2013-10-26 Disney Fantasy Cruise
Okay, so theres no catchy title to this particular pre cruise, pre-trip report.
I know, how very un-DIS of me....
So this is my first stab at writing a pre-trip report (well, actually my second but since I deleted my first one a day after I wrote it because I realized I didnt have time to write one, that doesnt count).
So, first let me give you a little background information on my cruise travels (this may be helpful in deciding if you want to continue reading).
My first cruise was on the Disney Magic in October 2010. My mother is in a wheelchair and I wanted to make sure we had sufficient space so I booked a verandah cabin (7636) which was right at the back of the ship (1 door down from the secret verandah on deck 7). The cabin was great but Im not a fan of aft cabins because I find the motion in them worse than anywhere else on the ship. We had an incredible balcony that stretched far and wide and lots of space in both the cabin and the bathroom for the wheelchair. I was very happy with the layout of the cabin and the layout of the cruise ship.
I spent the first 1.5 days of the cruise sick as a dog from the motion. My parents thought about getting off the ship in Key West because they werent sure Id make it the full 7 nights without hurling myself off the deck just to escape the spinning, nausea inducing, up and down, side to side motion of the ship. By Sunday night, the Dramamine had kicked in and I was fine for the rest of the cruise (well, except for the stomach flu or something to that effect that hit me on Thursday). Despite the very rough start, I really did enjoy cruising everything is in one place, cabin, entertainment, pools, hot tubs, and food as yes, food. I loved spending my days by and in the adult pool. It was a great area on the Magic and my mother and I enjoyed many drinks of the day in the shade. We didnt end up seeing any of the shows in the main theatre (I watched one on tv while my mother was napping) but it wasnt really my cup of tea. We did love the movie theatre (my dad and I caught several movies) and my parents adored the shops (they are shopaholics me, I dont care if I ever set foot in a store shopping really isnt my thing sacrilege for a woman, I know! I love shopping online, comparing pricing and reading reviews though). We had a fabulous time but didnt rebook on board (only because I wasnt feeling well the last couple of days). We received a card in the mail post-cruise offering a 10% discount on our next cruise so I booked the brand new Dream for the following fall. After years of WDW vacations, it looked like Id found my new obsession cruising!
When I came home, I did a food trip report on that cruise. It can be found here: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2602433.
Surprisingly enough, my next cruise was not on Disney (shock, gasp, horror I know!!) but on Carnival. I did 2 back to back 7 night cruises with my 16 turning 17 year old god daughter Jenna in March 2011. I had priced out DCL but for the cost of a 4 night DCL, we could do a 7 night on Carnival and still have money left over. What really sold me was that for the cost of a 7 night on DCL, we could do 14 nights on Carnival, several excursions (including a cabana at Mahogany Beach), pay gratuities and pay for soda! We sailed in an interior cabin with 2 port holes. It was actually one of the least expensive cabins but one of the nicest. Plush bedding, natural light, front of the ship (which I found there was motion but it was different than the aft and it didnt make me sick), trivia games galore, great service and good food. I took gravel from day 1 and no real sea sickness to speak of. I really enjoyed those 2 weeks and it taught me something.
I like cruising. Not necessarily cruising on DCL, just cruising. I love to cruise!
My next cruise was also on Carnival since they sent me a heavily discounted cruise due to my time spent in the casino along with a few other perks. It was at the end of August 2011 and it left out of New York the day before Hurricane Irene closed down the city. It was a bit of a vomit inducing few days but then the seas calmed down and we had a great cruise. Spent way too much money in the casino and made me realize cruising on DCL had at least one advantage no need to bring gambling money!
There was a welcome aboard cocktail party as part of this casino cruise - this is after 1 too many (or maybe 2 too many) Blue Margaritas!
Following that it was back to DCL for a back to back 4 night / 3 night on the Disney Dream (again with my parents). We had another wheelchair accessible balcony cabin (5552) which was outstanding! Its large with plenty of room to maneuver my mothers wheelchair. The only 2 real issues with the cabin are 1. The bed is too high for my mother to comfortably transfer from her chair 2. There is a steep ramp up to the bathroom (makes for a bit of a tough uphill push). Our stateroom host was okay (she was a very nice lady and my parents loved her but she put back dirty towels that were on the floor in the bathroom onto the rack, fished our empty shampoo & conditioner bottles out of the garbage can and put them back on the shelf in the bathroom instead of leaving new ones and didnt do much other than make the beds, turn them down and make elaborate towel animals not that I told my parents about the dirty towels or empty bottles I try to preserve their magic as much as possible). Our dining room servers were worse than lackluster it was our assistants first cruise and she complained about being sick constantly, she would bring our cold drinks for dinner but refills werent often and getting coffee or tea with dessert was a hassle. On our first DCL cruise, our assistant server (Willy a true gem!), cut up my mothers food after the first night when he saw me doing it (she has the use of only 1 hand so needs help), but this time, there was no service like that no cutting up the food, mickey head ketchups, magic tricks or anything other than awhhh, I feel so bad, the boat moves so much. But, she did get us diet coke, and we felt sorry for her since she was feeling sick so we didnt push anything or complain about her service. Our main server forgot several items and one night I had no entrée because he outright refused to bring me the plain chicken! When our head server came by and asked if everything was okay, my dad mentioned the no entrée thing and got a blank stare and a shoulder shrug. He also mentioned that all of his meat was dry even if it was medium rare, it was dry. The head server told him it was for your own protection and then went on with a lecture about food service preparation and how they need to keep food safe so we dont get sick. Both my parents were in the food industry (my dad still is he sells wholesale bakery products like flour, shortening, and also prepared products like cakes, meat pies, sausage rolls, etc) so we knew that half of what he was saying was incorrect like e-coli in steak, ummm, no, there are very specific reasons why it may appear in ground beef and or on some vegetables he clearly was just making stuff up on the spot and wasnt interested in taking any issues seriously. On our 3 night, things got a little worse we skipped the dining room the first night (I wasnt feeling well my parents got room service and something from up on deck), and the second night we ate in Cabanas (fantastic!!) and when we got to the dining room the final night, they had given our table to someone else! There was a big problem getting us another table and long story short, my mother ended up in tears because some of the servers made a big deal about her wheelchair and of course, if she cries, I cry so it made for a very messy situation. It left a very negative taste in our mouth for DCL and my parents were more than willing to try out other cruise lines with me.
On board I had booked 2 future cruises October 2012 and October 2013. I really wasnt happy with the price for the 2012 Halloween cruise so I changed that one to April 2012 for a 4 night cruise on the Magic (which was a very reasonable price for DCL since it was a cruise that was added only a few months in advance as it was just before the Magic went to NYC). And for October 2012, I booked us a Spa Cabin (wheelchair accessible) on the Carnival Dream.
We enjoyed our 4 night cruise on the Magic very much. Again our cabin was spacious and our dining room servers were much better than on the Dream. Our room steward was a bit of an odd duck though he made up a broken bed. This was actually quite dangerous because it was the bed my mother laid down on; it was difficult to get her back up and into her chair we almost had a medical emergency. We called maintenance and it took a while but they did come up to take a look. The bed underneath was missing a piece which apparently the room steward had picked up but didnt know what it was for (it was a large metal spring thing) and didnt report the issue to maintenance. They ended up bring a new bed to the cabin so it turned out okay but we didnt see our room steward again basically for the rest of the trip I think he was either embarrassed or thinking that we wouldnt tip him after the one of the head maintenance people wrote him up for not reporting the broken bed (it was bit awkward since it was done in front of us). We also got our tip stuff and luggage tags 2 nights early (on night 2) but hey, he gave us fresh towels and emptied our garbage cans so he got the recommended tip. All in all, it was a good cruise.
My parents in the adult area on the Magic:
We sailed the Carnival Dream in October 2012 and again had a fabulous cruise. Maybe we spent a little too much time in the casino&..but it was a very good cruise. For the first time, we were seated with other people (another family of 3 adults, a male couple and a single lady). It was a great table and we had great service at dinner (plus really good food!). This cruise was affected by Hurricane Sandy and was cut from 7 days down to 6 but it was long enough for us to enjoy a lot of what the ship (and Carnival) had to offer. My parents enjoyed this cruise and are willing to sail Carnival again anytime.
Our last cruise was on Royal Caribbean the Explorer of the Seas out of Bayonne NJ. The cruise port is very convenient since its a 10 hour drive and it was a 9 day cruise. We enjoyed the cruise but felt that it was very uneven some things were great, some were good and there was a lot of meh. We got a great price for the cruise ($2200 for the 3 of us for the 9 days) so for what we paid, we got our monies worth. We had great servers again (food and service are very important for us) but only an okay room steward (he had very limited hours which Ive never heard of before and wanted to make up our room at 7:30 even though we had late dinner at 8:15 so we were getting ready at that time). Anyways, still a good cruise but unless theres a fabulously low price, I dont think RCCL is our cruise line of choice its more for the active cruiser (ice skating, rock wall climbing, etc) than for those of us who like activities that leave us sitting on our behinds having loads of fun.
My favourite picture from our RCCL cruise:
So that brings us to the present and the Disney Fantasy October 26th to November 2nd 2013!
There are 3 players in this particular game:
Contestant #1: Connie (my mother)
She is a full time wheelchair user so our choice of cabins is generally geared towards her needs. She is a big Disney fan and loves the Pooh Characters the most – Pooh, piglet, eeyore, and especially Tigger. She has a pair of tigger ears she’s thinking about wearing for Halloween. She is also a huge fan of Duffy as she collects Teddy Bears. She has a couple of Duffy bears and a whole bunch of outfits. The other thing you need to know about her is a) she loves to shop and b) she never pays full price for anything. My dad always jokes that if you put an orange sale sticker on it, my mother will find it. On our first DCL cruise, she found the only 3 items in the store that were reduced/on sale (umbrellas, tote bag and a toy) and she of course, bought one of each!
During her stroke rehab, she was given the advice to find a hobby. The hobby she took up is photography. She has two point and click cameras (exactly the same camera – we had to buy the second one because she uses them so much we needed a second one to switch out with when the battery dies) and she uses them constantly. She regularly takes 1000’s of pictures on vacation and always manages to take the most unflattering shots of my dad and I. If my mom is with me during any activity, I guarantee it will be well documented with photographs. Plus, food pictures – lots of food pictures (that’s my fault, I was the one who got her started on that with my DIS dining reviews).
Mom loves to talk to everyone – no really EVERYONE. She will engage every cast member she meets and many of the passengers as well.
She turns 60 in July (shhh, my Dad and I are throwing her a surprise luncheon and then whisking her away for a casino 3 day week-end, plus we’re getting her a tablet and loading it with games and books and other apps). But she doesn’t look 60 at all (pet peeve – when someone calls her my sister – I know she looks young but so do I – there’s no way you could mistake us for sisters).
Anyways, that’s my mother Connie.
Contestant #2 – Bill (my dad)
My dad will be retiring at the end of this year. He turns 65 just after this cruise so I’m planning on purchasing a cake and having a little onboard celebration for him. He owned a bakery for 22 years, was a lead baker for a large wholesale bakery and now is a salesman for a large bakery supply wholesale company. Being around all of that, he loves his sweets! (truthfully my whole family does).
He complains about my mother’s shopping habit but funny thing is, he’s just as bad about shopping (doesn’t buy as much but really does love to look).
He’s been go, go, go, for so much of his life that sometimes it’s difficult to get him to slow down to enjoy the little things. He loves the movie theatre on DCL though, so it’s easy to get him to agree to stop for one of those! He can also talk your ear off – especially if it’s something he’s excited about – and is possibly one of the few people that could not only sell ice to Eskimos but also a freezer and a year’s supply of frozen polar bear. When he starts talking about things he loves (Disney, cruising, fish, trains, food) he lights up and you can’t help but get enthralled.
He is a steak man. He tries to order other meats but usually falls back onto beef. On our RCCL cruise, every night he ordered a steak as his second entrée (just in case he didn’t like his adventurous choice).
He has two main hobbies – model trains (which you don’t see too much of on a Disney cruise) and tropical fish. He tends to get off on Castaway Cay first thing in the morning (like the 2nd person off the ship) with his snorkel gear and head into the water while it’s still clear. Then he’ll come back to the ship after an hour or so and my mother and I will join him to explore the island. It’s pretty much the perfect day for him – swimming with the fish in the morning, bbq for lunch, relaxing in the afternoon and then steak for dinner!
OK!! I'm ready for the next installment . . . :surfweb:
I'd love to read more!
Wow you and your parents are quite the experienced cruisers by now! Lucky!
We're sailing on Oct. 26 as well, on the Wonder! Looking forward to more :flower3:
I had half forgotten about this....thanks for the reminder Janice.
Okay, so Contestant #3 - me! Otherwise known as "Trisha" (yes - quotation marks are necessary! My full name is Patricia but my family calls me Trisha - well, actually they spell it Tricia but in my teens I went by Trish so now I just add the a to the end of it - though nowadays I'm much more likely to respond to my full name since that's what I'm called at work - just whatever you do, don't call me Pat - I will ignore you completely as I really don't like that short form of my name :rolleyes1).
Well, mostly - I now have a lot less hair. Last week-end I donated my 12 inch ponytail to locks of love and have a modern, short haircut now. It's really a first for me since I haven't had hair shorter than my shoulders since I was about 7 or 8 - and even when I was a kid, my hair was mostly always really long.
So, I love to cruise. Really. Love. To. Cruise.
Even though I get sea sick. A lot. A lot, a lot.
My first day aboard any ship is spent with me asking why I continue to torture myself with cruises.
And then I take some gravol, the sickness passes and I once again love cruising.
I'm not big on excursions though - I cruise for the ship and the relaxation it affords me. You see, I am a workaholic. Not that I want to be, I try to do as little as possible while I'm actually at work, it just doesn't always work out well for me. I'm unfortunately very good at my job which generally leads to more and more responsibility.
I work for the Canadian Government.
Yes, all of the stereotypes you've heard about government employees are true. They are are also all false. It really depends on the employee. I work with a great team of people who are all very good at their job and are all very well respected for what they do.
For the past 15 months, I've acted as manager for a wonderful team of people whose job it is to train people on how to do their jobs and give guidance on legislation when the people who do the work don't know what to do. It's been a very hectic 15 months with so much change and uncertainty and having to write and rewrite plans numerous times in the same month, week and even day and I'm ready to go back to my previous job. The lady I've been replacing is coming back from Maternity leave in September and I'm more than ready to hand back over the reigns to her.
In September things should calm down for me and I'll actually be able to work on my FE gifts (yay!).
I don't expect things to stay calm for me for long though since there is a hiring process I've just applied for that would put me back into the Manager seat (for a different office) which would mean back to the uber-responsibility and chaos.
Work takes up about 75% of my life energy with cruising and Disney getting about 23% and the other 2% is for other stuff (laundry, paying bills, cooking, cleaning, dealing with family other than my parents, friends, facebook, texting, etc).
I also got my learner's permit to drive late last year and will be taking the driving test shortly after returning from our Fantasy cruise (assuming that I, you know, actually learn to drive :rolleyes1). I know, I know, most people get their learner's permits at 16, not 38 (now 39) but I've never been one to focus on normality.
I'm thinking if I am successful at getting my license, it's a good reason to book a celebratory cruise! Am I right, or what!?!
to leave off here is one of my mother's pictures of me - she didn't even tell me to look up, and I didn't find this photo until we got home and I loaded everything onto the computer.
We don't like to fly so most all inclusives are out of the picture and I'm not even a big fan of spending the days driving around so I love that both WDW and cruises offer one stop destinations (you get there, you vacation, you come home). Everything in one place.
I hope your trip on the Wonder is wonderful!
Well, now that I see how easy that was, I will be back in a few weeks for a September update. . . (but feel free to post sooner!!)!!
Hey Trisha! Loving the PTR :thumbsup2
I had forgotten to submit my vacation request for this trip but did so earlier this week and thankfully it was approved. Leave is kind of weird where I work - you have to submit for June-July-August-September by April 15th and then for December-January-February-March by September 15th but there's no timeframe to submit for leave in April-May or October-November (both of which are considered non-peak leave periods).
My Dad has his leave approved months ago and my mother doesn't work so she's free all the time!
As always we'll be driving down to Florida because my dad won't fly, my mom can't fly and I'm very happy not to fly (I hate flying - hate, hate, hate it!). Plus - with a car we have space for lots of stuff! :rotfl2: And we are chronic overpackers.
So here's the trip plan for pre-cruise:
Wednesday October 23rd my dad will pick up the rental car around noon - put the luggage into the car and then him and my mother will drive to my work and pick me up (yes, I am working until 1:30pm on the day we're leaving). We'll drive to Toledo Ohio and stop for the night. I'm planning on stopping at Red Robin for dinner somewhere in Michigan (there are so many really great chains in the US that we don't have up here in Canada).
Thursday October 24th we'll get up crackin early and hit the road to Marietta, Georgia. My dad's hoping to come across one of the KFC Buffet restaurants at the right time for lunch - KFC in the States is nothing like in Canada (Canadian KFC is crappy). I mean, you guys have mashed potatoes, green beans, mac n cheese and biscuits - we have french fries, macaroni salad and no bread anymore! We stopped at a KFC buffet in Georgia once (at my instance because I *had* to get out of the car for a little while) and it was awesome - collared greens, okra, several kinds of potatoes, green beans, corn, coleslaw, plus really good chicken - both grilled and fried. (okay, yes I will admit it - my whole family thinks about food way, way too much). Anyways, if we manage the KFC for lunch then it'll be a light dinner, probably something back at the room. Otherwise the day will be spent driving, driving and yes, more driving.
Friday October 25th will mark the last of the driving journey. Again, I'm sure we'll leave at the crack-a-lackin break of dawn and head down to Tittusville Florida. I've booked us at the Fairfield Inn and Suites to take advantage of the 40% off parking at port coupon they give out. I generally stick to Marriott brand hotels now anyways (they give very good rewards and often run deals where if you stay 2 separate times, you get a free night - well, when we're travelling we stay at different places so it's easy to do 2 one night stays in a trip - if not 4 or 5 one night stays to earn multiple free nights - last year I used the free nights stays to take my cousin and her kids away for Easter staying at Residence Inn in a 1 bedroom suite for them and a 1 bedroom suite for my parents). Anywho - again the day will be spent mostly driving getting to Tittusville in time for supper - hopefully BBQ but it really depends on how we feel after all of the driving (sometimes pizza or subs in the room is just quicker, easier and quieter than hitting up a restaurant).
Saturday October 26th Cruise Day! Yay! I'm hoping to be able to sleep in a little this day (though my parents and I are generally early risers - so when I say sleep in I mean sleep until 8 - 8:30am) After breakfast at the hotel, we'll hit up dunkin donuts (I have this thing for blueberry coffee) and then we'll be at the port for 10:30 am. As we usually do, my dad will drop my mom and I off and we'll go through security and meet him upstairs. He'll park in the garage and take our 1 piece of carryon luggage (with the exception of my purse with the important documents). And then it's just a waiting game to get on board.
I've booked very little for on board the ship.
We don't really do a lot of excursions because finding ones that are truly wheelchair friendly are tough.
I had been looking at the Tequilas and Tacos tour in Cozumel (because it is wheelchair friendly) but I was able to read a very detailed review in someone's trip report and the more I read, the less I thought we'd like it. The Tequila is mostly shots (which I would be fine to taste) but straight liquor isn't something my parents are really into - I was hoping for more margarita's and a few straight up tastings. And the part I think would appeal most to my parents (the tour through the museum and handicrafts) is kind of rush, rush and I know my mother would want to take her time to see everyone and take lots of pictures. At $60 a person it was reasonable but when it came right down to it, my parents said they'd prefer to spend the $180 on something else (most likely shopping for trinkets in Cozumel and Costa Maya).
So right now the plans are:
Grand Cayman - my dad may get off here but my mother and I won't. Last time we stopped here my dad did a tour with the DIS group where they snorkeled and swam with the Rays. He had fun but says that he prefers to snorkel from the shore instead of a boat. I can still see that he'll grab a tender after the rush and walk around Grand Cayman - and probably buy a few souveniers for my mother (he always brings her back something when he gets off the ship by himself). A little before sailaway, I expect I'll be up at the Adult pool area. When we were on the Magic when we sailed away from Grand Cayman, they were offering 2 for 1 drinks of the day - I'm hoping to find that deal again (2 drinks for around $6!)
Costa Maya - I'm kind of torn on this one. We don't dock until 1pm and it's such a long pier (and no little tram for the wheelchair so 1 of us has to push all the way there and back). We've been here before so I think it's really going to depend on the weather. If the weather's nice (but not too, too hot) we'll probably get off and do some shopping and maybe go for a swim at the port pool. My dad will probably bring his snorkel stuff to see about going into the edge of the water.
Cozumel - we'll all get off here and probably just hang around the shopping centre. Last time we were here on Disney, my mother's wheelchair ended up with bags hanging off of every possible bar and hook and my mother grasping onto as many bags as humanly possible. $2 for a t-shirt? $1 for a painted rock? $5 for a large beach bag? These kind of bargains are no brainers for my parents....
Castaway Cay - here my dad will get off the ship first thing in the morning. He loves to snorkel here before everyone else gets into the water and makes it cloudy. Once he's snorkeled he'll meet us back on the ship and then we'll all get off the ship. We usually find a nice warm but shady place for my mother (she really doesn't like the sand wheelchairs) and then my dad and I will spend a little time in the water. After that it'll be a quick BBQ lunch (I loved the ribs we had last time we were on Castaway) and then back to the ship mid afternoon. After this much sunshine, I'm sure we'll all be ready for a nap!
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