Tag Archives: Disney Cruise Line

My Love Affair with Disney~Part 3

4 Sep

SUNDAY MEMORIES

Judy Wills

 

 

Because Fred and I have Disney running through our veins, we have a LOT of Disney memorabilia around our house. Last time I shared some of our Disney memorabilia. I would like to share a bit more this time.

Fred’s sister and her husband came to visit us a few years ago. We did take them to EPCOT, which we all enjoyed. We also took them to (then) Downtown Disney (now Disney Springs). We usually enjoy taking visitors there – especially if they don’t really want to do one of the “parks.” It gives them a “taste” of Disney, without feeling like they must spend an entire day there, to justify the cost of the ticket. If they don’t want to purchase anything, that’s okay. We do enjoy showing them our favorite eatery there (the Earl of Sandwich), as it is probably the most inexpensive spot to eat within the Disney complex. And the hot sandwiches are GREAT!!

 

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In any case, when they came to visit, as we wandered through some of the shops, Jim pointed out a Mickey Mouse figurine to Sally, and they purchased it for us as a thank-you for all we had done for them on their visit. A few days later, after they returned home, we went back to Downtown Disney and purchased another figurine – one that I’d had my eye on for a while. They aren’t a true match, but I like them both, just the same.

 

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And then there’s the Precious Moments® figurine with Bambi in it. Really sweet.

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Anyone remember those old “E” tickets at Disney? They are long gone now, but we remember those tickets from the 1970’s when we first went to Disney World (which only had the Magic Kingdom at that time). Little pieces of papers littered the ground just everywhere you looked. Disney finally got smart and stopped that nonsense! However, they have brought them back – as magnets! And so I have them on our refrigerator door. Gives us a great opportunity to explain them to our grandchildren.

 

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And since we sail with the Disney Cruise Line as often as we do (our favorite cruise line, by the way!), we have reached the Gold level – five cruises with Disney. And we got this great magnet for it! We used to feel really honored to have sailed that many times with Disney – until we met a couple who had sailed 18 times with Disney!! Yikes!

 

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One last magnet for this posting – we had seen this magnet on several cars, and liked it. When we finally saw it at Downtown Disney, we snapped it up. And now it resides on our refrigerator door. I think it’s adorable!

 

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More next time.

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~To Be Continued~~~~~~~~~~

You Can’t Outgive God~Part 3

19 Aug

A Slice of Life

 Bill Lites

Bill Red Spot Plane

 

DiVoran remembers that when it was time for lunch that day, we went upstairs to a fancy Trattoria. After we were seated, Erika discerned a small spot on the white tablecloth. When the waiter came to take our orders, she insisted, in rapid Italian and much hand waving, that the waiter immediately change the tablecloth for her American friends. DiVoran and I really felt sorry for that poor waiter but, the way Erika brow beat him, it was all we could do to keep from laughing out loud.

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On the train back to Venice, we joked and laughed so hard, about all of our experiences of the day that the four hour trip passed like one. We were each given a small package of cookies as a snack and, later, when DiVoran said she wished she had more, a young man who had been listening and enjoying our jokes, tossed his package of cookies onto her small table as he walked past to get off at his stop. That brought on another round of giggles.

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That day’s experiences will give you just a small idea of how many of our wonderful Italian vacation days went for us. Some were better than others, but they were all marvelous and we treasure the memory of each one of them. We really hated to leave when our vacation time was up, but all good things can’t last forever. We also learned that Marcia was instrumental in helping Erika’s father Lorenzo get a job with DCL as translator and Italian coordinator with the shipyard workers. She really had her hand on the pulse of that DCL office.

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So, when construction on the “Wonder” was finished Marcia and Erika, along with Lorenzo and his wife Ornella, were among the Disney team members who worked their way across the Atlantic, on the ship making it ready for its first Disney cruise from Port Canaveral, FL. DCL had made some special arrangements for their two cruise ships to arrive at Port Canaveral at the same time for PR purposes. The “Wonder” was arriving from Italy, and the “Magic” was returning from a regularly scheduled cruise. Our whole family went to the port to see the two ships arrive and it was quite a sight. There were news helicopters everywhere, “Welcome“ signs towed by airplanes, daylight fireworks fired off from the two ships, and “Mickey” hands for all of us to wave at each other with. It was a typical Disney gala event.

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DiVoran and I invited Marcia, Erika, Lorenzo and Ornella to a birthday dinner for my sister Judy, where they were able to meet our entire family. Judy and her husband Fred, our daughter Charlene and her husband Ron, our son Billy and his wife Lisa, and their two children Jacob and Lacey all crowded around the dinner table, getting acquainted while we ate. It was Lorenzo and Ornella’s first trip to America and they were interested in everything they saw and heard.

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We all had a great time and Erika invited DiVoran and me to be her guests on the first training cruise to the Bahamas on the “Wonder.” You can imagine our surprise! Neither of us had ever been on a pleasure cruise of any kind, so this was too wonderful for us to believe. And let me tell you, it was every bit as WONDERFUL as you might imagine!

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As you can see, that original gesture of love and acceptance DiVoran showed Marcia way back in 1987, began a friendship that has lasted many years. And, for us, has been returned many times over and in many different ways over in the years since then. Our God is so good about keeping His promises to us when we listen and follow His instructions and directions.

 

Luke 6:38

 

—–The End—–

 

You Can’t Outgive God~Part 2

12 Aug

A Slice of Life

 Bill Lites

Bill Cross Plane

 One of the people Marcia made friends with during her time in Italy was Erika, a 26-year-old single Italian office worker who had agreed to be Marcia’s Italian teacher. When construction on the “Magic” was finished, Marcia and Erika were among the DCL Team members who worked their way across the Atlantic on the ship making it ready for its first Disney cruise from Port Canaveral, FL. Upon completion of that “Shakedown Cruise,” Erika went back to Italy and Marcia went back to work with WDI here in Florida. DiVoran and Marcia reconnected and it wasn’t long before she asked us to join her, as her guest, for another “Employee Day” at Disney World’s Epcot Center. It was a wonderful day, and we loved every minute of it

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When the DCL crew was assembled in 1998 to support the building of the second DCL ship “Wonder” in Italy, Marcia was part of that group from the start. About six months after she got to Italy and settled in, she invited us to come to Italy for a visit and to stay with her for part of our trip. In February of 1999 DiVoran and I took our “Italian Vacation Trip of a Lifetime.” Most days were hazy (with some heavy fog) and very cold (30F – 40F) but we just bundled up and enjoyed the adventure.

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Marcia introduced us to Erika and many of her other Italian friends, who received us into their circle as if we were family. “Any friend of Marcia is a friend of ours.” We stayed with Marcia in her apartment in the small town of Mogliano Veneto and she and Erika were our very own personal traveling companions, tour guides, and interpreters, which made our visit to Italy the best and most wonderfully memorable trip it could have been. One of the funniest things was the day (early in our stay) when Erika confided in us, out of Marcia’s hearing, that it was her opinion that Marcia really had limited language skills and she would appreciate it if we didn’t tell anyone that she was Marcia’s Italian teacher. We kept her secret. Our special tour guides showed us all the beautiful and interesting sites as we visited places like Venice, Padua, Verona, Bologna, Florence, Murano, Burano and the beautiful little mountain village of Asolo.

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Just to give you an idea of how many of our days went, I remember it was cold and foggy the morning the four of us hurried to Venice to catch the train to Florence. There were so many wonderful things to see, that upon arrival in Florence, Erika and DiVoran took off one way and Marcia and I went another. There is not time enough to tell you about the beauty of that city and the vast historic art treasures housed in their museums and cathedrals.

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But…as the story goes, sometime during their stroll around that beautiful city of Florence and its marvelous museums, DiVoran told Erika she would like a warmer pair of gloves, to wear over the thin leather ones she had. So, Erika took her into a glove shop and asked to see gloves.

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The very proper clerk behind the counter showed them several styles and colors. DiVoran picked a pair she thought she would like, and the clerk propped her elbow on a wooden stand made for that purpose. He carefully smoothed one beautiful bright red glove and then the other on her hands, and buttoned the small round buttons at her wrists. DiVoran liked them so much that she asked Erika to help her use her credit card to pay for them. DiVoran has always loved those gloves, but to this day I don’t think she has ever asked anyone how much they cost.

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   —–To Be Continued—–

You Can’t Outgive God~Part 1

5 Aug

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Bill Small Red Plane

DiVoran met our friend Marcia in 1987 at the first Christian Writer’s Conference hosted by Park Avenue Baptist Church (PAB) here in Titusville. Marcia was one of the invited conference speakers, and she was holding classes on “Script Writing.” It was a difficult time for Marcia as she had used up all the family resources caring for her husband who had just died of M.S. after an extended illness. She had arrived in Florida to attend the Writer’s Conference with all her belongings in a very old van, which she was also living in. As she and DiVoran talked about writing subjects, Marcia happened to ask where she could find a laundromat. DiVoran offered to take the few things she needed washed home and do them for her. This small act of kindness on DiVoran’s part was the beginning of a long and wonderful friendship.

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After the Writer’s Conference, Marcia decided to stay in Florida and got a job with a small Central Florida town newspaper. That job allowed her to spend a lot of her spare time writing and selling dinner theater mysteries. For a place to live she took up house sitting. This caused her to do a lot of living out of boxes, but she liked getting paid for a place to stay instead of having to pay rent. In 1988 we invited Marcia to stay with us while she and DiVoran attended the next Christian Writers conference at PAB.

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DiVoran and Marcia saw each other at several more Writers’ Conferences after that, and their friendship continued to grow. Then one day we got a call from Marcia inviting us to come visit her in the town where she was working and house sitting. She showed us around her newspaper office and took us to a collectibles museum. What a grand time that was. In 1995 Marcia invited our family to go with her to the Annual Renaissance Festival in Sarasota, Florida. We camped at the Myakka River State Park and our whole family had a wonderful time at the festival with Marcia and visiting the many places of interest around that area.

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The next thing we knew, Marcia had a job with Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI) here in Florida. Her job was as an Administrative Assistant/Office Manager. Then in 1998 Marcia invited us to join her for the “Employee Day” at the new Disney Animal Kingdom Park. A wonderful time was had by all as we explored that wonderfully creative new Disney theme park. Marcia moved up in her job responsibilities at WDI and with her innovative ideas she became a real asset to the company.

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As it happened, Disney Cruise Line (DCL) had begun construction on their first cruise ship “Magic” in Italy sometime in 1996. It wasn’t long after that huge construction project got under way, according to Marcia, that the DCL office there in Italy began having a lot of trouble with the Italian office staff being able to understanding the DCL paperwork systems. Marcia was selected to be sent to Italy to help organize the Italian DCL office and coordinate the many various needs that the DCL office had to deal with on a daily basis. It wasn’t long before she became the unofficial office manager and the Italian DCL office began to run a lot smoother after that. 

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—–To Be Continued—–

The Birds

9 Feb

SUNDAY MEMORIES

Judy Wills

Judy Wills

I’ve not always been fascinated by birds – they just came with the territory, right?  I don’t especially remember any birds in New Mexico that excited me – perhaps the road runner, but not much of that.

Then Fred and I married and moved to Fort Worth, Texas.  All of a sudden, there were birds chirping everywhere, and I had no clue what they were!  They made all kinds of different sounds.  When a friend said they were Mocking Birds, I was astounded.  Wow! I said – we don’t have those in Albuquerque!  Then SHE was astounded!  Judy!  They are everywhere!  Not in New Mexico!!  (They probably are, but what did I know?)

And so, little by little, I began to notice the birds wherever we went/moved.  Some were just birds, some were more interesting.  I noticed the Blue Jays; I noticed the tiny sparrows; I noticed the Robins.  And on and on.

One funny thing I remember is when Fred and I took our first Disney cruise.  The last port of call of the cruise is their private island, Castaway Cay.  We walked along, and, since it was getting to be lunch time, we began to notice the places where we could grab a bite to eat.  What caught our attention, is that someone had packed out a plate of food, but had left it on the table – probably to get themselves something to drink.  That was NOT the thing to do, as the little Finches are so abundant there, and a mass of them had descended upon that plate of food and were devouring it!  It was hilarious for us to see – no so much for the one wanting to eat the food!  Those little yellow birds were everywhere on the island.  Cute little things.

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But I guess the birds that fascinate me the most are the Sandhill Cranes.  To me they are elegant.  They are so stately, and walk with such grace.  They have that beautiful triangle of red on their heads.  And the sound they make!  What a croak that is!  I’ve tried to duplicate it for our grandchildren, but have been unable to do so.  They just had to hear it for themselves.

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We always like to go past a nearby pond in the Spring time, just to see if we can spot a Sandhill Crane family – Mom, Dad, and at least one fuzzball of a baby.  Frequently, we see twin fuzzballs!  Such fun!

When we moved to Florida, DiVoran asked me what we would like for them to give us to help us get “situated.”  I mentioned all the birds we saw there that were unfamiliar to us, so she gave us a bird book.  Once, when we were with Bill and DiVoran, I mentioned that I had learned that cranes fly with their necks and feet/legs straight out from their body – like a crane, while herons fly with their necks crooked and legs tucked.  DiVoran said, “how do you know that?”  I replied, “I learned it from the bird book you gave us!”

Eagles are probably my very favorite bird.  I’m so glad those in charge over-road Benjamin Franklin’s suggestion to make the turkey the American Bird – and chose the eagle.  So much more regal.  Arrogant?  Perhaps.  But to me they just symbolize America.  And to see them soar – and to hear their call – well, what’s not to notice?

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 Isaiah 40:31

but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Our Trip to Italy-Part 5

3 Apr

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Bill

Wednesday DiVoran woke up with a bad cold, so she stayed at the apartment to rest while I checked out the bus and train routes into Venice from Mogliano Veneto.  I lucked out and met an Italian student on the bus who spoke enough English to help me with the transfer from the bus to the right train to get me into the Venice train station, and then which train and bus to catch to get back to the Mogliano Veneto station.

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I had a snack at a small caffe on the Grand Canal and then checked out some of the smaller shops, staying close to the canal, as it is easy to get lost in the tangle of narrow streets and waterways in Venice.  I bought DiVoran a small glass aquarium in hopes that it would cheer her up some.  The trip back to the apartment was uneventful, and we ate roast pig leftovers, with artichokes and fresh Italian bread that evening at the apartment.

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On Thursday, Divoran was still not feeling up to par, so she stayed at the apartment again, and I went to work with Marcia so I could see where she worked and to get a tour of the new Disney cruise ship “Wonder” in its final stages of completion.  The Wonder was built at the celebrated Fincantieri shipyards, displaces 83,000 tons, is 964 feet long and 106 feet wide, and features 11 massive decks which can accommodate 2700 passengers along with 960 cast and crew members.  I’m always amazed at how these giant ships are put together one piece at a time.

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Then at 4:00 in the afternoon, Marcia took me to the dentist.  The morning before, at breakfast, I broke one of my top front crowns in half, and it looked terrible, and had sharp edges.  Just by chance we had met the lady, Marcia’s dentist friend, at the pig roast a few nights before, and now she had made arrangements for me to get my crown repaired.  Some people might like to call this a coincidence, but think it’s just another example of how God is watching over us, were ever we find ourselves in this world.

Well, Marcia got lost looking for the dentist office, but the dentist stayed open to wait for us.  She did a great repair job on my crown, and then wouldn’t take any pay for the work, no matter how hard I tried.  Just try to find that kind of hospitality anywhere in the U.S.

Friday, DiVoran and I tested my bus/train memory to get into Venice for some shopping, a quick lunch, and then rode the train back to Mogliano Veneto.  That wore DiVoran out, so that night, I went with Marcia, Stephano, Roberta and five Disney cast members to the Di Marcone Ristorante (a special family owned restaurant) for a grilled chicken dinner.  They are only open Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and only cater to large groups.  You have to reserve your table and they expect you to stay the entire evening.  The food and the company were great, but we were there from 8:00 PM until after 12:00 Midnight

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The next day we drove with Marcia and Erika to Verona, to see the sights of that famous city, where it is alleged the balcony is, on which Juliet stood when Romeo wooed her from the courtyard below, in Shakespere’s famous play of the early 1500’s.  For a few Lira, lovers can write their names on the wall under that famous balcony, and of course we did.

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One of the most interesting things we saw in Verona was all the trash dumpsters on the streets were painted by the local school children and are very bright and cheery.  It really brightened up the streets and some of them even made us laugh.

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—–To Be Continued—–

 

OUR CRUISE TO MEXICO – Part 2

17 Mar

SUNDAY MEMORIES

 Judy Wills

                                                   

JudyFirst port of call was George Town, Grand Cayman Islands, British West Indies.

 

We had to tender into town from the ship, as the port wasn’t deep enough for the ships to anchor there.  There were four cruise ships in port at one time – I know of our ship – the Norwegian Majesty, with Norwegian Cruise Lines, and the Disney Magic with the Disney Cruise Line.  It was a busy port.

 

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George Town was like a lot of tropical port cities – lots of “inexpensive” jewelry stores.  I guess our tastes aren’t very complicated, because that “inexpensive” jewelry seemed awfully expensive to us!!  And so we escaped unscathed!

Fred and I walked around the town quite a bit, just to see what was there.  We came upon a monument dedicated to King George V.  Interesting…..

 

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Not far from that monument, we came upon a very unique tree.  The shape made us wonder whether or not it had been “shaped” or if it actually grew that way.  It was a huge tree and gave some much-welcomed shade.  It was really HOT in George Town!

 

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We had signed up for a type of glass-bottom boat tour, and were eager to see it.  It was similar to the regular glass-bottom boats you would think of, but this one was different.  While there were areas to sit up top, the main viewing section was downstairs.  The lower part of the boat was underwater, and glassed-in, with huge windows.  Almost 360-degree viewing!  They called it a “semi-sub.”  It was a most enjoyable ride, and they had a diver that came along and fed the fish for us.  So we were able to see a lot of fish – some known to us, and some unique.

 

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After the semi-sub ride, it was time to return to the ship, so we got in line to catch the tender back.  The line was quite long.  As I was looking ahead of us, I spotted a young man in a red t-shirt that had on the back “4est” – and I knew that Karen and her family were there.  Our grandson’s name is Forrest, by the way.  So we “cut in line” and were able to catch an earlier tender than we would have if we had stayed in that long line.

 

More to come……….

 

How Books & Such And The Disney Imagineers Ruined My Cruise.

27 Mar

I am generally a pretty laid back kind of person but last week the opinions on the blog, Books & Such and the Disney Imagineers just about ruined my cruise on the new Disney Fantasy.

How did this happen? Consider these two paragraphs from the blog:

Building a significant literary career takes perseverance. Some agents and publishers view the self-pubbed author as one who lacks the patience to build slowly and strategically.

When you make a choice to go it alone, some professionals could see it as a maverick attitude. Does it denigrate what a whole team brings to the process?

The whole cruise I could not get these words out of my mind. Would this writer hold the same standard to an artist or musician? Should an artist never let the public see their work until an established gallery decided it was worthy of a show? What about Chris Daughtry, should he have never played in a band before he could be “discovered” on American Idol?  Self publication has brough to the writer the same opportunity to share their craft, artists and musicians have always enjoyed. With the availability of self publication it is ridiculous to expect writers to wait six months for one publishing house to make a decision before they can submit to another house. That is not patience, it is foolishness.

Since I didn’t want to allow one blog post to steal my chill, I headed for my favorite spot on a Disney ship, Quiet Cove.  On the Dream and Fantasy it is an adult only area with  plump chairs, cushy loungers ,a soaking pool, huge hot tub and servers who will bring  you a nice latte  or tea. This is where the Disney Imagineers ruined my cruise. Why would they jam an enormous jumbotron movie screen blasting NEMO! NEMO! next to a quiet area? THINK imagineers, THINK.

If you would like to read the whole blog from Books & Such, you can find it here:

http://www.booksandsuch.biz/?p=12912

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