Again, thanks to the Disney Dads website, I got to share this story with a broad audience, but I thought that the director’s cut if you will had some interesting differences. One story that didn’t make the cut was about Emma’s encounter on the ship. Disney is a master at turning the negative into a positive and what could have been a vacation downer turned out to be a high point! Hope you enjoy.
How do you take the magic of a Disney theme park and put it on a boat? I don’t know, but Disney did it. I was a little skeptical about how the theme park experience would translate onto a ship, but from the moment we left the dock until the time we (sadly) returned to port, it was even better than I hoped for. I wondered how much our kids would like it since there weren’t any rides on board, but it turned out they loved every minute, and even before we disembarked, they were already asking when we could return. To me, that’s the best test of all.
What impressed me the most was that the crew made you feel like family. By the time we left the ship, we knew the names of our servers and our room stewards, but more impressively, they knew us! After the first night, our dining room team already had down what we liked to drink and as soon as we sat at the table, they brought it to us right away without us having to say anything. Skim milk; pineapple juice, no ice; and a glass of water for me. And they treated our girls like princesses, working extra hard to make sure they had smiles on their faces. When we got back to our rooms, we would find our beds turned down and a new towel animal on our bed each night. It would become something we looked forward to, opening the door and seeing what animal now graced our sheets. An elephant? A monkey? Even my youngest daughter’s stuffed Minnie Mouse would be placed in a comfortable position on the bed.
The excursions were fun and always top-notch. We got to dance with dolphins (literally), go parasailing from 600 feet in the air, visit a butterfly garden, and have perhaps some of the best key lime pie anywhere (of course from Key West). And Castaway Cay was the best! Snorkeling, swimming with stingrays, and having fun on the beach with Mickey, Minnie, and the gang. We looked forward to our daily adventures. And let me tell you, my wife and I really appreciated having a nice romantic dinner together at Palo – the adult-only restaurant. Did our kids mind not being included? No way! They had the best time all by themselves – my oldest daughter Eve in the pre-teen hangout, Edge and my youngest daughter Emma in the Oceaneer’s Club and Lab.
But what stood out more than anything was that everywhere you went, people made you feel special. It was like the whole cruise was done for us and everyone else just sort of joined along on OUR cruise. The princesses were graceful and spent plenty of time talking to Emma and Eve. The captain came out and greeted us with genuine kindness. And people bent over backwards to help us out. One of the most special moments though actually began with an accident. During our cruise we went to one of the lounges to play Disney family trivia and teams were given extra points for being the first with the right answer. My daughters took turns running up from our seats to be first but one time when Emma ran up, another child elbowed Emma in the face, quite by accident but it still hurt. The crew member in charge of the game stopped everything and paid special attention to Emma right there and then, making sure she was okay. At the end of the game, we had done well, but didn’t score high enough to win. However, the crew member called Emma forward by name and gave her a special award for “most valiant effort!” Everyone clapped and Emma walked away with a huge smile on her face. It made her day and she walked around with that medal quite proudly. It still hangs in her room.
That’s what makes the Disney cruise remarkable. Not just the incredible food, the special excursions, the shows and sights – it’s the way you are made to feel special each and every moment you are there. We enjoyed our time so much we already set sail for Alaska and are going back next summer for another cruise of the Caribbean! In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it’s hard to really get away and simply enjoy time together as a family, but on a Disney cruise its just part of the magic.