Our transatlantic cruise was the trip of a lifetime. I did not expect to enjoy every minute so much because I had anticipated a tedious, boring voyage. So happy to be proved wrong!
If there is a lecturer on board advising what to see and do in each port and giving information about the science of the sea - GO! Professor Chuck was absolutely fascinating on our cruise. We learned about the depths of the sea and the fun of the shore. Great combination. Skip the lecture on where to shop - you will be guided to very expensive shopping. Just enjoy your time on shore and buy where the locals shop.
Some tips for the cruise:
Go to the dollar store and buy:
* some light up necklaces - the kids will love them on pirate night.
* night lights for the rooms.Beats leaving the bathroom light AND the fan on all night
* autograph books for the little girls - characters were everywhere and they gladly signed
* beverage mugs with handles for carrying drinks around (the one I bought at Castaway Cay cost me $19.95)
* foam rubber swords - they were fun on Pirate Night and I left them with our room steward when we left; I didn't mind leaving a $1 sword behind. Security will not let the hard plastic swords on board but the foam ones went right through packed in my suitcase
* pirate bandanas. They are enough for a costume but you might want to add eye patches and earrings and make-up. The tiny triangle bandanas they gave us on the ship were so tiny they would only fit a child or my wrist.
* BIG magnets for your door. You can personalize your doors and it helps your family find your room. Our blank door looked very lonely among the many colorfully decorated doors
You can take your own bottled water on board (which I did, just dropped the 24 bottles off with my luggage). On board, the cost is $7.19 for 12 bottles.
You can take your own liquor and wine on board (which I did). Your room attendant will provide ice and glasses if you ask. We even carried our drinks to dinner. The waiters removed the glasses when they were empty but our cabin attendant brought us more. All non-alcoholic beverages are free on board 24-7.
Take your own pillow if you are picky; the pillows were just OK.
There is a refrigerator in your room that is roomy; we stored fresh fruit and juice for a morning snack before we headed off for breakfast.
The kids on board LOVED the kids activities and the parents raved about them. sign the kids up and drop them off from the very first minute.
Ask your room attendant for extra post cards and have them all written and addressed so you can mail them from Castaway Cay. It's a nice memory when they arrive home in the mail. Stop in at the post office as soon as you get off the ship. The post office closes long before you're ready to leave and you'll want the Bahamas post mark. If you miss the post office, you can go to Guest Services but they won't mail them until the next time the ship stops at Castaway Cay which could be another week.
Go to Target and buy inexpensive snorkeling equipment. I bought mine for $19.99 (the "junior" set) and it worked as well as the high priced stuff. To rent the equipment costs about $50+. The older kids will definitely want to snorkel at castaway cay and see all the hidden disney stuff under water. They don't need a guide, just swim on out there and look. And now I have snorkeling equipment to use far into the future.
Formal night was almost barely formal night. Lots of women showed up in pants and silk blouses. Some men did not wear a suit let alone a tux.
Sign up at Guest Services to tour the galley. It's a great tour and fills almost immediately. Also sign up for the ship tour. Fascinating. Both are not advertised but if you ask at Guest Services, they are available.
If there is more than one adult in your room, ask your cabin attendant for multiple copies of each day's schedule. We liked to keep our schedule with us and circle what we wanted to attend which was almost never the same thing as the other roomie. Separate schedules were a must.
the wave phones provided in each room were a big disappointment. they were all set to vibrate so you had to have them with you at all times on your body. The clip was broken on ours and we could not attach it to our pocket. I did not see anyone using them.
Download the Disney navigator for your trip before you leave. All the events of the day will show up on your smart phone.
There is a washer and dryer on board with a load of wash costing just $1.00 and dry $1.00. Inexpensive detergent and softener is available in a machine. There was also an offer to wash and dry everything that would fit in a huge bag for $30. Hard to pass that up! The laundry room had a campground atmosphere with people jostling for machines and dragging your stuff out of the washer or dryer if you weren't there; they left it in piles on a laundry table. All friendly but they meant business!
One of the highlights of the trip was watching the harbor pilot jump on and off the ship from the pilot boat. It's worth getting up early to see it.
Speaking of which, we could not for the life of us figure out the alarm clock in our cabin. take your own alarm clock or use your smart phone.