Sunday, March 11, 2012

Once upon a time, not so very long ago (ok the middle of January to be exact), we went on vacation for two weeks.  And did I mention that eight of those days were spent here?
I've always thought it would be fun to go on a Disney Cruise, but it's probably not something that we would have splurged on at this point, especially since Ollie was too small to enjoy most of it, BUT Larry's generous aunt offered to pay for half of the cruise, and how could be pass that up?  Larry's mom and her siblings sold their parents' house last year, and Aunt Sherie decided to spend her share of the money the way she knew her parents would have loved to, on a family trip. So this was no ordinary cruise, it was also a family reunion. And somehow, I have barely any pictures of other family members because we were busy chasing two little rascals around an enormous boat of fun. Rest assured it was a big group and they were fun to party with.

So if you've been curious about Disney Cruises, here's a glimpse.  It's a party from the moment that you get on the boat.  As you step onto the boat they announce your name over a speaker and a crowd of employees cheer for you (which felt a little weird to me, but Creed thought was amazing)
 Then as the boat sets sail, there's a big party with all the Disney characters dancing their hearts out.
 Creed did not hesitate to dance his heart out on stage too.
 And who wouldn't be ready to party taking off on a tropical cruise with this guy?
 We've been on a few cruises, but as you might expect, Disney is by far the family friendliest.  There were so many extras that I didn't expect, and mealtime was when I was most impressed.  Getting spoiled by the food is always fun on a cruise, but Disney goes way beyond that.  There are three different dining rooms that you rotate through for dinner on different nights, but you always have the same servers.  This particular dining room is called the animators palette and everything is black and white when you walk in, but throughout the meal the walls start lighting up and being filled in with color and the portraits begin to change and by the end of dinner Mickey Mouse makes an appearance and the room goes wild while he does his magic.
 We have a few allergies, nothing major, but the cousin in this picture with Creed is extremely allergic to dairy, the first night the staff went through the menu and figured out what he could eat, and at the end of the meal, they asked what he would like for his next meal.  They didn't give him a limited menu to choose from, they asked his mom what she would like them to make for him and it could be anything he wanted.  I was impressed that they made whatever he wanted for the rest of the cruise.

They also knew all of our drink orders and had them ready and waiting at the table every night and the kids' were each labeled
 And they even poured the catsup in a Mickey shape
 Creed loved our server Mary Ann so much that he raced back into the dining room after dinner one night to ask her if she would go on a date with him.  She said yes.  He told her he would take her to a movie in one of the ship's theaters.  I thought it was hilarious that he had it all thought out.
Everyone gets one special character breakfast when each character comes to your table to visit and take pictures and your servers make silly napkin hats to entertain you while you are waiting.

Creed was especially nervous to meet Minnie and gave her a big kiss on the nose.

All throughout the cruise characters were stationed around the ship at certain times and you could line up to meet them, but since we met a lot of them at breakfast, my kids were content to skip most of the lines. We also ran into a lot of characters just walking around the ship.

There were the usually towel animals waiting in our rooms each night, which thrilled the kids, and made heading back to the room to sleep a little easier.
The activities and entertainment were pretty amazing. There are a few kids clubs where you can check your kids in to play while supervised by the staff and they were so fun that Creed begged to go, which gave us some time to focus on just Ollie, who was not old enough to go (you have to be three).  There were great family activities every day.  I think one of Creed's favorites was story time with Belle.
It was pretty adorable.
Afterwards Creed mentioned that he was a little disappointed that Belle wasn't wearing her big yellow ball gown, but look what happened the very next day! A dream come true.
There are a few big theaters on the ship and you could always catch a Disney movie that was still in theaters.  We didn't have time for many, but we did catch a showing of the Muppets and Beauty and the Beast 3-D (which showed on the ship before it showed anywhere else in the world).  They had great entertainment (Creed was particularly enchanted by a ventriloquist from America's Got Talent), and every night they had two showings of a big broadway quality production designed just for the ship like Toy Story the Musical.  The shows were just 45 minutes which was the perfect length.
One night they had a big pirate party on deck that ended with an appearance of Captain Hook and his Crew and a fireworks show.
The last day on the ship the kids' club performed and Creed was pretty excited by his debut on the big stage (but he was even more excited by the free yellow t-shirt).
His favorite place on the ship was the pool.
There were three pools on our ship: one just for adults in need of a little peace, a middle one for the whole family where they showed a lot of dive-in movies, and one shallow pool shaped like Mickey Mouse.  Creed loved the Mickey pool and so did we because it was easy to watch him from the edge without fear of him drowning.  Poor Ollie was also not allowed in the pools because no swim diapers are allowed.  They did have a small splash pad for babies, but it was cold and all the babies were purple and shivering after a few minutes. This is the only cruise ship that I've been on that has bathtubs in your personal bathroom so we did let him "swim" in there.
Overall, I'd say the ship is lacking in entertainment for little ones like Ollie, but Creed was the perfect age to enjoy everything.  He still believes in the characters and everything on the ship was magical to him.  He's already begging to go back.  More to share soon!


Amy said...

That looks like so much fun! I'll see if I can talk my family into it.

taniawillis said...

i found myself grinning from ear to ear reading about this trip steph! we're going to Disney World in July...first time for me and my children. we're beyond excited! they really go above and beyond in making everything so magical for the little ones. :)

Larry said...

So so so so so much fun!!

amyh said...

That looks like a lot of fun! My family was talking about doing a reunion on a Disney cruise. We have a lot of very little ones right now, though (like Ollie). Maybe we should wait a couple of years?

Cathy said...

My brother-in-law paid for the whole family (25ish of us) to go on a cruise a few years ago. It wasn't Disney and having a 17-month-old and a just barely turned 3-year-old was quite challenging. Looks like we need to do the Disney one next time.