Here are my random thoughts about the Disney cruise – only read if you are interested!
It was all in all a wonderful trip. I have a few recommendations, observations, and tricks and tips to pass along. I also wanted to let everyone know that we are currently on the books to go on the Disney Magic next Thanksgiving as well – another 7 day cruise. This time, the ship will go to three different ports: Key West, the Disney private island Castaway Cay, and Nassau,Bahamas. So, that should tell you that we definitely had a good time – and I think as the kids get a little bigger it will be even better.
The experience was magical – the characters were everywhere. We even ran into Mickey wearing pilgrim clothes on Thanksgiving – in the hall! The princesses were available two day in the atrium and after a 30 minute wait, Emmy got to meet, hug, and get the autograph of every princess. We also had a character breakfast with Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Pluto, Chip and Dale and Goofy. Plus they attended a bunch of other things – a dance party on the deck, etc. It was so fun.
I had been told ahead of time, you can also leave something at Guest services (like a pillowcase, frame, etc) and the kids and I made placemats that ALL the characters signed which we will laminate. The look awesome. (I put in a package of rainbow sharpies).
There was *always* something to do. Unfortunately, our kids didn’t warm to the idea of being by themselves in the lab/club (at least the five year olds) – the staff was a little disappointing on that regard. But, there was plenty of time for open house where parents could go and sit and watch, and there were always crafts, tea parties, BINGO, dance parties, etc. AND the movies – they had movies showing first run (Wreck it Ralph and Frankenweenie and Lincoln) and tons of others – on three separate theaters. Plus the TV had Disney shows, 12 channels of movies, etc. A good way to chill out on the afternoons. I think if you went with kids that were a little more used to camp or to doing things together or just a little older it would be perfect. And at age 8 they can check themselves in and out. You have special phones so they can always get ahold of you.
There were two family pools on board that were super fun – one was for “swimmers” and one was the Mickey pool – more shallow and with a giant curvy slide. But the bigger pool had funnel vision which was a giant screen movie that had football games, movies, etc.
The food was great – we went through three different restaurants for dinner and the kids could order off the kids menu or adult menu and our servers went with us. They did magic, drew on the tables (washable crayons!) played with cousins and had a great time. Dinner took about 1 hr 30 min each night, but the kids got their food first and most nights we did well. But it was great food – and we didn’t have extra charges as we brought wine to the room and drank before dinner. Sodas and water and tea and coffee were free all day.
There was always someplace open for lunch and breakfast – we tended to do the buffet which had the best array. It also had BBQ, and “themed” days – steakhouse, seafood, French, etc. They had onlettes in the morning and risotto at lunch.
I had been told room service was free but we never used it because we just went upstairs. I did grab some extra cereal at breakfast and a couple of bananas just in case.
We went to Grand Cayman first and Davis and I had a day all to ourselves. It was magical – we went diving after a 8 year absence. It was so warm we didn’t need wetsuits. And, one of our fellow divers took a video which I hope to share. We will definitely bring a camera the next time. The whole operation was so easy – they had everything you needed and it was a great group – only about 12 folks. We saw more fish than we have ever seen. Including a porcupine fish. It was a blast.
The kids went with their grandparents and the rest of the family to the turtle farm – it was awesome. They had a great time – holding turtles, swimming with them, and seeinga ton of other wildlife. They even did a little snorkeling.
The second port was Costa Maya – which is obviously a relatively new port. It’s not very built up and the children remarked on that – probably a good thing for them to see. We went on a glass bottom boat, and the kids all did some snorkeling. Emmy and Carter got out after the waves got to be too much. They were happy to be there and got to touch a spider sea star as well as a sea urchin and a conk.
Our last port was Cozumel which felt much more Mexican in general and was clearly a touristy town as well. We did the Colphin adventure and it was AWESOME. We swam with dolphins, kissed them, held their hands and then hitched a ride on their bellies. Davis took Carter on his back and I took Emmy – and we both got solo rides as well. (The only bummer was the pictures were prohibitively expensive – luckily we had an observer who took pics from above.
You could do the whole thing without extra charges – just take a taxi to a beach in port or walk around, but we decided to do it up right – and we did.
I brought work out gear (as did Davis) but we never had the chance since the kiddos didn’t want to stay in the clubs. But we had plenty of stair time. At one point, we ran into Minnie dressed in her evening gown and I ran up five flights of stairs in my formal dress and back down to get our autograph books. It was totally worth it.
Our stateroom was lovely – a deluxe verandah. It slept all of us, but with the beds all down (one from the ceiling and one from the wall) it was a tight squeeze. Emmy seemed to be fighting getting sick so we had a couple of days of naps and that was complicated too. For the next trip we booked two adjacent rooms with portholes for way less money (we hardly ever used the verandah and this way we might be able to sneak out to the shows)
It also had abath tub which was great for the kids – but a challenge for Davis and I. I ended up taking a couplf of showers up in the Vista spa because there was more space and I felt more open.
Things I learned
There is a sense of pure joy with Disney – magic is everywhere. The big boys stayed up for the fireworks (in pirate attire) and there were so many people in costume on pirate night it made it so fun. Almost every dinner had something special – a show, a restaurant where the walls came alive, etc.
The shows and fireworks are late – shows are at 8.30 if you have early dinner – which is 5.45 – and the fireworks are at 10.30. Our kids were up by 6.30 every morning regardless of when they went to bed! So we did have some fun time with ipads and movies in the afternoons.
Extra things to pack:
powerstrip (lots of things to plug in and not much space),
magnets for the door – we had a dry erase board and that was nice to write to each other.
Pirate outfits made that night super fun. We all got bandanas at dinner too.
Bottled water – great to have in the room
Wine/liquor – helps with the cost and you always have a little time to down some drinks before dinner
Sunscreen – we used about three bottles and we weren’t out that much
Kid swimsuits – we used almost all of them, not so much for the adults
You don’t have to dress up for dinner but we had two nights of suits ( … and Emmy and I wore a dress every night.
Things to Know
Tea with Alice is a special event you can sign up for at Guest Services – way worth it
Express Check out is well owrth it, you drag your luggage but we were off the boat by 8am
The “extra” goodie signed at Guest Services
Bring a camera everywhere – you never know when you will see a super fun photo op
Bring cash with you on the excursions for tipping and some small souvenirs
Bring paper and pens – a great way for the kids to unwind is to draw and hang out in the room