Last Friday, we woke up excited for our trip to Orlando and were bursting to go. Super Shuttle picked us up, we made our way to their airport and we were off on our adventure of a lifetime. We were scheduled to land in Austin around midday and had to switch planes quickly. Unfortunately, storms in the area caused the entire airport to shut down and we were diverted to San Antonio. There we sat on the runway for about an hour and took off again for Austin when things were clear. Upon arrival we discovered that the plane had NOT waited for us, although Southwest assured us they would. The next few hours were unpleasant to say the least. Mary, Nicolo, Will and I sat upstairs while Amy, mom and dad went to customer service to try to figure out our options. Not only were there no flights on ANY airline to Orlando, there were none for days to Phoenix either. It seemed as though we were stuck.
So, what did we end up doing? That night after about six hours of sitting at the airport we flew to Houston, took a shuttle to the nearest hotel and crashed in t-shirts bought at the airport. The next morning we got up at 6 am to get back to the airport and catch a flight to Jacksonville, Florida. Unfortunately, THIS plane was delayed and we got into Jacksonville later than expected. That day is a blur. Dad got us a rental van, we all piled in and he drove about 100 mph to Port Canaveral. At this point I honestly didn't think we were going to make it... BUT WE DID! We dropped the car off, jumped in another shuttle and made it with about 15 minutes to spare. Talk about a miracle!
Yes, that's right, first I want to talk about the incredible Disney dining experience because it truly is unparalleled. And if you've never been on a cruise before... YOU ARE SO MISSING OUT! The food is unlimited, amazing and always at your fingertips. Each morning we woke up and had breakfast at Cabanas, a large buffet style restaurant next to the pool on one of the top decks. The options there were endless and delicious. I think I had about 20 Krispy Kreme donuts but let's not talk about that. For lunch we either ordered room service, went back to Cabanas or ate on deck from one of the stands that were always open... mmmm. I rarely had lunch, I usually just grabbed a soft serve ice cream cone to tide me over, because I was always soo full from breakfast.
Dinner is another experience altogether. There are three exquisite restaurants on-board, each with its own flair and food. Your server and assistant server follow you to each restaurant and are there to cater to your every whim. Ours were so nice and friendly and the boys became quite attached to Tumelo, our head server. He entertained us with crayon puzzles and folded towel art. He also came to know our food preferences throughout the week and brought us all of our favorites. My very favorite restaurant was called Royal Court and featured princess glass cutting murals all around and bread baskets shaped like royal carriages - divine! We usually ended our 3-4 course meals with a chocolate Mickey bar or similar decadence.
P.S. I gained five pounds in seven days.
Disney entertainment is top-class and the cruise was no different. Almost every evening there was a Broadway style show featured in the large Walt Disney Theater at one end of the ship. I loved the singing, acting, messages, dancing and amazing technical feats every night. There were two nights there wasn't a Disney show: the first had a world class magician and the second we watched Iron Man 3 (only in theaters!).
Usually after the show and before dinner, we made our way to the Tube for some more entertainment. This was in the "club" themed adult end of the ship and the inside was so cute and British. We watched a juggler, hypnotist and a ventriloquist. We even learned how to fold towel animals one day.
There is ALWAYS something going on throughout the day on your Disney ship. Each night, you get a "Navigator," a little schedule of what's going on for the next day. We couldn't do even half of it if we tried. We swam, did Disney trivia, played in game shows and just enjoyed movies on deck.
Ports of Call
Our 7-day Caribbean cruise had four stops: The Grand Cayman, Costa Maya, Cozumel and Castaway Cay.
At the Grand Cayman we got to do something that has always been on my Bucket List... I swam with dolphins! First we entered a turtle farm and got to hold and observe all sorts of turtles. Afterward, we got into life vests and headed over to the dolphin encounter. Our dolphin's name was Cappy and he was so sweet. We all got to pet him, kiss him and get lots of pictures. The best part was holding Cappy's fins while he swam us around the tank. It was amazing!
Costa Maya was a rainy, muggy day, so I stayed on board with Will. We played a Muppet Adventures game featured throughout the ship and got to solve a mystery!
Cozumel was my favorite excursion. We basically took a party boat to a beautiful secluded area around the island. We snorkeled in the water there for about 45 minutes and it was breath-taking. The water was clear and the fish swam around me as I snorkeled. Later, the boat took us to a private beach complete with water trampoline, shopping, food and HENNA TATTOOS! Of course I couldn't resist getting a Mickey Mouse one :)
Castaway Cay is Disney's private island and worth it in and of itself on the Disney cruise. It's a beautiful getaway in the Bahamas and Disney has thought of everything. There are lots of shops, entertainment for kids, snorkeling, games and even a big BBQ. This day was a bit rainy, but Nicolo and Will had fun playing in the water on their big pool floaties and searching for shells.
Altogether, the cruise was an amazing experience. I'm so grateful to my parents for taking us there and so glad we got to go with Amy and her boys - they feel like family!
I hope I can go on another Disney cruise soon... I'm already missing it!