9/02/2011

Asea with the Sleepys

Our first full day aboard was a day at sea as we worked our way toward Tracy Arm, Alaska. We started with a leisurely breakfast and then the doodle expressed interest in going to play. We had taken him by the Oceaneer Club when we boarded and he was in heaven running around and sliding down the big pirate ship slide, so we figured he was going to continue to enjoy the kid activities. We went and checked him in and then he realized that we were not staying...and you'd have thought the world was ending. Now, this is a boy who usually is happy to run off to play whenever we drop him somewhere with childcare (church, etc). So we coaxed a little but didn't push it, and ultimately checked him right back out and he came wandering about the ship with us instead. We did a full tour of all the decks, seeing what there was to see, and located the laundrette closest. Since we were going to have to do laundry on the trip anyway, and because the doodle had had two accidents already (taking clothes out of rotation that I hadn't counted on being out of rotation that quickly), I decided to get a load of wash done. So we got the wash started, then went to see some of the characters who were wandering about on board. I went and switched from the washer to the dryer and then Tim and the doodle set off to wander and I went to an adult-only session to learn to draw Donald Duck. My attempt was not actually terrible and when I get home, I may just scan it in and torment you with it.The end of the drawing class coincided rather nicely with the end of the dryer, so I lugged the clothes back to our room where I met up with Tim and the doodle and, after they were put away, we headed to lunch.

After lunch, the doodle was determined to swim, so, thinking that 5 minutes of swimming out in the brisk air would be that for him, I decided to let him rather than try and talk him out of it. 40 minutes later I finally had to tell him it was time to get out and go take a nap. I guess they keep the water warm enough that if you stay submerged to your shoulders you don't notice how crazy cold it is. He also went down Mickey's slide, and thought that was great, though he didn't care to do it again.

During nap time, Tim also napped and I did some school work and read, alternating with standing out on our balcony and taking pictures of the beauty that awaits you at every vista around here. God knew what He was doing when He made Alaska. (Not that other places aren't also pretty, mind you, but I'm simply in love with the PNW and everywhere we've seen so far on our trip.)

Dinner was our first (of two) formal nights. I had to teach my class right during dinner, so Tim and the kiddo headed down, determined to try and eat slowly with the thought that I'd catch up to them when I could. The Internet access being what it is on board (read: spotty and slow), I was not expecting to be teaching my class the whole hour. As it was, it was about 16 minutes before I lost my connection and couldn't get back on, despite several repeated attempts. So I really only missed the appetizers. Tim had fried ravioli, a chilled fruit soup of some sort, NY Strip, and creme brulee. I had cream of asparagus soup, potato gnocchi with a cheesy cream sauce (they were frankly a bit disappointing, not bad, but not fabulous), and a berry strudel type thing (they had some francy French name, but honestly, it was a strudel). The doodle had pizza and a Mickey Mouse ice cream bar.

The show for the night was the Golden Mickey's Award show, and since it was going to be character driven, we decided to see if the doodle could make it. We got seats on the front row of the back section, thinking that would make it easier to leave if necessary, and settled in. The production was delightful - Disney sure knows how to put on a show (here is where everyone should insert the word "duh"). It basically was a recap/highlight of all the various Disney movies, beginning with Snow White, but it was a great mix of movie and live dancing/singing, and a fun little award show script to tie it all together. The doodle was captivated by it the entire time, despite being tired.

A few notes on the cruise itself. Tim and I pretty much have decided there is no other cruise line for us -- Disney does things so much better than Royal Caribbean did (our only other experience - and it wasn't bad, but comparing it to Disney, well, there's no comparison). First off, they actually expect kids to be around (again, duh) -- but kids who stay with their parents are not seen as these bizarre creatures, there's plenty for families to do together, you don't have to foist them off on child care unless you want to. The dining is really great as well - rather than one big dining room, there are several smaller themed dining rooms and you rotate through them, so you get to eat in a different place (your waitstaff and table number comes with you) each night. This makes dinner feel more intimate rather than the huge banquet hall effect. The food is, by and large, very good. Not Michelin star quality, but then I don't think anyone is expecting that from a cruise. What I love though is that they have good kid food that the doodle is actually eating and their portions are reasonably sized. Finally, we're loving the fact that they have a ship based cell phone network, with two phones per stateroom. This way if we want to split up, we can still get in touch to coordinate or, if the doodle actually ever manages to want to stay at the Oceaneer Club, they can get in touch with us if they need to. It's a fantastic idea.

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