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Old 11-21-2012, 11:39 AM   #1
sara mom
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It's all about the asparagus...Western Fantasy Nov 2012

Our family of 4 sailed on the Disney Fantasy in November, doing the western Caribbean. My goal is to have this full review done within 2 weeks. (It’s good to have goals, right?).

Just a bit of background.
Mom (me)- this will be my 14th cruise (Disney, Royal Caribbean, and Carnival before). My packing has evolved in many ways over the years of packing. Yes, I have taken a whole suitcase of shoes in the past (when there were not as many fees of luggage and no kids). Now, that suitcase that once held all shoes now gets packed with shoes and costumes. Wow, have times changed for me.
DH- cruise # 9 for him. Scuba diver which works out well for me- more trips to warm weather places so he can dive!
DS 8-cruise #3
DD 6-cruise #4

We drove to Port Canaveral from upstate NY with no hotel stops, leaving Thursday when the kids got out of school. Yup, that’s fun! But the kids are awesome at car rides. Give them fully charged Ipads, DVD players, and Kindles and we are good to go. We surprised them with their 2nd Disney cruise (just like we did the year before for our trip on the Magic). Got to love those pre-planned calls from Mickey!

Driving can be a challenge for DH and I- we have different styles of getting somewhere. DH—get in car at home and exit in Port Canaveral with 3 stops allowed for gas/restrooms. Me- (while driving)- “Oh look, that looks like a great place to stop and visit.” (times 20+). See our conflict? DH seems to win out most of the time, but I did get an hour or so stop in St Augustine on the way down. I was there 9 years ago and have so many fond memories of the place that I wanted to share them with the kids. Except sleep deprivation is bad. Very, very bad. I guess we will just have to go again.

Our pre-cruise stay was at the Country Inn and Suites near the port. My kids love to swim and I was a bit weary of the size of the pool in the pictures on their website. No worries! The pool was good size for all us northerners that swam when it was 75 degrees out. As an aside, last year we took the Magic at the same time and stayed at the Radisson at the Port the night before our cruise and left our car there. The best thing I can say about our experience there was the pool area. It was great! I was not impressed with our room- a Jacuzzi suite in obnoxious 80’s colors (think coral and green Golden Girls) and stains on the furniture. OR their lack of organization from check-in/check-out to the shuttle service if you parked your car there. While we did not leave our car at Country Inn, they have signs directing customers to a separate banquet room to wait for the shuttle, compared to the Radisson that had everyone wait in the lobby- creating a mad house!


That's the pool from our 4th floor room. We had a 'kid suite' with bunk beds for the kids. Great way to start our trip!
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Old 11-21-2012, 11:50 AM   #2
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Boarding day!
The hotel breakfast was a hotel breakfast. Eagerly anticipating my omelet the following morning that I would not have to make! We used Park N Cruise for parking the car and arrived a little bit after 10am. They were shuttling for Disney Fantasy, Carnival Dream, and another Carnival ship. We parked, paid, and were shuttled to the ship all within 30 minutes! Checkin was a breeze! The health questionnaire is now given to you when you hand over passports, etc. I’m pretty sure last year we filled them out at the circular tables in the huge lobby, but I might be mistaking that for our Royal Caribbean January cruise.



On the ride down, DH and I talked about upgrading our room. We booked a IGT and received no pixie dust…got an 11b- no split bath . Disney held up their end, but we thought it might not hurt to see if upgrades were available. So I went to check in the kids for the kids program, while DH went to the Supervisors desk. When I saw him reach for his wallet, I knew that we were ‘moving on up’. Not sure of the upgrade price, but we did have a balcony room for the rest of the week. FYI- they charge the upgrade to your onboard KTTW account.

We did our obligatory pictures with Mickey in front of the ship model, and they called our boarding group soon after…and then I heard our names being announced as we walked on board. Surprisingly my eyes did not leak this time as they did the first time we boarded a Disney ship. The kids were itching to go up to deck 11 to ride the Aquaduck, but we had to make a stop at La Piazza to plan some adult time- Mixology classes! (Priorities folks!) This took all of 10 minutes to get our tickets for Tequila, Mixology, and Beer classes.

For your planning.....


From there we headed up to deck 11, where the CM’s kept telling us where lunch was being served, but we politely explained we had another mission- THE DUCK! We dropped off our stuff on a lounge chair and got in line- NOT OPEN YET!!! Not sure of when it actually opened, but we only waited 10 minutes or so in line. Now normally before our trips, I research as much as I can, but I completely forgot about getting info about the Duck and height requirements. So…I quickly learned that my 8 yo DS who is 53 inches got a blue wrist band, which meant that he could ride the duck with any adult or kid with a blue wrist band. My 6yo DD who is 52 inches got a red wrist band. She could only ride with an adult. I think you had to be 7 to get the magical blue band, even though she is taller than some 7 and 8 year olds. Throughout the trip, it was fun to watch DS search for kids in the pool area with the magical blue band. Ok enough of that.



pool area when we first boarded...around 12noon





there we are!
Aquaduck line got busy by 2:30, so we headed off for a quick lunch and off to search for our new room.

Took a brief tour of kids program. We were experiencing a brief power outage at the time (maybe 45 minutes). This did not have any effect on the rest of the trip, but it made us a bit uneasy.






We are both DVC and Castaway Club members and neither knew of our switch until day 2 or 3 when we asked about stuff. Luckily, the family that had our cabin before our upgrade was DVC also, so we got their ‘mail’. And their Palo confirmations. (Guessing they upgraded at the port as well before we did)

Sailaway party…love, love, love it! I cried last year at the party, but not this year. Maybe the Drinks of the Day were helping with that! Early dinner in Enchanted Garden..table 4, just the 4 of us. This was our 2nd Disney cruise and it may be me, but we have never been seated with another family as you traditionally do on other cruise lines. There also seem to be many more 4 tops than other cruise lines. Maybe most families prefer eating together without other table mates, but I always look forward to meeting new people at dinner.
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Old 11-21-2012, 02:51 PM   #3
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Yay! Looking forward to entertainment while I wait the dreaded week and a half until our cruise.
How did you like the Country Inn & Suites? We have our pre-stay booked there as well. Did you see any family friendly restaurants (fast food or sit down) nearby?
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Old 11-21-2012, 04:33 PM   #4
sara mom
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Woodmnky
Yay! Looking forward to entertainment while I wait the dreaded week and a half until our cruise.
How did you like the Country Inn & Suites? We have our pre-stay booked there as well. Did you see any family friendly restaurants (fast food or sit down) nearby?
I was very happy with CI&S. We would stay again! There is a Subway, BK, and McD all very close.
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Old 11-22-2012, 07:37 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by sara mom View Post
I was very happy with CI&S. We would stay again! There is a Subway, BK, and McD all very close.
Thanks. We would like to go to Fish Lips for dinner, but with a not quite 2yo I can never be sure that he will be in any condition to be seen in public.
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Old 11-23-2012, 06:03 AM   #6
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Joining in. I will have to show my kids your Mickey pool pics, to excite them, as we cruise in a few weeks.

Nice to hear that CI&S has a separate holding area for cruise shuttle people. Sounds nice and organized! I've had good luck with their hotels so far.
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Old 11-23-2012, 08:50 AM   #7
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Joining in! Can't wait to hear more!
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Old 11-23-2012, 03:49 PM   #8
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can't wait to hear more
your kids are adorable!
thinking about doing this cruise next summer
can't wait to hear your experience!
thanks for writing!
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Old 11-24-2012, 08:41 AM   #9
sara mom
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Sunday

We went to bed early on our 1st night on board, so we were up early on our first sea day. By up early, I mean the four of us were all showered, dressed, and out the door by 6:45am. The sign in front of Cabana's said it opened at 7:30, so we explored the Sports Deck. We spent great quality time playing foosball and ping pong with no one else around. (Mini golf opened at 8 or 9).






Breakfast was good- the omelet station is in the back of Cabana’s. They make omelets ahead of time and have them in the stream trays, but I’m an egg white omelet kind of girl and they made one for me. On the Magic, I remember that they gave me a little table tent with a number on it when I ordered my omelet and a CM would deliver it to our table. On the Fantasy, they ask for your name and tell you to come back in 5 minutes or so. Either way works, it was just a difference I noticed. They also have asparagus on their breakfast buffet. Interesting thing that I had never seen before on a breakfast buffet.

After breakfast, we explored more of the ship. This was an interactive picture where the kids can ‘drive’ the pirate ship outside the BBB.



Then we had the kids in the pool by 8:30. Not that busy!




The day was spent lounging by the pool, in the pool, and eating ice cream. I did overhear one gentleman in his 50’s remark to a CM, “Wow, there’s a lot of kids on this ship!” In my mind, I was thinking…..”Uhmmm, well it is Disney!!!” Anyways- the line for the Aquaduck did get quite long. I overherad someone say 90 minutes. The line was pretty far down the stairs.

Before lunch, this occurred.






Yup, the Princess Gathering. Sadly, we missed it on our cruise last year when our DD was sea sick in the cabin. But not this year! We were in line 25 minutes early (thankfully) and this guy comes out to talk with us!





We sent the kids to the kids program in the afternoon so we could attend Mixology. That was a hoot! The bartender asked for a volunteer to assist, so I volunteered. Let’s just say I will not give up my day job for bartending.






Tonight was formal or semi formal night. My kids call it ‘fancy’ night. I believe it is also referred to as the Captain’s Gala, where you can meet with all the ships’ officers. My DD went down the line and asked each and every person what they did. Then I had to put it in terms she would understand. In line, we met a couple from the next town over. Explaining to our kids that they live so close to us and we probably shop at the same Wegmans (local grocery store chain) and were on the same cruise ship was amusing.
After the show (Aladdin maybe) came one of the best times of the entire cruise- the Family Dance Party! Current, kid friendly music and fog machines- what a great way to spend an hour!! Then came the characters- Donald, Daisy, Chip, Dale, and Pluto. Yes, I did dance with the characters too.





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Old 11-24-2012, 02:47 PM   #10
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Monday- Grand Cayman

Up early for us. Kids went to the club for a bit while we attended a DVC members group presentation. (free mimosas…well not free…maybe that’s what our maintenance fees go for?!). Then it was time to spend some time visiting friends.










Today was Grand Cayman, which we did not get to until lunch time so there was a ton of time to get stuff done on the ship.


I have always wanted to take the kids to Stingray City (something DH and I have done in the past and LOVED). But after spending time with the stingrays on Castaway Cay last year, I learned my DD that loves all animals- is not a fan of stingrays. So there went that idea. We decided to go to the Cayman Turtle Farm instead. So happy we did! We booked this tour on our own, much cheaper than doing the same excursion from the boat! The website is http://www.turtle.ky/tours-description . The last time we were here was 2002 or 2003 and boy has it changed! There are 2 options for admission- the 1st is just the turtles and the 2nd includes the man made lagoon where you can snorkel (that’s included in the price) with fish and some baby turtles that they are getting ready to release into the wild and a pretty cool pool with waterslide and a waterfall. We choose the 2nd option.

We were able to get on the 1st tender and when we entered the marketplace area there was a representative from the Turtle Farm there who would drive us to the farm (about a 15 minute ride). Important...make sure you have your confirmation number with you, not back in your cabin like I did. After we got everything straightened out, our driver directed us to a newer Ford Explorer in the parking lot and off we went. Transportation is provided if you are coming off of a cruise ship when booking online. I have read on others trip reports that they took the bus with the DCL tour, took taxis, or got the private transportation like we did.

Some of the turtle tanks. No picture I took of the first pond can really show the immense size of some of the turtles.






I think his name was Chuckles.


You can enter a few of the tanks to walk with the turtle can pick up any you can catch. They swim fast!





OK...now on to snorkeling and the pool.




This she is OK with, but not stingrays.



Snorkeling lagoon.





The water-slide.


Taken in the pool near the water-slide area looking towards the waterfall.


Covered lounge chairs.

We spent about 3 hours there total. Perfect amount of time. While we were snorkeling, there was a couple that did not know how to swim but wanted to snorkel ?!?. But a lifeguard went with them, allowing them to put on a mask while holding onto the guards flotation device.
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Old 11-27-2012, 11:05 PM   #11
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love this! we are going on western fantasy on 12.8.12. i can't wait to read more! did you just get in line for the grand cayman tenders or did you get tickets somewhere earlier that morning?
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Old 11-29-2012, 03:36 PM   #12
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Great report so far.
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Old 11-29-2012, 04:54 PM   #13
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Hi! Great TR, great pics, and your family looks like fun! We are booked on the Fantasy in May, so I look forward to your tips and tricks Just wondering if your DD got seasick on this trip, did you use something this trip to prevent it? We've never been on a cruise before, so I'm not sure if any of us will have an issue with seasickness.
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Old 12-02-2012, 06:28 PM   #14
sara mom
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love this! we are going on western fantasy on 12.8.12. i can't wait to read more! did you just get in line for the grand cayman tenders or did you get tickets somewhere earlier that morning?
We went to Animator's about 30 minutes before we were expected to get off the ship and waited in line. many others were in front of us but we still made the first tender!
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Old 12-02-2012, 06:34 PM   #15
sara mom
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Hi! Great TR, great pics, and your family looks like fun! We are booked on the Fantasy in May, so I look forward to your tips and tricks Just wondering if your DD got seasick on this trip, did you use something this trip to prevent it? We've never been on a cruise before, so I'm not sure if any of us will have an issue with seasickness.
This time- no! Both kids wear sea bands. They are elastic bracelets with a pressure point on the inside of the wrist and work wonderfully well. If you look at the kids wrists in the pics you'll notice DD had a pink one and DS had a camouflage colored one. I bought them at Wegmans (regional grocery store), but Walmart or Target probably sell them. I believe they were $8 a pair- so worth the small investment.
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