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Old 12-26-2012, 07:25 PM   #1
disneygirlsanddrew
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New to disney cruise...need fantasy advice!

We booked a cruise on the fantasy for may. Mickey called the kids yesterday to tell them and my dd 8 put her head on my dh's shoulder and cried because she was so excited and surprised. It was so sweet. Anyway, we have dd8, dd 6, and dd 15 months. I don't even begin to know what research to do for this trip or what to expect or what we should plan on doing. Please help and send any and all advice so we don't miss out on things we shouldn't. Where is the best place for me to be reading up on this too?
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Old 12-26-2012, 07:27 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by disneygirlsanddrew View Post
We booked a cruise on the fantasy for may. Mickey called the kids yesterday to tell them and my dd 8 put her head on my dh's shoulder and cried because she was so excited and surprised. It was so sweet. Anyway, we have dd8, dd 6, and dd 15 months. I don't even begin to know what research to do for this trip or what to expect or what we should plan on doing. Please help and send any and all advice so we don't miss out on things we shouldn't. Where is the best place for me to be reading up on this too?
Well, for starters, you could read the FAQ sticky above. Some of the info is a little dated, but it's a start.

And, when you have specific questions, ask here! We're a helpful bunch.

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Old 12-26-2012, 07:36 PM   #3
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Check out the trip reports section and try to find reports from posters who are reporting on the same ship & itinerary you plan to sail. Also, try to find reports from people who have kids close to the same ages as you. They should be able to get you started on finding things your family will enjoy. I know that has really helped me on our first 2 cruises. Now I'n doing the same thing while waiting to go on our 3rd.
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Old 12-27-2012, 10:02 AM   #4
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Well, theres a few things you can do now. For 1 I would buy 1 of the DCL cruise books out there. Birmbaums, Frommers and Passporters are all favorites for 1 reason or another. In the books it will have excursions sponsored by Disney, (ie if you are on 1 of these tours and they run late the ship will wait for you. If you do the tour by your self, and you run late, your on your own.) If you havent already, join the cruise meet for your cruise.

Last edited by truck1; 12-27-2012 at 10:07 AM.
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Old 12-27-2012, 10:13 AM   #5
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The best advice we received on our first DCL cruise was to NOT plan anything and just enjoy the ship and activities. Planning can be done on your next cruise when you know more about the ship/cruise and what YOU like. Everyone's persepctive is so different that you might be planning for things that may conflict with a time/event for something you might like better but didn't know was an option.

Really, I would not stress yourself with the planning. My suggestion is to just learn about the ship and what's available and then just enjoy!!

Have a great time.
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Old 12-27-2012, 10:56 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DisneyOHFan View Post
The best advice we received on our first DCL cruise was to NOT plan anything and just enjoy the ship and activities. Planning can be done on your next cruise when you know more about the ship/cruise and what YOU like. Everyone's persepctive is so different that you might be planning for things that may conflict with a time/event for something you might like better but didn't know was an option.

Really, I would not stress yourself with the planning. My suggestion is to just learn about the ship and what's available and then just enjoy!!

Have a great time.
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Old 12-27-2012, 11:03 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DisneyOHFan View Post
The best advice we received on our first DCL cruise was to NOT plan anything and just enjoy the ship and activities. Planning can be done on your next cruise when you know more about the ship/cruise and what YOU like. Everyone's persepctive is so different that you might be planning for things that may conflict with a time/event for something you might like better but didn't know was an option.

Really, I would not stress yourself with the planning. My suggestion is to just learn about the ship and what's available and then just enjoy!!

Have a great time.
I totally agree! I would think it would be similar to going to Disney with little ones...the more you try to plan, the more stressed you will be when the kiddos can't handle all that fun! It is easier to learn the basics (and I suggest PassPorters or Birnbaum's Disney Cruise Guides like PP recommended) and go with the flow with kids that are that young! Relax and get ready to have fun!
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Old 12-27-2012, 11:35 AM   #8
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Since I have similarly aged kids (DD8 and DS5), I will chime in with a few highlights of what my kids loved.

My first question to you is: are you cruising to have lots and lots of family time or to have everyone do their own thing? We personally cruise to maximize everyone's fun, so I don't insist that we all eat meals together or have tons of "family time." We homeschool, so we get more than enough togetherness at home I let my kids set their own schedules, more or less, except for when we book adult dining or there's an activity I know everyone would love. But many families treasure the family time and shape their days around being together. It would help if you knew going in what your expectations will be in this area. You also have a little one, so things will be a little different for you than for me. But here's what works for us.

My kids' favorites:

#1--kids' clubs! If you can stand the idea of letting your kids do their own thing, let them explore the kids' clubs early in the cruise. The clubs are so much more than babysitting. My kids would spend all day there. Seriously.

#2--midship detective agency. Lots of fun for kids and adults!

#3--AquaDuck and Mickey Slide. My 8yo loves the AquaDuck and once my 5yo tried it (FINALLY! on our 3rd cruise) he loved it! He's a bit of a chicken about rides, so it took that long for him to work up the courage. They ride it multiple times in a row when the line is short.

#4--pools. They are small (really small), but my kids love "swimming." We go later in the evening when it's not so busy. Or we hang out at the pool on port days, as I'm not really excited to see Nassau or random Mexican tourist cities for a few hours (but that's really just me)

#5--ordering chicken strips and mac and cheese for a snack (some "snack," huh?) and watching movies in the room. Yes, this ruins their dinner. But what's one dinner in a year, when it means my kids get to enjoy a special treat they don't normally get?

A note on eating: there is food 24/7. My kids aren't picky and they eat their veggies when prompted. My DD will happily eat a salad for lunch at Cabanas and my son piles his plate with raw spinach. But they also love cruise snack food, like chicken strips, hot dogs, and pizza. We allow them to eat pretty much whatever they want (within reason, of course) on a cruise. You can request anything at dinner, including extra fries or NO fries with the kids' meals, so you can control that aspect of your vacation. You might want to think about that, as well. If you have late seating, you can plan a healthy (or, not healthy ) snack mid-afternoon. We like to eat early so we have room for a cheese plate or other snack later in the evening.

My kids and I watch the videos on the DCL site a few times before each cruise. It helps them visualize what's on the ship and it gets them excited (me too!). Once you have specific questions, as a PP said, just ask. I would also google your questions along with the term disboards. That is easier than using the actual disboards search tool.

Happy planning!
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Old 12-27-2012, 12:03 PM   #9
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PP's list is right on! We just returned from the Fantasy with two families' kids, including two DD10s, DD8, DS5 and DD15mos., so we were right there with you in terms of age.

They all loved the kids clubs, whether Oceaneer's Club or Lab. This is free and there are open houses throughout the first day, so you as parents would have a chance to explore, too, and see how much fun they could have...in the event you want a few minutes to relax!

NOTE: DD15mos. is not old enough for these clubs, and you will need to reserve times at the "It's a Small World" nursery (same hall as the kids' clubs). Our 15-month old was my niece, so I wasn't as involved in that aspect, but my understanding is that you can book times in advance and the online excursion-booking system will automatically ask you if you want to reserve nursery time while the rest of you are out on an excursion. Depending on what you're doing and how long you'd be off the ship, do not feel guilty about this! At 15 mos., she wouldn't remember anything anyway, and it's a chance for the rest of you to do something fun off the ship.

As for the 15-month old, I can point out that there will be a bajillion photo oportunities, and there may be times when you're not all there together. We realized after a couple of days that brother- and sister-in-law were getting some "family" photos without the little one....which might cause therapy needs when she is older -- ha! Deal with that however you can, whether getting individual pictures with characters for the two older ones or in some other way. You'll find that characters sometimes roam the ship randomly and sometimes there are scheduled times that you'll see in the daily Navigator. Hard to predict, so just accept the fact that not everyone will necessarily be there to see all the characters...might even be times when the two older ones want to see different characters who are out at the same time....divide and conquer!

Pirate night can be a lot of fun, so let the kids (and yourselves) dress up. If you don't want to do an excursion that day, this event is something to look forward to, so that nobody feels like you're missing out on other fun on that day.

Our kids also loved karaoke (participating and listening), drawing/animation classes and Disney trivia. These sorts of things are going on seemingly all the time in one place or another, so watch the Navigator and plan accordingly. Rarely are these so crowded that you can't just show up a couple of minutes before it starts and find a seat.

One specific option with the kids clubs that ours loved is Pluto's Pajama Party -- each kid gets a pillowcase (with a picture of Pluto to color in), so watch for that in the Navigator, too, and they'll get this cool (and free!) souvenir. Similarly, you can drop off pillowcases or other signable items at the front desk early in the cruise (with sharpies) and lots of the characters will sign them. Usually, the signed item(s) will show up in your room later in the cruise.
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Old 12-27-2012, 04:34 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kimosabe

Pirate night can be a lot of fun, so let the kids (and yourselves) dress up. If you don't want to do an excursion that day, this event is something to look forward to, so that nobody feels like you're missing out on other fun on that day.
I can't believe I forgot about Pirate Night! It's right up there as one of my DD's favorites. We surprised the kids with a Halloween cruise and once the surprise wore off, (and after she made sure I brought all of the components of her astronaut costume--yes, honey! I brought it ALL!) she started asking about the pirate gear. Did you bring the sword?...yes...the eye patch?...yes...the hook for my hand?...yes...the bandana...yes...the earring?...yes! Wow, mom, you really did think of it all! Why yes, yes, I did. (Thank goodness for mom's List!)
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Old 12-28-2012, 12:18 AM   #11
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My 9 year old DD will tell your dds to not miss the "Midship Detective Agency" multiple times, to do all 3 mysteries. She absolutely LOVES it!
She also has a blast in the clubs, but it took her a couple of cruises to feel completely comfortable there by herself.
On our Fantasy cruise last June, she participated in the "Pluto's PJ Party" and got the pillowcase, as well as "Get the Hook" on pirate day and got a string backpack.
We bring baggies of candy to give the CMs in the kids' clubs, as they are non-tipped positions. It is always a HUGE hit!
Also, a super fun thing for the kids is door decorations...your door is magnetic, so bring some fun things to decorate the door...it makes it fun and also easily identifiable to your kids!
Also, I'm not sure how far out your cruise is, but the Fish Extender is also fun for kids.
Good luck and have a blast! The Fantasy is my dd's favorite ship (she's been on Magic, Dream, & Fantasy).
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