My family and I recently returned home from a 5 day 4 night cruise aboard The Disney Wonder cruise ship. It recently went through an extensive dry dock where many upgrades were added and I wanted to check them out! I thought it might be helpful to share with you how it went and the tips I picked up along the way. I will break up this blog into multiple posts to cover different portions of our trip. Today I’ll talk about the first part of our travel day. Let’s get started. 🙂
Our cruise was on The Disney Wonder that left out of Port Canaveral, Florida on Sunday March 19th. The Bahamian itinerary was a stop at Castaway Cay (Disney’s private island), a day at sea, and a stop at Nassau. My travel party for this trip was my mother and my two boys ages 5 and 8.
Tips For Before Your Cruise
- If this is your first Disney cruise then you can check-in online 75 days prior to sailing. I highly recommend doing this as soon as you can. This is where you can choose your port arrival time. In my opinion, you want to choose the earliest time slot available. The sooner you can get on the boat the better! These time slots go fast!
- If you are wanting to book meals at Palo or Remy (Disney Cruise Line’s adult only restaurants), you need to sign up for these ASAP. They are very popular and also go fast.
- Download the Disney Cruise Line app for your phone
- Most Disney Cruise sailings have a Facebook page. These are not run by Disney but by your fellow cruisers. For our cruise the Facebook page was called “Disney Wonder March 19, 2017”. Do a search and start making friends! This is also where you can join a Fish Extender group (more on this later).
- Request a free Disney Cruise Line DVD for your family to watch…gets everyone super excited!
- The best advice….Let me help you 🙂 Fill out the form on the right (or scroll to the bottom of this page if you are on your phone) and I can start helping you find the right Disney cruise for your family and budget. I’m here to answer questions, make recommendations, and even book all of those difficult excursions and dining reservations. The best part is my services are 100% free!!! °o°
Saturday March 18th (part 1)
Vacation day was finally here! My boys and I had a count-down going for months so we were super excited when we got up that morning. Everyone had showered the night before and I had our traveling clothes laid out for the morning. We had a quick breakfast and headed out (making a quick detour through Starbucks for mommy).
We got to the airport by 9am for our 10:30am flight. Because I’m a serial over-packer, we had 4 pieces of checked luggage and each of us was responsible for our own backpack as a carry-on. We did not have our luggage cruise tags on our suitcases because we were flying in to Orlando the day before the cruise and staying the night at the Orlando Airport Hyatt Regency hotel. It was a little stressful maneuvering through the airport with 2 little guys and 4 rolling pieces of luggage but we made it 🙂
Previously I had invested in TSA Pre-check for myself. I have found it extremely helpful getting in and out of busier airports like Atlanta and Orlando. The great thing about TSA Precheck is that children 12 and younger can use the TSA Precheck lane if they are traveling with a parent or guardian with the TSA Precheck indicator on their boarding pass. No need to take off shoes or remove anything from my bag. My boys and I sailed through security. Lining up in the TSA line until we were done with security took us about 6 minutes. Awesome!
I had points with Southwest and booked a non-stop flight to Orlando from Kansas City (I’ve previously written about how to fly for free on Southwest). We decided not to pay for their Early Bird check in. I logged on the day before at exactly 24 hours before the flight but I only got the B group. I didn’t get upset because I knew we could still take advantage of Southwest’s Family Boarding process.
Family boarding for Southwest happens after everyone from the A group has boarded but before the B group gets on. This doesn’t guarantee a family to sit together though. On a direct flight to Orlando, families with small children basically make up half the plane. On our flight all the families with small children were bunched around the check-in desk while the A group was boarding. It was a little stressful because everyone needed to have seats together for their families.
The next time I do this I will just bite the bullet and purchase Early Bird Check-in so I have a better shot at the A group. I did purchase it for our return flight home since I was going to be on the cruise ship 24 hours before our flight and wouldn’t be able to check-in online. Long story short, I was able to get three seats with my kiddos but it was a stressful way to start the journey when you’re surrounded by other parents giving each other the stink-eye for trying to cut in front of their family 🙂
First tip! I recommend bringing empty water/sports bottles for your kids. Once your through security you can fill them up at a water fountain. This way you’re not having to buy drinks while waiting for your flight. One side note though, if you have them on the plane with you, make sure that they are slightly open during take off and landing. The cabin pressure can cause havoc. The little girl in the seat across the aisle from us re-opened her bottle after we had reached cruising altitude and she not only soaked herself but the water shot the people in the seats behind her, soaking them as well.
Helpful Things To Include In Your Carry-On
- lightweight jackets
- large Ziploc bag to keep your kids trash together (your flight attendant will love you)
- EarPlanes for Kids if your children have ear problems with cabin pressure
- Important Medicine
- Cruise Documents
Our flight was during lunch time so once we were in our seats I started passing out food. I packed a few of those Uncrustables frozen PB&J sandwiches, chips, apples and fruit snacks. All of which were fine getting through security at the airport. The kids still had their water bottles and the flight attendant brought apple juice for them later.
I brought our Amazon Fire Tablets for the boys. I made sure to bring some fold-able headphones as well. I especially like these as they are volume limiting for little ears and they can be connected together. So if we have a movie playing on one of their tablets, one set of earphones is connected to the tablet and the second set of headphones can connect into the first set of headphones. Keeps fighting to a minimum!
Another tip, if you subscribe to Netflix, you can now download select TV shows and movies to watch without an Internet connection from the Netflix app on your Apple iOS or Android mobile devices. We had previously downloaded the Minions movie for the boys to watch while we were on the plane.
Southwest offers complimentary TV channels and a live flight tracker on their in-flight wifi. This was nice for my boys to look at when they kept asking me “How much Longer?”.
My next post I’ll discuss our adventure in the Orlando Airport and our stay at the Hyatt Regency!
Want more help planning your trip? As an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, I am here to answer all of your questions and make personalized recommendations for your family. I put together customized itineraries, book your advanced dining and FastPass+ reservations, monitor for discounts for your vacation and much much more! And did I mention my services are always free? Contact me today for a free quote for your next Disney Vacation!