My party consisted of me (Mum, husband and daughter aged 9. My daughter is a huge Disney Princesses fan and I am a huge fan of cruises. We have sailed with Royal Caribbean and Carnival several times. We chose the Disney Cruise because my daughter hates huge crowds and loud noises. We therefore thought that Orlando or Paris would be unsuitable. So when the bargain prices were offered for this repositioning cruise, I couldn't ignore it and booked it straight away.
We flew from London Gatwick to Barcelona. Maybe I'm naive, but I thought the whole Easy-jet checking process was like herding cows. I expected that because I did my check in online it would have been smooth and very quick. However, when we arrived at Gatwick and saw queues going out of the terminal my heart fell. It didn't help that we were directed by a member of staff to the wrong check in desk. A group in front of us that were also given the check in desk made a point of discussing it loudly with another member of staff. The next thing I saw was the poor woman who gave the wrong information being shepherded away by colleagues! After that we were checked in within 45 minutes. The plan left on time and the flight was smooth and uneventful. Just how I like it.
We booked our holiday through Virgin Holidays. I booked our holiday through Virgin Holiday's. I won't be doing that again. We didn't get our travel documents such as transfer documents, flight information and cruise tickets until 2 days before departure.
At arrival at Barcelona, we expected to see a Virgin Rep to meet us. No such person. To say there was much confusion would be an understatement. The Virgin Rep finally turned up to our group of 20 or so with not so much as an apology an hour later. She got us on a lovely air conditioned coach which took us to the Cruise Terminal.
the embarkation onto the ship was quick and very easy. Be warned as you enter the ship, you are given a fanfare greeting of your family name by cruise staff. My daughter loved it and I was embarrassed as I felt rather dishevelled. As we entered the ship there was staff all the way to direct us and assist. We were directed to lunch in Topsiders buffet as the other dining areas we were told were now quite full. on offer was a large variety of different fare from fruits, soups, salads, hot, cold meat, fish, vegetarian, international, American and English food. Nobody could claim there was nothing they didn't like!
Our room was ready about 01.45pm. We had an outside porthole window room. the room was larger than I expected and very well laid out. Loads of storage areas and the best thing was a separate WC with wash hand basin and a shower/bathroom with wash hand basin. All our luggage was delivered to our room within 3 hours.
WE registered our daughter with Oceaneers Lab which was up to age 11. At this point I must say that the Kids facilities are second to none. I thought Carnival Campers were good but they could learn from Disney. The staff, facilities, entertainment and activities were excellent. My daughter doesn't usually takes a couple of weeks to settle into new activities and new people. But there was no problems with Disney at all. She cooked, she did arts and crafts watched movies and became friendly with 2 other girls.
Here, I issue a warning. If you don't like Disney Characters then don't go on this cruise. They are everywhere! Your inner child will come out whether you like it or not. The characters often roam the ship, so you will get many photo opportunities. And it is all characters from, Cinderella, Chip and Dale, Captain Jack Sparrow to of course Mickey.
Mealtime. There are 3 dining rooms and you are allocated to one immediately. After that, you rotate dining rooms from Luminere (French Dining), Animators Palate to Parrot Cay. the dining staff rotate with you. On the first night we were given a late seating of 8.30pm. We found that too late as dining can last up to 2 hours. The next night we changed to early seating which also didn't work. Following night we dined in Topsiders around 5pm which was fine but I liked the Main Dining Room experience so we went back to late dining. Thankfully, we were seated with a young couple and their little baby. they were great company, unlike the first family we were seated with who looked like they were all sucking the most sour lemons ever. We felt like we were intruding.
Entertainment. The stage shows were brilliant, definitely of West End quality. Lots of films showed in the two large theatres. I saw Prince of Persia and Alice in Wonderland. My daughter saw Toy Story 3d and something else which I can't remember. There are several bars on board, no casino and a full program of activities all day.
Overall I would say that it was a good holiday, not outstanding just good. Part of my decision was due to the price of drinks and the corkage they charged for bringing your own wine to the dining table. Also, after we left Lisbon we hit bad weather in the Bay of Biscay (not sure if I spelt that correctly). That's not Disney's fault, but it meant we couldn't hang out on deck without being blown around in the wind and rain.
I may do Disney again but would probably do the Caribbean next time.