Day 9 ~ Saturday Sept.27th Back at our villa I resorted to a more healthy breakfast of toast and coffee today! It was then just a matter of putting the DCL labels on our luggage and checking that we hadn`t forgotten anything before leaving for Port Canaveral. We were literally just leaving when the phone rang. It was Donna [a friend of my DW`s who is originally from Trinidad, but now lives in Miami], ringing to say that she would love to come up to Orlando to visit us while we are over. On this basis, it was decided that she came up to visit next Saturday and to spend the night at the villa before returning the following day. After my DW had finished talking to Donna [boy can those girls talk! ], I suddenly remembered that I had already made an ADR for the two of us at Narcoosee`s for next Saturday so I rang WDW dining to ask them to change it to a party of three. The CM told me that it would not be possible to increase the size of our party so I told her to leave things as they were and we would worry about it later, after all, we had a ship to catch! The drive to Port Canaveral took around 50 minutes and the Disney terminal is very well signposted on the 528, much better than last year if I recall. Although this was to be our 6th DCL cruise, it never fails to impress me how slick the operation runs. As I turned into the terminal gates I was directed to a CM by the side of the road who checked our paperwork and passports etc. before directing us to the parking area by the terminal building. I left my DW with the cases on the walkway [together with a few $`s for a tip….remember my DW doesn`t “do” money on vacation ] and as soon as I was driving off to park the car on the adjacent parking lot, I saw a porter loading our bags onto his trolley and taking them into the terminal. It is about now that you realise just how large the Disney magic is when you view it from the parking lot. Returning to my DW, we entered the terminal via a security check on the ground floor where the carry on bags were x-rayed, from where we took the escalator to the first floor where a CM directed us to the Castaway Club check in desk, handing us a card [numbered 13!] which was our boarding group number. We seem to have timed it just about right [it was now around 11.00am] because we only had to stand in line for a couple of minutes before we were told to approach the check in desk. Having completed most of the paperwork on line in advance, the check in process was very quick and we were given our “Key to the World” cards and a Castaway Club lanyard in which to keep them, together with the CM swiping my cc to cover all on-board charges. All of which took around another two minutes or so. We had been assigned stateroom #5630 and the letters PLLAAPL were printed on our cards telling us our rotation dining plan. [P = Parrot Cay, L = Lumiere`s and A = Animator`s Palate]. We spent a few minutes wandering around the terminal building and taking a few photos including one of a cut-away model of the Disney Magic which is very detailed, and at one stage "Captain Mickey" made an appearance for photos with the passengers. At around 12.00pm they started boarding and an announcement was made asking “group 1” to board, followed a short while later by “groups 1 & 2” etc. until finally “groups 1 through 13” was announced and therefore it was our turn to board :smiley4:. Before being allowed through the "Mickey entrance funnel" we had to show a photo ID and our cards to a CM before another security check along the entrance walkway. Soon after we paused to have the customary boarding photo taken by one of the ship`s photographers before entering the main atrium of the ship on deck 3 midships. At the entrance a CM asked for our names which he then repeated in a high voice and a line of CM`s clapped us on board before one of them told us that the lunch buffet was open on deck 9 aft. Rather than go directly to the buffet, we went to Rockin Bar “D” on deck 3 forward where the reservations for Palo`s were being taken. After standing in line for quite a while we approached the desk and I asked the CM for a reservation for the “semi formal” evening, not knowing what night this would be. In fact this night was on Thursday which happened to be one of our “Parrot Cay” nights and as this is our least favourite restaurant, I was delighted with this. The only downside being that the earliest time for dinner they could offer was 9.00pm. As usual the buffet at Topsiders buffet on deck 9 was excellent and a fabulous ice sculpture adorned the entrance where a CM was handing out hand wipes for everyone, which is customary at the entrance to all of the restaurants at each mealtime. Several CM`s were mingling with the passengers taking orders for water packages which offered 24 bottles of Evian water at a reduced price so we signed up for one and was told that it would be delivered to our room later in the day. As it was now after 1.30pm [the time stated when we could gain access to our stateroom ], we made our way down to deck 5 to seek out our “home” for the next 7 nights. There are not many staterooms on deck 5 as most of this deck is taken up with kid`s clubs and the Buena Vista Theatre, so this suggested that it would be one of the quieter decks in the evenings which was fine by us. :thumbs_up: My DW`s case was already waiting outside the door to our stateroom and in the corridor we met our “Stateroom Host” [Javier from Costa Rica] who told us to ask him if there was anything we needed or if there was anything amiss with our room. He seemed like a very pleasant guy. On the bed was a large shoulder bag waiting for us as a Castaway Club member gift. Inside the bag were two insulated drink beakers, a notebook and pen, along with a small case containing a few coloured pencils, a “Mickey” eraser, a pencil sharpener, a stencil and another small notepad, many of which came in handy during the cruise. While waiting for my case to be delivered, after spending a while on the verandah we went for a walk around deck 10 taking in the activity which was going on along the dockside. We knew that there was to be a mandatory lifeboat drill at 4.00pm so we went back to our room at around 3.00pm and my DW started to unpack her case. At around 3.15pm, my case was dropped outside the room which gave me time to unpack before hearing the blasts of the lifeboat drill warning klaxon. We donned our life jackets which were stored in the closet and followed the directions of the CM`s along the corridor’s to our assembly point [apologies for the poor quality of the photo!] which was in Animator`s Palate where our room numbers were ticked off the list. After everyone was accounted for we were allowed to leave and carry on as normal. My DW and I went up to deck 10 to get a good spot to view the "Sail Away Party" where many of the CM`s and Disney characters were on stage by the family pool area [Goofy`s] which was decked over to form a dancing area. After a 5-4-3-2-1 countdown at 5.00pm the ship`s horn blasted out the first 7 notes of “When You Wish Upon A Star” and we were finally away and heading out to sea, waved away by several CM`s who had donned “Mickey” gloves for the occasion, standing outside the terminal building. My DW and I actually stayed on deck for a bit too long taking in all the atmosphere because by the time we had bathed and changed for dinner we missed the first 30 minutes of the “All Aboard” variety show at the Walt Disney Theatre which was a pity because we enjoyed the parts that we did see. We both detected quite a lot of movement as the ship got up to speed which made my DW in particular feel a bit queasy , but I put it down to learning to get your sea legs again and it didn`t seem to bother me too much. As we had ample time before dinner [second seating at 8.30pm] we went down to our usual “pre dinner watering hole” aka Sessions Bar on deck 3 which was empty when we arrived apart from the bar tender who turned out to be Rudolpho from Chile who we had met on the DCL Med. cruise last year. As soon as he saw us it was a case of “Welcome back” and he began pouring me a Tom Collins before I had even asked…wow, what a memory! 015: We sat talking to Rudolpho for a while until it was time for us to nervously enter Parrot Cay for Dinner. The reason I say “nervously” is that we would be meeting our dining partners [who would be with us throughout the cruise] for the first time and this always fills me with anticipation. In the event there was no need for concern. We were escorted to table 43 and a very nice couple from NC were already seated and we all made our introductions. [ The lady has since joined “Secrets” under the name of “Muushka” but so far has not revealed her real name so until I get her permission I`ll refer to them as Mr & Mrs M!]. Soon we were joined by our other shipmates Tom & his lovely DW, Carol from GA. [Tom has now also joined us aka “catrancher”….do you detect a trend here? ] Before long we were chatting away as though we had known each other for ages and I think that we were all relieved to find out that dinners on board would be something to look forward to and not to dread! Our server Leasa and her assistant Marcos introduced themselves followed by the Head Server Michelle, although I still can`t fathom out her role!!! [As Tom said after her introduction “You realise that that chat has just cost us $5 in her tips!” Clearly a guy with a similar sense of humour to mine!] Over dinner I signed up for a wine package so that we could enjoy a bottle of wine each evening from quite an impressive list and at a 25% saving over the list price. As usual dinner was excellent although our servers did take rather a while to serve us and they later apologised and asked if we preferred them to speed things up for subsequent nights which received mixed replies. After bidding goodnight to our dinner partners, we called into Shutters to get a copy of the photo we had taken just before boarding. I had brought with me a part used photo package voucher obtained on the Med cruise hoping to see Max who I made friends with in Shutters on our previous cruises. Sadly I was told that Max was not on this cruise, however his replacement, Ruben, accepted the voucher saying that it was ok for me to carry it over to this cruise which saved a few $$`s as those photos can run out quite expensive if you buy them all throughout the cruise. On entering our stateroom we saw the first of many towel animals lying on the bed which had been turned down and prepared by Javier which is customary each night on the DCL and is a nice touch. Tomorrow…. Castaway Cay.