First let me start by saying that I am not a fan of cruises. It never made sense to me why one would want to delay getting to their destination and be stuck with a group of strangers on a boat in the middle of nowhere. My first and only cruise experience was when I was in my twenties when my sister and I thought it would be cool to take a 3-day cruise together. It was the worst experience we’ve ever had on a vacation. We were sea sick the entire time, couldn’t sleep from the noises that came through our cabin, our cabin was not comfortable or nice and we were bored most of the day. It just felt like we had gone on a “roughing it” camping trip on the water and neither one of us are big fans of camping. We were counting down the minutes to when we would arrive home and swore we would never ever take another cruise again!
You can imagine my reaction when our best friends suggested a Disney cruise. They had done a Disney cruise and couldn’t say enough great things about it. It didn’t take much to convince Mr. Cool and the kids because, one it was Disney, and two they had never gone on a cruise before. It also didn’t take long for me to say “NO” and give all of the reasons why we should never take a cruise. Especially, a cruise with hundreds of kids – I could feel the germs and hear the screaming just thinking about it! When my kiddos wouldn’t let it go, I explained that my day job required that I be accessible to my clients and that’s not possible on a ship. What I got in return were sad puppy eyes day in and day out. My hubby said I was lucky because at least I was able to experience a cruise and it looks like he and the kids will never be able to...talk about laying it on thick!
Late one night right before the trip, I gave in and signed up for the one week cruise. I told myself that it was less than a week...so what if it was going to be awful...I needed to take one for the family. So what if kids get sick? Or none of us can sleep? Or pirates take over the ship? At least they could say they’ve been on a cruise and learn first-hand why I’m so dead set against it.
On the day of the cruise, we parked our car at a nearby garage and their van took us over. The ship was massive and had big Mickey Mouse ears on top. Check-in went smoother than expected with so many people boarding (airports could learn a thing or two from Disney). Everyone on the Disney team was in such a happy mood, it was hard not to crack a smile now and then. Once in, we met up with our friends and went to check out each other’s cabins. The ship was as massive on the inside as it looked from the outside. Some of the cabin doors were decorated. It seems you can decorate your magnetic door (if you follow their rules and regulations).
The rooms were much more spacious and nicer than I thought they would be and very clean. Our room had a large bed for parents, bunk beds for kiddos and a large window with a view of the water. When the ship started to leave, the ship’s horn played a Disney melody. Inside our room was a TV that provided info on our trip. First order of business was everyone doing a mandatory safety drill. We all followed the directions on the loudspeaker and headed out. It was done before we knew it.
Even with the number of kids and people on the cruise, it didn’t seem crowded or noisy. We walked around and checked out the different areas for later on the trip. Thankfully there are maps near every elevator. We were a little sea sick just at first but soon our bodies adjusted and we forgot we were on the water.
The ship’s staff was very nice and always going above and beyond to take care of both the adults and children. They did everything with a smile. The happiness was contagious. I swear even the dolphins that swam by the ship seemed like they were extra happy. I was still a little skeptical.
I always thought of a cruise as a way of transportation to get to your destination. As far as the Disney cruise goes, I think the ship is the destination. If we were able to turn back time, we would not have even gotten off the ship at the stop. From beginning to the end of the cruise, there were fun activities for the kids every hour. Activities include arts and crafts, games and contests and pictures with your favorite Disney characters. To our amazement, there was a huge movie theater and a separate theater for plays inside. They also had huge screens showing movies outside near the pool and water slide. We saw the movie “Cars” in the movie theater and watched a beautiful play about Peter Pan in the theater. It was a full production with actors flying and special effects. There is never a moment where you don’t have an activity to attend (if you are looking for one).
When parents need a break and kids want to hang out with other kids, there is the Kids Club. When the kids enter the kids club and they are given a bracelet that is linked to their parent. Only the approved adult can sign them in and out. Inside the kid’s club are fun activities, play structures and games. It is staffed with a friendly team, very organized and clean. There is an automatic handwashing station that is used when kids are going in and out. It pretty much washes your hands for you (I’m not sure why they don’t have these in hospitals!).
For the adults and older kids, there was an adult only pool and area, coffee shop, bar, fun concerts and dance parties and a beautiful fitness center and spa. I tried to get up before anyone else and head to the gym each morning. It was pretty cool to run on a treadmill while facing the ocean! I also watched their impressive routine cleaning the ship every morning. They deep clean everything every morning. The gym is complete with different cardio equipment and weights. They even have fitness classes and a personal trainer walking around to help.
The pricing for the cruise is per cabin versus per person and it was less than I thought it would be. We are also glad we opted for a room with a window. Pretty much everything is included in the cost of the cruise. Specialty drinks, lattes and alcoholic drinks are extra. I got my green shake almost every morning. There is plenty to choose from for breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you have special diet restrictions, they go out of their way to make it work for you. It’s not always easy travelling as a vegan! Dinner was a multi-course meal. Mr. Cool said the meat was perfectly done. They made sure our kiddos had healthy choices and I had a vegan option. There was a theme each evening and the staff always dress up. Our server Onica was AMAZING! She was super smart, beautiful, sweet and went above and beyond to make sure we were all happy! We all fell in love with her!
As for work, I purchased internet access on the ship. It isn’t cheap but if you have to stay connected, it works. I was able to work and email when the kids went to sleep. It’s best to turn off any apps you don’t need so it doesn’t eat up your internet.
I can admit when I am wrong... not all cruises are alike! Disney made a believer out of me...at least for Disney Cruises. Their attention to detail is incredible. They even had a fireworks show on one of the nights. If you have kids or are a kid at heart, I highly recommend taking a Disney Cruise. If you are like Mr. Cool and have never taken a cruise before, this will be a good first cruise experience. Our kids still talk about what a great time they had! We are looking forward to our next Disney Cruise! Maybe this time we take the grandparents! For more information, please visit Disney Cruise Line.