Trip Report - Disney World and Oasis of the Seas - Sept/Oct 2010
September/October 2010 Disney World and Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas Eastern Caribbean Cruise - Noreen & Paul
This will be long and detailed. I write these reviews so I can relive them later on. It includes planning, our time at Disney World, and our time on the Oasis of the Seas. Feel free to skip the parts that you are not interested in. Here we go...
WHO ARE WE?
Noreen - 42 years old; Senior Vice President at an Investment Banking Firm in New York City. I will be the author of the report.
Paul my husband; 42 years old; former small Business Owner. Paul is currently a semi-pro poker player.
We are going to have Vacation Part 1 and Vacation Part 2. We will spend one week at Disney World at our timeshare (Vistana Resort) before sailing on Royal Caribbeans Oasis of the Seas to the Eastern Caribbean.
We were anxiously waiting for the day when we would be able to book the Oasis of the Seas. At the time, we were platinum C&A members so had to wait until August 28, 2008 (over two years before the cruise).
I called the morning of 8/28/08 and expected to be put on hold for a long time. To my pleasant surprise I was connected to a very nice woman named Patty who was very helpful.
I knew the date I wanted and had a backup date in mind. I knew I wanted a balcony cabin facing the ocean (opposed to a balcony facing the Boardwalk or Central Park) preferably near the middle of the ship on the hump.
We lucked out and were able to book cabin # 12198. Its a D1 cabin in the center of the hump on the 12th deck.
Our cost was $1,139 per person + taxes ($85.86) + fuel surcharge ($56) for a total of $1,280.86 per person. Our total for both of us was $2,561.72. We will add the insurance when we make final payment which isnt due until 7/17/10.
I had a NextCruise certificate that I used so $200 of the deposit was right there and I left the additional $300 on my Royal Caribbean Visa.
I was telling Patty that we have a cruise in a few weeks that will make us Diamond so I will call back after that to apply my Diamond Balcony discount.
My friend Kim and her family are also booked on this cruise so I asked her to link our reservations. Kim ended up cancelling her cruise so they wont be joining us.
On October 7, 2008 I called to have my balcony discount changed from Platinum ($100 off) to Diamond ($200 off)
For my birthday and for Pauls birthday in 2010 we each received Royal Caribbean Gift cards from friends of ours so I applied those towards our balance on 6/2/10. It was very easy to do online.
On July 14, 2010 I called Royal Caribbean to add the insurance ($89 per person) and paid off the balance of my cruise.
I booked a 1 bedroom premium villa at our timeshare Vistana Resort on 1/19/10 for Saturday 9/18/10 through Saturday 9/25/10. We will stay at Disney pre-cruise
The Oasis Itinerary is as follows:
Saturday 9/25/10 Leave from Fort Lauderdale
Sunday 9/26/10 Nassau
Monday 9/27/10 At Sea
Tuesday 9/28/10 St Thomas
Wednesday 9/29/10 St Maarten
Thursday 9/30/10 At Sea
Friday 10/1/10 At Sea
Saturday 10/2/10 Return to Fort Lauderdale
The initial itinerary had Nassau on Friday 10/1 (the last day) but it was changed to the first day. I prefer the new itinerary with Nassau first as I like having the last day of the cruise as a day at sea
I booked our flights home from Fort Lauderdale on 5/27/10. We are on flight #506 leaving Ft Lauderdale at 2:26pm and arriving in Newark, NJ at 5:30pm. This was $123 per person. I had $80 in Jet Blue credit and a $100 Jet Blue Gift card. I was happily plugging away booking it online when I received a message that to use the gift card, I needed to call. I spoke with a very nice woman named Mary who said we had to do it as two separate bookings. So I went back online and booked mine using my Jet Blue credit with a total of $133.70, after applying the $80 Jet Blue credit I paid $53.70. Pauls was booked using the gift card so my total out of pocket for his was $33.70. We are in seats 21 C and 21 D
I was watching the flight from Newark to Orlando for a while and it was higher than I expected. I was hoping to catch it at $79 but it was usually over $100. On 6/23/10 I checked it and noticed that the 2pm flight was $92. Not exactly $79, but better than what Ive been seeing so I booked it. I was hoping the earlier flight would come down in price and we would have gone earlier, but this is fine. We are on flight # 525 leaving Newark, NJ at 2pm and landing in Orlando at 4:39pm. It was $92 per person after taxes our total for this leg of the flight was about $205. We are in seats 5C and 5D. This plane had two seats on either side of the aisle so its a smaller plane than usual. We also usually sit near the back so well see how we like the front.
On 6/25/10 I was checking the JetBlue website proud of myself that I caught the flight down at $92 as it was now back over $100. However, I checked our flight home and noticed that dropped to $93 per person. I called JetBlue, spoke with Bobbie, to get a credit for the difference. Its a very slow process it used to be much quicker. However, we now have a credit for $60 ($30 each).
On 7/2/10 I was checking the JetBlue website and saw that my flight down to Florida has dropped to $79. I called and spoke with Julie and now have a credit for the difference $26 ($13 each). This was much quicker than when I called for the last credit.
I booked a rental car for both St Thomas and St Maarten so we will be free to explore the islands. We are still undecided about what to do in Nassau. Its a short port day.
I booked our entertainment for the Oasis the week of June 30, 2010. I was able to book everything easily except the comedy show. I finally booked my third choice of day/time for that, but was happy that I was able to book my first choice for everything else.
DAY BY DAY
The week before our trip
The week before the trip was busy trying to get things taken care of before were away for two weeks. Our hot water heater broke about two weeks before the trip and we had to replace that as well as deal with the mess it made when it broke. I started packing the weekend before our trip. I like to pack in the basement and sneak things down there while Kiki (our dog) is asleep since she gets upset seeing the suitcases. I thought Id have to pack upstairs, but luckily we were able to get the basement back in order so I was able to pack in the basement.
We received a phone call from a woman at Vistana (our timeshare) telling us that we were signed up for VIP check in and to go to a different area than the normal check in place. She confirmed our requests top floor in the Lakes (the section we own at). This is the first time weve had this type of call.
We are not light packers. We are trying really hard to pack in two checked suitcases (one each) and two rolling carry ons (one each) plus the laptop bag and my tote bag. Im having trouble getting everything to fit so may have to have a third checked back. Im trying different methods rolling vs folding. It doesnt make much difference; I still dont have enough room.
The day before our trip Friday 9/17/10
I was busy at work as I expected. I didnt leave until about 7:45pm after getting there at 7:15am. This isnt too bad since in the past there have been plenty of day before vacation nights that lasted until after midnight. On the way home I stopped at Fairway to pick up a baguette, roast beef, and turkey to make sandwiches for the plane. We usually stop at a bagel store on the way to the airport to pick up sandwiches, but thought we would try this for a change of pace.
Once home, we had dinner. Paul has been making packages of chicken and steak for Kiki for when were away. Those are now either in the refrigerator or freezer labeled for our dogsitter to give to Kiki.
I finished the packing and surprisingly was able to squeeze everything into the two checked suitcases, our two rolling carry ons, my tote, and Pauls computer bag. The suitcases to be checked were stuffed. I used my little portable luggage scale and one of them weighed 48.5 pounds and the other one was 43.5 pounds.
Saturday 9/18/10 Fly to Florida
I went to my spinning class in the morning. As I was getting ready to leave the house, I put on my swatch watch which I wear to spinning and on vacation and noticed that it stopped working. Im guessing it just needs a new battery. So I went to spinning without a watch.
When I got home, I showered and got ready. I took a quick drive over to a local jewelry store hoping they can replace my battery but they were closed. I went back home, put my swatch that isnt telling time into my tote bag and wore my regular watch. Im assuming I can find a jeweler in Florida or a Swatch store to get a new battery.
We spent some time with Kiki knowing well be gone for two weeks.
Paul made us a very nice breakfast. He recently bought this ebelskiver (spelling?) pan which he saw on the food network and has been making these very creative pancake puffs. Today he made pancake puffs filled with banana and chocolate chips. It was very good.
Our target time to leave was 11am. We didnt end up leaving until about 11:30. We stopped at a store to pick up some chips to bring on the plane with our sandwiches.
We drove to Corporate Park where we left our car and they quickly had us in their shuttle and to the terminal. We checked in and my bag that weighed 48.5 pounds at home weighed 50.5 pounds on Jet Blues scale. The guy checking us in said not to worry about it.
We made our way through security and to the gate pretty quickly. We boarded promptly at 1:30. This was a smaller plane than we usually are on. Each row had two seats on either side of the aisle. We took off a little early. Rather than taking off at 2pm we were already flying at 2pm. The flight was very smooth. We ate our sandwiches and chips on the plane. We even landed a little early. Paul went to the rental car kiosk while I went to get the luggage. The luggage was slow coming out and he came back all checked in for the rental car.
Once our luggage arrived we made our way to the garage to pick out our car. Its a great idea that Alamo lets you just pick whatever car in your car class that you like. We reserved a midsize and chose a Chevy Flex (or something like that).
On the way to Vistana we stopped at a Hess station to pick up cans of soda and bottles of water. We have found on our multiple trips to Florida that they have the best prices at Hess.
We drove to Vistana to the VIP check in and had to wait just a few minutes for our advisor. She checked us in and our requests for our villa were met top floor in the Lakes. She gave us all sorts of coupons and invited us to an owners update. We told her we would call once we firm up our plans.
We drove over to our villa and it is very nice. The Lakes section was renovated maybe a year or two ago so the dcor is very modern. We have a large one bedroom so have a screened in balcony that faces the pool and a Jacuzzi in the master bedroom. We did some unpacking to get settled. We did not unpack one of the suitcases as that has our cruise stuff. There is tons of storage in the villa. Even after unpacking I have tons of empty drawers (and we dont pack light).
I t was already about 7pm so we headed over to Downtown Disney. It was a zoo there. I was shocked at how crowded it was. Our first stop was World of Disney. I wanted to exchange my earrings that I bought on my last trip since I wore them once and the back kept falling off. The woman who was helping me was new (her first day) so she needed to call a manager over to help. They were able to exchange the earrings for me.
We wandered around but it was really crowded. We decided we didnt want to have a big meal. We werent that hungry so were thinking maybe Earl of Sandwich but the line was ridiculously long. Then we looked at Wolfgang Puck Express. Here too, the line was huge. We walked around to see if the new place that replaced McDonalds was open yet (some sort of chicken place) but it was still under construction.
We decided to leave and try our luck offsite. We ended up going to Steak & Shake (something we dont have by us) and had a very enjoyable inexpensive meal. We shared two different types of burgers. One was Portobello and Swiss and the other was BBQ; both burgers came with fries. We both had soda. Our total was $14 and some change and we left $20.
We went to Publix to pick up some grocery items for the week for breakfast. We spent just under $24 in Publix and I had a $25 gift card that a friend bought me as a gift. This was very thoughtful of her as Publix is not something we have in NJ or NY, but she heard me talking about how we always go there when we go to Disney so she ordered it on line for me.
After Publix we made our way back to the villa
The timeshare offers free internet so we put the laptop out on the table, logged into the internet, and played on line for a little while.
I woke up at 4:30am and realized Im not at home, I dont have to get up for work, I should go back to sleep. Im a very light sleeper and am up early for work. Sleeping in for me is normally about 6am. I was able to go back to sleep and didnt wake up until 6:30am.
I showered and got ready. Paul and I had toasted bagels with butter and a slice of cheese for breakfast from the groceries we bought at Publix last night.
We walked by the pool that is right near our building (the one we see from our balcony) and it was completely empty this morning. We even drove over to one of the bigger pools and that also was empty.
We went to Hollywood Studios and got there about 9:30am. Our first stop was to get a fast pass for Toy Story Mania. It wasnt valid until 3:55-4:55. The standby line was already 90 minutes.
We got on line for the Little Mermaid and were in pretty quickly.
We waited for the first show of Magic of Animation. The cast member who was interacting with the Mulan character was really into his job. It was fun to watch someone so obviously enjoying what he did.
The lines to take pictures with Mickey and Lotso (from Toy Story 3) were pretty long. We waited a bit to do the drawing class and drew Dale (I think it was Dale, maybe it was Chip). Our drawings came out somewhat OK,, but if I saw it not coming out of the class I probably couldnt identify who it was supposed to be.
Tower of Terror had maybe a 15 minute wait and we had a really fun sequence of drops. Paul and I were the only two in our elevator that had our hands up for the picture. When we were at the top and the doors opened we were able to see Expedition Everest in the distance.
Paul did the single rider line for Rock N Roller Coaster and I waited for him.
We had lunch at the Backlot Express. We shared the grilled vegetable sandwich with fries and got a bottle of coke from a cart nearby. We prefer bottled over fountain soda. Our total was about $12. The food was pretty good. When this place first started serving the grilled veggie sandwich it was really good. It ended up going through several versions each getting progressively worse. Im glad to see they have improved it with this version.
We saw Muppets and walked right in. Other than the long wait at Toy Story, the park is pretty empty.
We stopped at the Writers Stop and got one of the carrot cake cookies to share. It was about $3. Its very good two moist carrot cake cookies filled with a cream cheese icing. Its very sweet and sharing one is more than enough. We started looking at some of the books they have there such as the list of hidden Mickeys and this book telling you whats good vs bad to eat.
We made our way over to the Great Movie Ride and couldnt believe how empty it was. I dont think we stopped walking until we were on the ride vehicle.
It was almost time for our Toy Story Fastpass so we made our way over there. Paul had the high score not just for our car, but the high score of the hour.
We decided to head over to Epcot. We stopped at the Hess Station and got two bottles of Vitamin Water. Its hot out but not unbearable.
Our first stop was Captain EO. We never saw this when it was originally out. It was very entertaining and we both enjoyed seeing something new (well new to us).
We walked right onto Figment next.
Innoventions was also empty and we quickly walked onto Sum of All Thrills. We designed our Jet ride with multiple inversions and enjoyed riding our creation.
Test Track had a 20 minute wait listed and 5 minutes for single rider so we used the single rider line. We walked straight through to the top where they put you in the pre-show room. Even the standby line was moving quickly. They didnt have us watch the pre-show just go straight through to the line for the cars. We ended up riding together anyway since it was so empty.
Mission Space was our next stop and also a walk on. I went on the green (less intense) and Paul went on the orange (intense) side. We both enjoyed our respective rides. We played with some of the interactive games and sent email postcards home.
We decided to see how the wait for Soarin looked. Standby was listed as 15 minutes and I dont think it was that long. We didnt stop until we were in line for the pre-show.
We heard that the new table service restaurant in the Mexico Pavillion in World Showcase just opened a few days ago so we walked over to see what the menu looked like. A new counter service/fast food place also opened in the Mexico pavilion. Since it was so empty in the park we were pretty confident that we would be able to get in to the table service restaurant without a reservation. The restaurant is called La Hacienda De San Angel. The restaurant has a wall of huge windows so you can see Illuminations from the restaurant. We were immediately seated. We both had soda to drink. We were brought a basket of chips with two types of salsa (a red and a green)
We shared the Botana appetizer which is a sampling of chicken tostada, Chilorio Sope (marinated pork) and a cheese empanada. We enjoyed this with the chicken being both of our favorite out of the selections in the dish.
For our entrees Paul had the Arrechera flank steak with spring onions, tamale, cactus leaves, and beans. I had the Tacos de Camarones fried shrimp, chipotle-lime aoli, cabbage, lime and salsa verde, served over flour tortillas. We shared both dishes. The food was very good. The waitress was very attentive bringing us soda refills as needed.
The lights were dimmed and the music piped into the restaurant so we were able to watch Illuminations from our seats. Certain parts would be obstructed by the wall between the windows, but it was great watching the show this way.
Our total after the Tables in Wonderland Discount, included gratuity, plus additional gratuity we left came out to $70. We were too stuffed to even look at the dessert menu.
We drove back to Vistana
I did a few loads of laundry this morning. It sounds silly, but I enjoy doing laundry on vacation. This way we have clean clothes to bring home (or in the case of this trip, onto vacation part 2). It sounds like a lot after just being here since Saturday, but Pauls sneakers were dirty so one load of laundry was just his sneakers.
We made breakfast in the villa and had bacon, egg, and cheese on a bagel. Its so convenient to have a quick breakfast right here rather than having to go out for breakfast each day.
We drove over to the Polynesian and browsed their shops. I wanted to find a zipper pull. Im not sure if thats the official name, but Ive been calling it that. I use various bags to on our Disney trips and one of my new ones is the Ebags Piazza bag. So far its working out great. Its small but holds a lot. However, after using it the first few hours yesterday the little thing that hangs off the zipper for you to pull to open or close the main compartment of the bag (why Im calling it a zipper pull) fell off. I was hoping to find a cute Mickey Mouse one. I also brought my Vera Bradley hipster in case the magnetic closure on one pocket on the Piazza bag deactivates any of the passes/room keys.
Having no luck with the zipper pull we stopped in Capt Cooks (the counter service place in the Polynesian) and shared a chocolate croissant. We got on the monorail to the Magic Kingdom and arrived around 11:30. I know its late to get to the park, but this is the off season and should be empty.
Were we in for a surprise the Magic Kingdom was very crowded. Whoever was at Disney must have been in Magic Kingdom today. There are several days with Mickeys Not So Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP) this week where the park closes at 7 to regular guests. Today is not a MNSSHP day so the park is open until 9. I guess thats why everyone is here.
We walked to FantasyLand and got a fast pass for Peter Pan which is valid at 3:30. We were able to walk into Philharmagic. It was a bit odd that they were placing you in the holding area in sections rather than letting people just fill it up. Either way we enjoyed the show.
We walked towards AdventureLand and went right onto the Tiki Birds without any wait. The room was more crowded than this show normally is.
Pirates of the Caribbean had a 20 minute wait listed but the line was pretty long so we decided to come back later.
We walked over to TomorrowLand and the wait for Space Mountain is 60 minutes. OK another one for later.
Its hot out today about 93 degrees.
The Carousel of Progress had no wait so we went on. I know its corny but its cute and we both like this show. Paul usually takes a nap in here but he stayed awake. When they get to the chorus part where the theater moves to the next scene we both rock our heads back and forth and move our hands singing along.
The People Mover/TTA (whatever the new name is) was also a walk on so we went on. We enjoy this and usually use it as an attraction to regroup and figure out our gameplan. Since it was hot and crowded we decided its time to leave Magic Kingdom for now and come back later.
We got back on the Monorail to the Polynesian and had a late lunch at Capt Cooks. We shared the Adult Grilled Cheese with Poly chips and a spicy shrimp sushi roll. Lunch was about $20. The adult grilled cheese was better than I expected it to be.
We drove back to Vistana, changed into our bathing suits, and went to the pool to swim. We stayed at the pool until about 5:30 then showered, changed, and got ready to hit the parks again. We called to sign up for our Owners Update and will go tomorrow morning at 7:45. The woman that checked us in (the same woman that called me the week before for VIP checkin) also signed us up. There was some confusion since when we checked in she said they would tell us about some new resorts that were added and new ways to use our ownership and for our time we would receive $65 cash, 3,200 starpoints, and some coupons. Now I know there is also a plea to buy more time which we arent planning to do, but wanted to hear about any new developments. When I called she said its one or the other the cash or the starpoints. When I nicely explained that isnt what she told me on Saturday and even wrote it down on a card for me, with commas between the different things we would receive (at no point was OR ever mentioned) she said she would check with her manager. She called back and said the manager would increase the cash to $100 if we wanted cash or the starpoints to 5,000 if we wanted points. We decided to go with the $100 cash.
We planned on dinner at the Kona Caf so parked at the Polynesian and took the monorail to the Magic Kingdom. The train was there so we took that around to FrontierLand. Big Thunder Mountain had a 60 minute wait listed so we got pastpasses instead.
The Haunted Mansion had a 15 minute wait listed and it wasnt that long. The line was very organized and kept moving. I like that they put the ropes up in the queue area as it eliminated much of the crowding and pushing through that used to happen. We were on our doom buggies within 15 minutes.
After looking through that Hidden Mickey Book we were trying to remember where some of them are and trying to locate them. We were not very successful.
We used our fastpasses for Peter Pan. It was past the time listed but we have found that although they wont let you go on before the start of the fastpass time, going on late isnt a problem. Good thing we had fastpass since the line was still very long. Peter Pan always has a long line.
After Peter Pan we were walking through FantasyLand and noticed that the park seemed much emptier suddenly. We walked right onto Snow White and right onto Winnie the Pooh with no waiting. This is the way the parks should be in the off season, nice and empty with everything a walk on.
We walked back over to Big Thunder Mountain to use our fast passes and the wait that earlier was listed as 60 minutes was now a mere 5 minutes. We didnt even bother with the fastpasses and just went right on the standby line and didnt stop until we were seated in the train. This is a fun ride its especially fun in the dark.
Paul went on Splash Mountain twice. Also a walk on. I dont go on since I dont like getting wet when Im dressed. I saw parts of the Electric Light Parade/Spectromagic while waiting for him. Paul came off the ride surprisingly dry.
We walked over to Pirates hoping the line was shorter and it was non existent. We walked through the queue and onto our own boat. There was no one in the boat in front of us or behind us.
Wishes was showing when we exited so we watched that while heading towards the exit hoping to be just ahead of the mass exodus when Wishes ends and the park is closed. We made it onto a waiting resort monorail which was standing room only. As we were pulling out we could see the lines for both the resort and the express monorail building quickly.
Back at the Polynesian we had dinner at the Kona Caf. I had soda and Paul had tea. We shared our meals and ordered from the price fixe menu potstickers for an appetizer, Asian noodles with shrimp for an entre, and white chocolate cheesecake for dessert. We also ordered the sticky wings for two (normally an appetizer but we asked that it come out with the entre). The Hawaiian bread with macadamia butter was delicious and we tried very hard not to fill up on bread. The food was good. We didnt finish everything and had about the order of wings, some of the bread, and some of the shrimp from the noodle entre boxed up to go. Our total was about $50.
We got the car and drove back to Vistana. We spent a lot of time at the Polynesian today.
We went to our Owners update this morning at about 7:45. We checked in and they seat you in a room where there was a continental breakfast. Paul had toast and I had an English muffin. The guy assigned to us came over and started asking us the normal pleasant questions about how we normally use the timeshare. He was impressed that we were using it as options and getting almost two weeks out of it. We talked about other ways we like to vacation and we told him we started cruising recently and enjoy that as well. Of course he goes into his spiel about did we want to add any more time to our ownership. We said No, we have enough time right now for how we use it. I asked him if he had any updates on the use of ownership and he said there really isnt anything new and that we knew as much about using it as he did. We liked him because he wasnt pushy. He said we needed to stay for an hour to get our gift but we should just hang out.
Then the manager comes over and asks us how we liked the guy who helped us. We said we liked him. He asked the same questions did we want to add more time. Then he tried offering us the Explorer package. We told him we did that a few years ago and arent interested in doing so again. He got our voucher and walked us over to the cashier to get our gift - $100.
We were on our way around 9:30. We went back to the villa to get a few things together to take with us.
We probably left a little after 10am to drive to Tampa to go to the Hard Rock Casino. We arrived around 11am. Time certainly flies when you are playing in a casino and before we knew it, it was after 3pm. We had a good time playing. We lost the $100 Vistana money by the end of our time there and I think we lost maybe another $40 or so.
Driving back towards Disney we realized we were starving since all we ate today was the toast/English muffin this morning. We stopped at a Steak & Shake and got food to go that we ate in the car since we wanted to get back and go to Universal before they closed at 6. We shared a bacon double cheeseburger, fries, and a fudge shake (the shake was price). Our lunch was about $7 (very cheap).
We made it to Universal a little after 4 and parked. With our annual pass we get free parking. This was the first time they asked to see ID with the pass for parking.
We went into Universal Islands of Adventure and right towards the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. This is the first time weve been here that this section was open so we were excited to see it.
Our first stop was Forbidden Journey. The standby was about 20 minutes, but the single rider line was less than 5 so we did that. They ended up letting all the single riders in at once so we ended up together anyway. This ride was great. It reminded us of a combination of Spiderman, Soarin, and Sum of All Thrills all wrapped up and on steroids. They really did a great job with this.
Our next stop was Flight of the Hippograff which was right nearby. It was kind of a kiddie coaster but cute. We did our good deed for the day as when we were near the front of the short line there were two little girls who wanted to ride. They were tall enough to ride, but needed an adult with them (they couldnt sit together without an adult). Paul and I volunteered to be their adults so we rode with them. This was a very quick ride and reminded us of Goofys Barnstormer at Magic Kingdom.
We walked into this bar like place and I wanted to try the frozen butterbeer so stood on line. Paul wandered around the corner and came back a few minutes later with one. There was another line on the other side that sold it. The line I was in was for alcoholic drinks also and thats why it moved slower. Once Paul came back and told me and the guy in line ahead of me, they also went around the bend to the other place for it. It was refreshing and reminded us of a frozen butterscotch. The ButterBeer is not alcoholic so fine for anyone to drink. Paul went on the Dragon Challenge (the old dueling dragons) while I waited and drank the frozen butterbeer.
The park was closing at 6 and it was just about 6 so we browsed through some of the shops. I read the first Harry Potter book so had some idea of the storyline of the Forbidden Journey ride and knew what some of the things in the shops were. I enjoyed the first book but never read the others. I can see how someone really into the books/movies would go nuts with this section of the park.
We headed out and stopped at Bubba Gumps on Universal City Walk. We werent hungry for dinner yet, but thought this sounded like something we would want later so ordered the Shrimpers Heaven to go for us to share. It was about $22. We used to always order way too much food and it just went to waste. We have been trying to order less and sharing meals so we can enjoy them without a lot of food going to waste.
We drove over to Downtown Disney which was also crowded. I guess with the parks all closing early (other than Epcot) more people were here. Stopping at Goofys Candy Company, we ordered the chocolate dipped pretzel rods dipped in milk chocolate, drizzled with dark chocolate and with the following coatings - 1 in butterfinger pieces, 1 in oreo pieces, and one in mini dark and white chocolate chips. I was pleasantly surprised to get 10% off as an annual passholder so my total was $5.70. Paul also bought some bagged candy for a few dollars.
We walked around the Marketplace a bit and then headed back to Vistana. We heated up our food from Bubba Gump as well as our leftovers from last night and had a nice dinner watching the Biggest Loser on TV.
I used the Jacuzzi in the room for the first time this trip.
We went to sleep pretty early and were in bed by 11pm.
Paul hasnt been feeling great. Hes not sure whats wrong with him but he just doesnt feel like himself.
I did some laundry in the morning. Paul still wasnt feeling great so he slept later than usual.
We went to Epcot and arrived around 12:30. Our first stop was SpaceShip Earth which we walked right onto.
We walked into Innoventions and did the Great Piggy Bank Adventure. This is such a cute attraction and a great idea to teach kids about saving and diversifying.
Its nice and empty at Epcot.
We walked onto the Seas with Nemo and then stayed to watch Turtle Talk with Crush.
In the land the standby for Soarin was 35 minutes so we got a fastpass that was valid around 4pm.
Living with the Land had no wait so we went on.
We had lunch at Sunshine Seasons and shared the seared tuna on noodles for about $10. It was nice and light but a little spicy. We didnt want to eat too much in case we wanted to snack around World Showcase.
We started our walk around World Showcase with Canada. We looked at the menu at Chefs De France to decide if we wanted to go there for dinner but werent sure. Last time we went there our waiter was not very good and although the food was good, the service really turned us off the place.
In Japan we walked through the store.
We saw the American Adventure at 3:45. Prior to the show we listened to the Voices of Liberty.
In Italy we looked at the menu at the new Via Napoli restaurant. Im getting in the mood for Italian food.
In Norway we rode Maelstrom and stayed for the movie. Walking through the shop I smelled the Laila perfume as I do each time Im here. In the bakery we had a rice cream. Well, I had a rice cream. Paul had one bite of it. This is my favorite rice pudding and I try to get it at least once per trip to Disney.
In Mexico we rode the Gran Fiesta Tour. They sure have a lot of restaurants in Mexico now. The original restaurant is still there and was crowded. The new sit down restaurant is there. They reopened the counter service place and still have the smaller counter service kiosk.
Back in Future World we did the single rider line at Test Track.
We wandered through Mousegear (the shop) and they are doing some construction.
Future World was closing since it was after 7 (some attractions stay open) but we were ready to go. We couldnt decide what we wanted for dinner so decided to head out.
We went back to Vistana to drop off our stuff from the park and decide what to have for dinner. On the way back we stopped at a new restaurant that opened right near Vistana called Sante Fe Cattle Co to pick up a menu to see what they have. We received a coupon at check in to get a free appetizer or dessert there. Back at the room we looked online at Carrabas menu. Carrabas is an Italian restaurant chain that we tried once before when we were at Disney. We dont have one near us at home. We decided to give Santa Fe Cattle Co a try. We decided to order the food to go and bring it back to the villa to eat.
We drove over and ordered a full slab of ribs that came with two sides (we chose Caesar salad for me and cole slaw for Paul) and a Western Philly hero with Santa Fe Taters. For our free appetizer we chose the chicken wings. Our total after using our free appetizer coupon and tipping the bar tender that got our order together was $32.
While waiting for our food to be ready, we walked over to Walgreens and picked up a few things.
We brought our food back and laid it out on the dining room table. This was a lot of food. It was very good. The little rolls they serve were great. Everything we had was very tasty and we really enjoyed it. We watched Hells Kitchen and just hung out.
We had breakfast in the villa and played on the computer for a while.
My friend Kim called to let me know that her doctors visit gave her some bad news and shes going for surgery tomorrow to have a growth removed. Shell know more after the surgery but hopefully she caught it early enough that nothing has spread.
We headed to Universals Islands of Adventure around 11:30. Once again, they asked for ID when showing our annual pass for parking so it must be their normal routine.
Paul went on the Hulk Coaster and then we both were going to go on Dr Dooms Fearfall, but the line was 35 minutes so we didnt want to wait. Spiderman had a 10 minute wait listed so we went on that.
We took a few pictures walking through to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The line for Forbidden Journey was long but the single rider line was quick so we did that instead. I enjoyed the ride when we did it the other day. I enjoyed most of the ride today. It broke for a few minutes and I was stuck almost upside down and did not like that very much. Today the motion of the ride made me not feel right.
When we got off Paul suggested we go again. I wasnt really sure I wanted to but figured were here and we probably wont be back this trip so off we went again on the single rider line. That was definitely a mistake and I should have gone with my gut instinct. I did not feel good when we got off.
We went into Three Broomsticks (the counter service restaurant) to sit for a few minutes to see if I felt better. I started to feel better after about 10 minutes so Paul ordered the chicken with corn and potatoes for lunch for us to share. Even though I felt better I didnt want to eat much so just had a few bites of the food.
After lunch Paul went on the Dragon Challenge and I waited for him. I called my mother to see how her periodontist appointment went that she was nervous about. That went well but she has to go back for a few more visits.
I threw a coin in the Mystic Fountain in the Lost Continent wishing Kim well with her surgery tomorrow and for better health afterwards.
In Seuss Landing we waited about 20 minutes to ride the High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride. It was cute but silly and very short.
Cat in the Hat had a 5 minute wait so we went on that next.
We headed out of the park after that.
We stopped at Publix to buy Pringles and Sugar Wafers and then stopped to put gas in the car.
We stopped back at the Villa to drop off our purchases and decide where we are off to next.
We went to Hollywood Studios and caught the finale of American Idol at 7pm. It was a good show and the person who did the best won easily.
We were planning to go to the 8pm showing of Fantasmic and starting walking towards it but it was packed and the whole area was mobbed with people waiting to try to get in. We decided to skip it, weve seen it before and didnt want to wait in that mob scene. I dont understand why they starting only showing Fantasmic twice a week. I know its probably for financial reasons but it really impacts the enjoyment of the guests if they cant get in to see it.
We stopped at the outlets since Paul needed to buy a belt since he forgot his. We stopped at the Gap Outlet and he quickly found one.
We called in our dinner order to Santa Fe Cattle Co to pick up. We really enjoyed it yesterday and decided to get dinner from there again. We shared. We ordered the Ribeye Steak with mashed potatoes and sauted mushrooms as our sides. Our total was about $23.
We brought our food back, ate our dinner and watched CSI. I did another load of laundry. We certainly must sound like a bunch of boring people bringing back our dinner to eat while watching TV. But we were really enjoying doing this.
We headed to Animal Kingdom today since we havent been to that park yet.
Tough to Be a Bug was a walk on so that was our first stop. Its nice with the park so empty.
We saw the 11:45 Nemo show and it was nice to walk up 5 minutes before it started and get it without a problem.
Dinosaur had a 20 minute wait listed and it was probably about 15 but it was nice and cool in the waiting area so we waited since it was pretty humid out.
Expedition Everest had a 30 minute wait but we went on the single rider line and ended up one train apart from each other and waited less than 5 minutes.
It started raining as we got off Everest. The typical Florida torrential downpour that lasts about 10 minutes. We stood under an overhang with many others trying to stay dry.
We decided on Yat & Yeti for lunch. I had the Honey Chicken with Coke. Paul had the shrimp lo mein with fruit punch. For dessert we had the fried wontons. Well I had them, Paul had a little bit but doesnt like hot and sweet. They dont take Tables in Wonderland here but will give you a 10% discount on your entrees only with an annual pass. The food was good, but we were totally stuffed afterwards. We should have just shared an entre rather than ordering two.
We went into the Flights of Wonder show next. This is an overlooked attraction that is very cute and worth the time to see.
I expected a wait for the safari but surprisingly that too was a walk on. It started raining again while we were on safari.
We saw the 4:30 Festival of the Lion King show. Again walked up right before it started and were admitted with no problem. We enjoyed the show. Once it ended the park was closed (closed at 5pm).
I finally decided that I wanted to get the Laila perfume from Norway in Epcot. Paul was tired and didnt want to do all that walking so he will drop me off. We were trying to decide which was faster getting dropped at the front of the park or going from the Beach Club and entering though International Gateway. Our plan was for him to drop me off at the front and meet me in the Beach Club lobby.
From the guest drop off area through Future World (with a detour through Mousegear) took about 15 minutes to get to Norway. I was disappointed since they didnt have the small bottles today, only the big ones and I didnt want to get such a big bottle. I asked if they were sold anywhere else and the woman told me they sell them in Nordstrom.
I walked back through the International Gateway and it took about the same 15 minutes to get to the first turn into the Beach Club and then I walked through to the lobby to meet Paul.
Paul thought it was a good thing that I could get the Laila perfume in Nordstrom at home, but now Im not sure if I will. It kind of ruins the perfume being special when I thought I could only get it in Epcot. Pauls logic is it shouldnt matter where you buy it if the smell reminds you of Disney.
We drove over to Downtown Disney to do a bit of last minute shopping. We didnt want to get much just a few things. In Disneys Day of Christmas store we bought this silver spinning thing that Ive been looking at the last few trips. We also got a cute Mickey and Minnie holiday banner to hang outside our house from the lamp post.
We stopped in Goofys Candy Co and got three dipped pretzels to bring with us on our cruise.
We picked up dinner at Santa Fe Cattle Co again. We really like it. Its along the lines of Outback but better and very reasonably priced. We shared a burger and a TBone Steak with mashed potatoes and sauted mushrooms. Our total was about $35 and we brought it back to the villa to eat while doing laundry and packing our stuff for the start of vacation part 2.
We had almost a full case of water and two twelve packs of soda left so packed those in one of the suitcases (one of the rolling carry ons) and will check that onto the ship.
Saturday 9/25/10 Drive to Ft Lauderdale, get on Oasis of the Seas / Oasis of Dreams (high dive) show
We were originally planning to leave by 8ish to head to Ft Lauderdale but by the time we finished packing up and getting our stuff together we didnt leave until about 9:15.
We stopped for gas along the way. We went into the rest area and were surprised to see that in addition to the normal fast food places, they had Earl of Sandwich. It wasnt just at this rest stop. As we were driving the signs would advertise what places were at each rest stop and almost all the signs showed Earl of Sandwich. The love bugs are definitely starting to come out. They were getting all over the windshield and the car. At the rest stop/gas stations they had the cutest thing it was a sprayer that would clean your windshield for you. Im used to regular car washes that the car goes through and you pay for it. This was a free sprayer.
We drove to the pier first and saw the ship in port you cant miss it its huge. We dropped off our luggage, tipped the porter, and then drove back to Ft Lauderdale airport to drop off the rental car. The airport was only about 5 minutes from the pier so it was a quick ride. We only had our carry ons with us at this point. From the airport we took the rental car shuttle back to the pier. There were three ships at Port Everglades (the Fort Lauderdale pier) Oasis of the Seas, Grandeur of the Seas, and a Carnival ship.
We were on the ship pretty quickly. There are many check in counters so it went fast. You enter the ship right onto the Royal Promenade. Its a lot wider than the other ships weve been on with promenades. We went directly to our cabin 12198 to drop off our carryons. The room is pretty standard for a balcony cabin but seems a bit narrower than other balcony cabins weve stayed in. The bathroom seems a little bigger, maybe its the layout. There are also some extra shelves/storage in the bathroom. The rest of the room doesnt have that many storage drawers. There is a closet with rods and shelves. The desk has two usable drawers (the third one has the hairdryer in it). There is also a narrow cabinet with shelves to put small items. The balcony is a nice size its deeper and wider than I expected. After exploring our cabin we went to explore the ship.
One of the documents you receive is called The Planner. Its an outline of the week highlighting where you are each day (ex. At Sea, St Maarten, etc), suggested dress code for the evening, drink of the day, some of the activities for the day, the shows that require reservations, as well as a section for your to write down your schedule for each day. Of course me being the planner that I am happily filled in my Planner with all our reserved shows and things I didnt want to miss.
Walking through the Central Park area you can easily forget you are on a ship. We stopped at the Park Caf for one of the roast beef sandwiches that many people rave about and some Mango flavored water. We enjoyed the water. The roast beef sandwich was OK, the roll was very salty. They had a very nice selection of food to choose from.
We walked over to the Boardwalk area. This is also a very cute area and easy to forget you are on a ship. They had the Zoltar machine from the movie Big. I went on the carousel and rode around. How cute to ride a carousel on a ship. The funny thing was that everyone riding the carousel at that time were adults; not one child was on the carousel.
We stopped at the spa for a spa tour. We were greeted by one person who took us through the different areas and introduced us to different people in each area who showed us some of the services they provide. Of course, they encourage you to sign up for spa services right away. They showed us the fitness center when we asked but that wasnt their focus since there isnt a charge to use it. The fitness center was nice with all new equipment. Paul weighed himself to see how much (if any) weight he gains this week. Of course he forgot to weigh himself at the end so well never know.
We continued exploring the ship. There are so many places to see everywhere you go.
We had to go to the muster drill around 4pm. Our muster station was Studio B (the ice rink). It was very orderly. You went to your section, handed the worker your sea pass card and they swiped you in. Then you sat and waited for the presentation. No life jackets were needed. There were several sections filled with people with different muster stations. Life jackets are all kept at the muster stations so they arent in your cabin taking up storage space.
After muster we headed up to the wings outside the Solarium to watch sail away. Wings probably isnt the proper term for the area but thats what it reminded me of these areas jutted out near the front of the ship.
The solarium (adults only) is a very nice section. The loungers are padded and there are various types of furniture for lounging/relaxing outside.
We stopped back at our cabin and our luggage was there. We met our room steward Joey who already brought our luggage into the cabin for us. Paul asked if its possible to have a lounge chair on the balcony and Joey said he would get one for us. We asked Joey if he could empty the mini fridge since we had some water and soda we wanted to put in there and Joey said to just put the stuff from there on the shelf. I was hoping to get it out of the room so Id have more room but this will work. With all the suitcases all over the room was very congested. We did a bit of unpacking but then it was time for us to go to dinner at 6pm.
We were a bit disappointed that we were seated at a table for two. We requested a large table and enjoy sitting with and meeting tablemates. Our waiter Mohammad and our assistant waiter were very nice so we resigned ourselves to eating alone. There was another two person table near us but no one was sitting there. The other tables in our section were mainly 4 person tables and the ones nearest us looked like groups that were together.
We normally get the soda card, but may skip it this trip. We really liked the flavored water we had earlier. Unfortunately, there was no flavored water in the dining room.
I started with the Vidalia Onion Tart and Paul had the smoked fish tempanade. Paul had the watermelon gazpacho soup. For our entrees, I had the pork medallions and Paul had the Sea Bass. My pork was good, but Paul thought his fish was a bit dried out. For dessert Paul had chocolate cherry cake. I had the lowfat peach blueberry cobbler. We were finished with dinner pretty quickly since it was just the two of us.
We browsed through some of the shops onboard. We spent a little time in the casino.
A little before 9 we went to the Aqua Theater to see Oasis of Dreams. The show was fantastic. Its really amazing when you think that not only are you watching a high diving show, but you are on a moving ship while watching this.
We stopped at the promenade and Paul had a cup of coffee. I wanted to finish unpacking so I went up to get the cabin organized and Paul went to the casino for a little while. On our last cruise Paul helped to unpack, but I actually enjoy doing it and then showing Paul where everything is. Once everything was put away and the suitcases stored under the bed, the cabin felt much roomier. The room steward brought a lounge chair that is now on the balcony.
After unpacking/organizing I stayed in the cabin and played with the TV its interactive and you can do many things right on the TV such as viewing your entertainment schedule, seeing menus for the restaurants, ordering room service, checking your seapass bill, etc. Paul came up a little later.
Sunday 9/26/10 Nassau / Hairspray show
We arrived in Nassau about 7am. We had breakfast at the Solarium Bistro which features healthier choices than some of the other food venues.
After breakfast we headed off the ship. We walked around a bit but most of the stores were closed since its still pretty early and a Sunday.
We decided to rent a scooter for a few hours. It was $70 ($20 is a deposit we should get back when we return the scooter). We drove towards Atlantis and parked nearby and wandered around. We stayed at the Atlantis on vacation in 1999 so wanted to see it again. They do not make visitors feel welcome as they only allow you in certain areas. I can understand that you dont want to detract from the hotel guests enjoyment but some of it was a bit extreme such as a balcony off a lobby they didnt want people to go on.
We got back on the scooter and drove around the island. We stopped at a beach and took pictures of the beautiful blue water with the ships in the distance. We saw the Fish Fry area, but it looked like many of the places were closed.
Back in town the Havianas store was closed so I was a bit disappointed by that. We bought a magnet and postcard. I also bought a pin in the Hard Rock Caf.
After some more driving around we went back to the ship and dropped off the scooter. Remember that $20 deposit? The guy at the stand starts his plea of didnt we enjoy the scooter, do we want to leave the $20 for a tip for the guys to share. So they kept the $20.
We got back on the ship around 12:30. Everyone needs to be on by 1:30 for a 2pm sailaway. We stopped at Park Caf for some Mango Flavored water and then headed to the Solarium caf for some lunch. The salmon crepe wraps were very good and we ate that. Paul wanted to see what was at the Windjammer so we stopped there next and had a few bites of different things we wanted to try. I was joking around that we were grazing our way around the ship.
We went back to our cabin to drop off our stuff and we went out on the balcony where we had a nice view. We stayed there for sailaway.
I put on sneakers and socks and we headed up to the sports deck to the ZipLine. Paul didnt have the proper shoes on. You need to have sneakers and socks. Even secure sandals arent allowed. Paul said he would go tomorrow.
It took a while to get into the harness . I felt very safe that they were so thorough. The zip itself is pretty quick. It was a fun novelty to have on the ship and Im glad I did it. However, I dont feel the need to do it multiple times. It was fun but it takes so long to get harnessed up for a 10 second ride.
We wandered the ship some. There are so many places to explore that I dont think one week will be enough time to see it all.
It is formal night, but we werent really in the mood to get dressed up for dinner. Also, we checked the TV for tonights dinner menu and werent that excited about it. We dressed business casual rather than formal thinking that we would try Izumi (the Japanese specialty restaurant) for dinner. We went to the Diamond Lounge but the nightly Diamond event was moved to Blaze so we went there. The venue is not that conducive to meeting others and the Diamond Lounge itself would have probably been a better place for this. We sat for a bit and each had a rum punch and some appetizers. We took a peek in the Windjammer to see what they had. The selections looked good so we ended up eating there instead of going to Izumi.
We spent some time in the casino after dinner.
We had 10:30 reservations to see Hairspray tonight so went to the theater a little after 10pm. The show was fantastic. We both really enjoyed it. It was long at 90 minutes but the time flew by. They probably could have shaved about 15 minutes off the show to make it a little shorter as 90 minutes is kind of long to sit in the theater.
After the show we went back to the casino until they closed around 3am and then we went up to our cabin to go to sleep.
Monday 9/27/10 At Sea
We had breakfast at the Windjammer then went to the Meet and Mingle at 10:30 which was held in Dazzles. The space wasnt really conducive to meeting or mingling since it was mainly little table/booths that people sat at. The Royal Caribbean worker came and introduced herself, did a raffle, and told us to mingle. I asked to borrow her microphone and reminded people about the Slot Pull and then went around collecting the entry fee from anyone who wanted to participate.
We were in the casino for our slot pull around 11am. After going through all the players we ended up cashing out and everyone won $4 so for their $15 entry fee, everyone got back $19. It was a lot of fun with everyone cheering each other on.
A couple from our meet and mingle who participated in the slot pull had received an upgrade to a Crown Loft Suite and offered anyone who was interested a chance to come up and see their cabin so we went. Its very nice and roomy with the bed and a bathroom upstairs in the loft area and living space on the first floor with a second bathroom. They also had a lot of storage space.
We stopped at Park Caf and shared a Salad for lunch. Its nice how you choose your ingredients and they make a salad for you. We werent that hungry so we shared.
Paul played in the BlackJack tournament at 2pm but didnt even make it to the final round.
We watched some of the people surfing on the flowrider. There are two separate flow riders on the ship. One is dedicated to stand up surfing and the other is used for boogie boarding. We stopped at the Wipeout Caf and shared a pretzel dog. It was very cute and tasted OK. The idea was better than the execution.
We wandered around the ship some more and probably spent some time in the casino. I didnt take notes so am trying to remember what we did. We were so busy on the ship and having so much fun that I wasnt as diligent as I usually am about jotting down notes daily.
We had dinner at Izumi. Although we didnt have a reservation we showed up around 6:30 to see if they could seat us. We were able to sit at the bar which was surprising since the restaurant was pretty empty. By 7pm almost all the tables were taken. We were given Edamame to start. The menu is ala carte so you pay for what you choose to eat. Paul had a combination that included soup, a sushi roll, vegetable tempura, steak cooked on hot rocks, and a dessert sampler. I ordered a sushi roll and a few pieces of sushi. We ended up sharing everything and it was very good.
We did not have any show reservations for tonight for shows that needed reservations. I was trying to book the comedy show for tonight but it was booked. We thought about going standby but decided we would just go on the night I was able to reserve it instead.
We went to see the Love & Marriage Game Show in the theater. We went around 10:15 with the tryouts starting at 10:30 and the show itself starting at 10:45. We didnt plan to try out or anything but wanted to watch the tryouts. This was hilarious. The couple that was married the longest (over 60 years) were from Long Island originally and now live in Florida. They were just the cutest thing. They won the game.
I may be mixing up the days (again due to my lack of diligence with note taking) but I think this was the night that our cruise director, Richard Spacey, did a very funny skit which was called the Evolution of Dance before the Love & Marriage Show. That was very funny. He is very engaging and fun to watch.
Im guessing we spent the rest of the evening in the casino.
Tuesday 9/28/10 St Thomas / Headliner Show
We had breakfast at the Solarium Caf. We got off the ship probably around 10am.
We were docked in Crown Bay rather than Havensight. Our car rental with Avis was at Havensight. When we got off the ship we were hoping there would be an Avis office at Crown Bay or even another car rental place where we would rent a car. Unfortunately, there wasnt. To take a taxi from Crown Bay to Havensight was $4 per person. We were thinking of taking the taxi there to pick up the rental car, then doing the reverse on the way back. We decided it was too much hassle. We wandered around Crown Bay for a bit and explored the shops that were there. We bought a magnet and a postcard and decided to get back on the ship and enjoy the day on a pretty empty ship since most people will be off the ship in St Thomas. We have been to St Thomas many times already and have seen the highlights. We enjoy the island but thought it would be fun to enjoy the ship. This cruise was more about the ship than the islands for us since it is such a unique ship.
We started at the Beach Pool. Its cute how they have some of the chairs/loungers where your feet can be in the water while you are on your chair staying dry. We also went on the Flowrider boogie boarding. When I fell I got tossed back and hit my head on the back wall. Its padded but it still hurt a little. We also spent some time in the H20 zone.
Before we knew it, it was 5:30 so we went back to our cabin to shower and change for dinner.
We had dinner in the dining room tonight. The other two person table near us had people at it. A grandmother and her grandson were our dining room neighbors so we chatted with them for a while. The grandson ate quickly and left to have fun at the teen club.
We had reservations for the 8:30 Headliner Show tonight Earl Turner. He is a very good entertainer and had the crowd on their feet for a lot of the show.
Quest was at 11:45 tonight so we got to Studio B by 11:15 and had very good seats. The Quest is always a lot of fun and many laughs.
We probably closed the casino again.
Wednesday 9/29/10 St Maarten / Frozen in Time show
We had breakfast in the Windjammer and were off the ship by around 10:30. Paul took a little bit of food off the ship.
We walked over to the rental car area and everyone is waving you over. I didnt see an Avis kiosk so asked and one of the other people called someone over to make sure I had a reservation. He signed us up and we were given a white Toyota maybe a Corolla? It was clean, in decent condition, and had air conditioning. The surprising thing was that they tacked on an additional $12 for a port fee which wasnt noted in the confirmation, but it is what it is.
There is a lot of traffic in the area near the ship so it takes a while to get where you are going. Once we got a little further from the main area, the traffic thinned out.
We started driving and thought we would start at Maho Bay but somehow missed it and ended up all the way up in Marigot and then Grand Case. We did some driving around and stopped at this supermarket near Grand Case (near the top of the island on the map) and got two cans of soda since we were thirsty. I also bought a St Maarten postcard here.
We ended up back by Phillipsburg (where the ship is) so we ended up making a big circle around the island.
We continue on our big circle and found Maho Bay and parked. Its a bit more built up from the last time we were here. There was a whole parking lot near the Sunset Bar. It was also a lot more crowded than the other times weve been here. We were able to see several planes landing and/or taking off right above us (including a big American Airlines plane landing). I dipped my feet but Paul jumped right into the water. The water was the beautiful aquamarine blue you only find in the Caribbean. We got a good laugh at this guy who was setting up a little tent on the sand. Keep in mind the runway for the airport is right there. Everyone was watching this guy. As soon as the next plane went to take off his tent was blown right into the water.
We passed the same supermarket near Grand Case and bought two more cans of soda and a baguette. We saw tons of people buying them so that ended up being our lunch. Paul gave the food he took off the ship to two sad hungry looking dogs we saw.
We continued our journey and ended up at Orient Beach next. The water was a darker more greenish color here with bigger waves but just as beautiful. Again Paul jumped right in. It was starting to get close to the time when we needed to start heading back so I didnt put on my bathing suit which I had with me in Pauls knapsack.
As we were driving I saw this store called Rimas that I remember reading about so I ran in there to see what it was. It was a big souvenir shop. I didnt spend much time since Paul was double parked so I just bought a magnet and was out. They had a huge selection and very reasonable prices.
Back in the downtown area, I quickly went into the Belgium Chocolate Shop on Old Street and picked up a medium box of chocolates for $19. Last time we were here it was cheaper if you took the pre-made box and a few dollars more if you chose your own pieces. This time the price was the same, so I chose my own pieces.
We didnt have time to do any other browsing since we needed to get back to drop off the car and it was almost 4pm. All Aboard is 4:30. Even though its only about 5 minutes from downtown to the ship with traffic, it could take much longer. We dropped the car off a little after 4. Even after circling the island twice the gas was still on full so we didnt need to put any extra gas in.
We went in one of the shops right at the pier and Paul bought some BBQ sauce and then we went onto the ship. Paul had taken a can of Pringles off the ship with him this morning and had it in his bag. They took it from him as you arent allowed to take any open containers onto the ship. I saw them taking the empty water bottles, but this is the first time Ive seen them take food.
Back at our cabin we both showered and changed. We looked at the dining room menu on the TV. The interactive features are fantastic. You can see all sorts of things like the menu for the various restaurants including each nights dining room menu, you can view your show schedule that you already reserved, you can see the daily Compass. You can also book things like restaurant and spa reservations on the TV. We werent thrilled with the dining room menu tonight so decided we would have dinner later in the Windjammer.
We went to Blaze (the substitute Diamond Lounge) and had some snacks and a drink. I had soda and Paul had beer. After hanging out there for a bit, we went to the casino.
We went to the Windjammer for dinner around 7:40 and had a nice variety of items to choose from. The Windjammer was much more crowded for dinner on this ship than other ships weve been on.
After dinner we went down to Studio B around 8:15 for the 8:30 Frozen in Time Ice Show. When we got near the rink, there was a huge line outside, but that was the standby line. We quickly bypassed the standby line and went right in and found seats. The show was fantastic. It is amazing to think that this show is being performed on a moving ship.
We went back to the casino after the show.
The 70s Disco party was going on in the Promenade around 11:15 tonight. Paul stopped by to watch for a while and I was firmly engrossed in whatever game I was involved in the casino. He said it was crowded and crew members were dressed in outfits from the 70s.
We ended up not leaving the casino until about 3am when they closed.
Thursday 9/30/10 At Sea / Come Fly with Me Show
We slept later than usual and probably didnt get up until almost 10am. All of this vacationing is catching up to us.
We looked at the Pets At Sea shop on the Boardwalk. Its a very cute idea, kind of like Build a Bear but you choose various types of animals (pets) to stuff and then you buy outfits to dress them in. We may come back later to get one.
We skipped breakfast and had an early lunch at the Seafood Shack in the Boardwalk area. This restaurant is also Ala Carte. We ordered the wings appetizer and shared the Seafood basket for two. It was just OK. The food was kind of greasy. We did not finish it.
We went to see the 12:30pm Aqua Trends Show at the Aqua Theater. It was hot out so all the seats in the sun were available but it was hard to find a seat in the shade. The show was cute but kind of silly.
We stayed at the Aqua Theater for the 1pm Mens Belly Flop competition. Paul went to get us drinks and we had Mango Lava Flows. These were frozen and very tasty kind of like a pina colada with some mango flavored stuff in it. He also stopped at the donut place and picked up a donut for us to share. It was stale so after a bite it ended up in the trash. I like the way they did the Belly Flop competition here and showing the underwater cameras with instant replay made it pretty funny. We and many around us, all thought one of the contestants did the best and got the highest scores, but the guy who won was someone who has won before and was just OK.
One of the stands on the boardwalk had corndogs so we got one of those to share. Its basically a hot dog on a stick covered in a batter.
Paul played in the 2pm Win a Cruise Slot Tournament. He made it to the final round but unfortunately did not win. It was a lot of fun though and we were there until about 3:30
We stopped at Guest Services to get the luggage valet signup sheet but was told the deadline was yesterday. We never saw anything about it and Ive been checking the compass daily. First they said its in your compass then they said its a separate piece of paper that the cabin steward is supposed to leave. We also filled out and dropped off the gratuity form to charge the standard to our seapass card. We like this option since we receive envelopes and vouchers and can add extra cash to them.
Im not sure where we spent the rest of the afternoon - probably wandering around the ship, but we went back to the cabin to change for formal night dinner in the dining room. We chatted with the grandmother at the table near us. She was on the 46 night Mariner around the horn cruise by herself and really enjoyed it.
We had reservations for the 9pm Come Fly with Me show so went down around 8:40 to get seats. The shows fill up and many people are waiting for standby so you need to get to the venues early to get in and get a seat before they give them away to standby (I think about 10 minutes before showtime). The show was great. We really enjoyed it.
At 10:15 we went to the Jazz Lounge to see the Broadway Live which is a Caberet Show with Tracy & Edna from Hairspray. This was a small room and filled up quickly. It wasnt exactly what I was expecting but it was cute.
Although I didnt keep notes, Im assuming we ended the night at the casino.
Friday 10/1/10 At Sea / Comedy Show
Went up to the zipline as soon as we got up and showered. We were there by a little after 9 (when they opened) and there was already a long line. Today was Pauls turn to go on the zipline. We waited about 45 minutes and then he was able to go.
We stopped at the spa to see about availability for the 20-20-20 special they had going on. I booked an appointment for 4:30 today.
On the promenade we had pizza made to order. Its kind of cute that you can choose your own toppings and they make it for you.
We saw the 12:30 show of Splish Splash. This was a really cute comedy dive show they had at the Aquatheater. We went to look for the deck 7 overhang and were able to get seats right up there. It was pretty hot out.
In the shop we bought a few items. We bought a ship model, a magnet, a shot glass, an ornament, and a photo album.
We started doing some of the packing to get that out of the way so we can enjoy the rest of the day. Most of it was done pretty quickly. Packing for the trip takes a long time and is a very organized process with lists to ensure nothing is left out as well as to keep track of which bag has which item. Packing to go home is quicker and much more haphazard with everything just going in whatever suitcase wherever it fits best.
We spent some time in the casino. I went up to the spa to check in a little after 4pm. I had the 20-20-20 special which included 20 minutes of each of the following for a total of one hour (20 minutes hot stone massage, 20 minute scalp, neck, and shoulder massage, 20 minute reflexology foot massage). It was very nice and relaxing. Paul talked me into going to do this since I wouldnt normally splurge on something like that for myself. At the end of the treatment, the woman tells me that my neck and shoulders were very tense and wants to know if I want to buy these two creams. I told her No thank you. I know they want to make an extra sale, but it kind of brings you right out of your relaxed state.
While I was at the spa, Paul went to the final round of Jackpot Bingo. He didnt win anything.
I went back up to the cabin to shower after the massage and dressed for dinner then met Paul in the casino. We went to dinner in the dining room. We have been chatting with the woman sitting at the table next to us. She is cruising with her grandson who eats quickly and leaves to go back to the kids club.
After dinner we watched the closing show on the Promenade. They dont do a formal farewell show, but had a farewell type of party going on the promenade. The cruise directors staff was there having a ball and getting everyone involved.
We also stopped by where the Loyalty Ambassador is to see if we can book another cruise while onboard or do a Next Cruise. Unfortunately, they were already closed.
We saw the 9:30 Comedy Show. This was hysterical. We really enjoyed it and were laughing out loud throughout the show. Every show we have seen on the Oasis has been great. Its definitely a step above your average cruise ship entertainment.
At the Photo shop we picked out a few pictures we liked. Our Diamond book had a coupon for a free picture so we got two of them for free. I was surprised that we were able to use the coupon for the embarkation picture which was a larger one. We ended up just paying for one of the smaller pictures that wasnt in our folder so we ordered it and will pick it up tomorrow morning. We got three pictures and only had to pay for one of them about $10.
We stopped back at the cabin to finish the last of the packing and to get our luggage into the hallway. Paul remembered that we havent ordered room service this whole trip and he wanted to have the honey stung chicken so we ordered that on the TV. We really like the features they have on the interactive TV. As soon as we submitted our order, the phone rang and they confirmed it. Our order appeared in about 15 minutes and was very good,
I also filled out the guest satisfaction survey. We really loved the cruise. We were racking our brains trying to come up with something they could have done better.
Trying to come up with something they could have done better became a little game for us. We didnt write this in the satisfaction survey, but what we came up with that we found fault with after much deliberating is that we dont like where the outlet for the hairdryer (or anything else to plug in) is located. Its under the vanity desk rather than at the top of it. The other thing we thought of is that the paper towels in the public bathrooms are often overstuffed so when you pull them they rip. These are not serious complaints just our funny way of finding something that wasnt perfect.
Once our luggage was out in the hall for pickup we went down to the casino for our last night of playing. I came upstairs around 1:30 and Paul stayed until they closed at 3am.
Saturday 10/2/10 Leave the Ship and fly home
We arrived at Ft Lauderdale early since we were already docked when we got up. We first woke around 6am but ended up going back to sleep until about 7am.
We left our cabin around 8:25 and went to pick up the picture we ordered last night. Then we headed to the Windjammer for breakfast. Many people have already left the ship so the Windjammer was pretty empty. We had breakfast and checked the board and saw that our number has already been called. We werent in a rush since our flight isnt until after 2pm.
After lingering and taking a few more pictures in the promenade for as long as we could, we left the ship. Since we rented our car with Alamo before the cruise, we took the Alamo shuttle back to the airport. We tipped the driver. Once we got off we realized we were in the wrong terminal so got back on the airport bus to the right terminal. We checked in for our flight and were told that it was delayed until 3:20. We debated if maybe we should rent a car and do something since we had some time to kill, but the Jet Blue worker advised us against it on the chance that the time changes back to the original she didnt want us to take a chance missing the flight.
We couldnt go through security yet since it was too early. There were a lot of people waiting.
A couple came walking over to the chairs commenting that the flight was delayed and we started chatting with them. They are Jen and Nick from Staten Island. They got off the Norwegian Epic in Miami and took a shuttle bus to Ft Lauderdale for their flight home. They were on the same flight as us. We compared ships and experiences. They were originally from Brooklyn also so we talked about that. Our flight ended up being delayed even longer until 4:17pm. Luckily, hanging out with Jen and Nick was a lot of fun. The four of us went to have a late lunch at Chilis in the airport together.
We finally boarded our flight around 4pm and took off about 4:20. The flight was pretty quick and we landed by 7pm. We said our goodbyes to Jen and Nick and called Corporate Park to pick us up.
We were in our car and on our way home pretty quickly. We stopped at Fairway Supermarket on the way home and picked up some roast beef, turkey, and a baguette to have sandwiches for dinner. Were ending our vacation with the same meal with started with on the way to Florida.
When we got home our dog Kiki was thrilled to see us. She did her twirly bird dance (what we call when she spins around and around). After greeting us and going out for a little walk, she realized we were back home and just watched us bring the stuff in from the car. We sat down to dinner shortly after.
I cant believe the two weeks have gone by so quickly. I felt like I was planning for so long.
Disney is always a great time. Each time we stay at our timeshare we are reminded of how much we enjoy having it. Ill have to remember when planning out what days to go to what parks not only to avoid those with Extra Magic Hours, but also to avoid the park open late due to closing early other days for special events.
The Oasis was amazing. There was so much to see and do on the ship that one week wasnt enough time to do it all. There are so many things that looking back over the compasses and just thinking about what we did, I realized there is a lot of things we never made it to.
We enjoyed the Oasis so much we are debating cancelling our European Cruise on the Brilliance next year and going on the Allure instead. I know the ports wont be as exciting but we really liked the ship and would prefer not to have to fly for 8 hours each way. We have some time to decide.
I have to try to pack less next time. I had a few things I didnt wear but had a lot of extra toiletries since I overestimated how much we would need.
I realized that I need to work on my trip report each day. We were so busy having fun that I didnt keep up with it on the cruise and trying to recreate it after isnt that easy so my cruise comments arent as complete as I would like.
Any questions please ask, I love reliving our trip
11-12-2010 12:59 PM
Self-proclaimed Diz nut
MousePad Community Leader
Still reading, but way to go on the Cattle Co. If I ever get off-site, I'll try it! Sounds yummy! About the Laila, it still is special (even though you CAN get it at Nordstrom). Every time I wear it, I think of Epcot. Go for it!
Ok--back to reading....
Working hard for that next WDW trip! December 2013
Wow, great trip report! Thanks for including the cruise part of the report, I am always interested to read anything about other people's vacations, particularly when they start with a Disney trip!
Thank you for taking the time to write all this up, I really enjoyed reading it.
Yay! Something good to read this week. Thanks, Noreen!
Thanks so much - I just love all of the detail. I love cruising so I am really looking forward to this one.
Thanks so much,
Thanks for the trip report. It was great to read about your cruise, we are going on the RC Liberty of the Seas in Feb. so this is helping me get excited about our trip.
Thanks for another great trip report
11/11 - All Star Movies, 5/11 - Wilderness Lodge, 10/10 - Animal Kingdom, 11/09 - Pop Century, 1/09 - Pop Century, '08 - Pop Centruy, '07 - Pop Century ,'05 - All Star Movies
MousePad Community Leader
I've gotta say, I'm just blown away by your details. I'm curious -- do you keep a little notepad or something with you to keep track of all the things that go on?
Thank you for helping me raise funds for Team ASPCA for the 2013 Santa Barbara Half Marathon on May 11.MousePlanet Staff Copy Editor. Keep calm and carry on! Learn how you can travel with just your carry-ons, at my Travelite FAQ Web site! Go Team MousePlanet! 2013 bucket list: All runDisney half-marathons! Finisher, Honolulu Marathon ('81, '92). WDW Marathon ('03). Big Sur 1/2 ('04-2:11:21 PR; '12-2:26:18), WDW 1/2 ('04; '05-2:21:05; '06-3:08:12; '12-3:46:09; '13-2:09:52 PR), Disneyland 1/2 ('06-3:39:32; '11-3:39:02; '12-2:55:08), Tinker Bell 1/2 ('13-2:08:16 PR); Princess 1/2 ('13-2:14:12); Santa Barbara Wine Country Half ('13-1:57:26 current PR)