This was our first Disney Cruise. My two sons ages 11 & 2 and the hubby and I planned this cruise to celebrate our sons birthdays who both were born in August. I booked an inside guarantee "IGT" cabin on this cruise in early February and was told I would get in inside cabin or better if possible. I was also advised if the price dropped and I brought it to their attention they would apply a refund for the difference. It turns out we got lucky and a week prior to our sail date the prices went down and I contacted Disney Cruise Line and was immediately upgraded to a Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom with Verandah (balcony) cabin and was refunded about $300 which I choose to leave as and on-board credit, which worked out great.
We live in Miami, Florida and drove down to Orlando two days before our sail date to get use of our Universal Orlando annual passes. We stayed at the Loews onsite hotel and had a lovely time. On Thursday we drove down to Port Canaveral which was about a 40 minute ride from Universal, we arrived at the port around 9:30 and checked in with the parking staff and parked in the port's parking lot which we previous paid $60 for the 3 nights which we reserved for online. We drove to the curb, the Disney staff helped us bring down our luggage and DH went and parked the van. We then we into the terminal and went directly to check in, we had reserved at 10 a.m. check ( you can do this online) and then quickly went right in were there was a short line to take a lovely picture. They announced our names as we walked in, then we were advised to head to Cabanas for lunch.
At first site the cruise is gorgeous! The atrium and elevators are memorizing. We headed up to Cabanas for a delicious lunch that consisted of shrimp, crab, and many other amazing selections. Even my oldest who is a picky eater had quite the selection. It has cute nemo theme and we often passed by Cabanas during the cruise as it is located right outside the pool deck.
We were in a Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom with Oversized Verandah with a Whitewall in Stateroom 10164. The balcony was huge. The room was perfect. It had a split bathroom/shower room which was great for a family of four to get ready. I requested a pack and play for my two year old, which was there when we arrived however we after the first night we did not use. We had a super clean queen size comfortable bed which hubby, baby and myself slept comfortably in, The bed was tall enough that our luggage and our stroller fit perfectly underneath. My oldest son slept in the twin bunk which was set up for him nightly with the cutest towel characters which he loved.
I must say this is the best idea ever! There are two wave phones (Cellphones you can use at sea) in each stateroom. I kept one and gave my oldest son the other one to communicate with us while we was in the kids clubs, which he was in the majority of the time (more on that later) and it worked out great, we would call him to see how he was doing, if he had ate, if he wanted to eat dinner with us, or when we wanted him to come to the stateroom to bathe, change, etc. We also were able to communicate with the nursery to find out how our little one was doing at all times, they would even text us when he fell asleep, the phones are awesome!
The it's a Small World Nursery for us is the major selling point, being able to travel with a toddler and still get time for ourselves was amazing. The nursery is under top notch security which is most important to me. They put a wrist band on your baby which is like a tracking device, mine choose to have it on his ankle. They contact the parents by call or text on the wave phone if they have any news about your baby and if you call them they give you the exact breakdown of what the baby did, eat, play, poop and fell asleep, etc. The staff is certified and very attentive. The nursery was never full or rowdy and I never left worried about leaving my baby. We would mainly take him during nap time and bed time and it worked out great for us. I also left him during nap time when we were in Castaway Cay and it worked out lovely as we were able to do more activities with our oldest.
Oceaneer Lab, Oceaneer Club and Edge
On the 1st day of our cruise we signed up my oldest son who is 11 for the clubs, we were not able to do so online as he was over 8 and is able to check himself in and out. We had no line or no waiting to get him signed up. It was an open house so both my kids were able to play and explore the clubs. My oldest son love the Oceaneer Club but preferred the Oceaneer lab better. Most mornings we would do breakfast and pools together and the rest of the afternoon he would spend at the clubs, he did not want to leave. On our second night he had a chance to see Edge the tween club which he was not interested in. It looked boring and not nearly as fun as the other clubs. He choose to stay with the Lab. The clubs also had top notch computerized gps wrist band security at all times. Disney did very well in this department! However, I do agree with some other reviewers that the ages should be distributed a little better, I couldn't see my three year old letting my 11 year play in peace withe his "friends".
Unfortunately, we missed the first show "believe" on the 1st night because we got carried away exploring the ship and the 2nd night since we didn't want our two year to miss any of the family activities so we choose to take him to the show "Villans" and that turned out to be a bad idea. He stayed still for about 15 minutes and that was it, he wasn't entertained. We left and didn't get to see any of the Broadway shows. Pirate night was awesome and the highlight of our cruise. My whole family got into character and we even dressed up the little one as a pirate. The music, show, fireworks and ambiance was phenomenal. The adult clubs were beautiful but nothing grand. I didn't see any dance clubs. I played bingo on 2 nights which was fun, and a few people won some great prizes. We saw this perfect match show which was funny but that was about it. They had this all pink champagne room which I thought was cute, but we never stopped for a drink there, next time I will. We never had a chance to see any of the movies playing at the theater, I wish we would have though.
All the food options were great and delicious. The enchanted garden in my opinion was the best. Room service was included and had a very good selection of items available until 2 am. We even had breakfast in our room the day of Castaway Key, to not waste to much time on-board. Food is great. Fast food option by the pool, ok. but it's kid food so it understandable. Ice cream all the time was pretty good too! Wish they had sprinkles tho.
Port & shore excursions
Nassau was our first stop. My hubby and I have been here before and we both know its not worth getting off unless your visiting Atlantis, which we were not. My oldest son had never been so we got off for a little while and took a carriage ride through the historical town. Bought a few souvenirs and head back on board.
Castaway Cay was great. The beach was amazing and I'm from Miami so I have my share of beautiful beaches. It was so clear you could see these beautiful tropical fish at your footsteps, my toddler and oldest were in heaven. They had a BBQ buffet on the beach, which my family loved. I thought it was okay because I don't like BBQ, I wish they would of had more of a sea food selection, but that's just me. We did the bike and snorkel excursion which was nice. We rode bikes on the beach and it was cute they had toddler seats for my baby. The snorkeling was nice too and the hubby went down on the deep end to see some hidden mickey statues. The baby spent the morning with us and then we took him to the nursery to nap and spent the rest of the time at the beach relaxing in the hammocks. My oldest went to the kids clubs on the beach and had an absolute blast. I loved this placed.
Leaving was a breeze. We opted to kept our luggage and went to the late breakfast and strolled right off the ship afterwards. Customs was quick and we walked right out to our car on the lot.
Likes and Dislikes
There are not many dislikes, but a few. The photography part of the cruise wasn't great. The staff was hardly ever around and you would have to go to your portfolio to see if they put your picture in the book and the last day I wanted to get a photo book which I thought would be a breeze and it was surely not. Unorganized amount of people everywhere. Word of advice- take all the pictures you can the first few days of the trip and claim them on the day before the last day. My other issue was the toddler area, they should have more attendants in there and a covered area where the parents can sit.
The cruise was gorgeous, everything was done on a top notch Disney level. The staff was amazing. Our wait staff greeted us by name every day as well as our room host. I loved every minute and pre-booked on board! We will be back in August 2014 if not sooner!