Magic 1/21/06 - 1/28/06 Eastern Trip Rpt

Discussion in 'Disney Cruise Line Trip Reports' started by PiperG, Feb 2, 2006.

  1. PiperG

    PiperG Can't wait to enjoy our one day of summer here in

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    As I am suffering from some post-cruise depression, I thought writing a trip report would boost my spirits. I hope the information found below is useful to some of you reading this. Cast is DH (46), DS (almost 9) and myself, DW (42). This is Disney cruise #6 for us (3 on the Wonder and now 3 on the Magic) with three others planned. Clearly, we are hooked.

    We few out of Minneapolis on Friday afternoon with no weather issues (yeah!). We rented a car from budget for our drive out to the port. We stayed at the airport Marriott, but we headed to a local grocery store before checking in to pick up diet Coke and bottled water. Although both are available on board, we didn’t want to hit the drink station every time we wanted a soda or water. Although the burden of getting these into a rolling suitcase and hauling them until we got to our stateroom fell on DH, he said it was worth it and we would do this again next year.

    The next morning, we headed to the terminal. We arrived about 10:00 and I was dropped off with the luggage. My goal was to get an early boarding number and check in, so that we could all enjoy our time in the terminal and look for other Dissers. The plan worked well because I received a card that let us board with group 2, and I was able to check us all in. We had been upgraded from a Cat 6 to a Cat 4 (more on that later), but I inquired about moving to a Cat 3. None were available so I can’t tell you the $ associated with upgrading at the port.

    DS and DH dropped off the car at Budget, took the shuttle back and by 10:30 we were all back together. We had registered DS into the Lab via the web, but used this time to pick up the pager and get his wristband. We also hooked up with other Dissers, thanks to the green bracelets we were all wearing. Leejay22 who had purchased a bunch through a website. Before we knew it, we were boarding and having lunch at Parrot Cay!

    At 1:30, we headed up to our Stateroom. The Cat 4 is slightly bigger, and it was nice to have the extra room. However, as a family of three, we probably wouldn’t shell out the extra cost for the space. I can see where a family of 4 might enjoy it, especially because the steamer trunk is bigger than the Cat 6. We were in 8506, which was pretty far forward with no cabins across from us which resulted in very little hallway traffic. We definitely appreciated the upgrade, but there was a rattle in the cabin, right above the bed which drops from the ceiling. Even when the ceiling bed was stored, the rattle was very prominent. We had very rough seas on each of our sea days, and the rattle really kept us up at night. We reported it to the Stateroom host, who then reported it to Management but we received no resolution. I reported our dissatisfaction on our comment card.

    Moving on, our servers were great. We had Wisanu (Thailand) and Ivalena (Bulgaria). Both were pleasant and treated us great. John from Scotland was our head server, and I just want to give him a plug if I can. He continually checked the various foods and desserts that DS was interested in for nuts (DS has a severe peanut allergy) and he was very engaging with DS. We also mentioned that on our comment card! Another treat was seeing past servers. Maria (Hungary) remembered us as did Emmanual (Phillipines) whom we saw in Palo. We always send pictures back to the Cast Mates, and will do the same this year.

    Don (Trinidad) was our stateroom host. He is friends with O’Dell, our Stateroom host from our 2003 Magic trip. O’Dell is now on the Wonder, so we are planning to send him a picture of Don & DS. Don taught DS how to make a stingray towel animal. He was really terrific and spent a lot of time with DS making sure he could do it.. Don had arranged for his supervisor to arrive at our room at a specific time, whereby DS was to create the stingray and get a certificate. Unfortunately, the supervisor didn’t show, even though he or she was called twice and promised to be “on the way” both times. Although I know there are soooo busy, this was disappointing. Of course, Don made sure DS received his certificate.

    St. Maarten - We slept late and had a leisurely breakfast before heading over to Great Bay Beach on St. Maarten. We always have a blast there and could not wait to get back. You simply take a water taxi ($5 each adult, kids free) to the island. It just takes a few minutes. As we exit the pier area, we walk to the right and look for Miguel, who mans the lounge chairs with the orange umbrellas. For $10 we received use of two lounge chairs and an umbrella, and use of the bathroom at the restaurant right behind us. Miguel also delivers drinks and food from the restaurant right to the chairs! He even asked a lady bathing topless to put some cloths on, as there were so many kids on the beach that day. The beach has a beautiful view of the port and is nice and clean. There are ladies selling trinkets that walk up and down the beach, but I don’t find them to obtrusive. I know there are probably some really great beaches on St. Maarten, but this is very convenient and also close to the shopping area. DH headed over to the shops and purchased some tie-die t-shirts while DS and I made sand castles.

    St. Thomas - We had never been to Megan’s Bay before, and decided this was the time to do it We didn’t want to be tied down to the time lines of an excursion, so we did it on our own with no problem. We left the ship about 10:30 or 11:00. There were plenty of taxis, although we waited 5 to 10 minutes for our taxi to fill up before we left. The driver made a stop in downtown to let off a couple of folks who wanted to shop, and then we headed over the top of the island back down to the other side. Wow! What a view! Megan’s Bay has a small entrance fee ($3 adults, $0.25 children). We were dropped off in the middle of the stretch of beach. DH went down and rented two chairs ($6 each plus a $5 deposit for each. You get the deposit back if you return the chairs). It was kind of a pain to lug them back and forth, but it was nice to have chairs. We also had lunch at the beach and, I was impressed with the choices and quality. They also have a gift shop. We only stayed a few hours, and it was easy to catch a cab back. There were a lot waiting. We had to wait 10+ minutes for a couple other families to join us before the driver left, but we were back on the ship and in our room by 2:30 or thereabouts, which left plenty of time to relax before sail away at 5:00.

    Returning Cruisers Party - This was really cool! If you are a fan of the infamous travel channel video, you will recognize the name of Tom McAlpin (he talks about the original business plan in the video). He is now President of the cruise line, and was on board to honor the crew members who had been with DCL for 5 years or more. We had a photo op with him and also Captain Thord, who was more personable in my opinion than Captain Tom. (However, my favorite is Captain Henry from the Wonder, also on the TC video). We saw Tom McAlpin in several other spots around the ship, but I also saw him with his luggage on the morning we hit St. Thomas, so he must have been getting off before we got to Castaway Cay.

    Palo Brunch - This was spectacular! We prefer brunch over dinner because of the time of year we are sailing. Dinner is typically late enough that the sun is down and you can’t see the ocean. Brunch has a nicer view. The food was amazing (as always) and Choi Romano was a great server. We also saw several other Dissers there, and had a mini Dismeet!

    Castaway Cay - I am always anxious that we don’t be able to dock, but we had no problem at all. The day was breezy and a bit cool when the sun was not out, but for the most part we enjoyed sunny skies and lots of character greetings. The highlight was meeting another “star” of the travel channel video, Guenter who is the island manager. He was in a meeting early in the day, but before we went back to the ship we inquired again about his whereabouts. They radioed him, and he insisted on coming to us right away for a photo op! He was extremely pleasant. What a thrill!!!

    Before I forget, I want to mention that if you like visiting with the characters, the cruise is the best way to go. DS8 still is enamored by Minnie, and we saw her 4 times (character breakfast, CC, pirate night and semi-formal night). Because there are so many opportunities to meet the characters, they spend far more time with each child than they would at the parks. Minnie danced with DS (a major highlight for him). The Shutters photos we got from that night were amazing!

    Feel free to ask questions. We will answer them if we can.
     
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  3. cruisnfamily

    cruisnfamily <font color=teal>Please save me from 5th grade mat

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    What did the taxi cost? Is it a standard rate kind of thing or do you negotiate? Are these vans? Or cars? how many people do they accomodate? We have a party of 9.
     
  4. Echo queen

    Echo queen <font color=darkcoral>I like the idea of being clo

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    Great report :thumbsup2 thanks :sunny:
     
  5. HookedonMagic

    HookedonMagic DIS Veteran

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    Thanks for the detailed report, PiperG. :sunny: Takes me back...

    This was our sixth trip on DCL, as well. But our first Castaway Club party. I thought they did a really nice job, too. When we saw Mr. McAlpin, we crossed out fingers that he was there to announce the Mediterranean sailing! ;) No big announcement, but nice just the same. :smooth:

    We did Great Bay Beach, too. As you stated, it may not be the most scenic beach, but the convenience and the price can't be beat! Ten dollars for chairs with an umbrella, a quick, $5 water taxi ride, and food/shops across the sidewalk. We had a great day. :sunny:

    On St Thomas, we went to Morning Star beach. While it too was a terrific day, the cost was much more. The taxi was $24 each way and the chairs were $25. No big deal, but really a lot more $$$ for a very similar experience. :confused3
     
  6. MAGICFOR2

    MAGICFOR2 Condimentessa

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    The taxis are open air vans, sort of. Seems to be a pick-up with the top cut off and fitted with seats and a canopy:thumbsup2 They charge $4 pp for each way.

    In Dec, we were on our way to the Gondola, which is $16 pp - when a taxi driver stopped us and told us he would take us all over the island, and get the same views for $20. We got on right across the street from the Gondola. It was great! We got a fun tour, awesome views and pics, a little shopping - about a 3 hour tour! We had a choice of being dropped off downtown for shopping, or back at the ship. Of course we went SHOPPING :yay:
     
  7. MAGICFOR2

    MAGICFOR2 Condimentessa

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    Forgot - the one we were in would have seated 12 in the back and two more up front in the cab.
     
  8. cruisnfamily

    cruisnfamily <font color=teal>Please save me from 5th grade mat

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    I had heard they charge $10 per person and it some kind of "set" fare that you couldn't negotiate.

    We need to go to the American Yacht Harbor (and back, obviously) and I was counting on $40 each way but according to you, it's $16 each way which would be much, much better!

    Anybody else have any taxi prices to share?
     
  9. cruisecrzy

    cruisecrzy DIS Veteran

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    PiperG,
    We are booked on the March 18 Eastern cruise and I have some questions if you do not mind. Do you remember which day the Castaway Club party was...we are trying to figure out which day we want to book our Palo. Also, is the Pirate Party the night of St. Thomas.

    Thanks,
    Michelle
     
  10. moet7

    moet7 DIS Veteran

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    St. Thomas - We had never been to Megan’s Bay before, and decided this was the time to do it We didn’t want to be tied down to the time lines of an excursion, so we did it on our own with no problem.



    Hi,
    Are you able to bring a cooler to Megan's Bay. Was thinking of bringing one packed with bottled water/snacks, etc to the beach. but don't want to do it if I shouldn't.

    When you get off the ship in St. Thomas what is right at the pier to do?
     
  11. SailorMinnie

    SailorMinnie Earning My Ears

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    Thanks for the great trip report! It not only helps with those post-cruise blues :sad2: but helps with the pre-cruise suspense :bounce: ! It was great to hear about one of our favorite CMs - John from Scotland. He has taken such good care of us on 4 different occasions. Even when he wasn't our server or head server he checked up on us! :thumbsup2

    And it's nice to hear that Tom McAlpine was onboard to honor many of our favorite CMs who have made so many wonderful memories for so many people over the years.

    Glad you had a great time. Can't wait until our next! 208 days :cheer2: !
     
  12. JLDSMD

    JLDSMD Platinum Castaway Club

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    Michelle,

    I was on the same cruise as Piper. The Castaway Club party was on Monday, the second day at sea, at 5:00.

    Pirate Night is on Tuesday, St. Maarten day. They need to be moving slow in order to do the fireworks. Since it is only about 120 miles from St. Maarten to St. Thomas, they can go about 7 miles an hour that night.

    As for when to book Palo, we first requested the PLA rotation. That will put you in PC for Pirate Night, L for Formal and AP for Semi-Formal. We then chose Wednesday, St. Thomas, for our Palo Night. Based on PLA, it would be on the second night at L. You then won't miss any rotational dining the first 3 nights (AP only does the light show on the first time in the restaurant), and you won't miss Pirate Night, Semi-Formal (which is also Lobster night) or the last night with your servers. It works perfectly for our family.

    Jeff
     
  13. JLDSMD

    JLDSMD Platinum Castaway Club

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    It all depends on where you come into St. Thomas.

    We were lucky enough to dock in Charlotte Amalie. There was a shopping area right off the boat and I believe the tram to Paradise Point is far from there.

    Last year, we had to tender in the bay and we were dropped off right on the main street along the bay, not near the dock, but near some other shopping areas.

    The other area you come in to is Crown Bay. The 2 cruises in Feb will be stopping there. It is in the next bay and currently there isn't anything there. You will also have to take a cab to get anywhere.

    Here is a link to the cruise ship schedule for St. Thomas. http://www.usvi-on-line.com/cruiseschedules.shtml It only shows the current month, so you'll have to wait to the first of the month you are going.

    Jeff
     
  14. cruisecrzy

    cruisecrzy DIS Veteran

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    Jeff,
    Thank you so much. Your information was GREAT!!!
     
  15. need_a_Disney_fix

    need_a_Disney_fix <font color=indigo>There is nothing like floofing DIS Lifetime Sponsor

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    Jeff is a walking, talking DCL cruise manual and he can quote statistics anytime and anywhere. :hyper2:
    Poor Sue! She lives it! :lmao:
    Miss you guys! :grouphug:
     
  16. DISNEYMOMTO1

    DISNEYMOMTO1 Mouseketeer

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    PiperG, thanks for the tips and the great ideas. We are cruising for the first time in September and I am not impressed with the St. Maarten excursions and would like to do something on our own. We will probably do the Great Bay beach - sounds great!

    BTW, are you really disappointed with the weather we have been having? It finally got cold this week, the 1st week of February! I am in Elk River and have been loving the mild weather; although they said it is going to get colder for Feb. Oh, well!
     
  17. OHJulie

    OHJulie Mouseketeer

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    PiperG,

    Thanks for the cruise report!

    Were you happy with the airport Marriott?

    Thanks!
     

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