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bus man

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About bus man

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  1. bus man

    Fear of ships

    Does anyone know anything or have any experience with being afraid of ships? I don't mean being afraid of a potential disaster, or of the ocean, or of being in an enclosed space, or of something bad happening on a cruise, or worrying about getting seasick. I don't even mean being afraid to take a cruise. I mean a stark, unyielding terror about ships, themselves. (In my mind, the difference between being afraid to cruise and being afraid of ships is like the difference between being afraid of flying and being afraid of airplanes.) To be sure, I would think that this website would be the very last place that someone who was afraid of ships would want to visit. And conversely, I wouldn't expect avid cruisers to be in mortal dread of the very vessels on which they embark on their beloved seaborne vacations. But you never know; maybe someone here used to be terrified of ships, and forced themselves to cruise in order to overcome it. Or maybe someone doesn't have this fear themselves, but knows someone who does. I would be curious to learn any information about this phobia. Thankfully, I don't have it myself. (In fact, I find ships to be utterly fascinating.) But I'd be interested in learning more about it.
  2. We're thinking of taking a cruise on the Enchantment before she turns her stern to Baltimore permanently. We're a family of 4, with the kids being 6 and 4 (as of when we'd sail). My preference for a room would be an oceanview, as I'd rather not spend the money on a balcony. However, would an oceanview be too cramped? Also, I don't want DD (the 4-year-old) up on a pullman bed, but I'd be fine with her on a foldout couch or even just on a couch, not folded out. So a room with one pullman bed and one couch (or even loveseat) would work. The ideal setup would be to have a pullman bed over a sofa, which in turn would be separated by a curtain from the main bed. Does such an arrangement exist on the Enchantment? Thanks much for any tips you can give me.
  3. When I got my onboard account statement on the last night of my recent Disney cruise, I reconciled the various charges against the receipts I had collected along the way (I'm anal that way), and everything agreed. (Well, almost; they charged me for alcohol that was actually purchased by our traveling companions; but we agreed to settle that amongst ourselves.) A few weeks later, I got the credit card bill. DCL billed the card three separate times during the week of the cruise, but the amounts totalled up to the onboard statement, exactly. But then there was a separate charge for $10, dated the day after the cruise. They didn't say what it was for (it was identified as "DCL Shipboard Charge" or some such, same as all the others), and in any case nothing I had purchased was for exactly $10. Not to mention, the rest of the account was already reconciled. I disputed the charge with my credit card company, and I've been told that they'll credit the $10 back to my account. So, case closed. My point in bringing this up is to ask: has anyone else had this happen to them? I assume it was nothing more than an innocent mistake, but the more cynical side of me is wondering if Disney is applying some kind of post-cruise charge for some random reason and only taking it off if someone complains. Anyone else out there have any experiences like this?
  4. [FONT=Verdana]After 4 cruises on Royal Caribbean with only adult companions, I took the family (myself, DW, DS-5, and DD-3) on a Disney cruise (the Magic, April 13th sailing to the Eastern Caribbean). Cruising with kids is different; it was fun, yes, but not especially relaxing. Nevertheless, we had a good time. But while there’s a lot to like about Disney, I’ve decided that RCI works better for me; so in the future, I’ll be going back to them.[/FONT] [FONT=Verdana]But first, here are some things I liked better about Disney:[/FONT] [U][FONT=Verdana]Cabin[/FONT][/U][FONT=Verdana]: our standard oceanview room was somewhat larger than a comparable RCI room, so much so that the 4 of us never really felt too cramped. The split bathroom is ingenious, and it was very, very nice to have the kids in a separate part of the cabin, closed off by a curtain, instead of being in bunk beds above the parents’ beds, as I believe would be the case in many standard RCI rooms.[/FONT] [U][FONT=Verdana]Elevators/Stairways[/FONT][/U][FONT=Verdana]: the Magic has three sets of elevators and stairs: forward, midship, and aft. RCI’s ships have only two, omitting the aft set. Given that our cabin was pretty far back, having that third set made our life so much easier. And by spreading out the passengers over three sets, it made for much less crowding at each one, and much shorter wait times for the elevators.[/FONT] [U][FONT=Verdana]Laundry Room[/FONT][/U][FONT=Verdana]: I don’t wish to debate the pros and cons of doing your own laundry versus having the staff do it for you; I simply wish to state that I prefer to do it myself. Disney gives you this option, and RCI does not.[/FONT] [U][FONT=Verdana]Crew[/FONT][/U][FONT=Verdana]: just to be clear here, I am not finding fault with RCI on this one; I’ve always received excellent service from their crews. But the DCL folks really went above and beyond. They always seemed so happy, always had a greeting for you as you passed them in the halls. Our Assistant Server, Raquel Marques Carqueija, was particularly outstanding; she would cut the kids’ food, pour ketchup in the shape of Mickey’s ears, and one time even took DD for a short walk to calm her down when she was being fussy. (I made sure to praise her on the comment card, and increase her tip.)[/FONT] [FONT=Verdana]Here are some things that had both pluses and minuses:[/FONT] [U][FONT=Verdana]Kids Club[/FONT][/U][FONT=Verdana]: DS [I]loved[/I] the Oceaneer’s Lab; we had to drag him out of there kicking and screaming (not literally). DD enjoyed the club, though not quite as much. However, check-in and check-out seemed kind of slow to me. It seemed like whenever I wanted to check them in, the counselors were busy checking other kids out; and when I wanted to check them out, they were busy checking others in. Most of the counselors tended to cluster around the entrance (not that it speeded up the process to any noticeable degree), rather than interact with the kids. I have no basis for comparison with RCI (as I said, I’ve not taken the kids on that line), so I have no way of knowing how things would go with Adventure Ocean.[/FONT] [U][FONT=Verdana]Character Appearances[/FONT][/U][FONT=Verdana]: It was fun seeing the joy and wonder on the kids’ faces when they saw their favorite characters. DS was so taken with Pluto, and DD couldn’t get enough of the princesses. Oddly enough, she also fell for Jack Sparrow. And I have to admit, that time when I was just walking down the hallway, and felt my back being patted . . . and turned around to find Goofy giving me an impish smile – I really enjoyed that.[/FONT] [FONT=Verdana]On the flip side, though, DD was scared of the animal characters, so it wasn’t any fun for her (or me, when I was with her) to be around them. The lines were long, and the areas around the meet-and-greets tended to be chaotic. You had to be right on time, or else you didn’t get to see them; when their time was up, that was it. The kids may have enjoyed it, but for the most part, I found it to be a bit stressful. Whether or not the characters (or lack thereof) would make or break the cruise from the kids’ perspective, I don’t know. I hope not.[/FONT] [FONT=Verdana]And yes, I know that some RCI ships have the DreamWorks characters. But given that my opinion of them ranges from indifference to mild dislike (I’m looking at [I]you[/I], Shrek), this is hardly a draw for me.[/FONT] [U][FONT=Verdana]Rotational Dining[/FONT][/U][FONT=Verdana]: I love the concept of having three different dining rooms, and having your serving team follow you through each one. But in practice, it didn’t quite work as well as I had hoped. It was really fun watching the change from black-and-white to color in Animator’s Palate – but this only happened once. The other times we ate there, they didn’t do the color change at all. And stripped of that, AP feels more like a childish playroom than a dining room. Parrot Cay made for a fun, Caribbean-themed place for lunch, but it seemed just too casual for dinner. Only Lumiere’s really felt like a suitable dining spot for the evening meal. And even there, I missed the grand feeling of RCI’s two-level MDR.[/FONT] [FONT=Verdana]And here’s where I think RCI was better:[/FONT] [U][FONT=Verdana]Buffet Layout[/FONT][/U][FONT=Verdana]: the individual serving stations in the Windjammer were much easier to navigate, and much less crowded, than the cafeteria-style serving lines in Topsiders.[/FONT] [U][FONT=Verdana]Beds[/FONT][/U][FONT=Verdana]: the one I had on the Magic felt way too hard. I never once had a good night’s sleep.[/FONT] [U][FONT=Verdana]Hallway Clutter[/FONT][/U][FONT=Verdana]: this might seem odd, but it really stuck out: the hallways on the Magic were always cluttered with service carts – all the time, day and night. RCI somehow manages to keep their carts in the closets, most of the time. The result is not only that it’s easier to walk the halls on RCI, without having to dodge the carts; it simply makes for a more classy appearance.[/FONT] [FONT=Verdana]But this is, for me, the deciding factor: [U]FOOD[/U]. Now of course, I fully understand that everyone’s tastes are different. But I’m a meat-and-potatoes kind of guy, and Disney’s food proved to be far more “upscale” for my tastes. True, RCI has fancy food too. But you can always find something plain and basic too, especially in the buffet. On Disney, if you didn’t order off the kid’s menu, you were simply out of luck. Each night, I would scan the menu, and realize that I hadn’t even heard of many of the offerings. I could usually find one item, maybe two, that I thought might work for me. But it wasn’t the smorgasbord of appealing choices that I was used to on RCI.[/FONT] [FONT=Verdana]I had hoped that the buffet would work better, but no such luck. Even at lunch time, there were times when I would find nothing – [I]nothing[/I] – that I wanted, other than mac and cheese. I actually came away from this cruise losing weight, something I’ve not managed to do with RCI. (Silver lining, I suppose.) But this was the first cruise where I was actually still hungry after finishing a meal.[/FONT] [CENTER][FONT=Verdana]* * * * *[/FONT][/CENTER] [FONT=Verdana]So in summary, while I liked Disney and am glad we went, I just don’t feel it was worth the extra charge for what I got – and, in some cases, what I didn’t get. The food was the real kicker. When I cruise, I want to eat my fill and enjoy it; I don’t want to have to go hungry because all the food is made for palates more sophisticated than mine.[/FONT] [FONT=Verdana]Royal Caribbean, I’ll be back![/FONT] [FONT=Verdana](FYI, I’m posting this on both the Royal Caribbean and Disney boards.)[/FONT]
  5. [FONT=Verdana]After 4 cruises on Royal Caribbean with only adult companions, I took the family (myself, DW, DS-5, and DD-3) on a Disney cruise (the Magic, April 13th sailing to the Eastern Caribbean). Cruising with kids is different; it was fun, yes, but not especially relaxing. Nevertheless, we had a good time. But while there’s a lot to like about Disney, I’ve decided that RCI works better for me; so in the future, I’ll be going back to them.[/FONT] [FONT=Verdana]But first, here are some things I liked better about Disney:[/FONT] [U][FONT=Verdana]Cabin[/FONT][/U][FONT=Verdana]: our standard oceanview room was somewhat larger than a comparable RCI room, so much so that the 4 of us never really felt too cramped. The split bathroom is ingenious, and it was very, very nice to have the kids in a separate part of the cabin, closed off by a curtain, instead of being in bunk beds above the parents’ beds, as I believe would be the case in many standard RCI rooms.[/FONT] [U][FONT=Verdana]Elevators/Stairways[/FONT][/U][FONT=Verdana]: the Magic has three sets of elevators and stairs: forward, midship, and aft. RCI’s ships have only two, omitting the aft set. Given that our cabin was pretty far back, having that third set made our life so much easier. And by spreading out the passengers over three sets, it made for much less crowding at each one, and much shorter wait times for the elevators.[/FONT] [U][FONT=Verdana]Laundry Room[/FONT][/U][FONT=Verdana]: I don’t wish to debate the pros and cons of doing your own laundry versus having the staff do it for you; I simply wish to state that I prefer to do it myself. Disney gives you this option, and RCI does not.[/FONT] [U][FONT=Verdana]Crew[/FONT][/U][FONT=Verdana]: just to be clear here, I am not finding fault with RCI on this one; I’ve always received excellent service from their crews. But the DCL folks really went above and beyond. They always seemed so happy, always had a greeting for you as you passed them in the halls. Our Assistant Server, Raquel Marques Carqueija, was particularly outstanding; she would cut the kids’ food, pour ketchup in the shape of Mickey’s ears, and one time even took DD for a short walk to calm her down when she was being fussy. (I made sure to praise her on the comment card, and increase her tip.)[/FONT] [FONT=Verdana]Here are some things that had both pluses and minuses:[/FONT] [U][FONT=Verdana]Kids Club[/FONT][/U][FONT=Verdana]: DS [I]loved[/I] the Oceaneer’s Lab; we had to drag him out of there kicking and screaming (not literally). DD enjoyed the club, though not quite as much. However, check-in and check-out seemed kind of slow to me. It seemed like whenever I wanted to check them in, the counselors were busy checking other kids out; and when I wanted to check them out, they were busy checking others in. Most of the counselors tended to cluster around the entrance (not that it speeded up the process to any noticeable degree), rather than interact with the kids. I have no basis for comparison with RCI (as I said, I’ve not taken the kids on that line), so I have no way of knowing how things would go with Adventure Ocean.[/FONT] [U][FONT=Verdana]Character Appearances[/FONT][/U][FONT=Verdana]: It was fun seeing the joy and wonder on the kids’ faces when they saw their favorite characters. DS was so taken with Pluto, and DD couldn’t get enough of the princesses. Oddly enough, she also fell for Jack Sparrow. And I have to admit, that time when I was just walking down the hallway, and felt my back being patted . . . and turned around to find Goofy giving me an impish smile – I really enjoyed that.[/FONT] [FONT=Verdana]On the flip side, though, DD was scared of the animal characters, so it wasn’t any fun for her (or me, when I was with her) to be around them. The lines were long, and the areas around the meet-and-greets tended to be chaotic. You had to be right on time, or else you didn’t get to see them; when their time was up, that was it. The kids may have enjoyed it, but for the most part, I found it to be a bit stressful. Whether or not the characters (or lack thereof) would make or break the cruise from the kids’ perspective, I don’t know. I hope not.[/FONT] [FONT=Verdana]And yes, I know that some RCI ships have the DreamWorks characters. But given that my opinion of them ranges from indifference to mild dislike (I’m looking at [I]you[/I], Shrek), this is hardly a draw for me.[/FONT] [U][FONT=Verdana]Rotational Dining[/FONT][/U][FONT=Verdana]: I love the concept of having three different dining rooms, and having your serving team follow you through each one. But in practice, it didn’t quite work as well as I had hoped. It was really fun watching the change from black-and-white to color in Animator’s Palate – but this only happened once. The other times we ate there, they didn’t do the color change at all. And stripped of that, AP feels more like a childish playroom than a dining room. Parrot Cay made for a fun, Caribbean-themed place for lunch, but it seemed just too casual for dinner. Only Lumiere’s really felt like a suitable dining spot for the evening meal. And even there, I missed the grand feeling of RCI’s two-level MDR.[/FONT] [FONT=Verdana]And here’s where I think RCI was better:[/FONT] [U][FONT=Verdana]Buffet Layout[/FONT][/U][FONT=Verdana]: the individual serving stations in the Windjammer were much easier to navigate, and much less crowded, than the cafeteria-style serving lines in Topsiders.[/FONT] [U][FONT=Verdana]Beds[/FONT][/U][FONT=Verdana]: the one I had on the Magic felt way too hard. I never once had a good night’s sleep.[/FONT] [U][FONT=Verdana]Hallway Clutter[/FONT][/U][FONT=Verdana]: this might seem odd, but it really stuck out: the hallways on the Magic were always cluttered with service carts – all the time, day and night. RCI somehow manages to keep their carts in the closets, most of the time. The result is not only that it’s easier to walk the halls on RCI, without having to dodge the carts; it simply makes for a more classy appearance.[/FONT] [FONT=Verdana]But this is, for me, the deciding factor: [U]FOOD[/U]. Now of course, I fully understand that everyone’s tastes are different. But I’m a meat-and-potatoes kind of guy, and Disney’s food proved to be far more “upscale” for my tastes. True, RCI has fancy food too. But you can always find something plain and basic too, especially in the buffet. On Disney, if you didn’t order off the kid’s menu, you were simply out of luck. Each night, I would scan the menu, and realize that I hadn’t even heard of many of the offerings. I could usually find one item, maybe two, that I thought might work for me. But it wasn’t the smorgasbord of appealing choices that I was used to on RCI.[/FONT] [FONT=Verdana]I had hoped that the buffet would work better, but no such luck. Even at lunch time, there were times when I would find nothing – [I]nothing[/I] – that I wanted, other than mac and cheese. I actually came away from this cruise losing weight, something I’ve not managed to do with RCI. (Silver lining, I suppose.) But this was the first cruise where I was actually still hungry after finishing a meal.[/FONT] [CENTER][FONT=Verdana]* * * * *[/FONT][/CENTER] [FONT=Verdana]So in summary, while I liked Disney and am glad we went, I just don’t feel it was worth the extra charge for what I got – and, in some cases, what I didn’t get. The food was the real kicker. When I cruise, I want to eat my fill and enjoy it; I don’t want to have to go hungry because all the food is made for palates more sophisticated than mine.[/FONT] [FONT=Verdana]Royal Caribbean, I’ll be back![/FONT] [FONT=Verdana](FYI, I’m posting this on both the Royal Caribbean and Disney boards.)[/FONT]
  6. bus man

    are crocs allowed?

    Are kids allowed to wear crocs in the kid's club? What about the dining rooms? And if so, will they need to wear socks as well? My kids (5 and 3) love their crocs, but they'll wear other types of shoes if need be.
  7. We're going back and forth on whether or not we want to do the Stingray Adventure on Castaway Cay. Is this something that we need to reserve in advance, or can we just wait until we get there and show up? Thanks!
  8. If I understand it correctly, the major point of the Passenger Vessel Services Act is to protect American jobs by allowing only U.S.-flagged vessels to carry passengers between two U.S. ports. My question is, [B]in regards to cruise ships[/B], what is it actually accomplishing in real life? It clearly isn't saving American cruise-ship jobs, given that there's only one U.S.-flagged major cruise ship. It seems to me that it actually costs American consumers more, because of the longer and more awkward itineraries that sometimes have to be operated in order to comply. (Examples: inter-island Hawaii via Fanning Island; Hawaii to West Coast via Ensenada; extra stop in Canada on Alaska round-trips from Seattle.) And this is to say nothing of the itineraries that [I]could[/I] be offered, but aren't, because of the law. The requirement to serve a distant foreign port is clearly a boon to those particular foreign ports, but the extra cost (in time and money) to go to those places must be passed on to the passengers, resulting in higher fares. Again, I'm not talking about freighters or ferries or riverboats or vessels of that type. But for large cruise ships, what is the actual, real-world benefit of the PVSA; and do you think that this benefit outweighs the costs that are incurred as a result of this law?
  9. I know that the Department of Homeland Security requires all passengers to be aboard well prior to the sailing time, and so most cruise lines require all-aboard 90 minutes before sailing time. I assume this is to allow time for DHS to review the manifest for any security issues. My question is, could there be a better way to do it? Why couldn't the cruise line forward the list of already-boarded passengers in blocks, instead of all at once? For example, say that departure is 4:30 p.m. At 1:00 p.m., the line could send DHS the list of everyone who has boarded up to that time, and they could start doing their reviewing. Then, at 2:00 p.m., the line could send the next batch of names of those who have boarded in that hour, and DHS could check those names. Then, at 3:00 p.m., the line could send the names of those who boarded during that previous hour, and these names could be checked. Nearly all passengers would be aboard by this time, and DHS could complete their review. But latecomers could still be allowed to board up until 4:00 p.m., 30 minutes before departure. At 4:00 p.m., the line would send DHS those last few names, and they could be reviewed in the 30 minutes remaining before sailaway. Would it be feasible to do it this way, or am I missing something?
  10. bus man

    trash on Mahahual's beaches?

    Here is an article about vast amounts of garbage being carried by Caribbean currents and washing up on the beaches in and around Mahahual: [URL]http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/nation-world/la-fg-mexico-beach-pollution-20120128,0,1466060.story[/URL] When I was at Costa Maya (not Mahahual itself, but close enough) I don't remember seeing ANY garbage on the beach -- much less mounds of the stuff. What gives? Can anyone else who's been to the beaches there confirm or deny this report?
  11. My wife would like to get massages during our upcoming Eastern Caribbean cruise on the Magic. Is she better off getting them on board the ship, or on Castaway Cay? What is the cost difference? As for the massages themselves, are they typically better on board, ashore, or doesn't matter? Anything else you can tell me about them? Thanks for any insights you can provide.
  12. bus man

    no-shows

    In the airline industry, a certain number of people holding tickets for any given flight fail to show up. To compensate, the airlines overbook their flights. If they guess wrong, and have more people at the gate than there are seats on the plane, they have to bump some people and provide compensation as well as a later flight. How does this work in the cruise industry? Do cruise lines overbook? And if so, what happens when more people than expected show up? How do they deal with the "extra" people? After all, missing a ship is very different from missing a plane. Unlike airline passengers, cruisers may have incurred considerable expense (airfare, hotels, etc.) just to get to the port. Also, if they are bumped from the ship, it's not like there's another one sailing in a couple of hours. And they may not be able to, say, wait until tomorrow to cruise on another ship, because they may be locked into when they need to return home. Odds are, if they don't make their intended sailing, they don't get to cruise at all. So, does anyone know how the cruise lines handle this sort of situation?
  13. My family and another family will be cruising to the Eastern Caribbean on the Disney Magic next April. Our ports of call will be St. Maarten, St. Thomas, and Castaway Cay. We have never been to any of these places. At the time of the cruise, our kids will be almost 6, just turned 5, and almost 4; this will be their first cruise. I know this can be a hot-button topic, but I'm not trying to start a debate. We recognize the importance of using booster seats . . . but we'd also like to avoid having to lug them around, if at all possible. So here's what I'm wondering: If we book excursions through DCL, will they be using tour buses? Or, if they use vans, will they provide booster seats? I've heard that they use open-sided vehicles with no seatbelts on St. Thomas, though I don't know if this applies to the cruise line tours. If we rent our own vehicle (such as a minivan), could we also rent our own booster seats? If we go with a private tour company, can we rent booster seats through them? And are these seats likely to be of an acceptable quality? Specifically, we're thinking of booking a private tour through Bernard's Tours on St. Maarten. Thank you in advance for any advice or suggestions.
  14. OK, I know this is an odd question, but I'm curious. For those of you who read/skim the lists of previous cruises in other posters' signatures, do you find it easier/more preferable if the cruises are listed with the oldest one first, and moving ahead to the newest? Or the newest one listed first, and moving ahead to the oldest? Notice that I'm not offering "I don't care" or "what possible difference does it make?" as options, as I imagine that one or both of these is already the opinion of most folks! :D
  15. Next spring we will be sailing on the Disney Magic with our kids; DS will be 2 months shy of 6, and DD will be 3 months shy of 4. Both kids squirm all over the place in bed, and both have been known to fall out. The room we're in has a sofabed and a pullman. We're figuring that DD would get the sofabed. But what about my squirmy son? How likely would it be that he could fall out of a pullman? And are there any other alternatives we could use? Can we take the mattress out of the pullman and put it on the floor? Any ideas, or tales of your own experiences, would be most welcome.
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