Monday, February 15, 2016

Our Fantasy Cruise: Ports of Call and Final Thoughts

Previously: 1, 2, and 3
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Ports of Call

We actually didn't spend too much time on the islands at all, so this section of my trip report will be fairly short.

After two "days at sea", we finally got off the boat and arrived at Tortola! We talked to a local lady who gave us two beach options: Brewers Bay Beach, which is smaller and less populated with just one restaurant, or Cane Garden Bay Beach, which is the opposite. She assured us that both beaches were "kid-friendly with gentle waves." We picked the less populated, Brewers Bay, and hopped in the cab. Our driver drove us up and over the mountains and down to the other side of the island. Well, the short version of the story is that the waves were too strong for my kids (I see other kids playing happily though), so I ended up building sandcastles with them while Luke swam by himself. A rather forgettable excursion!
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^^Can you spot Luke and Will?^^
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^^We didn't last longer than 2 hours at the beach and it was $48 RT to get there.^^

When we got to St. Thomas the next day, we decided to just walk around the touristy area around the port. We actually had some fun memories at St. Thomas, but I will save a certain little boy from embarrassment and not document them here on the blog! I will just have to try my hardest to always remember them, haha.
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Almost as soon as we got off the boat, the kids wanted back on because they didn't want "to go to the island." I remember on our previous cruises, on port days, the boat would be practically empty, but not the case with DCL. Apparently, lots of families choose to stay on the boat even on port days. I guess we are not the only ones who think it is too much of a hassle to do excursions with young children, and the boat is a lot cleaner and nicer anyway.
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^^Browsing cheesy souvenirs.^^

Final Thoughts

As I said in the very beginning, our trip was just OK and, even though I have written about all the good things, here are just a few things that made the trip average overall. Keep in mind that these are just our dislikes, they may not bother you at all.

-- Being on a schedule. Our nightly schedule looked like this: live entertainment at 6:15p and second seating dinner at 8:15p. The shows typically ended at 7p, and I hated waiting for another hour or so for dinner, especially with two antsy kids. However, I do want to mention that if we didn't want to wait for our regular dining, eating at Cabanas was always an option, but dining room dinners are a huge feature of the cruise and we didn't want to miss any meals. Eventually, we showered the kids before the 6:15p show time so that after we got back from dinner at around 9:30p, the kids just went straight to bed. Less stressful that way.
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^^At our private balcony for the sail-away.^^

-- The kids club was a disappointment (see why here). Also, while the kids were at kids club, there weren't much stuff for Luke and I to do. We are not the type to sunbathe or have a drink by the bar. We walked laps a few times on Deck 4, but often Luke read a book in the room while I wondered aimlessly around the ship or spied on the kids outside of kids club. Having said that, it WAS nice to have a break from parenting, though.
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^^If I had to guess, we were probably waiting for dinner here.^^
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-- Missing Castaway Cay. Our original itinerary was like this: Two back-to-back "day at sea", Tortola, St. Thomas, another "day at sea", and Castaway Cay. When they announced that we weren't going to Castaway Cay, that meant yet ANOTHER "day at sea". By then, we were just done with being on the boat. Honestly, the last day was kind of a waste for us.
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-- Finally, value. When my brother asked, "How was the trip? Did the kids have fun?", I responded with, "Trip was OK. The kids would have the same fun with a pool in Williamsburg." He said that I always say that after every trip, and reminded me about Great Wolf Lodge. I just had to laugh as I texted back, "Yeah I don't know why I never learn my lesson." Despite the good family time we had, I felt that we could have that "good family time" anywhere, we didn't necessary have to pay $5K for it. But for what it is worth, I wanted to try cruising with the family and I did. Next time, we will try a less expensive cruise line. Now I am not saying that DCL was bad AT ALL, I just wish it came at a more affordable rate, although the price premium was definitely noticeable in the service and cleanliness.

10 comments:

  1. Great reading all about your trip.. I agree.. Kids are happy with anything.. it's we who often fret too much over the details and end up paying for it.
    Glad you still had some good family fun.

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    1. AGREED! And children take clues from us too. If we think something sucks, they will think so too even though they might actually like it.

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  2. Have to agree with you that little kids don't know the difference between a pool in Williamsburg and being on a cruise ship. Too bad it wasn't really worth the money but at least you know now. Hope you're next big adventure is an awesome one though.

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    1. Of course, two weeks later, Luke and I are talking about how great it would be to be going on a cruise again. haha. One thing I didn't mention is that DCL gave us 20% off for our next cruise since we didn't make it to Castaway Cay. 20% might bring the cost down to what I think might be worth the money.

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  3. Interesting that so many people decided to stay on the ships at the ports of call, but with so many activities to entertain the little ones, I don't blame them. You're right, the ships are typically empty at the ports of call. My husband and I loved exploring the ports of call when we used to go cruising, but with little ones, I can certainly understand.
    Too bad regarding the value, but at least you got to try it. I'd have done the same since my husband and I are fans of Disney in general. Cleanliness is definitely important especially on a ship filled with kids.

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    1. When it was just me and my husband on our previous cruises, we did lots of island tours. They all started to look the same after a while :)

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  4. I like your outlook and balancing out the good and the average :) i have never been on a cruise and my husband hasn't either. we don't plan on doing any long trips in the near future but would love a cruise experience one of these days :)

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  5. Oh well - if nothing else, you got some sunshine, fresh air and some warm weather in the winter!

    The only cruise I ever took with ports of call was in the Mediterranean. Greek Island and wonderfully small (and ancient) ports. Doubt your kids would have enjoyed thousand year old ruins in 90 degree heat though!

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    1. They wouldn't, but I would! Hopping the Greek Islands is on my travel bucket list.

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