First let me say thank you for all your assistance on planning our family vacation cruise. It was awesome and we all had a marvelous time.
Arrival at Art of Animation – People were great from arrival to departure. The only issue we had was with the bands we wore to open doors and pay for things. It seemed there was a problem with my band in the programming and with the door lock at our room. No big deal but it took 3 calls to get someone to the room to fix the lock which meant that I ended up walking back to reception 3 times to talk to the front desk to find out when someone would get there so we could get in. Total time about 2 hours. This took me away from spending that time with family. Check out was easy and quick.
Happy Limo from Hotel to dock – Jessica was our driver and was on time and friendly. All went well. Baggage staff at the ship were quick, friendly and I felt bad for them as some people were not understanding that they should be tipping these workers as they are not with Disney.
When it came time to board, it went very fast and oh so glad we didn’t have to worry about our luggage. All lines moved quickly and we got our family photo and moved to the lunch area which totally Wow’d us. Could not believe the spread they put on.
Right after lunch our rooms were ready and while others were unpacking, I took the opportunity to visit the Guest Services and sign up for a couple days of wine tasting (awesome) and to check out the ship to locate the primary areas. Let me add this about Guest Services. I stopped by there a number of times with questions and needs and each time the wait was short and the staff were friendly and professional. It was so much fun with all of the staff from around the world which allowed me to practice my Spanish and French. I think they appreciated my effort to speak to them in their own languages.
Back to the rooms. Again…Awesome! Thanks for getting us together with the veranda’s. It really made family time special being able to hang out with a view of the ocean. The beds were so comfortable and having the split bathrooms really did make a difference. We met our wonderful Stateroom Attendant right away and had a long chat with her (Ria). Over the week, she became like family. When we left, we all gave her a loving hug.
The restaurants – I think the Royal Court was the favorite, followed by the Garden and then the Animation. All were great but because we were not sitting where we could have the character interaction, we rated the Animation a little lower. However, the night we had to draw a character and then got to see them come to life was really exciting. At the Garden we were seated over the engine and so there were steady vibrations. We just went with the idea that we were sitting in a massage chair. The food in all was exceptional. One night they served a beef rib bbq which was the best I’ve had. I asked if I could get the recipe and the next night, they had it for me.
Our dining staff (Oppie, Kevin and Witt) were the best. We had so much fun with them all each night. They really work hard but find time to interact with every person at each of their tables. We actually met Kevin when we arrived and had lunch. He was one of the table waiters in the buffet room. He told Oppie that he met this family and hoped that he gets to wait on us. With all of the international staff, it was fun being able to utilize our limited skills in French and Spanish with them during the week. Even the boys were practicing both languages with Kevin who spoke French, Spanish, Dutch, German and English. And each night one of these 3 would do some table magic for the boys. At the table next to ours there was a little girl (9), her mom and grandma. They were from French Quebec, Canada. Each night our family would toast with our wine glasses and on the first night I raised my glass to the little girl and she got embarrassed and laughed as did her mom. On the second night, her mom encouraged her to toast her soda glass with me and by the 3rd night, she was looking over and waiting for our toast. It was so much fun.
The bars – we visited a number of the bars on ship and settled in with two. One was the Pub and the bartender was a guy by the name of Ashley. We had a number of chats and he was very curious about my Stress Management business (I gave him a card the first night). He had lots of questions and so I gave him a copy of my book. I also gave one to Ria along with her gratuity. My oldest son Jamison and his girlfriend Kelly settled in on the upper bar by the adults only area. It became their special place for the cruise.
Rain Forest – everyone liked this place but there was so much activity that we didn’t get to spend all that much time in there. Not sure if I would sign up for this again as there is an adult hot tub on 11 that we used and was usually available. But I did like the sauna’s in the Rain Forest.
The tours – The St. Maarten Tour was probably the best as we actually got to learn something about the island from the driver who was plugged into a loud speaker so we could all hear him. The St. Thomas tour wasn’t really a tour. The driver was great but had no speaker and so we learned nothing about the island. Basically he was a taxi driver who drove us to Coki beach and Ocean World. Ocean world was somewhat disappointing as two of the major attractions were closed that day. The most interesting thing there were the Iguana’s that were running around freely. Everyone liked the beach as there were lots of fish and things to see while snorkeling. We even had a mother chicken and her chics running along the beach. One interesting fact is that Kelly knew someone in our drivers home country that was a relative to the driver. Small world.
Castaway Cay was great. A party event and lots of room at the beach area. The staff did a great job serving everyone.
There was something going on all the time on ship and there is just no way you can participate in all of them. But I think everyone did as much as they wanted to do and the most important is that the boys got photos with the characters they wanted to be with.
The final night after the show and after we were packed and had our luggage out for them to take (another great idea), we had time together on the veranda to just be family. The weather cooperated all week with only the first night having rough water. Now reality sets in as I review our charges. It is great that the charges are broken down by individual card even thought everything was being billed to my room. Weather or not our family would go back, probably not, but would highly recommend it to others. Doing your prep work, being organized, getting signed up early, deciding what is important to do and getting it done early in the trip are just a few suggestions I would have for others. But using you to set things up would be my first recommendation. So thank you from all of us. We truly appreciate what you did for us.
The Happy Limo ride back to the airport worked well. We actually got Jessica again. The whole process of checking out, customs, etc was great. Again, the baggage handlers where right there waiting for you when we got off and did a great job.
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