Tag Archives: vacation

Disney Cruise Thoughts – only read if you want details on our trip!

Here are my random thoughts about the Disney cruise – only read if you are interested!

Disney Memories


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





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A Pink Ribbon in my Pocket

There’s a Girl Scout song I learned long ago about having a great big brownie smile in my pocket. It always struck me as funny – a smile in your pocket? That’s like having a blink in your shoe. But after this past week, I realize the symbolism as the song played over and over in my head on our vacation.

We went on a Disney cruise – and for those of you interested in the details, I have made a full post here (Disney cruise thoughts) … but for the rest of you, suffice it to say it was magical and exhausting. Somewhere around the second day at sea – when I had gotten dressed up formal in a sassy red number – and after I ran barefoot up five flights of stairs to retrieve our autograph book because we happened across Minnie Mouse in her formal wear in a lounge – I said to myself, I have a smile in my pocket.

Then the next day we went SCUBA diving in Grand Cayman – Davis and I. Now we fibbed a little and told them we had been diving “recently” – it had been nine years for me  since our first wedding anniversary in Belize. I was so nervous on the boat ride out I probably burned a full day of adrenaline. Then we had to do one of those “giant step” entries which always scares the beejesus out of me. I was the last one off the boat. Davis gave me a double high five. Then we held hands.I descended to a too-deep level of 90 feet accidentally because I was having so much fun. No wetsuit! Tons of fish! And, my swim boobs worked!

After we surfaced for air after the first dive, the smile was no longer in my pocket. I was grinning like a crazy person. I just wanted to yell out to everyone on the dive boat – do you realize what I was doing a month ago? Two months ago? Six months ago? Do you know I have swim boobs on? (From then on when I would get ready to go in the water I thought of myself as the SS Lauren strapping on the ladies)

It was the first time I had been in a really large group for a long time – being a “normal” person all day every day where no one knew my story. No one ever looked at me twice – except for the nice meaning Disney guest services lady who asked why I cut my hair – and then recovered by saying I looked like a supermodel. I was so impressed with myself in general. Apart from the fact that I went to bed with the twins, and took a nap or two (who wouldn’t!) I felt like myself again.

But, there is also some resentment. I look around all these normal people and want to shake them – do you know how good you have it? do you know how hard I’ve worked to get here? I also realize that other people probably have something in their pocket – maybe not a smile, maybe a story, maybe a challenge they too have overcome. Maybe not.

For now, our entire family is aglow with happiness – though the trip was not as relaxing as we had planned, it was far more magical and the children are blissful. Ultimately what more could we wish, and what more could we celebrate in this season of thanks.

PS I will try to upload some of the video and link to it – a man on the boat with us took a video and mailed it to us!


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And Now for the Good News

It’s been a tough week. I realize that sometimes my posts come off as maudlin or downer, but part of it is because of the therapeutic value of putting everything that’s wrong onto the page in a clinical universe. I don’t really have to explain it to people, I just write it and out it goes. But, it means I probably err on the side of the negative aspects of my mentality. I am doing well. The kids are doing well. It’s just a hard season. But, look how much fin we are having.

The twins each had strep, but are now on the mend.

I found out that we have reached our out of pocket maximum for the year so the rest of my procedures will be covered this year … maybe I should cram in sinus surgery or a tummy tuck while I’m at it.

I get to go shopping at Nordstrom’s tomorrow for my new camisole – covered by insurance!

I just got a huge basket of every kind of pink candy possible from my treatment buddy Betsy – hello lady! too funny!

I learned that it’s not use trying to exercise right now as I will likely have my metabolism shift again when I get through radiation and onto tamoxifen. (No svelte by Christmas pledge!)

I met with my oncologist today and she’s 100% behind my planned treatment and thrilled with my progress so far.

Emmy has remembered that she would like to get a pedicure with me … “but I don’t want pickles on my eyes” … Henry is striving to be the best camper at his camp – his counselor told me he is one of the “sweetest boys he’s ever met” … and Carter is working on a 100 piece puzzle and creating a new road with our fabulous new nanny. Miss Lauren is a DG alum from UT pre-med who tutors in math and science in her spare time. And she has a puppy we can borrow.

Davis and I have a date night planned for tomorrow night to go to Lambert’s fancy BBQ our fave Austin joint of late.

The kids got to ride on a longhorn that had a horn span as tall as Davis – exactly.

And I plan to take the kids to french toast at the Egg and I on the weekend. And maybe dim sum. I do love a good bao.

I have wonderful friends who are helping drive kids places, loaning me a recliner and offering to bring meals, play with kids, and make this next few weeks as seamless as possible.

In the midst of chaos, there is always a big pile of sugar pink candy somewhere.

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