Tuesday, March 06, 2012

12 Tips for Thriving on a Disney Cruise

A week back from Tuanapalooza 2012 on the Disney Wonder, I'm back to my normal weight and happy to say it was a wonderful time.  Here are my initial reflections on how to go cruisin':

The whole family minus my husband who
we missed very much
1.     Go for a family reunion.  Or friend reunion.  But go with someone other than your own immediate family.  Because unless you’re splurging on a concierge suite, the whole lot of you will be stuffed into a little tiny room and all the normal bickering that happens at home will just sound louder.  If you’re there with family/friends, you will see each other surprisingly often.  There were 20 of us and we bumped into each other at meals, at shows, or even just walking around the ship.  So much more fun to have adult conversation, kids playing with one another, older cousins watching younger ones, etc.
2.     Exercise every day.  This usually means waking on the early side.  I also resolved to only take the stairs—even forcing my almost 80-year-old father to walk with me.  As a result, I only gained 3 lbs--most of it from salt!  (My blood pressure did rise by 10-15 points on both numbers—saw my internist the day after the cruise!)
3.     Pace yourself on the food, only eat what’s absolutely delicious.  The chocolate lava cake one night and the wild mushroom risotto and chocolate souffl√© at Palo were completely worth the calories!
4.     Get Po-Po & Gong-Gong (or Grandma or Grandpa, or rich Uncle & Auntie) to book a concierge suite where the whole family can hang out.  My parents’ suite became our meeting point, resting point, hang-out place for kids
5.     Book at least one nice adult dinner at Palo, and one high tea as well.  My father said he wanted to go to high tea as often as possible so my sister booked 3 of them—way overkill.  We ended up cancelling the last one because we couldn’t stand the thought of eating more indulgent food as a 4th meal.
6.     Bring seasickness bands—those things work!  My sister-in-law, who literally gets seasick watching fish at the aquarium, didn’t feel sick at all.  My 2 queasy kids put them on and got immediately better.  I rode a tender on a bumpy windy day and didn’t feel a single twinge of nausea.
The bridesmaid dress 10 years ago
7.     Wear a gown or tux for formal night.  Even better, wear your bridesmaid’s dress from your sister’s wedding 10 years ago.  You look a little silly, but when else will you get to wear that dress again?
8.     Bring your own wine on board (along with a corkscrew).  You’re allowed to bring one glass down to dinner.  We thought we would all look cheesily cheap doing that, but hey, if you’re wearing a 10 year old bridesmaid dress, you look a little cheesy anyway.
9.     Give your kids a certain amount they can spend using their Disney key card, and then make them pay for anything over.  As in all things Disney, there are all sorts of opportunities to spend money, even though it’s an “all-inclusive.”  For grown-ups, there are fruity alcoholic beverages offered non-stop from the moment you board.  For kids, there are Buzz Lightyear lightup cups, popcorn, soda, trinkets and more.  Ren overspent his limit, but Kai didn’t spend a cent.
10.      Plan your daily schedule to some degree.  A next day’s event guide comes the night before, and it’s worth it to take the time to look over what movies are playing, what programs (family karaoke 2x!) are running, and to balance that with fun in the pool and rest.
11.     If you go in February, bring warm clothes!  While at sea, the temperature was in the 50s/60s.  I’ve heard from a frequent cruiser that it’s often that warm at sea even if it’s summer.
12.     Plan for extra expenditures:  Port Adventures in Mexico sponsored by Disney all cost between $35-100/person.  At the end of the cruise it’s customary to tip about $100/person for all the folks who wait on you (they’re truly great and underpaid).  Professional photographers will be snapping shots throughout the cruise, and even though I thought I wouldn’t buy any, I ended up with 10 8x11s!  

Most importantly, enjoy!


TTH :) said...

SUPER-practical + helpful... and so much fun! We're .thinking. of doing a cruise to Alaska in September... we'll see if we can swing it with our schedules :D Have a great conference this week, Kathy!!

Darrell said...

We went on the Disney Dream last year. We went Sept 2011. The weather was nice for us at Sea, although we went to Belize, Disney Cay. I think that was it. We went on a 3 day cruise out of Port Canaveral. The temperature was in the upper 70s at sea. I guess it depends on where you are sailing out of. We sailed two weeks ago out of Miami and the temp was always around 70-78 degrees.