Disney Cruise: A Must-Do for Central Floridians 01/03/11
The Top 5 rang in the New Year on a Disney Cruise, and let me tell you, it is the way to go! Wow! Disney knows how to do it up right! My entire family went on the cruise to not only celebrate New Year’s but to commemorate my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. We were so excited and the cruise did not disappoint.
For every point of travel, from receiving our booking and sending us our tickets and pre-boarding information, to the ports of call and clearing customs, to the ship and cruise itself, Disney is impeccable.
The Disney Magic is a beautiful ship and its cleanliness, upkeep, and health of passengers was a top priority. Before every meal, staff members would hand each diner a sanitary handwipe before we even entered the restaurant. And if anything was spilled or if dirt became apparent, cleaning crews worked round the clock to improve the ship. In each port, crew members were hanging over the sides cleaning and repainting areas of the hull, and their dedication to safety was obvious. In ports like Castaway Cay, the crew would be running drills on lowering the life boats or reviewing water safety skills.
On the ship, there was plenty for people of all ages to do. There were shows for the family (Broadway style with Disney characters that were kept to just an hour to accommodate little ones’ short attention spans), shows just for adults (think an edgy juggler with a wicked sense of humor), as well as things geared for teens. Movies like Tron in 3-D were playing each night in the Buena Vista Theater!
For the hubby and me, we were quite content doing a variety of family and adult-only activities. There are even adult-only sections of the ship, where you feel like you are in a New York City piano lounge or a luxurious day spa versus being near anything Disneyfied! We even attended an art auction, where we bid (and won) a great print from one of my favorite animated movies UP. The print is by Eric Tan, an artist who does art with a kind of modern, uber-groovy feel to it.
And the dining was to die for! The ship has three sit-down restaurants and we rotated between them. Our two dedicated servers moved with us, and they learned our likes and preferences so they could begin to anticipate what we would ask for (like my English Breakfast hot tea after each meal or milk or Coca Cola for the different children). The service was exemplary… truly!
My favorite restaurant was the Animator’s Palate, where the walls start off black and white, like a blank piece of paper. As each course was served, the large paintbrush columns would change color, magically adding color to the walls… it was so cool!
And what kind of food was served? Only the absolute best! We had 4 courses offered each night, and everything was delicious. Although I’m not quite the food photographer Dafoodie is, here are some of our favorites:
So with food available 24-7 (literally!), SwimmerJoe about had a nervous breakdown worrying about his waistline! Fortunately he found plenty of ways to fit in some exercise. The fitness center is open from 6 am to 10 pm and they offered yoga on the beach in each port. And, at Castaway Cay, crew members even hosted a morning 5k run around the island. (Note: I did not run! But I did paddle a little bit when we went kayaking…oh and I also enjoyed our couples massage afterward!)
And there was so much to do while in port (other than exercise!) that we could have spent a week there and not have done it all. At Castaway Cay, we snorkeled, kayaked, biked, played with some stingrays, and even hung out at the adult-only Serenity Bay.
Our other port of call was Nassau, where we got to play at Atlantis and then just missed the Junkanoo celebration, which got underway around 2 am and went all night and morning until around noon the next day. Bahamians know how to ring in the new year!
We pulled out of Nassau around 5 pm on New Year’s Eve, and got ready for the mother-ship of all celebrations! I hit the dance floor with my hubby and son, nieces and nephews and partied until midnight, when fireworks signaled the start of 2011.
And do you know what surprised me the most about the cruise? How many travelers had no children with them at all. There were tons of couples enjoying a top-quality cruise! Honeymooners, groups of friends, and even seniors enjoying their retirement. And, I got to travel with stars like Kenny Rogers. (I pointed out NASA and the VAB to his family while we were in Port Canaveral! They had no idea that was where the magic of the Space Shuttles happened!)
Disney is a quality brand that provides high class with safety. As a parent, I felt completely safe with my son and nieces and nephews roaming the boat till all hours of the night, and in each port we felt very comfortable with how boarding and debarkation was easily and securely handled.
I have been on other cruise lines but felt this was the best quality for my money, so I will definitely cruise with Disney again. And I am thankful that the ship goes out of Port Canaveral, just a hop, skip, and 50-minute drive away! What a blessing for Central Floridians!
With the new Disney Dreamstarting to call Port Canaveral home, we have lots of ships and tours from which to choose. In fact, one of the students I teach was on the Dream when it made its historic Trans-Atlantic crossing this month; I can’t wait to hear how he liked it!
And, while I have tons of photos from our trip, my favorite souvenir is this purse my hubby got me… it’s adorable! Love it! (And I can’t believe I got him to spring for it!)
To see more photos of the Top 5 on the Disney Cruise, go to our Facebook page.