Sunday, May 25, 2014

Trip Report: Disney Fantasy Western Caribbean [Day 2] At Sea

May 11, 2014 - At Sea

Rachel woke up early that morning (7AM!) for yoga at the Donald pool. I thought about going with her... until the wake-up call, and I decided it was way too early.

She gave me a report of how yoga went (Rachel is a group fitness instructor and teaches cycling classes). So she arrived at her class 15 minutes early because she always goes to fitness classes early so that she'll have time to set up equipment, get a good spot, etc. Other women came, and they waited... and waited... it's 7:00, and they are wondering if the fitness class is canceled or if they are in the wrong location. Then three minutes late, the instructor rolls in carrying his yoga mat. Nobody else has yoga mats. The instructor tells them that they need to go to the fitness center and pick up yoga mats. So they all go and get their mats, and by the time that they are back at the Donald pool and set up, it is 7:15. So they finally begin and it soon becomes pretty obvious that the instructor has NO IDEA WHAT HE'S DOING. He didn't know the names of any poses except downward dog and child's pose (not even warrior 1, warrior 2). So he would tell them, "Now go into this pose. And hold it. And breathe." As the class goes on, more and more people are getting frustrated. Rachel said that it wasn't just getting pathetic - it was getting dangerous. There were senior citizens in the class, and the instructor was having them do challenging balance poses (some of which were made up) with no alternatives. Rachel said that it was nice at first because it was very peaceful and relaxing... and then children started to show up... and then music started to play. But at least she got to bond with the other yoga attendants about how terrible the class was. She said that another lady suggested that they should just call it "morning stretch" and then no one would expect anything. The next day, morning stretch was listed on the Navigator, so I think that Disney thinks they're really teaching yoga.

I got up and finished unpacking Rachel while I left Max sleeping. Rachel came back to the room with Dad, and they were going on the walking ship tour. I decided to join them!

The tour is nothing behind-the-scenes, and some people left after they learned that. I had a pretty good idea of what I was getting into from reading others' reports online, and I just wanted to learn my way around the ship better. The tour guides were from the entertainment crew, and they were really fun and energetic.

Hey, Mickey!

Mickey!



Oceaneer Club (for kids ages 3-10)

After our tour, we decided to visit the open house at the Oceaneer Club. The tour guides suggest that even if we don't have children, we should go inside during an open house and check it out.

Oceaneer Club

Everything is at a kids' scale. The ceilings are lowered, the chairs are smaller - it is truly a space built for children.

Oceaneer Club

Oceaneer Club

Well, it's also appreciated by kids at heart...

Oceaneer Club

Oceaneer Club

This is the interactive floor. I never saw it in action, but I did hear it several times from downstairs in the D Lounge!

Oceaneer Club

The Toy Story room was by far the most popular.

Oceaneer Club

Oceaneer Club

Oceaneer Club

Oceaneer Club

Oceaneer Club

Oceaneer Club

Oceaneer Club

Monster's Inc didn't get nearly as much love.

Oceaneer Club

Oceaneer Club

Rachel's favorite part was the hand washers. She said it's like little hot tubs for your hands. She washed her hands three times while we were in there.  You just stick your hands in and it rinses them with warm water!


Vibe (for teens ages 14-17)


We had enjoyed the Oceaneer Club open house and realized that Vibe was also having an open house at the time, so Rachel and I went to check it out.

We walked in and there were two female CMs who greeted us. "Hey, girls! First time here? Let's see your key cards and get you checked in!"

"Oh, no - we're not teens. We're just here for the open house. Is it okay if we look around?"

"Absolutely! Yeah, feel free to look around and take pictures."

Vibe is located forward on deck 5 and is a rather large and very awesome place for teens. It's something that makes you say, "Where was this when I was a teen?"

Vibe Teen Club

Vibe Teen Club

Vibe Teen Club

Vibe Teen Club

Now for the really cool part.... the teen club even has its own outdoor area with a pool and loungers!

Vibe Teen Club

Vibe Teen Club

Vibe Teen Club

Vibe Teen Club

We felt the water of the two hot-tub looking pools, and they weren't warm. I don't know if the heat was turned off or if maybe they aren't hot tubs for safety reasons.

Vibe Teen Club

The little orange circles on the wall are actually cubbies to store your towels and belongings!

Vibe Teen Club

Vibe Teen Club

They had just started a dance game on the big screen, so Rachel and I stood there like awkward parents watching. I won't lie... I was kind of wishing that I was a teen so that I could join in on the fun.

Promenade Deck

Deck 4 is a really great spot on the ship. It's also a running deck - just 2.5 loops equals a mile. I never ran there, but Rachel said that she really appreciated the longer track. On most ships, the jogging track is on the sports deck, and you have to do 10 or so tight loops to equal a mile. That's a lot of turning.

Rachel and I returned to the room to wake Max and go eat breakfast.

That's when Rachel exclaimed - "Guys! Guess what they're doing at 12:15?"

"Umm.... what?"

"THEY'RE RACING BABIES!"

"What?"

She read us the description - "Calling all baby Cruisers! It's time to take the mat to see who's the fastest crawler of the seven seas! Register your baby 15 minutes prior to the big race."

Max - "That sounds awesome. I kind of want to go to that."


In the meantime, we ate breakfast and then met our parents in Satellite Falls. Satellite Falls is the adults-only sundeck (and wading pool). It was 11:30 in the morning, so on any other cruise ship, we'd be hard-pressed to find a chair right now. However, there were plenty of chairs available, especially in Satellite Falls. We were able to get five cushioned lounge chairs right next to one another! I'll go ahead and say that at no time during this cruise was finding a deck chair an issue. Perhaps it was because everyone was either in the pool or inside the ship participating in activities. Whatever the reason, it was really nice to not have to wake up early in the morning and park oneself in a deck chair (because that's what you have to do if you want a deck chair on other cruise ships that I've been on).

Jack Jack's Diaper Dash

At 12:15, Max, Rachel, and I decided to go see Jack Jack's Diaper Dash in the atrium.

They would race two babies at a time. The parents could use whatever motivational methods they needed to get their baby to crawl to them - food, toys, whatever. The only rule was that the babies had to crawl. If a baby got up and walked, that's awesome, but because it's a crawling race, the baby would be disqualified.

Jack Jack's Diaper Dash

It's completely adorable.

They raced the two babies on the right first, and the one on the far right, in the cute little Mickey swim trunks won.

Jack Jack's Diaper Dash

But the other baby gave a valiant effort.

Jack Jack's Diaper Dash

Then with the second qualifier, the little boy in the green darted straight across the mat like he knew what he was doing. He had watched his older brother crawl back and forth on the mat before the race, so perhaps that was what motivated him. Whatever it was, that was one fast crawling baby!

Jack Jack's Diaper Dash

Time for the big race... Rachel and I had our money on the baby in green, but Max was rooting for the underdog.

Jack Jack's Diaper Dash

And the baby in green took home the prize! Look at that adorable champion.

Rachel wanted to get mom on the Aqua Duck for Mother's Day. The line was 30 minutes, and Max wasn't really feeling the wait, but I wanted to do it and persuaded him to come along. The wait was actually more around 15 minutes. It seemed to be a pattern that the wait time listed was longer than it actually was. Perhaps that is to scare away people from a long wait and keep the wait time down. But when the wait listed was 30 minutes, I found it to be 15-20, and when the wait listed was 15 minutes, it was more like 5. If it said 10 minute wait, that meant there was no wait.

The Aqua Duck is incredibly fun, and I understand its popularity. You actually pick up a good bit of speed on the first leg, but they intentionally slow you down when you turn around the funnel. The second leg is much more leisurely, so we took that as an opportunity to rock the boat.

Disney Fantasy

We took a dip in the Quiet Cove pool afterwards. The water is actually very warm. It was almost too warm to be refreshing that day.

Disney Fantasy

Mixology Class

Max and I then had to go back to the room and clean up a bit before our 4:00 PM Mixology session in the Skyline Lounge. Before the cruise, a lady from our Roll Call (chiburple on DIS) asked if anyone was interested in arranging a private group mixology session with DCL. I thought that Mixology sounded like something that Max would enjoy, so I signed us up. It turned out that a lot of people were interested in Mixology, and DCL broke us up into three different sessions of about 20 people each.

Mixology

We arrived 10 minutes early and were the second group to arrive. Max and I were nervous because we're both a bit socially awkward when it comes to meeting new people.

Mixology

Mixology

It was set up so that we would learn to make five drinks - that's a lot of drinks!

Mixology

We got to take turns behind the bar making the drinks which was fun. Three people at a time would make the drink, then switch out for three more people until all drinks were served.

Mixology

The first drink was Berryoska, a St. Petersburg drink off the Skyline Lounge menu consisting of Russian Standard Original, lime and blueberry, and white sugar. All of the ingredients were in the glass, they just needed to be muddled.

Mixology

After the first three people muddled, I convinced Max to have a go.

Honorary bartenders hard at work -

Mixology

The next drink was perhaps the most complicated (well, of the things that we had to do) and stupidly the one that I volunteered to make.

Mixology

The most complicated part was remembering the instructions. Thankfully, the women in front of me were helping me out. I had to pour 2 seconds of white rum and creme de banana at the same time, then 3 seconds of dark rum. Then I had to add ice, pineapple juice, and orange juice before shaking. Then more ice and grenadine. IT WAS EXHAUSTING! I now have an entirely new appreciation for bartenders.

Mixology

Max told me that I have a very bad shaking technique.  Now I know why it felt so awkward.

Mixology

And there we have it, the Bahama Mama.

I should have held out for the next drink...

Mixology

It was a Raspberry Bellini with Bacardi Razz and raspberry puree already in the glass... all you had to do was add champagne!

Mixology

Max decided to have another go and make the Paris 75, from the Paris section of the menu at the Skyline Lounge, which he was really excited about. It consisted of Grey Goose Citron, peach schnapps, blue curacao, pineapple juice, sugared rum, and a souvenir glow cube. We didn't get glow cubes because ours were served in smaller glasses, but Arthur did make one regular-sized Paris 75 to show us.

Mixology

So that's how you shake it.

Mixology

Mixology

It turned out that of all of the drinks that we learned to make, Paris 75 was Max's least favorite. I think it was just a little sour to drink after the Raspberry Bellini!

Mixology

We ended by taking a shot together that everyone poured themselves, a Baby Guinness. The Kahlua was already poured in the shot glasses, and we added the Bailey's Irish Cream. It's a very sweet, chocolatey-tasting shot. Max loved it so much that he purchased Bailey's and Kahlua in Cozumel so that he could make more!

Overall, the group Mixology class was really fun. We learned to make (though I don't know if I'll be able to replicate) five drinks, and Arthur was very friendly and knowledgeable, answering any questions we had. And I talked about our fear of awkwardness.... not a problem. Never worry about awkwardness when there are drinks involved! The class was also a great bargain at only $15 per person!

That evening was the Captain's Reception. There was one at 5:00 PM and another at 7:30 PM. Rachel and my parents decided to double up and go to both.

Disney's Aladdin - A Musical Spectacular

By the time Max and I caught up with them, it was time for Disney's Aladdin - A Musical Spectacular. This show is quite similar to the stage show at Disney's California Adventure (which I saw nearly 10 years ago). This is perhaps the best stage show of the three. The sets and costuming are elaborate, the show is well-choreographed, and Aladdin and Jasmine are outstanding vocalists. On top of that, the Genie is hilarious. My mother believes that he may write his own material because he delivers it so well. The musical was very impressive and showcases their talented cast.

You are not supposed to take photos during the show. I learned on the tour guides that morning that up until about three years ago, it wasn't a problem.... until people started using iPads as cameras. People raise their iPads above their heads, block the views of the people behind them... not cool. So big thanks to the iPad camera users who ruined this for the rest of us.

I was a rule-breaker and snuck two photographs during the show. I just couldn't help myself.... I had to be quick and use no external lighting so that they wouldn't catch me.

Aladdin

"A Friend Like Me" - This number was really fun to watch.

Aladdin

It was during the flying carpet scene that I picked up my camera to take a photo.... and there was a cast member looking right at me shaking her head no. And I thought I was being sneaky! So I put my camera back down and didn't take anymore photos in the theater for the rest of the week. Okay, I lied... I did take a few photos of the hypnotist's show - more on that later.

Aladdin

During the Prince Ali parade number, it rained money. Read the money - it's funny.

Captain's Reception

Rachel and Minnie
Rachel and Minnie Mouse on Formal Night

I'll be honest - what I really love about captain's receptions are the free beverages.  Most cruise lines have bartenders circling the room with complimentary champagne, but I was really disappointed to find out over spring break that Carnival had done away with complimentary champagne for the captain's night.  I was happy to learn that Disney Cruise Line not only offers complimentary beverages, but they have the largest variety that I've seen.  While there was no champagne, Disney served cocktails, wine, and beer.

My family snagged a high-rise table at the Vista Cafe, and we were served cocktails by Jesse who really looked out for us.  Typically at a captain's reception, you get one or two beverages... more if you drink fast and are good at seeking out bartenders.  Jesse, however, brought us at least three - maybe four or five - rounds of drinks to us at the table.  Whenever a glass was empty, Jesse was there to replace it!

Formal Night

Dinner - Royal Palace

Tonight's menu was French cuisine at the Royal Palace.  Of the three rotation restaurants (and of the four restaurants we had dinner in, for that matter), Royal Palace was our favorite venue.  It's a good thing, too, because our dining rotation had us eating there three different nights!

Escargot Gratines

For an appetizer, I had the escargot.

Breaded and Deep Fried Brie

And I substituted my salad for another appetizer - the Breaded French Brie!

Oven-Baked Salmon Royale

The entrees didn't feel especially French. I had the oven-baked salmon.

Rack of Lamb

Rachel had the rack of lamb.

Grand Marnier Souffle

And for dessert - the Grand Marnier Souffle!

Waiter Magic

Tana showed us a little waiter magic.

The Quest (for adults)

Quest is not a new game for my family.  We began playing over ten years ago on Royal Caribbean and are two-time champions.  Since then, the other cruise lines that we sail have begun playing the game.  Each line does it slightly different, but the concept is the same - crazy x-rated scavenger hunt.  The "Quests" will start out simple and innocent.  "Bring me a piece of fruit."  "Bring me someone wearing two left shoes."  But the game progresses into, "Bring me three bras."  "Bring me a lady wearing a man's pants."  Until the final Quest when men dress up as females and compete in a drag pageant.

Being two-time champions, we're quite competitive.  We had scouted out the crowd the prior evening at Match Your Mate and realized that we had a really good chance, even as just a small team of five.  So we arrived at the Tube early and snagged a table on the front row in the middle of the room.

The good thing about adult Quest being held in the Tube in the evening is that there were absolutely no children.  Usually cruise lines have difficulty keeping the kids out and will have to continuously remind parents that this game is for adults.  On our Royal Princess cruise, the game was completely taken over by children.  Disney keeps Europa adults-only after 9:00 PM each night, so children crashing the adult entertainment is never an issue.  The entertainment team also played family Quest a few nights that week, so kids had their own chance to play the crazy game.

What is fun about playing Quest on a different cruise line is that the Quests are almost all surprises to us.  Disney's Quests were rather tame in comparison to Royal Caribbean and Carnival.  Usually team members are stripping articles of clothing at Quest 5 or 6, but Disney didn't ask for anything R-rated until the second to last Quest asking for a bra, and then the last quest requesting a man wearing a bra (over his shirt... on other cruise lines, the man would be shirtless, probably pant-less, and in as much female clothing as possible).  The crowd, however, was surprisingly almost as rowdy as always.  Coming back from one Quest, I was knocked onto the ground by another woman and trampled over.  I actually had a bruise from where I was stepped on which was rather painful the next few days.  There was one Quest where everyone was called to canoe on the dance floor which was absolute madness - several people were injured doing that.

The Quest that gives you the winning edge is the final Quest - the drag pageant.  We wanted Max to be our girl because Dad has been our girl before, and he sucked at it.  Max, however, refused, so we had to send Dad up there again.  Disney asked for the men to impersonate female Disney characters.  The entire time Dad stood in the line-up, he looked miserable - like he was going to blow it.  Then when it was his turn, he strutted down the runway and said in a shockingly high-pitch voice, "Hi, I'm Minnie."  The crowd loved him.

They tallied up the points and called out third place... second place... first place...

The Quest

We won!!!

The Quest

The Quest

The prize wasn't nearly as good as that spa package they had given to the Match Your Mate winner the night, but it was better than the plastic medals you get on other cruise lines.  We received a DCL water bottle, journal, and keychains.

Hypnotist Ricky Kalmon (adult show)

I've seen a few hypnotists, now - all on cruise ships.  The first hypnotist I saw was on the Carnival Dream in 2010, and to this day, his show was the most entertaining that I've ever seen.  I tried to be hypnotized on the Island Princess in 2012 and ended up dismissing myself from the stage because I realized that I wasn't "hypnotized".  Rachel had chosen not to go on stage to be hypnotized with me, so I was a little surprised when she jumped up and claimed her spot on the stage on the Disney Fantasy.

Hypnotist

See her second from the left end?

Hypnotist

Rachel (and another girl) was actually soon dismissed from the stage because she wasn't hypnotized. She was supposed to smell something incredibly bad when he said "Atlanta," and she missed that cue. A "good hypnotist" wants to make his show as entertaining as possible, so he'll dismiss the people who aren't "hypnotized" or cooperating. I would say that good hypnotism for entertainment is more about the ability to read his or her subjects and decide who is the most likely to do the most outrageous things.

What was really weird is that he dismissed the guy wearing the grey Mickey Mouse shirt (to the right of Rachel in the photo).  Then just a few minutes later, whoever was beside this guy - his father, I think - stood up and said that he was hypnotized again.  Then Ricky Kalmon announced that this guy wanted to be up there so bad that he had self-hypnotized himself, and he invited him back on the stage.  The entire situation was bizarre, and in my opinion, took credibility from Kalmon.

I'd have to say that of all of the hypnotism shows I've seen, this was the least entertaining. He spent way too much time having everyone sit in chairs and smell or feel things, rather than having them get out of their seats and do things.  Maybe it was just a bad show, but I was far from impressed and am wondering why he is the "#1 Most Requested Hypnotist in the Country".

Towel Animal

Are you a competitive Quest player?  Do you believe in hypnotism?  Comment below!

Next: Day 3 - Cozumel, Mexico