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Old 09-13-2013, 09:16 AM   #1
clara77
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New, Overwhelmed, Nervous

Hi All!
We have a big family group including 3 infants, a 4 year old, a 5 year old a 7 year old a bunch of mid30s to 40 parents and...my parents (65). Long story short when we booked the cruise we knew my mom was not in the best health, but since that time she has gotten worse and we just want to make it the best trip possible for her. She has a degenerative terminal illness and this will likely be our last family trip all together. She is in a wheelchair (though she can walk short distances) now and has had a tracheotomy and therefore cannot really go in a pool or really the ocean. She has been planning this family cruise and it is sort of "her goal, or what she is looking forward to" which is important.

Anyhow, long story short I am totally overwhelmed trying to figure out what to do/what to plan ahead of time/where to go off the ship with infants.

My mom has a handicapped concierge room and I can book things ahead of time for her, but I'm not sure what to book.

We will be on the Fantasy in January and will not necessarily all stay together (my mom may not leave the ship on the islands unless we can find easy shorter excursions).

St. Thomas - thinking Sapphire Beach? Might be easier since I am reading there is shade? Cost? Should I just take a cab right from the pier or pay the inflated price from the ship?

St. Martin - ? no clue

Kids club - how much do kids generally go there? A ton, or just an hour or so a day - I know this can vary.

Nursery - Same, how do I know how much to book ahead of time?!

Handicap tips for my mom's room? Any tips or suggestions to make this trip great for her are so greatly appreciated!!! I have no idea what to ask for ahead of time as far as shower seats/ whether to rent the wheelchair down there or bring hers?

Castawawy Cay - ? is this a tender thing, I doubt my mom will be able to handle that and the lines etc.
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Old 09-13-2013, 10:36 AM   #2
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We haven't gone on our first cruise yet, so I don't have any advice on what you have asked, but I want to wish you all the best. Traveling with a Mom in such fragile health sounds completely overwhelming to me. Hopefully some others can weigh in with awesome tips for you!
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Old 09-13-2013, 10:37 AM   #3
trickiwoo
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Unfortunately I can't help you out too much since I've never traveled with kids or infants or been on an Eastern Caribbean cruise. But what I can tell you is that you do NOT tender at Castaway Cay! The ship docks right there on the island, and you just walk right off the ship and you're there!
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Old 09-13-2013, 10:40 AM   #4
BAIC03
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See my answers in red. So wonderful you can all go at the same time!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by clara77 View Post
Hi All!
We have a big family group including 3 infants, a 4 year old, a 5 year old a 7 year old a bunch of mid30s to 40 parents and...my parents (65). Long story short when we booked the cruise we knew my mom was not in the best health, but since that time she has gotten worse and we just want to make it the best trip possible for her. She has a degenerative terminal illness and this will likely be our last family trip all together. She is in a wheelchair (though she can walk short distances) now and has had a tracheotomy and therefore cannot really go in a pool or really the ocean. She has been planning this family cruise and it is sort of "her goal, or what she is looking forward to" which is important.

Anyhow, long story short I am totally overwhelmed trying to figure out what to do/what to plan ahead of time/where to go off the ship with infants. If it is an option you are ok with, you can use the ships' nursery. Babies as young as 12 weeks can be enrolled, it is $6 an hour for the first child, and a reduced rate for siblings, but not relatives. Strollers are first come, first served if you are not brining your own. A lot of the port you are visiting are shopping-centric, so you can plop them in the stoller and have fun! Even if you want to stay on the ship, there are so many places that you can have them explore, but the babies' water play area is a huge hit! They even have some events for little bitties, like Jack-Jacks' Diaper Dash in the atrium for crawlers. You can also request cribs, rails, diaper genies and bottle warmers if you need them in your stateroom.

My mom has a handicapped concierge room and I can book things ahead of time for her, but I'm not sure what to book. There are HA cabanas on Castaway Cay... private cabanas for your family to enjoy during the day on the island and stay out of the sun, but on the beach, and have drink close by. They are $499 for the day. You can also book Palo dining ahead of time, 18 and up Italian Restaurant, or Remy- which is one of the best meals I have EVER HAD! (also 18 and up).

We will be on the Fantasy in January and will not necessarily all stay together (my mom may not leave the ship on the islands unless we can find easy shorter excursions).

St. Thomas - thinking Sapphire Beach? Might be easier since I am reading there is shade? Cost? Should I just take a cab right from the pier or pay the inflated price from the ship? Personal opinion here, I pay the price from the ship b/c it guarantees I won't be left behind! The Website does a great job at exploring the shore excursions, or you can use a book like Passporters Guide

St. Martin - ? no clue

Kids club - how much do kids generally go there? A ton, or just an hour or so a day - I know this can vary. Most of the families I run into have children that never want to leave the club. Since it is free, I would register the kids, and let them try it. They even have an eat and play option, where they eat dinner in the main dining room and then the counselors take them to play in the club.

Nursery - Same, how do I know how much to book ahead of time?! You can book up to 18 hours ahead of time. I would recommend finding out if the parents want to go the spa, remy or palo, and then book their nursery times around that. We also get first seating... we reserve enough time for us to eat in the MDR, then take DD to the nursery after she eats her dinner so they can put her to sleep and DH and I can finish eating dinner. We also reserve a little time at CC so we can go to the adult beach, but it would work if you wanted to put them in the nursery while you go on an adult shore excursion. You can PRE-BOOK 18 hours, and then there are usually more available after you board. But definitely pre-book-- they have a limited number of counselors, and when they hit the mandated ratio, they cannot accept more children.

Handicap tips for my mom's room? Any tips or suggestions to make this trip great for her are so greatly appreciated!!! I have no idea what to ask for ahead of time as far as shower seats/ whether to rent the wheelchair down there or bring hers? The website has some information, but I would call Disney about this. Thier customer service is wonderful!

Castawawy Cay - ? is this a tender thing, I doubt my mom will be able to handle that and the lines etc. That is the beauty of Disney's island. They dredged the lagoon so they can pull right up to port. No tender required.
Feel Free to ask more questions. Hope this helps!
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Old 09-13-2013, 12:39 PM   #5
clara77
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Thanks guys! So, if I were to book her dinner at Palo (since she is concierge and we are not) would we be able to make the reservation for all of us 120 days out or just the people in her room?

Also - why don't I see the cabanas on the "port adventures" listed for castaway cay?

I will call the special services dept. and let them know of the trach. didn't think of that, thanks!

So can she book hours in the nursery 120 days out or do we wait for our window for that? will she have a different PAT since she is concierge?
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Old 09-13-2013, 12:48 PM   #6
BAIC03
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She can book activities for anyone listed in her stateroom. She can book Palo/Remy for as many people as she wants to.

There is a chance that all the cabanas are "gone" from the sailing you are on. Call DCL and ask if they have any of the Handicapped Accessible cabanas open. They sometimes set those aside those until after the cruise begins for people such as yourselves.

If the kiddos are in her room, she can book nursery, otherwise, the adults in the infants' staterooms will have to wait until thier window opens.

She will probably have a different PAT than the rest of you, but again, if you bring this up with DCL on the phone, they may let you all embark at the same time since it sounds like she cannot get around on her own. Your rooms may not be ready though!!
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Old 09-13-2013, 12:53 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clara77 View Post
Thanks guys! So, if I were to book her dinner at Palo (since she is concierge and we are not) would we be able to make the reservation for all of us 120 days out or just the people in her room?

Also - why don't I see the cabanas on the "port adventures" listed for castaway cay?

I will call the special services dept. and let them know of the trach. didn't think of that, thanks!

So can she book hours in the nursery 120 days out or do we wait for our window for that? will she have a different PAT since she is concierge?
If she is the only concierge cabin, she would only be able to book for those in her cabin, everyone else has to wait until their window and make sure they're paid in full.

You can contact the shoreside concierge about getting a cabana on CC, they would be able to make the reservation, they also have a HA cabana on the family beach that you may be able to reserve.

Some things you may want to do to make this a great trip for your mom, see if she wants to do a spa appointment with the girls from the group, pedicures would be fun and social, and if she's having mobility issues, a great pampering that she probably can't do herself.

There will be all sorts of activities you can do on board, you can check out the navigators linked at the top of the boards (under staterooms) for a sample, make sure there are highlighters around that you all can use to mark the navigators with your favorite activities.

She will be able to hang out on the Concierge sun deck, but only those in her cabin, so that probably isn't something that you'll want to do too much, but it would be a great escape for her if she's just looking to relax, no crowds and being waited on hand and foot!

As for excursions, your best resource may be the web. You can search for all sorts of HA activities on the islands, you don't have to book through Disney, and may be able to find something perfect for your group with some extra accomodations. You just want to make sure that you have plenty of buffer to be back on board.

I hope you guys have an awesome cruise, something she'll really treasure!

Forgot to add: since she's concierge, I would do formal night to the hilt, and ask the concierge do arrange a family picture with Micky and Minnie that night. Getting the whole group, in formal wear with copies for everyone would be one of my favorite souveniers.
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Old 09-14-2013, 10:19 PM   #8
lbgraves
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You can contact shoreside concierge at 150 days to reserve a cabana and make other requests for reservations to be finalized at 120 days. However, I haven't seen it noted that the cabanas are limited to 10 people each [including infants] and your group seems to be larger than that. I think the $499 price is for up to 6 people and it is $50 pp more for each additional person up to 10 total. If she has the cabana with some of the family members, they won't be able to join her at the cabana that day. That may be something else for you to consider since they are strict about not allowing extra people into the area.
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Old 09-15-2013, 08:02 AM   #9
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A couple of tips for traveling with a wheelchair. First I would recommend bringing hers if it is not too inconvenient. The ones they have are first come first served and you would not want to be without. (Or you can rent from a medical equipment supplier to make sure you have one when you board.) When we travel with my parents, we bring them because they are helpful even before boarding (through airports, the terminal, wherever we are staying the night before, etc.)

Second, pack your patience when it comes to moving around the ship. Elevators can be very difficult. There are people that are very helpful and there are those that have blinders on to only their needs. We have had many people jump in front of us to get on an elevator. We have had an equal number hold doors open for us or give us their spot. We try to head to wherever we are going a little in advance. (Right before dinner or the show elevators are very busy so we'll leave 1/2 hour in advance.) Walkways, especially near the cabins, are narrow. When the housekeeping crew are out with their carts, it can be slow going down hallways. Also don't have any extras hanging on the side of the chair if you can avoid it.

Do read the descriptions of the shore excursions carefully. Most will describe the mobility requirements. You can narrow it down quite quickly to those that would allow at least a collapsible chair and see if your mom has interest in those. That may make picking excursions for her or deciding to stay on the ship easier.
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Old 09-15-2013, 08:55 AM   #10
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Wheelchair vs.scooter

Hi, my mom had a stroke 2.5 years ago,she can walk with her quad cane,but we cover long distances with her wheelchair. Our last two trips to WDW we have rented a scooter... If she is in good enough health it opens up a world of possibilities... she can ride it to dinner, or to the theater,or to any of the family game shows and it allows her to conserve energy. She can also take it off the ship ride to the beach/cabana etc.or to the shopping areas in port... I would have her travel with her chair and have the scooter delivered to the ship... You may want to consider buying or doing a long term rental for one now... the ones at the grocery store or Costco are very similar in operation if she wants to try it out... without buying one ahead of time
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Old 09-15-2013, 12:19 PM   #11
lbgraves
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An elevator tip that worked with us using strollers is that we stuck to the aft & forward elevators since those aren't as crowded. Also, go in the direction opposite where you want to end up. After dinner on deck 3 there are crowds waiting to go up. We get on an elevator heading down. It only has 1-2 decks to go before it is going to turn around, and head back up. Usually it fills up on those decks and is full when the doors open on deck 3. Just smile until the doors close and be on your way. This works well on the pool deck as well. Go up 1-2 decks and then head down to where you want with lots of people still waiting to go down.
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Old 09-15-2013, 01:16 PM   #12
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You are an amazing daughter for helping your mother to accomplish her goal. best wishes. I am sure anything that you help her accomplish will be appreciated. Keep smiling - thru it all - keep
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Old 09-15-2013, 03:53 PM   #13
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What a wonderful way to be all together. I have not done any cruise yet, but would like to post some advice:

First practical: Get a medical file of you Mom. Hopefully you won't need it, but if something goes wrong during the cruise it is handy to have a proper description of her condition for the medical team on board. Also bring enough medication in the original containers.

Second:You opening post looks a little stressed. Remember that the keyword to a successful cruise is: RELAX!
The goal of your cruise is to have an enjoyable week with your loved ones. This is not the same as doing as much activities as possible. You will not have time and energy to do everything. Speak well with your mother what she would really like to do and add some nice things for everyone in your party. Do not over plan, this will lead to disappointment. Enjoy the things that will happen, but weren't planned, accept that something you plan might not happen. Have your party surprised with a character meet in the hallway and have some memorable pictures taken. This might me more valuable for a good memory than a potentially stressed port adventure.
So I'll repeat the most important word again: Relax!
And enjoy your cruise.
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Old 09-17-2013, 06:22 PM   #14
clara77
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Wow, thank you everyone for such kind words and all the suggestions. I AM stressed, but that has more to do with the fact that I have a newborn while planning all of this! Hahaha. I am still a little confused about a few things but we are getting there!

A few more if anyone feels like answering:

How can I tell which dinner rotation we would want? It is a 7 night cruise - is there a restaurant we would ideally want 3 times in particular? Or one that is best on pirate night (or is that just a deck party)? The animator restaurant seems great, is that the one we would want 3 times?

In the concierge lounge is there a "happy hour" where liquor drinks are complimentary? I know this is totally random but my dad was concierge on royal Caribbean a few years back and this was his favorite concierge perk believe it or not.
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Old 09-17-2013, 08:11 PM   #15
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Try not to worry about it too much. That's the nice thing about a cruise is you don't have to plan and there are still plenty of things to do, include relax! I am an avid pre-planner when it comes to WDW, but when on a cruise, I just let the chips fall where they lie. Enjoy your trip!
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