Embarkation We live 20 minutes from the port. My husband works in Galveston close to the port so he dropped us off at 11:30 a.m., our scheduled port arrival time, with our luggage. The porter took it all for us and my husband went and parked our car at his work parking lot. Lucky for us, my husband met some Disney Cruise Line employees through his line of work and one in particular told him to call him when we got to the port so he could expedite our check in. We happened to run into him while my husband was calling him and he had us escorted to the concierge check in area. Check in seem to be quick though for everyone else as well. There was a long line for the kid club bands but we were told we could get them online so if our Boarding number had already been called, not to wait in line but just get on the ship. So that's what we did!
It was truly magical to have our names announced as we entered into the lobby of the ship. They asked our family name and then they announced us. I got a little teary-eyed. But I also cry during Wishes so that's not unusual behavior for me! After getting announced I went to Guest Services to get a Happy Birthday button for my daughter since that day was her 12th Birthday. The crew wished her Happy Birthday everywhere we went!
We booked at interior stateroom and it met our needs and it's what we are used to. What I liked though was the kid's bunks weren't over our bed so the cabin is roomier. The couch made into a twin and the bunk came down over that. The kids (9 and 12) were comfortable. My parents had a verandah room with the split bath and that is a really nice feature. My son spent the night with them one night and my dad said he tried out the couch bed and he thought it was pretty comfortable. We also traveled with a family who had a two-bedroom suite and it was super nice and super roomy. They got lots of nice daily treats with their concierge amenities. We were on Deck 6 and it is an idea floor to be on since dining was on Decks 3 and 4 and Oceaneer Club and Lab were on Deck 5.Pool and buffet were on Deck 9. In the middle of the night on the second night, I moved my leg across the end of the bed and noticed it was wet. The ceiling sprinkler was dripping. We reported it to our room steward Charlie first thing in the morning. Maintenance could not fix it right away so they ended up moving us 3 cabins down. No upgrade darn it but they did send us a bottle of wine for our inconvenience.
I thought all the food was very good. I didn't have high expectations because some friends cruised the two weeks before us and said the food was okay. She actually said, "It wasn't as good as other lines but it wasn't like it was inedible. We did each gain 6 pounds!" Well, I thought the food was excellent and I gained 5 pounds! The seared sea bass in Lumiere's was by far my favorite dish. The seafood, especially on the buffets, was plentiful. I was very happy after every meal with the exception of the character breakfast and the farewell breakfast. I ordered pancakes and those just don't hold up for that kind of mass dining service. I wasn't unhappy with the pancakes, they just weren't the best. The buffet closes early so pretty much after 2 p.m. your dining options are the fast areas around the pool and room service. My favorite thing was to get them to put the taco meat on the fries and top with grated cheese at Pluto's Dog House. That's were some of my 5 pounds came from!
Disney service was top notch. Cocktail waiter Daniel from Peru could not be more friendly and helpful. Our dining team of Agus from Indonesia and Natalie from Trinidad & Tobago were by far the best serving team we've ever had. They were delightful, happy, fun, attending and could not have taken better care of the kids at our table. We were a table of 14 friends and family and they became family.
We've visited each of the ports multiple times. We did not book excursions in Grand Cayman or Costa Maya. In Grand Cayman we walked from the port to a bar and grill called Paradise. We ordered drinks and rented snorkel gear for $10. My husband and kids snorkeled and swam. There were beautiful fish and large tarpon. It was easy access to the water from Paradise. After all the snorkeling and swimming, we ordered some food before shopping a bit. We planned to take the bus to Mahahual and hang out along the beach and rent jet skis. However, once we got off the ship, the water was so choppy and it looked like a storm coming so we just grabbed some beach lounge chairs by the pool there at the port so we could get quick cover if necessary. Sure enough the winds picked up and the rain came down. We ducked into Senor Frogs and had drinks, salsa, chips and guacamole. We hung out there for a while before we got back on the ship. We did the Dune Buggy and Beach Snorkel excursion in Cozumel. It was so much fun and I would definitely do it again. Our guides were Eduardo and Julio. We were mainly with Eduardo because Julio ended up being in charge of 9 people who mainly spoke Spanish. They were both very friendly and Eduardo was very knowledgeable. We ended up driving Polaris Razors instead of the dune buggy in the picture on the Disney Port Adventure website. They were awesome! We followed the leader to Punta Sur Eco Park. We got a little muddy on the way with white sand mud. We learned about the crocodiles and how they are safe at the eco park and we learned about the Mayans and saw some small ruins. We then got a lot of beach and snorkel time at a beautiful stretch of calm beach. My daughter and husband went off to snorkel but son and I stayed an played on the beach that was pretty much secluded to us. After the snorkel group got back, we ate a nice, delicious Mexican buffet. We played follow the leader back to the port. Rushed in some 15 minute shopping and boarded the ship.
Maybe my kids are jaded to the Disney characters because we just did a 7-day Disney trip 10 months prior to the cruise. They were not interested in waiting in line to see the characters or get autographs. They loved the character interaction at our set Character Breakfast and they loved stumbling upon characters occasionally but they didn't want to wait in any lines. That was fine with me. The nightly shows were absolutely fabulous! The Disney productions are spectacular. We enjoyed them all. My son was selected to be a part of the Welcome Aboard Show with the Bucket Boys so that was special for us. There were tons of activities to keep you busy throughout the cruise. I really enjoyed the opportunities to learn how to draw a character. We also played some trivia.
The hours are extended compared to other lines and you don't have to pay after 10 p.m. like you do on other lines. That's a nice feature. However, my 9-year-old did not want to go to the Club as often as he has on other cruises. Maybe because he's older. When he did go, he was mainly interested in the video games. My 12-year-old had her first taste of cruise independence and since we were traveling with another family with kids her age, it worked out well since they could buddy up. The went to Edge as the activities were of interest to them.
It went smoothly. We dined in our selected dining room as recommended before getting off the ship. The line for customs looks horrendous but it went pretty smoothly and I'm guessing we were done between 20-25 minutes.
We truly enjoyed our trip. It was fabulous and I would definitely enjoy cruising on Disney again. We love that it's here in our area for a while so maybe we'll get to.