Thursday, September 7, 2017

Molly Goes North: Part 3 (Embarkment!)

(Previously: Part 1, Part 2)

Monday, August 21 (continued)

Finally, it was the moment I'd been looking forward to for months! Any minute now, I would be stepping aboard the Disney Wonder!

A note to explain why we did Disney: When I did my transatlantic cruise in 2015, I placed a deposit and booked a placeholder while onboard. Because of that, if I could book and take another DCL cruise within 2 years, I'd get a 10% discount and an onboard credit. If I did not end up cruising within 2 years, I could get my deposit back, no harm done. Naturally, I really wanted to cruise again, but all the "affordable" DCL cruises happen in the off-season, aka the school year. Even if I could get away, say, during spring break, the only cruises available then are all based out of Florida, a $400-500 airplane flight away. But then there was Alaska. So close! And I'd never been there, and I wanted to go. I decided to start asking some of my friends if they'd be interested in going with me, and the first one I asked said "yes". YES!

What would it be like to cruise with someone, I wondered? Would it change the dynamics of the cruise in a significant way? I won't leave you in suspense... it was great! Different, but in a good way! I'll explain more as I go on. I'll also try to touch on the differences between this cruise (C2) and my previous one (C1).

* * *

SO. After leaving Flyover Canada (see previous post) and reuniting with Heather, who was patiently waiting for me, I was prepared to walk back through the entrance where we'd initially dropped off our luggage an hour before, but Heather pointed out that there seemed to be a closer entrance... like, right over there. She was right! She'd found a shortcut!

Once at the check-in place, there was no line for Silver Castway members (me!) and Heather and I were able to check in immediately. Then we went through customs. Then we walked up some ramps and... we were on board! It was so quick! (On C1 it took an hour.)

Immediately I felt a wave of nostalgia, because (LOL) the ship had a familiar smell. I felt like I was back on board the Magic!

One of the first things to happen when we got on board was... we spotted a mouse!

This was the first of many random character encounters we had throughout the cruise. 

Naturally we were hungry by this point, so we headed up to Cabanas buffet for some carbs...

I hardly got any "real" food, because there were better things in store...

Let us not even discuss how much I love the desserts on these ships. They always have, like, 8 different ones each day at the buffet. If only I could eat them all!

After lunch, we explored a bit. We checked once to see if our stateroom was ready; it wasn't... but the second time we checked, it was!

Were in room 5131 -- deck 5, aft, port. (On C1 I was in 2512 -- deck 2, forward, starboard.) I actually ended up loving this location. It was convenient to all the restaurants, the drink station, the movie theater, and the atrium. If I needed to go to the front of the ship, deck 5 was usually pretty empty, which made walking from one end of the ship to the other easy.

We had an inside stateroom and I LOVED IT, because DARKNESS! (C1 I had a porthole room. It was fine, but... did I mention the wonderful darkness?)

Photo by Heather M.

We got settled in (minus the two bags we'd checked earlier; they arrived later) and hung our Fish Extender pouch outside our door:

Then we went off to explore some more. First we hit up the Kids Clubs...

We went through the "secret" corridor between the two clubs. Through this porthole you can get a glimpse of the atrium....

Photo by Heather M.

I insisted Heather try out the hand-washing station before we left the clubs. (It's like a massage party for your hands!) And then... I don't think we ever stepped inside the clubs again for the next 7 days. Which is funny, because on C1 I think I was in the clubs nearly every day.

We continued to check out the ship....

This is at the entrance to the night club area...

Below is Azure, a club where we would spent a lot of time this cruise! (On the Magic this space has different decor and is called Fathoms, but the layout is similar.)

Here's the Cadillac Lounge. (Located where the Keys nightclub is on the Magic.) Pretty sure this is the only time I went in here the whole cruise...

We would play lots of trivia in Crown & Fin (O'Gill's Pub on the Magic.)

At some point, I bought the non-alcoholic Drink Of The Day, "Princess Delight," which was, they say, "passion fruit juice and mango puree." It was excellent.

Photo by Heather M.

Soon it was time for the muster drill. Everyone to your stations! Our muster station was in Animator's Palate. This drill didn't go 100% smoothly. I think the scanner they were using to scan in everyone's KTTW (Key To The World - I.D., room key, etc.) cards from our group was malfunctioning. So it took ages and was sort of confusing. But at least we had cool things to look at!

No sooner had the last badge been scanned when they let us all go. Time for sailaway!

We headed up to deck 9, and during sailaway alternated between decks 9 and 10, aft. When the ship first began to pull away from the port, we couldn't even tell we were moving... except that the buildings at Canada Place began to drift farther away....

Obligatory sailaway selfie...

More wildlife...

Going under the Lion's Gate Bridge...

They blasted the "When You Wish Upon A Star" horn a couple times. 

I stayed on the aft decks and watched the scenery go by while Heather briefly checked out the Sailaway Party.

Around 6:15 we went to the Walt Disney theater for the first of four Broadway-style shows during the cruise. This one was Be Our Guest. It included musical numbers with dancing and singing, "previews" of the other shows to come, and short presentations by two of the on-board entertainment acts, John Charles (comedian/musician) and Buckets & Boards (comedians/noisemakers.)

After the show, the shops were opened, so we went to take a look. I saw this pin and fell in love...

Unfortunately, it fell off my lanyard at some point on the last day of the cruise, somewhere between the stateroom and the Seattle train station. But I enjoyed it while I had it, and someday I hope to replace it.

We popped into the D lounge and watched a family game show for a bit...

 We admired the setting sun...

At 8:15, we headed to dinner...

Our dining rotation was Tiana's Place, Triton's, Animator's Palate. So tonight was Tiana's!

As we approached our table, I knew we might have tablemates, and I just hoped it wouldn't be awkward.

Already seated at the table were two of our tablemates, C. and B., honeymooning wives from Alabama. We were soon joined by our other table mates, D. and B., a couple from North Carolina, hereafter known (by Heather and me) as "The Guys." We made introductions and quickly discovered there was little-to-no awkwardness to be had with these folks. We loved our tablemates, and dinners were always a lot of fun!

That night, for my appetizer I ordered Cream Of Spinach Soup - "with Pumpernickel croutons." Tasty.

I ordered two entrees this night, because... they both sounded so good! The first was the vegetable lasagna ("layered baked vegetables and pasta with mozzarella and provencal sauce"). It was nice.

But THIS... oh my. The Northern Vegetable Turnover -- "Pastry turnover baked and stuffed with goat cheese, asparagus, white cabbage, Cipollini onions, and chard, served with a white onion sauce." It was excellent!

At some point during the meal, Tiana herself came around and took photos with the guests. Other times during the meal, she sang or talked on stage. 

Time for dessert....

Heather got the Banoffee Cream Pie and the Baked Alaska...

I got the tirimasu....

After dinner, we hit up the shops and guest services to peruse the pin trading books. Afterward, we made a brief stop at our stateroom. We saw that our beds were turned down. (Heather opted for the sofa bed, which I may have taken a pic of later on the cruise, we'll see.) And we had our first towel animal! Which is a... um, a... sea creature/fish thing?!

We also had some surprises already in our FE pouch!

Captain America... so dreamy!

After bringing our gifts inside and admiring them, we headed to Azure to watch Match Your Mate, the first of many adults-only shows we enjoyed on the cruise.

 I'm told this game is similar to The Newlywed Game from TV of yore. I'd also read about it taking place on other cruises. They pick three couples -- well, they try to get a newlywed couple, a couple who has been married the longest, and a couple in between. It doesn't always happen that way, though.

That night, they had a hard time getting people up on stage. The "newlywed" couple had been married a couple years. The older couple, I don't remember exactly how many years they'd been married, but the woman did NOT want to go up there! Then they needed a couple in between, so The Guys volunteered.

From there, it was pure hilarity. I guess it's not unusual for an answer during this game to become a running joke for the rest of the cruise. That most certainly happened.

In the end, Couple #1 matched the most answers, but all three couples got prizes. The Guys won a couple of things, including a free printed 8x10 from the on-board photo place.

After that: bedtime for us! We'd had a long and busy day.

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