englanddg's Surf and Turf Adventure (and Trip Report!) - Page 3
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  1. #31
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Atlanta, Georgia, USA

    Re: englanddg's Surf and Turf Adventure (and Trip Report!)

    Day 4 - So Much to See at Sea!

    Magic - 0
    Peeves - 1 (Formal Night)
    Breakfast - Too much to List, buffet (me and kid)
    Lunch - None
    Dinner - Steak Sandwich, Fries (me), Chicken Tenders, Fries (kid)
    Snacks - Lots of free Soda, snacks from the Vista Cafe (shared)
    Dining Credits - Not Applicable on the Ship
    Steps - 5,830 steps / 2.83 mi / 2,484 cal

    So, first night on board was sortof a bust. We didn't eat dinner in a fancy restaurant, we didn't see any shows (though I did poke my head in on the Sailing Away show in the Walt Disney Theatre, and wasn't impressed...but I hardly sat through more than a few minutes either...so it's not a fair judgement.)

    I felt lost and uncomfortable, and the kid was upset because swimming pools (I'm convinced) are like an addictive drug to children. Especially ones that are shallow and they feel comfortable in (which is every pool she's allowed access to on the Fantasy).


    Mind you, I have no issues traveling or trying new things. But, there is a difference when you have a child in tow who's moods and expectations you need to manage. This is where WDW has spoiled me. Even planning our 2010 trip, I still had a pretty good idea of how the parks worked, what to expect, what to skip and how to organize and plan things. Though the parks had changed a lot over the past decade, they hadn't changed so radically that I didn't feel comfortable making decisions as to what we should do and see.

    Similarly, the Disneyland trip in Feb felt much the same. It was just a quaint (yes, I said it, quaint) version of WDW (I don't care to get into a DLC vs WDW debate in this report, so I'll say it here as a disclaimer, WDW is my home resort, and I don't see that changing anytime soon)...

    Anyhow, it felt much the same. Similar attractions, similar terms, similar experience. Different surroundings.

    The cruise is completely different. It's a culture shock to a park goer at the deepest levels. It's not hot (though it can be). It's not sweaty (though it can be). It's not rushed (though it can be). It's not crowded wall to wall (most of the time). Many, I've read from trip reports, walk away from it swearing off the parks and become Cruise junkies. I don't see it yet. But, I do see why they may feel that way.

    Imagine taking a deluxe resort at WDW, putting it on a hull, and floating it to controlled, yet exotic destinations. If you can picture that, then imagine slapping on a small version of the old Pleasure Island nightlife and live entertainment from Downtown Disney (or Disney Springs, as I need to get in the habit of calling it now)...

    Add to that an Epcot "World Showcase" pavilion that changes out every day or two, and is far more real and varied in experience than anything Epcot has to offer.

    Toss in world class signature dining on a nightly basis as NO EXTRA COST, and that is just the normal tier of Dining. There is still a level above that (Remy and Palo, at least on this ship).

    If you can imagine all that, then you can begin to understand a Disney Cruise.

    Talk about culture shock to a lifelong park goer.

    And, I'm still in it as of Day 4. Today was "Formal Night". Considering how my "park attire" made me feel uncomfortable yesterday, today was even worse. I packed largely shorts and t-shirts, because...well...that's what you wear most of the time at WDW. If you wear anything else on a regular basis you are being silly about it. You'll sweat stain your favorite polo and end up with embarrassing marks on your nice slacks in the...um...nether regions. It's just not a smart move.

    On the cruise...well, polo and slacks are considered "casual"...and many take it as just that. So, you can see how me, running around in my ratty park cargo shorts and t-shirt felt a bit underdressed.

    As I said, tonight was formal night...which made it all worse.

    But, let me not get too far ahead of myself.

    Today was a full day at sea. I had been told that these were the days I'd enjoy the most, as there is quite literally nothing to do but relax. I found this...true...but unnerving. No bus to rush and catch. No rides to fastpass and ADRs to meet. No waiting in the hot sun sharing a water with the kiddo and trying not to think about how sure I am my eyebrows are melting off.

    Nope. Just...comfort. Sheer...comfort.

    We both slept in, very late in fact. I didn't find the vibration of the bed very soothing, so I transferred to the couch. Vibration? Oh...well, I'm on deck 9 aft. That is right above the engine room...and everything vibrates, especially when they have the engine going full bore, like they did today. Combine this with the movement of the ocean, and it doesn't make for a very pleasant experience.


    I had taken precautionary measures and gotten some kids Dramamine and Bonine for me. Though neither I nor the kid felt queasy in the least, we both took a pill. I'd rather deal with taking a pill than a seasick kid for a few days while she figures out her sea legs. Probably not required, as it's really not that bad at all, but better safe than sorry.

    The kid, however, slept like, well...a baby. She has this neat bunk with a star backdrop. Hidden in the stars are constellations that represent Peter Pan characters.


    When we arrived yesterday, the bunk was stowed, and that sort of irritated me. Not that it was stowed, but that it was locked and I couldn't find the key. What if the kid wanted to take a nap? Nope...couldn't do it. I suppose I could call Guest Services, but really, why not just leave a key for the bunk somewhere in the room?


    I'll get into why it was stowed and what that means later in this post, because it does mean something, as it leads to something else that annoyed me...both yesterday and today.

    So, laptop up, internet working and paid for ($150 for 500 minutes, what a deal!)...we set off about our day...doing...absolutely...nothing...


    Did I mention? Nothing...

    We had slept in, so we missed any sort of breakfast, and I did some work and also tried to frantically get my Friday posts done so I could get back on track of daily posts (so much easier that way! I'm finally getting caught back up now...Friday was just...busy!)...

    I scanned through todays Navigator and noticed that Stitch was making an appearance in a few hours. Seems I'll be able to keep that Autograph promise sooner than I intended! We watched TV (Disney Cartoons) and lazed around the room and sunned on the balcony for bit (yeesh, I hadn't realized how pale years of computer work had made me!)...and slowly got showered, bathed, clean and dressed.

    Off to see Stitch!

    Now, I have a bit of a gripe here. The Navigator said he would be "Deck 4 mid", which means midship. It didn't say where! A bit off wandering around and we found him though...he was on the middle deck of the Grand Atrium!


    The line was short to meet Stitch (something else the Cruise Line has going for it), and I could keep an eye on the kid and yet peel away from the line while she waited for her desired autograph while I got some refreshment from the coffee shop next door. So I peeled off, still a bit worse for wear after the hectic few days being called to a grinding halt today.

    Did I mention we did nothing? <grin>

    I ordered a spiked coffee, a Mint Mocha Latte to be exact. "Creme de Menthe, Espresso (which they mis-spelled on their menu) Hersey's Chocolate sauce, Milk and Whipped Cream" according to the menu. It was...ok. Drinking, at 12:50 in the afternoon...screw it. I'm on a boat (hums the song)...

    So, I sat down at a table in the Coffee Shop and sipped my drink. They also have complimentary (meaning free) pastries, which I had a fruit tart. Well...actually, I had the tart. I had walked it over to the kid partially to offer it to her, partially to check on her, and she stole all the fruit! <sigh>


    Mind you, I'm still rather uncomfortable at this point. I'm enjoying the cruise, but the whole experience is very foreign...not the "Disney" I'm used to at all!

    It's so...relaxed! People aren't rushing around, shoving and pushing (though that does happen around the elevators from time to time, and a few times I ran into people who actually used strollers on the ship...say wha???)...but, for the most part, it's just...well, it's hard to explain. It's different. It's Disney...but it's different.

    So, when the kid got within a few families of the line, I rejoined her and we waited it out. Stitch was in rare form (probably enjoying the air-conditioning compared to when he has to do meet and greets in the Florida heat) and was goofing around with all the kids, striking unique poses, etc. For my kid, he used her head to sign her autograph book.

    It was hilarious to see a character being so interactive and spontaneous. The kid loved it, and talked about it randomly throughout the day.

    Oh, let me back up...I just realized I've been blabbering on about the Navigator, and it may not make sense if you haven't been on a Cruise. So, let me explain...

    The Navigator is a daily newsletter that outlines the shipboard events as well as general news for the day. It includes 4 pages of general information and a very well done calendar. It's your key to events that are happening on the ship, and a perfect tool to plan out your day. When I get back on shore, I'll post pictures of my daily Navigators in this thread.


    Max (Goofy's son) was also making an appearance today, and the kid was very excited about that. So, after Stitch, we wandered off to the pool for around a half hour and then up to Goofy's Sports Deck (Deck 13, aft) to see if we could find him.

    Turns out it wasn't difficult. And, the character was also in rare form. Goofy's Sports Deck is where the mini golf, among other activities (like basketball, ping pong and outdoor foosball tables) are located. Max did his Meet and Greet by approaching families and playing Mini-golf with them. Just awesome. The kid adored his antics (and, Max was pretty good at Mini-golf!).


    Autograph obtained, the kid wanted to play some Ping Pong. Yeah, neither of us are very good at this. She spent more time chasing the ball than playing. We then wanted to try and do Mini-Golf, but it was rather busy and we couldn't find any balls.


    At this point it was around 2p, and neither of us had eaten anything. I was famished. I wanted to go to Cabanas, and on the way down to Deck 11, I made the mistake of noting to the kid that the Aqua Duck (the on board waterslide) had no line.

    Guess what we did next.

    Five times.


    Mind you, I wasn't dressed for the Aqua Duck, and the kid, we found out, is too short to go on it alone. So, we rushed back to the Stateroom and I tossed on my suit and we rushed back. I forgot to grab my Gopro waterproof camera, so I don't have any shots of it (though I will fix that before the trip is over). But, I will say this. The Aquaduck is a blast...but jarring.

    I loved the whole thing except the bottoms of the two hills, where I felt like the bottom of my spine was being pushed up forcing my neck to compress in a most uncomfortable way. I haven't found a way around that yet, though lifting my bum up off the base of the tube using my arms when we approach the hills seems to help a bit.

    I was left with a bit of a headache, but the kid thinks it's the best ride ever. We hung out at the pool for a while after that.

    As 3p approached, we went back to the Stateroom and got dressed again to head off to see Aladdin in the Walt Disney Theatre.

    I snagged us some Kettle Corn and a few sodas right as the show was starting. Oh, one gripe here...with a movie theater and a stage theater, I wish they had fresh popcorn on board. They don't. It's all bagged stuff...


    I think that would be a nice addition.

    But, that aside, the show, was a lot of fun. The kid, however, decided she was Mrs. Ebert and critiqued the whole way through.

    Examples? Sure...here...

    "Aladdin is cute, but he shouldn't be wearing shoes."
    "Aladdin should have came in on an elephant, not a horse." (during the Prince Ali scene)
    "Jasmine should be singing to a real bird" (during her solo song before A Whole New World)
    "Where is her pet Tiger?" (same scene)
    "Where is Abu the monkey?"
    "Dad, do you see the hidden Mickeys????"

    Oh, let me explain that last one. This year, I explained to her what Hidden Mickeys are. And, everywhere we go she's been pointing them out. Don't be surprised if this comes up again... <grin>

    Now, my take on the show was...it varied from ok to amazing. The Genie was awesome, with great jokes.

    For example, he did a bit with the "lamp" after he was freed and quipped "I don't care if your cousin was in the movie, no one liked the Green Lantern."

    Iago (a puppet with a visable puppeteer / voice) was likewise awesome, with annoying jokes (Gilbert would be proud). "At least the evil cave isn't shaped like Honey Boo Boo Child!" was one of them. <groan>

    Now, on to the amazing. The pyro in the show was very well done. But, the show stealer (as you would expect) was "A Whole New World". They used a mechanical arm carpet to fly Aladdin and Jasmine around between two scrims with front and rear projections, pyro effects, and 3D CGI animations done quite tastefully blended with real set effects. All while they sang live for the audience. Hands down the winner of the evening, and the show. I'd love to see it again, just for that part.

    Enjoyable. Not the best production I've ever seen, but this isn't Broadway (or Lion King at Animal Kingdom!)...

    After that is when the "fancy pants" started to appear...I don't mean that in any other way than literal. I started to see people in $300 dollar nightgowns (even teens) and tuxedos or nice fitted suits.

    Since I brought nothing of the like, I felt way out of place, and didn't wish to participate in "formal night".

    So, I should explain. I actually have two very nice suits. Both purchased when I was about 70 lbs heavier than I am now. See, that's what I didn't take into account until a few days before packing. So, when I was finalizing my bags, I went to go try on the outfits, and...what do you know...they didn't fit. Not at all. Both the jackets and the pants needed massive tailoring, which I didn't have done. Why? Well...I was already stressed about checking out of work and getting things together...

    So, I just didn't have it done. So my "formal" outfit consists of an older pair of slacks that I normally wear to work and a soft jacket that is not tailored to me very well at all.

    No way I could compete with the show I saw being put on. So, I decided to skip "formal night" at the Enchanted Garden, and the kid didn't disagree (she likes cartoons and room service)...

    We did a bit of shopping, and the kid came upon the Perry display.

    When she saw this, she decided to crack a joke...


    "It's Perry the Pillowpuss!"

    Ok, good joke! I chuckled. But, being 8, and seeing that I thought that was funny, she carried it on...


    "Look Daddy, it's Perry the Bank-o-pus!" Um...ok, still sortof funny...


    "Daddy! It's Perry the Cup-o-pus!" Er...tee hee?


    "Ooooh, Daddy! It's Perry the Shirt-o-pus!" Um...ok, kid, the joke is old now...

    So, night #2, no fancy dinner. We just chilled out in the room and ate mediocre food. But, we enjoyed ourselves!

    After dinner, the kid wanted to go back to the kids club, so I checked her in. The plan was that I'd drop her off for a few hours and then pick her up to see the 10:45 showing of Lone Ranger.

    I spent the rest of my evening getting caught up on this trip report and going through a few work related items.

    10:00 rolled around, and I went and got her. We walked into the movie theatre at 10:15 on the dot...to find out that Avengers was just ending. Yep...I'd mixed up the times and thought that Lone Ranger was 10:15 instead of 10:45.

    The kid wanted to swim, so we did. And, we missed our 10:45 showing. A bit bummed (I really wanted to see the movie, and had been putting it off because I suspected it would be shown on the Cruise), we made our way back to the Stateroom where we ordered some more room service.

    I had a Veggie Pizza (which was excellent).

    The kid had...wait for it...Chicken Strips and Fries.

    <do you really need another picture of it?>

    We dozed off after this, and I gave the bed another fair shake. After a long day of doing nothing...I was exhausted, and quickly dozed off.

    So, that's the end of the day.

    Coming up next - Day 5 - What is so Grand about Grand Cayman?

    Quote Originally Posted by mrgriff97 View Post
    How were the crowds in the Magic Kingdom our first park day is the 8th and I am just curious how the crowds were.
    Not bad. You'll be fine on the 8th.
    Last edited by englanddg; 08-25-2013 at 04:37 PM.
    B.C. (Before Child) '82, '87 - '95, 2004
    A.D. (After Daughter)
    2010 - 2 weeks @ CBR
    2011 - 3 in DC, 14 @ CBR
    2012 - 3 @ Uni Royal Pacific, 12 @ Pop
    2013 - 3 @ DLR | Contemporary, DCL Fantasy, POFQ
    2015 - 2 in DC, 3 @ Uni Portofino, 3 @ AKL, DCL Fantasy, 4 @ AoA

  2. #32
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Dallas, TX
    Loving your Trip report! Everyone always asks me which is better WDW or DCL and I can't give them an answer.... I love the cruises for the destinations, food, kids clubs, and activities that are all included in the trip! But the rides at the parks, character dining, the castle are fun as well! I got to tour the Fantasy in Dec and I completely understand about getting lost, the older ships I find much easier to navigate.

    See if you can snag a Palo Brunch your next day at sea since the kk likes the kids clubs. Have you checked out some of the "pictures" on the walls or the mid-ship detective agency yet??

    Can't wait to hear more about your trip!

  3. #33
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Atlanta, Georgia, USA

    Re: englanddg's Surf and Turf Adventure (and Trip Report!)

    Day 5 - What is so Grand about Grand Cayman?

    Magic - 2 (Grand Cayman, Submarine Crew)
    Peeves - 1 (Formal Night)
    Breakfast - Too much to List, buffet (me and kid)
    Lunch - None
    Dinner - Steak Sandwich, Fries (me), Chicken Tenders, Fries (kid)
    Snacks - In room Coffee at Contemporary, Sailing Away Drink (me), Fanta (kid)
    Dining Credits - Not Applicable on the Ship
    Steps - 5,830 steps / 2.83 mi / 2,484 cal

    So, day 5, and third day on the Fantasy. Here we go!

    This cute guy awaited us last night when we came back to the room!


    I woke up early, hella early considering we crossed a time zone and are now an hour ahead. Daylight Savings where we "fall back" is always like sleep Christmas to me, and the fact we did so mid-cruise is even more so!

    They left us a nice little note on our beds to remind us to turn the clocks back, and the ship operates on "port time", so that meant we got an "extra hour" today to play or do whatever. Of course, like Daylight Savings, we'll have to pay this time back, but for now, the delay is appreciated.

    Today is our first Port. Grand Cayman Island. I had explained to the kiddo how this was part of the British Commonwealth, but it, frankly, was over her head.

    So, lets skip back to how the day started...

    Sleeping in. Again...for both of us. I was up a few hours ahead of time, and considered going and getting breakfast for us both, but I am still iffy about how Cabanas works, and what to do. So, I spent the morning going through emails and relaxing on the veranda working on my body tan. Imagine the stay pufft marshmallow man on a reclining deck chair...and you have me.


    After a few hours, the kid woke up. I purposefully let her sleep in. After the past few days, we both were short on sleep, and high on energy, and that means sleep to get back into a normal groove. So, I didn't rush her at all. She woke up, and her first instinct was to turn on Disney Cartoons (that's my girl!).

    We got ready for the day to antics of Donald and Goofy. Can't say there is a much better way to wake up...but I needed some food and some coffee (the latter being more important).

    So, after getting dressed for the day, we made our way to Cabanas. Now, the kiddo had a few choices of outfits left that were clean (laundry night is tonight), and one of them is a blue dress which is quite gaudy, and also quite Caribbean. She selected this dress...but kudos to her, she can pull it off. I could not.


    I wore the last clean daytrip outfit I had, and as I said, we headed out to Cabanas for breakfast.


    If I ever thought Chef Mickey's had a great buffet...which I did a few days ago, I had not experienced Cabana's breakfast.

    Holy wow it was good! I had Eggs Benedict, corned beef hash, sausage, peppercorn lox, and lox and eggs.

    I was rolling in breakfast heaven.


    The kiddo had a Mickey Waffle, chocolate pancake, hash browns and a glass of Orange Juice and Milk.

    The kid and I did a milk chug contest, which she won. I also peeled the orange she wanted for breakfast, and broke it into slices for her to eat.


    Breakfast done, we headed towards the Walt Disney Theatre to get our passes to go ashore. On the way, we ran into a tour group...which cut us off, and a CM who was overbearing with directions. I knew where we were supposed to be, it is not my fault we ran into a tour group!

    But, the CM was helpful (not really) and directed us where I was already going. I think what turned me off was that she kept saying "talk to me"...

    I responded, deadpan..."Um, ok." Now, I should be lenient, as she was an islander (not from Grand Cayman...Barbados as I recall from her nametag), and there is a language (accent) difference...mind you I did not take offense, but I didn't exactly cooperate either, as her questions were silly. I knew where I wanted to go, I just wanted her tour group to let us by.

    Once there, I got to experience the unloading process in full, and wow, Disney has this down to a science. First there was an MC named David who was fantastic. He always had a nice quip mixed with explanations. Extremely professional, yet fun. Second, the rest of the supporting staff, including the officers who poked their heads in, let him run the show. Again, good call.


    David owned us the moment we walked into the auditorium, and he was tons of fun (and tons of information as well). My favorite joke that he used was "like an airline, you think that once you've been called you should all stand up. Don't!"

    So, we made our way off the ship, and onto a two story Tender Boats.


    Once in Grand Cayman, we walked the tourist area, picking up a snow cone for the kid for donation only to a local church. I gave an extra few bucks for their cause, and they let the Kid spice her cone herself (including squirting the red strawberry syrup all over her dress)...


    But, that's how you learn. So I was not upset.

    A few napkins later, we (including her red stain) walked to the duty free shops and picked up some goods to give as gifts when she returns to the ex and her family.

    I also picked up a nice polo shirt for myself.

    I almost picked this up for my co-worker/employee since this is a private joke between us.


    We went off to the perfume shops where we picked out some gifts for Nana (grandmother) and Mommy. The kid had a blast here pretending she was an educated fragrance shopper!


    Now, I worked for Calvin Klein for a while (during the CK-B rollout, to be specific), and as a result was quite familiar with the protocol, which shocked my kiddo.

    Time was closing in for our Port Excursion, so I pulled a parental veto, and after taking a short break to do a few dancing clips for the video, ID checks. Think of it like a safe zone...

    When dancing in front of the welcome sign for the Caymans, a well meaning couple kept saying "do you want us to take a picture of you?"


    We did, as we are both Disney Fantasy groups...they just didn't get why we were Dancing. I didn't inform them...

    While waiting for our excursion, we passed by a shop that had "Spicy Meat Pies"...oh, I wanted one of the Jamaican goodies, as I love them...but, this one was terrible.


    I had two bites, and tossed it. It was that bad. If you want good meat pies, I wouldn't get them from the vendor here!

    So, the time had come to get ready for our excursion, a submarine voyage. And, I must say, this excursion was worth every dollar.


    After a short taxi ride, we were taken to a two level boat. We were told to board upstairs...not sure why (I found out later!)

    We went out to where we were supposed to meet the submarine, and...we got to see it surface!


    The kid found this quite interesting!

    Soon, we were on board. It was more spacious than I expected!


    We went down to around 60 feet in depth, and the staff was polite and informative, and I learned a lot about the "visible spectrum"...see, this is something I didn't know. After 5 feet, the red spectrum of light begins to dissipate. So, coral shots that are colorful, photographers use massive flashes to get that color out. That's why everything seems so "blue" so deep. The kid adored the trip!


    And she loved the "shipwreck" (actually it's a monument, but I let her think it was a shipwreck)...


    It was time to surface again...and we enjoyed every minute!


    This was a great excursion that left us a lot of time to leisurely work our way back to the boat without feeling rushed. The kid adored it.


    On the way back we got a great view of the "pirate ship" in the harbor.


    They also offered a variety of unique drinks!


    Nice touch Disney!

    Back on board, we relaxed a bit in the Stateroom and then got dressed for our first real "luxury" dinner...Animators Pallet.


    Goodbye Grand Cayman!


    We were seated with a wonderful Mother/Son duo who I thoroughly enjoyed conversing with, as did the kid (she is asleep now early just because she wants to play with him tomorrow...um...kiddo growing up too fast!)


    The restaurant was amazing!


    I ordered the Black Truffle Pasta Pureittes filled with Truffle scented Cheese and coated with a Champane Sauce.


    It was very good!

    The kiddo had some fruit.


    I decided I wanted a drink, so I got the Blueberrilicious. This has Tequila, fresh blueberries, passion fruit juice, orange flavor liquor, and freshly squeezed lime juice.


    It...was terrible.

    One neat thing about dining is that you can order whatever you want, so I got the Baked Potato and Cheddar Cheese Soup with Bacon Bits and Chive...it was pretty good. Not Le Cellier, but still decent.


    For an entree, I got the Animators Trio of Veal, which had a grilled Tenderloin, pulled Shank and Totellacci Pasta with a Sun-Dried Tomato stuffing, a Sage reduction (and annoying sage leaf on top), and garnished with a Potato Crisp. It sounds a lot better than it tasted.


    Then came dessert!

    The kid got a Mickey Ice Cream...covered with chocolate syrup and mickey sprinkles. A Kids delight!


    I decided on the Sweet Temptations. This is a trio of crunchy walnut cake, pineapple financier and lemon mousse. It...was fantastic!


    The meal was excellent, though I wish I was on another ship where they animate your drawings (hi, Dream) or where they change colors (Hello Magic and Wonder)...but I enjoyed it all the same. Crush basically owns the show as the DJ, and it goes on throughout your dinner...it's not the same as the other ships.

    After a wonderful dinner, the kid wanted to go to her Club, so I checked her in and did Skyline and O'Gills. I tried to do laundry, but that seemed very popular to do tonight...so I am still up doing it. Dryer should be done now.

    And so, I've caught back up. I've left out a bit here and there, but it's nice to be back on a normal posting schedule. So, if I make reference to the past few days, I'll be sure to clarify.

    I'm off to get my dry laundry and go to bed. Thanks for following!

    Next post - Day 6 - Can Ruins ruin a day?

    Last edited by englanddg; 08-25-2013 at 04:49 PM.
    B.C. (Before Child) '82, '87 - '95, 2004
    A.D. (After Daughter)
    2010 - 2 weeks @ CBR
    2011 - 3 in DC, 14 @ CBR
    2012 - 3 @ Uni Royal Pacific, 12 @ Pop
    2013 - 3 @ DLR | Contemporary, DCL Fantasy, POFQ
    2015 - 2 in DC, 3 @ Uni Portofino, 3 @ AKL, DCL Fantasy, 4 @ AoA

  4. #34
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Rhode Island

    Re: englanddg's Surf and Turf Adventure (and Trip Report!)

    Thanks for posting while you are actually experiencing all this! It is fun to read. I am dying to know how Day 5 went and how you liked Grand Cayman!
    “No matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, the dream that you wish will come true.”

  5. #35
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    The Netherlands
    Love you TR, as always

    Good to hear you liked the Mayan Ruins tour, hopefully we'll have also such a nice guide!!

    How was Grand Cayman?
    Have fun on Castaway Cay
    Looking forward to our Disney vacations

  6. #36
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Atlanta, Georgia, USA

    Re: englanddg's Surf and Turf Adventure (and Trip Report!)

    Day 6 - Can Ruins ruin the Day?

    Magic - 1 (Tour guide for the Ruins tour!)
    Peeves - 2 (People who don't follow the rules, Over Enthusiastic Service)
    Breakfast - Eggs Benedict, Breakfast Sausage, Eggs with capers and sauteed mushrooms, Bacon, 2 slices of Orange, Dill Salmon (lox) with Cream Cheese and capers, Chocolate Milk, Glass of OJ, Cup of Coffee (me)
    Eggs, hashbrowns, bacon and an orange sans 2 slices, 1 tall glass of orange juice, chocolate milk
    Lunch - None
    Dinner - Slow Roasted Duck and Cheese Quissadilla, Saffron Mussel Soup, Peppercorn Crusted New York Strip, Sweet Temptations (me)
    Mini Cheeseburger, Fries, Veggies, Grilled Pork Chop, Kebob Dessert (kid)
    Snacks - 1 bottle of grapefruit soda, 1 Mexican Coke (me), 1 Mexican Fanta (kid), 1 Jumex Apple Juice (shared), 1/4 bag of Mexican Cheetos (shared)
    Dining Credits - N/A on the ship
    Steps - 9,635 Steps, 4.68 mi., 2852 cal.

    This bad boy welcomed us home last night!


    Ok, so I'm starting to notice a pattern forming here...

    I wake up around 8a or 9a, and let the kid sleep in for a bit while I straighten up the room, check emails, and do other general "housekeeping". Then I wake the kid and she takes a bath or shower and does her morning routine while I set out her clothes for the day. Then, as she is getting dressed, I do my morning routine and take my own shower.

    Then we head off to Cabanas for a mid-morning breakfast (10a - 10:30a or so). Then back to the stateroom to hang out for a while as we wait for our afternoon shore experience. Go on shore, do the experience, return to the ship. Eat dinner. Then relax for the evening. Bed by midnight or soon after. Rinse and repeat!

    So, a few days in and I know the boat better. I finally have gotten the hang of cutting through different venues to get places on the ship. For example, I didn't realize you could cut through Cabanas to get to the pool...so we had been going to Deck 13 (Goofy Sports) and walking down every day. So much easier to cut through. Same with Deck 4. The first two days I'd been taking the exterior decks because I didn't realize you could cut through the venues there to get to Midship.

    Little things like this are not indicated well on the map, and frustrated me the first few days because I kept hitting dead ends. But, I think we got the hang of it now (at least we don't get lost as much!).

    So, on with the our day!

    I woke up this morning to wonderful (but hot) weather. We wern't expected to port until 12:30p, and it was 8:30a, so plenty of time to burn. I let the kiddo sleep in while I caught up on work and did a few other things (youknow...the routine I described earlier!).

    I've enjoyed the extra long deck. Many times I just stand out there and just watch the sea. It's very relaxing. The view is better during the day, but it's obviously more comfortable at night! One thing I sortof don't like (not sure what could be done about it though) is all the light pollution that prevents the stars from being visible. One of the things I remember from the windjammer I did as a teenager was how amazing the skies at seas at night are. On the Fantasy, I can barely make out even the brightest starts. Not really a complaint, just an observation.

    I drank the Grapefruit Soda I'd bought at Grand Cayman the day before...I love grapefruit soda, and it's hard to find here in the US!


    The kid woke up and drank an apple juice I had snagged from teh Contemporary that had been sitting in the fridge waiting for someone to want it. She watched cartoons while I got her bath ready. So, lets talk about TV on the Fantasy.

    As you'd imagine, channels are limited. They have a few internal channels, my favorite being the "map" channel and the "bridge view" channel. Of course, they have ABC and Disney Channel. But, the channel of choice for this trip is...the Cartoon Channel. It plays classic Disney Cartoons 24 / 7. You know when you notice that they loop it in groups of characters, you've seen too much of it!

    That...would be me! They play 3 or 4 Donald cartoons, then 3 or 4 Goofy cartoons, then three or four Mickey cartoons, etc. At first I thought it was a static loop (they do repeat a lot of the cartoons), but I've seen new ones thrown in every now and then...or at least ones I must have missed in earlier viewings.

    Loops or not, the kid doesn't care. She could watch this channel all day and order room service for the whole trip and enjoy herself just as much. Toss in pool time, and she could care less about all the rest of the stuff there is to do on the ship! I'm kidding here, of course...well...sortof! <grin>


    Down to Cabana's for breakfast. This is our second day eating here (and it's the only breakfast I know of on the ship outside of brunch at Palo)...and I'm perfectly find with that. They varied the menu a bit today, and it was still excellent!


    I'm especially fond of the eggs benedict!


    I did miss the Pastrami Salmon rolls they had yesterday, but the dill tasted just fine.


    The kid tried a hashbrown today, smothered in ketchup of course! Other than that her meal was no different than yesterday. Oh, yeah...we had chocolate milk today instead of white.


    As we ate we noted a speedboat circling us. Obviously the boat was military.


    They kept circling the Fantasy, doing figure eights and it generally looked like the crew was just having fun scooting around the ship. They would slow down from time to time and wave at people who I assume were on the upper decks (above us).


    Flying a Mexican flag, I assume this is Mexican Security (Federali) for the cruise. A lot of the other Guests were chattering about it as well. A bit later another boat (this one obviously civilian Port Authority) sped towards the hull at a 90 degree angle. At the last minute, the driver whipped the boat parallel to the Fantasy, and a man boarded the ship. The boat then sped off. I'm assuming this was either a harbor pilot or an immigration and customs official who boarded.

    This was all quite interesting to watch. It was a very different experience than Grand Cayman, where we dealt with Tender boats.

    After breakfast we headed back to the room. The kid watched TV, and I stood out on the deck and watched the docking process. It was interesting to see the Captain swing the boat around in a quiet pirouette. As we neared the deck, I wandered if we'd backed ourselves into a corner, but I was way off. My view from the back of the ship had distorted my perspective! Something I realized after we exited the ship.


    Once again we headed to the Walt Disney Theater to head ashore. This time the Theater was being used as the assembly point for the Chicchoban Mayan Ruins excursions. Apparently, this is extremely popular. We were told repeatedly (by different people) that over 800 people were participating in the excursion! I'm glad we were early for the 12:45 meeting time! We got to be part of the first group out, and the first group back as a result!

    Again the departure was handled well...though once again I was shocked how many people don't show up prepared with their excursion tickets, room keys and or photo IDs. It's not like we aren't told repeatedly to do so!

    But, this works to our advantage, as it means that even a very long looking line, really isn't, as Guests are turned away and it means we can skip ahead in the line!


    A short wait and we were off on the pier. They do run a shuttle along the length of it, but we (and most guests) just walked it. As we got closer to the end of the pier we heard drums. The kid asked why they were beating drums. "Are we going to war?" she queried. "Um...not that I know of, why?" "Drums are for war. Where's my sword!?!"

    My kid is stupid silly.

    As it turns out it was a group of Mayan Reinactors done up in full ceremonial / traditional garb. They seemed to be having such a great time talking about their culture and meeting with people. I wanted to go see them up close, but we had an excursion to attend! So, off to our line.


    After ticket check, we were put on a tour bus. The bus was a bit dirty, but not uncomfortably so. The kid and I settled down in a seat halfway down the bus, and soon we were on our way to the mysterious Mayan Ruins!

    I was quite excited about this excursion. I studied Central American Indian cultures in school, and the Mayan civilization always interested me. Partially due to the advanced nature of their culture, and particularly due to the brutality of it. If the Incans were the Romans of American Indians, the Mayan's were the Persians!

    I was chomping at the bit to see real temples with my own eyes...perhaps temples that Cortes himself (though he was a brutal man) may have seen.

    So, we were off. Costa Maya, once you leave the secured port area, was just sad. It had incomplete construction, and the whole area just felt depressed. Much of the construction was rather recent, easily within the past 10 years. I suspect at one point, entrepreneurs had thought they could turn Costa Maya in to a vacation destination, using the cruises to spread the word...but it obviously didn't work out.

    Half constructed buildings and abandoned buildings were everywhere.


    Things didn't get much better as we traveled to our destination. Some houses were very well kept, others were falling apart. It reminded me of driving through some of the more rural parts of the US in the South. You'll pass by a very nice house and a few yards away is a house that is occupied, but falling apart.


    We went through a military checkpoint (yeah, not something you see too often in the US, though you will see border checkpoints and random TSA / police checkpoints. This one appeared fairly permanent...and considering what I've read in the news about the goings on in Mexico, it made me wonder if this was related.


    It reminded me of East Germany...

    On the way our tour guide, Carlos, introduced himself. He was a wealth of information. Not just about the Maya, but about the Yucatan Peninsula itself. Full of lots of neat little trivia, he was a joy to listen to. He had a great sense of humor as well.

    For example, he started off his presentation all in Spanish. Which was hilarious! I understood most of what he was saying (I work with a lot of Spanish speakers and studied it for 3 years in high school / college)...but it was quite obvious that many in the bus had no clue what he was saying.

    Well, what he was saying was, roughly, "Welcome to Mexico and the Yucatan! It is a beautiful place with noble history. Since you are in Mexico, I will be doing today's tour in Spanish. Do you understand Spanish? Does anyone speak Spanish?" (someone in the back recognized this phrase, a teenager, I think, from the voice) "Yes, I do!" "Excellent. Then I will be doing some common expressions. Where is the bathroom?" (he stared around the bus looking for comprehension).

    "Would you like to have some Taco Bell?" (some people perked up at the term "Taco Bell") "Well, my friends, there is no Taco Bell here. What about some beer (cervesa)?" At this many on the bus obviously knew this word. Here he cut into English.

    Anyhow, it was a fun little opening. He had a sly sense of humor and a good natured banter. Another example. "Are any of you hungry?" (someone in the back says yes) "Well, I'm sorry, there is no food. I'm hungry too, though, so we can be hungry together!"

    Anyhow, the ride over was pleasant, though Carlos's monologue didn't last the whole trip...the kid napped on my leg, and I took a short nap as well, waking up as we were pulling off the main highway and into the entrance of the ruin site. Oh, another neat thing Carlos did was hand out his own stickers (just a standard yellow circle sticker) to identify "his group".

    This was a smart move on his part, because all 800 of us coming off the Fantasy all had the same Pinocchio sticker! This way he could tell who belonged to him or not! He also came with artifacts which he passed around, and pictures as well. Extremely organized and informative, I was impressed!


    When we got there, Carlos instructed us that it was safe to leave personal belongings and bags on the bus, and due to the walking nature of the tour and the heat, we probably should do so.

    One thing I wish I had brought with us was some water. They sell it (and bottle holders) for a reasonable price outside of the excursion check in area on the ship, but I skipped it. I was regretting that decision now, as while the bus had air conditioning, it wasn't that great.


    To my relief, there is a small snack bar at the ruin site, as well as many shops that present "hand made" wares. No idea if they really are "hand made" or if that's just what they say to sell things to tourists...but I don't care either way. The quality of the merchandise, for the most part, was very good. The kiddo and I grabbed a soda each and I picked up some Mexican Cheetos.

    Lo and behold...mexeetos!


    Why Mexican Cheetos? Well...I had joked with the kid that while here in Mexico she could get some Mexeetos (Mexican Cheetos). It was just a joke because she had gotten some chips at Grand Caymen, and asked me what snacks they would have here. I didn't realize there really would be Mexican Cheetos!

    We walked the shops and got a few ideas for souvenirs. Then, it was off on the tour!


    A short walk and we were seeing the first pyramid. As it turns out, this pyramid was discovered (or...rediscovered) in the 1970s and renovated / excavated in the mid-90s. The Mexican government has worked to restore the pyramid, so it's one of the cleanest examples in terms of rock-work in the park.


    The kid and I took a few dancing videos here and the group continued on.


    Next we got to see a buried temple that hadn't been excavated yet. To a casual viewer it would look just like a hill, but as Carlos explained, hills are very rare in the Yucatan, so most "hills" are generally un-excavated temples. The Mexican Government has plans to start working on this particular hill/temple in the next few years.

    From there we went to a plaza and got to see the back part of the first temple we saw. This was quite interesting, but Carlos took it a step further. He pointed out some of the trees in the area, including the "chewing gum tree", the Manilkara Chicle / Sapodilla. He explained the history of Chewing Gum and the Mayan impact on it. Chiclet, he explained, is a Mayan word taken by an entrepreneurial Spaniard who observed the Mayans using the sap from the tree to clean their teeth. The word literally means (according to Carlos) "To Chew".


    A few minutes later he called the group together again and started handing out a unique looking leaf and told us to smell it. The smell was oddly familiar, but I couldn't place it. Turns out, it's allspice! Neat!

    He was full of little surprises like this all day.


    We rounded a corner and he showed us a stela, which is a large stone tablet with Mayan hieroglyphics on it used to communicate / commemorate special events, special people, etc...

    From there he showed us some very large steps, which most of the group climbed. He did not tell us what was at the top of the steps, which was wise.

    Because you come over the edge to see this...


    From there he gave us another quick rundown of what we are looking at, again rife with unique little pieces of information, including that the temples used to be painted, and some of the paint had survived on one of the two temples at the top of the mount. He then informed us that we would meet at the buses in a half hour, and if anyone had further questions or needed directions to the exit, he would be standing close by.


    The kid had fun running around the temples, and we went and saw the paint, but my mind was distracted at this point. Why? Well, I couldn't remember if I'd left my bag on the bus or not. This worried me because my room key and Passport Card were in the bag! Among the very short list of things you CAN NOT lose while ashore, these items top the list! Everything else is an inconvenience, but these items are required to get back on board the ship!

    Mental images of possible situations kept going through my head...what if I'd lost the bag? What if I didn't have my card and Mexican security wouldn't let me pass? What if when I got to the ship, how would they handle it? Would they allow me back into my stateroom to grab my real passport?

    I tried to calm myself that yes, I had left the bag on the bus as Carlos had instructed us to do. The kid swore that she remembers me leaving it there, but because of the importance of the cards, I was a few steps away from freaking out! I had to see them with my own two eyes. So, the 20 minutes we explored the ruins, I have to say I was a bit distracted.

    As soon as I felt we'd seen pretty much everything we needed to see, we hightailed it (kid in tow, she wasn't pleased by my choice of walking pace) back to the buses. I think I was the first one of my tour group back! We went on the bus, and yes...there it was...my bag.


    I took out the cards and put them in my wallet, and the kid and I went shopping!

    We picked up a dress for her little sister, and a dress for her. I got myself a chess set.

    And we got two clay whistles, one for the kid and the other for her uncle.


    The kid also picked out a Dolphin necklace for her mom...but decided to wear it "for safe keeping". By the end of the day she decided she wanted to keep the necklace for herself. <grin> Ok, I won't tell!

    In all the deals were ok. I'm not much of a haggler, but I did it here. They seemed to expect it. I found it worked best to offer to buy more, but at a lower price. Call it a "bulk discount"!

    The bus ride back was fairly uneventful. We drank a Jumex Apple Juice together and shared some Mexican Cheetos. They...weren't very good.


    The kid says they taste like Macaroni and Cheese, and that she doesn't want to eat anything that tastes like Macaroni and Cheese that isn't Macaroni and Cheese. Deep thoughts, by KK.

    Along the way we did pass another tour bus which had broken down, and our driver stopped and checked on them before continuing. I believe he was telling the other driver he'd be back to pick up his passengers, but I'm not sure. Also, on the ride back a group of police vehicles (5 as I recall) sped past lights on. They were pick-up trucks and their beds were filled with armed people. Weird. Good thing they were speeding the opposite direction from where we were going!

    I want to be clear, even though I noticed the police and the military checkpoint, at no point did we feel uncomfortable or unsafe. Everyone we ran into was wonderful and nice. These are just things I noted on the trip, and not a reflection of the area, per se. I've felt more uncomfortable driving through some neighborhoods in Atlanta than I did in Yucatan!

    So, if you are looking at doing this tour, don't let those things I mentioned concern you. As I said, they were just things I noticed (and easy to notice, as there really isn't much out there but farm houses, a few general stores / shops, and roads...so, there's not much to look at!).

    Walking the pier back to the ship we ran into the Mayan Warriors again and snapped a photo with them. They work on tip only, so I made sure to leave something.


    Along the way back I noted that the maintenance platform is painted to match the hull. Hello Disney Details!


    Back on board we stopped by the room to take a quick shower and get ready for dinner. Tonight was Enchanted Garden.


    The kid decided to skip an appetizer, but I had the Slow Roasted Duck and Cheese Quesadilla. It was an interesting taste. Mango, Cilantro and Red Peppers with a Chimichurri Sauce and Arugula Drizzle. Not really something you'd imagine would go well with duck, but it did. This isn't a classic Quesadilla, rather it's more like a rangoon. Triangular pastry deep fried. However, it felt like it was lightly seasoned...maybe adding some minced habanero or something to give it some kick would be nice. That being said, I would get it again if we go back.


    I also had the Saffron Mussel Soup. There was one mussel inside, but it was of a good size, so no complaints. The dish was garnished with chives. It was ok. It also tasted a bit light on seasoning. I also think a cream sauce of some sort would have added something to the dish. Still, it wasn't bad, and I ate most of it.


    Why didn't I finish it? Well, our servers are a bit quick on the draw! More than once (tonight and last night) I've had meals taken from me before I'm finished, and it happens so quickly and unexpectedly that I barely have time to react! I'm not complaining (otherwise I would complain), but it would be nice if they asked me before just grabbing my plates.

    That being said, our service team is fantastic, and I know they are just doing what they've been trained to do (keep the table clear and the meal flowing), so...<shrug> Still, a "Are you ready for your next course, sir." before snagging my dish would be nice.

    For entrees the kid went all out. The mini Cheeseburger (something she wanted to try last night) wasn't so "mini". In fact, it looked just like a normal cheeseburger that you'd get at Flos or from Room Service! With this came mac and cheese (always a winner) and a floret of broccoli and cauliflower with a steamed carrot. She devoured it all!

    She also ordered a grilled Pork Chop. The kiddo LOVES pork chops (good taste, eh), so she was excited to see it on the menu. However, I must say she wasn't so excited once it came out. It looked like someone had stepped on it, and they spooned some pineapple on top. Now, I've had Hawaiian style pork chops, and I know that pineapple goes well with pork.

    But, when you see "grilled pork chop" on a menu, Hawaiian style isn't exactly what comes to mind. The kid didn't even touch it, even though I offered repeatedly to cut it up for her. I didn't even try it (and I like to taste everything). It just looked sad. Even our dining companions commented on it. Here, see for yourself.


    I had the Peppercorn Crusted New York Strip. This was served on a bed of chopped and sauteed Green Beans and Corn with whipped Yukon Gold Potatoes and a Brandy Sauce.


    Now, before I go further, look at this...Does that look like a New York Strip to you? It didn't to me. It looked more like a cheap thin sirloin cut. Not what I expected when I saw it on the menu. I ordered it Medium Rare, and I'm glad I did. The meat was tough even at that cut! The Peppercorn crust was nicely done, but I still had to salt the meat a bit. It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't what I expected and I didn't enjoy the meat alone.

    Now, not focusing on the negatives of the dish, lets look at the positives! EVERYTHING else on the plate was delicious! I especially enjoyed the Green Beans and Corn. Well seasoned, I loved every bite. The potatoes were creamy and buttery with a nice crust on the top (probably used a burner on it, I think).

    The Brandy Sauce was everything the menu implied it would be with "dark berry fruit flavors and the powerful undertones of a fine Cabernet Sauvignon". These saved the steak for me. I would mix all the items together on the fork to make a bite, then dip it in the sauce and devour!

    For dessert the kid had a rather neat deconstructed Fruit Kebab. It came with toothpick skewers, fresh fruit and a chocolate dipping sauce. This was gone almost so fast that I didn't have time to take a picture of it!


    I had the Sweet Temptations. This is a "tour" of the desserts offered here. Tonight, I made sure to order some coffee with dessert! (you'd think that would be an automatic question from the servers, but it's not...at least not for my service team).

    The trio of miniature desserts include Cinderella's Lemon infused Cheesecake (sooooo gooooood), Chilled Chocolate Souffle (sooooo riiiich!) and a Tiramisu (sooooo perfect). One thing Disney has nailed both nights is dessert. Diet be darned, be sure to check them out if you go on a cruise!

    Stuffed and happy, we went back to the room and the kid changed into her swimsuit. We went for a night swim, and stayed until they closed the Mickey Pool off. I worked on the trip report, and the kid practiced floating, kicking and holding her breath under water. She made it to 15 seconds! A new record!

    Movies were playing. High School Musical (which I had not seen, and isn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be...I can see why it did pretty well in the theaters...it's still a teen / kids movie, but it was enjoyable), and after that was Teen Beach Movie. This one, I could live without seeing. I have seen it before, and once was enough. Thankfully, I had my laptop with me. <grin>

    We picked up some chicken nuggets from Flos for the kid, and I had some pizza. I also had my mug from the Contemporary with me with some...extra adult spice, if you will, in it to add to my soda...or rather to add soda to it! <wink>

    Around 11:00 they closed the Mickey Pool. I'm not sure why...maybe cleaning? The kid still wanted to swim, but the only other pool that was still open (that she has access to) is the Donald Pool. This pool is in the same area as the Mickey Pool, and it's right in front of the big screen. It's 5'2" deep, which is about 8 inches taller than the kid. While her swimming has been getting better (or at least her fear of water is dripping away), I was worried about her in this pool.


    I put down my things and kicked off my sandles, warning her that the pool is much deeper than it appears, and twice as deep as the Mickey pool. She...didn't believe me, and jumped right in. Now, I don't think she would have had any issue if she heeded my warnings, but she didn't. The depth caught her off guard, and before she could devolve into panic I swooped down and lifted her out of the pool.

    She was laughing (crazy little bugger) and crawled back into the pool. This time she eased herself in and hung off the edge. I let her do this for about 10 minutes, but didn't feel comfortable being more than a few feet away (certainly not 15 - 20 feet away in a deck chair facing the pool)...so, I pulled a parental veto and declared the night over. The fun meter had been pegged!

    Back in the room, we watched some TV and I worked on this report. Then off to dreamland to be well rested for tomorrow.

    So, coming up. Day 7 - So Long, and Thanks for "Arrrrrr" the Fish!
    Last edited by englanddg; 08-25-2013 at 05:42 PM.
    B.C. (Before Child) '82, '87 - '95, 2004
    A.D. (After Daughter)
    2010 - 2 weeks @ CBR
    2011 - 3 in DC, 14 @ CBR
    2012 - 3 @ Uni Royal Pacific, 12 @ Pop
    2013 - 3 @ DLR | Contemporary, DCL Fantasy, POFQ
    2015 - 2 in DC, 3 @ Uni Portofino, 3 @ AKL, DCL Fantasy, 4 @ AoA

  7. #37
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Atlanta, Georgia, USA

    Re: englanddg's Surf and Turf Adventure (and Trip Report!)

    Day 7 - So Long and Thanks for "Arrrr" the Fish! (Part 1)

    Magic - 3 (Dophinaris, Pirates, Fireworks)
    Peeves - 0 (Wee hee!)
    Breakfast - Ham and Cheese Omelet, Bacon, 2 glasses of milk, 2 small glasses of Orange Juice (shared), 2 coffees (me)
    Lunch - Steak (they called it beef, but it wasn't shredded beef or ground beef, more like chopped skirt steak) Burrito (me)
    Chicken Nuggets and Fries (kid)
    Dinner - Pearls of the Carribean, Carribean Style Conch Chowder, Captain Hook's Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi Mahi (me)
    Mac and Cheese, Fries, Veggies, Steak with gravy, Chocolate Brownie (kid)
    Snacks - Black Coffee (me), Raspberry mini muffin (me), 1 Double Shot Cafe Latte (me), 1 Mexican Coke (me), 1 Mexican Fanta (kid), 2 rum and cokes (me)
    Dining Credits - N/A on the ship
    Steps - 11,524 steps, 5.51 mi, 2979 cal

    Ok, get ready for a long one. Today was a VERY busy day!

    I woke up extremely early today. Around 6a ship time (which is the same as Central Time, US). I tried to go back to sleep, and normally I can. But today, it just wasn't happening. I felt too rested, too relaxed, and really didn't care to sleep any more.

    It was still too early to wake up the kid, who was zonked out.

    So, what to do with my time? I decided to go for a run on Deck 4, exterior, and then walk the ship. And, just for giggles, I brought you all along with me.

    Oh, and you can click on the youtube logo to watch on youtube, then click on the gear in the video player you can adjust the video quality up to 1080 HD. I uploaded it in HD...but it doesn't play that way when embedded.

    Yeah, I wore my GoPro on my headband. I got several odd looks from people, and a few asked what I was doing. When I explained I was doing a walkaround of the ship which I planned to speed up and put to music and post on youtube, I got several positive responses. "Oh, that sounds cool!".

    But, I did look a bit goofy...I admit it!

    So, after a lap around Deck 4 Exterior, I walked all over the ship for around 45 minutes. I picked up a coffee and a raspberry mini-muffin along the way. I collected a ton of video of the ship, all from a first person view. I've already reviewed some of the video using an HDMI cable, my laptop, and the rooms television. That's right, if your computer (or iPad) has the capability to connect to HDMI, you can use the stateroom TV as a display. Quite nice. I've used it the past week a few times as a second monitor. It's nice when doing code to have the finished product up on one screen, and the code and debugger on the other.

    I backup all my pictures onto the 2 TB USB drive I brought with me. The other drive was busted (not surprising, it is a year old), so I donated it to Oscar the Grouch (threw it away)...I'm a bit bummed about that, but really for used drives that cost me nothing, I really am not complaining.

    Around now the kid started to wake up. So, time to turn on the Disney Cartoons (I'll be dreaming of these cartoons word for word for months!)...at least they do seem to toss in a new one from time to time.

    We lazed around the room. We didn't really have anywhere to be until 10:35 a. I watched us dock at Cozumel, and the whole procedure was very similar to Costa Maya. I also poked around on the internet some. Lets spend a moment talking about internet on the ship. It's much better than I thought it would be. It costs $55 for 100 minutes of time, $100 for 250 minutes of time, and $150 for 500 minutes of time. That's right, usage is based on time, not bandwidth. So, for example, I find myself doing a lot of work (like writing these reports) offline, and then popping on for a few minutes here and there throughout the day to check email, post responses, etc.

    In fact, this is the primary reason I am not even trying to upload photos anymore. Flickr would work on it for 10 or 15 minutes, and then time out with an error. This is eating into my paid time, so even if I am working on something else online, it's not really something I care to afford.

    I've also noticed that the internet towards the middle of the ship is better than aft. In my stateroom it's ok. At the pool or at O'Gills (pub), it's excellent. On my stateroom deck it won't even work (times out). Also, streaming (youtube, netflix, etc) is pretty much out of the question. While it will work, the lag is so bad and the time it takes to load / buffer a video so long that it's just a bad idea to do it.

    So, while I wouldn't recommend you crank up World of Warcraft, it will function for day to day needs. And, it works far better than I thought it would. One note...be sure that you LOG OUT at the end of each session. You do this by going to a site provided to you by Disney.

    If you don't, you'll find that your minutes continue to tick away, even if you aren't using the internet.

    Moving on with our day...


    We went to breakfast at Cabana's and, since we had only about 40 minutes until we had to meet inthe D Lounge for our excursion, we shared a quick breakfast of a ham and cheese omelet, and some bacon.


    Docking was pretty much the same as Costa Maya. Nothing to note there. However, Cozumel is significantly larger than Costa Maya, and much busier.

    We met with the rest of the excursion group in the D-Lounge, where our tickets were checked, a Simba Sticker issued to us (to mark us as "Dolphin Swimmers", other groups, even if going to the same place, were issued different stickers. Disney uses the stickers to identify that you are a cruise line passenger, and what excursion you are going on.) Then we were directed across the room to a gentleman who issued us wristbands.

    We still had some time to burn, so I snagged the kid and we hopped over to the Cafe and got a Cafe Latte. Then back to D-Lounge to wait.


    The staff was again amusing, yet organized. While not as funny as the CM who manned the Walt Disney Theater the past two ports, the staff here was full of little jokes and LOTS of warnings. "Do not bring any unpackaged food on shore. No fruit, no bread, no T-Bone steak that you have kept in your pocket for the past 2 days waiting for the right moment to eat. Nothing. Seriously, you will be caught, and the fine is $10,000. That's US dollars people!"

    We didn't wait long. Soon, we were following a series of paddles (carried by kids, including mine, such a position of responsibility!) down through the exit check-out points and onto an assembly point on the dock.


    We were divided into two lines and handed off to the Dolphinarus staff. After walking the pier, we were taken up an escalator and over a bridge that lets out into a shopping plaza. "Plaza Fiesta" to be exact, but it didn't really feel much like a party...rather, it was like any other port. The vendors are very persistent. "Make your name on a bracelet in 5 minutes, princess?" Some really seemed enthusiastic about what they were doing, others looked bored, and barely even attempted to stop people...sitting in chairs, etc. Not that I blame them per se, it was HOT!

    Along the way we ran into this guy...


    Down a flight of stairs, and the kid informed me...she needed to use the restroom! Yes, great timing there kiddo! Your bladder and I will be having a serious conversation later! However, Jose, who was in charge of our taxi loading process, was very understanding. We hadn't started loading yet, so the kid and I rushed over to the closest restroom, and while I normally allow her to potty by herself, this time she went in the mens with me and I stood outside her stall urging her to keep a decent pace going.

    We washed our hands and rushed back just as the last taxi was loading. The ride was what I had expected on a crowded street where traffic laws and right of way are more a factor of whomever gets to the spot first than any controlled method. Toss in people on mopeds scooting around, and it makes for a very interesting ride!

    Quite a few times I was convinced we were going to hit something (or get hit), but it never happened. However, we did get stuck behind a military truck that had rear ended a sudden stopping taxi. Apparently there was no damage (or so little that neither party cared) because after inspecting both vehicles and the military driver (with armed backup) obviously not pleased with the cab driver, both got back into their vehicles and traffic started moving again.


    Dolphinarus is an interesting place, and not what I expected at all. First, it's right in the heart of the metropolitan coast of Cozumel. Really, only a few blocks from the Port. In fact, we could have walked there in about the same time the Taxis took (and with less heartburn).


    It is much smaller than I expected when we first got off, but this is deceiving. Once you get back into the facility, it's actually a decent size. I had run into some people who did the Dolphin Swim in Costa Maya yesterday and they complained that the facility was small and the water was dirty...so I was a bit worried.

    While I can't claim first hand experience of what they have at Costa Maya, I can say I am pleased to report that Dolphinarus is a very clean and well run facility. The staff, for the most part, are friendly and observant of the guests. Sure, some (like the lady at the cart) look bored, but then again...minding the souvenir cart all day must be boring. The locker lady likewise wasn't very outgoing, and the cashier in the Photo Lab (I'll get into that later) was flat out rude. But, everyone else was awesome, so I can overlook all this. Those few stick in the muds really didn't impact our experience at all!

    Now, if I did have one serious gripe, it's that you get absolutely no direction from the staff on how this is going to work once you get there. I understood later why they do this, but for now, just put yourself in my shoes at the time...a facility I am not familiar with, and process that I really have no clue about outside of the very short description on the DisneyCruise.com website...in fact, all I really know is that I have a wristband and we are supposed to go swim with a Dolphin.


    So, we sort of followed the herd who arrived with us, who, as it turns out, also had no idea what they should do. Immediately to the front after you pass through the turnstyle and have your wristband checked is a large patio with tables. They look like restaurant tables, with condiments in the middle and all. This struck me as odd, because I didn't see any waiters or food being served, or even drinks...so I thought that maybe, in a previous life, this facility was a restaurant with an ocean view or something.


    People began to claim tables with their towels from the Fantasy, and from here you could see what we all had come for. The Dolphins in their pools. Current meet / swim with the Dolphin shows were being done, and we all got a good view of what we were in for, plus added fun. The dolphins jumped and swam and played together. Two of the side pools had dolphins that appeared to be off today (or on break, turns out they were on break) and they were actually even more fun to watch. They played with each other, tapped floating balls, etc.

    The kid and I thoroughly enjoyed what we saw (though, I was still confused as to what we were supposed to do next). We talked about sonar, and I shared what little I know about Dolphins as she asked various questions. So, as an aside, and to get a bit serious here for a moment...I watched a movie called "The Cove" a few months ago, and this weighed in the back of my mind. I wondered, how many of these Dolphins came from Japan? Were they well treated here?

    Now, I'm no Dolphin expert, but they did seem to be rather happy. The pens had plenty of room, and you could see that they had extra pens that were empty, and all the pens interconnected with obviously removable gates...I assume they open these up for times when the place is closed to give the Dolphins free time to wander through them all. I don't know this for sure, and it's really none of my business...but it is something that I thought about, so I am sharing it here.

    Eventually I guessed we were in the wrong spot (we were, we were at the exit), and looking around for clumps of people, I noticed that the facility is much larger than I thought originally. There's a small walkway just to the right as you enter the facility that takes you over to showers, lockers, one of the empty pens I spoke of, another bay (which I later learned is the maternity bay, and they have two adolescents in there), a covered staging area and life jacket dispensary, and a quaint refreshment bar.


    I noticed a small kiosk. This is where you can rent towels (we had brought some from the Fantasy, so no need) and a locker (which I recommend). Lockers are $3. You will be asked to surrender Photo ID in exchange for the key. I felt a bit anxious giving away my Passport Card, but <shrug>, I really wanted a locker key!

    The lockers are well sized, and easily held our towels, my daypack, the kid's dress, etc. They key comes on a lanyard, which is very convenient for the upcoming experience. As a note, you are not allowed to bring anything into the pools except for your personal goggles. That is it. So, leave your waterproof cameras at home, etc...because they won't be allowed. Partially for the safety of the dolphins, partially for your safety, and partially because they have a profit motive (which I'll get into later).

    We wandered down to where the lifejackets are, and one of the staff pulled us aside and informed us we would be in bay 3, which she wrote on our wriststrap with a permanent marker. Then we went and got fitted for lifejackets and hung out and watched the dolphins. About 10 minutes later, it was time to head down to meet our flippery new friends!

    After a short safety lecture from one of the trainers, we were split into our respective groups. One group was of younger children (4 - 6 or so, I'd guess) who were going to do the shallow water Dolphin Meet, and the other two groups were doing Dolphin Swims. We were introduced to our trainer / guide, Thomas. Thomas was awesome. As is usual, I've found at least so far in Mexico, the first question is "English or Spanish". I'd do ok if he was all Spanish (and, about half the presentation was in Spanish or he'd say both things). One family in our group only spoke Spanish.

    The pool is divided into three sections. The deepest section is the domain of the Dolphins, and is about 20 feet deep. Next is a ledge that is about 4 to 4.5 feet deep. This is where the "swim with the Dolphin" experiences happen. Lastly, there's a ledge that's about 6 inches deep. This is where the meet with the Dolphin" people go.


    This was a bit deep for my daughter, even though she's been working on her floating, paddling, kicking and submerging all week long to get ready for this experience. I am not sure what I had expected, but it wasn't quite as deep in the "meeting area" as this! Certainly not a 20 foot drop-off! I began to get a bit concerned that perhaps I had overestimated my kid's ability to do this. I don't want to be the sort of parent that forces her into experiences she is not ready for. The whole way in I kept asking "are you ok?"...She confirmed every time that she was, so we kept on.


    Well, it turns out, as soon as she realized that her feet wouldn't touch the sandy ledge, even though there was a ledge to hold on to, she began to get a bit nervous. And when playful dolphins started to check us out (curious, no doubt), she got even more anxious. Nervous is the wrong word. I could see it in her eyes, she was a few minor steps away from all out panic. But, I held on to her and prop her up on my leg and whispered in her ear to calm down, and that helped...some. There were quite a few points during the experience that I thought about sitting it out, or indicating that we couldn't really participate. I don't want to cause a scene for the trainer or ruin other Guest's time here because my kid is freaking out about salt-water!


    But, luckily, Tomas (our trainer / host) was quite adept with dealing with this sort of thing, and gave me ample time to calm her down while he continued the experience, out of order, skipping around us between sessions so she had time to calm down.

    In the end, she did the whole experience, and she didn't break down (though, she did have a few close calls where I thought she might!) I was quite proud of her.

    She floated out into the 20 foot water with me, and though she probably doesn't realize it, she was treading water by herself. I merely had my hand resting on the back of her lifejacket. I wasn't providing much in the way of buoyancy.


    Our Dolphin friends today were Aphrodite and Hermes (loving the Greek names! This from a guy who used to own a cat named Aristophanes (if you don't know who he is, google will help). They were great fun. Aphrodite is 28 months old and Hermes is 14. Obviously, Hermes was the most playful, but both were amazing to meet.


    So, first we all lined up against the wall and our new friends swam by and said hello. We got to touch them on the back and sometimes they'd turn over and let us pat their belly. Our trainer warned never to grab them or to touch near their eyes, mouth (unless instructed to, we'll get to that in a moment) or blowholes (common sense, you would think...but, maybe not).


    Then we got to shake hands with the Dolphins. You would float about 5 feet out from the ledge and put both hands on your life jacket. The dolphin then swims up and presents his/her pectoral flippers, which then you can touch lightly.


    After this, another trainer joined us (I'm sorry, I missed his name) and the group began to do two activities at once. Half the group did "Dolphin Hugs" while the other half got to do their "ride". Then the two groups "switched". If you think about it, this is a pretty smart way to do it. That way, no one in the group gets "bored" and the group is easier to control (and as a result prevent harm to the guests or the dolphins), and it also means one dolphin isn't stuck giving all the "rides". I did my ride first...


    Followed by the kid doing her "kiss and hug". In this experience you are instructed to put your hands in a specific signal and wait. The dolphins will kiss your cheek, and then you kiss them...yes, full on lips, on their chin.


    And then me doing the same. If you've ever wondered what a Dolphin kiss tastes like...well, it's salty.


    For the "hugs" we were instructed to place our palms, hands flat, under their chin and push backwards slightly, basically keeping them from floating or hitting the wall, and then we could pet them.

    Now came the big moment. The kid's turn to ride. I was still nervous if she would be able to do this, but Tomas noticed her trepidation earlier, and informed me I could swim out with her, and if she didn't want to ride alone, she could ride on my back. However, the experience so far had melted most of the kiddo's nervous nature about being in water where her feet couldn't touch the ground, and come time for her swim, she wanted to have a go at it on her own.


    I swam out with her, and instructed her to hold the pose. Left arm straight out, other arm on her life jacket, I let her go and floated a few inches away. We saw Tomas gesture to the Dolphin to start her run. She flipped on her side, and dove, swimming deep and around our right side and surfacing upside down with her right pectoral fin directly in the kid's hand.


    I yelled, grab on to both and hold on tight! She was shocked, but did so.


    A few seconds later, she was in Tomas's arms and laughing hystarically.


    I swam back over and we got to watch a short "farewell" show done by the dolphins with flips, claps and waves. We also got to "sing" with our dolphin. The whole experience lasted around 45 minutes, and I'd say it was well worth it.


    Salty, wet, and tired, the groups left the pool and then were led around the campus to the exit. From here, staff members were immediately guiding us into the "photo shop". This is where they really make their money, I suspect (not that I fault them!).

    Throughout the experience a photographer and a videographer (or, at least...a gal with a still camera and a guy with an HD camcorder) recorded the experience of all the guests. I must say, I was impressed with the results. We had 50 pictures of us alone, not to mention video. The picture packages range from $69 for 2 pictures (yes, you read that right) to $349 for "unlimited pictures with a DVD". Guess which one I got. :P

    I mean, really, this is a once (or at best a few times) in a lifetime experience...and I want every shot I can lay my hands on. As I stated (and you've seen, because ALL of the pictures I posted of the experience (not the venue) are from this collection.

    But, it did leave me rather spent (literally), and I didn't want to hang out much longer...but we had to. Once you decide on your package and you let an attendant know, they write you up a ticket (like a restaurant). Then you take this ticket to the cashier, who then charges you (yes, they do take credit cards...though, if you use Amex, the charge is converted to pesos!). Then the cashier gives you a ticket with a claim number on it and informs you that you should come back in 10 - 15 minutes to pick up your merchandise.

    So, since we had some time to wait, we decided to go watch the Dolphins again.


    While I was paying, the kid had found a nice (and overpriced, but it is nice) Dolphin necklace and earring set for her mother. She felt guilty that the stone Dolphin necklace we bought at Costa Maya she liked so much that she decided she wanted to keep it, instead of giving it to her mother. So, this was a "make up" gift, I suppose.

    I appreciated her good intentions, so even though the price was a bit steep, I still went for it. She also wanted to get two stuffed Dolphins that came as a set. One would be hers, and one her sister's, she explained. Again, I went for it.


    From there we decided to go back and watch the Dolphins we just swam with in their tank. I noted that they had shut down all tours...it seems this was lunchtime / afternoon break for the Dolphins!

    We sat down at the quaint little bar and I ordered a Dos Equis (I needed something to ease the hit my pocketbook just took!) and the kid got a Fanta Orange. We sipped for a while, and the bartender and the kid got into a conversation about Dolphin trivia. For example, Dolphins never sleep. When half their brain gets tired, the other half wakes up and takes over while that half sleeps, and vice versa. As a result, Dolphins never sleep. I don't know if this is true or not, but it sounds plausible, and would explain a lot!


    After burning all that energy swimming and propping up the kid, I was famished. I hadn't intended on getting a meal here (I was offered to stay and eat as we exited the show). I had thought, meh, this will be poorly prepared food and overpriced. I'll skip it.

    Man, am I glad I changed my mind. The food was awesome! And VERY reasonably priced (as was the beer / sodas).


    I got a steak burrito. It came with homemade guacamole, fresh sour cream, shredded queso fresco, rice with steamed chopped carrots (interesting combo), and black refried beans. They also included dish of extra sides, including pico de gallo (also fresh), extra sour cream, and chimmicurri sauce (with appropriate bite to it...lovely, just lovely!).

    This was a great ending for the experience. Sitting there at this quaint little bar while the kid watched the dolphins eating great food and sipping a cold beer with fresh lime squeezed in it.

    If you do this experience, I'd recommend not skipping the restaurant. It's fantastic.

    They also have "Americanized" items on it, like burgers, fries and chicken nuggets. Guess what the kid ordered...


    I sort of wish I'd been there with another adult, because they had a sampler for $27 that included pretty much every Mexican dish on the menu...but, seeing as how, unlike a cow, I only have one stomach, I stuck with my burrito, which was both satisfying and filling.


    We ended up hanging out here for an hour and a half (an hour and a half longer than I had expected) just soaking up the atmosphere. Since they had stopped tours, and most of the tourists had left (there was one other family who had hung around afterwards with us...when I struck up conversation, apparently they had done it before, and discovered what I just did as well), the kid got a lot of attention from trainers (including Tomas) who answered her questions, etc.

    Of course, they wouldn't let us back near the Dolphins, but she and her new friend (the kid of the other family who stuck around) enjoyed yelling questions down to the trainers as they fed the Dolphins, and she even got a semi-private show when two of the Dolphins decided they were in a playful mood.


    New groups started to show up, and I decided it was time to call it a day. It was only a bit after 2p, but we'd already had a full and active day, and I wanted to be sure I had the kid back on the boat before her excitement / energy cracked and she wanted a nap (yeah, after this mornings activities, I was expecting she would!).

    So, we headed back to the boat.


    I had noticed this earlier, the prevalence of American brands, and I suppose that must appeal to some people.

    I sort of get places like Jimmy Buffett's (even though I'd never do one when on a trip like this), or even Hard Rock Cafe (though I'd never do one again...period!)...

    But, this caught my eye...


    Who travels all the way to Cozumel...to go to Hooters? I mean, I guess the local community might keep it active and in business...but the way the logo was plastered all over the port, I doubt that is the case. I was half tempted to go in and see what a "Mexican Hooters" looked like, but I had a tired kiddo with me. Maybe...maybe that's the draw? <shrug>

    We headed back to the ship and the kid looked exhausted (and frankly I was a bit tired of walking as well), so we paid for one of the rickshaws which wait at the end of the pier to take us back to the ship. It wasn't much faster than walking, but it was more relaxing. These rickshaws work off a tip basis only, and I decided $10 was a fair number for the gentleman who took us for the ride.

    The kid provided him with his tip, and he wished us a great day which we did to him in kind. The kid decided she knows some Spanish and said "Bueaners Deez". Yeah...I think we need to work on her pronunciation. <grin> But, he didn't seem mind, and smiled and said "Have a great day, Princess, thank you!" and turned around to pick up his next fare.


    This is a good place to interject something I noticed throughout the trip so far. They are constantly cleaning, and constantly doing maintenance. Pressure washing, painting, lacquering, scrubbing, detailing...I've seen all these things on my trip. And, I'm glad to see it. It explains the pristine condition it's kept in, something I deeply enjoy.

    I wish I saw a bit more of this at WDW. The schedule they keep this thing running on is proof that consistent preventive maintenance can keep things in operating condition sometimes far better than closing things every year or two for a month or longer to do "refurbs" which are really not much more than PMs that are ignored throughout the standard operating calendar. Not that WDW doesn't do PMs, but...lets just say the difference is obvious.

    Another thing I've noticed, and at first it annoyed me until I got the hang of it. You don't have "mousekeeping" here. You have a "Room Steward". And, mine, Carlos is his name, quite literally takes care of your room. You get your room cleaned and made up twice a day. Once in late morning, mid-day and the second during "dinner" as a "turn down". Carlos seems genuinely upset that I gather our dirty towels together into a nice little bundle and put on the bed for him, or that I gather all our dirty trash cans together so it's easy for him to empty them.

    One day, day 3 of the cruise I think, he stopped me in the hall when he caught me walking a dirty plate from Flos (a quickservice eatery on Deck 11 by the Mickey Pool / front funnel). He asked what I was doing, and I said I was taking my dirty dish back, as we had brought the meal down to the stateroom with us the night before. He took it from me and said something along the lines of "You are on vacation, enjoy your vacation. If you have any dirty dishes, any at all, just put them outside your door, and I will pick them up. You shouldn't worry about these things when you should be having fun!"

    So odd...

    Toss in that I get nifty towel animals from him every day (something I haven't seen at WDW in years until this Atrium Club stay at Contemporary, and even then it was just a simple Mickey, not this...


    This sounds like I'm railing on WDW, and that's not my intent. It's just such a different experience to have your room cleaned, beds made, and towels replaced not just once a day, but twice a day. At WDW, I might get Mousekeeping twice a week...and even then it's not impressive. No different the past few trips than anything I'd experience at any other hotel (outside of the very understanding Mousekeeper we had last year who was so helpful when the kid got sick in the bed)...

    But, it's completely different on the ship...and...I must say...something I could get very used to!

    Along those lines, Carlos was putting up the kid's bunk daily, which upset her in the afternoons. So, she took it upon herself to leave Mr. Carlos a note today.


    So, when we got back from Cozumel, indeed, her bunk was down, and made up. She crawled up on it, and before I could get her out of her swimsuit (which had dried off since our experience) and her sundress...she had zapped out. I just let her nap, caught up on a few things from work, and organized the various papers (like Navigators, etc) that I've acquired over the past few days.

    After about an hour she woke up, and I made her bathe and get fresh (should have done that before letting her sleep in her sheets, but she was done by the time we got back to the room. Final aboard time was 5:30p, and it was only a bit past 3:00p...and tonight was Pirate Night. So, I offered the kid a choice, go do something now and get dressed later, or get dressed now and see how much time we had left to do something before our dinner at Royal Court at 5:45p.

    She decided she wanted to get ready. Now, you may be thinking why so long? Well, I had brought nail polish with me (as well as nail polish removal pads, I ain't stupid!). I had planned on doing the kid's nails for her, but she really wanted to do them herself (uh oh)...

    Well, I conceded, with the conditions that we put a towel down underneath her and she stay on it, and that the nail polish stays closed when she's not using it and on one of the metal trays that the ice bucket sits on so that if it did spill, I could clean it up. She agreed, and took her sweet time making her digits a mixture of pink and black.

    This took about an hour (she REALLY wanted to be sure they were dry!).

    The kid's costume came out much better than I could have hoped. She looked spectaculARR (yep, I'm gonna be full of these for the rest of the post)...


    My costume, on the other hand, didn't turn out quite as good. The "boots" (which were shoe covers) were floppy and wouldn't stand up right. The hat was nothing like what was pictured on the package, and even after 10 minutes of playing with the internal wire, I couldn't get it to look decent in any way...and don't get me started on the knee length pants!

    So, this particular pirate had designARRR shoes and jeans! (see, told you)


    Nails done, tattoos applied (I'd brought temp tattoos for me and the kid, she put an anchor on her upper arm, and she decided I should put a skull and crossbones on my lower arm, since my shirt was long sleeved but I'd pushed the sleeves up to my elbows). Jewels / earrings done (likewise, I'd brought a pack of those "jewel" sticky earrings...I ended up with blue stars, the kid with purple hearts).


    All this done, we ventured out for our dinner reservation at Royal Court.

    Our dinner partners were likewise dressed up, and we took a few moments (or rather the kids did) to compare costumes. My kid was without a sword, but our dinner companion had a spare one from Pirates League earlier in the day, and gave one to her. How awesome! The kid beamed at this, and I was quite grateful. Also, as a nice touch, her costume had included a sash, which worked wonderfully to stow the sword during dinner and afterwards.


    So, on to dinner. Tonight was Pirate Night, so we had a Pirate Menu!


    For appetizers, I decided on Pearls of the Caribbean, and the kid skipped an appetizer (again).


    It was pretty good. It's a cold appetizer which consisted of a butterflied steamed shrimp served on a bed of Couscous mixed with chopped shrimp and raw salmon tossed in a lemon grass vinaigrette served on a bed of cucumber. I enjoyed every bite, and it was quickly gone. Quite a refreshing and light start to the meal.


    This was followed, for me, by a Caribbean Style Conch Chowder. This was a very good chowder. The conch was delicious, and melted on the tongue, almost like a well prepared lobster tail, but with a slightly different taste. The broth was well seasoned and buttery. I thoroughly enjoyed this as well.


    Now, for the entrees. I got Captain Hook's Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi Mahi. This was served with a bed of Jasmine Rice and sauteed with diced pineapple and a mild curry sauce. The dish was ok, but again felt under-seasoned (especially the fish). The dish also included a fried plantain.

    All mixed together (basically, mushed everything with my knife and fork so I was sure to get a bit of everything in each bite) it was ok. But, nothing spectacular. I'd skip it if I saw the dish in the future, though I thought the initial presentation was nice!


    The kid got a skirt steak with gravy, mac and cheese, vegetables (including a mini "corn on the cob"...which she ate like Tom Hanks did in "big")...and some french fries (which made her day...as usual).

    For dessert, the kid had a chocolate brownie, and I ordered the Rum Soaked Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Glaze and Whipped Cream. Coffee was served, but...after 20 minutes, and the Mickeys Pirates of the Caribbean Show quickly approaching in 10 minutes...both myself and my table mates skipped dessert. This disappointed me...as I really was looking forward to this experience.

    I'm not sure why it took 20 minutes to bring us (or rather, NOT bring us dessert), but I wasn't thrilled with the experience. I don't really blame the service team, per se, but it would have been nice if they had informed us the BOH / Kitchen was running behind.

    Overall, the dinner was ok, but nothing spectacular. Still better than most Table Service at Disney World, so I really shouldn't complain. But certainly not what Animators Palette was a few nights ago.

    So, bellys full, it was time to head off to the Pirate Party!


    It wasn't nearly as crowded as I had thought it would be, but the areas near the stage were already staked off by excited pirate people! We ended up hanging out on the port (left) side of the stage near the special seating.

    When it became obvious to the attendant that only one special needs person was showing up, she went and gathered children (including my kiddo) to fill the rest of the seats. As a result, she had a fantastic view quite literally at the foot of the stage! Myself, not so much, but it wasn't terrible.

    The show is campy and fun, and includes a whole range of Disney Characters. Captain Hook is, hands down the heart of the show, though once again I saw fantastic Goofy (go Goofy!) hamming it up both with the audience and on stage. He got especially excited when he spotted someone with pirate goofy ears (like mine!).

    After the show, there were several hours of Pirate Themed activities going on all over the ship, but the kid wanted to do the Midship Detective Agency. Se la vie. So, we went off to Deck 5 Midship and registered ourselves.


    I must say, I was impressed with the game. First we did the Muppets adventure, and that rushed us all over the ship. It's so funny, some days the kid complains about walking (like in Costa Maya..."Daddy, my feet hurt"), but hand her a Muppet Map and she's running around the decks like there's nothing to it!


    We enjoyed the first round so much, we decided to do another mission as we burned time waiting for the Buccaneer Blast (and fireworks). We couldn't finish this mission because our time ran out, but it was loads of fun. I don't want to get into too much detail about the missions, as they are pretty fun with decent plots worthy of an Encyclopedia Brown novel or a good game of Clue.

    I will, however, share a few observations.

    1) After the first painting when you start the mission, you can go to any painting on the ship you like, but you can't go to the same painting in the same mission twice. If you do, you'll see the same challenge / clue / reveal that you saw before. The only other painting you will be forced to travel to will be the last one in the mission.

    This is very nice because you can plan to stop by paintings that are around the things you want or need to do. In fact, it's a good way to get the kid where you need them to be on the ship (for shows, dinner, etc)...though, if you do that, be warned, they may not want to take a stop!

    2) The missions are saved, including overnight. So, there is no rush or pressure to do it all at once. If you don't finish a mission, or you need to, or want to, take a break...do it. The mission will pick right back up where you left it as long as you keep your card.

    3) Take a moment at each painting to stand in front of it before activating your mission using your card. The paintings are animated, and they are amazing (hello Pirates of the Caribbean, Deck 5 Aft!). If your kid isn't patient enough to do this, take some time yourself and do so.

    So, off to the Buccaneer Blast! Again, being used to how these nighttime shows can get crowded at WDW, I was surprised how, when we ARRived (see, I told you I wasn't finished with that) only 10 minutes early, how open the deck still was. Granted it was more crowded than the earlier Mickey show, but we were easily able to snag some great seats mid-deck with a nice view of the main stage and of the Starboard area where the fireworks would be.

    The show was loads of fun. Jack SpARRow, of course, made a surprise entrance, and the script, acting and humor was right in line with the movies. I thoughARRly enjoyed it...and taped the whole thing...which, was a mistake.

    Why? Well, the fireworks were about to staARRt and I got the dreaded "low battery" warning on my camera! I prayed it would last through at least part of the show, but it wasn't happening. No time to run down to the stateroom and snag a new battery, I was stuck.

    I was a bit miffed I won't have that footage for when I work on the video for this years trip, but in a way it was a blessing in disguise. See, I've been taping fireworks for the past few years of trips, and this was the first time since 2010 when I've just sat back, kid in my lap, and watched them! And, it was so worth it, to just sit there and enjoy the experience while holding my dearest in my arms and seeing her gasp and "ooooh" and smile and laugh. Dolphins aside, ARRguably this was the best part of the evening.

    Something to be said about doing that, and something I need to remember to do more ARRften.

    The show was excellent, though obviously not Magic Kingdom fireworks or Illuminations, but with a tempo that keeps you interested and surprised, and an impressive finale worthy of any Disney show. It was ARRmazing!

    After the fireworks, the show wrapped up and they turned the deck into a massive dance party. We hung out for a little while, but the kid wanted to get back to her Midship Mystery, so off we went ARRmed with our map, pencil and card!

    We nearly finished (down to the last 3 paintings) when it shut down (yes, the Midship Detective Agency keeps office hours!)...but, as I mentioned before, the mystery is saved in the state you left it. So, we went back to the stateroom, got cleaned up, put on an "ARRon"-demand Disney movie (which, are free, by the way) and soon we had both passed off to dreamland.

    Oh, if you didn't get the reference for the Day's title...it's Douglas Adams (Hitchhikers Guide) Adams postulated that Dolphins are really the most intelligent animals on the planet, and they were aware of the pending destruction of earth. So, they disappeared, leaving a cryptic message saying "So long and thanks for all the fish." Since tonight is also Pirate Night...I made it "Arrrrr" the Fish. Yeah, I'm hilarious, I know. Please be sure to tip the bartender, and thank you all for being a great audience!

    Next...Day 8 - Is it Crazy to be so Lazy?

    Last edited by englanddg; 08-25-2013 at 06:53 PM.
    B.C. (Before Child) '82, '87 - '95, 2004
    A.D. (After Daughter)
    2010 - 2 weeks @ CBR
    2011 - 3 in DC, 14 @ CBR
    2012 - 3 @ Uni Royal Pacific, 12 @ Pop
    2013 - 3 @ DLR | Contemporary, DCL Fantasy, POFQ
    2015 - 2 in DC, 3 @ Uni Portofino, 3 @ AKL, DCL Fantasy, 4 @ AoA

  8. #38
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Hampton Roads,VA

    Re: englanddg's Surf and Turf Adventure (and Trip Report!)

    Thank you for taking the time each day to write such detailed reports! It is amazing and makes me want to try at some point a cruise with Disney (whenever I have the money for it,lol).

    Enjoy your time!
    09/02/2014 5th anniversary Disney trip "The Beauty and the beast, Sonja&Tommy"
    October 2009 honeymoon PO

  9. #39
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Atlanta, Georgia, USA

    Re: englanddg's Surf and Turf Adventure (and Trip Report!)

    Quote Originally Posted by Sunray4life View Post
    Thank you for taking the time each day to write such detailed reports! It is amazing and makes me want to try at some point a cruise with Disney (whenever I have the money for it,lol).

    Enjoy your time!
    We are, thanks. You should check out a cruise...as a lifelong park goer, I must say...the Disney Magic lives on the cruise. I've thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing, and it's not even over yet!

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Sunray4life View Post
    Thank you for taking the time each day to write such detailed reports! It is amazing and makes me want to try at some point a cruise with Disney (whenever I have the money for it,lol).

    Enjoy your time!
    We are, thanks. You should check out a cruise...as a lifelong park goer, I must say...the Disney Magic lives on the cruise. I've thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing, and it's not even over yet!
    B.C. (Before Child) '82, '87 - '95, 2004
    A.D. (After Daughter)
    2010 - 2 weeks @ CBR
    2011 - 3 in DC, 14 @ CBR
    2012 - 3 @ Uni Royal Pacific, 12 @ Pop
    2013 - 3 @ DLR | Contemporary, DCL Fantasy, POFQ
    2015 - 2 in DC, 3 @ Uni Portofino, 3 @ AKL, DCL Fantasy, 4 @ AoA

  10. #40
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Near Banbury, Oxfordshire, UK
    The dolphin swim sounds great fun!

    We did Discovery Cove a while back and the experience is one that'll stay with you forever.

    Great report!!!
    There's a great big beautiful tomorrow
    Just a dream away!


  11. #41
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Atlanta, Georgia, USA

    Re: englanddg's Surf and Turf Adventure (and Trip Report!)

    Quote Originally Posted by Winkster View Post
    The dolphin swim sounds great fun!

    We did Discovery Cove a while back and the experience is one that'll stay with you forever.

    Great report!!!
    It is magic...we've enjoyed it a lot. Thanks for the huzzah...

    Right now I'm packup up the room, to get read for the final day (tomorrow)....we debark Saturday.

    I'm sorry about the pictures, but the shipboard internet just doesn't cooperate. I'll fix that (and all the typos) later...
    B.C. (Before Child) '82, '87 - '95, 2004
    A.D. (After Daughter)
    2010 - 2 weeks @ CBR
    2011 - 3 in DC, 14 @ CBR
    2012 - 3 @ Uni Royal Pacific, 12 @ Pop
    2013 - 3 @ DLR | Contemporary, DCL Fantasy, POFQ
    2015 - 2 in DC, 3 @ Uni Portofino, 3 @ AKL, DCL Fantasy, 4 @ AoA

  12. #42
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Rhode Island

    Re: englanddg's Surf and Turf Adventure (and Trip Report!)

    I'm glad you had a chance to watch and enjoy the fireworks with your daughter. I usually try and record them too, but realized I was missing out on the experience...so it is nice to just watch them and take it all in!
    “No matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, the dream that you wish will come true.”

  13. #43
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Hampton Roads,VA

    Re: englanddg's Surf and Turf Adventure (and Trip Report!)

    After reading day five (I think I read slower than you post) my question is: ok, why do you dance?
    09/02/2014 5th anniversary Disney trip "The Beauty and the beast, Sonja&Tommy"
    October 2009 honeymoon PO

  14. #44
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Atlanta, Georgia, USA

    Re: englanddg's Surf and Turf Adventure (and Trip Report!)

    Quote Originally Posted by Sunray4life View Post
    After reading day five (I think I read slower than you post) my question is: ok, why do you dance?
    We do little dancing videos all over the place on the trip. After the trip I'll put them all together for a youtube video.

    It is something we started last year.

    Here is the video we did last year -
    B.C. (Before Child) '82, '87 - '95, 2004
    A.D. (After Daughter)
    2010 - 2 weeks @ CBR
    2011 - 3 in DC, 14 @ CBR
    2012 - 3 @ Uni Royal Pacific, 12 @ Pop
    2013 - 3 @ DLR | Contemporary, DCL Fantasy, POFQ
    2015 - 2 in DC, 3 @ Uni Portofino, 3 @ AKL, DCL Fantasy, 4 @ AoA

  15. #45
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Hampton Roads,VA

    Re: englanddg's Surf and Turf Adventure (and Trip Report!)

    Thanks for the clarification ...too cute
    09/02/2014 5th anniversary Disney trip "The Beauty and the beast, Sonja&Tommy"
    October 2009 honeymoon PO

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