Review: Our Disney Cruise
Family Friendly Vacationing on a Disney cruise!
My wife and I selected a Disney Cruise to the Caribbean as the second leg of our two-part Disney vacation in honor of our 10 year anniversary. As this was our first real vacation together as a couple, we could think of no better way to celebrate than to have our kids with us. Of course, what better place to spend time as a family than on the open seas on a Disney cruise ship?
Photos from our Disney CruiseClick thumbnail to view full-size
When we arrived at the port, we stepped into the fast moving line and soon had our boarding passes and room keys in hand, in a matter of minutes we'd be on the Disney Wonder and our Caribbean cruise would be underway. Flashbulbs lit up the gangway as each family stopped onto the red carpet to have their pictures taken by the friendly staff. After being photographed, we boarded the cruise ship and made our way to our suites.
As part of planning for the trip, we decided that we'd be better off inviting my wife's sixteen year-old sister along with us to help out with the kids. (Lucky girl.) So she shared a room with our two older children in the adjoining suite while the little one crashed in ours on the foldout bed. I was actually quite surprised when we got to the rooms, they were much bigger than I expected and the circle-shaped windows promised beautiful Caribbean views. (Of course, they didn't disappoint.)
The food on the Disney cruise ship was excellent and our servers, Deniz and Peter were amazing and very helpful. Peter was always joking and entertaining the kids, showing off his talents at making Mickey Mouse shaped blobs of ketchup at every opportunity. The dieter beware, I left dinner every night completely satisfied, okay, I admit it, I was blissfully stuffed! If I didn't fall in love with a dish, Deniz was quick to bring out another portion offered on the menu -- even if I tried to tell him that it wasn't necessary. One night, out of nowhere he asked if we'd be interested in trying some of the dishes we'd passed up and brought out a sampler just to give us a taste. The hospitality displayed by every member of the Disney cruise staff was just astonishing. We truly did feel like kings and queens of our own Disney adventure.
As part of our Caribbean cruise, our first stop was the island of Nassau. My wife and I let the kids hang out with their Oceaneer groups on-board while we went to the island for some fun and shopping. Getting on and off the boat required your room key and, for security reasons, that you pass through the metal detector. The staff members were very helpful and patient and the process was very quick and painless. When we got onto the island, we couldn't help but marvel over the blueness of the Caribbean water and the shimmering illusion-like visages of the fish swimming nearly twenty feet below the surface. I only wish I could say that our island experience on Nassau was equally enchanting. Before leaving the dock we were approached by several anxious looking men who held cheaply made brochures and basically tried to sell us on special tours of the island. We politely turned down the offer and left the dock on our way into the city streets.
The general feeling we got was that while the good people at the edge of the island appreciate the generous influx of tourist money, they don't appreciate you quite so much. If you don't deal well with people getting in your face to try to make a sale, I strongly urge you to avoid the crowded market immediately to the right of the dock. You'll be encouraged to take free bead necklaces for a measly donation of five dollars a piece to help the poor handicapped children of the island, a tale that seems nothing more than lie as anyone knows that more sympathy sales would be gained by actually having a handicapped child trying to sell the necklaces. You should also be wary of cons trying to bait and switch on you after taking your money. The tactic that was tried on me was that the man took my money and started making change when another woman barged in trying to tell me about another item she thought I should buy, meanwhile the man attempted to put the item I was purchasing back on the shelf and then offered me my change. It was nothing more than a simple mistake when I called him on it, but I am sure the whole thing was a coordinated performance with showings scheduled with every new wave of tourists. Buyer beware. There are some great souvenirs to bring home for yourself and family or friends, just be careful.
The next stop was Castaway Cay, Disney's private island. Our island adventure here was much better than the last and the whole family departed the ship for some fun in the sun. The Disney cruise line pulled out all the stops and we all had a great time. For the first half of the day we let the kids go with their Oceaneer groups and booked the little one up for a few hours in the daycare. With a little time to ourselves, my wife and I headed out to the adult's only beach before rounding up all of the monkeys for some together time at the family area.
If you have a camcorder, or digital camera, I would highly suggest you
invest in a water-proof enclosure before your trip so that you can
capture video, or even photos, of the huge red starfish and other
shallow-water critters that you will see. We have several minutes of
underwater video of a particularly friendly little fish that escorted
my wife for several minutes. Since we were able to bring our video
camera with us, we'll never have an excuse to forget our happy little sea
puppy. But, if you aren't able to buy an enclosure for your camera, you
should at least invest in a waterproof variety of the disposable
cameras before you get on the boat. The cruise line would love to sell
you one, but it will be quite a bit more expensive if you buy it at the
beach shop. Another suggestion, one that we didn't think of, would be a snorkel -- so you can get some extended views of the underwater scenery.
All in all, we had a great time on our Disney cruise. The food was great and so was the service. Also, while we decided to spend most of the time with our kids, the Oceaneer groups were awesome to get a break and have some alone time and the kids loved the fun activities they offered. Perhaps next time we'll let them spend a little more time on their own, but since this was a special occasion celebrating our 10 year anniversary, we felt compelled to spend most of our vacation together as a family.
If you are considering a Disney cruise, I would definitely recommend it! There isn't a single part of our cruise that I regret, well, aside from it being over that is.