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Old 05-19-2017, 07:41 AM   #131
carolina_yankee
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We did the same sailing last May. Memories.......thank you so much for the great pictures!!
Glad you're enjoying it!

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Old 05-19-2017, 08:27 AM   #132
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Keeping glasses full is such a basic, that I think the real problem is too many tables. I wouldn't be surprised if Disney has cut back on servers subtly to keep profit high. Just giving everybody one more table could probably eliminate 4 positions per restaurant, or 12 over all.

What was consistently a two hour dinner for us should have been flowing with drink, and Disney lost my willingness to purchase a second glass of wine each time.

Dirk
I very much agree. We had purchased the wine package and as you know, they keep your white wines chilled for you. We had to ask for more of our own wine regularly...
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Old 05-19-2017, 02:12 PM   #133
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Anyway, I've been a headachy, teeth achy, earachy, snotty mess, which has prevented me from responding more to this TR. Oh, yes, and the antibiotics also have messed with my stomach. So, while I hope to add some commentary soon, I can't promise it. I feel like shit. Kim out.
I hope you are feeling better, stronger and more 'you!' today.
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Old 05-19-2017, 05:40 PM   #134
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Default Cruise Day 5 - St. Thomas

On previous cruises we've come into St. Thomas from St. Maarten to the west. This is the first time we've come in around the east end of the island, just as we did Tortola.

Weather forecast today was threatening, and you could see storms in the area.





Approaching Charlotte Amalie:



By coming in from the east, I was able to get a good look at Marriott French Men's Reef and its beach, which is often recommended for a nearby beach with amenities.





More built up than Road Town, Tortola, but not as "urban" looking.



We were the first of three ships docking today. Carnival would soon join us and the Oasis of the Seas would be at the other pier on the other side of town where the behemoths gather.



Blue sky one minute:



Deluge the next!



I felt very sorry for those excursion goers. I'm glad we canceled St. John. I could get up for a slow morning, but not to pull it together to get off the ship.

While folks were getting drenched, we went up to Cabanas for breakfast. While we ate, the skies cleared to a near perfect day and I sorta-but-not-really kicked myself canceling St. John:



We hung out awhile to watch the Carnival ship come in:



Jim realized he left his sunglasses at home, so we decided to check out the stores at Havensight to see if he could get any clip-ons (that's what he wears). Nothing was available, and he has to have prescription sunglasses if he doesn't have clip-ons so no go.

We continued on to the Paradise Peak Skyride. After the storms had cleared off, the sky was beautiful. I knew I could get some good photos of the harbor and the sun would be in the right position. Since most people were at their excursions, there wasn't much of a line at the tram station.

This part of Charlotte Amalie is not the most attractive, but parts of Havensight didn't look bad, and the Fantasy loomed over everything.







You can buy tickets on the ship, and they may be at a slight discount, but I forgot about that, so we purchased at the station. Trams come in groups of three and they load about 8 per tram.



It's a great view up the hillside:

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Old 05-19-2017, 06:01 PM   #135
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All of your pictures are beautiful. I am really enjoying your report. I especially like the picture looking up at the Fantasy - the Disney ships are so classic.
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Old 05-19-2017, 06:09 PM   #136
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Default Cruise Day 5 - St Thomas

You can see the Oasis of the Seas across the harbor. This means there's a passenger load of close to 10,000 people on St. Thomas today. Another reason we wanted to hunker down and relax.





Here's a home with some great views, but also with hundreds of tourists each day floating overhead!



At the top, we were welcomed to Paradise. It takes about 5 minutes to get there.



I was prepared for a little more of a tourist tap, but it wasn't bad. Basically, a bar and grill with a couple of shops selling the usual trinkets and lots of viewing areas.

We sat in the shade and I ordered a Raspberry HybisKISS, essentially a raspberry slushy with vodka. More than I realized! There server said I would be fine until I got back to the ship, and then I'd feel it. Yep!



Lots of folks were taking advantage of free WiFi to FaceTime their families back home. Without too many customers yet, our server spent some time chatting with us, mostly about St. Thomas going to green energy from fossil fuels and grumbling that he still wasn't seeing the savings in energy costs that were promised, but proud that St. Thomas had made the switch. And also grumbling that with Carnival later that evening, the only reason they were open today was because of the three ships in port. At least the burden of shamed was spread across three ships and wasn't all on us!

By lunch time, we were ready to head back to the Fantasy.



By the time we got to the bottom, there was quite a line to get on the tram as the morning excursions ended. We timed it right! Having done this, I never have to do it again, but it was nice being out for awhile and still able to have a quiet morning.



So ends our shortest sojourn on St. Thomas. In 2006, we went to Magens Bay in the morning and then wandered through town in the afternoon. In 2012, we went to Sapphire Beach and snorkeled. This time, we kind of had a "been there, done that vibe" though we would have probably explored town again if it were a little cooler.

Leslie and Katie had stayed on board because they had facials scheduled, and Kim and Eric were tucked away some place as well.

We went to Cabanas for lunch and then hung out and read on our verandah for awhile.

By 4:00, everyone was on board, and we left St. Thomas to the Splendor.



This was the most beautiful sail-aways I've seen from St. Thomas. We usually were leaving during a typical 4 pm afternoon shower.





Palo

We were skipping tonight's dining room again, this time for Palo. Once again we gathered in the Meridian Lounge for a drink and Predrag came to get us when our table was ready. This time we were all appropriately dressed so none of us were kicked back.

We were given a table next to the window, but with the sun soon setting, our view only got us through the first round of drinks, or so. Yes, first round. Here, the actually ask of you want more.

I'm not going to go into detail on the meals, mostly because I don't remember what everybody had. I can say that my calamari was absolutely outstanding. Very tender and lightly crisp.

It's been three weeks, so I don't actually remember our entrees. We all thought they were outstanding, though. The menu currently posted on the Disney Food blog and the Disney Cruise Line Blog are out of date.

I think most of us enjoyed the chocolate souffle. Basically, Predrag came to us and said, "The only question about desert is which sauce you want with your souffle - chocolate, vanilla, or one of each." God help us, I'm sure more than one of us said, "One of each."

In chatting with Predrag, we learned that Palo servers are paid solely through gratuities. You also have to work your way up to get there. He started as Assistant Server on the Magic and worked his way up to Palo. Then he transferred to the Fantasy for the first sailing out of the shipyard at Hamburg to New York. He's been on the Fantasy ever since.

Essentially the bonding we had with Predrag is what I had hoped we'd have with our main dining room servers.

So, after a nearly three hour exercise in dining excellent and with one of us mumbling something about hating herself (which apparently is a sign of having dined well), we headed out.

When we got back to our stateroom, we found our laundry waiting for us. I had budgeted to have our laundry sent out, which was the best thing I did on the cruise. Surprisingly, even though I checked for standard service (delivered the next day), it came back the same day!

The others scattered about to check out the lounges. We went back to the room and lounged, reading and such. I took advantage of On Demand and watched Peter Pan. Around midnight, we were back to sleep. We need lots of rest for a day of lounging around at sea tomorrow!

Edit to add - how could I forget about our Palo photo?



When you see this painting, you know you're headed to dining excellence!



And tonight's towel animal:



Apparently tomorrow night would be lobster night! Or Cabanas night, in our case . . .

Dirk
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Old 05-19-2017, 06:15 PM   #137
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All of your pictures are beautiful. I am really enjoying your report. I especially like the picture looking up at the Fantasy - the Disney ships are so classic.
Thanks - I do believe they have the classiest looks at sea - not just the paint job, but also the profile!

Dirk
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Old 05-19-2017, 06:43 PM   #138
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Default Cruise Day 6 - At Sea

Thursdays are a bit mournful for me - the truly last unscheduled day where you can just relax and know that you have at least one more day before having to pack.

After a slow rise, Leslie texted me to say the she was hungry and was going to go to Enchanted Garden for breakfast. I suggested she wait a few minutes and that we'd join her. We've always done the Cabanas buffet, so I was looking forward to a different experience. Turns out EG is a buffet, as well. D'oh!



We could have waited for Royal Court to open up for a la carte breakfast in 30 minutes, but were were hungry! The EG buffet has all the standards, just smaller stations. I didn't see an omelette station but I think they are supposed to have one.

Leslie and I then went to Guest Services to pay down some of our charges while Jim went to Vista Cafe for real coffee.

Random ship scene:



Aulani has been added to the board since we first cruised:



As has Hong Kong. No Shanghai yet. We were told that would be done during their dry dock next week.



Leslie saw a throne and knew it was hers:



Jim and me by the elevators after having booked our placeholder for the next cruise:



Deck 5 midship elevator lobby:



We went to our rooms to get our kindles and iPads and went back down to deck 4 to claim loungers right outside Vista Cafe.

This is what we did - ALL Day - from 10:00 am - 4:30 pm when the girls went for their massages.





Many cups of coffee and plates of treats were had from Vista Cafe. I wandered upstairs for a burger to bring back down, and later soft-serve in a cup.

At one point, a very fit and toned person that had jogged passed us several times stopped about 5 feet away from Katie's lounger, and started taking off his clothes! Well, his shirt, socks, and shoes. Then he got down and started doing crunches and other exercises. The whole deck empty. Right by us. We weren't sure if we should feel invaded or tip. Let's just say Disney provided awesome entertainment!

Katie surreptitiously took video. I won't post it.

None of us were feeling it in terms of going back to Animator's Palate. Did we want to do Cabanas table service or just dine on junk food? After messaging Kim and Eric, we all decided on Cabanas and the the lounges.

The girls talked me into the final round of Bingo in the Buena Vista Theatre. They talked me into spending $80 on the electronic thingy and cards. They left me $80 poorer and still not quite sure what Bingo was all about. Apparently Kim and Eric enjoyed an earlier round, though! And I do appreciate the humor and energy the CMs put into it. I'll just say that Bingo has come a long way from when I was in the 2nd grade.

We then went to the Walt Disney Theater for Disney Wishes - the 2nd of the three major shows. This one is about three high school students spending their last night together in Disneyland after graduation and being anxious about their life changes and romantic entanglements (or lack thereof). It's Disney. It's OK. It has fun music. Katie and Leslie were unimpressed and therefore had zero interest in Believe the next night. Oh, well.

Time for dinner! The Cabanas menu was pretty basic:



After all of the rich food of the night before, we appreciated the simplicity. Servers left a lot to be desired, but they were learning and had a good attitude. It honestly didn't feel much worse than with Elvin and Viry which is why I think the two were just hatched too soon.

After dinner, we went to Ooh La La for champagne desserts:



Leslie ordered the Ring of Bubbles, which is essentially two champagne cocktails in glasses anchored attractively in a ring, once of which was a Pomegranate Passion that I loved and ordered for myself:



After our drinks we went over to the Tube for Everything Pop - a Concentration-style game of '80s trivia. This is where Kim's competitive side shown - she carefully tracked answers, and which tiles had which topics. Leslie was chosen to answer questions for our side and did well on a couple of rounds, but the tiles eventually did her in. Alas, the other side won.

We also hung out for the "Physical Comedy of Heath." He was OK, not great. His Elvis act went on a bit long. Once finished, we went back over to Ooh La La. They had a musical act so were expecting sounds like Sinatra. Instead we got Neil Diamond. Bad Neil Diamond. It a total clash of auras - '50s elegance and '70s/'80s pop. Le Sigh. The drinks were good, though.

Jim and I then headed back to the room. Tomorrow would be our last day - Castaway Cay!

Tonight's Towel Animal:

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Old 05-19-2017, 08:24 PM   #139
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I am surprised with your iPhone shots. I liked the one with a bird in foreground.

Great job on TR.
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Old 05-20-2017, 01:09 PM   #140
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Default Cruise Day 7 - Castaway Cay

We awoke as we started coming into Castaway Cay, so I sat on the balcony for a few minutes to clear the cobwebs. Then, I went inside to pre-pack a little bit while Jim was still getting up. Once fully awake, we headed up to Cabanas for breakfast and to gaze at this awesome view:



Disney has laid out everything perfectly the island for photos. I'm not sure it's possible to take a bad photo!





One of these days, I'm going to rent a bike or walk to the observation tower. I had thought this trip might be the time to do it. Nope, too hot and humid. Give me that beach and a cold beverage!

We headed ashore as soon as we could. Previously trips, we stopped to snorkel, but this time we wanted to see if we could get a couple of chairs on Serenity Beach a little closer than usual so we went straight there. I did want some photos and to at least scope out what kind of shops might be worth hitting later, so we bypassed the first tram stop in favor of the second:













At this point we were in the wilderness. Disney makes sure you don't get lost:



On the cusp of civilization!







We stopped at She Sell . . .An Everything Else for suntan lotion since we only had the spray stuff and I thought the goo would be easier in the sand and wind. I noticed plenty of full-size Castaway Cay Tervis mugs and Jim found a T-Shirt and a big floppy sun hat he liked (since he didn't have sunglasses), so we bought them. I mean, why not buy them know when you can carry them with you all day instead of wait until later when you only have to cart it back to the boat?

Well, because we tried that strategy last time and found everything sold out at the end of the day, that's why!! This time, they were well stocked, though. Well, that's why I have Jim and that's why Jim has a bag. He has me for photos.

So, purchases made, we caught the tram to Serenity Bay:





By 10:15, Serenity has still serene, but already pretty populated. We trekked down to just the other side of the lifeguard station and found a cluster of loungers that would allow us to set up camp for Katie, Leslie, and perhaps Kim and Eric later on. Leslie had come with these giant, nifty towel clips (why had I never known of these before) that allowed us to clip our towels to the loungers so they won't blow away and so we could identify them among the sea of other loungers.

We were quickly in the water, but South Georgia BoyJim Who Only Swims In Bath Water Temps has an issue with cool temps, and the water was definitely brisk!



Eventually he acclimated:

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