Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Disney Cruise: the second time around

We managed to capture this lucky moment at the goodbye party!
There are sooo many things to say. Not the least of which, is that I am [poor me] tired from the trip home. Not good, Disney. Port out of NYC again, or Baltimore. Come on!

Last August, 2012, we sailed for 8 nights from NYC to the Bahamas on the Disney Magic.
This August, 2013, we sailed for 7 nights from Port Canaveral to the Western Caribbean on the Disney Fantasy.

Anyhoo, here's what was different, this second time around:

1. The boat was twice as big
On our first cruise one of our fellow, more experienced passengers informed us he liked all of the Disney ships and that even with the bigger ones, where there are twice the people, there is twice the space, so you don't feel all the extra people. I'd say: WRONG. Hubby felt more of the 'banquet-style' seating & feeding process, and the pools were more crowded, and it was actually quite a bit more walking around to get to where you were going. Twice the shopping: good. Twice the people vying for seats at the show: not good. We would definitely choose the Disney Magic or Wonder in future sailings, as opposed to the Dream and Fantasy. The classic ocean liner charm and intimacy [however much intimacy you can have with 2000 people] was lost with 4000 people. You know those elevator conversations you have with people, and it gives you a little smile in your day? Well you might see those people again on the Magic, and continue your conversation. You would not likely see them again on the Fantasy.

2. Fitness
I did it! I did the 5k! I did a yoga class! I ran on the treadmill! It was dumb. I wouldn't have done it, except I have a race coming up this weekend. I just about fell off the treadmill because of the boat movement. The yoga class was actually quite difficult and kept my hamstrings tight the first two days, and the 5k was hot as h-e-double-l. I totally admired the people in the gym who were just there to work off their buffet, but I could have totally passed on the whole thing. Don't get me wrong, the gym was lovely. But walking around the boat, even up and down the stairs, and at all the excursions, including scuba, which does burn quite a few calories, would have been enough to me to justify the extra weight I'd need to scrub after disembarkation. I didn't need to flex my abs for my fellow passengers like some people. Just sayin'.

3. Togetherness
Last year my extended family was pleasantly surprised at all there was to do on the cruise, and we all seemed to find our perfect little vacay-within-a-vacay. This year it may have been a little too much togetherness. I know my brother's family, with the third child being only 15 months, struggled with the lack of the activities for the little one and the sleeping arrangements with five in a cabin. We, on the other hand, found our kids were more capable of some of the activities on board this time, like the scavenger hunts around the ship, the character parties, the slides at the pool, the pirate night party, and, naturally, of course, we hit all the shows this time around [and stayed for the entire duration of each.] Their age group may have just been perfect for this go-around. Which, conversely, kept us from finding times to link up with the rest of our family members in between their chosen activities.

The club on the Fantasy includes a Toy Story room

Little dude learning how to navigate the ship!
Geared up for Castaway Cay day
The pools and slides were even more a hit this time
Castaway Cay

The Scavenger hunt led us to every corner of the ship, including this painting in the art museum that winked at us!

4. The Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique Pirates' League experience
I have tried my best to encourage my little princess to be a - well - princess, but alas, she has passed on several occasions to get the toddlers-and-tiara-level disney boutique experience. Getting done up like a pirate, however, was never a doubt in her mind and she and her brother got the full treatment. The golden doubloon, the tattoos, the eye patch...the works. The Disney Fantasy has a Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique on board the ship, like the one in Downtown Disney and the one near Cinderella's Castle in Disney World. It is hard to get an appointment on one of the days that there is a "princess gathering", which entails the majority of Disney Princess characters standing in the lobby of the boat for about an hour while you get an opportunity to go down the line and take a pic with each one. I totally heart the princess gathering. My daughter, not so much. She just wanted a pic with the ladies in the 'background.' She totally changed her tune on the last night, perhaps realizing she was running out of time to be dramatically bashful, and we snapped a pic with her and Aurora and Tiana (and Donald.)
Anyways, back to pirate-ing. On 'pirate night' day, the ship does a little transforming and everything is pirate-themed, including the Boutique. It is now the Pirates' League. We got appointments for the kids at 4 pm and 4:45 pm, right before dinner so they didn't have time to mess up their beards before dinner. They loved it!! They got really into their 'pirate oath', and each had chosen a catch-phrase as they encountered maties aboard the ship. The little guy's was "Ahoy!" and the little girl's was "Argh!" There are cute backdrops to get professional photos done in the lobby before dinner, and afterwards, of course, there are two pirate parties. There is one after the 5:45 dinner seating for younger kids, and then there is one starting at around 10:15 after the 8:30 dinner seating, during which Captain Jack Sparrow does something dramatic and fireworks go off. We actually got to both parties this year, a total score, as we missed both last year: one with the kids and one just the two of us. We watched the fireworks go off as the kids played in the club downstairs happily. They were done with swashbuckling.
Getting his little beard on...
Totally into it
Little girl seeing little guy pirate for the first time
Proud to take her oath
Navigating rough [virtual, in the portrait/game] seas
Pirate party: check!
Everyone gets in on the pirate action
Be wary of pirates on deck!

5. A chance to reminisce
One of the ports-of-call was Cozumel, Mexico. This is where hubby and I got engaged. We bravely led the group to the main square in town in search of our favorite restaurant of the trip. In the heat and with five kids in tow, we had doubts. The port terminal is a huge outdoor maze of a mall, and they honestly do not want you to find your way out of it! But we made it out of the mall, north a few blocks, and into the square. And our restaurant, and our Mexican platter for two, was still there. And it tasted just as good. If you ever have a chance to go, hit up Casa Denis in the southeast corner of the square opposite the ferry terminal. It's self-proclaimed the oldest restaurant in Cozumel. We're going to venture, it's at least the tastiest.

6. Oh la la! Remy!
Enjoying the champagne cocktail at Oh La La bar in the adult lounge area.
There is one adults-only restaurant aboard the Magic: Palo, a fine Italian dining experience with an added fee. You make a reservation and hope the kids don't call you out to pick them up at the club downstairs that night. I heard a rumor they do their best knowing big-brother-style that you are at Palo and try to steer the kids in another direction. On the Disney Fantasy there is another Palo, and there is also: Remy. Remy is the French adults-only restaurant and we just about drank the strongest kool-aid this joint had to offer because we were drooling all the way back to Philly. It is named after the rat in Ratatouille, and they even show you the wine bottles from the movie in their cabinets on your way in. They started us off with a champagne-and-pear-vodka cocktail (yes, please!) and we shared two tasting menus as they suggested, and we found everything to be magnifique. In the effort of full disclosure my parents went on another night and found it to be too modern for their taste, and too many people serving them. It was not the traditional French restaurant they were hoping for. Indeed we were visited by our head waiter, a bread person, a separate water person, the sommelier, the amuse-bouche person, the in-between-courses-sorbet person, the manager, and the cheese person. You know, all those people wanting to serve me while there were probably an equal number of people entertaining my children downstairs didn't really bother moi!!!
Hubby's dessert at Remy

7. And...more togetherness...
As anyone who has traveled with extended family knows, it is not easy getting everyone on the same schedule, the same page, and under the same roof. But it is worth it. These are the times of our lives and our children's lives that we will never get back. I think back on the special times I shared in my youth with my cousins and grandparents and think about how I could have had even more. I don't look back on the fights, the meltdowns, and the disparities. I think about the love, the meals, the celebrations, and shared history. To share more of those times, while we are all healthy and able, is truly priceless. Mickey may be magical, but he is not all-powerful, unfortunately.

But he sure is cute!

Thanks for reading, 
tuning into my guest posts last week, 
and I promise I'll catch you up on 'real life' soon enough!


  1. Looks like you had a great time!! Never been on a cruise but sounds like a lot of fun!

    I never even though about the treadmill/boat moving thing! EEK!

  2. I lol'd about falling off the treadmill. I suppose that would in fact be a problem. :)

    Looks like a lovely time had by all. Glad you were able to spend the time with family even if it wasn't all rose petals and perfume. Heck, if it was - it would kind of suck. :D

  3. I wanna go! I wanna go! I wanna go!!


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