Here are the Halloween on the High Seas Personal Navigators for the 3-day Disney Dream cruise sailing September 7-10, 2018. Items marked in Orange are Halloween themed.
A unique feature about the Seaside is that there is a different stage show each evening of the cruise. Yes, SEVEN different shows. They are only 30-45 minutes in length, so nothing that should concern you as far as missing other events or feeling too tied up when going to see one. They also schedule three shows per night, so everyone gets a chance to see them. One word of warning, the descriptions online and within the app put out by MSC are not accurate nor descriptive of the actual show. There is very little dialogue due to the high rate of international passengers. There is singing, in various languages, but you don't always need words to be part of a good story.
The Dream- It seems like this name changed from when they released the show list to when we sailed in mid-March. I believe this one is now called The Dream. It was rather interesting. A smorgasbord of things, themes, and stunts. From Roller skating tricks to pole dancing (don't worry, she kept her clothes on), to phallic camels. (see below). It was, definitely, entertaining, I laughed so hard I cried at one point. The performers are talented. Strong voices, athletic dancers and performers, and great talent.
My Life in Music- Describes itself as famous soundtracks live on stage. I took that to mean pop music. I was incorrect. It was famous operas. I have a funny, personal, story with this one. We brought the baby with us because we gave him a night off from the nursery. The show began, and I immediately wasn't interested in watching. Just not my style. The baby was on my husband's lap and threw up. My husband turned to me and told me. My mind immediately thought, Great! an excuse to leave! So I turned to our friends and told them we were leaving because the baby got sick. She immediately said, "Oh we should go help you!" I guess she probably thought the same thing as me. Thanks, baby for letting us leave the show early! ;)
Frank Forever- Frank Sinatra tribute. We did not attend this one as it played on the first night. The most common feedback was that it was Frank Sinatra with Italian accents.
Fly- based on the Madame Butterfly Opera. We did not see this one.
The Wizard- An illusion show. Another one we missed due to dinner timing and availability of show times on that particular night.
Latin Planet- A mix of different Latin dances. We did not make it to this one.
Timeless- Michael Jackson tribute. We also missed this one, sadly, as it was one that I wanted to see and get's great reviews.
Peter Punk- A new rendition of Peter Pan with acrobatics, dancing, and more. This is a show that everyone was raving about. Sadly, it was on the final evening of our cruise, and we had to pack and get things together for our departure.
Miami Beach Pool
I would consider this the "main pool" onboard. Located on deck 16 aft, this is the one with the big screen near it. It's where the pool deck events happen. It has the most space with lounge chairs. It was also, unfortunately, poorly designed. There was a large round stage-like thing between the pool and the big screen. So it blocked the line of vision for anyone seated on the pool side. I don't know if they intended on using that for a stage or what... In reality, the cruise staff used the small rectangular stage beneath the big screen for hosted events. These lounge chairs are usually "claimed" before the sun comes up. MSC doesn't have a policy or enforcement on reserving chairs on the deck. So, a lot of people lay out their stuff at the crack of dawn and then come back after they have breakfast.
South Beach Pool
This pool is what I would call the family pool. There were more kids in this one than the Miami Beach pool. I think because of it's proximity to the Forest AquaVenture Park and it having the magrodome (sliding roof) that was closed on a few occasions to beat the hot sun. This pool also has game tables like ping pong and foosball. Funky seating elements made it attractive to families who wanted to seek shade and still have fun in a pool. We did not use this pool either but walked through here numerous times. There is a bar and gelato location in here too!
Forest Aquaventure Park
Baby & Toddler Playground
Directly next to the Aqua Venture park was a covered and enclosed area meant for toddlers and babies to play in. The apparatus were similar to those you'd find in your local mall's play area. Soft- plastic coated slides and animals to climb on. We used this for our little one a few times. It was very well shaded, with windows on one side so that it didn't feel claustrophobic. Occasionally a tween would come in thinking it was a place they could act wild, but the parents watching their little ones would quickly ask them to leave.
MSC has different "experiences" Bella is the basic room, a good value if you don't need a lot of add-ons. Currently, Fantastica comes with 12 drink vouchers per person (except babies), better room location, and room service included. Although rumor is, after March 2019, the drink vouchers are no longer available. Aurea includes the best room locations; some with unique features like a whirlpool on the balcony or an aft wrap balcony; classic drink package, two spa treatments, and more. When booking we opted for the Fantastica package because we aren't huge drinkers and we are okay with a regular room. We were in room 11209. About four rooms away from the elevators and two rooms from one of the fancy Aurea whirlpool suites. My husband, at one point, asked why I didn't book us in one of those! I had debated it at one point but decided to save the extra money and go with the Fantastica package and room.
What I liked
The room was just the right size for us. About the same as a regular balcony room on any other cruise line we've experienced.
What could be improved
None of these are deal breakers for me. As you can see I arrived prepared for the situation and we made it work. It was just a cozy week sailing the Caribbean ;)
This is where I am going to get excited! The Seaside had tons of delicious snack options around. I am still dreaming about some of these things that I indulged in last week. Most of the treats are Venchi brand and chocolate. SO if chocolate is not your thing, you can skim this post. If you're from or have visited; Chicago, New York, or Boston, you may have heard of them. Venchi was founded in Italy in 1878 and more likely to be found in Europe!
Let's start with my favorite item from the week. My Venchi crepe. The crepes are located in the South Beach pool area on deck 7, aft. This particular Venchi shop had the crepes and gelato. Sadly, I only ventured off to this place on the second to last night. Had I found it earlier in the week I probably would have packed on a few extra pounds. This crepe was delicious! I ordered one with just gianduja (think of Italian Nutella). I had planned to go back and order one with bananas the following night but never got around to it. They are custom made, fresh for you each time one is ordered. It was delightful. Mine had cooled a bit before ate it. We walked to the main Venchi shop so that my friend and my husband could get their specialty coffees. It was room temperature, but still amazing. I would imagine one that was still warm would be heavenly.
Venchi Specialty Coffees
The main Venchi shop, on deck six just beyond the main atrium, is where it's at. They make everything from specialty coffees, specialty liquor drinks, and more. All involving CHOCOLATE! I'm fairly certain that we went here every single night of the cruise after dinner. The drinks were delicious. From thick, I mean seriously thick, bordering on pudding, creamy hot chocolate. Marocchino Specials, Chocolate Martinis. And more. However, the service at this location was not good. They made many mistakes and then when asked to be corrected, many guests were argued with. By the manager to boot. Not only did we experience this, but my friends did one of my neighbors who also sailed and other random guests that I witnessed. Yikes! That being said. It didn't keep me away. I still went back every day. Keep in mind that these drinks are extra charges unless you have coffee vouchers or the Premium add on drink package.
AKA The Chocolate & Gelato place. Same location as the coffee bar. They have a case full of freshly made chocolate treats. Sorry I didn't take a close up. I enjoyed the dark chocolate bricks with hazelnuts inside. My husband liked the milk chocolate version. My five-year-old, he liked the Tiramisu chocolates. My one year old had his first taste of chocolate on this trip. Not sure how much he consumed because it was all over him at one point. We reloaded our chocolate stash daily. We'd eat what we bought; then I'd go for a chocolate run during nap time. My family would wake up happy with fresh chocolates awaiting them. I was way more interested in the chocolates than the Gelato. For some reason, I am not a big gelato fan. I love ice cream, but gelato just doesn't hit the spot for me. It was good gelato, and my friend and her son had it daily. They loved it. Each location varied in the flavors that they carried, so sometimes you had to gelato hop around the ship to find the specialty flavors.
* These are an extra charge. Its based on weight, but I would say it averaged out to $1.50-$2 per chocolate. Not cheap. BUT we were on vacation and that's when we tend to splurge!
I will discuss the dining venues we went to here. This will not include the yummy, scrumptious crepes, gelato, and chocolate. That will come later!
The Seaside is unique in that it has TWO buffets. The smaller, family friendly one, is Biscayne Bay Buffet on deck 16. The larger, more robust, location was the Marketplace on deck 8. We ate all of our breakfasts, 6/7 lunches, and 1 dinner at the buffets. There are times that half of the Marketplace buffet is closed at night and used as a Main Dining Room with table service. We usually chose the closer buffet- except breakfasts were always at Marketplace for us due to wider variety.
Main Dining Room
This is one of the hits and misses of the cruise- food is subjective. The food itself was good. I consider myself a picky eater and found at least 1-2 entrees each night that satisfied my liking. There was only ONE dish that did not taste right, and that was the French Onion Soup. It was missing something, and I could not pin point it. There were a lot of misses on the desserts too. Their features Brownie stack was dry and lacked a good chocolate flavor. It also changed nightly. By the end of the week it was missing the brownie portion and only had mousse on top. haha Thankfully we waltzed on over the Venchi after dinner, daily, and loaded up on gelato, chocolates, and more!
We requested early dining and were assigned 7:45 pm in the Ipanema dining room. We went to the Maitre D on the first day to request to be moved. 7:45 pm is too late for us to eat with young kids. There were many other people waiting to request the same thing. The couple we traveled with was able to get us accommodated at the 5:30/6pm time. Yay, great relief! Night one we had an amazing waiter who anticipated our every need and brought the boys food and desserts that kept them behaving. Nights 2-5 we had a waiter who needed more training. Night 6, the guy was on top of things, and the Maitre D even brought the boys dinners out quickly for us. Night 7, we were squeezed in last minute, and the guy was in a rush. So not our best dining "experience" on a cruise by far.
Butcher's Cut Steakhouse
My husband and I had lunch at the steakhouse on a sea day. The food was delicious and flavorful. They offer two types of butter, one smoked and another sweet with spices. With the yummy butters, you're also given a soft cloth basket of bread. Four large breadstick style and one sweet biscuit. Those were pretty good, but I would have liked a soft bread to better spread my yummy butter!
We both had the Smoked Tomato Soup. It came with a small grilled cheese for dipping. We both also had the Filet and a side of Smoked Mashed Potatoes. The steaks are served with four sauces: chimichurri, bearnaise, peppercorn, and something with mushrooms. I blocked the last one out because I don't do mushrooms ;)
Overall it was a fabulous meal. Relaxing. Service was great. I highly recommend it!
Things to note about the kids club-
Mini Club (ages 3-6)
The Mini Club room is Lego themed. I was unable to get a photo because on day one they were doing a charity event closed to the public and after that, they did not allow parents back into the age group rooms. The kids club doesn't stay in there all day. There are various times in the day in which the kids were all over the ship. Dance parties in the garage club, soccer clinics on the basketball court, etc. We arrived one night to be told that the kids were down in the atrium. They had plenty of staff, but it seemed pretty easy to slip away with a kid in these locations. One night we picked him up from the Garage Club and no one stopped us from taking him. I am a rule follower, so I found the lady with the laptop to properly sign him out, but no one would have stopped me if I just left with him that night.
We're baaaaack! We just sailed on the brand new MSC Seaside. MSC has been around for many years as a shipping company, and now a cruise line as well. They recently decided to break in to the U.S. market a little more with a ship specifically designed to sail from Miami year round. I wanted to be one of the first on this state of the art new ship. It debuted in December, so I gave it 3 months to warm up to the "American" clientele. Before my cruise, reviews online were hit and miss. Everything from extreme disappointment to falling in love with the ship. It was shocking to read reviews of such disparity I know most people are wondering, how did it go? Would you go again? My answer is: we had fun. I would go again in the future as long as a few things change. Below is my "short" review. In the coming days, maybe weeks- depends on how busy I am, I will go through each category in separate blog posts.
Pools & Slides
There was a different show every night. Which was nice. People could pick based on the type of shows that they wanted to see. There were three show times each night. Problem was, the descriptions did not fit the shows whatsoever! We saw two shows, the one on the 2nd night was The Dream. It was exactly like a dream. A lot of random things put together. The talent of the performers was impressive. The costumes were interesting at times and the acts ranged from funny, to "what was that", to unique talent. Overall I left entertained from that show. My friend and I were cracking up laughing at a few parts.
We also went to My Life in Music. My baby ended up getting sick during the show and we all took that as our cue to leave. It just wasn't our thing and so that was a blessing in disguise. I really wanted to see the Wizard, Perter Punk, and Timeless but never got around to it unfortunately.
Doremiland (Kids Club)
This is where the whole cruise can be made. Service is where it's at. Especially in the U.S. People expect certain things.
The best way I can describe the service on this ship was 50% friendly, warm, amazing staff/crew. The first night we had an awesome waiter who anticipated our every need. He was amazing, but we never had him again. The guy running the arcade was uber-nice to us.
The other 50% consisted of crew/staff that didn't know the answers to questions, but still answered anyway and crew/staff who flat out argued when they were wrong. It was frustrating at times to deal with because you never knew if the information was correct. Here are a few examples from the chocolate shop:
My friend and I ordered two identical coffee-chocolate drinks but specifically asked (multiple times) for one of them to be decaf. When the order was presented, she asked which is decaf. The manager was the one serving and turned to ask the guy who made them. He said they were both regular. My friend reiterated that she asked for decaf. The manager rolled her eyes and acted as though we were being unreasonable. Another friend also ordered coffee/chocolate drinks and were given drinks without the coffee. It was rather obvious based on the volume and consistency in the cup. The same manager, but this was on a different day, argued with them about it. Finally it was remade and it was the way it should have been initially.
I think service is something that can easily be improved upon and I will be sharing my experience with the higher ups in the company to help them provide a better experience to guests onboard. I had 8 other families, booked through me, traveling on the same cruise. So I was concerned that my own people were able to enjoy their trip.
Labadee is a little slice of heaven in the Caribbean! Situated on the northern coast of Haiti, this is not a private island, but a small area of leased land exclusive to guests of Royal Caribbean and Celebrity cruises. This beach paradise has grown over the years. Once a tender port, it is now fully accessible by a pier constructed back in 2009. The longest zip-line over water is located here. At 2,600 feet long, it's breathtaking! There is also a roller coaster, water slide, splash park for the kids, water park, and more. This was my 3rd time visiting and we chose to rent a Beach Bungalow for the day. In the past we've just walked around or rode the roller coaster. Recently, they've added a boat that takes you from the pier to by the water slide and water park, which cuts down on some walking time. So we gave that a try this time. As for heading back to the ship, we hopped on the tram that runs from right next to the Columbus Beach food area to a 2 minute walk to security checkpoints.
We didn't do everything on this particular trip, but here are some photos of the other options on the island!
Random Shots of Labadee
So, this won't be a complete list of things to pack, you'd tune out far too soon if I did that. This is my list of things to bring that not everyone might think of plus some notes on the usual items that families might throw in the bag.
Why am I telling people to bring a stroller AND baby carrier? I don't always babywear, but when I do.... Oh no, wait- that's a different commercial! There are some situations in which I find it to be useful. Like, when I need two hands or when my almost five-year-old steals the stroller seat! I am a fan of my Baby Tula, but you can use whatever contraption that is most comfortable for your body. It's all about comfort here. Baby wearing is also helpful when you're over the battle of getting into an elevator. I just pop up or down the stairs while wearing the little guy and I get to my destination sans aggravation and with a few minutes to spare. I would evaluate where we were going to determine if I should wear him or push him!
If you plan to have a crib or pack n play in the room, I recommend bringing a sheet from home. The smells and sights of familiarity will help shorten the adjustment to sleeping in a different space. All cruise lines will provide sheets for the crib, but they aren't crib sheets, they are regular sheets just tucked under the "mattress". On the last night of our most recent cruise, the baby was tangled in the sheets because they weren't fitted. I had thrown our crib sheet in my luggage that final night thinking the regular sheets would be okay. I woke up at 2 am to a crying ghost! Yeah, he was THAT tangled. Poor kid! Some cruise lines have cribs (Carnival), and others have the pack n play style (Royal). I ended up bringing a regular crib sheet even though I knew we'd have a pack n play in the room. As long as it's small enough and fitted, you can avoid the tangle!
If you've never read my blogs before... You are probably thinking, "huh?" Yes, I said to bring a shower curtain and some magnetic hooks. The ceiling is magnetic, and you can create a little barrier once your little one goes down to sleep. You can then watch TV, go out on the balcony (if you have one), and do more without completely disturbing your sleeping angel! I've been doing it since my oldest was one and it's worked perfectly! The rust & green colored curtain behind my older son in these photos has been on TEN cruises... So we've had plenty of use out of it, and it's worked like a charm each time. I recommend a dark color and thick fabric to help block light.
If you're breastfeeding, you can skip this part because you are your own portable milk maker! Yay! However, if your child is on formula, I recommend taking the Ready to Feed (already mixed) type in the bottles closest to your baby's serving size. We brought 8-ounce bottles (yeah, 24 of those bottles) in a small carry on suitcase that my older son pulled for us. It seemed like a pain to bring an entire extra bag but having pre-mixed formula to pour into a bottle or cup was convenient. I didn't have to worry about finding drinkable water; I always had a perfect bottle at the ready. Not to mention, at the end of the week we had an empty piece of luggage where we could throw all the stuff we picked up along the way!
Every day there are characters scheduled to appear at various points on the ship. Most of the time, they are in the Promenade by the car. Sometimes they are located on the Boardwalk! We were able to catch Poppy & Branch from the Trolls, Fiona, Puss in Boots, and the Penguins of Madagascar! We missed appearances by Po, Shrek, Kitty Softpaws, Alex the Lion, King Julien, Gloria (Madagascar) and more. As you can see, there are a lot of characters to meet onboard if you choose to. They appear multiple times throughout the week, so if you miss one, chances are you can see them again later during the cruise.
An area unique to the Oasis Class (Oasis, Allure, Harmony, Symphony) ships is the open play area in the center of the Adventure Ocean facility. This space has toys, both large and small, for children six months to 6 years. My kids used this a few times on the cruise. It's a nice option if your child wants to play inside, rather than in the sun/rain. It is unsupervised, so you need to remain there with the child(ren), and socks need to be worn, no shoes! My big guy kept playing with the giant Legos, and my little one was fascinated with the slide as you can see in the final picture on the right (below) ;) The hours are 9 am-10 pm, so it's a nice chunk of the day that the kids can use it.
Aquanauts is the room for kids ages 3-5. My older son was part of this group during our trip.
He went each night for Adventure Dining (5-7pm). We dropped him off at the room before 5 pm and they took the kids up to the Windjammer Buffet and served pizza, chicken nuggets, and french fries. While repetitive, this works for MOST kids. It worked for him until the final night when he said: "I don't want to eat the same thing again!"
From 7 pm-10 pm he attended the evening sessions back in the Aquanauts room with organized activities. If you check out my other post about Adventure Ocean, I have scanned and posted each day's events for all Adventure Ocean groups. Not just Aquanauts. He had a lot of fun. They had everything from Circus school, face painting, hero capes, science experiments, art projects and more.
In the Adventure Ocean complex there are a few specialty rooms as well. They have a full Science Lab and Art Studio, as well as a theater for their black-light puppet show and movie screenings. This is, by far, the most exciting kids club I've ever seen on a ship!
Royal Babies & Tots
Our, almost, one year old went to the Royal Babies & Tots Nursery on every night. Sometimes we sent him during dinner, and we always sent him while we went to shows. The remaining time on the cruise he was with us. Cost is $6 an hour before 6 pm and $8 an hour after 6 pm. The nursery bill was the biggest chunk of our onboard charges. However, having some kid-free time on vacation was a nice touch.
We've used the nursery onboard a few other Royal Caribbean and Disney cruises in the past. On this trip, I wasn't overly impressed, but they kept the kids safe and happy. That's the main point. Is it the ideal environment I would want my kid in back home for daycare? No. They seemed to be overwhelmed with the number of kids. They maxed out at eight babies at a time, but when four cried at once, I can understand the challenge. There were a few extreme criers that did make it challenging for the nursery workers. We saw a lot of the babies in their strollers in front of the TV while the women were tending to the kids who needed attention.
My younger son went nightly, so he was always asleep 30 minutes after dropping him off. They kept him in his stroller for sleeping, which made getting him back to the room a snap! On the two occasions we sent him before dinner, they had me answer questions about what he could eat, and they fed him shredded chicken, mashed potatoes, and carrots. They changed diapers, gave bottles, and did their best to ensure that each child was safe and happy. I will use the service again on our next Royal cruise (right now that's next December on the Independence)
Adventure Ocean is the onboard program for kids between the ages 3-11. I have scanned the Kids Daily Planner for each day for anyone interested in seeing what types of activities offered. My, almost, 5 year old loved it and had a great time. He went to Adventure Dining (5-7pm) on 4 of the 7 nights which made our dinners slightly more peaceful! I highly recommend it. They serve them chicken nuggets, pizza, french fries plus a drink water or lemonade!
The pages are in order by day. On the left is the front side of the sheet and on the right are the images from the back side of the sheet. Aquanauts are on the front (left) and Explorers/Voyagers are on the back (right). I will write more about the experience in another post, this one will just serve as reference for the dailies.
*Click on the photos to enlarge!
Norwegian has been an innovator from the moment they started sailing the Caribbean! Over the years they have revamped their kids' programs to serve the current generation of children. Read on to find out more.
Norwegian Cruise Line’s youth programs are very security conscious. A parent or guardian is required to register kids ages 3-17. After registering, kids can participate as often as they (or their parents) choose. Once registered by a parent or guardian, only the authorized adults over 21 may sign kids between the ages of six months and 12 years in and out. The authorized adult must be listed on the Registration Form. They must have a photo ID ready to drop off or pick up children.
Guppies offers parents many opportunities to interact with their children between the ages of six months up to 3 years old with our kid-friendly programming.
Splash Academy is a drop-off program for children between the ages of 3 and 12. Splash Academy offers high energy, interactive and themed-based programming that varies daily. Activities may include arts and crafts, Circus School, games, painting, onboard scavenger hunts and video games. It is broken into three age groups:
Entourage is the hang out for teens ages 13-17. While mom and dad are enjoying date night, their teenager can hang out at Entourage, which is filled with fun activities like video games, movies, arts, music, sports and people their own age. Teens don’t need to stick to a schedule—they can drop in at any time. From the coolest lounge at sea to the hippest dance club at night, there’s always something going on at our complimentary and supervised teen centers.
If some of the family members choose to go on a Shore Excursion that isn’t suitable for younger members, they can arrange for free Port Play services from our youth program supervisors. This service is free except during breakfast, lunch and dinner hours.
It is recommended that parents register their child(ren) and teen(s) as soon as they board the ship. Any Youth Counselor on board the ship is available to assist. Guppies Nursery also requires reservations to secure a time block session throughout the sailing.
In summer 2017 NCL introduced certified lifeguards at family pools across the fleet. While it doesn't replace good old fashioned parental supervision, you can rest assured there is an extra layer of comfort onboard.
Should I cancel my cruise? I was scheduled to go to St Maarten, St Thomas, San Juan, etc.
No, don't cancel your cruise. Over the next few months itineraries will be adjusted to allow the islands to rebuild the necessary infrastructure for tourism. Alternate ports may be used in place of those that cannot accommodate the cruise ships at this time. If you had your heart set on a particular excursion, you can often find a comparable one at another port.
But, the island was ruined. Why should I go?
The residents there depend on tourism dollars. If you don't go, they lose money. Everything from the port fees collected, the trinkets you buy in port, to the tours that bring you around the islands. In turn, it takes them longer to rebuild their lives. If you had a specific excursion in mind, maybe change to something else available. Get involved in voluntourism while you are there. Bring much needed supplies for people in your suitcase and donate when you arrive. There are countless ways to help the people of the Caribbean islands in the coming months.
How will we know when it will be back to normal?
I have a cruise planned for early December. With stops in St Maarten, San Juan, and Nassau. I will gladly report back on the conditions of the ports :) In addition, the islands are very anxious to reopen to tourists and get back to business as usual. I will keep you updated with every ounce of information I get.
Please stay safe if you are in an area affected by the storm. Don't rush to accomplish anything that could put you or your family in danger. Take your time returning home if you have evacuated!
Hi! I am Nicole Perry, owner of Sunkissed Adventures.
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