WOW! What more can I say about the Disney Cruise Line. Working in the travel industry & this being my 10th cruise I had very high expectations, which they met and many ways exceeded.
As predicted the kids were totally surprised and thrilled. We woke them up around 5:00 am to leave for the airport so they were pretty groggy and didn't really question where we were going until we arrived in Orlando. Once we collected our baggage and headed for the Disney Cruise Line desk Sydney recognized the cruise line logo, looked at me and said "We're going on a Disney Cruise"!
As passengers boarded, the cruise staff introduced each family over the PA system. "The Disney Magic now welcomes aboard the Lavelle Family"!!!!! That was a nice warm welcome. The first night we dined in the Animator's Palate restaurant. The room is black and white and as the dinner progresses the room and character animations slowly gain color. Throughout the week we rotated between 3 dining rooms while our waiter and table mates remained the same. Compared to other cruise lines this was a nice change. Andrew & Sydney loved the buffet line especially for kids. Pizza, chicken nuggets and Mickey mac & cheese 24/7.
We are sending a shout out to Elena, Jose & Carla, our tablemates from Puerto Rico! Sydney & Carla became friends and had a great time digging in the sand together even though they didnt speak the same language.
One of our ports was Cozumel, Mexico where Sydney & I took the dolphin encounter excursion. We spent about 35 minutes in the water playing, kissing and dancing with a 9 year old bottle nose dolphin named Romulo. Sydney was very nervous & cried during most of our swim but finally warmed up to the sweet playful charm dolphins exude. She did give him a goodbye kiss and now says that was her favorite part of the trip.
Andrew had many favorites; riding the elevator, dancing with the characters, running on the track, flirting with the ladies,and saying "AAAARRRRRR" like a pirate to anyone within shouting distance.
The children's programs are much more extensive than others I have seen. DCL has dedicated an entire deck to children's programming; we had to force Sydney to come out of there. She enjoyed the pajama parties, character tea parties, story time, Mouseketeer training, dress up fun, water slide, beach digs, and pirate face painting, just to name a few. They also have a movie screen above the pool so everyone can enjoy all the classic Disney movies while swimming or having a snack.
Of course they had plenty of non Disney things for the adults too. Matt loved anything sports related. I enjoyed the dessert & cooking class, towel & napkins folding demonstration and reading a book on our balcony. AHHH!!! I wish I could go back.
This was the cleanest ship I have ever seen, at times their attention to sanitation was almost insane. As some of you know, cruise liners are sensitive to highly contagious gastrointestinal bug called Norwalk Virus. Not a pretty thing! And with a high ratio of children on board it can spread like wildfire. Therefor, Disney Cruise Line pulled out all the stops. The housekeeping staff kept the ship immaculate and crew members were stationed everywhere handing out antibacterial wipes. Every time we entered & exited the ship, kids club, restroom, and dining area someone was there. And, it works. As far as I know, no one fell ill on our sailing. :)
For the first time we enjoyed fireworks on board a cruise. After many years Disney obtained permission and became the first cruiseline to launch a small firework display during their Pirate Deck Party. Very cool!
We made two stops at Disney's private island, Castaway Cay. Where Andrew got to experience the ocean & sand for the very first time. He was not thrilled! :) But we had a great time anyway. The characters even joined us in their beachwear. This was our last port and I wish I would have had my video camera out on deck when we cast off. The island's full time staff stood at attention as the ships horn blared a final "When You Wish Upon a Star". Saluted, then dawned their Mickey gloves and waved us goodbye. It brought a tear to my eye. I am a sucker for attention to detail!
As you can tell, we had a great time! I cannot say enough about the cruise & it's crew. As always we are putting together a photo slide show and hope to have it posted soon. Here are a few pics in the mean time.