Before even leaving town for the cruise we (Spencer and I and Carol Diane) hosted Spencer's parents for dinner on the day of their actual anniversary. Since it was a Sunday, it was a perfect opportunity to have them over to our house and have a pre-Thanksgiving dinner. We weren't sure that a traditional meal would be available on the ship, so we got our fill of turkey and mashed potatoes before we even left town. :) That night we gifted them with a book that we made, documenting each and every year of their 50 years together. We designed it ourselves and then had it printed by MyPublisher (which I have to say did a lovely job). We're hoping that it's something the whole family can treasure for a long time.
Don't you just love getting ready for a big trip? All of the last minute laundry, packing, and check lists. Squeezing everything you'll need into carry on luggage because there's no way you're paying $50 for a bag to fly across the country. Finding tiny bottles to house your favorite shampoo or the only body wash that agrees with your baby's sensitive skin. Dropping the cat off at my parents's house with food, scratching post and litter box in tow, errands, snacks for the plane, check, check, check. Getting last minute orders filled and boxed and shipped. Of course, getting a call that our refinance was ready and they wanted to close that night was an added bonus. Needless to say, when my head hit the pillow on Monday night I was relieved and ready for a vacation, if for nothing else than to recover from preparing for it.
On Tuesday, my mom came out to pick us up. We said prayers and then headed off to the airport. It's always a bit exhilarating and at the same time unnerving feeling to drive away from the house for a trip... Do I have everything? Will our house be safe? Will we get to the airport on time? Will Clara do well on the flight? The week before we left, a neighbor's home was broken into in the middle of the day, so we had reason to feel a bit uneasy as we drove off. (Luckily everything was perfectly fine when we got home). We got to the airport in plenty of time and with Clara in her stroller, we were escorted to the front of a long security line. Of course they funneled us into the least functional mag and bag check and by the time we actually got through security the first line was non-existant. :) We met up with the Utah/Colorado portion of the family (everyone but the Richardsons, flying out that same morning from Orange County, CA) and did typical airport activities - took a walk through the terminals, picked up some cinnabon, and got everything ready to pre-board our flight.
|Clara and Lulu getting re-aquainted in the airport while we waited to board our flight.|
|Sleeping in my arms on the flight|
|Outside Grandma and Grandpa's room at the airport hotel in Orlando|
|Sadly, the only photo of the three of us on the entire trip.|
|Orlando Airport at sunset from Bob and Carol's room|
We woke up, had a quick breakfast at McD's and gathered in the atrium of our hotel/airport terminal. That's where a local news correspondent stopped us and asked about our t-shirts. She decided that we were interesting enough to interview for her story on holiday travel and Bob and Carol were actually on the news that day in Orlando! Here's the clip.
|Carol getting interviewed by the news lady|
We got in line at the Disney transportation desk, got checked in and boarded a shuttle to Port Canaveral. The whole process was effortless and everything went super smooth. Clara slept for about 30 minutes in my arms on the bus. As we neared the Port you could see our ship, Disney Dream and it was enormous. It is a new ship for Disney that just set sail for the first time this year. We had read a lot about it, and were excited to see all of the features that made it a standout in the industry (even though this was my first cruise and I didn't have anything to compare it to). One thing we were a bit skeptical of was the size. A ship that holds 4,000 passengers along with 1,500 staff might as well be a small city. We went through a quick security check and before we knew it, the staff was announcing/welcoming the Evans family on board, "hailing from California, Colorado and Utah."
|Quick nap on the shuttle bus|
|Here we are in the port terminal with Minnie. I guess people generally wait to board the ship here (like at the airport) but by the time we got there, our number was already boarding. We didn't have to wait at all.|
|Welcoming the Evans Family on board|
|On the ship|
|Our "key to the world" cards. These are used to get on and off the ship and pay for any|
Immediately, the ship was very impressive. The main entrance has a huge chandelier and the ship had just been all decked out for the holidays. Garlands and lights literally decked the halls and an enormous gingerbread house made the air smell of Christmas. The friendly Disney employees told us that since our rooms were not quite ready, we should go eat (one of the seemingly ongoing activities on board). We headed up the buffet called Cabanas. This was one of the only times on board that I really felt like it was super crowded. I'm pretty sure everyone was at Cabanas and it was difficult to find a place to sit. But there was just about every genre of food you could think of, and we dug right in.
|Spencer & Clara on Deck 13 in Port Canaveral, checking out the Carnival cruise ship next to us.|
|By the Mickey Pool (one of 4 pools on the ship - this one is for kids)|
|More Deck 13|
|Our side of the room|
|Clara's side of the room|
|Grandma and Grandpa's room (adjoining)|
|The Aquaduck at night - all lit up|
|Clara and Spencer and soft serve|
After we got Clara settled and she thankfully went right to sleep, Spencer volunteered to stay with her so I could go for a run. Deck 4 of the was the only deck that went all the way around the perimeter of the ship and it was a walking/jogging track (with shuffle board courts as well). Two and a half laps on this deck was mile, which really blew my mind - the ship was so big! I ran two miles and it felt so good and easy to run at sea level (literally). By this time we were really moving, so the water was just a few yards below me. I thought it would be a weird sensation to run on a moving ship, but it was actually one of the only times I didn't notice the rocking and swaying of the ship.
|This is what Deck 4 looked like in the daytime. You run right under all the lifeboats and pray that they are securely fastened above you.|
|Our first little towel animal - so cute.|