Saturday, January 20, 2007

Magical Adventure

The Disney Cruise Line building in Port Canaveral was all abuzz around early afternoon on December 30 as thousands of passengers made their way through pre-board proceedings. All guests were aboard and on decks 9 and 10 around 5:00pm to bid the port goodbye. The ship's stack blew out steam as the horn played the seven notes of "When You Wish Upon A Star," and off was the Disney Magic for its 7-night Western Caribbean cruise that will meet the New Year out in the open seas.

The last morning of 2006 beamed with festive glory as the Magic docked on Key West. The streets were bustling with different activities. Tour coaches and trolleys full of visitors were going to and fro various points of interest. As for us, we went for a home industry ice cream and, of course, Key Lime Pie. Incidentally, the Key Lime Pie Factory has been featured in The Food Network. As for the product, the merengue was soft, fluffy and had just the right sweetness to balance the soury tanginess of the key lime filling. We got a good kick out of it. We also visited the Southenmost Point of the country.

All were aboard by 5:00pm when again the ship's horn played "When You Wish Upon A Star" to signal the ship's port departure. At 6:00pm all four of us in semi-formal mode made our way to Palo, Disney Magic's premiere restaurant, where we had made reservations for a New Year's Eve supper. Most especially, it was our Mother's 60th birthday meal. We give the restaurant an E for excellent, and that goes for service and food. But the highlight was undoubtedly and uncontestedly - dessert. Palo's Chocolate Souffle, made by a Filipino chef aptly named Tagumpay (Success), was a rhapsody in texture and flavor as it reached the pinnalce of cocoa richness and silkiness. It was simply to die for, and in our case it was a double murder because each of us asked for a second helping. According to our server their record number of order of the souffle per person is six, and no one has yet been able to beat it.

New Year revelers started to fill the lobby atrium at 11:00pm. Champagnes were passed. Hats for gents, crowns for ladies and toy trumpets for evveryone were distributed. The joyous mood was intoxicating. Guests joined Disney Magic entertainers in dancing and singing the night away. 15 minutes before countdown, Disney characters one by one joined the crowd. Countdown started at 10 seconds. The chants grew louder as the numbers went down. Winecorks flew up in the air and balloons swooped down from the ceiling as everyone sounded their trumpets and shouted "Happy New Year!" With encouragement, guests bursted balloons for noisy fun. There was New Year's Eve buffet in all the ship's three restaurants.

We kissed the New Year morning by indulging in some fun splashes in the pool and jacuzzi. There are a lot of activities on board the ship so guests can busy themselves on days at sea. As a matter of fact, you can stay on the ship even if there's a port of call and not get bored. Walt Disney Theatre stages musicals every day starting at midafternoon. Buena Vista Theater features various Disney movies. There's also a TV in each stateroom for the couch potato. The sports deck offers different ball games, and there's a gym and spa for fitness and beauty buffs. Deck 4 serves as runners' or joggers' path. Shopaholic? Go to the ship's mall and see what might catch your fancy at Treasure Ketch and Mickey's Mates. And if dining is your guilty pleasure, there's a fastfood joint, a beverage bar and an ice cream stall that are all open 24 hours. What's great about the cruise activities, though, is that these are categorized for specific age groups so no one is left out.

There are many water and land activities to enjoy at Grand Cayman Island, a British territory, but we decided to just hang out and walk its streets. Being a touristy place, tour rates are quite skyrocket-high you'd think you're being offered a blast off at Kennedy Space Center. (,") For remembrance, we just took several photos. By this time, I have made SOP getting a fun and colorful refrigirator magnet from each port of call.

Isla Cozumel in Mexico is another touristy place. Barkers hollering tourist activities and services greet visitors as they make their way to the city center. As usual, we took obligatory photos along its seabord and some points of interest.

There was no better way to culminate the cruise than to spend a day at Castaway Cay, Disney's exclusive island resort in the Bahamas. It was a fitting finale. We were greeted by Captain Jack Sparrow, with the ghostly Flying Dutchman anchored in the cay lagoon not far behind us. The white sand beach and crystal clear seawater is a wonder to behold. Fishes swim freely alongside us. We even had a close encounter with a skate. And food was again overflowing. We had never been so fed in our entire lives that there almost came a point that we were...fed up. Hehehe. Our servers kept to their word that they will not leave us hungry at any time during the whole cruise.

Cruising is a fun and wonderful way to visit other places. Having been on a Disney, we would expect nothing less next time we fancy another voyage in the sea.
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Photos in this post are author's property.

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