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ESN
12-11-2005, 01:31 PM
Let me start by thanking everyone on this board - all of the tips and advice were invaluable!

We had a large group - ages 2 through 39, and varied staterooms - Cat 11 up through Cat 3. Everyone had a blast - by far our best vacation ever!

I won't detail each and every minute - but instead give a brief report on what we experienced. We had absolutely perfect weather, and beautiful seas. We even got to see Costa Maya - which was a treat as we were expecting Nassau.

1) Staterooms:
All in good condition, and well kept. Cat 3 obviously superior - concierge perks were nice, but the space of the suite was the best perk! Very pricey, but worth it if you have kids who need naps. (Especially for us - 2 kids who both need naps, but wake each other up!)

We did not do much room service - but when we did - the service was prompt. Getting extra Palo reservations was a great bonus - we did 2 dinners and brunch -all awesome!

Verandah was great - although doors are tricky to open - I have a very rambunctious 4 yr old boy -- at one point he did drag a table over to "see better" over the railing. At this point - I freaked out and told him (forgive me!) that if he did that again - he might fall over and the sharks would get him. (Needless to say - he never tried it again)

2) Restaurants

We found the food fairly good - not the best I've ever had- certainly not the worst.. If you are a meat eater - the red meat/steaks were consistently good - seafood/pasta dishes were more hit and miss. I also think that the food the first few days was better than later in the cruise. Bearing that in mind - I would save Palo for later in the week. We had PLAPLAP, and skipped the last P.C. and one A.P - for Palo. I loved the A.P. show - but my 2 and 4 yr old were a bit scared - to my surprise. They did not want to go back in the restaurant. Character Breakfast was fun - very loud - Most breakfasts we did room service or Topsider's. We also did alot of Pizza/Plutos as my son was in the Mickey pool when at all possible.

ESN
12-11-2005, 01:51 PM
3) Oceaneers Club/Flounders
My son and nephew (both 4) liked the clubs - they each spent about 2-4 hours per day in it -- They were happy to go in - but also happy to leave - As I said - my son loved the pools and always favored the Mickey slide to the club!

My only complaint was with Scuttle's Cove. My son wanted to go there - and my husband (who is very laid back) dropped him off. After about 10 minutes - my husband wanted to pick him up (we were not paged) I asked why and he told me to go see. I walked over , and frankly - I was surprised. The few counselors did not appear to even notice the kids - and I basically walked right in and out with my son -- Definitely not the experience we had on the ship! Perhaps this was atypical - but I can whole heartedly recommend the Club on the ship - cannot say the same of Scuttle's Cove.

My daughter and other nephew (both 2) were in Flounders. My 2 yr old girl absolutely loved it - she ended up there approx. 18-20 hours total and cried each time she had to leave. She was never bored, and loved "playing with the babies". This surprised me - as she has not been in daycare - and I had heard on this board that she may be bored -My nephew (also 2) also liked Flounders, but went less often due to scheduling.

4) Pools
My son is an early riser - which worked out well - Either Mickey's and/or Goofy's Pools open at 6 a.m. I also wake early (not necessarily by choice!) and we were at the pools daily before 7. It is great to be able to get coffee at the beverage station and watch your child happily play in the pool - and watch the sunrise. I enjoyed every minute of it. Having said that -- we were never in the pools between 11 and 4. All I can say is - Mickey Pool at 12 noon on a sea day -- Positively Horrifying! Packed with bodies, green-brown water -- Gross!
My daughter is not potty trained - initially it was a bit difficult to keep her out of the pools - but once she got into the fountain play area - she was fairly content.
The adult pool was nice when we could use it - I never used Jacuzzis - my husband liked them. By the way - another very quiet time for pools is after 5pm.

ESN
12-11-2005, 02:16 PM
5) Ports of Call
Key West - we were there many years ago - seems to have gone downhill - we walked around an hour or two - If you have been there before - I would stay onboard and enjoy the ship.
Grand Cayman - I had booked the StingRay trip - after sitting on the ship, waiting around with 120 people, etc - then getting tendered in - we were told we were too early and to walk around for 40 minutes. At this point I got frustated (I was alone - no one else in my family wanted to do this) so I walked up to one of the many people holding signs up - and for $25 got on a boat with 14 people (as opposed to 100) and had an amazing trip. (BTW - in Stingray City - I saw the excursion I had originally booked - packed with people and arriving at StingRay City as it started to pour! I went with MobyDick Tours - (I think mobydick.com) and cannot say enough good things about the captain and crew. My advice is - do your own excursions - even as an individual - I felt very safe, secure and had a much better experience with a smaller group - plus you go on your own schedule - instead of Disney's. Save your money - book your own excursions. This is one piece of advice I wish I had previously.

Costa Maya - thanks to advcie I read here and on cruisecritic, I skipped the actual port, and took a taxi to Majahual. When we were in port - there were 2 other ships in - so it was very crowded. It is a bit confusing - when you walk off the boat - you come into a synthetic "village" with many shops - You need to walk though this (We followed emergency exit sign) - and then you will see a circular drive. There is a gate at the entrance to the circular drive. There was an an enormous line for some bus service to Majahaul -(did not want to wait an hour in the sun with 2 toddlers - I speak a bit of Spanish (remants of high school) and got out of the cab driver that they are not allowed to pick people up there. I saw the gate - and asked if he could pick us up out past it - to which he said "I see you 2 minutes". We then walked for about 100 yards past the gate - and we were picked up (strollers and all) and safely and courteously taken to the beach. ($10 for 5 of us)
At the beach - (which was gorgeous) we sat at a table with umbrellas for shade - swam- had lunch, coronas/sodas etc for $40 - spent all day there. My daughter got her hair braided, the kids played in the sand -we all had a great day -- (Wear your sunblock!) When you want to leave - just head toward the line up of yellow cabs for a quick ride back to port.

Castaway Cay - awesome - no need to race off the boat (we sat on our verandah - literally - some people were running down the pier!) - We waited until the initial rush was over - walked off the ship and headed to the far end of the family beach (by heads up bar) - We got great chairs - and tons of beach space. Everyone seems to congregate in the first part of the beach - We were there from 10 - 4 - had a blast. BTW - if you want a hammock - there are 4 of them next to Heads up Bar.

ESN
12-11-2005, 02:38 PM
6) Entertainment
Way too much to do - we did wine tasting, martini tasting, shows, etc -everything we tried was fun - We just did not have enough time to do everyting we wanted - my kids for some odd reason - loved shuffleboard - and foosball - Do not miss Disney Dreams - I saw it twice! Matinee shows are great with young kids - I never had a problem getting seats - and we showed up at the last minute.

7) Spa
This was an expensive treat - but one I thoroughly enjoyed - I did Alone time in the Villa - simply amazing. You are sitting in a hot tub - on a verandah -looking out over the ocean - Fabulous! Massage was great - Next time I want my husband to go - (not a spa guy by nature!) Rainforest room is great - also - a good way to get the spa feeling without spending a ton of money.

8) Misc -
-Shutters - nice photos - kind of a rip off I think - we bought some anyway
- Photo ops with characters are plentiful - long lines for some - call 7-PALS
for daily listing
-Boarding/disembarking very painless - Disney is the master of Crowd control - we were sitting on our verandah having coffee, and not 20 minutes later we were on the bus on the way to airport - grab a porter - and you are good to go.
- although you don't want to overpack - don't waste you time doing laundry -I packed extra clothes for the kids - knowing they would get dirty. Bring 2 large mesh laundry bags - and fill them throughout the week. Granted, I am buried in laundry now - but it is summer clothes, and we are in upstate NY - so no rush! I heard many people swearing they would never try to do laundry again -- way too crowded.
- if you have your own verandah - have coffee, drinks,etc - out there - its awesome - we brought those premade margaritas in bottles - loved them!
- get to pools early in morning - or in the evening - during the middle of the day - try other things - esp on sea days
- bring way more film than you think you need
- pay tips about 2 -3 days before cruise ends - the lines at Guest Services get long
-get wake up calls (even if you are up) - kids loved it
-don't rush to dinner early - you'll just wait in line - You don't want to be late, but don't kill youself if you are a few minutes behind - we were on the second night - and we just walked right in. After that - we always waited until the big crowd passed through.
- wear loose pants on the way to the cruise so you can fit your butt back into them on the way home!



Above all - have a great time - I was so looking forward to this trip I was afraid I had hyped it up too much - No worries though - it was simplay an amazing experience - as my 4 yr old said on Sat moring as we were debarking - "But Mommy - this boat is way too fun to leave!"

mommasita
12-11-2005, 03:09 PM
I really enjoyed reading your report. Sounds like your family had a "Magical" time... :goodvibes

Great Tips by the way.

BuzzBoyMom
12-13-2005, 11:37 AM
5) Ports of Call
Grand Cayman - I had booked the StingRay trip - after sitting on the ship, waiting around with 120 people, etc - then getting tendered in - we were told we were too early and to walk around for 40 minutes. At this point I got frustated (I was alone - no one else in my family wanted to do this) so I walked up to one of the many people holding signs up - and for $25 got on a boat with 14 people (as opposed to 100) and had an amazing trip. (BTW - in Stingray City - I saw the excursion I had originally booked - packed with people and arriving at StingRay City as it started to pour! I went with MobyDick Tours - (I think mobydick.com) and cannot say enough good things about the captain and crew. My advice is - do your own excursions - even as an individual - I felt very safe, secure and had a much better experience with a smaller group - plus you go on your own schedule - instead of Disney's. Save your money - book your own excursions. This is one piece of advice I wish I had previously..


Thanks for your trip report - got a question.

Did you previously book with Disney and then spur of the moment decided to do it on your own? If so - did you get your money back fromthe Disney excursion?

nzdisneymom
12-13-2005, 01:19 PM
4) Pools
My son is an early riser - which worked out well - Either Mickey's and/or Goofy's Pools open at 6 a.m. I also wake early (not necessarily by choice!) and we were at the pools daily before 7. It is great to be able to get coffee at the beverage station and watch your child happily play in the pool - and watch the sunrise.

Thanks for this tip! And I'm enjoying reading your trip report - we're sailing on the Western Magic on Saturday. My kids are early risers and like to swim but said they don't want to spend all their time at the pool, so weather permitting, we'll try an early a.m. pool time.

ESN
12-13-2005, 09:23 PM
My bailing on the Disney Excursion was pure last minute gut decision - I did not expect nor ask for a refund - I just felt like I was wasting a lot of time sitting/waiting/being herded/standing around with the Disney excursion - A lot of this has to do with my basic impatient nature - I am sure that a more calm, laid back person would have had no problem with the Disney excursion - I just knew that for me - it was worth the $25 to make the switch to a smaller group trip.

pyramid2000
12-13-2005, 11:57 PM
Thank you for the great report! :goodvibes

The site for Grand Cayman is Mobydicktours.com It looks like a great site too!

BuzzBoyMom
12-14-2005, 06:15 AM
My bailing on the Disney Excursion was pure last minute gut decision - I did not expect nor ask for a refund - I just felt like I was wasting a lot of time sitting/waiting/being herded/standing around with the Disney excursion - A lot of this has to do with my basic impatient nature - I am sure that a more calm, laid back person would have had no problem with the Disney excursion - I just knew that for me - it was worth the $25 to make the switch to a smaller group trip.


Got it!!! Just wasn't sure I was reading it correctly.

I'm the same way. In fact, we didn't think we'd like cruising b/c of the "large group on a boat" impression we had prior to our first cruise. That's also the same reason we don't typically do Disney excursions. We do our own. I hate waiting for others.

MissLaraBeLL4eva
12-18-2005, 03:52 PM
I did not find it a pleasent surprise to find out we were going to Costa Maya instead of Nassau. :guilty: My brother and his friends were planning on going to the casino since they had just turned 18. We also had a dolphin swim booked and had to cancel. :sad: I have wanted to do that my whole life and was on the verge of tears when I found this out. :mad: To us all it was greatly disappointing. When we got on the ship the first thing we did was go to the shore excursion desk. We learned that there were dolphins but you could not swim with them. :( After that we knew of nothing we were going to do at Costa Maya. The morning we were at Costa Maya, our parents woke us up and said they had a surprise. They had ended up booking a Dune Buggy excursion. We rode in Dune Buggys to a beach. :p The beach was beautiful there they had Nachos and cheese and drinks and a table where they sold bracelets and many other things. It was extremely fun. :jumping1: It was proably my favorite part of our trip. You can go very fast in the Dune Buggys. :crazy: :scared1:Towards the end of the trip you are driving on sand meaning you can spin and have a lot of fun!! I think everyone should do this excursion. :love:

Keggy
12-19-2005, 09:57 AM
Thanks for the report! Sounds like you had a fantastic cruise!

Kelly

lillygator
12-19-2005, 10:26 AM
Thanks for the report!

We found that DCL is very accomodating to canceling/rebooking excursions if you do it prior to the excursion taking place. We had an excursion booked and decided around 10 pm the night before to cancel....we called guest services around midnight and canceled Capn Nautica and added a CC getaway package so we only spent $32 (or $34) as opposed to losing the $170....:)

CJLKIM
12-19-2005, 10:29 AM
Hey guys, why don't you come join us on the thread ( *LIVE*The MAGIC-al 12/03/05 Cruise*Trip Reports & Pictures Page 6) that we've been running since being on the ship....we'd love to meet more of you that were on the Magic with us! :)

SnowyWhite
12-30-2005, 10:42 AM
pirate: Enjoyed your trip report! We were on the same cruise and loved it! Perhaps our paths crossed several times1

My 7 year old felt it should have been a 10 day cruise. We definitely agree. Not enough time to do it all.

Had the same impression of Key West. We chose this cruise specifically for that port knowing we would probably never drive that far south from Ohio. We found it to be disappointing.

We just jumped off the ship to touch ground in Mexico at Costa Maya then came back on board the ship after an hour... and we were glad we didn't stay. We got back on the ship while it was at port and enjoyed the ship while most folks were on shore. It was great! The pools were empty. I highly recommend staying on the ship to those of you who are indifferent about shore excursions or don't have specail plans. There are so many tremendous things to do ON the boat... why ever get off!!!

Being pirate lovers, we all loved the Pirates in the Carribean night! WE WANT TO GO BACK! IT WENT TOO FAST!