Traveling on a magical family vacation sometimes feels unimaginable. I know when we were deciding on our cruise line I thought how could the Disney Cruise line be that much better than other cruise lines? Well the answer is “it’s the magic”.
I was expecting wait times and dead time that I was going to entertain my kids prior to boarding like most cruise lines. We did a quick Target run and grabbed some lol dolls and hot wheels cars and coloring books and crayons for the kiddos. But little did I know how magically quick our boarding would be.
We arrived for our early boarding time to the terminal where our parking shuttle delivered us with our luggage. A porter immediately checked our bags straight through to the ship and left us with our carry on bags. You know the bags you have your electronics, swimming suits, medications, toys, snacks and boarding documents and of course your carry on bottles of water.
Minnie Mouse was there to greet the arriving passengers until 1:15pm, as they entered from security and approached checkin. She was standing in front of a model ship that was a replica of the cruise ship we were boarding. Our family was directed into a checkin line almost immediately where they looked at our documents and took one family picture where they used face recognition to assign the “Key to the World” cards (room key cards) with the appropriate person. It was one snap and they handed us our cards and we were finished. Magic! They didn’t have to make each child stand independently and hope to catch them looking at the camera.
We didn’t have to entertain our kids and wait in the terminal but rather we were shown to a Mickey Mouse archway that welcomed us to the gangway to board the ship. We showed our key to the world cards and they took a family picture to start our cruise and without a wait we boarded our boat.
The crew asked our children for our family name immediately winning them over. We proceeded to our room and tried to familiarize ourself with the days activities. Most times you would board the boat and hit the pool deck and take advantage of short lines for the water slides and sip a cruise beverage poolside while soaking up some early cruise rays. In our case it was raining so the planned activity of poolside wasn’t an option.
The kids were excited to explore the ship to find our room and leave our carry on luggage. The veranda room was a lot roomier than I expected. Our queen sized bed could be draped off from the kids beds for privacy at bedtime. When we found the room there was a couch and a flat screen television and a large counter/vanity area with plenty of drawers and cabinetry and that hid the refrigerator and whatever else you wanted in the room and then luggage could be stored under the queen sized bed. There was one door with a sink and a toilet followed by another door with a sink and a shower/tub all in one.
The balcony was enclosed up about four feet. It is important to watch children at all times on the balcony and not allow them to stand on the chairs for the risk of falling in and to watch that they don’t crawl under the gaps into your neighbors verandah.
It was a rainy day so we headed to check out the kids club. The Oceaneers club, the on board kids club, was having an open house for the kids and were giving the kids their wristbands and checking them all in. During open house all children of all ages and their parents are welcome to come play but if not in open house mode only the registered age appropriate child could participate and was checked in with their wrist band and checked out with your key to the world card, their wristband and your secret word. There is a magic play floor, a Star Wars flying simulations, movie rooms, and an animators area where kids could draw various pictures. There are scheduled events like sloppy science where our oldest made flubber one day and other Oceneers Club events that are scheduled. If you had a dining reservation or if your child didn’t want to attend dining with you, children could eat meals in the club but only during designated times. During the open house all our kids even the two year old wanted to stay and play after they were assigned their wrist bands.
Next we proceeded to the it’s a small world nursery. Our 2 1/2 year old ran right in. The nursery can be reserved before the cruise or the first day they have plenty of extra hours you can schedule for your cruise. Nursery runs $9 an hour and they will feed them, play with them, change them, and they have beds if they feel like napping. Our little one absolutely loved her two hours she spent with “her friends” the third day of the cruise while we did an on board experience. On board experiences are open to reserve a month or so before your trip but there are many that will see “sold out” on the experiences you might want. Good news for you! They hold back spots so you can sign up the first day when you board just don’t delay and head to the guest services to ask about them.
Since it was raining we were looking for entertaining boat activities. We found a onboard ship detective station much like the Perry the platypus Epcot detective experience but customized to the boat with a choose your own adventure from three different case files. You will find moving picture frames and other secret clues on the boat. A great on board activity that is a fun way to explore the ship. I will say our kids were initially excited but lost interest when they decided they wanted a snack. Lunch is served right when you board the ship at Cabanas, the buffet on the pool deck, but don’t miss it they close it at 3 pm. We helped ourselves to shrimp and crab and chips and hamburgers.
And then… we found the unlimited soft serve station.
Maybe it was the full tummies or the ice cream but the Muster Station Drill seemed to be more bearable as well. Maybe it was the Disney magic, or the good company around us or the staff that was trying to help us wrap it up as efficiently as possible so we could go to the cast away party as we leave the port. We attended the Cast away party as we were all funneled into the main areas with the closed staircases so as to not give you a choice but that you would have to participate. You can navigate over near the opposite side elevators for a fabulous view. The show introduced the entertainment staff, including the cruise director and all of the characters. Mickey, Minnie and their friends came down the grand staircase and welcomed us aboard.
Onboard the ship the Disney cruise navigator app is your quick reference for the days activities. You can see your reservations and your daily activities and shows you have hearted. The app also immediately links you with the people on your reservation but you can add others on the boat with their chat ID and allows a chat between you and whoever else is on the boat with fun Disney emojis, and runs on the ships basic free WiFi. The first day you are given 100 mb, per stateroom, of data for free other than the app. Additional days can be purchased through their WiFi plans. We opted to use the first day free 100 mb and then only use the navigator app and this worked well. We were notified of all the activities that including which dining room for dinner.
The Dinner staff welcomed us with a beautifully set table with lids on the kids drinks with their names. We had table mates that we would be seated with the whole cruise. It happened to be a couple with a 17 month old and lived in our same state but across the city from us. This was also the time the servers introduced themselves and showed me the items marked on the menu with the GF were Gluten-Free. Speciality smoothies are available at dinner for a small additional charge but our kids loved them.
We left dinner at the Royal Palace to head to the onboard live show that was in Walt Disney’s Theater and there were little princesses and princes getting down to a live musical performer right outside of dinner. Our kids got their jam on for a little bit and it still left time to make the show.
The show is open seating so find a seat that works for those in your party. They sell popcorn and other snacks as you enter so if your little ones want to munch on popcorn opting for the bucket is a good idea. Refills are $1.49 and there are plenty of opportunities to eat popcorn.
I wasn’t sure if the broadway like musical show was going to keep my kids’ attention for an hour but it did and they loved the dancing, songs and costumes. The show was a hit and ended in about an hour which for our little people it was perfect timing for bed.
Magically our room transformed for bedtime and everyone was happy to find chocolates and a towel origami crab wishing them goodnight. The kids beds, a Murphy bed, a top bunk (that dropped from the ceiling) and the lower bunk (the couch back folded forward and the mattress was on the back), were prepared and ready for the kids to climb into bed. They were prepared during turn down service while we were at dinner.
Disney made our first day easy and magical. The staff was warm and friendly and the room and the ship were beautiful.
Wondering where to start? We planned our Disney Cruise with Kristi Russell with polka dots ‘n’ travel on instagram @kristi.r.travels https://www.instagram.com/kristi.r.travels