I didn’t expect to enjoy it, but going on a Disney Cruise was lots of fun and the family will probably go on another trip sometime.
I’ve not posted on my blog for weeks, so this one is going to be a long one. 🙂
How did I get here?
Last year Lily and some of our friends made plans to take an 8-Night Bahamian Cruise on the Disney Magic. This cruise starts in NYC, sails 2 nights to the Bahamas for 2 island stops and then heads to Port Canaveral for a trip to Disney World. After that it’s 2 nights back to NYC.
You can read about the whole thing on Disney’s website.
I love hanging out with my friends and their kids (hey, they’re very cool, I’m not old, what?!) so the idea really appealed to me. But one thing lead to another and we ended up going with just our immediate family.
Not for singles or just couples
The entire cruise is designed for a family experience. They have all day activities where you can check in your kids and go off and relax. It’s like child daycare on vacation and the kids all want to sign up for it. Our children got to hang out with other kids so they had a blast. Disney has entertaining children down to a science.
I’m sure there were some couples that came for just the Disney experience, but I just don’t get that. The Disney cruise is more expensive than many other cruises and why pay for all the kid activities?
An example of the family aspect of the ship: On the 9th deck they have three pools for different groups. The Mickey pool is just for kids, the Goofy pool is for families, meaning anyone can be there, and the last pool is in the adults only section.
You can smoke in the adults-only section, it’s part of why we didn’t spend much time there. But all we saw there was mostly parents and grandparents taking a break.
It’s all safe and you can let the kids run around on the ship and not worry about it. The cruise has got something like 500 youth counselors on board; honestly they can go anywhere on the ship and you don’t have to be concerned.
Part of that confidence is the fact each cabin has 2 “Wave” phones. These are ship-only cell phones that work anywhere on board. We gave each one a Wave phone and let them go off and arrange their own play dates.
Did I mention that other people bring their children as well?
Our kids made some new friends quickly. The children we met were friendly, well behaved, and a joy to be around. The other parents were just like us, they were having a good time and wanted to provide their own children with a great experience too. Lily and I liked spending time with them and later on we all went off to Disney World with another family.
The first stop was in Nassau and we signed up for a ride on a catamaran where we got to snorkel for over an hour. We got on a catamaran with other folks from the ship and went out to a calm shielded section nearby.
I love snorkeling and as long as you don’t touch the coral then all is good. With the salt water and the calm area we were in, you would really have to work hard to drown. Just lie face down, point your snorkel in the air and try not to go to sleep.
Or at least that’s how it was for me. My son had some problems with it, but soon got the idea. The wife and kids wore life preservers as a just-in-case.
The coral was between 6 to 15 feet below us on the water. It’s important that you don’t disturb the fish and coral can be burn and is sometimes sharp. I dove down and took many photos with my waterproof camera. It’s the DMC-TS1 and it’s rated for up to 3 meters depth.
That’s about 10 feet or so and I took it lower than that. I think that’s why it seized up later on and stopped working… It dried off a couple of days later and it’s now it’s functioning again.
The fish and coral were fantastic and I wish I had a better camera. You can see the photo’s I’ve shared of it on Flickr.
Visiting Castaway Cay
Disney has their own island and it’s a resort. Like everything else Disney does, it’s very well prepared and fun to visit. We signed up for renting bikes and seeing live stingrays and we’re looking forward to that stop.
Tropical Storm Debby had other ideas and we got totally soaked in the morning. They had to cancel all the island events due to the wind and rain. After lunch the sun came out and we got some time at the beach.
The resort was good (what we could use of it anyways) but not that different from visiting a similar place in Puerto Rico. Except it had only people from the cruise and no one else. You can’t always count on the weather so I’m not put off by the trip there.
The Dining Experience
There are three family restaurants and one adults-only Italian restaurant.
The adults-only place is formal and we ended up skipping that one. Every night dinner is on a schedule you eat at one of the family restaurants. Your family is assigned a table number and the servers rotate with you. Our servers were Aziz and Claudia and they quickly picked up what we liked to order.
My son always preferred chicken tenders with BBQ sauce followed by ice cream with a caramel topping. He’s easy to figure out that way.
The cuisine was really good. Normally I’m not a fan of seafood and salads but on this trip I ate plenty. When you add good food with two servers who are doing their best to make the experience excellent you get, well, an excellent experience.
Well, what can I say about Disney World? It hasn’t changed that much since our 2008 visit. Although there seems to be more construction going on and I was happy to see much more Nikon DSLRs this time around.
One thing I will point out is that if Disney World was a big reason for going on a cruise then you may want to reconsider.
We started in the Magic Kingdom, went on the Test Track and Space Mountain rides, ate and then made our way to Epcot.
At Epcot it was a couple more rides, more food and fireworks at 9 PM. That was it really, you can’t take in Disney World on a one day trip.
Would I go again?
Yes, I would.
Lily’s talking about taking the family to Alaska on another Disney cruise next year. We may even get the other families to go as well.
Something like 15 years ago Lily and I took another cruise out of New York to Nova Scotia. I can’t even remember the cruise line (I think they went out of business) but the experience wasn’t good. The ship rocked, we got a little sea sick, and there wasn’t much to do on board. Nova Scotia was great, but the visit was short and poorly arranged.
On top of all that, the ship we were on was scheduled for a refurbishing after we got back to New York. Overall a bad time was had by all and I promised myself (and Lily) that that was it. No more cruises for me!
This Disney cruise was nothing like that previous experience at all. The entire trip from when you walk on board to when you leave was entirely managed and controlled. Very little is left to chance and there are plenty of crew available to address any concerns or needs.
It’s a complete package and we had a great time. You can see some of the photos I’ve shared on my Flickr set.
But what about YOU?
Have you gone on a cruise, Disney or otherwise? I didn’t think I’d like another cruise, but I was pleasantly surprised.
I’d like to hear from other people about their experience. It’s not often (most) people take a trip like that, what’s the appeal for you?