Travel Journal #7: Our Very First Disney Cruise!

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I still remember when Disney first revealed their cruise ships, and all I wanted to do was go on a Disney Cruise! Finally, over Spring Break of 2022, after delays because of the pandemic, and lots of hand wringing about whether we would actually be able to get on the ship, we went on our very first Disney Cruise! And we had a BLAST!

To be honest, I thought this might be a one and done kind of thing. While my husband was excited about going on the cruise, he also looked at that amount of money and thought of the European vacation we could be taking (and so did I a little bit). But it was something we wanted to experience, and by the time we got off the ship, we had already put down the deposit to do another one in the future. Because THAT is how much fun we had. (And because they offer a discount if you put down a refundable deposit while you are still on the ship.)

So, if you’re looking to go on your very first Disney Cruise, here’s a day by day recap of how our 5 night Bahamian cruise out of Miami on the Disney Magic went!

Day One: Embarkation

Day one started around lunchtime, when we got to board the boat! We signed up for the earliest time slot for port arrival we could so we could maximize the time we spent on the boat. We checked in, did our COVID tests, then waited for the all clear to board!

One we got on the ship, we were directed straight to Fathoms to get connected to the ship’s WiFi. (The Wifi always works with the Disney Cruise app, but you have to pay for extra if you want to use it for other purposes. Also, the app changes drastically once you are connected on board, showing you all kinds of plans and things to do.)

We decided to get lunch at one of the sit down restaurants, but I guess Lumiere’s was already full because we were directed to Rapunzel’s Royal Table. The lunch food was fine. I got the prime rib which was okay, but Gerrit really enjoyed is muffuletta.

After that it was time to explore the ship! We checked out the Oceaneer’s Club, walked through the upper decks, and then finally went to see if we could get into our room.

Of course, the first thing the kids (we were traveling with our kiddo + nephews and their parents) wanted to do was head to the pool, so we changed into swimsuits. Unfortunately, it was a bit rainy and cold in Miami, so it didn’t last long. Plus, we wanted to get all changed so we could see the ship leave port. Once it did, we stayed up top, even for awhile in the rain, to watch us sailing out of Miami.

For dinner on the first night, we were scheduled for Lumiere’s. I could be wrong, but I think most of the restaurants have the same menu for the first night (at least on this cruise), and I got the pork tenderloin wellington which was amazing!

Our evening entertainment was Tangled the Musical, which we really enjoyed. Then it was time to get some rest!

Day Two: Castaway Cay

We are early risers, so we were up before we docked in Castaway Cay and watched as we came into port. Unfortunately, I wasn’t feeling so great this morning, so I took some medicine for my stomach and went back to bed. Fortunately, but the time I woke back up, I felt much better and it was time to head to Castaway Cay!

It was a bit cloudy in the morning, but around lunch the skies cleared and we had great weather. We hung out at the beach, let the kids play in both the water playground in the first area of the beach and go down the slides. My sister-in-law and I rode bikes. We ate lunch. Gerrit and I went snorkeling. And we just generally enjoyed the relaxed vibe of the island.

The really is something special about Castaway Cay! And luckily, we knew when we left we would get to come back, because this was a double dip cruise!

After getting showered and cleaned up, we had dinner at Lumiere’s again. I had the lamb, which was great! Plus the potatoes that went with them…so rich and amazing. Oh! And the breaded brie! Really, the whole meal was fantastic.

Since we had had two pretty busy days already (and we knew fireworks would be happening the next night), we decided to call it an early night and head to bed.

Day Three: At Sea

So I don’t think any of us expected this, but our day at sea was one of our favorite days of our cruise.

It started out pretty early, and I decided to try out the yoga on the ship. Unfortunately, it was a kind of weird experience. I figured *someone* on this ship of over a thousand people would also want to do sunrise yoga in the Bahamas. But alas, it was just me and the instructor for an awkward 25 minutes of yoga. The good thing about this though, was that afterward I walked around the ship and it was mostly completely empty, which was a fun experience!

The day definitely improved from there though. We had breakfast at Lumiere’s, where I had some fantastic French toast, and then we spent the morning just having fun on the ship! We did an animation class, a theme park trivia, Disney tunes trivia (our favorite), and saw characters around the ship!

Doing all this in the morning ended up being a good call, because a lot of people headed to the pool in the morning. But by the afternoon, the pool had thinned out a bit so we enjoyed the slides and the sun. I also went on the Aquadunk, which the slide where the floor falls out from underneath you. And while Gerrit thought it was a blast, I have experienced it once and don’t need to do it again! Definitely sticking to the tamer slides from now on. (The kids went on the “yellow slide” — the Twist n’ Spout — about a gazillion times.)

Our day at sea was Pirate Night, and we had dinner in Animator’s Palate. While we weren’t prepared for a Pirate Night (this being our first cruise and all), they had Mickey Mouse Pirates of the Caribbean bandannas at everyone’s place to get everyone in the spirit. Again, the food was good tonight, but the flavors were definitely more tropical, with some of the options being spicy, so it wasn’t really my jam as much as French night at Lumiere’s.

But Pirate Night also meant that characters were out in their pirate costumes, which was really fun to see! (By the way, characters are just out in the atrium ALL THE TIME. So don’t stress about needing to see them at certain times. You truly cannot miss them because they are just out and about so often.)

This was also fireworks night, so we got to hang out on the upper decks and watch fireworks at sea. And truly, Disney fireworks will probably never fail to make me cry.

After the fireworks, we went to a comedy magic show, which truly had us laughing until we cried and our kiddo LOVED it. But then it was time for bed, because we had been going hard all day!

Day Four: Castaway Cay

Another cruise day, another day in Castaway Cay! Double dip cruises (that go to Castaway Cay twice) are highly coveted, and we were so lucky to end up on this one. It wasn’t even supposed to be a double dip cruise at first, but at some point the itinerary changed and instead of a stop in Key West we got a second day on Castaway Cay.

Today was all about enjoying the beach, plus exploring some of the things we hadn’t before, like letting the kids go to Scuttle’s Cove, walking around some other areas of the island, and doing some shopping. Plus we rode bikes and snorkeled again!

For dinner we had Animator’s Palate again, but Gerrit and I missed most of it because we had reservations Palo, which is an adults only dining experience. And it was FANTASTIC. I still think about the macaroni and cheese they had, and Gerrit had the Dover Sole which was perhaps the best fish either of us has ever tasted in our lives. I’m glad we got to experience this, but at the same time I was a little sad we missed Animator’s Palate night.

For the evening entertainment, we had Disney Dreams – An Enchanted Classic, which, to be honest, wasn’t really our favorite show. I know it is a cruise classic though and people love it. But now that we’ve seen it, we’ll probably skip that show next time.

Day Five: Nassau, Bahamas

Our last full day of cruising was a stop in Nassau. Once again, we were up before we reached port, and watched us dock next to all the other cruise ships.

After breakfast at Cabana’s (three words: Mickey Churro Waffles) we went to find some characters, because there were a bunch out! Our plan for today was mostly to have some fun on the ship, and just get off the ship for a bit. And this was a really great way to go. SO many people get off for shore excursions that the ship felt mostly empty all day.

In the morning, Gerrit and I also had a couple’s massage booked. Unfortunately, this was the only truly negative experience of our cruise. I don’t want to dwell too much on the negative here, but we were not impressed with the massages, the room was tiny, the price was twice as much as what it had said when I signed us up, and we could not get out of that spa fast enough.

Ok, wait, I have to dwell on the negative just a bit more because after our massages and eating some lunch on the pool deck, we went into Nassau for just a bit. And it was not my favorite experience. Our main goal was to see the Queen’s Staircase, which is a historic site in Nassau that you can walk to from port.

But the crowds from the other cruise ships + the heat + a whiney child made me regret a bit that we had gotten off the ship in the first place. While the Queen’s Staircase was cool, I think the next time we stop at a cruise port we will book an excursion if we want to get off the boat. Normally I am all about adventuring on my own, but this was not the place to do it for me!

Once we got back to the ship, showered off all the sweat, and ordered some room service Mickey Premium Bars, it was time for our last dinner, which was at Rapunzel’s Royal Table. I really think that they try to balance out the tables and their positions on the cruise, because while our table at Animator’s Palate wasn’t great, we had the BEST table at Rapunzel’s: right next to the stage!

Once again the dinner was great: I had the pesto pasta with scallops, which our server recommended and it was fantastic. (Pro-tip: always go with what your server recommends to you at each restaurant if you can! They truly know the best dishes.)

Unfortunately, after dinner and seeing a few more characters, it was time to head back to our stateroom and pack up. After our kiddo went to bed, Gerrit and I stood out on balcony for awhile just watching us pass by other boats and watching the water, trying to soak in the last real minutes of our cruise.

Day Six: Disembarkation

By the time we woke up the next morning, we were already in Miami, and Gerrit had already discovered that our flights out had been cancelled. Cue a dramatic morning on the phone where a Delta representative tried to find us a flight that would get us home that day, which resulted in us renting a car and driving four hours to Daytona Beach for the only flight in Florida she could get us on.

We had breakfast at Rapunzel’s, which was fine, although you can tell this last breakfast isn’t exactly the meal they are putting the most effort into (my French toast definitely wasn’t as good as it was earlier in the week). I’m sure they are already thinking about turning the ship over in a matter of hours for the next group of cruises. Then it was time to wait for our luggage tags to be called and to disembark and head home.

It was truly such an amazing trip that we didn’t expect to love as much as we did. I mean, we knew we’d have fun. But we had no idea it might spur us on to become *those* cruise people, which considering we’re already planning our next Disney Cruise, looks like it might be happening!