This is a guest post courtesy of my reader Tina. She had such a great time on the cruise that she wanted to share it with all of you!
In February, my family experienced our first Disney Cruise. We planned this for almost two years and invited our in-laws to join us. We chose February for two reasons 1) Ohio winters are really cold and snowy and the Bahamas sounded like a great alternative; 2) My daughter would be celebrating her 10th birthday on Valentine’s day this year and we wanted to celebrate. The cruise was fantastic! Before I tell you about that though, let me tell you about our journey to Port Canaveral……
We were set to fly out of Pittsburgh on a Saturday. We had a service picking us up at the airport and taking us to a hotel in Cape Canaveral. As luck would have it, the Space Shuttle was set to launch early Sunday morning and we would have a great view from our hotel! (I was as excited about seeing the shuttle launch as I was about the cruise.) On Sunday morning the hotel provided a shuttle to take us a few blocks to the ship and we would be on our way.
The plan was perfect. I had considered every detail so that there would be no hiccups along the way. Everything, except for the snow storm. On Friday the snow started and did not stop until well into Saturday morning. We woke that morning to almost 2 feet of snow! By 10:00 am we received word that the Pittsburgh airport had completely shut down. I was a wreck. We spent most of Saturday morning on the phone with Southwest trying to find another flight, any flight to get us to Florida in time to catch the ship. We were not able to find anything. Considering the fact that everyone who had planned to fly out of Pittsburgh that day was doing the same thing; and I was trying to reschedule seven people in a 24 hour window, it was hopeless.
I cried a lot, my children (ages 3, 4, and almost 10) were devastated. Imagine planning for Disney for weeks, counting down with the kids, suitcases by the door and having to tell the kids “sorry, we can’t go.”
In an act of crazy desperation we decided to drive. I say crazy because of the amount of snow on the ground and the fact that we would have to drive through the path of this storm for a long time. I was just not ready to accept the fact that we were going to miss this vacation! We had about 24 hours to make a 16 hour drive. My in-laws decided not to drive; they opted to continue searching for a flight.
So we drove. We drove through snow covered roads, blowing and drifting snow, and terrible fog. We drove from Ohio to North Carolina before the weather broke and I was able to start breathing again! My children were angels as the hours passed, I guess they knew this was the only way we were going to get there.
We made it to Florida in time to see the shuttle. My husband found a spot for us to pull over and we sat and waited in anticipation of what was to be a once in a lifetime experience. Sadly, the shuttle launch got scrapped.
We made arrived at our hotel at about 7 am Sunday morning. As we drove through Port Canaveral to the hotel, we saw the Disney Wonder. The excitement finally resurfaced, WE MADE IT!!
My in-laws were able to find a flight and they arrived at the hotel about 2 hours after we did. Thankfully, they had never purchased return flights home because they had planned to stay in Florida for a few extra days after my family returned home. They were able to drive my car back to Ohio, and my family was able to fly home as planned.
Now for the part about the Cruise! First, I suggest that everyone should take a Disney Cruise. What a fantastic experience this was! It was the first family vacation in ten years my husband and I had a chance to have some adult time without feeling guilty about the kids being stuck back at the hotel room in front of the television.
My kids begged to go into the Kid’s Clubs. My three year old daughter had story time with Snow White, played Simon Says with Mickey Mouse and hugged six princesses in a 20 minute time period. My four year old son did not want to leave. When I would drop him off after lunch he would plead with me to leave him there until the midnight closing time!
My oldest daughter bounced back and forth from club to club. She would spend some time with the little ones, spend some time with us and go to the teen club when they allowed the “almost teens” to come up and play.
Hubby and I found a quiet coffee bar the first morning, we sat sipping coffee in silence. It was perfect! We took a nap in a hammock on Castaway Cay while our children were safely playing on the kid’s beach. We enjoyed dinner one night at Palos, the adult only restaurant onboard the ship, while Grandma and Grandpa had dinner with the kids. If you have kids, you know this dinner was a treat!
As a family we swam in the afternoons, we played in the ocean, and enjoyed a Disney Stage Show every night. It was calm, it was beautiful and it was amazing.
Of course, I can’t end this without mentioning the food. There were three meals served each day. Every event had food, including a dessert bar after the festivities on Pirate Night, and there were quick service stations were you could always find a sandwich, pizza, ice cream or fruit.
I would also like to mention that my oldest daughter is not able to tolerate Gluten. Her dining experience turned out to be amazing. I could not be more pleased with how she was treated and the food available to her. On the last night, they even made her a gluten free chocolate cake that was delicious. (If you have ever had the opportunity to try a gluten free cake, it is not usually very good!) She was able to ask for just about anything, and they were able to make it for. This was probably the best Birthday Present I could have given her!
The journey was unexpected and frustrating, but it was worth every minute. Now that it is over we can just add it to experience and hopefully one day we will laugh about the snow. We are already planning our next Cruise. We have to wait two years to save up our DVC points, and this time we have decided to travel in June!
Be sure to learn how to make the most of your trip by reading the Disney Cruise Training series. And if you are ready to book your trip, be sure to read about the perks of using an authorized Disney vacation planner (plus it’s FREE!).