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Disney Cruise Line Trip Report Part Two!
DisneyDan  Sunday, March 11, 2012 1:01:49 PM
Hi all,

Welcome to part two of my Disney Cruise trip report!

On day 2 of our Disney Cruse we started off with a buffet breakfast at Topsiders. As I mentioned in my previous report, Topsiders is very busy and chaotic, and probably my least favourite place to dine. It is strange because we got the impression from various things, that some people didn't actually attend their rotation restaurants a lot of the time, which seems a complete waste of money to us. The cruise costs enough, and the other dining offering are far superior, so why eat there?

Goofy's Galley, Deck 9

Anyway, after breakfast we decided to hunt characters. Easier said than done!
Here we hit our second major drawback of the cruise experience - the other one that would prevent us from immediately returning (the other was the no pictures in the shows, you may recall from part one).
Yes, there are set times. Yes, the characters do meet. But we had thought that maybe the characters would roam around too, or make random appearances outside of the set times. We were wrong.
The most irritating thing about the whole character experience aboard ship was the fact that some days, all day there would be nothing, then right before dinner there would be about 8 characters all meeting.
The timings of everything aboard ship was bizarre to say the least. There would be nothing during the day remotely interesting - not unless you want to learn how to cook some weird food dishes, or do paper crafts - and then right before dinner and the evening shows there would be a bunch of character meets.
We got the impression from the (fantastic) crew that they didn't have much control over this, so I'm not sure who decides it all. I don't think it was anyone's fault necessarily, just what "had to be done", but it was frustrating to say the least.
The fact that the characters had some weird times, and also that there were very few unique characters onboard would be the other main factor we would consider when deciding whether to cruise again. We got to meet about 30 unique characters (counting all Mickey only once etc - outfit changes are not counted), which may seem a lot, but that was in 7 days. If we had 7 days in the parks, we'd meet more like 50-60 characters, if not more (one trip to WDW we met 100 unique characters I think!).
The other weird thing is that they have character experiences in the kids clubs that are only for the children and nobody else can attend. Not even the parents to my knowledge - unless they happen to fall within an "open house" time.
This really disappointed us, as we know for a fact they have some really neat things like Detective Goofy (who we managed to get a snap of as he passed by one day), Terk - who doesn't meet at all for regular guests (again, we managed to snap her in passing though!), and even a Green Army Man. They do some fun things such as learn to do-si-do with Snow White, and have story time with Belle in her blue dress (she only meets in her yellow dress during public set times - but again, we managed to grab her!).
We found this really annoying on a number of levels. Again, the lack of characters during the day was bad enough, but finding out the kids get to meet them and can't' even have their parents present to share the moment was bizarre. Also, wasn't Walt's whole philosophy when building Disneyland all about keeping families together and having fun in the park with each other. So why is it on the cruise the kids clubs are open from dawn 'til near midnight, and have long lines of parents dumping their kids off there, only to have them have experiences all on their own that nobody else can see? I know adults want a break too, but if you want to take your kid on vacation, then you need to do things together - especially on a Disney vacation!
Parents wouldn't dream of leaving their kids at the park entrance and then going into the Magic Kingdom alone, so why do it on the ship?
Sorry to rant on, but we found this a hard concept to get around, and it seemed really un-Disney like. I've gone off on a tangent, so i'll get back on track with the characters now!

As for the actual characters themselves, their attendants and organising crew, they were all completely wonderful. The interactions were fun, and felt more personal, and always felt welcomed by characters who were genuinely pleased to see us.
The character manager, Eric (hello if you're reading this!), was obviously under a tight schedule, but did what he could to help us get the most out of our character experiences. We really appreciate all his efforts. Thank you Eric.

On day 2 there was a Character Dance Party in the Atrium, which lasted about half an hour. The VIPS appear in their vacation shirts and basically dance and parade around the lobby area.

Character Dance Party

Like the dance parties at seasonal events in the US parks, it was near impossible to get pictures of them.
This was also annoying as it featured Daisy, but she didn't meet at any other time during the cruise in that outfit - so we only have pictures of her in that outfit during the dance party.

Character Dance Party

Later in the day there were some set times, thankfully, as we'd had a fairly dull morning at sea, and was kinda wondering what the big deal about Disney Cruises was.
We managed to meet both characters who had set times up on Deck 9 - regular Max and vacation Pluto.

Meeting Pluto

Meeting Max

Day 2 was also Formal Night aboard the ship, which means you have to dress up in your best clothes. The characters also dress up in the tuxes and dresses, and make appearances throughout the dinner and show times (like I said above, bizarre timings). In some cases, such as Donald and Pluto and there was only one set time - and Pluto wasn't advertised either, we only caught him by chance.

Character who wear formal outfits are: Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy, Pluto, Chip and Dale. We managed to meet them all.

Meeting Daisy Duck

We did enjoy Formal Night though, and it was nice to see the characters dressed in their finest outfits. Minnie and Daisy looked especially glamorous!

Meeting Minnie Mouse

Meeting Chip and Dale

Meeting Mickey Mouse

Meeting Goofy

Meeting Donald Duck

The Formal Night outfits are also worn by the characters on Semi-Formal Night later in the cruise, which means if you miss any you can try to meet them again.

Meeting Mickey Mouse and Pluto

Meeting Mickey Mouse and Pluto

So, aside from Max and Pluto, the Dance Party where you can't meet the characters, then the Formal Night later, that was pretty much day 2. Then it was time for dinner and the first real show - Twice Charmed.
Twice Charmed is basically a sequel to Cinderella, and runs along similar lines to the direct to video Cinderella 3 movie. Although not the same, the concept is similar. The Tremaines find a way to try and stop Cinderella form ever meeting Prince Charming by going back in time.

Twice Charmed

Twice Charmed

It was a good show, and had some nice moments. It does feature a few unique characters, such as the Grand Duke, The King and the Footman, as well as a brand new character for the show, Franco, the Evil Fairy Godfather!
Of course, the major draw back is you're not actually allowed to take photos (as I discussed in Part One).

Dinner was interesting because it was at Animator's Palate, the multi-million dollar restaurant that is supposed to be the piece de la resistance of your rotational dining experience - except we got it on Formal Night, which ruined it!

Animator's Palate

Formal Night means of course a themed menu, and you of course have to dress up. Everything becomes more "upscale". This is all well and good, except it means you don't get the neat light show and finale experience that is usually offered during dinner here. When I asked why the restaurant hadn't changed colour I was told it only does it on the restaurant theme nights, not on the ship theme nights (complicated, yes). So we would have to wait until the one single other time later in the cruise to experience Animator's Palate. Lumiere's would have been much better for formal night. Maybe next time we'll be lucky?...
I guess some lucky people had the right combination and got to experience Animator's on both nights when there was no dress code. In fact, based on our own rotational dining setup, others may have even got it THREE times (we had Lumiere's three times, much to our disappointment). And while we're on the subject of the weird rotation combinations, our Pirate Night was at Lumiere's, when I feel Parrot Cay would have been perfect. Again, I guess some people got lucky, but we didn't.

I guess at least Animator's was semi-ok for formal wear. I can't imagine eating at Parrot's Cay for Formal Night, that would had been plain weird. But like I said earlier, a lot of things and the way they are organised aboard ship are bizarre!

I have to say that after day 2, we were both left feeling somewhat disappointed with the offerings on board. Between the noise and rocking back and forth of the ship, the no photos during shows, and lack of things during the day, we were a bit bored already. Factor in our disappointment with our rotational dining setup, it made for, not a bad first impression, but a disappointing one. We had heard so much hype about the cruises, and we felt that maybe people had over inflated the experience somewhat.

The major anticipation every night was the receiving of the next days' Personal Navigator in your room right before bedtime. Would tomorrow be better? Which characters would we be waiting all day to see next?!...

The Personal Navigator is the equivalent of the programme guide at the parks. It tells you what is open and when, what times all the entertainment offerings and characters are, and any other important information for that day. They were reasonably detailed and we loved to get them each evening to see what the next day had to offer. If you ever need more (we love to collect multiple of everything!), you can go to Guest Services in the Lobby Atrium, Deck 3 and pick up as many as you want.

So that is day 2, and a lot of other thoughts discussed. I want to add that, despite it sounding so far like we didn't have the best experience on board, I want to give people a feel for how we felt day-by-day about the Cruise, and how our thoughts and feelings evolved over the course of the seven days - because trust me, they do.
So stay tuned to find out in the coming parts "what happened next!"

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