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View Full Version : March 18-25 trip Report Eastern Magic


mdoodle
03-26-2006, 08:11 AM
Hi everyone,
I really wanted to give my trip report as a first time cruiser! This is going to be long!
I travelled with my DD11, my sister and my mother. A girls' trip!
We had a great trip! Wasn't too sure after the first day if I would be so happy by the end of 7 days but the experience grew on me all week. I'll separate this report into categories:

Boarding
We arrived at the terminal just after noon. Had to park the car etc. No line ups to be seen. Our boarding card number was 17 (yikes) and they were already boarding that number by the time we got checked in. Walked right on the ship before 1. Very easy. Ate lunch at Parrot Cay. Enjoyed the wonderful shrimp! Went to the room for a minute then up to deck 9. Pool was already totally packed with kids. Bags were at room by 3 pm.

Servers
Our servers were Steve from Trinidad and Sganael from France. They were absolutely wonderful. But I am sure most people feel the same about their servers. They treated us like royalty, remembered everything you say so they can anticipate your needs next time (like no salt on the fries for my daughter, what you like to drink), cut up food for small kids, picked the seeds out of the watermelon for my DD, made crazy Disney character hats out of napkins, made up puzzles with crayons (to entertain kids who've finished dinner and are waiting for parents to finish) etc etc. On the first night my DD ordered "nothing" for dessert and it came on a plate with a silver cover! On the plate was written (in that stuff they put on desset plates to decorate) - "Nothing" in fancy script. So funny. My DD is very shy and anyone who can connect with her and get her talking and laughing has to be special. They had her hugging them by the third day. Amazing.

Dining Rotation
Our rotation was PLA for the 8:15 seating. Personally I think it was perfect. We'd still be ready for dinner by 6:00, go to the 6:15 show, out of the show at about 7:15, go to one of the family activities (game shows) at 7:30 in Studio Sea (usually about 1/2 hour to 45 minutes) and then in to dinner at 8:15. Dinner was never really slow and we were out usually around 9:45, just in time for other evening activities that often started at 9:45. Were so busy between 6 and dinner that we did not think about getting hungry. DD usually had a vanilla smoothie while watching the game show and that tided her over until dinner.
Our original rotation was the 8:30 LAP rotation but I changed it as soon as we boarded with no problem. They said they had lots of room in the late seatings so no problem.
Never saw any kids in the late seating who were screaming or crying. A few fell asleep before dinner was over but in general, the kids were incredibly well behaved.

Food
Good to excellent without being over the top incredible. Best menu in my opinion was on pirate night. Yum Yum Yum. In general, portions were a nice size without being enormous. Could easily eat 3 courses without feeling overly disgustingly full. Dessert portions were just a nice little bit. Not those huge gigantic portions you often get in American style restaurants. Food up on Deck 9 was just what you'd expect. Decent pizza, hamburgers, hotdogs. Fries that are way way too salted. Great wraps etc. at Goofy's. And the best chocolate chip cookies around! They make 5,000 cookies every day!!!

Stateroom
We were in room 6038. Port side between the midship and forward elevators. Location was just fine. Could walk to the forward lift and down 2 levels to get to the theatre or go to midship and get to anywhere else. Room was a decent size for the 4 of us and lots of storage. Our room host was very nice and did lots of towel animals - swan, elephant, pig, monkey, crawfish, lobster, stingray.

Kids Program
My DD11 did go but not a great deal. She just picked and chose what interested her. She was in the 10-12 group. I suspect the program is more suited to younger kids (lots of character visits there I think) and the older teens seem to have a blast. But it's hard with the tween group. It was often very crowded when you are in the Lab or Ocean Quest. She never did get a chance on the ship simulator as there are always kids who never seem to get off it and give someone else a chance. She did enjoy a few of the activities though and it was a nice option to be able to go for an hour and then leave. She was looking forward to one activity that was a giant human board game but there were so many kids that not everyone even got a turn. She did not get a turn although some kids had 2 turns. Guess you have to be more pushy. Shy kids can be easily overlooked. But it must be hard for the counsellors to keep track of who has had a turn and who has not when there are so many kids. There were 58 kids at that game. I heard there were 1140 kids registered in the program (all ages) over the week. It seemed like there were alot of young kids who spent pretty much all their time there. Would be one thing that definitely did not live up to expectations for us.

Arcade
My DD did love the arcade but did manage to confine herself to one $20 card for the week. Air hockey and maybe 20 other games in the arcade. Often very crowded and as usual you get the kids who have no idea how to let other kids have a turn.

Evening Family Acitivities
Easily our favourite things. Mickey Mania, Who Wants to be a Mousketeer, Walk the Plank, So You think you Know your Family, Sea Farer Saga (a new one). Also Pirate Line Dancing. Lots of fun. Generally in Studio Sea at 7:30. Who Wants to be a Mousketeer must be different from what I had read about because there were no "BIG" prizes, just little souvenir pins. And the selection was done by random computer draw of numbers (you were given a number on a paper slip when you entered). Kids can go up with a parent and they lead the kid to help them win. Everyone who went up won the "grand" prize. We got chosen for Walk the Plank which was fun but it was trivia about the ship itself and the questions were way too hard for kids. We were also "chosen" for So YOu think You know Your Family. I say "chosen" because they only needed 3 families and only 3 families showed up!! I think everyone else was at dinner or at the movie (The Shaggy Dog) (my DD does not like movies) or still in port (St. Martin). But it was still fun. Seafarer Saga was not well attended. It was at 9:45 pm on the last sea day. It's new. It was the audience against the staff. 3 staff pose as characters (Travis was Ben Hungry, a chef), Belle was Patty Scription (a tourist who runs a pharmacy back home), and Pikey was Ray Raving (a 70's disco freak). They make up definitions for words and the audience has to guess which 2 are made up and which one is telling the truth. It was very very funny and they were just killing themselves lauging too. The host was Dazzler and he had not seen the words ahead of time either (Travis picks out the words) and he was in total stitches.
Mickey Mania was the first night and obviously the people who won must have been on the ship a million times. There were scrambled pictures of Disney characters that you had to identify. The one family got almost every one of them, IMMEDIATELY after it was posted, even obscure characters like the Queen of Hearts. NO way you'd be that quick unless you'd seen them all before. It was actually rather tacky how they monopolized the show, showing off in my opinion.
My DD also enjoyed Mr. Toad's race which is held during the day in the atrium, several times over the week. She played every time it was offered. Just some cardboard toads that you manipulate a string to make hop. But fun.

Pools
Really quite small and extremely crowded on sea days. Mickey Pool is FULL of small children who are supposed to be toilet trained but I suspect many are not. The joke is about how yellow the pool gets. Disgusting. I did see them close it and empty it out and scrub it down and then refill, after a kid did the nasty one in it (if you get what I mean!). Mickey Pool is really just a large wading pool. Slide was okay and did come out into its own little runout, not into the pool. DD thought slide was fun but not amazing. You had to really push yourself at the top to get moving at all. She did enjoy the pools more on port days when we came back early but did not really use them on sea days.

Bingo
LOTS of fun and lots of kids playing. I almost won the big jackpot on the last day. The lady who won was in front of me in line to buy tickets. It could have been MY card!! I did actually win the first card of the day on one of the early days of the week but being an idiot did not realize it until the next number had been called, at which point you can't call out. Idiot. Would have won $158. Oh well.

Cruise Directors or whatever they are called.
Amazing. Dazzler, Pikey, Belle, Travis, Lauren, Debbie, Danielle, etc. They were wonderful. Belle always knew my daughter's name whenever she saw here. Even my shy DD came out of her shell and even asked Travis to play foosball with her on Castaway Cay. Can't say enough good things about this group. They work so hard. They work 6 months on (7 days a week) and then get 6 weeks vacation.

Pirate Party
Excellent and the fireworks are just incredible. Nothing like it to see them shot off over the sea.

Deck 9
Crowded on sea days but lots of fun. My DD could always find someone to play ping pong or foosball with her. Kids were really nice about sharing the tables and asking you to play with them. All loungers were always all taken every time I went up but I prefer the shade and could always find a table somewhere in the shade. Definitely LOTS of empty loungers being occupied by white towels even though you aren't supposed to do that. I took a funny picture of a stretch of chairs on Deck 10, with every one empty except for a towel. Not impressed with the lack of manners displayed by so many people.

Shows
They were great. Disney Dreams is the best. Comedian magician (Purpura) is very funny but not that great. He is better on the last night as part of the Till We Meet Again show. Very very funny, especially his "Top Ten Things you'll never hear on a Cruise ship". Enjoyed all the shows but did not go to the movie.

St. Martin
Our excursion was cancelled. Thriller Boat ride. Boat has been damaged and is being repaired. So we took the water taxi across the small bay to the beach. Very very easy to do. Spent the morning on the beach. $10 for two chairs and umbrella for the day plus $5 to use the water trampoline all day (kids only). My DD LOVED it. Great way to spend the morning and glad we did that instead of an excursion. Did not shop at all. Spent the afternoon on the ship enjoying the less crowded deck and slide.

St. Thomas
Did the morning Nautalis Submarine. Was very interesing, especially all the interesting coral formations. Good to do once but would not do again. Went back to ship for lunch. Then just went on the pier to shop for less than an hour (my DD does NOT like to shop). Bought a few souvenirs and then spent the rest of the afternoon on the ship, again enjoying the less crowded deck and pool.

Castaway Cay
Almost did not dock as seas were a bit rough, windy and it had been raining a bit. Pretty much all excursions were cancelled (if not all), including banana boat rides (operator comes from another island and could not get there). Only questionable weather we had all week. Otherwise, weather had been spectacular. Did not rain during the day but overcast and very windy. Sun did come out later in afternoon. Water was quite cold and not many people in the water until later. We were almost first off the ship. Stopped to get snorkel equipment (1st in line) and by the time we got to beach, all hammocks were taken. Decided we did not really care anyways. Went way way along beach almost to teen beach. Stopped around where the water volleyball net is. Great. Bathrooms just behind there. Not crowded. Dozens and dozens of empty loungers all day around us. Beach was very very crowded closer to the ship. Also close to the games pavillon which was alot of fun. There is also a small sand soccer field near there. Never did use the snorkel gear - my DD did not want to go so far out into the water to get to where the snorkelling was. Just used it for maybe 5 minutes to paddle around close to shore.
The water playground was open but not many kids really used it. Water was cold but my DD said it was more because it was very difficult to use the ropes (and she is a tomboy athlete) and the ropes burned your hands. She was disappointed with it.
Did rent floats but did not use them for more than 45 minutes.
Did rent bikes and take the path to the end. That was fun and gave us a chance to see the whole place, but would not do it again. Once was fun though. Lots of bikes but DD could not find a size she liked. Large kids bikes were way too small and small adult were a bit big. But it worked out.
All in all though, even though the weather was not great, we loved Castaway Cay and would love to go back. But would NOT get the Getaway Package and would wait till on shore to decide what equipment to rent.

Odds and Ends
Did not bring walkie talkies and did not need them.
Did use post its on mirror to leave notes. Great idea.
Did not use the duct tape we brought.
Brought every medicine known to mankind but did not use. Thankfully.
Did use the over the door shoe hanger and it was a great idea.
Did bring a small air freshener spritzer for bathroom. Another great idea.
Did give my DD11 lots of freedom - once on ship I felt safe in doing this. There is always someone around and kids to play with. Did not feel her safety was at question at all. And I totally trust her to be where she says she will be.
DD did get tired by Day 4 and went to bed right after dinner twice. She asked to leave dinner when she was done and by the time we go to the room she was in bed asleep (this is totally unlike her).
We are Canadian. Had to do immigration at 6:30 in St. Thomas (a bit later if you don't have a morning excursion) and 6:00 am on disembarkation day (all non-US).
Did not use Palos
Went to spa for a pedicure. Totally unimpressed with the job the girl did. Cut the cuticle and it bled and hurt all week. Hard sell to buy stuff. Would never do it again.
Friends did the dolphin excursion in St. Martin. They enjoyed it but said it was very crowded - 80 people I think - and the locals at Anguilla were not friendly and seemed to just be interested in your money.
never used the sports deck although we thought we would (DD is an athlete)
DD got hair braided on ship. Great. Saw others do it at the beach on St. Martin and thought it was gross. Ladies globbed grease onto the kids hair to comb it out to do braids. Gross gross gross.
Sea was very very calm except at Castaway Cay. We had a very smooth crossing which is apparently unusual for Eastern Carib. You could have put on your water skiis - that is how calm it was. But even so, I definitely felt the boat's motion, especially when aft in the restaurants or forward in the theatre.
Loved the padded deck chairs on Deck 4. Also the shuffle board there but it was difficult to use as not slippery enough.
Totally forgot to even go check out Deck 7 aft!!
Had cheese platter from room service. Was nice but not spectacular.
Bev. station on deck 9 is great but lemonade is that crappy pink stuff. Real lemonade in dining room is yummy though.
Did upon occassion see misbehaving unsupervised kids running around, playing in elevators etc. or being total jerks with the ping pong tables and paddles and balls (playing baseball more than ping pong) - and in that case the parents were definitely watching and did not do anything about it. Some people.

I guess that about covers it! I really really loved the trip. Would I do it again. In a heartbeat and I can see why people do it over and over again. But there are a million other things to do on this planet first and we'll probably check some of those things out before doing another cruise, Disney or otherwise

BethA
03-26-2006, 09:15 AM
thanks for the great post.
We are cruising in June and I enjoy reading recent cruisers reports.
Beth

lbgraves
03-26-2006, 09:28 AM
Thanks for sharing the details of your trip! :)

Dixielady908
03-26-2006, 01:21 PM
:) Thanks for the report....first cruise in November,so I love reading all the reports.....


Denise

Mom24Princesses
03-26-2006, 01:48 PM
Thanks a bunch,
We are the next Eastern sail. This Saturday 4/1. We've waited so long and spent so much. I hope that we feel good about it two weeks from now when I'm washing clothes and getting everyone ready to go back to school.

mommykeg
03-26-2006, 02:26 PM
Thanks for the detailed report! We're going on the Eastern next March, and I love to read about everyone's experiences...it really helps us in our decision making. Thanks for taking the time to share!

fakereadhed
03-27-2006, 12:55 PM
Well done and easy to read. TFS your trip! :thumbsup2

michelle9343
03-28-2006, 07:54 AM
Excellent trip report! Thanks for so many details.

Tarabra
03-28-2006, 09:30 AM
Now that was a good trip report...had some negatives in it, but did not leave me w/ a bad taste in my mouth as did the VERY negative report from a few weeks back. It sounds like you had a great time. I think once you really think about it, every cruise has a few downer spots, but the fun times outweigh those by far. Are you addicted now too!?!?

repeatcruiser
03-28-2006, 10:19 AM
Thanks for a "fair and balanced" report (to borrow a phrase) - we could use more like this. Just goes to show that things don't have to be perfect to be WONDERful or MAGICal.

poconoboatniks
03-28-2006, 08:21 PM
Thanks for sharing. Glad to hear that you enjoyed your trip.