Browns vs. the Mexican Riviera, March 4-11, 2012 (completed 3/20; added Navigators)

Discussion in 'Disney Cruise Line Trip Reports' started by GooniesAndy, Feb 20, 2012.

  1. GooniesAndy

    GooniesAndy Mouseketeer

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    I've been reading trip reports since we booked our cruise back in September of 2011, so I decided that I ought to start one up myself. First, the cast of characters:

    Me: Erin, stay-at-home mom, Disney fanatic
    Mike: The husband, works in video games
    Elliott: Age six
    Oliver: Age three (and a half)

    This is me and Elliott:
    [​IMG]

    Mike:
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    Oliver:
    [​IMG]

    We are also traveling with my sister, Meghan, her husband, Jason, and their three (and a half)-year-old son, Lucas. We all live in San Diego, so we will be driving up to the port. My family will be heading up on Saturday and spending the night at the Crowne Plaza in San Pedro. I decided it would be a lot less stressful to head up the night before, and we got the $65 rate on Priceline, so I feel like it's worth it!

    This vacation was actually Elliott's idea. He was obsessively watching the DCL show that's on Netflix's instant streaming, and he begged to go. I told him that I thought it would be too expensive, but suggested to my husband that we use our next tax refund to go on a vacation of some sort; the last year or so has been extremely difficult and I thought we could really use something fun to look forward to. I started looking into cruises on other (cheaper) lines, and on a whim decided to price out Disney. I was surprised to see that it wasn't actually too bad and we were in! We booked ourselves in the cheapest inside room and then convinced my sister that her family should come along.

    Before too much time had passed, the KSF was announced, with our sailing as the last date, and we were able to upgrade to a 9C and still save about $1000. I was tempted to go for a verandah, but my kids are wily and I had images of them swan diving off the side of the boat, so I decided to skip it for my peace of mind.

    I've spent the last six months researching and planning, learning everything the DIS boards had to teach. I want this vacation to be something the kids will always remember, and so I am doing everything I can to make it special for them. I called ahead to request the dining rotation that will put us in Triton's for formal night, and Parrot Cay for pirate night. We'll be participating in the FE. I'm already stockpiling scrapbooking supplies (though I've never made a scrapbook before, and I am completely intimidated by it all!) so that I can put together an album for us.

    I started buying supplies for the FE almost immediately, though I ended up putting it off as real life spiraled out of control. So now I'm scrambling to get everything finished in time! This weekend I was sick, so I took advantage of being stuck in bed to get a big chunk of the work done. I still have maybe 30% of the gifts left to make, and the actual fish extender. The only thing I'm nervous about is the extender, so I'm leaving it for last and will do something simple if my (originally very elaborate) plan doesn't work out!

    Links to posts:
    Scans of additional papers (movie schedules, tv channels, etc.)
    Saturday night in San Pedro
    Day 1 (Part 1)
    Day 1 (Part 2)
    Day 2 (Part 1): Sea Day
    Day 2 (Part 2): Sea Day
    Day 3 (Part 1): Sea Day, Palo
    Day 3 (Part 2): Sea Day, Palo
    Day 4 (Part 1): Puerto Vallarta
    Day 4 (Part 2): Puerto Vallarta
    Day 5 (Part 1): Cabo San Lucas
    Day 5 (Part 2): Cabo San Lucas
    Day 6 (Part 1): Cabo San Lucas
    Day 6 (Part 2): Cabo San Lucas
    Day 7 (Part 1): At Sea
    Day 7 (Part 2): At Sea
    Disembarkation
     
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  3. oypoodles

    oypoodles Earning My Ears

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    Hope everything works out!
     
  4. Laundress

    Laundress Mouseketeer

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    Bless your heart. Life sure does get in the way of having fun.
    Looking forward to your TR. :flower3:

    :laundy:
     
  5. GooniesAndy

    GooniesAndy Mouseketeer

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    Today my friend let me know that even an expedited birth certificate won't be able to arrive until after we leave for the cruise, so it looks like (as long as he continues in the right direction) Mike will be coming on the cruise with us. The kids will be thrilled, and hopefully it will now more resemble the dream vacation I had originally planned for us all.

    Now, to update my packing list and plans to include one more person! I'd planned out a suitcase configuration based on just me and the boys, and now we'll have one extra, bigger person, and he'll be taking up a seat in the car that otherwise would have been loaded with bags! I also need to figure out what he will wear on formal night and pirate night. Today I remembered that I have dressed up as Wendy from Peter Pan before, so I will probably just pack that dress for me. It's a bit of a simple/less recognizable costume, so hopefully I don't look like I'm just wearing a nightgown to dinner!
     
  6. marciemouse

    marciemouse Raised on Disney

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    Hey, fellow 3/4 cruiser! I am excited you're doing a TR. I considered it, but I'm not sure if I will or not. We'll see!

    I'm sorry for Mike's struggles. I hope that he is able to come along (I already made up his birthday FE gift!) and that the cruise is the family vacation you've dreamed of! :wizard:
     
  7. Deirdres

    Deirdres Disney Family since 1995 DVC Gold

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2012
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    Erin,
    i am going on the MR cruise two weeks after you, i just wanted to let you know that i have dealt with similar struggles and am passing alot of positive energy your way. Have a wonderful time on your well deserved cruise.
     
  8. GooniesAndy

    GooniesAndy Mouseketeer

    Joined:
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    I am starting to creep closer and closer to being ready to go... this weekend I did a test-run with putting suitcases into the car, so that I can figure out what my limits are, and that actually went pretty well. I think we will be able to fit everything we need in there! I also busted out my packing lists and got most of our clothes packed. Some things just can't be taken out of general use, so I'll have a bit more to do on Saturday, but for the most part I'm done, with clothes at least.

    I am SO close to being done with everything for the FE. I ran out of ribbon for one of my projects, so I need to go get another roll, but luckily that will be maybe five minutes of work once I have it in hand. I started making the actual Fish Extender this afternoon, while I had on the Oscars red carpet. I am really nervous about how it will turn out, but at this point I will just be happy if it has pockets! We will see what this week brings... I also have a basket to put together for Elliott's school auction and a class party for him on Friday, so there is a lot going on!

    We are all getting so excited, thinking about all that we are going to do, watching videos on YouTube, looking at photos and trip reports. I can't believe it's only a week away!
     
  9. GooniesAndy

    GooniesAndy Mouseketeer

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    I think we are just about done! I have everything packed, other than the things that will get thrown in at the last minute, and I finished all of my FE gifts. I also sat down and made our FE, which I really should have done by machine not hand. Lesson learned for next time!

    [​IMG]

    One more day of school for Elliott and then we are officially on vacation. We are driving up day after tomorrow, and we can't wait!
     
  10. DisneyDad2boys

    DisneyDad2boys Earning My Ears

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    I really hope this vacation turns out special for your family. I am looking forward to reading your trip report when you return.
     
  11. marciemouse

    marciemouse Raised on Disney

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    The FE turned out awesome! Looks like a lot of work. I can't believe you did it by hand. I can't wait to see it in person! :goodvibes
     
  12. nsiordia

    nsiordia Mouseketeer

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    I know you are going to have a WONDER-ful time. I know we did. Take advantage of the kids club and have some alone time. That was the best thing we did.
     
  13. GooniesAndy

    GooniesAndy Mouseketeer

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    The bags are in the car and we are about ready to go! Crossing our fingers that nothing goes wrong and at this time tomorrow we are ready to board! :yay:
     
  14. spiiffy

    spiiffy Mouseketeer

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    I hope you had amazing trip. I can't wait to hear about it and see some pictures!
     
  15. GooniesAndy

    GooniesAndy Mouseketeer

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    We are home and we had an absolutely amazing time! We took almost 1200 pictures, so I need to go through them a bit and weed out the blurry ones. I will try to post a first update tomorrow after we have finished getting settled back in... Oliver threw up in the car on the way home and has been sick all afternoon. It seems that he probably picked something up in the kids' club. Still, it was worth it!
     
  16. PaigerPoo

    PaigerPoo AKA PixieDustPaige

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    hope you had a Magical voyage and your LIL guy is feelin better soon! We head out on the 25th of March and am looking very forward to hearing about your trip!!!:thumbsup2:thumbsup2
    If you by any chance saved your Navigators, I'd love a peek!!:3dglasses
    Thanks!!
    Subscribing NOW!!
     
  17. GooniesAndy

    GooniesAndy Mouseketeer

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    These are scans of all the random things that were in the room that don't really belong elsewhere in the trip report:

    If you want to order breakfast to your room, you hang this on the doorknob the night before:
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    Duty-free liquor price list:
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    Onboard shopping promotions info:
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    Phone & internet info:
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    Voyage Navigator/Cruise at a Glance:
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    Movie theater schedule:
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    TV channels & movies:
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  18. silence

    silence <font color=red>Missin' Mickey<br><font color=roya

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    Can't wait to read your TR! :)
     
  19. GooniesAndy

    GooniesAndy Mouseketeer

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    We live in San Diego, so we decided to drive up a day early and stay in a hotel in order to alleviate some of the stress the morning of the cruise. I followed the instructions I found on the Dis and got a room at the Crowne Plaza for $65 (plus taxes making the total around $82). I have to say, this was a great decision as we rarely get out of the house on my planned schedule when we are going somewhere early in the morning, particularly if it involves luggage. We left a little bit later than I wanted to (as I anticipated), but we got there shortly after the 3:00PM check-in time. Our room was nice, and we had a great view of the port.

    We decided to just order room service for dinner, which I now regret. The food was very expensive and was barely mediocre. I had a rib eye steak, which was pretty tough. I asked for it with French onion soup and it came with vegetables. I called to ask for the soup, which did come very quickly. However, it was pretty lame French onion soup... it was beef broth with onion and some sort of dry herb in it. No bread or cheese in sight. Since we didn't want to go far, we should have just tried out the deli I saw across the street. It would have been a quarter of the cost and pretty much had to be tastier.

    That night we didn't really do anything, just chilled in our hotel and watched one of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies on TV. We wanted to be ready to go in the morning!

    My best tips for driving in and staying in a hotel the night before the cruise: Pack an overnight bag and then transfer the things you'll need for the cruise (toiletries, etc.) into your carry-on bag in the morning (or use that as an extra carry-on). We ended up using the plastic laundry bag provided by the hotel for our dirty clothes and left it in the car.
     
  20. GooniesAndy

    GooniesAndy Mouseketeer

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    Elliott was VERY excited and woke up pretty early, around 6:00AM. The first thing he did was run to the window to see if he could see the Wonder. There was nothing out there, so I opened up my phone to a ship-tracking website and saw that the Wonder looked like it should be there. Lo and behold, a minute later I looked up and just saw the front of the ship coming into sight. The kids were thrilled and spent quite a bit of time staring out the window while we got dressed.

    [​IMG]

    After the dinner debacle the night before, we decided to head out to find some breakfast. We decided to walk over to the little portside restaurant area I'd heard about, but nothing seemed to be open yet. I used the Yelp app on my phone to find a likely place, a Hungarian bakery that specialized in strudel. However, we had almost finished walking there when I noticed that it didn't open until 9. I found another place, a standard pancake shop, and we decided to drive there. We were getting close when we saw a Jack in the Box and figured we'd save some money (more for the cruise!) and just bring some hotcakes back to the room. We were eating when my sister, Meghan, texted to let me know that they were coming across the bridge and in sight of the Wonder. They were going to grab a quick breakfast and head to the terminal.

    We finished up and headed out around 9:30. The terminal was open when we got there, so I dropped off the guys and the luggage and went to park. The roundabout way you have to go was slightly confusing for me, but I made it through just fine. When I got back we headed in to a wonderfully empty terminal. There was no line at the check-in counter and we were able to get right in. The kids were in rare form, so excited that they were just being insane. We gave them our PSP and my tablet to play on and that mostly kept them calm. On our way in, they had given us our first day's Navigators, so this was a nice chance to sit and read it.

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    We'd been told that the desk where we could pick up the kids club bracelets would open around 11:30, but it was earlier, maybe 11:00, and we only waited in line for about 5 minutes. Oliver and I also went over to get see Minnie Mouse when she came in. Of course, I didn't think to bring my own camera and so I don't have any pictures!

    Shortly after all of this it was time to board! We were in boarding group 4, which was called very quickly, in probably about ten minutes. Everything was very well organized and we were on the way onboard in no time!

    [​IMG]

    I had been anticipating hearing them announce our family's name, but the kids were being so crazy that I pretty much missed it! We went over to guest services to ask about the tea party, but the woman seemed really appalled that our party of adults and little boys wanted to go to it, so we told her we'd skip it. She really didn't seem to want us to go. Luckily, that was the only weird moment we had the entire trip, and it was quickly forgotten. We were directed to Parrot Cay to eat lunch.

    [​IMG]

    We filled our plates and ate our fill. I can't even remember all the tasty things that were available, but I particularly liked the prosciutto/cheese/tomato sandwich I had. I should have gotten more pieces of it!

    [​IMG]

    After lunch we decided to take a walk around to check things out, since the rooms weren't done yet, and the kids still had lots of extra energy to get out (and were starting to drive us insane). We walked upstairs and ran straight into Belle, just chilling in the hallway!

    [​IMG]

    As soon as Belle walked away, Snow White wandered by, so the boys got to have a private little chat with her. We must have been among the first to finish our lunch, because it was totally empty on the 4th floor!

    [​IMG]

    We still had time to kill, so we walked up to deck 5 to visit the Oceaneer's Club and Lab during their open house hours. The kids were thrilled and didn't want to leave. An added bonus was that they were mostly empty since most people were still eating.

    The Lab:
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    And the Club:
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    Next we walked up to deck 9 to check out the pools (and my husband's second home, the soda/coffee station). The kids got so excited when they saw the pool, which we had no intention of using that day, that we had to get them out of there!

    [​IMG]

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    We decided to walk down to deck 2, where our room was, and just as we got there they dropped the ropes and let everyone in. Hallelujah!

    I must say, I absolutely LOVED our room and its location. We were in room 2114, on the portside, just a room forward of the aft elevators. Parrot Cay was at the top of the stairs, Triton's and the lobby were right down the hall from that, and Animator's Palate was just one additional flight of stairs up. When the kids had to use the restroom during dinner, which happened a lot, it was often easier just to run to our room than to use one of the public ones. The pools, drink and ice cream stations, and Beach Blanket Buffet were a quick elevator ride up on deck 9. Since I'd say about 80% of our time was spent in the back half of the ship, this was really really good.

    Our room was a category 9C, with a large porthole. We didn't spend that much time in there, so it was plenty spacious for us! I packed one small suitcase for each of us, plus an extra for our "stuff" along with two carry on bags, our camera bag, my purse, etc. There was plenty of space for our clothing and all of our random things, and all of the luggage fit easily under the bed.

    The bed was very comfortable, and I really enjoyed the bedding. The kids seemed fine in their beds, as well, though I was really nervous about Elliott falling out of the bunk. He did fall one time, but it was when he was coming down the ladder and he missed a rung and hit his head on the table on the way down. It wasn't a major wound, but that made me even more worried.

    I liked the split bathroom, and it came in very handy. The shower/tub was great and was much larger than what I remember from previous cruises I've taken on other lines. I do wish the little shelves they have on the toilet side were in the shower side instead, but that's just nitpicking.

    [​IMG]

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  21. GooniesAndy

    GooniesAndy Mouseketeer

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    We found our dining schedule ticket in the room, which listed which dates we were to eat in each restaurant, our table number (which was also on our Key to the World card), dinner time, and the information for our character breakfast. You never actually needed to give anyone this ticket, though the first night I saw people with them and ran back to the room for it. All they needed was your table number, though.

    [​IMG]

    Our luggage hadn't come yet, but I had put our magnets and Fish Extender in my carry on bag, so we decided to put everything up:

    [​IMG]

    Soon our luggage did start showing up (slowly, with one at a time arriving over the next few hours) and I started to unpack. Between unpacking and the kids being a bit difficult, we ended up not making it to our Disboards meet-up, which bummed me out. Soon enough, though, it was time for the muster drill and then the sail away party!

    We headed up to deck 9 immediately upon being released from our muster station, and we were able to score a great spot right at the edge of the left side of the stage. The kids got their streamers (and immediately started inadvertently smacking people in the face) and had a blast watching the show. Hearing the ship's horn made me get teary!

    We spent a lot of time with these guys during the next week:
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    And, of course:
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    After the sail away party, we went back to our room so that I could unpack some more. I sent out all of the guys' shirts and Mike's suit for dry cleaning or pressing, which was actually much less expensive than at home:

    [​IMG]

    By the time I was finished unpacking everything and getting our room organized, it was time to head to dinner. I had requested the PTTAPTA rotation, in order to have pirate night in Parrot Cay and formal and semi-formal nights in Triton's, so tonight we were in Parrot Cay.

    I didn't manage to get pictures or record all of what everyone ate, but I'll do my best to remember!

    I ordered the West Indies Romaine Salad and Island-spiced Grilled Ribeye of Beef. My food was tasty, but that steak was massive! I barely ate half of it. And it came with a baked potato and corn on the cob... I thought I was going to pop!

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    Mike had the Island-spiced Seared Ahi Tuna and the Shrimp and Avocado Salad. He reports that both of these were good.

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    Meghan ordered the Crab Martinique and the beef. She said she liked them both.

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    Jason had the Island-spiced Seared Ahi Tuna, the Parrot Cay Salad, and the Mixed Grill. He said it was all good.

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    From the kids menu, Elliott had spaghetti, Oliver a mini burger, and Lucas chicken tenders. They all fell asleep and didn't eat much, but it looked good to me!

    All of the adults ordered dessert samplers, and the kids woke up for Mickey ice cream sandwiches, which were very good.

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    We absolutely loved our dining team, Banjo (server), Phapakorn (assistant server), and Rakesh (head server). Banjo and Phapakorn were wonderful. When Banjo found out that Meghan is pregnant, he told her that if she was having any special cravings, if she'd let him know the night before, he'd ask the chef to make her whatever she'd like (as long as they had the ingredients). That's just one example of the amazing service we received from them throughout our vacation. I would absolutely request them again in the future.

    When we got back to our room after dinner, we found that someone had put this in our fish:

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    Since I'd put a lot of work into our decorations, this totally made my night. :) We also found our first towel animal:

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    And our first gifts in the Fish Extender. The kids were beyond thrilled, and it lasted until the end of the cruise.

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    With that, we chilled for a while in our room until everyone was ready for sleep.
     

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