November 8, 2007
My family and I sailed the Disney Wonder on 11/8 for a 3 night cruise stopping in Nassau and Castaway Cay. It was the occasion of my husband's 40th birthday. We have never been on a cruise, but it has been something my husband always wanted to do, so this birthday seemed to be a good time. We knew our son would be a bit young to really absorb the experience, but we also knew we would not feel out of place on a Disney cruise with a 2 year old child in tow.
We spent the night in Orlando at the Homewood Suites hotel on International Blvd. Very nice facility, clean, comfortable with a great breakfast. We drove to Port Canaveral (approx. 1 hour) and parked at the port. As we expected with everything Disney, the service was wonderful and the check-in was seamless. We were in our stateroom by 2:30 p.m. after arriving at the port at 1:45 p.m.
Our son proceeded to take a long overdue nap while we acquainted ourselves with the room (6578). Over the course of the course, we were just amazed at how soundproof the cabins are. We could not hear the folks on either side of us nor the folks above us. Occasionally, we would hear kids running in the hall outside. We did the mandatory evacuation drill at 4:00 p.m.(our son was not happy about being awakened for that!) and we attended the send off show on Deck 4.
We dined at Triton's, Animator's Palette and Parrot Cay. The food was fine, but nothing was exceptional. I would suggest that parents of young toddlers bring snacks (e.g. cut apple wedges, crackers, etc.) as the food delivery time is fine for adults who are relaxing and talking, but it is a bit long for a hungry toddler. Our servers were great; they were very patient with our son and after the first night, they began delivering his food even before the appetizers for the rest of the table arrived. They also remembered his preference for broccoli cooked really well and aversion to desserts. We were confused on the morning of disembarkation about when we were scheduled for breakfast, but we were accommodated very easily. Outside of the scheduled dining rooms, we loved the room service available as we would order wine with crackers, cheese and fruit every evening after our son went to sleep (around 9 p.m) and then we would sit on the verandah talking about our day and just things in general (what a luxury to have uninterrupted conversations when you have a toddler!). We also ordered our breakfast to be delivered every morning. Fruit plate, muffins, cereal and GREAT coffee! The delivery was always within the time we requested. Our stateroom steward kept the room spotless. I will admit I was a bit put off by the constant mention of gratuities, but these folks work hard and they really put great effort into it. I actually ended up tipping higher than the amounts recommended.
Nassau was OK. It is what it is and that is a port town with day trippers out to spend money. We walked around for about an hour and half and then went back to the boat for lunch and his nap. We spent the remaining afternoon in the Mickey wade pool, which he enjoyed, but not as much as he could have. The pool is supposed to be for toddlers only, but there were a lot of bigger kids (5-9 years old) who just couldn't seem to stay away from that area, even after the Disney life guard shooed them back to the pool for the bigger kids.
Castaway Cay is AWESOME and I wish the cruise had skipped Nassau and spent two nights at CC. We spent an hour at the Family Beach, which is rocking with kids, but there was still plenty of chairs and loungers. We snagged an area under a shady palm tree right off the bat; it came in handy later for our son's nap. After the beach, we rented bikes and took a self guided tour of the island; this was my best experience! Our son loved the bike ride and it felt great to get a bit of exercise in such beautiful surroundings. After the bike ride, we ate lunch at Cookie's BBQ. The lunch was excellent, much better than what we had on board. After lunch, we put our son in a hammock and he slept for 1.5 hours while swinging in the breeze under the shady palm tree. Meanwhile, my husband and I took advantage of the two for one drinks the local bar was offering. My only suggestion would be to offer more options for families with really young children; not everyone with a young child wants to send them off to a nursery just b/c it is vacation, although for some I am sure this is a very welcome respite. I would suggest a small library with board books and a sand box on board. On CC, I would suggest a jungle gym with bucket swings and a slide, again, for the toddlers. Another tip for toddler parents: bring your own plastic shovel and bucket, it is worth it.
As we normally had our son in bed by 9 p.m., we did not see many of the shows. However, we did stay up to watch the Disney Dreams show on the last night and it was top notch. As good as any we have seen in NYC. We also did not take our son to the Flounder's Reef Nursery.
Disembarkation was a complete breeze; 15 minutes from the time we walked off the boat to the time we got in our car. We were on the road by 9 a.m. We will definitely be doing this again and are looking forward to our son being of an age where he will enjoy it as much as we did!