There’s something special about a spur-of-the-moment cruise.
It’s something we don’t get to enjoy the way we did before children, when life afforded us the freedom to jump on good Florida-resident rates during the off season. Many of those cruises were with my folks, and once they even called DCL the day the ship was in port to see if there were cabins available, followed by a call to my wife and I telling us we had 30 minutes to pack our bags!
Having kids changes everything, of course, but it didn’t change our love of Disney Cruise Line. While they are often more expensive than other cruise lines, they are consistently rated at the top for customer satisfaction. The food is excellent, the entertainment is extraordinary, and the service is miles above the rest. Best of all, their ships don’t have a casino, so no smoke-filled room between you and wherever you want to be.
We have many cruise memories already with the boys, photos and stories I will share when time permits, but right now I am thankful that we had the opportunity to jump onboard a 3 night cruise on the Disney Wonder last month. There were precious few cruises left before the Wonder heads to the west coast for the summer, and I snagged the last remaining cabin on the March 22 sailing.
It was stateroom 2065, an inside cabin on deck 2, something we’ve never done before. The location was superb, directly below the atrium and just one cabin away from the midship stairs and elevators. It was only our second cruise with all four of us in one cabin, but with a space this cozy how could we not feel at home?
We spent our first day onboard mostly in the Oceaneers Club for open house, watching Henrik run up the stairs and down the slide over and over again. He is old enough now to go to the kids clubs by himself, but on a short cruise there wasn’t any need and we did most everything as a family.
Dinner the first night was Tiana’s Place, a lively New Orleans-style restaurant that pulls its theme from Princess and the Frog. We had an awesome table, right in front of the stage, and the live music makes this my favorite dining experience, even if it’s not my favorite menu. The boys enjoyed the music and parading around the room with Tiana and Louis the gator.
We prefer main dining, the early seating that starts at 5:45 each night, which means our show time is 8:30. That’s always been too late for the little ones, but we decided to give it a shot, scoring good seats in the Walt Disney Theater for The Golden Mickeys. Henrik surprised me by watching the entire show! He didn’t even get upset during the villains montage, and it made for a great end to our first day.
Day two was our “unofficial day-at-sea”, otherwise known as Nassau. We love this kind of port because most people head to the island while we stay onboard and enjoy the ship. Breakfast wasn’t crowded, the open house hours in the Oceaneers Club were deserted, and we had the deck 4 shuffleboard courts all to ourselves!
Kasper got into the shuffleboard for a bit, trying to copy his big brother, but eventually it was time to wander the deck. He found the smallest puddle and proceeded to stomp up and down in it, leaving a trail of wet footprints behind him.
After shuffleboard it was family craft time, making animal masks in the Promenade Lounge, playing in the toddler area (a section of the Lounge closed off from the rest and furnished with foam climbing blocks), then some Henrik & Daddy time while Kasper was down for a nap.
Dinner the second night was in Triton’s, but I think we spent most of the meal taking turns walking one of the boys around the halls. Neither one wanted to sit still, and Henrik only made it to dinner with the promise of a Mickey Bar for dessert.
Kasper was the bigger challenge, however, since he decided that he would no longer sit in a high chair. We were too tired for a second night in the theater so instead opted for relaxing in the room, saving our energy for the island…
Day three was the best, of course: Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island, known in our family as “Poppop’s happy place”. After a short walk from the ship, Henrik helped me choose a wagon and both boys enjoyed a sunny ride through the busy part of the island.
We lucked into a family cabana, which gave us a private place to relax, a fridge stocked with water and sodas, fresh fruit and snacks, as well as free floats and bike rentals. Even better, we had cabana #1, which is closest to Cookie’s Too, the BBQ lunch pavilion and has an extra long deck leading to the beach.
The cabanas are pricey, and difficult to get if you’re not sailing in concierge cabins, but it makes the island experience so much more relaxing and fun. We lathered up the sunscreen and spent the morning playing in the sand, chasing fish in the shallow water, then heading out for a bike ride before lunch.
We rode to the lookout tower for scenic views, then on past the adult beach to the far end of the island, a place we call “stick point” because Henrik loves to look for sticks. Kasper fell asleep for most of the ride, but we had a great time taking photos and enjoying the peaceful, secluded spots that many guests might not see.
After our ride it was lunch time in the cabana, followed by more sunscreen and lots of fun in the sand and sea. All that activity wore the boys out, and Henrik took a nap on the cabana’s sofa while I tried to clean the sand out of their swimsuits.
Back onboard, we cleaned up and finished our day with dinner in Animator’s Palate, getting out just in time to catch the sunset as we sailed back to Florida. It was a wonderful trip, rejuvenating in so many ways, and we came home feeling more connected as a family.
Now the news I’ve been waiting to share…
This cruise gave me a chance to try our video camera, and while I didn’t get footage of everything we did, I came home with enough to put together our first vacation video. So now Uncharted Parenting finally has a Youtube Channel! Check out the video below for a closer look at our trip:
There will be more videos in the near future, from weekend getaways at Disney to funny highlights from the boys’ earlier years, so subscribe to our channel for updates and show your support by liking our videos letting us know what more you’d like to see!