Itching to escape the city for a beach vacay, we looked at several caribbean spots but in the back of my head, I always like to put cruising on my list of options mainly for the no-brainer, all inclusive nature of a cruise. Food- check. accommodations - check. Entertainment - check. Relaxation - check plus. So for vacation, I just happened to look up a disney cruise and everything seemed to line up: dates, price (it was almost half off the regular cost), and weather. We booked with less than 2 weeks to the sailing date. That gave me 2 weeks to do some serious internet sleuthing to prep for our first time on a Disney Cruise. Things I've learned:
|the beds are super comfy|
|Our stateroom: 7126. That couch turns into a bed. Cribs are available upon request|
Which room to book? Due to the last minute booking, I opted for a guaranteed balcony room. This means you don't choose your stateroom but instead get placed based on what's left. We ended up with a great room. The disney staterooms are designed for FAMILIES. So there's space and storage and the split bathroom (a tub and a shower?! and separate toilet room?) was a plus. Don't be afraid to book a guaranteed room - you might end up scoring a better room than you bargained for.
|Disney Dream lobby atrium|
Cruising with an infant: I thought Winter (and us lol) would totally miss out on all the fun being that she's not old enough to use the Oceaneer's club (starts at 3 years old) which is basically the best daycare/camp I've ever seen for kids but the great thing about Disney is they've thought of that as well and have a decent sized playroom nursery that takes infants younger than 3 and at a very reasonable rate ($9/hr).
|Meals are infant friendly too |
Winter was still in soft-food land so we found the restaurants (as expected) to be very accommodating. And because of the rotational dining system Disney has (with 3-4 themed restaurants you rotate through for dinner), your waiters will be prepared by the second night. Our waiter would have winter's food ready and pureed to go right after seating us. Food wise, I thought it was good not great but better than I was expecting. Coming off Celebrity cruises, I thought their food (and service) was excellent but that's just a different cruise experience I thought that shouldn't be compared.
|infants can't go in the pools but can enjoy the nemo splash area|
|Win is her name! My baby blowing away the competition...|
Activities: Disney is so detailed oriented that there's activities for every age group on board. No one is left out. I was surprised to meet a good number of groups who were traveling without any children at all (strange? a little, but these were hardcore cruisers or Disney enthusiasts so I give them a pass). She was curious and the presence of hundreds of kids was fun for her. She had a few play areas she could venture into (nemo splash area), character meet and greets she could attend and even an activity or two she can participate in (diaper dash?!)
|Not staged - it really looks like this.|
Ports: We were on a short 4 day cruise to the Bahamas and Castaway Cay (disney's private island). All cruise reports say to skip bahamas and opt to stay on ship but we've never been so we checked out Atlantis and the Cove. Atlantis felt dated but the water park looked awesome so we'll save for an older Winter. Castaway Cay was as great as everyone reported it to be. We only had Coco Cay (royal carribbean's private island) to compare it to and its hands down above and beyond Coco. The boat literally pulls up to the island, which I assume is an engineering feat unto itself but it lends to easy disembarking (rather than hopping on a ferry to island like other cruise lines). Again, designed for everyone - (paved roads, trams, private adult only beach/area, cabanas for families, etc) Disney thinks of everything. I heard about the 5k they host on the island so I laced up and ran in that despite the crazy humidity, sun, and late morning heat. It's unofficially timed and the crew members who run the race make it as fun-minded and non-competitive as possible (spoiler: everyone gets a medal - even if you cheat the course - which is a little boring, but you get your workout in).
|Don't let the smile fool you, I wanted to a pass out from the heat/humidity!|
The beach areas are jam packed with recreational options for families but I liked that even the sand and design of the beach (very gradual slope) were infant-friendly. You're treated to a bbq lunch buffet/picnic on the island so don't skip it!
Overall: It was a great vacation for the family. I forgot to add they do Halloween on the Seas which lets the kids trick or treat in costume (and families went ALL OUT FOR THIS). Also memorable was Pirates of the Caribbean night (how apropo) where you have a midnight buffet and a fireworks show off the ship (pretty cool). I hear christmastime is also fun and magical for guests. This was an added bonus to the experience.
|Arggh! Pirate night!|
I would definitely disney cruise it up again but only when Winter can take advantage of the Oceaneer's club (It's seriously amazing and I'm a bit jealous us adults can't enjoy it!). However if you have an infant and are seriously considering it- go for it! we met a few couples traveling with infants and they like us, took everything in stride and enjoyed the option that they could have alone time whenever they wished or just have a fun new experience together as a family. As you can see from the video, we had a great time!