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

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    Day 4 - St. Thomas - part 2 - Getting back off the ship

    After a quick lunch at Cabanas, we headed back off the ship. DH had big plans to buy a new camera, but we didn't have any ambition to shop 'til we dropped. We had done the main shopping strip in St. Thomas 5 years before, and the idea of doing that with a 4.5 year old convinced us to suck up some higher prices and shop at port - still duty free, which was the main deal. I amused Conor at tacky souvenir stores (great for the 4.5 year old set), while DH found his camera, in the space of about 20 minutes.

    Here we have cool tourist boy - that is a real Tilley hat - a gift from my sister's in-laws - that thing rocks.

    [​IMG]

    Butterfly farm :hippie:

    Back in the P-K days (pre-kid) DH and I had been to a butterfly farm in St. Martin and so I paid attention when I saw the signs for one "5 minute walk" from port. It was a 5 minute walk for normal humans, but not for a 4.5 year old who has to explore everything, however, we were not on a schedule ( a theme?) so we just meandered.

    We arrived just as they were putting on a bird show just outside the shop- cool birds doing cool tricks - since one is supposed to pay to watch this extravaganza (included in the admission), we were good little tourists and went in to do so. I can't remember how much we paid, but it wasn't completely ridiculous - somewhere between $20 and $30 for the 3 of us? (Pales in comparison to the price of Port Adventures)

    The farm itself is much smaller than the one at St. Martin, but, again, not a problem for the JK set. There were enough butterflies to keep him interested, and because it was small, we were able to make a quick exit when he decided he'd had enough. We refrained from buying anything in the shop.

    My overall review? It's reasonably cheap, and the bird show was cool (birds walking on tight-ropes, etc.) and close to the ship - perfect for killing an hour with little kids - probably would bore older kids to tears, though.

    And.... the Aquaduck!

    Somewhat to our surprise, Mr. "I go down the Mickey slide slower than anyone else" really wanted to go on the Aquaduck. There was no way we were going to attempt the 20-30 minute line-ups on at-sea days, but a slightly rainy, definitely overcast at-port day was perfect.

    Conor is 42 inches tall ... exactly - we know this since they had him take off his swim shoes and his swim hat to measure him - he just made it. I stayed on dry(ish) land to take photos. It was only about 10 minutes when I saw them come out the one side, so I was ready to capture this:

    [​IMG]

    Yes, that is a photo of a boy holding on for dear life, while DH waved happily behind. Conor's declaration after getting off... "I do NOT want to do that again!!!" Too much speed, too many dips. Nope - roller coasters are not in our immediate future. Love my adventurous boy. :love:

    We dried the poor bedraggled soul off, got him changed, cuddled him, fed him ice cream, and by then, in typical resilient kid fashion, he was ready for a couple of hours at the club.

    I believe DH and I headed to deck 4 to lounge in anticipation of ... PIRATE NIGHT - a HUGE night for us. You can keep your princess extravaganzas and character bonanzas.... we will take pirate night 1,000 times over... coming up next.
     
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  3. Conorama

    Conorama Mouseketeer

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    Pirate Night - or Pirate Evening, to be more precise

    Pirate are a big part of our lives, and have been since Conor was under 2. I blame the Backyardigans, but I think it was more than that. Suffice it to say, this was not a passing fad, and it was a big part of what convinced us to try DCL.

    Now, this is not to say we wanted anything to do with the Boutique - my boy wouldn't even let me put make-up on his for Halloween, and we barely get through haircuts. Plus, I'll be honest, that place represents much of what we really don't like/understand about Disney. If you like it, then grand, but fear not, you don't need to compete with us to get an appointment.


    Pirate Grub


    As noted previously, we decided to go all out for pirate night (or at least, as all out as we consider reasonable!) so DH and I had ordered pirate shirts. They must be seen to be believed, and the photos are coming. Suffice it to say that when I posted the photo of DH and Conor on Facebook, we apparently caused many of our friends to spit their drinks on their screens...

    Anyhow - we spent way more time getting ready for pirate night than we did for formal night - not sure what that says about us... I actually ended up bailing on a few planned items - bandanas and crazy curly hair are just not friends. Plus, I was the one who had to wear the bright purple shirt, so that seemed to be just plenty, thanks.

    So, here we have Conor - minus his hat, as he knows he needs to take hats off in restaurants. :)

    [​IMG]

    (The rest of his outfit will show up later.)

    Here we have my very brave husband, in full pirate regalia. Keep in mind he's 6'6'' - so this is an impressive look. (It's not a great photo - well, none of mine are great - but it captures the essence.)

    [​IMG]

    My photo will show up shortly.

    Supper was, if you can't tell, at Animator's Palate. Oriel brought Conor the light-up pirate glass, which was a huge hit. (I believe we had to pay for it.) Of note, we forgot it at the table, and Oriel made sure we got it back the next night.

    DH and I both had crab cakes; I had shrimp and scallops on pasta; DH had Mahi Mahi. (He's from Newfoundland, and swears that there is no good seafood in Ontario, anywhere, so when we go on vacation, he becomes a piscatarian almost.) It was all quite good.

    Pirate evening for kids

    I gather they didn't used to have this kid-friendly event, and boy am I glad they introduced it. Conor was 100% into it, so long as his actual noise earmuffs were firmly in place - don't all pirates wear them? It did mean he couldn't wear his hat. The first part of the party is pirate games, and he jumped right in to the fishing one:

    [​IMG]

    And here - success! And, a view of my purple shirt.
    [​IMG]

    Mostly, then, he just liked running around, so we let him. We found a decent half-way back place to sit for the show. I'm quite sure we weren't told not to take photos for this show - sorry if we missed it. Anyhow- here is Conor, fully engaged in Yo Ho Ho-ing:

    [​IMG]

    He was a bit scared when Captain Hook and the bad pirates arrived, but he was impressed at the pirate who rappelled down the stack. So long as he sat on my lap, he was OK. Plus, in case you were worried, Captain Mickey wins the Captain's challenge (sorry- spoiler, I suppose ... NOT).

    Here are the 2 Captains:

    [​IMG]

    After the very exciting show (it was nice and short - maybe 20 minutes?) Conor was feeling the moment, so here he is busting a pirate move:

    [​IMG]

    We finally extricated him from the festivities, and went back to our room for the usual bathroom/bath/books/bed. He was 100% thrilled at the whole night - so much, that the FE gifts of the day paled in comparison - although they were all very piratey. (Why does spell-check keep objecting to that word?)

    Next up: Reflections on Day 4.
     
  4. Conorama

    Conorama Mouseketeer

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    Reflections on Day 4

    This was a good day for us- we got off the ship (which we enjoyed - we're never going to be the "stay on the ship in port" people), for an age-appropriate, not too long, not too scheduled, excursion.

    The rest of the day was unscheduled, and the port shops where we were at St. Thomas was super-accessible, which was nice. I was really surprised at the fact we were completely unaware of the 20,000 + tourists in town - perhaps because we took the early excursion.

    We had no regrets at the fact we booked through DCL, even though it probably could have been done on our own easily enough in the end - the 6 ships in port was not something we wanted to mess about with ... we could see ourselves sitting around trying to find transportation and getting more and more stressed, which we do not need on vacation. Wimps? Yep, that's us - we pay for comfort and convenience on vacation, and have no qualms doing it, especially with a 4.5 year old.

    It was nice spending some time on the ship when it wasn't as crowded, but honestly, we didn't notice a huge difference in most areas, except, of course, the Aquaduck.

    Pirate night (kidlet version), though, was truly awesome for us. Disney got that one right, from our perspective. You'll note we didn't even try to stay up for the fireworks - not surprisingly, our noise-averse kid hates them, and even if he liked them, they're at 10:30 at night... he's not been awake past 9:30 p.m. more than a dozen times since he dropped his 11:00 p.m. feed at the age of 4 months. We feel no need to experiment with this on vacation - that's just crazy-making talk.

    However, we were still missing our beach. We could have done a beach trip on St. Thomas, or we could have hopped over to the beach near Coral World, but again, the hordes of tourists had us spooked. Happily, a beach with our name on it was waiting in San Juan... more on that soon!

    Good-night, St. Thomas:

    [​IMG]
     
  5. Conorama

    Conorama Mouseketeer

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    Day 5 - San Juan - Isla Verde Beach Escape

    We were really looking forward to San Juan day - in part due to what we'd read about the place, but mostly, I will admit, due to our longing for a beach.

    The main excitement in my morning routine was when I brought back 2 lattés - mine was iced - and my husband greeted me at the door - nice, right? WRONG. I gave him the plate of pastries and my iced latté, while I reached down to get his latté that I had carefully placed on the floor (I was now a master at this juggling act), and HE DROPPED MY LATTÉ.

    Seriously - I contemplated divorce.

    Fortunately for the sake of our marriage, he right away offered to go and get me another (you bet your you-know-what you're getting me another one), and the carpets in the rooms are designed to conceal spills, I think. We plunked a bunch of towels down to mop up the worst of the spill - (Conor amused himself by jumping on them repeatedly to "help" - he was most intrigued) and we left a note for Rosa, apologizing.

    In other news

    Out on the balcony, we saw this - AMAZING! (I didn't shrink the photo so it can be truly admired.)

    [​IMG]


    Isla Verde Beach Escape

    We now felt expert at the whole port adventures thing. Fortunately, our next meeting place was not at the D-lounge so I didn't need to hide in a corner. It was in a bar somewhere. Anyhow, we grabbed our towels (way more than you think we'd need) and waited to be led off by the fabled Paddle of Whatever - again, a distinct lack of perkiness was present (and this absence was appreciated).

    Baa-ing, we did our sheep thing, eventually ending up in line outside of the ship. A nice lady gave us all bracelets to complement our sticker of another character we didn't know (though we did know it was from the Lion King). We marched along to a fancy bus - a big step up from the vans of the day before.

    (Note - this excursion was ridiculous in price, but we decided to, ahem, absorb the cost, because it was the only thing that met our needs, and, well, we're wimps. $109 for adults; $75 for the 3 to 9 crowd. So, we were quite relieved that at least we got a nice bus.)

    The nice lady on the bus made sure that each kid knew that if they got lost, they could just point to the phone number on the bracelet, and that would reach her. I wasn't looking to misplace my kid, but it was good to know!

    After the advertized 20 minute bus ride, we arrived at the Courtyard Marriott - a keen-o Disboarder had figured that out, so we knew in advance. Thanks cblack!

    We hit the beach, to find a nice array of beach chairs and umbrellas set up for our group. Awesome. I plunked myself down, and looked down to see this:

    [​IMG]

    Fish do not like water as much as Conor loves sand.

    We got him changed into his industrial-strength swimsuit, hoping to keep the sand at bay. I nabbed 3 of the free fruit punch cups. He headed out to sea:

    [​IMG]

    Then, my husband started training for the "throw your kid in the ocean" Olympic event:

    [​IMG]

    At this point, I was engaging in watching another spectacle - umbrellas blowing away. Yes, it was very, very windy - despite this proclamation on the DCL website: "Isla Verde beach has tranquil water and small waves, making this an ideal place to learn a variety of water sports."

    It really was super-windy. I don't hold DCL responsible, of course, but there was really no way to continue on the beach. The beach was, as well, on the coarse side, which amused Conor to no end, as he kept digging up small pebbles and shells.

    After about 20 minutes of blowing in the wind, we decided to join the very sensible cblack over to the pool area, which was sheltered.

    Why you shouldn't have kids if you can't handle embarrassing conversations

    By now, you've figured out that Conor is a) comfortable talking about his boy bits, b) obsessed with sand. Yes, these 2 things are related.

    I looked up, just as we were getting ready to leave the beach, to see my lovely, bright, engaging kid literally wallowing in the sand like a pig in sh**. At this point, cblack came by, and she agreed with me that all previous suggestions about baby powder and the like to help get sand off a child were simply laughable when confronted by sand-boy. It would be like spitting in the ocean, so to speak.

    I brought him over to the outdoor shower and got most of the outside sand off. Not being new at this mom-business, I did not trust this process alone, so I took my boy off to a quiet private corner to change him into swimsuit #2. At this point, he is totally wired and giggly. The only downside to the one-piece swimsuit is that it's almost impossible to change him discretely - the whole thing needs to come off.

    So... he looks down at himself, and proclaims loudly:

    "Hey - MOM! Look! I've got sand on my p****!!! That's SO FUNNY!"

    Yeah, bud, it's hilarious- now SHUT UP! :clown:

    Anyhow- I got most of it off (with lots of giggles) and got him into swimsuit #2 - like I said, I'm super-mom when it comes to beaches - always prepared.

    The Pool

    Well, we had signed up for beach and pool, but we were mostly getting pool. Being from Canada, we know better than to blame anyone for the weather, so we just enjoyed.

    DH reports the pool was great - warm, kid-friendly, and fun. (I didn't go in.)

    This is what Conor thought:

    [​IMG]

    This is the big problem with the Fantasy pools - you just can do this most of the time.

    We were told to show up for lunch (just around the corner) for 12-ish, so we extricated our fish offspring, dried him off as best we could, and hit the feedbag. It was a reasonable spread- not DCL quality, but we didn't expect it - salads, some hot dishes (can't remember what right now), rice, veggies, chicken fingers and fries for kids, lots of drinks, and desserts.

    We ate with cblack and the most awesome Jayden (and Jayden's dad), and that was definitely fun. We are reasonably anti-social on trips, but we can interact, and even enjoy it on occasion!

    There was more pool time after that (about 1 hour) then we headed back (baaaaa) to the bus, and back to the ship for about 2:00 p.m.

    I had spotted a Starbucks (yes, I am that pathetic) on the ride back, so in part inspired by this, and in part inspired by wanting to actually see a bit of San Juan, we decided to have DH, a.k.a. "The Sherpa" bring our crap back to the ship, while Conor and I watched the street vendors, while he ate a snack or 5. (Swimming builds up an appetite.) Thus passed 20 pleasant minutes of people watching.

    And, over and out for tonight, folks. Paperwork awaits!
     
  6. Ensusieasm

    Ensusieasm Mouseketeer

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    :beach: I loved hearing about your Beach Excursion. My friend and I are cruising on the Fantasy in just 20 days, minus our sea sickness prone husbands. I think we are just going to get a taxi to Isla Verde and go to the beach and just walk or rent a chair from a vendor. Our plan is to go early, spend two hours at the most, and go back to the ship for lunch. I love big waves and windy beach walks, so it sounds like it might be just the place for us to go. Do you think this would be a feasible plan for two women? Does it look safe? How long was your bus ride?
    Sorry for so many questions. I have been reading every word of your report and you are doing a fantastic job! Coner (with one n) is a wonderful boy. You are so lucky!
    Thanks:)
     
  7. Conorama

    Conorama Mouseketeer

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    Thanks! No worries - happy to answer questions. 20 days will go by very quickly. :)

    First - absolutely best to leave the sea-sick prone husbands. They can't be Sherpas if they're seasick, and they might be even more prone to dropping important drinks - can't have that!

    Second...
    It was just about exactly 20 minutes, and both the roads and the beach seemed very safe. (Well, the downtown roads were tiny and windy, so a bit interesting on a huge bus, but I wasn't worried ... much easier in a taxi.) There are a whole bunch of hotels, but it's a public beach - so as long as you settled in near a hotel, you'd be grand. The Courtyard Marriott even had an espresso bar in the lobby, so I'm sure you could just pop in to get a drink if you wanted. (Heck - they probably had other drinks, but that's the place I noticed, though I showed restraint and didn't buy anything.)

    To be honest, that might be the easiest thing for you- just ask the taxi to take you to the Courtyard Marriott out there -then you can walk around from there, and have a place for the taxi to come back and get you. I wasn't paying attention to the other hotels to see what they were, unfortunately.

    We've actually talked about going back to San Juan sometime - we loved it. Despite the wind that day, it was completely lovely.

    Enjoy, and thanks again for reading!

    ETA - Yep, we're pretty happy with Conor - and we try to remember that on the days he turns into a monster, like yesterday. There is a reason why I got so much reporting done- mucho time in the time-out zone was required on his end! However, it's all worth it in the end. :)
     
  8. Conorama

    Conorama Mouseketeer

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    (Yeah, yeah, yeah - I got my papers organized and went through a bunch of stuff... now, I'm giving up and going back to this.)

    Day 5 - San Juan - just 'splorin, as Conor calls it

    I forgot to mention a key event at the Courtyard Marriott. Just as we were packing up and getting anxious about missing the bus (unreasonably, but one cannot control one's anxieties), we hear:

    "MOM! I REALLY need to PEE!"

    Good grief - how could we have forgotten to nag him about peeing? He always drinks half the pool when he swims. Madly, we dash to the washroom, hoping there is an open stall, and, oh happy day, there is. Victory! We have narrowly escaped a horrifying experience... using the facilities on a bus with a scent-sensitive child. PHEW.


    Back to our regularly scheduled San Juan meander, and an aside about packing life jackets for kids

    When last typing, I mentioned we sent DH back to the ship to drop off all our beach crap. This included Conor's life jacket. Those with small kids and anxious tendencies might be wondering whether it's worth it to pack one. Last year, we packed his Puddle Jumper, but DH pointed out, correctly (annoying when he's right) that the life jacket didn't actually take more space, really, and it's probably safer. We were thinking he would be swimming in the ocean more than he did, and we didn't want to chance life jackets that we didn't know. So, we packed it, and we got a lot of use out of it at the pool at the Marriott... but it wasn't essential.

    How's that for a non-answer? ;) I guess I'm saying if you'd feel better packing it, then go ahead. You can always use it - you just might not decide to.

    So, DH reappeared, much lighter, and when we convinced Conor that exploring San Juan was at least as exciting as doing a mystery, he came along. We had no real route in mind- we just wandered about. It's really lovely. We spent about 1 hour checking things out, and we were back at the ship in plenty of time to board ... and, of course, do another mystery. (We missed doing one the day before, and someone was keeping track of these things...)

    Oh, and lest I lose my passport again - let me report that at this point, it was HOT. Yes, probably approaching 27 C or above. It wasn't humid, but it was causing Conor to wilt (we live through this in Ontario too - he doesn't do well over about 25), which was part of why we were keeping our walkabout short. There was very little breeze in Old San Juan, vs. the gales of wind out at Isla Verde, which made a big difference.

    OK Disney keeners - you can tell me who the character is on Conor's shirt below - I see now that I got my stickers mixed up - Lion King must have been the day before... this looks very "under the sea" like. (I mean it when I say we failed the Disney trivia game badly...) (BTW - he did this to his hat himself - he's a stylin' Dude.)

    [​IMG]

    Boy in front of fort

    [​IMG]

    Pontificating about something or other in front of the ship. He very rarely stops talking, unless he's eating or sleeping.

    [​IMG]

    And now, I need to head to bed, or my husband will go first, and then I'll never sleep. I'll type at you tomorrow! :thumbsup2
     
  9. Karen87

    Karen87 Earning My Ears

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    The sticker on Conor's shirt is Sebastian from "The Little Mermaid." He's a crab.

    Thank you for the trip report. I'm really enjoying it!
     
  10. Conorama

    Conorama Mouseketeer

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    Brilliant - thanks for the info and for reading my report!
     
  11. Conorama

    Conorama Mouseketeer

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    Day 5 - San Juan wrap-up

    After reaching the ship, we cooled off in our room for a bit, and ... you guessed it, we did another mystery, planned so that we ended up at supper at Enchanted Gardens. (Caesar salad, triangoli, soufflé for me; polenta/blue cheese thing, Caesar, steak, lemon cheesecake for DH.)

    Roque, again, was stellar. First, we watched him do his Baby Whisperer act with a little 6 month old one table over who was definitely not enjoying supper. Having had a 6 month old once, we did not mind the fussing baby (or at least, we know better than to say anything!), but it was amazing to watch Roque in action.

    Then, he did this (sorry for photo quality again):

    [​IMG]

    Yep - those forks are balancing on a toothpick. It took him about 60 seconds to do this - amazing.

    I haven't been reading the boards lately, but I did for some reason last night (it's called PROCRASTINATION) and I read a poll from someone who was on our cruise asking if their assistant servers worked harder than their main servers - most said, yes, but you'd get a resounding 'no' from us. Oriel was fine, and seemed to be working hard, but all he ever did is make ketchup Mickeys for Conor. Roque was far more involved and personable.

    Of course, monkey see, monkey do:

    [​IMG]

    We had reservations at Palo the next night, so we did the courteous thing and let our servers know - they tried to figure out if we could still bring Conor (nope - reservation was at 6:00, as that was the earliest one), and then they were very gracious about it. They told us what to expect on the last night, too, and made sure we knew we were in Animator's Palate then.

    Briefly boozing

    We dropped Conor at the kid's club, and I decided I might as well see at least one bar at night (big drinker am I). I don't count the weird maze where you have to walk through that one place that seems to be in a hallway, past the super-fancy bathrooms with the rounded doors, which were favourites of Conor- they even come back in this story on the last night. :) For the non-Disney-ites out there - this part of the ship is a bit weird, at least in my opinion.

    Anyhow - DH knew the bars from his tastings, so we went to Skyline. I tried the Ooh La La, based on Disboards recommendations and how it was described, and it was yummy. I am sure, though, that the Ooh La La had something to do with the FE delivery fiasco the next morning - I have the tolerance of your average gnat.

    Skyline was pleasant enough - but I'm really the wrong person to ask - I am just not into bars - funnily enough as a virtual non-drinker!

    Bed

    Then, back to the room for bathroom/bath/books/bed. Within about 5 minutes (no exaggeration), we had this:

    [​IMG]


    In my case, I started the FE frenzy as we were due to deliver our booty the next day, and I wanted it done in the morning so that I didn't have to schedule it in later in the day (and so that I wouldn't be caught delivering our meager offerings!) - here's the link if you missed it before.

    To FE or not to FE

    Laundry adventures

    Now, I travel with sand-boy, so we had to choose between packing enough for 2 weeks for him, or to plan to do laundry.

    Unfortunately - we made a tactical error - on Tuesday night, I noticed that the laundry wasn't busy, but I was probably too piratey to figure out that I should seize this opportunity. I vaguely thought "oh, I can do it tomorrow morning", but then I also didn't get things organized (we need to use our own detergent due to skin issues) so that fell through. Wednesday afternoon and night - people were lined up to do laundry- no thanks!

    By Wednesday night, we were really cutting it close as to whether we would have enough clean clothes for Conor to get home. We could have done some handwash in the room, but, again, his stuff is not "gently soiled" usually - it's filthy.

    Thus, my advice to you is to do laundry earlier in the trip - really- Tuesday was the half-way point for us, and it would have been fine. We had just packed about 2 loads' worth of powdered detergent in a baggie (not one I re-used for FEs!) which took up no room in our luggage, and we had our unscented fabric softener sheets (2) in another baggie - really- what's the big deal? Also, of course, you should make sure you have a KTTW that is set up for charging when you get to the laundry room ... just a hint.

    (And, before you ask - no, we didn't really consider sending laundry out - we have done so on previous cruises, but Conor's skin was a mess just before this trip, so we didn't want to risk new detergents. However, it was the next step if we got desperate -hand wash of underwear - ah, the glamour, and send a few key items out for washing.)


    And, with that incredibly exciting advice, I shall bring day 5 to an end.
     
  12. Conorama

    Conorama Mouseketeer

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    Day 6 - At Sea

    Well, you know the completely un-stellar way this day started the the whole laundry/FE delivery stress. Fortunately, it improved dramatically from there.

    We had not yet tried a sit-down breakfast, so we elected to try Enchanted Garden, which was not a roaring success, largely due to a not-listening 4.5 year old (understandable, but not pleasant), and the fact it was basically just a buffet- I gather we might have had menu options at Royal Court? I was too tired to care, though, so I just ate, and made a bee-line for the rainforest room.

    Rainforest room

    I had my pass, and I had thought about using it earlier in the week, but I always ended up doing mysteries or something. ;) At this point, I thought I deserved it after running all around the ship all morning, so today was the day. I was worried the place would be crowded on the last at-sea day, but nope!

    Basically, you check in -you trade your KTTW for a fancy-dancy bracelet. There is a very nice change room with key-pad lockers (well - they're kind of too fancy to call lockers, but I don't know what else to call them), so you can lock up your stuff. You wrap yourself in a nice robe, grab a nice towel, (and in my case, my Kobo) and hop across the hall to the Rainforest room.

    I didn't get any explanation, but I didn't really feel it was needed ... I could see the heated loungers, and I made a beeline there. I nabbed an end lounger and .... LOUNGED. (Well, I read my book, and snoozed, and it was good.) I did this for over an hour, which is an eternity back in my usual work-world.

    Fear not! I was not a recliner hog - there were always 2 or 3 loungers free - in fact, by the end of my hour and a bit - I was the only one there. (Except for when I fell asleep, I paid attention, actually.)

    At this point, I figured I was due for a change in scene - so I headed to the hot-tubs, also free. These tubs look out over the ocean, so it was amazing. I, well, lounged, for (ahem) more than the recommended time you're supposed to stay in there, but I felt grand.

    After all that exertion, I needed to lounge on the loungers again, so I did.

    Finally, at the 2.5 hour mark, I felt I was well and truly cooked. All FE silliness was but a distant memory. I floated off my recliner, and examined the showers.

    So - I don't really get these - first, because I HATE cold showers with a passion - in fact, I hate everything except for verging on too hot showers. Fortunately, one of these fit the bill. I'm also mildly scent-sensitive, so the scents wafting about, while mild, didn't do anything for me. I abandoned shower (not ship), and headed to the sauna for my final baking.

    I headed back to the change room for a lovely (hot) shower in a BIG SHOWER (yes, this was exciting), before getting myself geared up to head back into the real world.

    They remind you that you can go back, but I felt I got my money's worth that morning - after 5 days of a whole lot of people, this introvert found this break with hardly anyone around totally amazing. There was also ... NO SCHEDULE.


    The rest of the at-sea day until Palo


    Meanwhile, back in man-land, they finished up breakfast and ... can you guess ... did another mystery. At this point, Dude knows most of the clues and keeps proving helpful (annoying?) tips to people who are only on their 2nd or 3rd caper.

    I caught up with DH, who was lounging (good choice) on Deck 4, having engineered the mystery to end near the kid's club (no flies on DH most of the time). I joined DH in a lounger and we lattéd up - a necessary step for me, or I would have fallen back asleep again.

    Eventually, we decided to lunch at Cabanas, so we extricated the boy and fed him. After lunch, DH needed a nap (his morning was far more strenuous than mine), so Conor and I ... DID ANOTHER MYSTERY. I set a personal goal to see how quickly we could do this one (heck, we were experts at this point) - I think it was less than 1 hour beginning to end - motivated in no small part on Conor's side by the promise of ice cream. (Please send the parent of the year awards to my home address...)

    We woke up DH, and headed to Deck 11 for some swim time. I found I was (amazingly) lounged out, so I decided to head back to the room to pre-pack. I had a productive 90 minutes or so (well, OK, I had a productive 30 minutes, and then it seemed my Kobo needed to be read on the balcony for an hour).

    Turns out, Conor was in the Mickey pool the whole time - playing with other kids, and watching the parts of the movies he could stand on the big screen. (This amounted to about 50% of any given Disney movie.)

    Here he is, very carefully jumping in the pool - it was kid-soup, but not, as DH said, the kid-soup chowder .. more like kid-soup broth-based soup - less thick.

    [​IMG]

    We reeled the fish in, and got him dried off and warmed up with the usual cuddles - best part of vacation. :love:

    He was also very excited to be getting room service for supper that night, in anticipation of his parents abandoning him to hit up Palo. Hey - whatever makes you happy, bud!

    So, yes, next up - Palo.
     
  13. Conorama

    Conorama Mouseketeer

    Joined:
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    Messages:
    248
    Day 6 - Palo

    Attentive readers will recall we had 2 bookings for adult dining- Palo on Thursday, Remy on Friday. In the end, we decided to cancel Remy since we didn't want Conor at the kids club too late on our last night, given that we would have an early start to a long day of traveling the next day.

    So, this was our big night.

    Conor enjoyed his personal dining experience in his stateroom, before heading to the club. We still weren't sure he would make it through the whole time, given that at 8:00 p.m. he tends to turn into an angry pumpkin, but we were hoping that he would be having enough fun that he would forget to transform.

    (To be on the safe side, we told the CM who was checking him in that we were heading to Palo, and she said they would try not to call us. :) )

    We had the unfashionably early reservation time of 6:00 p.m., and we arrived before 6:00 p.m. - yep, we're that cool. Milos was our waiter and he was fantastic.

    ***Warning - we have no food photos - we purposefully decided to just sit and enjoy the food, and that's what we did. We're old-school that way!***

    Long story short, we had an AMAZING meal. Basically, I just ordered what Milos recommended, and this worked out really, really well.

    After the stupendously yummy antipasto selection (I could marry the prosciutto, I think), we got down to the real eating...

    I had:
    • Pesto marinated shrimp - awesome
    • Lobster ravioli (shared with DH - just to taste - HEAVEN on a plate)
    • Ahi Tuna with Black Truffle potato and artichoke - WOW. I was in love with the potatoes - ready to leave the prosciutto for spuds - who knew?

    DH had:
    • The portobello mushroom appetizer - that was one happy mushroom
    • Shared Lobster ravioli with me
    • And, and humungous portion of osso bucco (the size of which they warned him about) - and he was a happy, happy man.

    Somewhere around the Lobster ravioli part of things, Milos checked to see if we wanted the chocolate soufflé - and not being silly, we said yes. He also told us we needed another dessert - (chocolate something) to go with our incredible wine.

    The wine ... was unbelievably good. It was $80 (we had decided to splurge due to cancelling Remy) - an amarone valpolicella, as recommended by Milos. WOW. I'm not good at explaining wine at all, except to say this just got better as we drank it (and not because of my infamous low tolerance) - I couldn't handle any of the chocolate dessert (too preoccupied with my soufflé, to be honest - and trying not to drool), but DH manned up and agreed that the combo of the two was an incredible experience.

    Milos asked if they could try the new label removing process they had just heard about on our bottle - with fair warning that it might not work. Being nearly comatose with happiness, we agreed, and, happily, it worked - so we have a nice laminated label to remember Palo by. I'm not big on souvenirs, but this was perfect (and easy to pack).

    We had been warned that it could take a very long time at Palo, but it didn't - maybe because we were the dorks who showed up at 5:50? :)

    Anyhow - we were able to round up Conor at 8:30, so not too far into the transformation zone, and we got him back to our room, for the now familiar - bathroom, bath, books, bed - we are nothing if not stuck with our routine! This evening's variation was interrupted by an entirely predictable meltdown - probably over which PJs he was to wear, or the alignment of the planets, or the pattern on the carpet - really, at that point, it could take a speck of dust to set him off... which is why we don't have him stay up late very often at all!

    DH and I collapsed shortly after that - vowing to not eat (much) the next day.

    Next: Day 7 and Castaway Cay ... which means ... beach! :beach:
     
  14. Conorama

    Conorama Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2012
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    Reflections on Day 5 (forgot!) and Day 6

    Day 5 - San Juan Day

    Overall, a very good day - the port adventure was good, but I would have preferred to hit the beach much earlier, and it was a bit disappointing that we only got a little bit of time on the beach, but fortunately, the pool-time helped a lot. We did get back in time for a mini-tour of San Juan, but we would have liked more.

    Day 6 - At Sea Day

    Although I would have preferred a much better start to this one, it was mostly self-inflicted, so I can only blame myself - no one forced me to FE! :)

    We enjoyed the lack of schedule again, but we were definitely getting more sensitive to the constant crowds on at sea days.

    Palo was truly amazing - we decided that since we had to give up one reservation, and we'd never been to either, there was no need to jump right up to Remy. As I said, it allowed us to really enjoy a great bottle of wine, and, heck, to recoup some of the wretched internet costs... Happily, Conor was happy at the club, so we could go - which we actually weren't counting on at all, which is why we booked so late in the week. We really take these vacations to spend time with him, so we weren't going to make him miserable so we could go out for supper once.

    Which leads me to a Disney point - although we knew in advance, we were a bit disappointed at lack of in-room babysitting. We have done this a few times now on vacation - always near the end of the trip, and it works much better for us - Conor won't get over-tired as he can fall asleep even with the light on. Before anyone comments, note that we don't have family who can help with Conor, so we just plain have to pay for babysitting in general. And, we are actually willing to pay quite a bit for it. If we don't feel comfortable with the people who do it, we don't pay for it. Just a random thought.

    Pillow Case

    However, I'll end this on a happy Disney note - the pillow case came back a day early, and Conor was over-the-moon excited. Here it is, in all its glory.

    [​IMG]

    Note- not a princess in sight. Just the classics, plus Jake. Conor's only objection is that Donald Duck wrote that he was #1, and Conor feels very strongly that Mickey is #1. We have convinced him (I hope) that Donald was just being silly... :)

    If you're interested, I did benefit from Disboard wisdom here. A) Buy fabric markers, not Sharpies (unless there are fabric sharpies? We don't have them here in small town Ontario). What you see is a fully washed pillow case (granted, only 2 weeks old) B) Take out the yellow one, or any that have too light a colour.

    DH just told them to avoid princesses, keep to the classics, but add Jake.

    He sleeps on it every night (despite him telling us most nights about how Donald shouldn't have put #1...) , AND, it has achieved the impossible - convinced him to actually keep the pillow case on the pillow - a constant struggle around here.

    And, with that ... good night!
     
  15. PATTERSON PARTY OF 3

    PATTERSON PARTY OF 3 Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2013
    Messages:
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    Loving this report.. Excited to hear about CC! Lol... I am following cblack's report also. I also followed her PTR. Too funny. I also love the picture of Conor in the pool with his blue hoodie! That kid is seriously adorable!
     
  16. Ensusieasm

    Ensusieasm Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2013
    Messages:
    77
    :cheer2: Thank You so much for your response to all my questions about Isla Verde. It will help with our planning so much! Just 18 days till we fly to Orlando. We are staying at the Hyatt inside the airport and taking the Disney bus just like you did! Thanks for today's report... Cold showers sound really really bad....think I will avoid them! Can't wait for your next installment.... because we have two reservations for Palo...brunch and dinner.
    Thanks again! :banana:
     
  17. Conorama

    Conorama Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2012
    Messages:
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    Thanks! Yep - I learned a lot from cblack - and wise woman that she was, she didn't FE on this cruise having done it on her first ... I should have paid attention! Jayden is as spunky as she is cute. In fact, she was the recipient of many of my princess FE gifts, plus some we had brought for her, knowing they weren't doing the FE thing. (Cassie organized the FB group - it was my way of paying things forward!)

    I love that photo too - it's so hard to get him not moving/not talking/not making a goofy smile anymore, so I really enjoy the ones we get. He is always happy in a pool, though!

    You're welcome. The convenience of the Hyatt/Mickey bus combo is hard to beat. I should probably clarify that some of the showers were hot in the Rainforest room (might be unclear in my report) ... but it's more that I just don't get the cold/hot/cold thing.. just hot, hot, hot for me, in case that wasn't clear from my heated lounger obsession. :)
     
  18. Conorama

    Conorama Mouseketeer

    Joined:
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    Day 7 - Castaway Cay Day - but not Castaway Cay yet

    I kept my usual morning tryst with Robert from Transylvania. At some point in the week, he mentioned that it was unusual for a wife to come and get coffee for her husband - it was usually the other way around.

    I immediately reported this to DH, who appeared to fail to appreciate how wonderful I was, pointing out that a) I get up early anyway, and b) it's not like I make a special trip for him...

    Hmph. I like Robert better.

    An homage to my Kobo e-reader

    May I briefly segue into a rave about my Kobo? Best technology ever for vacation, in my mind. Every year, about a month before vacation, I ask my FB friends/family (and I'm overwhelmed with friends and relatives with English and other language degrees and other friends who are just passionate about books) for reading recommendations. My requirements are simple:

    • Must have a reasonably happy ending (hey- I'm on vacation -who wants to be depressed)?
    • Must have a plot of reasonable quality (I may be on vacation, but there is no need to park my brain)
    • Must not be historic in nature unless it's REALLY good (again - my brain does not want to work too hard, and I find historic novels make me think too much on vacation)

    Mysteries are good, usually. Canadian authors are preferred, but not essential (go Canada!) and funny is a huge bonus.

    So far, my FB friends have not disappointed - I reciprocate by telling them what I've read in the last year in my vacation genre. Now that I am Kobo-ed up, it's even better - I can cram a whack of books on there, and it takes virtually no luggage space. It's not so expensive that I fret about taking it to the beach - so far, it has survived 18 months and many different episodes of me dropping it, sitting on it, losing it, and generally mistreating it. At this point, if it dies, it should be able to die happy, knowing how much joy it brought in my life. (Way better than the year I was reading the "The Girl Who" series - great vacation books, but MAN, a pain in the butt to pack!) It has saved my sanity on flights more that I can count.

    Anyhow - every morning on the cruise, Kobo and I spent some quality time together. Heck - Kobo got compliments when we were in the Rainforest Room.

    OK, I'll stop now.

    Prepping for Castaway Cay

    (I'm wiped after skating in freezing weather with Conor today, so I won't quite get us onto the beach tonight - sorry!)

    We let Conor sleep in that day - we have our personal laws about traveling - unless unavoidable, NO ONE in the family should be traveling while sleep-deprived. (We'll just not discuss that this rule was invented after we dropped a 9-month-old Conor out of the stroller in February, in his sleeper, at 5:00 a.m., at our local airport. Fortunately, it wasn't a big drop, and he was too stunned at his parents' idiocy to complain. Thus - The Rule, that we are, of course, NOT discussing.)

    We also had some discussions about what to wear- our trusty Navigator told us it might only be about 18-20 degrees, and when I was out on deck getting caffeine at 6:00 a.m., it was COLD - well, not Canada cold, but, you know, about 12 degrees or so, I think - I was definitely happy for my jacket.

    Fortunately, frequent excursions on our balcony told us it was warming up - gotta love that keen-o Canadian weather sense, so we didn't bring a parka with us.

    In fact, it was warm enough that we agreed to Conor's request that he go to Cabana's in his PJs - he had seen a number of kids doing this (he notices EVERYTHING - it's a problem) and he was keen to try. So, off he went in his PJs, pleased as punch, and pointing out said PJs to each CM who paused for 3 nanoseconds and allowed him to start talking.

    After breakfast, DH announced he had found something VERY COOL, so, like lemmings, we followed. Since we were more that slightly afraid of the BBB, we had not ventured over to that part of Deck 5. DH had (I'm still sure he was lost) and found this:

    [​IMG]

    Yes - it's magic pirate art, that you steer, apparently while pulling the undies out of your bum, at least, if you have insisted on wearing your PJs to breakfast.

    In fact, it just caused Conor frustration, so we bailed quickly. Sorry DH - you are not as cool as you had hoped.

    After getting Conor into real clothes, we hoped that the CC rush had cleared below, and we got the child out of his PJs, and into swim gear, and headed out.

    'Till tomorrow!
     
  19. superme80

    superme80 DIS Veteran

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    Love your report!!! Smetimes I wonder if MY son is on vacation with you! :lmao: So many similarities. Can't wait for the rest.:thumbsup2
     
  20. sdjen

    sdjen DIS Veteran

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    Thanks for taking the time to post. I am really enjoying your trip report!
     
  21. Conorama

    Conorama Mouseketeer

    Joined:
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    Ah, yes, the 4 year old boy brain - it is, I will admit, a totally fascinating place to visit. I'm glad you're enjoying the report!


    You're welcome, and thanks for following along.
     

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