So the family is embarking on a fall getaway on the Disney Wonder!  This trip will be Jim and I; all three girls; my stepmom Ann; and two nephews, Danny and Christian.  We have gone back and forth on how to make this trip possible, and decided a weekend where the kids would miss the least amount of school worked just perfectly.  My girls have Thursday off, the nephews have Monday off, so the most school anyone is missing is two days.  Jim is flying down to Orlando on Wednesday night, and he and Brighid are meeting the rest of us at the airport on Thursday morning, where we will caravan in a rental car and Brighid’s car with a mountain of luggage to Port Canaveral. 

To start the trip off properly, Jim and Brighid meet us inside MCO.  How cute are they, with their homemade limo service signs?

Let’s first meet Brighid’s car.  Cute.  Downright adorable.  Lovely little cream colored creature known as a Mini Cooper. 

Adorable, right?  But we are a party of eight.  With loads of luggage.  Jim rented a comfortable car, and fortunately, we are able to fit nearly all of the larger bags in the trunk of his car, but the back of Brighid’s car is jam packed with overnight bags we don’t necessarily need on the cruise.  We hope.  I am praying all the way to the port that no one has packed life sustaining medication into a bag that looked like a bag they didn’t need on the trip.

So, in my normally disorganized state, I did not put our Disney Cruise Line tags on the suitcases I packed.  Ann, who is way more organized than I am, did put her tags on.  We took a bit longer than we should have getting to baggage claim, by the time everyone went to the bathroom, and when we got down there, my suitcases are the only ones still on the belt, moving around.  Ann’s suitcases are no where to be found.  I head over to the “Where the Hell is My Luggage” office for US Airways to find out Where The Hell Our Luggage is.  It turns out, the Mouse is SO efficient, his team even picks up bags they aren’t supposed to pick up just because it has a tag on it that says it is a cruise line piece of luggage!  With some faith, trust, and pixie dust, we leave the baggage claim (or un-claim as the case may be) area and hope the rest of the luggage arrives at the Port.

Brighid has Ann and a couple of kids with her, and Jim and I take two more kids with us, and relying on her GPS, Brighid heads off to find the ship.  Jim and I detour into a Starbucks, because the Philly airport doesn’t have one on the side I leave from, and we barely had time this morning to make our flight.  We literally arrived at the gate in time to get in line to board the plane. 

Our detour means we beat Brighid to the port by only a few minutes, instead of the length of time that Jim anticipated.  There is construction at the port, and I’m not sure where Ann and Brighid and their two kids are, but Jim drops off me, my two kids, and a mountain of luggage off at the curb in the passenger drop off zone, and he heads of to return the rented vehicle.  Brighid has dropped Ann off somewhere – where I’m not sure – and she has headed off to park her car.

As I am standing there with my mountain of luggage and two kids, a porter gathers a group of us overburdened looking souls together.  He promises salvation by way of taking our luggage from us and insuring it’s arrival onto the proper ship before said ship leaves the port.  In exchange, he requests that we look into the depths of our souls and the kindness of our hearts.  He explains that they are poorly compensated and over worked, and they suffer chronic back pain because tourists like us pack 482 pounds of luggage to bring on a trip where we will spend 3 days sitting on a beach or poolside in a bathing suit.  He tells us that while he himself is an overweight white guy, many of the employees are underfed foreigners with incredibly large families back in their native countries, all of whom need to be supported.  He begs, no, pleads with us to empty our wallets and tip generously for the effort they will put forth on our behalf.  I, of course, overtip. 

I finally get Brighid on the phone, and she tells me Ann is somewhere.  She doesn’t know where.  I call Ann, and she tells me she is already inside the terminal, relaxing peacefully with whatever children she is in charge of.  I figure I might as well go in with the children I have, and I phone Jim to tell him to meet me inside.  As always, he either does not have his phone on or readily available.  I hope he finds us.

We breeze through security, and we meet Ann upstairs.  After a few minutes, Brighid joins us.  Still no sign of Jim, but they are boarding people on the ship.  Ann suggests we try to go check in, and I don’t know if they’ll let me do that without Jim in tow.  I check with information, and they advise me that as long as he has his passport and stuff with him, all he has to do is check himself in, and get his photo taken, and he can join us. 

We head over to get into line, and the wonderful Cast Member there directing us to the proper line has something very special in common with one of the members of our sailing party!!  That member of our crew was so excited, she made this poor unsuspecting cast member pose for a photo.

Our Brighid met this Brighid.  Yep, both Brighid, both spelled Brighid.  The Disney Brighid said in all of her years (and yeah, I know she barely looks out of college herself), she has only ever met one B-R-I-G-H-I-D and it was a woman from Ireland, who pronounced the name correctly – which is BREED.  Our Brighid was so thrilled to meet in person someone with the same exact name, she could have left the port right then and considered the vacation a success.

By the time we were just about to wrap up our check in, Jim came over, checked in with us, and we were ready to go.  We went over and the kids got wristbanded for the kids’ club, and we picked up our piece of “Come Get Your Crabby Kid” beeping technology, and we were on board this beautiful ship in no time flat. 

I love the part where you walk onboard, and they call out your name and welcome the Skamarakas Family onboard, with crew members waving Mickey hands at you as you walk on.  Very cool.

I glance up at what is one of my favorite parts of the ship – the chandelier – and we head to a lovely lunch at Parrot Cay.  The table behind is us is filled with heavily armed military looking people.  I think they are the kids’ club counselors.  God bless them and the terrific job they do, no matter what kind of ammuntion it takes.

 (this is the chandelier up close)

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