Last week, we sailed the ocean blues aboard the magnificent new Disney Fantasty cruise ship, embarking out of nearby Port Canaveral on a Western Caribbean itenirary to Grand Cayman, Costa Maya, Cozumel and Castaway Cay.
Having lived near the port for many years, I’ve actually taken many cruises over the years. I think this is somewhere around number 15 for me. And it’s our second Disney cruise.
So it may surprise you to learn that I’m actually not a huge fan of Disney OR cruises.
I’m not a fan of fine dining and the service that comes along with a cruise – actually, it makes me quite uncomfortable. I’m much more of a casual ‘eat like the locals’ gal when traveling somewhere – I love independently owned hole in the wall eateries and not worrying about which fork I’m using.
Visiting a port and doing shore excursions rarely gives you even a taste of the local culture and lands. A short visit to a tourist-enhanced shopping bubble with a ocean view is not the same as really immersing yourself with an extended stay.
Traveling in a huge floating hotel on water is nowhere near the same as sailing the open waters.
Sharing your vacation with 3500+ people all trapped on the same boat? Yeah, not my cup of tea either.
So why have I cruised so much? Any why Disney?
Because it’s easy with little logistics to have to manage. Perfect for us planner types who need a break from that.
Because it’s an affordable all-inclusive vacation experience if you find the right deals, especially if you are by the port anyway.
And it’s a great experience to share with a group of friends and relatives with divergent interests and activity levels. You can all do your own thing, and still be together.
And this time was a bit of a celebration. Six years ago, right after Chris and I met, we joined my dear friends Sterling & Melissa on a Disney cruise as our third date.
While we absolutely love Pixar and some of the high quality animation that comes out of Disney, we’re really not “into” Disney like some folks are. (You know the ones – who go to the theme parks every single year regardless, and have a pair of Mickey ears tucked in their closet.)
But you see, Melissa works for Disney and gets access to some incredible cast member rates. And Disney cruises are amongst the best out there, even if you don’t like Disney. And while their cruises do cater to families, they do an incredible job of providing plenty of adult-only areas and activities – while keeping the kiddos very happily entertained.
(Happy kids are so much more pleasant to be around than bored ones restless on a boat – even if they are hyped on unlimited soft serve ice cream.)
So when our friends called back in September inviting us to join them on the recently launched megaship Disney Fantasy – we just couldn’t say no. Sure, we had lots going on with family and business stuff. But it had been way too long since we had anything resembling a vacation.
Probably that cruise six years ago, actually.
The cruise turned out to be perfect, and just what we needed. With the cruise date set and other business transition stuff lining up, we planned my father’s retirement to be right after we got back from the cruise.
A perfect vacation for us after months of logistical hoops and planning.
And gulp – that means as of today, I officially have taken over the business.
The entertainment on board is Broadway quality live musicals, first run Disney flicks (we saw Wreck It Ralph, Brave and Frakenweenie onboard, in 3D – for free), on demand in cabin Disney movies, live music performances, dance clubs and more.
And while Disney does have the typical cruise semi-formal night, they also have PIRATE night! Which means… a perfect opportunity for putting the corset on.
We really did have a great time.
The most annoying thing was the ‘pay-by-the-minute’ internet access which was way too painfully reminiscent of AOL days. I had forgotten how stressful it is to try to get your stuff done online while being metered by time, not megabytes. Managing megabytes, we are masters of – time, not so much.
I did manage to keep tabs on the business for just 44 minutes of time to the tune of $33 in access charges, for just utilizing 114 MB of data. Ouch. I had to keep reminding myself – I’m working from a cruise ship!
And we gotta admit, it was really nice to have a perfect reason to disconnect personally for the week.
Especially since I became a full time traveler who is constantly making travel arrangements – I think I appreciate the simplicity of logistics with a cruise even more than I ever have. Being able to take a break for a bit from planning meals, lodging, destinations and entertainment – all while still traveling, was fantastic.
And cruise cabins just don’t seem as small when they’re larger than your house.
Our waiter on this cruise said it best for me, as he was giving us pointers for visiting Disney’s private island – Castaway Cay. He remarked:
‘It’s fake, but it’s beautiful.’
Regardless of how fake most of a cruise is… the magical part is being at sea with dear friends.
It was good for my soul, and I’m ready for the new challenges in my life!