We just got back a few days ago from our first ever Disney Halloween Cruise. We went on a 4 night cruise on the Disney Dream. We ported in Nassau & Disney’s private island – Castaway Cay. If you decide to just skim this blog post, what you should really know is that I 10/10 recommend this cruise!
One thing that I HIGHLY recommend is to fly down the day before! We did this, and I’m so glad we did, because I almost missed my flight. Ugggh… If you know me, you know that “attention to detail” and “time management” are not my strong points. Insert face palm emoji.
After we went through security at the airport, I realized that I had forgotten my passport at home (we live an hour away from the airport). By some miracle, my Nana was able to save the day! She brought me my passport, the stars aligned, and I was able to make the flight with my family! But for reasons like this – I highly recommend giving yourself that extra 24 hour travel window, because anything can happen!
We went on this cruise with my husband’s family – my brother-in-law, my sister-in-law, their two kids, and my father-in-law. All the adults agreed not to tell the kids where we were going. For one, they have no concept of time and we knew that if they knew they’d be asking us every day (for months) when we were leaving! Ha!
We literally blindfolded the kids when we got on the shuttle to take us to the port from the hotel. They were very suspicious that we were going to Disney World, but none of them guessed that we were going on a cruise!
The kids were SO excited, but I think the adults were the most excited!
I have so many “favorites” that are unique to the Disney Cruise. Here are a few:
The Cruise Entertainment – It was so, so, SO good. There are a couple of show times in the amazingly beautiful theater on the ship. The shows were comparable to a Broadway play that you would pay hundreds of dollars to see in New York City or at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta. We made sure to attend the shows every evening. My favorite was Beauty and the Beast!
Free Ice Cream 24/7 – My kids lived for this. They got ice cream pretty much every time we passed by the soft serve machine. Sometimes we even let them get two cones, because, well, it’s vacation and YOLO.
The Food – One of the best parts about cruising is that ALL of your food is included! Every morning we ate breakfast on the 12th deck of the ship. There are several restaurants that serve breakfast on the ship, but we preferred the buffet style. The breakfast buffet was easily my favorite meal of the day, because of the variety and ease. Everyone in my family was able to choose something they loved. Also, every morning we sat on the deck and enjoyed ocean views. That’s definitely not something you get to do every day!
The evening dining was unlike any other dining experience I’ve had. We were put on a dining rotation where we ate at a different restaurant every single night, but the coolest thing is that we had the same waitstaff every night. We absolutely loved our waiter, Allen. He was so awesome. He somehow knew all of us and greeted us by our names on the very first night. Disney’s hospitality is like none other. At the end of every meal he would do magic shows for the kids and even would encourage them to take a few more bites before getting their dessert. The dinner menu had appetizers, soups, salads, entrees and desserts, and everything was included! We loved getting to order all the courses and trying all the different foods. The food was really good, but the hospitality and service is what made it top notch. If one of us didn’t really care for the entree we chose, Allen would say, “I see you didn’t eat much of this. I would love to get you something else to enjoy.” Every restaurant was so unique and so beautiful! For our party of nine, these dinners would have easily been several hundred dollars, so the all inclusive food is just another perk of cruising!
One thing I wished that I had done prior to the cruise is select an earlier dining time. There are two times available: 6:00 & 8:15. They gave us our dining time several weeks before we departed. If we had wanted to change it, we would have had to log on immediately. I learned the hard way that slots fill up really fast, when I tried to change my reservation a few days after it was assigned. It was a little challenging keeping my three year old awake for the duration of the meal since that is way past his bedtime! But it was vacation, so we all adjusted accordingly and it ended up working out okay.
Kids Club – The kid’s club on the Disney ship was out of this world! They had an open house the first afternoon so that the parents can explore it with the kids, and this definitely put me at ease about leaving them. My kids couldn’t wait to go back! We utilized the kid’s club for at least an hour or two every day of the cruise. The adults got adult time, with zero guilt about leaving the kids, because they were having an absolutely amazing time.
Disney Movies – We watched several movies on this vacation! In our cabin, the TV had an On Demand channel with hundreds of Disney movies! Also, on the pool deck there was a huge screen you could see from anywhere, playing movies all day long. In addition, there was a really cool movie theater on board! It was so fun to have the opportunity to watch some classics from my childhood with my kiddos.
Turn Down Service – I loved that our room was cleaned in the morning, and then at night when we were at dinner they would come back to our room again. They would set up the bunk beds, tidy the room, fluff the pillows, and leave little pieces of chocolate. How can I get one of these at home?!
Excursions or Stay on Ship? – We decided to forego the excursions, and stay on the ship instead. This turned out to be a great option, because it meant that everything on the ship was way less crowded. The kids got to go on the water slide over and over again with very minimal wait in line time! We all agreed it was a great decision.
Castaway Cay – If you’ve ever been on a Disney cruise, you know all about Castaway Cay! Castaway Cay is a small island that Disney owns in the Bahamas. We did get off the ship that day, and we enjoyed several hours on the beach. The water was crystal blue, the weather was perfect, and it turned out to be a wonderful afternoon! Here are a few pictures from my most favorite day of the trip:
Halloween – One thing that we all LOVED about the Halloween Disney Cruise was the Halloween theme! The second night of the cruise was a costume night and pretty much everyone of all ages was dressed up! It was so fun seeing everyone’s creative costumes.
A’hoy, Matey! – Pirate Night – One night was deemed Pirate Night! It was such a blast! I almost didn’t dress up, but my sister-in-law bought Josh and I costumes the night before we left. I’m so glad she did, because I would have felt totally out of place if I hadn’t dressed up. I could hardly find a single person on the whole ship that wasn’t dressed up for pirate night! Everyone in our party was dressed to the nines and it was so incredibly fun!
Other tips – Bring plenty of casual clothes! I definitely over packed and brought so many dresses and heels that I didn’t even wear. The majority of the time (if I wasn’t in my swimsuit and coverup) I was wearing jean shorts and a cute tee. At night when the cruise is rocking, you definitely don’t want to wear heels or wedges. I attempted this the first night and could barely walk! After that I wore flats the rest of the trip.
Also, when we got on the ship, our luggage wasn’t delivered for a couple of hours. I had read online that it’s smart to pack a small carry on with swimsuits and sunscreen in case you don’t receive your luggage for several hours. The kids and I actually wore our swimsuits under our clothes for an easy change and went straight to the pool.
Take Aways – This trip was possibly my most favorite family vacation to date! It was magical, the perfect amount of time… Also, did I mention that I turned my phone on for only about 25 minutes total for an entire week?! It was such good, quality family time that we desperately needed!
No matter where you are in life, whether or not you can afford a vacation, take the time to make memories with your family! If you take some ideas from my Fall Bucket List, make a special recipe with your kids, or just go outside with them…we all need to be reminded that family time can be fleeting, and we should be compelled to grab every moment we can! So girl, go grab your moment!
PS – I would love to hear from you! If you have any questions, please ask them in the comments!