Its worth the wait

I went with the vanilla bean panna cotta with strawberry basil sorbet and raspberry jelly. It was heavenly.

Last up, to aid digestion (and with all this food we needed all the help we can get) out comes a tiny little icy limoncello, fresh and a little bit of a shock of cold and booze.

We were both very happy, very drunk, little campers at this point. Our server was just charming, so we made sure we thanked him and tipped him appropriately.

I had finished my second cocktail, but R was still working on hers. We were both exhausted and ready to go back to the room so our server suggested R took her drink with her when he saw she was about to leave it behind.

It made this an extra classy lift journey

Our lovely stateroom host had been by whilst we were at dinner and got the room ready for the night. Any ideas what this towel animal is?

Its so nice that you have the curtain in the middle of the room the sofa bed is on the other side so if someone wants to go straight to sleep and the other doesnt it really splits the room well and gives you the feeling that you have 2 separate rooms.

It had been an amazing first day on the cruise. Both of us had our sea legs really quickly (it took a day on our first cruise) and by golly did we fit a lot in

Not too bad of a walking tally either! And 93bpm only when you are seriously over stimulated!

Edited at 10:14 PM.
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Unread 11 Feb 20, 03:57 PM  
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Gorgeous photos, looks like you had an amazing day! Looking forward to the next one.
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Unread 11 Feb 20, 09:57 PM  
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What a brilliant day. You definitely inspired me to want to do a cruise. I reckon the towel animal is a bunny, long ears standing upright, maybe a hare?

So much to comment on. I liked the hidden mickeys in the shower curtain, your storeroom seems perfect. What a great size and the balcony! I bet you were singing your lungs out. I had to look a few seconds to spot the Mickey in the chandelier, so cute.

It seems like a great idea to take control and get the lyft down to the terminal. A pretty quick check in process and boarding and you're onto lunch and the yummy pog juice. Who can resist a cocktail though? Certainly not me and I'm sure they helped you get your sea legs together.

Thanks for sharing all your lovely photos. I love how you apologise for the dodgy ones taken at dinner, that's how all mine look!

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Unread 11 Feb 20, 10:44 PM  
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Wow what an amazing day and your photos are beautiful, really enjoying reading along. The ship looks fab, I'm very envious 😀

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Unread 11 Feb 20, 11:13 PM  
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What a fantastic read, especially on a cold February night! I wish I was sitting on that balcony watching the sun going down, or eating your dinner, it looked so delicious!
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