Day 1 – Orlando (WDW Port Orleans-Riverside Resort) to Port Canaveral
Transfers and embarkation – we purchased transfers with our cruise. We received a letter in our room the night before with meeting instructions for the next ... Read More
Day 1 – Orlando (WDW Port Orleans-Riverside Resort) to Port Canaveral
Transfers and embarkation – we purchased transfers with our cruise. We received a letter in our room the night before with meeting instructions for the next morning. We had to have our luggage ready by 8:30 a.m. the morning of departure for pick up the cruise line. The DCL rep phoned morning of departure with reminder of where to meet in POR. We met at 11:30 a.m. for a planned 11:45 a.m. departure. We left about noon as some guests were late. We walked out to the DCL bus and boarded. Note that if you have carry-on items, check them in the cargo hold as there is almost no in-cabin storage. Seating is tight. Our driver got in and just started driving. No introductions, etc. – strange. One passenger had to remind him to play the introductory video (which was very good and highly entertaining, BTW). We arrived at Port Canaveral around 1 p.m. We were in the terminal and through security in less than 2 minutes and went up to the check-in area. After about ten minutes, we were through that process, including photos. We stopped for an embarkation photo and boarded. A nice touch is being introduced by ship’s staff by name over the PA system and white glove receiving line. We were in our room by 1:30 p.m. It was decorated for my wife’s birthday with a stick on poster as well as a banner across the divider between the bed and the seating area – nice. We checked for items we had ordered, got settled, took photos and video, met our cabin attendant (nice guy) then headed out to do some exploring. We went up to stern deck 11 and took some selfies, FB posts. We had lunch in Cabanas buffet (nice). The mandatory safety drill (without life preservers) was at 4 p.m.; unfortunately, it was very hard to hear the crew’s instructions – it seemed like a gong show getting everyone organized at the muster station. By the time we returned to our room, our luggage gad arrived and we just spent the time unpacking. We had late dining in the Royal Palace dining room. We met our tablemates (we were at a table for six, all older adults like us), and our server and assistant server. Our server was a bit cocky in his attitude but his assistant was great to deal with and talk to all week. The meal was very nice, but, as is my usual complaint, just warm, and this was trend throughout the week in all three dining rooms. After dinner, we went to the shops and bought some items for ourselves and family members. We debated going to the show but were just too tired from previous day’s flying and being up early today.
Day 2 – Nassau
We arrived about 7:00 a.m. and docked quickly alongside several other cruise ships. It was like a parking lot for ships. We had breakfast in Cabanas and got ready for tour (Adastra Gardens and City). We met tour operator on dock – nice guy – he also knew a lot about Canada. We walked a fair distance to meet our tour bus which was late (“Bahamian time” we were told â˜º). We boarded a small bus and drove through many parts of the city (lots of impoverished areas), viewed some forts, and stopped at one for some scenic views and a washroom break. One stop was the Queen’s Steps (we had a very good local very good guide, knowledgeable – tip him, he deserves it), then drove to Adastra Gardens. It is a hybrid garden/zoo with several walking paths. It was interesting although not spectacular and is in need of repair and renovation. We exchanged our tour tickets for bottled water at the cafeteria. Our visit ended with a flamingo show – it was very entertaining and somewhat interactive at the end. We then toured through the waterfront area where we were able to dip our toes into the harbour beach area and get some good shots of all the cruise ships in port (7, I think). Our tour ended at the pier area. We did some shopping then went through port security which was not the best experience we have had; the port officials were very rude and shouting constantly at passengers – what a terrible way to treat visitors – for a country that depends on tourism. We were onboard very quickly. We did some more shopping, checked for photos then got ready for our evening at Remy. We had a 7:30 reservation. We received a handwritten reminder in our stateroom of the reservation as well as personal phone call from hostess. We went to 12th deck aft and were received by two hostesses. We were seated in the adjacent Meridian bar and ordered drinks. A few minutes later, the Remy hostess came for us and told us to leave our drinks as they would be taken into restaurant for us. We were shown the entrance which consisted of a wine cellar on both sides then the grand entrance – wow. Very posh. Beautiful furnishings, solid silverware, crystal stemware, and fine linens on the table. We were seated in richly upholstered half booth facing the ocean, port side. A small table was placed beside my wife for her purse – nice. We were then introduced to our server, Yannick, French, who proceeded to explain the evening’s meal. He then offered to make a champagne cocktail for us consisting of Grey Goose VX (vodka infused with cognac, I believe), sugar cube, Tattinger champagne, Grand Marnier liqueur, and something in the bottom of the glass that we have forgotten but was fizzy. It was absolutely delicious [we would recommend NOT consuming any alcohol before dinner as this cocktail is powerful!]. After a while, we received some rolls and a surprise: flash-fried tomato soup on a spoon – I kid you not! After a while of just enjoying the drink and the atmosphere, Yannick came to the table to explain the menus. They consist of optional caviar and truffles courses (extra cost, of course – quite expensive) as well as the main multi-entrée meal selection of “saveur” or “gout”. The latter two were selected, one for my spouse and the other for me. What followed was hours of exquisite, almost appetizer size selections of fish, meat, poultry, vegetables, cheeses and desserts, some of which came in an individual box and we took home with us. We also ordered a red burgundy to accompany the meal. One thing on service: it is very French – attentive but not intrusive. Stemware and cutlery were continuously changed out to match the type of entrée being served. When my spouse left for the ladies’ room, someone from the staff was there to accompany her out of the restaurant, offering their arm, to the entrance of the restaurant. Even the restrooms had personal attendants who handed you a towel – nice! The sommelier was always there to pour the wine and Yannick was always checking to see how we were doing, but only when he needed to. The meal was superb, probably the best we’d ever had eaten. We left after about 4 hours, absolutely on cloud nine. This is an extra cost as it is in one of the specialty restaurants onboard this ship. You should expect to pay about $275 USD, including one bottle of wine, for a couple; the champagne cocktail is complimentary, and optional.
Day 3 – Castaway Cay
We got off ship around 9:00 a.m., had a photo taken with ship in background and took trams (takes 2) to Serenity Bay, the adults-only beach on opposite end of island from cruise ship pier. Near the beach entrance, we found beach chairs, loungers and umbrella (get there early to get a set with an umbrella). We swam (water is cold but oh so worth it) several times, drank some adult beverages and generally just relaxed. We had nice lunch at service area near the bar but the wind was blowing BBQ smoke at us while we waited for 30 minutes - not a very pleasant thing to have to endure and some guests were really coughing. We returned to our loungers only to discover that two young men and a young woman, all ship’s crew members (their ID was pinned to their swim gear) had planted themselves right in front of us and were busy conversing away about really banal things, shipboard hookups, etc. At one point, a lot of profanity was exchanged. Really? Is this the quality of crew DCL is hiring these days? We were getting tired of this so we decided to head back to ship. We stopped at the main shopping area in the middle of the island then took the second tram back. We got ready for the evening, checked for photos, and then had supper in the Animator’s Palate. It was pirate’s night so just about everybody was dressed up to the nine’s (DCL does hand out pirate bandanas). Nice supper. After, we went to Deck 11 for the “Pirates In the Caribbean” deck party (excellent entertainment) and then a great, music-themed fireworks show. It was a spectacular way to end the evening.
At Sea in the Bahamas south east of Freeport
This was a sad day as it was our last before reaching port. After a late breakfast in the Royal Palace dining room (it was OK, nothing special), we really put the effort into packing and were about 90% done by lunch time. We went up to Cabanas and had a nice lunch, checked for photos, got a coffee from the Vista café (did not know you could sign out a laptop to check for mail, etc.). At 2 p.m. we went to the Meridian bar for martini tasting –very well done and we learned a thing or too about one of our favourite drinks. After, we took some photos of characters and also attended the character dance party in the Atrium – had a ball. We also attended an open house tour of the Oceaneer Club for children ages 3-11 – we know our 7 year old granddaughter will love this in 2016. We got ready for dinner and went to the “Believe” show in WD Theatre – absolutely wonderful! There was a warm up by a very talented violinist followed by a spectacular show. We then went to Enchanted Garden restaurant for supper. VIt has a very nice décor but it is very crowded; our servers could hardly move to wait on us. We had a nice final supper, gave our tips and thank you notes to all our DR staff. We returned to our room to finish packing, and to put out our luggage.
Day 5 – Port Canaveral – Debarkation
We checked out of our room at 8:00 a.m. (DCL insists on this) and went to the Enchanted Garden DR for breakfast. Nice meal. However, again, it was very crowded as now we were lugging our carry-on bags and had to dump them wherever we could find them including someone else’s table beside us. This is not efficient in our opinion compared to other cruises we’ve taken; we believe DCL needs to revisit this process. Why could we not have more breakfast options in other restaurants? We were off ship by 9:00 a.m., through US C&BP (easy, very friendly officer), picked up our luggage, out to bus, loaded and immediately on our way – this time we lucked into front row seats. We arrived at Orlando airport by 10:00 a.m.
Download and use the DCL app for your iPhone or Android device. It was very useful in advising us on the port, shipboard activities, character meet and greets, dining and activity options, etc. It is also the only way you are going to have a deck plan as DCL does not give out printed deck plans (apparently).
Check-in online when DCL advises you (via email) that you can do so. It does speed up things when you are actually at the terminal.
For Serenity Beach on Castaway Cay, get there early to get the best selection of loungers, especially ones with umbrellas – you will appreciate this when the sun gets overhead. Also, wear beach shoes in the water; there are lots of rocks.
Line up early for meet and greets with characters. There are (it seems() hundreds of kids wanting to do this with parents in tow so it makes for a very long time if you are at the back and the 30 minute time limit is reached.
For dressing up your children, get to the shops early for best selection.
Do as many pre-cruise reservations as you can for restaurants, spas, etc. Make sure you have a DCL account linked to your reservation to do this. DCL will also send you lots of reminders via email with links.
Reserve your cruise ASAP to get dining selections [including specialty restaurants such as Palo and Remy]; we booked only three months in advance and could only get 2nd seating. For two adults, no problem but it could be an issue with small children.