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About hockeyucf

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    Cool Cruiser
  1. We did use their crib, actually. I'm usually weird about using a crib that's not ours, but limitations in how much we'd be able to physically carry off the ship dictated a last minute call to ship services to reserve one. The told me that it would be an Evenflo or Graco... It turned out to be a Graco Pack n Play pretty much like the one we have at home except commercial grade. I brought two pnp sheets from home, since I wasn't sure the ship could provide those (and I'm pretty sure they couldn't, since the crib was delivered with regular sheets). I didn't see any info on photo packages. I can tell you that they have the regular photography and then they also have a studio onboard that does special black and white portraits in a private sitting. There is no sitting fee, but her work starts around $175 if I remember correctly.
  2. I don't know the answer to that, but the little kid area is fairly small. Let me say this, too: if you can, get a lido cabana! It made things way easier and a lot more enjoyable. If you can get your kid to nap on the chaise in the cabana, bonus. :D
  3. I would think that you could use Northern Lights or the Queen's Lounge when they're not holding other events there. They don't provide any toys (I'm assuming that's what you mean by the tot play zone?) so maybe bring a few favorites and easy to pack things like an inflatable beach ball, stickers, coloring books, small cars, etc.
  4. We just sailed on the Eurodam last month and our 3 y/o loved club HAL as well. They did lots of fun activities both in the club and around the ship. The staff was great.
  5. I was starting to think there were no other parents who'd sail HAL :) Let me answer your question from a few different angles: Staff: the staff LOVED both of my boys. My older son got so much attention, so many fist bumps, and the head of the Lido dining room even brought him milk every night. A lot of the Eurodam staff have young children at home, so getting a chance to interact with a kid the same age is theirs is nice for them. Other passengers: someone had posted that sailing HAL would be like sailing with 1000 extra grandparents. I would concur. Lots of pax, my parents' age or so, told me that they had grandkids the same age as my sons. We got lots of compliments on their behavior and cuteness. The venues: Honestly, this ship was more accessible with our kids than Disney was, because there were very few "adult only" areas. However, whether you can actually BE in those areas depends entirely on your kids. We never ate in the dining room because we weren't sure whether our kids would sit through it. It's kind of crowded and mazelike in there, and I could just envision my 3 y/o throwing a tantrum while we were sitting at the furthest table away from the entrance. No thanks! We ate in the Lido and that was fine- we'd choose an empty area away from adults who might be wanting a quiet meal, and that was that. On the flip side, our 3 y/o was completely entranced by the string quarter and sat through their performance like an angel, even clapping at the appropriate times. We steered clear of the adults only pool on the aft deck but the lido pool was totally adequate and had plenty of kids swimming most of the time. One other note, we rented a lido cabana for the week, and I highly recommend it if you have little kids. It was a nice "home base" with room to spread out, in the shade, a table to eat at, a lounge to nap on, etc. I wouldn't hesitate to sail HAL with kids again, but we'll probably wait till both of our boys have outgrown naptime, as that was a big block of downtime each day. It is a lot of work sailing with little ones, but one short week later I'm already remembering the vacation fondly as if it was a piece of cake.
  6. We used the medical center onboard the NCL Sun last year when my then 23 month old woke up in the middle of the night with a 105.1 fever. They were fantastic, let us use their shower area to bathe him in lukewarm water, and helped us get him to take some fever reducers. We ALWAYS: - buy trip insurance - pack a mini-medical kit (thermometer, fever reducers, saline, nasal aspirator, etc.) - try to avoid doctor's offices and other germy places the week before our cruise Despite this, I still get terribly nervous about my boys getting sick when we cruise. :rolleyes:
  7. I'm feeling too lazy to post a full review but I'd be happy to answer any questions that anyone might have about sailing Eurodam with an infant and preschooler :)
  8. We thought the acoustic guitarist in the crow's nest was good and my husband and son enjoyed the string quartet (although the night they went there was one player missing, so I wouldn't call it a quartet). The live band that would usually play on the lido deck was nonexistent to the point where it became somewhat of a joke. They would set up, sound check, play for like a minute, and then say it was too windy or looked like rain and break down all of their equipment. The two nights we went into Northern Lights (granted, it was rather early in the evening), it was completely empty. Too bad, because it's a nice venue with lots of fun lighting.
  9. Funny, we just got off the same cruise and thought pretty much everything was outstanding. A few minor issues, but overall an A+. :)
  10. Thanks so much for the great review. My husband and I (early 30s) are preparing for our first HAL voyage on the Eurodam with our two young sons, and I have been constantly reading reading reviews and the boards, wondering whether I'd made a mistake by choosing HAL. However, we're not partiers, we and our children both enjoy listening to live music and eating in nicer restaurants, and we too believe that you get what you give. It always baffles me that people on a fantastic vacation like a cruise will find something to nitpick. Personally, for me any day on a ship is better than a day at work! Thanks again!:D
  11. Ha, I just took a look at your album as we were onboard as well and my family and I are in the background of your first picture :)
  12. I would like to second the OP's praise for the NCL medical staff. We were onboard the Sun last week and my two year old woke up with a 105.1 fever at 1 a.m. The nurse and doctor met us in the medical center and administered what was, in my opinion, fabulous care. Thankfully no medivac was needed in our case. When you have a medical issue on a ship, you can feel very trapped. It's good to know that there are competent staff ready to go 24/7 onboard.
  13. We took our then-18 month old on Disney in August and we were able to take him in the kids' area and stay with him. However, it was pretty chaotic with many other older children running around. I posted a full review of that tripe here (hope the link works, first time doing this...): http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1263145&highlight= We took him on NCL when he was 9 months old and are sailing NCL again next Saturday (hooray!). We had a good experience with Freestyle dining- very helpful when you're on your kid's eating/sleeping schedule.
  14. I have submitted this to the review section but thought I'd post it here as well :) If you don’t want to read the whole review and just want the nutshell version, here it is: The ship was nice. Service was top-notch. Shows were unparalleled. The food selection and availability was poor. The pace of the ship was somewhat frenetic, and the kids seemed to run wild a lot. Granted, the free sodas probably didn’t help the situation, as they were all overcaffeinated and oversugared. The kids’ activities were mostly geared towards older kids, and many of the other activities were adults only (as in, literally you could not come in with the kid, even if they were asleep). We MAY sail Disney again in the future when our child is older, but for now I’m looking forward to our January cruise on NCL, where their “Freestyle cruising” fits our lifestyle better. Introduction- This was our first Disney cruise, and our second cruise with our 18 month old son (he sailed with us on NCL at 8 months or so). We’ve also sailed Princess, Royal, and Celebrity. Our toddler is pretty flexible and social, so we thought he’d enjoy the cruise. We chose Disney partly because they leave out of Port Canaveral, and we didn’t feel like driving far to a departure port, partly because my son loves Mickey Mouse, and partly because we’d heard it was top notch. We did pay a little more than the other 4 day cruises, but there are not many 5 star ships that sail shorter itineraries, and I will gladly pay extra for a nicer ship. Embarkation- We parked at the port, which is much smaller than other ports I’ve been to, and therefore more convenient. The lines moved quickly and smoothly, and we were through security and off to the ship within ten minutes. One cool thing that Disney does is announces each family over the microphone as you board the ship. Stateroom- We had booked an interior cabin and for the first time ever we were lucky enough to be upgraded to an oceanview. We had a bed, sitting area with a table that we pushed aside, a shower/tub combo, and a water closet. Storage space was ample. There was an LCD TV that was on a swing-arm that could be aimed either at the sofa or the bed, which was nice. The bathroom was convenient in that it had a tub, and the shower/bath products were nice, but I would have gladly given up the split bath for more cabin floor space. I’m sure if we were a bigger family with older children I would have appreciated it more. Production shows/character appearances- There is simply no comparison to shows I’ve seen on other cruise lines. The shows were so good that I would have gladly paid to see them on land. My son was enraptured, which is saying a lot for an 18 month old. He also enjoyed the characters; they made plenty of appearances and though there were lines at times, other times you just would encounter them hanging out in a quiet corner with no crowds. Kids’ clubs- I can’t speak to this much, as my son was not old enough to be checked in to the main club. We did leave him in Flounder’s Reef for an hour or so while we went to the spa, and he seemed to do okay. We took him to the regular kids’ club several times to run around and blow off steam- the staff will let you do this as long as at least one parent stays with the child. At times this was fine, if the older kids were engaged in another activity, but at other times the club resembled a scene from Lord of the Flies. Kids running, jumping, screaming, and although there were plenty of yellow Disney cast member shirts, no one seemed to be doing much to corral the kids. The kids’ area itself was pretty nice. There were a lot of larger-than-life props with soft edges, a slide, a stage, a large climbing structure, and a computer lab. There was a separate area across the atrium, the Oceaneer’s Lab, that was also utilized as a kids’ club. The lab had a few organized activities, like Ratatouille cooking school and Flubber, but those events seemed super packed. As far as entertainment for smaller kids, there was a Disney Playhouse dance party that my son enjoyed (not held in the club), but again most activities were geared towards older kids. Pools- Obviously, since my child isn’t potty trained, we couldn’t go in the main pool, but he did enjoy the splash area. The Mickey pool looked pretty murky and questionable to me, the Goofy pool (where the movie screen is located) seemed mellower, and the adults only pool was serene just about 24/7. Food- Let’s start with the good. The food in the restaurants is excellent, as is the service. I didn’t think I’d care either way about the staff following our dining rotation, but it was actually nice. The restaurant décor was fun while still being classy, and I thought the menus offered a decent variety. The portion sizes were larger than what I’ve seen on other lines, especially the red meat (which by the way was delicious). I liked the option to order three of the desserts in miniature. One of the things I hate most about cruising is the feeling of guilt over wasted food. Being able to order each of the desserts in smaller portions was really nice. Also, DCL did the best jobs at chocolate desserts of any line I’ve been on. Now for the not-so-good. My husband and I are not food snobs. Not even close. However, we were completely underwhelmed with the buffet. The variety and tastiness of the food was totally lacking. Also, the hours during which the buffet is available are not adequate. I’m not talking about “I’m on a cruise and I want to gorge myself every second” available. I’m talking about “I have late dining (8:15) and my 18 month old eats around 6:00” available. In order to not have a nuclear meltdown at 8:15, he needs to be well-nourished beforehand. Yes, the fast food poolside service was available, as was room service, but I thought it was a little ludicrous to have such limited dining hours on a line that caters to little people and little tummies. The mac and cheese, clearly a kids’ staple, was inedible. After trying the buffet on day one, we tried to stick to the restaurants whenever possible. For future cruises, I will probably only sail on lines that have some kind of anytime dining. One other thing that I noticed during mealtimes, which maybe was a fluke but maybe not, was the fact that any time my husband had to step away and leave me with a cranky baby, a cast member would invariably come over to entertain my son. Every time. It was really nice to have some extra distraction, but a little odd too. Non-show entertainment- There seemed to be a fair amount of activities on board, but next to many of them was an ominous message: “adults only.” On DCL, they really mean this. Please don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate that some adults sail without children and don’t want to be around them. Some adults sail with children and don’t want to be around them. However, some adults (us, for example) sail with their children, who enjoy listening to live music and people-watching. They even can nap through questionable comedy so they aren’t scarred forever. No matter, on Disney it wasn’t even an option. Again, I understand why, but it was very disappointing not to be able to go to much of the live music, as my son LOVES music. The clubs were totally dead, too, so it’s not like he would have been a buzzkill. The ship- The ship is mid-sized, and is pretty well-designed. There are not as many public gathering areas as I’m used to, and a high up bar affording forward views is absent, unless I somehow missed it. The elevators are too small, but they are quick. The theater is accessible from only one floor, but traffic going in and out wasn’t bad. Restaurants are conveniently located (on some ships you potentially have to take two elevators as there is no end-to-end access). The Chihuly piece in the atrium is nice, but sort of gets lost in the space. Spa/Fitness Center- This was the first time I splurged on a spa treatment, and I’m glad I did. The treatment area was really nice, as was the rainforest room. I wish I had more time to enjoy it, but my son was in child care and we were nervous that the pager was going to go off at any minute. The receptionist in the spa took us back to show us the spa villas. Now that was amazing. They are private spa treatment areas with a Jacuzzi tub, balcony, and massage tables. Wow. If the cruise itself hadn’t been so expensive I might have tried it out. It looked blissful. The fitness center was nice. There wasn’t a separate aerobics room, but it didn’t matter since the gym was never crowded. I managed to make it there twice, and everything was pretty standard and in good working condition. Castaway Cay- This is the nicest private island (granted, we’ve only been on one other) that we’ve sailed to. It’s expansive, with lots of shops, two family beaches, the new waterslide, shops, a pretty sizable splash pad, bars, plenty of umbrellas and beach chairs, and covered seating near the buffet. They do have trams, but we walked. I actually ran out to the adults beach, which is maybe a mile away on a wide paved road that looks like (is?) a landing strip. They had a yoga class on the beach there, which was nice. It looks like there is quite a bit of expansion underway on the island too, possibly a second (third if you count Serenity Bay) eating area. As I said earlier, we probably won’t pay the Disney premium again, at least for a while, especially since NCL will be in Port Canaveral beginning later in the year. It was a good experience, and we’re still in the process of trying different lines to see what suits us best. With our needs changing as our son grows, I’m sure our views will change.
  15. We (husband, 18 month old, and me) just got back from our first Disney cruise today. We had previously sailed on NCL with our son when he was about 8 months old, and also have sailed Princess, Celebrity, and Royal sans child. I don't know what line would be "best" for an 18 month old, but here are some random thoughts: - Choose a ship that has adequate dining options at a variety of times. We had planned to feed our son at the buffet before our late dining seating, but the ship's dining options didn't allow for that. I would recommend possibly going with a line that has some version of anytime dining, since that would allow you to coordinate dinners. NCL worked well for us on that front. - Our son really enjoys live music, but most of the clubs on Disney were 18+ only. You may want to check into nightlife age restrictions. - On the other hand, my son LOVED the character experiences, the splash pad, and your dad and his GF would probably appreciate the fact that there are so many adults only options. - Are you planning on having him sleep in a pack 'n play? If so, floor space is a consideration. For that matter, so is the availability of a bathtub, although we've done the inflatable duck tub thing in the past and it worked great. - No matter which line you choose, plan on it being somewhat of a "working vacation." :) For what it's worth, we're booked on NCL and actually think that for the age of our child it will be more relaxing for everyone all around than Disney was.
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