by Cruisin’ Diva
Cruising on the Disney Cruise Line is, by far, my favorite vacation ever!! We just got off of the Very Merrytime Christmas Cruise last month and had an okay time. I know you are thinking, “just okay?” Yes, unfortunately. We had never done the Christmas cruise and wanted to try something different. We usually always travel either in September, October, January or February. I normally take my kids out of school, because for us, it is more financially reasonable. For this trip, we took them out the week before their Christmas break so they didn’t miss much. Our excitement for this cruise had been building since we booked onboard our previous cruise in October 2013. Tip: Booking on-board can save you a lot of money. Booking a 7 day or more cruise saves you 10%, you only have to put 10% down and you receive a $200 onboard credit when you take that future cruise!! All reasons in itself to book onboard!! Don’t forget to stop by the future cruise sales desk before your cruise is over!
We tend to choose the earliest port arrival time (PAT). Mainly because we have cruised many times before. Once you have sailed once on the Disney Cruise Line you are automatically entered into the Castaway Club. It is broken down into three levels; Silver, Gold and Platinum. Silver members can check-in online and book spa and dining reservations 90 days before sailing and a welcome back stateroom gift. Gold members can do the same thing Silver members can but at 105 days, they have a castaway club reception specifically for gold and platinum members and a discount in the shops onboard!! Platinum members (which I am now–Woo hoo!!) get everything Gold and Silver members do but get to book at 120 days! This is the earliest booking window available!! On top of that, there are special surprises for Platinum members only, such as: a complimentary dining at Palo and priority boarding, and concierge guests and Platinum club members board the ship first!!!
We arrived at the Port before the doors opened and only had to way about 15 minutes until we were allowed into the terminal. It was not crowded at all when we first arrived and we were able to snag the 2nd place in line to see Captain Mickey! This was our baby’s first interaction with a character and I think he enjoyed it! Check-in was a breeze because we already had our cruise documents and passports ready. After checking in and seeing Mickey, we waited around for our boarding group to be called, which we were in group 2.
Once we were allowed to board, you go through a quick check-in with your Key to the World card (there’s no turning back now). You can opt to have your picture taken, which we did because it was Matthew’s first cruise!
Once we boarded and were welcomed as if we were royalty, we briefly caught the Christmas decor on the way to lunch, because everyone knows you go on a cruise for the food. I was able to snap this picture after lunch and on the way to check the boys into the Oceaneer’s Club. The decor was gorgeous and behind the tree, there is a huge Gingerbread house and it was beautiful! During a holiday cruise, there are special appearances and activities that you wouldn’t find on the cruise otherwise. Quick tip: If you love Anna, Elsa and the other princesses, you must now acquire a ticket to see them. These are free and can be obtained from the Port Adventures desk as soon as you board. Do not wait to grab these, because there is a possibility they will be gone quickly. Try to grab them as soon as you can after you board the ship.
Anna and Elsa with less than a 10 minute wait!!!
Another special activity ticket we were able to grab was Gingerbread house making. This is something I have honestly never done and couldn’t wait to try. And doing it on a Disney Cruise ship made it 10 times better! Here’s my before and after before it was completely destroyed by gravity!!
There are characters galore on a Disney Cruise and the wait time is nowhere near what you would wait in the parks. Generally, we saw most of the characters with a little to no wait. The characters are much more interactive with the little ones on the cruise than they are in the parks, which is partially why I love Disney Cruise Line. Here are some of the characters with my boys…
All in all, the cruise was wonderful. Unfortunately, we had a hiccup or two along the way. On day 3 of our cruise we noticed that maintenance workers were working in a closet across the hall from us and that they were putting something down on the floor. We didn’t think anything of it and were enjoying our cruise, until the last day. We walked in from Castaway Cay to our room filled with paint fumes. We were in an oceanview stateroom without a verandah, so opening a window was not going to happen. What we learned was that they were using a two-part epoxy paint for the floor in that closet across the hall from our room and the fumes are very toxic. To make this a short story, I have never, and I mean NEVER complained to Disney about anything and I really didn’t want to this time, but I had to think of my baby, who was in the room with us and was progressively getting sicker each day. We assumed it was another ear infection and chalked it up to the fact that he was teething as well. What we didn’t realize was that the ventilation in our room was closed and therefore the fumes lingered and that was something we were breathing in since day 3 of our cruise. We went to the front desk and they accommodated us in the best way that they could. They moved us to a different room on the last night of the cruise.
In essence, the cruise was fun, and there are bound to be hiccups on every trip. We have realized that every trip can’t be as magical as we want them to be. But if something happens, make sure to let guest services know. They are always willing to help in the best way that they can. Don’t expect anything huge, but Disney will try to make it right. We have already scheduled our next cruise. My husband and I will be celebrating our 10 year anniversary on the Disney Fantasy next year, and we will be going without kids. So, I look forward to another review and even more video tips!! Sometimes a little bit of faith, trust and pixie will come your way when you need it most.