This was our 27th cruise overall, but our very first Disney experience. We grew up just minutes from Disneyland and have been to every Disney Park except for Tokyo and were therefore anxious to give them a try. We were traveling without children on this trip and joined by one other couple from a previous cruise. It was a very good price and was very convenient as we could drive to the ship from Dallas and pick up our friends at the airport in Houston on our way to Galveston.
We did a one night pre-cruise stay at the Moody Gardens Hotel and Resort. They had a park and cruise package that was very convenient. It was very crowded in Galveston as there was the annual motorcycle rally going on that weekend, so staying away from the Seawall was an excellent choice. We had a very spacious and beautiful room overlooking the pool and the bay. We liked the hotel so much, that we are considering going there sometime this spring just for a getaway for a few days.
Our time for check in was 11:00-11:30 am. Embarkation went very smoothly and had no wait time getting checked in. They start the boarding process at Noon. We had booked a veranda cabin, but while we were waiting to board, I saw a sign that said Supervisor on it. I went to the desk and inquired about whether there were any suites available to upgrade to. It seemed like a very good price for the week, so we went ahead and did the upgrade. We were not disappointed that we did. We also were the first to board since we opted for the suite.
Another perk to our upgrade was access to a special Concierge meeting place in Diversions Lounge where we received complimentary drinks (both alcoholic and non alcoholic) along with hors d’ oeuvres, while we waited for our rooms to be ready. We also got an explanation of the various Concierge services and were given the opportunity to get priority spa and specialty restaurant reservations.
About 1pm, we were led by our Concierge to our 1 bedroom suite, stateroom 8078. It was very conveniently located near the aft elevators. Our stateroom was 614 sq ft inclusive of the 100 sq ft balcony. It had two full baths. The first was off the entry and living area. It included a single sink vanity with granite, the commode, and a good size walk in shower. The second was off the bedroom and included a dressing area, dual vanities with granite, a whirlpool tub, commode, and another large walk in shower. Very nice, but with a minor complaint was that the shower heads were fixed and not removable wands. The living area had closets at the entryway like most standard staterooms, but had a dining area, wet bar, a buffet table, pull out sofa, two comfy chairs a build in bookcase and entertainment center, complete with flat screen tv and Bose sound system. Both the living area and the bedroom were fitted with rich wainscot paneling and crown molding, as well as wall coverings. Something you don't normally see on a ship. It was very elegant.
There were sliding frosted glass pocket doors that separated the bedroom, from the living area. It also had a latching mechanism to lock the doors. The bed was a fixed queen size bed. Comfy, but a bit small. I do believe the standard stateroom twins that make into a queen size bed are actually a bit larger. It was a pillow-top mattress complete with a duvet cover and high thread count linens. Other accoutrements included two night stands, a Murphy bed, a plush chair with ottoman, and built in cabinet with flat screen tv with plenty of storage on the side, and a full size walk in closet with private safe, plush robes and slippers.
A bit of a disappointment was the balcony. It was only about 5' deep by 20' width. Enough room for two small chairs and a small table located both off of the living area as well as the bedroom via sliding glass doors. No loungers however, and no cushions on the chairs. Another disappointment was the configuration of the bedroom access to the bathroom and closet area. Even though the stateroom was very large, it really wasn't very efficient. If someone were in the dressing area or by the bed, you were essentially trapped and could not get around them. These were essentially two veranda staterooms just stuck together to form a living area and bedroom. Very nicely decorated and we would definitely do it again, but wanted people to be aware that there were some issues.
The ship itself is very well maintained. I must say, of all the cruises we have taken, including those on some upper end cruise lines, I don't think I have ever seen a cleaner and well maintained ship. Of course with Disney, you wouldn't expect anything less. The ship at 83,000 tons was about our limit of what we want as far as size. The full capacity is about 2700 passengers and I would estimate we had somewhere around 2000 passengers onboard. We never felt like things were crowded, nor did we feel like we were overrun with kids. There are plenty of elevators located forward, mid-ship, and aft and even though these were very small elevators, we never had long waits to get one.
There were three pools onboard. The aft pool is the Mickey Pool and is for toddlers and small children, the mid-ship pool is Goofy's Pool and is for families, and the forward pool is the Quiet Cove Pool and is an adults only area and the area we hung out at. Here is the good and the bad about the Quiet Cove Pool, where we spend a majority of our time. The area is isolated and quiet as the name implies. It is also enforced as an adults only area. It has very nice loungers and chairs. They were better wooden slat furniture style with comfy cushions, but there just weren't enough of them. The Quiet Cove cafe was also adults only, but really nothing more than a coffee shop with some dessert items. The main beverage station which included free fountain sodas, water, and coffee was located aft near the Mickey Pool on the port side. Likewise the Beach Blanket Buffet and all the other food options on deck 9 were also aft or mid aft meaning it wasn't very convenient if your intention was to stay out by the pool while enjoying your lunch. Especially, since your deck chair was hard to come by to begin with.
The entertainment was typical Disney and was excellent. Even without kids, it was an enjoyable experience. Don't feel like heading to the Walt Disney Theater? No problem. You can even watch the live performances on the TV in your stateroom. It was very convenient. They also showed first run Disney and Pixar Flix in the theaters and outside on the big screen at Goofy's Pool. Pirates Night is also spectacular with the only fireworks show at sea.
It was fun watching the little girls dressed up as Princess's to get their picture taken with Cinderella and seeing all the costumes on Pirates Night. They had lots of onboard activities geared for kids going on throughout the cruise. I think the staff did an excellent job on caring for the kids, and allowing the parent’s time to relax as well.
Our ports of call on this cruise were Falmouth Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel. As we have been to these ports numerous times, we didn't do any excursions, and instead chose to spend the majority of our time onboard by the pool or in our beautiful stateroom. However, I did hear many comments about Falmouth as a port. They didn't care for it and felt unsafe once leaving the confines of the port.
As far as service on this cruise, I would rate this as excellent in most areas. Our concierge, stateroom attendant, and our service in Palo were all Truly Outstanding. Our service on the rotational dining however was just OK. However, in fairness to them, they can't help it if the food quality or preparation isn't up to par.
As far as dining experience onboard, this was where we were very disappointed. Disney has traditional dining times, but rotational dining venues. We had late seating, which meant dining at 8:15pm. The other choice would have been 5:45pm. Each night you are assigned to go to a certain dining venue, but you keep your same waitstaff throughout the duration of your cruise. The first night we had Parrot Cay, which offered traditional Jamaican fare, as well as some standards that are on every menu. Saying it was equal to food at the typical 24 hour diner or cafe would be an insult to 24 hour diners. The baked potatoes hard and cold, the ribeye steak I ordered was thin, overcooked and pretty much inedible, and my wife's salmon had no sauce and was tepid. When she tried to put butter on it, it wouldn't even melt. They brought another round of potatoes and while they hot, they were still hard. Almost as if they were microwaved. We also ate at Parrot Cay on Pirates Night. On that night every restaurant has the same menu. Word of advice: Go to Palo on Pirate Night and anytime you are supposed to be in Parrot Cay.
Triton is the traditional and more elegant restaurant. The night we ate there was the traditional french menu. I had the escargot as a starter, the french onion soup and the chateaubriand tenderloin. I opted for the mashed potatoes instead this time. The escargot was good, the soup a little salty and lukewarm, but the chateaubriand was done perfectly, and the potatoes were flavorful and warm. The girls opted for baked potatoes again and had the same result as the night before. We kind of learned to give up on the bakers thoughout the rest of the cruise. Overall, I would say it as a very good meal.
Best meals onboard were in Palo. Only wished we would have eaten there more than twice. Both times were very good and the service was impeccable. It was definitely worth the additional dollars. As far as specialty restaurants, probably would rate this toward the top. Oh, and the chocolate souffle was perfectly done.
The Beach Blanket Buffet was bland at best IMHO. No green salads and limited choices. Pretty much fast food all pre-cooked items. All in chafing dishes, all were warm, but none were hot. Even the omelet station, where you should have some choices, all were pre-cooked and sitting in the warmer. As one other passenger put it, it was safe choices for kids. Nothing was too hot, nothing too spicy, and limited choices, which made it easier for kids and parents both.
Same with the other deck 9 venues. Sandwich station had a variety of pre-made sandwiches and salads. Nothing you could order the way you wanted it. Whether it was the pizza station, or the hot dog and burger station at Goofy's pool, all were pre-made and ready to go, not cooked to order. Again, all geared towards kids.
In summary, we enjoyed many things about this cruise and had a very good time except for the disappointment with the food. This cruise is best geared for families with kids and for those that are die-hard Disney fans. Both of our grown kids fit into the latter category. We would travel on Disney again, but only if we were traveling with them and our new Grandson when he gets a little older.