"Witty Western-Fantasy Trip Report Title"... January 5th-12th With Pictures

Discussion in 'Disney Cruise Line Trip Reports' started by MrRay, Jan 15, 2013.

  1. MrRay

    MrRay Mouseketeer

    Joined:
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    My wife and I have been lurkers for several years and have gotten a lot out of trip reports, so now we are finally giving back.

    Introductions...

    I'm Bob, 30 years old. I'm a lighting guy in the entertainment business in New York.
    I've only been on one cruise, a 7 night Norwegian cruise last year.

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    I'm Jenna, 27 years old. I'm a dancer and have done a few cruises, including a Disney cruise ten years ago and I worked on a Princess Cruise ship for 6 months back in 2008-2009.
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    We decided as the Fantasy was coming out last year that we wanted to try a Disney cruise together. While the Fantasy was getting christened in New York I had the opportunity to do some work on the ship for some tv spots and it was an easy decision to book once I had seen it.

    There were a few different variations on how we were going to do this trip but we finally decided on... Flying down 2 days before the cruise and taking the first day to unwind and get settled and the second to visit Kennedy Space Center. Then one night at Animal Kingdom Lodge after the cruise.

    Spoiler Alert- The trip was amazing and we even had a few surprises along the way...
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    But we'll get there...


    Pre-Cruise Day 1 - Travel
    Pre-Cruise Day 2, Kennedy Space Center
    Cruise Day 1, Getting Onboard
    Cruise Day 1 Part 2, To the Room
    Cruise Day 1, Part 3, Sailing Away
    Cruise Day 2, At Sea
    Cruise Day 3, Grand Cayman
    Cruise Day 3, Part 2 Grand Cayman Snorkeling
    Cruise Day 3, Grand Cayman Part 3, Odds and Ends
    Cruise Day 4, Costa Maya Part 1
    Cruise Day 4, Costa Maya Part 2
    Cruise Day 4, Costa Maya Part 3
    Cruise Day 5, Cozumel Part 1
    Cruise Day 5, Cozumel Part 2, Passion Island
    Cruise Day 5, Cozumel Part 3, PIRATES
    Cruise Day 6, Sea Day 2 Part 1
    Cruise Day 6, Sea Day 2 Part 2...Odds and Ends
    A Quick Sidetrack
    Cruise Day 7, Castaway Cay Part 1
    Cruise Day 7, Castaway Cay Part 2
    Cruise Day 7, Castaway Cay Part 3
    Cruise Day 7, Castaway Cay Part 4
    Cruise Day 7, Castaway Cay Part 5
    Cruise Day 7, Castaway Cay Part 6
    Cruise Day 7, Castaway Cay Part 7
    The Day After...Part 1
    The Day After...Part 2
    The Day After...Part 3
    Last Day
    The End
     
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  3. MrRay

    MrRay Mouseketeer

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    We had a 9:15 am flight out of New York. We had a comfortable amount of time to check in, have a leisurely breakfast in the terminal and then meander over to the gate just as it was starting to board.

    This young man cracked me up, he very astutely studied the safety card for like 20 minutes.
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    Everything worked like clockwork and we were in the rental car and on the road by 1pm.
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    By 2 we were pulling in at the Doubletree in cocoa beach. We had paid for the cheapest room and ended up with a partial ocean view. I say partial because there was a lot of roof in the view but you could definitely see a lot of water, it was a nice surprise.

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    But it looks better cropped...
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    The hotel was nice enough, nothing really stands out. The price was reasonable and it was close to the ocean, we really didn't spend much time there.

    We dropped our stuff and went out for a walk on the beach. The proximity of the hotel to the beach was great. We didn't really utilize it too much but it was nice to look at.
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    We wanted to eat dinner at the port and watch the ships sail out. We ended up getting there a little late so we missed the parade, but I think it was just one smaller carnival ship so no huge loss. We decided on "Rustys" for dinner. Service was quick and the food was good. We had an order of fish and chips and an order of jumbo fried shrimp, both were very tasty. They obviously had prepared everything in house, the breading on both was simple and tasty and didn't overpower the seafood itself, I'm always happy when a restaurant actually prepares this stuff as opposed to just pulling out a bag of frozen shrimp and frying it up.
    It was a delicious meal at a good price, we're from New York so almost everything seems like a good price comparatively. Also the beer tasted clean and fresh. Always a win.
     
  4. MrRay

    MrRay Mouseketeer

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    Day 2 we got up early so that we could grab breakfast and be to Kennedy Space Center by 9 am. I'm a big space nut so I was looking forward to maximizing our time there. We found a small place right on the strip called "Oceanside Cafe, Bagel Paradise". We each got a simple egg and bacon sandwich on bagels and were very impressed. It was simple delicious food. I think a bacon, egg, and cheese on a bagel will set you back about 4 bucks. The bacon was crispy and delicious. It was a great place for a quick, tasty, and cheap breakfast.
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    Breakfast ended up being so quick that we got to the Space Center early and were one of the only cars in the parking lot, gotta love offseason.
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    We had purchased gold passes on their website before we left, they were $5 more per ticket but you got $10 food credit and a souvenir coin. We figured we were probably going to eat anyway so might as well save the $10 between the two of us on food.
    What I hadn't taken into account was parking. On their pamphlet that we grabbed from the hotel it states clearly, in two places, that parking is free...
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    It's not, it's $10. Their website does reflect this however. The annual pass price online at the time was $55, and you get free parking. So it's worth keeping an eye on this if you're interested. Also just a heads up the food vouchers are only good at 2 of the restaurants, I'm not sure if there is better fare at the other places but the one we went to was typical, incredibly mediocre, cafeteria food.

    We also sprung for the Vehicle Assemly Building tour. I have always wanted to go in there and since they are actually doing tours now that they are between spacecraft projects I couldn't pass it up. This tour also pretty much replaces the standard tour that comes with your admission, the bus seemed to go to all the other places that the standard tour did. We first drove out along the water so that we could see all the different launch pads wrapped around the area. They are far off in the distance but a nice place to see it all and get a feel for how big the complex really is. Also a great place to see wildlife, I caught a glimpse of a dolphin swimming by before we headed out.



    Next stop is the VAB. They aren't strict about security really but they did ask that we leave larger bags on the bus, we could take all the photos we wanted though.
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    The building, as I'm sure you can imagine, is massive. It's hard to comprehend even while you are in there. The amount that you can actually walk is pretty limited, comparatively I guess. They keep you on the permiter and have a few pictures set up showing different spacecraft being worked on inside.

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    If you aren't interested in the building itself it probably seems very empty and boring but if you're a space nut it's easy to get caught up in the magnitude of what the building represents. In the next bay they were doing some heavy maintenance on one of the crawlers that takes the rockets to the launch platform, that was an added treat.
    They talk through a lot of the building history that you would expect in a tour of it and then someone else who used to work in the department that put the heat tiles on the shuttles spoke for a bit and showed tile samples. I wandered away to take more pictures and then we were off to the bus.

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    From here on out it was pretty much the regular tour. We spun past the launch pads and made a stop so we could see them from afar.
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    Then they left us at the Saturn V rocket building. This area is one of my favorites of the whole complex. After a great presentation reenacting Apollo 8's launch you are led into the room with a Saturn V laying on its side, it's amazing to see in person.
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    There are plenty of other great artifacts here as well, including a moon rock that you can touch, but after all these years it's probably just a germ filled mess... I rubbed it anyway.

    Later in the day we tried out the newer "thrill ride" they are putting in the shuttle building that is under construction. You can smell the wet paint here and they only had one of what I think will eventually be 5 simulators running. It's a "shuttle launch simulator". But think of it more as "Star Tours" then "Mission Space". The vehicle shakes a lot but there really isn't much to it. There are a couple other special effects that unfortunately look a little cheap. We weren't very impressed with it overall, but its really the only "ride" per se so I'm sure it will be popular.
    Also it's important to note that you can't bring anything on the ride, they have lockers provided that are currently free, let's hope it stays that way.

    Overall it was a great day at KSC, it can get a little expensive but if you are at all interested in the space program it is an amazing place to be and is full of incredible history.

    Afterwords we decided to try "Florida Seafood" for dinner. It seemed like a locals restaurant. It was very casual and comfortable, a fun decor and had several fish tanks. It's a very seafood heavy restaurant, as you'd expect and prices were very fare, you don't want your seafood too cheap. I had cod stuffed with crab meat. Jenna had shrimp, sundried tomatoes, and feta cheese in a garlic sauce. Both were very good. They also make a big deal about their fritters. Everyone seemed to get them as an appetizer but they ran out or something so ours showed up after we finished our meals. It worked out great because they were hot and fresh and really seemed like more of a dessert thing to me anyway, it's basically fried dough with powdered sugar.

    I tried to take a picture of them...
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    But I guess this says it all...



    Then it was time to head back to the hotel to gather our things. Two days went by very fast.
     
  5. MomToPrincePhillip

    MomToPrincePhillip Mouseketeer

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    Hi Bob and Jenna, great start on the TR :thumbsup2, I'm really enjoying it so far and can't wait for another update.

    We head out on the Fantasy for our 1st cruise in May, it's the Eastern itinerary.
     
  6. disney honeymooners

    disney honeymooners Disneyholic

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    Great Trip Report so far we leave on the Fantasy in September for Western Caribbean can't wait to see your pictures of the ship. :cool1:
     
  7. pixiedust1125

    pixiedust1125 Mouseketeer

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    Jenna here!!!!! Just wanted to say HI and that you are going to fall in Love with the Fantasy. This trip was better then we ever could have dreamed.
     
  8. MrRay

    MrRay Mouseketeer

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    January 5th
    We both woke up early like the old Disney commercials, "I'm too excited to sleep". This is probably one of the hardest parts of the cruise, waiting for the time to actually board. The big kick in the pants was that after we had gotten ready we realized that the clock in the room was set an hour later, so it was much earlier than we thought.

    We stopped off at Publix and got some fruit smoothies for breakfast and stopped by the Disboards Welcome Center.
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    We chatted with Rob and Walter for a bit before heading off the drop off the rental car.

    It was a little crowded at the rental car place but not too bad considering that there were 3 ships in port. After a short wait we were on a shuttle headed for the terminal and getting our first glimpses of the ship.

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    Dropping off our bags, security, and check-in worked extremely smoothly and we were all set by 11:15. the rental car shuttle driver had told us that customs had chosen that day to flex their muscles and remind everyone who was in charge so everything was running a bit behind. We took the time to check out the terminal and get our picture taken with Mickey, because if you're just standing around why not wait in a line. Right before we got up Minnie came out to switch places...

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    Before we knew it we were boarding, I think it was just about noon on the dot.
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    They announced our introduction and we wandered into the atrium. Jenna was in awe, but me having been on board before already had our plan. People were slowly mulling about and heading up in the midship elevators to go to Cabanas so I dragged her through the lobby, we'll have all week to soak it in, and headed down the deck 3 hallway past Royal Court to the aft elevators, which were empty and let you out right at Cabanas.
    They ushered us into the starboard side of the buffet and we didn't waste any time. Shrimp, steak, and lamb chop were among the hilights. I even decided to try crab legs for the first time...
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    We sat right by a window and watched the organized chaos on the pier. I also lost count of the number of crew that welcomed us aboard as they walked by.

    We ate quickly and were too antsy to see more of the ship so we were off.

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    Some beautiful detail from outside the Rainforest Room...
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    To be continued...
     
  9. MrRay

    MrRay Mouseketeer

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    We had a few things that we were focused on doing when we got on board.

    1- Booking a snorkeling excursion for Grand Cayman that was sold out online...Success

    2- Booking a Mixology class for the first sea day... Success

    3- Touring the kids clubs since it's one of the only times adults can.

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    ...Success

    The kid's club is awesome, I was jealous.

    Before we knew it 1:30 had come and we were able to go to our room. We were in room 8540, category 5B verandah room.
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    It was just around the corner from the forward elevators, very convenient. There was also 2 pieces of Enchanted Art there that changed depending on the time of day.
    Here it is at dinner time...
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    We opened the room to find a whole lot of goodies.
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    First off we had a Castaway Club bag that Jenna got for having take a cruise previously, then the gift basket from "Dreams Unlimited" for having booked with them... then a surprise bottle of champagne and box of chocolates from my parents as a belated Christmas present.
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    We were very excited and it was also just nice to be in the room.
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  10. WanderlustNZ

    WanderlustNZ DIS Veteran

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    Really enjoying your TR so far. Thanks for sharing.
     
  11. wiigirl

    wiigirl DIS Veteran

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    Really enjoying your TR and pics! :thumbsup2
     
  12. wdhinn89

    wdhinn89 DIS Veteran

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    Hey guys it's Victoria!:wave2:
    Love the trip report so far! Can't wait to read more! popcorn::
     
  13. kalel29

    kalel29 Dis Dad #101

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    Great...thanks for ruining it for me....but I guess I will subscribe anyways. popcorn::
     
  14. MrRay

    MrRay Mouseketeer

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    We got our bags at a reasonable hour but didn't get around to unpacking... We walked around for a bit before heading to our muster station. That didn't take too long so we filled our Dreams mugs with "ginger-ale" and it was time to sail away.

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    We didn't catch the show, we opted to head up to Deck 13 Forward where it was quieter. It was fun sailing out, they played a couple of the horn sounds. There was more people than I was expecting there to watch us sail away.
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    It was cool and breezy so once we had sailed out a bit we decided to grab a snack. By this time it was probably 5:30, we had the 2nd dinner seating so we thought we were going to need something to hold us over until 8:30.

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    The only thing open was the quick service area. We grabbed some chicken strips.
    Now when I was a kid and used to come to Disney World they had chicken strips at all their restaurants and I loved them. At some point they changed to "chicken breast nuggets" and it was really never the same. I was very excited to find that they still have proper chicken strips with honey mustard and it tasted just like I remember.
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    We went back to the room and unpacked while watching "Beauty and the Beast". Having so many Disney movies On Demand is incredible, plus there is a channel that shows classic cartoons. It's nice having on in the background.

    Our dining rotation was AERAEER. We met our table mates in Animator's Palette, Disney's Computers had paired us up with two other young couples. We got along very nicely. This is a great place to have your first dinner because their is so much to look at, and that night was the Turtle Talk with Crush show, so it was great for breaking the ice. The first person Crush talked to was one of the guy's at our table and it was pretty funny watching him realize that Crush was actually talking to him.

    I had an Arugula-Watercress salad, trio of Veal, and desert trio. Jenna had Potato cheese soup, Thyme chicken, and ice cream sundae. It was all very tasty and a good meal.

    We went to The Tube after dinner to catch a "Match your Mate" show, it was funny but we were exhausted. We aren't stay up super late kinds of people.

    Next- Day 2, At Sea
     
  15. PizzieDuster

    PizzieDuster DIS Veteran

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    Fantastic trip report! I love all the pictures you are posting! Can't wait for more! :banana:

    One of my regrets on sailing out of PC was never taking my teen boys to the KSC. They would have LOVED it!
     
  16. Maple17

    Maple17 Mouseketeer

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    Great TR! We are in 8540 on the Fantasy in 3 weeks! Did you like the room? I read that there is a slight obstruction on the balcony on the left side. Did that bother you at all?
     
  17. iloverags2

    iloverags2 DIS Veteran

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    Joining in, and enjoying your report!
     
  18. MrRay

    MrRay Mouseketeer

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    It didn't bother me at all. There is a small obstruction from the outer framing, that did give me a second look at first but it was never an issue. I plan on booking this room again.

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    This is the room from outside, you can see the frame.
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    Here you can see the obstruction better.
     
  19. MrRay

    MrRay Mouseketeer

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    I find morning to be the nicest time on the ship. It's quiet and very empty in the pools and hot tubs. Around 7:30 we hit up the hot tub. The hot tubs are amazing the way that they are out over the ship.
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    Afterwards we had breakfast in Cabanas and shortly after took advantage of the short line for the Aquaduck... afterwards we were freezing because it was very windy where you get off so it was back to the hot tub and then a relaxing morning of laying in the sun on 13.
    There are a lot of great places to relax on the ship for adults, and no offense to anyone with kids, but its great having an adults only jacuzzi.
    Lunch was in Cabanas, and it was still a novelty getting lots of food so I'm sure I overloaded.
    We tried sitting in Satellite falls but it can get extremely windy there. We watched several people walk up to it and get in for about a second before getting right back out.
    At some point on this day I was staring out at the ocean and saw a pod of dolphins swimming along the ship. Some of them were actually jumping out pretty high over the waves.

    We cleaned ourselves up and set out to "Skyline" for our 3:30 mixology class. I apologize for the pictures, it's crazy dark in there.
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    We went in to find setups of 5 glasses at several different tables. We sat with a nice couple from Ohio. Patrick from Australia, who works in Skyline, taught the class. The gist of it is they teach you how to make 5 different drinks...then you drink them. It was a lot of fun and many of the drinks were things that I would never ever think to order but were all very good. And honestly at $15 a person I don't think you can go wrong here. We had 5 full drinks, and drank them all within an hour so it was a good time.

    We hung around and chatted for a bit then started to head back to our room. We were walking by the movie theater just as "Avengers 3D" was about to start so we dropped in to check it out. The movie was literally starting as we walked in and we watched the first half hour or so. There was no way we were sitting through a 2 1/2 hour movie after that mixology class. It was nice to try out the theater though, its very nice.

    We were walking along Deck 4 outside when we came across this switch on the wall... I don't remember it even being near anything, just kinda on the wall. Thankfully it was set to normal.
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    We went back to the room and took our first crack at ordering some room service to hold us over until dinner. We got a chicken fajita wrap and chocolate chip cookie. I think it took about 8 minutes to show up to our room and was quite tasty.

    Dinner was in Enchanted Garden and it was formal night. People dress all over the spectrum, it was fun. Spending time around the atrium is a great place to see all the activity. The time between first dinner getting out and second dinner going in is very exciting as everyone is moving around and having their pictures taken all over the lobby. I recommend setting yourself up at the "Bon Voyage" bar, it's a great place to people watch and Andre makes a killer mojito.

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    Enchanted garden is pretty enough as you walk up to it but it's our least favorite of the 3 restaurants. The room changes color from day to night and when you are in that dusk time it gets very orange... its a little unflattering but goes quick.
    Food was good... I had Cucumber Garden Roll, Lobster Ravioli, Sea Bass, and desert trio again.
    Jenna had Lobster Ravioli, Heirloom Tomato Soup (a big hit), and Marjoram chicken.

    It was a very nice dinner again. I don't think we were ever at dinner for more than an hour and a half. It was a very pleasant flow for us and I honestly felt like they picked up on the way we were early on.

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    Next- Day 3 Cayman Islands
     
  20. MrRay

    MrRay Mouseketeer

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    Well as I always say, and I did several times on this trip, just gives you reason to go back!
     
  21. MrRay

    MrRay Mouseketeer

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    We woke up early and enjoyed a nice morning on the verandah. I grabbed us a couple of coffees from Cove Cafe, where they had already learned me by name. We weren't scheduled to get into Grand Cayman until 11:30 so we had a nice leisurely morning.
    I just realized I haven't mentioned our server, Diartha from Indonesia. He was wonderful. He treated us like we were his only table and would always tell us where he would be working the next day during the day. This day he happened to be in "Royal Court" for breakfast so we decided to try there instead of "Cabanas". If you're looking for a less hectic breakfast this is the place to be. "Enchanted Garden" is a buffet, pretty much the same as "Cabanas", but Royal Court is a la carte. Every time we went in we were greeted by what seemed like the whole serving staff. I get the feeling that it's much less stressful for them because the restaurant is so empty so everyone is in a good mood.

    Jenna took advantage of the Children's menu to get a Mickey Waffle...
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    I think I had poached eggs... It was a nice quieter change of pace.

    Some of the pixar crew was out for pictures in the morning so we took advantage. I love "Toy Story".
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    I was very impressed that I handed my camera over to the Character Handler and she actually took a candid picture of me meeting Buzz... Nice touch.
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    We sat on the Verandah and watched us pull in to Grand Cayman... we were flanked by another small ship pulling in at the same time.
    There was 4 total ships in port .
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    Now here's a little bit of pride for being on a Disney ship...I look at some of these other ships and they just look sad. I can't imagine being excited for a cruise and pulling up to the port and seeing this... and yes I'm judging a book by it's cover...
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    You get what you pay for.
     

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