You made the decision. You are taking your family to Disney. Now what?
First, I want to say congratulations! You are about to enjoy the pure pleasure only a Disney trip can give your family! You are about to see the excitement in your little one’s eyes as they see their favorite character for the first time!
Then, I have to ask you… did you use a Travel Professional to book your trip? Travel Professionals that specialize in Family Vacations can save you both time and money. If you are like most of us, time IS money!
On average, I spend between 20 and 40 hours planning each of my client’s trips. That number includes the quoting (which involves lots of back and forth emails to make sure we are on the same page); the refining; the planning of park days; the dining reservations; Fast Pass plus planning; checking out new promotions to see if your trip qualifies (meaning hours and hours on hold with Disney); printing out itineraries (and revisions); keeping up with what is new during your trip; and reassuring you that something you read online is NOT true (and if it is true, how it will or will not affect your trip!).
Today we are in for a treat. We have a guest blogger. I asked my daughter to give me some thoughts about cruising with a toddler (while being pregnant!) Enjoy!
Cruising With Toddlers While Pregnant!
When I got the invitation to go on a cruise I was very excited. My husband and I had never been on a cruise and the thought of traveling to some Caribbean island sounded fantastic. Then I panicked… what about the babies?! You see, at this point I was 4 months pregnant and I had an 18 month old. All I knew about a cruise ship was that everything was small. Narrow hall ways, tiny bathrooms, and very little room and storage in the bedroom. How was I going to make the work? Going to visit my in laws 5 hours away meant packing a minivan full of baby gear and we almost always had to go to a store and get something that we forgot or ran out of. How am I going to do this? The rooms are tiny!
Once I got my head around the idea of the small space, I started researching what was available online. They sold diapers and wipes. Great, now I don’t have to worry about running out. What about the size of the room. A square footage number means nothing to me so I went to YouTube and looked for videos of room tours. I was amazed at how many people have done this. It gave me the best understanding of the space I had to work with. Can you tell I am a little bit of a control freak?
Fast forward to the day of the cruise. We got really mixed up. My husband went to park the car while my mom and I took the toddler and went to check in. We had several bags and my husband’s documents that he needed to get through security. The staff told us to go ahead and go in. We waited for a long time because the parking garage was a mad house and we had to be on constant look out so we could give my husband his papers all while entertaining the toddler and keeping our luggage out of the way. It made for a stressful 30+ minutes.
We boarded the ship and headed to lunch with a lot of luggage in tow. We went the wrong way and had to drag it all across the boat again. Why do we have all of this stuff? Everyone said that you should take a bag on with you so you would have your swim suit, extra clothes, medications and anything you might need for the rest of the evening in case your room in not ready. Well, we took that advice and carried a lot of stuff. Don’t do that. Seriously. One bag that consisted of regular diaper bag stuff would have been just fine. Wear clothes that are comfortable and are approved for the dining you plan to eat in that night. I only used diapers, wipes and my daughter’s sippy cup.
As a family, we love cruising! So far we have sailed on three different cruise lines, and we found pros and cons on each. Somehow, no matter what, we have always had a blast. And that includes the sailing in late September of 2015 where we shared the Bahamas with Hurricane Joaquin.
So, let’s start a game of pros and cons, best and worst of our sailing experiences.
Pros of cruising in general :
Once you get on the ship, you unpack once and visit many destinations! Your room magically transports you to various locations and experiences! A land vacation that includes all these destinations, would also include airfare to each destination as well as hotel or resort. Plus you would be packing and unpacking every day!
Food is included! With the exception of a few specialty dining rooms, all your meals are included in the cruise fare! It is sort of like an all you can eat restaurant, where you are treated like royalty! I know you can have a weeklong beach vacation for a lot less money, but when you include the price of meals, the cruise comes out as a bargain!
The steward comes twice a day to tidy up your room and turns down your bed at night. Most cruise lines also include a chocolate on your pillow. They leave the ship’s itinerary for the next day on your bed. A land based vacation gets you one housekeeping visit per day (if you’re lucky). If you need something during the day, you can call for someone to help you, but it might be hours before you have that item…but the steward is always close by. You see them in the hallway and they will ask if you need anything, and you can be assured if you need something it will be waiting in your rooms when you get back…and there were lots of towel animals involved with all our sailings!
Wake up each morning with a new place to explore! Yes, I know I listed that one twice…because it is that special!
And unfortunately, here is our last post from our first Family Disney Cruise back in 2014...
I can tell you from this point on the details will be a bit more sketchy...as I sit down to start writing the details, I can tell you the thing I remember most is that it went all too fast! While it has only been six short months since we had this adventure, it is sometimes hard to separate one day from the other. Luckily I saved the Navigators from each day.
A thing about the Navigators. While it was wonderful to have them each night on the bed waiting for us when we came back from dinner, and we did pass them around to see what we wanted to do the next day, we actually used the ones on our phone app. There is a lot of information on these things, so you would have to carry around this big piece of paper...and if you lost it, your whole itinerary was gone! Having it on the phone was so much cooler, and it fit in your back pocket. You could even set a reminder within the app and it would let you know that 'such and such' was about to start on deck whatever. Each person could set their own reminders and I could keep up with where everyone was.
Another thing to keep in mind...the shopping onboard! If you like visiting the gift shops in the Disney resorts, you will love the shopping onboard! The one thing to keep in mind...they are CLOSED when you are in port! It was really cute listening to people complain about that. (although there were numerous signs and announcements reminding you). So, plan accordingly!
Monday morning was announced with a beautiful sunrise! I love sunrises. Always have. Unfortunately no one else in my family appreciates the beauty of a good sunrise.
Now, let's continue our voyage!
We are now onboard the ship!
Once you are on board, there are a couple of things to keep in mind.
#1 Your stateroom probably won't be ready for a while. It depends on how fast they get everything cleaned from the previous cruisers (so remember that when you disembark.) Usually it is around 1pm, but could be earlier or later. They will not make the announcement until ALL staterooms are ready. So if you are planning on swimming or riding the wonderful water slide the Aqua Duck, pack a swimsuit in your carry on!
#2 Eat Lunch!
Now, also keep in mind that EVERY ONE will be doing the same thing...so the ship will feel much more crowded (and a bit chaotic) at this point than at any other point during the cruise.
Even though I studied the deck plans before hand, I was over whelmed when first boarding. We were starving and I completely forgot where to find Cabanas! (Great place for buffet lunch ...or breakfast for that matter). Luckily helpful Cast Members are willing to assist! We were soon enjoying a scrumptious lunch sitting with a view of the water!
A quick note about Cabanas...there are tons of seating inside in the air conditioning, and loads of seating on the deck outside, some shaded and some in full sun. Once you have your cabins, you can even take your food back to the cabin and eat on your balcony...or in the room if you want to. The thing my kids loved the most...if you get up early they could eat breakfast with Mom...and then brunch with Dad, then lunch together as a family, then snacks later on...well you get the idea. My kids LOVE to eat!
Now, let's continue on our saga..
We left our house in rural Georgia (just outside Atlanta, but still rural!) at 7 am. We had decided to drive down the day before our ship sailed and stay the night at Hampton Inn in Cocoa Beach. (anyone remembering my disastrous attempt at a cruise on the Magic the January before knows why we chose to arrive early!)
Along the way we stopped in Savannah for brunch at Cracker Barrel. This is a family tradition and it just isn't a vacation without a stop at Cracker Barrel!
We arrived in Cocoa Beach around 4pm. As we drove in I was awestruck seeing the cruise ships. I could barely contain my excitement!
Now for a short series on a cruise trip report from way back in October 2014. Sit back and enjoy!
This will start the first in a series of Trip Reports. I apologize in advance for the length, but it was just so amazing it is hard to fit it all in...so it WILL be a series on the October Disney Cruise. Sit back and enjoy!
I was so excited for my first Disney Cruise!
It is really hard to describe the excitement as I booked my birthday cruise the previous year. I made countdowns, thought about Fish Extenders, and excursions.
So, let's back up a bit and give a few details. We went on a 4 night Haunted Sailing on the Disney Dream from October 19 to 23. Halloween is NOT my favorite time of year, but you only turn 60 once in your life - so away we went! Or at least away I booked.
First thing I did after booking was to down load a nifty little app to my phone from Disney, Disney Cruise Line Navigator. Very similar to My Disney Experience, but specific to Disney Cruises (and MUCH more reliable!) Prior to sailing it really only gives you a countdown, but once you arrive onboard it becomes your lifeline!
It contains your daily Navigator, which basically tells you where to be and when (along with tons of information about what is going on onboard the ship), as well as tells you how to get there!(Quick deck maps that fit in your pocket) It also has the ability to text other members of your party...a really cool feature if you have teens!
The next thing I did was to find my cruise group on Facebook. Almost every Disney Cruise has a dedicated group on Facebook. This is where you can find tons of info from fellow cruiser on things ranging from the Sail Away party to Fish Extenders.
On the original Disney ships they had large brass clips outside each stateroom door. They were shaped like fish and could be used to attach notes and such. It didn't take long for crafty Disney fans to discover a new use for them... they hung large hanging pockets from them, decorated of course, to be the receptacle of small trinkets and gifts from one cruiser to another. These become known as Fish Extenders.
On any given cruise there will be numerous Fish Extender groups. Each group will run a bit differently, and each group sets the maximum participants. Small gifts are left anonymously in the pockets through out the cruise. While it was something I really wanted to participate in I found time ran away from me too quickly and I had to pass on this activity. Next time I am IN!
Next on my list was to day dream about excursions. Yes, that was all I was able to do on this sailing. Dream about excursions. I have a special needs son, one who we never know how he will deal with new things. We knew he loved all things Disney but he had never been on a cruise before so we weren't sure how he would react, so excursions were out for this trip. He is already asking for what we are doing on our next cruise, so I guess our fears were unfounded.
Disney has so many things to do on board that are free, it really isn't a big deal if you go with no excursions. Mr D had a list a mile long of things he wanted to try...each morning! He never did get to all the items on his list and never made it to the kids club. Of course, he and Dad especially loved the days we were in port...there was little to no competition on getting a round of Goofy Golf or a ride on the Aqua Duck!
Stay tuned for the next installment about our arrival at Port Canaveral.
Here is a post that was from August. Enjoy!
Today, we have a guest blogger. The Birthday girl herself! Unfortunately, she missed the memo about having pictures to accompany it! When she writes for me, I normally edit it pretty heavily. But this time she asked me not to...so I am granting her this one wish.
Disney trip June 2K16
June 18th 2016
This Disney trip was for my birthday. I took my friend Cassie, and my niece Alyssa- along with my mom who actually paid for the trip. We decided to stay at Port Orleans French Quarter this time, because it was very friendly and clean compared to other less expensive on-property resorts. The first day we got there, the check in was pretty fast. We had a nice room and friendly service from pretty much everyone at the resort. That night we went to “Ohana’s” for dinner at the Polynesian resort. The food was amazing (especially the wantons)….
Most of the content is written by people at JMorris Travel. Every once in a while we will have a guest blogger, usually it is part of our 'family'.Always with a nod to Family Travel!