Fantastic Couples Retreat on the Fantasy Dec 15th
Disney Fantasy 7 Night Cruise
Cast of Characters: Myself, and my wife Tawnya
Itinerary: St. Thomas, Puerto Rico, Castaway Cay
Dates: December 15-22, 2012
Now that the holidays are over and I am all settled back into normal life, I figured I would share my trip report with you all because I appreciate every other member who does this :love: Plus, it will let me reminisce a bit.
Here we are, the happy couple and true kids at heart!
Onto day 1:
We live in Florida so we weren't in any great rush to start out 2 hour drive to the port. However, I really wanted to leave at 11 AM which in my wife's brain meant 11:30. We had a nice relaxing morning downing a whole pot of coffee and 11 AM came and went, and then 11:30 also passed us by. I was getting a little agitated, but we were on vacation so I was going to just go with the flow and not be my normal time obsessed crazy person. I think it was around 12:30 when we finally left the house, still not to panicked and happy to be finally on the road. My wife asks, "Are you sure we have everything?", my response, "Of course, I think we have to much!" Onto to Port Canaveral... or so we thought. About 30 minutes away, I abruptly slammed on the brakes and made a u-turn. I exclaimed, "I forgot out garment bag!" and some other non Disney words:eek: All of our formal and dressy clothes we hanging on the back of our bedroom door, very bad place to leave them. Drive back, pick up the final piece of luggage and hit the road again, now around 1:30. I am now freaking out a bit, but trying to keep it under control, while driving like Mario Andretti. The worst part was we made reservations at Park-n-Cruise so we weren't even going directly to the port. Somehow, we made it to Park-n-Cruise at 3:30 and were whisked away to the ship. Nice thing with someone else driving, I was able to get some good photos:
We were at the desk in the terminal by 3:45 and were heckled a bit by the staff in a friendly way. By the way, the terminal looked very cool all decorated for Christmas. We made it on the ship with enough time to walk to our room, check out our free gift:
and walk rather briskly to the lifeboat drill which is now inside and no more life vests. Odd to us and I miss the silly pictures we would take with our vests on, but a lot more comfortable.
By the way, the ship is gorgeous!!! The Christmas decorations :santa: added a nice touch and we both felt were just enough without being overwhelming. Our favorite was the ginger bread house which smelled amazing.
Despite a little skepticism, we attended the welcome aboard show and were very happy we did, we got pumped up for the rest of the entertainment and got a preview of the magician on board, Jason Bishop, who we both loved.
Dinner the first night was at Enchanted Garden and we got to meet our wait staff of Jaycon and Nelson, who I dubbed Jelson so I would remember their names :rotfl2: Our only table mates who were another couple was dining at Palo so we could spread out comfortably which was perfect because I literally ordered every appetizer. Dinner was delicious, a huge step up from what we experienced on the Dream in September of 2011. We stuffed ourselves. I am not that impressed by the decor of the Enchanted Gardens, it is cute how it changes from day to night, but I think they could do a little better theming the area. Just my 2 cents though.
We walked around a bit and headed back to our room. It was a crazy day and we were going to take advantage of the free, yes I said free, movies popcorn:: on demand.
Despite me being super stressed about almost missing the ship, my wife's attitude was a more positive one. She was just happy we didn't have to wait in any lines, that's my girl.
Stay tuned for Day 2, and feel free to bombard me with questions.
Sea days are some of our favorite times on a cruise, just a chance to explore, relax and see all that the ship has to offer. Today we were in for a treat, we had 12:30 reservations for Palo for brunch, but before we stuffed our faces we headed to the DVC social in the tube. This is always a great time with games, a chance to meet fellow members, free swag, and finally Mimosas! We met a couple who even figured out how to bring their dog on board as a service animal, it was also their 26th cruise which was quite inspiring. We watched a presentation, played a game which our team won :cool1: and had an overall great time. We really want to add some points to our membership, but didn't have the funds to do it this round, maybe next cruise. It is the best time to do it with the offered incentives. OK, enough about that and onto the food!
If you love food and go on a cruise, please do yourself a favor and go to Palo for brunch, it is really just that good. We had an amazing seat by the window in a huge booth and we completely stuffed ourselves. Some of our highlights were the shrimp shooters and caviar for me and the shrimp and artichokes for my wife. I also really enjoyed the grape, blue cheese and wine pizza. It is making me hungry just thinking about it. Here is a view of the seafood table:
Also, don't plan on it being a fast meal. I think we took our time and were getting almost kicked out around 3:00 :wave2:
The food quality and assortment are out of this world. 2 very happy thumbs up.
I really wanted to work out after the food implosion, but the spin class at 4:00 was already filled. Tip, if you want to do any of the exercise classes, sign up first thing in the morning or they fill up very fast.
We just walked around from that point and ended up at the early Aladdin show which was an amazing production, especially considering you are at sea on a ship. There were some characters that we missed, but the genie was a ham and the magic carpet scene really impressed.
Dinner was here before we knew it, especially since it was formal night so we of course had to get all fancy.
Dinner was at the Royal Palace which is absolutely gorgeous! We also met our table mates, Robert and Diana who were on their honeymoon. We really hit it off with them as they were huge Disney fans like ourselves. Food was french fare and was once again amazing, surprised I was hungry, but I managed to eat my fair share of the menu.
After dinner, we did the picture taking tour and got some great shots from the on board photographers and then headed to the adults only magic show. There was a lot of close up magic which was unique and the magician had a great sense of humor. We were kind of hoping for some more larger illusions, but were still very impressed and happy. After the show, we were pooped so we headed back to our room.
Some notes: The weather was pretty crappy, first time cruising in December, all of our other 6 cruises were in hurricane season and this was the first time we had bad weather. Also, we had custom plastic cups made with straws that we were able to refill with beverages and take everywhere with us including adult beverages that were in our fridge :ssst:
I would have so been freaking out heading out on the road that late! :faint: <-- I guess fainting is probably not the best idea at that moment, though!
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts about this itinerary, as it is one I would love to do!
Yeah, another Fantasy TR. We will be on the jan 12 one with your same itinerary, and I have been gobbling up these reports. We haven't been on the Fantasy yet or done Palo brunch, and so excited to see more positive reviews!
Is that the sun?
I was starting to feel all the food that I had been eating catching up with me so I snuck out bed early and headed to the stairs and the outdoor jogging track. I did 5 complete trips from deck 1 to deck 12 on the stairs and then headed outside for a nice 5K around the track. Talk about working out in paradise, the sun was shining and quite a few people were out getting their early morning workout on.
Workout done, time to get my lovely wife and replace some of the calories I burned off. We made the trek to Cabanas and I discovered something I had never tried before, muesli. The best way I can describe it is a cold granola oatmeal cereal, but I love it! By the way, Cabanas has a very nice spread for breakfast and I was delighted to get some Mickey waffles with strawberry sauce, I swear they use cake batter to make those delicious things. We ran into our server Jaycon in Cabanas and he totally said hi to us by name. I don't know about you, but I love the fact when people actually remember our names. It is a small thing, but one that makes a huge difference.
After breakfast it was totally time for some sun and we headed to the adults area for some quiet relaxation. Well, we thought we were in the adults area, turns out that right above Cove Cafe is not adults only and we had some young kids playing about. Didn't bother me, but another couple complained and were told that the sun deck for adults was actually another deck higher, who knew? It was so nice finally being able to soak up some vitamin D and we lounged around for bit before we got to crispy.
I think we were both ready for a little air conditioning so we chose to see Wreck it Ralph in 3D :3dglasses
Let me just say the movie theater on the ship had some of the best sound I have ever heard and they used very high quality 3D glasses, not the cheap throw aways you get at most theaters. As far as the movie, we really enjoyed it. Neither of us was expecting much, but we both left happy :woohoo: Having first run movies on the ship is just another perk of sailing with Disney especially if you are a big movie buff like we are.
After the movie we headed over to the Walt Disney Theater to see the matinee showing of Disney Wishes. I feel like a broken record, but once again Disney impressed with its use of live actors, set pieces and music. The thing I was most impressed with and also very excited about was they had full costume characters with eyes and mouths that actually moved. I read that they used this technology for Mickey in the parks at one point, but I didn't expect to see it on the cruise. It just adds another dimension to already superb production.
After all this sitting around, it was time for a coffee refresher so we headed to Cove Cafe for some espresso goodness. We absolutely love this coffee shop on board, it is just so comfortable. We find ourselves, just wanting to curl up and relax there with a big cup of deliciousness.
After some recharging, we headed back to our room to get ready for dinner. We were both determined to catch some live music before our meal so we didn't dawdle as much as normal.
After getting ready, we headed to La Piazza to listen to a pianist do a Billy Joel tribute which I thoroughly enjoyed. I sang along, as Tawnya laughed at me while enjoying a delicious cocktail.
We had a little fun on the scooter that was parked in the corner of the bar too.
Tonight's dinner was at Animators Palette and it was the Crush show which we already experienced on the Dream. However, like almost everything we had experienced on the Fantasy, we enjoyed the show more and found it a lot less intrusive than it was on the Dream. Our favorite item on the menu that night was the Black Truffle Pasta Purseittes. These were creamy, amazing goodness. I think I had 2 orders of them!
After dinner, we headed to the Tube for the first time at night.
The Bucket Boys, who were a percussion team who used garbage cans and such to create rhythm and music, were up on stage. They used some adult comedy while entertaining the crowd and we laughed out loud for a good portion of the show. :lmao:
Time for sleep, tomorrow was going to be our first port, St. Thomas, are we couldn't wait.
Oh, I love those Black Truffle Pasta Purseittes...my mouth is watering just thinking of them!
Sounds like a lovely day at sea!
Let me first say, St. Thomas is incredibly beautiful!
Check out this view from our balcony
We didn't plan any excursions or tours because we wanted to go explore the island on our own and heard taxis were inexpensive and plentiful. Also, we wanted to get some Christmas shopping done. :santa:
Here is the thing, taxis aren't really what we think of in the states as taxis, they are more like open air vans that shuttle tourists around. This was fine with us and $4 a person to get to downtown seemed like a pretty good deal.
View from the cab ride:
Downtown St. Thomas is a mecca for jewelry and watches! There is a jewelry store every couple of feet and everyone wants you to come in to see their goods. This would have been awesome if we wanted or could afford to buy everyone nice jewelry for Christmas, but we were looking for more unique hand crafted goods. There were a couple of stores that had unique artisan goods, but the prices were still kind of steep. We still spent a good deal of time walking up and down every street in the shopping district. St. Thomas is very nice in the fact that the locals aren't pushy at all and it feels very safe unlike some other islands we have visited. Despite all the jewelry stores, there is a large outdoor flea market setup that did have some great deals on costume jewelry and knock off purses. We made a couple of purchases there and decided to go explore some more.
We found a very cool, ancient looking white staircase that just seemed to head straight up the side of the mountain, so of course we had to climb it.
Here is a shot of our lovely ship, from the top of the stairs
We also saw a giant native iguana strolling around, always cool to see wildlife roaming around that you only normally see in a cage.
We continued going up and ran into Blackbeards castle which was cool except for the fact that they wanted you to pay for a tour to really explore the grounds so we took a couple of quick pics and headed for "99 Stairs" which is a famous for some off reason. We descended them and they were very steep and old, but not to bad. Just another thing we can say we did :yay:
Picture of the fort near the entrance of downtown
All this climbing and stairs had made up super hungry so we headed into a shop to ask for some good local opinions. We have found this is the best way to find good food when traveling, avoid the tourist traps and ask the locals. We ended up at a little hole in the wall called Jen's and the food was very delicious and they made their own hot sauce there which was nothing like we ever tasted, it was actually clear but had just the right amount of fire. After enjoying the very late lunch, we jumped on a taxi to head back near the port because we wanted to check out the shops there and also buy some alcohol for friends and family. After a traffic filled trip back to the port, we chose the biggest liquor store we saw on the way there and walked over. Let me just say, if you like to drink St. Thomas has the best prices on liquor we have ever seen. For instance, 2 bottles of Petron for $60 which is insane. I am not even a big drinker and I was very impressed. So we filled 2 easily carry able boxes of liquor and made the walk back to the ship. Now I heard most cruises confiscate your liquor and return it to you at the end of the cruise, but not Disney, we walked right through security and brought the items directly to our room. Good to know if you want to buy something in port and drink it that night.
St. Thomas was also Pirate Night! We actually decided to not go to our assigned dinner because we wanted to be hungry for the pirate buffet which is later in the night so we hit up Cabanas early for dinner. To our surprise, it is no longer a buffet for dinner, but more of a casual sit down restaurant. This was fine for us and the food was still quite good, although not the same quality as we came to expect from the main dining rooms. We also still had some excellent servers which one comes to expect from Disney.
We attended the deck party and the fireworks and they did not disappoint.
Pictures never do it justice and the fact that it is done from the side of a ship boggles our minds.
Notes from the day: Next time we go to St. Thomas, we want to head over to St. Johns to go to the beach, take the cable car to the top of the mountain and bring more money to buy ourselves some nice sparkly souvenirs. :thumbsup2 It is definitely a place we want to return to.
Fantastic! Loving your report! :wave2:
Thanks for postng. We were on this cruise as well. I am glad you had a great trip.
I believe it was liquor mart and it was on the main road in a small strip plaza. Easily a 5 minute walk from the cruise.
The port we were most excited about!
Yes, San Juan was the port we were most excited about when we booked this cruise, so of course we had to deal with not one, but two disasters on this day. First, we wake up to torrential downpours that weren't even hinted at by the weather reports the previous day and worse :furious:, my poor wife was up with serious stomach issues most of the night and felt absolutely horrible. :sick: However, we were determined to make the best of the situation and somehow pulled ourselves together to depart the ship.
Disney stepped up and provided free, yes I said free, rain ponchos to everyone who wanted one as we exited the ship. I didn't expect this and would have gladly bought some, but cheers to Disney's customer service once again :yay:
Here is what greeted us when we stepped off the dock, people were still determined to have a good time:
It was cold and wet and we made it a couple of blocks in to a Starbucks of all places because my wife was already crashing down. After much deliberation and pouts :( my wife thought it would be best if she headed back to the ship and slept, but she made me promise I would walk around San Juan and take lots of pictures and get some souvenirs. I reluctantly walked her back to the ship and headed out on my photo mission. It was sad being on my own, but I tried to make the best of it and just hoped that she would feel better later. I actually walked San Juan in a grid pattern and saw just about every street, building and sculpture the city had to offer. There are 2 very cool forts on the outskirts of the city, I didn't go into them, but got a few cool photos. The buildings are very unique and painted in bright colors. I found everyone very friendly and really enjoyed the city. When lunch time rolled around I was excited about the prospect of trying some "street food", but I had trouble finding it. I asked a couple of shops and learned that the main street usually has a line of food trucks on it, but when I made my way to it there were 3 and nothing looked to appealing. Later on, I found out that it is usually only busy on the weekends. San Juan has your usual high end designer stores, but if you look hard you can find some unique local stores that have a lot of personality and high quality items. I found the prices reasonable in the smaller local stores, but the big designer stores were actually more expensive than in the states. One of my favorite parts of the city was the fact that there is an abundance of cats patrolling the streets, so of course I had to befriend one. There was even some stores that had "Save the Gato" chain collection cans. Apparently some city officials don't like the friendly mascots.
My little friend:
I did pick up a few souvenirs and some hand made jewelry for my wife from a street vendor. I also bought myself a knock off Fox Racing hat for $5, couldn't pass that up.
Eventually I made my way back to the ship because I missed and was worried about my wife. I also wanted to tell her about my adventures exploring the city.
Here are a bunch of photos taken while in San Juan:
An incredibly social bird I met while in one of the shops that specialized in poetry:
Creepy, but cool
View from the city wall
When I returned to the ship, my wife was still down for the count. Apparently she developed some really nasty bug. We really just hung out in our room the rest of the night, I headed up to Cabanas by myself for a quick dinner, but the rest of the evening was spent watching movies in our room.
I would definitely like to come back to Puerto Rico for a long weekend, I only scratched the surface of the cool things to do in this magical place.
Saying goodbye to San Juan
Enjoying your report.
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