I was a pretty adventurous traveler in my single days, and my husband shared my wanderlust, which is one of the (many) reasons I knew he was “the one”. When we first had our daughter, and I expressed to people that we still hoped to travel WITH her, one of the most popular responses was “Well now I guess you’re stuck going to Disney.” Like that was a bad thing.
There is a sometimes a difference between traveling and taking a vacation. And a Disney Vacation is just that -a vacation – especially when you have a baby or toddler in tow. I am all about going on adventures and not having to specifically stay in properties labeling themselves as family-friendly, but if you need a break and don’t want to have to even think about high chairs or change tables or stroller access, Disney’s hotels and cruises have you covered.
I had never cruised before, and I wanted our Disney Fantasy Reviews to be as in-depth as possible – so here’s our day three…
For our Magical Preview Cruise, day three of our itinerary was a day at sea – to give everyone a chance to explore and enjoy the Disney Fantasy’s amenities. I was also looking forward to a lazy morning. We slept really well on the ship – the beds are very comfortable and the motion really seemed to keep me knocked out. I had a fancypants brunch to attend at Palo – one of the ship’s two adult-exclusive restaurants that require advance reservations (and are an additional cost), but I joined my husband at Cabanas to help get the kids off for breakfast. I may or may not have had bacon.
Palo serves Northern Italian cuisine and is open for dinner but also occasionally brunch while the ship is at sea. I was there for a special event with fellow bloggers to meet and chat with some Disney execs, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying a Prosecco (or three) and devouring the Blue Cheese, Grape, & Port Wine Pizza. While I waited for my pizza I also enjoyed some of the offerings from the brunch buffet, so essentially you had to roll me out of there. The additional dining fee is very reasonable – $20.00 per person – but apparently reservations are difficult to come by. Online reservations well in advance are strongly recommended.
While I was off stuffing my face, my husband decided to check out the kids’ clubs. At almost three, they would have let Bub stay with his sister and play in the Oceaneer’s Club, with the proviso that we check in every hour since he was not yet fully potty trained (more on that later). I was concerned that the It’s A Small World Nursery would be too baby-ish for him, but they decided to check it out on the way to the Oceaneer’s Club. My husband said Bub didn’t even look back as he tried to barge into the play area, and had to be convinced to return for a hug and kiss goodbye. At $6.00 for infant care for babies as young as 12 weeks up until 36 months, the It’s A Small World Nursery is a clean and fun place, with wonderful doting Cast Members who will care for your baby. They do accept walk-ins (like us) however when the ship is closer to capacity, reservations are recommended – as is checking in your child online in advance.
My daughter was next to be dropped off at the Oceaneer’s Club. I have always had reservations about Kids’ Clubs at resorts, so therefore I have kids who would rather go there than hang out with me! (At Beaches Turks and Caicos, toddlers were crying as they were being dropped off – mine cried when I came to pick her up! But I digress…) The difference between the Oceaneer’s Club and the Oceaneer’s Lab is that the Lab has more structured activities and an itinerary to follow. Most of the kids were a bit older in the Lab, and the Club often has “open house” hours where you can come in and play with your child, as well as supervise younger siblings so the whole family can play together. All the Cast Members working with the kids were bright and friendly – both my kids instantly felt comfortable with them, so I did too.
With both kids happily ensconced in supervised activities, and me happily consuming a week’s worth of calories in one sitting, my husband went for a run and relaxed by the pool. When he went to pick the kids up, both of them begged for another hour. I met him when I was finished my meet-ups and we had blissful thirty minutes alone together. I wanted to do the “King Of The World” bit from Titanic, but that part of the boat is not accessible, and the bow section of the ship is where the teen club is. Darn teenagers 😉 After we grabbed the kiddos we whooped it up at the character dance party in the lobby, where both my kids bailed from the conga line into the gift shop. Then it was time for some pool action!
Bub was a bit grumpy, so my husband did the Deck 4 walk (2 laps!) while I watched my daughter splash around. Then I was on Bub watch duty (and pool-side cocktail duty) while they waited in line for the AquaDuck – the waterslide that goes out over the ocean. It was a good thing that Bub was napping for this, because at 40″ he was not quite tall enough (minimum height for both slides is 42″) to go on. Then we swapped out as it was time for the Princess Meet & Greet in the lobby. The Character meeting times are all in the daily newsletter, but I recommend arriving a bit early or at least on time. While there is less of a wait and more opportunities to meet the characters on the cruise than in the parks, you still do actually have to wait a bit – which is nice because when it’s your turn you don’t feel like you are being rushed through. (A tip to the tantrum-throwing mom with two very disappointed little princesses in tow: don’t show up for a character greeting at 5:00 when it says it starts at 4:30. And don’t give me the side-eye because I almost ran over your foot with the stroller because you refused to make room for us in the elevator. *rant over)
Bub’s nap wasn’t great, and dinner was a bit stressful. The Royal Court was our last in the rotational dining plan, and my daughter (well we all) loved the Cinderella’s Ball feel. I had the chicken, which was delicious, and my husband had the ravioli, which was divine. Again, as with all our meals, our servers Jorge and Brent were so awesome – entertaining and feeding (!) the grumpy Bub, and making an appropriate fuss over our princess dress-clad daughter. When serving the ketchup they do so in the shape of a Disney character (usually Mickey) but Brent can do Minnie – complete with bow. We left dinner and came out to another dance party – this time with live music. Bub had a party going on in his pants which required his swift removal, and though we feared the kids were too spun to settle, we made it to the showtime of “Believe” – and I’m so glad we did.
As with the previous night’s show, “Wishes“, “Believe” has a pretty corny storyline but phenomenal musical numbers. Both kids were entranced, and as someone with a background in such things, I am totally impressed with Disney’s incredible production value – the costumes, lighting (indoor fireworks, even!) all were fantastic. And probably the most incredible? My daughter was convinced that the little Tinkerbell light was real, and I get to keep my pixie-dust believing girl for just a little while longer.
A little tidbit that I held from my husband (such info tends to stress him out) is that our bags needed to be packed and outside our stateroom door by 10pm for disembarkation the next morning. After the show, we headed back to our room, threw pretty much EVERYTHING into our luggage, and out the door it went – just in time. I had the foresight to leave our and the kids’ clothes for the next day out, and our carry-on bags were just fine to manage the next day needs. Now, had we been going straight to our flight after our cruise, I would have ensured I was more organized, but our flight home was not scheduled to depart until 7pm, and though we were going straight to the airport the next day, we were going straight to the Hyatt Regency Orlando Airport – to rest and relax for those precious final hours of vacation.
Stay tuned for a wrap-up, and a detailed account of our stay at the Hyatt Regency MCO, but first – a few tips:
- Remember, your luggage needs to go out the night before you leave. Set aside a few minutes to get organized on your last day, so you’re not scrambling.
- The additional fee of $20 per person for the exclusive dining at Remo and Palo is well worth it – if you’ve a wee one under three be sure to book your It’s A Small World Nursery time for the same time if reserving online in advance.
- The shows are fantastic, and worth the late nights. Be sure to grab drinks and snacks from Deck 11 before the show so you’re not tempted by the sweets at the snack bar next door.