We had discussed taking a whole family vacation with my parents before my brother died, but he wanted to wait until he was feeling better, and, unfortunately, he never got any better. So, we put together this wonderful plan to take a Disney cruise with my mom and stepfather and then go to Disney World with my dad and stepmother. I was concerned a bit about the cruise, since Evan and I took one back in 2007 and I felt sea sick the entire time. After taking suggestions from friends, I tried Bonine for the cruise and WOW! What a miracle! One tiny pill a day and I had no sea sickness at all. I felt wonderful the whole time. And this is coming from a girl who can't sit in the backseat of a car. Amazing!
Evan, Marino and I flew to Orlando on Saturday. My poor mom and stepfather ended up driving to Orlando from New York because a huge storm was moving in and their flights were cancelled days in advance. They picked us up from the airport and we all headed to Cocoa Beach to spend the night (Cocoa Beach is directly south of Port Canaveral). Marino is very fun to travel with because he's easy and he's very enthusiastic.
After checking into our hotel, we headed over to Ron Jon's Surf Shop. Marino was pretty excited about all the surfboards!
After dinner, we headed back to the hotel to get some sleep. After a poolside breakfast, we went to the Cocoa Beach Pier. Evan and Grampa Ray were itching to fish, but we really didn't have enough time before we needed to board the ship. So we headed to the end of the pier and watched some people fishing and found some ingenious pelicans. Instead of fishing in the ocean, they would just stand next to people fishing on the pier, and immediately snatch any fish they caught.
Marino loved the pelicans and was trying to engage them in some entertainment. "Come here, birdies, welcome to the bird show."
This guy is trying to eat a fish someone else caught. It took him about 30 minutes to get it down his throat.
We boarded the Disney Dream around 3PM. The boarding experience was fine...there was some waiting involved, but nothing extreme. When you board the ship they announce your last name ("Announcing, The XX Family") in the atrium and some of the staff are there, clapping for you. Its a fun entrance to the ship. Our rooms were ready, so we went there to explore and then headed to the top deck for the sail away party with the characters.
I don't even know where to begin with how wonderful the cruise was. Everything about this cruise was amazing. Disney thinks of everything, and this cruise was a testament to their belief in customer service. When we arrived at dinner that evening, we met our servers. They already knew us, knew our allergies, and stayed with us the duration of the cruise. So while you rotate to different restaurants each evening, your servers go with you. And they, of course, are amazingly kind, funny, and great with kids.
Marino and I both have food allergies. I am allergic to gluten, dairy and shellfish. Marino is allergic to eggs, peanuts and sesame. Eggs is really the tricky one for us (especially in breakfast foods), but they took it very seriously. We could plan out our meals ahead of time, so we wouldn't be waiting when we arrived for our special foods. And believe me, they were awesome! They had gluten-free/egg-free bread, buns, dinner rolls, waffles, pancakes, cakes. I felt really protected there because anything that was fed to us was first run through the chef. At one point, they saw me feed Marino a bagel from a breakfast buffet and they took it from me and asked the chef (this may sound annoying, but I appreciate their concern...nothing like anaphylaxis to ruin a vacation). We also had the same housekeeper the whole time and she was a doll. At one point, we lost Marino's pillow pet and I saw her in the hallway and mentioned it to her. She immediately came to our room and said "there's only one place it could be" and found it in 10 seconds. I really can't compare the customer service on the ship to anything else. Everyone was amazing and kind and interesting and diverse and loved to laugh.
Here we are at Animator's Palate, where the screens come to life with Crush from "Finding Nemo" and talk to the kids.
Relaxing on our balcony before taking off. I loved having this balcony...you could always get fresh air and a breeze, and waking up in a new place each morning was wonderful.
Of course, everywhere there are little Disney touches, even with the ketchup!
Nigel from "Finding Nemo" - a lot like our real pelican friends from earlier in the day.
All over the ship were windows with seats inside.
Anytime we didn't want dessert on the ship, our servers would get sad. If you asked for nothing, you still got something!
After dinner, Marino was dying to go to the Kid's Club. I should have signed him up at the port, because the line to sign the kids up onboard was much longer, but we got it done. The system to keep your kids safe on the ship is amazing! They give the kids a waterproof GPS wristband, so they can pinpoint exactly where the kids are anytime. To pick them up, you have to scan your key card (which has your picture) and give them your password and the kids scan their wristbands to get in and out. Each room has 2 special cell phones that work on the ship and on Disney's private island, so if your kid is ready to leave, they will just call you (this did not happen with us...Marino never wanted to leave the Kid's Club!).
This is how we woke up each morning...sun shine, the ocean out our balcony door, being lazy in cozy beds.
Day 2 coming next!