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Old 01-10-2009, 10:02 PM   #1
OurOhana
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First-time Dis cruisers 1/31/09 Eastern w/phots, navs, menus-FINAL THOUGHTS 3/21

Aloha everyone

I feel like I know you all already. I've spent so much time on this forum for about a month now, trying to learn all I can for our upcoming cruise. I can't imagine going on the cruise without learning from all of you at least a little of what to expect.

A little about us:
Me, 36, native Floridian. I've been to WDW too many times to count, and I still love it!
DH, turns the big 5-0 on Jan. 31, the first day of our cruise, a native Hawaiian.
DD, 3 (though we're pretty sure she's going on 23) If she could introduce herself, she would tell you she's a "big pink Cinderella."

Now the start of our pre-trip report:
A little more than two years ago, I decided to quietly start saving money to take my husband somewhere special on his 50th birthday. But just a few months later, we needed to dip into my secret stash.

Fast forward to earlier this year and my procrastination pays off. I have a flexible spending account through my office. The money I spend on health and child care expenses comes out of my paycheck before taxes. I'm supposed to submit a receipt to get money out of the account to reimburse our health and child care expenses. A few months into this year, I had not submitted any receipts. I quickly realized my husband hadn't asked about it. He didn't even realize the money wasn't there. So I decided to open a separate bank account and divert the money into it. Save a major emergency, I had no intentions of telling him about it, so we wouldn't be tempted to use it on something else. It worked. By the end of the year, I had enough money for a trip.

Now, do we go on a Holland America Line Cruise or Disney? We took a HAL cruise for our honeymoon, plus one other trip, both back in 2003. We loved the ships and the cruise line. But we also love Disney and we always wanted to try it. I checked out Disney and realized we could afford it with what I had in savings.

By the way, DH still had no idea I had money in savings for a trip.

But it was now December, his birthday was coming up soon and I needed to make a decision. I feared that if I didn't tell him about the trip before I booked it, he might have a tough time scheduling his work around it. Plus, it was his birthday, I wanted to make sure he wanted a Disney Cruise, not HAL.

So just a week before that promo ended that allows you to take a 3-day cruise later in the year if you booked by mid-December, I told him that I had been stashing away money. He was thrilled! And he didn't hesitate - WE WERE GOING ON DISNEY!!

We can't wait to go on the cruise. DD has no idea we're going. She loves all things Disney, so she'll be thrilled. I'm starting a trip report in hopes that our experiences will help some other people out the way all of your reports helped me as I've planned our trip. Plus, it seems like a great way for me to keep myself busy while I wait for the big trip. I've never written on a forum before, so I hope you'll bear with me as I learn the ropes

Aloha
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HAL Maasdam Feb. 16, 2003 * HAL Zuiderdam Sept. 7, 2003
DCL Magic Jan. 31, 2009 * DCL Wonder Sept. 17, 2009 * DCL Wonder Sept. 20, 2009 * DCL Fantasy Apr. 27, 2013




Last edited by OurOhana; 03-21-2009 at 06:50 PM. Reason: Updated
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Old 01-11-2009, 10:16 AM   #2
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Booking our cruise

BOOKING OUR CRUISE:
So while my husband was away on his business travels in mid-December, I called Disney to book our cruise. Now while I've spent a lot of time on this board since December reading tips, I hadn't read anything about the benefits of going through a TA. I'm not sure I got the best deal possible, but I felt pretty good at the end.

I was using my Disney Visa Rewards card so we could get points for a later vacation. I was getting ready to book a category 6 stateroom and I asked about the deal where we could travel later in the year. (I can't remember the exact deal, but it's something like $99 a person.) She said that we would get that deal. I then asked about OBC. I was expecting $200, I think because I was using the credit card.

The DCL woman had the most monotone voice ever. She said to me she could give me to the OBC or she could give me the Florida rate. I said, well, what's the Florida rate, I'll figure out the best deal for us. It was exactly $2,000 less than the quote we were getting online through Disney's site. Wow!! When I told her I would take the Disney rate, she said, "Now, you know you won't get the OBC." I giggled, thinking I think I got the better deal. I just loved how nonchalant she was about everything. Because of the great deal, I ended up spending about $300 more to move up to a category 4. Now, after reading more of these posts, I don't think it was necessary to move up. But I already did it and didn't think it was necessary to change it again.

I asked for main dining, but they put me on the waiting list. The later dining worried me and I felt certain we wouldn't get it switched to main because we booked so late.

But I checked our reservations the other day, and we had been switched to main dining. YIPPEE. (I wasn't sure how our daughter would do staying up so late. She's used to going to bed at 8 p.m. the latest. But if she's busy, she's usually fine staying up on those rare occasions. This later seating time allows us to get her to bed early if we need to.)

I should also say for those out there who are curious. After we booked our cruise, we went to get our passports. (We didn't need them for this trip, but it seemed as if it would be easier to keep track of those than birth certificates. Plus, we would need them, I believe, for the second cruise we can't take until August or later.) It took less than two weeks (and this was during the Christmas holiday) to get the passports in the mail. Of course, I was at first thinking, no big deal if they don't come in time. We have our birth certificates. But then I realized our original birth certificates were sent off with our passport applications. So just to be safe, I ordered new ones for all three of us. DD and mine are from Florida and we got them within a week. DH came from Hawaii in about three days. Go figure!! So yes, now I have passports and two certified copies of our birth certificates. I guess I'm set for almost anything now.

Aloha
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HAL Maasdam Feb. 16, 2003 * HAL Zuiderdam Sept. 7, 2003
DCL Magic Jan. 31, 2009 * DCL Wonder Sept. 17, 2009 * DCL Wonder Sept. 20, 2009 * DCL Fantasy Apr. 27, 2013




Last edited by OurOhana; 01-13-2009 at 09:48 PM.
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Old 01-11-2009, 04:14 PM   #3
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Great intro!!

Welcome!

I can't wait to hear more and see pictures.

Off to a good start!!
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2014/8 Carnival Freedom/Southern Caribbean
2014/6 Cocoa Beach/Orlando
2013 Lake Tahoe/CA
2012 Orlando/Disney/SeaWorld
2011 Colorado/brother's wedding
2010 Carnival Conquest/Eastern Caribbean
2009 Disney Magic Cruise
2008 Carnival Miracle/Western Caribbean
2007 Carnival Valor/Western Caribbean-son's first cruise
2007 Hawaii-Married
2006 St Thomas
2001 Carnival Elation/Mexican Riveria:
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Old 01-11-2009, 05:57 PM   #4
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Thank you PalmFam. I'm thrilled to be here, and I'm glad you're enjoying it so far.
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HAL Maasdam Feb. 16, 2003 * HAL Zuiderdam Sept. 7, 2003
DCL Magic Jan. 31, 2009 * DCL Wonder Sept. 17, 2009 * DCL Wonder Sept. 20, 2009 * DCL Fantasy Apr. 27, 2013



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Old 01-11-2009, 06:17 PM   #5
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So much to plan, so much to see, so much to do

So I had already told my husband about his big birthday surprise. (Thinking back, by the way, I think I should have just booked it and told him after. I think he could have been flexible with work and we both love a good surprise. But it's too late to think about that now.)

But I could surprise him with some excursions. When we did HAL ages ago, we couldn't book all of our excursions online - at least I don't remember doing it. So I knew he wouldn't know that I had a code to get online for the Disney cruise and book away. I could at least surprise him for Christmas and then he would have time to see if he wanted to add anything.

Palo was already booked, so I'll just have to try to get in when we get on the boat. I won't lose sleep if we can't get dinner or brunch, but I'll try to get a reservation.

So for DH's big 5-0, I decided he should try something completely new and different. So for Castaway Cay, he'll be parasailing. Well, technically, we're both down to parasail, but I think I'm about to chicken out. I'm just not sure how I'll do. I know I have time to think about it. He learned about the parasailing for one of his Christmas presents. He was jumping for joy.

After Christmas, we searched for other excursions together. For St. Croix, we booked the miniboat excursion. I do have a little hestitation for this one. As I said, we'll have DD with us. She's 3 and she attends child care full-time now, since we both work. I think she'll not only be fine at the club, I think she'll just love it. (She's our social butterfly.) But the exursion starts at 8:15 a.m. I'm hoping the club opens that early. The told me at DCL that it does, so hopefully other children will be in there that early. My other concern is leaving the boat with her on it. It would be the only day we do this and the excursion is over before noon, but still, it makes me a little anxious. But my DH is a huge water fan and this is right up his alley. I've never snorkeled before in any remarkable place, so I know I'll have a blast too. So yes, I'm a little hestitant about leaving the little one, but I'm sure she'll be fine.

For St. John/St. Thomas, we'll all be doing the Skyride to Paradise Point. It sounds fun and it sounds like we'll have plenty of time to look around the island, and we can head back to the boat at most any time.

So I've loaded an application to my iphone that will count down the days to any event I put in it. 20 days until Disney Cruise. I just can't wait. I'm getting more excited by the day.
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HAL Maasdam Feb. 16, 2003 * HAL Zuiderdam Sept. 7, 2003
DCL Magic Jan. 31, 2009 * DCL Wonder Sept. 17, 2009 * DCL Wonder Sept. 20, 2009 * DCL Fantasy Apr. 27, 2013



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Old 01-12-2009, 11:03 AM   #6
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Hi! I'm enjoying your TR so far. I'm interested to hear your experiences, we are going on the St. Croix eastern on 2/28, I have a 5 year old and a 3 year old. We did the Eastern last year to St. Maarten and St. Thomas and both kids loved the sky ride to Paradise Point.
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Old 01-12-2009, 01:28 PM   #7
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We will be on same cruise!

We will be cruising right along with you on the 31st! This will be our second Disney cruise (Western Carribean 2 years ago). We haven't booked any excursions yet...still trying to figure out what to do. My kids are 12 and 10...they both LOVED the kids' clubs. We actually had to pull them out most nights!

Can't wait!!!
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Old 02-09-2009, 08:55 AM   #8
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Great TR!! Anxious to see how your 3 yr. old liked the club.
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Old 02-09-2009, 09:41 AM   #9
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First of all, Welcome Back! I am really enjoying your TR so far. Your pictures are fantastic! I'm looking forward to hearing about your day on St. Croix, since I have been wondering what to do with DD5 and DS3 when we are there.

On our last cruise, a Western, we were in a room near 8014 -- that's a great part of the ship and the extra space in the room was awesome! I like your door magnets, and also a big *THANK YOU* for posting the Navigators. I look forward to more!
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Old 02-09-2009, 06:52 PM   #10
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Thanks for your trip report! I am also going on the 2/28 7-day Eastern so this is a lot of help.
Even though this is not my first cruise, it will be a first with my DD(3) and DS(1).

I was wondering if you had any advice about leaving your DD in the Oceaneer Club. My DD just turned 3 last month. I guess I'm just worried about leaving her around older kids (since she'll be one of the younger ones).
I'll be waiting for the rest of your TR!!
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Old 02-09-2009, 07:52 PM   #11
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I too am enjoying your TR! Keep it coming... I would love to hear about your St Croix day and excursions as well!!!
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Old 02-09-2009, 07:57 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bellaiah View Post
Thanks for your trip report! I am also going on the 2/28 7-day Eastern so this is a lot of help.
Even though this is not my first cruise, it will be a first with my DD(3) and DS(1).

I was wondering if you had any advice about leaving your DD in the Oceaneer Club. My DD just turned 3 last month. I guess I'm just worried about leaving her around older kids (since she'll be one of the younger ones).
I'll be waiting for the rest of your TR!!
Hi there - I'm so excited for you, and jealous at the same time. I want to go back NOW. We loved the club. Malia was 3 last August, but there were some children younger than her. The club splits children up by age group, so she was just with 3 and 4 year olds, most of the time. Sometimes, she was merged with the 5-7 year olds. But even when she was with her smaller group or the larger one, they often split up to enjoy different activities. For instance, on the last night when I went to get Malia, she was in the computer room playing dress up with other girls. Many other children were doing an activity with a counselor. They had a lot of counselors on hand too, who I really liked. There was one male counselor, Fabrice, who was great with Malia. But I also saw the counselors playing with the kids. They were very interactive. It was great. I'll post pictures of the club in one of my future posts. The counselors also are good about paging you if there is a problem or just if your children are tired and want to see you. I'm sure every child is great, but if yours are usually good with a babysitter or child care center or play groups, I would imagine they'd love it.


Quote:
Originally Posted by fairfax View Post
First of all, Welcome Back! I am really enjoying your TR so far. Your pictures are fantastic! I'm looking forward to hearing about your day on St. Croix, since I have been wondering what to do with DD5 and DS3 when we are there.

On our last cruise, a Western, we were in a room near 8014 -- that's a great part of the ship and the extra space in the room was awesome! I like your door magnets, and also a big *THANK YOU* for posting the Navigators. I look forward to more!
Thank you! We loved St. Croix and will tell you more later. But for your question about your children, I was also concerned ahead of time. Our fears were eased. The club opened earlier than usual so people could go on land or on excursions early. The pager didn't work when we were off the boat (except on Castaway Cay) but we were really near the boat and only gone for 3 1/2 hours. By that day, we'd spent two full days on board and we knew she loved it. I don't think she noticed we were gone. And the next day, when we went to St. Thomas, she said she wanted to go back to the club. We took her back and we left again to go shopping.


Quote:
Originally Posted by lulu0506 View Post
Great TR!! Anxious to see how your 3 yr. old liked the club.
She loved it! She wants to go back right now, and would if we let her.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 1stdisneycruise View Post
You ar doing a great job. Thank you you adding things I wanted to ask but thought I should not like how long is the boat drill.

YOu little girl is so cute. Believe me write down the cute things she says. I wish now I would have. I have a 9 and 6 year old and they say less and less cute things

I am so happy you got better. I was reading and saying to my self. this is us we are going to get sick. We are only 15 days away. We have two big things and then I think I am going to lock us in the house. Ok maybe I can't but i am thinking it

I can not wait to hear about CC. We are also doing nassau but I do not think that you went there. I am so glad you are adding the navigators

I can not wait to see the menus. How did you get yours. I want them so bad also. I scrapbook
Thanks. Don't worry too much about getting sick. I think the trick for us all getting over it was making sure we kept up on sleep and took our vitamin C. I never usually do that, but I figured if I got too tired, I would get really sick.
I'll continue posting navigators and menus for each day as I write about them. The way I got them was just by going to guest services and asking for a copy. They were great about it and made the copies right away. I also wanted them possibly for a scrapbook one day. Plus, I hoped they would be useful for those who haven't seen them yet, or for those looking to see if things have changed since their last trip.

Thanks for reading. I'll update more later.
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HAL Maasdam Feb. 16, 2003 * HAL Zuiderdam Sept. 7, 2003
DCL Magic Jan. 31, 2009 * DCL Wonder Sept. 17, 2009 * DCL Wonder Sept. 20, 2009 * DCL Fantasy Apr. 27, 2013



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Old 02-09-2009, 08:20 PM   #13
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Day One continued

We had dinner at Lumineer’s the first night. It was a pretty restaurant and we met our tablemates from New Jersey. I’ll be honest, we were most worried about who we would be seated with at dinner. When we went on Holland America the first time, we sat by ourselves. The second time, we sat with family members. This would be the first time we would sit with strangers all week.

Turns out there was nothing to worry about. We became fast friends. Our DDs became even faster friends. They really made our trip much more memorable and fun. In fact, we got a big laugh at the end of the first night when the husband of the other family told my husband that he had been concerned when he first sat down because he thought my husband had large hoop earrings in his ears. (It was the way the band that he wore around his neck to keep ahold of his sunglasses looked.) We all got a giggle out it.
The food on the other hand – well, it was just OK. In some cases, it was less than OK.

Day one menu




That night, I had the shrimp medley, (which was pretty good,) I had the Boulllibaise soup, (which was ok but had only a couple pieces of seafood in it, but I didn’t expect much in the soup,) I had Coquilles St. Jacques, (which had scallops, mushrooms and shallots in white sauce. They were baked with mashed potatoes on top. I really like seafood, but it wasn’t good at all. I will say though that there was quite a bit of scallops in this dish.)

DH had the duck appetizer, (which was mostly an empty pie shell.) DH had tomato and basil soup, (which he really disliked because it was very salty, said it tasted like it was made using sea water). DH had the roasted beef tenderloin – (he said it was pretty good.)

DD had hamburger from the kid’s menu. She hardly touched it. She did, however, have some of the pasta from the plate of our 3-year-old tablemate. She seemed to like it. To be honest, though, she was just tired and not interested in sitting still for two hours. We skipped dessert that night.

OK, so I know we sound like complainers when it comes to meals. It gets better for food later on, when we figure out what we think the ship does best when it comes to food. Now, even this first night, it doesn’t mean that hubby goes hungry. We couldn’t let that happen. He went to Pluto’s Dog House and got a hotdog and hamburger. The hamburger was nothing special, but the hotdog was good – He would have quite a few more later in the trip. I had some of the fries, which were really good.

Now, about that forgotten birthday. No one actually forgot DH’s birthday. But the ship was going to give him a cake that night, when I had requested it. But they forgot. I felt a little bad for him, in part because I didn’t want him to think I forgot him. So I told him what was supposed to happen and told him we’d probably get a cake later in the week. No big deal.

Before we went snacking, we went by the club with DD. She asked if she could stay for a little bit, which we said was fine. We went exploring and then went back to get her about an hour later. I actually went to get her, while DH went back to the room. So didn’t know the club had paged us. So when I showed up, I was in shock when they told me DD had an accident. Now she’s been potty trained since just after Christmas 2007. She hasn’t even used pull-ups at night for about 10 months. But the counselors were really nice about it. They said she was just excited. DD wasn’t phased at all. But she was fine about leaving the club that night.

The Oceaneers Club for 3-4 year olds, though sometimes also older children








I think we had an elephant towel animal that night, but we didn’t get a picture. We were all just so tired.

Before we went to bed, we filled out the breakfast menu for 8 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. the next day. I know we got coffee and chocolate milk for DD (she lived on the chocolate milk that week. She will have a tough time adjusting to white milk again.) I know I also got croissants, which were pretty good and staple for me most of the week. We loved doing room service every morning, so we didn’t have to rush out of our room. If we were still hungry, we went to a restaurant later in the morning.

Room service breakfast menu


We were probably asleep by about 10 p.m. – all of us.

UP NEXT: A birthday remembered, our first seat day, a visit with some more favorite characters.
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HAL Maasdam Feb. 16, 2003 * HAL Zuiderdam Sept. 7, 2003
DCL Magic Jan. 31, 2009 * DCL Wonder Sept. 17, 2009 * DCL Wonder Sept. 20, 2009 * DCL Fantasy Apr. 27, 2013




Last edited by OurOhana; 02-09-2009 at 08:42 PM.
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Old 02-11-2009, 02:55 PM   #14
1stdisneycruise
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[:


Thanks. Don't worry too much about getting sick. I think the trick for us all getting over it was making sure we kept up on sleep and took our vitamin C. I never usually do that, but I figured if I got too tired, I would get really sick.
I'll continue posting navigators and menus for each day as I write about them. The way I got them was just by going to guest services and asking for a copy. They were great about it and made the copies right away. I also wanted them possibly for a scrapbook one day. Plus, I hoped they would be useful for those who haven't seen them yet, or for those looking to see if things have changed since their last trip.

Thanks for reading. I'll update more later.[/QUOTE]


I did not know you could ask a guest service. You are so smart. Thank you for that.

I will have to buy us some vitamin c.

Thank you for doing all of this for us that have not been. We just love looking at the navigators and menus and to know what you thought. You are doing a great job. Can not wait to read more
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