Disney Cruise, Disney Fantasy, Movies

Dead Men Tell No Tales: My Review of the fifth Pirates of the Caribbean Film 

Yesterday I had the pleasure of re-living my teenage years as I enjoyed the latest Pirates installment.  I went in super excited because they were finally bringing back Will and Elizabeth! My two favorite characters, and the cinematic couple that set the bar high for all subsequent film kisses and couple chemistry.

Pirates, Ye Be Warned: There be spoilers ahead!  I’ll try to keep the spoilers to a minimum, and put them further down this post after a quick review of the plot:

There are several intertwined plots to PotC 5, the most important of which is Will and Elizabeth’s son, Henry Turner, has dedicated his life to finding a way to release his father from his curse so that Will can come on dry land whenever he wishes and not be covered in barnacles, a look that only Orlando Bloom can pull off successfully.  Henry gets in trouble with the law for saving a bunch of uppity naval officer’s lives, runs into a pretty girl who is looking for the same magical artifact he is to break the curse, and together they wind up helping Jack Sparrow escape dead men and Barbossa find the greatest treasure of his life.

Overall, I give the movie a 5/10.  Fun, piratey, a good flashback to my growing-up years, and Barbossa’s character is fleshed out so well that he is now one of my favorite characters in the series, as far as character development goes. Definitely go see it if you’re a PotC superfan.

Okay, leave NOW if you want no spoilers.  If you don’t mind them, read on!

I went into this movie with fairly low expectations, figuring it would be fun, and probably just as bad or worse than the last three movies were.  Because I watched the first one just a few weeks ago, and I saw how good this franchise started out.   Back when Jack wasn’t a drunk idiot, though he enjoyed his rum; he was always clever, lucky, and played the fool often in order to achieve his goals through trickery.  (See the clip below for a refresher.)

The second and third movie weren’t quite as good, but Jack had already begun to devolve into a caricature of himself, with extra waving arms, bulging eyes, and talking gibberish.  Alas, that is all he is in the latest film.  In fact, other than the main “bad guy” having a vendetta against Jack that motivates him to become the villain, the film would happen almost the same way whether or not Jack was in it.   Jack spent most of the film drunk, stupid, and being completely useless to the characters around him.  In fact, I’d say his main contribution was playing matchmaker between the two new young characters.

I kept waiting for there to be a major turning point for Jack, waiting for his “Aha!” moment.  Perhaps when he realized who Henry was, he would get excited about saving Will from his curse, since it’s Jack’s fault for causing the curse that ultimately spared Will’s life (one of Jack’s better moments of character, I think).


Jack spends the movie caring about saving himself from the ghostly Captain Salazar (excellently played by Javier Bardem, who delivered one of four main character performances I actually bought as genuine).  I will give the writers credit for showing Jack’s origin story, and reflecting back on his days as a clever sailor, but once that flashback is done, we are left seeing a Jack that’s merely a shadow of his genius character from 2003.

It was a joy to see Will Turner come back, and I was reminded how much I love Orlando Bloom as an actor.  His performance is so heartfelt and genuine that you can’t help but spend the entire movie rooting for him to be released from his curse, even though he’s got under five minutes of screen time.  At least it’s better than what we got of Kiera Knightly’s return as Elizabeth – she wasn’t even allowed to speak one word during her (maybe) one minute of screen time.

The newcomers of the film, Henry and Carina, are fine.  They acted the part that was written for them, and despite the “I’m a scientist and a woman, hear me roar” jargon that Carina was forced to spew every five minutes, the two of them were a decent addition to the cast.  I think they would have been better left as being best buddies after this movie, as there is zero chemistry between the two as a romantic couple, but hey, I guess it’s a pirate story.  The hero needs to get the girl, yada yada.  And it works well enough.

My favorite part of the movie is actually Barbossa’s storyline.  From the beginning of The Curse of the Black Pearl, we know that Barbossa is your standard pirate, obsessed with treasure, having his own fleet, and holding enough power on the sea to stay out of trouble with the Navy (or buying them off).  He’s faced curses, switched sides as it was most convenient for him, and even though he’s often been the bad/indifferent guy, he’s always the character you can’t help but like.  Even in the first movie when he’s the only true villain, you can’t help but feel bad for Barbossa.  He really just wants to eat his apple, not turn into a skeleton, and keep his ship.  His methods are definitely not morally acceptable, but the guy has obviously been through a lot and he still manages to keep a gentlemanly demeanor and attitude towards the people around him, especially Elizabeth.




Spoiler alert:

Through the course of the movie Carina’s motivation is following the map her unknown father left for her.  We find out before she does that Barbossa is her father, and that her mother died when Carina was only a baby.  Barbossa knew he wasn’t a good guy and couldn’t provide a decent life for his child, so he left Carina at an orphanage with her book map and a jewel to pay for things in the future.

Up until this point in the movie, we see Barbossa living the dream life of a pirate: he’s got his own fleet, a gilded command ship with gorgeous stained glass and his own personal chamber ensemble, loyal crews, sway over the Royal Navy, his own magician/witch,  and the loyal Monkey Jack by his side.  He’s not one to give up his hat; if there’s a chance to wear a fancy coat, fluffy hat, and gilded peg-leg, he will do it.
I did the math, and we can reasonably assume that he had to leave Carina a short time after the events of Curse of the Black Pearl, after being revived by Tia Dalma.  This would explain his need to always accumulate, whether it be treasure, ships, or fame: Barbossa was filling the void left by his daughter with pirate treasure.  In the end, he not only sheds all of his showy clothes and plumed hat so that he can save his daughter from peril, he also calmly sacrifices his own life to save hers.

Of all the things this movie did, Barbossa was one of the few it got right.  His character arc is so wonderfully constant through the series and now given a reason for being the treasure-obsessed pirate he is, and perfectly completed by not only shedding all of his beautiful earthly belongings in order to save his daughter from peril, but his total sacrifice for his child.
(Let me tell you, this mama bear had a hard time keeping it together in the theater at that moment.  I had a severe case of the sniffles.)

Dead Men Tell No Tales is worth a watch if you’re a die-hard Pirates fan, for Barbossa’s storyline alone.  Will and Elizabeth’s (too-short) comeback is also worth a watch.   Just make sure you stay until the end of the credits for an endearing scene… with just a hint of foreshadowing.  (Because why would you let a franchise die after only fourteen years?)

What would a PotC post be without a shot of myself and the Smuggler meeting Captain Sparrow on the Disney Fantasy?



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Disney Cruise

Fantasy Friday: Snorkeling at Castaway Cay

It’s been a long time since my last cruise post… I must be distracted by something else.  Maybe moving?  Having a baby?  Nah, those can’t be it… 😉
But today I was going through my photos (aka cleaning out the camera memory card so it’s empty and ready for baby pics!), and found a bunch of really awesome photos from Castaway Cay.

I highly recommend snorkeling at Castaway Cay!  There is a snorkeling “trail,” where buoys mark sunken statues, ships, cannons, coral, and a bunch of other things!  Not to mention, there is a lot of sea life all around.  Take a look at what we saw!

Minnie Mouse
Minnie Mouse
Mickey Mouse
Mickey Mouse
Kudos to the Hubby for diving under the surface to get some awesome close-ups!
Kudos to the Hubby for diving under the surface to get some awesome close-ups!

One recommendation: if you want to snorkel, get off the ship as soon as you can, and go snorkeling first thing before you do anything else on the island.  After an hour or two, the snorkel trail was packed with people, and they were kicking up a lot of sand and silt so it was really hard to see the bottom floor of the ocean.  So get out there early!

My snorkeling glamour shot.
My snorkeling glamour shot.
The Nautalus. Definitely the money-shot of the day.
The Nautalus. Definitely the money-shot of the day.
We found Crush!
We found Crush!

DSCN1386 DSCN1388

We followed the dude for quite a while. He was fast!

We rented our snorkeling equipment once we arrived at Castaway Cay.  Hubby and I decided to buy a day-package that included snorkel equipment rental, float rental, and bike rental, since there is a great paved biking trail around the island.  It wasn’t expensive, and was lots of fun.

Plus, we had more than enough time left after both snorkeling and biking to spend time relaxing on the adults-only beach!

Another fun thing about our stop at Castaway: most of the drink stands were offering a “2 for 1” special for adult beverages as the afternoon wore on.  Score!  They were delicious, and I highly recommend trying a few around the island, even if they aren’t doing that special.  (I’m not sure if we were just lucky that day, or if they do it often.  But the drink prices are pretty reasonable.)

The water is so clear, blue, and calm you can take floaties out into the ocean.  A friendly reminder, though…

Massive stingray-friend.
Massive stingray-friend.

It’s the ocean.  You’re in the animals’ home as their visitor, and though they tend to be friendly, don’t freak out if you run across a massive, 6 ft.+ stingray!

He was friendly. Just saying hi! Yes, that fish was almost as long as my forearm.

Fantasy Friday

Fantasy Friday: 7 Reasons I Love the Photo Packages on DCL

If you’re like me, you like to stick to a budget.  So when I am planning a vacation, the foremost thought in my mind is “How do we have fun, but keep this under control?”  Often, this means that ‘extras’ will be left out, i.e. anything that would be fun, but our vacation would be just as fun without it.

However, our honeymoon cruise wasn’t a time we wanted to skimp too much- we knew this was our one and only honeymoon, so there were a few things we just couldn’t avoid signing on for!  So after making sure that our awesome vacation wouldn’t break the bank, my husband booked the Photography Package for our cruise.  And I am so grateful he did!

Here are my top reasons I loved getting our Disney Cruise Line Photos!

1. There is a package that costs a one-time fee to get all of your photos not only on a CD, but also high-quality photo prints.

Husband and Housewife meet Minnie Mouse on Formal Night
Husband and Housewife meet Minnie Mouse on Formal Night

The full photo package was the best deal for us because we knew we would want more than just a few prints.  Once we added up the cost of the photos, knowing that we would want at least 10-20 prints, it was more economical to go with the big all-photo package.  So we got prints of every shot the photographers took, and all of the pictures on a CD.  There are other sizes of photo packages available, and you are able to purchase just a few prints if you want only one or two.  But if you are on a big-event vacation, like a honeymoon or a family reunion, it’s a great way to make sure you’ll get good quality of photos with a variety of backgrounds!   For more info on Disney Cruise Line Photo Services, click here. 

2.  All of the photographers on board are professionals who help you pose in front of studio-quality backdrops.

We ended up using this shot as one of our Christmas card photos!

Ever have a Ricky Bobby moment and have no idea what to do with your hands (or feet, or face!) in a photo?  Not a problem when the photographers have several different pose ideas for you!  Each photographer usually put us in a few different poses at each photo station.

3. Did I mention the studio-quality backdrops?
There were plenty of backdrops to choose from each evening!  They had basic black or white backgrounds, along with some prettier ones, like the one above that looked like twinkle lights.

A photo from our first night on the cruise on a plain white background.
A photo from our first night on the cruise on a plain white background. (Not our best photo faces, since we were tired from a day of traveling. We learned fast and cleaned up better the rest of the evenings, and got better at posing!)

Every night would be a different selection of backgrounds, and several of them are repeated on different nights throughout the cruise.  Special event evenings sometimes meant a specialty backdrop, like these two from Pirate Night:

Ahoy and avast!
We be the scalliest of scallywags!
We found Captain Sparrow hanging around this particular backdrop.
We found Captain Sparrow hanging around this particular backdrop. He insisted my dagger-garter be front and center.

4. Getting photos taken was quick and easy (Even for the bigger families with little kids!)

My husband and I would stop by the main atrium on our way to and from the stage shows or dinner, check out what backgrounds we wanted, and picked one or two.  We just stood in a short, quick-moving line, got our photo taken, and went on our merry way.  Most nights we stood in line with other cruisers, many of them families with little kids.  The lines were short enough that the kids didn’t get too restless, their families got great pictures, and then they ran off to whatever event the family wanted to do next.  I’m not quite baby-wrangling yet, but I am thinking that is a much easier way to get family photos than going to a studio and trying to make my kid sit still for an hour or two in front of a camera!  Just one or two per day, and your holiday photos are done.

A great backdrop from formal night!
A great backdrop from formal night!

5. You can get formal night photos (taken with the ship’s captain!) without lugging around your personal camera.

When I’m all dolled up, I hate having to lug around much of anything, and especially on a cruise when I could run back to my room for anything I might need in a purse anyway!  Having someone else take my photo on formal night, with a camera ten-times better than mine (at least) was fantastic.  Plus, it’s a great opportunity to meet the ship’s captain, and he happens to hang out in front of a photo backdrop.

Me and the husband with the captain. He was very friendly!
Me and the husband with the captain. He was very friendly, though he didn’t smile big for the camera!

P.S. Formal night also meant free drinks in the atrium while the meet-and-greet photos were going on with the captain.  We hung out there for quite a while.  Drinks + meeting the captain + more photography stations than any other night = one happy couple!

6. Great photos with characters!

For example:

We went on a Halloween on the High Seas cruise, and this was costume night. Captain Hook wanted our puppies!
We went on a Halloween on the High Seas cruise, and this was costume night. Captain Hook wanted our puppies!

Also, you sometimes get to use cute props:

A better picture from our first evening on the cruise.
A better picture from our first evening on the cruise.

7. If you decide to go for a fancy dinner at Palo or Remy, you get your picture from that evening.

Our dinner at Palo on semi-formal night. It was delicious!
Our dinner at Palo on semi-formal night. It was delicious!

And those are the reasons I’m so grateful we got our mega-photo package!  I’ve added some more photos below so you can see different backdrops and poses we got on our cruise.  Enjoy!

Semi-formal night on the grand staircase, atrium.
Semi-formal night on the grand staircase, atrium.
Formal night by the Minnie Mouse statue.
Formal night by the Minnie Mouse statue.
Another formal night shot, taken in front of a beautiful castle mosaic by guest services. (This one is hanging in my living room!)
Another formal night shot, taken in front of a beautiful castle mosaic by guest services. (This one is hanging in my living room!)
Two backdrops and poses from Halloween night!

Two backgrounds & poses from Halloween night!

They take a family picture the moment you set foot on the ship.
They take a family picture the moment you set foot on the ship. Not too bad for lugging around our suitcases just seconds before!
Taken in front of the Halloween tree (it 'grows' every night of the Halloween on the High Seas cruise!)
Taken in front of the Halloween tree (it ‘grows’ every night of the Halloween on the High Seas cruise!)
Fantasy Friday

Fantasy Friday: Pirate Night!

Disney boasts one of the best fireworks shows… while out in the middle of the ocean.  It is so cool!  On our cruise, the fireworks show was on Pirate Night, which ended up being one of my favorite events.

What is Pirate Night, you ask?  Well, it’s the one night that the cruise ship is taken over by PIRATES!  (Don’t worry, the ship completely stays on course, the Captain is still the captain, no one mutinies… for long.)


Luckily, all the pirates really want is the ship… And to find Jack Sparrow!

Er, right.  *Captain* Jack Sparrow.
Er, sorry. *Captain* Jack Sparrow.

On pirate night, you are allowed, nay, encouraged to dress as a pirate, which pleased my little wannabe-cosplayer-at-heart so much.  Luckily, my husband and I knew about Pirate Night ahead of time, and we were prepared with old Halloween costumes.

Husband loves being on a boat. He could be barefoot (almost) everywhere!
Husband loves being on a boat. He could be barefoot (almost) everywhere! I opted for fishnets and heels… so pirate-y.

Though the pirate night events began with dinner, with a special menu and the servers all decked out in their pirate duds.  We also pirated up before dinner, of course.

After dinner, we waited on deck for the Pirates on the Caribbean show to begin! (When the above feet photo was taken.)  A bunch of cast members pirates were around to entertain all of us cruisers while we waited for the show to begin. Continue reading “Fantasy Friday: Pirate Night!”

Fantasy Friday

Fantasy Friday: Tips for Embarking on the Cruise

Embarking on the cruise starting rather early for us!  Luckily, since my husband and I were staying at Disney World, we only had a few hours drive to get to Cape Canaveral, where the Disney Fantasy was “parked.” But we wanted to get there early, because a) we needed extra swimsuit things for snorkeling, and b) the sooner you get to the ship terminal, the quicker you get on the ship.

Now I believe my husband selected the earliest possible check-in time for us at the terminal, an option that he told me was on the vacation planning/cruise planning website.  However, I can’t give specifics, since my husband did most of the honeymoon planning, and my job was to help pick activities and excursions, then get back to planning our wedding.

This is definitely not the first you see of the ship.  It's huge!  It can be seen over buildings from quite a ways off.
The first full view of the ship.  It is huge!!

In case you’re about to head on the Fantasy yourself, here are some little tips for embarkation day that really helped us out!

Tip # 1: Continue reading “Fantasy Friday: Tips for Embarking on the Cruise”


Fantasy Friday: Towel Animals & Personal Navigators

When I tell people that my husband and I did a Disney Cruise, one of the first thing they ask is “What kind of towel animals did they make?”  Towel animals are already a fun part of staying at a Disney hotel, but on the cruises, the towels get much more complex!


If you’re a guest on a Disney cruise, your own personal housekeeper comes in to make the bed, clean, and tidy up (which is AWESOME!  Husband and I are terrible about just leaving everything scattered around the room on vacations, and the housekeeper organized it all every afternoon.  She was amazing!).

In the early evening, about when we would be getting ready for dinner or a show, we would come back to our room to find an awesome towel animal, always accompanied by two Sleepy chocolates.   (As in Sleepy the dwarf, but you’re given the chocolates before bed… get it?)

The chocolates are the snake’s eyes!

Continue reading “Fantasy Friday: Towel Animals & Personal Navigators”

Fantasy Friday

Fantasy Friday: Look into the light

As with everything Disney, it’s in the details.

What’s in the details?

Well, everything.

If you’ve been to Disney World, you’ll understand what I mean.  From the bird tracks on the ground (not from a bird accidentally walking through the construction site, fyi), to the sounds you hear around the parks, sometimes even what you smell– everything Disney does with the surroundings has a purpose, to tell a story about the place where you’re standing.

So while it may seem odd that my first post about the Disney Fantasy cruise ship has to do with the lighting, it’s because I was so struck by the details in them.   The lights add to the mood and ambiance in beautiful ways.

The chandelier in the main lobby/atrium
The chandelier in the main lobby/atrium

This picture was taken from the 5th floor of the ship, which looks down into the main atrium, so you can also see how BIG the ship feels!

Continue reading “Fantasy Friday: Look into the light”

Fantasy Friday

Fantasy Friday: Introduction

Welcome to the first of many posts about the Disney Fantasy and its Caribbean cruise!

For our honeymoon, my Husband and I took our first ever cruise on the Disney Fantasy.  We loved our experience, and want to share some interesting and (hopefully!) helpful tidbits about the cruise, the ship, the food (YUM) and the islands.

As both my Husband and I have food allergies, I will spend a significant amount of the posts covering the different restaurants and food places around the ship.

Some days I’ll have longer posts, some days shorter. Some days it will be obvious topics, like the food, and others not-so obvious, like hidden artwork or the light fixtures (which will be my first post, and yes, they are that beautiful and unique that they deserve their own blog).

If you would like an easy way to find all the Fantasy Friday posts once there are more than a few, just click the link at the top of the page titled “Fantasy Friday.” I will have links to each blog post in date order, with their topics listed.

Bon Voyage!