Loc: Maryland, US
This will be kinda "reader's digest" form for now:
Let Disney do the air and transfers, and it was great - once the bags went in at the home airport, did not even SEE them until they were at the room around 5 or so. Once at the terminal, left the wife to check in while I took a cab (Eliot Gartley, (321)537-2938)to get beer and sodas. Got back just in time to board - all went smoothly.
VERY rough seas on sunday - did brunch at Palo, then the wife slept the rest of the day, kids played, and I tried to run on deck - hardest 2 miles I ever did! We had 40-50 knot winds and 14-18 foot seas. Captain took a course change and we got out of the weather for monday.
On monday, the kids played in the Oceaneer Lab for pretty much the whole day, while we did a Surial Bath: basically an hour to play in a steam room with mud and massage oils.....a MUST DO! Relaxed the rest of the day getting ready for St. Maarten.
St. Maarten.....LOVED IT! My daughter and I went to the 12 metre regatta, while the wife and son did an island tour (he is 10, and the cutoff age for sailing is 12). The boat racing was my favorite part of the entire trip, as I love to sail, and we were truly racing a 12 metre America's Cup yacht - in my case the True North, from Canada's 1987 challenge - we had great wind that day, and these boats really fly. My daughter had never sailed before, and as I told her, this is a good start, but anything else she ever sails will be a step down. The See&Sea tour was also very well done, the other half of our group got to see a lot of the island, as well as going in a semi-submersible to look at the reef and fish - they really enjoyed it. Spent the afternoon riding horses, then shopping. Hit the Guavaberry shop, got some rum at Ray's Jewelry (quite cheap), snorkled a while on Great Bay beach, then back to the ship for St. Thomas.
St. Thomas - we were going scuba diving at Coki Beach, and I cannot give enough praise to Peter at Coki Dive - my 10 year old son did just great, we got to feed fish and saw barracuda and ramora, and thanks to Ron, our instructor, it was my boy's highlight of the week. We spent the rest of the day shopping, but frankly we enjoyed St. Maarten better for this; somehow, Charlotte Amalie had a bit too much American feel for us. Now begins the adventure....
We were to leave St. Thomas at around 5 pm, but due to engine difficulties, we actually got out closer to 2:30 am, which made it impossible to hit Castaway Cay, Disney's own island. After drying some kiddy-tears, we set out to enjoy a couple more days at sea. As first-time cruiser's, from here on we did it right. Layed on deck by day, did shows and such by night. Generally allowed Disney to pamper us for 2 days. The Disney corporation decided to issue vouchers good for a 50% discount to all passengers to compensate for the lost stop - the kids readily decided that that was ok with them! From here on it was pretty much uneventful.
I went into this thing with a grudge against cruising, preferring to spend a week on an island such as Virgin Gorda, laughing at the "boat-people" as they hurried to do the whole island in a day. HOWEVER.....with the kids, this was like a "intro-to-carribean", and I loved it all. Disney works overtime to make you have fun, and a few employees went way beyond what was necessary.Our dining room servers, Matej and Chris, were just great - they made us feel welcome, and on friday evening when my wife and I did a quiet dinner at Palo, they let the kids come to dine alone and took care of them as if we were there.In guest services, Ligia was so nice the kids started calling her "aunt" Ligia and wanted to keep her.At Palo, both Tony and Marco were friendly and attentive, and occasionally brought things we didn't even order with the explanation that "I don't want you to miss this". Disney has a great ship, the veranda rooms are a MUST, and I can only hope that they can continue to hold the high level of service that we experienced. At least until we go back!
"Confidentially, I've had these problems with the tides before"