Before we left on our first Disney cruise last week, I was warned by friends who had gone previously be prepared for your kids not wanting to hang out with you.
Nonetheless, I was still surprised when after one day that turned out to be the case. On the second day of our cruise, after a few hours of water slides and pool fun on the ship, my boys both wanted to head inside to the kids club for games, activities and great fun. That left Pam and I with a few hours to ourselves and that’s how each day played out on the best family vacation we have ever had.
On previous vacations, such as Disney World last year, the four of us spent just about every minute together. That’s a good thing (most of the time), considering these are family vacations, but it’s exhausting and there is a lot to be said for actually getting some rest and being given some time to miss your little ones.
The masterminds at Disney get this, of course. They know if they provide fun entertainment for the children their parents will be ecstatic and probably be more prone to indulge in all the other experiences available on the ship for adults only.
Some highlights of the trip included:
•When I thought Disney cruise beforehand, I assumed the kids were going to love it and have the time of their lives. That happened for sure. However, I wasn’t prepared for how wonderful it is for the adults as well.
As parents, seeing your kids amazed at the sights and sounds of the entire experience (as well as having their food cut up each night by the servers) is special. I figured the boys were going to be in for some special thrills and they were indeed. After all, what’s not to love about a water slide coaster that runs the perimeter of the boat, watching Disney classics on a huge movie screen while hanging outside in a pool, a pirate party complete with fireworks, visiting new islands they had never seen before and all-you-can-eat ice cream all day.
Beckett’s favorite part of the trip was by far the kids club because they just played games all day, and the kids club employees’ main job was to make sure the children had fun. They did that extremely well.
•I will never forget the boys’ first snorkeling experience because it didn’t get go so well.
While at St. Thomas, one of our ports of call, we took an excursion catamaran trip to St. John. It included sightseeing, beach time and snorkeling. The catamaran anchored about 60 yards off the beach and the idea was we would snorkel from the boat to shore.
Well, neither kid picked it up quickly, leaving Pam and me to basically snorkel with a kid on our back. On the way to shore, I had Carson, who seemed content getting the free ride to the beach. Whenever I saw something noteworthy, I would tap Carson and he would place his head in the water with his mask on. He was fine with it.
On the way back to the boat after some time on the beach, I had Beckett, who preferred to try and surf on my back while I snorkeled. He said that was so none of the fish would get him.
We will try this again someday.
•The characters were everywhere. One of the highlights of the trip for me was the kids’ reactions when we turned a corner and standing there was Goofy or any other character with arms extended inviting the kids in for a hug. We have hundreds of photos to show for it, too.
•The only bummer was Carson getting sick early on in the trip. As was the case in Disney World last year, he got an ear infection and ran a high fever for a day, but thanks to the onboard medical center we were able to get an antibiotic and he was good to go within a day or two. He was never quite 100 percent the rest of the time but he didn’t let it slow him down.
•The Disney private island — Castaway Cay in the Bahamas — was quite the delight. This is an island made for tourists, particularly children.
From character dance parties, great snorkeling amid manmade shipwrecks and Disney character statues underwater to the large island slide in the middle of the water, the short walk from the trip to the beach and all the Disney hospitality everywhere, it was a spectacle to behold.
While Beckett enjoyed the characters, Carson is the one who really lights up when they were around. His favorite is Goofy and he basically spent the week signing, “where is Goofy?” On the Disney island, he had practically a private dance party with Goofy and Minnie.
His infatuation with Goofy runs deep and as the party ended Carson followed Goofy around to the point his handler let me know he needed to turn around because it was a cast-only area. When I told Carson to stop and that Goofy had to go now, we turned to head away from him. All of a sudden Goofy tapped him on the shoulder and asked for another hug in his typically jocular fashion.
That smile on Carson’s surprised face is a keepsake I will hold dear forever.