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Sail Date: February 2019
BACKGROUND: This cruise was a birthday cruise for my older daughter who is turning 5. We also have a 20 month old girl. We thought about doing the theme parks, but figured that is more stressful and we’d wait until the girls are older. ... Read More
BACKGROUND: This cruise was a birthday cruise for my older daughter who is turning 5. We also have a 20 month old girl. We thought about doing the theme parks, but figured that is more stressful and we’d wait until the girls are older. So we decided on DCL. Also joining us were my brother-in-law, sister-in-law, and their 7 yr old daughter. Technically, I’ve done DCL once before, on the Wonder. But that was a free cruise due to my friend working as a doctor on the ship (I crashed with him). So this was my first true DCL sailing with a family. CABIN: We stayed in 6138 (Deluxe oceanview with verandah), and in-laws had the connecting room. I was very impressed with the room. It didn’t feel cramped in there, even with the crib and diaper genie. We really loved having the two bathrooms and two sinks. And there was plenty of storage space for everything. I really liked that our large suitcases and even our car seat fit under the bed. The cabin location was great, and it was easy to get around everywhere. There was no vibration noise and not much foot traffic outside our room. Having the connecting room was awesome as the kids could go back and forth easily. ENTERTAINMENT: Since our 1 year old goes to bed early, one of us typically stayed in the room after dinner while the rest of the group went out. Out of the shows that I watched, I really liked the juggler and Wishes show, and the Knight magicians were great also. I didn’t care for the rePercussion show at all. We had a great time at the various music trivia contests, and actually won the 90’s one. For kid’s stuff, my older kid really loved all the character meetings. DINING: Overall I was quite happy with the food. The breakfast buffets were excellent- Mickey waffles, pancakes, made to order eggs, biscuits & gravy, fresh fruit, etc were all great. My kid loved the selection of Krispy Kreme donuts. My only complaint about breakfast is that it was very hard to find crispy bacon. We did one sit-down character breakfast and that was good, but we preferred the buffet options. Lunch buffets were also great. I liked the selection of pastas, rice dishes, vegetables, etc. The desserts were solid also (really enjoyed the Oreo cheesecake). The breads were tasty, especially the focaccia (overall, the various breads on the ship were so good!). Sit-down dinners were hit and miss. As others have mentioned, expect convention center banquet hall quality. We typically liked the appetizers and salads. But some of the entrees were not good at all. I can remember a few that I stopped eating after a few bites (chicken schnitzel, sesame tofu, seafood pasta). I did tend to like the filled pasta options (especially mushroom ones). Some of the sides were great, such as the delicious white asparagus. Food temperature was an issue, as many of the entrees were served lukewarm. I never really left dinner feeling stuffed. On the bright side, our servers David and Marko were awesome. We made sure to tip them extra. The other saving grace was that the dinner desserts were overall really good (especially the crème brulee cheesecake and the various sundaes). And the Mickey ice cream bars live up to the hype- they have a terrific dark chocolate shell. We did Palo brunch also. That was a great mix of salads, bread, cheese, seafood, pasta, and desserts. I thought the chicken parm wasn’t as good as people here raved about. But we did have the chef make an off-menu calzone that was so good, and probably the best calzone I’ve ever had. The almond croissant and blue cheese walnut bread were great. For desserts, I loved the tiramisu and cannoli the most. Was it worth $40 + tip per person? I felt it was for me, because I liked having the variety of food. But for someone looking to save money, you’d be fine skipping it. In terms of other food options, we were happy. The late night french fries at Flo’s Café were awesome. The gelato at the ice cream shop was also great, and priced reasonably. Loved the cheesy tater toys with fresh jalapenos at the Irish pub. And Cove Café made great lattes (with really fun latte art). I’m glad they offered a buy 5, get 1 free latte punch card. My one suggestion for the food is to provide more ethnic options. The vast majority of the food options were American and Italian. During the entire week, I only recall seeing one Chinese dish (basic fried rice) and a couple of Indian dishes. I know many people don’t like ethnic food or spice, but I was really surprised by the lack of Mexican (tex-mex) options. I’d consider tex-mex food to very mainstream these days, and even kids love it. But in general, I was happy with the food, and gained 5 lbs! SPA: We purchased the Rainforest room deal for the week. It was very relaxing to visit the various rooms and showers. We even took showers here a few days because the showers were so spacious. The spa uses Elemis toiletries, which I didn’t like as much as the DCL ones. SHIP: The Fantasy felt sizable, but never overwhelming. We found it very easy and fast to get around the ship (especially without kids in tow). Elevators moved quickly. We found everything to be very clean also. My one issue is that the pools were tiny and therefore super-crowded. PORTS: We couldn’t do much in terms of excursions due to the 1 year old. At Tortola, there wasn’t much to do for us, so we just walked around the square a bit. In St Thomas, we did the scenic tram, which was a great photo op. And we did bicycling at Castaway, which was a lot of fun. We spent the rest of the day at the beach there. The clear blue water was awesome (though slightly chilly). I know our 20 month old won’t remember this experience in the future, but I think the 5 year old definitely will. Would we go on DCL again? We want to, but that will depend on pricing also. Even though we went during a cheaper week, this was by far the most we’ve ever spent on a vacation. Eventually I’d like to go on one of the new ships, but will target an off-peak week. Overall, we had a fantastic time and have lots of great memories. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2019
We chose this cruise because we wanted to take our grandchildren with us. The crew stood out from the time we stepped on board. Our family was announced as we walked on board and cheered as we walked past. An issue was resolved with ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we wanted to take our grandchildren with us. The crew stood out from the time we stepped on board. Our family was announced as we walked on board and cheered as we walked past. An issue was resolved with grace and humor by the Guest Services people. Every member of the crew actually seemed happy to be there and doing what they were hired to do. I caught a crew member dancing to herself when no one else was looking. Especially accommodating were our dinner wait staff. Our main waiter, Ralph, and his assistant, Deddy, were quick, efficient and fun to be around. Our youngest, who is 9, ordered a lemonade at dinner the first night at dinner. She was shocked when she was brought a lemonade every night before she had a chance to ask. They showed some magic tricks as well as some mind-benders using crayons. They went with us each night even as we went to different dining rooms. This was a great idea as well. We had dinner in each of the 3 dining rooms. Each had something different to offer. Animator's Palate was adorned with screens on all the walls which had pencil drawings. As the night went on the screens changed to show how the characters were drawn. Finally, they went to color and became fully animated as Mickey entered the dining room. Rapunzel's Table was decorated as you might expect from the time period depicted in that fairy tale. A live show during dinner was also great for the kids. The number of children was much higher than on other cruises I've taken. This did cause some lines when characters came out to sign autographs. The outdoor evening events were when the number of children really was evident. The pool deck was wall to wall kids! The evening productions seemed to have just a little higher level of talent than most cruises I've been on. The changes in scenery along with the animation made the productions really stand out. Our grandkids really enjoyed the whole experience, especially the day in Castaway Cay. It was a great time for all. However, I would not go on it just as a couple. Read Less
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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2019
Can not say enough good things about this experience...only con it was short. Next time definitely wanna do more nights. Disney does vacation well. We felt the service was off the charts. Placed a deposit for another cruise...got some very ... Read More
Can not say enough good things about this experience...only con it was short. Next time definitely wanna do more nights. Disney does vacation well. We felt the service was off the charts. Placed a deposit for another cruise...got some very good perks for doing this. My kids loved this trip. The food was amazing especially for vegetarians...I had so many options it was hard to choose. Castaway Cay was the best. The day was fun and relaxing. The pools do get a little crowded but we never had a problem getting a spot. I would recommend bringing something to entertain the children at the Port while waiting to board..also a snack. Everyone on the ship is super helpful so no need to stress about not knowing where to be. The kids team was great and really made my shy children feel welcome. There is so much to do on board. I recommend taking the time to do the mid ship detective agency all three of my kids loved it. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2019
For the price, my family and I were disappointed with our first ever Disney Cruise. Pros: 1) We really enjoyed the shows. The Frozen performance, in particular, was spectacular! It was truly Broadway-caliber! 2) The rotating ... Read More
For the price, my family and I were disappointed with our first ever Disney Cruise. Pros: 1) We really enjoyed the shows. The Frozen performance, in particular, was spectacular! It was truly Broadway-caliber! 2) The rotating dinner was very special. You rotate between three restaurants: Triton's, Tatiana's Place, and the Animator's Palate. Each had a different type of cuisine and really amazing decor and ambiance. The multi-media show at Animator's Palate was a highlight of the entire cruise. 3) Overall, the food was better than other cruises we've been on. 4) The service was exceptional (minus the kids' programs) 5) Castaway Cay was breathtaking! Cons: 1) The children's pools were so tiny! My daughter, who loves pools, felt too overwhelmed to even go in them. 2) Now for our biggest complaint. We booked the Disney Cruise because we thought the children's programs would be an area of emphasis for them. We found, however, that they were run more like a babysitting service. There were always several crew members around, but they were extremely unengaged with the kids. My daughter is a very shy, four year old and when I peeked into the Oceaneer Club, she was almost always alone, with the staff just standing around, chatting amongst themselves. The scheduled kids events at the Club were pretty lame. The program on Castaway Cay was even worse! When I went to pick up my daughter, I counted NINE employees standing around, and none of them were interacting with any of the kids. This was not at all what I expected, and definitely not the magical Disney-way I have come to respect. Because of the lack of attention, I signed my daughter up for about 1/3 of the time that I was hoping to. Everyone told me the kiddos are not going to want to leave the Club, but my daughter, honestly, dreaded going and they didn't seem to do anything to help ease her anxiety the four times I dropped her off. Definitely would consider other cruise lines before Disney again, due to the cost and terrible experience with the kids' club. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
This was our 3rd Disney cruise. They cost more be we always end up going back because of the cleanliness, outstanding service and food. Well I guess it was 2 out of three this timew. The servers in restaurant and service overall was ... Read More
This was our 3rd Disney cruise. They cost more be we always end up going back because of the cleanliness, outstanding service and food. Well I guess it was 2 out of three this timew. The servers in restaurant and service overall was outstanding. The steward that cleaned our room was wonderful. The ship was clean and beautifully maintained. The food-to put it mildly was very disappointing. Paying top dollar and getting a steak that’s like leather and hungry man gravy. Pasta sauce that was literally like ketchup, cheese cake that was a sponge tasteless blob. Had a special allergy order on Castaway Cay barbecue and was Literally given 2 slivers of spare rib!!!! Come on!! How can u not expect a comment on this. I can say staff was outstanding with catering to food allergies, but my husband had no special orders and was just as dissapointed. It’s a shame how they have cheaped out on their food and on top of that it was cold several times. We have decided to try another cruise line and pay 40 percent less. . Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
We chose this 4-day Disney Bahamian cruise for a short winter getaway with our daughter, son-in-law and grandson, who is almost 2 years old. We had cruised by ourselves or with friends before on Holland America and Oceania but this was our ... Read More
We chose this 4-day Disney Bahamian cruise for a short winter getaway with our daughter, son-in-law and grandson, who is almost 2 years old. We had cruised by ourselves or with friends before on Holland America and Oceania but this was our first kid-focused cruise and first cruise with Disney. There were many positives: 1) Embarkation and disembarkation were both very smooth processes - we took the Disney Cruise transfer from our resort to Port Canaveral. With stops to pick up guests at 2 other resorts, it took us just over an hour to get from our resort to the port. The transfers were very well organized. Once we got to the port, it took us no more than 15-20 minutes to register and get on board. For disembarkation, Disney provided a nice, early (6:45 am) sit down breakfast at one of the main dining rooms, where we were served by our regular waiters. That was a nice touch. The transfer to the airport was very good. 2) Ship itself is beautiful. 3) Ship is very well maintained - given the focus on short cruises and large number of children on each cruise I expected the ship to look "well used". That wasn't the case at all. The ship was impeccable. 4) Our deluxe veranda stateroom was great - clean, everything worked, lots of storage space. We liked the 2 room bathroom set-up - toilet and sink in 1 room, sink and bath/shower in the other room very much. Our room steward was readily available for questions and kept the room in perfect shape. 5) The quality of the food was surprisingly quite good - I would say at least as good as on Holland America, although not at the Oceania level. We also ate once at the Italian speciality restaurant, Palo, which was excellent. 6) Activities - there are different streams for young children, teens, families and adults. There are tons of things to do on board, many at no extra charge. 7) Shows are excellent - excellent entertainment in general 8) Service - truly exceptional. Our waiters were fantastic with our little guy. Moreover, they were great in helping my wife with her dietary restrictions. Within a day or two it seemed that everyone on board knew our little guy's name and he was happily giving fist bumps, high fives and waves to various crew members. Bar staff, staff in stores, photographers - everyone we met provided excellent service. Bravo Disney!!! 9) Disney Magic (children) - our little guy loved the character meet and greets - the Disney characters are great with little kids, interact so well with them & take the time with each person to make them feel special. For example, while on Castaway Cay, seeing Pluto play in the sand with our grandson brought a big smile to my face. There were a lot of opportunities to meet the Disney characters on the ship. There are also Disney movies playing, the Disney shows, even Mickey shaped waffles and a special Haagen Daaz type Mickey ice cream sandwich for kids for dessert. 10) Disney Magic (adults) - Started from the moment when we got on board, when we were greeted by a number of crew members as we got on the ship and our family was "formally" introduced. That was a nice touch. We found there are many adult-only areas and activities when you want a break from the kids. Some of the things we saw really impressed me - for example, Pirates night (as opposed to formal nights on other cruise lines) was a lot of fun. I couldn't believe how seriously everyone took it - crew members, Disney characters and many, many passengers all dressed up in costumes. And our dinner at Animators Palate, which is one of the 3 rotational main dining rooms, was a terrific experience. The interaction with the Disney characters, in this case Crush, on the screen by our table, just totally blew me away. Wonderful!!! 11) Castaway Cay, Disney's private island, is lovely. There is a lot going on and a lot to do, if you are so inclined. It is nice that there are plenty of lounge chairs with umbrellas (free) so you don't have to pay for a clamshell to have some shade. 12) We took a couples massage at the adult beach, Serenity Bay, on Castaway Cay. That was a wonderful experience that I would highly recommend. 13) Dining (dinner) is at set times - either the main seating at 5:45 pm or the late seating at 8:15 pm. With our little guy, we really wanted the 5:45 pm seating. But we booked this cruise fairly late and so when we booked they could only give us the late seating. However, we asked to be put on the waiting list for the main seating. And when we reviewed our reservations a few days before boarding we saw that we had been switched to the main seating. Yay Disney! 14) Rotational dinners - we liked the idea of having dinners in 3 different main dining rooms, each with different themes' and that our waiters followed us to each of the different dining rooms. That was perfect for us. There were also a few things we didn't like as much: 1) Most importantly, the ship was very crowded. For major events, like the sailaway party and the Pirates night party, the open area on Deck 11 was just a mass of humanity. There were children everywhere - I know, this was a Disney Cruise, so what do you expect...? Still, there was a lot of activity and noise, with kids running down the corridors outside our stateroom and shouting at 11 pm, a zoo-like atmosphere at the 2 children/family swimming pools. There are 1250 staterooms on the Disney Dream so normally that would translate into 2500 passengers on the cruise, assuming 2 people per stateroom. However, in that this is a family cruise, there are often 3, 4 or even 5 people per stateroom, so the net result is over 4000 passengers on board. That is a lot of people for a ship of this size. 2) Kids are offered chocolate donuts 1st thing at breakfast, Mickey waffles, unlimited soft ice cream and sodas during the day (self serve), lots of cookies, cakes and other sweet desserts at buffets and meals (e.g. our Mickey Haagen Daaz type ice cream sandwiches). That might explain why there seemed to be some kids who were virtually bouncing off the walls. There were some healthy choices but they were kind of limited. 3) We didn't care for the buffet at Cookies on Castaway Cay. We found it very ordinary. 4) I also found that the buffet at Cabanas (on deck 11) did not have as much selection and was not as good, quality-wise, as buffets on other ships. All in all we had a great experience on the Disney Dream. We liked it so much we wanted to stay on for the following cruise but unfortunately it was fully booked. A four day cruise is very short. Given our great experience, we plan to book another Disney Cruise but next time will probably go with a longer cruise, if possible. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2019
Traveled with family group of 8 (4 adults, 4 kids aged 5-9). Same group traveled to Disney World last October. No issues with embarking from Port of Miami. Cabin rooms were fine, as we knew we would not be spending much time in the ... Read More
Traveled with family group of 8 (4 adults, 4 kids aged 5-9). Same group traveled to Disney World last October. No issues with embarking from Port of Miami. Cabin rooms were fine, as we knew we would not be spending much time in the rooms. Statesroom attendant (Calvin) was fantastic. Super-friendly - the kids loved the towel creatures he created each day. He also rotated the sheets on the kids beds, when we informed him they would be sharing bottom/top bunk duties. Bought the beer package with cooler bag upon boarding. For 80$ (including tax, tip, delivery to room), got 12 beers and the good sized cooler bag. Would recommend this, if you don't have a chance to buy beers prior to boarding. Note - Disney will confiscate 16oz beers - the 12oz size is a strict rule. they will confiscate magnum sized wine bottles as well. Drinks of the day all ran on the sweet side, but this is where you get the bang for your buck. Dining - started great at Lumieres on the 1st night, but then it went downhill after that. Our food / beverage servers were not in synch. we were constantly served food, prior to beverages - in some cases, we finished our desserts before the coffee ever arrived. We were pretty predictable with our orders, yet everything seemed to surprise our servers. Most troubling was the fact that members in our party had nut/shellfish allergies which were declared prior to boarding. But, each evening we had to ask our server which meals to avoid, and every night, he had to go ask the head server, and kitchen staff. Kids menu was not impressive - typical choices. Animators palate was ok at best, Rapunzels table was very good. Palo was great, but the reservation racket that Disney operates boggles the mind. We almost had to pay for a cancellation at Palo, then were put on a waiting list. When we did dine at Palo, there were empty tables throughout the restaurant! Why are there so many empty tables, if there is a waiting list? Very antiquated ordering system in the restaurants. If you have food service industry experience, you would quickly notice a lot of inefficiencies. Cabanas for breakfast/lunch was solid. Daisy Delights was the best option on the pool deck as there was actually healthy food choices. Room Service - small, limited menu, but timely delivery. The infamous cheese was plate was comical. Don't understand why items like powerade is a premium charge on room service, but unlimited at Cabanas. Popcorn at the movie theater was also a charged item. I can get as many steaks as I want in the restaurant, but Disney charges for popcorn? Pool Deck - Pools were smaller than expected. The kids enjoyed the slides, but with only 2 of them, the lines got long...40 minutes at times. Extremely windy on the deck during the days at sea - made impossible to play basketball. younger kids enjoyed the Discovery club, especially when characters visited. The older girls weren't too impressed. Was hoping not to see iPads, but its Disney - they invented screen-time!! Again, don't understand why the kids wristbands are a charge - 14$. Yes, they refund upon return, but if they break upon return, Disney chucks them in the garbage. Got some pictures with characters - however, the length of the lines got crazy at times. you are better off grabbing a pic with them after the scheduled event is over. Marvel Day was cool. It balanced the "princess culture" of Disney, allowing the boys to enjoy something geared toward them. The Pirate show on the deck was fun, nothing exceptional. Supposedly Disney is the only cruise line allowed to launch fireworks. adult activities were on the cheesy side. tequila tasting was great - would recommend going to those type of events. The majority of activities for adults, were more along the lines of trivia, name that song, bingo, etc. Wives got massages in the Spa - they were irked that they were pushed to buy products. musicians playing in the lounges, bars were very good. Michael Harrison, a ventriloquist, was fantastic - kids loved him. he also did an adult show later in the trip. The theater productions of Charmed, Cinderella were excellent. Dr. Strange show was ok. Cozumel port day was great- went swimming with dolphins. it was good to get off of the ship. Castaway day was probably the best day. Kids loved the beach. However, we don't understand why we have to pay to rent snorkel and raft gear on an island that Disney operates. Getting off the boat was fine - recommend the luggage pick up the night before. beats dragging all of your stuff to breakfast. the picture package was extremely overpriced. worse, they shut down the kiosks early, giving you little time to order before disembarking. no issues getting luggage. wouldn't go again. kids had a good time, but they preferred the Disney parks. Disney Magic unfortunately is a little dated, and small. would try an all-inclusive family resort in mexico next time. I didn't see the value. would consider a newer, larger boat. we were moored next to the NCL Breakaway in Cozumel - that ship looked fun. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
To be with grandkids I am disappointed with overcharging under gratuities and 30 minute massage. 63.29 tip for every activity including for a 6 dollars spent at laundry. Sand bar charge of 11.43 has a 53.28 tip. Oslo glass ... Read More
To be with grandkids I am disappointed with overcharging under gratuities and 30 minute massage. 63.29 tip for every activity including for a 6 dollars spent at laundry. Sand bar charge of 11.43 has a 53.28 tip. Oslo glass wine charge of 109.78 is excessive. This is all in addition to maximum tip I gave to server staff of three and to host who took care of our room. Unless I am mistaken, the charges are excessive compared to other cruise I have travelled with. Certainly makes me think twice before considering Disney cruise in fu. I cannot figure out why you want minimum of 150 words, perhaps a control issue. Kids enjoyed their interaction with Mickey and others. Food was good , staff appear to be happier compared to other cruises I have travelled with, perhaps a real feeling or good training. Some of the staff at guest services were not good at proper communication. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2019
We did this same cruise (same ship, same itinerary, with the Star Wars Day at Sea) 2 years ago, and chose it again because we loved it so much! Our traveling party: Myself (48), husband (57), our daughter (13), and our niece (24) ... Read More
We did this same cruise (same ship, same itinerary, with the Star Wars Day at Sea) 2 years ago, and chose it again because we loved it so much! Our traveling party: Myself (48), husband (57), our daughter (13), and our niece (24) TRANSFER TO PORT FROM WDW HOTEL: We had a few days pre-cruise at the Beach Club. On Friday we received a letter stating our meeting time and place the next morning (by 11:20 am, Beach Club Solarium). We boarded buses by 11:30 as everyone had already checked in, and reached Port Canaveral around 12:45. EMBARKATION: Possibly the quickest and easiest embarkation I have ever experienced in my many years of cruising. Did the complete online check-in before arrival. Minimal wait at security (minutes at most), up the escalators, right into the check-in line where we received the simplest health form ever (just one for the whole family, rather than one for everyone), and were called immediately to the counter before I'd even filled in the two blanks on the form! I handed over the Port Arrival form, the agent took one group picture (rather than individual pictures) for our identification, and then she gave us a boarding card showing Group 22 and they were already up to Group 28 so we were free to board immediately! Honestly it was so quick we didn't even get a picture under the Mickey entranceway, or near the ship model! The longest line we waited in was to get our boarding pictures taken! I was super-impressed with embarkation. CABIN: We had a Deluxe Family Oceanview with Verandah on Deck 5 Starboard. It was a fabulous choice for our group -- the verandah was oversized and even though the room itself is a bit tight with 4 grown people, there was plenty of storage for clothes (and luggage under the bed). Our location was PERFECT, close to the elevators, not in a busy hall, just a quick trip downstairs to the aft public areas and a quick zip up the elevator to Deck 11 for the buffet or the pools. When (not if!) I sail on the Fantasy again, I'll be doing it in the same cabin! The cabin has a divided bathroom -- one has the toilet and a sink, the other has a shower and the sink. Shampoo, conditioner, and lotion (and bar soap) are provided in the bathroom; however, unlike at Disney parks, their wonderful H2O shower gel is NOT in the cabins. Thankfully we had brought some with us from our stay at the parks. ;-) (It's also available for purchase -- not inexpensively! -- in the shops.) I found the king bed very comfortable, the pillows OK depending on which one got put in my spot each night, and the lighting all adequate. I love the dividing curtain for the king bed from the bunk beds. The kids slept later so we could turn lights on in the morning and not bother them. SHIP: Well, obviously we liked the ship the first time, because we went back! I actually love the Fantasy. First of all, I think it's a really attractive, classic-looking ship. Secondly, it's really well-maintained, inside and out -- neat, clean, shipshape. Third, I think it has a really good layout of public spaces -- the only part that is a little confusing are the public lounges on Deck 4 aft, and it's really kind of a cool little warren in there so even though it's a bit of a maze, it's wonderful! The pools on Deck 11 are not large, but to be honest, I never even attempted to go in one. My "spot" is in the Quiet Cove adult pool area, preferably on one of the four round loungers with a good book. ;-) (But if I could make a recommendation, I think Disney could perhaps add a few more of these round loungers, perhaps on the starboard side ... with only 4 available, all on the port side, they're a pretty hot commodity, and people that get them are prone to stay in them all day long! Or at least their clothes and belongings are.) The upper sundecks in this area are also really nice. Back to the main pools, there are (obviously) a lot of kids there, and if you've got young kids, this is where you'll be. Kids just hang out in the pool and watch the movies on Funnel Vision all day long. The AquaDuck slide is also here, and the lines can get long. I recommend going on a port day if you stay onboard, or after 5pm. DINING: Disney makes use of a rotational dining plan whereby you are assigned to a specific table # at a specific dinner seating, and then you rotate to each of the three main restaurants twice during a 7-day cruise (and a third time for one of them). So for example, our Key to the World card had the letters "ERAERRA" on it. This meant on night one we ate at Enchanted Garden, night two at Royal Court, night three at Animator's Palate, and then so forth. In our case, our extra night was a third night at Royal Court. Enchanted Garden has colored cielings that change colors during the meal, and the flower chandeliers open up as well. Royal Court is more princess/Cinderella-themed, with carriage bread baskets and the like. Animator's Palate is the most unique and interesting, with Mickey Mouse themed chairs and cleverly integrated screens on all the walls that can look like portraits, or come alive and entertain you during the meal. The menu is the same at each restaurant on any given night -- so for example if you are assigned to Royal Court one night, you are not "missing out" on anything they are serving at Enchanted Garden, because all three restaurants have the same offerings each night. Now, the service and food. We were assigned to the second seating, which is at 8:15pm. (First seating is at 5:45pm.) The service was OVERALL very good. We were actually quite surprised and disappointed on the first night when our service was ridiculously, unacceptably slow. We placed our orders at 8:30 and didn't receive drinks until 9:15pm! Then the soups came at 9:30. The entrees did not arrive until closer to 10:00pm. At this point there was no chance of us making our next planned activity and we didn't finish the meal until after 10:15pm. Vacations are too short to be spending that much time in the dining room each night, but I know things happen and I am not a complainer so we just hoped the next night would be better. It was, but it was still considerably slower than I am used to on a ship, and again we missed an evening activity we had planned to attend. I still didn't want to say anything, but we began to arrive slightly early, and we had already reviewed the menus on the DCL Navigator App before we arrived so we knew what we wanted to order. Suddenly starting on Night 3 we placed orders immediately and were eating appetizers by 8:35! It made a huge difference and this level of service remained throughout the week. I don't know if someone else complained, or if there were some kinks the first couple of nights, but everything cleared up on Day 3. Our primary waiter was a little difficult to understand and very brusque those first two nights, and suddenly on Day 3, different person. Spent time with us, showed us fun games, and also got us our food in a timely manner. I'm glad I didn't complain and get him in trouble, but I don't know if someone else did. These are all hard-working people just trying to earn a living and I never would want to make their lives harder! The food itself was good but I won't go for great. A couple of times I got soup that was lukewarm at best, and nothing else was super-hot either. There are not a lot of selections on the menu -- typically 5 main entrees being offered, not counting the everyday offerings of grilled salmon, chicken, or steak. Thankfully I was always able to find something that I could eat. I am not a fan of lobster but I know for some reason lobster is a HUGE thing with cruisers (and I have heard a lot of complaining on chat boards for other cruise lines where lobster has been removed from the menus), so fans of this particular dish will be glad to know there were a couple of nights where lobster was offered. Other food offerings on the ship are Flo's 8 Diner on Deck 11 near the pools, which offers pizza, burgers, chicken fingers, hot dogs, sandwiches, salads, and fruit pretty much all day long, and the buffet on Deck 11 aft called Cabanas. I grabbed something from Flo's most days for lunch as Cabanas was already closed at 2pm when I'd return from my port adventures, and Flo's does a surprisingly good job of serving up decent food. The pizza was much better (according to my niece) than the pizza she got in Cabanas one day, and the fries were always fresh and hot. We did have lunch in Cabanas at least once, and there were similar selections (burgers, fries, etc) but with obviously a bit more variety -- some ethnic foods and pastas, for example, and also a wide array of desserts. (The only dessert I ever got there was on Star Wars Day, and it was chocolate brownie with a Darth Vader chocolate on top, and it was delicious.) We also had breakfast at Cabanas most days, ranging from just cereal and fruit to the full "English" -- sausages, hash browns, grilled tomatoes, etc. I can say that for me, the scrambled eggs were inedible -- I'm sure they're not actually eggs, and also they are cooked way too soft for my particular taste, but people must eat them because they keep making them! Far better choices for eggs were the omelets, whether pre-made or made-to-order. ENTERTAINMENT AND ACTIVITIES: Not having small kids, this is the first cruise I've been on in many years where we did not have a child attending the kids' club. However my daughter (13) was a daily visitor to Edge, the "tween" club which is for ages 11-14. All the clubs (youth, tween, teen) have similar activities at different days and times. My daughter LOVES the programming, from GAGA ball to Heroes and Villains. For adult daily entertainment, my husband, niece and I were mostly drawn to the trivia contests. There was a pretty loyal following for trivia who showed up to most of the 18+ contests that were offered. Most of these contests were held in O'Gills pub, on Deck 4 aft, which is a great little sports pub where for a little extra you can also get a nice warm German pretzel with your beverage. ;-) I would have enjoyed even more trivia or similar contests to be offered, especially on the last day when there was only one! Having done this cruise before, and attended EVERY evening show in the big theater, this time we only attended one! We remembered enjoying EVERYTHING last time, but my niece isn't really "into" the shows, so the only one we went to this time was "Aladdin". It's still great, although I liked it better two years ago. Maybe it was the novelty. So, unfortunately I can't comment on the other entertainment such as the ventriloquist or the juggler. I would love to see something like the dueling pianos (Howl at the Moon) that is available on several of the NCL ships, that's for sure one of my favorites and there is nothing like that for adults here. We did attend a couple of adults game shows in the Tube (also Deck 4 aft), and they were all entertaining, especially the Star Wars Superfan challenge which we all go to take part in. ;-) SERVICE: With the sole exception of the slow and brusque service on nights one and two of our dining rotation, EVERY SINGLE INTERACTION with a crew member was a positive experience. The staff onboard is so friendly, so helpful, always service with a smile. And just to be clear, we ended up LOVING our waiter. It was just a little bit of a rocky beginning. Everyone from bar staff (Jerkson in O'Gills Pub was our favorite) to Guest Services was outstanding. PORTS AND SHORE EXCURSIONS: COZUMEL, MEXICO - We've been to Cozumel probably too many times at this point, so instead of the usual snorkeling or beach (the two main things to do there), we tried something different. We did a ship excursion to Cozumel Ruins, with a trip also to a Cacao "factory". Our guide Miguel was really good, the Mayan ruins were interesting although a short visit there is plenty. To be clear, these are NOT the famous ruins at Chichen Itza! Those are also offered as an excursion but you'd spent most of your day on a bus getting there and back. This was a chance to see some Mayan ruins on a much smaller scale while not spending all day traveling, and we enjoyed it. The cacao factory was not really a factory, it was a demonstration (ironically at Playa Mia which is where we did a beach break excursion two years ago) of chocolate-making and an opportunity to buy chocolate. GEORGETOWN, GRAND CAYMAN - This is a beautiful island and certainly more picturesque and less run-down than Cozumel is. We did a ship excursion which was an "island tour and Saltwater forest". The tour was fine but not really what I expected. It was nice to see the island and we had like 5 minutes on 7-mile beach to take a picture. However the "saltwater forest", which is what drew me in, was not really a forest so much as a boat ride through a bay and then parking in a little clump of mangroves, where we then learned all about mangroves. It was interesting, but not really what I pictured when I read about boating through a "saltwater forest". This could just be that my imagination had a whole different scene in mind. That said, again we had interesting, knowledgeable guides. FALMOUTH, JAMAICA - Having Falmouth before and stayed on board (well, the husband went golfing), we know there's not a lot to do right in this area. However, we had visited Ocho Rios on a different cruise line in the past and loved the Dunn's River Falls/Bobsled Jamaica excursion, so we did that again, albeit with the longer bus ride to get there this time. It was maybe about an hour's ride so really not bad at all. If you've never climbed the falls before, DO IT, it's a great experience. Strenuous, if you're not in decent shape, but the guides are really helpful! And then the "Sky Explorer" chairlift that gets you up to the top of Mystic Mountain to do the Bobsled Jamaica is a great experience on its own. It gets HOT up there and is EXPOSED, so wear sunscreen or even carry an umbrella to shade yourself! Also hold on to your flip-flops! The bobsled is a fun ride, like a self-run roller coaster (you control your own speed). One caveat, you have to exit Dunn's River Falls through the "craft market" -- I always wonder if the Jamaicans will ever realize that if they were not so aggressive and did NOT use so many tricks to get you to buy things (like posing for a picture, etc. etc), they might sell more merchandise? For example, my niece is a souvenir FANATIC, and would have certainly bought something (someTHINGS) had she been allowed to browse the wares. But because you can't even engage in a "hello" without immediately being set upon and wheedled, she, like us, just sort of walked straight through, not looking left or right, repeating, "no thank you, no thank you". I guarantee she is not the only customer they lose for this reason. She's not comfortable with the hard sell but would definitely buy if allowed the peace to do so. CASTAWAY CAY - Funnily enough, we didn't love Castaway Cay on our first visit -- we perhaps weren't prepared for it, found people very obnoxiously grabbing up and "claiming" all the chairs in sight, the slides had long waits, the food was better on the ship, etc. However, this time we had some activities planned and it was a great day! My daughter went parasailing, which she LOVED, and she may even convince me to do it next time. ;-) Then all four of us enjoyed some time floating around in the lagoon for a while, and even though I found the water chilly two years ago in April, this time it was really pleasant (even though only February). Also there was no shortage of chairs or shade. It's just a really well-maintained (I expect nothing less of Disney) island. After our swimming, we embarked on a jet-ski tour. These were doubles so my niece drove my daughter and my husband drove me. It was fun although be warned the water was QUITE choppy just outside the cove, where we went out into the sea a bit. There is a lot of jostling and bouncing and especially with two people on the jet-ski, you can't stand up like you can when you're a single rider to alleviate the impact of the waves. We did enter another quiet cove and got to speed around in there for a bit, and then we parked on a sandbar seemingly in the middle of nowhere and just floated around in the water for a 10-minute break. It was quite peaceful there and almost felt like you were the only people in the world. Our jet-ski was low on fuel and the warning light (and accompanying alarm buzzer) was on the whole ride back, which was very annoying, but we did make it back in. We did not eat at the BBQ this time as we recalled it wasn't great last time, instead we re-boarded the ship around 2:15 and got some items from Flo's, and enjoyed the AquaDuck and pools before most people came back on board. STAR WARS DAY AT SEA: So, this is the main reason we choose this particular itinerary -- we LOVE Star Wars, and my niece is also a huge fan (as evidenced by her runner-up placing in the Star Wars Superfan challenge!) so we wanted her to experience this since we had enjoyed it so much a couple of years ago. While the second sea day (Thursday) is officially the "Star Wars Day", there are two photo ops available all week (the Star Wars Day At Sea background, and the Han Solo frozen in carbonite statue) that you can pose with. Additionally, there is a Star Wars movie every night in the Buena Vista theater, which is a great chance to see the "originals" on the big screen if you never had. (Although, my one big complaint is that these films started at 10:45 every night, which meant we watched an hour at most each night before we had to turn in if we were to have any chance of getting up for our excursions. I believe they should have been shown at least one other time during the cruise!) Then the night before, while not on the Navigator, at 10pm in the Atrium all of a sudden the Star Wars music comes on and the ship is "taken over" by the Empire, led, of course, by Darth Vader and crew. The Atrium was JAMMED with people on all three levels so while I did not see it advertised, obviously people knew it was coming! From that moment on throughout the next day, all the music on the ship's speakers, in the hallways, everywhere, was all Star Wars music, which is awesome, and on that day there are lots of other "experiences" you can choose, for example we had photo ops scheduled with the droids and with Darth Vader, you can also choose Chewbacca, or your younglings (3-12) can train to be Jedi. There are Star Wars-themed events, such as the BB-8 races in the atrium, where kids can sign up to race miniature BB-8's along a mat and the winners go on to the finals. The menus in the restaurants have a Star Wars theme, as do the drinks of the day ("Galaxy in a Glass", anyone?). It's just great fun, and best of all, SO MANY PEOPLE dress up for the event. This could range from just Star Wars t-shirts, the variety of which you can't even imagine, to the full cosplay experience -- one girl in a costume for a character I didn't even know (from Rebels) had spent two hours on makeup and getting dressed, and it showed. It's also the only day they show Star Wars movies all day in the Buena Vista theater, unfortunately the ones being played during the day were the ones I don't like! (1, 2, and 3, although I don't mind 3 and would have watched that one if it hadn't overlapped dinner.) There was Star Wars trivia, and the Superfan challenge, and it is just great fun for Star Wars fans. I have read a negative review on here from a grandma who "happened" to be on a cruise with a Star Wars day at sea and complained there was nothing ELSE to do that day if you don't like Star Wars. It could be a fair point, but for ME, I remember thinking, "it's too bad I'm a Star Wars fan, this would be a GREAT chance to get a lounger at the Quiet Cove, swim in the pools, ride the AquaDuck, etc. -- all the things that are usually much busier! To each his own. WOULD I GO AGAIN? Are you kidding? Just as soon as I can save up for it ...! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2019
Our Son organised this trip as a surprise for us. It was amazing, we didn't know how we would get on, especially the amount of children on board. But it was a wonderful trip. I read a lot of reviews and U Tube ideas. We ... Read More
Our Son organised this trip as a surprise for us. It was amazing, we didn't know how we would get on, especially the amount of children on board. But it was a wonderful trip. I read a lot of reviews and U Tube ideas. We arrived earlier than our time and we were accommodated straight away( we had 4 boys aged 1, 3, 9 and nearly 11) Our stateroom was great and loved the veranda, much bigger than we expected. From the moment we stepped on board, we were treated really so well. Our stateroom host introduced himself, his name was Windy, he was so nice and kind and always smiling, couldn't do more for us and how he remembered names with so many people I will never know. Our Server was Antonio, so good that after our first evening we stayed on to talk to him and he found out my husband loved Indian food and every night he made a special dinner for him. He was amazing and so friendly. Our assistant server was Sukrawan and Head server Witt, who entertained us with magic. How they manage all the noise, tantrums and amount of people so well amazes us. Our trips ashore to Cozumel, which is 33miles long, 11 miles wide and is situated 12 miles off the coast of the mainland. The Mayans have lived on Cozumel since 300AD. Grand Cayman, named after the Carib Indian word for marine crocodile. Falmouth Jamaica, Positioned between Ocho Rios and Montero Bay. The Day at sea was STAR WARS, which my Son and Children loved as they are Big Fans. It was really good fun and all the dressing up and photos taken with the characters . Cabanas food for breakfast and lunch was unreal. The other restaurants Animators Plalate was the children's favourite, then Enchanted Garden and Royal Court. Everything was the Best and I would love to go again. Read Less
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