True-Life Adventures: Disney Cruise, Days 6-8

Thursday, October 3 – Saturday, Oct 5

In case you were wondering if I’d ever get through this!  New friends, I love the attention for this series, but I can’t help but wonder what will happen when I return to my original posts: the fictional, mushy romance known as The Pauper Prince. I suspect that my fellow travelers will disembark.

Ha! Pun. I make pun!

AT SEA!

Also, at Tropical Storm Karen, in case that made the news at all. I woke and learned on the ship’s 24/7 Map Channel that we were sailing around it to reduce wear and tear on the vessel and people’s inner ears. And, for those who saw my pics of the giant, open portholes on Deck 4, maybe preventing an untimely flooding of the decks. Our cabin was really LOUD thanks to the troubled seas. More snapping, crackling and popping than the test room for Rice Krispies.

THURSDAY: Palo’s Brunch

For those just joining us, Palo is the Disney Wonder’s “adults-only,” fancy-schmancy restaurant that requires reservations, costs extra, has fine wine and fancy food like caviar and whatever else fancy people eat, and where the servers are trained to use Italian accents. Also: dress code!

I admit that I was more confused about the event than I should have been. Our concierge had invited us to a 10 am brunch in Palo. While my traveling companions had continued dining there at night, I gave it one shot on Day One, and stuck with our assigned restaurants from then on. See, when it takes an hour before the server even takes our dinner order, because of all the other fussing going on about wines and anitpasto and food intolerances, this is not a restaurant for me.

Also, my plan for the next three days was this: Pack away my “nice” clothing for good and not see it again until unpacking it at home for laundry. I threw on my clean, dark jeans and a T-shirt and headed upstairs. Where I was then told that I was dressed incorrectly. Pants were offered to me. I didn’t even want to contemplate the idea of borrowing pants from a restaurant. I snapped “No,” and stormed back to the room and contemplated just going to one of the nearby buffets. A dress code for a brunch is not in my thought processes.

Embarrassing Mom

Now that I was in a properly pissy mood upon my return, having unpacked and unrolled the nice clothes that I didn’t want to see again, it occurred to me that I had no idea if the event was complimentary or not. Dinners at Palo were not free, so it stood to reason that this… might not be. When I returned, our server was giving a tour of the food stations, which were all very fancy. Whole crab legs and salmon things and capers and caviar and stuff with French names. I walked around with him like the others, but since everything had a label, my preference was to look on my own. Not much looked appetizing to me. But it turned out that there was a Pizza Bar. Well played, Palo. Something I could eat.

But after he was done, I took him aside and asked the delicate question of whether or not it was complimentary. He didn’t know, so he left to ask somebody. I held my plate while waiting. Friend offered to pay for me if it wasn’t free. Then Mom did. I was in “Principle of the Thing” mode now, turned down their offers, and was ready to leave if it wasn’t free. And there it is: Mom was embarrassed and told me so. I dunno what to say. This is how I get sometimes. Simply put, Palo is not my kind of eatery. I was annoyed by being turned away at the door, then subjected to a tour of food mostly too fancy for me. So I reverted to the “raised by wolves” behavior that I mentioned in another post. It happens.

The end: I sat with them, having found bites of different things, then ordered the goat cheese pizza. Under normal circumstances I would have eaten half, then taken the rest, but there’s no taking leftovers to rooms. For one thing, there’s no way to reheat things. We had a fridge, but I didn’t learn that until Friday. Hm. Long story short, I ate the whole pizza in that one sitting and pretended that I would watch what I ate the rest of the day. {{snicker}}

By the way, Sister was feeling terrible that morning and did not join us. And since I’d felt so horrible the night before, Friend let me have one of her motion sickness patches. It helped significantly.

I never did find out if the meal was complimentary.

Here are some theatrical masks that Palo had in its foyer:

DSCN1314 ?????????? ??????????

Because we were At Sea for two days, I was free to indulge in only ship-board activities, which, in spite of the three excursions of this voyage, I found that I preferred. So I watched The Lone Ranger in the full-sized theatre on Deck 5. I don’t get what all the criticism was about. I thought it was a good popcorn flick, even though Johnny Depp’s eccentric portrayals are now tiresome. Jack Sparrow worked; his others (Willy Wonka, Barnabas Collins, Tonto) have not.

Dinner: Animator’s Palette! Where I finally learned, after six days, how to use our shipboard phones. This is why I don’t work for a communications company; phones are not my friend. The theme was Captain’s Gala, which was a semi-formal dinner. WTH?? Did I not say that I was trying to dress casually today??

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******

8:30’s live show was something called Disney Dreams, about a “little girl” who needed to be taught to believe in herself by Peter Pan and a bunch of other Disney characters. It reminded me of an old Saturday Night Live skit, where a bunch of pro athletes kept coming into a little boy’s room to tell him the same thing. Trouble was, he didn’t need encouragement after the first two or three, but they Just. Kept. Coming. Then they started asking for beer, the bathroom, his mom…. I can’t find it, but it’s worth digging up if you can.

Uh, anyway, the DD live show was well-produced, technically impressive, and cheesy as hell.

9:45: Sister talked me into trying to take part in a Newlywed Game-style event called So You Think You Know Your Family? The emcee said flat out that he was going to pick one parent and one young child per family as contestants, but we threw up our hands, anyway, When we inevitably weren’t picked, I wanted to call it a night, but Sister wanted to pretend-play, anyway. Like, writing our own answers on napkins and such. What fun. And we learned that we don’t know each other well.

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FRIDAY

I was the only one willing to attend the Character breakfast at 8 am in Parrot Cay. A wake up call at 7 got me up. Oh. It was a wake up call from Mickey, in case you’re wondering. I don’t drink, so never have hangovers, but a high-pitched voice still isn’t pleasant first thing in the morning.

Our usual dinner servers were there. And so it hit me: it was 8 am, and here they were to serve breakfast. They also serve two sets of dinner each night, at 5:45 and 8:15. And the later guests probably linger longer at their tables than we, the first set, do. I asked our server if they were really working 6 am to 11 pm kind of days. The answer was yes, with a couple of one-hour breaks. No over-time, either. He tried to soften the blow by explaining that they were young and still had the stamina for that kind of work. It might be universal in the cruise industry and not just Disney. I don’t know. Having thought about it more, it’s a bit like being deployed to the military. These people are in remote areas for months at a time, away from their families (many do have little kids at home. Our assistant server was a mom herself), with few opportunities to contact them, living on board the ship. Once we, the rich travelers, leave, the ship is turned over in just a few hours, and the cycle continues.

“Let’s see if I have this right,” I said. “Ya love us, but you’re really glad when we leave, right?” He nodded. “Fair enough,” I said. No offense taken at all. Cruises are the service industry taken to its maximum effort for the staff, I suspect.

Whoa. Bummer? So, you probably want to see some pictures from the Character Breakfast, amiright??

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You might be wondering about the dark spot on my lower lip. That was the bruise that formed after I bashed my face on the Waverunner’s steering bar. Be glad I didn’t post any pictures of what the inside of my lip looked like. Also, Mom’s makeup worked for about a minute. Then the darkness just showed right through as though I’d put nothing on.

*****

Friday is when they turn on the 24/7 Packing Channel, where Jimmy the Cruise Director is on a constant loop of packing instructions. On cruises you may pack and stick your main luggage outside the night before. You may also take it with you first thing Saturday morning, too, but I begrudgingly decided to go the former route. This meant that I had to pack all my bathroom toiletries the night before, which is not my custom.

3 pm movie: Planes, which is set in the Cars universe. And to think that I didn’t know ahead of time that it was NOT a Pixar movie! It was… okay. But then, so was Cars 2, so it’s all good.

Last dinner in…! Parrot Cay again. But I liked their atmosphere best. This is also when you present your tip envelopes for all servers, the host, and concierge. You also get your bill for the cruise, i.e., the extra expenses incurred during the voyage. We had all been charged automatically for the recommended amounts, so our envelopes had extra. My companions were not there to eat, but just to keep me company until their “real” dinner in Palo. Needless to say I did not join them, but did track them down later in order to bring Sister an extra photo that she’d ordered from the photographer’s area.

Pursuant to my comment earlier about pre-packing, I had already brushed my teeth, taken my nighttime meds, and stuck my luggage out by the time I came to Palo around 9:30. As soon as I sat down, they were pushing food and drink on me, so I went into my default mode of TMI and said that I’d brushed my teeth, so no food, thanks. This greatly amused my companions.

See: “raised by wolves” here and in previous posts. I am what I am, folks.

I had skipped whatever the final Live Show was and attended some kind of So Long, Farewell event in the main lobby. A Jr. Cruise Director introduced costumed Characters, who ran down the grand staircase and then out the door. It took me longer than it should have to realize that they were racing to their respective photo op positions. It was the final Photo Op of the cruise, in other words. So I thought, “What the heck,” and tracked down Stitch and Captain Hook. No, they were taking separate pictures. Together would be weirder than usual.

The gathered crowd, and Mickey and Minnie running to their spots.

DSCN1385??????????

Ohana! Found it all on my own. Broken, but still good.

DSCN1386 DSCN1387

I was trying to look nervous about his hook. Ah, well.

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The best angle I could manage for the final farewells, I’m afraid.

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I slept in the very clothes that I intended to wear for our final day of disembarkation!

*************

SATURDAY

Disney say: GET OFF!

Our concierge had given us special luggage tags that would get us in the first group off the ship. Unfortunately, contrary to instructions, half of the passengers were standing around in the main lobby instead of other public areas, and we were totally blocked. So Sister talked some crewmembers near the elevators into lifting velvet ropes for us to sneak past.

Disney had provided a fleet of buses for going to the various airports. Friend was set to travel from the Houston Airport like Mom and myself, but… took a taxi instead. For some reason. The buses were large and plush and comfortable and had TVs and everything. We were confused.

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THE TALLY AND OTHER NOTES

My extra expenses came to about $370, which mostly consisted of shipboard merchandise. Half of it was for Christmas gifts. My companions? …Considerably higher bills. I joked with Sister that her bill was three pages long (it was not).

My final count of crewmember countries? 33. Remember that my rule was, I had to see the country on the nametag myself. There were a lot of repeat countries, like the Phillipines, India and Jamaica. Not as many from the US as you’d think! Also, Disney was counting the UK and its respective countries separately. If they did, so did I.

USA, Argentina (concierge), India (lead server), the Phillipines (server and our room host), Botswana (asst. server), Jamaica, Scotland, Romania (Palo server), Italy (Palo chef), United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, England, Japan, Serbia, South Africa, Trinidad, Portugal, Ukraine, Mexico, Brazil, Indonesia, Chile, Bulgaria, Hungary, Bahamas, Croatia, France, Turkey, Costa Rica, Thailand, Wales, Columbia

Our captain was originally from Norway, but his tag said US, so I couldn’t count it. I was hoping to find someone from China and Ireland, but no luck.

Disney recycles. Those guys in Palo don’t just work at night. During the day I spied our server working poolside. The Goofy pool, specifically. He was carrying trays around with the same flair as he would at Palo, which made for a nice incongruity.

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So… did I enjoy it and would recommend a Disney cruise to others? Sure thing. Would I go on another one? They’re expensive, so I’ll think about it.

Bon Voyage!

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About herdthinner

Writer and artist who pays the bills with another job
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