Three weeks before winter break, I decided my family was in desperate need of a vacation. We even had passports for the kids so I was convinced we’d have our choice of destination, even with the last minute decision to travel. But that was not the case. If it wasn’t sold out, then what was still available was insanely expensive and flights were pricey and inconvenient. So when I posted a request on Facebook to find out my friends’ favorite all-inclusive family resorts, I was pleasantly surprised to find that a majority of them recommended the Disney Cruise.
I liked the idea of a cruise: lots of activities to keep you busy (especially if the weather isn’t great), unlimited food and drink, entertaining shows and a fun kids club to give you some quiet time with the hubby. And with my Disney-obsessed children, the bonus of having their favorite characters walking around, would make us feel like we were getting the magic of Disney without the crazy long lines, the excruciating heat, the endless walking, pricey admission or nauseating rides. Win-win for the whole family!
And that’s exactly what we got. From the dance party as we set sail to the final Broadway-calibre musical revue performed on the last night of our cruise, the Disney staff had my whole family smiling from (mouse) ear to (mouse) ear. To help make your Disney cruise (or any cruise) Disney Spectacular, here are a few things to keep in mind:
1) You’re not on land: Ever since having kids (or maybe just getting older), I’ve become particularly sensitive to motion and can’t even enjoy roller coasters like I used to. And while the Carribbean is relatively calm outside of Hurricane season, I still felt a tad woozy the first day or two of the cruise. Fortunately, I packed some Dramamine and despite needing a nap because of it, it really helped me adjust. My husband used the bracelets and those worked well for him. I packed Dramamine for Kids but my 4 and 6 year old were unfazed by the mild rocking.
2) Travel to/from the ship: If you’re traveling in the wintertime, consider getting to the port city a day early. The ship leaves around 4:30pm so you’ll most likely make it on the boat in time but why add the stress? Though Disney provides transportation, we brought our inflatable Bubblebum inflatable carseats with us and took a cab from the hotel to the port for $30. On the last day, they want you off the ship by 9/9:30am but recommend booking an afternoon flight. Rather than spend hours at the airport or lug our bags somewhere in Miami, we took a cab back to the airport hotel we stayed at before the cruise and swam in their pool for a couple of hours (with permission of course). We took the free shuttle back to the airport and boarded our flight.
3) Things you might want to pack: Sand toys for the beach (though the Disney Island – Castaway Key – sells them), a necklace to put my key card in (sold on the ship), autograph book, picture frame mat or a T-shirt for the characters to sign and as many Disney costumes you can fit in your luggage if your kids like to dress up.
4) Don’t stress about the room: Because we booked last minute, we were only able to get a windowless room. This actually turned out to be a good thing! Besides the fact that we were hardly in the room other than to sleep, the lack of a window kept our motion sickness at bay and kept the room dark so we were able to sleep in and make up for the sleep we lost with our later bedtimes. All that combined with the cost savings, I might opt to book the same type of room again!
5) Misc. Reminders: Upon boarding the ship, head to the guest services area to book tickets to see characters/princesses at specific times and book excursions if you haven’t already done so. Although we didn’t go on any excursions because the ages of our kids would force us to split up for most of the day, we still managed to enjoy the islands’ beaches both as a family and as a couple (while the kids were in Castaway Key’s Kids Club). We also got back to the boat in time to enjoy the pools without the usual crowds.
We certainly had a memorable time on the Disney Wonder and are looking forward to setting sail again soon! Bon Voyage!!