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mrstbalt 12-10-2012 07:27 PM

Four generations..seniors,tweens and special needs Dec 1-8th
Two years ago, my mom decided to book a cruise to celebrate my Grandmother's 90th birthday...God willing :) It was to be four generations to set sail on the much anticipated Fantasy! My mom, Grandma, Great Aunt, brother, sister in law, 3 boys, myself (Jen), husband and our 2 girls. Traveling with 12 people, I knew it was going to be a challenge from the start! 2 seniors in a wheelchairs, 2 with add/adhd, 1 with autism and 4 of the 5 kids tweens. My brother, sister in law and I have been to Disney enough to know what all was involved, but bless my mother's heart, she had a vision of what she was hoping to get out of this. I'm not crazy about December, the water is cold at Castaway Cay and the weather in FL is hit or miss. It's 34 here in IL, I want 80 not 50 in Because of my brother's job, December it was. Then on to booking airfare. Most of us young ones are not early birds, but it was decided that we were getting up at 3am to catch a 7am flight out of Midway Chicago on Southwest it's 1.5hrs from home. We like Milwaukee but there were no non stops until 11am. So we suck it up with lots of caffine I guess. We were hoping to stay on a monorail resort but we just could not afford it, so we decided to stay at Caribbean Beach. Have stayed here before, enjoyed it, so why not? We book private transfers, hoping to make a stop at the store before both our pre and post cruise hotel stays. What a big mistake this company was..never again! Reservations are made and we all are good with it.

mrstbalt 12-10-2012 07:37 PM

Finally, the day is here :cheer2: and we are up at 3am with lots of caffine off to Chicago Midway..again not my favorite airport, too far and not a nice area. All went smooth, until we get our private transfers to Ron Jon Cape Canaveral. We were told we would have a private van for 12 with a trailer for our luggage and 2 disabled guests in wheelchairs. We were on a bus, making a stop at another resort and nothing for disabled guests. To say the least we were NOT happy. The driver said nothing else was available and we had to use what was available. Got to the resort, which was very nice and enjoyed our stay. That afternoon, my mom realized their jackets were left on the bus. She called the company and were told they would get back to us tomorrow before the ship left. My mom called them and they hadn't checked yet but did offer a credit due to not having the right vehicle as promised. Ok, thats a start and now off to the Fantasy!!!

mrstbalt 12-10-2012 07:46 PM

Fantasy day is here
We arrived at 11am and boarded at 1230pm. The weather was partly sunny but got cloudy and really cool by sailaway time. Cabana's was hard to find a place to sit but we managed. Then we made our way up to our cabin's 8680,8678 and 8676 with verandahs! Wheelchair rooms were not available when we booked, so it was a little tough for my Grandma and Aunt but they managed. Our cabin steward was Mario..he was AWESOME!!! Went above and beyond and friendly. Of course after the sail away party and drill, the kids wanted to ride Aqua Duck. They were the last ones to ride it due to the high winds..which lasted through out most of the cruise, therefore making the Aqua Duck not usable the first 2 days at sea :scared1: We had the second seating which later we will find it was not a good fit for us. We were told we couldn't change it as it was difficult because we were a party of 12. It turned out fine, because our waiter Steven (he was wonderful..above and beoynd as well) and we were his only table for that seating :love: For the first time cruising with Disney, we actually saw and interacted with the dining room mgr (not sure exact title) was nice. The food was very good and our favorite was AP. Days at sea were fun, lots to do and still didn't get to do everything.

mrstbalt 12-10-2012 07:59 PM

Edge, shows and activites
The tweens liked the Edge, they had fun. They enjoyed GAGA ball, 4 square, hanging out and tween aqua duck time and some other things. They said the magic show was lame and arts crafts things too..kind of young for them. Buckets and Boards, a new show, they were just ok. They had some funny moments but we waited for them to get funnier and they didn't. Not nearly as good as Alfred and Seymour. Match Your Mate is always funny, 80's name that tune (something like that), Pirates in Caribbean was entertaining too. We did the Gingerbread house making, that was yummy and messy. I was in the Rainforest Room..loved it! I could of stayed in there ALL day. At sea days were sold out before the cruise so I had to settle for the San Juan day. My DD12 and I did a mother daughter massage from Chill Spa. Please be specific that you want half or whole body. There is a full body or half (lower or upper). I mentioned we wanted upper body so I assumed they knew we wanted the half. Well, when we got the bill it was for the full :scared1: We were able to work it out and we were refunded but we still left the tip for the full. We missed Aladdin because we were getting ready for formal night..hey it's hard to get 3 girls Saw Wishes (liked it) and the final show farewell/till we meet again (not impressed at all). I missed the flu!! I hear it was good!

mrstbalt 12-10-2012 08:30 PM

St Thomas, San Juan, Castaway Cay and the flu!
Finally a port day..we couldn't wait to get off the ship, the ship has been rocking something good for 2 1/2 days staight!! We booked the Dubloon turtle snorkle sail half day. We were on the Dubloon with a great crew of Jordyn, Steve and Al...very fun! It was a little rough so we could't go to turtle cove but we went around the cove and was wam and still good snorkeling. On the way back we had chips and salsa with pop water or pain killers. Now, we were sitting right by the cooler..thought this was a good idea at the time. :banana: Later to find out not a good idea..too easy to say "top it off" and not pay attention to how many times u topped it off. My husband was buzzed I was drunk. I went and slept it off for a few hours, but was good enough for dinner then went to bed. Lucky for me I didn't get sick just a hangover in the am. Thank goodness we had nothing big planned for San Juan. The night of St Thomas, my mom and Great Aunt got the flu. I took them down to first aid as we were at port in San Juan and they had to stay in their cabin until 630am the next day :sick: After that I went to the Rainforest then off the ship we go. The excursions we found were too expensive, so we got a cab to Isla Verde beach for drop off at El San Juan resort and casino. What a beautiful resort but we were warned by the doorman they may not let us past the pool area, but we made it! Only the waverunners were going, too windy but thats ok. We jumped into the waves build sandcastles and had expensive drinks from a bar. $22 cab each way, about a 20min drive and the area from port to the beach i felt like I was driving through the south side of Chicago...a little scary. Beach area was beautiful and sand was soft. We walked around old San Juan..again kind of a pit in our opinion. The only positive thing I heard from fellow cruisers is that the forts were good and kind of cool! I wouldnt get off in San Juan again unless we went to the rainforest. Went to dinner that night and I was starting to not feel so good...thought maybe too much sun not enough water to drink. Woke up the next morning feeling worse and to find out that my one newphew got the flu and I was right behind him!!:sick: Mario, our cabin steward had come in just after I got sick. I told him he didn't need to clean today, he insisted! Asked if I needed anything..gave me clean pillow cases and called room service for me :love: Now I was in my cabin until the next day. My mom and Aunt were better thankfully. My day at sea was spent in bed while everyone else had fun! That sea night, my Grandmother and nephew #2 got sick..they spent Castaway Cay in their cabins. I was feeling good enough to get off the ship. I went to Serenity Bay..oh how peaceful..ahh!! What a great selection of shells and clear water up to my hips for hundreds of feet. However, I had to head back to the family beach. My DD12 is going through some girl changes and didn't swim..she is my competitive swimmer and nature lover. We shopped, went to Monstro Point and built sand castles. They went on a glass bottom boat excursion, which they said was just ok..not worth the $35pp. It was a perfect day 80 degrees and hardly any clouds until it was all aboard time. The only thing that irritates me is the post office. They said closing 3pm, I get there at 230 and they were closed..WTH! Everytime I have been to CC, the times vary and not always accurate. I am determined to get a post card's the one thing I really wanted to do since my Grandma was sick and couldn't get off ship. Castaway Cay was our favorite port and San Juan was dead last!

mrstbalt 12-10-2012 08:47 PM

Off to Caribbean Beach
Other than half of us getting sick and the sailing was very rocky except from St Thomas to San Juan and to Port Canaveral, overall the cruise was fun! The wave phones are great, really liked it. Great to have Brent as the cruise director..easy on the eyes and ears :lovestruc, spa was gorgeous, PALO brunch was ok..liked it on the Magic better and our waiter and room steward were fantastic!! Now on to Caribbean Beach with the transfers from the same company as before. Again, private van for 12 with a trailer for our luggage. Nope..a mini bus stopping to pick up other DCL passengers and Carnival then a stop at the airport..are you kidding me!!! Still nobody checked on the missing jackets..seriously they had a week! We were beyond irritate at this point. We were planning to stop to get food for breakfast to save money, so now we had to spend $20-30 on breakfast each morning. We arrive at CBR, beautiful as always..check in no problem. We are taken to our room at Martinique..however the one room is NOT handicapp accessible as we requested :scared1: u kidding me, not another request not granted as stated in the reservation. So now they find us another room, however it only sleeps 2..they need 4. Only room available is a pirate room in Trinidad South!!! Way too far and inconvienient for 2 people in wheelchairs from the main house and Port Royale. They didn't charge us, but we had to now wait close to an hour before we were packed up and moved. Now we have lost almost 2hrs of park time due to the private transfer company and the resort. Now we have to tip more people. CBR didn't charge us to upgrade to the pirate room, I personally wouldnt pay to upgrade to this room but the shower and beds worked for my Grandma and Aunt. Food selection, we weren't too impressed and was so expensive. Pool areas were great as always though.

mrstbalt 12-10-2012 09:17 PM

The parks and MVMCP
Like I said earlier, bless my mom's heart but she had no clue that she was in over her head. We got hopper passes and had ideas of what she really wanted to do and trying to hit 2 parks each of the 2 days. Our delays didn't help any, but having kids with special needs, ones in wheelchairs and more illnesses to say the least things did not go as planned...again! So Saturday off to DHS 2hrs later then we planned. We walked around for a few, took some pictures and rode on The Great Movie Ride, Toy Story Mania (what a blast) my great aunt laughed so hard so started to The ones that could tolerate Rockin Roller Coaster went to that and the others to the new Pirates attraction...which was ok if you don't wait more then 20min. We then got some food and then went to Osboune lights..which was crowded but AWESOME. It would be better if they had hot chocolate and cookies..adds to the atmosphere. I had to take my DD11 out, it was too much for her due to her autism. Kids all fell asleep on the bus and that night my brother and son #2 now were sick with the flu. Now we all wonder..who is next?? Off to EPCOT at 830am right?, wrong! The wheelchair we had, was too wide for the bus ramps, needed a smaller one. CBR said they would bring it down..waiting waiting. Finally we went down to get it and we were off. Did a few attractions, shopped and ate..then my sister in law started feeling sick, so back to the resort she goes and the rest of us continue to World Showcase. My Grandma and Great Aunt are from the UK, so we had to check that out :) and then off to Japan to what we called Pokemon hel*. Nothing says Disney like Pokemon, Super Mario and Hello Whatever, it's their money not mine. Hey I was a kid once, I get it! By this time my mom is getting upset because she wanted time for the seniors to rest so we could make a stop at Grand Floridian to see the gingerbread house before MVMCP. We get back to CBR at 430pm, planning to leave around 545pm. I decided to go to Downtown to look for my Holiday Cheer coffee, none to be found!! Thats the one thing I wanted to take home, but nothing :sad: I get back at 615 and we are off to MK. The bus lot is SO congested, its crazy! We had to get the money back on the tickets for my bro, sister in law and newphew. They are suppose to be non refundable, but they were very understanding. So, we finally get in and lines were forming 1 1/2hrs before the first parade..oh my what did we get ourselves into! We go on Buzz Lightyear, Space Mountain and People Mover. My mom was getting irritated at this point because we still hadnt gone to GF for the gingerbread house. So, we decide to try to go but we just couldn't fight the main st crowds. We watch light castle show then head to a few attractions. We grab a spot in Frontier Land for the parade, but it was kind of dark and hard to see some things. The smells that blew off from some of the floats enhanced the experience..very nice touch. Then nephew #3 gets sick at the park, so we head out. We get back to CBR at 1230am and finally sleep. Then at 330 I get a tap on the shoulder...mommmmm...I dont feel so good. You have got to be freakin kidding me. Sure enough DD12, it's her turn..on and off for 3hrs. So no sleep for me, because we have to get packed, showered and ready for magical express at 930am. The private transfer company still had not gotten back to us about the jackets and hasn't said much more or a sorry about the screw up for the second leg of our transfers. My mom had it with them and said please find a way to get the jackets to the airport and we will never use them again. Jackets were dropped off 1hr before our flight at MCO..thankfully. Overall, we had some ups and down. It's hard to travel with a big group that has different needs, likes and dislikes. But overall, it was a good time. It's like a plan and dream for months or years and you know something(s) will eventually go wrong and try to make the best of it. I will hopefully post pics by the weekend. Sorry to our fellow DISers for backing out of the fish extenders, but it was too much. We saw some of them and they looked great!

poison ivy 12-18-2012 09:46 AM

Really want to thank you for sharing your trip. We've travelled with multiple ages (including seniors) many times and I can certainly relate to your logistical challenges.

I am so sorry about everyone getting sick. It seemed to be only a 24-hr bug from what you described. i wonder if it was going around on the ship. is this the dreaded norovirus we hear so much about from cruisers?

I was particularly interested to read about your experience with using a transfer company. We will be a group of 11 for an upcoming Sept cruise and have been debating back and forth on how best to transport everyone from each point. We too have at least one day pre and several days post wdw planned. You are convincing us that we will be best served to transport ourselves.

Also, the ron jon stay is one I've been trying to research and learn as much as possible about. What size accomodations did you all have? How was the weather at the beach? Were your grandmother and aunt able to do anything during that stay? I would love to take my parents to jetty park. Just not sure about the accessibility.

thanks again.

wiigirl 12-18-2012 09:49 AM

Thank you for your TR...:thumbsup2

mrstbalt 12-22-2012 09:15 AM

Hi Christine! We really liked Ron much to do. My brother made the arrangements, but will describe the best I can. We had a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom, laundry, full kitchen, 3 tvs and nice stoarage and a pull out sofa. We would of been able to comfortably sleep 8. Lots of space and not cramped. The beach was about a 10min walk from the pool but they do have a tram that can take you to the walkway to the beach. Not a lot of shells to pick up. Beach was clean, water was cold! Overall a nice view and clean. My Aunt and Grandma did the mini golf and were able to make it down for dinner and the pool. There is only one restaurant and have daily drink specials. The kids food was reasonable for the price, the adult menu and appetizers I found overpriced and was just ok. You are better off making a stop at the store and getting your own food. We would stay again.

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