May 26 - June 2, 2012 From Reality to Fantasy

Discussion in 'Disney Cruise Line Trip Reports' started by Dawncala, Jun 18, 2012.

  1. jules621

    jules621 Earning My Ears

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    Loving your review! Going on the Fantasy 9/15! Getting more excited!
     
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  3. jenpink

    jenpink Mouseketeer

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    enjoying your trip report
     
  4. LoveStitch

    LoveStitch Mouseketeer

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    Stumbled across your trip report this morning, and read it all! We're going on our first Disney cruise on the Fantasy (also the Western Caribbean) in December, and this is perfect. Your writing is so entertaining and descriptive, and your photos are wonderful. I'll be looking forward to more!
     
  5. BLeeS

    BLeeS Mouseketeer

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    Fun TR, thank you!
     
  6. Dawncala

    Dawncala Collector of magical memories and pixie dust

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    :confused3 He'll show up again. Keep checking back. ::yes::
     
  7. Dawncala

    Dawncala Collector of magical memories and pixie dust

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    :cloud9: Thanks again all for the kind words. :love:
     
  8. Dawncala

    Dawncala Collector of magical memories and pixie dust

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    The Impending Tending

    I’m going to back track for just a moment. After breakfast I went up to the bow of the ship to take photos of our arrival into Grand Cayman. A thick morning fog had mostly lifted, but it was still pretty grey and cloudy so I don’t think my photos adequately show off the colorful buildings on the Grand Cayman shoreline. The most interesting part was watching the tender boats circling around, keeping a safe distance, while waiting for the Fantasy to come to a complete stop.

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    DS shooting hoops in the morning fog.

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    Three tenders edge closer as we approach.
     
  9. Dawncala

    Dawncala Collector of magical memories and pixie dust

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    Tenderized

    We have not had to take a tender before, but the process was super easy. There was no line when we arrived at around 12:45. Tenders started at 10:45 so most people had probably gone ashore hours earlier. It was a two story boat so we sat in the bow on the lower level hoping DH and DS would not get motion sick. It turned out not to be an issue as we didn’t have far to travel and didn’t encounter any rough water.

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    View of the Fantasy from the tender. You can see the aquaduck tube sticking out over the edge.

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    Another tender arrives at the forward door. We got on our tender at the midship door which you can see is open in this photo.

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    This pirate ship in the harbor is part of an excursion.

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    Except for a few sailboats the Fantasy was virtually alone in the harbor today.
     
  10. lucy0558

    lucy0558 Mouseketeer

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    Thank you so much for taking the time to write this TR. Love all the details and your sense of humor! It looks like your family enjoyed a memorable trip. :)
     
  11. Dawncala

    Dawncala Collector of magical memories and pixie dust

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    Not So Grand Cayman

    We learned that we would be the only cruise ship in port this day. That sounded good in theory, but it made me kind of nervous. Many of these cruise ports rely entirely on the cruise passengers for their income and I didn’t want to have to deal with lots of solicitations while we explored. Fortunately, except for a few taxi drivers and tour guides right near the port exit, we were not approached as much as I was expecting.

    I suppose you might be wondering about my title for this section. I have to admit that Grand Cayman was, without a doubt, our least favorite port. We chose to just wander around in the local area on our own rather than schedule an excursion, and it turned out to be entirely the wrong decision.

    Our reason for not scheduling an excursion was two-fold. One, we didn’t see any excursion we all wanted to do. And second, when we took our Alaska cruise we didn’t take any excursions at all and had a great time in each port. We wandered around each town, were able to experience all the ambiance and history of the area on our own timeline, and we had a fantastic time. But it turns out the Grand Cayman port area didn’t have that same atmosphere.

    After tendering at the dock we came through the gates into a shopping area filled with all the usual souvenir shops and stands. We blew through there and went out the main guard gates into the city. Just outside the gate was a vendor selling fresh coconuts. DD wanted one so we purchased one to share. It was not as delicious as the one we’d had on Castaway Cay a few years ago and we only drank a bit before tossing it out. (I think it was $5)


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    Coconut vendor cutting the top off our coconut.

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    Not as tasty as she hoped.

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    View to the left.

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    View to the right.

    To the immediate right of the exit were some liquor and cigar stores and a small park area called Fort George. I don’t remember there being any benches to sit on in the park and there was simply nothing fort-like about it. There were a couple of cannons, but they faced the back wall of the marketplace, and the large trashcan in the center of the park should probably have been placed off to the side somewhere rather than dead center.

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    Rum & Cigars

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    Fort George

    We crossed the street and headed into what we hoped was a cute district with shopping, cafes and cool local architecture. Unfortunately we found mostly jewelry, liquor and t-shirt shops. I often wonder if we’d stayed on the main road and gone around the bend, rather than cross the street, would we have found a different experience. We did find a colorful coffee house though where we stopped to get DH a latte and used their free wi-fi to check e-mail.

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    Our hometown.

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    The chickens walking around the coffee shop were probably my kids' favorite part of our outing. They followed them around for a while.

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    The flowers were pretty.

    When we left the coffee shop we circled to the left because the right seemed to be mostly office buildings. Unfortunately there wasn’t much more to the left. We passed the Peace Memorial, and a few clothing shops before going down a road with lots of building construction going on. By now the kids were hot and bored and beginning to complain. The sun was not out, but the humidity here was still something they were not used to.
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    Peace Memorial

    We decided to call it a day and head back to the ship. We turned left on the next street, which turned out to be residential. It had no sidewalks, or even a dirt edge, so we had to be extra cautious when cars came past as there was little room to get to the side. Luckily it was a short walk and we were soon back on the main road.

    NOTE: Cars drive on the left side of the road here and, except for the main road in front of the cruise terminal where there were traffic lights and crosswalks, drivers were not terribly concerned with giving pedestrians the right-of-way.


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    Rum distillery on the main road.

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    One of the local critters.

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    Mile signs posted at a restaurant.

    We passed a few more shops and a restaurant, then we were back at the terminal market. We showed our key-to-the-world card to the guard and headed in. A cool hint of air conditioning coming from a nearby store drew in DD and DS so we went in to have a look around. It was mostly souvineer items with Grand Cayman printed on them. I decided I wanted a small momento so I purchased a hand painted shot glass. Then DD found some cute glittery lizard rings, and I love lizards, so we each got one. Then it was back to the ship.

    When we passed the next guard gate to get into the tender pier area Disney had water and cool wet washcloths waiting for us. It was a well received touch and the cool towels felt great. There was a tender already at the dock and within 15 minutes we were back on board the Fantasy. If we ever go to Grand Cayman again I will definitely either schedule an excursion (I heard the turtle farm one was wonderful), or just stay on the ship.
     
  12. dbxazd

    dbxazd Mouseketeer

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    We did the 7 mile beach break back when we went to grand cayman and absolutely love it -- just a thought if you return there.
    Robin
     
  13. soy1

    soy1 Earning My Ears

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    Loving the report and all of the photos. You've already answered several of my questions since we're first time cruisers!!

    My daughter, who is part mermaid, wondered if the pools were open all the time, or if they close at a set time. Thanks!
     
  14. Dawncala

    Dawncala Collector of magical memories and pixie dust

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    Thanks Robin. Great tip! :thumbsup2
     
  15. Dawncala

    Dawncala Collector of magical memories and pixie dust

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    Unfortunately the pools are not 24/7. We wish they were though. My kids are both part fish so they'd love to meet your mermaid. :fish:

    On most days the pools and spas are open earlier and stay open later than the slides and splash areas do. Each night check your Navigator under "Recreation" for the next days' pool and slide times.

    If you want to get a general idea about the pool hours you can check out the Navigators from my cruise at this link. http://smu.gs/NwUHPx
     
  16. MiaSRN62

    MiaSRN62 DIS Veteran

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    We LOVE the stingray swim/snorkel. Have done it twice and going for a third time this October. We did the turtle farm in 2004. It was nice....not very large with a tiny gift shop. Didn't need much more than 90 min there we felt ? Now the stingrays....could have swam with them all day :goodvibes
     
  17. davale4

    davale4 Love love watching my kids have fun

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    Your DD expression is just priceless! I like coconut water no matter the taste ::yes::
     
  18. Dawncala

    Dawncala Collector of magical memories and pixie dust

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    We have swam with dolphins so I'm sure we'd love the stingrays too. Thanks for the recommendation.
     
  19. Dawncala

    Dawncala Collector of magical memories and pixie dust

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    Midship Aerobic Workout Agency

    Another thing on our Fantasy “Must Do” list was to play the Midship Detective Agency interactive game. After returning to the ship from our humid trek in Grand Cayman we thought now was as good a time as any. Plus we’d get to stay in the air conditioning for a while. We decided we would play in teams. DH would go with DS and I would go with DD and Perry.

    There are two “desks” where you can register for the game and pick up the necessary equipment. The one we used is on deck 2 midship just outside the Enchanted Garden restaurant. I believe the other one is on deck 5 midship. They are very cute and well themed and contain everything you need to get your game started.

    At the kiosk you watch a video explaining the rules of the game. There are several game components you’ll collect at the desk as well. First you’ll pick an interactive card with your agent number on it. This card, with its cryptic symbol on the back, lets the art you interact with know which game you are playing and which clue it should give you next. The video shows you how to use the card and gives you some practice using it.


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    Watching the instructional video at the kiosk desk on deck 2.

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    Front and back of the game card. Each symbol on the back is unique.

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    DD practices using her game card.

    Next you register your card and select a mystery. On the Fantasy there are three possible mysteries to solve. The easier ones are The Case of the Missing Puppies and The Case of the Plundered Paintings. The advanced game is the Case of the Stolen Show, starring the Muppets, which is available only on the Fantasy. (I’ll explain why it’s more advanced in a moment)

    When you select your case you will also take a case booklet which is located at the kiosk. There are different booklets for different games so make sure you pick up the correct one. They are color coded in the upper right corner and the case name is printed on the front of the booklet. There are also mini pencils available in case you want to take notes along the way.

    The folding booklet has several panels. Two panels include a list of suspects and an area to take notes. When unfolded, the inside is a deck-by-deck map of the ship with all the animated art/clue locations marked. DD chose the Case of the Missing Puppies, DS chose the Muppet case. After each registered their case card we were ready to go so we split up to go solve our mysteries.


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    Booklet cover. This one is used for both the easy cases.

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    Villian selection

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    Map of the ship decks with animated art/clue locations.

    From here on I will give you the perspective of the game DD, Perry and I played.

    When you begin your game you are told which art you should visit first. Our first clue was on deck 4 forward. When you get to the interactive photo you just stand on a symbol on the carpet and hold up your game card. This will activate your specific mystery. Then you follow the directions on the screen and listen to the clues. Sometimes you received just a clue, and sometimes you had to use your interactive card to complete a task. It is very cool technology and very engaging. When you finish with one clue you move onto the next, eliminating suspects, until you know “who done it”.

    Often there are other players at a piece of art before you so you have to wait, which means you will probably see their animation and clue. I personally like surprises so I tried not to look at other players’ clues because I wanted to see it fresh when it was our turn. Odds are though that the party in front of you will not be watching the exact clue you will be when it’s your turn. With three different mysteries, and every player in a different place in the storyline, it was more likely that the player before us was seeing a clue for a different mystery or was watching a clue we wouldn’t see until later or had seen earlier. I still tried not to watch because I planned to go back and do the other two mysteries another time. Unfortunately that didn’t happen, because time didn’t allow for it, so it’s now on the “To Do” list for when we sail again.

    NOTE: We were playing one of the easier versions of the game. We learned that in an easy mystery you can go to any piece of interactive art, in any order, to get the next clue in your game. DD and I chose to use a very methodical approach to our game and just hopped from deck to deck, going to whichever piece of art was closest to us, thereby minimizing our walking and stair climbing. But there was still a significant amount of walking and stair climbing. (now does my title make sense?)

    DH & DS were playing the advanced Muppet mystery which requires that you to visit some clue locations exactly when you are instructed to. This meant more running back and forth, up and down, to and fro around the ship to finish the mystery. DD and I were fairly tired after our mystery, but the boys were positively pooped. Either version is definitely an option if you are trying to tire out children who are old enough to play this game alone. As in, “Hey kids, why don’t you go play the Detective game again instead of bouncing off the cabin walls.”


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    Watching an animated art clue.

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    Discovering that the villian was Jafar. Perry knew it all along.

    It was a super fun game. I’m definitely looking forward to playing again, but I’ll wear more comfy walking shoes next time.

    NOTE: This game seemed to be most crowded on sea days and around dinner time. In fact it got downright crazy with 4 and 5 parties waiting in line for each location. Occasionally we’d see a family where each child in the family had their own game card and we knew that piece of art would be tied up for a while. Also, some art/clue locations are located in high traffic areas so there could be congestion for other passengers. Since we played on a port day during all-ashore hours we practically had the game to ourselves and rarely had to wait for more than one player ahead of us. I think we completed both the games in just over an hour.
     
  20. DisneyDoc5

    DisneyDoc5 Making memories...

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    Wow - super big thanks on the Shutters info and the Detective info - so happy to know all the details....so, my thoughts..

    Shutters: I know I will agree with all your points just from seeing the pictures, weird in the Pod area, weird. So, when you purchase the CD for $149 and you take it home, do I understand correctly that it has all of the pictures on it, then you 'unlock' just the 10 you want? So each 8x10 is about $15, or less if you make multiple copies? I will have to make sure if I do the cd that I get all of the pictures on one cd since we have 2 cabins (my, DH, 3 kids, and my mom). Awesome review!

    Mid Ship Detective: Such great advice to do this on the port days - we are thinking of doing this in the St. Marten day after doing a little shopping, and I think we will opt for the easy ones first, save the advanced if we have time. And tennis shoes sound like a must!

    LOVE the pics from the dining rooms - another great idea!

    Thanks again!:thumbsup2 Erin
     
  21. Dclnut143

    Dclnut143 Earning My Ears

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    Just to add my 2cents for those who haven't gone yet... U can also play on different days. So if u want to start a game on day 1 and finish it on day 7, u can do that. U can also play your card a number of times and it will be different each time. Its a game much like the board game clue. Also, if u are doing the muppets one, take pictures of the door and call board so u dont have to go back and forth cause it does make u go a few times. Ok, that was more like 3 cents, sorry:)
     

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