Very friendly, helpful with special dietary needs, Good variety of activities. the last day they provided a tour of Miami and ride to airport. it was an interesting experience and they took care of our luggage and got us to the airport. It ... Read More
Very friendly, helpful with special dietary needs, Good variety of activities. the last day they provided a tour of Miami and ride to airport. it was an interesting experience and they took care of our luggage and got us to the airport. It was nice not to have to carry our bags around and we got in an extra activity which was tour our the art and history of Miami beach and a walking tour of Little Havana. The shore excursions were great. Nice variety
A relaxing and fun vacation, staff fantastic, ship clean overall a top rate experience.
Cabin was comfortable with plenty of storage and a wonderful balcony.
Liked the walking deck where it was marked so you could walk a mile.
There could have been more hot tubs. Also Sunday activities could have taken into consideration that some passengers may have wanted to attend mass or a church service.
Overall it was wonderful and I plan to take another cruise. Read Less
there's nothing like running away to turquoise water and ivory sand while snow and ice rains down from the heavens at home . . . but I digress. this is my first critique, but third cruise: my first was on the Carnival Tropicale on a ... Read More
there's nothing like running away to turquoise water and ivory sand while snow and ice rains down from the heavens at home . . . but I digress. this is my first critique, but third cruise: my first was on the Carnival Tropicale on a 5-day Caribbean jaunt with a beau, my second was a seven-day inside passage sailing on HAL's Ryndam with my mother. (I state this now because it does influence some of my perceptions, as you'll see below.)
For this, my third, but my best girlfriend's first, we chose a last-minute, three-night sailing over a weekend to keep her time away from work to a minimum, and take advantage of USAirways' last-minute Florida sale. I'd never done Royal Caribbean, so off we went to Majesty of the Seas.
EMBARKATION: a breeze. We're both veteran single girl travelers, so we had backpacks and carryons. We arrived at Miami very early (10:30 am) and tooled down to the port with a Supershuttle full of Majesty passengers (none of whom we saw for the rest of the trip!). I had done my pre-board info on line, but she had not; still, we zipped through registration (despite our desire to flirt as much as possible with our very cute and very helpful registration agent), and were on the boat by noon, if not earlier.
We completely disregarded the request to not head to our stateroom until later on; we were tired of toting luggage, after all! And even though they weren't quite finished, Garfield, our wonderful steward, let us stash our gear so we could head to the Windjammer with both hands free for pina coladas.
I must admit, being used to Carnival and HAL rooms, I was a bit astonished by the, er, size of the room, and we could have used more storage space. However, we learned quickly to tuck things under the beds and that, if we kept our chaos down to a minimum, it was an efficient use of square footage. (We didn't mind it being an inside cabin; it made it so much easier for mid-day naps!) Off we went to the Windjammer for drinks and lunch. A serviceable buffet was served, though not memorable; however, the pina coladas were scrumptious (and potentially deadly), and we happily went off to scout our surroundings from top to bottom.
Majesty, despite its refurb, is beginning to look its age, though the crew does an admirable job of keeping things shiny and clean. Two of the six elevators in the forward part of the ship had problems throughout the cruise, and there are some unbelievably dated things on board (really, don't you think RCCL could spring for new graphics in the elevators to tell you what's on each floor? they look older than my 80's legwarmers). However, most of the worn items are more nitpicky than anything else, and besides, what do you expect for a ship that turns around 4800 passengers a week?
The obligatory emergency drill went smoothly--I was impressed by how the crew neatly lined everyone up on deck, the first time I'd seen that in a drill; I'm used to the heaving masses milling about, bumping into each other with the life jackets like bobbing apples :->.
The weather was warm but overcast -- we spent a lot of time dodging raindrops on the pool deck, and the retractable roof on the HAL line was greatly missed. Still, as we pulled out of Miami (waving to the locals on the breakers as we left), we knew it was far better than the windchills we'd left up north!
Dinner was in the Mayfair -- we booked late, and so had main seating. Note to RCCL: get rid of those chandeliers! They look like a bad 70's craft project! Our waiter was charming, our table mates were quite cordial, and we had a great time, even if we had almost nothing in common! :-> After the impeccable cuisine of HAL, I must admit that I was less than impressed with the selections. However, everything my friend and I ordered was tasty and well-presented, except for the desserts, which were not at all special and, frankly, a disappointment -- except for one chocolate cake that I could have happily eaten non-stop the rest of the cruise.
I should note that the cruise contained a goodly mix of all kinds of people -- old, young, you name it. There weren't too many children around -- just enough to make it fun, and not enough to make it really annoying. I was surprised, expecting to see more families on a weekend jaunt. After dinner, we caught the stage show -- a 'retrospective' of life as seen through the music of the 60's, 70's, and 80's. I'm pretty sure that Freddie Mercury was spinning in his grave to hear Bohemian Rhapsody edited to a two-minute Vegas production. All in all, not one to go out of your way for. We skipped the shows after that.
Off to Karaoke -- a blast! And, it was 70's night, or so we were told, so the disco was just that -- and packed beyond belief. Having been up at half-past-creation to catch planes, we made an early night of it.
DAY 2: Coco-Uh-oh We awoke to a painfully loud announcement (if there was a volume control in our room, we never found it) that CocoCay had been rained on for 24 hours straight and, as a result, was a big sandy mud pit. However, they had gotten clearance for us to head straight to Nassau, giving us almost 36 hours straight in port!
We docked at 12:30, and headed on foot to Paradise Island, poking our heads in a few shops along the way. It's a trek, and not for the faint-hearted, but it felt good to burn off that chocolate cake . . . . we spent some time on the beach and, when the clouds started gathering, walked to Atlantis and poked around a bit before catching a cab back for dinner.
(As for the braid/taxi/whatnot vendors; yes, they ask you if you need fill-in-the-blank, but a polite and friendly "no, thanks," sent them along their way. I didn't find it nearly as pushy as, say, some salespersons at the mall -- and let's face it, how can you be cranky when they keep prefacing it with, "would you two beautiful ladies . . . ")
Dinner - the formal dinner - had a bit of steam taken out of it by being in Nassau early. Still, it was lovely (tho I had to satisfy my desire for lobster with the bisque). Then off to wander around to the various live acts. Steve in the Viking Crown, who we'd stumbled across earlier in the library, kept us quite entertained -- talented and a quirky but friendly style. Sadly, we are not as young as we used to be, so we headed off to bed before the midnight buffet, which looked like it was getting rained out; it poured buckets after sunset.
SUNDAY: Nassau, part due . . .
Another day in Nassau! And now that we knew were we were headed, off we went. A woman we saw in port the day before told us, "Nassau sucks on Sundays! Everything's closed!" And yes, not all the shops were open, but really, how many not-so-great-bargain-bejeweled-globes do you need?
We sauntered out of downtown and found a free beach between the Colonial Hilton and the Quality Inn -- not as picturesque or smooth as Paradise Island, but not as crowded, either. It was a local's place, so we had a great time watching the families play in the surf, until it started to rain. :->
So off we went, in search of the Queen's Staircase. A gentleman gave us a speed lecture on the history of the staircase, the hospital, the island, the capital, the fort, the motor scooters . . . . okay, maybe not the motor scooters, but you get the idea. We trooped up the staircase and up to Fort Fincastle -- a great place for a photo op with Atlantis behind you! And then it started to rain. Again. So we headed back to the ship. Nap time. (see? inside rooms are very useful!)
It was Superbowl Sunday, so the big decision was: Patriots? or prime rib? the Patriots won out. The crew gave over one big bar, the casino, AND the showroom to the broadcast -- the latter projecting it onto the stage-sized scrim -- and set up buffets with appropriate munchies (hot dogs with kraut or chili, wings, and sandwiches). It was clear in the showroom that folks were partial to one team or the other, which made for a lively evening -- MUCH more entertaining than what we'd seen on Friday night! It was ESPN's Latin American satellite feed, so we missed out on the more, um, non-traditional parts of the event. But to hear American commentators doing "football for dummies" was worth the price of admission alone, as they explained EVERYTHING, assuming the audience didn't understand the quirky nature of American football. After that excitement, we went up to the sky deck and watched the stars go by as we sailed back to Miami.
DISEMBARKATION: a rude reintroduction to reality . . . .
We were finishing our packing and toilette (remember, we had carryons!) when, at 7:30 am, an announcement was made that the ship was cleared for disembarkation; they then promptly called THREE different tag numbers, out of FIVE listed in our disembarkation packet. We paid no attention, because we were in no hurry: our flights didn't leave until the evening. so we sauntered down to the dining room for a leisurely sit-down breakfast . . . . and discovered a madhouse. The poor waiters couldn't keep up with the orders fast enough, and the passengers seemed terribly cranky to be fed fast and gone. We calmly had our coffee, and juice, and omelettes, and exited at 8:45 to find the line of all lines on the disembarkation deck, waiting. and waiting . . .
so we made ourselves useful until 9:15 or so, when we finally decided if we didn't go stand in line, we'd be fighting off the OTHER two colors who hadn't been called. So we did, and after much herding, were finally off the boat and taxiside by 9:45. Now, there is construction going on at the port, so I can understand some confusion. But the lack of signage, to say nothing of any port employees on site to lend a hand or brain cell, made for nothing short of sheer chaos. We had thought to catch a shuttle to Bayside and decide our plan of attack there, but we couldn't find the shuttle. Couldn't find a shuttle stop. Couldn't find someone who could explain what to look for or where to go. So we decided to get a cab, instead.
Not one, but TWO, cabs refused to take us, pointing us out to the nonexistent shuttle. While I understand that the fare would not be as lucrative as, say, an MIA run, I was astonished (and fully intend to write the port of Miami as soon as I finish this!). However, their obstinacy was our gain, as we gave up and caught the first rental car shuttle to the airport, where a very lovely woman at Alamo cut us a great deal on a convertible, so we spent the day tooling around SoBe with the top down before reluctantly heading home to sleet, snow, and minus wind chills.
Long story short: I'd recommend the cruise for first timers, as it's a great introduction to cruising, and Nassau has something for everybody. However, I don't know that I'd recommend Miami as a port, because the departure experience was enough to fray the nerves of anyone, let alone a newbie.
hope this is helpful. happy sailing! Read Less
This was a first cruise for my husband and I. We had a wonderful time on the ship and the Carnival staff was excellent. Always something to do and they had something to fit pretty much any interests you have. The constant availability of ... Read More
This was a first cruise for my husband and I. We had a wonderful time on the ship and the Carnival staff was excellent. Always something to do and they had something to fit pretty much any interests you have. The constant availability of food and 24hr room service was awesome. Fantasy is one of the older/smaller ships so it actually made us first timers a little more at ease. It was easy to explore and learn your way around.
Two things that I would change on my next cruise, would be to invest in a better room. We had an outside stateroom with a window/midship on the 6th floor (empress deck) and honestly the room was just too confined for our tastes. A balcony would have been the better way to go. We also sailed at the end of February which was cold most of the time on deck and soooo windy.
Another valuable lesson learned was to take advantage of the shore excursions booked directly through Carnival. Being from Florida and used to tourist surroundings, we thought we would take charge of our own tours. Wrong. In the Bahamas, you have tenders all trying to take you somewhere at different prices. We tried in vain to find this place in Freeport that rented power boats, so we could explore on our own. We never found it. They wanted to sell us "package deals" to the beaches, etc., which they most likely make a profit from doing. I don't begrudge anyone trying to make an extra buck, but no one wanted to steer us in the direction "we" wanted to go. I realized later that had we set something up through the ship, we might have had a better time on land.
I do highly recommend a visit to the Atlantis Hotel. This place is amazing! The in-ground aquarium is a one of a kind. A little hard to take pictures during the day, however. They are obviously used to the tourist traffic and we had no problems while there and were free to roam around.
Lunch was very good at one of several restaurants within. Of course, a trip to either Freeport or Nassau would not be complete without a trip to the straw market. Interesting. I can see why Carnival has such a good reputation, as we encountered no problems, easy to check in, ship was pretty much immaculate and great/friendly service all around. Believe me when I say.....when you pass through the gulf stream and enter the Carribean Sea with its turquoise waters....you'll think you've died and gone to heaven! Hope you have as good a time as we did! Read Less
We selected this cruise because it was inexpensive for a last minute deal. My husband and I went alone. Our ages are 26 and 37 so we are still relatively young. It was my first cruise and his first cruise since childhood.
PRE-CRUISE: We ... Read More
We selected this cruise because it was inexpensive for a last minute deal. My husband and I went alone. Our ages are 26 and 37 so we are still relatively young. It was my first cruise and his first cruise since childhood.
PRE-CRUISE: We stayed at the cheapest place we could find, Howard Johnson's, across from the port. We drove in from North FL and we were able to park our car in the garage at Howard Johnson's for the length of the cruise and a fee of only $5/day which was less than at the port. Let me say that the Howard Johnson's is not, by any means, a fine hotel. But, as I said, we decided to do this cruise only two weeks before departure so we were looking for a very inexpensive tropical vacation. Howard Johnson's is within walking distance to the port and at the time it fit our needs.
EMBARKATION: We got up early, ate breakfast at the hotel and then called for the shuttle to take us to the port. We had to wait forever for it. Several people from our hotel were headed to the port also, including a group of single women who'd been out partying hard the night before and they were barely dragging out. They were on our ship so we shared some conversation with them on the way. We arrived at the port and went in. We waited in line for a while, then got to the desk and gave our credit card and documents. We were sent through a hallway and then we waited in another line for our ID cards. They didn't have our cards and we were told we'd have to go to the purser's desk when we got on the ship. We were ushered through to a huge waiting room alongside the ship. We waited for what seemed like an eternity but I think I was just really excited. FINALLY, we were able to get on the ship, around 1:30 pm. We had our picture taken and we were on our way onto the ship. The line at the purser's desk wasn't too bad and we were finished before long. Total embarkation time was a little over an hour.
THE SHIP: The ship was pretty but as has been previously mentioned here, is decorated with a lot of neon. I'm also not a huge fan of orange and it seemed there was a lot of that, too. The carpets and stairwells were showing some signs of wear. Aside from that, everything seemed in decent condition, given the number of people who have sailed on her.
OUR CABIN: We had a low category, inside stateroom on the Empress Deck. I enjoyed being on the Empress Deck because its central to where you get on/off. Our room was in a great location and I didn't notice much noise. We did feel a very strong vibration in the mornings as the ship pulled into and out of port.
After we got onto the ship, we went straight to check out our cabin and we were very satisfied with it. It was spacious enough and we made ourselves at home. The buffets weren't ready yet and I feel asleep until the muster drill was called. We went down to the lounge where it was being held and I'm estimating it took around 40 minutes. I was a little nervous since it was my first cruise and the muster drill made me feel a little better.
After the drill we went to our cabin and relaxed for a while and then we went out to watch the ship pull off. Very cool!
FOOD: We ate in the dining room, late seating, for all meals except one where we ate on the Lido deck at the buffet. We were not too keen on the idea of having to have dinner every night with people we'd never met but it turned out so much better than we could've imagined. All of our tablemates were around the same age as us. We really hit it off with one couple and we hung out with them on the last night, going to clubs and bars on the ship. They were so fun and we were bummed to leave! The food was mediocre and I wasn't all that impressed with any meal I had on ship. It wasn't horrible but I've had better. I ordered steak one night, seafood newburg one night and prime rib one night. They were all decent, but not thrilling. Desserts were decent, also. There wasn't much dessert variety and we ate a lot of tiramisu. I got the fountain fun card for adults since I'm a coca-cola addict and my husband had alcohol with his meals or tea. We ordered a few really good mixed drinks but we aren't huge drinkers so we are by no means connoisseurs. The buffets were all well presented. One night, the midnight buffet had salami and similar meats and we passed that up. My husband loved the pizza from the Lido deck.
PORT (we only had one): We went on the itinerary that docks in Nassau for 24 hours. We loved the idea of having time to explore the day and nightlife of the area. We didn't do any of the excursions offered by the ship because some of my friends who are more experienced cruisers said we could get the same thing for less by finding our own way. That was a HUGE mistake. We took a water taxi over to Atlantis.
The cost was $6 per person for a round trip ticket on the water taxi. The only problem was that I am very proned to motion sickness. I had the patch on but the driver insisted on filling the boat past capacity and since we were some of the first people on the boat, we had to sit and wait while he went out and recruited other passengers. The boat rocked heavily up and down and I started to feel really queasy. Just when we were about to get off the boat, he returned with our fellow passengers and the boat took off. From there, things were fine but I refused to ride it on the way back and so we took a land taxi. Atlantis was gorgeous and we looked around but never could find the entrance to the aquarium. They are very careful about not letting anyone on their beach who isn't staying at Atlantis and you can only enter and exit through certain doors. We ended up gambling in their casino for an hour or so, where I won a little money!
As you get off the ship, you'll have people harassing you to have your hair braided and even little children asking if they can sing you a song for a dollar. Who can say no to that? After the third song, however, my husband informed me we were going to have to say no if asked again! It was very obvious that there was a lot of poverty. We went to the straw market and we were grabbed by the arm and ushered to various tables where ladies were trying to sell their creations. I ended up buying a really neat dolphin bracelet for $14. I also got a few bottles of nail polish and a T-shirt that change color in the sun from a store in Nassau.
Nassau was a neat port and when we go again in three weeks, I'm going on the ship's excursion so I can actually see the beach! EXTRAS: This was a fun cruise for the $500 we paid for both of us to go. It was a reasonable was to get away for a few days and we had a very good time. We found our own little table by a window at the casino bar that was very quiet and we could stare out and just chat and we returned to this spot several times over the course of the cruise. The cruise was very relaxing and I was so sad to leave.
We are cruising on Celebrity's Mllennium in 3 weeks and I am so excited. It will be our first 7 day cruise! Read Less
We have been on three cruises, our first being on the RCCL's Majesty of the Seas which was in Sept of 2002, one with Costa Cruises, and the third also with RCCL on Explorer. The Majesty stands out in my mind not only because of it ... Read More
We have been on three cruises, our first being on the RCCL's Majesty of the Seas which was in Sept of 2002, one with Costa Cruises, and the third also with RCCL on Explorer. The Majesty stands out in my mind not only because of it being my first cruise ever but by the beauty of this smaller ship. It is one of Royal Caribbean's older ships but you would never know it by her appearance. She certainly lives up to her name.
The ship is very clean and shiny. The staff goes out of their way to help you in every way. Each evening we were greeted by a different towel animal on our bed. Our room steward always put my husband's sunglasses on them to liven them up.
We had an ocean-view cabin which was a bit tight, but most of our time in the cabin was spent only sleeping or changing. We brought a collapsible cooler that we kept water and pop in and our steward always made sure there was fresh ice in it.
The meals in the dining room were outstanding, but the service could of been a little faster. We had the late seating and missed most of the after-dinner shows.
The shows we did see however were outstanding. There was a comedian one of the nights that left us laughing as we left the theater.
If you are a first time cruiser I highly suggest trying out RCCL's Majesty of of the Seas. I personally like the smaller ships because you don't feel like you're a small fish in a giant fish bowl. Everything is easy access and there are plenty of activities on board from gambling in the casino, to belly flop contests at the pool. And the midnight buffet is to die for with Caribbean music and dancing the night away up by pool side finished by relaxing under the Caribbean starlit sky. I will definitely cruise on the Majesty again in the future. Read Less
Disney Wonder 3/23/2003 I am still getting unpacked and caught up but thought I'd give a quick comparison of Disney verses the other cruises I've been on. I really hate posting anything negative on the boards as it upsets so many ... Read More
Disney Wonder 3/23/2003 I am still getting unpacked and caught up but thought I'd give a quick comparison of Disney verses the other cruises I've been on. I really hate posting anything negative on the boards as it upsets so many people and they take it to heart without realizing that one person's opinion really doesn't represent what they may experience and therefore should be taken with a grain of salt. Please don't think that the few negative comments that I have are anything more than simple observations that I noticed when comparing this cruise to other cruises I've been on.
This cruise included me, my Husband (both mid-40's), Son (8) and my Parents (70's). In general, I loved Disney Wonder. As with anything Disney, they know how to do things right!
Embarkation/debarkation were the best of any cruise we've been on (this was cruise #10 for me). I found the ship to be lovely but prefer a more open layout. I tend to feel shut in when I am on a ship that is compartmentalized like the Disney ships are (Norwegian Dawn and Carnival's newest ships; Pride, Legend, and Spirit are like this too but are very popular among most people). As time went on I became more comfortable with the layout though. I just like to have more wide open spaces (which I found on RCCL's Explorer of the Seas).
Disney's food is much better than RCCL's and about the same as Carnival and Norwegian (whose food I loved!) Disney's desserts were top-notch!!! Better than any I've ever had!
The cabins (category 9 on deck 2...#'s 2622 and 2624) were nicely appointed but felt smaller than others I've been in even though it was supposed to be larger. I liked the split bath, but you sacrifice some standing room in each area in order to have the extra sink. I got use to the tight squeeze though and thought it was a fair trade to have an extra sink ;-) I usually have a balcony but traded that in for the two connecting ocean-view cabins on this cruise. I think that probably the cabin just felt smaller due to the missing balcony! I do think that if we had only one ocean-view cabin with the three of us, I would have felt crowded (this goes back to that need for open space....my quirk, no reflection on Disney). The location (deck 2 aft) was terrific! Very convenient to dining and easy to get on and off the ship. We had no real noise issues although there were occasional noises, they were not anything that would keep me from recommending these cabins or booking them again myself.
I enjoyed the rotation dining, but prefer traditional dining in one "grand" Dining Room. I found each of the three main Dining Rooms to be nicely decorated and comfortable (but again, too closed in...I like open spaces and lots of windows). We didn't go to Palo, so I have no comment on that. I enjoyed all the menus. Our Servers, Beata and Rea, were top notch! My main complaint with Dining on Disney was with the "casual" dining venues. I didn't like Beach Blanket Buffet at all. The food was very good, but the area itself was tight, small, congested, and very hard to navigate, in my opinion. I was very surprised since Disney is King when it comes to crowd control and spatial engineering! We opted to visit the buffet at Parrot Cay from then on and were much more comfortable (back to that open-space issue I have). I also noticed that there were times when it was hard to find food on the ship. Now, I certainly never was in danger of starving, but on all other cruise lines, food is always easy to come by (perhaps too easy!)
We loved all the shows, games, family events, and deck parties! I think Disney wins in this department, hands down! My Son loved the kid's club too.
We did the 4-day itinerary with Nassau, Freeport, and Castaway Cay. We spent our Nassau day at Atlantis (we booked a room at Comfort Suites for full privileges at Atlantis...total cost with taxes was $163). We had a wonderful day at Atlantis swimming in the pools and touring the aquariums. In Freeport we stayed on the ship and explored. Hubby and I did get off the ship briefly and visited the little "straw market" that was set up at the pier. It was nice and the people were very friendly and laid back. Castaway Cay is as nice as everyone says. We had a lovely beach day with a nice BBQ lunch. We did some snorkeling at the Family Beach but didn't see too many fish. The water was nice, but a bit on the chilly side. Castaway Cay compared favorably to Labadee (RCCL's private stop). I think Labadee is about the most beautiful place I've seen (however, the water is not as clear), but I thoroughly enjoyed my day at Castaway Cay too.
Well, I don't know if I've covered everything or not. If anyone has any specific questions, feel free to ask. Again, I reiterate, do not take my negative comments as any bad reflection on Disney. I think Disney has an amazing product here! I would cruise on Disney again in a heartbeat and probably will return to the 7-day in the future. My Son and my Parents can't wait to go back on Disney! I will honestly say though, that Explorer of the Seas still beats out Disney for my number one slot. Disney is a very close second though and only for those issues that I addressed previously that are my own personal issues with spatial relationships. Next time I will just book the balcony and I will have the open space I need and I will be fine! Till then......may all your dreams be "Disney Dreams Read Less
This was our first time on a Disney Cruise (13th cruise overall) and our first trip to Walt Disney World. We booked a 7 day land/sea package. After adding an extra night to start our vacation, we stayed 4 nights at the Caribbean Beach ... Read More
This was our first time on a Disney Cruise (13th cruise overall) and our first trip to Walt Disney World. We booked a 7 day land/sea package. After adding an extra night to start our vacation, we stayed 4 nights at the Caribbean Beach Resort and then spent 4 nights on the Disney Wonder. My husband and I are in our mid-thirties and were traveling with our 3 (almost 4) year old son. This review will focus primarily on the cruise portion of our trip.
Getting There: We flew to Orlando on Wednesday, direct on USAirways from Pittsburgh. We were met at the airport by Cartier Towncar, who took us to the CBR. It was nice to arrive the evening before our package began which allowed us to take full advantage of the park passes included with the package by getting an early start on Thursday. As I had read was the case prior to our trip, we needed to check out and check back in Thursday morning to switch from the room only reservation for the first night to our 3 night land package which included admission to the parks. We had a wonderful time visiting the parks on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Then on Sunday morning, Cartier Towncar picked us up (in a complimentary stretch limo upgrade) at the CBR and took us to Port Canaveral where we walked right on to the ship. Since we booked the package, we completed our check-in for the cruise at CBR. This made for a seamless transition.
My only comment concerning this process is that Disney advertises a one-time check-in for the entire trip. Although everything was completed at the resort, we did have to check-in at a separate DCL desk and they wanted us to do it no later than Saturday. The hours were limited, where two of the days the desk opened at 8:00 am and closed at 12 noon or 1:00 pm. Since we planned on taking advantage of early entry at the parks, we left the resort before the desk opened. Therefore, we had to come back mid-day one of the days, and make a trip to the Custom House at CBR to check-in for our cruise. I thought that it would have been more 'seamless' if we had been able to turn in our cruise documents at the front desk when we checked in for our package. Otherwise, if they would have one day that the DCL desk opens earlier to give guests a chance to check-in before leaving for early entry at the parks, it would eliminate the need to make a special trip back to the resort mid-day.
Cabin: We were in cabin 2511, which we joked before going was a steerage cabin. It is a category 12 and lowest cabin that you can book. But to our surprise, aside from a couple veranda cabins we have had on other cruises, it was the nicest cabin we have had, with or without a window. There was plenty of room in the cabin, a decent amount of storage space and a curtain that could be drawn between the master bed and the couch/bed. The cabin hostess, Emy made the couch into a very nice bed for our son which he was very comfortable in. Emy was from the Philippines and she was great. She took good care of our cabin and treated us very well (not like steerage passengers ;-)
One comment about the power outlets in the cabin... At the dressing table was the only useable one in the cabin. While I have read in the past about bringing a power strip, I have never done this since a hairdryer is the only thing that we plug in. The outlet was so close to the counter top of the dressing table, there wasn't any clearance and I couldn't plug in my hairdryer. My hairdryer has a bulky plug and it is polarized, so it could only be oriented with the cord coming down and there wasn't enough room. Fortunately there was a hairdryer in the bathroom. Unfortunately, it's one of the European style ones that almost looks like a vacuum cleaner hose and was not very powerful. The bottom line is either to take an extension cord or a hairdryer with a regular plug where the cord comes straight out from the wall.
Dining: One of Disney's trademarks in the dining area is the rotational dining among three dining rooms. This allowed us to eat at a different dining room each night except for the last, when we ate in the same dining room as the first night. We had main seating (6:00 pm) and the APTA rotation— that's Animator's Palate, then Parrot Cay, followed by Tritons.
We were first seated at a rectangular table for six. There was a family of four seated, leaving for us two chairs and a high chair on the end. Since at almost 4 years old, our son is too big for a high chair, it was replaced by a regular chair which left us with no leg room. After sitting there a few minutes, my husband went to talk to the maitre d' who responded that the seating arrangement is only suitable with a baby in a high chair and promptly reseated us at a round table for six with another family of three. This was a much roomier table and as it ended up the other family had a son just a few months younger than ours. We had a very enjoyable time dining with them and the boys enjoyed sharing trains and playing with them at the table while we dined. Our waiter was Mark from St. Vincent and assistant was Sandor from Hungary. They both were very accommodating and Mark made fabulous recommendations for dinner and desserts choices.
For breakfast there were several options, on Deck 9 was a buffet in the Beach Blanket Buffet. Parrot Cay served a buffet style breakfast as well on Deck 3 and Tritons on Deck 3 of offered a sit-down breakfast including a menu choice of Eggs Benedict, my favorite! We managed to try one of the options on each day. On the last day of the cruise, there was a choice of continental breakfast at the Beach Blanket Buffet or sit-down menu breakfast in the dining room that you ate on the previous evening. If you choose the dining room, then is necessary to go at a scheduled time: 6:45 am for main seating and 8:00 am for late seating.
The lunch options were plentiful too. For casual dining, there was the Beach Blanket Buffet (some days with an ethnic theme), Pinocchio's Pizzeria, Pluto's Dog House (hot dogs and hamburgers, grilled chicken sandwiches, bratwurst, and veggie burgers), and at Scoops you could get wrap style sandwiches in addition to ice cream. Our son had a hamburger from Pluto's one day that had to be the nicest hamburger that I have ever seen on a ship. Tritons offered a sit down lunch but we did not make it there and enjoyed the casual lunches on Deck 9. I was impressed with the kid's only line at the Beach Blanket Buffet. They had all the items that our son enjoys (how did they know ;-), macaroni and cheese, chicken fingers, corn, jello cubes, and the trays were especially designed for the kiddos with individual wells to eliminate cross-contamination of the food items on their plate! At night, the kids buffet was set-up for the Oceaneer's Club and Oceaneer's Lab to bring the kids up to eat. Our son did this one of the nights and seemed to really get a kick out of eating with the kids and without mom and dad.
Fun Ship Activities: Jacqui was our cruise director. She was very friendly and personable. She always made it a point to say "hello" when we saw her out and about on the ship.
There are three passenger pools on the Wonder. Well, actually there is a fourth according to Travel Channel Secrets, but it is for the crew! The Mickey Mouse pool, for the kids, is very thoughtfully designed. Mickey's ears are wading pools with just six inches or so of water and then the rest of his face is about 1-1/2 feet deep. Our son loved this pool! He started out in the ears but then got the courage to climb down into the deeper part. It seemed to give him confidence in the water, because then he wanted to try the Goofy pool which is about 4-5 feet deep. I took him in the Goofy pool and held him above water, but he seemed to be less clingy then I have previously experienced with him in the pool and I think it was from spending the time alone in the Mickey pool. The slide at the Mickey pool looked like fun (my husband wanted to do this, but only kids under a certain height are allowed), but our son wasn't feeling brave enough to give that a try. There is also Quiet Cove for guests 18 and older, but I didn't spend any time there. Towels were available on deck in lovely wooden cabinets. I couldn't find them at first since I was looking for a plastic bin of some sort.
The fitness center was located in the spa on the forward section of deck 9. It was somewhat small, but adequate with a variety of machines and free weights, treadmills, steppers, and bikes. There were television sets with headsets available to listen too. From the treadmills you could see down into the ship's bridge, which was a neat perspective.
We enjoyed the variety of live music offered in the Route 66, adult only section of the ship. Our favorite was the dueling pianos in Barrel of Laughs. Larry and Greg were very entertaining and played music requested by the audience. The Cadillac Lounge was lower key with easy listening piano music. And for those wishing to dance and listen to livelier music, Wavebands was the place to be. This was also the location for the 70's and 80's parties held on two different evenings during the cruise. And during our sailing, there was a magician/comedian onboard who performed in the Walt Disney Theatre for each dinner seating and then later that night offered an adult only show in Wavebands.
Another spot we enjoyed in the evening was the ESPN Skybox. We got to watch some of the NCAA men's basketball tourney championship game on the big screen TV in the stadium seating. I really thought the dEcor there was quite clever. I was very disappointed to read that on the Magic it will be turned into a teen lounge during the fall 2003 dry dock!
We did not see the Hercules show, but we did go to see Disney Dreams. It was as good as I had read! I wasn't sure if our son would enjoy it or not. But he really did seem to like it. Although, 45 minutes was about his limit to sit still - so the last 15 minutes he started squirming around. But I thought it was a wonderful show and truly different from anything that you will see on any other cruise line.
Our son loved participating in activities at the Oceaneer's Club. He also enjoyed the activities that the kids program offered at Castaway Cay's Scuttle's Cove. Our son didn't even want to leave Scuttle's cove to come down to the water; he was having so much fun with the kids and counselors. The children's staff was wonderful; everyone I encountered seemed to really enjoy working with the kids. A couple activities that our son really enjoyed were "Do-Si-Do with Snow White" and "Swingin' with Tarzan" where they "trashed the camp" and played a memory game with the movie characters. The equipment in the Oceaneer's Club and Lab was very impressive too. Recently our son was playing a board game that he said he first played on the "big boat" and then he clarified the Disney World big boat. Since he had been on another cruise line too, I asked him which "big boat" he liked better and he said that he liked the Disney World big boat better. When I asked him why, he said "because there's Mickey Mouse" (but of course). Even though other lines have good kids programs too, I think his response says it all. He would enjoy many of the kid's programs on various lines, but at his age, the fact that the characters were on the ship made it magical!
Ports of Call:
Nassau: We decided to stay onboard at Nassau since we have visited this port before and figured that we might want a break after running around at the theme parks leading up to the cruise. We talked to people who went to Atlantis and really enjoyed that. We could see it from the ship and it looked like a very impressive resort. We had a relaxing day on the ship. It was a good opportunity to enjoy the pools while they weren't too crowded.
Freeport: We chose to go to the beach at Our Lucaya resort area. DCL offers an excursion, but we did it on our own. This provided us with more flexibility on timing. Cabs were readily available when we got off the ship. It was $5 per person each way to the Port Lucaya area. There are some shops at this location, although we were told by our cab driver that there is better shopping and deals to be had in Nassau. We walked across the street to the beach area. Our son enjoyed playing in the sand and the water for a couple hours and then we returned to the ship. It was very nice white sand and the water was beautiful. There were locals asking to braid hair and selling various items, but they weren't too pushy as a polite 'no' was enough for them to continue walking by. Getting a cab back to the ship was a little trickier. The cabs are vans and they wait until they have a full load before they will head back. Fortunately we only had to wait about 5 or 10 minutes.
Castaway Cay: In one word - Wonderful!! It was so obvious that Disney put a significant amount of planning and thought into this. The Scuttle's Cove kid's area was huge. The family beach was close by to Scuttle's Cove. We walked a little way down and had no problem getting beach chairs. We took a walk along the beach and at one point were called to by the lifeguard to let us know we weren't allowed to go any further down the beach because it was the teen beach. I thought that was great that they had their own area. We turned to walk inland and stumbled across the game area which was a pavilion with billiards tables, shuffle board, foosball and some other activities. We played a game of billiards and then made our way back to our beach chairs. We tried the infamous Konk Kooler. It was great! After we got home, I used one of the recipes I found posted and made them and they turned out just as good (well, almost - it's just not quite them same as drinking them with the Caribbean breeze blowing through your hair!) We did not make it to Serenity Bay (the adult only area) but there is always next time ;-) !
Return: We booked a USAirways flight direct from Orlando to Pittsburgh scheduled to depart at 12:20 pm. On other cruise lines, it would not be recommended to book a flight departing this early, but from what I read we wouldn't have a problem getting to the airport on time. We scheduled the Cartier Towncar to arrive at 8:30 am. By 8:00 we were off the ship and the towncar arrived at 8:15 am. The debarkation process was truly amazing. My husband commented that, that alone was worth paying extra to sail on Disney! Just as we had read, after eating breakfast, we just walked off the ship. No sitting around in a lounge waiting for an announcement to leave. No mad rush or being herded to get off the ship. We really did walk right off. The bags were organized and clearly labeled by cabin location. We got our bags, walked through customs and then to the waiting area for the towncars.
Upon arrival at the Orlando Airport, the line to check-in and for security was not bad at all. We were at our concourse by 9:30 am. So we ended up having quite a wait for the plane (longer still with a preschooler!), especially after the plane got delayed for an hour. Our aircraft was delayed getting to Orlando after the escape slide was inadvertently deployed at the previous airport. Apparently it takes just about an hour to repack that slide. As a result we arrived home a little later than we hoped, but still reasonably early considering how much later you need to book flights when returning on other cruise lines!
Overall: We had a fabulous vacation! For our son's age, the combination of the parks and cruise was perfect. I think a whole week at the parks would have been too much for him, but I hope to do that in a couple of years. In the meantime, we enjoyed the cruise so much and felt like 4 days wasn't quite enough. I was just starting to figure out where everything was on the ship when it was time to pack our bags to leave! So, we took advantage of the $200 onboard credit to rebook while we were sailing and we will be sailing the Western Caribbean on the Magic next January. I hope there is some helpful information for any of you planning to go soon! Read Less
We just returned from the three day cruise departing from Miami, stopping at Nassau, Coco Cay, and back to Miami. Honestly, I was a little nervous about this cruise. While nine out of ten reviews I read were positive, the one in ten ... Read More
We just returned from the three day cruise departing from Miami, stopping at Nassau, Coco Cay, and back to Miami. Honestly, I was a little nervous about this cruise. While nine out of ten reviews I read were positive, the one in ten negative ones were absolutely terrible. Also, out last bargain cruise (on Carnival) in the fall is not an experience I would readily repeat.
We embarked really early on Friday (12:00), no lines and very helpful people at the dock. Good beginning! The cabin was tiny as was the bathroom. The closet was adequate and drawer space was limited , but it was really enough for three days worth of clothes. While the upholstery and carpets were not new, they were not stained or faded. The cabin and bath were as clean, or cleaner, as any I've stayed in. Nothing about the cabin turned me off. We didn't spend much time in there anyway.
The food was plentiful and tasty. Not the latest in haute cuisine, but fresh and attractive. The coffee was actually drinkable but they only have non-dairy creamer out at the buffet. Ask for milk if you want it, no problem. There was always a fresh salad and cut fruit. The dining service was really nice both in the dining room and the buffet. We found the shows better than expected. They were charmingly presented. Last night the comedian was funny and clean!
Shore excursions were well run. Definitely take a waverunner on Coco Cay! Okay, it helped that the sky was cloudless and the sea incredibly smooth and clear, but our serendipitous encounter with a pod of dolphins really enhanced a fun outing. Also, snorkel in Coco Cay. You can swim shallow or deep and the lifeguards feed the fish so they are abundant. The rental equipment was in very good condition. If you want a hammock get out there early, otherwise there were plenty of lounge chairs.
Overall, the three day cruise felt more like a week's vacation. We had a great time. The price made it a phenomenal value. We would definitely do it again! Just go!!!! Read Less
Getting to the Pier -- This was the first time that we ever went to the NYC piers, so we used a car service for transportation. The ride from Long Island went rather smoothly (about 1 hour). Only those cars using the parking garage were ... Read More
Getting to the Pier -- This was the first time that we ever went to the NYC piers, so we used a car service for transportation. The ride from Long Island went rather smoothly (about 1 hour). Only those cars using the parking garage were allowed to enter the garage area so, due to drop-offs and pick-ups, traffic along 12th Ave was horrendous. It took about an additional 30 minutes to drive from W 59th down to W 52nd St. For our return home I called the limo company and had the car meet us on 11th Ave and W 52nd St, which was much easier. For those of you that are using a cab or car service, and don't mind carrying your luggage, I would suggest that you approach the pier from below W 52nd and get dropped off across the street from the ship. Just carry your luggage across 12th Ave at the traffic light.
Embarkation -- We arrived at the pier at approx 11:15 AM, and were on the ship within 30 minutes of giving our luggage to the porters. There didn't appear to be a separate check-in for Lattitude members, however, if you identified yourself as a member to the NCL staff on hand, you were pulled out of line and sent directly to an available check-in rep.
CC Meeting -- We missed it. After returning the life preservers to our cabin following the muster drill, we found that our luggage had already arrived. We took that opportunity to unpack everything. By the time we got to the top deck, the weather turned nasty. We're really sorry we weren't able to connect with all the folks we chatted with the past few months.
Cabin -- My wife and I had absolutely no problem finding our cabin. We were on Deck 9 in cabin 9226 (starboard - aft). The cabin contained a queen size bed (which I believe was actually wider than our normal queen size at home) and a sofa that opened up into a 3rd bed. Since it was just the 2 of us, it stayed closed. The balcony had a small table and 2 chairs (1 that reclined).
The luggage fit nicely under the bed and we had plenty of space for our clothing; · Closet · 3 drawers · 4 shelves in the closet · 2 shelves to the right and left of the closet.
There's a mini fridge in the room that we kept stocked with a case of bottle water we brought on board. The electronic safe was easy to use. Plenty of room in the bathroom. The sliding doors that separated the shower, sink and toilet were a nice touch.
We actually kept the balcony doors open most of the cruise and had the TV tuned to the music stations. This made for some peaceful times whenever we were relaxing in the sun.
Freestyle Dining - Restaurants - Food Absolutely no complaints about the food or the restaurants. The only restaurants we missed were Cagney's and Bamboo. We ate in the Garden Cafe once and preferred to stay away from it because of the crowds. The Freestyle atmosphere really catered to my wife and me. We actually preferred to sit at a table for 2 each night and, with the exception of the last night on board, never had to wait for a table at all. We rarely ate dinner before 8 PM and had lunch on board only 2 times as I recall....one of which was on the 1st day we arrived. We used room service for a continental breakfast on the days we were in port to make it easier to get off the ship for the excursions. Speaking of room service, our orders were never late and consistently brought within 5 minutes of the times we requested. We always received a telephone call alerting us to the fact that the order was being delivered. We were very comfortable with the resort casual dress code for dinner. Monday evening was formal night and we did not feel out-of-place because we chose to remain casual. I did, however, wear a summer suit on Friday because it was my 50th birthday.
Shore Excursions -- We booked all of our excursions ahead of time through the NCL website and found the tickets waiting for us in the cabin when we arrived on 5/25. Universal/Orlando was great (our 1st time there). I highly recommend the margaritas at Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville. We enjoyed Miami's Key Biscayne Heritage Bike Tour in addition to Nassau's Seaworld Explorer. We were a bit disappointed that we were unable to go ashore at Great Stirrup Cay. The water was rather rough which made it difficult and dangerous for the tenders to take on and drop off the passengers. Very understandable.
Entertainment -- The Jean Ann Ryan Dance Company was all they were cracked up to be. Immensely talented and high energy. Too bad they performed for only 3 nights. The David Lucas show, and the show by his wife Ava, was equally entertaining. We missed the Crew Show on Friday night. The late night shows in the Spinnaker Lounge were a great way to end the evenings. We also had a blast at the poolside parties. We always took the time to sit in wherever there was a lounge performer, whether it be a piano player or a singer. The Dixieland Band that performed in the Pearly Kings Pub was neat.
After Thought -- Our excitement going into the cruise was at a fever pitch, and we anticipated nothing short of a fabulous vacation. Our cruise far exceeded our expectations and we're already making plans to cruise the Dawn again when my wife turns 50 in 2 years. From time to time we did hear complaints. My opinion is that if you go on board looking for the negatives, you will find them. The complaint that sticks in my mind was uttered by a woman who said she could not get to the cabin door while the bathroom door was wide open. I haven't figured out if she was complaining about the cabin set-up, or the fact that she didn't have the foresight to close the bathroom door. Come to think of it, I couldn't step onto the balcony while the sliding glass door was closed (my sarcasm for the day).
My point is, for those that are booked on the Dawn and those considering it, if you go on board anticipating a cruise that will be nothing short of fabulous..... that's exactly what you will leave the ship with. Read Less