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Old 10-20-2012, 12:45 AM   #46
Donnah
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Thanks for posting this! Great tips!
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Old 10-22-2012, 08:53 AM   #47
Boomerang4
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Back to B2B

Well here we are again. Forgive me for the lapse. Our family is between overseas assignments and we packed, moved once, entered schools once, greeted home one parent from a war zone, and prepared the second to leave, and are now readying to move schools and homes again. We’ve been squeezing in as much as possible in these summer and fall months.

So, one thing we squeezed in this fall was another week on a ship this October. However, this time we did two Bahama’s cruises B2B on the Dream, and it was a very different experience.

To those of you who do the short cruises, more power to you for getting in time away and more moments on the ships. Cool that Disney ensures all options for experiencing a cruise are on the table. However, the shorter experience was not to my liking. Everything felt rushed and I felt the guests around us were smashing in as much as possible in each 24-hours. Right on. But we already do that in life, so not my first choice for vacation. That said, it was seven (one could argue six) more days on a Disney cruise, so who can really complain?!

So now I’ll speak to the different disembark/embark procedure and a few new observations. In general, I would recommend doing a B2B if it’s an option that works for you timing-wise, but I’ll go over some plusses and minuses of my personal experience.
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Old 10-22-2012, 09:32 AM   #48
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Disembarkation and “re”-embarkation on the Disney Dream

We did B2B 4 and 7 October Cruises; a three-day cruise to the Bahamas followed by a four-day cruise to the Bahamas. We chose this itinerary because we had not yet done the Bahamas and we wanted to do a week. The process here was different than on the Fantasy. Let me elaborate.

Online Reservation

For both B2B cruises we checked in online as normal. Both times, the first reservation of the two looked incomplete as the system has a hard time identifying your onwards travel...since you are not onwards-traveling. Even though it is fairly standard that people do B2Bs and there is a drop down choice for reboarding the ship, for some reason the software can’t process the reservation fully to the point that it appears complete. I called DCL when this happened on the first B2B reservation, and the operator assured me that it just appeared incomplete, but the system had acknowledged that it was completed. This was indeed the case. So if you see this same scenario, do not panic, it’s normal and not a problem.

Stateroom Host

Your stateroom host will know right away that you’re B2B if they have a chance to look. I find it polite to mention it when I first meet them. They will provide you with all the documents you need prior to the disembark/embark, but otherwise they are relatively unaffected by your status unless you have to shift rooms. Which I can’t personally speak to.

Dining room server/assistant server

On both cruises we were joined by extended family on the second part of the B2B. In our first B2B, we requested that we keep our original server and assistant server. When inquiring how to do this, our server told us to ask the head server, who then asked the dining room maitre d’. It seemed rather complicated at the time. Our assistant server told me that they had had to change service stations in order to accommodate our request (he wasn’t complaining, just mentioned it) and indeed, we seemed to have nice window-view tables or quiet locations on the second half. However, on the B2B we just completed, we didn’t do anything at all, and stayed with the same servers even though we added people to our group. So the mystery remains on how this works. I think best to ask in each situation, as the different ships and dining rotations probably handle theses logistics uniquely.

Process

This information is mostly for folks who stay in the same stateroom. I don’t have experience with the logistics of the switch.

You will receive a detailed letter from DCL one or two nights before the disembark/embark day. It will tell you if you should wait to be handled as a group (as in our second B2B) or do it on your own (as in our first). It’s a simple process. You need a passport or ID for everyone, your key to the world for everyone, and the customs card that they provide you. You will disembark the ship between 9:00 and 9:30, depending on the instructions given. Carry with you only what you need to keep occupied for an hour or so. We wore bathing suits so as to jump back into the pool when it was empty on our return.

You exit the ship as usual, go through customs as usual, and just past customs, turn right (instead of left with the crowd) and re-enter the great hall. The computers will turn over from one cruise to the next at about 9:30, at which point you can re-check in. They will give you a green priority boarding card and likely show you to the concierge waiting area. A CM will come get you when the ship has been cleared and you re-board at around 10:30.

The first time we went through the cameras and photographers were not up, so we just boarded without a second departure photo. The second time, they were just finishing set-up and we got a picture with our whole party, which was kind of nice. Neither time we re-boarded did we get the announcement, as they are just not operating at that point.

Tips

With the early reboard, you will likely not be able to register the kids for the kids club at the terminal. If there is a delay reboarding you, it is worth it to send someone out with the kids to the kids club registration counter to get it knocked off. Leave at least one adult in the concierge area with the pass. If you are not able to do this, you can register them at the club itself anytime after it opens at 12:00, but the process seemed longer to us, and it is an extra step on a busy day.

Some of our fellow B2Bers on the Bahamas cruise were planning on using their “quiet hour” (the hour or so before the crowds arrive) to line up first at the buffet in Cabanas. We used it to hop in the hot tub and get in line for the Aqua Duck. The Aqua Duck opened a little late as they were repainting the railings of the waiting area, but often you can get on really early and be the only ones on it for a good while. We did eight rides (seven of us) before the line began to back up a bit.

You can certainly head to the Spa, Remy/Palo or the excursions desk right away, but I don’t think they’re really open until 12:00 or 1:00 in some cases. The spa, I will say, has a computer system that doesn’t “turn over” from cruise to cruise. I was able to book a sea day massage (unavailable online) on the last day of my first Bahamas cruise, for the next cruise. So they bent the rules a bit, it seems. Made it nice to not have to rush back.

What is open at 10:30/11:00 on the ship? The two coffee shops. Vista Cafe and Quiet Cove. As far as I was able to find, these are the only two areas fully open for the B2Bers. However, the bar staff on deck are more than happy to sell you a cocktail or beer as soon as you show up!
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Old 10-22-2012, 09:57 AM   #49
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Quarantine

So it happened. Our big guy contracted a GI illness on the last day of the cruise (sadly, a sea day). Here’s what to expect when this happens.

Big boy woke up in his poor grandparents’ cabin with a violent stomach illness. Let’s just say it was coming out of both ends, poor guy. He was perfectly fine the night before (pirate night), and we still don’t know how or what he contracted, but here’s what we did.

My husband called the med clinic and they asked to see our son. DH brought him down and they did an exam. They came to the conclusion that he did not have food poisoning, but a GI illness. They sent him back to his cabin (we kept him with his poor grandparents so as to separate him from our other child). My DH may not have understood or heard right, but he did not feel he was clearly told while at the clinic that our son should be quarantined. We were doing it anyway, but he must have missed the verbal instructions. However, I did receive a call from guest services explaining that our son was required to be “isolated” and that they would be happy to send up anything we needed while this was the case (24-hours). We also received a paper outlining the services that DCL would provide while we were in this state.

Guest services send water and sports drinks complimentary, and a gift package of inexpensive games and a nice Phineas stuffed toy to keep the big guy occupied. He was devastated, of course, that he would miss all the events we had planned for that day. But he was pretty darned sick.

The services that they provide included sending our dining room meal to our stateroom for the adult who stayed behind with the sick child (or as many as we required), free room service for all non-alcoholic drinks, free laundry service related to the illness and directed us to some other already free services, such as the movies on demand on our stateroom TV. They were very supportive and unobtrusive during this time and I felt that they handled the difficulty in requiring us to miss much of the cruise with great diplomacy and delicacy.

Our stateroom host was particularly helpful and kind. I asked for a can of the wipes they hand out before meals so that I could wipe everything in the stateroom down repeatedly, and even though he said they weren’t technically allowed to provide these to guests, he gave us a can. He cleaned many times, provided new linen, changed everyone’s sheets in both staterooms when I requested it. And all with sympathy and patience. He was very understanding.

Kind of interesting. At one point guest services called and asked me a few questions. They needed to do some record keeping, I guess they track patterns in illness spreading. They asked which airline we flew with, where we stayed before the cruise, and where we came from. I noted that we had been onboard for six days, and that there was very little chance he had contracted the illness before we got on the ship. She acknowledge that this was the case, but said the questions were part of the process.

In the end, none of the rest of our party got ill. My son recovered by the next day, and was eating like a normal 6 year old by the day after that. We never really knew where he contracted it, but we were thankful that no one else got sick. Perhaps worth noting, on the morning that my son was ill, I went up to get coffee before his grandparents called to tell us he was sick. CM’s were cleaning up vomit right next to the drink service station on deck. As I walked down the stairs to our stateroom, more CM’s were cleaning up what clearly smelled of vomit on one of the landings. When my spouse took my son to the clinic, I asked him to ask whether it was widespread. The clinic told us that we were the only ones to report a GI issue that morning. I suspect that my son was not alone in being sick that day, and I would urge people to report illness when it occurs to stop further spread. Isolation was not unpleasant, and really was warranted. It happens. I missed a Remy brunch because of it, but I was proud to see how brave my son was about missing his plans for that day. I told him he should be proud of himself too, because staying inside the room meant he was protecting some other little kids out there from getting as horribly sick as he was. They would never know it, but he would, and he should be proud of himself for being strong enough to be a little disappointed for a day.
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Old 10-22-2012, 11:41 AM   #50
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B2B Hassle vs. Value

OK, so is it worth it to do B2Bs? How much hassle is involved? Is it worth it for you?

This will be a different answer for everyone. Here are my thoughts after doing it twice.

The process is pretty painless for reboarding. I would say that you lose a morning of sleep, and about three hours of boat time total. You experience a lot of things twice (shows, deck parties, menus, sometimes ports of call) but this can make your choices more plentiful. For example, you don’t need to see each show on each sailing, you can split them between the two cruises, allowing for more date time, or just hanging at a favorite spot (a practice that some of us get too caught up in other things to remember to do). Stopping at the same port can be no problem as you get two shots at excursions. If you get two Castaway Cay days, it can feel like a double dip.

The only thing that felt a little tired to me, particularly on the shorter B2B, was deck parties and pirate night. Two in a week of each is a bit much for my family. We opted to attend one deck party and spend the second one toasting the bon voyage from the comfort of our stateroom with some carried-on wine. We also skipped parts of pirate night each time, splitting up the night’s events between the two cruises.

One tip, which many of you may know, is that you don’t have to go to your dining room service on the morning of the disembark/embark. You can go to the buffet. They don’t announce this as they really want to get the crowds moving off the ship, but we were main seating and reboarding, so our server told us to sleep in a bit and use the buffet. We repeated this on our second B2B, informing our server, who appreciated knowing ahead of time that we wouldn’t be there in the morning.

By the way, on the Dream they started doing PA announcements piped into all the staterooms at 7:00 AM. As we were debarking at 9:30, this wasn’t the most welcome of elements to the day, but we understand they have to make sure no-one oversleeps the debarking that morning.

So all in all, if the itinerary and timing fit, but you want a longer experience than is provided by the DCL itineraries, go for it. Yes, you essentially lose a day, but hey, you get credit for two cruises vice one from the cruise line, and it’s easy to do all around. I don’t think we’ll do one again in the near term, but I know a lot of my fellow travelers next summer in the Med are making the journey especially worthwhile by maximizing their time on the ship with two long B2Bs. More power to you!
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Old 10-22-2012, 12:40 PM   #51
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My Favorite Conversation with a DCL Bartender. Ever.

One night when my husband and I broke away for adult time, we sat down in front of a gregarious, entertaining bartender in 687. Although not from the U.S., he had a marvelous (and hysterical) grasp of some of the more nuanced social strata of the most important part of American society. Let me explain.

We started a conversation with him and two of his colleagues (it was pirate night, most everyone was on deck) about what it was like to work on short vs. long cruise itineraries. Somehow this conversation devolved to CM’s as high school characters. According to our new friend, there were clear personality groups that exactly mirrored American high school. Some were obvious, like the tech officers on board as the nerds. The cool kids were, of course the entertainers from the shows. Cheerleaders were the spa ladies (who they mentioned with referenced to a certain reputation...which I won’t go into here...but which is another high school stereotype). The servers were the Goths. But the stateroom hosts were also Goths. The maintenance crew were the loners (who everyone agreed worked the hardest). Officers were the teachers and principal (disagreement ensued as to whether the principal was the Captain or the Cruise Director). The Kids’ Club CMs were junior high school. Bar staff were the social butterflies or class clowns. And who were the jocks, you ask? The servers in Remy and Palo.

Wonderful.
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Old 12-31-2012, 11:23 AM   #52
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Thanks so much for all the wonderful information!

Please tell me you aren't done providing us with details. We are doing B2B in Aug 2012 Western and Eastern Caribbean on the Fantasy.

When did you do your laundry, was it after you had access to your stateroom? Where did you choose to eat lunch on turnaround day on the Fantasy?

Do you know if upgrades were available on your second cruise? Would you have taken one if it was available? I keep debating cost and having to pack up everything twice. Not sure if it would be worth my time.

Thanks!
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Old 12-31-2012, 08:50 PM   #53
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boomerang4 View Post
One night when my husband and I broke away for adult time, we sat down in front of a gregarious, entertaining bartender in 687. Although not from the U.S., he had a marvelous (and hysterical) grasp of some of the more nuanced social strata of the most important part of American society. Let me explain.

We started a conversation with him and two of his colleagues (it was pirate night, most everyone was on deck) about what it was like to work on short vs. long cruise itineraries. Somehow this conversation devolved to CM’s as high school characters. According to our new friend, there were clear personality groups that exactly mirrored American high school. Some were obvious, like the tech officers on board as the nerds. The cool kids were, of course the entertainers from the shows. Cheerleaders were the spa ladies (who they mentioned with referenced to a certain reputation...which I won’t go into here...but which is another high school stereotype). The servers were the Goths. But the stateroom hosts were also Goths. The maintenance crew were the loners (who everyone agreed worked the hardest). Officers were the teachers and principal (disagreement ensued as to whether the principal was the Captain or the Cruise Director). The Kids’ Club CMs were junior high school. Bar staff were the social butterflies or class clowns. And who were the jocks, you ask? The servers in Remy and Palo.

Wonderful.
I love this story! Thank you for sharing!!
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Old 03-05-2013, 08:13 AM   #54
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Originally Posted by purplepeg View Post
Thanks so much for all the wonderful information!

Please tell me you aren't done providing us with details. We are doing B2B in Aug 2012 Western and Eastern Caribbean on the Fantasy.

When did you do your laundry, was it after you had access to your stateroom? Where did you choose to eat lunch on turnaround day on the Fantasy?

Do you know if upgrades were available on your second cruise? Would you have taken one if it was available? I keep debating cost and having to pack up everything twice. Not sure if it would be worth my time.

Thanks!
PurplePeg, so sorry that I missed this!

To answer your questions, first, you will be so happy that you decided to do a B2B, it really takes the pressure off to fit everything into one itinerary.

-laundry: I did it on the first full day of the second cruise. There will be NO ONE in there at that point, it was really easy to fit it in.
-you'll see from my earlier posts that we first came back to the Vista Cafe to hang around and watch the boarding process, then went up to the deck and had a combo lunch by the pool of fast food and Cabanas. The place was empty and the crew were fantastic.
-upgrades/cabin change. Never would have done it. It's such a luxury to hang out on the last day of the first cruise and not have to pack. Really, we went out for drinks and marveled at how few people there were out, because they were busily preparing to disembark. There is a wonderful aspect of knowing it's not over. And we have little kids, so we had to consciously coach our kids not to "gloat" on the disembarkation for fear of making other kids sand.

I'm headed out to a med cruise this June and am SO sad it's not a B2B, enjoy your cruises!
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