My wife and I finally decided to take a chance and book a cruise. After a bit of research and listening to family and friends who had been on a cruise before we decided to do a Mediterranean cruise. We have two daughters aged 7 and 2 so the logical choice was to go for a Disney cruise.
After speaking with our local travel agents (who were absolutely fantastic) we decided to arrive in Barcelona 3 days before the cruise started and be thoroughly relaxed before the cruise started. The hotel we stayed in was Hotel GBB4 near to Bogatell Beach and it was definitely the right hotel for us. The beach was literally 5 minutes walk from the hotel and the girls loved playing on the beach and we loved relaxing in the sun. We felt very safe even though we had heard about Barcelona being a bit of a tourist haven for pick pockets and we happily took the girls to see Las Ramblas and walk the beach promenade even late at night.
On the morning of the cruise we spoke to out hotel and asked if it would be possible to come back to the hotel after the cruise and use the facilities due to not catching a night flight back to the UK. After the cruise we did go back to the hotel and not only did they store our suitcases so we could enjoy an extra day on the beach, they gave us access to the gym's showers so we could get changed for the flight. All of this was at no extra cost to our original booking.
Getting back to the cruise we decided to get to the cruise terminal for 1030hrs and contrary to previous reviews we were through the checkpoints and on the ship by 1230hrs. Although it was two hours it did not feel that long by the time we had done all the checks and the fact that the Disney characters were in the terminal so that guests could have the pictures taken made this transition very smooth and enjoyable for the children.
Being Disney the welcome on board the ship was excellent with every family being welcomed to all the staff clapping you on board as your name was announced. There were a number of choices for lunch but we decided to go to Pluto's Pizzeria on Deck 9, there was no queueing and we were eating and enjoying the food in minutes. Granted it was fast food but at this stage i did not want a buffet and the children were restless to get in the pool. Top tip is to take your costumes with you and you get an extra couple of hours in the pool so the holiday starts straight away.
We went down to our Stateroom and was very surprised at how much room there was and more than happy that we didn't go for a suite. There was a bath and shower, king size bed, bunk bed and sofa bed which the girls loved. Our suitcases arrived and we got dressed for our first meal. We took the option of the first dining which was at 6:00 pm. Our first meal was in Parrot Cay and our servers Romeo and Jessie were fantastic, they catered for every need and were always keeping the girls entertained. The attention to detail and the food was excellent. I very rarely could choose between two of the starters or mains and Romeo would always bring both so i could try them. The food was always cooked to perfection and some reviews Ive read of there only being fast food available is way off the mark, i was eating swordfish, veal, venison, lamb, pork for instance and it was delicious.
The Navigators are an excellent way of finding whats available around the ship and if you plan ahead you can do lots of activities either as a family or just a couple. The main thing i was impressed with was the staff on board, i have never seen a workforce that works as hard to keep a ship clean and always friendly. They would always stop to say hello and many staff remembered our names.
The entertainment is top notch, the shows are Broadway, west end standard and enjoyable for all the family. The kids clubs are worth their wait in gold, we originally had our 2 year old girl in the nursery but they saw that she was forward for her age and she went in to the oceaneers club with her sister and after a couple of days she was loving it and would regularly spend a couple of hours playing in the club. The staff in the kids club are excellent and the pagers were ideal so you never had to worry about not being contacted.
Before the cruise we made a decision no to do any port adventures due to the age of the girls and although i was gutted about not going to Rome especially, after speaking to other guests they said that it would have been to hot for the girls and the amount of walking would have taken away from the experience so all in all a good decision on our parts.
Overall the cruise was out of this world for our family, we all enjoyed different aspects of it but for me to spend 10 days away from work and not think about it once tells me that i definitely had a fantastic time. Top tips take advantage of the Captains Dinner Night where you can get your picture taking with the Captain and an added bonus was free cocktails.
Don't spend hours queueing up for the character pictures, we never queued once and would always catch them around the ship and got pictures without waiting at all.
Don't waste that first day, our cruise started as soon as we got on the ship and within an hour the girls were in the pool and i was on a sun lounger taking it all in.
From start to finish it was without doubt the best holiday i have ever had and would recommend a Disney Cruise to anyone