In June of 2012, I was lucky enough to be able to go on one of the inaugural sailings of the Disney Fantasy, Disney Cruise Line’s newest ships. My daughter, who was 18 months at the time, came along for the journey and it’s something I’ll cherish forever, even if she may not remember it. Sometimes parents can be wary or hesitant to bring along their younger children but I’m so glad I did, she had an absolute blast. There are definitely things to remember and be aware of prior to vacations so here are a few tips and tricks to know:
Taking to the Skies
Living in the Denver metro area, we obviously had to fly to Orlando to be able to embark on this cruise and I personally didn’t feel like driving the 1,893 miles/30 hours to Port Canaveral! (That might just be me, but hey!) We decided to fly out to Orlando two days prior to our cruise just to be able to settle in and be prepared for everything. We had an early flight out of DIA, 7am, so my daughter was up pretty much at the crack of dawn yet she was very excited and ready to go. Once we arrived at DIA, everything was a breeze and we boarded our Southwest flight to MCO! Now, this was my daughter’s very first flight and I was a bit worried. She was a lap infant and there were no available seats for her to have her own so her father and I alternated holding her throughout the trip. Surprisingly, she was great! I definitely recommend bringing along snacks, juice, and anything to entertain them though she was more interested in our neighbor’s Kindle than my iPod. She got a bit restless towards the end and wanted to sit on the floor in front of our seats but after 4 hours, we landed in Orlando without a single tantrum or meltdown!
The Ship of Dreams
After a few relaxing days in Orlando, we boarded the Disney buses that took us down to Port Canaveral. Again, snacks and entertainment though they played cartoons on the TVs. We were in the first round of buses so we were one of the first to board the actual ship. I’ll tell you this, Disney doesn’t skimp on anything. The details of everything and anything are absolutely amazing. After a few hours, we were off to sea! Disney, of course, had a mandatory safety drill where you had to know where your life jackets were and to meet at your emergency zone but after that it was all party and ready to sail! We were on a 7 day cruise with the following stops: St. Maarten, St. John/St. Thomas, and Disney’s own private island Castaway Cay (pronounced “key”). We began our journey in full spirits and with lots of singing and dancing. Everything we could possibly need was accommodated for our daughter. We were given a port-a-crib (which was surprisingly comfortable), a diaper genie, you name it. At every meal, she was given little toddler utensils and everything was Mickey Mouse, even her ketchup was in the shape of it. Disney had thought of every little thing to make everything as easy as possible for anyone of all ages.
Pro’s & Con’s
Of course nothing in this world is perfect but I say, Disney Cruise Line sure came close. There were a few things, some related to the ship and some not, that were a little tricky though.
- The pools. Anyone who wasn’t potty trained was not allowed in the pools. My daughter is an absolute water fiend. She was so upset when she couldn’t go swimming. Now, I understand WHY, I do. If there’s any accidents at all, the pool would be shut down for the rest of the trip (this happened in a hot tub) but I think there could’ve been at least a filtered kiddie pool, no? They did have a little water spray area that she could go in but it was a bit dull and she slipped many times.
- Naptimes. There was no way around this, my daughter needed to nap. Because of the time difference we were waking up at 9-10am EST (7-8am MST), be up for a few hours and then have to go back to our room for my daughter to nap at 2pm EST (12pm MST). It was definitely a bit difficult having to sit in the room for 2 hours but it wouldn’t have been a very fun day without her nap.
- The islands. St. Maarten and St. John especially weren’t very baby friendly. Not many restaurants had changing tables and wanted to charge you to even go into their bathroom. Castaway Cay was a bit different but still not many activities for little ones.Pro’s
- Daycare. Disney offers a daycare on their ships that we took advantage of one day. I believe it was $5 per hour and ended up being about what we pay for her daycare back at home. It was a very nice establishment.
- Bedtime. Because of the time difference, we were able to go to bed at 10pm EST (8pm MST) and see a lot of things we would’ve otherwise missed if there wasn’t that time difference. (Like the fireworks at sea!)
- Food. There was always food anytime you needed it and it was all inclusive so easy to feed her when she was hungry.
If I Could Do It Again?
I would do it in a heartbeat. I think my daughter was a great age to go while some may say she was too young. I definitely will be back and think she may enjoy it even more now that she’s turning 3 this year. We now are part of Disney’s Castaway Club and get discounts on any further cruises which is nice. This cruise was definitely a memory I’ll never forget. Now I’ll leave you with some photos. (Click any to enlarge!)
About the Author
Shannon is a mother to a 2 year old, an avid reader, traveler, and the marketing coordinator for McCormick & Murphy, P.C., a Denver car accident law firm. You can connect with her on Twitter or email her!