Discussion in 'Disney Cruise Line Trip Reports' started by jtkboston, Apr 20, 2013.
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Passport stamps: no luck in Grand Cayman, the office there said they didn't have their souvenir stamp yet, maybe in a few weeks. Guest Services advised that Mexico just doesn't do it. They offered to hold our passports for Bahamas (CC), and that worked great, we got stamps (first ones for my daughters)
I can't wait to see the navigators. We are on the Fantasy May 25th...and are counting the days.
Just returned as well, got home about 2 hrs ago after the 19 hr drive home.
Parked at Cruise Parking of Port Canaveral. Little more effort, but worth the $100 in savings. Didn't wait for more than 5-10 minutes. Well run and parking area felt safe. Got to the terminal a little late around 2pm, but loved that we got right on with little wait.
Weather was great. Mostly sunny, but not too hot. Humid, but constant breeze/wind kept it comfortable.
Ship was beautiful. Big, lots of walking, but lots of places to explore. Sports deck was great, and loved the Tunnel Vision screen in the pool area. Watched and enjoyed Wings of Life in the Buena Vista Theater. Didn't go to any shows, but watch pieces of them on TV in our room. Room was great, deck 9 aft verandah. Decent amount of room, loved the split bathroom. Plenty of storage space. DS6's favorite thing on the whole boat was the Midship Detective Agency. Obsessed with it, almost annoyingly so, but he had a great time with it.
Avoided the main pool area like the plague, just too crowded, didn't look like fun at all. I'm not usually squeamish at all, but the crowded, cloudy, and very warm Mickey and Donald pool water grossed me out. Kids spent the middle of the sea days in the lab/club, while adults relaxed on the adult deck in the shade near the Serenity Falls(?) pool on the front of the boat (awesome!). Took the kids to the pool and Aquaduck around 4-5 pm for a couple hours before our 8pm dinner seating. My DS6 broke his arm 4 days before leaving for cruise and was in an upper arm to wrist cast, but he was luckily still able to ride and swim, didn't stop him from doing much of anything actually.
Little underwhelmed by the Aquaduck. Nice and all, and certainly unique, but not very exciting. My kids (DS6 and DD10) liked, but didn't love it, but they are adrenaline ride junkies who will go on any roller coaster they are big enough to go on (and whine when they aren't). This is the one place where I think Carnival is a little better, good water slides for the somewhat older kids (I really wanted to ride the "toilet-bowl of death" slide we saw on the Carnival Dream next to us in port), but the splash areas (Nemo and Aqualab) were pretty great.
Kids weren't fans of the Oceaneer Lab/Club at first. I think it was too crowded during that first sea day and left a bad impression, but they warmed up to it later in the trip. Still didn't love it, but generally enjoyed it (and they had no choice, we weren't skipping Remy and Palo.
Food was above average I thought for cruise fare. Cabana's was very good, and the MDR meals were pretty good for mass-produced meals. Servers (Oscar and Marchello) were great. Remy and Palo were awesome, although the 3.5 hr Remy experience is not something I could do very often. Loved the fromage. Sat in disbelief as a neighboring table barely touched their cheese plate, what a waste, almost got up and took it from them.
Didn't do any DCL excursions, organized them all ourselves:
Grand Cayman: Did Dolphin Cove for about half the price of the DCL sponsored Dolphin Discovery. Picked us up and dropped us off with no issues and no problem with time. Very well run with great trainers. Also had birds and a touch tank for the kids as a bonus. Liked the larger, man-made cove connected to the ocean here better than the pools at the other venue. This was the only thing that we had to change for my son due to the broken arm, couldn't do the swim, but was still able to do the encounter (touch, kiss, etc.) Pictures weren't as bad as I have heard from other places, at $75 per CD per family/experience. Kids joked about swimming in dolphin pee, and told them it was better than swimming in kid pee in the ship pools....
Costa Maya: Did the Chacchoben Ruins through Native Choice. Excellent tour. Much better than the one we did several years ago. Small group of 12 people, very personal, lot of background on the Mayan culture and history during both the van ride and the tour itself. Our tour guides Casey and David were great. Casey even did a little side tour with the kids looking at native plants and animals while the adults got some more in-depth info from David. A little work to get to them outside of the main port area, but its not that much further. You may get a little nervous since the area outside the immediate port looks run down, but its just because the area hasn't fully recovered from the 2007 hurricane. Perfectly safe and well worth the minor additional effort.
Cozumel: Took a cab to Paradise Beach ($30 one way for 8 people). Did not disappoint. Beach was nice and kids loved the water toys (even my son with the cast). The water was a little stirred up due to the wind and surf, but cleared up further we went out, and wasn't an issue overall. It was a little rocky in the water, but most Cozumel beaches are like that. Pool and grounds were beautiful, and felt very safe. Everyone had a great time.
Castaway Cay: DW and friends did the 5K, I babysat and brought the kids to breakfast. We spent a few hours on the beach near the Pelican Plunge water slides when the kids spent about 2 hrs trying to catch fish. The water slides were great, fast and loved they way they spit you out about 2 feet above the water. Spent another couple hours on the family beach before heading in. Overall a little more crowded that I would have liked, but a fun day. No doubt beautiful, and good facilities, but the food at Cookies was kind of meh.
Port Canaveral: After disembarking, went to Kennedy Space Center. Probably the least favorite part of the trip. Really expensive at $50/$40 per adult/child. The Saturn V/Apollo center was a highlight, but the rest of it was underwhelming. Might be better once the Atlantis exhibit is done this summer. I remembered being much more impressed 10 yrs ago. Maybe it was all because the kids were tired and generally uninterested, maybe just the cost/enjoyment ratio was low. Several signs and prints indicated how the center is privately run by an outside company on admission revenue only, and that no tax dollars are spent, but if there is someplace that deserves tax money and/or national park/monument/museum status, this should be it. God knows the government spends our tax money of much less worthy things.
Overall, a great trip. Would love to do again in a couple years, but will likely be at least another 5yrs before being able to swing it with all the other vacations we want to do. My wife went to discuss pre-booking another cruise, but it really didn't seem to be a bargain despite the "10%" off. We paid less for this cruise a few months before than they wanted with the discount.
Navigators are up on DISboards site:
I wouldn't read too much into the "time to get off the ship announcements" being made by a woman. This has been the case each of the 11 cruises we have been on.
Up until about 15 years ago, KSC was a tax-payer run facility that was free to the public. You only paid to go on tours of the working facilities (about $20 back then; I never went). Up until I was a teen, even the IMAX movies were free. They used to have a short film called "The First Boy on Mars" that I particularly enjoyed. Then they started charging to see IMAX, and shortly thereafter the Center was sold to a private company, and it's been a "theme park" ever since. My family has not paid to go in ever since. It really is very sad. My family used to drive out there for "something different to do" and I miss those days. I'd say to anyone, unless you have a passion for spaceflight, I wouldn't dream of paying those prices to visit a once tax-payer run facility.
Apparently, you didn't understand how booking another cruise while on the ship works. You could have booked a cruise for a "dummy date" and transferred the booking to another cruise that you really want to go on. Perhaps a 2015 cruise when the schedules come out later this year. You would receive 10% off the price of the cruise, $200 OBC, and only have to put a 10% deposit.
Thanks to everyone who's posted cruise preparation, packing, and activity advice. It all helped me and my family have a fantastic time on the Fantasy.
Here are a bunch of notes,
Highlights/advice to reiterate:
Non-stop flight to MCO: faster, much less hassle with the kids and less prone to bad weather.
Arriving the night before: my Mom had cruised before and highly recommended this. We stayed at the MCO Hyatt, which was very convenient for an 8:00pm arrival with DD 10 and DD 7. Several threads here suggest how to get discounts; one other possibility is to use your employer's discount rates (if yours allows for personal use at the corporate rate).
Over-the-door shoe holder made for a great organizer. We'll have to get very strong magnets, or a closet/coat-hanger version of this for our next cruise, to comply with DCL's request not to hang anything over the tops of doors.
Visit the future cruise desk early (NOT the last day!), and/or fill out a request card and drop it off. We went just after they opened on the last sea day (while kids were in the Lab), sat right down with an agent. Do your homework ahead of time and know which cruises you want (if the currently announced sailings include one you want).
We had main seating dinner, AERAEER. Our kids did well with this dinner time, as did the adults (DH--me--DW, and my mom).
We had two connecting cabins (5C, 7552/7554). This was great! We opened up the verandas together, so I could visit my Mom and then go out to my own veranda, while the kids slept in late. (I'm the early riser in the family).
Getting up early and exploring the ship was great. Got some photos of an empty atrium, nice quiet decks and pools up top, etc.
One of our fellow DISers had her travel agent work with DCL to set up a private Mixology class for Sunday afternoon (sea day). This was a great way to meet some of them, and also not have to rush to guest services once aboard the ship.
We got Bahamian entry stamps in our passport books. I left them with guest services on the sea day before CC. Once on board after visiting CC, I picked them up again.
Our DDs (10 & 7) enjoyed the pin trading night with crew members and lots of other guests. We'd never traded before, they really got into it!
DDs and I loved, loved, loved the dolphin swim at Dolphinaris. We had the 2nd time slot offered through DCL excursion. DD 7 was a bit tentative at times (she found the water a bit too chilly) but she did ride on my back for the belly ride. The Dolphinaris staff had great photos of us, which I bought. (Most other photos from the trip we took ourselves.)
We took drink cups from the soda stations, with some soda, over to the self serve soft serve ice cream. Coke float tasted great!
Saw this on the last night (why didn't I think of it earlier?): Get two chocolate chip cookies from Flo's. Take them to the self serve ice cream machines. Make yourself an ice cream sandwich!
We did some crafts on board: 3-D crafts (a muppet car), folded towels (the instruction sheet's instructions don't resemble what we learned in class), buttons, and door decorations.
I paid for early-bird checkin for our return flight on Southwest. That got us B4-5-6-7 positions, which was good because there were so many families and preboards we got some of the last few empty rows near the back to choose two successive rows so we could sit near each other.
We had a PAT of 11:30; we arrived at about 10:30 on DCL transfers from MCO. We checked in quickly, got the kids registered for the Lab (Mickey Bands) and found some seats. My cabin got boarding number 9; my Mom (next door, linked reservation) got boarding number 8??
No passport stamps at Grand Cayman; the office at the port had a sign announcing they didn't have the necessary stamp. Guest Services said Mexico doesn't do stamps at either Costa Maya or Cozumel.
We docked on the port side for all ports except Grand Cayman, where we anchored and tendered. I got a great photo of the ship from the tender boat.
The pool deck can get very hot and painful to walk on, similar to a dry sand beach. Bring flip flops when you go up.
Guest services sells some sunburn relief gel (usually also available with other sundries in the shops). You can refrigerate it for extra cooling.
We didn't watch most of the evening shows, just didn't seem like we could get the girls out of the lab to watch with us. We did get them to the last night's show, and the guest ventriloquist was HILARIOUS!
We took DCL transfers back to MCO. We had early seating breakfast @ 6:45 at Royal Court. We did not hurry breakfast, yet still disembarked around 7:45 or 8am. We got through customs (long line but moved well) and on a bus around 8:20. Got to the "A" side terminal at 9:05am. We waited to check bags with Southwest, the line was about 25 minutes, which was perfect since we got to the front just a few minutes after the 4-hour window for checking bags before a flight.
Some bumps along the way:
The balcony of the Walt Disney Theatre has steps with a sharp edge on them at the end of each row. The way the steps are laid out next to the end seat means you can scrape a foot on the metal edge--this hurts if you have sandals on! The main floor doesn't have this problem because the end seat has a larger arm-rest thing that extends to the floor and will block you from scraping your foot.
The AquaDuck camera is apparently permanently out of order.
Our MCO Hyatt had a nice runway/airside view, but no signal from airport wi-fi. They claim some rooms can get this wi-fi signal in-room.
We were a party of 5, seated at an 8-top table. We didn't get any table-mates. I would have enjoyed extra company, but the upside was we got even better service from Jayson and Ferdi (ask for them, you'll have a great time).
The Chacchoben ruins tour (adult only) was pretty late returning to port of Costa Maya. We weren't the last aboard (still a steady stream behind us) but we were a bit late to the 5:45 Animator's Palate draw-your-character night. Everyone was able to submit a drawing and have it animated, though!
We had Jayson & Ferdi too! I would recommend them to anyone! Ferdi is a hoot!
Thanks so much for all of the information! We can't wait for our own trip in July!
I asked in the April 20, 2013 cruise thread who the cruise director was, and ...
So sounds like he was making jokes!
We were on the Fantasy the week before (April 6-13, 2013) and we had Clayton as the cruise director. Funny that Brent was working the next cruise. Clayton was pretty funny with his constant Carlton (from the Fresh Prince) dance impersonation dance contest.
Just got off the Fantasy on Saturday and Brent was our CD. So the 20th definitely was not his last cruise.
I was on the April 20th sailing as well and he never mentioned anything about it being the end..or even near the end of his contract. However, he did say he had recently gotten back from vacation. I believe his family was there as well and mentioned his 2yo. I'm not sure how often they are there with him though. I was happy to have him there and hope he doesn't leave any time soon!
Thank you for sharing great TR
What an awesome trip thank you for sharing.
We really are interested in the Space Center. Party of 10 and we all got FREE tickets from writing to our Congressmen.
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