October 07, 2013

Disney Cruise Recap: The Big Boat

Marcus, Abby and I spent the last week aboard this big boat! We have been planning a Disney Cruise for 7 months and waiting all summer for our vacation was brutal! But, September 28th finally arrived and we boarded the ship for The Bahamas!

I have had lots of questions about a Disney Cruise, so I'll try and answer them in a few different posts over the next week. And, I took almost 700 pictures, so I'll include lots of pictures! 

 The boat has 10 floors with rooms scattered throughout. Decks 9 and 10 were open on the top with pools, food, basketball courts, etc. The main lobby, restaurants, and the theaters were all on Decks 3 and 4. Our room was on Deck 2. 

Sailing in September/October was wonderful. We had breezy days with highs in the mid to high 80s. With school being in session, there were also discounts to sail and a lot less people on board the ship. I believe I heard we were just over 50% full on our cruise.

This little girl had the best time. Seeing a vacation and Disney come to life on her face was magical. There were surprises for her all day long and around every corner. She danced with Mickey, learned to curtsy with Cinderella, did the Do Si Do with Snow White, dressed like a pirate, dressed like a princess, stayed up late, ate ice cream with every meal, and had the best time. Vacation detox is hard.... pray for us! :)

I had so many questions about our little 214 square feet on the boat. It was the best use of space I could have imagined. The room had bunk beds to accommodate the average family of 4. Since we are a family of three, we used the top bunk to store our luggage. Let me tell you a little vacation packing tip, I like to unpack everything and as I wear it, I put it in an empty suitcase. We had the big empty one for dirty clothes and the medium one for shoes, costumes, etc.. It just makes sense- you are packing as you go, everything is out of the way, and it is easy to unload when you get home.

After the first night, our stateroom hostess (housekeeper) converted the simple white sheets on Abby's bed to pink princess sheets. She loved it and slept really well in her princess bed. So smart! Our dinner mates didn't have princess sheets until the last night when they asked about them, so I assume they only have a limited number. But, if you go, ask for the sheets!

Of course, we traveled with a backpack of stuffed animals. Chip and Dale were her online souvenirs. And, our stateroom hostess lined them up and covered them with a blanket every day. She cleaned our room essentially twice a day. Once while we were out in the late morning and then she did turn down and restocked towels, made the bed again, etc.

This is our bed one evening when we came back to the room. I love that Disney did white linens. It is so modern in comparison to the printed and scratchy comforter. We had towels each night, our Navigator giving us the events of the next day, and three of the seven nights, we had a gift awaiting us.

We had an inside stateroom which is the least expensive option. The mirror above would include a port hole had we spent a little extra. I would go cheap room again without hesitation. It allowed for great naps in the dark room!

The room also had lots of storage- a closet with safe, a dresser, a desk with drawers, and another set of drawers. I believe there were 10-12 shelves/drawers for holding clothing in the space. We also had a flat screen TV that showed Disney movies, ship cameras, ESPN, and ABC family 24/7. 

Let's talk bathrooms. Each Disney room has 2 bathrooms. This one housed the bathtub and a sink. The tub was smaller than normal, but worked fine for us. I would guess it was about 4 feet long. The shower head pulled down for easily bathing babies and it also housed a retractable clothesline for drying swimsuits.

The second bathroom had another sink and mirror and the toilet. Having two bathrooms was great! The blow dryer looked like a vacuum cleaner head, so I never used it. I had been warned and packed my own! There also were no usable plugs in the bathroom. But, Disney covered that with 3 mirrors in the stateroom including a full length and one above the desk with plugs.

One early morning, I quietly left our room and let Marcus and Abby sleep in. I read my book and captured the beautiful sunrise.

I read three books while on the cruise- Kate: The Future Queen, Ever After, and Adopting the Father's Heart. All three were great reads and encouraging on different levels. I love that even in the busy of a cruise I was able to read.

As you can imagine, a cruise is about good food and we had lots of good food! For breakfast, lunch and snacks we had options galore- buffets, room service, sit down meals, outdoor dining, poolside patios, etc. We enjoyed the sit down restaurant the most and ate many meals there. On the pool level our cruise had a quick buffet restaurant, a pizzeria, a hot dog place, and then a cafe with sandwiches, salads and fresh fruits. We snacked up there a few times.

Dinner was on a rotation with the three main places to dine. We were assigned a table and another family and we traveled to each restaurant. We were at Parrot Cay three times, Tritons twice, and Animators Palate twice. We were paired with a couple from San Antonio who also had a 4 year old daughter.

Triton's was our favorite. I would say it was the most formal, but it was also the best food, most elegant, and had the most comfy chairs!  

Triton is the name of Ariel's father in The Little Mermaid, so it had a beautiful sculpture outside the doors and this gorgeous tile work inside the restaurant. I was told it took three months for one Italian artist to complete this wall.

All of the restaurants were super kid-friendly. They had kid's menus at every meal and smartly brought out their food with our appetizers or salads. They had all of your classics and even cut up the kid's food for you. Ketchup was served in the shape of Mickey! 

I can not say enough wonderful things about how they handle a food allergy. At the beginning of each meal they ask if there are any food allergies. Then, the allergy is written on a special pink slip of paper and given to the head server with the menu item ordered. They came to me more than once to clarify and even brought me the food wrapper of the Mickey Bar below to confirm Abby could have it. Little things like that made me so much more comfortable.... I can't imagine Abby having an allergic reaction on a boat in the middle of the ocean!

Animator's Palate was completely in black and white and as you ate, the drawings came alive into the colorful scenes you know from your favorite movies. 

Finally, we had dinner and our character breakfast (assigned and included with cruise fares) inside Parrot Cay. This was our least favorite place, it was just an everyday restaurant. Having breakfast there was great! We had Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and Pluto stop at our table and pose for pictures.

That morning we also had lots of silly hats made from napkins! Abby was Minnie Mouse, I was a queen, and Marcus was Jack Sparrow with napkins! Carla was our assistant server and so kind. She had the best disposition and always had chocolate milk waiting on Abby. The kids drinks were in plastic cups with lids, straws, their names and stickers at dinner each night.

The cruise ship had almost 1000 staff members on board from 50 different nations! I think it opened up the world for Abby- she got to see lots of different people and hear accents from all over! Mike was our main server and was from the Philippines. He didn't carry his own flag :)

There is so much to share about our trip! Check out all of my Disney Cruise posts here.

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