My husband and I have been on Carnival cruises and Royal Caribean cruises, but our two daughters have not been on a cruise. Our daughters are 12 and 4. So, to find something that would entertain both of them at the same time is near impossible on vacation. But we heard great thing about the Disney cruise line, so we thought we would give it a try. We are not really "amusement park people" so my husband said on our way down, and I quote "we will do this and this will get the Disney out of our system for the rest of our lives" AKA we aren't doing this again. We drove 16 hrs to Port Canaveral.
HOTEL: We stayed at Country Inn and Suites, I got it on Priceline for $70, and then I paid $44 for parking. They offered shuttle services to the ship. I have read where people say the extra $20 is worth it to pay at the port, so your car is right there, but the transit was wonderful at Country Inn, they got us to the port dropped us off, got our bags out for us, we didn't have to worry About a thing except to get ourselves on the ship. Likewise when we debarked, we had a number to call and it wasn't 2 minutes before they were there to pick us up and put our bags in the van for us. I couldn't have been more pleased!
EMBARKING: Embarking on the ship blew me away, on both Carnival and Royal Caribean ships I had been on before we had to wait at least 45 minutes to get up to give our documents. We literally walked up to the area, and handed our documents and were done with that process within 15 minutes. We then had to wait in that area for about 45 minutes until the ship opened, and it was pretty crowded, but the process of getting on the ship was pretty organized. Hint: If you want to get on the ship earlier and don't want that picture they take when you first walk in you can pass on the side and go straight in the ship instead of waiting in line! :)
ENTERING THE SHIP: They announce your family name as you enter, and applaud, which I don't care who you are, that makes you feel like royalty! So many things to see as you walk into the atrium, the chandelier, the glass elevator, all of the smiling employees who genuinely seem happy to see you! You are then encouraged to go eat lunch until your rooms are ready. We ate at th Enchanted Gardens, our waiter at lunch was awesome, he saw that my 4 year old wasn't thrilled about the options at th buffet, so he asked her what she would like. Her favorite is Mac and cheese, so he went and came back with Mac and cheese fries and corn, and made ketchup into Mickey Mouse, and she was sold! He was wonderful with her, she is very shy with new people, but he had her responding to him by the end of lunch! It was impressive!
STATEROOM: We were in stateroom 2554, a deluxe ocienview room. It was perfect size for us. The two bathrooms were amazing! It was really nice to have the bathtub and the removable shower head, especially after the beach. The lack of plug ins in the bathroom was a little diapointing. The big porthole was wonderful, we were able to watch the fireworks from our porthole, my daughters and I could all fit in th porthole and watch them. I just saw where there are even larger portholes with seats! Our room was always spotless, it was always turned down right after dinner, with fun towel animals and chocolates! The girls loved that part! Roberto our stateroom attendant was sweet as could be and was always asking what else he could do for us.
CHILDREN'S CLUBS: Oceaneer's Club-there was a lot to see here, it looked very impressive. I however was not very impressed with the counselors. They were not very interactive with my 4yo in the open house. We also went to the Edge club with my 12yo and there was not even a greeting from any of the staff, an there were not hardly any kids in there, so I saw no reason to not be friendly. At one point a parent asked a counselor where the nearest bathroom was to which she responded, I heard there's one around here but I just got here, and went on about her business. In my opinion if you are going to have an open house, make sure you make the children want to come, and the parents comfortable sending them there. My 4yo wanted to go to her club so we took her and about 45 minutes later got a page she was ready to be picked up, but when we got there she was playing fine, but we went back to get her and she stated she was just "bored" we explained that she liked the arts more like the projects and things like that, so they sent her to the Oeaneers Lab, and she just didnt really enjoy that either. My 12yo enjoyed Edge a little bit I think she went for about 2 hours total on the trip. So overall, I was not impressed by th Children's Clubs.
DINING: We ate at all three of the restaurants, and honestly I can't pick a favorite! They were all amazing! Our servers Yekta and Malus were INCREDIBLE!!!! They both had my girls laughing and interacting with them every night! We never were in need of anything. We never had to ask for anything twice, if they thought we remotely didnt like our food, they were quick to make us try something different! We mentioned at the Animators Palatte that our 4yo had been looking forward to talking to Crush the sea turtle the most and it wasn't 2 minutes later Crush "happened" to show up at our table to talk to us, that is some amazing technology, as quiet as my 4 yo talked he coud hear her! Food was high quality, and very good! I recommend the Boar in the royal palace the most. I also recommend that you eat lunch and breakfast at least once in one of the nicer restaurants, just for experience. We also frequented eye scream a lot, the soft serve self serve ice cream area of the ship!
ACTIVITIES: We did not do any excursions, so I can not review that. We did do the AquaDuck, over, and over, and over again! We stayed on the ship the morning of Castaway Cay and the pools were almost empty, it was WONDERFUL! We were able to get on the Aquaduck without lines. You must be 42' to ride it with an adult. Nemo Reef is awesome it is in a shaded area, so she could play there without risk of sunburn. There are also tables right there in the shade for those parents who want to just let your little one splash in the Reef. There is also a special slide for the little ones. My 12 yo enjoyed the big pool with the Funnel Vision. We really enjoyed the Pirate Party alot! The girls and I dance and danced, and enjoyed a beer in a lounge chair to the side (see something for everyone!)
SHOWS:We went to the Golden Mickeys and Believe and both shows were very good. Both girls enjoyed them just as much! It is impressive to have shows that keep my 4yo and my 12yo attention at the same time! Did I mention we got to see Iron Man 3 before everyone else?!? Pretty cool huh?
SUMMARY:We had a great time! The kids didnt enjoy the Children's Clubs like we expected, so they were never there, so I have no idea what the adult part of the boat looks like! But after a trip like this I don't care at all! We had so much fun as a family, spending time all together on the ship exploring always finding something new. They always called my 4yo Princess, and that always made her smile, me too!!!! My husband, half way through the cruise (remember the one who said we'd get this out of our system) was trying to figure out when we could go next year with his parents and my parents!! I'd say we are sold!!