Yay! We finally made it ! We couldn't believe the cruise was already here! We were all so excited. After a mellow day of eating food we bought at the little grocery store for breakfast, hiring two more taxis (at 25 euro each), leaving Xanthe's purse in the trunk of the taxi (with her Military I.D., money and passport...it was actually the cab driver's fault), having the thousands of taxis radioed to look in their trunks and the man actually came back, and being able to check in earlier than we thought for the cruise, we were on board!
Now, I'm going to caveat this whole post, as well as the multiple subsequent posts about our cruise to say that yes, we know that most everyone has been on a cruise before...so I'm way behind all of y'all with my excitement about things. I'm still gonna write as if this whole cruise concept is a new thing...cuz it seriously blew my mind...
There! I said it...now onto the good stuff.
When we first arrived and checked in, we got to sit in a waiting room until we were allowed on the ship, and until we met up with our friends, Lindsey and Hans. It was super fun because Disney brought out characters to entertain the kids, Mickey, Minnie and Donald, all decked out in Spanish gear.
Oh, and if any of you are wondering about Xoe's hat, she bought it at a garage sale for $1.00 and saved it especially for the cruise. It was quite funny cuz from the moment we arrived on the ship, the crew members were all calling her, "Captain" and sometimes even saluted her. It was a tell tale sign of the popularity they gleaned while on the ship.
The next few pictures are Xanthe's photography skills (as well as a few of my pictures) of the ship itself (remember how much likes photography)...some views as we were WALKING onto the ship, some while we were ON the ship, and some when we were coming back from an excursion. I just decided to post them all of what the ship looked like. Like I said, I have nothing to compare it to, but it's considered a 5-Star ship and it really felt like it. We were all pretty amazed.
This is the entryway where they announced all of our names as we arrived on the ship. I have to hand it to Disney. I was imagining having "Disney" shoved down our throats, much like I experienced when going to the theme parks my whole life. I don't love Disney enough to be totally immersed in it. I imagined all the carpets to be bright colors with tons of Disney characters and every nightly entertainment to be completely Disney. It was, however, done very classy.
The girls, in true Xanthe and Xoe fashion, made friends with the crew from the very start. As we were waiting again for our friends to be able to get on the ship (about 15 minutes or so), the girls stood at the entrance watching all the guests enter, announced and applauded by some of the crew members. One of the crew members saw the girls and recruited them to join in.
The rooms weren't ready yet, so we went upstairs to eat. Xanthe headed straight for the deck to eat. Such a California girl, huh? Cuz I, of course, just wanted to eat inside. Luckily, the weather got so much better in a few days' time and I loved sitting out on the deck.
Below are more pictures of the ship...This is of Goofy's Pool...one of 3 pools there on the ship. This one was more for older kids and had an outdoor movie screen called Ariel View Television. We watched many-a-movie out here, some during the days, and some on a cool night by the pool.
The next picture is the top Upper Deck where the teenagers hung out (not the girls) and the sports deck. Didn't get a picture of it but it was pretty cool...all enclosed in a soft net. The kids played up there a lot with their sports activities, and it even got a little windy, so much so that the girls had their key cards fly overboard, and a few kids had their shoes fly overboard. If you look closely you can also see one of the bullhorns...Spencer and I got stuck next to one when we were coming into port in Malta and it did a bullhorn rendition of the first 7 notes of "When You Wish Upon A Star." Kinda freaked us both out, but then I started laughing. It was quite funny.
This is Mickey's Pool. Geared more for younger kids. Spencer LOVED it and wanted to stay in there all day. He wasn't allowed to ride the water slide though (can you see it off to the left?).
As many of you know, you have to do an emergency drill once you get onboard. I had no idea about this and felt so silly. I wish I would have gotten pictures of all of us donning our life vests cuz I couldn't help but giggle at the whole thing...I'm glad they do it though. Made us feel a lot safer knowing that most everyone knew where to go during an emergency.
They had a super fun dance party on the pool deck of the ship welcoming everyone there. As you can tell from the pictures below, we had a great time. They had fun music everyone knew the dances to, and the Cruise Director, as well as the characters, all welcomed us.
The next picture is of Aussie Dave. He was one of the emcees on the ship. And one of two emcees who became our good friends, courtesy of Xoe and Xanthe. We would see him everywhere (on the boat, on excursions, at dinner). He was like our best friend and we had a great time joking around with him. I'll tell you later about what he did for Xoe when she lost one of her pins.
After we settled into our rooms, the girls saw on the schedule a game show called Mickey Mania. Here the girls are waiting for it to start.
About 2 seconds later they started screaming to be picked. As my friend, Lindsey commented when she walked in and saw them up on the stage, "Why am I not surprised?" I guess it IS in true Xoe and Xanthe fashion to be picked and get involved for all these things. haha. This wasn't the last game show or party they were featured in. Too funny.
Here are Lindsey and her children, Gabe and Eva. Aren't they all so beautiful?
At this point in the show, they had to run out and hit everyone's hands in the audience. First Xoe...
Then, Xanthe...can you see her in the blue shirt in the background. We were all laughing so hard at this point. They had such a good time.
This is Melanie. She was the other emcee I mentioned that became one of the girls' favorites on the ship. Melanie actually asked if the girls could stay on the ship with her. She even, at one time, commented to me how well-behaved the girls were, and how they "just totally melt me."
Oh, and they almost won Mickey Mania. They had to do a tie breaker and lost by a really hard question that an adult had to answer.
This was truly an experience. Every dinner we had was 5-star. The menu was outstanding, choices of foods I had never even seen before. And I've eaten at quite a few restaurants, some even being 5-Star.
Every night had a theme that went with the entire day's cruise ship theme. We had our own waiters that followed us around to the 3 different restaurants as we rotated each night. Their names were Branislav (from Croatia) and Non (from Thailand). They were amazing. I'll tell you more about them later when I can post some pictures. But know they were amazing. I'll say it again fo' sho'. They always remembered, and had ready, our drinks, preferences for the babies, and even made us special appetizers for us as we walked in.
And it wasn't unheard of for all the servers to get up and do some sort of dance, or get the whole restaurant involved (more on that later too). I can't say enough about how amazing the food was. Even the buffet upstairs was gourmet food. And each day had a new theme based on where we were. Catalunyan food, Mediterranean Food, African food, French food, Italian food. I just can't say enough about the quality of the food (and this is coming from someone who grew up in the catering business...just not the 5-Star catering business...hehe).
Can you tell how excited Xoe was when Non gave her ketchup? "He even made a Mickey Mouse design." It was the attention to details like this that we were in awe over.
Xoe taught Spencer "High-Five-It" and "Punch It", of which many of the crew learned too. Every time they saw Spencer they would do "High-Five-It" and "Punch It."
And of course, the towel animals. No, I had never heard of this before now. But many people talked about it once we were on the ship. I also loved that they gave a class the last day on how to make them. I took pictures of most of them every night, which I'll be gracing you with.
Okay, so that's Day 1. I don't think many of the other days will be super long like these ones. But I know you're all dying to see it all so I'll make sure not to disappoint. hehe. 'Til tomorrow.