Sunday, July 24, 2011: (our 18th wedding anniversary) Today we woke up a bit earlier than we really needed to because I think we were all excited about the cruise! We got ready and ate breakfast at the hotel and decided to leave for the cruise terminal. We arrived there within about 20 minutes and immediately checked our luggage at the curb. Then we headed inside the terminal. The paperwork that we had to complete was pretty minimal since I did a lot of it online. The check-in process was then really easy and all we had to do was to wait for them to call our boarding number so we could get on the ship! It seemed we waited maybe an hour or so before we finally got to get on. They announced our family name just like they did 3 years ago and we were finally on the Disney Dream! The first thing we did was met up with the Talberts and then headed to Enchanted Garden for a buffet lunch which was of course really yummy! We then just kind of roamed around the ship for awhile checking things out before we came to our stateroom at about 2pm. The room is very similar to the last cruise except instead of a veranda, we have a large porthole. Bruce and I went to a shopping speech presentation during the afternoon (about 40 minutes long) while the girls swam with the Talbert girls. We all had to do the mandatory evacuation drill at 3:45pm and then we went to the Sail Away Party after that. It was very hot at the party. Many of the characters were there. We came back to the room and got ready for dinner, which was at Animator’s Palate. We all met our servers whose names are Brito (from Portugal) and Dejan (from Serbia). The head server’s name is Boolah (from South Africa). Dinner was very good and this time, Crush from “Finding Nemo” comes and talks to different guests on the interactive screens on the walls throughout dinner. After dinner, we went to look around in the 3 gift shops and then went to the nightly show which tonight was a comedian. He was very funny. After his show, we went to a family game show and then decided to go swimming and try out the Aqua Duck water coaster. We rode it twice and then got in the hot tub on deck 11. Eventually we were all hungry so we got pizza from Luigi’s pizzeria (all 4 Franks and all 4 Talberts). Ginger (Vincent) Potter and her husband Greg were on deck as well and joined us. We got back to the room at like 1:00am and went to bed.
Monday, July 25, 2011: Bruce got up this morning and went to breakfast with Patrick (Vincent) at Cabanas at about 7:30am. The girls and I slept until like 9:00 and then went to breakfast there as well. We docked today at Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay. We got off the ship about 10:30 and headed to the family beach. We had snorkel equipment rented and when we finally got into the water, it felt wonderful! We snorkeled in the large lagoon and saw many many fish as well as “buried treasure” that Disney has planted there. The most exciting thing that Brittany and I found was a sunken status of Minnie Mouse! We went to lunch and met up with Patrick and family. After lunch, the girls chose to go to the kid’s area and then back to the ship to swim in the pools. Bruce and I rode bikes for about 30-45 minutes around the island. We went to an observation tower where you could look out and see most of the island. Once we were done with that, Bruce headed back to the ship and I decided to go to the waterslide area and try the slides. Disney has 2 waterslides build right into the lagoon on the island which use salt water. You get dumped out of the slide right into the ocean! I did the slides 3 times and then went to the 2nd family beach. I tried to find some shells because I had found many cute little ones here in 2008. I think Disney has brought in more sand since then because there were hardly any of the broken shells/rocks/etc. there now…..just mostly sand. Oh well! I headed back to the ship at about 3:15 and once I got there, I headed to the pool area. I found Brittany and Bailey and took some pictures of them on the slides. Then I came back to the room to get ready. Bruce played bingo this afternoon but didn’t win anything. Dinner tonight was in the Enchanted Garden and it was again nice. Tonight our entire group sat together (there are 17 of us) and it was fun. After dinner, Bruce and I went to the evening show (Villains, which was not all that great in my opinion) while the girls went to their respective social areas. We met again at 9:30 for another family game show and then Bruce and I went to a couple’s game show. The girls went to one of the theaters and watched the movie “Prom.” It is now just after midnight and we are all tired and going to sleep!
Tuesday, July 26, 2011: Today Bruce got up and went to breakfast with Patrick again at 7:30. When he came back, he went back to bed! Haha! The girls and I didn’t get up until like 9:30am. We went to breakfast at about 10:15 and Bruce came with us although he didn’t eat anything. We had tickets to go to an Atlantis shore excursion which began at 11:15am. We met in the Walt Disney Theater and were eventually shipped via bus to the Atlantis Resort. The place is absolutely huge! I seriously don’t know if I would want to stay there because it is so commercialized and just sprawling! I wouldn’t be able to find my way around. The Yacht/Beach Club at Walt Disney World was big enough for me. Anyway, while there, we mainly visited the various aquariums. We saw a lot of species of fish and sea animals. The tour lasted about 45 minutes and when it was finished, Bruce and I spent maybe 30 minutes in the Atlantis casino while the girls waited for us in the lobby area. We then took the bus back downtown near the cruise terminal and found our way to the shops along Bay Street. Bruce bought a hat and a magnet. I bought 2 bracelets and the girls each bought a bracelet. We also got ice cream there. We returned to the ship at about 3:30pm. Bailey went to an activity in her club and Brittany set out to find Courtney and eventually swam for a little while. Bruce and I went to the quick-service counter and got a little snack and then came back to the room for awhile. I ironed one of his shirts (for tomorrow) and he went swimming for a little while. We went to dinner at 5:45 in the same restaurant as last night but with a different menu tonight. After dinner, Rick & Kim and Bruce & I went to an 80’s music trivia challenge which was fun. We earned 44 out of a possible 50 points! When that was over, all 4 of us got our picture taken by 2 of the photographers on the ship. Then the girls went off for a little while and Bruce and I roamed around the ship checking out some of the areas we had not yet seen. We all met on 11 deck at 10:30 for a Pirate/fireworks show which was pretty neat! Disney Cruise Line is the only one authorized to shoot off fireworks at sea. They also are able to show Disney movies on the ship which are currently being shown in theaters (because they actually OWN these movies!). After the fireworks show, there was a late night buffet which we visited. They had tacos, ham, turkey legs, fruit, and desserts. You certainly do not lose any weight on a cruise! The girls once again went off to do some of their activities with the Talbert girls. Bruce and I returned to the room and got ready for bed. Tonight, Courtney is spending the night in our room with Brittany and Bailey is staying in the Talbert’s room with Cami. Today was a really good and fun day!
Wednesday, July 27, 2011: Today Bruce again went to breakfast with Patrick at 7:30 while we girls slept! I didn’t go to breakfast today because Bruce and I had reservations to eat brunch at Palo at 11:00. We got dressed in our “dress up” clothes for this meal. It was very good. We first got to choose from many selections of “appetizers” and this was buffet-style. I tried caviar for the first time! I wasn’t really impressed! But anyway, then we chose our main course. I had veal and Bruce had chicken parmesan. The desserts were also buffet-style and all of them were wonderful! They were tiny so you could try lots of them. I especially liked the chocolate pudding stuff in a little cup and the little fruit tart. We were there for about 1.5 hours. We then returned to the room and changed into more comfortable clothes. I went to the pool area for awhile and at 3:00, we met the girls at the miniature golf course on deck 12. It is a really cute little course with lots of large icons (kind of reminds me of the All-Star resorts at Walt Disney World). We then went to a shuffleboard tournament on deck 4. There were only 4 teams total and 2 of them were Frank family people! Haha! Brittany and I ended up winning the tournament and later tonight, a little Mickey-shaped trophy with the Disney Cruise Line logo showed up in our room! I am very excited about that! Dinner tonight was at the Royal Palace, which is themed like Disney princesses. Everything we had was good as usual. After dinner, we got our family pictures taken by a couple different photographers in the atrium and then attended the Golden Mickeys show. The show was really good. The comedian who performed the show on the first night did another shorter show tonight in the adult area of the ship. Again, he was hilarious and we ended up buying one of his CD’s. We ended the evening getting little appetizers and sitting out on deck 12 with Rick and Kim. The girls swam from 10-12 while watching “Up” on the big screen above the pool. We all came back to the room and went to bed at about 12:30 or so.
Thursday, July 28, 2011: Bruce met Patrick for the last time this morning for breakfast. We slept until about 9:00 and then got ready for the 2nd Castaway Cay day. We all got off the ship around 9:45 – 10:00 and Courtney was with us too. We got our picture taken with Donald Duck in front of the Castaway Cay post office and also mailed a postcard home so we can see how long it takes to get there. We rode the tram and the girls all got off at the first stop so they could go to the family beach. Bruce and I went on to Serenity Bay, the adult beach. While there, we got some floats and went out in the ocean. The area is very shallow until you get out further and there are a lot of conch shells but they are pretty much all broken and have a lot of other “stuff” growing on them. We did see one nice big sand dollar but it was brown and I wasn’t sure if I should take it or not so I left it. We looked for little shells and found some tiny cute ones! We stayed there about an hour or so and then headed back to the family area. We met the girls for lunch at Cookies BBQ about 12:30. Patrick and his family were there too so we talked to them for awhile. We ate with the Talberts as well. After lunch, Bruce headed back to the ship while I went with our girls and the Talbert girls to the family beach. We “looked for treasure” by digging out hands into the sand under the water and bringing up whatever we could. We used a float and put the stuff on the top of it and then fingered through it looking for perfect tiny little shells. We found more of them than I thought we would. It was fun. Courtney and I came back to the ship at about 3:00. Brittany, Bailey, and Cami came back later. Bruce and I went to the show “Believe” in the Walt Disney Theater at 4:00. It was good but I liked the one from the previous night better. We went to dinner tonight at Animator’s Palate again. We didn’t have the Crush interaction that we did the first night but tonight the servers all lined up for us and one of the entertainment staff members came in and we got to appreciate our dinner servers. The chefs also came into the dining room and we applauded them. After dinner, we came back to the room and got our luggage ready to put into the hallway. Everything you put into the hallway gets delivered to the cruise terminal for you and is ready to go in the morning when we dock. We kept a few bags to carry off ourselves in the morning. We went to the “See Ya Real Soon” farewell in the atrium at 10:15 but it wasn’t as good as the one on the Wonder in 2008. To end the night, Bruce and I went with the Talberts to the comedian again. He had all different material tonight and he is great! While we saw the comedian, the girls swam for the last time and watched “Up” on the outside screen by the pool. We went to bed shortly after midnight.
Friday, July 29, 2011: We had to get up early this morning (6:00) so we could be at breakfast at 6:45. This was the last time we saw our servers. We took a group picture with the Talberts and then sadly, we left the ship. Boo-hoo! We went to fetch our luggage and had a very nice worker there who helped us get it all to our car. Once at the car, I tried to find the Disney tickets and could not. We looked everywhere we thought they could be to no avail. I began to stress since we all have several days left and we were going there today to meet Kaitlin & Adam. Once in the car, I called Disney and told them what was going on. They told me that once we got to the park today, we need to tell someone at the ticket window about this & they should be able to help us. We got to the Magic Kingdom around 10:30am and the whole ticket situation worked out. With our credit card #, they were able to look everything up and issue new tickets to us. Thank God! We met Kaitlin, Adam, his dad, and his cousin outside the theater and began our day together. We did a lot of things today: Space Mountain twice, Buzz Lightyear, TTA, Monsters Inc Laugh Floor, Pooh ride, Snow White’s Scary Adventure, Mickey’s Philharmagic, Peter Pan’s Flight, Splash Mountain, and Pirates of the Caribbean. We got Dole Whips as a snack early in the day, ate lunch at the Plaza Restaurant, and had ice cream just before the parade later at night. We watched the Main Street Electrical Parade at 9:00pm, shopped in the Emporium, and left the park just before Wishes got over. We drove for about 1 hour and stopped at a Sleep Inn somewhere on the turnpike. We were all dead tired and went to bed ASAP!
Saturday, July 30, 2011: The hotel had a breakfast (no meat or eggs) so we ate there this morning. We left maybe around 10:00 Florida time and after stopping for gas, began driving home. The drive was pretty uneventful except for traffic on the south side of Atlanta. We kind of poked along, stopping whenever someone needed to go to the bathroom or we needed gas of course. We had a late lunch at a Chic-Fil-A somewhere in southern Georgia and a Ryan’s Steakhouse in the very northern part of Georgia. We were in touch with Kaitlin and Adam (and his dad and cousin) most of the way home and we all chose to stay at the same hotel, which was a Super 8 about 20 miles on our side of Chattanooga. We got adjoining rooms and played cards for awhile since the pool closed 10 minutes after we got there. We again went to bed around midnight.
Sunday, July 31, 2011: We didn’t get up today until about 9:00am. Again, we took our time getting home. We had breakfast at Shoney’s by our hotel and dinner at Krieger’s in Mt. Vernon. We arrived home about 6:15pm.