As of January 1, 2019, we have closed our forums. This is a decision we did not come to lightly, but it is necessary. The software our forums run on is just too out-of-date and it poses a significant security risk. The server software itself must be updated, and it cannot be without removing the forums.
So it is with a heavy heart that we say goodbye to our long-running forums. They came online in 2000 and brought together so many wonderful Disney fans. We had friendships form, careers launch, couples marry, children born ... all because of this amazing community.
Thank you to each of you who were a part of this community. You made it possible.
And a very special thank you to our Guides (moderators), past and present, who kept our forums a happy place to be. You are the glue that held everything together, and we are forever grateful to you. Thank you aliceinwdw, Caldercup, MrsM, WillCAD, Fortissimo, GingerJ, HiddenMickey, CRCrazy, Eeyoresmom, disneyknut, disneydani, Cam22, chezp, WDWfan, Luvsun, KMB733, rescuesk, OhToodles!, Colexis Mom, lfredsbo, HiddenMickey, DrDolphin, DopeyGirl, duck addict, Disneybine, PixieMichele, Sandra Bostwick, Eeyore Tattoo, DyanKJ130, Suzy Q'Disney, LilMarcieMouse, AllisonG, Belle*, Chrissi, Brant, DawnDenise, Crystalloubear, Disneymom9092, FanOfMickey, Goofy4Goofy, GoofyMom, Home4us123, iamgrumpy, ilovedisney247, Jennifer2003, Jenny Pooh, KrisLuvsDisney, Ladyt, Laughaholic88, LauraBelle Hime, Lilianna, LizardCop, Loobyoxlip, lukeandbrooksmom, marisag, michnash, MickeyMAC, OffKilter_Lynn, PamelaK, Poor_Eeyore, ripkensnana, RobDVC, SHEANA1226, Shell of the South, snoozin, Statelady01, Tara O'Hara, tigger22, Tink and Co., Tinkerbelz, WDWJAMBA, wdwlovers, Wendyismyname, whoSEZ, WildforWD, and WvuGrrrl. You made the magic.
We want to personally thank Sara Varney, who coordinated our community for many years (among so many other things she did for us), and Cheryl Pendry, our Message Board Manager who helped train our Guides, and Ginger Jabour, who helped us with the PassPorter-specific forums and Live! Guides. Thank you for your time, energy, and enthusiasm. You made it all happen.
There are other changes as well.
Why? Well, the world has changed. And change with it, we must. The lyrics to "We Go On" for IllumiNations say it best:
We go on to the joy and through the tears
We go on to discover new frontiers
Moving on with the current of the years.
We go on
Moving forward now as one
Moving on with a spirit born to run
Ever on with each rising sun.
To a new day, we go on.
It's time to move on and move forward.
PassPorter is a small business, and for many years it supported our family. But the world changed, print books took a backseat to the Internet, and for a long time now it has been unable to make ends meet. We've had to find new ways to support our family, which means new careers and less and less time available to devote to our first baby, PassPorter.
But eventually, we must move on and move forward. It is the right thing to do.
So we are retiring this newsletter, as we simply cannot keep up with it. Many thanks to Mouse Fan Travel who supported it all these years, to All Ears and MousePlanet who helped us with news, to our many article contributors, and -- most importantly -- to Sara Varney who edited our newsletter so wonderfully for years and years.
And we are no longer charging for the Live Guides. If you have a subscription, it's yours to keep for the lifetime of the Live Guides at no additional cost. The Live Guides will stay online, barring server issues and technical problems, for all of 2019.
That said, PassPorter is not going away. Most of the resources will remain online for as long as we can support them, and after that we will find ways to make whatever we can available. PassPorter means a great deal to us, and to many of you, and we will do our best to keep it alive in whatever way we can. Our server costs are high, and they'll need to come out of our pockets, so in the future you can expect some changes so we can bring those costs down.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for your amazing support over the years. Without you, there's no way us little guys could have made something like this happen and given the "big guys" a run for their money. PassPorter was consistently the #3 guidebook after the Unofficial and Official guides, which was really unheard of for such a small company to do. We ROCKED it thanks to you and your support and love!
If you miss us, you can still find some of us online. Sara started a new blog at DisneyParkPrincess.com -- I strongly urge you to visit and get on her mailing list. She IS the Disney park princess and knows Disney backward and forward. And I am blogging as well at JenniferMaker.com, which is a little craft blog I started a couple of years ago to make ends meet. You can see and hear me in my craft show at https://www.youtube.com/c/jennifermaker . Many PassPorter readers and fans are on Facebook, in groups they formed like the PassPorter Trip Reports and PassPorter Crafting Challenge (if you join, just let them know you read about it in the newsletter). And some of our most devoted community members started a forum of their own at Pixie Dust Lane and all are invited over.
So we encourage you to stay in touch with us and your fellow community members wherever works best for you!
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Great start! Sounds like this is going to be an incredible trip!
It was a great trip! It was much less stressful than the one to Peru and the one to Scandinavia. Right now I don't have any travel plans and it is a weird feeling. I know I will be going to Denver, CO in July 2012. Every four years gay and lesbian choruses from around the world converge to perform in one city for one week. In 2012, it's Denver. So I need to save money for that. But of course, I kinda wanna go to WDW in 2011. It's been sooooo long! Plus, Craig is still good friends with an ex of his who lives in Orlando. I am able to use that angle to try and make a visit. It more has to do with money than anything else, as always.
Love your pictures--looking forward to seeing a lot more of them!
Thank you so much! As always I took a ton of pictures. There were over 700 that I alone took. Plus, there were pictures that I purchased from professional photographers. Obviously, I am not going to post all of those pictures here. I just try to post my favorites and ones that help to illustrate my story.
Great updates Douglas - I always love your trip reports, as (again, like me - we're too alike! ) you focus on the architecture of the places you visit. You say that Disney don't quite capture the aroma of New Orleans (not that I'm sure they'd want to.... ) but I tell you, one of those buildings, they captured beautifully in New Orleans Square in Disneyland. It's lovely to see things like that and remember how realistic the Imagineers make everything.
Nice weather you've had so far--and it sounds like you're meeting some interesting people already (love the story of the personable cab driver--stories like that really make a TR come alive!) Glad you found your bubbles, even tho you had to go to the Evil Empire to do so...
I was excited to find another TR of yours, Douglas! Looks like I have another one of yours to catch up on, too--the sweepstakes one. I've never been on a cruise, so I'm looking forward to hearing about yours.
At the cruise ship terminal we joined a giant queue. As soon as we were in line I broke out our Mardi Gras beads for Craig and I to wear. Woooo-hoo! The party has begun! We might as well have a little fun while we wait in the line. I’m horrible at estimating distances so you will just have to trust me when I say it was long and moving slowly. A day or so prior to leaving for New Orleans, members of our roll call reported receiving phone messages from Carnival that this sailing was fully booked and they would encourage passengers to start the embarkation process at 10 am instead of the usual noon. I thought this was smart of them. This way the herd is spread out over time and people don’t experience a huge clusterf***. I had asked Craig if he got one of those phone calls at dinner on Friday night and he said no, he did not. Neither had I. In any event, we had lucked out because directly in front of us in line was a really nice family of four with a young girl and boy who were very well behaved. I recall the boy really wanted to help out in handling their luggage. So sweet! Meanwhile we hear on the intercom the announcements of zones to be boarded. Added to that was a certain security guard who had an ear piercing whistle which he loved to blow incessantly when folks tried to park and unload in banned areas (i.e. right where I am standing seemingly right in my ear).
This is the line of people before us waiting to have their documents checked just after we joined the queue.
Shortly after we got in line this formed behind us
The employee who checked our boarding pass and ID really scrutinized me and my documents. She was rather annoyed that I wasn’t wearing my prescription glasses. I explained that I had my sunglasses instead because it is awfully sunny in NOLA. She gave me a nasty, irritated look and waived me on. I noticed the other line had an employee that wasn’t nearly as fastidious in his scrutiny and people moved more quickly.
As I moved on I climbed some stairs only to find another line. This one actually moved briskly. Before I knew it we had cleared security only to be put into another line. Decks were separated and fed into lines which ultimately led to a Carnival employee checking you in. I received my Sail & Sign card which is my key to my stateroom and is used for any purchases made on board ship with a few exceptions. Craig was informed he would be invited into a past guest party. Since I’m his cabin mate I was also invited. We both opted to use cash as the method of payment for our cards. This way we could better monitor our spending.
Next, we queue our way over to have a picture taken with a backdrop. Onto the gangway and we have our up close look at the Carnival Triumph. The nice thing about this ship is that it looks like a ship. A cruise ship that was recently launched is the Norwegian Epic. The Epic looks like a floating brick. It is incredibly ugly from the outside. At least the Triumph has some nice lines from the outside.
Our first views of the ship as we walk along the gangway
Finally we are on board. Yay! First stop was the guest relations desk. I needed to deposit my cash to be applied to my Sail & Sign card. Craig wanted to do the same thing but he mistakenly had stowed his cash away in his luggage that he had checked in at the port. D’oh! Note to self: remind Craig to check for important items to be on his person when we leave the ship.
Three days before we were to embark, Joy (Truchattycathy) on Cruise Critic had mentioned that she noticed that the suites and balconies on our sailing were sold out. However, the inside and outside view rooms were dropping in price at a significant rate. Craig had booked our room under Carnival’s Early Saver program. One of the benefits of that program is that if you see a price drop, up to 3 days prior to your sailing you can report that to Carnival for one of two benefits. Up until a certain point you could opt for an upgrade in your room. The monetary difference would determine what kind of upgrade you would receive. Most of the time you get the same category room only located on a more desirable part or deck of the ship. The other option is to receive an on board credit onto your account. When Joy had mentioned the price drop I immediately checked it out and discovered a significant price drop. On Carnival’s website there is a link for a form you fill out to report price drops. Since Craig was the person who had booked the room. I made the report “as Craig” with his contact information. The odd thing was that he never received a message from Carnival about the on board credit. But I sure did the day after submitting my claim! We each received $90 onto our accounts! Wooo! Thank you Joy!!! Because I had gotten the $90, he had enough on his card to cover tips so he was ok for now despite the wallet going into his luggage. Hopefully, his luggage will turn up.
It was just past 1:30 at this point. Thatís the time when you can enter your room. We go to check out our stateroom. Wow! It is a lot of room for a cruise ship room. We have an Ocean View room with a picture window. On the Triumph this room is a bit bigger than an inside room at 220 square feet. There is plenty of storage space. There was no need for an over the door shoe hanger for just two people. If four were sharing this room I totally could understand why. Craig was pleasantly surprised. You see, originally, Craig was the person who booked this trip. When he did so he booked the room that was the least expensive on the ship. That would be an inside room on the lowest deck for passengers. After a couple of months, I arranged to pay for an upgrade as his birthday present. I paid for an Outside View one deck higher. In addition to the greater amount of room, you get a little couch with a desk, and all of that wonderful sunlight streaming in. I had wanted it to be a big surprise, but I knew that on the cruise documents that you can access online that he could see that the room location and type had changed. So the night that I paid for the upgrade I called him up and spilled the beans. He told me that he probably would have never noticed. AAaaaagh! I thought it would have been an awesome surprise to see the nicer room as you open the door. Oh well.
Of course our beds were separated at first. I would later run into my room steward and request he arrange the room by putting the two beds together. I made sure to tip him a few extra dollars for this added bit of work. The dťcor of the room and outer hallway is more low key than the rest of the shop which is more in line with my personal taste.
Pictures of Room 2250, Outside View Category, Deck 2 (Main) on Carnival Triumph
Whew! That's some boarding procedure--line after line! But you're on board, and with an on-board credit! I just went to the Carnival site to look at a photo of the Triumph--it does have nicer lines than a lot of the ships. Can't wait to see photos of the stateroom and public areas.
At 3:00 or 3:30 is the safety briefing. We still have plenty of time before that. Time for us to eat! After stowing our belongings in our room we venture out to grab some lunch. I was anticipating a huge horde of folks. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it wasnít all that bad at all. Craig accessed the main buffet line. I wanted to explore my eating options. I discovered the Asian corner and had sliced beef with honey chili plus some rice. I had some ice tea since it is included in my cruise fare. I wanted to check out where we would meet our fellow cruise critic members later in the day. I found the New World bar which is port side. I crossed over the aft section of the ship and found a seat at a nice quiet table starboard side with a lovely view of the Mississippi and the port of New Orleans. My lunch was really enjoyable. The food was quite tasty. Eventually Craig finds me and joins me at my table. He has all sorts of goodness for lunch. What exactly I can not recall. I have a hard enough time remembering what I ate much less someone else. Now the wonderful thing about a cruise ship is the never ending supply of food which is included as part of your cruise fare. I decide I am still hungry and go to check out the Napoli pizza place. I ordered the magnificent De Chevre pizza. The crew member didnít have a slice at the ready so he went to make one for me. That slice of pizza was so wonderfully good. It was filled with mozzarella, goat cheese (the de chevre part), and mushrooms. Oh my god! Wonderful, wonderful! Pizza is available 24 hours a day as is the next treat in which I indulged: 24 hour soft serve ice cream and frozen yogurt. Score! Craig and I chat and enjoy our wonderful first meal aboard the Triumph.
The main lunch buffet area
My view of the port of New Orleans as I look out from my seat at lunch
This is probably my favorite picture of Craig from this trip as he is about to join me for lunch
My Asian Corner lunch
The incredibly yummy De Chevre pizza
Here I indulging myself with a soft serve ice cream cone
Eventually it is time to go to our safety briefing. We go back to our room to check on where we needed to report. There is a map of the ship on our room door that directs us to our muster station. We hear an announcement calling the passengers to the briefing. Even though I had read that it is best not to show up on time and to wait so you donít get stuck all the way behind a mass of people, I just have a knee jerk reaction to the announcement. You tell me to do something and I do it. Craig and I walk up a deck and file into our allotted zone for the briefing. We spent more time waiting for people to arrive and get into place than we did for the whole briefing. It wasnít all that long and now that we donít have to don the life preservers it isnít all that unpleasant either. Craig and I were sandwiched between a bunch of people but it was perfectly fine. We get the signal that the briefing is over and our side of the ship wins and gets to leave first. Yay!
Our Cruise Critic roll call was one of the most active threads on the Carnival Triumph forum if one judges by the numbers. There were oodles of views and posts. Granted, this was fueled by a core group of about five people. Myself, being one of the core group of five. A huge shout out needs to be given to Jim (wineforhealth). He was the original poster of the thread. Without him I donít think my trip would have been nearly as enjoyable. We all definitely wanted to meet each other and wanted to have a Meet Ďní Greet. After a bit of debate we early on decided to have our first Meet Ďní Greet immediately following the safety briefing on our very first day. We would have our own little Sail Away Party. Early on in our thread, one of the posters (sorry I canít remember who) said that they had already purchased their Cruise Critic t-shirts for the first day of the cruise. I suggested that since these t-shirts are blue, why donít we all wear blue tops? That is easy and allows for some leeway. We could have made it that everyone wear a cruise critic t-shirt; but why force people into spending money unnecessarily. I also suggested that since we are in New Orleans we all could wear Mardi Gras beads. Even if you donít live in NOLA, they are readily available at dollar stores, party stores, etc. I was lucky. I had a small supply of them from various events that I have attended over the years. I had enough beads for both Craig and myself.
Before joining the gang from Cruise Critic I first went to the New World bar to get my Drink of the Day. They seemed rather busy, so I went back to the main pool area and found a not so busy bartender at a bar near there. I tried to explain as I waived a $5 bill, that if they made my drink a bit stronger than normal the cash was theirs. On all bar bills the gratuity is automatically included in the bill. So the bartender would be getting $5 in cash that they donít have to report on top of the 18% or whatever the amount is of the automatic gratuity. The downside was this bartenderís English skills were rather poor and I donít think she understood what the heck I was talking about. Lesson learned: not trying that again. My beverage was the Funship Special. The Funship Special is 1 oz. Vodka
1 1/2 oz. Light Rum, 1/4 oz. Apricot Brandy, 1/4 oz. Amaretto and6 oz. fruit punch. It was tasty but I would have appreciated stronger alcohol content. I suggest if you make it at home you can give it a greater kick.
Craig and I make our way back to the aft portion of the ship and once we get to the New World Bar climb the stairs up one deck. As we emerge from below, I shout to the crowd that had gathered ďCruise Critic in tha House!Ē Wooo! The Sail Away Party has begun. There were already a number of people gathered right above the New World Bar on this exposed part of the ship. The wind was definitely blowing. Jay (Aeeo) had brought ďMy name isÖĒ tags and sharpies. Craig and I each slap a name tag on and started to mingle. I loved Jayís giant Mardi Gras beads. They were huge! That boy has some big balls. I was not the only Cruise Critic member with an alcoholic beverage. Many like me had chosen the Drink of the Day.
Larry holds court with the ladies
Joy and I having fun at Sail Away
Cheryl and I enjoy a good laugh
Before you knew it, it was 4:00 pm and the ship was pulling out of port. Time to break out the bubbles! Some of my fellow cruisers were smart and had purchased battery operated guns and machines that produced bubbles like nobodyís business. We all had such a good time chatting, drinking, blowing bubbles, and getting to know one another. I am so happy that I got the chance to meet these folks. It truly enhanced the cruise experience for me. At one point I made sure to have a toast for Jim since without him none of us would be having that much fun. Heidi (Jayís better half) started to film people getting their reaction to the day, the ship, and cruising in general. I extolled upon the virtues of gastronomy upon a cruise ship. I got to know Betty and Larry (lacajungirl), Patty & Rick (cosmo cruising), Cheryl & Tom (MINItencan), Paul & JoAnn (DeafDude), Mlb114 and her crew of great ladies, Jeremy & Danny (hometownboy 98), hugged Doug & Andy (dndranchguys), and laughed with Joy. Plus, met so many other great people.
The Cruise Critic Sail Away
Jay looks on as I blow some bubbles during Sail Away
Craig and I with New Orleans as our backdrop
During the Sail Away, Craig went back to our room to check to see if his luggage had appeared yet. His had but his luggage had a detachable backpack portion. This detachable portion got detached and did not make it to our room. At guest relations they had a lost luggage area and he quickly found it there. So his money was recovered and he was able to put more money onto his card. When he returned to the party he informed me that for him everything was ok. However, my bag was not in the room. I started to fret a bit. I thought it was a little odd that since our bags were taken away together they should be delivered around the same time. I decided not to worry since they have until 7 or 8 oíclock before all the bags are supposed to be delivered.
As far as Carnivalís entertainment programming, I think they could make the sail away much more of an organized event. Sail Away is an exciting part of your vacation. It is the landmark that says, ďlet the fun beginĒ. The Disney Cruise line does an excellent job of communicating about expectations for Sail Away and an actual party does take place. One thing that I did like about Carnivalís programming is the wandering servers who make it extremely easy to get a beverage. That was really convenient and nice. Of course, it helps them out too. The alcohol sales is one of the biggest sources of income on a cruise.
New Orleans was a great port to see glide by as we sailed along the Mississippi. If you have the opportunity to have NOLA be your embarkation point, I highly recommend it. People along the shore would wave as we passed by. It just was a special point in the cruise. The ship would not leave the Mississippi river until I probably was fast asleep in bed.
The sun sets on the mighty Mississippi
NEXT: Our first dinner: Carnivalís Your Time Dining