We were excited to surprise Turner with his 2nd Disney cruise for Spring Break 2020. Although we booked this cruise in April 2019, we decided to keep it a secret from Turner (6 years old) until the morning of the cruise, just like we did last time! This was my 4th Disney Cruise, and Aaron’s 3rd.
Although our cruise departed from Miami, we decided to fly to western Florida a couple of days early, mainly to go to a Braves Spring Training game. We flew from Dallas to Fort Myers on Saturday, March 7th, and rented a car and drove to North Port to the game. It was a beautiful day and we really enjoyed getting to see the Braves play, as well as touring their new spring training facility. Turner even got to meet Blooper!
After the game, we drove across the entire state of Florida to spend the night in Miami. (We even spotted Woody and Buzz along the way…picture below!) We still had one more day before the cruise, so we spent it at the Miami Zoo. It was a bit windy/chilly at times, but we really enjoyed walking around and seeing all of the animals. After a quick dinner at Shake Shack (hello cheese fries), we went back to the hotel and packed our bags that night. Turner thought that we were packing to leave for the airport the next morning. Little did he know that we were getting packed up to board the ship!
On Monday morning, we all woke up, got breakfast, and then finished packing up our bags. We finally told Turner (via a phone call from Goofy) that he was going on a Disney cruise. He was so excited!! We Ubered to the cruise port and couldn’t wait to start our voyage.
Day 1 – Embarkation Day
We were in boarding group 4, which meant we were able to board the ship very early (around noon). While waiting in line at the cruise terminal, we received notification that due to a technical difficulty with the ship, our itinerary had been slightly altered, so we would be visiting Key West as our first port, followed by a day at sea (instead of vice-versa). Once we boarded the ship, Aaron went straight to the signature restaurant, Palo, to make sure our brunch reservations for the day at sea had transferred correctly, and Turner and I headed for the kids club to get him checked in. We were literally the first people in the kids club, and he was excited to get to check it out.
Changing things up from our usual routine of heading to the buffet for lunch, we opted for a sit-down meal at Lumiere’s. We explored the ship a bit more after lunch, and were excited to start running into characters like Ariel, Goofy, and Minnie almost immediately! We then made our way to our room to get settled. After the muster drill, we let Turner check out the pool deck and swim for a bit before the evening activities. On the first evening, Aaron and I saw the Broadway style show “Twice Charmed: An Original Twist on the Cinderella Story,” while Turner played in the kids club. We had dinner at Lumiere’s. Although dinner was excellent, Aaron and I both were feeling the effects of the ship’s movement, so after picking up Turner and sneaking in a quick picture with Donald, we called it an early night.
Day 2 – Key West, Florida
Aaron had booked an excursion to jet-ski in Key West, so I planned to venture off the ship with Turner and perhaps take a trolley tour around town so we could see all of the sights and learn about the town. Turner had other plans; however, and did not want to leave the ship! He loved playing in the kids club so much and insisted that we leave him there while we disembarked. I was REALLY hesitant to leave my 6 year old on a ship with no parents on board, but Aaron and I decided that he would be fine for a couple of hours while we explored. The weather at Key West was beautiful, and we enjoyed walking around town for a while in search of Key Lime pie. We ended up with 2 slices from Kermit’s – one “regular” and one frozen, dipped in chocolate. They were both delicious! Aaron made his way over for his jet ski excursion, and I took a trolley back to the ship. Once back on board, Turner and I spent the afternoon at the pool going down the slides and eating ice cream cones!
That evening, Aaron was pretty tired from the jet ski workout, so he and I watched the live “Tangled” musical on TV in the room while Turner played in the kids club again. We got out later and played a round of Bingo (and lost), then Turner joined us for dinner at Animator’s Palate. He was really excited to get a specialty drink with a cool straw in a fancy cup. Speaking of speciality drinks – Aaron and I stopped by the Cove Cafe onboard to get an afternoon latte, and the barista added some cool designs to the top of each of our drinks!
Day 3 – Marvel Day at Sea
This was such a great day!! We started out by waking up early to grab breakfast before getting in line to meet Captain America at 9 AM. Turner wore his costume and was super excited to meet his favorite Avenger. After that, the morning was spent bouncing around the ship to meet even more characters. Unfortunately, some of the lines were super-long, so we decided the best strategy was to “divide and conquer.” I waited in line for about an hour to hold our spot to meet Loki while Aaron and Turner were in line for a ticketed event to meet several other characters. The Disney Cruise app has a texting component, so Aaron and I were able to stay in touch and send Turner back and forth to the various lines at just the right time. Even though it wasn’t ideal to have to wait in the long lines, we did end up talking with so many families while waiting, many who were from North Texas like us!
Right around noon, Turner went to play in the kids club while Aaron and I had brunch at Palo. What an experience!! We had been to Palo on our last cruise, so we knew what to expect, but it still was such a wonderful brunch. The view was beautiful, the service was outstanding, and the food was incredible. It’s an extra cost at $40 per person, plus tip, but it is well worth every penny for this experience.
We spent the afternoon meeting more characters around the ship. The Marvel characters we met were: Captain America, Star Lord, Gamora, Loki, Black Panther, Thor, Dr. Strange, Black Widow, Captain Marvel, Hawkeye, Groot, Spider Man, and Iron Man. In addition, we had a chance encounter with Mickie and Minnie in at the perfect time to get a family picture.
That evening, we all went to another show, “Doctor Strange: Journey Into the Mystic Arts.” Admittedly, it wasn’t my favorite, but Turner thought it was cool. We also went the Marvel Heroes Unite Deck party by the pool. It was full of action and had characters (even some bad guys that we hadn’t seen yet). Dinner was at Animator’s Palate again that night, and we came back to the room to find a fun Thor Hammer towel creation on our bed.
Day 4 – Castaway Cay
We LOVE Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay, so we had all been looking forward to this day. Thankfully, the weather was perfect and we were all really excited to spend the day on the island. Aaron and I have been to Castaway Cay in March before, so we knew that the water was still going to be really cold. Aaron had the idea prior to the cruise to buy wetsuits so we could be warm while in the water. I resisted the idea until a few days before we left, and I hesitantly ordered a wetsuit from Amazon. I honestly thought it would be a waste of money, but I was totally wrong!!
After we got to the island and found some chairs to get settled in, we all decided to go for it and change into our full body wetsuits. I felt really silly at first since we were the ONLY ones on the island wearing them, but once we felt how cold the water was without our wetsuits on, we knew we had made the right decision! SO MANY PEOPLE told us that we were the smartest people on the cruise, as their families were struggling to enjoy the water since it was so cold. Even though it was warm outside, many kids were shivering in the water and were forced just to play in the sand since they couldn’t stand the cold water. We were able to stay in the water the whole time without being cold at all! We went down the slides and played in the water all morning! I had never worn a wetsuit, so I was amazed at how buoyant they are and how I just floated in the water with little effort. It was so fun! We later rented some snorkeling gear for Turner. He tried it for a little while, but didn’t really want to venture too far out to the deeper water where the majority of the fish were. We all had lunch (and more ice cream cones!) on the island and then headed back to the ship later in the afternoon. We were in the water so much that we didn’t take many pictures this day.
Our favorite show of the cruise was “Hector is Magic.” The magician for this show was funny and kept us entertained and mesmerized the entire time! Turner loved the show and was so excited that we got to meet Hector in the hallway afterwards.
Turner went to the kids club after the show, and Aaron and I had dinner at Rapunzel’s Royal Table. My one regret is that we didn’t bring Turner to dinner with us this night, as they put on a fantastic show durning dinner. We got to meet Rapunzel, Flynn Ryder, and several of the “ruffians” from the movie. We had no idea there was going to be so much activity during dinner, so I hate that Turner missed this one! This night was also ‘pirate night” on the ship, so we let Turner wear his pirate costume, and he was able to meet Captain Hook and Mr. Smee later that evening.
During this dinner, the Captain of the ship came on the intercom (incredibly unusual) and told us that although our voyage would continue as scheduled, all Disney cruises after ours had been canceled, and the Disney theme parks would be closing. Although we knew COVID-19/coronavirus was a threat before we boarded, we had been disconnected from the internet for days and had no idea how quickly things had changed in the “real world.” (Side note – if you’re not familiar with Rapunzel’s story, she’s the princess of the kingdom of Corona. Oh, the irony!!) Aaron began receiving a few notifications on his phone that schools had been canceled, and we found out on the ship that all major sporting events had been canceled as well. We were shocked, as everything seemed to have escalated so quickly!
Day 5 – Nassau, Bahamas
We have been to Nassau a couple of times already, so we had intended to stay on the ship this day. In light of all of the news we were hearing, though, we decided to let Turner stay in the kids club while Aaron and I got off the ship to find some wi-fi and check in on the news. One of our dinner servers told us about a nearby Starbucks on Nassau, so we headed there, ordered drinks, and started checking the news and texting our family to let them know that we are okay. Once we were sufficiently caught up on the news, we headed back to the ship to spend the day on the pool deck. Aaron and I finally tried the Aqua Dunk slide. <— Click that link to watch a short video of the slide! It was kind of scary!! You climb up 3 stories, get into a “capsule” and cross your arms and ankles, and then the floor drops out from under you and you go racing down the slide! I’m glad that I did it, but I only wanted to do it once!
Later that day, Aaron went to see the new Onward movie onboard, but Turner and I chose to stay by the pool. We ate pizza, more ice cream cones, and watched Frozen on the big screen. He enjoyed bouncing from the pool to the hot tub to the slide, so I just followed his lead. We spotted a couple of characters around the pool and stopped to get a picture with Goofy. The main pool on the ship is quite small and crowded, but otherwise it was a great afternoon!
We didn’t go to the Disney Dreams show that night since we had seen it before on a prior cruise, but instead chose to spend that time packing up and getting ready to debark the next day. Turner went to Pluto’s Pajama Party in the kids club during dinner, but we did go get him from the kids club right before dessert so he could say goodbye to our 2 servers who took care of us during the whole cruise. These guys were great! They did magic tricks for him at the table and just treated us like royalty. I wish I would have gotten a picture with them!
We had such an amazing time on this cruise! You really can’t beat Disney’s quality and service. On a somewhat related note – since COVID-19 escalated so quickly during our voyage, Disney was quick to implement new policies. They started serving all food and drink to guests at the buffets, as opposed to letting you serve yourself. They also changed the character interactions so that there was limited contact with the guest and characters. Pictures were okay, but high-fives, hugs, and autographs were prohibited about halfway through our trip. Disney has always promoted good hand-washing practices for guests, especially prior to entering any dining facility. The room attendants clean your stateroom twice per day, so we always felt like we were in very sanitary conditions.
We enjoyed this trip so much booked a placeholder to guarantee that we will sail with Disney again within the next 2 years. Since we’ve been to the Bahamas a few times, we’re thinking about maybe a Christmas cruise from Galveston, or perhaps a summer cruise to Alaska! I can’t wait to decide where we will sail next!
You can read about our previous sailings here: