But sometimes when dealing with sadness, it is good to have a distraction. That is why today I am talking about the lessons learned on our latest Disney Cruise. After all, it has only been two weeks since I started writing this post! Once again, I must stress that I am in no way an expert at cruising, there are folks out there who do yearly Disney cruises and know everything that there is to know about the House of Mouse. But every time we embark on a cruise, we come back with lessons learned and I want to share them today.
Tip for Jamaica: It is very windy. Skip the hat.
1. This is more of a end of the cruise tip but I wanted to jot it down while thinking about it -
When disembarking, you don't have to somehow lug all of your suitcases from the baggage area to your car (like we did on our last cruise). Ask a baggage handler to help you. And if you are at Port Canaveral, get Jordan. He was golden. And adorable. Somehow he loaded all of our bags onto a trolly and safely deposited them at our car. I seriously wanted to take him home with us.
2. The next tip is easy - Don't forget your nail polish and polish remover.
All of the water activities will wreak havoc on your nails and unless you enjoy paying $70 for a pedicure (and I do not), you will walk around with jacked up toenails all week as I did. Although I found the spa to be wildly overpriced, we do recommend the Bippity Boppity Boo Salon for the littles. It was adorable and Miss Girl enjoyed getting the princess treatment.
4. Bring ear plugs - and don't be afraid to call Guest Services.
On the first morning, we awoke to crying. It's a Disney Cruise, there are wall to wall kids so we did not think much about it. The second day was more of the same, only add some screaming and shrieking. Come to find out that we were beside a young family with three small children. We've been there, we know how toddlers are so we gave them the benefit of the doubt. The third day (after more shrieking and screaming by two of the three youngsters) we stood behind them in a character line and watched three sweet angelic-looking little redheads beat the stuffing out of poor Pluto. We started to have a clearer picture of who was waking us up every morning and they were not just typical tantrums.
Day 4, 6:45 a.m.
We awoke to screaming and yelling again. We finally had enough and called the front desk. They were very apologetic and very helpful and said that they would handle it. I don't know what they did or said to them but we barely heard a peep for the last three days. Which led me to ask, if your kids CAN be quieter, why aren't you making them be quieter for your own peace of mind! If it was that loud in our stateroom (and it was loud) what did it sound like over there?
The walls are not thick and even if you do not have a family of hooligans beside you, the ship creaks a lot with the waves. If you are a light sleeper, I suggest earplugs. And don't be afraid to talk to Guest Services if you have a problem. They were super helpful and even called us the next morning and asked if we were still experiencing a noise problem.
And for those of you who are thinking of taking a Disney Cruise, I would look very closely at the stage of life your children are in and their personalities. If they are in a very loud stage or one with frequent tantrums, I might hold off until they are older and understand how to be quiet and still. Between the staterooms, shows and the dinners in very nice restaurants each night, you are not going to have any fun if you are constantly corralling a squirmy, tired youngster.
Before the show. Little Kid's tiny princess bun is cracking me up.
5. Listen up on this tip because it is HUGE:
If your Cruise docks at Castaway Cay, which is Disney's private island in the Bahamas, Serenity Bay is the adult-only beach and it truly lives up to its name. Plus, it has its own restaurant where you can have ribeye on the beach.
A happy (and sweaty) Engineer
What did we do with the kids? The island has its own kids club that works just like the one on the cruise. I would not leave them all day (it was HOT), but they will have a lot of fun participating in beach activities while you enjoy a little quiet time.
6. Speaking of the kids club - I think that this was a tip from last time, but I must reiterate:
TRY IT OUT!
When we were at the kids club on the island, I felt sorry for a little girl who begged her parents to let her stay in the kids area. They kept trying to persuade her to come back to beach with them and finally pulled her away. I think that we forget what it is like to be a kid and while these shore excursions and dinners and activities are amazing, sometimes a kid just wants to play a game of tag with some other kids. And it is vacation! It is okay to sit by yourself on the deck with a Bahama Mama and just enjoy the view, sans-kids:
The characters would pop in the kids club during the week and interact with the kids.
7. It is time for my controversial tip, which is more of an opinion and please take it with a grain of salt as I would never want to offend anyone -
Think twice before committing to fish extenders.
There was a debate on the proper spelling of Arggg! And yes, that is half of a birthday banner. I did not realize that the pirate banner I picked up for Pirate Night at Target spelled Happy Birthday until I opened the package on the ship.
What is a fish extender? When we were planning our trip, I read about this activity in which families hang an organizer outside of their rooms and that other guests drop trinkets in them. I thought that would be cute - that the kids would get a small treat like Hershey Kisses and maybe a Mickey Mouse pencil. I also thought it would be fun to do the same for other guests.
I should have done more research.
We realized about two weeks before we left that we were supposed to join a fish extender Facebook group and that we would have assigned families to get gifts for. Still not a big deal. Then we boarded the ship, set out our organizer and these elaborate gifts started appearing. Toys … handmade and detailed souvenirs … bags crammed full of candy … LIQUOR! Okay, that one was nice. I admired these people for creating elaborate gifts but it had to cost them a small fortune.
It was all I could do to make sure that we were all packed and the dog was where he needed to be and the crabs were where they needed to be and all of my newspaper assignments were completed and the mail was taken care of - and on and on. I had no room in my brain to craft an elaborate goodie bag of treats and toys with a handmade, personalized label. I thought that I was doing good to give out glow wands/swords from Target and Moon Pies (which are a Tennessee delicacy) with labels I printed out on the computer and Mickey Mouse stickers that Little Kid stuck on each treat.
And here is where I walk the line of controversy:
Isn't it enough that we are sailing through paradise on a floating hotel?
If it still sounds like fun, don't let me discourage you, but make sure that you give yourself plenty of time to plan, purchase and craft your gifts.
8. Finally, DON'T STEAL THE BLANKET OFF THE BED!
Not that we did - although it would look nice on the couch in our rec room. I heard through the Disney grapevine that anyone deciding to take that particular souvenir home would have $250 charged to their credit card on file. Yes, it had Mickey heads on it but come on, people! The blanket was kind of scratchy. Don't do it! Resist the urge!
Disney Cruise 2014
Cruising with Mickey and More, 2012:
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