We love to travel but have never cruised before, so when DCL came to Vancouver (our hometown) we decided to give them a try. Our kids are 4 and 7, the perfect ages for many of the activities and attractions on the ship. We also brought both sets of grandparents and a great grandparent. We were so surprised by the excellent service, great dining experiences and plentiful entertainment opportunities.
It can be so easy to overindulge in food while cruising but I was pleased to find that Disney serves hormone-free milk on board and makes it very easy to get plenty of fruits and vegetables into the kids at every meal. In addition to all the main dining menus, fresh fruit was available throughout the day at Goofy's Galley. When we told our dining room server that our kids liked broccoli, they made sure that a serving a steamed broccoli was added to their entree every evening. The salmon barbecue at Beach Blanket Buffet and lobster tails at the Captain's Gala were also exceptionally memorable.
We were so pleased with the Disney experience. Keep your autograph book handy because you're always running into Disney characters: at the character breakfast, at scheduled photo sessions, or just wandering about randomly around the ship. The longest line-ups were for the Disney Princesses but were still reasonable compared to what you would experience in Disneyland or WDW. The Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab provided a wide range of activities and crafts for ages 3 to 12. We were fortunate that our 4 and 7 yr olds could stay together whenever we dropped them off. That helped them to integrate into the new play environment with confidence. We took advantage of that time to use the Fitness Centre on Deck 9, adjacent to the Vista Spa, which has a stunning view from the bow of the ship.
Our kids loved the Mickey Pool! I was very skeptical about letting them swim in an outdoor pool in Alaska but was pleasantly surprised to find the water in the main Mickey Pool to be as warm as bath water and the hot tubs (Mickey's ears) were even toastier. The water temp and the easy access to hot chocolate and dry towels just steps away made swimming a favourite afternoon activity.
With 9 family members, it had been a long time since we had all sat for professional photos, so we opted for the $279 CD photo package at Shutters (onboard photography service). It turned out to be a fantastic deal. We got a lot of family group photos with different backgrounds and plenty of character shots as well. If you have young kids, don't miss the photo ops with the white background. Shutters will digitally add Tinkerbell into a shot with the kids.
We enjoyed the first run Disney movies in the 3D theatres (currently Cars 2, Pirates/Caribbean 4, Winnie the Pooh, and more) and the evening live shows. Toy Story - The Musical, and Disney Dreams: An Enchanted Classic were superb and the fun for the whole family. Once the kids were in bed, we could still venture down to the adult-only nightclubs for music or live entertainment.
Even with all these features this would have been just another vacation if it weren't for the friendly service that we received each day. We really miss our dining room servers who took such good care of us. I actually had tears in my eyes when it was time to say "Goodbye". The service was fabulous!