Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Little Something to Remember Our Trip

I picked up a little something to remember our trip...

Dooney & Bourke Disney Fantasy
Inaugural Cruise Tote

The pictures don't really do this bag justice! I love the colors and that it has the Fantasy and the Wonder (the two ships we've sailed on) prominently on both the front and the back. 

My only gripe is that it's missing the stitched leather Dooney & Bourke logo that is on the prototype pictures:

So, after speaking with several people at both Dooney & Bourke and Disney Merchandising, I'm going to send it in for "repair." Disney Merchandising offered to replace the whole bag, which is not what I wanted due to placement. Dooney & Bourke offered to take the bag I have and stitch the logo onto the bag. The only catch is that I would have to wait until the end of July, because their repair shop closes for a month. 

So, I'll have to miss my beautiful tote for a little while, but I think it will be worth the wait!

Friday, June 29, 2012

A Dreamy Sight

On the last night of our cruise, I was out on the verandah and saw this beauty!

The Disney Dream

The captains did the whole horn battle, which as awesome! What a neat surprise!

Castaway Cay Evacuation

During our cruise, there were three medical evacuations. The first one happened during our first sea day, when one of the cast members was hurt. The captain had to make a detour and got as close as he could to land. Then, they used one of the lifeboats to take her in for treatment. 

The second evacuation happened when we were in St. Thomas. One of the guests got sick, and an ambulance met them at the ship.

The third evacuation happened as we were getting ready to leave Castaway Cay. The child of one of our DisBoards/Facebook group families got severely sick and had to be evacuated using a US Coast Guard helicopter. 

As I took pictures, I tried to be mindful not to take them of the person's face in respect of their privacy. I also did not post them anywhere until the child's mother as me to. So, yes, I did have permission to post these pictures. 

It was such a scary thing to watch! I'm happy to report that the child is back at home and doing much better. 

Castaway Cay

On Friday morning, we arrived in Castaway Cay. Marc and I went to the PremEAR of Brave 3D, which started at 12:01am, so we decided to sleep in. We woke up just as the ship was backing into port, so we had plenty of time to sit down for breakfast at Cabanas one last time. After that, we headed right down to Deck 1 to disembark.

The weather was absolutely gorgeous! It was in the upper 80s with a nice balmy breeze...Perfect for spending a day at Castaway Cay!

The Disney Fantasy

Dumbo and Timothy

Marc and I hopped on the tram and headed over toward the snorkeling lagoon. We found the perfect spot to put our stuff, and then went over to get our snorkeling vests.

Our Piece of Paradise for the Day

The snorkeling lagoon was a little busy in the morning but calmed down after lunch. Because there were so many kids kicking up sand at the shore, the water was a little hazy. So, we headed out further and found that's where they put all the good stuff. We found a sunken Mickey, Minne, submarine, and ship. There were also lots of fish, some coral, and a few friendly stingrays. (Marc has the best luck with finding stingrays!) 

We snorkeled for about two and a half hours before eating lunch at Cookies. They had ribs, grilled chicken, hot dogs, hamburgers, fruit, etc. It was so good, and we were starving after snorkeling for so long. After lunch, we went back to the snorkeling lagoon and stayed for another two and half hours. 

Castaway Cay's Snorkeling Lagoon

At about 4:00pm, the clouds started rolling in and the wind started picking up. We turned in our snorkeling vests and decided to walk around to take some pictures. 

The Fantasy from a Distance

My favorite picture from the trip!

We made our way back up to the main walkway so we could start heading back to the ship. It was getting darker and windier as the day went on. 

Marc and Me

Running Man!

One More Look Back
See Ya Real Soon!

And back to our home for one more night!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Sail and Snorkel in St. John

On Wednesday, Marc and I went on a champagne sail and snorkel trip that was a Disney Cruise Line excursion. We were up early that morning so we could eat a nice breakfast at Cabanas before heading back to The Tube. Disney gave us our instructions, towels, and a cute little sticker that identified us as Disney cruisers. We were on our way! 

We made the quick walk down the pier and met with our open-air taxi driver. My, my, my...The ride to St. John was very interesting! St. Thomas is an island with lots of hills and curvy roads, and apparently, driving there is a free for all. Think of this way...Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and Splash Mountain (and we'll throw in Everest Expedition, too, for good measure!) all mixed together for one hell of a ride. At least our group had a sense of humor, and we were throwing up our roller coaster hands and laughing uncontrollably! 

Quite a few from our DIS/Facebook group went on this excursion so we ended up with a few people we knew on our catamaran. We had a blast! 

Boarding the Catamaran

The sweet lady in blue was almost 90 years old. She was a spitfire! We met her a few days earlier when she was hitting on our Art of the Theme ship tour guide and kept asking him if he gave massages. She made quick work of the catamaran's crew and soon they were eating out of her hand. They danced with her, winked at her, took pictures with her, helped her around the catamaran, etc. and were so sweet to her. She was loving every minute!

As we were heading out to St. John, there were several catamarans around us. They were part of the same group, and thankfully, our catamaran had much less people on it than this one. We had plenty of room to move around.

I think I know where I want to retire!

Raising the Sail

I'm not sure what Marc is laughing about here, but it must have been really funny. One of the guys from our group wondered if this was taken before or after the rum punch starting flowing. (?)

I'll take one of these, please!

We ended up at Honeymoon Beach. This is the BEST place to go snorkeling in St. John, because it can only be accessed by catamarans, kayakers, and hikers. We really took a gamble when booking this excursion, because they had a choice of places to take us. I was thrilled when they announced we were going to Honeymoon Beach! 

Honeymoon Beach is part of a national forest. This is the park ranger's house. Can you imagine?!?! The captain said there is a 20-year waiting list to get this job. Where do I apply?

Marc took lots of underwater video of us snorkeling. It was AMAZING! We swam with sea turtles, stingrays, and lots of fish. There was also a lot of coral and other sea life. The closer you got to the park ranger's house, the shallower the water got, because you were swimming right over the coral reef. It was full of things to explore! The dark spot in this picture is the coral reef:

The sail back was just as much fun. I stood close to the bow of the catamaran and took it all in. The view were stunning, and I enjoyed every minute of it. I don't think I've ever been so relaxed in all my life. There was music playing in the background, lots of yummy snacks, and the drinks were flowing.

Sailboats Racing

Orlando Bloom was our captain! 
Disney knows how to do it right! (Kidding!)

This was my first attempt at "real" snorkeling. I think I have a new addiction. I cannot fully describe how peaceful it is to be swimming underwater and exploring all there is down there. It's like you're in a new world all by yourself, and it's truly something to be experienced. Get there if you can! 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Day in St. Maarten - Part 5

Our last stop of the day was at Maho Beach. It's small but beautiful, and definitely EXCITING!

The draw for this beach is that it is next to the island's airport so you can see planes (very closely!!!) as they are landing and taking off.

Here's a big one that's landing...

It was amazing! You had to be careful where you stood, though. One of the people in our tour group got "blasted" by one of the planes. (It was the one above if I remember correctly.) The wind from the plane picked her up from the far left of this picture and threw her out into the water almost to the far right of this picture. It was really scary to watch, and we were completely helpless and couldn't get to her. 

The required "toes in the sand" 
pic at Maho Beach

After a long day of touring, I was really happy to see this sight! We had a blast on our Bernard's Tour, and I would definitely recommend them to anyone. They are a class act!

About an hour later, it was time to say goodbye to St. Maarten. We loved visiting your island and will be back soon! 

Getting ready to leave...Those people 
better hurry up if they plan to leave with us!

A Day in St. Maarten - Part 4

Next up was Marigot, a shopping village on the French side of the island. I'll admit that I wasn't thrilled about the thought of this stop, but I was pleasantly surprised. The scenery was beautiful, the little market square was something to be experienced, and it included a stop at a French bakery. (They did know how to make this fat girl happy!)

The Pier at Marigot

Looking across to the village

Junior, our guide, told us to be sure to stop over at Sarafina's. It's a French bakery, and it had a lot of goodies to choose from. Our favorites were the ham and cheese panini and the chocolate eclairs. Heavenly!

This was the street market that was set up. Once you got past the touristy stuff, they had some neat items. I bought a bracelet to help remember the trip.

After about 30 minutes, we were on our way to the next, and last, stop:  Maho Beach

A Day in St. Maarten - Part 3

Our next stop was a two-hour beach break at Orient Beach. As all European beaches are, it was clothing optional. One side of the beach is (optional) topless only, while the other side is (optional) full nudity. Thankfully, we were on the topless only side! While most people chose to wear full clothing, there were a couple of (old!) women who went topless. (There are some things you just can't unsee!)

This beach was exactly how I imagined a Caribbean beach to be. The water was warm, clear, and extremely blue! There was a slightly strong undertow the day we were there, but it was just right to make some cool waves.

Besides swimming, there were lots of activities like sailing and jet-skiing to choose from. 

Marc and I chose to swim and enjoy soaking up the sun. Several restaurants at the beach offered loungers and umbrellas for rental. For $10, we got two loungers and an umbrella. It also included a private changing room and restroom access. (The French charge per potty break!) You could also rent a lounger and umbrella for $5. Come to think of it, I'm not sure why we rented two loungers, because we hardly ever used them. 

Okay, maybe I (and my toes!) did use a lounger!

I could stay here all day long!

I have to take at least one "toes in the sand" picture at each beach I visit, so here it is:

I was sad when it was time to pack up and head on. I have to say this was my favorite stop on the tour!

Next stop: Marigot