DCL for the non-Disney crowd: Eastern Carib. Fantasy Jan 26 - Feb 3 2013 - all done!

Discussion in 'Disney Cruise Line Trip Reports' started by Conorama, Feb 11, 2013.

  1. Conorama

    Conorama Mouseketeer

    Jul 18, 2012
    We did! I hope your sister-in-law is having fun.

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  3. reevesinga

    reevesinga Mouseketeer

    Mar 13, 2011
    Enjoying your TR!
  4. Mrs Green

    Mrs Green Mouseketeer

    Dec 9, 2012
    I'm in. I like your perspective and your son is of similar age to my dd. I can relate to a lot of your concerns.
  5. Conorama

    Conorama Mouseketeer

    Jul 18, 2012
    Day 2 - First real Day at Sea - morning

    Precious quiet mom-time

    After a sorely needed good night of sleep (minus 1 time when Conor thought he was sleeping on the upper bunk and was worried about falling off...) I woke up at 6:00 a.m., (yep, I'm one of those). Happily, since the invention of the flashlight app on my i-phone, I only had to stumble about in the near-darkness to find what I needed, and I headed up to Deck 11, reveling in the fact that I could do this without 20 layers of clothing.

    Ah... happiness. I love early mornings. I nabbed some coffee from the drink station (not as bad as advertised, but hey, it was coffee at 6:00 a.m., so how bad could it be?)

    I grabbed a comfy chair, and read my Kobo (Canadian Kindle-thing) for one hour. No one bothered me. It was AWESOME.

    Hello Cove Café

    Having studied my Navigator, I knew that the Cove Café was open at 7:00. In case you were worried that I might not realize that 7:00 had rolled around (it was a really good mystery), let me reassure you that this was not likely to happen because a) I have special coffee detecting skills, and b) at 7:00 a.m. on the dot they start BLARING music on Deck 11.

    I escaped to Cove Café, to be greeted by my new friend Robert, from Transylvania. He approved (or pretended to) of my request for 2 lattés with no flavours "just coffee flavour" as he put it. Robert, being an astute guy, handed me the frequent-caffeine card, detecting that I was likely to be back.

    I grabbed a few croissants too, and juggling my booty, headed back to the room for 7:30.

    Room service

    We only did this a few times, and the first morning was one of them - we got some things that we could use as snacks in the room, and have some food on hand for Conor who gets monster-like when he is without food, especially in the morning.

    It was always fine - on-time or quick, hot, mostly fresh. We had US dollars for tips, which always seemed appreciated.

    Anyhow - I greeted the boys (who were sort of awake) with my happy morning-face, and the latté for DH and croissants to get us through until the room service showed up, which it did within minutes - right on time.

    Lazy morning

    We had a lazy first part of the morning (2nd part for me!) arranging stuff in the room, persuading Conor to pee, getting him dressed (and bugging my husband to get moving).

    The FE gifts from the night before were revealed - 2 cabins' worth = 2 full tote backs of stuff. EEK! I seriously didn't think we could bring all that back, and our stuff was looking a bit pathetic in comparison. However, Conor was in 7th heaven with the stuff he got, so I just parked my anxieties and enjoyed watching him.

    Part of his process was to pick out any princess things that had arrived and hand the to me with great disdain. "I don't LIKE princesses, mom!" Now, lest you think Conor is only into traditional boy stuff, you need to know that he is equally friends with girls and boys, and has huge imaginative play sessions with girls where they play house (then he heads off to be superheros next), but he has determined that he hates princesses ... so feel the foreshadowing again...

    The pile looked less forbidding when we got rid of packaging, etc., and (fortunately for later), I stashed all the baggies in a drawer.

    Finally, we convinced Conor it was time to get breakfast part 2, and explore the ship. Cabanas was good for breakfast - lots of choices, a lot of them even healthy, and the line-ups weren't too bad. Conor was keen to start solving his mystery, so off we went.

    Exploring the ship - complete with binoculars and much chatting.


    Mystery fun


    Characters - or not

    Our mystery solving route took us by the 5th floor about 15 minutes before Jake was due to show up. As I read on here, this is the time to line up for the character. We asked Conor if he wanted to see Jake, and he said yes, so we lined up. Meanwhile, he looked over the railing at the other characters downstairs (don't remember who), and chatted up kids around him.

    We were 2nd in line to see Jake (mucho shorter than the princess lines, let me tell you). First kids go to see him - we make sure Conor is ready, only to see terror in his eyes, and freaking out starts. Captain literal, of course, took our "do you want to 'see' Jake?" to mean exactly that - that did NOT involve talking to Jake. Silly parents. So, we bailed, and there was zero interest in meeting characters after that.

    This was fine by us, seeing as it meant a whole lot less lining up over the course of 1 week. Sorry Disney- my boy isn't buying your stuff ... "that's not Jake, Mom - that's someone dressed up as Jake!". :rotfl: He was totally content to gaze at them from on high (one floor up was his preferred vantage point) for about 2 minutes, then he was good to go.

    So, back to the mystery it was for us, and then back to the room to get ready for lunch.

    And you, my loyal readers, will not see any photos of us with characters as a result!
  6. Conorama

    Conorama Mouseketeer

    Jul 18, 2012
    Day 2 - First real Day at Sea - lunch and beyond

    Lunch at Royal Court

    Having recovered from the Jake trauma, we elected to lunch at RC - we wanted a sit-down-away-from-the-crowds lunch, and we were due at Enchanted Gardens that evening for formal night.

    We generally enjoyed the sit-down lunches - not only were they quiet(er), but the servers seemed to have more time - they certainly talked to Conor a lot. He loved it. The food was always good, and there is a reasonable selection.

    One day, Conor brought Teddy to lunch for some reason known only to 4 year-olds. Various servers noted this - they set a place for Teddy, and when Conor told them that Teddy only ate honey (being a bear, of course), one server brought him 4 little jars of honey. While we were always well-treated at supper, it's just crazy busy, and it's way more laid-back at lunch.

    Totally recommend it!

    Mini-putt champion and a not-so-ancient mariner

    I'll let the photos talk here.




    Shopping, during which we reduce some stranger to hysterical laughter

    Conor is learning about money these days, so we had told him he could spend his money on one thing from the on-board shops (the KTTW confused him considerably here, but he decided he didn't care how he paid so long as he got something ... very practical of him). We headed over to the shops, and Mr. "I'm not paying attention" inadvertently skipped into the very princess-y store, only to exclaim for all to hear:

    "WHOA! There are WAYYYY too many princesses in here!!!"

    Some poor dad, who had been standing there with that pained look on his face, just broke down laughing to the point he couldn't speak. Another adult male noted: "I'm with you, buddy." :rotfl2:

    However, Conor recovered in the main store when he discovered the pirate section. At home, he had every pirate paraphernalia known to, well, pirates, except, it seemed, a "spy-scope". By a not-so-minor miracle, the spy-scope was even within his budget, so we let him get it.


    We saw that there was a matinee for Aladdin, which we figured was worth a shot. We didn't plan to attempt any after-supper shows, as they are just too late for our little man, and we we didn't know how he would go for them.

    So, we made sure we went early to get good seats, which, for us, mean balcony - too close is always bad. Somewhere earlier in the day, DH managed to snag this:


    It really is beautiful - points for Disney there.

    We nabbed front row balcony seats, near an aisle for DH's long legs, and for easy escape if things went bad.

    Long story short? For the grown-ups, it was a well-done show, with cool effects and it never got slow or boring. For Conor? It was too loud (headphones did work here), and too scary. He stuck it out, but we were close to leaving a few times.

    After the show, we got the "I am NOT going back to another show" declaration, which we respected (with one obvious exception). I know that some of the other shows would have been less scary, but hindsight is 20:20.

    Formal Night

    Now, we are not people who dress up much (read: at all), so we didn't spend hours getting ready for formal night.

    I forgot to mention that DH did send his shirts to be be pressed on Day 1 (based on Disboard tips) so they were ready to go. (I did NOT want to be ironing on the ship.) My dress was a) purchased at about 75% off post-Christmas, and b) didn't need to be pressed so I was very happy. Conor's only task was to select a tie... he had 3 due to overzealous relatives at Christmas.

    So, our "prep for formal night" involved hanging out in the room for about an hour, with Conor watching Disney cartoons on TV, and with me reading, while DH showered and shaved (he's the slow one). Finally, we all got dressed (in 10 minutes) and headed out.

    Conor is currently opposed to posed photos, so we didn't even try to get a photo done. We did nab the free cocktail at the Captain's reception, and admired the Captain (from afar, again). We managed to snag these 2 photos to prove we can and did dress up...



    Enchanted Garden

    Table 29 was tucked way at the back in a corner - we were delighted. (Not centre of the action people are we.)

    The best part of Enchanted Garden, according to Conor, were the lights, that start out as mostly-closed flowers, and gradually open over the course of the meal. There are, of course, no screens to entertain kids, but we did bring (no judging) Conor's i-pod touch that we used at times, when he got tired of coloring (too many princesses again). Fortunately, this wasn't necessary most of the time, as the food came quickly. (Lobster ravioli for both parents, prime rib for me, seabass for DH. Conor had tomato soup (really good - we tried!) and pasta. Lemon buttermilk pudding for me; bananas foster for DH. Ice cream, as always, for Conor.)

    Kids' Club Update

    In the background, we had been talking about the club on and off all day. Conor was keen to go back, but only with us, so we needed to wait for an open house, and we made it to one after supper. We talked about him going on his own the next day, and he asked if he could bring Sockie- we asked a CM and she said yes, and they would put a band on Sockie (the non-plastic part of the bracelet anyway). No, don't get excited, because this was not the case exactly when we went back the next day... stay tuned!

    Bed & Booze

    We knew that the clocks were going ahead one hour that night, so we didn't want to be late to bed, so back to the room for us for bathroom, bath, books, and bed.

    However, after we got Conor down, Brian headed off to the 2nd tasting of the day - earlier, he had been at the martini tasting- and this was a whiskey one, I think.

    I, being the one who can't stay up much past 9:30, went to bed.
  7. Conorama

    Conorama Mouseketeer

    Jul 18, 2012

    Thanks again - overall, we're enjoying 4.5 (except the incessant whining!) and it was a great age for traveling.
  8. staley98

    staley98 The Mouse makes me feel like a little girl again!

    Feb 10, 2013
    Wow! I can't wait to read about the rest of your trip! We are first time cruisers who will be on the Fantasy in June to celebrate our 15th anniversary, my 40th, and finishing my EdS (I feel your never-ending graduate school pain!). I am confused by the FE, but you've convinced me to give it a try. I also hadn't heard about the pillowcases! Thanks again for your down to earth, hilarious report!
  9. Conorama

    Conorama Mouseketeer

    Jul 18, 2012
    Ha! I was finishing my M.Ed.

    You might want to wait for my full FE post, though - I'll do it next, though, so you can decide. Let's put it this way - at times, it seemed like post-secondary education was easier!

    Congrats, regardless, on all the accomplishments - none of those are easy! :cool1:

    Edited to add a belated - thanks, and glad you're enjoying it. Down-to-earth is a nicer way of saying "no B.S." :)
  10. Conorama

    Conorama Mouseketeer

    Jul 18, 2012
    Reflections on Day 2

    This was a good day in that, for the most part, we could play things by ear, which is key to us on vacation. We are not highlighter people with our Navigators - mostly, I used them to figure out the big stuff (what time for sit-down lunch, when it is open-house at the club, and, of course, what time is my coffee ready), and that's it. With an anti-character, anti-show kid, it was easier too. (We did check the movie schedule- there was very little that Conor would have liked, so we skipped it all.)

    We didn't do the pools on this at-sea day, though we went by them a number of times - SOOO busy - truly kid soup. I don't think Conor would have minded, but he didn't ask, so we didn't push - he was getting plenty of fresh air and exercise otherwise.

    So, once again, we were impressed by Disney's smarts, but underwhelmed by the Disney-ness of it all, if that makes any sense whatsoever. It's not that most of it bothered us (except the noise) but we could take it or leave it.

    And, with that, I'll bite the bullet and describe my love/hate relationship with the whole FE thing in the next installment, which might not be until after I get my wretched taxes organized. Don't you wish you were me on this fine Saturday night? ::yes::
  11. lizzyb

    lizzyb DIS Veteran

    Oct 8, 2007

    Taxes are only due on April 30th.. I say you work on the next installment of your fine report ;)
  12. Conorama

    Conorama Mouseketeer

    Jul 18, 2012
    To FE or not to FE?

    This is my take on the FE experience, at least, my take our OUR FE experience - and I'm sure they're all different.

    Read the fine print

    So, prior to finding Disboards (which nicely met my need to obsessively research my vacations), I had no idea what an FE exchange was - or even that they existed. I read a fair bit (remember - my need to take breaks from writing all summer), so I knew I wanted nothing to do with any group that involved 40 cabins and 100 people.

    Fortunately, a brave soul stepped up to organize the FE, and when I checked, she said the groups would be capped at about 10 cabins - perfect, I figured, we an do this. I assumed it would be something along the lines of "our cabin gives 1 gift to each person in the other cabins", and we had about 40 people.

    What I did NOT ask (and I might have missed it being posted - I accept blame here) were what the rules were. I found out the rules in late December, and that was about 3 weeks before we were leaving, and just when I was in my work-a-thon. I nearly fell over ... the rules were:

    • Each person gives a gift to each person in the other cabins.
    • Each adult in each cabin, gives a "cabin gift" to each cabin.

    So... let's round up and pretend there were 40 people other than us (close enough), and 10 other cabins (we agreed to go up to 11 cabins total due to families wanting to stay together).

    That's 40 individual gifts * 3 people in our cabin = 120 gifts
    That's 10 cabin gifts * 2 adults in our cabin = 20 gifts

    :scared1: :eek: :confused: :headache:
    (How's that for gratuitous overuse of annoying smilies?)

    And, you can bet that Conor and DH weren't contributing (to be fair, I'm the one that signed us up).

    Accepting the fine print and moving on

    So, I had a bit of a crisis ... but then I remembered (hope you're sitting down) - this is a vacation, this is not a life-altering event, and I was NOT going to stress about this. It wasn't so much the money side of things (though that was part of it), but rather the hassle of it all. In the spirit of Special Agent Oso (whom you either know or you don't), I decided on a 3-step plan:

    1. I decided that "a gift" is something smaller than I had envisioned, especially from Conor. So - yes, sorry, but a pencil covered in Canadian flags is a gift from Conor to an adult. I still had our "nicer" gifts, and so everyone would get something that was somewhat unique, anyway.
    2. I decided that we would combine our gifts - so, if Goofy was on our list to give to, he'd be getting a baggie with all the gifts from all 3 of us. Ditto on the room gifts.
    3. I decided I would top up things a bit with things I bought on the ship or at port (advantages of being assigned Thursday for our distribution day). Not cheap, but I had no time at this point for anything else, nor luggage space!

    I also coped in my usual ways ... spreadsheets (really, how did I exist without them before?) and labels. I printed off labels for each baggie ("To Goofy - from all your friends in cabin 9120"), and then just tossed a whole whack (or so I thought) of baggies in the luggage.

    As always, the grocery store and the drug stores were my friends

    About all I could manage to do before we left was to hit up the drug store (needed to top up our supplies of Advil, etc., anyway) and the grocery store (heck - gotta eat). I found a nice supply of baby spoons of the toss-away variety for the 6 month old on our list because I wanted to make sure whatever I gave her was safe (Conor used to love playing with them in addition to eating with them), and some Canadian candy. Lucked out at the grocery store and found individually wrapped Macintosh Toffees (YUM), so those were added to the mix - mostly as room gifts.


    On board, I bought some DCL stickers, some Mickey head post-it notes, and some post-cards. On shore, I got a bunch more post-cards.

    Then, I did nothing until Wednesday night of course ... what can I say - it was vacation!

    On Wednesday night, I sat on our bed after Conor was asleep, and informed DH that he could either help or get out. He got out. :) I assembled everything by cabin - one baggie per person; one room-baggie per cabin, and then I put these in either a tote bag (we got a lot as gifts) or in a big baggie.

    I quickly burned through my own baggie stash, and then resorted to peeling labels off the baggies we had received (yes, a high point of the vacation for me) to complete my task -so, sorry if you got your baggie back - I promise I didn't do anything nasty with it!

    An hour later (I hope it was only an hour), I looked at what was left, and added it to certain baggies, and then kept some stuff that I figured Conor would like (plastic pirate coins - reviled by the not-so-very-nice person who posted just before we left about how "thoughtless" FE gifts were - including plastic coins, but loved by 4.5 year olds).

    I was then, officially, baggied out. I put my bags together, and hit the sack. (Sorry- unintentional but actually quite bad and funny pun there!)

    To be clear, I have a very underactive crafting gland - I can't even make the baggies look cute. They were, however, intact, complete, neat, and ready to go on time - and that's as good as you're going to get in my state. :faint:

    New levels of ridiculousness - Delivery day

    So, due to bad planning/luck, I was trying to do both laundry and deliver FE gifts on Thursday morning. It was not as bad as the wretched sail-away party, but it approached it...

    I got up at 6:00 a.m. Laundry was ready to go - so I headed there first - the polar opposite end of the ship from where we were - that's far, especially at 6:00 a.m., before coffee. I arrive, and realize I have Conor's card. It won't work, presumably because we didn't set it up to charge, of course. I would have cursed, but there was a very nice man there, so I refrained.

    I trucked back to the room with the laundry (because I worry about these things). Stumbled about until I found my card. Headed back- with laundry. Finally cajole the bleepin' machines to work. Check my phone- note the time, so as to ensure I return in time, or risk the wrath of the laundry etiquette police.

    By now, it is, somehow, 6:30 a.m., and I had wanted this done before now. Sigh. Trek back to the room to get the first batch of FE stuff. Fortunately, most of the rooms are "clumped" on certain floors, and I had organized my tote bags accordingly. I started on floor 10 (many cabins). Dropped down to 9 to get my next bags (how such small stuff got so bulky is beyond me). Popped down to 8 - did a few there, then jogged down to 5 - got lost (it's not set up like the other ones - and I was at the wrong end). Got un-lost.

    Check phone- still time, I think, to finish this off. Drop down to 2 - sneak about delivering our stuff.

    Dash back upstairs (elevator - sorry!) just in time to move the laundry on. I still haven't had coffee at this point. Retaliate by making my husband get out of bed early to go get the coffee.

    Managed to stay awake long enough to go get the laundry from the dryer, thus avoiding the laundry etiquette police entirely. (Don't get me wrong - I've used laundromats many times over the years, and I get it - I just don't think that most people leave their laundry lying about intentionally - heck, they could be having a morning like mine!)

    And, then, we called the whole FE experience DONE.

    Final thoughts - would we FE again?

    The friend who talked us into DCL asked me this, as she was getting ready for her next cruise, and she'd never done it. My thoughts...

    Yes, it was fun most of the time. I had envisioned delivering the gifts with Conor (he would have loved it) but that would have taken about 20 years or so, and by Thursday on the cruise, that was just not worth it. Also - I have a non-crafty kid - many of the gifts we received were hand-made, and (at least to me), it really seemed like they enjoyed making them (I'm projecting, I realize).

    Conor did love getting the gifts, but the majority of them have been abandoned since returning home. (He's still using his small clip-board with the post-it notes on it - weirdo.) We got a couple of picture frames that Conor liked, so they'll end up in his room. Some of the stuff I put aside for the trip home - small Cars colouring book with invisible ink, Jake stickers, etc., and they were useful there.

    To be honest, DH and I got very little that we will use again (more on that in a minute), even though much of it was very nice and a lot of thought went into them. We have too much stuff, we think, and we don't like collecting (usually we do 1 or 2 souvenirs, max, from any vacation, and one of them is usually edible). DH did keep his pirate beer cozy thingy though, much to everyone's amusement, and the dad crazy-glue gift was genius.

    There is a reasonable amount of work, though, as described somewhat frantically above. And, I didn't even make anything myself- I just bought stuff - and we don't have to worry too much about money, for which we are very, very grateful - 140 gifts add up if you're not making them yourself.

    So.... I think I recommend the FE thing if you're crafty or enjoy that type of thing, and maybe they're more the type of kids who could get more into creating the stuff vs. receiving. Without kids? Not in a million years, if you were me. This was all about Conor, who didn't get as much of my attention as I would have liked in the last year, due to work and my thesis. He did love it.

    Now... what did we do with the stuff we couldn't use? Note... luggage space was at a premium for us, and Conor was going to bring home most of his stuff, and we hate wasting stuff.

    Random acts of FE kindness

    This, I actually really enjoyed - I read about it somewhere on Disboards -can't remember if the person got flamed - hope not, because it's brilliant.

    Basically, as each batch of FE gifts came in, we sorted them (after Conor went to bed) into "Keep" and "Give away" piles. Most days, we would stick some of the give away stuff in our tote, and if we saw an FE out that seemed to fit the right age/gender/interests mix (surprisingly easy to tell - especially with all the door magnets), we'd add extra FE contributions.

    So, all the princess stuff I received (minus a few things that Conor's girl friends would like) went to little girl FEs. Sports-related stuff (mostly given to DH, who isn't too sure what a sport is most days) went to appropriate FEs. Boy stuff that Conor rejected - off to boys. Candy (we had too much and didn't need more), we left for our cabin attendant.

    If you were in my FE group, please know that we really appreciated what you gave us - we were blown away by the effort in many cases. We just couldn't pack it all to take home, and we were unlikely to use it, so we honestly tried to find people who would enjoy them!

    Yes, I know some people might just have turfed the stuff (or, for all I know they then made the rounds on the ship again) but it was the best I could come up with.

    We did have a small stash of things we thought Rosa (cabin attendant) might want for her girls - so we left them for her (2 brand-new boxes of crayons, for example - we have 200,000 at home for some reason).

    Final FE words

    So, long story short... would we do it again? Well, that would depend on whether we ever do another DCL cruise, wouldn't it? You'll just have to wait.:rolleyes1
  13. Conorama

    Conorama Mouseketeer

    Jul 18, 2012
    Well, you can see my good intentions failed miserably. :) I do have to do stuff this weekend though - my tax situation is complex, and I need to keep my accountant happy!

    Thx though - the FE post was in my head, so I thought I'd get it out while it was fresh, so to speak. :goodvibes
  14. GusGus77

    GusGus77 DIS Veteran

    Nov 10, 2012
    A little late signing on, but I am enjoying reading about your trip report! We did our first cruise last year with a 4 yr old!
  15. wdwpirates

    wdwpirates Don't lose ya soul cuz it's all ya got. - DH

    Feb 5, 2005
    Awesome trip report!!! Probably one of the best I have ever read...sneaky pee and all!! :rotfl2:
  16. Conorama

    Conorama Mouseketeer

    Jul 18, 2012
    Day 3 - Second day at sea

    For the chronologically concerned, I will review that we actually left off at bedtime on day 2, with Conor and I in bed, and DH out tasting whiskey.

    Another cautionary tale - this one about internet access

    Being a good little Disboards reader, I knew how much it cost for slow internet on-line. We had decided we would get the lowest package to the tune of $100 US, mostly to let us check email quickly at night (of the non-work variety for me- I have personal and work email separated like Church and State) to ensure that our various aging relatives were OK and that they knew we were OK.

    So, I got it working on Saturday night (day 1). All good. Showed DH (this is a rare event- me showing him!) how to set it up on his phone on Sunday (day 2) . Warned him that one had to log out, or the counter kept going, even if you turn off Wifi- got a withering "what do you think I am?" look in return.

    Fast forward to Monday night (day 2) - I dutifully check mail and Facebook, spend about 10 minutes deleting junk and replying to real humans, and I log out, and go to sleep.

    In the morning, while up before the men, I try to get on-line to check something, and it won't work. Well, this doesn't phase me much, since technology often hates me (we'll just ignore the fact that my first degree involved computers 100%), so I went back to my trusty Kobo.

    However, later that morning, DH, looking... why, is that SHEEPISH? Reports that he thought he had logged out the night before, but he had not, so our minutes all expired overnight. He had thus added the next package up ($150), and I, being a good wife (and needing to stock this up for the next time I screw up), was gracious about it. :goodvibes

    Fast forward to the morning of Day 4 ... when DH gets up, he confesses to me that, once again, he forgot to log out, so, we were out $150, and he had purchased another package. (This one, we managed to eek out until the night of Day 7). :mad:

    What, my friends, is the moral of this tale? Booze tastings and internet surfing do not mix. That, and be very careful on your phone - you need to type in "logout.com" in any browser, if you've lost the "logout" page.

    Back to my peaceful day

    I did my usual early morning wake-up - I was more organized, having put my stuff in one place the night before (novel concept), and headed up to Deck 11 at about 6:15. I had planned on using the hot-tub in the adults' section and was in my bathing suit for this, but it didn't seem to be a good idea since the wind was truly impressive. Kobo and I retreated to a comfy chair to await my friends at Cove Café. Robert was ready at 7:00, as were some really yummy mini-muffins with chocolate chips. This was good - helped me cope with the internet fiasco later when I heard about it!

    The rest of our day was a near-repeat to the day before.
    • Get the men up at 7:30 or so (later means Conor turns into a pumpkin)
    • Have U.N. level negotiations with Conor about peeing, getting dressed, etc.
    • Cabanas for breakfast.
    • Mystery #2
    • NO to characters (we stopped asking after this)
    • Kids club (see below)
    • Lunch at Royal Court
    • Rest/TV/chilling in room
    • Mystery #3 with Conor and me, while DH does another tasting (red wine this time)
    • Mickey pool (late afternoon - less crowded) and Mickey slide
    • Rest and clean up in room
    • Supper at Royal Court (more below on Roque's multitudes of talents)
    • Kids club
    • Bed .. .booze, and blowing through way too much internet!

    Once again - not what you would call over-scheduled!

    Pool boy here:


    Tips and Tricks for Mysteries

    So, we're at day 3, and we're on the 3rd mystery of the trip - just Conor and me. We did mystery #2 in the morning, so this means we've walked multiple laps on the ship.

    (Before you ask - did we go running or walking on deck 4? Nope - mostly we did mysteries - that is one LONG ship, let me tell you.)

    So, a few key points I figured out when it was just Conor and me.

    You can be (mostly) strategic about how you hit up the art (if you're tired, which I was). Start, as required on Deck 2 or 5. Go to the first art you're told to go to (but... I wasn't paying attention once, so we just went to any old art, and it still worked, so I don't actually think you need to go to Deck 8 or whatever the machine tells you). Once you've knocked off your first clue, head to Deck 10 - fore. Do that art - get that clue (there might even be 2 in that area). Then, just go down 2 flights to 8 - get art - 6 - get art -4 (doesn't work as well because there is a lot of art on deck 4 - but you can work it) - then 2.

    Now -head aft, and go to 9 - then go down to 7, 5, and, if needed, 3. Usually, we were mostly done at this point.

    When you get to the last 1 or 2 clues, you will have to go to specific art - but again, I don't think it's essential. We generally did, though.

    Don't get me wrong - if you're only doing 1 or 2 - do it however you like. However, when you're an hour short of sleep and on your 2nd mystery of the day and it's only 1:00 p.m., you need to be strategic!

    Final tips:
    As mentioned elsewhere, keep your badge, and you can do the mysteries over and over again and get different bad guys.
    If you need to save steps, take photos of Pepe's door and the Muppet notice board.

    The Club and the Sockie/Teddy issue

    Alert readers will recall that a CM assured Conor he could bring Sockie with him to the club if he was worried, and they would put a bracelet on him. After intense deliberation, he determined that Teddy, instead of Sockie, would like to come to the club.

    We also had this conversation the night before:

    Me: "So, buddy, tomorrow, Mommies and Daddies aren't allowed at the kid's club. If you want to go, you can go, though, because there are lots of teachers (what he calls all other caregiving adults) there."
    Conor: "I don't want to go with the teachers."
    Me: "Why not, bud?"
    Conor: "They're just going to make me DO things." (Ah, yes, the angst of life in JK ... and yes, apples don't fall far.)
    Me: "No, buddy - it's not like school - you don't have to do the activities if you don't want to."
    Conor: "AWESOME!!!!!"

    (He loves school - honest - just struggles with, as he puts it, "they're always the boss of me there")

    Upon arrival, we were told they would put a bracelet (more like a belt) on Teddy, but that he (Teddy, not Conor) had to sit in a basket at the front. I was worried this would cause an immediate retreat, but the clubs are designed so that kids can see in while they're checking in, and clearly Andy's room and the Monster's Inc. crowd were calling to Conor. He tossed Teddy in the basket, washed his hands (that system IS cool), and headed in without a backwards glance.

    (At this point, giddy parents retreat immediately to Cove Café. Iced lattés all around.)

    Fast forward to Roque's talents at supper

    Royal Court was on the agenda for supper on day 3. Table 29 was over by a window, in a corner again (one starts to wonder about this sort of thing after awhile). I had escargots, French onion soup, and wild mushroom pasta, all at Roque’s suggestion. DH had the iced seafood thingy and beef tenderloin. I think this was the night that Conor had the Mickey pasta for the first time.

    More importantly, we enhanced Conor's cultural culinary education - the boy had his first banana split:


    After the split was gone, Conor was colouring and his crayon strayed onto the tablecloth – he was just gearing up to be upset about it, and Roque, who was right there did this:


    Conor was speechless, except on the point that Roque had put that extra ‘n’ in his name (it’s the Irish way of spelling the name – we get grief regularly but, hey, it’s their name, so I wasn’t going to muck with it!) Conor also added the orange whiskers, because, well, he does that kind of thing.

    After a stop at the kid’s club to burn off a bit more energy, (and the parents did walk around Deck 4), we headed to our usual 8:30 p.m. bedtime. Cool FE gifts awaited us, which slowed down the whole bedtime thing a bit, as you might imagine.
  17. Conorama

    Conorama Mouseketeer

    Jul 18, 2012
    Thanks - I was almost going to take back what I said about enjoying 4 year olds ... the version yesterday was almost returned to the store, but we lost the receipt. Excessive whining ... hoping for a better day today.

    Thanks so much! I can put in more sneaky pee and other related discussions... I'm just afraid of getting in trouble - we had an entire discussion about boy/girl genitalia yesterday before 7:30 a.m. - I hadn't even had my coffee yet. Not fair!
  18. mjruane

    mjruane Earning My Ears

    Apr 6, 2009
    Wonderful trip report!!!

    Could you please explain what the Dad crazy-glue FE gift was? I'm very intrigued since you described it as "genius".

  19. Conorama

    Conorama Mouseketeer

    Jul 18, 2012

    It was a tiny tube of crazy glue- that's it! :) Perfect for us, anyway, in that one of DH's main roles is to fix stuff, it was totally packable and terribly useful. I thought it was great simply because usually when you need crazy glue, you don't have it on hand... so now we do, for when one of Conor's precious items breaks at an inconvenient time (which is anytime anything breaks, actually).
  20. Conorama

    Conorama Mouseketeer

    Jul 18, 2012
    Reflections on Day 3

    This was another good day for us in that it was also unscheduled, plus we had our breakthrough of being able to leave Conor at the kid's club. This wasn't just for parental sanity, but we know that he's a happier guy if some of his day, at least, is spent interacting with his peers. Being an only kid, he is very comfortable and (we think anyway) he enjoys spending time with us ancients, but there is nothing quite like having a buddy. Between the Mickey pool and the clubs, he chatted away at many boys and girls his age.

    However, by the end of the day, we were getting a bit antsy to get off the ship - the nature of this itinerary was front-end loaded with at sea/on ship days. We were also definitely starting to miss our usual beach-time ... (we are fans of the all-inclusive experience, I will admit).

    No one was grumpy, though, (even after the internet fiasco), and we certainly weren't bored.

    On to... Day 4- the half-way mark and ... Port Adventures!
  21. Conorama

    Conorama Mouseketeer

    Jul 18, 2012
    Day 4 - St. Thomas - part 1 - Getting off the ship

    This was our early excursion day - so I might have actually set an alarm (horror of horrors) in case I slept in, which I didn't. I made my usual trek to my buddy Robert (we discussed winters in Canada vs. Transylvania- very similar - the idea that bright and sunny days can mean horribly cold confused the poor woman from somewhere in the Southern half of the US who was also there).

    Since we had to meet at 8:15, we had put the insta-breakfast card out the night before for about 7:00 a.m. - Dude does NOT do well with rushing in the morning, so we get up early. Breakfast on the balcony was "AWESOME MOM!" since we were actively sailing into port. This, despite the fact he was frustrated because there is really no good seating arrangement out there for 4 year olds to eat their cereal - you either stand, or you bend over double to get your cereal ... it was a testament to the cool factor that he didn't meltdown over this.

    Anyhow - we were are dressed, showered, sunscreened, hatted, and victualed by 7:45 or so, so we meandered down to the D-Lounge on Deck 4 where we were to meet.

    Our first Port Adventure - Coral World and "Submarine-boat" - getting there

    Now, our friend who got us to book DCL did warn me about the whole excursion bit - the impossibly perky people at early hours of the morning might have put DH off the whole thing, so I ensured he was appropriately caffeinated.

    The D-lounge is obnoxious in its lighting style - I (seriously) almost got a headache just walking in. It's awful - sorry if you love the joint - I was appalled. I am prone to headaches - usually triggered by scents and bright lights, and this joint was full of them. Fortunately, I found a dark and unscented corner and was OK. I figured no one wanted me with headache induced nausea on the trip...

    We produced all relevant paperwork, and got our stickers with some Disney character we didn't know and I can't remember. Fortunately, although the CM in charge was way too high on the perky scale, the guy who carried the (are they serious?) "Paddle of Power" with said random Disney character seemed to be low caffeine, so DH was not overly bothered by the process of getting off the ship.

    We then had flashbacks to boarding - hello, sheep, baaaaa -- over here! We stood in line, got wrist-bands. Stood in line. Were allowed to walk over to the vans - yes, the usual vans you find in the Caribbean - always fun. I won't get into the carseat debate here, except to say we have our own each and everytime we travel. We had researched and this was a short trek, so we didn't bring anything. Conor is also not reliably over 40 lbs, so if we're talking carseat, we're talking full-blown 5-pt harness, which we use 99% of the time in our lives, minus the 1% "taking a taxi in Toronto when I'm there for a conference" and we use a booster seat. I did manage to get him in a seat that had a seat belt, which helped me feel better. If you wanted to use a carseat or booster, you could have easily enough.

    Coral World

    Our driver (George) was cautious, and we arrived at Coral World safe and sound. We were greeted by a lovely woman and her daughter -they divided the group into 2, and happily we ended up in the group that was starting on the submarine boat, which was what Conor wanted. After yet another "I don't need to pee! My p**** is EMPTY!" discussion, I got him to pee with me, based on the woman's description of a bucket as being the sum total of the "facilities" on the boat.

    We had been on one of these 1 year before, and Conor was keen - we were the first ones on. (If you've never done this - you sit in the hull of the ship, so you're underwater, and you can see cool stuff- kinda like snorkeling without getting wet.) These guys went one step further than last year's trip - they have a diver on board, who finds cool stuff to see, and then feeds the fish some healthy food, so you are guaranteed to see mucho cool stuff. Photos below... the lighting is funky since you're down in the water - Conor was amazed that my pink tank top was fully purple down there - he still talks about it!

    Cool diver guy with baby starfish


    Excited about cool diver guy


    Cool diver guy feeding the very odd-looking shark sucker fish (a.k.a. Remora, for Sherman's Lagoon fans)


    When we got off, they gave all the kids a pirate coin - Thrilling! We got off last (side effect of getting on first), and the diver chatted with us on the way back to Coral World - he was super-nice.

    Afterwards, you have the run of Coral World, which we enjoyed. We read on Disboards that it was key to read when the feeding sessions were scheduled, and we did to some extent, but being anti-schedule people, but we also enjoyed just wandering about. It's not a big place, but it was just about perfect for us- stuff that interested Conor, without being exhausting going everywhere. We saw some cool sting-rays, and we did catch the Sea Lion show (recommended by the diver after the boat ride) - Omar, the Sea Lion, is quite fun- and I was impressed that the employees (not sure of their title) were quite concerned for Omar's welfare - they asked people to leave if they were noisy as it would upset Omar, and this included crying kids. Otherwise, we saw a bunch of aquariums, Conor was Mr. Brave an touched a starfish in the hands-on tank, and we had a snack. Thrills abounded.

    We met this guy - not technically part of Coral World -he's a native.


    Overall, I'd recommend Coral World for kids under about 7 or 8. If you're looking for "WOW", you won't get it at Coral World. If you want a nice place to take little kids, it's perfect.

    The van ride home was complicated by our van-mates, who decided they wanted to be dropped off "downtown" so we had to move to another van to accommodate them. Otherwise, drop off was smooth, and we were back on the ship by about noon.

    Next up - St. Thomas, part two.

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