Spring Break on the Disney Fantasy – Part 2

Let’s start this off by talking food. As I mentioned in part 1, we’d managed to secure a reservation for brunch at Palo on the first sea day, which was the first full day of the cruise. We’d eaten here last year on our Disney Dream sailing and liked the entire experience so much that booking it again was a no-brainer. If you’ve had the pleasure of brunch here, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

On arrival at the restaurant this time around, we were led to our table by our awesome server Silvio. On the way, he took us over to a round 6 person table with a city-scape in the background. He had us all sit together against the wall and took a few pictures of us with the flash enabled, saying that this booth was designed to really come to life when lit properly. Wow was he right! This is one of my favorite pictures of us from the sailing!

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Once pictures were done, we headed to our table, which was once again by the window, providing an amazing view. Now, I won’t bore anyone by repeating the whole experience here, it was almost identical to last year, so you’re welcome to stop by that post to read up if you’re considering dining at Palo for the first time. Service was once again outstanding, the food was incredible, and we were left quite satisfied. We enjoyed a number of things from the buffet tables as well as the set menu itself, including pizza, lasagna, and that parmesan crusted chicken breast that Bayley loved so much last year. It was all just as good this year. Brunch at Palo is worth every penny in my opinion.

Moving on, our rotational dinner assignments this time around were (in order): Art of Animation, Enchanted Forest, Royal Court, Art of Animation, Enchanted Forest, Enchanted Forest, Royal Court. For those who aren’t familiar with rotational dining, you rotate between the three main dining rooms on board all week, with your servers following you each night, providing a nice change of scenery each night while giving you a consistent service experience. Last year we were a little down on the speed of dinner service, with a couple of nights taking well over two hours. This year we had no issues with MDR service, our team was outstanding and were able to keep things moving so that we didn’t miss any evening activities. Kudos to Ignacio and Severine, they did an amazing job!

The food throughout the ship was excellent all week, I honestly don’t have anything to complain about here. I think the only negative would be the buffet pizza (Palo’s is really good). It’s better than Carnival or Royal’s pizza, but unsurprisingly nowhere near as tasty as MSC’s. That’s a pretty small complaint thought, as Disney’s food game across the board is on point, some of the best we’ve had on any line. I mean come on, can you beat a Disney sundae (or 9)? I think not!

Moving on, let’s talk about the ports! As I mentioned in part 1, we never actually planned on sailing over spring break, it was a very last minute choice. After we found and booked this sailing, we looked around at excursions, but in the end decided we weren’t going to get off the ship anywhere except Castaway Cay. We’ve been to the rest of the stops (Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Falmouth) multiple times and decided it’d be better to save some money for our summer trip than repeat any past excursions. We did get off the ship in Jamaica to check out the shops, but that was Bayley’s call, since that day was her birthday. Not much to report there, we just walked the shops right there at the port, stayed out maybe an hour, and got back on the ship.

The one stop we did take full advantage of on this trip was Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island. After getting off the ship, we decided that instead of riding the tram, we’d just walk from the ship to the beach. Along the way we did a little shopping and even managed to catch a few characters!

Last year we headed over to the adults-only side, Serenity Bay, and camped out on a couple of hammocks most of the day. We’d planned on doing the same this time, but after arriving there, realized it was way too windy, which made it cold, and the beach was almost unusable, being covered in piles of seaweed. No biggie, we headed back over to the family side and found a spot. It was pretty busy by then, so we weren’t right up on the water, but we were still on the beach, and that’s all that matters!

We didn’t really do a lot on the island, some napping on our beach chairs, eating, and wandering. One thing I do want to mention here is that in people’s reviews I’ve seen complaints that lines for lunch can get pretty long on the faily side, but we didn’t see that at all. I ate right as they opened, and with 6 lines at the one I was at, combined with multiple lines at the other food stand, I had no wait at all. Jen and Bayley ate later while things were in full swing, and again, no wait.

We hung around until about 2pm, at which point we headed back early to get a run or three on the AquaDuck before everyone got back on board. Love this waterslide, it’s always a good time!

While it was a fun day on the island, I’d say we enjoyed the previous visit more due to our time on the adults-only side of the island, but couldn’t be helped, the weather was just more condusive to the family side this time.

That about covers it for this post, next up, Star Wars Day at Sea!

 

Sailing With Disney – Fun on Castaway Cay!

Read up on our time on Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island!

This stop is one of the reasons we really wanted to sail Disney. Beyond the tales of outstanding service, excellent entertainment, and delicious food, everyone raves about Disney’s private island. Finally getting the chance to set foot on the island was something we were very much looking forward to!

Before getting off the ship however, we needed to get our breakfast on, so we (finally!) headed to the buffet. They have a very solid spread, and I can honestly say that everything I had was tasty. This was also the one time I got those famous Mickey waffles on the sailing:

Following breakfast, we headed off the ship. Again, a fairly quick debark, and once outside we took advantage of the bug repellent they provide, and grabbed towels from the table:

Our next stop is the one thing that really makes your realize you’re in Disney’s hands: the tram. Of course there’s a tram on a Disney property! We rode the tram from the dock over to the family beach area, where we grabbed a second tram to the adults only beach, named Serenity Bay. Being one of the first to arrive, we grabbed two hammocks under palm trees. As far as I could tell, these were the only ones that had any shade all day (even though it only lasted until ~noon), so if you happen to get there early and want shaded hammocks, grab the first ones you see on the right as you walk on to the beach. Here’s a 360 degree look at our serenity 🙂

Serenity Bay beach was pretty quiet all day, and the water was just about perfect. In the first hour we were there, a Disney film crew was at the waterline just in front of us doing some filming for what I think is some contest just based on some of the lines we overheard. No idea what contest, but they were filming all week. I’d also seen the female lead and the kid filming some family shots at the sail away party, and would also see them on deck the following day. Whatever it was, that crew must have been hot out there.

The morning was pretty much just a combination of us relaxing in the hammocks and chairs, along with some to cool off. Just after 11am, we started to catch the scent of meat coming from Serenity Bay’s BBQ stand. By the time it opened at 11:30, we were already there, and were some of the first people to enjoy the food. Our lunch spot never got all that busy, as I imagine most people were over on the family beach, so that’d be one tip for Castaway Cay, if you don’t want to wait in the lunch lines on the family side, and can get away from the kids, Serenity Bay’s lines may be worth the trip! The food was pretty good, and consisted of things like BBQ chicken, hamburgers, brats, hot dogs, and steak. I had a burger and brat, and enjoyed both. I may also have made my own little ice cream cookie sandwich :). They have a full topping bar as well, along with soda machines for drinks, along with a small dessert table. One word of warning: the seagulls that hold residence on the island know what’s up. If you leave your plate alone on a table for any reason, be rest assured that at least one of them will be stealing food from you, we saw it happen more than once!

After lunch, we made our way over to the family side to do some snorkeling. Once over there, we saw the water slides on the Pelican Plunge platform and just had to try them. Yea, that turned out to be a bad choice for me. Of the two water slides available, I chose the faster, fully enclosed one. Not realizing how fast it was, and being focused on my GoPro shutting off right as I started down it, I hit the water in a way that resulted in my taking a lot of it up my nose. I was done with those slides :).

After the slide failure, I headed over to the snorkeling area ahead of the girls. We’d brought our own gear, so I put mine on and headed out. It was probably the effect of taking all that water up my nose, but their snorkeling area really didn’t impress me. You have to swim out a ways against the current, so by the time I got to an area where the water was clear, I was a bit tired. Swimming around, I did spot some fish among the relics they’d put on the bottom, along with a turtle trying to avoid some of the kids following it, but all in all, I didn’t really find the swim worth the effort. Being a man-made snorkeling area, not too surprising.

The swim out and back really drained me, so I decided to head back to Serenity Bay for a bit to relax. On arrival, I only hung out for a few minutes before packing up my stuff and catching the tram back to the family side. At this point, I figured I’d walk from the family beach back to the ship to get an idea of what all there was to see and do on Castaway Cay. While it was a hot and humid walk, it was well worth it. The family side does have a lot to offer, as covered in the “Things to Do” section here. I spent a little time walking around the rental area, a little sad we hadn’t come over to rent something, or even signed up for the jetski excursion. Oh well, next time, right? Regardless, walking back was a solid decision that supplied me with some great views of the island, as well as the ship, as you’ll see in the pictures below. On arrival at the ship, it was nice to see a stand with cold water available as well (shown in the last picture below), something not all lines do. You could choose between fruit-infused water, or non-flavored water.

That about covers it for our time on Castaway Cay. We really enjoyed the island, especially the relaxing beach of Serenity Bay, and hope to sail there again in the not too distant future! This is definitely a selling point of a Disney cruise, as it’s one of the best private islands we’ve visited in our travels!

Next up, pirate night aboard the Dream! For now, check out some of my pictures of the island!

 

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