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Old 03-22-2013, 04:14 PM   #1
Earning My Ears
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 32

Cruising with a toddler, perfect family vaca

When I was researching this vacation, I ran into a lot of threads about people wondering if they should cruise with a toddler. After this cruise, my answer is YES, YES, YES!

So here goes....
My husband, myself and our 17 month old son went on the March 15  19 cruise out of Galveston. We drove in from Austin. Houston was one accident after another. Luckily, I'd added a buffer of 2 hours to our drive and we used all of it and then some. If you have to drive through Houston, give yourself plenty of time!

We used Discount Cruise Parking. They were super easy to find and very friendly. Once at the port our check in was incredibly smooth and our wait time was less than 5 minutes. We went right on through to the ship with no wait.

Day 1 (embarkment day) highlights:
- Adventures Away dance party/show on pool deck. They gave away free pompoms and our 17 month old had a blast shaking them from atop my husband's shoulders and watching the characters dance. It was not overcrowded at all which was such a pleasant surprise.

- Our 17 month old enjoying an ice cream cone from Goofy's Galley. He was SO excited! He really never gets ice cream at home.

- Dinner at Animator's Palette. Best food of the entire cruise. Loved the décor! And Mickey came in towards the end of dinner and my DS was thrilled to see him. Clapping like crazy!

- Stumbled upon the family dance party in the prelude lounge, 17 month old had a blast! He LOVES to dance!

- Villains Tonight show. Thought 17 month old would be scared, but he loved it.

Day 2 (sea day) highlights:
- Had breakfast in Parrot Cay. Our server made DS a little Peter Pan hat from the napkin and he left it on and ate like that. SO cute!

- Attended Wake Up with Disney Junior dance party. Too choreographed for DS's age, but Daisy showed up and everyone got high fives which was fun.
- DS loved the splash pad.

- Used the nursery and loved having a little adult time to wander the ship and play cards in the cove.

Day 3 (Cozumel) highlights:
- Took a cab to Paradise Beach. Pure Heaven! This place is spotless, has amazing service and is a tropical vision! DS played in the sand forever. Had lunch at their restaurant. And then sweet DS napped for almost 2 hours while DH and I enjoyed pool time.

- We did Palo this evening. I regret to say I thought the food was only okay. The service however was outstanding!

Day 4 (sea day) highlights:
- Character dance party in the Lobby Atrium. Super, super fun!
- Attended the Oceaneer Club open house. That place is awesome! DS loved the slide and the tree house and the computer room! It happened to be mouseketeer training and Mickey came in and said hi to everyone and they all got badges.

- Used the nursery for a bit this afternoon. DH and I enjoyed the adult pool and hot tub. Very surprising how few people were there. Loved this time!
- Watched the 2:00 showing of Disney Dreams. Our favorite show of the trip. Spectacular.

Day 5 highlights:
- Super easy and smooth debarkation. Had breakfast, let DS run around a bit and by then the crowds were clear and we just walked right off.

My take on cruising with our toddler:
- Seeing our son enjoy the amazingness of the Magic made it magical for us. An ice cream is simple to us. But seeing him eat his first Mickey bar is priceless.
- Our son is very expressive and when Mickey came into dinner the first night, his eyes lit up and he just kept saying, woah! Woah! And he doesn't even watch Mickey on tv.
- We took our son to Disney World in December and never even got close to the characters. On the ship, we'd turn a corner and they'd be at the elevator with no one else around. We had plenty of time to high five them and take pictures. It was unbelievable.

- I don't see the issue with the pool thing at all. If you have older children, I definitely see how you'd have to split up the family and that would be hard. But with only 1 toddler, he had a blast in the splash pad.
- Luckily our son is a good napper. And he has no problem napping in his stroller. On board, we'd push him around deck 4 until he was completely asleep. Then we'd either enjoy the view with a cocktail while he napped or play board games in one of the lounges. Napping in the stroller is key. Getting stuck in your room for 2 hours would stink.
- We don't have any family that takes our son, ever. So having a nursery option during a vacation was the biggest treat. This is him passed out in the nursery! ha!

- There is SO much to do. There is always a show, a dance party or something going on. Even just the ship itself is fun. We found the huge port holes over by Rockin Bar D and probably played in those for half an hour!

- During one of our nursery times we enjoyed drinking a beer, eating nachos and playing foosball in Diversions. The available options are endless!
- Of course our son had a couple of tantrums. Usually boredom at dinner or food was too slow (our service was pretty bad). But he has the tantrums at home too. It's life. They can't talk yet. They are going to throw some fits. I can't think of any other vacation where almost every single person around you gets it and is not judgy.
- Don't miss regular nap times. Just like at home, if he misses a nap, we all pay for it

We had the BEST family vacation and are already planning our next cruise. It was just so EASY! Disney is so magical. The ship was gorgeous. And SO clean. And everyone is so nice, including other guests. We had cruised twice before (Princess to Alaska and RC to Bahamas) and were not impressed. We constantly felt like we were in lines for everything and were completely underwhelmed by it. The Disney Cruise has changed cruising for us, forever. And with a toddler, I truly believe it is one of the easiest vacations for our family. Our toddler is very independent and wants to go, go, go. The Disney Cruise is perfect for that. It is safe & full of options.

Last edited by micheledb49; 03-22-2013 at 05:10 PM. Reason: added photos
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