31 March 2009

Castaway Cay- Day 3

Posing with Daisy.

The Flying Dutchmen from the Pirates of Caribbean movie.

I could barely fit the whole ship in the picture.

Chipmunks, Chip and Dale.

Our little mermaids.

Faith soaks up the sun.

Beach toys are always a must.

The girls.

It looks like a swimming pool but it's the Caribbean.

Giggling while testing out the waters.

Fun on a float.

You could rent these floats but some nice folks let us borrow theirs.

They ventured further and further out by themselves.

Snorkeling with daddy.

Pushing each other around on the float.

After the ride, Grace says, "Thank you , Faith."

All dressed up to celebrate their birthday.

The last night of the cruise.

Minnie and Mickey were dressed up too.

Daddy and Faith at Triton's.

Grace and mom.

The mosaic of Triton and Ariel.

Grace loved her Mickey-shaped pasta in her soup.

Faith liked how the ketchup looked familiar.

Birthday cake.

Faith can't wait to dig in.

Gracie loved the white chocolate cruise ship on top.

Beauty and the Beast.

The grand finale.

On the third and final day of our cruise, we anchored on Castaway Cay, Disney's private island in the Bahamas. It was a pristine beach with crystal clear water. I can see why Disney picked this little island for their own. There was something for everyone there. It had a kids only play area, a teen beach, a family beach and an adults only beach called Serenity Bay. We spent most of our time on the family beach where the girls ventured out to sea and loved swimming in the ocean. They couldn't get enough of the water! Morgan even took them (by float) pretty far out so that they could snorkel and see the statue of Minnie underwater. They were so excited to tell me about it when they returned. After a fun-filled morning in the sun, we satisfied our appetites with a scrumptious barbeque lunch on the island. The food was outstanding and as always, plentiful. The girls cheered on their favorite crab at the crab races before we headed back on board to rest up for our final evening. We made some wonderful memories on Castaway Cay. It was everything and more we had hoped it would be.

On this last night of the cruise, we set out to celebrate the girls' birthday since the next day was their official birthday. We dressed up for dinner and saved the best restaurant for last. Triton's was a French restaurant with excellent food and fine service. At the end of dinner, the servers came out with a big cake and we sang happy birthday to Faith and Grace. The girls loved the attention and the cake was delicious.

After seeing the show the night before, we were not going to miss another one so we excitedly made our way to the theatre after dinner. The final show of the cruise was called Dreams: An Enchanted Classic. It starred Peter Pan, Tinkerbell, and all the Disney characters. With a little faith, trust and pixie dust, a young girl's wish becomes a dream come true in this spectacular fantasy. The show was complete with snow, bubbles, and towards the end, confetti raining down on us. It was ranked as the best cruise ship show and boy, we could definitely see why! We were so impressed at the quality, theatrics and live production of the show. This was, without a doubt, one of the biggest highlights of our cruise. A couple of times throughout the show, Morgan and I just looked at each other with tear-filled eyes. Every popular Disney song and character was represented from the Lion King to Finding Nemo, Beauty and the Beast to the Little Mermaid. We were all swept away into a land of fantasy. It was truly an enchanted evening and a spectacular ending to our cruise.

Cruise Summary: Our first Disney cruise was an experience we will never forget. I cannot say enough about Disney and how well they cater to families. It was a first class ship with first class entertainment. We had a minor glitch and complaint about the first night's dinner and service but the restaurant manager and crew more than made up for it on the rest of our cruise. Here's an example... Typically on cruises, there are 2 different seatings for dinner, 5:30 or 8:15. We found the 5:30 to be a little early for us. Especially when we were too busy having fun in the afternoon and needed to take our long naps. On the other hand, the later seating at 8:15 was way too late. Alessandro, the restaurant manager let us come to dinner at 6:15 each night and he always had our private table waiting for us. When we first boarded the ship, we were also given our dinner rotation schedule. This told us which restaurant we were assigned to go to each night. They allowed us to rearrange that schedule so that we could get dressed up and celebrate the girls' birthday at Triton's on the last night. Another fantastic thing for the girls was the fact that they got to see all of their favorite characters up close and personal, without waiting in any lengthy lines. Even though the ship was booked at over 2,000 passengers, it never felt crowded anywhere. And because it was a family cruise, we felt that health and safety were of top priority to Disney.

Two words come to mind when I try to sum up our first Disney cruise experience. I've mentioned it before but the first word is seamless. Everything from the transportation, embarkation, the safety drill, ports of call and debarkation were done in a way that didn't seem like it was any trouble at all. You've got to love that when you're scooting around 2 toddlers! The other word that comes to mind sounds kind of corny but I have to say that looking back, the overall experience of the cruise was truly magical. Disney does it best for families and they really know how to cruise! In my opinion, the optimal age for this cruise would be at least 5 years old. I say that only because there was so much of the ship that we didn't yet experience because we were either napping to rest up or the girls just weren't old enough to stay up. We talked to several other families with older kids on board and they all told us that the kids club was fabulous and that their kids didn't want to leave. Although our girls had fun in the kids club, we just didn't have enough time to leave them there any longer than we did. We wanted to spend every moment with them and have dinner together. In the daytime, we were just too busy exploring the Bahamas, having lunch or taking a nap.

So, would we ever go on another Disney cruise? Absolutely! But probably not for a while and by that time, we'd most likely go on the 7 day cruise. The timing and price were right for us (kids were free!) and we were so grateful to have experienced it. With 2 new ships being built by Disney, we hear that the Disney Wonder plans to reposition its homeport to the Port of Los Angeles in 2011 for a possible two or three year contract. That would be awesome!

In conclusion, we made tons of GREAT family memories that we will cherish forever. We watched the girls experience so many new adventures. It was as if they were growing up right before our eyes and they loved every minute of it! Okay, one last post on the rest of our trip and then I'm done!

30 March 2009

Bahamas- Day 2

Taking a tour of Nassau.

Grace shows me the white sand.

I love this picture of Faith.

Looking for seashells.

I love this one of Grace, too!

Grace's snorkeling adventure begins.

She uses her noodle to stay afloat.

She's looking for fish.

Daddy pops up from underwater.

Swimming back to shore.

Another day in paradise.

Welcome to Nassau.

We ran into Mickey as we got off the elevator.

Later we ran into Pluto.

Silly girls.

Daddy and Grace having fun at dinner.

Faith and Mom say, "Cheese!"

Dinner at Parrot Cay.

John, our superb server.

The crew was having a good time.

Minnie Mouse.

Dressed up for the show.
We decorated the front door to our cabin.

Faith winks for the camera.

Toy Story, the Musical.

The finale.

Disney is the only cruise line that has fireworks at sea.

The girls don't care much for the loud noise.

The pirate party.

We docked in Nassau early in the morning and after a full breakfast, we made our way off the ship around 10:00. We took a brief tour of the island by horse and carriage and later, spent the day at a nearby beach. Like most islanders, the Bahamian people were friendly, charming and easy going. I enjoyed the colorful and historic architecture on the island and of course, the crystal blue Caribbean Sea.

The girls experienced snorkeling for the first time and loved it. Since we couldn't find a mask and snorkel that would fit them, Miss Tanya (their swim teacher) suggested that we use their swim goggles and a noodle. They simply hung on to the noodle and put their head underwater to see the fish. The girls got to play in the sand, make their beloved sand castles and enjoy a great family day on the beautiful beach. It was perfect!

Later that afternoon, the girls went to the Oceaneer's Club for kids. With so much going on during the day, they were only there for about 45 minutes before we had to go to dinner. During that time, they enjoyed themselves and even had a surprise visit from Snow White. The kids club had various activities throughout the day and seemed like a great place for kids to hang out. Morgan and I simply used this time to leisurely get ready for the evening. Dinner on this second night was at Parrot Cay, a casual Caribbean themed restaurant. The service and food was so much better than what we experienced the night before. We very much enjoyed our dinner. The highlight of the night was the show at the Walt Disney Theatre. Each night of the cruise, there was a different show. Unfortunately, we missed the show on the first night because we over slept during our afternoon nap. Toy Story the Musical was fantastic! Morgan and I were blown away at the caliber of performance and production. The shows that we saw after dinner were even better than some that we've seen on Broadway. The girls did great during the show and loved all the movie's cast of characters. They made it through the entire 80 minute show without incident. Now they certainly know who Woody and Buzz Lightyear are! Day 2 was awesome!

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