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Old 06-03-2013, 12:42 AM   #1
UWLisa
Earning My Ears
 
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 6

Cruisin was a Fantasy! 5/18-5/25

Us: Myself, age 36. DH, age 39. DS, age 3.5. My mom, age 64. My grandma, age 89. We are extremely loyal Royal Caribbean Cruisers, and the last two summers have found us on the beautiful Oasis of the Seas. We had a hard time leaving RCI for this trip, but we thought if we were going to even try Disney, my son was the perfect age for it. We were not disappointed!!

Pre Cruise: Flew in from Seattle on Wed. Spent three wonderful nights at the Hilton Bonnet Creek. AWESOME pool, waterslide, and lazy river! Could not say anything bad about this property, we would love to return. They had a good private bus to the parks, which ran every 30 mins, right on schedule. We did Magic Kingdom Thursday and Friday, with a pleasant few hour pool break in the middle of the day both days.

Transportation to Port: We took Happy Limo. $180 for all 5 of us from hotel to port. They arrived prompty in large Suburban. We all fit well including all the bags and grandma's wheelchair. Very pleasant driver. I would highly recommend Happy Limo.

Port Arrival: SOMETHING WE LEARNED!!! RCI does not have the "port arrival time (PAT)" thing when you check in, so we did not know it was important to do your on-line check in early. By the time we got around to doing it (maybe 3 weeks prior to cruise), the earliest PAT we could get is 1 pm. We couldn't really decide if we should just throw caution to the wind and still get there at 1030 or 1100 (our usual cruise arrival time) or follow the 1 pm that was listed. We didn't want to wait forever at the port with cranky DS and cranky grandma, so we compromised with arrival of noon. Luggage drop off was completely empty (NICE), security line was extremely short, and the semi-long check in line went very quickly. We were given boarding number #24, and they were already up to #28 (at this point it was about 12:30 ish) so on we went! I suppose we could have arrived a tad earlier then, but it worked out extremely well.

Oceaneers Club: DONT GET YOUR WRISTBANDS IN THE TERMINAL! Huge winding line! We went right up to the club right when we boarded, and we waited maybe 2 minutes to get our band. Make sure you look at the band though; they had the wrong name on ours and we did not notice it until that night! My son spent a few hours a day at the club (never went into Lab). He LOVED Andy's room and Monsters room. I would say that this was one of the best things about the cruise....we knew he was having a great time there when we had some relaxing hours at the adult pool!! He would literally run there as soon as we hit deck 5, and would barely say good-bye to us. The club worked especially great for my son because he could always roam free, and choose his activities independently. RCI's kids club is a lot more organized activities, which my son does not always do great with especially with new kids. He must have liked the staff as well, because he always waved good-bye to every cast member when we picked him up. THE ONLY DOWNSIDE: On two occasions we received text messages from the club that DS wanted to be picked up. When I got there, he looked surprised that I was there and then wasn't anxious at all to leave. I am pretty sure he heard other kids telling cast members that they wanted to leave, and then he copied them. There is no way he would have thought of saying this on is own. I feel that the cast members didn't try to re-engage the kids if they asked to call mom/dad. We talked to a lot of parents at the pool that also got the texts/calls pretty quickly, and we saw kids asking to call their folks as well when we were doing drop off or pick up. I guess it is good for parents that want to know if the kiddos aren't happy, but I know my son was completely fine and just needed to be brought back to an activity. Luckily we were never at a meal or spa treatment when this happened!! All in all though, the club was great!! My son is still talking about "toy story room"!

Cabin: Myself, DH, and DS had a interior cabin with magic porthole. This was by far the best laid out cabin we have ever had on any ship. There was PLENTY of space for all three of us, and PLENTY of storage space. Bath tub was great for DS's baths (he is terrified of showers), and TWO lines for drying swim suits...AWESOME!! Oh, and the trunk was good for holding all of our shoes. Magic Porthole was a blast!! DS (and ourselves) loved to see which character was swimming by! My mom and grandma had a disabled room with balcony. Place was huge...we could have hosted a dance party in that place. The automatic opening/closing door was nice as well for my grandma's wheelchair, however we found it odd that most of the other doors on the ship (bathrooms, deck exits, etc) were not automatic so it was difficult getting her chair though all those doors, especially if you were pushing her around by yourself and did not have someone with you to open the door.

Food: All in all, we thought the food on the fantasy was great! We only ate dinners at the main three dining rooms. Loved them all, and thought that the meal quality and choices were far better than in Oasis's main dining rooms, espcially the quality of meat. ONE REGRET: we suffered through the first two dinners with my DS. Ugh! He was horrible. Way too long for him, and he was way too over-stimulated at the end of the day to behave at a nice dinner. On the third night we smartened up and took him to the Club during dinner. He was happier, we were happier, and he actually ate more at dinner in the Club. DH picked him up right after ordering dessert, they would make it back to the table right in time for DS's mickey bar! I would highly recommend doing this, except for of course your nights at Animator's. We loved breakfast and lunch at Cabanas, and didn't find it very busy at all, even the first lunch after boarding. I thought the pizza was average at Luigi's, but DS liked it. We hit the ice cream extremely often! The only negative I would say is the late night food options are too limited!

Pools: We did not have the problems with crowds like so many people mention in the Mickey Pool. HOWEVER, we hit it early, which is probably the best idea. On sea days, we normally swam with DS from 9-11 ish. It was fine then, and he really enjoyed it. We left right when it was getting crazy, and would take him to lunch and then the club. We then hit the adult pool for a few hours. LOVE LOVE LOVE adult pool. Could always find a spot and a bartender! DS also enjoyed Nemo's and aqualab, but preferred Mickey's pool. DH and myself did the Aquaduck quite a few times, and I even dragged my mom on a handul of times. Best time is RIGHT when it opens (usually 9 on sea days). We would do it a few times in a row before the line grew at all. ONLY REGRET: Never did it at night. Need to do that the next time.

Drinks (adult): Ok, Disney beats RCI hands down on this. We were SHOCKED at how cheap drinks were. It is VERY common to have 2 for 1 deals on some sort of wonderful fruity booze conconction. And sometimes the deals were on the drink of the day, which was only 4.95 to begin with! CRAZY! RCI is a complete rip off for drinks, especially fun umbrella drinks. Also mimosas and blood mary's are only 3 bucks before noon at the adult pool area.

Shows: Seriously cannot say enough glowing comments about Disney entertainment. Make sure to go to every show. It usually brought me to tears, they were so filled with Disney magic! Send someone in your family from your muster station drill to run up the stairs to pool deck to get a good spot for sail away party. The characters put on a great dance show! We watched Mickey's Pirate show from deck 12. Great close view without all the crowds. Fireworks are not to be missed. Amazing. OH, and don't be afraid to bring a full pirate costume for pirate night. We felt under dressed with our swords, eye patches (both of these purchased at a party store), and bandanas (they provide Mickey ones, so you don't need to bring them)!! The only "entertainment" thing we didn't like was the Cruise Director, Brent. We know a lot of people like him, but we thought he talked too much before the shows and was pretty boring. He also seemed extremely full of himself. But just our opinion.

Ports of Call:
St Maarten: We took a cab (7 bucks each) to Le Galion beach. It takes about 30 minutes. Locals call it Children's beach because the sand bar goes out FOREVER. It was great for really little kids like DS because the water never gets deep, so he can wade and play without us parents freaking out. There was also no waves at all, and totally beautiful. There is one shop/restaurant there; very nice people that we rented chairs/umbrellas from as well as bought some frozen fruity drinks. The road out there is not completed so the last part of it is very bumpy and a little bit "off roading". They were working on it when we were there. If we didn't know about it beforehand though (thanks trip advisor), we probably would have thought the cab driver was driving us to some scary place. You have to tell your driver when to come get you, since there are not taxis waiting there. He came back about 15 minutes early. OH, and before you get back on the ship: GUAVABERRY!!!!! Get this yummy rum drink....the stand is right at the pier. They also make a yummy kid frozen drink.
St Thomas: We took a cab (8 bucks each) to Magen's Bay Beach. There was also a 4 dollar entrance fee. Gorgeous!! Taxis are waiting there, so you don't have to worry about planning when you want to leave. There is a store to rent umbrellas/chairs/floats and a restaurant/bar. It was totally empty when we got there before 9, but then got pretty busy when the cruise tours arrived. My mom and I have been to Magen's on an earlier cruise and we did it on a tour. It was much better and cheaper to just go by taxi, then you can decide when you come and go.
Castaway: Heaven. Try to get to Adult beach/serenity bay. The sand here is much softer and less rocky than family beach. My son went to Scuttle's Cove for an hour so we could indulge. Sadly, this was a time where they texted us to come pick him up! It looked fun when I got to go in to get him...kids were playing soccer on the sand, playing in this little water play area, and my DS was playing in a large shaded area (with tents above) with large sand toys and trucks. We then picked up our float (DS loved riding on it) and hit the family beach for a few hours. Fun to see all the fish there, but kinda freaked out DS. BBQ was good, as was the (2 for 1!) cocktails at the bar. Don't miss Pelican Plunge if you are a good swimmer. Oh, and make sure to shower off before you head back to the ship because there was definitely sea lice! Oh, and take the tram it is is hot. A life saver!

Night life: Non existant. We are SO used to RCI boats which are hopping late at night. We really enjoyed all the bars in Europa, we were just surprised how empty they were. The Tube has a GREAT dance floor, but we were the only ones on it!! We also were at Ooh La La enjoying a very yummy champagne cocktail, and were the ONLY guests. It was surprising considering the bars are so nice and very well done.

Characters: One of the best things on the ship! Lines are a bit long the first night, but get a lot shorter. My son had to meet Captain Mickey every time he was out. I tried to do as many greetings as possible since I had already decided before the trip I was going to buy a photo package. If the character is coming out at 5pm, you have to be in the line by 515 or it closes. Sometimes that works out for the best though, because you might miss the cut off only to be first in line for the next character! The lines move pretty fast, but I did notice they are much shorter before the first dinner seating than the second. We liked to watch the character dance parties from deck 4, so you are looking down on them without all the crowds on deck 3 (atrium floor). Oh, and the characters visit the "family dance parties" in the D lounge. Great fun!

Photos: If you are buying one of the digital photo packages (we bought 20 pic package for $249) you can buy this AT ANY TIME IN YOUR CRUISE. You will pick up a CD on your last morning with all your pics of the entire trip, and you pick your photos when you get home (they also have a 10 pic package or unlimited). The reason I point this out is because it you wait for the last night it is complete chaos at Shutters!! I bought it on night 4, with no wait.

Cast members: We can't say enough about how great everyone on the ship was. We found that Disney was hands down better with customer service compared to RCI. RCI employees always are polite and helpful, but sometimes you can tell they are "just doing their job". The Disney folks all provided great service while actually making us feel they were happy. We had good servers at dinner, however did get the "excellent" talk a few times to get excellent ratings on our review. I am not a huge fan of this talk. But otherwise, cast members were exceptional.

Odds and ends: We LOVED the low sinks in the bathrooms. SOOO nice not to lift DS up to wash his hands in public bathrooms. We loved our room steward...she figured out our schedule by Day 2 so she was never in our room when we wanted to go in it. Loved the wave phones!! So convenient to help us meet up with Mom/grandma. Disembarkation: sad, but without any chaos. You just get off ship. No meeting in places and waiting like RCI does.

Conclusion: We are hooked!! We will for sure sail with Disney again, at least when my son is young to still enjoy the characters and club. We love RCI, especially the Oasis, and it is cheaper than Disney. But despite the high price, we thought that you get a lot if you pay a lot. And Disney does not feel like they nickel and dime you once you are on the ship (i.e. you can take towels without checking them out like on RCI and those drink deals are just great). It was a great trip. We are just starting to get out of our depression after leaving the ship!!! We will for sure sail the Fantasy again!
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Old 06-03-2013, 09:18 AM   #2
Fenten
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Join Date: Jan 2013
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Loved, loved, loved your review. We too are die hard RCI fans and will be trying Disney Fantasy for the first time in Sept. We have cruised on Allure twice and I was worried that I would be disappointed with Disney. Sounds like we are in for an excellent trip.

Thanks so much for posting!
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Old 06-03-2013, 09:45 AM   #3
cleophus12
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Join Date: Mar 2005
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Great review. We were also on your cruise and had a terrific time. We, too, have cruised RCI for the past few years and love them. But DCL wins hands down!
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Old 06-03-2013, 09:47 AM   #4
wiigirl
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Great review!
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Old 06-03-2013, 12:48 PM   #5
lspst8
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 422

Thanks for the review. I love reading reviews from people with young children so I know wh to expect on our first cruise in January. Sounds like you had a great time.
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Old 06-09-2013, 03:22 PM   #6
amyp00
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Loved your review
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Old 06-10-2013, 11:27 AM   #7
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$3 Mimosas before noon? I learn something new every week on these Boards! Thanks for sharing your review!
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Old 06-22-2013, 08:01 PM   #8
supercrossfox21
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Great review. We are going on the Fantasy in September - same ports with our 3.5 yr old. Had a question for you. You mentioned to have someone in your party from the muster station drill go and save a spot on deck for the sail away party. Im assuming this is right after it concludes have them race up there? Or can they leave early? Would love to grt a good spot. On all our other cruises on different cruiselines we were always out on the decks by the lifeboats with our life jackets so getting to the top deck in a hurry would have been impossible. Thanks for your help.
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Old 06-29-2013, 10:29 PM   #9
Club Disney Chandler
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Join Date: Jun 2013
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Thanks for the review. We've done 2 DCL cruises so far and are booked for our 3rd in June 2014. I really want to try the Oasis or Allure but am so afraid of being let down compared to DCL. Thanks again for the post.
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Old 07-25-2013, 12:09 PM   #10
mrsmalato
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Posts: 23

Loving your trip report, thank you for taking the time to share your adventure with us!
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Old 08-21-2013, 06:22 PM   #11
redwings30
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Very detailed report! Thanks Random question for you - we are staying in a disabled room and I'm wondering since you mentioned it was automatic if it is different from the other cabin doors. Specifically, we are looking to decorate our door with magnets and such and hope that is still possible with the automatic doors. TIA!
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