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  1. #1

    • Pilot EdForceOne
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    Mirror Mirror on the wall - Where's the greatest cruise of them all? A TR!

    Join me as I describe our journey and my thoughts on the Disney Cruise Line from the Micechat Disney Dream Cruise of 2011!!

    The surprise
    Well the wife had really been wanting to do a Disney Cruise for a long long time, but I was a bit skeptical because we had done a cruise on our honeymoon and while it was nice.. it just really wasn’t my cup of tea. But in the modern era, I’ve been watching all the details about Disney’s latest ships and was intrigued a bit about the new ships. So roll back to the fall of 2010..

    I had been considering a trip for me and my wife for an anniversary gift since we had a previous trip intended for our anniversary canceled due to things that just made it unpractical. When Dusty posted that Micechat was organizing a cruise on the new Disney Dream for a 4 night cruise next October.. it was a perfect storm converging. My curiosity about the new ships… my desire to give my wife the trip she’s been yearning for.. and of course meeting up with the Micechatters!

    Without the family knowing, I contacted Teresa at Fairygodmother travel and said ‘sign me up!’. With the trip almost a year out, it gave me time to save up for the cost, and figure out WTH I was actually doing. Looking at the stateroom options, they had a room style that actually would hold my entire family in a single room – but it was the veranda rooms.. so big $$. But hey, it’s a gift right? So I said lets do it. Family Veranda for me! I planned on presenting the trip to my wife as a combined Christmas and anniversary gift at Christmas (Our anniversary is in early Jan). When Teresa heard it was going to be a xmas/anniversary gift.. she sent me a great personalized package about the cruise I could present to my wife as part of the gift. So I went ahead and paid a down payment, setting it up so I could pay off the rest of the cruise cost next year before the cruise.

    When Christmas came, I had wrapped the cruise package up like a gift but in special paper and had stashed it far back in the gift pile; setting the stage so that the package would be the last or near last present to be opened of the morning. When it came to opening gifts.. the package went completely unnoticed! Recognize up to this point, I had kept the entire plan a secret, no one in the family knew of my plans at all! So I had to remind my wife of the package, and then recorded what happened as she opened it… (pardon the Christmas morning pajamas and no showers )


    So obviously everyone is excited.. now they only have to wait 10 months for the date to come…

    More to come..

    ---------- Post added 11-06-2011 at 07:58 PM ----------

    Cruise Planning
    Being my first Disney Cruise, I didn’t have much to go on. And with the hectic daily life, I did not really put in a lot of effort to track down other online sources to do study on the topic. The first milestone is paying off your cruise reservation balance, and after that, you can book your excursions and special dining reservations. Teresa did a good job of informing us of the key dates, and there was a Facebook group setup so everyone could interact with the others making the trip.

    Now this is my first gripe with DCL. Excursions. I don’t feel I had good information from DCL ahead on excursions, what is available, cost projections, etc before you actually could book them. This meant for us, the key date of when you could start booking your reservations was a ‘blind date’. We knew when it was, and what the objective was, but we didn’t know who’d we meet, or what we could really do together.

    In hindsight, I could have done more research outside of DCL’s own information, but honestly I found most cruise sites to be far less friendly and organized compared to WDW planning sites. Quick scans often lead to frustration and me ‘walking away’ rather than results.
    End result of this, when it came to the date to pay off the cruise, I organized with Teresa to pay off my cruise balance on a future date, on the last day allowed. Then once I was paid off, I would be able to book my reservations online. But since I set this pay-off date for a day in the future, I had kind of gotten lazy for when it was paid off, to actually book my reservations. I had gotten ‘disconnected’ again in my focus on the trip.

    When you can start your reservations is limited by if it’s your first cruise, or if you a returning cruiser with the different levels of the Castaway Club. But since I had setup the payment in advance, I basically forgot that when the day came, I could start doing my booking.

    Tip for future cruisers… In response to some of my hotel questions, Teresa pointed me to the Passporter Guide - PassPorter.com: Disney Cruise Line travel guides, articles, tips, advice, photos, and help They offer print and electronic versions of their guide books and I ordered the PDF version of the book and it was the best thing I could have done. I wish I had it back when I first started this adventure! It would have helped sooo much. It’s cheap for what you get, and is EXTREMELY helpful. It would have helped me on all my excursion questions bar-none. But at this point in the story.. all I had was DCL’s info.

    So fast forward to probably the start of Sept.. My payoff date was in early Aug. I finally went on the DCL booking website and tried to find what excursions we would do while in Nasaua. To my rookie eyes, I was surprised there were bookings for the private island, Castaway Cay as well.

    So what to do? Well my youngest is an advertiser’s dream. Commercials work on her to perfection. And she can virtually recite them.. so awhile back she saw a commercial for Discovery Cove and the dolphin encounter they have.. and since then she could not stop talking about them. She wanted to goto Florida just to swim with the Dolphins! So when we saw the Dolphin activities in the excursions, even tho they were some of the most expensive, they were leading contenders. Hey, it’s a ‘vacation to remember..’ right? I was tempted by the Atlantis resort, but those were really big $$ and I was uncertain we could actually get enough time there to actually appreciate it. Atlantis is $295/$250 for dolphin+water park, while Blue Lagoon is only $199 for the dolphin swim+beach activities.
    Since I just had back surgery this summer and still am having problems with my back, we were only going to have the rest of the family do the Dolphin Swim while I would do the Observer which gets you to the island, and lets you do the beach stuff, but no Dolphins for me. Because of the late booking we were not able to get the earlier booking, only the 12:45 one.. this is significant because it limits how much time you have on the island to enjoy the beach… and you must be at the boat at 12:45 to join your tour. More on this later..

    Now here is where I screwed up.. when I first booked, I booked the Dolphin Swim for the other 4, but did not manage to book my observer excursion. The DCL website is fully self-service, and while at first looks pretty straight forward, it actually turned out to be slightly annoying to manage.

    I got bitten when I was trying to REVIEW my existing booking, which is also the same action to EDIT your bookings. I was playing with the bookings trying to get the earlier time, but didn’t see it so I closed my browser without saving any changes. Well good thing I went back and checked afterwards, because just closing my browser like that.. SAVED MY CHANGES!! Meaning I had NO excursions!! Luckily I caught it and was able to rebook my same slots, but now I’m really pissed at the DCL site. Future tip, there is a CANCEL changes button on the site.. be sure to use it!

    So after that.. all we had left to do was figure out travel arrangements…

    (there will be pictures later.. I promise! )

    Summary - buy the passporter guide.. buy it early... and be ready for your payoff date and first day you book reservations! Don't be flynn! hehe
    Check out my blog - Coreplex: Rambling from inside the Grid


    Am I evil? yes, I am
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    Quote Originally Posted by sleepyjeff View Post
    Disneyland was meant to be sipped not chug-a-lugged

  2. #2

    • Pilot EdForceOne
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    Re: Mirror Mirror on the wall - Where's the greatest cruise of them all? A TR!

    Travel Planning
    Since this cruise was going to be expensive from the start, the initial plan was to drive to Florida for this trip to save some money. It’s basically a 14+hr drive for us. We had not done the drive as a family, but my wife and oldest had done the drive in a single day under much worse circumstances so we knew it was doable. So the plan all along was to drive, and do it in a single day. Drive down the day before, stay overnight in a hotel in Florida and get on the boat.

    But driving also gives you flexibility in your trip vs being tied down with just taxis, etc. So we seized the opportunity, and decided since the cruise ended on a Thursday, and there was no way to get the kids back to school that week, they’d be missing Thursday and Friday anyways, so why not do something fun? So we decided to tack on a trip to Universal Studios at the end of the week. We have 3 hardcore Harry Potter fans in the house.. and 2 casual ones.. so a Disney Cruise AND Harry Potter? Now they’re really excited!

    So the Universal segment was pretty easy to decide.. the Universal Hotels have the free Express Pass option if you book at their hotels. Not only do you get free Express Pass (which costs 40-80+ bucks depending on the date), but you get the passes for the FULL day of your check-in and the FULL day of your check-out. This means, by staying one night in the hotel, you actually get TWO days of Express Pass. So checked out the hotels, and the Royal Pacific allows up to 5 in a room, and there really didn’t seem like much upsell reason to book the P. Bay property, so I booked the Royal Pacific for one night.. for basically $250 a night. Given any random hotel that can hold 5 people was running $120-$180, $250 a night for 2 days of Express Pass for 5 people is a no brainer! Plus, Universal doesn’t really bother with the tickets+hotel bundling that Disney tries to push so hard.. so it was non-commital too. Their cancellation policy is very good.. basically 7 day notice.

    But I still needed a hotel near Port Canaveral and a hotel for AFTER Universal before we went home. (It didn’t make sense to pay for Royal Pacific for the last night since other hotels would be cheaper). For this, Reviews of Hotels, Flights and Vacation Rentals - TripAdvisor was actually very helpful. Plus the passport guide was pretty helpful for guidance, but really I made most of my decisions based on Trip Adviser.

    Many of the hotels offer park and cruise options where you can leave your car at the hotel rather than pay for parking at the port. But if you have a big family, the devil is in the details. Most of these offers require booking a special rate. So if you are trying to book with a AAA discount for instance, sometimes it doesn’t apply.. so booking becomes a bit more complicated. Then, the detail is most of the packages only include transportation for 2 people.. other people cost anywhere from $6-$14 more per person. In addition, most of the comments about hotels had to do with the cruise transfer processes, some good, some bad. So now there are lots of variables to take into account – price of hotel, price of package, price per person, location, etc. In the end, I found it easier to just say screw it to the cruise packages, just pick the best hotel I wanted, and just park at the port. Parking at the port was listed as $15-$20 a day.. so it might be a tad more expensive, but now I’m totally in control of our transfer and I can book the hotel I prefer for best room, location, etc. Since the cruise boarding doesn’t start till mid day, we thought we might dip our toes in the ocean while we were there.

    So I ended up booking the Hampton Inn at Cocoa Beach. For a AAA rate, I was able to get $126 for final cost for a room that slept 5. I skipped the ‘favorite’ cruise hotels because the cruise and park was just becoming a complication.

    For the end of the trip, I ended up booking the Raddison at Lake Buena Vista that again slept 5 for only $101+taxes (AAA rate). After many different choices in hotels, these seemed like great values, slept 5 without having to get a rollaway or lie about who was in the room.
    For universal tickets, I was able to buy tickets at the military price, which was a good $10+ cheaper without tax too. But even at that discount, Universal two park, two day tickets were $618 for the family!

    So by this point, it’s early October and we’re all locked in on final plans. We have hotels, Cruise excursions, and Universal tickets in hand. Time to rock!

    Well, before then, I need to make sure the car is ready, so I end up replacing the tires as they were causing problems and had the car ready for our 14+ hr trip!

    Up next.. we hit the road!

    ---------- Post added 11-06-2011 at 11:27 PM ----------

    On the road to Florida!
    Because of other things happening in our household, we really had a busy week heading into the trip and actually didn’t manage to get started packing until about 4pm the night before we are supposed to leave by 7am the next morning! The wife ends up staying up way late to get the packing done.. I went to bed at 1, she was up much later. The next morning and we get on the road by 8am.

    The fun begins in South Carolina. We switch drivers, and I’m resting in the back. We stop for gas in Darien, GA. As my middle one gets out of the car, I notice what I think is smoke blowing by the car. I get out to investigate, and I see smoke coming out from under the hood of the car! I get everyone away, and check under the hood… and there is oil-like fluid everywhere! The smoke is the oil burning. By now its about 5:30pm on a Saturday, in what isn’t exactly no where, but is on the edge of no where. Lucky for us, we broke down here at a gas station, off the highway, and not just stranded on the road. So we call AAA to get a tow to the nearest dealer, and find out there are no rental car places we can use.. the closest is Jacksonville FL, an hour away! So what appears to be a transmission failure (which for us, could mean the car is not worth repairing!), after much work on the cell phone by my wife, she secures us a taxi to Jacksonville, and a rental van at the airport there. We’ll rent a car for a week, even leaving it at the port while on the ship, as it will be much easier than having to transfer multiple times to different cars, transportation to rental agencies, etc. So we stick my father on the job of following up on the car while we are at sea.. hopefully working something out so we actually have a car when we return.. and we continue on our way. All said and done, it was pretty touch and go, but things really worked out in our favor, we got a cheap taxi ride to JAX that could hold us and all our luggage, and a rental minivan, and basically 3hrs later.. we were back on our way to Port Canaveral from Jacksonville. We finally get to Cocoa Beach late.. sometime after midnight.

    The next morning I sleep in a bit, while the kids take a walk down to the beach. We had the last room on the top floor which had a nice view out of the room. Check it out




    So now we have some time before we are scheduled to check-in on the boat. You do online check-in on the DCL website, and they assign you a check-in time. Ours was 1pm. So I drug the family to the Ron Jon Surf Shop to check it out. I’m a beach bum.. I’ve spent at least some amount of time at the Atlantic beaches every summer of my life and used to be a real avid bodyboarder and skimboarder.. before I got old and fat. As a surf shop, Ron Jon was kind of underwhelming.. but as a beach apparel shop.. it was FANTASTIC. We ended up getting deck wear for everyone in the family which was sorely needed. Then after spending almost 2hrs in the shop.. did I say how great it was?.. we were off to the boat!

    Checking in at the terminal went pretty good. We dropped our luggage off without issue, and as we went to park, we got diverted to the surface lot because of some EMS activity near the garage. So we parked, basically right next to the ship.



    We made it!!



    We went up into the terminal.. having to pass through what was similar to an airport security checkpoint, and then up into the terminal. There was a medium line in front of us, but it went very quickly (less then 5mins) and we checked in where they take your picture so that when the boat swipes your card, they can match up your picture as well. It appears they only use this system though on getting on/off the boat.. they don’t use the photos for purchases on the boat… relying on the traditional ‘room/name/signature’ system on receipts. They use a ‘key to the world’ card that anyone who has stayed at a WDW resort would be familiar with. A card per person that is used for everything, purchass, ID, etc. Good news at checkin, open boarding! No need to wait in the lobby for a boarding time, they were letting people board at leisure.

    We took the opportunity while in the lobby to check our youngest into the youth activities as there were 4 agents there, and we didn’t know how many would be on the boat. For the youngest, she actually gets a RFID tag they put on a wristband. The tag is kind of large (especially for a very small child) but it didn’t bother my daughter. It’s larger then a stamp, and about quarter inch thick. With that done, we went over to board the boat.. where they do the obligatory group photos in front of a backdrop as you board the boat.

    Then.. it’s cruise time!!
    Check out my blog - Coreplex: Rambling from inside the Grid


    Am I evil? yes, I am
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    Quote Originally Posted by sleepyjeff View Post
    Disneyland was meant to be sipped not chug-a-lugged

  3. #3

    • Pilot EdForceOne
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    Re: Mirror Mirror on the wall - Where's the greatest cruise of them all? A TR!

    First Day on Board
    When we first got on board, we had a few errands to attend to. First was, I was trying to get my questions answered on our excursion.. where I still wanted to get to the Blue Lagoon earlier then our scheduled time so we could actually enjoy the beach. Could we go early, and meet the tour on the island, etc? So I went to the Port Adventures desk to inquire what we could do. So the agent says we can’t go early because of space on the ferry, but she would look if we could do the earlier timeslot. Good news, she just booked us on the 9:30ish time and we get what we are after! Great!

    While we were there, the kids discovered one of the interactive paintings. This map of the Caribbean has animated features as you move around in front of it.


    The shark in this photo is actually animated and swimming around the map.


    These images are really convincing when you first see them. They look great and before you know what to look for, its hard to tell what is a regular picture vs one of the animated ones.
    Then we had the typical ‘check out the atrium’ portion of your day. The atrium really is beautiful. The whole ship has this art deco.. 1920s futuristic style to it. It’s very nice.. woods with brushed aluminum edging, etc.

    Check out the fancy elevator signs.. the hang moves through the arc to indicate the floor.


    Speaking the elevators.. some of them are fancy that they are glass walled.. and as you move beyond the atrium the inside of the elevator shaft is decorated with Disney art. Mysteriously somehow, some of these shafts actually show what you would expect to be from guest damage (stains, etc) but they are inside the elevator shaft… interesting.

    Everyone has to check out Donald’s statue..


    Here is a view of the atrium from up on deck 5 (the atrium is from Deck 3 to 5 midships)


    Here’s another view lit up from later in the trip


    We made our way to our stateroom.. which was in an awesome location. Deck 10, midship. This is good because Deck 11 is the pool deck.. where all the on-demand food and drinks are located! So it was just a quick run up one flight of steps to get to the food.. like.. unlimited ice cream.

    Here we are.. discovering the room for the first time


    Ryann discovers the writing on the pillow..


    Check out the size of the portals on Deck 4.. heading towards the youth clubs


    You are encouraged to pack stuff you need for the first evening in your carry on in case your luggage comes late on the first day. (you check it curb side, and they deliver it to your room). But for us, the luggage started showing up basically as soon as we were checking out the room. We had our luggage in no time, well before the ship even left port.
    So we headed up to the pool deck to look around and let the kids get wet




    Checking out our neighbors… there were two other boats in port.. and we kind of chased them most of the way to the Bahamas.


    When we got to our room, we could not figure out at all how the couch converted or how the bed dropped out of the ceiling. The staff take care of this for each night at turn down. This is what the extra beds in the second half of the room looked like setup.


    The room was fantastic. It was HUGE (I think) by cruise standards.. didn’t really feel on top of each other at all. We had plenty of places to store all our clothes and luggage under the bed. The balcony was nice, but I think the best part about it was all the light it let in the room.. it never felt dark and cramped like many staterooms may.

    On Deck 4 was the Mickey Detective game which is an interactive game aimed at the younger kids. The kids have a guide book and they must find the various paintings on the different decks in the midship area of the ship. The paintings have camera systems in the picture frame, that see the card each kid registers in the game, and then they can move the card around to interact with the photo which comes to life. Its very cool and the kids love it. Here you can see Ryann registering for the game on Deck 4


    We had late dinner seating with the rest of the Micechat crew.. at the Animator’s Palate. The group was spread over several tables, but Teresa arranged it so all our tables were together.

    … more to come
    Check out my blog - Coreplex: Rambling from inside the Grid


    Am I evil? yes, I am
    Am I evil? I am man, yes, I am

    Quote Originally Posted by sleepyjeff View Post
    Disneyland was meant to be sipped not chug-a-lugged

  4. #4

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    Re: Mirror Mirror on the wall - Where's the greatest cruise of them all? A TR!

    I am loving this, can't wait to see more!!

  5. #5

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    Re: Mirror Mirror on the wall - Where's the greatest cruise of them all? A TR!

    It was so nice to meet the Flynnibi family on the Dream. You have such a lovely family and it was such a fantastic cruise full of fun and friends.
    One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it's worth watching.


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    Of course I am worried about your mental health. I want happiness for all. Like we can all be like the Smurfs. But without Gargomel. He was mean.

  6. #6

    • MiceChat Administrator
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    Re: Mirror Mirror on the wall - Where's the greatest cruise of them all? A TR!

    MORE MORE MORE!!!

    I've got to tell you, it was so nice to meet you and the family Flynn. You are some of the nicest people I've met and your kids are so well behaved that we really hope we'll get to meet you all again soon.

    Looking forward to more of your review!

    Dusty
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  7. #7

    • Pilot EdForceOne
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    Re: Mirror Mirror on the wall - Where's the greatest cruise of them all? A TR!

    Quote Originally Posted by IndianaJenn View Post
    It was so nice to meet the Flynnibi family on the Dream. You have such a lovely family and it was such a fantastic cruise full of fun and friends.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dustysage View Post
    MORE MORE MORE!!!

    I've got to tell you, it was so nice to meet you and the family Flynn. You are some of the nicest people I've met and your kids are so well behaved that we really hope we'll get to meet you all again soon.

    Looking forward to more of your review!

    Dusty
    Thanks everyone.. especially for going out of your way to come introduce yourselves and meet the horde As Donkey said at Universal.. I have a tsunami of estrogen ready to unleash on this place! hehe

    Will work on some more here tonight after the kids are down
    Check out my blog - Coreplex: Rambling from inside the Grid


    Am I evil? yes, I am
    Am I evil? I am man, yes, I am

    Quote Originally Posted by sleepyjeff View Post
    Disneyland was meant to be sipped not chug-a-lugged

  8. #8

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    Re: Mirror Mirror on the wall - Where's the greatest cruise of them all? A TR!

    LOVE seeing Mrs. Flynnibus and her surprise!! Your family is lovely and it was wonderful meeting you all!!
    MiceChat Preferred Travel Partner

    Contact us to book your next Disney Vacation!

  9. #9

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    Re: Mirror Mirror on the wall - Where's the greatest cruise of them all? A TR!

    I just discovered your thread, and I anxiously await more. Thanks for taking the time to post such a detailed report.

    Thanks for the photos as well.

    By the way, I love your voice. Somehow it fits the person who posts here at MiceChat.

  10. #10

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    Re: Mirror Mirror on the wall - Where's the greatest cruise of them all? A TR!

    Excellent trip report so far! Thanks for sharing!
    -Brian - Find me on Facebook

  11. #11

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    Re: Mirror Mirror on the wall - Where's the greatest cruise of them all? A TR!

    Love the details and pictures. I've never been a cruise but your trip report is making me want to try it out, can't wait to see what other things you will post about.


  12. #12

    • Pilot EdForceOne
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    Re: Mirror Mirror on the wall - Where's the greatest cruise of them all? A TR!

    When we last left, we were talking about dinner, but lets step back a bit.

    Remember when I changed our excursions? Well my suspicion was right, it was too good to be true. I went back and checked the new tickets we got, and my worst fear was realized. The agent had changed not just our time, but had rebooked us to a DIFFERENT program, not the Dolphin Swim! She booked the Dolphin Encounter which is a lesser program! I went back to the counter and told her of the error, which she confirmed the change, but said she thought I knew it was changed. Why would I change the trip when I asked just about the time?? And of course by now, our original reservations are gone.. and there is no space to go back to what we had. So now the one thing my daughters have been looking forward to for nearly a year.. is gone. Needless to say I was pissed!! The agent basically gave me no recourse, but said she would keep trying to work on it and call me. After all the hype over customer service on DCL.. this was not getting off to a good start!! All I could do at that point was wait.

    So before dinner, we have the main entertainment scheduled in the Walt Disney theatre. On the first night, it’s the ‘Goldens Mickeys’ show. So we head to see the show, while I wait to hear the outcome on the excursions. The show is very stereotypical Disney stage show… singing, group choreographed dance numbers, etc. Earned a big bleh from me. That type of show just does nothing for me. It didn’t help I was sitting there FUMING the whole show over the excursion issue where about 2/3rds of the way through the show I got a call and basically they were able to restore our original reservations. So while I did not make any advancements, I had not lost ground. So at least we had the Dolphin Swim again – no beach time, but had had dolphins. So we stayed through the end of the show, and after we headed towards dinner.

    For those that do not know, on a DCL cruise you have a fixed seating time for your main dinner, and each night you rotate through the main dining rooms. The rotation schedule is assigned to you, along with your table assignment and your servers follow you each night. So for the main dinner, you have the same ‘neighbors’ and server s each night if you chose to eat in the main dining rooms.

    Our first night was at the Animator’s Palette. The AP as I’ll call it, is a highly detailed and themed up place. From the lighting, to the walls, to the tablewear, etc.. none of it is just plain restaurant. It’s the most ‘Disney’ of the dining rooms IMO. The setup is actually like Turtle Talk meets dinner time. There are partition walls all around the restaurant, and on the wall is a aquarium view like one sees in Turtle Talk with crush. You see various things moving through the views, and at various times during dinner, around the room, crush or one of the other characters will actually interact with guests in the room – just like turtle talk. For those that love to eat, dinner is great because you don’t really have to pick what you want.. can’t decide? Order both! Dinner service was reasonably paced.. dinner lasted about an hour and a half.

    The micechat group was spread across multiple tables but all located near each other. We met Villiansfan, DisneySarah, and Jeffery (whose screenname I did not get) who shared our table with us. Later Dusty and Fishbulb came over to introduce themselves and meet the family and we spent some time talking to Teresa as well. All in all a good experience that I would rate near the top or better than you would get at any of the park restaurants.

    What we did after dinner each night is a little foggy to me now after being back for a bit.. but I think we walked back to ‘The District’ to check out what they had back there. I found myself in the 687 lounge which was a bar with TVs setup for watching sports or the Skyline lounge which is a small upscale bar with nice wood paneling and an animated skyline wall. I think we had a drink or two.. and then headed to bed so we would be ready for day 2.. the Bahamas!

    ---------- Post added 11-13-2011 at 08:59 AM ----------

    Day 2 - Bahamas

    So our schedule for the day was 12:45 meet in the D Lounge for the excursion. We slept in, got some breakfast, probably checked out the Detective game a bit.. and met up in the D Lounge.

    At first look, you would expect the D-Lounge to be more a nightclub based on it’s décor, but they seemed to use it primarily for scheduled activities.. from game shows, to bingo, etc. But it’s a pretty cool looking room with all the walls having kinetic lighting that moves around.


    We noticed as we were around on the boat, our ‘chance of rain’ had turned to ‘yeah, its raining’ type of day. Wondering how weather could affect our excursion, I asked and the agent and she basically said ‘we go no matter what’. We have hurricanes and we go… Okayyy. So we had to wait awhile in the lounge, and from there they would take us as a group down to the pier, etc.

    Waiting in the lounge

    Finally we headed down to the pier. The pier + boat


    Checkout the aquaduck overhang


    The ferry boat to Blue Lagoon was right on the pier.. didn’t have to go into the town at all. The ferry was a double decker ferry, where we drove alongside Paradise Island (where Atlantis and other properties are) on our way to the island.

    Atlantis as seen from the pier


    Checkout the housing…


    My girls all sharing the scenery


    Sisters sharing the moment… they are checking on the rain


    Anyone want to start a fund to buy this house?


    Killing time on the boat…


    By the time we got to the island, it went from a light rain to a downpour. When our boat pulled up, the pier was full of people who apparently couldn’t wait to get out of there.. soaked with only towels covering their heads.

    Our Blue Lagoon Dolphin Swim started with a 10+min lecture on Dolphins and their lifestyle and care at the facility. After that, everyone suited up and headed down to the dolphin areas.
    You might be able to see at the top of this photo just how much it’s raining..

    Here is a shot of some of the dolphin stations they have setup.. the trainers stay under the tarps. There are other stations out of camera view as well.

    Like this view

    The session starts with the group on the edge of the platform…

    And then everyone moves out into the water

    My youngest was giggling so much at this point the trainers had to basically shush her because the high pitch giggles would confuse the dolphins!
    We do some basically ‘pet the dolphin’ stuff

    Some posing with the dolphin

    How about a kiss?

    Here’s a wet one..

    Not to be left out..

    What’s a kiss without some hugging?

    They also fed the dolphins.. where the dolphin would get a fish from the trainer.. take it to the person in the water.. then go away.. and then let the person hold out the fish so the deolphin can come eat from your hand. Well it turns out the local seagulls know the drill pretty well. So when you go to hold up that fish for the dolphin.. watch out for gulls! Here is one swopping in on Darrian’s feeding attempt.

    Dolphin rest…

    Ok, the dolphin swim gets better with live videos coming up. But I need some sleep so I’ll get back to it soon enough!
    Last edited by flynnibus; 11-16-2011 at 09:22 AM.
    Check out my blog - Coreplex: Rambling from inside the Grid


    Am I evil? yes, I am
    Am I evil? I am man, yes, I am

    Quote Originally Posted by sleepyjeff View Post
    Disneyland was meant to be sipped not chug-a-lugged

  13. #13

    • Pilot EdForceOne
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    Re: Mirror Mirror on the wall - Where's the greatest cruise of them all? A TR!

    So the Dolphin Swim was pretty cool. They got to pet the dolphins, feed the dolphins, hug the dolphins, get a dolphin kiss, ‘dance’ with the dolphins.. and the climax.. the dolphin swim.




    For the dolphin swim, you lay on your belly, arms outstretched. Then the dolphin will come up behind you, nose to your foot, and push you through the water! For some, they use two dolphins.. one on each foot. If there is any question on if this is any fun.. just watch this video of my daughter’s ride



    After your dolphin time, you have run of the other activities on the island, including a sea lion encounter, beach, and beach activities. But since we were not able to get the earlier time slot, our time on the island was going to be extremely short.

    When I went to the desk to ask when the last boat would be.. they said 4pm (it was about 3:35 at the time). Due to the weather, they were closing an hour earlier then normal. At this point, its still a solid rain.. but we had seen this very cool collection of obstacles/slides out in the lagoon on our way in. So I encouraged the kids to go check it out, and we asked if they could go play. So for about 15mins, we sent the kids out to check out the ‘water park’ until the boat came. This is nothing like I’ve ever seen and makes my wish I was young again!

    You probably can't tell.. but it's pouring in that photo. The reason why the water is dull looking is the rain splashing on the surface!

    Check out the ride down the slide..


    The kids had some time to try to climb on the green obstacle course before we directed them to the big slide. Maybe two times down the slide and we called them in expecting the boat soon, and no sooner then they got close to the beach, the boat came around the corner and ready to take us home.

    On the trip we met a family that had some similar aged kids. The two kids had been resistant to check out the youth clubs on the ship, but after hanging out with my girls, they convinced the other girl to meet up with them at the club after they got back to the ship. By the end of the night, they were practically inseparable. So for those hesitant.. just send the kids to the clubs, they’ll do fine.

    After we got back to the boat, we had to decide if we were going to see the show for the night. After the meh night before.. we opt’d to skip the show (a ventriloquist that night I think?). The kids were off on their clubs.. and they had some activities that night like exclusive access to the Aquaduck, so they opt’d to skip the dining room that night and just eat on their own. Another ‘surprise’ was they didn’t really tell us until the night before that the boat was actually going to be in port until 2am that night. So those that wanted to stay the evening in port could. But with no real plans or objective in town, we opt’d to just stay on the boat.

    Also, lots of the group was eating in Remy or Paulo that night, the Micechat crew was pretty light that night. We were set for the Enchanted Garden that night. The EG is a garden theme were some of the accent walls are supposed to change from say.. dawn to dusk, etc. The effect is pretty subtle for most of the room as its only the outer walls that seem to change. The light fixtures dropping from the ceiling are also supposed to be like flower buds that open and have the pedals open up like a flower.. but they don’t seem to work :/

    Because the group was depleted, we collapsed our tables a bit and we sat talking to Teresa and her husband Mark for most of dinner. Talking about college sports, etc.. the dinner was nice, but our server’s weaknesses really continued to show. Wrong orders, forgetting things, etc. Certainly not up to the level of service you would expect. Our assistant server Bertrum was great though.

    It was Monday night and the Ravens were on MNF, so I rushed after dinner to the 687 lounge to watch Monday Night Football live on the big screen just to see the Ravens lay a big egg on national TV :/ The next day was Castaway Cay, and after our truncated day in the Bahamas, I really wanted to get the most out of our day.. so we were aiming to be off the boat right at 8:30am. The kids were out till past midnight almost every night on the boat.. one was even invited to sleep-over.. it’s amazing how quickly the kids grouped up. But we set plans for the morning.. and looked forward to the next day.
    The next morning we got up and got ready, headed to Cabanas for some breakfast.. and headed to get off the boat. We were only slightly behind schedule, about 9am, but I was pleasantly surprised by just how UNCROWDED it was to get off the boat. There was no mass queuing, no crowds, nothing. Just 5-6 people in front of us! This was in start contrast to my Royal Caribbean cruise many years prior.
    Last edited by flynnibus; 11-16-2011 at 09:24 AM.
    Check out my blog - Coreplex: Rambling from inside the Grid


    Am I evil? yes, I am
    Am I evil? I am man, yes, I am

    Quote Originally Posted by sleepyjeff View Post
    Disneyland was meant to be sipped not chug-a-lugged

  14. #14

    • Pilot EdForceOne
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    Re: Mirror Mirror on the wall - Where's the greatest cruise of them all? A TR!

    no love in this forum.. must be too buried
    Check out my blog - Coreplex: Rambling from inside the Grid


    Am I evil? yes, I am
    Am I evil? I am man, yes, I am

    Quote Originally Posted by sleepyjeff View Post
    Disneyland was meant to be sipped not chug-a-lugged

  15. #15

    • MiceChat Travel Partner
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    Re: Mirror Mirror on the wall - Where's the greatest cruise of them all? A TR!

    The dolphin encounter looks fun! I am amazed they held it in the rain.

    It was great visiting with you at dinner!
    MiceChat Preferred Travel Partner

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