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It’s Fake, But It’s Beautiful

On our private balcony.

Last week, we sailed the ocean blues aboard the magnificent new Disney Fantasty cruise ship, embarking out of nearby Port Canaveral on a Western Caribbean itenirary to Grand Cayman, Costa Maya, Cozumel and Castaway Cay.

Having lived near the port for many years, I’ve actually taken many cruises over the years.  I think this is somewhere around number 15 for me. And it’s our second Disney cruise.

So it may surprise you to learn that I’m actually not a huge fan of Disney OR cruises.

I’m not a fan of fine dining and the service that comes along with a cruise – actually, it makes me quite uncomfortable. I’m much more of a casual ‘eat like the locals’ gal when traveling somewhere – I love independently owned hole in the wall eateries and not worrying about which fork I’m using.

Aquaboat & Snorkel shore excursion in Grand Cayman.

Visiting a port and doing shore excursions rarely gives you even a taste of the local culture and lands. A short visit to a tourist-enhanced shopping bubble with a ocean view is not the same as really immersing yourself with an extended stay.

Traveling in a huge floating hotel on water is nowhere near the same as sailing the open waters.

Sharing your vacation with 3500+ people all trapped on the same boat?  Yeah, not my cup of tea either.

So why have I cruised so much? Any why Disney?

Castaway Cay – Disney’s private island in the Bahamas.

Because it’s easy with little logistics to have to manage. Perfect for us planner types who need a break from that.

Because it’s an affordable all-inclusive vacation experience if you find the right deals, especially if you are by the port anyway.

And it’s a great experience to share with a group of friends and relatives with divergent interests and activity levels. You can all do your own thing, and still be together.

And this time was a bit of a celebration. Six years ago, right after Chris and I met, we joined my dear friends Sterling & Melissa on a Disney cruise as our third date.

While we absolutely love Pixar and some of the high quality animation that comes out of Disney, we’re really not “into” Disney like some folks are. (You know the ones – who go to the theme parks every single year regardless, and have a pair of Mickey ears tucked in their closet.)

Embarkation with Sterling & Melissa – Port Canaveral, FL

But you see, Melissa works for Disney and gets access to some incredible cast member rates. And Disney cruises are amongst the best out there, even if you don’t like Disney. And while their cruises do cater to families, they do an incredible job of providing plenty of adult-only areas and activities – while keeping the kiddos very happily entertained.

(Happy kids are so much more pleasant to be around than bored ones restless on a boat – even if they are hyped on unlimited soft serve ice cream.)

So when our friends called back in September inviting us to join them on the recently launched megaship Disney Fantasy – we just couldn’t say no.  Sure, we had lots going on with family and business stuff. But it had been way too long since we had anything resembling a vacation.

Probably that cruise six years ago, actually.

The central atrium of the Fantasy.

The cruise turned out to be perfect, and just what we needed. With the cruise date set and other business transition stuff lining up, we planned my father’s retirement to be right after we got back from the cruise.

A perfect vacation for us after months of logistical hoops and planning.

And gulp – that means as of today, I officially have taken over the business.

Pirate Night!

Pirate Night!

The entertainment on board is Broadway quality live musicals, first run Disney flicks (we saw Wreck It Ralph, Brave and Frakenweenie onboard, in 3D – for free), on demand in cabin Disney movies, live music performances, dance clubs and more.

And while Disney does have the typical cruise semi-formal night, they also have PIRATE night!  Which means… a perfect opportunity for putting the corset on.

Chris trying to soak up some free WiFi from onshore in Cozumel.

We really did have a great time.

The most annoying thing was the ‘pay-by-the-minute’ internet access which was way too painfully reminiscent of AOL days. I had forgotten how stressful it is to try to get your stuff done online while being metered by time, not megabytes. Managing megabytes, we are masters of – time, not so much.

I did manage to keep tabs on the business for just 44 minutes of time to the tune of $33 in access charges, for just utilizing 114 MB of data. Ouch.  I had to keep reminding myself – I’m working from a cruise ship!

And we gotta admit, it was really nice to have a perfect reason to disconnect personally for the week.

Especially since I became a full time traveler who is constantly making travel arrangements – I think I appreciate the simplicity of logistics with a cruise even more than I ever have. Being able to take a break for a bit from planning meals, lodging, destinations and entertainment – all while still traveling, was fantastic.

And cruise cabins just don’t seem as small when they’re larger than your house.

Cruising with dear friends. This is the magic of life.

Our waiter on this cruise said it best for me, as he was giving us pointers for visiting Disney’s private island – Castaway Cay.  He remarked:

‘It’s fake, but it’s beautiful.’

Regardless of how fake most of a cruise is… the magical part is being at sea with dear friends.

It was good for my soul, and I’m ready for the new challenges in my life!

 

Cherie has been been a location independent entrepreneur since 1994, working in full scale software development. When she met Chris in 2006, she was at the exact right time in her life to hit the road and combine wanderlust with career. She strives to live a life of conscious intent while embracing serendipity.

19 COMMENTS

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  1. Linda and I went on our first cruise this past March. We were never interested before that; floating in the ocean, visiting tourist traps, and over eating did not appeal to us. Then Linda found the Holistic Holiday At Sea (on the MSC Poesia); a week long floating health program for vegan’s. That’s right, all of the meals were vegan, planned and supervised by the program’s own executive chef. The seminars were excellent and the food was incredible. Open seating for meals with casual dress. (“Regular” food also available, including a 24 hour buffet/salad bar). The Poesia is a “smaller” ship; 1300 of the 2500 passengers were with the program. A good range of ages from 30 up, with very few children. The 10th anniversary cruise is March 2 – 9, 2013, leaving from Ft. Lauderdale, FL. We are going agin. Definitely a specialty cruise. Check it out at http://ATasteOfHealth.org

      • Clarification: 10th year the vegan cruise program has been offered; we will be approaching our 42nd anniversary :-)

  2. Uh-oh, you’ll *have* to go back for that mini-golf!
    When we lived in Puerto Rico we came *just that close* to taking a cruise in the off season. We were on the other end of the island from San Juan so it was quite doable. But then we got shipped home. Oh well.
    Friends of ours celebrated a birthday and New Years last year out of Miami I think it was. That too would have been doable, but mostly for the companionship of the friends. Alas, we were unable to attend.
    One of these days perhaps there will be a situation when we simply can’t pass on the chance to go, but I can’t see us simply packing up and going on our own.
    Plus, I think I’d have to get past the idea of being trapped on a ship with several thousand other people though….
    And of course, both my wife and I have some slight motion sickness issues. Hm, I guess I won’t be holding my breath.

  3. Aha! I only ever went on one cruise, but it was INCREDIBLE!! It was on Ocean Village, and was billed as a ‘cruise for people who don’t like to cruise’. No formality, all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant on the back of the ship (I used to wake up at 5am on purpose just so I could go eat pizza and burgers in the middle of the night!). Excursions were amazing, like a submarine trip, rainforest abseiling – all kinds of cool! Dunno if I’d survive a more traditional, ‘Captain’s Table’ type formal cruise, but Disney sounds like fun. And cruises are more affordable than ever! The only downside from my POV was that at 33, I was the youngest person on the ship – by about 20 years… well, not counting the sprinkle of grandkids here and there. I guess a Disney ship probably takes care of this too, by appealing to young parents?
    Cool. It just blows me away the stuff you can get on those ships – it’s worth it for the experience of climbing a climbing wall in the middle of the ocean – where else can you do stuff like that??
    I’d cruise again in a heartbeat – if I wasn’t a penniless backpacker… :0)

    • Definitely different cruise lines cater to different age groups. Disney is more geared towards families – so you get age ranges from 2 to 92, but a lot of us Gen-Xers in our prime child rearing years.

      I’ve also been on a Princess Cruise, which really jived with me. Less family focused, but more geared towards our age range. And lots of flexibility with the dining options.

      This Disney cruise didn’t have a climbing wall, but it did have a massive water roller coaster! It really is incredible the stuff they put on these ships. And holy crap, I just realized we never got around to playing the mini golf course on ship!

  4. The photos are gorgeous! I’ve never really wanted to go on a cruise until I read this :) do you feel the
    Ship moving at all?

    • You do feel the ship moving a bit – especially if there are high winds, are moving through the gulfstream. But it’s not too bad. I’m very prone to motion sickness, and only felt one brief wave of it.

      • Thanks Cherie. We worked for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Online, on the Celebrations Central Redesign. We loved it! Does your friend work for Disney Cruiselines?

  5. I agree 100% about getting away from the planning – it’s not my favorite way to travel either, but it is relaxing…unless you go on a hash cruise! I liked your comment about how big the state room seemed to you, it’s all about perspective, now, isn’t it!

  6. love to cruise. We find it’s great value.we loved room
    Service on our private balcony. For coffee in the am.
    It is the best way to see alaska there are areas only available by boat or plane. Now we know where we want to go back and spend time with the rv. I enjoyed the dining but it was easy to over indulge . The salad bar was great and I seemed to be the only one on the ship who knew it was there lol.
    Cheers rob

  7. Roger Ebert did film cruises on Disney for a few years. They were wonderful! We ate our meals at tables with other movie buffs so Dave got to talk movies all weekend plus we got to see and listen to evaluations of some really interesting movies. Like you said, it’s all about going with the right people.

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