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Old 01-06-2013, 03:59 PM   #1
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 108

First timer's learnings - Galveston, Magic, sailing

This was our first cruise -- ever. Living in Houston, we had to take advantage of the Magic and Galveston. Having a school age child, we had to also not get in trouble with the school and booked on the 6night New years eve sailing.

So you can determine the POV of my posts, it's myself, hubby and two boys (6 and 3)

Here's my compilation of what we learned as a first time cruiser:

From Galveston:
1. We used EZ Cruise parking -- they were simple to find and we actually parked in the Railroad museum lot. On return there were a lot of people waiting for them vs the other private lots.
2. We did not use porters and trying to get the terminal to take our luggage took awhile. There was no organized line for the baggage.
3. There is someone giving out the navigators in the terminal -- so you can look at that before checking in.
4. You can do Youth Activities registration in the terminal -- but I don't know if that includes the kids bands -- if it does I would have done that there. (we pre-registered on line)
5. The terminal crew wave from the dock with the Mickey hands!

Packing and Organization:
1. Pack some warm clothes. The MDR were not a problem, but we found the theatres could be cold. Also Galveston was in the 50's when we set off and returned.
2. I should have pack way less clothing for myself, and even less for the kids. I packed nicer pants, shirts and shoes for the kids for dinner-- they were fine in crocs and shorts for all the nights except formal.
3. Having heard the Magic beds were lower, we used softsided rolling luggage -- it all fit under the bed.
4. The overdoor shoe organizer worked wonders for room in terms of keeping track the little things
5. We had a separate toiletry hangar for toilet room for additional items
6. I used a pouchsafe on board to carry the wave phone, camera, and room key -- super light weight and not too big, strap is adjustable so it can go crossbody. It then stuffed into our bag when we went on shore.

Activities on board:
1. Kids loved the juggler alot.
2. They loved Animators Palate.
3. The loved the Oceaneers Club until they found out the slide is closed during structure activities. This is a problem as they would go back in willingly. I had to find the "Sliding time" activities to work around.
4. "Who wants to be a Mouseketeer" during open house gives them time with Mickey and parents photo opportunities
5. Once the kids were in the club, they were fine -- trying to get them in the club was harder
6. The dine and play worked pretty well -- especially if we rested the kids before dinner
7. The kids loved the Villains show, ok with the Twice charmed, fell asleep during Dreams (older one). If the Magician is still on board, need to sit up close to see it, otherwise, the kids were a little board and antsy.
8. We didn't find the foosball table in Diversions until the last day. 6yo loves it. (and we braved windy days on Deck 10 to play it)

Grand Cayman:
1. Take the local bus -- they're friendly, cheap and will get you where you probably want to do
2. The wave action is stronger than we anticipated. Had a scary moment with 3yo almost getting swept out. We should have brought his swim jacket.
3. We went to Sea Grape beach (Public Beach) -- changing rooms are available and there's fresh water to do some light rinsing. But the line is long at the end of the day and the water pressure is not strong I would not rely on rinsing most of the sand off there. No beach toys readily available (we brought our own)

1. We did the Beach Break excursion (Playa Mia). The gathering time was 9:45, we didn't actually get on the buses until 10:45am. Wave action much calmer there. Not much stretch of a beach for the kids to play on. The pool area is nice and there are stronger (but very cold) showers available. NO time to shop after getting to port.

1. Two spa appointments - manicure and hot stone massage. The massage was great and getting the manicure on the first sea day I think helped with my seasickness.
2. Rainforest room with hubby on the last day. Slight wait for a stone chair, but not as busy as I thought it would be on the last sea day.
3. Showers in the changing room are excellent

1. It took us a while, but we didn't realize hot dogs were at Pluto's Doghouse (it's not pictured on the board).
2. Getting the kids a little snack around 3 staved their hunger before late seating -- when we missed it they were CRANKY.
3. Parrot Cay is the bumpiest dining experience.
4. We liked Lumiere's food the best and location
5. Don't order lobster stuff -- it's too dry
6. We found if we went with our server recommendation -- she was typically on the money.

1. I get motion sickness very easily unless I'm driving. As they aren't going to let me steer the ship, I bought seabands and the ear drop things. I used both.
2. The first day was very motion-y and I could not stay at Parrot Cay for our Character Breakfast. After laying down and getting my hands massaged and manicured -- I felt like a completely new person and not sick at all. Even on the last day with choppy waters, I could feel the motion but did not get seasick.
3. As I'm typing this however, the house is still swaying.

1. Characters are everywhere.
2. Kids like playing in the porthole windows by Rockin'Bar D
3. The kids also like walking the laps on Deck 4.
4. Ship is very easy to navigate -- the kids knew what was on which deck.
5. Magnets on the door made it easy for them to find our stateroom.
6. There is nothing to keep the stateroom door from being opened by the 3yo. (no upper latch) so we had to watch him constantly.
7. We pre-registered the kids online -- we didn't know what that password was for and wish it had been explained. For those who might also wonder, the password is what you need to tell them to get them out of the club.
8. To get the wristbands, there will be a table outside the club/lab on the first day -- from some reason they take much longer than just going to the lab/club. Go there instead.

overall great time despite the weather -- I think we might be more theme park people (we discussed that the theme parks are more relaxing for us now...) but we'll probably do it again in a couple of years!

Last edited by polynor; 01-06-2013 at 04:12 PM.
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