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Robin

Age: 43

Occupation:Teacher

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Disney

Ship: Disney Wonder

Sailing Date: 2009-06-11

Itinerary: Bahamas

I have travelled extensively throughout the Caribbean and have vacationed in Europe and Africa as well, all through land accommodations, and was not too keen on a cruise. However, having become a parent six years ago, I gave in to the suggestion of a three-day Disney Cruise. I was not disappointed; instead, I am looking forward to the same itinerary in a couple years, as this was THE best family-oriented vacation I have ever been on.

The experience did not convince me that cruising is the way to go, but a short trip of 3 or 4 days is a nice change of pace and Disney's version offered something for everyone -- I would even consider taking this trip without my son. Additionally, after my initial trip I will be more prepared to take better advantage of what there is to offer.

This time around I was so tired after having risen early for the daily shore excursions, then rushing back to the cabin to shower and prepare for the 1st dinner seating, that I was not able to make it to some of the evening attractions: karaoke, discos, movies, etc. But, if you plan accordingly, you will definitely be able to get your money's worth.

In preparing for the cruise, I had read MANY reviews and the ratings of the food varied widely, so I was not expecting much, and was prepared to be eating a lot of pizza and burgers to make up for the dining deficiencies. After my first dinner at Triton's, I was even more convinced that eating would not be the highlight of my trip; my sea bass selection was undercooked (to my tastes) and I was not happy with the side choices either. Our head server noticed that my dinner was basically untouched, and asked what she could do to satisfy me. I am not a complainer, and just shrugged it off, however, she was insistent that there must be something they could serve me that would satisfy me. I remembered that our server mentioned that crab legs (which my son and I love) would be on the lunch buffet the following day, but we would be on shore for an excursion and would miss out. She asked if I would like them for dinner and I said yes. Additionally, she brought me the dinner menu for the following day (Animator's Palate) to make sure there would be something to my liking as well. Day two brought a beef selection that was excellent, in addition to our king crab legs with a side of garlic butter! I quickly found out that Disney aims to please, and all one has to do is ask. Also, as other reviewers have mentioned, there are pizza (which is pretty good!) and other fast food options available throughout the day and into the evening hours if that is your preference. The Castaway Cay lunch barbeque held on day three of the cruise is outstanding: ribs, chicken, fish, steak, dogs and burgers, along with a variety of cold salads, fresh fruit, and finally ice cream (which I ate while lounging half in and half out of the ocean on the adults-only beach). Not to mention 24-hour room service at no additional charge!

Having not cruised before, but having heard about tiny staterooms, I was prepared for a cramped space, which it was, but according to those in-the-know, Disney's rooms are larger than other cruise lines. The toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, lotion) provided are twice the size you get in a hotel, and of a good quality. I asked our fabulous stateroom host for more, and he gladly provided them. The staff does an excellent job of keeping the rooms tidy, and after the initial check-in day when our tub, and that of the party travelling with us, was dirty, everything was spotless. I can not say the same of the resort we stayed in for the previous four days we spent in Orlando. Closet space was suitable for myself and my son.

So many activities, and the "Navigator" delivered to your cabin daily categorizes them by time, place and suitability for families, children/teens, and adults. However, from a parent's point of view, the best thing going are Disney's fabulous kids/teen clubs. My son, age 6, absolutely LOVED it, and never wanted to leave; I had to bribe him with the lure of the pools and beach (understandably, Disney's counselors don't take the children on water excursions). They played games (both in the center and on the sports court (kickball, basketball, etc) , had craft time, science experiments, watched movies, magic shows, and theatric performances even had a maze and slide and even had a computer center. Once my son found out that the club also takes the kids to dinner, it was a done deal; after our morning/afternoon excursions, I didn't see him again until closing time. He would shoo me away whenever I came to check on him, although pagers are given to parents for use when children want to be picked up.

For family interaction, there were game show and karaoke formats, and for adults only there was a sports bar, cigar/piano bar, disco and Bingo. The stage shows got excellent reviews, and I would rate the only one I was able to fit in, "Disney Dreams" as top rate, and the movie theater was a popular spot as well. I caught the 10:30 showing of the 3-D flick "Up" on the final night, and it was filled to capacity; get there early for a good seat for both the shows and movies.

When we docked in Nassau on day two we went on the stingray (barbs removed) excursion, which involved a 20-minute boat ride to the site where we were provided with snorkel gear and told were were not allowed to videotape any of the interaction with the stingrays. We were allowed to take still photos while snorkeling and feeding the rays on our own, but posing with a ray held by one of the keepers was only allowed if you purchased photos from the vendor. Not much in the way of hospitality from this group. Lunch was included with the fee, and if you could pretend you didn't see the flies that crawled all over the pre-prepared buns sitting out waiting for the burgers, hotdogs or chicken patties coming off the grill, you might be able to enjoy it. I could have done without this excursion, and next time would probably just shop a little in the straw market, then return to the ship and enjoy the pools without the crowds. I did get a splendid lunch of snapper and rice and peas from a local restaurant, "Junkanoo"; just remember you have to eat it on shore -- no food is allowed to be brought back on board.

Definitely, get off the ship to experience Castaway Cay on day three; it was the highlight of the trip for me! Whomever designed the layout put a lot of thought into it: family beach with every water activity you can think of, adjacent, yet separate from Scuttle Cove (Kid's Club area), teens-only beach on a separate section of the island (which I only saw from the perspective of a map), and the adult's-only beach on the other side of the island, all accessible via a walkway or tram service. The adults-only beach was quiet, pristine and the water crystal clear, with more than enough umbrellas, beach chairs and attendants to bring you cocktails while you lounge in the water or in a hammock. The only drawback to this part of the trip was that you had to be back on the ship by 5 pm, not nearly enough time to enjoy the island (which is another reason I prefer land trips).

I think I said it all above!

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