Feb 19, 2012





"You are BACK!"


Even though we had had a long day the day before, our inner clocks caught up with us and we were wide awake by 5am. By 6am we were both up, as we still had to open our purple box and throw some of its contents into an extra bag we had brought. So after we had both taken showers, Tom fixed us some tea and coffee, which had been provided in the room, while I dug through the contents of the box.

We found a lot of surprises which we had packed during the summer and then completely forgotten about.Once I had repacked we sat out on the balcony, sipping our hot drinks and snacking on the leftovers of the Nachos we had had the day before. I checked a few times, if they had brought us a bill, but they hadn’t, but then I found a bill sent to my inbox. Nice try, Disney, saving paper and just sending out emails. Around 8.30 we started to take things back to car. We thought about calling bell services for a second, but then decided to do it ourselves as there wasn’t really much to transport.

Once our larger suitcases and carry-ons were stowed in the car we went back to the room, took a few photos of the room location, checked everywhere if we hadn’t forgotten anything, put out the Mousekeeping envelope and finally closed the door behind us. We put the purple box onto the back seat and quickly walked over to the front desk to ask if our bill was set and since it was we were off to Downtown Disney. We don’t usually travel like Disney wants you to, but we take a back road past Fort Wilderness and Old Key West to go to Downtown Disney. We were amazed to see a deer standing close to the road, not moving and we had to look hard to see that it was a real one. Then right before we got to Fort Wilderness we saw some animals at the side of the road.

When we got closer we saw that it was a huge “family” of turkeys on an “outing”. We drove by very slowly, so not to scare them and I was far too slow to take out my camera to take a photo of them. So Tom offered to turn around, so I could take said photo. When we approached them from the other direction they had started to cross the road and traffic had stopped in both directions to let them through.

Since we were now going in the wrong direction Tom decided to drive towards Fort Wilderness, just to see the turkeys taking a break on the grass between the main road and the road leading into the Fort. So we stopped again and watched them having a good time. It was then about time to head over to Downtown Disney, so we stopped at the guardhouse and the guard himself was as surprised as we were when he saw the turkeys. Soon we were back on track and driving over to Downtown Disney for breakfast at Wolfgang Puck’s Express. We found a parking spot right behind the “Once Upon a Toy” store and strolled over to Wolfgang Puck’s Express. No need to read the menu, as we both were sure about what to order.

So we went up to the register, placed our orders, picked up our drinks and found a table where we could wait for our breakfast. Tom didn’t want a hot drink, so he had ordered a Diet Coke. I wanted some tea and since Wolfgang’s is quite nice, that is what I had. While we waited we talked a little about what the next few days would bring and it didn’t take long and our entrees arrived. Tom had ordered Wolfgang's Breakfast Pocket, Scrambled eggs, peppers, Niman Ranch Bacon, onions, mushrooms, mozzarella and cheddar cheese baked into Wolfgang's pizza dough, while I had my all time favourite, the Smoked Bacon Pizza - scrambled eggs, tomatoes, mozzarella and cheddar cheese and Ranch Dressing. Both were wonderful and we took our time to enjoy them. When we were full we walked through the stores a bit and at a stand we picked up a pair of white Mickey gloves. We walked through the Once Upon A Toy store and over to Ghirardelli. One cannot give up free chocolate, so we walked through the store, munching our sample, and actually found some new creations which we wanted to buy when we returned at the end of our cruise.

Around 10.30am we finally made our way back to the car. In no time we made our way over to Hotel Boulevard and onto the highway and hit a traffic jam. Time seemed to fly by as we crawled along the highway. Shortly before we turned off towards the airport, traffic became considerably lighter and once we had passed the airport it was all smooth sailing. The further we got, the more our excitement grew. After about an hour’s drive we caught the first glimpse of the DREAM and both our hearts skipped a beat, seeing her sitting there, waiting for us. It didn’t take long we got to the exit and soon we were driving up to the ship. We were directed towards an area right next to the ship where porters were waiting to collect our luggage.

We got out, handed over our three bags and tipped the porter. He then told us where to park our car, so we got back in again and drove over to the new parking structure. We thought about parking on the ground level, but most of the spots were taken so we drove higher up. While we were still discussing on where to park we noticed that there was a walkway over to the terminal building. That’s where we were going to park, nothing better than saving a few steps. So we parked the car, shoved the purple box with the rest of our belongings into the boot of the car and off we went. Right at the entrance to the walkway we had to show our passports and were asked for our stateroom number. Not everyone seems to know it by heart as well as we did, as they were pretty impressed at how fast we both replied. Finally we got to cross the walkway, enjoy a nice sight of the DREAM and then just joined the line that had formed in front of the security check. The security people were very friendly and we soon had passed the check and walked over to the terminal. There we were pointed towards a desk right at the front, where we had to fill out our health forms and then, after a quick look at the lines we decided to head to the Non US resident check in counter.

 To be honest I love that we are Castaway Club members, but looking at the line there, we happily got in the other line. There were NO people in line and we just walked up to a very nice and friendly Cast Member, who checked us in, handed us our stateroom keys and new gold lanyards and told us that our boarding group had already been announced and we were welcome to just walk on board. So we made our way over to the Mickey shaped entrance and were officially signed up on board, then got in line for the first photo op which we skipped. We walked over the gangway and soon were announced on board the ship. One of the Cast Members there asked if we knew our way around and told us that lunch was served at Cabanas and we were invited to go there right away. So, I am not a huge fan of Cabanas and asked if the Enchanted Garden was open as well, but was told that wait times would be considerably longer. Well, I rather wait a longer time and have someone serve me drinks, than eating lukewarm lunch, so we walked down to the restaurant. On deck 2 another Cast Member told us that they had a lot of guests and wanted to send us up to Cabanas, telling us that the variety there was even more than down here. I think by then I was done with being sent somewhere else, as I told the poor guy that I’d rather not eat at all than at Cabanas, which he just could not understand. But he took us to the check-in desk, pointed towards the line for the buffet and told us it would be at least 45 minutes, (which it wasn’t – more like 5 minutes) and then assigned us a table.

I was happy I had gotten what I wanted when we turned a corner and I could here someone scream, “You are back!” We hurried over and there she was, our favourite server, Ana! Having had her as one of our servers during our summer cruises, had added a lot of fun and we were eager to see her again, had brought some chocolate for her and I had been ready to go ask for her at guest services. We both could not believe how lucky, or pixie dusted we must be, to just run into her like this. Since we had made such an abrupt stop, hugging her and talking to her, we had lost the Cast Member who was supposed to take us to our table and now was looking on somewhat surprised. After we got over the first initial shock we followed the Cast Member over to our assigned table. Ana came over to talk to us when our server came by to take our drinks orders. While we were still trying to catch up with Ana, she had a look at our dining rotation and was happy to see that we had the same rotation as she had, but we were not in her section. So when we were a bit disappointed about that, she told us that we could go to D-Lounge and try to get our table assignment changed. When our drinks arrived she left us and we headed to the buffet. We joined the line and within 5 minutes we were handed a plate and started filling it. I was not very hungry, I was still full from breakfast at Wolfgang Puck’s Express. I didn’t take much and neither did Tom.

And who should be manning the dessert station other than Sapto, our dining room server from last year. I just stood there, mouth open looking at him until you could tell, he KNEW, who we were and greeted us warmly. So, after meeting him we sat, ate and discussed what the odds must have been to run into that two very special people, of the 1500 Cast Members on board within 30 minutes of getting on board. We finished our meal quickly, then proceeded to go to D-Lounge to ask if we could change our server assignment. We were greeted at the door, then pointed towards a table and there was Cast Member number three, we knew very well. Zan, our head server from last year, was doing the changes. He looked at us, paused and then said, “I know you two”. We could not believe it, but he remembered us as well. And after doing a little magic he was able to change Ana’s tables so we could be in her section. So far our trip had started with lots of pixie dust. And by then it was time to go and check out our stateroom. So we walked to the aft elevators and went up to deck 10. Our stateroom wasn’t too far from the elevators and in we went. The stateroom was beautiful. There was a blue day blanket on the bed, and an extra comfy chair. Sitting on the bed was our new Castaway gift, a beautiful blue and black backpack.

I had seen photos of it on the DISboards and was keen to look inside. There was a bag of Mickey pretzels inside, a small container of Mickey Puffy Cheese Crackers and a newly designed keyring! We were very happy with it. Once we had checked out the stateroom we walked out on the veranda and checked the view! Awesome! We unpacked our carry-ons, while we waited for our luggage to arrive. We checked periodically and all three pieces arrived within half an hour of each other. Once we had unpacked everything we decorated our door with all our magnets and met our stateroom host. He was a nice guy, but hard to understand, so a lot of smiling and nodding was involved to cover the parts we did not catch. Then, after checking our navigator we decided that we should check out the ship. We went to deck 3 and watched people being greeted when entering the ship and then we walked towards D-Lounge to see if Zan was still there. He was and since there was no one in line for him we just walked up to him and handed him a bar of Austrian chocolate for being so nice and changing our dining assignment. To say it was well received is an understatement! He was really stunned and happy that we had come back and brought his a goody. We decided to walk aft and when we turned a corner we walked right into the welcoming station of DVC.

They took our stateroom number and handed us our gifts, two hats and a new brochure. We were then invited to come inside. We found a small table and Tom got a seat, while I wanted to keep standing, as the seat didn’t look very comfortable to me and Tom soon complained about it being the opposite of comfortable. We were served some sparkling wine and followed the presentation. It was a first time for us and it was pretty interesting. So interesting that we completely forgot to go to the Vista Café for our  DISmeet. Once the official part of the presentation was over, we all got a nice DVC bag and were told to come back to the DVC desk with our new bag every day as there would be presents daily.

We took the elevator up to our room again and stored away our gifts, had a drink and then it was already time to go and find our way to our assembly station for the lifeboat drill. This time we had an outside location and the sun felt nice and warm. Such a wonderful change from freezing cold Austria.

The lifeboat drill took about 15 minutes and then we joined the crowds on our way back to our stateroom. We climbed up the stairs to deck 10 and sat outside on our veranda for a while. And soon enough it was 5pm and we could watch the ropes being pulled in and were heading out to sea. Since there is a webcam at Fishlips, a restaurant in the channel, and our friends at home promised to watch, we had thought up a little extra we would do to maybe be seen. We had bought a pair of white Mickey gloves to wave with. The DCL port Cast members, who man the terminal and come out to wave were the first to point up at us and laugh! And there were many more people pointing and waving at us on the way out. It was a truly fun event, as Captain Gus seems to love his Mickey horns and went through the repertoire twice on the way to Jetty Park. It really set a fun note to us sailing away and he could not have made me any happier. This was pure heaven. Once we had reached the open waters we walked back into our stateroom and I rested for a while on the bed. When I got up I ran into the round part of the wall and only then did I realize that the room looked different. In the summer we didn’t have that round shaped “thing”! And then I remembered. Family Staterooms have a round tub, so off we flew to check it out. It was awesome. Not only was there a lot more space in the round tub there was actually a regular shower and a rainforest shower.

At one side there was kind of a little seat and a few shelves for soap, shampoo and shower gel. We were so happy! Once we had recovered from our shower surprise we got ready to head out again. This time we wanted to enjoy some coffee at the Cove Café! So we donned our lanyards and walked up to deck 11. We walked around a bit taking in the pool and the quick service stations before we entered the adults only area. It was very quiet in there and we stopped and took in the atmosphere before we headed to the Café. There was only one other guest there and a Cast Member was right on hand to give us menus, so we could decide which coffee to order.

Tom had a Frozen Cappuccino, 1/3 espresso blended with vanilla ice cream, which was really good. I went for something I had discovered last summer, the Moccaccino, 1/3 espresso and chocolate blended with vanilla ice cream, yum, yum, yum. We sat for quite a while and enjoyed our drinks, then walked outside and around the pool and up to deck 12. After enjoying the view for a while we walked inside again and the floors down to our stateroom. We ended up having to cross through Cabanas which was closed at the time, so we had time to stop and take photos without a lot of people in it. Once back in our stateroom we found another DCL present.

The present for gold castaways, which was a nice notebook and pen, a luggage strap and some note cards. It came with a nice letter inviting us to the Captain’s reception and making a note of the fact that we got 10% off of our purchases. There was still about an hour left before dinner, so we took our first Fish Extender gifts and our little list and went off to deliver them. It took us about ¾ of an hour to do so and while we walked around we could see a lot of the staterooms had their DVC magnet on it. We were a bit disappointed to see that our door had been missed, on the other hand it was full already, so maybe they just hadn’t found the space to place it somewhere. We got changed and took the elevator down to Animator's Palate.

Before our cruise some of our Cruise meet thread had linked together their reservations and we were very happy with the arrangements. We shared a table with Princessmom29 and the Douvres Family and found that we easily found enough topics to talk about before our dinner. Soon enough Ana came around to introduce herself and the assistant server, who’s name I never quite caught, even though he was a very nice guy. We started our dinner of with some Diet Cokes. The bread offering of the day was the Herb foccacia and ciabatta bread with roasted garlic dip. Tom and I were still a bit full from the frozen coffee concoction we had enjoyed in the afternoon, so we skipped the bread. Tom ordered the Wild Mushroom Risotto and Porcini Twist, served with parmigiano-reggiano as his starter and I decided on the Black Truffle Pasta Purseittes, pasta purse filled with truffle scented cheese and coated with a delicate champagne sauce, which were both wonderful. Soon our main courses arrived.

Tom had the White Shrimp Pennette Pasta, tossed with a basil and reggiano parmesan cheese sauce and topped with a parmesan cheese wafer and I decided on the Animator's Trio of Veal, grilled tenderloin, pulled shank and tortellacci pasta with a sun-dried tomato and sage reduction and garnished with a potato crisp. We all enjoyed our dinners and got to know each other, all the while Crush visited the tables and the fish got into fun formations. And then it was time for dessert. Tom ordered the Pineapple Financier, almond cake served with whipped cream, which looked better than it actually tasted and I had the Chocolate Brownie Cheesecake, with whipped cream and raspberry coulis. Once desserts were consumed and we were all stuffed we said our goodbyes and told Ana that we would not dine with them the next day, because we ate at Remy and the next day we would eat at Palo. We promised to visit her at breakfast though. We slowly strolled back to our stateroom and were delighted to already find some presents in our Fish Extender. We thought about what to do but the time change started to catch up with us and we decided to just go to bed.