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Old 02-14-2013, 11:05 PM   #46
Nicki828
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As a fellow canadian we always fly out of the US ( Buffalo in our case). I hate flying out on YYZ.
I always check flights out of Buffalo - but the last 4 flights I booked were all cheaper out of Toronto (I know - shocker), not to mention they were direct flights. I have several friends who book out of Detroit - as they find the pricing there much better over Buffalo.
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Old 02-14-2013, 11:16 PM   #47
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See for us up north it is the debate to drive the 4-5 hours to Pearson, gas, food time, parking, and possible hotel, or fly Jazz, a scary adventure even before the trip at an average cost of 200-250 extra a head(100 of that is taxes and service charges). Must be nice having choices
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Old 02-15-2013, 05:29 AM   #48
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I always check flights out of Buffalo - but the last 4 flights I booked were all cheaper out of Toronto (I know - shocker), not to mention they were direct flights. I have several friends who book out of Detroit - as they find the pricing there much better over Buffalo.
Now that you mention it, I remember checking flights out of Syracuse, before we got ours on points - it was cheaper, but not enough to make it worth the (maybe just perceived on our end) hassle of going to the US to fly ... largely due to the fact we'd be driving in January with who-knows-what weather. Buffalo adds at least 1 hour (probably more) to our drive, so we didn't contemplate it.

However, as freely declared above - we're wimps, and we pay for predictability, especially on vacation!
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Old 02-15-2013, 05:33 AM   #49
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We were on the same flight down - and you were down the hall from us on the cruise.

We took the flight home before you though.
Cool! We could tell from conversations that many people on the flight were heading out on DCL.

I hope we were well-behaved neighbours! I know the CMs commented a lot on how many Canadians were on the ship, too.
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Old 02-15-2013, 05:44 AM   #50
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See for us up north it is the debate to drive the 4-5 hours to Pearson, gas, food time, parking, and possible hotel, or fly Jazz, a scary adventure even before the trip at an average cost of 200-250 extra a head(100 of that is taxes and service charges). Must be nice having choices
It's funny - though we're definitely in southern Ontario, we have similar issues because of where we live - though we do have more choices, they cause similar issues.
  • Ottawa - 2 hour drive, but fewer flight options, and a tendency to route way too many flights through Toronto, which is going backwards (in my mind anyway, and it bugs me), and it adds a huge amount of time to trips. Even if no routing through Toronto, we often end up doing the hotel thing because we don't want to be traveling too late in the evening with Conor.
  • Montreal - 3 hours away, but fewer flights, and since it's the same distance as TO, but less familiar, we will choose TO. (Hotel needed here too for same reasons.)
  • Syracuse - 3 hours away, not familiar to us (yet) anyway. Add in time to cross the border by many accounts.
  • Local airport - 5 minutes away - literally. We feel your A/C Jazz pain of the cost, the very small planes (in our case - they make women sit at the back and men at the front due to weight issues- terribly reassuring), and, as an added bonus, you can sit on the plane and watch them remove your bag(s) before take off due to the plane being overweight. These little flights back from TO on the return trip are inevitably late. Our favourite experience was, after a 24 hour delay returning from Southern climes, we got on the puddle jumper, sat there, then were told we had to get off since the toilet was frozen. Got further delayed by 2 hours, only to have my bag go missing for the next 2 days. We did use our local airport when Conor was an infant, but now that he's older, the convenience factor is fading fast.

So, we often end up in YYZ. However, if these are the worst things I have to complain about in life, I should count myself lucky, for sure.
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Old 02-15-2013, 07:08 AM   #51
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Originally Posted by Nicki828 View Post
I always check flights out of Buffalo - but the last 4 flights I booked were all cheaper out of Toronto (I know - shocker), not to mention they were direct flights. I have several friends who book out of Detroit - as they find the pricing there much better over Buffalo.
Thats only happened to me once and I now would actually prefer to pay a bit more to fly out of the US. It's soo much easier at customs.
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Old 02-15-2013, 02:25 PM   #52
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Thank you for the weather report, Fahrenheit doesn't mean much to me, I hate that I can't convert in my head, just not that quick with the math
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Old 02-15-2013, 06:17 PM   #53
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Fantasy - cabin 9120

Ode to Fantasy Stateroom 9120

Again - a caveat - we care about our rooms. We are a family of introverts, so we need a place to retreat. As well, while some people go on vacation to do every activity imaginable and stay out to all hours of the night/dawn, my best vacations are characterized by being in bed by about 9:30 p.m., and and getting up early-ish, feeling refreshed. Yep - we are WILD. We also insist, for the sake of our sanity and that of fellow travelers, that Conor goes to bed on time (before 8:30) so we want a good room as we'll be spending plenty of time there.

If you don't spend much time in your room, I agree that it's a waste to spend money on a room like 9120.

Our awesome travel agent chose 9120 for us. We had asked for a balcony stateroom in a quiet location. Her rationale was to avoid any rooms that had connecting doors, in case these increased noise (I have no idea if they do or not - I'm sure someone can comment), but we've been burned before, so we usually choose to avoid them. This room was about half-way between the mid and aft elevators, on, of course, Deck 9. This is a category 4A room. (Deluxe Family Oceanview Stateroom with Verandah)

Things you need to know about 9120
  • It is, in fact, nice and quiet. No noise from above.
  • Deck 9 is nice- only 2 decks up to 11 for good coffee (Cove café), and 4 decks down (much easier to do 4 down than up!) to the Oceaneer's lab.
  • Despite being a 4A, it does NOT have a Murphy bed (so it will only take 4 people).
  • The lack of Murphy bed means extra storage in a spacious room.
  • It does have the fantastic curtain (so no sitting in the dark when your kid is asleep), and the split bathroom.

Once we moved in, so to speak, we still had storage left over, despite all our stuff - without using the pop-up hamper or the over-the-door shoe holder. We managed to keep all of our electronics charged, too, without a power bar and we have too many toys, for sure.

Using the chest for Conor's toys worked really well.

One point- we needed a bedrail for Conor and Rosa, our stateroom attendant, got us one right away for the couch bed, which was fine, since we didn't want to risk Sir Rolls-a-lot on the bunk bed. She mentioned to us, contrary to what I read, that in the Fantasy, they cant really attach the bedrails to the bunk beds (if you want a full rail) and I must admit I couldn't figure out how they would do it the things they have are big and bulky no biggie for us (she just stashed it under the bed during the day), but maybe an issue for others. Or maybe Rosa was wrong it was only her 2nd week on the Fantasy (she was great, though).

A moment of pro-Disney commentary here - man, these rooms are SMART. Things we appreciated included the split bathroom (sneaky pee and all), the bathtub for the kiddo, the pegs on the wall (I LOVE pegs on walls - I need to get out more), the curtain across the room, the couch/bed, the safety features on the door to the balcony, the dimming lights/nightlight, the luggage under the bed, and all the storage.

Otherwise, I think that the rooms are well described photographed elsewhere, so Ill stop here. We loved it - no complaints.

Edited to add: It has one of the round bathtubs - a question prompted me to realize I forgot to mention this. We liked it for Conor - he still managed to lie down and just propped his feet up on the ledge - I showed parental restraint and did not take photos, though. The shower set up was good too, somewhat to our surprise. DH is 6'6'' and he felt he fit.
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Old 02-15-2013, 06:50 PM   #54
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Day 1 Highs and (minor) Lows - part 2

After we dumped our stuff in our room, and Conor checked out the balcony 4 times, we headed out to explore before the Muster Drill.

Oceaneer's Club

It was open house at the Club and Lab, so that was, of course, our first stop. A year ago, we wouldn't even have tried to put Conor there, though he would have been 3.5 - he was newly potty-trained (no rush, our boy), and he was overwhelmed by large groups of kids (unless it was his large group of kids at daycare). This year, we were pretty sure he'd go for it once he tried it out with us, and heck, he doesn't need the bathroom EVER, so no potty worries.

It is as cool as described. What suited Conor best was floating between Andy's room and the Monsters Inc room, and checking out the interactive floor when it was doing stuff. However, of note, there was no line up at all for checking in - BONUS - so we did. (Cue the dancing banana for avoiding a line-up ...)



So, step 1 of our multi-step plan of "get the kid to want to go to the club" was a success ... so much so, that we had to promise ...


THe Midship Detective Agency

I had read this was a good way to explore the ship, so we made our way down to Deck 2 to get started. Had I known what was about to ensue, I might have delayed this a little bit.

Conor LOVED the mysteries. He was obsessed. If he had his way, he would do 2-3 each day (yes, there are only 3, but you get a different villain if you play it again so long as you keep your badge, and if you're 4.5, you don't care so long as Kermit is not the bag guy).

Newbies that we were, we didn't realize one could be somewhat strategic about the whole "go to the next picture" thing ... so, we probably took what was the longest possible route around the ship our first time.

Thanks to whomever pointed out you could take a photo of Pepe's door, and the Muppet display to save one going back multiple times - my feet/legs/hip/back thank you!

A tip - do these early if you want to avoid crowds. We were almost always on our own with these mysteries on embarkation day and the 1st day at sea - it got much busier on the other at-sea days, but there were rarely any big line ups, and you only rarely need to go to a specific photo, so we just skipped the ones with big lines. As others have mentioned, keep your badge if you plan on doing them more than once.

Fortunately, on day 1, we could escape to the muster drill.


The Drill


So, it's hard, but you really should pay attention to the announcements. We were not paying attention, but fortunately Conor was, when we were told to head to our cabins. (Feel the deep irony here- that Mr. "Needs to work on his listening ears" is the one who attends to the announcements.) We did so, and then, when told, wandered down the 5 flights of stairs to Deck 4, our muster station. We brought Conor's Actual Noise Earmuffs, and man, were they needed.

Overall, though, it was painless otherwise. There were no characters, so Conor was happy. He did get to see this:



So, he was a very excited boy .. as was DH. (They're both in a space-obsessed state these days ... in no small part to the awesome Commander Hadfield ... go Canada!)

Next up - our take on Disney Dining, part 1, then bed ... on the ship, and here!
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Old 02-15-2013, 06:52 PM   #55
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Thank you for the weather report, Fahrenheit doesn't mean much to me, I hate that I can't convert in my head, just not that quick with the math
I get you! Even when I do the math, it's not the same as just knowing that 14 degrees means I need to get the hoodie out for the kid. Plus, I'm lazy.
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Old 02-15-2013, 07:16 PM   #56
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Two things I forgot - one great, one near-awful

I was just checking my photos, and I realized I forgot 2 things. We'll start with:

The Bad - verging on the ugly

OK - I do NOT get the sail away party. It was way too loud, people were rude and inconsiderate, and it was crazy crowded (and I'm pretty sure our ship wasn't even close to full). We didn't even attempt Deck 11 - this was all on Deck 12, and we weren't late. A grown woman grabbed the last red-sparkly wavy streamer thingy when she saw Conor approaching a CM to ask for one (yes, she saw him - she sped up when she made eye contact - and yes, maybe she was getting it for her kid or something, but seriously... no, the CM didn't know he was coming.) No one even seemed to try to move so that Conor could see (he doesn't like riding on shoulders either, so we had to carry him.) He had his ear phones on, but he was freaking about the noise and the crowds, so we bailed quickly.

Sorry, Disney- I don't get it why it has to be so loud. I know Big Mouse is not responsible for people being horrible, but it was still a total bust - actually, probably the low point of the entire cruise. It was most un-pixie-dust like... fortunately Conor did find a discarded streamer/wavy thing, so we adopted it.

I think you might have to have the Disney gene to enjoy that one, and we don't.

The Great

Our basket from The Perfect Gift, though, was nearly perfect. I can't remember everything in it, but I know for sure it had:
  • Bottled water - 2 or 4
  • Juice boxes - 4 I think?
  • Goldfish crackers
  • Smartfood
  • Pirate booty (new to us as snack food)
  • Other snack food I'm forgetting
  • M & Ms and some other candy (DH didn't stick to the "healthier options" it seems...)
  • 2 Colouring books
  • 2 brand new packs of Crayola crayons (24 pack)
  • Other pirate kid stuff (stickers, tattoos, maybe some eye patches?)
  • One big bucket, one big shovel, plus other beach toys
  • One zippered tote bag (with the Disney characters on it) - we used it the whole trip as a general carry-all.

All of this came with a note from Jake to Conor who is blurred in the photo below - just a little excited!



Highly recommend Shirley- we used just about everything in there. The only downside is that the bucket is just too big to pack to bring home. We hated leaving it behind, but we had no choice - so we'd skip that next time and just pack a smaller one - Conor really doesn't care how big his bucket is --- and for this, I love him a whole lot.
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Old 02-15-2013, 08:33 PM   #57
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Excited to read about your cruise!

My sister-in-law boarded the Fantasy the same morning as you, at the beginning of her 8 month contract. She works in the Salon.

Hope you had a great time!
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Old 02-15-2013, 08:39 PM   #58
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Day 1 -highs and lows - part 3 - dining and bed

I'm pretty sure most days won't take this long to report upon, but it really was all new to us.


Disney Dining - Animator's Palate

We had AERAERA. We didn't ask for it - just let it go to random chance- crazy, huh? (Honestly, we didn't care.)

So, first night- bring on the Animator stuff - we arrived a few minutes early for our 5:45 seating, and they were ready, and there was no line-up. As noted previously, we had our own table. Our waiters were Roque from India and Oriel from Jamaica. Over the 7 days, we really liked Roque, but Oriel was just OK.

Conor was starting to get tired, which meant he was getting silly and grumpy simultaneously (how DO they do that?) so we wanted to get food into him quickly. Turns out, this fits nicely with what the waiters want too, which was a relief.

I'm not going to much of a food report - sorry! We are foodies to some extent (OK, to a fairly large extent) but we like to think we're reasonable and we don't expect miracles where they can't be granted (not even Big Mouse can cope with those masses and make spectacular food).

Overall, though, most nights, we enjoyed our food a lot, and there was nothing we actively disliked. (Palo was amazing, and I'll get to that later.) I usually ordered something Roque recommended, and that seemed to serve us well - this night, it was the famed truffle pursettes (sp?), and chicken done some way that was quite yummy. I, um, failed to note what DH ate... apparently, not-so-very-important!

A note on the kids' meals - whether you want it or not, you get fries - or rather, they come even if you don't expect them. Had we known this, we would have asked Roque to hold the fries most nights (yes, we are the worst parents in the world), but Conor quickly figured this out (as in, on day 1), and it wasn't worth the fight. To combat the fries, though, Big Mouse does a good job on the veggie front - some every night, not including the options for appetizers.

The Mickey bar was a bit hit, but he didn't even come close to finishing it - those things are HUGE. (Please note, and credit, the appropriate attire for dinner.. you can't see, but he does have long pants on, and proper sandals.)



As for AP - it was a great first night place to go, because of the stuff on the screens, so it distracted Mr. getting tired. Crush didn't talk to us, which was totally fine, as it would have freaked Conor out.

Table 29 was a bit awkward in some ways - right smack in the middle of the room next to the serving station - so hard for all of us to watch the same screens. However, I was more fascinated by watching how hard the wait staff work, so I didn't mind where we were.

Premium Wine Package

You'll recall we had pre-ordered (and pre-paid) for the 3-bottle premium wine package. Overall, this was fine, but it got off to a rocky start, when it appeared that Oriel didn't know that one pre-pays for the thing - . Rather than prolong the discussion, my husband signed the paper not knowing if this meant we would be charged and then planned to visit guest services to make sure we weren't charged twice.

Then, you find out that a fair number of the wines on the list are not available. This, according to Oriel, is because suppliers don't supply enough wine for the 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year gig on the ships. Who knows? Fortunately, we were just aiming for decent wine, and we would just change our choice when we found out that something wasn't available.

Overall, we still felt it was worthwhile. We spread it out over 5 nights - one night was Palo, and one night we just ordered cocktails for variety.

And finally, bed

We wandered back to our room, after extricating Conor from a port-hole. There were probably characters about somewhere, but Conor was adamant he didn't want to see them, so we didn't pursue it. {Really - we don't need to stand in line for forever? Why, OK, child of ours - good call!}

With early dining, we were back by 7:15 or so, which was perfect for our routine. We met Rosa properly, got that whole bedrail thing sorted, and then moved Conor through his bedtime routine. Books were followed by lights out (on HIS side of the curtain) at 8:30 p.m. I got ready for my luxurious opportunity to read in bed. Oh happy night!

DH went off to guest services to sort out the wine package thing (we weren't charged twice, but we're still convinced Oriel was confused about the whole thing). Before he left, I handed him the Ziplock baggie with the fabric markers and the pillow case. In whispered tones, we had this conversation:

DH: "What exactly is this?" (I may have, ahem, forgotten to tell him about the signing business and the pillow case, due to a concern about way too much eye-rolling... )
Me: "A pillow case."
DH: "Where did it come from?"
Me: "I ordered it off Etsy. Why, does it matter?" (See- confuse him - that's the strategy.)
DH: "And what am I doing with it?" (His strategy- ignore strategically placed question.)
Me: "Just take it to Guest Services. They'll know what to do with it. Don't worry- it's free."
DH: "How free is something you ordered off of Etsy anyway?" (How is that relevant - really???)

Eye-rolling ensues.

He came back, reporting that Guest Services assured him that many guests are sent there by their loved ones, all confused, and they sort it out. He was stunned there was a form for this process.

He also brought in our first 2 HUGE bags of FE stuff, which we put aside until morning, and I felt totally inadequate about our gifts, which we were scheduled to deliver on Thursday. (More on the FE stuff later...)

However, I got over it quickly, read my book, and enjoyed the rocking of the ship as I fell asleep.

Final Day 1 thoughts

After our first day with Disney, we were impressed by how smart Big Mouse was, and how well thought out a lot of things were - from checking in to boarding, to the kids' clubs and the room. No magical moments - formal or informal - came our way, but we weren't concerned. We had our one decidedly unmagical moment during the sail-away party, but we were hopeful we could avoid most of that for the rest of the trip.

And, with that... good night!
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Old 02-15-2013, 09:20 PM   #59
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Really loving your trip report - thanks for posting
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Old 02-16-2013, 05:12 AM   #60
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Subsribe!
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