It was myself and my 17 year-old daughter. She was not thrilled to be on the Disney ship - she really wanted to go on a 7 night cruise, and was probably dubious of being an older child among thousands of little ones. We later found out that there was 40 17 year olds registered in the Vibe teen club.
We arrived at Port Canaveral around 9:45am (rented a Budget car from Orlando after a WONDERFUL visit to Universal to see Harry Potter!!! - worked smoothly - dropped off the car and the shuttle took us right up to the outside waiting area). They let us in to the terminal at 10am, walked up to the check-in area and received boarding pass #3, which we were lucky to get, because the earliest time I could select on-line was 1pm, which would have put us at a much higher #, but the check-in lady took pity on us.
So - went to the seating area to watch some old Disney cartoons and people watch when my daughter said "That's Paul Ryan". Well - I had no idea who she was talking about. "You know - the House representative from Wisconsin". This is my 17 year old daughter who had lugged her HUGE Sarah Palin book all over the airport and Orlando. She cracks me up. So - we watched (probably looked like crazy people) and eventually confirmed that it was him. This is all before the big $6 trillion dollar budget proposal, probably if he went now he would be more recognized, but I'm telling you, I think my daughter was one of the very few who recognized him in the boarding area, out of maybe 1000 waiting people. Paul Ryan and his really lovely wife let me a take a picture of them with my daughter.
Well - this was now declared to be the best cruise of her life and my daughter was SO GLAD we came on this trip. So started a much happier attitude. Thank you - Paul Ryan!!!!
Well - we boarded with Group #3 and it was really empty and as we were walking on one of the greeters said that we should head right to the dining room. I said - we really wanted to go to the pool and the man said OK, so off we went - to the buffet. That's so funny that they're trying to get people to go to the dining room. The buffet was wonderful, we were able to get a really nice table outside and I think we started our vacation off right!
At 1:30 we went to our deck, but the rooms were closed off - probably until 1:45. Not a big deal - just waited around. Went to our room and it was a beautiful room. One negative that I want to point out. In all my cruising adventures I've never had a balcony before, so this was a first for me. We went to the balcony to check it out and it was DIRTY. There was red ketchup (that I have to say looked like blood) on the balcony floor and there was a towel covering the table - lifting it up, it was covering more ketchup/blood. Crumbs on the balcony everywhere. Just disappointing - I really wouldn't expect cleaning inbetween our stay, but between different people's stay is a different story. No cabin steward in the area, so I got some wet kleenex and cleaned the floor myself. Disappointing way to start...
Our muster station was on deck, not in a nice theater room (bummer). No life jacket, but they do line you up in a row by your room. It started out ok, until the late people arrived and they had to put them in front of us and soon we were packed in like sardines. How uncomfortable to be SO close to people you don't know. Well, we survived but it seemed to take a long time.
We met our dinner companions - it was another mother with her 16 year old daughter and a couple from Arkansas with their 17 year old daughter and her 16 year old friend. Another plus - my 17 year old daughter got to eat with other teenagers. The 4 teens were lovely and I think our servers really enjoying having such pretty girls around. It worked out great and was fun to see them at various places on the ship.
Here are some thoughts in random order:
- There's a little bar area off the atrium that would have chocolate-covered strawberries - for free! One time there was a man there to serve us, but after that we generally would walk up and be able to help ourselves (yes - we took 4 for the 2 of us each time - that was our one greedy moment on the ship).
- One of the best things we did was order the cheese and cracker platter from room service on the last night. We really, really enjoyed that - I wish we had done that earlier and had it once a day. It was cheese, crackers and grapes. Really a nice snack. Me and my daughter carefully divided it between us to make sure everything was even steven. We ordered some other things but nothing stands out - a chocolate chip cookie was ok, I think a sandwich that was ok.
- Were were in room 7652. The desk was WAY too crowded on the fireworks night so we went to our balcony and was able to quietly enjoy the fireworks with just the 2 of us. What a nice time that was!
- Food: ok - this is weird but at one of the lunch buffets there was this bright green rice dish. Wow - was that good. Look for it! My daughter and I both went back and each got a bowl of just the rice. Not kidding - yummy!
- The mango yogurt in the morning was yummy!
- My daughter enjoyed the eggs Benedict every morning, and I really, really liked the potato pancakes - they were crispy and yummy. It's not something I let myself eat normally, but I sure did on the cruise!!!
- Mostly the dinner food was good and the desserts were good. I'm not picky. I have to say I wasn't blown away by the breads they served with dinner. Maybe it's just me. Desserts were ok. I had read the Strawberry Shortcake Sunday and the Banana Foster Sundays were to die for but I thought they were just ok. I also thought the Grand Marnier soufflet was ok - not to die for, for some reason. One thing that does stand out is the walnut cake they had for dinner one night - yummy!
- At the pool food area, I really enjoyed the cheese pizza (maybe it's a white pizza) - it didn't have tomato sauce. That was yummy, and the chicken caesar wrap was also really good!
- My invention that I really enjoyed was making coke floats - that was always a yummy treat (unfortunately no root beer, but it worked out fine with the coke)
- At Castaway Cay we got off the ship really early and got really good seats under a pretty umbrella and a palm trees (when you laid down you could see the tree and imagine you were alone by yourself, not surrounded by lots of people). We then picked up our float and snorkeling gear. I had no idea that my daughter hates the ocean. It took quite a bit to get her out there. I have to say we didn't see much, but when we saw a dead stingray, that was it, she was ready to get out - now! She's a funny girl! We also rented a bike and drove the entire path and we tried to think of fun Caribbean songs to sing - I could only think of the Day-O song, so we sang that while biking. Very fun!
- We checked out Vibe right when we got on the ship. There was no one around. They gave my daughter a colorful lanyard. I was not happy with the layout of getting to the teen area (down a pretty deserted area on deck 4, then up stairs to deck 5). I wasn't too happy with the setup, and had to really argue with the teen counselor guy to get him to agree that if it was late at night and my daughter was alone and uncomfortable that she could use the handicapped entrance on deck 5. Well - I asked my daughter to try Vibe at least the first night. She went and they played some get-to-know you games. She didn't really click with anyone,and wasn't interested in going back. I was happy that she tried it and even more happy that she wanted to hang out with me!
- Aquaduck was very fun - never more than a 15 minute wait. 2 thumbs up!! Meant to try it at night, but never did, but it was really pretty to ride it while we were docked at Castaway Cay so we could look at the island while riding
- Shows were all EXCELLENT. All 3 of the major shows + the juggler who was hilarious. Really, really entertaining. I don't think many other ships can compete with Disney. What a great experience. You can choose whichever showtime you want (for a while they were making you go to specific time-slots, but no longer!)
I think that's it. I wanted to be off the boat as late as I could so instead of getting up crazy early, we were able to leave our room at 8am (the cabin stewards carts weren't even around at that time - I was worried that by waiting too late we'd be bothering them or slowing them down - NOT!) We went up to the buffet and they had the same good breakfast food as usual, found a seat and just ate as slowly/leisurely as we could. It wasn't crowded up there at all - just very relaxing. Then when I started to get nervous we headed down to the main atrium and people were still lined up getting off so we sat in the lounge area and people watched and waited, and eventually made ourselves leave the beautiful ship.
I hope you all have as good a time on your trip as we did on ours! Thanks Disney and crew!