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Sunday, December 1, 2013

Thanksgiving Disney Cruise - The Dream


This Thanksgiving we decided to try something new the four of us went on a Bahamian cruise on Disney's Magic.  The cruise was a four night from Port Canaveral and went to Nassau Bahamas and to Disney's private island "Castaway Cay". It was Paige's first cruise and Connor's third. 

On Wednesday we drove down to Port Canaveral to board the boat. It was a two hour drive and was pretty easy and went quickly. We parked our car, went through the check in process, took a picture with Minnie Mouse and then went aboard. The check in and the boarding felt a bit crowded, and that was really the only time it felt crowded or too busy the entire trip. When we got aboard, our room wasn't ready, so we wandered around pulling our carry-on bags along with us. We took some pictures with a few characters and eventually got in to our room at 1:30.


We went up to the top deck as we were setting sail and danced and partied with Mickey and the gang.




The room ended up being better than we'd hoped and paid for. Andrea had reserved us an ocean view room and we got upgraded to a balcony. Connor enjoyed sleeping in the top bunk, and although the kids routinely woke us up earlier than we would have liked, it worked out pretty well. 

We are used to the setup of the Carnival boats, so it took us a little while to get used to the Disney layout. Although the boat was sold out, it never felt too crowded. The layout if the hallways, dining areas, and rooms made it seem spacious and roomy. We never felt like we had to wait long for anything. There were lots of activities planned on the boat throughout every day. It always seemed like there were a few things going on at any time and we were never bored. 


The water play areas on the boat were fantastic. There were multiple pools in the middle of the boat, a water slide, hot tubs, a water sprinkler area, and the Aqua Duck slide. The Aqua Duck was a huge slide that circled the boat in a clear tube and you ride through it on a little boat. The water was frigid but it was worth the chill to ride it.

Andrea and Connor on Aqua Duck slide.


Shawn and Connor on Aqua Duck slide.





We watched "Frozen" in 3d in the main theater! The boat also had a couple full sized movie theaters showing brand new movies that were currently in theaters. Frozen came out on Wednesday and we decided to watch it together as a family. We were a little worried Paige wouldn't sit through it, but both kids loved the movie and didn't even need to take a potty break during the movie. Andrea and I both agreed that Frozen was one of the best movies we'd seen in a while.


The first day on the boat was Thanksgiving Thursday and was a sea day. We explored everything throughout the day, ate Thanksgiving dinner, and watched the Golden Mickey's show in the evening.





After dinner we went to a kids' dance party and did a little dancing. Paige danced quite a bit until her tummy hurt. Not the best plan to have a dance party right after a big meal.




Connor got out on the dance floor and did some of his awesome moves, but it was impossible to get a video of it since he ended up towards the back on the stage behind some taller kids.




On Saturday, we arrived at Nassau Bahamas and we decided it'd be a good time to stay on the boat and do some things while most everyone else went ashore. Andrea and I have been to Nassau a few times before and there weren't any good kid friendly activities so it was one of the few times we didn't debark at a port. While aboard, Connor and I played mini golf, Foosball, and solved some mysteries while the girls hung out in the room.

There were two interactive mysteries that you had to solve by searching the boat for clues in the paintings. We rescued the stolen puppies and found the missing paintings too. Each painting had a different problem to solve and would yield clues that would help you eliminate different suspects from the suspect list of Disney villains. Each time you played, the game was randomized so you could never be sure which bad guy it was until you gathered the clues. I wish we could have played some more, but there was only so much time.



The mini golf was fun, but it was way too windy up on the top deck that day. Connor took the pictures of me, he's getting pretty good at it!


On Saturday, we arrived at Castaway Cay (pronounced Castaway Key for some reason). The island was absolutely beautiful and it we were the only boat and only visitors on the island.



There were so many things to do on the island and it was pretty much all included and paid for. There were three beaches to choose from, one was for adults, and there were two family beaches. At the beach, there were a few play things out in the water with slides and monkey bars and ropes to climb on, but mostly we built sand castles and played in the sand.












They served an amazing BBQ lunch buffet.


Afterwards, we rented a few bikes and explored the island.



We climbed a tower mid-way through the trail to try and get a pic with the ship in the background. The lady taking the picture decided to frame it so it looked like Andrea had kitty cat ears.



At the end of the trail was a nice scenic area.





After we got back to the boat, the kids stripped off their clothes and before we took a shower they ate some Mickey ice cream bars.


Later that day, we went to a party with Mickey and his pals. Paige volunteered to be in a conga line and went around the deck with a bunch of the children.


The food on the boat was pretty good overall. The soda and non-alcoholic drinks were free and the buffet food was decent. The formal dinners were much more informal than we were used to. Even on formal night, most people didn't dress up much. As we were getting dressed, I realized I'd grabbed my suit jacket but not my suit pants. I ended up just wearing khakis with my shirt and tie and it wasn't much out of place. I think there were maybe a couple guys we saw that had jackets on and most didn't even have ties. When we booked the cruise, we were stuck with the late seating and requested the early seating and thankfully we got it. We are used to being stuck at the same table every night, but it was different on the Disney boat. You were assigned a table # and a team of servers and they went with you to different dining rooms throughout the trip.We started out at the Royal Palace for the first two nights, then went to the Animator's Palate and on the last night went to the Enchanted Garden.

Connor took the picture of Andrea and me.


In the Animator's Palate, there were a bunch of screens throughout the dining room and midway through the meal the Nemo cast came to talk to everyone. Crush the turtle was dynamically rendered and interacted in real-time with the people at the tables. It was funny to see everyone kind of ignoring him talking at first and then freak out when he started commenting on the things they were doing.


Paige wasn't in much of a mood for dinner. The dinners took a while and she didn't have much patience for it. 


On the last night, the kids wanted to go to the Oceaneer's club, so the picture from the Enchanted Garden is from breakfast when we all ate there together. It was nice for Andrea and I to have one dinner together, just the two of us.


The Oceaneer's club on the boat was the kid's area where you could check in your kids and leave them to play and even eat meals. The area was huge. It was probably half of an entire deck devoted to the play area. There were multiple rooms that were all themed on different Disney movies. There were toys, games, characters to meet, cooking classes, and activities for kids at almost any age level. Connor gravitated towards the computer games and Paige wandered around to the different rooms and played with some of the other kids. They both made friends on the cruise, and Connor was a good big brother and checked on Paige from time to time while they were there. Unlike on the Carnival cruise, there was no additional charge to use the Oceaneer's club and no set hours you had to check in. The club was open almost the entire day (9am-midnight) and I suppose if you didn't like your kids you wouldn't have to see them all day. We checked the kids in a few times throughout the cruise so we could go to some adult activities and on the last night so we could have a peaceful dinner. They probably spent 1-2 hours a day at the club.




The room was awesome, it was a little small for four people, but the bathroom arrangement was well thought out and the kids loved the bunk beds.



We took so many pictures with different characters, I decided to consolidate them all at the end of the post. We didn't have to try very hard to see them all, they typically had multiple characters out on the boat at any given time and we made an effort to see a variety of them. There were usually very short lines to see any of the characters and I don't think we ever waited more than a few minutes for our turn. The photographers weren't allowed to take pictures with our camera, but typically the character assistants were very accommodating and would use my camera. All of the characters were so cute and perfect for the parts they played. They would typically interact with us and the children really enjoyed meeting them all.







There was a "Princess Gathering" on Saturday morning and we stopped in to make the rounds. You just had to wait in one line and then you could meet and take pictures with each princess. We wish we would have known this beforehand since we actually waited in individual lines for 4 out of the 5 princesses. Tiana was the only one we hadn't seen, but it was nice to see them all again.

 



The new princess, Anna, from "Frozen" was also out on deck at the same time so we stopped by to meet her too. We loved the movie and it was neat to see her out. Paige asked where her sister Queen Elsa was and Anna said she was out ice skating with the villagers.






Ariel taught the kids how to smile like a fish, and Paige thought it was wonderful. Paige ended up using her new special smile in a few pics throughout the trip.


This was the first vacation we had in a while that we were really disappointed to have end. Most times lately we are worn out and ready to go home after a few days away from home with the kids. All of us were sad to say goodbye to the Dream this morning when we disembarked. We went in to the vacation thinking that we had to do the Disney cruising while the kids were little, but after being on board we realized that it's great for kids all the way through their teens. There were actually quite a few people aboard with no kids too, although most were families. We are already looking forwards to our next Disney cruise over Spring break and may try to squeeze in another one before March.

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