Disney Cruise Tidbits

Everybody is writing about Valentine’s Day today, but since I did that already this week I decided to be different. And since I had no actual topic planned, but have talked to two people today about their plans for a Disney Cruise and I’m in the Disney mindset, that’s what today’s post will be about!

There are a lot of things you might not know about Disney Cruise Line. There are a lot of blogs, books, videos, etc all by people who have been on more cruises than me (I’ve only been on one, so that would be pretty easy) that can tell you anything you want to know. But I still thought I’d throw in a few pieces of trivia of my own.

Disclaimer: My experience with Disney Cruise Line (DCL) involves the Fantasy on a 7-Day Western Caribbean sailing. Different ships or itineraries may vary.

  • There is a nursing mother’s room in It’s a Small World Nursery. If you look up information about the onboard nursery for children 6 months-3 years old, you’ll probably find pictures of the playroom, the hours of operation, and even information about the sleeping room where your child can nap or sleep while you are doing your own thing. What surprised me while I was checking out the nursery during Open House (yep, I gave it a once over before my child was scheduled to be there) was that beyond the quiet/sleeping room is a nursing mother’s area. That’s not something that I found in the information available online about the nursery and I feel like it should be. If you are a nursing mother and want to be able to come into the nursery area, nurse your child, and go back out again, there is a space for you to comfortably do so. You even get an adult-sized chair (that’s a major score in the nursery where everything is designed to make your little one(s) feel large and in charge). Side Note: The first time you show up to the nursery, they give you a drawstring bag to use as a diaper bag and it’s yours to keep when the cruise ends.
  • There are religious services on the ship for those who would like to attend. During our sailing, while it was not advertised on the schedule of events, there was an interdenominational Christian service and a Jewish service. There might have been others of which I’m not aware. As I said, I did not notice the services in the schedule of events, but was made aware of the services via a Facebook page for people who would be sailing with me.
  • Entering/Leaving the Oceaneer’s Club (for kids ages 3-12) is the most fun you’ll ever have while washing your hands. That sounds ridiculous, I know. But seriously. The handwashing station has two slots for your hands. When you place your hands in, the motion sensor cuts on the jets which shoot water and soap at your hands from a multitude of angles. When the timer stops, an electronic readout informs you that your wash cycle is complete and you may exit the station. It’s fun, it’s water efficient, and it’s clean because nobody has to touch a faucet.
  • There is a place for you to do laundry. If you are worried you didn’t pack enough, or if your kids (or spouse!) spills something on their clothes at dinner, have no fear. There is a laundrette on every deck. There is a fee involved, but it’s not as much as a checked bag fee at the airport if you’re trying to pack in carry-on luggage!
  • There is a schedule of character appearances each day, but they’ll still surprise you. Each day, your schedule of events, or Navigator, will tell you where and when you can see which characters throughout the day. However, in addition to those appearances, you might just bump into someone not on the official schedule. For instance, when we took my younger son to play in Andy’s Room (from Toy Story) during family playtime, we were pleasantly surprised (read: I was giddy) to be joined by Belle. She stayed for over an hour and I have a multitude of pictures of my favorite princess building block towers with my toddler. There are also impromptu dance parties in the atrium where characters will show up to shake their tail feathers (or their tails!) with anybody who wants to join in.
  • If it rains, Disney has a back-up plan. One of our days at sea, a storm blew threw drenching the ship in rain and bring 8-12 foot swells. My sea legs weren’t up to the task, but the crew certainly was. Since the pools, water slides, sports deck, and other outdoor areas were getting drenched, the crew put on an extra show, added more movies to the theater line-up, hosted extra trivia game challenges, started another dance party, and added more characters to the day’s official line-up, among other things. Other than needing a bit of Dramamine that day, it was just as fun-filled as all the other bright, sunny days.
  • The ship is designed to keep you from getting lost. You just have to know what to look for. And for anybody who has a chance, I strongly recommend the Art of Decor tour of the ship. Our tour guide, Ricky, revealed several helpful tricks. For instance, all the seahorses face one way and all the fish face the other, always pointing to you to one end of the ship (I can’t remember which was which anymore). The five-pointed stars on the carpet in the middle of the ship near the elevators always point toward the front of the ship.
  • The ceilings are different heights in different areas. In the kids’ area, the ceilings are actually lower than other areas of the ship so they can feel bigger. In contrast, in the adults-only areas of the ship, the ceilings are higher than everywhere else to make adults feel like kids again.
  • The art comes to life. If you stop too long near one of the paintings, you might find that it starts to move. Not all paintings move, but twenty-two of them on the Fantasy do, and our kids loved seeing what they would do.
  • The interactive detective game changes person to person. There is a game you can play on the ship, Midship Detective Agency, in which you are given a badge with a giant QR code on it. You have to go around the ship to designated spots (certain moving art pieces) and hold up your badge. The badge sets off the video revealing clues to the mystery. Someone beat you to it? Not a problem. Your clue might be different. Your criminal might be different too. We solved two of the three available mysteries and often found we were given different clues than other participants. So you can’t use someone else’s clue to solve your mystery. It’s different for everyone!
  • Don’t be surprised if your wait staff performs a little magic for your kids. My youngest is only a year old. Well, he’s almost two. Almost. He has little patience to begin with and even less when it comes to waiting for food–not that we ever had to wait long! But time and again, the staff would start performing magic tricks for him and he would watch with wonder and laughter instead of shrieking his head off. When my five-year-old caught on to some of the magic tricks, they started bringing him brain teasers to work on while they continued to do tricks for his little brother. One night, we showed up at our table–and as usual, it already had the booster seat we needed–and before we could sit down, the drinks we always ordered were delivered to the table, along with a game we could play as a family. It wasn’t all illusions, but it was definitely all magic.
  • They take food allergies seriously. Only one person in our party had any food allergies, but they made sure she knew what was safe and what wasn’t. They would bring her the next day’s menu and let her know which items they could change to accommodate her needs. When she asked about one item, they informed her that while they could make it, they were concerned about cross-contamination because of how it was prepared and advised against it.
  • You must know the codeword to pick up your kids. When you show up at the nursery or the kids club to pick up your children, you first have to scan your Key to the World card. Your picture comes up on the screen and they match it to the pictures they have on file of who is approved to pick up the child. But that’s not all. Before you can leave with your child, you have to provide them with the codeword–which is a word of your choosing and can be different for each child in your party. I chose our codeword in November. We sailed in January. I’m the mother of the child I was picking up. I still had to know the word before they’d let him leave. Luckily, I had reviewed the information the day before we sailed!
  • If you are too tired to make it to the stage show, you can watch it from your stateroom. If you want to see the night’s show, but your kids are wiped out and you’re dragging a little too, no worries. You can watch the stage show from the comfort of your stateroom on your television. If you’re not interested in the stage show, but want to let the kids watch a little something while they wind down for the evening, there is also just about every Disney movie ever made available on demand. You can even watch movies in pieces, your television will remember where you left off in the movie. We let my kids watch twenty minutes here and there while we showered or got ready for bed. You can also pull up the ship’s information channel and see a map of exactly where your ship is at that moment and where other Disney ships are in relation to it.

As I said in my first post about our cruise, in true Disney fashion, it’s outrageously expensive and totally magical. The cast and crew go the extra mile to make sure you have the most fun possible. My kids are already talking about our next cruise. We keep telling them that we have to save up enough money to do it again so it might take a while, but they are undeterred. The “Mickey Boat” is the best vacation their little hearts could dream up.

Won’t You Let Me Take You on a Sea Cruise…

That’s a line from a song. I only know that because my dad used to sing it while he made dinner when I was young. But it’s been stuck in my head a lot lately because my dad (and my stepmom) went with us on a Disney cruise last week. It was the first cruise I’ve ever been on that lasted longer than a few hours. And in true Disney fashion, it was outrageously expensive and completely magical.

Because my boys (and my husband) are big fans of the Star Wars franchise, we went on a Star Wars Day at Sea cruise. It was a seven-day jaunt through the Caribbean with a full day at sea at the beginning and one near the end. The second full day at sea was completely dedicated to all things Star Wars.

I’ve never actually been to a Con, but if that isn’t one big, seafaring Star Wars Con, I don’t know what is. There were character meet and greets, a guest speaker, information about new and upcoming Star Wars attractions at the parks, a cosplay celebration, a stage show, a whole store full of merchandise, etc. The ship’s horn even played the Imperial March before Stormtroopers swarmed the pool deck and began questioning suspected rebel spies. Imperial officers arrested my husband. He loved it. I even got a picture with a Gamorrean Guard while he snorted and sniffed at me.

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As a family, we also got time with C3PO, R2D2, Darth Vader, and Chewbacca. And you better believe I got a big ole Wookie hug. We also caught Bobba Fett checking the vitals on Han Solo who was frozen in carbonite. My older son got to play games with BB-8 and Rey in the kids’ area, where he also got to fly a Millenium Falcon simulator and run the command post (and that was just one corner!). Our dinner menu had offerings from different planets across the galaxy, and you could get drinks or snacks served in droids or AT-AT containers. The festivities rounded out with late-night fireworks and a showing of Solo: A Star Wars Story. There was also a dance party, but my dogs were pooped.

There were a ton of events we didn’t even get around to; like Star Wars Pub Trivia (we did make an appearance at Pub Trivia, just not Star Wars trivia). For my parents, especially my stepmom–who loved seeing my boys be so excited, but never really got into Star Wars–there was a Star Wars 101 class so they could get up to speed and know what the heck my kids were talking about.

I met a couple on the elevator in full garb (and they looked fantastic!) who went on the cruise to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary because on their first date they went to see Star Wars together. Y’all. It was adorable. It was fun. It was magic. It was Disney.

I’ll probably have a few more things to say regarding our vacation, but for now, I have to dig my way out of the piles of laundry that came home with us. And bundle up. We’re not in the Caribbean anymore and have a threat (mild though it may be) of snow tonight. I want to go back to the beach. This reality stuff is for the birds.

10 Things I learned from Beauty and the Beast

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Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is a tale I have loved since I was a little girl. I could relate to Belle in ways that I couldn’t relate to the other princesses. People thought she was weird, she had brown hair, her mother was deceased, and she read a lot of books. She was my princess (P.S. This is why it should not have taken me as long as it did to understand why representation in media is so important. I’m sorry for that.)

The animated film and its live-action counterpart are beautiful to me. The animated version has sentimental value, the live action version has Audra McDonald. I realize the story on which this particular fairy tale is based is horrific and deals with some triggering issues, but I fell in love with the Disney version and that’s the one I’m sticking to. It taught me many things, so I’ll outline a few of them for today’s 10 things post.

  1. It’s okay to be a bookworm. Even Disney Princesses are bookworms.

  2. It is okay to stand your ground and be a little stubborn sometimes, even if it means you have to stand up to a real beast.

  3. Sometimes, the most popular guy in town is a total jerk face. A tool. A butthead.

  4. It’s okay if the whole town thinks you are weird. It means you stand out. Own it.

  5. It’s okay to talk to yourself a little, but you should probably be worried when the furniture starts to answer you.

  6. No matter how crazy your family is, there is always someone out there who is crazier (like a beast who talks to a candle, a clock, and a teapot for company).

  7. There is nothing like having your own personal library.

  8. You’re not always going to like what you see in the mirror, but you’ll always have the power to change it.

  9. It’s really better to tidy up the whole house and put things away rather than to make one room (or wing) “forbidden” and try to hide the mess.

  10. The more you love someone, the more attractive they become to you. 

I could have written a post like this for any and all of the Disney Princess line, but Belle holds a special place in my heart. Also, I’ve been incredibly busy lately and got sick to boot, so I wanted to focus on something light-hearted and fun. There’s nothing like a good story to make you feel better.