First time on Disney, first time with 18mo LO - questions and advice, please!

Discussion in 'Disney Cruise Line Forum' started by ZonaCruiser, May 23, 2013.

  1. ZonaCruiser

    ZonaCruiser Earning My Ears

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    Brand new to these boards, migrated here from Cruise Critic after discovering that all the conversation for DCL seems to be here and not there!

    My DW and I are experienced cruisers, having been on Carnival/HAL/RCCL in recent years, but are new to Disney. Decided to give it a try now that our DS Luke will be with us - he'll be 18 months when we cruise in October. Another reason we decided to take the plunge with DCL are the offers from Galveston on the Wonder - having a 7A for the three of us for $2,300 seemed like a deal that doesn't come around often. We're on the seven night Bahamas itinerary with Key West, CC, and Nassau - all places that none of us have ever been.

    I'm doing my best to search around through the boards to find answers, but we definitely have some specific questions that I'd love some help with, especially for those of you who have traveled with kids under 2.

    Other than the nursery and the splash zone, what good options will we find on the Wonder that will keep DS happy and entertained? He's a very spirited child who loves to be physically active and has a limited attention span even for kids his age. He's always on the go, but he also is a pretty happy go lucky kid who loves new places and checking out things he hasn't seen before, along with a love for being outside. Anyone out there with a child who has a similar personality, and what your experience was like?

    I'm the type who has no problem with the idea of leaving DS in the nursery for an hour or two a day, but not sure if DW is on the same page. DS tends to have quite a bit of separation anxiety and a fear of strangers, and I'm hoping this improves over the next few months as he gets a little older. Do the Wave phones really work everywhere on the ship, and can we rely on them if we leave him at the nursery and staff needs to get in touch with us? From what I've read so far, it sounds like almost everyone has had a positive experience with the nursery. Anything we should be aware of or concerned about?

    We live in Arizona, so there will be a two hour time change to Houston and a three hour change in the Bahamas. Right now, we're on late dining and waitlisted for main - I'm having a hard time deciding what would be best, since I don't know how DS will respond to the time change. Normally he eats dinner around 6 and is in bed at 8, so if he stays on that time main dining doesn't seem like a good idea. BUT, if his body doesn't adjust to the new time, maybe late dinner would be perfect for him?

    We're planning to take the Disney shuttles to/from IAH/Galveston, and I know we won't need his car seat for that. What about hotel shuttles the night before, or anything in port? I hate to lug his car seat everywhere just for one quick hotel shuttle ride.

    Palo brunch or Palo dinner? What kind of food is served for brunch?

    Any recent Wonder cruisers happen to remember what draft beer is on tap? I know different bars serve different things, and each ship has different beers. We're both beer snobs!

    How do kids our son's age seem to react to character appearances? He's freaked out with Santa and the Easter Bunny so far, but he'll be older by the cruise. And what does their tolerance seem to be for the live shows? He seems fascinated when singing/dancing is on our TV at home.

    Any preferred dinner rotation on Wonder, since we'll be in one of the restaurants three times? Which of the main restaurants open for breakfast/lunch? Does one of them serve a buffet while another has a menu to order from?

    Are DOTD's really only $3.95 if you buy the glass on the first day, and draft beer only around $4-5? Coming from Carnival, that seems like such a better price than what I've seen!

    What are the best adult activities on the cruise, if we're only going to end up using the nursery occasionally and for two hours at most?

    Right now we're a 7A guarantee - odds of being upgraded to a higher category? Any experience with upsells, which I've taken advantage of on other lines in the past?

    Finally, what items are really important to bring along for our DS that we might not think about?

    Thanks in advance to everyone for your help and knowledge! Glad to find this place and look forward to joining our cruise group here and learning more about DCL!
     
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  3. PrincessShmoo

    PrincessShmoo DIS Veteran

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    Yes, the wave phones work everywhere on the ship. That's how the clubs can reach you, if necessary. If you plan on using the nursery, it's a good idea to set up the max hours you can book ahead. You can add (or cancel) hours once onboard.

    My vote is for Palo brunch over dinner. I don't know if there's a specific menu listed any where, but here's some pictures I took at our brunch on the Wonder:
    [​IMG]
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    These are the buffet items. There is also a display of items you can order (chicken parmesan - my favorite; eggs benedict - different varieties; pizza - grape and gorgonzola!)

    Dining rotation - we've always just gone with what DCL has assigned us to. Everyone onboard will dine in the same MDRs, with the same menus, so you don't miss anything on any rotation. Lunch is available at Beach Blanket Buffet, as well as Triton's (sit down) and Parrot Cay (buffet). Breakfast is at BBB and Triton's.
     
  4. Meghatron

    Meghatron DIS Veteran

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    I would not request a rotation especially as it's your first time. We have found that DCL gives us the best match for table mates and serving team when not restricted to giving us a particular rotation. The place you're eating means nothing if your company and your service are not a good fit.
     
  5. ZonaCruiser

    ZonaCruiser Earning My Ears

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    Agreed - thanks! It sounds like DCL does a nice job pairing young families together, which is important since I'd hate for DS to ruin anyone's dinner, even though he's usually a pretty good eater who takes his time.
     
  6. zoom8942

    zoom8942 Mouseketeer

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    have cruised with a just turned 2yo son, and my DN when he was about the same age the wonder is a bit harder than on the newer ships. The splash zone is not very big, and he was constantly wanting in the pool. loved playing up on deck. We didnt use the nursery at all, but did take him and DN to the kids club to play.( as long as you stay with them they dont mind, and they had so much fun) dinners are long with little active ones. At that age they were scared of the characters up close, but absolutely loved the shows!!!! my SIL brought her own pack n play said they slept better. I brought my own stroller, but they do have some on board and at CC. also have wagons at CC. Great to pack the little one and all his gear. Sorry, cant help you out with beer or adult activities.
     
  7. emilyann415

    emilyann415 DIS Veteran

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    We travelled with our 10 month old. He was a bit challenging but we still managed to have an amazing time! One thing I thought I'd mention was the Babies Travel Lite option. You can preorder diapers, wipes, all kinds of things. When you enter your room there is a box there waiting for you with everything. It is wonderful and so nice to not have to pack all those diapers.

    Just something to think of. Our son was mesmerized with the shows each night. Loved the charecters...so we did a lot of that kind of thing. Just sitting on the balcony was a lot of fun for him.

    Have a GREAT time.
     
  8. Meghatron

    Meghatron DIS Veteran

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    There are also servers who are better with kids than others, and the dining managers who make rotation and table assignments know who they are. On our last cruise our assistant server was never "required" to interact with our infant son (baby didn't order drinks, etc.) but he would always take the extra moment when making his rounds to play with him a little. DS is just at the age that he can tell when he's being included or not, so that tiny bit of effort made a huge difference in our meal time atmosphere.

    A good family serving team will also pick up on kids' (and adults!) food palate yeses and nos right away and adjust/suggest for the rest of the cruise. Our head server picked up on how much my niece likes shrimp and had a plate of it automatically delivered to our table every night. When the kids asked to skip MDR dessert one night to go get cones on the pool deck, our main server not only sent someone up to get cones for ice cream in the dining room, he had cones ready for them every subsequent night if they wanted.

    We also had excellent service on our kid-less honeymoon at a table with other adults, but it was a very *different* kind of service.

    You will have a fantastic time. The nursery staff are pretty amazing (used them for both DD and DS in succession) and there's stuff like Wake Up With Disney Junior, Open House in the clubs, and the Splash Zone on the pool deck for little ones.
     
  9. cris0809

    cris0809 Might be why the rum is always gone

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    If you are beer snobs you probably won't be the happiest you've ever been. Typically the trend is toward light beer, and while we're two women we both prefer medium-to-dark choices.

    We just spent two weeks on the Wonder, got off the ship on Monday and the options I remember where Kona Longboard, Kona Big Wave, Stella, Bud Light. They also had a couple of bottles/cans. We were underwhelmed.
     
  10. TwinPrincessMermaids

    TwinPrincessMermaids DIS Veteran

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    They can be beer snobs and bring their own favorites?
     
  11. ZonaCruiser

    ZonaCruiser Earning My Ears

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    Not too worried, I'm used to cruise ships having a very limited beer selection. Just means we'll have to carry on some beer or get some while in Key West. I think the only cruise line with a really good beer selection is Celebrity, from what I've heard.
     
  12. ZonaCruiser

    ZonaCruiser Earning My Ears

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    What about bringing a small blowup pool near the Splash Zone? I know my DS will see the pool and want to get in. We were at a friend's house last week and he cried until we got his swimsuit on and took him in!
     
  13. PrincessShmoo

    PrincessShmoo DIS Veteran

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    Pools aren't allowed:

    Question
    What items are not permitted on board?
    Answer
    In order to maintain a safe and secure environment for our Guests and crew, the following are examples of items that Guests are not allowed to bring on board. These and other similar items will be confiscated upon being found.
    ┬ĽKites, balloons, surfboards, wave boards, inflatable floats/pools (including pool noodles), and wagons


    http://disneycruise.disney.go.com/faqs/prohibited-items/prohibited-items/
     
  14. cris0809

    cris0809 Might be why the rum is always gone

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    Sure they can. They were asking about onboard options. I gave them.

    We brought some hard cider onboard but it's not always practical for everyone since the rules are that you have to carry it on. Especially if you have a little one. Bring what you'll actually consume.
     
  15. tivo4me1

    tivo4me1 Earning My Ears

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    We traveled with our (then) 18-month old DD for 14 days on the Wonder this past December, and are booked on the 9/28 Wonder sailing to the Bahamas (so we might be on the ship with you!).

    A few things I'll add to the others' good advice about keeping the toddlers happy...

    Every morning, usually around 9:00-10:00 am, there was a "family" event that gave our daughter a chance to jump around, or dance, or do something that gave her an active start. I specifically remember a few "dance parties" with music from some of the Disney channel shows, etc. There weren't a lot of people at these events, but they were all attended by enthusiastic Disney cast members who made an effort to give the little ones something to enjoy. Just check your Navigator (daily list of activities) and the one for the little ones will be apparent.

    As for characters, it's hit or miss. My daughter took a few days to get used to the characters, ended up liking Minnie and Mickey just a bit, but broke out into wretched sobs every time we ran into Belle. Dunno...maybe she was jealous and wanted a piece of Beast..? ;) The best advice I would have is to try some of the planned character interactions (they're usually in the lobby on and off through the late afternoon through dinner time) and see how it goes. And don't forget to go to Guest Services as soon as you get on the ship to get your tickets for the Princess Tea (not sure what it's actually called), but it's a fun chance to get some character time. A nice thing about DCL vs. the parks is that the characters often will just be walking down the deck or the halls - and were always kind and attentive when bumping into our little one.

    I'll second the earlier poster who recommended Babies Travel Lite. Although the prices and shipping costs are a bit on the steep side, the ease of just walking onto the ship and having all of your diapers/wipes/snacks/formula, etc., waiting in your cabin is wonderful. Pay attention to what you ordered and what you receive, though...they did leave out some of the smaller items we'd purchased, and we needed to get a refund later.

    As for the nursery, our DD also had some separation anxiety, after having a successful drop-off the first time. The wave phones DO work throughout the ship, and if there's a problem, the Disney folks will call. Note that if your DS reacts to stressful situations by vomiting (as does our DD), they'll make you take him from the nursery and get the doctor to certify he's ok before they'll take him back.

    The splash zone will become your best friend on nice-weather days (and if you're on the 9/28 sailing, we'll be seeing you there!). Note that some afternoons, maybe from 2'ish to 4'ish, someone from the nursery may come to the Splash Zone with toys and water-y things for the youngins to play with...which the kids just loved.

    My DD loved the first few shows she saw - was absolutely fascinated and quiet the whole time - but by the sixth or seventh night, the novelty had worn off, and she was less cooperative and a bit more vocal during the show (and we beat a quick departure). All I can say is try...if your son doesn't get into the spirit (or gets TOO much into the spirit), you can always give him a breather in the small lobby outside the theater.

    Best of luck....you'll have a great time!

    Rich from California
     
  16. ZonaCruiser

    ZonaCruiser Earning My Ears

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    Thanks, Rich! Wonderful advice - unfortunately we're two weeks after your family on October 12th. Hope you have a wonderful trip! We'll definitely check out the morning dance parties, I'm sure DS will enjoy that.
     
  17. AZMermaid

    AZMermaid DIS Veteran

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    We are also from Arizona and getting ready to take our first cruise in July with our 17 month old and 2.75 year old. We have them signed up for the nursery a lot at dinner. We have 6 nights of dinners (one excursion goes long) so I reserved 2 nights 6:30-8:00 and 2 nights 5:30-8:00. I figured that gives us 2 meals all together (which honestly may shrink to one if the first night doesn't go well), 2 nights where we can get their dinner with our appetizers and then run them up to play and 2 nights of dinner without them. I feel like they would rather be playing in the nursery than stuck at a long dinner- but we have main seating. I also scheduled them for 2 hours during the day on Sea Days, including for Palo Brunch. This was mainly to have time booked. I might cancel or adjust the sea day times once on board.

    We are going to try 2 shows. Based on reviews here, we are going to try Golden Mickeys and Disney Dreams. My son (now 2.5) sounds a lot like yours- super high energy, never sits still, but sweet as can be and actually fairly obedient in more structured settings, like library class. My daughter is a lot more mellow, but hitting her toddler stride where she wants to be more independent.

    My son has been to Disneyland 3 times- at 9,13 and 26 months. He LOVED the characters the first two trips but at 2, took a bit to warm up to them. He has never had a real issue with Santa or the Easter Bunny, he may not be overjoyed, but likes them. My daughter mostly hated the characters at 10 months and really hated Santa and the Easter Bunny this year. So, you just never know I guess!
     
  18. Asnell

    Asnell Mouseketeer

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    When my son was 1 1/2, we went to DL and he surprised us by being in *love* with Mickey and Minnie (he was afraid of Santa, so we weren't sure what to expect).

    One of the memories that still tugs my heartstrings even though he's now a sullen 13-y-o... He spotted Minnie walking away toward the "disappearing door" one of our days at DL. He started running after her and calling something. When she didn't turn around, he started crying and kept calling. Minnie didn't hear, but her handler did, and guided her to turn around to where DS was still running to her. She knelt down and opened up her arms for him, and stayed there for several minutes letting him hug her and pat her face.

    You may be surprised by what your son chooses to like. Certain things can be really magical to them at that age. :)
     
  19. Fantasiesabound

    Fantasiesabound Mouseketeer

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    The open houses in the clubs are really great opportunities for you to let them run around and try new things and if you stay with them, you are welcome to go in and let them climb on the play areas during open play:

    [​IMG]

    We asked for a side table for dinners near the windows and my daughter, who was just learning to walk then, would go over to the side of the table to stand and move around. We also put two chairs together to allow her to sleep during dinner.

    I brought along a hip sling and this was a life saver to hold her all the time. I am not sure you can see it in this picture, but I had it with me all the time - it was a back saver big time:

    [​IMG]

    As you can see here, This is the only character photo we have from this cruise (we have tons more from more recent cruises, so don't worry, you will have future opportunities because you WILL be back), and the whole concept was not going over well with either of them:

    [​IMG]

    We used the nursery twice, the hours are actually really inconvenient to when we actually wanted to use it, which was during the day for nap time. We did use it for dinner one night and she loved it and slept there just fine. Bring a little cooler because they will want you to bring in the milk and whatever food you may need to provide and they require you bring it in a cooler bag.

    We really felt having a verandah was essential for being on board with a toddler. This way we could have her back in the room for nap time and we could sit outside and have a glass of wine or beer and everyone was happy. There really is no where quiet on board that we found that really did the trick for naps other than the cabin. Plus it's hot and being back in the room and cool was essential a lot of days for us.

    A lot of people say to bring a collapsible hamper, which is good idea, but I also bring collapsible little boxes to pick up toys around the cabin and put them in. We brought stacking cups, sand toys, little cars, lots of little stuff and it was great to have this in the cabin to contain it all. They fold flat into the luggage.

    I also made sure we had collapsible strollers and they fit right into the closets. We loved our Britax strollers.

    We had a car seat with us. We bought a car seat bag for it and stored it actually out on the verandah. It was totally fine.
     

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