Sunday July 15th We were all early risers today, probably due to the excitement of what lay ahead….our next DCL Cruise. Following breakfast taken at a very popular “all day breakfast” diner around the corner, we checked out of the hotel, and they kindly put some of our luggage that we didn`t need for the cruise in storage as we would be back at the hotel in a few days time. My DW and I piled into a cab and our friends were to grab a separate taxi and meet up with us at the cruise terminal. The journey took only 20 minutes or so and we arrived there at around 11.00 am. On first impression the terminal seemed a bit drab and lifeless, especially when compared with DCL`s terminal at Port Canaveral. Our terminal was shared with another cruise line which didn`t help and their ship was moored alongside ours, however Disney did try to convey a bit of “magic” by having Mickey and Minnie around to do their bit. The check in formalities were very efficient and before we knew it, we had been given our stateroom keys and lanyards along with our boarding cards that told us that we would be boarding in batch number 11. Doug, Michelle & Dani arrived only a few minutes later, but even so their card indicated a boarding batch number of 35! We checked that their dining table number was 20 [the same as ours], so we were all set. As no passengers were boarding yet, we managed to find space to sit down in the terminal which was a long narrow building making it difficult to hear any announcements that were being made. For this reason a Disney rep. walked up and down the room to inform folk when their boarding time was due. When we were allowed to board at around 12.30 pm, I suggested that our friends came along with us as we were officially in the same party, and that Doug should keep his boarding card concealed. This did the trick and avoided a lengthy wait for our friends to embark. No matter how many DCL cruises you take, that feeling you get when you enter the Atrium when the crew members announce your family name amid their applause always seems a magical moment, and this time was no exception. As our staterooms were out of bounds until 1.00 pm, we all had a delicious buffet lunch at Topsiders on deck 9. After lunch we went to our staterooms and upon entering ours, I immediately noticed an “ Almost Hidden Mickey” floral display on the coffee table courtesy of our American travel agent who we normally use to handle the cruise paperwork etc.. Even more welcoming were 2 on board credit notes which totalled $250, part from our T/A, and the rest from DCL as we are Castaway Club members. :207: Soon our luggage was delivered to the room so after unpacking, my DW and I went for a walk around the ship which was beginning to feel like home again. My DW was handed a card from a lady who works at the Spa which acted as a raffle ticket, should we decide to visit the Spa prior to sailing to take advantage of some “early bird” discounts. Sadly we didn`t win the raffle however my DW made a booking for some treatment at a saving of $100 compared with the usual price….there goes a chunk of the on-board credits already! At 4.00pm we all had to go to our appointed area [deck 4 mid ship] for the obligatory safety drill prior to sailing. Oddly, DCL now don`t require you to attend this briefing in your life vests, which has always been the usual practice beforehand. Safety drill over, my DW went to the Spa for her “bargain treatment” while I hung around deck 10 to take some photos and to be part of the “Sail Away Party”. As the Disney Magic inched away from the pier and the ship`s horn gave it`s first blast of “When You Wish Upon a Star”, there was a good view of an American aircraft carrier docked alongside which was a floating museum. On deck [sadly hidden from view in an enclosure] was one of the Space Shuttle orbitors, together with a “Stealth” fighter/bomber, several other military jets and to my surprise a Concorde! We were leaving New York over the spot where US Airways flight 1549 made that amazing landing on the Hudson River, and from here we had some great views of the New York skyline. It was good to be able to take a photo of the Empire State Building…a reverse angle shot of the one we took from its viewing deck. We slowly crawled down the Hudson passing by the Statue of Liberty on the starboard side of the ship, and the port side gave us a spectacular sight of the Lower Manhatten skyscapers, after which we were soon in the open sea. At last the cruise proper had begun. As my DW was getting ready for dinner [I was already bathed and had changed my clothes], I headed down to Sessions piano bar on deck 3 for my customary “on board, pre dinner tipple”. After chatting to the bar staff, and warning them that they would be seeing a lot of us during the cruise , Tim Moss [the pianist] entered and came right over for a “man hug” to welcome me back on board. Tim is a really nice guy, and apparently he had extended his contract on the Magic for a further week just so that he could meet up with our friends and ourselves, as we had emailed him our plans beforehand. Our assigned venue for dinner tonight was at Lumiere`s where we were joined by Dani`s friend [Gabrielle] and her parents [David & Paloma] who also live in LA, and up to now have only met Doug and Michelle in passing or on the “school run”. David is the owner of several planes and runs his own company. In fact one of his regular clients is Johnny Depp who is one of Michelle` favourites. Our servers for the cruise [Limbert and Susan] both from the Caribbean, along with our head server [Godwin] of European origin, introduced themselves to us and promised to take good care of us during the cruise, telling us to let them know if there was anything at all that they could do to make our dining experience even more pleasurable. After a very enjoyable meal, my DW and I along with Doug & Michelle headed down to Sessions as Dani and Gabrielle were more than happy to do their own thing. Tim had reserved “our” table and comfortable seats alongside his piano and from where we chatted to him in-between [and occasionally even during] his “stints” on the piano. We stayed there until the place closed at midnight [as usual], before heading to our staterooms for our first night afloat. We were greeted by the customary towel animal with chocolates and a copy of the “Personal Navigator” listing the next day`s activities which were left by our Stateroom Host [Efren] a very pleasant oriental guy who we had bumped into earlier. The sea air [or more likely the alcohol] soon kicked in and we soon drifted away to the land of nod.