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Ocean cruise versus theme park - let the best tourist trap win!

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Entertainment: I’m certain talented cruise line entertainers exist, but they must have missed my boat. While we sometimes stumbled across a good acoustic guitarist or Latin trio in the lounges, the main stage offered the worst productions I’ve seen outside a middle school, and the theater’s awful sightlines barely allowed me to see them. All three shows I suffered through showcased sloppy choreography, a main vocalist with no sense of pitch and music that was current around my bar mitzvah. As God is my witness, I’ll never make fun of Fantasmic! again.

Edibles: I went aboard anticipating excessive quantities of food, but was pleasantly surprised by its quality. The buffet bested any I’ve had at Disney, with the exception of Animal Kingdom Lodge’s exceptional Boma, and with the evening sushi bar and late-night pizza, there was plenty of variety. Sit-down dining wasn’t up to Emeril’s standards, but was as good as anything served inside an area theme park. Escargot, gazpacho, broiled lobster and prime rib were all perfectly prepared and presented by the personable Filipino and Serbian staff.

Overall: I booked a bargain-basement vacation (under $100 per person per day, after taxes and tips) fully anticipating a Walmart-style experience; instead I got something closer to Tarjay. I’m not about to abandon my Orlando park annual passes, especially with Avatar and Harry Potter expansions on the way. But now I understand why cruise veterans joke that your first cruise is the most expensive trip you’ll ever take: It inevitably leads to others.

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