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Friday, July 12, 2013

We love the Disney Cruise...Want some tips?

Now that I've got all my pissing and moaning blogs out of the way...

Let's talk fun.

Want my two cents.... OK - well maybe you don't and who the hell am I anyway, right?? Just some chick that likes loves to vacation...  I'm giving it to you anyway - in my very Jenn way - short, sweet and to the point.


I did the best I could do to cram a 4 night cruise into Reader's Digest version, but let's face it - you're going to have to read past the yadda, yadda, yadda if you don't wanna hear it... Especially you man folk who are reading & thinking... Holy crap, is she still speaking.  Yeah I am :)

So here's the skinny...I love cruising.
It's not for everyone, but I love it!  I love being on the boat ship in the middle of the ocean and looking out at nothing but the endless sea.
For me, this is calming.

We only do Disney.


Not for nothing, but I've seen what happens on some of those other cruise lines....  Fires, loss of power, crashing into a sand bar & the captain jumps ship...  Yeah, none of that for me thanks.

Disney is clean.  My kids are happy and I can play like a big person without any issues... It works for us.  Yes, the giant mouse and his cronies are there - but it's not like they're all up in your grill 24/7.  I like that too.

This time, we went to the Bahamas.  AGAIN.  Truthfully, I'm Bahama'ed out.  Nassau is hot an tropical, but really - you could stick Atlantis on any tropical island and it would still be fab.... Am I right???

Atlantis?  Love it... Had a total blast at their water park with the kids... and we may or may not have stopped through the casino.  Shhhh.

I'll get back to Atlantis later.

We did the 4 night cruise.  We took the short one with us and weren't sure how she'd do.  Would she be sick?  Would she be scared?  It wasn't a chance I wanted to take on the 7 night cruise... so we went to the Bahamas AGAIN.

Here are a few of my personal recommendations... And since we've done this particular run on the Disney three times, (Once on the Wonder twice on the Dream) I feel pretty comfortable...  Dare I say expert... Mmmm - let's not say expert...


If you are doing the 4 night Bahama cruise...

Pack light!  Really.  This is something I NEVER do....  I brought 8 pairs of shoes, 6 bathing suits and numerous outfits.  Not necessary.  I only wore half of what I brought... even my shoes.  I can tell you for certain, especially if you're going to fly, pack light so you can carry your luggage on board.  It's $25 bucks per bag to check 'em now.  You really will NOT wear all you bring.

Here's what you WILL need:  A couple swim suits (the 6 wasn't totally out of line).  One outfit per day.  A pirate costume (really).  Your jammies &  under garments.  One fancy dress outfit.  Sunscreen, a hat, beach bag and whatever necessities you need.  They supply shampoo, etc.  I'm a real fuss pot when it comes to shampoo & conditioner and I love what they supply!

Diet before you go... All you will do is eat.  There is food EVERYWHERE. Oooh, look - self serve soft ice cream .. don't mind if I do... every single time I pass.

Order at least one 6 pack of water to your room before you go.  Water isn't free.  Soft drinks are.  You won't want soda all the time.

Day #1 is boarding day / out to sea.  It's pretty chaotic the first day trying to figure things out.  Have a day bag with you.  Have your suit, sunscreen, etc.  Also get the early boarding!  You then have all day to enjoy the ship.  If you have early boarding, wear your suit!  You can't get to your rooms until after 1:30.  Go to Cabanna's!

We spent many meals at Cabanna's because it's buffet & a good variety. There was no bad food at Cabanna's!  I was all about the eggs benedict for breakfast every.single.morning.  It's also deck 11 / pools, etc.  Easy access.  Flo's is also a quick and easy food stop.  Cabanna's is better, in my humble opinion.

You can bring your own booze on board with you - IN YOUR CARRY ON. Do NOT check your booze - your luggage will go to luggage jail.  Your booze may be confiscated and it may take a while to get your bags.  You can pretty much bring as much booze as you want, as long as you let them know it's in there.  They don't ask.  This saved us mega bucks.  Another tip, keep your receipt for what you bring.  If you don't finish it and bring it off, you can prove to customs that you brought it with you.  It's not usually an issue, but ya never know..

The first day they will come around with the souvenir glasses.  I think they charge you $4 for the glass and $4 for the drink.  After that, they take your glass back & give you a new drink for $4.  Eventually they get tired of keeping track of the souvenir glasses and you end up with like 105 of them.  It's all good... take them to your room, wash them & use them for the booze you brought with you.  If you have a very cool stateroom host like we did, he or she will keep you well stocked with ice.

Hubby double-fisted drinking...
You will spend.  Be prepared.

  • Shopping!!  There is duty free shopping and there are fun things to buy!
  • If you drink, you will buy booze when the drink guys come around.  Even if you bring your own you'll end up buying from the drink dude.  It's just easier.
  • The kids will always want something.
  • Don't forget about the excursions.  Atlantis is awesome but $$$$.

My recommendation is to put as much on board ship credit as you can afford prior to your cruise date.  If you're a spender like me you piss money away like I do, you'll attach a credit or debit card to your account as well.

Day #2 is at Nassau, Bahamas.  The first time we cruised we did the beach day excursion.  That was a bummer for us.  We called it the money sucker excursion.  I wouldn't do that again.  The second time, because we weren't impressed with beach day, we did the Nassau Junkanoo/Forts excursion.  I have already blogged about this and you can read about that HERE if you want to.  While this was pretty interesting for the nerdy mom who likes historical stuff, my kids were bored.  Also, the drivers taking you from place to place aren't the most patient fellows....  We started our tour with about 20 on our bus, ended up with about 11... you're not there, they're not waiting.  Heads up.

A little Junkanoo... very cool history.
This year, I wanted to swim with the dolphins at Atlantis, but my kids weren't into it.  That excursion is almost $300 a person.  Something I'd really like to do in the future.  I do believe that if you swim with the dolphins, you are also able to do the water park & everything else.  We found the best deal to be the water park option at about $169 per person.  You can do almost everything on this excursion.  The beaches, the water park, pools, the aquariums, the casino, etc.  The aquariums are super cool, by the way.  Atlantis is HUGE!  There is quite a bit to do/see.  Another thing to note is that the resort is cashless bring your debit/credit card.
Yeah, this is the water park at Atlantis
Also, prepare to go to the Hospitality House right away and get a locker.  You'll need your passport to get on & off the ship.  You won't want to leave them laying around while you're frolicking in the water.  Better to be safe.

Personally, I hated the food options you get for Atlantis.  You get food vouchers - but it's mostly for burgers & fries.  YUCK.  I wanted real food.  If you're like me, bring your credit card.  Eat someplace good.  There are good places!

Day #3 Castaway Cay - Disney's private island.
LOVE IT!!  There aren't many un-populated places to park your stuff.  Take what you can get.  The entire ship empties onto the beach.  We parked ourselves near to the water slide.  The water slide isn't great for real little ones.  The water is 6' deep at the end of the slide.  You may also want to rent a float or tube... you don't need to rent one for everyone.  Everyone won't want or need them.  There are quite  a few things to do, but for us it's basically hanging out at the beach kinda day.  We usually spend a few hours & then go back onto the ship to enjoy the pools & Aqua Duck while they're less crowded.  I'm also not thrilled with the food options at Castaway Cay.  Again, it's burgers, dogs & bbq type food.  If you like it, that's great...  We ate at Cabanna's on the ship.  Did I mention that I love Cabanna's?  :)

Day #3 is also Pirate Night.... Dress like a pirate for dinner.  Arrrrrgh.  Pirate deck party & fireworks at night - Jack Sparrow and all.  It's a really fun day all around.  We clearly go all out on Pirate Night...


Day #4 is spent at sea.  The pools are packed.  If you're going to go - go early get your chair & plan to stay parked there for the day.  I was pretty pool'ed & beached out...  I didn't mind finding inside things to do.  There is A LOT to do inside.  Check your navigator.  They leave it on your bed the night before.

We watched 3 movies and saw 2 shows.  The movies are "currently in theater" movies... We saw the premier of Lone Ranger, Monsters University and Oz the Great and Powerful.  The shows are adorable & very funny.  We attended the kiddie shows, but also had the option of putting our kids into the Kids' Club.  We did this a few time so the hubby and I could have big people alone time.  (wink wink)  We had the opportunity to go to the clubs and just relax and have a little romance... What's that, right??

Day #4 is also Dress Up night for dinner.  We noticed this time around that people don't really adhere to that, but I like to dress pretty.  So we dressed nicely.

Someone say cheese cake?  :)
Right after dinner, we headed to our state room packed up.  Packing ends up being a free for all, because who wants to pack the night before.  There's still fun to be had!!  Expect to do a lot of laundry.  Remember when I said pack light??  Yeah... I washed a lot of clothes I didn't wear because clean/dirty, wet, whatever.. in the bag.

You should have your bags outside your stateroom between 8:30 and 10:30 pm.  They will get your bags off the ship for you, unless you want to lug them around at breakfast.  Trust me, let them do it.  Just remember to not pack everything... make sure you all have a change of clothes, etc for the next day.  You're welcome.

Disney is awesome getting everyone off the ship.  It's so amazingly orderly, I was shocked.  Breakfast is assigned - you leave and go right to luggage, customs & out.


**Important tip, regarding tips....**  Your bill is supposed to be under your door by 7 am.  Ours wasn't.  Well, it could have been - but our breakfast time was 6:45 am.  We didn't get our bill.  I went to guest services prior to breakfast to grab the bill, but didn't check it until I got home.
On the last day, you will find a letter in your stateroom along with envelopes for tips.  Read the letter very carefully, because it is vague...  (borderline sneaky)  On one side they casually mention that unless you sign their letter & bring it to guest services, they will charge each person in your party $12 per night gratuity.  On the reverse, they give you recommended tips for your servers, stateroom host, etc.  Trust me, it's vague.  I don't usually miss much when it comes to the finances and this blew right by me.
We are good tippers - so we had cash tips prepared for everyone in advance & tipped others as we went along.  For this reason, I was excessively pissed off when I looked at the bill & saw almost $200 in gratuities charged to my card, when I'd already paid the tips in cash.  This is something that slides right by ... Don't say I didn't warn you!

That was my only true negative.  Well, that and no coffee maker in my room - but we know that I have coffee issues.  :)

As I'd said -- the ship, super clean.  There is someone inside every rest room, all day - cleaning constantly.  Cleaning hand rails, door knobs, sinks.  It's clean.  That is key for me because the short one touches everything.

My favorite restaurants... Cabanna's for breakfast & lunch.  Flo's is always open for an occasional sandwich, pizza or burger.  (The Tomato, Bacon & Brie pannini... YUM!)  My favorite restaurant was the Enchanted Garden.  Animator's Palate is cool IF you are seated near a screen.  If you're in the middle you don't get the full experience.  Royal Palace is good, but I don't care for French cuisine. The desserts were to die for!

I didn't hit the spa this time, but the cabana massages on the beach at Castaway Cay were fabulous!

My kids L.O.V.E.D. Kids' Club!  Always something fun for them.  All kids... Babies, toddlers, tweens & teens.  It's very secure, very clean & the kids don't want to leave!  Go be a big person!  Quick before they change their minds :)

Hmmm...  I think that about covers it.

Th, th, th, th That's All Folks!  (whoops, wrong company)

If you are considering this cruise and have questions that I didn't cover or would like more of my amazing and wonderful advice on this cruise, please feel free to email me.

Our next cruise will be Grand Cayman....  Woot...  Momma needs more time at sea and a change of scenery.

I hope I didn't bore you with all of this... I could go on forever, but how about I leave it here?  M'Kay??

Thank you for reading my blog!

Love you to bits & pieces!!

~Jenn

4 comments:

  1. A properly planned trip makes the sailing much soother. Planning is the key. Know your kids, their needs and respect them. We started sailing when Emily was 6 months old. Staffs onboard are amazing and the cruise Trip will be enjoyable once they know your needs.

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  2. I am jeallin' like a felon!!! I want to go NOW!!

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  3. Hi! What do u recommend to prevent seasickness for a first time cruiser of 4?

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    1. Seasick wrist bands. You can get them from the pharmacy. Non medicinal. If you don't need them take them off. :) I didn't do well with the patch. I got the temporary blindness side effect. Scary! Have a fun trip!!

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