We’re on our flight now from Orlando to Denver. We disembarked this morning (Saturday March 16), sadly, so I will now go back in time to report on our last three wonderful days on Fantasy.
Tuesday night was Pirate’s night after we sailed out of St. Thomas; we did not do the animation thing yet in Animator’s Palate (that was on Friday night). We had a very good dinner, however, with slow-cooked short ribs as the main entree, while we viewed drawings and production stills from Disney classics that featured Pirates. Afterwards, we got a prime seat at Currents bar on the 13th deck for the fireworks and loved seeing this spectacle at sea again. Steve wore his silly dreadlocks pirates hat and I had a new Goofy pirates hat. Earlier, we saw Oasis of the Seas sail out of St. Thomas (we do that ship in December).
We noted in passing as we left St. Thomas that the Carnival Dream, which left 30 minutes ahead of us at Port Canaveral, arrived a few hours after us in St. Thomas and was still there when we sailed out. Their next destination was St. Maarten, where they had the backup generator problem that led to the early cessation of that cruise. Cruising does have some issues in general, but Carnival Corporation has been beset by so many problems in the last few years. What royally ticks us off about these incidents is that people paint the whole cruise industry as broken, just because the Carnival Corporation has severely mismanaged their fleet (and they also own Costa). We have run into so many people that are terrified to go on a cruise now because of the Carnival sewage and power disasters and the 2012 Costa Concordia tragedy. The senior management at CC need to fix this BS, before they single-handedly destroys the cruise industry. Here’s a fun idea for a completely whacky conspiracy theory: Executive leadership at CC is secretly in cahoots with Al Gore or our current elitist POTUS to stigmatize the cruise travel industry because of “climate change” or because people that have enough money to cruise are “too rich”. Ok, I’m off the soapbox now…
On Wednesday March 13, we arrived in San Juan, Puerto Rico, sharing the port with the Westerdam (HAL). We had booked a shore excursion that was centered around Criollo cooking; this was located at a restaurant in the heart of Old San Juan. We took a van to get to the restaurant, sparing me the walk uphill with my back and leg problems. The class was fun; our cooking participation was limited to a few things we could do at a table, but we enjoyed the flavors of chicken Trifongo and chick peas with chorizo and plantains. Our companions at our table were two older people from Pennsylvania who sail a lot on Disney. He was a mostly uncommunicative grump, but she was pretty friendly. We walked back to the ship after lunch (about 1/2 mile downhill) in the warm sun. We had a perfect evening sailing out of San Juan, then had dinner that evening in the Enchanted Garden, on Deck 2. This beautiful space was like a Victorian garden restaurant and the lighting and colors changed from daylight to nighttime. The food was merely ok (Steve had a steak and I had turkey), but we were both full from lunch, which probably was a factor.
Thursday, March 14 was a day at sea. It was very calm and warm, with rain showers briefly in the afternoon. We relaxed and had a few beverages, then got ready for our dinner experience at Remy. We ate at Remy on Disney Dream in 2011 and found it to be magical. If anything, our experience on Fantasy was even more amazing. We had a seat facing the sea at dusk and we both decided to have the five-course Goût (American) menu, designed by Scot Hunnel, the executive chef at the exquisite Victoria and Albert at the Grand Floridian at WDW. We also decided to splurge on the wine pairings. The total charge was $175 a person. After two amuse bouche tastes (a hot tomato “pillow” and a finely-chopped ratatouille with olive oil ice cream), our dinner started with a grilled marinated shrimp, with Soba noodles and a Wasabi foam. The second course was Alaskan Sable fish (black cod) over a watercress salad. This was followed by a chicken breast preparation using three exotic mushrooms. Our main course was Colorado bison tenderloin, with a side of beef short rib and a parsnip purée. The bison was perfectly done and the short rib was really unnecessary and didn’t add to the entree (the only thing that was less than perfection). All of this was accompanied with amazing French bread offerings (so much for our gluten-free diet; oh, well, it was one night). We then had a French cheese course, followed by dessert, which was a heavenly chocolate mousse in a chocolate bird nest, with a lovely handmade ice cream. But we weren’t done! They brought a large tin of exquisite candies, which we had wrapped to go and ended up giving them to our stateroom host Alvin. The wine pairings were all from France and seemed perfectly suited to our dishes. We had several superb servers, mainly from France and Portugal. This was food heaven and rivals the best meals we have ever had (e.g., Victoria and Albert, Napa Rose, La Reserve on Marina, Pètrus). Well done!!!
We collapsed after this epicurean adventure and slept in on Friday. We had a small continental breakfast at Cove Cafe, having missed the last call for the breakfast buffet at Cabanas. We were docked at Castaway Cay, the perfect Disney private island (this was our fourth visit). We exited the ship and took the tram to Pelican Point, having the first beverage overlooking the waters. It was cool and windy, but sunny. We meandered towards the main area and had a lunch from Cookie’s BBQ, then visited the Conched Out bar. We got back to the ship just ahead of the crowds and relaxed as we sailed out, visiting the beautiful Skyline Bar one more time before dinner. Our last rotation dinner on-board was at Animator’s Palate. On this visit, we finally got to draw our characters before ordering dinner. I did a big cat and Steve did an iPhone with arms and legs. We enjoyed a Cornish game hen entree while watching animated classics, then they did the amazing show, integrating all of the drawings into an animated “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” piece. We saw our drawings twice, which is unusual for drawings from the same table. This was so much fun!! We finished the evening with a port at the lovely and quiet Cove Cafe.
Finally, a few words on our fellow passengers: On our last cruise, in September 2012 on Marina, I documented in detail the elitist, rude, whining attitudes of many of our fellow passengers. It seems like the Disney magical touch eliminates these attitudes from most folks who cruise on them or perhaps the class of passengers is not as spoiled, snotty and cynical. We had many great conversations with other adults on this cruise, including long discussions about cruising in general, Disney, and even other topics. The kids were typical, with lots of sullen (and often rude) teenagers contrasting with little ones who were having a blast. We had only one negative encounter with other passengers. On Thursday, we were sitting in some seats in the Quiet Cove (adults-only) pool area just outside the Cove Cafe. A couple came up, with two small children in tow and the husband asked us if the wife and kids could sit in the chairs opposite us while he went into the Cove Cafe to get coffees. We reluctantly said yes and the husband immediately became hostile because we weren’t smiling and enthusiastic, saying that only the Cove Cafe was the adults only area. We informed him that the entire area, including where we were sitting, was for adults and that they enforced the rules. We allowed them to take the seats, thinking it would be quick (they could have gone ten feet around the Quiet Cove barrier and found a table in the family pool area to wait, but I guess they wanted to be annoying). The husband made a big deal about telling the little boy to be quiet, then went into the Cove Cafe. The boy was very quiet, but the daughter immediately became rambunctious, pushing the furniture around and almost knocking over our drinks and scattering her drawings all over the place. We asked her not to do that and the wife snapped back at us about having patience (she had some kind of French accent). That’s when I told her that children and families have over 75% of the space on the ship and that they should respect the adults-only area and they could have waited for her husband a mere ten feet away without any issues. After a long time (better than ten minutes), the husband finally came out and then had to go back in again and get sugar and was gone for a few more minutes. I must have looked unhappy because he lashed into us verbally and the situation became quite tense. We asked him if he would like us wandering around on Deck 5 and entering the kid’s areas and pushing stuff around. We also told him that we have no expectations of peace and quiet when in the family areas and main dining rooms or pretty much the rest of the ship. He yelled at us about being “sorry for spoiling our cruise”. I think he finally realized that he was being a total jerk and he quieted down and apologized and offered to buy us a drink. We told him to just leave the area. I felt sorry for the kids, but the parents were completely irresponsible and also behaving a lot like the entitled types we found on our Marina cruise. I guess there are all kinds in this world, sadly.
Saturday morning arrived way too early. We got up (I took my shower on Friday afternoon), had breakfast, disembarked, took the bus to MCO and waited for our flight. I wrote my Cruise Critic review before going through security (5+ – a superior experience overall) and we’re heading back home to dear old Ruby.
Steve will post a gallery of photos tonight or tomorrow. Up next: Voyage to the Midnight Sun, in July, on OCL (Nautica).