Sunday, December 27, 2015

Our Family Disney Cruise

At least two years ago my sister and I made the executive decision that our families would go on a Disney cruise on the Christmas themed Disney Magic leaving out of Miami headed to Disney's island Castaway Cay, Nassau, and Key West in November a VERY long 2 years later we boarded our ship and it was well worth the wait.
Below are LOTS of photos.  They are a combination of photos taken by me and by my sister and several are out of order because I'm too lazy to get it all organized.  After all it's been over a month since our trip and I'm only just now getting around to posting photos.
We both participated in the "fish extender" (FE) family gift exchange.  If you're not familiar with FEs then basically each state room has a little metal fish or seahorse next to the door where the crew can hang things from but years ago families started hanging these little linear pouches from the fish and exchange little gifts.  Most cruises will have a Facebook page created for them where people can sign up to participate in the exchange and then you are split into groups.  Our group had 12 families participating.  Some were just couples, some were large families and some were just 1 parent and 1 child.  I actually had more adults participating then children in my group.
I purchased our fish extender from an etsy shop.

Here's Ezra holding up our FE:


We wanted connecting veranda state rooms  where we could fold back the separator on the veranda to create one large veranda.  Also the rooms connected as typical hotel rooms connect.  Our state room number was 6570 and I think it was pretty perfect.  I would absolutely try to get this room or one close to it again.  It was right in the middle of the boat and near to the laundry and elevators without being so close that you could hear the noise coming from them.  



The cruise set off with a setting sail party which completely set the tone for the cruise!  Our kiddos were some of the very last left dancing on the stage at the end.








Just one of many of Maddox's signature dance moves.




Our first stop was Castaway Cay.  It was WONDERFUL!  Definitely my favorite part of the cruise.  There is SO much to do for everyone.  It didn't feel crowded at all and getting through the lunch line was a breeze. Never any wait.  
Our state room was on the side of the ship that looked out at the island when we docked so we got to watch the ship coming into harbor.

My sister made this fantastic iron man door decoration for their room:


Here's a little map of the island:
Libby was being a diva and didn't want any part of the photos surprisingly.
Her excitement can be seen below:

Ezra and Maddox are 2 peas in a pod.  They love spending time together and bring out the best in each other.

The water was as clear as bathwater.  It was absolutely gorgeous!
Libby doesn't like to get in the water because the waves scare her.  She is insane and LOVES sand.  She would try to swim in the sand if I'd let her.

This is one of the "water play grounds" on the island that's for the smaller kiddos.  The water here is pretty shallow so for the most part you can walk over to the play area.  It does get deep enough that swimming is required a bit.



Uncle Steffan found a jelly fish so the kids were checking it out.
They also host a whale bone dig on the island with an "archeologist" that hosts the whole event.


This is the larger water play area that most of the older kids were at but the boys wanted to check it out as well.


Ezra and Uncle Steffan:
When you get your "key to the world" card which is your room key and debit card and getting onto and off of the ship card it will say CLLA or AALC or some combination of those letters.  They stand for the restaurant schedule you've been given.  We had animators palate twice and Lumieres once and Carrocas (spelling?) once.  Lumiere's was my absolute favorite.  I would call and try to arrange it so that you eat here twice.  When you first get onto the ship if you haven't arranged our restaurant schedule before hand you can quickly go to the service desk and try to get your schedule changed.  It's well worth it.  
We celebrated pirate night at Animator's Palate.  The boys didn't want to go all out but at least they were willing to wear some pirate gear.
Disney will give you their pirate bandanas so don't feel like you need to bring any.
It's a pirate thug life for Libby:


The pirate deck party is great but there are fireworks.  Libby totally freaked out so Michael took her back to our state room but the boys were okay.  It's not to be missed.



The boys had an awesome time letting lose and getting funky!

Nassau was our second stop on the cruise.  I was sick and couldn't disembark but the kids got to go on a shallow water dolphin excursion with Michael to Atlantis.  They LOVED Atlantis and my sister and her family want to go back and stay there.  Just FYI to save money I only bought 3 dolphin experience tickets because I thought I'd just watch from the side.  Well there is an "observer" fee of $80.00!  That is the cheapest way to go to Atlantis and be with your family for most of it.  I had already spent nearly $600.00 for the kids and Michael's ticket and I was not about to pay another $80 to do nothing so I just decided to stay on the ship.  I wish I could have seen their reactions to the dolphins but I knew my sister was going to be there and she got the digital photo package from Atlantis so we just split the cost which was still $70.00 so honestly I might as well have just gone.

Atlantis hotel seen from the veranda:



Maddox is all dressed and ready to go check out some dolphins.





Libby is such a girlie girl that we really wanted her to experience the Bibbity Bobbity Boutique.  A word of warning:  1.  you will want to buy one of the gorgeous princess dresses that they have there.  If you have the extra funds then go for it, but if you're trying to be more frugal then just bring a dress from home which is what we did.  Libby was still just as happy with her make-over and could have cared less about getting a new dress.  2.  The make up they have is not great for brown girls.  It is made for kids and they get to keep the makeup and fingernail polish afterwards but it's wax based I guess and barely showed up on Libby's skin.  Also though Mary Beth (seen below) was precious it didn't seem like she really knew what to do with Libby's hair.  So basically she just put a bunch of bobby pins in it.  I am glad that Libby had the experience but I would not do it again.

The last part of the transformation is the pixie dust so Libby had to wear her little face shield.

The end result:

Our third stop was Key West.  Again this is the view from the state room!  I'm telling you it was a great room to get (6570).
Libby was in a very photogenic mood and posed with everything she saw.

The Shipwreck/treasure museum was awesome!  It was super interesting and help the kids attention.
The kids wanted to try out this old diving helmet.
Maddox got to try to lift this 64# silver bar which was recovered from one of the ship wrecks.


The entrance to Lumiere's
Each day you will get a "navigator" which actually tells you where characters will be and at which times so you can plan ahead to get photos with your kiddos favorite characters.


We flew from DFW to Miami and stayed the night before the cruise left the next day.  This was the view from our room.  I would recommend flying in a day early to be extra safe.  The check in process  at the cruise port terminal is chaos.  A lot of people said to get there early so you can enjoy the ship.  We had the earliest boarding/check in time and it was still mayhem.  Line after line after line.  Literally a line to get through the front door then a line to get through the second door then a line to check in then a line to get the kids checked in to their kids clubs and get arm bands, then a line to get in line to board the ship.  So once we get to go upstairs there's a line for photos, then a line to have your key card scanned to get onto the boat then a line to actually go through security before you get on the boat then lastly a line where they announce your family in the grand atrium then lastly a line to get into the lunch buffet where everyone is sort of shuffled through.  Some people say to wait until the last boarding time so most people have already gone through so that you don't have to wait so long.  The down side to that is that you're stuck trying to find stuff to do in Miami before you leave.  
Heading off to the cruise port!


The atrium where everyone is announced.

Here's Libby testing our our bed.  The couch in the background actually turns into bunk beds.
Our travel agent Jen with Magical Moments had gotten us champagne, chocolates, and a delicious disney cruise line robe waiting for us in the room when we arrived.  
I have no idea how much this robe costs but it worth every penny.  You've never felt anything so soft and comfy in your life!
There are actually 2 bathrooms in the state room.  One has a sink and shower/tub and the other has a sink and the toilet and vanity.  

I loved all of the little Disney touches on all the fixtures like the little disney cruise ship on this lamp shade and the Mickey Mouse heads on the bottom.
Here are the Mickey heads on the vanity lights:
Even the privacy door hangers were cute.


The huge real gingerbread house on board had the whole ship smelling delicious.
Libby posed here and asked me to take her picture.

The fish extender in action:

My door decoration was much simpler then my sister's.  You can't use any tape so everything has magnets attached since the doors are metal.

Our room steward even tucked in Libby's little manatee she got in Miami.
Here is the couch converted into the bunk beds .
During the day the pillow looks like this:
At night they flip it around to show this:
!
Santa was even on our ship!
Ezra got to put his name onto the nice list.  Notice that Libby is not mentioned there.
Castaway Cay:



Here is the slide from the Aqua Dunk coming out over the side of the ship.  There is a smaller slide that the kids loved in another pool area.  They weren't too keen to go on this one.









Libby kept pouring sand onto her head.  I honestly was getting bits of sand out of her hair for at least 10 days after the cruise.
The boys got smart and decided to bring their lounge chairs into the water.




Libby again asked me to take her picture in her pirate outfit.
This is how she wanted to pose:


Animator's Palate
The menu changed each night according to the theme of the evening:



'
This is just some of our Fish Extender exchange haul.  My favorite gifts were the ones with laundry stuff in them.  Our cruise was only 4 nights and 5 days so I though we'd be fine without doing laundry so I didn't bring anything but I'm SO glad that other people were smart and gave dryer sheets and little detergent pods as gifts because I wound up doing like 3 loads of laundry on board.


I really didn't take nearly enough photos of all the delicious food but here are a few of the things we tried:


























We also visited the Key West aquarium which is next to the shipwreck museum but really could be skipped I think.  It's like $5 to get in but still it's pretty run down and is very tiny.
Michael and I were touring the ship and found this cool area in the very front of the ship where you can see how huge the ropes and chains are that really show how huge the ship is especially since for a cruise ship the Disney Magic is one of the smallest cruise ships out there.

Our cruse was the very first one to show the tangled musical.  It was so so so so so good!  We loved it!  I really like the Disney magic but it makes it even more worth it to go on this ship just to see Tangled: The Musical
Some of the Christmas decorations.
Libby did not want to leave Minnie Mouse.  Michael and I thought we were going to have to take her home with us.
There is a tower that you can climb at the Shipwreck museum that give you a beautiful view of Key West and the cruise ship.






dolphin time:

No comments: