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About willowvacay

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    Morgantown, WV
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    Caribbean, Europe, Hawaii, Alaska, Bermuda

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  1. I appreciate you following along on my review, I hope you found it helpful/informative. Thanks!
  2. I meant to conclude this earlier, but with the Holidays, work, etc... it took a little longer than I anticipated. Here are my final thoughts on this cruise. Embarkation Process: Super easy and quick. Our taxi dropped us off right in front of the ship. Porters quickly took our bags. We were directed to a short line to go through security. Next we quickly went to get our ship cards and check in. As soon as we were done with this it was our turn to board the ship. I liked walking into the impressive atrium and announcing your family name is a nice touch. Food: Based on other reviews on this website plus positive feedback from a friend who went on a Disney cruise I had big expectations for this part of the cruise. Some of my expectations were met in the MDR. The MDR food was excellent and the service was top notch. Our server, Kevin, was great with the kids and had some amazing magic tricks. He literally made a playing card and then a room key fly through the air and would control it with his hads. I still have no idea how he did it. Buffet: This was the most disappointing aspect of the trip. The food at the buffet was just not good. I typically have no issues eating "second dinner" or "second lunch" at the buffet. The food was so bad on this buffet I had no desire to do this. It seemed to be poor quality, poor taste, etc... I think the buffets on NCL, RCL, and Carnival are all superior to this. The hours on the buffet were also very limited. It shut down early for lunch and early for dinner. MDR: While the buffet was a huge disappointment, the MDR was excellent. All three of the rotating restaurants were good. The service was excellent as I have previously stated. Specialty Restaurants: So I have touched on both of these restaurants earlier. One being an Italian restaurant and the other being a French restaurant. My experience was much more positive at the Italian restaurant, it is worth the extra up charge. As I previously stated, I did not have a positive experience at the brunch at the French restaurant, however, that is more my own fault. That type of cooking is not really my jam. The portions were small and even if I did like it i feel like it was over priced. I have had a much more positive experience on other cruise lines specialty dining restaurants. I think it is hard to beat Cagney's on NCL. Pizza: So I am a big pizza guy. I like to try pizza on all of the different ships. I have enjoyed the pizza on the Carnival Breeze the best. The pizza on the buffet on the Disney Dream was not good at all. HOWEVER, there is another pizza restaurant outside by the pool. The pizza at this restaurant was really good. The issue with this restaurant is that it was not open at dinner or after hours. I like it on other cruises when I can get a slice or two late night. Island Buffet: As previously stated, I really liked the buffet food on island. It was very similiar to the buffet on NCL's private island. Maybe a little better. I liked it that they had soda machines where you could refill your drinks by yourself, just like the ship. Pool Deck: I did not take advantage of the pool and slides because of the limited time on the ship, a lack of warm weather, and we had a 1 year old with us who could not use the pool. The pools and pool deck were crowded, however, what ship isn't crowded. The aqua duck was really cool looking. One of the families that went on the cruise with us really liked that ride. The kids area looked fun, however, on the sea day it was shut down because someone had an accident in it. Adults Only Area: This area was never crowded. There is a nice pool, hot tub, and bar area. The lounge chairs in this area are also upgraded. It looked like a really nice place to relax. Room: The room seemed larger than other cruise rooms, it was decorated very nice as well. There was a lot of storage area and the curtain that divided the room was great when our little one went to sleep. Bathroom(s): I liked the two bathroom set up, it was nice when getting ready. TV: I loved all of the movies and shows that you could watch. I know lots of people say they don't like to spend time in their room. I do and there were literally 100s of movies and shows you could watch. Bed: It was very comfortable, I had no issues sleeping. Room Steward: He did an okay job. He was not overly friendly compared to other room stewards. He did his job, but never went above and beyond. Cleanliness: it was cleaned every day, however, there was mold in the shower. There was hair in the sink on the first day. It could have been better. Overall Service: It was great. I thought the service was better than other cruises we have been on. Shows/Entertainment: I enjoy going to shows while on the cruise. I like singing, dancing, magic, juggling, etc... the shows on this cruise were GREAT, except for the magician. As I said before, I am not a fan of Beauty and the Beast, but the show on the ship is EXCELLENT. I liked the concession stands that are outside the theaters. I enjoyed being able to buy popcorn to eat while watching the shows. Seating was never an issue either. Private Island: I know I've already touched on this, but it was great. The island was awesome, the food was good, there are tons of activities. It was a really fun day. Look of the Ship from the Outside: I love the classic ocean liner look of the Disney ships. Inside Décor: I liked it a lot as well, you felt like you were on a cruise ship. So many of these new ships, especially the Royal Caribbean ships feel like you are in a shopping mall not a cruise ship. Ship Activities: There are the normal cruise actives (trivia, wine tastings, karaoke, etc), however, it just seemed like there are less of these activities than other cruises I've been on. I had to go to go our room to get something during dinner while a show as going on. It was so quit that you could hear a pin drop. There was no one walking around. I thought this was strange. On other cruises there just seems to be more happening. Pirate Night - I know I already touched on this but it was a lot of fun. I'd say 70-80 percent of the people on the ship take part in dressing up in some type of pirate shirt, eye patch, etc... The shows were entertaining that went along with this. The fireworks were a lot of fun as well. There is a pirate night buffet, however, the food was not good. You can skip this part. Character Meet and Greets - this was a good way for your kids to meet Mickey and the gang. There are tons of characters and they seem to be at all hours of the day. The longest we had to wait was probably 10 minutes to see Cruise Mickey. Debarkation Process: We typically elect to carry our bags off and we did so on this cruise as well. It was a little more difficult with our little one, but still it was not bad. We were able to get off the ship quickly and through customs with no issues. Overall Experience: There were a lot of things I liked about this cruise including: overall service, the MDR food, the size of the room, the private island, etc... While not a big gamble, I did miss having a casino on the ship, I really prefer the up charge restaurants on other cruise lines (I think it is hard to be Cagney's, Le Bistro, and Teppanyaki). The buffet was a big let down as well. I also missed O'sheehan's, on NCL, and the fact that you can get food there 24/7. I also thought it was unusual how dead the ship would seem in the evening. It was a great cruise just like every other cruise we have been on. I would go on another Disney cruise, but for my next one I would like to try Princess or Celebrity or go back to my favorite line NCL.
  3. Hello Ravluis. Our family of three just got back from a cruise on the Disney Dream. While we have been on several other cruises, we were first time Disney cruisers as well. As far as dinner reservations are concerned you will be assigned your dining rooms. They rotate on a nightly basis and your server team will follow you. We thought the overall quality of the food in the MDR was better than other cruise lines. If you would like to dine in Remy or Palo (fee restaurants) then a reservation would be required. As far as the shows are concerned you do not a reservation. Typically there are two different show times and two different dining times. If you have the early dining time you can go to the later show or vice versa. We never had any trouble getting a seat for the shows. FYI... all of the shows were great. Even though it was a different ship you can check out my review of the Disney Dream, it is on this message board. It is my understanding that the Disney ships are all pretty similar. i hope your family enjoys your Disney Cruise as much as mine did!
  4. You are welcome Mialias. I hope to be able to recap the review soon, I've just been super busy at work in the New Year.
  5. Before I give my finals thoughts and compare this cruise to some of our other cruises I thought I would share a few more pictures of the ship.
  6. After the lunch at Remy we picked up our daughter from the nursery and went to get pictures with Mickie and Minnie, finished packing, and then went to dinner. We had dinner at the Royal Table, again the food was great and the wait staff was excellent. We then attended the Beauty and the Beast show. My wife really likes Beauty and the Beast, I am not the biggest fan. I was really surprised at how good it was. The sets were amazing, I have seen several Broadway Productions and this was just as good if not better than those. Our daughter did not cooperate and I ended up taking her to bed about 3/4 of the way through it. My wife stayed to finish watching it and liked it as much as I did. If you are going on this cruise, be sure not to miss it. It really is great! It was time for bed, we had to be up early to walk off the ship. There are a few options for debarkation. You can meet in the main atrium at 7:00 am and walk off or you can leave your bags out at night and then get off at an assigned time. We have walked off a number of times and prefer this. We got to the lobby around 6:45 and a line had already started to form. We were off the ship by 7:10-7:15. Going through customs was a breeze and there were several taxis outside to take us to Orlando.
  7. Sorry for the delayed response, I have been busy at work. Pirate night ended pretty late for us after the buffet, probably 11:30 pm or so. We slept in a little the next morning and when we got up we went ahead and started to pack. We typically pack early on our last day so we are not stressed about having to pack in the evening. We had a tasting brunch scheduled at Remy at 11:00 am. Just as a preface to our brunch, I am not a very adventurous eater, so i figured this brunch would be a little outside my eating comfort zone. To begin with, please make sure you follow the dress code or they will not let you enter Remy. My wife had on open heel sandals and they made her go back to the room to put on other shoes with a closed heel. Once she returned we were offered a glass of champagne and some type of cured French ham. The Chef then explained to us the difference between French ham, Italian ham, and Spanish ham. He then explained the different types of champagne we could try with our meal if we would like. Of course there is an up-charge with the brunch if you choose to add the champagne option. After our introduction from Chef, we were seated at our table where we were given bread and the waiter went over the menu again. I don't remember his name, but he was from the south of France and was a very friendly waiter. Soon after we were seated we were given our first course that consisted of small pieces of lobster with caviar. The next two courses were two lasagna covered in a whipped egg yoke followed by a smoked salmon, that i know is smoked but the texture of it is almost raw. After that there were two small pieces of pork covered in an applewood bacon sauce (this was very good). After there there was some dessert. I don't even remember what it was, it was forgettable and very bland. Mixed in with the courses were 3-4 different champagnes. Again, I am not an adventurous eater. This type of food was not really my jam. My wife felt the same way. I am sure it is good. The rest of our group seemed to like the food fairly well. The champagne was excellent though. The cost of this meal was very expensive, in my opinion even if it was food I liked it would be hard to justify the cost. On a scale of 1-10, I would rate this meal a 5-6. The champagne was good, however, the menu was a set menu, the cost of the meal was very high compared to the portions you receive. Lastly, I get the idea of a dress code, however, I think making my wife change out of her sandals was a little silly. You are on a cruise and you could hardly see her feet because of the length of her dress. If i was with a group and they wanted to do this again, I would see if I could skip the meal and just enjoy the champagne option :)
  8. I was able to zoom in on the stern in one of my pictures. It was the Wonder. I did not know the Wonder sailed out of Galveston.
  9. I hope to be done with this review in the next few days. I still need to provide anymore pirate night pictures I can find, a review of the last day on the ship, a review of the tasting brunch at Remy, debarkation process, my final thoughts on the cruise as first time Disney cruiser, and lastly how does it compare head-to-head with my favorite Cruise line NCL.
  10. As soon as we got back on the ship it was time to get dressed up for pirate night. I went full-on Jack Sparrow for the night. My wife and our group of 11 all brought costumes. Our daughter dressed up as a pirate parrot. Soon after we got dressed we headed down to the pirate themed dinner. I believe all 3 of the rotational restaurants serve the same pirate themed menu on Pirate Night. All of the wait staff was dressed like pirates and I would say 70-80 percent of the people had on a pirate shirt, costume, or pirate bandanna that was left for each person in their state room. It was fun seeing some of the elaborate costumes. After dinner we headed to the childrens pirate show show on the pool deck. We watched a 10-15 show staring Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and the rest of the gang. It was fun and our daughter really liked the music. After this show we went to the Magic show in the main auditorium. The magic show was just alright. I actually thought some of the tricks our waiter did at dinner were just as impressive. After the show it was back to the main deck for the Pirates of the Caribbean show. This show also features singing and dancing as well as an appearance by Jack Sparrow. It concluded with a firework show. After the show there was a pirate themed buffet at Cabanas. Like the other meals at the buffet it was very underwhelming. The turkey leg was the best thing on the buffet. Overall pirate night was a lot of fun. Kids and adults will like the shows, it is fun to dress up, and firework on a cruise ship is a pretty cool experience. Below are pictures of the Mickey and friends pirate show and the pirate buffet. I think there are more pictures on my wife’s phone. If I can find them I will share later this evening or tomorrow.
  11. Below are pictures of the dock, tram stop, the beach, food from lunch, the lunch area, water slide, splash park, an empty beach and a sleepy baby waiting on her dad to finish snorkeling.
  12. After getting cleaned up and picking our daughter up at the nursery we headed to find a seat on the beach. I was worried that it was going to be impossible to find a good chair on the beach because we were so late getting out there due to the race. We were wrong, there were a TON of empty chairs all up and down the beach. We rode a shuttle that took you from the dock to the beach, it was nice to have a break from walking after the morning run. We got settled in our spot and went down to the water to play. Our daughter was not having it in the sand today, she wanted to stay up on the chair for some reason...haha. After an hour or so of playing we headed over to eat lunch at the BBQ. There was a large covered eating area and there were multiple buffet lines you could go in. There was a HUGE selection of food including: hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, ribs, different salads, cookies, chips, corn, etc... Everything we had was great. It was also nice because there were soft drink fountains right by the buffet. We then headed over to Pelican Point to look at that beach and checked the water slide. One of my friends and his son rode the slide. The tube slide was fast and fun! The water was a little cold, but it was comfortable after a few minutes. It was time for our daughter to take a nap, but she refused so my wife and i took her over to the splash park to play. She had a great time. After the splash park, I went snorkeling with one of my friends while my wife stayed back with our daughter and her friends and their kids. The visibility was not great when we started snorkeling, but once we got out there it really cleared up. There are a lot of interesting "ship wrecks" and statues to look at, including a Mickey and Minnie statue. We lost track of time and were the only ones out in the bay. Our wives were yelling for us to hurry up and get back to shore because we head to head back to the ship. Everyone in our group had a great time at Castaway Cay. On a scale of 1-10, I would give it a perfect 10. The beaches are very long, plenty of seating, great lunch buffet, tons of activities, bathroom facilities are clean, the shuttles make it easy to get around, and the 5K was a lot of fun. Overall it was a great day! Either later today or this evening I will hopefully be able to get a review of Pirate Night
  13. I don't remember if I am 100% correct, but I think it was actually the Wonder who was in port with us.
  14. Thank you for your kind comments. That is too funny about capturing your family in my pictures. It was a great trip, just wish it could have been a few days longer. Agreed about the weather on Castaway Cay, it was a perfect day, especially after the not as perfect day before. Glad your family enjoyed the trip as much as we did!
  15. The day we first got on the ship we signed up for the Castaway Cay 5k run at guest services. It seemed like a good idea at the time, however, when it came to the day of the run it did not see like a good idea that morning as we headed down to the starting line. Prior to the race, you will meet in one of the clubs in the back of the ship to receive your race number and go over the layout of the course. From there you disembark as a group and walk approximately 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile to the starting line. We had a large group take part in the run on our ship, I don’t remember how many exactly but I believe they said it was around 300. The race starts in a cluster of buildings/stores. From there you follow a road that zigs and zags until you take a left on the airplane runway. You will continue down the runway until you take a right at the water station as you enter the “loop of doom.” As you circle around this loop you will pass different things such as anchors and buoys that have been placed on the island. As you exit the loop you again pass the water station and continue down the runway until you reach the beach. At this point you turn around and follow the same route back to the start/finish line. As you cross the finish line there is a member of the cruise staff to hand out medals to finishers. There is also a store to purchase Castaway Cay 5k T-shirt’s. After we finished we walked back to the ship to shower and get our daughter who was in the nursery. After we got back to the ship I was glad I ran the race, but I was jealous of everyone heading out the beach. If I ever did this cruise again I would probably skip the race and just head to the beach. However, I think it is a fun thing to do one time. It does not matter if you are runner, jogged, walker, etc... there were all types of people who took part in the race. It is more about having fun than posting the fastest time. Below are some pictures of the pre race activies, the pre-race briefing, the walk to the starting line, the starting line, sights from the race, a picture of the medals, etc... Tomorrow I will try and review the time we spent at the beach at Castaway Cay as well as the BBQ lunch. If I get real ambitious I will review Pirate night. Thanks again for taking king time to read my review!
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