Should you consider a Disney Cruise, 10 things you need to know...
1. They don't show the screaming kids at the dinner table on the promotional video. Thankfully they weren't my screaming kids. But 2 hours at the dinner table is a lot to ask of little ones.
2. If you've been on one of the big cruise ships that hold 4000+ people (I have not), I hear this is nothing like those. Meaning Disney's ships only hold 2000 so it's a much smaller boat. With the exception of the new one they just built, can't remember it's name right now. We had cold, windy weather on the way down and the boat was extremely rocky. If I hadn't been taking Dramamine I would have been miserable. But even just the intense rocking of the boat was a bit disconcerting for me. I didn't care for it one bit. On days when the water was calm I could still feel the boat rocking.
3. If you travel with a toddler, bring a small umbrella stroller. When you arrive, they tell the men to go park the car and leave the ladies to haul the kids and all the carry-on bags and passports through security and up the escalator to check in. It took forever and my 2 yo doesn't like his hand held or to stay put. To say it was a struggle is an understatement. I got quite a work-out carrying him. Next time I'll be the one parking the car. It never occurred to me to bring a stroller, but lots of people had them and I wished several times later that we had one too. Not because he can't walk the long distance, but just to be able to contain him and know he's safe.
4. Know that if you have a child that is not yet potty-trained, that they are not allowed to swim in any of the pools. Seriously. This is a cruise geared towards families and my son couldn't even go swimming. With a swim diaper. They have a separate splash pad area (very tiny), right next to the kid pool. Try letting them see the pool (hard to miss) and then not letting them swim in it. Not so fun.
5. Their entertainment scheduling is not family friendly. You have 2 dinner time options early (5:45) and late (8:30). Of course you'll want the early one. But...then you miss the 6:15 early show and are left with just the 8:30 option. So if you were planning on seeing any of the fantastic musical performances they offer (Toy Story, etc...) you'll have to forfeit your dinner in the nice restaurants and settle for either the buffet or pizza and burgers by the pool. For sure don't do this on the day you are scheduled to eat at Triton's though, the food there is fantastic. I think Disney should either change the early dinner time to 5:00 (and then let the staff know you are going to the show, otherwise dinner takes forever) or offer an earlier showtime of 4:00. Don't your kids go to bed between 7-8pm? All that fun stuff for "families" that was after 8pm was off-limits to us. I'm not about to make my kids stay up to have "fun" only to have crabby kids the next day. Mine won't sleep in, they wake at 6am like clockwork. All 3 of them. So you'll miss out on musicals in the theater, the pirate party, fireworks (hey, it's plenty dark by 7pm this time of year) and the pretend ball in the kids club.
6. You know how when you're driving behind a bus or a Ford F-350 your car fills with the lovely smell of diesel? Tell me you know what I'm talking about. That I'm not the only one with an overly sensitive nose. That you too check the type of every pick-up in front of you and immediately change the air to recirculate if it's a diesel. I get super queasy from that smell. I found that there wasn't any place on the upper deck that didn't smell like that. Regardless of how windy it was or wasn't. I've been told that's not the case on those larger boats though.
7. The kids club is for children ages 4 and up. We knew that going in. But what we didn't know was that younger kids can go in too as long as there is an adult from their family with them. That was great! David brought Sam in several times and they had lots of fun. So that's a bonus.
8. The staff is wonderful. And not having to cook a single meal or wash a single dish is divine.
9. A great resource for all things Disney (including cruises) is www.disboards.com.
10. Time with family is wonderful. Try not to think about the rest. But remember, cupboard doors have a tendency to close by themselves.
We did have a good time overall and the girls adored all the Princess time they had. Belle read them stories and Snow White danced with them in the kids club. Both were definately highlights. But in a nutshell, I think a Disney Cruise is best suited for couples or families with children 7 and up. And after this experience, if I ever take another cruise it will be just David and I or with good friends, sans children. And on a big boat. By the last day I was so exhausted and just ready to be done, that I didn't even go sit outside to breathe in the