Disney Cruising During Hurricane Season

If you are anything like me, you have been seeing your friends/family/colleagues/ people-you-don’t know-why-you-are-still-friends-on-FB-with/random strangers, constantly post pics of their Magical Vacations to Disney World, Disneyland, and on Disney Cruises! I will admit, I am one of the culprits. 

I love the memories I have at Disney with my parents and grandparents, and want to share that with MY kids! We took my son to Disney World at two (still free and no dining plan required). With the help of a Disney Vacation Planner (look up Michelle Farrell!) and lots of discussions with fellow Disney-loving friends/veterans, we had a super stress-free and completely fun vacation, (Side note: I was seven month preggo and the Zika virus was alive and well, so that’s saying something!).

This year, we decided on a new type of vacation – a Disney Cruise! If you haven’t heard how awesome a Disney Cruise is, you may be living under a rock. But, good news, I’m here to tell you all about it! While there are tons of reviews of Disney Cruises, you may not have read one about cruising during HURRICANE SEASON!! (What were we thinking?!).

We kept our eye out for changes to our cruise itinerary or complete reroutes, but we got lucky and got to sail as planned. We liked arriving in Florida a couple of days early, in case of flight delays or last minute cruise changes. Disney cast members are true professionals – they aren’t going to chance it or take you anywhere near harm’s way. So, if you decide to cruise during hurricane season, here are 8 of my observations: 

1. Scop patches and Dramamine!!

This was like gold for my hubs and other members of our group! The first night we were on the ocean, Hurricane Maria had just passed by Florida, so it was a little lot rocky, starting at dinner. Luckily, we were in the Animator’s Palate restaurant that night and the “Turtle Talk” with Crush was super entertaining and hilarious.  I won’t ruin the surprise, but let’s just say it was a conversation. This kept us distracted from the swaying of the boat. We were bouncing off the walls getting back to our room, and that’s where the $%&# hit the fan.  At least two members of our group were down for the count. I generally don’t have motion sickness, but I even popped a Dramamine, preventatively. Once those Scop patches kicked in, everyone was back on their feet the next morning.

2. Dance Parties!

There are a ton of these and the next one is better than the last. I think one of the most underrated things on the ship is the live music! The performers on our ship were awesome. Occasionally, they would provide the music for the dance parties and really played off the crowd. The Disney characters  make appearances and dance with the kids; which for my 3 year old, was LIFE! A huge plus about these dance parties – you don’t feel the sway of the boat!

3. Aquaduck

Do not miss the most fun ride on the Disney Dream. The hubs and I stole a couple of hours away and had a blast on the water coaster that goes around the top of the boat. Parts of the ride are in a clear tube, so you can see the ocean. If we didn’t have to wait 45 minutes to ride, we would have ridden it over and over. It’s a popular attraction, but down times are early morning and late evening.

4. Character Meet and Greets

There are 1000 of these!  While the lines are long, the Cruise Navigation app gives you times and locations of these character meet and greets. My kids LOVED the characters and the variety was really great. They are all over the ship and are in different costumes throughout the cruise.

5. Rotational Dining

While I was skeptical about this at first, this proved to be a great change of scenery for the kids especially. The Animator’s Palate had very kid-friendly decor and as I mentioned above, Turtle Talk with Crush.  I don’t know if you can requests certain seats at dinner, but if so try to get a seat by the screen. The Enchanted Garden was so pretty and we had a fabulous view of the ocean and sunsets. Royal Palace had spectacular food (they all did really). Besides the rotational dinner restaurants, we had wonderful experiences at the lunch buffet, Cabanas (shrimp galore!) and our 3-year-old loved Flo’s Cafe (of course, with the Cars theme). Also, anti-bacterial wipes were handed out before every meal. It made my germaphobe self so happy.

6. Customer Service

Everyone knows that Disney service is another level, but the Disney Cruise customer service is beyond! We had the same servers each evening and they had the kids’ drinks ready when we got there. They cut up the kids’ meals and helped keep them clean. It was A.W.E.S.O.M.E. They were friendly and even provided the adults some entertainment by way of riddles and puzzles. The guy whom cleaned our stateroom (who we called “our friend” because his name was super long and hard to pronounce and I forgot it after the first day…oops) was so great. He greeted the kids each time he saw them and they ran to him and said “hi, my friend”! He was a great guy and we felt like we we were getting special treatment. He even made baby girl’s bed and put her Mickey and Minnie on the pillow, every night.

7. Staterooms 

The family staterooms are so spacious! The bed was super comfy and raised, so you could store luggage underneath. The sitting area includes a couch that turns into a single bed. There was plenty of room for a pack ‘n play beside the bed (with enough space between, so the kids didn’t mess with each other). A heavy curtain separates the sitting room and the bedroom, which keeps out the light when the parents want to stay up and watch TV. 🙂 I was nervous that the kids were on the side of the curtain by the door to the balcony. However, there is a lock at the top of the balcony sliding door; Disney thinks of everything. Two closets and tons of drawers, in addition to the two bathrooms, made it so easy for a family to “live” in a stateroom. The kids were rocked to sleep by the sway of the boat the first night! Also, when the boat is rocking, it is nice to get some air – splurge for the balcony. 

8. Take advantage of the kids clubs

We made the mistake of not dropping off our kids in kids clubs. The 3-year-old loved them when we visited the open house, but silly us, we felt guilty for leaving him, since we were on a “family vaca”. Seriously though, anyone young or old would love being dropped off there. The Disney counselors are fun, on steroids. I think I would have been more comfortable leaving him if he was a bit older (i.e. school-aged), but he definitely would have had some major fun in the clubs. (Check out the awesome hand-washing stations!) The smart parents took a few hours a day to themselves and seemed to be more mentally zen than others. 🤣

Honorable Mention: Castaway Cay – Include this island on one of your cruises.  It is Disney’s private island and offers all of the Disney amenities.

I hope this gives you some good perspective on Disney Cruising during hurricane season.  All-in-all, we loved our Disney Cruise and would definitely recommend it to anyone (especially those of you with school-aged kids)!! If you have any Disney cruising tips or things you loved, we’d love to hear them in the comments below.

 

XOXO,

Lauren

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Said No One Ever

Remember back to middle school? We had those scrunchies, wore braces and raisin-colored lipstick, listened to our music with walkmans, watched Clueless, and let’s not forget our Backstreet Boys posters. To get a look into how things are in the 2017’s, I’m deferring to one of my besties, May. She is a middle school counselor (bless her) in Maryland and always provides me with good insight. Here are some of her thoughts (with some of my commentary) that will be useful for not only middle school parents but all of us!

 

 

There’s something deeply powerful about backwards mapping—the concept of beginning with the end in mind, of connecting outcomes to the decisions we’re about to make. The process is widely used in educational settings as well as in day-to-day decision making. It can be as simple as, “I don’t want my tongue to be blue, so I won’t eat that blue jolly rancher,” or “I want to fit in my pants, so I’ll lower my calorie intake this week.” (Been there!)

As a middle school counselor, I’m always looking for ways to get kids to consider the consequences of the present decisions they are making. This is a difficult task – certainly not for the faint of heart. Developmentally, adolescents are generally impulsive and present-focused, giving little thought to what will come tomorrow. They are naturally impatient, much like toddlers. (Wow, so this doesn’t end?!) But while they embody many raw and intense qualities, I have found that they are painfully accurate reflections of the state of our self-focused culture.

While most of us are well past our middle school years, we often find ourselves facing similar issues (we just don’t have the same excuse that they do!).  So when I impart words of wisdom to them, I’m really talking to myself as well. When you’re trying to get through to middle schoolers, I have discovered that it takes a healthy combination of pithy + snarky + humorous. So, in my quest to communicate how particular actions or inactions produce wanted or unwanted consequences, I have begun using a phrase which really puts things into perspective in a powerful, soundbite that is palatable to the middle school brain (and to my old middle school brain).  Said no one ever. For example, “I’m glad I ate that entire box of Swiss Rolls…said no one ever” (sounds delicious…) or, “I’m glad I didn’t put sunscreen on…said no one ever.”

Here are some that I’ve shared with my middle schoolers to get them to think:


“I wish I had posted that inappropriate picture of myself…said no one ever”
“I wish I had thought more about myself than others…said no one ever”
“I wish I had tried to impress people more…said no one ever”
“I wish I had taken more selfies…said no one ever”
“I’m glad I cheated on that test…said no one ever”
“I wish I had made more lame excuses about why I didn’t do my work…said no one ever”

Most of us have lived long enough to partake of the regret that comes from careless living. So, here is my meager offering as a challenge to the rest of us “old middle schoolers”:

When it comes to life choices:
“I’m glad I spent 2 hours Facebook more…said no one ever”
“I sure wish I had racked up more debt…said no one ever”
“I’m glad I procrastinated taking care of my health… said no one ever” (Eeeek!)
“I’m glad I keep staying awake at night on my phone…said no one ever”
“I should scrutinize myself more in the mirror…said no one ever”
“I’m glad I gossiped today…said no one ever”
“I should really binge-watch more Netflix… said no one ever” (Ouch!!)
“I’m glad I refused to donate that dollar to St. Jude’s at the cash register…said no one ever”
“I really glad I worried today…said no one ever”
“I wish I had smiled less…said no one ever”
“I wish I had put off pursuing my dreams…said no one ever” (Boom.)
“I’m glad I keep comparing myself to people I think are more successful than me…said no ever”
“Boy, I’m glad I planned every square inch of my day without time to relax today…said no one ever”
“I sure am glad we postponed our trip to Europe again…said no one ever”
“I’m glad I was so controlling today…said no one ever”
“I’m glad I didn’t let that car into my lane of traffic so he had to wait…said no one ever (Except when you’ve been waiting over two hours to get over the Canadian border, am I right May?!)
“I’m glad I did a mediocre job” – said no one ever

When it comes to relationships:
“I’m glad I hung onto that grudge for 20 years…said no one ever” (oooh…)
“I wish I had kept the truth from people I love…said no one ever”
“I wish I had spoken without a filter…said no one ever”
“I’m wish I had taken my mom and dad for granted…said no one ever”
“I wish I had dismissed other’s perspectives more…said no one ever”
“I wish I had spent less time with my family…said no one ever”
“I wish I had been less patient… said no one ever” (I hear that collective groan, parents!)
“I wish I hadn’t been so forgiving…said no one ever”
“I wish I had insisted I was right more…said no one ever”
“I wish I had assumed the worst about people more…said no one ever”

When it comes to spirituality:
“I wish I hadn’t read the Bible so much…said no one ever”
“I wish I hadn’t prayed more…said no one ever”
“I’m glad I didn’t stand up for what I believe…said no one ever” (whew, May!)

Reading this list leaves me stinging with regret. I think I hear a resounding OUCH coming from all of us. But the sting is good, because we still have time. Time to start living in the light of who we want to be. And time to minimize future regrets. We need to think past this moment. What will “future you” wish you had or hadn’t done? Socrates famously claimed “the unexamined life is not worth living.” If he was right (and most of the time, he was), then I don’t think any of us will ever be wishing we were less intentional with our time—or less focused on the person we want to become.

In other words, as say to my middle schoolers, “I’m glad I don’t think about the consequences of my decisions…said no one, ever.”

 

I mean, mic drop, May – thanks for the words of wisdom! I hope this helps you all, as much as it did me, to take a minute, step back and get some perspective.

 

Guest contributor May Novalis hails from Maryland, where she’s worked with middle schoolers for the last 10 years.  She loves puns, Nutella, Masterpiece theater, morning coffee and connecting with people. You can find May here on SoundCloud!

 

XOXO,

Lauren

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