View Full Version : Back to Back: I'm Back!

Greg K.
10-09-2001, 08:03 PM
Just a quick report, following a SPECTACULAR TWO WEEK CRUISE on the Magic (9/22 and 9/29).

Dramatis Personae: Me (age 42), my wife (age 41).
No kids (a fact that just STUNS people at work :D.)

Anyway... the fact is, the Disney Cruise Line is for anyone and everyone. We've cruised on Norway, Princess and Celebrity, and Disney wins, hands-down, no contest. The ship, food, and legendary Disney hospitality all combined for a vacation buoyed by joy and high spirits. Never before have I encountered so many smiling faces on the staff -- people who seemed to be trying harder not because they wanted a big tip, but because they REALLY wanted you to have a nice time.

High points (were there any low ones?):
* The delightful Disney spirit. Loved watching the kids line up for big furry Mickey hugs after dinner. It was a show unto itself!
* The ship is a pleasure -- artfully designed, easy to learn, fun to just walk around.
* The gentle, not-too-obnoxious playing of familiar Disney tunes throughout the ship.
* The whimsical towel animals we found perched on our bed every night.
* The friendly thank you notes from our servers at Palo, and good wishes from guest services for my wife's birthday :bounce:
* The jaw-droppingly-good champagne brunch at Palo!
* The joy of seeing so many families having so much fun.
* The casual-but-nice atmosphere that allowed children to dress up as Belle or Snow White on formal night, and didn't mind if you used the wrong fork, or ate with your fingers or ordered something fun off the children's menu (which my wife did almost every night -- those Mickey Ice Cream Bars are irresistable.) There was nothing stuffy or pretentious about this cruise, and I loved that. (I was relieved to see no women with big hair, big jewelry and big attitudes, accompanied by men with furry backs, bulbous stomachs, and wearing teensy Speedos.)
* The way Disney crew members would do anything (within reason) to make an occasion special. When my wife wondered if she could have a candle on her birthday cake, the Palo servers looked around, waited until the staff captain had left the restaurant for the evening, and found a long strand of uncooked pasta that they could burn. (They aren't allowed to have candles for some reason). They then sereptitiously lit the pasta and gathered around to sing 'Happy Birthday' while my wife made a wish :D
* The incredibly smooth embarkation and debarkation -- the best of any ship we've sailed. Period. You finish breakfast, and you're out the door and through customs, whoosh. Amazing.
For our back-to-back experience, we had to disembark the ship with everyone else on the 29th, but we could leave our luggage on board. Then, we hung around the terminal for a couple hours -- we were the only souls there! -- and go through the documentation process and get in line again. (We were first in line that Saturday!).

Helpful tip:
* We arrived the night before sailing, and stayed overnight at the Orlando airport Hyatt. Then, bright and early Saturday morning, we hightailed it to Avis, got a car and drove to Port Canaveral. Then took the Avis shuttle to the ship. What a time saver! We arrived at the terminal a little after 10 the first morning -- well ahead of the Disney buses. Result: we got all the reservations we wanted at Palo and the spa. When we finally got on board, around 12:20, I raced to Palo and found it was already open and taking reservations. (DO NOT follow the guidelines in the Navigator, which tells you they don't take ressies until 1. They usually open early, and the lines form quickly.)

Bonus helpful tip:
* Before you disembark Saturday, a little after 8 am, run upstairs and see if the door to the Walt Disney Suite is open. If it is, and the occupants have left, go in and take a look. It's a stunning suite, big as a house. A real eyeful.

Those are the high points. Any questions? I'm - ahem - all ears. ;) Or, in this case, eyes.

10-10-2001, 01:59 PM
Your report is making the 24 days we have left a lot harder to wait!

10-10-2001, 02:17 PM
Outstanding report!

Disney is truly the best cruise line, with or without kids. DW, me and DS's are considering back to back Eastern/Western cruises next year!!

10-10-2001, 02:27 PM
Wow! Sounds like you had a great trip. We are in our early to mid-30's and don't have any kids either. But, we love our Disney cruises.

Greg K.
10-10-2001, 02:31 PM
The east-west back to back will be a dream. We've done that before, and it's really fun.

The only advantage to doing two east-east cruises is that you can skip an excursion or an event one week and do it later, or vice versa.

But the east-west will offer more variety. Key West is lovely, and Cozumel is a fun shopping port. (I'm glad Disney is skipping Jamaica, btw -- a tourist nightmare. Our visits to Ocho Rios were terrifying; although the government there HAS made some improvements, the dock is still not the most hospitable place in the Caribbean, and certainly not a place for families.)

10-10-2001, 07:29 PM
Welcome back! Thanks for posting the report. My husband will be thrilled (NOT) to know that now I'll need a two week trip on the Magic. ;) Hey, I'm just happy that he has agreed to a week at the Polynesian before our next Magic cruise in March!:D

10-11-2001, 08:13 PM
Greg was that you? Unless there was someone else on the ship in your age group, from Queens and taking the second of back to back cruises, my wife and I chatted with you on the 29th waiting for Palo's to open for reservations. In any event, it was a great cruise.
Cheers, Bill

Magic- Feb. 2001
Wonder- June 2001
Magic-Sept. 2001
Wonder-Dec 2001-(debating)

10-11-2001, 09:54 PM
Ok greg~ whats the deal?!?!?!? You didn't even let us 9/29ers know you existed?!?!?!?!?!? LOL!!!! It was awesome running into familar faces on the 9/29 cruise! It would have been fun to meet you!!!

p.s. DH and I don't have kids either and people think we are out of our minds for travelling to WDW or on DCL so often!

10-12-2001, 01:20 PM
How great! I cannot wait to hear some details. Did you get a discount for booking 2 cruises or did they upgrade you. Were the staff aware that you would be staying for 2 cruises. Was 2 weeks on a cruise too much? Did you long to go home after a while. Did you feel like you were in a different world? It just sounds so awesome.

Greg K.
10-12-2001, 03:11 PM
No, unfortunately, we didn't get a discount for two weeks. We booked the Fall Fantasy rate, back in May, for a Navigator's Verandah on Deck 7...which came to $1100/pp/pw. Nor did we get an upgrade. The first week, we were told the ship was full and they couldn't change rooms. (The second week, however, there were only about 1900 people on board...way down from a 2600 peak capacity.) Since we didn't want to re-pack and change staterooms, and since we liked our cabin anyway, we stayed put.

Our stateroom fella, Sompop, knew in advance we were aboard for two weeks (and was a little worried about it, because he didn't know how to make enough little towel animals for two weeks:) ).

Nobody else knew, and the members of the crew that we saw the first week did a double take the SECOND :)

We were a little bummed that we ended up with different servers in the dining room the second week; the first week, we LOVED Erasmo and Naveet. But the servers, it seems, rotate dining rooms. We liked our original dining rotation very much (L-P-A etc). It was going to cause major hassles to switch stuff around, so we just let it go.

Were we bored? Not one bit. The first time my wife and I cruised, several years ago, as we shuffled off the ship after just one week, we both said it just wasn't long enough -- we were JUST STARTING TO RELAX! So, since then, we've done two week back-to-backs, usually with the East-West itineraries.

I've found that you are usually EXHAUSTED the first day, from traveling and getting oriented, and it usually takes two or three more days to learn your way around and settle into a routine on board. By the middle of the second week, I reached Relaxation Nirvana :D and was ready to return to the Real World. (The ideal cruise length, I think, is prolly 10-12 days...)

And, yeah, we DID feel like we were in a different world. Time slowed down. The pampering was sublime. The food was abundant (thank God for elastic waistbands!) and the weather was beautiful.

But the news was never far from us. Since we are from New York City, whenever anyone asked our hometown, we got the same reaction -- shock, concern, sympathy. And the only character we saw on the cruise more frequently than Mickey was Christiane Amanpour! Every TV seemed tuned to CNN. It was inescapable. But, I have to add, we NEEDED to know what was happening.

All in all, a fabulous and memorable vacation. We HAVE to do it again! :bounce:

10-13-2001, 10:52 AM
Thanks for the information. It just sounds so nice. I would just love to get away for 2 straight weeks. Now you've done it!! Planted a seed in my brain (and as my dh will tell you, that is very dangerous) lol

10-13-2001, 04:39 PM
Well it certainly seems as though you had a balst, you've answered all my questions really. We want to do the Eastern/western back to back proberly not next year but the year after, it will take me that long to resave the fortunes I spent this time, our mistake was doing the Disney cruise first because just nothing else compared, we spent 6 weeks out in the states and done three cruises, I only wish I had your good sence and down two weeks with Disney. The only disadvantage I can see is that you have to disembark and really that's no hardship, but I guess abit laborious given there is nothing to do at the port, my son I would imagine would get abit fraxious.
Thanks for a great trip report, and I will difinately do it the year after next, I guess I won't spend another 6 weeks out there proberly 3 and ahalf afew days at Disney prior the two week cruise and then a week at Disney would do me just fine.

10-14-2001, 09:24 AM
Did you have to settle out your bill at the end of the first week? What about the tips? Did you do it all at once the last day or did you tip twice?
Sorry we never ran into you both on the 9/22. Thanks for reporting.
I agree with the 10-12 days idea. I was not quite ready to leave after 7 days, but another 7 would have been too much for us. Maybe in 2 years when the Magic/Wonder do the dry dock thing again we will do the 4day with the 7 day, like Windermere did.
BTW...I wonder why you had to get off the ship and she and her DH didn't????

Greg K.
10-15-2001, 09:21 AM
We had to do everything separately...settle our tab and pay the tips at the end of each week. So, yeah, we tipped wice. Which was fine, no big whoop.

I can only speculate that heightened security had something to do with our having to get off and get back on. Dunno.

BTW: We had the dubious distinction of being on the first cruise for which Disney did a 100% immigration check. That is, after visiting St. Martin, the next morning every person on board had to present their passport and have their hand stamped. The first week did NOT go smoothly, but they found a better way to handle it the next. The only real down side was that it was conducted at 6:30 in the morning (ack!). Lots of little kids who are Sleepy, and Grumpy and not Happy :).

But Disney at least provided us with coffee and danish. (I toyed with telling an immigration official: "Well, I'm American, but this roll is danish..." but thought better of it.)

10-16-2001, 01:13 AM
As Relling stated DH and I did not have to get off the boat when we did back to back 9/19 - 9/22. Although everyone we asked gave us a different answer. We finally went down to the debarkation talk on the first cruise and cornered one of the CM. He told us that is actually much less complicated if you don't get off than if you want to get off. DCL has a written procedure for staying on and for getting off. We stayed on, hung out at the pool and watched a boat load of people get off and then a boatload of people get back on.

10-16-2001, 10:58 PM
The idea of back to back cruising sounds great. I would like it more if I got to stay on board instead of re-boarding. It would be nice to have that extra time to do all of the dirty laundry from the week before. Have a pool to yourself, and be first to book all of your ressies. Wow! Queen for the day.