Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Trip Report: Disney Fantasy Western Caribbean [Day 3] Cozumel, Mexico

May 12, 2014 - Cozumel, Mexico

We docked that morning at the Punta Langosta pier in downtown Cozumel.

Cozumel, Mexico

That morning after eating breakfast in Cabana's, Rachel and I realized that it would be the perfect time to ride the Aqua Duck.  Sure enough, there was no wait (wait time was listed at 10 min).  After each round we'd look at each other and say, "Just one more time!"



Disney Fantasy

Dad can't resist a photo op...

Disney Fantasy

Disney Fantasy

Disney Fantasy

After we got off the Disney Fantasy and had an up-close look at her, we realized how beautiful the ship truly is. The paint job is incredible, and the ship is really clean.

Disney Fantasy

Disney Fantasy

Disney Fantasy

Cozumel, Mexico

It's been several years since I've docked at Punto Langosta. More recently, I had been on ships docking at the Puerta Maya Cruise Center. It appeared that the Carnival Sunshine was docked over there. It was good to be downtown, again.

Disney Fantasy

There is a great picturesque lookout at the end of the pier which allows for great photos of the ship.

Disney Fantasy

Disney Fantasy

Cozumel, Mexico

Now, the plan was to go to a beach. Rachel and Mom had been to Cozumel in March and had visited Paradise Beach, but didn't really care to go back there. I had read about several great Cozumel beaches online and remembered Mr. Sancho's and Nachi Cocom. Now, I knew that Mr. Sancho's was an all-inclusive beach and that perhaps an advance reservation was required. I didn't realize that Nachi Cocom was the same deal. Luckily, our cab driver asked us if we had reservations which was a red flag that we probably shouldn't go there. We asked him how much it cost, and he really didn't know and guessed $75.... more than we wanted to spend. Our cab driver recommended Playa Mia at around $30 per person.

Since getting back and doing my research (yeahhh... probably should have done that pre-cruise rather than post-cruise), I can tell you that Nachi Cocom limits its day guests to 100 people and is all-inclusive (all you can drink, all you can eat) at the rate of $55 per person over 16 years of age. Mr. Sancho's doesn't require reservations and is $55 per person 18 years of age and older. Mr. Sancho's also offers packages with activities like parasailing and horseback riding.

So back to the cab. We realize that Nachi Cocom is not going to work out, so we decide that we might as well just go to Paradise Beach because we would at least know what to expect. And then we saw the billboard for Playa Mia which has a "waterpark". Rachel, Max, and I had been talking earlier that day about wanting to go to a waterpark. We asked our cab driver if it was too late to switch. This poor cab driver had now been told three different destinations!

Playa Mia Grand Beach + Waterpark

Playa Mia

Playa Mia is as all-inclusive as you want. Starting at $30 per adult, you get all-inclusive beach, pool, waterpark, and non-motorized watersports. At $45 per adult, you can get all of that, as well as all-you-can-eat. And at $60 per adult, you can get all of the above, as well as all-you-can-drink. We went with the base package at $30 per person.

Playa Mia

Playa Mia

Playa Mia

Playa Mia

The beach was typical of Cozumel beaches - kind of rocky with grainy sand. It's definitely not the most comfortable sand to walk on.

Playa Mia

Playa Mia

Playa Mia

Rachel, Dad, Max, and I soon headed out to the aqua park to give it a try while Mom quite contently stayed in her beach chair. It was a long swim out against the current. We were exhausted by the time we got there! The entire aqua park was actually a giant obstacle course which was a lot more challenging than it looked. I felt like an idiot as I wiggled my body to crawl across the inflatables without falling in. It turned out to be quite the workout, but it was great fun and hilarious! And I don't know if I laughed harder the entire trip than I did as I watched my dad climb up the repelling wall. I really wish that we had taken a camera out there (but then again, we were having enough trouble with nothing in our hands).

Playa Mia

We then decided to cool off in the pool. I was carrying my silver Castaway Club beach tote and realized that I had to be careful because everybody was carrying that bag! I made sure to leave something sticking out of the top of mine so that hopefully no one would grab it by mistake. Still, we kept a close watch on it at all times.

Playa Mia

Playa Mia

After a few runs, we determined that the blue slide was faster than the red one.

Playa Mia

Playa Mia

Playa Mia

When we went back later to do the water slides with my dad, the lifeguard gave Max a tip on how to go really fast - lay on your back and lift up your butt, putting all of your weight on your heels and your shoulders. You fly!!! I ended up using this tip on water slides for the rest of the week. The lifeguards got a real kick out of Max and would shout, "Tsunami!" as he flew down the slide.

Playa Mia

Playa Mia

Playa Mia

Playa Mia

The hot tub was not hot. It actually might have been colder than the pool.

Playa Mia

Rachel and Dad took out a paddle boat while Max and I went to look for food.

Playa Mia

Playa Mia

Playa Mia

Chicken nachos were $11 which I thought was rather high, but actually comparable to restaurants in the US. We walked away at first, but Max was hungry and decided that he really did want the nachos.

Playa Mia

Playa Mia

They were actually very good, and I'm glad he got them... and was generous enough to share with me!

Playa Mia

Dad's typical turn-around to realize that no one is following him.

Playa Mia

Strike a pose.

We had a great time at Playa Mia, and I thought that it was a good value. We enjoyed the water slides and aqua park, and the overall facilities were in great shape. I would definitely visit Playa Mia again in the future and would recommend it to others.

Back Aboard

Disney Fantasy

Cozumel, Mexico

The trouble that we ran into all week was that on a port day, by the time we got back on the ship, Cabana's was closed. Therefore, we ate many meals on the pool deck at Flo's V8 Cafe. We are people who enjoy simple food, so the chicken tenders, hot dogs, and hamburgers satisfied us.

After lunch, Rachel and Mom went to check out the spa, Max and Dad went to fill their beer mugs, and I headed to the 12th deck to take photos as we left Cozumel.  I was beginning to wonder where they were when they came up with their mugs full and told me that the Fantasy was almost out of Michelob Amber Bock which was their preferred draft beer.  The bartender from Frozone's Treats had actually gone upstairs to the "hidden" bar to get them some from the only keg remaining on the ship.

Disney Fantasy

Disney Fantasy

Disney Fantasy

Disney Fantasy

I looked down at the Donald pool and thought "people soup." I don't know if it was the time of year or something specific to Disney Cruises, but I don't think I've ever seen more packed-out pools, yet empty loungers!

Disney Fantasy

Cozumel, Mexico

Cozumel, Mexico

Cozumel, Mexico

Disney Fantasy

Max and I took Dad on the Aqua Duck. The second time, Dad and Max rode together to pick up more speed. Having ridden in it by myself, with Rachel, Dad, and Max, I can confirm that the more weight, the faster you go!  I remember hearing stories when the Aqua Duck first opened on the Dream of children getting stuck and cast members having to come and bump them along.  Now children under a 54" tall must ride with another person.  (The minimum height to ride is 42" tall.  Single riders must be 54" tall.  Children under 7 may ride with someone 14 years of age or older as long as they meet the 42" height requirement.)

"Hidden" Waves Bar

We then went to the "hidden" Waves Bar so that Max and Dad could get more Michelob Amber Bock. We were told that the bar is primarily used by the bartenders who circulate the pool deck. Max was glad that the bar was in such a remote location (it's located on deck 12 beside the Aqua Lab and stairs to the sports deck).

Dinner - Animator's Palate

Animator's Palate is an interactive restaurant, telling the story of Disney Animation. This is the only restaurant theme which was carried from the Disney Magic and Wonder to the new Disney Dream and Fantasy. On the original Disney Magic and Wonder, Animator's Palate progressed from a black-and-white to a color restaurant over the course of the meal (the Magic as recently been "re-imagined" and while Animator's Palate has received updates, the black-and-white to color theme is continued). On the Dream and Fantasy, an entirely new dimension is brought to the restaurant with the addition of video and audio.

The 7-day Disney Fantasy has a total of three animation "shows" - A Finding Nemo themed show (utilizing technology used in "Turtle Talk With Crush" at Epcot's The Seas with Nemo), "Animation Magic" (which brings your drawings to life), and a special Pirate Night theme.

Animator's Palate

Max loved the butter spread in Animator's Palate. You can actually buy them in the gift shop for $9.95 each.

Animator's Palate

Animator's Palate

Animator's Palate

Animator's Palate

Animator's Palate

The restaurant design is wonderful. I love the chairs, dishes, and decor. Of all of the restaurants, it is the most overwhelmingly Disney, but it's appropriate for the theme.

Smoked Salmon Tartar

For an appetizer, I had the Smoked Salmon Tartar which I enjoyed.

Baked Potato and Cheddar Cheese Soup

The Baked Potato and Cheddar Cheese Soup was also good, but I remember finding it too filling to eat it all before my main entree.

Seared Red Snapper

And for an entree, I had the Seared Red Snapper which definitely wasn't the best fish I had all week. I only ate a few bites.  I did like the potatoes underneath, though.

Animator's Palate

Now, what I really did not enjoy about Animator's Palate was the Finding Nemo theme. It's like you're eating dinner inside of an aquarium, except that the fish can talk. Talk about a nightmare come to life. The entire restaurant was incredibly loud with the music and audio. In addition to that, they played this game on the big screens where they lined up schools of fish to make pictures (like in Finding Nemo) and had everyone guess what they were making. So children were encouraged to scream at the walls, "A DOLPHIN!" "A TURTLE! A TURTLE!" The little boy at the neighboring table was especially enthusiastic about having his answers heard. You would think that after a few guesses, the children would understand that it didn't matter what they said - no one was listening (well, except us, unfortunately) and there was no reward for getting it right. My mother suggested that they should give the kids iPads and let them answer digitally so that there would be less screaming in the restaurant.

While I loved the decor in Animator's Palate, I found the atmosphere that night to be incredibly overwhelming. Due to the noise, none of us really felt well and didn't eat much. This made Tana very concerned, as we normally devour any food placed in front of us. He offered several times to get us different dishes.

Cookies n' Cream Sundae

For dessert, I had the Cookies n' Cream Sundae. Sundaes are always a good choice.

White Chocolate Fudge Cheesecake

Max had the white chocolate cheesecake.

VIC_6500

During perhaps the absolute most stressful moment during the entire meal, we entered the East Australian Current, and the music blared and the lights spun, as digital turtles circulated the room.

Speaking of turtles, Crush came around to each large television screen throughout the meal and talked to nearby guests. It's the same technology that they use at Turtle Talk with Crush at Epcot's The Seas with Nemo. However, we didn't think that the actor's voice was quite as good.

VIC_6501

My favorite part was when all of the living aquarium screens were killed and they displayed concept art from Finding Nemo.

VIC_6502

VIC_6503

I felt rather bad for these guys, as they were in all of my photos (as well as everyone else's) of the television screen both nights in Animator's Palate. I learned after the cruise that they were actually one of the families from our Fish Extender Group, and that they are the husband and father of Rachel Horsley, a contributing author of The Adult Side of Disney.

At the end of dinner, Tana came to ask us how he has been doing so far, and if there was anything we wanted to make sure we didn't miss the rest of the week. My mom asked about Key Lime Pie. He said that he would get us Key Lime Pie later that week. We also told him that we would be dining in Palo the next night, so we would not see him at Enchanted Garden. Too bad, because we were missing the Princess menu.

D Lounge

My mom had noticed Disney Trivia on the Navigator in the D Lounge at 10:15. We all really wanted to play some Disney Trivia because we figured between the five of us, we covered a wide range of knowledge. Well... it wasn't really Disney Trivia. It was Family Fusion... "Bring the entire family and test your Disney knowledge in the high-tech interactive game show, Family Fusion." We felt weird actually getting up there to play because the entire room was filled with families that had children, and we had no children. We stayed to watch, and I suppose it's a good thing we didn't play because we would have dominated that game (partly because we're all adults). It was funny to watch others play though because children say the weirdest things, and most of the families had no idea what Disney characters they were comparing themselves to. It was strange.

Towel Animal

We returned that night to another strange towel animal.

Palo Invitation

And our Palo invitation.

What's your favorite beach in Cozumel?  Animator's Palate - Love it or hate it?  Comment Below!

NEXT: Day 4 - Grand Cayman