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Old 04-10-2014, 03:21 PM   #1
skier_pete
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"Once Upon A Time in Carribean" - On the Wonder Feb 16-21, 2014 (WRAPUP! 7/09)

Hey everyone, and welcome to the TR our first-ever DINSEY CRUISE. For those friends that have been following me for a while, you can skip this first paragraph below.

For those that haven’t followed along before, I am a 44-year old husband and dad to a 10-year old daughter. I used to go to Disney World each summer as a child back in the seventies, and my wife and I have become the typical DIS Disney addicts. DW is probably a bigger trip addict than me, but I am the primary planner and the DIS social director (as in making friends on the DIS), which is the opposite of real life where I don’t really like other people all that much. (Har har! That’s a joke.)

We have TEN trips to WDW under our belts (eight with DD), two trips to DL (one on an ABD adventure with the DIS back in June of 2013). This is the THIRD trip of a 9 month self-titled “Disney Trifecta”. In addition, we are in the process of buying into DVC and using some “freebie” points we are getting to plan a getaway weekend this fall. But that’s for another report!



So, you MAY be thinking that my TR title has something to do with Disney Magic, or the TV show “Once Upon a Time” which I have never seen. But no, it is a reference to the great Sergio Leone – director of many a Spaghetti Western in the sixties and seventies. Since my previous two trips were titled. “A Fistful of Fastpasses” and “For a Few Fastpasses More”, and I summarized each day in those TRs with “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly”. That left me with his Leone’s Magnum Opus - “Once Upon a Time in the West” and that’s where the title of this TR comes from! Well, that and we have never been to the actual Carribean before!

A little more background regarding the motivation for this trip. This was really DDs trip. I think she was getting a little bit tired of WDW trips (how is that possible?), and we watched a special on the Disney Cruise Line and she wanted so much to try it out. Now, neither DW nor I are really “cruisers” as neither of us had ever done one before. In fact, I sort of hated the idea, as I do not really like the water, but in particular I have a phobia of being ON the water (not IN the water, which I am OK with), or more specifically falling into the water. While I have it mostly under control – by not going on the water – I will admit I was a little trepidatious at the idea of this trip. But, we all agreed it was worth a try. Heck, it’s Disney!

So, I researched available dates that we didn’t have to take DD out of school. The first thing I discovered – Disney cruises are FREAKIN’ expensive! I couldn’t believe how much some of them cost. It looked like our main choices were narrowed down to
A) 5-night cruise out of Miami President’s Week
B) 7-night cruise out of Port Canaveral President’s Week
C) 7-night cruise out of Port Canaveral end of August

Well, I rapidly nixed the August one. I didn’t want our first ever cruise to possibly be in a hurricane. Feburary seemed good, but as I priced it out, I noticed that the 7-day cruise was TWICE the cost of the 5-day. An extra $2000 for two more days? I don’t think so! Plus, the shorter cruise sort of appealed to me. If I was really hating it, it wouldn’t last so long. Then we could spend a couple days afterwards at the beach relaxing. This, alas, was not to be.

As I was trying to get airfare, I discovered something – flying from Buffalo to Florida for President’s Week does not provide for favorable airfares. While I was lucky (mostly thanks to a DISer on the cruise) to get a flight down on Saturday the day before the cruise, we were never able to get a reasonable fare rate other than on the day we returned to port. So the vacation ended up being a Saturday to Friday trip, with the cruise being Sunday to Friday.

The final addition was a whole ‘nother family. Last summer we were having dinner with some friends and were talking vacations and they mentioned they were thinking of taking a Disney cruise, so we said we had already booked on such-and-such a date. Well, they asked if they could join along, and after a little discussion we said SURE! So, our special guests in this trip report are – and though I have permission to post their pictures, these are not they’re real names – Tom, Duchess and the triplets: Berloiz, Toulouse, and Marie. Duchess and DW are long-time friends from college, and we are currently neighbors in the same town/school system.
__________________

1971 - 1982 Many childhood trips May 1997 - Off-site w/ DGF (now DW) October 2000 - Off-site w/ DW - 1st AK
October 14-20,2006 - First on-site (POFQ), first w/ DD3 and DMIL. September 22-29, 2007 with freinds @ POFQ! August 23-31, 2008. Just us 3...dining for free!
December 12-20, 2009 - 40th Birthday trip! Trip Report April 20-25, 2010 - Short surprise trip for DD! Trip Report
October 15-25, 2010 @ AKL Trip Report!
November 11-20, 2011 - Free dining at CBR! PTR! and Trip Report
July/August 2012 Disneyland / Australia TripPTR "I choose to Be Amused" TR
The Disney Trifecta - a PTR for 2013. LINK Trip Reports - ABD: "A Fistful of Fastpasses" WDW: "For A Few Fastpasses More" DCL: "Once Upon a Time in the Carribean"

October 2014 Pre Trip Report- "Let us plan our Escape !" LINK NEW TR

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Old 04-10-2014, 03:22 PM   #2
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Table of Contents


Day 1 & 2 - The trip to the ship
Day 2 - Exploring the Ship
Day 2 - Dinner @ Triton's
Day 3 - At Sea
Day 4 - Cozumel
Day 4 - Palo & Pirates
Day 5 - At Sea
Day 6 - Castaway Cay
Day 6 - Til We Meet Again!
Day 7 - Return home and Final Wrap up

__________________

1971 - 1982 Many childhood trips May 1997 - Off-site w/ DGF (now DW) October 2000 - Off-site w/ DW - 1st AK
October 14-20,2006 - First on-site (POFQ), first w/ DD3 and DMIL. September 22-29, 2007 with freinds @ POFQ! August 23-31, 2008. Just us 3...dining for free!
December 12-20, 2009 - 40th Birthday trip! Trip Report April 20-25, 2010 - Short surprise trip for DD! Trip Report
October 15-25, 2010 @ AKL Trip Report!
November 11-20, 2011 - Free dining at CBR! PTR! and Trip Report
July/August 2012 Disneyland / Australia TripPTR "I choose to Be Amused" TR
The Disney Trifecta - a PTR for 2013. LINK Trip Reports - ABD: "A Fistful of Fastpasses" WDW: "For A Few Fastpasses More" DCL: "Once Upon a Time in the Carribean"

October 2014 Pre Trip Report- "Let us plan our Escape !" LINK NEW TR

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Old 04-10-2014, 03:27 PM   #3
skier_pete
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Day 1 & 2 - The trip to the ship

Onto the actual trip! We had plans to fly out around 3:30 PM on Saturday afternoon. We had decided to stop and get some lunch near the airport, and in the meantime, the flight was delayed, the times were changed several times, including once while we were at the restaurant. So, we weren’t rushing through the meal to get to the airport, when suddenly I got a text from SWA saying the flight was actually moved UP 20 minutes. At that point, we only had about an hour and 15 minutes to get on our flight, so we rushed through our meals, and rushed through the airport. We basically got to the gate as they were loading the plane, and were able to board in our designated boaring spots (B1,2,3). Our friends had paid for pre-board, so they had seats for us. The flights to Fort Lauderdale was uneventful.

We left the airport and waited for the free shuttle to our hotel. This took about 20 minutes. I had picked this hotel because they also had a “day rate” where you could come back to the hotel and stay for the day while waiting for our flight, so I wanted to check it out. By the time we got checked in, it was pretty late –around 8:30 PM, so the girls took the kids to get some dinner, while the boys went on a booze run.

We picked up quite a bit of alcohol to take with us, four bottles of different alcohols, plus four 1.5 L bottles of wine and two 750 ml bottles for Palo night, all told we spent about $190, which sounds like a lot, but I bet we saved close to $1000 doing so! We were stuck waiting for the shuttle to pick us up for over an hour. They claimed that they came to get us and we weren’t there, but this was not true, we were standing outside waiting for them the whole time.

By the time we got back to the hotel it was 10 PM. Tom and I went down to the restaurant to get some dinner, while the ladies got the kids to bed.

On Day 2, we got up ready to really start our adventure!

First some pictures:

Toulouse and Marie goofing around


Berloiz and DD in the same spot


DW and Myself


DD and Marie


More boring stuff today – we had found a transport company to drive us to the Port of Miami.



They picked us up simply enough and got us to the port in time for our boarding time, which was around 12:30 PM. Our first view of the ship.



The boarding process was somewhat lengthy, with first a long line for security, then a second long line for check-in, then a wait until they called your boarding time, then a photo op, and finally a disinfecting station. (More on this later.)



Then, FINALLY, they let us on board. The welcome from the crew of the “XXX Family” that some rave about, I more found amusing that these poor crew members (cast members?) had to stand there for hours applauding all 2,500 people boarding the ship like they are something special.

This was our first exposure to the main lobby, and I have to say, it was actually smaller than I was expecting it to be. It was very nicely decorated, went up about 4 stories but was sort of narrow stem to stern. Considering how premium space on a ship must be, it was still pretty impressive.




Because we boarded close to noon, we weren’t allowed to enter our rooms until after 1 PM, so we opted –like most people – to start on our eating. The herded us towards Parrot Cay, one of the three main dining rooms.




They had a Buffet set up with lots of different food selections, but before we even entered, we again had to use a sanitary wipe. This was a big thing on the ship. I wondered if it was really used to combat germs, or more as a placebo effect. I kept thinking of the person wiping their hands, then immediately sneezing all over them. (I’m a real optimist, huh?)











I was in for my first surprise with this meal. The food was really, really good. Sure it was a buffet, and as such wasn’t gourmet, but the quality was high and we all enjoyed the selection very much. In particular, the veal schnitzel and roast beef were both excellent.

It was also here that we realized how much we were going to save buying our own wine. The table showed a list of the wine “deal”. A mere $149 per person for 5 nights. That’s $600 for wine. We ended up spending about $100 on the wine itself, and another $120 for corking fees, so saved about $380 on wine alone!
__________________

1971 - 1982 Many childhood trips May 1997 - Off-site w/ DGF (now DW) October 2000 - Off-site w/ DW - 1st AK
October 14-20,2006 - First on-site (POFQ), first w/ DD3 and DMIL. September 22-29, 2007 with freinds @ POFQ! August 23-31, 2008. Just us 3...dining for free!
December 12-20, 2009 - 40th Birthday trip! Trip Report April 20-25, 2010 - Short surprise trip for DD! Trip Report
October 15-25, 2010 @ AKL Trip Report!
November 11-20, 2011 - Free dining at CBR! PTR! and Trip Report
July/August 2012 Disneyland / Australia TripPTR "I choose to Be Amused" TR
The Disney Trifecta - a PTR for 2013. LINK Trip Reports - ABD: "A Fistful of Fastpasses" WDW: "For A Few Fastpasses More" DCL: "Once Upon a Time in the Carribean"

October 2014 Pre Trip Report- "Let us plan our Escape !" LINK NEW TR
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Old 04-11-2014, 02:55 AM   #4
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Look what happens when you click on links and head over to complete the trifecta.

Love the food porn.

Great start.
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Walt Disney World - Jun 2005, May 2010 (POR, BCV) PTR || TR, Oct 2010 (CSR) PTR || TR, Oct 2013 Anyone Game? PTR || TR in progress
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Old 04-11-2014, 08:34 AM   #5
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Yhea. Cruise Report!! Just in time to get me excited for mine in 50 days!!!

I do have to say- I think you missed some of the 'magic' of embarkation by not going out of the Disney Terminal in Port Canveral (it's minor- really- but their terminal is pretty awesome compared to the standard terminals for cruise ships). And I think the flow for checking in works better at the main terminal.

I am a pusher about getting to the terminal early & getting the early boarding times. To me, I LOVE walking up to the empty Lido Deck, finding chairs and having my kids be first in the pools (I do this even on non-Disney lines). It's our 'boarding' tradition! Plus, I pay a LOT for the cruises- I want as much 'on board' time as I can get!!

I always found the food to be FANTASTIC on Disney cruises. Better than the other line I've been on (which is Carnival..but then again, I pay half the cost for Carnival..so...it's all relative!).

Great start! Can't wait to hear more!
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Old 04-11-2014, 11:05 AM   #6
skier_pete
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PrincessInOz View Post
Look what happens when you click on links and head over to complete the trifecta.

Love the food porn.

Great start.
Well, if you love food porn, keep reading! I think I took more pictures of food than of the ship!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tinker326 View Post
Yhea. Cruise Report!! Just in time to get me excited for mine in 50 days!!!

I do have to say- I think you missed some of the 'magic' of embarkation by not going out of the Disney Terminal in Port Canveral (it's minor- really- but their terminal is pretty awesome compared to the standard terminals for cruise ships). And I think the flow for checking in works better at the main terminal.

I am a pusher about getting to the terminal early & getting the early boarding times. To me, I LOVE walking up to the empty Lido Deck, finding chairs and having my kids be first in the pools (I do this even on non-Disney lines). It's our 'boarding' tradition! Plus, I pay a LOT for the cruises- I want as much 'on board' time as I can get!!

I always found the food to be FANTASTIC on Disney cruises. Better than the other line I've been on (which is Carnival..but then again, I pay half the cost for Carnival..so...it's all relative!).

Great start! Can't wait to hear more!
That's a good idea. There was definitely a "learning curve" going on having this be the first cruise we've ever been on. Your idea of going right on deck to the pools is probably a great one. The pools were never not crazy crowded.

It seems like the general level of quality on Disney seems to be higher than most other cruise lines. A bit spoilery, but based on this cruise, while I would probably do another Disney Cruise sometime in the future, I don't think I'd even consider any other cruise line, especially in the Carribean. I'm not even all that hyped for the cruises themselves. My only cruising interest is really either Alaska OR a Med cruise, though we may still do another one of these cruises in the future. It won't be often though!
__________________

1971 - 1982 Many childhood trips May 1997 - Off-site w/ DGF (now DW) October 2000 - Off-site w/ DW - 1st AK
October 14-20,2006 - First on-site (POFQ), first w/ DD3 and DMIL. September 22-29, 2007 with freinds @ POFQ! August 23-31, 2008. Just us 3...dining for free!
December 12-20, 2009 - 40th Birthday trip! Trip Report April 20-25, 2010 - Short surprise trip for DD! Trip Report
October 15-25, 2010 @ AKL Trip Report!
November 11-20, 2011 - Free dining at CBR! PTR! and Trip Report
July/August 2012 Disneyland / Australia TripPTR "I choose to Be Amused" TR
The Disney Trifecta - a PTR for 2013. LINK Trip Reports - ABD: "A Fistful of Fastpasses" WDW: "For A Few Fastpasses More" DCL: "Once Upon a Time in the Carribean"

October 2014 Pre Trip Report- "Let us plan our Escape !" LINK NEW TR
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