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Disney Cruise 2014: Day 1, departing Port Canaveral

March 29th, 2014

We have made it a tradition to discuss our favorite things at the end of each day, so I’ll start with our favorites from Day 1 (Saturday, February 22, 2014). The starred items are the top top top favorites.

Cullen’s Favorites

  • licking his fingers [while eating a Mickey Bar]

  • *** eating his Mickey Bar ***
  • taking the first bite of his Mickey Bar before Maddie
  • getting his picture taken with Mickey
  • meeting Minnie
  • meeting Cinderella
  • the bunk beds
  • “and the lamps because I like the lamps” [in the cabin]

Maddie’s Favorites

  • the Mickey Bar at dessert

  • *** the birthday song at dinner ***
  • meeting Mickey
  • meeting Minnie
  • dancing in the room (and with Mommy and Daddy at the sail away party)
  • bunk beds
  • being on the top bunk and seeing the constellations on the ceiling

Gabe’s Favorites

  • meeting up with his parents

  • *** dancing with Maddie ***
  • getting the picture with Minnie right when his parents arrived
  • being on his first Disney cruise
  • taking a tour of the ship with his mom
  • the sail away party
  • that it was cute when Cullen suddenly wanted to see Cinderella
  • Cullen falling asleep at the show

Kerry’s Favorites

  • finally getting on the ship

  • *** seeing Minnie and the timing with Gabe’s parents ***
  • seeing Maddie and Cullen dancing
  • Maddie’s crazy pole acrobatics in our cabin
  • meeting Mickey, Cinderella, and Stitch
  • getting nice pictures of the family
  • being a magical family [though I wasn't quite sure what it meant yet!]
  • when Cullen told Bruno that he wanted his signature

Day 1 photos and summary

I love how Disney announces each family when you get onto the ship! As you get ready to walk onto the ship, they ask for how you want to be announced. As you walk into the atrium, they say, “The Disney Fantasy welcomes The _____ Family!” Crew members are on both sides clapping and cheering for you. It’s a pretty cool entrance! The first thing that we did is to find Guest Services and ask whether they had any Castaway Cay cabanas held (since they were sold out before we were able to even see the reservations) and whether the sailing had a special tea party. I had heard that some cruises have a free tea party, but now they are doing the super fancy and expensive Royal Tea. Oh well. We inquired about Palo and Remy, and they told us that we could get reservations for those in the Royal Court at 1pm. We weren’t sure if we were going to want to make reservations yet. It was still before noon, so we headed up to Cabanas, the buffet restaurant on the same deck as the pool.

Gabe’s parents bypassed the boarding photo, and they made it onto the ship shortly after we did. They met us in Cabanas, and we all had lunch together. Right away, we felt like the buffet at Cabanas was better than the Windjammer buffets that we have experienced on Royal Caribbean. We didn’t mind eating at the Cabanas for lunches (or breakfast) throughout the cruise. Now some people rave about cruise food, and I’m not one of those people. The food is plentiful and tasty, but it’s not one of the highlights for me. I enjoy it well enough, don’t get me wrong.

During our meal, we realized that while we had linked our reservation with Gabe’s parents’ reservation, somehow we didn’t have the same table seating. We headed down to Royal Court where we had to wait in a slow moving line to attempt to get seated at the same table. We were put on a waiting list, and they said they would call us later if they were able to accommodate us. Thankfully, they did call in the afternoon, and we had seating together at Table 100 for the whole cruise. It was fun getting a sneak peek of Royal Court where we would be dining for three dinners.

Disney has a rotational style dinner where you eat in a different restaurant each night. Our rotation was RAERAER for the seven nights. R stands for Royal Court, A stands for Animator’s Palate (my favorite!), and E stands for Enchanted Garden.

At this point, we decided to see if we could get into our cabins yet. When we got to our deck, they still had the ropes blocking the hallways to the cabins. In our previous experience, we’ve been able to go to our cabin before it was officially ready. Fortunately, they let us into the hallway within 5 minutes, and we got our first glimpses of our cabins. Gabe’s parents were just down the hall in 6016, a 203 square foot category 5D cabin with a 43 square foot verandah. We were in cabin 6026, which is a 241 square foot 8A category cabin with two large porthole windows.

The biggest deal with the 8A cabins are that they are square! I can’t tell you how much difference that makes on a cruise ship as far as your perception of the space is concerned. It felt MUCH bigger than any cabin we have ever experienced. It was fantastic! I highly recommend this cabin, and I will warn you that you have to book well in advance to get it. We booked over a year in advance, and we booked the last available one. I’m guessing that this is often the case as there are only 12 of them on board.

I wasn’t sure how we would like the location since they are near the front of the ship. We typically prefer midship cabins. I didn’t notice differences in motion or noise, and we felt like our room was convenient to everything on the ship. If we sail on the Disney Fantasy again, I’m pretty sure we’ll be booking another 8A! The kids loved the large porthole windows (both in the room and around the ship). The bunk beds worked out quite well for the kids. The top bunk pulls out from the ceiling and the couch converts into the bottom bed. Some of the 8A cabins have a half wall separating the main bed and the bunk beds, but we were happy to have the open layout (with a support pole in the middle). Gabe and his mom went to do a little exploring around the ship while the kids discovered that the TV had every Disney movie ever on demand. The first movie they watched (part of) was one that they hadn’t seen before, Bolt.

We didn’t have our luggage yet, but we were happy to leave our carry on bags in the room and set out to do some more exploring. We stopped by Gabe’s parents’ cabin which was quite similar to most other cabins we’ve seen on other ships. The long, skinny rectangular room seems so much smaller than the square one! Their balcony was tiny as it wasn’t a special hump room this time, but it is definitely nice to have a balcony!

We loved access to the Disney Cruise Line app! We were able to see the Daily Navigator which shows you the schedule of activities as well as deck plans, hours of operation for restaurants and shops, and other useful things. It definitely came in handy throughout the cruise! We consulted the day’s schedule and headed to the muster drill. The kids did much better at this one than the one on the Allure where Cullen had a huge meltdown. I’m glad that they no longer require you to carry life jackets to muster drills.

After that was over, we stopped by Guest Services to drop off our markers and pillowcases. Disney has a nice feature where you can leave items to be signed by all the characters. You just drop them off at Guest Services, and they will deliver your signed items by the end of the cruise. We debated whether to do this, and it ended up being one of the best decisions on the trip. I went to do this with Cullen, and we had Cullen decide who he wanted to sign his pillowcase. Cullen decided that he wanted both Mickey and Bruno to sign his pillowcase. Bruno to the side asked if that was OK with me, and I was certainly fine with it! I believe that this lead to him selecting us as the Magical Family of the Week!!! I didn’t know what that meant when he sent us a letter and arcade tickets the first night. He left us gifts and personal notes for every night of the cruise. It was such an amazing experience. I think I’ll have to dedicate a post to all the surprises that Bruno left for us as the Magical Family.

Since it was raining, they moved the Sail Away party to the Deck 3 atrium, just next to Guest Services. Maddie had so much fun dancing with Daddy before and during the party. She also sat on my shoulders for a lot of the party.

The main characters made an appearance for the sail away party with singing and dancing. After the party, we headed to meet Mickey. We were second in line, so that was nice!

I liked when they had special backdrops for the photos.

We did some more exploring. We were going to get the kids their kids club bands, but while we were waiting, Cullen spotted Cinderella. He really wanted to meet her after that! The wait was a little too long for the bands, and we knew we could get them later.

Cullen was so sweet with Cinderella. Maddie didn’t care to meet her this time.

By the time we finished with that, it was time for dinner!

We had a great first dinner, and we were so glad to be seated with Gabe’s parents. We had a nice table next to another porthole window.

I had forgotten that I had specified that we’d be celebrating both Cullen and Maddie’s birthdays. It was a surprise when they came out with special desserts for both kids and sang happy birthday. Maddie particularly enjoyed that surprise! Both kids had their first of many Mickey bars after dinner.

After dinner, there was some dancing in the lobby. We did a little dancing, and then we spied Stitch up on the Deck 4 balcony. The kids were excited, and we rushed up there to meet him. We had several impromptu opportunities with characters on the ship. It’s so much easier to meet characters in this setting than it is in the parks! Cullen didn’t want to pose for the photo, but he hugged Stitch afterward. For whatever reason, the kids are nuts about “Stitchie” (as they affectionately called him).

We took our first peek at the photos in Shutters, grabbed our first Midship Detective Agency case, and perused the shops on the way to see the night’s welcome aboard show. The beginning of the show was fun for everyone with appearances from the main characters, but a lot of the rest of the show was just OK for the kids. It was your basic “welcome to the ship” show with information about all the fun things that you’ll get to do on board. Cullen fell asleep during the show after a long day without a nap!

He woke up on the way back to the room, and it took a little while to get the kids to settle as they were excited about the bunk beds!

The stateroom attendant leaves the next day’s schedule, chocolates, and a “towel” animal and fixes the bunk bed while you’re at dinner. I was glad to see that we had “towel” creations on every day of the cruise instead of the every other day that we’ve been seeing with Royal Caribbean on our last few cruises.

What a great first day! Gabe and I planned out a little bit of the next day and went to bed, excited about the next day’s first full day at sea!

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