Reviews of Pirate Adventure from Grand Floridian
Children wear pirate bandannas and follow clues to search Bay Lake and the Seven Seas Lagoon for buried treasure. They sail to many exotic "ports of call" (Resort Marinas) to collect treasure. Children who are potty trained (no pull-ups) and ages 4-10 may attend. Lunch is provided (Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich, Gummy bears, Krispy Treat and Juice box).
Reviewed by Alhio Review Date: 02/18/2016
Rating: (7) Recommended
Children in my family took part in the Pirate Cruise from the Grand Floridian one Saturday in February of 2016. The cost was $37/child.
After attempting to research the Pirate Cruises offered online at both official and fan sites, as well as in travel books such as Passporter and Fodorâ€™s [thereâ€™s not a whole lot out there about them], and here on allears.net, I called the reservation hotline and made reservations around 90 days ahead of our vacation.
We were staying at Port Orleans â€“ French Quarter, and although they offer a cruise from Port Orleans â€“ Riverside, they were not having one that particular Saturday morning, and so they suggested the Grand Floridian location.
This was dismaying, because of the loss of convenience that would have been departing in the morning from the resort to which we could get quick travel (via boat on the Sassagoula or Internal Resort Shuttle).
To get to the Grand Floridian before 9:30am, we had to leave in time to catch a bus to the Magic Kingdom (without entering the park), walk to get the resort monorail line, and ride it through stops at the Contemporary, Ticketing and Transportation Center, and the Polynesian before coming to our stop at the Grand Floridian.
This proved less trouble than I worried it might be, but it was still not as convenient as attending one at Riverside.
According to my research, each cruise is meant to be specific to the surrounding area it involves (for example, Port Orleans cruises from Riverside, titled by Disney as â€œBayou Pirate Adventureâ€, talk about real pirate Jean Lafitte). Disneyâ€™s Pirate Adventure from The Grand Floridian uses Gasparilla (real name: Jose Gaspar) as their pirate.
When I reserved for my children, I asked to reserve for my three-year-old, who would turn four within ten days of the sailing and was toilet-trained (listed as non-negotiable).
After being put on various holds I was told that would not be possible. The cruises are for 4-12 year olds.
When we arrived on property, I thought to try and secure him a reservation again using a face-to-face with the concierge at our hotel.
After explaining how very close he was to being four, she worked the system and secured him a reservation. â€œFor the purpose of the cruise, he is four,â€ she told me.
We arrived that morning to the Grand Floridian and asked at the Front Desk were we were to go for the cruise. And were startled to find out that the Cast Member behind the desk we had approached had no idea about the cruise or where it left from.
She asked around until she found an answer and was able to direct us to the correct dock, giving us a resort map (helpful, because we were not staying there and were not at all familiar with its geography beyond the main building and its shops and restaurants.
We proceeded to the shed that rents boats, etc. They gave me a legal release to sign for my children. It asked for their names, ages, and birthdates.
I filled it out truthfully, for several reasons. First, Iâ€™m not a liar. I had assumed the concierge had managed the situation in a way that would not require me to deceive Disney, or lie on a legal document. Secondly, as we were resort guests, my children have MagicBands, and so Disney is already aware of what I have listed as their true birthdays (I am sure it would have only taken a few key strokes for them to call this up).
The Cast Member at the rental shed looked over my form and noted that my child was not yet four. I explained his imminent birthday, she attempted to contact a supervisor, telling me this never really happened (younger children being allowed to book the cruise). Though it was unnecessary (I wasnâ€™t going to throw a fit) the supervisor came to the rental shed to meet with me and tell me my three-year-old could not attend due to legal issues.
Which was disappointing, but of course I always had known this was a possibility.
My two children got their wristband and lifevests (cannon-proof vests, I believe they were called. They were black). My third was sad not to go, but manageably so.
A second family came with the other two children who had reservations.
(I will note that we were fifteen minutes early for the 9:30am start time, and they were ten or more late. I do not know if the cruise is meant to depart at the immediate start time or not, but here it could not, as not everyone had arrived.)
Their daughter, who was to turn four in two months had also been given an advance reservation (by someone different from the concierge I dealt with), and yet had to be turned away. This child was more upset by this than was mine. The Cast Members told us this was not a situation that usually happened, and they could not believe they had run into it twice in one cruise.
I feel sure there may have been reprimands and re-trainings for those granting reservations after this.
And I feel sorry for the concierge who helped me, because she was only trying to manage what I asked of her.
<B>In short: The ages are 4-12. Non-negotiable.</B>
Three boys attended this cruise (since the two other children booked for it were disqualified by age). They were given paper black wristbands (meant to show I had completed the legal paperworkâ€”and probably needed to keep track of things on cruises with lots more kids to wrangle), and then got black lifevests, which they were told were cannon-proof vests.
The cruise left the dock at the Grand Floridian a few minutes before 10am, with two Cast Members (both female) who wore red vests and one had a striped sash around her waist (they looked only vaguely piratical). The boat they took was a standard open (no roof) pontoon party boat. It was not decorated in any way. None of the flags I have seen in pictures of the cruises online, and my children did not received scarfs (as also has been reported online).
I tried to get my middle child to take his camcorder with him to take pictures (not the least of which was because I was very curious about what he was about to do), but he said he would rather not.
Parents were expected to return at 11:30am to pick-up their pirates, with a valid photo ID. The legal documents that were filled out had required the names of people permitted to collect your children.
At 11:30am-ish we returned, the cruise docked, and we were told they were still searching for the treasure. [A Cast Member told me that they were going to find the treasure here so the two under-4 children they had had to turn away could take part in finding it. So I donâ€™t know if the final treasure is always found here or not.] The three-year-old girl had not been brought back by her family to pick-up her brother, but I had my rejected child with me, and his was pleased to see his siblings and run after the Cast Members as they searched.
A large chest was found among the landscaping just outside one of the Grand Floridian buildings, and opened to show a treasure hoard of plastic doubloons, plastic gemstones of several colors and sizes, multiple shiny silver skull and crossbones rings and what we would think of as Mardi Gras beads (necklaces). A Cast Member took out little pirate-themed bags and packed each of them with treasure for the three that went on the cruise and one for each sibling that had been turned away.
The rest of the treasure, she said, would be left so the Grand Floridian pirates (the Cast Members) could buy another ship. (Apparently they were meant to have been without a ship, and the boat they took off in earlier they were meant to have borrowed/stolen).
There was no swordfight among pirates (I had read in more than one place that this was the stylish capper of pirate cruises at Disney, one poster even going so far as to say not to miss itâ€”but nothing like this happened at our cruise).
<B>In my kidâ€™s words</B>
According to my kids, they sailed to about four locations beside the Grand Floridian, including what they believed to be an island. The Cast Members told â€œbadâ€ pirate jokes, as well as the story of the pirate Gasparilla (of whom one of them claimed to be descended).
They saw a shipwreck, received pirate nicknames (the first letter of which corresponded with your name, so â€œMatey Michaelâ€ for example).
They visited horses and ponies (which I reckon were at the Wilderness Lodge) and spoke with someone in the stables there. They played pirate games near what they describe as a large Tiki. They were on a white sand beach with palm trees (the Polynesian), they were given a snack of water and Disneyâ€™s version of goldfish crackers.
They were taken on a step-by-step hunt for items they needed, such as a key to open the final treasure chest.
My two children are: one closer to the upper end of the age for this cruise, and one firmly in the middle.
The older one told me his favorite thing about it was simply being in that boat out on the water of the Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake (I cannot argue against him, there).
<B>My own feelings about the cruise</B>
For me, this seemed a nice time, a way to let my kids have a unique experience while at Walt Disney World on a day we were not going to the parks (we were flying home later that day).
I say nice, because I donâ€™t think it clocked in as â€˜greatâ€™. Neither for them nor for me.
And that comes down to the Disney touch, which I felt was largely absent from it. Just down to the pontoon boat, which wasnâ€™t at all decorated or even as charming as the launches to the Magic Kingdom you can take from that resort. It had no personality or uniqueness at all. They received nothing (such as a bandana or other piratical keepsake, though the official Disney website for the cruises references that theyâ€™ll wear pirate bandanas) that I could not have bought at my local party store or from Oriental Trading, the snack was uninspired. The Cast Membersâ€™ costumes for the event were barely there. The energy-level with regard to the event (by Cast Members) was low, almost sleepy.
The Cast Members did a fine job, but certainly (that I was party-to) nothing that rose above the level of your average babysitter.
That said, I donâ€™t know if our experience during an off-peak time, few children having reserved it, it being the Grand Floridian Disney Pirate Adventure cruise rather than a cruise from another resortâ€”I donâ€™t know enough to know if these things had a bearing on it.
On a 10-scale, I think Iâ€™d give it a 6 or 7.
But I certainly donâ€™t see myself reserving this particular adventure again.
<B>About the length</B>
I wrote this review at this length because trying to learn about this event online proved very frustrating; there is really not more than a paragraph or so of information available about these Pirate Cruises that I could find. And what there is to find is not at all recent.
Pros:Kids-only experience treasure hunting on Disney property
Cons:Not as unique as expected from Disney
Reviewed by PackFan Review Date: 07/13/2013
Rating: (10) Recommended
My 7 year old daughter absolutely loved this Pirate Cruise. It was her favorite part of the trip. The kids get to go on an adventure without Mom and Dad (which makes them feel very grown up) and the parents get two hours of adult time knowing that their kids are having a great time. I spent my time at the Grand Floridian Spa (which I highly recommend). The pirate crew was terrific.