Monday, August 6, 2012

Disney Cruise: best of the day

Quick & Dirty on why Cruisin' with Mickey made me happy
  • Whatever you or your loved ones are doing, it's all in the same building
  • Everyone else has kids (aka whining, chatty, ticking time bombs) too
  • Un.Plugged. No Wifi, no iPads, nada.
  • A steady drip of Mickey magic, not overload like at the parks, and none at all if you need a break.
  • Park your cash at the dock.
Slow & Painful Daily Breakdown
The slowest & most painful way I can describe to you how fantasmaGORic my first Disney cruise (and incidentally, my first cruise altogether) was, I think it best to describe the highlight of each day's events and see how divergent I get off of that.

day 1 : the club
My daughter's indoctrination. My son was a little more shy.
I can honestly say that pretty much every day on the cruise was spotted with wonderful moments interacting with the "oceaneer's club" and "lab", which constitute the kids' camp onboard the ship. It is not childcare; it is their entertainment. Never have I seen the kids give up their fave things (i.e., milk and the toy of the day) with such gleeful compliance. Let me say that on this first day, a day in which someone got me to agree to pay $40 for a case of Evian to be delivered to our 246 square foot cabin and I unknowingly ate a hot dog for lunch when a buffet was just steps away, I did not get it. I was a deer in headlights, and so were my kids. We stumbled through our first day, trying the pool and food and dinner as a family, and then decided to try the 'club' while hubby and I went to the opening show. AT 8 PM. This is usually bedtime. I was skeptical. Indeed, on a day as exciting as the first, we picked up the kids an hour or so later and they were zombies. A was upset she couldn't figure out  a computer that wasn't controlled by a touch-screen, and C was playing hide-n-seek by himself. But within 24 hours we all discovered the glory of these two magnificent play spaces and their guides, and like I said, not a day of the trip went by when we didn't enjoy them. So our introduction to this concept-this component of our trip-is the highlight of day 1.

day 2 : a show!
Opening night's show was more of an introduction to some of the variety of entertainers on the ship, including a cabaret act and a puppeteer. Not for me. But the singers and the dancers---welllll-- let me tell you! I, at one point in my career, was fully aware that the Disney cruise line contract was THE most coveted of all cruise line contracts for musical theater performers like myself--so I was more than a little curious to see the level of performance and production. It was fantastic. I highly recommend. If you get a little misty-eyed at a Disney or Hallmark commercial you are the target audience and will be blown away like myself; but even a cynical talk-radio-junkie like my hubby found it very impressive. The level is very high. My only problem was: I couldn't get my daughter to join me until the fourth show, and thus her exposure was less than the constant barrage I was hoping for. My son, however, joined me on this day 2 show and could not stop chatting and marveling at everything that was going on. I forgot to ask my SON if he wanted to join me. And when he did, and we had a little date just the two of us, I swooned. 

day 3: drink of the day
The Micky Pool, all to ourselves.
My husband downloaded no less than three movies, three books, and four kids' books on his iPad before we left for the cruise, in anticipation of the encompassing boredom that must accompany days at sea. WRONG. So much to do. Seriously. Even with Disney, who is supposed to be all about the kids. [I know, I sound like a commercial.] But seriously, I never got my requisite vacation "pina colada by the pool" this trip, and I didn't miss it! Partly because I was actually excited to see what the 'drink of the day' was, and what it tasted like! Yum. It made lounging poolside at the "Mickey Pool" (fun central for the younger tykes) always a treat. It was a cute touch that reminded us, along with all the adult-centered touches and events, this cruise is for us to have fun, too.

day 4: scuba

Our first port was Nassau, Bahamas. Oh yeah- we are going to the Bahamas. Totally forgot. Like I said, hubby and I were so focused on the excursions pre-trip that we booked a scuba day on the only chance we had. In fact, my Dad had to pull some strings to book it. This is probably because scuba is not the most inviting excursion when you are across the bay from the gorgeous Atlantis resort, but I digress. By the time we got to Nassau we were finally getting into the groove of cruisin' and could have skipped it, but we sheepishly headed off to the other side of the island, leaving the kids to visit Atlantis with my brave parents. In a word: liberating. We had two fantastic dives, an easy boat ride, and a nice adult getaway. The little adrenalin rush I got from a shark following me around my first wreck dive didn't hurt. It was almost better than our dive trips pre-kids, because we knew we had the ship and all its pampering to go back to. We spent the day chatting with a fellow Disney passenger who had six kids and had cruised with Mickey 12. TIMES. Needless to say, he solidified our feelings that this was the best trip ever. 
day 5: carib without the carib

Disney's got its own Island. 'Nuff said.

day 6: medic
My son has never gone on vacation without getting sick. Alas, even with the magic of Disney, he managed to maintain his record. We let him get a little too dehydrated on the previous two beach days and when he gets dehydrated, the stubborn side of his genetics (no comment) take over and he won't so much as touch a drink or even popsicle. Luckily Mickey is prepared for this scenario and although we a) missed the Magic Kingdom day and b) had to brace our child while he received IV fluids, it all seemed to go smoothly and not ruin our vacay. The little guy woke up the next day good as new. Top this off with my hubby promising to visit the Magic Kingdom sometime in the next year to make up for it, and I say, maybe there is some pixie dust around here...

day 7: dancing
Ahhhh, togetherness. We were traveling with my brother, his wife, and three children; the four of us; and my parents. If you can place all these people and their varying personalities on a ship and still get them to dance with each other on day *7*, you win. It's just the Disney way of doing things. On my son's 'sick' day I managed to watch the vacation club promo about twenty times and found myself nodding my head to the mantra: "everyone's idea of a vacation is different, and they can all be had here." A little populated cabaret duo singing a set of pop songs in front of a dance floor before dinner. By far, not a main event on the schedule. To my nephew, tops.

day 8: no impact arrival
Waking up to the sight of lower Manhattan creeping steadily towards you on your travel return day rather than flying with kids: priceless. We put our bags out at 10:30 PM the night before, slept, ate breakfast, left the boat, and got in our car and drove home. I guess there are many aspects of my trip that ring true for all cruises, but I gotta say, it sealed the deal for me! I was Googling prices and itineraries the whole drive home...

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