We just got back from one amazing vacation. We went on one of the 4 day Disney family Cruises with our two boys (2 and 1) and I must say it was something I would recommend for any parents of small children. I thought I would share some details with parents who might be considering a trip like this one to help you decide if it’s right for you.
We left last Saturday afternoon and flew from SLC to Orlando and stayed overnight at a hotel near the airport. Sunday morning we took a shuttle to the airport where we met up with one of the buses that would take us out to port Canaveral (where we boarded the ship). You check in for the cruise right at the airport our hotel shuttle dropped us off literally steps from where we checked in. The check-in process was flawless and after literally no waiting we boarded the motor coach on our way to the ship. The coach left about 5 minutes after we got on and there were at least 2 others waiting to take other passengers. This was all particularly awesome because you all know how much kids like to wait in lines. It was about a one hour ride to the port, but they were showing a video the entire time with everyone’s favorite Disney characters (the video also had valuable information for the parents). We went from the hotel to the port (about an hour drive), waited about 10-15 minutes to get through customs and we were aboard the ship. I have been on a cruise before and I must say that Disney had their check-in process down to a science. It was much better than anything else I had ever been to before.
Since it was only a four day cruise we had two days at sea and two days ashore. I can’t begin to tell you how great the activities were. They were showing first showing Disney movies on board in their theater, they had Broadway style musicals geared toward children, deck parties, the swimming pools, and all sorts of other activities for older children (5-17). I have to add that if your kids are still in swim diapers (not potty trained) there is only one small area where they can play in the water for public health reasons.
On Monday we were in Nassau, Bahamas. We didn’t sign up for any excursions, but once on the island we found a taxi that took us on a 2 and a half hour tour of the island for $70 (gratuity is appreciated). Did I mention there were 6 of us in the van? I thought that about 15 bucks a person was a steal. The best part was that the driver would let us get out whenever we wanted to see things up close. My boys loved hiking around the island and seeing some of the historical stuff. He also took us to Atlantis (Vegas in the Bahamas) where they have a gigantic saltwater aquarium (it was free). Collin and Brady also loved the aquarium and would have looked at the fish and giant rays for hours had we let them. We ended up walking around and touring Nassau for about 5 hours and got back to the stateroom just in time for lunch and naptime. It was a perfect day for someone with kids.
The next day we docked at Castaway Cay (Disney’s Private Island) and let me just say it was awesome. Beautiful white sand beaches with plenty of chairs and umbrellas for everyone. There were tube, kayak, and bike rentals. All the food on the island was included in the cruise fare (save specialty drinks, but that was true on the boat as well). They had waiters constantly walking around willing to bring you the beverage of your choice. After about 3 hours of swimming and sand on the beach we ate lunch at the Island BBQ. It was good food and then we rented some bikes ($12 total for 2 bikes with baby seats on back). Again we were done with our day about 2:00pm and our boys were wiped out. They took good long naps and they were ready for dinner at 6:00pm. Obviously all the merchandise at the stores was grossly overpriced (as are all things Disney), but we expected to overpay. I guess that’s part of the experience.
Like most cruises the food was a huge part of the experience. Gaining 10 pounds would easily be possible. Besides the food at dinners being phenomenal, we actually ate in a different dining room each night. Our wait staff rotated right along with us and they frequently knew what we would ask for before we asked for it, but each night was a new creatively themed restaurant that was fun for the kids. We ate at Triton’s, Parrot Cay, and Animator’s Palate. Animator’s Palate was especially unique because it was totally interactive. When we walked into the restaurant the entire thing was black and white. As the evening progressed color was added to the walls and the sketches became live animated paintings. It was pretty sweet! Throughout the day and well into the night there is food available at different places all over the ship. They knew that many kids would prefer chicken fingers and hot dogs to other foods so they were almost always available somewhere. We never did find PB&J though. We may have just missed it.
The staff was so good to accommodate whatever needs we had. Our potty training two year old had an accident and they quickly took care of it without asking any questions or making any fuss. Being constantly addressed by Sir or Mr. Sullivan was a little weird but I appreciated their kindness. I was most impressed by how well they dealt with children and how they were all so understanding if their was a small fit or something. I never felt like the staff was bugged or disgusted when our boys acted out a little bit.
This Disney family cruise is a vacation that I would be happy to recommend to anyone with young children. It was a great time for our family and we came home feeling relaxed just like it should be after a vacation.
Have you been on a Disney Cruise (family or otherwise)? What’d you think?