Friday, May 6, 2016

Disney Cruise Part 1

Supporting TCU in St. Thomas
Are you thinking about taking a Disney Cruise, grab a cup of coffee or a glass of wine because this is going to be a long winded one.  As I have said before, I love Disney, like so much so I could go yearly or more, too bad we cannot afford that.  I've also said before it is the most exhausting vacation, worth it to see your kids' faces light up, but still completely draining.

You've got a couple options when it comes to a more relaxing Disney experience, Aulani in Hawaii, Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort, or a Disney Cruise.  I have not been to Aulani, but it looks stunning, and we have had friends stay there and they loved it.  I also haven't stayed at the HHI resort, but I have ridden through it and it is beautiful.  We, however, have done a Disney Cruise.  
St. Maartin

A year and a half ago we went on the Disney Magic, leaving from Port Canaveral and stopping in St. Maartin, St. Thomas, and Castaway Cay.  This was considered a seven night, Eastern Caribbean cruise.  I've done numerous cruises, mostly Carnival or Royal Caribbean.  My parents have been on a Princess and Norwegian, the Princess cruise broke down, and the Norwegian was so bad they got off early.  Honestly, we really liked the Carnival and Royal Caribbean cruises, but I will say that my kids loved the Disney Cruise.  

Disney cruises are not cheap, we went the cheapest week I could find in a year for an Eastern Caribbean, it still cost an arm and two legs, I kid you not.  Here is the pro's of the cost though, it really is a germaphobs haven (my husband is a certified germaphob and he did well), they went above and beyond on providing my celiac daughter food options, there were no trashy drunks on deck, and the rooms were large in comparison to any other ship.  There are a few cons too that I will discuss, that way you can make the most informed decision for your family.
Pirate night, I had made them all matching dresses

If you are a germaphobe, a cruise can be a bit of a nightmare.  There are buffets everywhere, and the lack of people that wash their hands these days can be a bit traumatic.  Disney has really gone above and beyond in hygiene on their ships.  There are hand sanitizing stations all over the ship.  They have provided wipes to use at the buffets so no one is touching the tongs, and while it is difficult to hold a tong with a wipe, it is a must.  It is also required to wipe your hands when you get into line, praise Jesus because people are gross!  The kids area is phenomenal when it comes to hand washing, they have hand washing stations. You simply put your kids hands in them, it washes and dries them, they have to do it upon entering and leaving.  Honestly, my kids didn't pick up one thing on the cruise, I attribute it to how clean it was kept.
Highlight of the trip, a visit with Elsa & Anna

My daughter was diagnosed with Celiacs a few years ago, it makes traveling tough at times. Road trips are tough because a lot of fast food places do not cater.  Or restaurants will tell you they have a GF menu only to find out it is not truly GF, which is okay for someone who is avoiding gluten, not okay for her.  She will start vomiting exorcism style if she has it, not fun on a vacation away from home.  Disney did a superb job providing her food options, they even sent us back to our room with donuts for days that we had early departures, or if she just needed a snack.  They also would send out the chef to tell us what she could and couldn't have at the different restaurants.  She ate very well on that trip, probably better than she does at home.  I cannot give enough kudos to Disney for this, any GF families out there can have their minds put to rest.  
Castaway Cay

Another perk for me was the fact that there were no drunks on board.  I know that Carnival is know as the fun ship, and it is, but I hate seeing drunks on deck doing God knows what, especially when my kids are around.  My husband commented on the fact that it was nice to sit around the pools because everyone kept it classy.  Sometimes paying a little more is worth it.
It was cool and raining the day we left, my daughter with her cousin

The rooms for families are huge in comparison to other cruise lines.  We loved the two bathrooms, it made dinner a whole lot easier for us.  My husband would just use the small bathroom, while us girls took over the large one.  We also loved the privacy curtain so we could put the kids to bed at a decent time and stay up and watch television or sit on the balcony and read.  They also had a lot of storage, which can be hard to come by on the ships.  We were able to put all of our stuff away, and slide the suitcases under the bed out of the way.
My celiacs child enjoying breakfast near the ocean

On to the cons, first of all let me preface this with saying I am the cheapest person!  My family makes fun of me for being so incredibly cheap, but we are also debt free (thanks to Dave Ramsey) and still enjoy all of our trips.  So my biggest problem was the cost, it was hard to fork over that much money for a vacation.  I've looked at European cruises that are ten days long on other cruise lines that would cost less than our seven day Eastern Caribbean did.  This is a huge con in my book because if it was cheaper we could have done more activities than we did.
The star of the show

The fam in front of the ship in St. Maartin

Another con for me was the fact that the characters would not be as present as I thought they should have been.  We waited for Elsa and Anna, Mickey and Minnie, and a few others, which my kids loved.  My biggest gripe was that Santa was only available at terrible times, maybe some parents have no issues with a 9pm-10 pm visit with Santa, but it wasn't working for us.   One night we were walking on the track and we saw the Sorcer Mickey, my kids went running after him (he was maybe 10' away) and a team member grabbed him and opened a door and he was gone.  There were no other children near us, so it wasn't like there was a mob of children, and I get they need a break too, my kids just wanted to say hey for a second and we would have moved on.  Be mindful of the character meet and greets, you probably won't see them the rest of the trip anywhere else.  
They lived on the waterslides

Lastly, I had a love hate relationship with the children's area.  I loved the fact that I could drop them off and know that they were safe.  I hated the limited hours, which we are not the type to pawn our kids off on anyone else, but the hours weren't great to us.  It was also extremely safe, your kids are tracked every second on the ship and when you pick them up, they say your kid is located here.  And sure enough they always were.  But I felt that it was geared towards either a lot older kids (mine were 7, 5, and 4 at the time) or a lot younger.  My youngest two loved it, and played in the Toy Story area a lot.  My oldest had fun, but they propped them in front of a computer, and would occasionally have a dance party or character meet and greets, but mostly I found her in front of a computer.  I felt like that was a colossal waste of money and time, so they spent most of the time at the pool, which they loved anyway.
Toy Story Playroom

In the end, we would probably fork over the money again just to ensure that my youngest was fed well.  The pool and splash pad area was a lot of fun for my kiddos, the first run movies was an added bonus, and the shows were the best cruise shows I have seen.  All of that made it worth it!  I'll be posting about our stops coming up very soon.  If you have any questions ask, I will answer them to the best of my ability.
Did I mention they do fireworks off of the ship?

Castaway Cay as we were pulling in!

God bless,


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