Well, we are unfortunately back from our amazing Disney extravaganza. And I mean, very unfortunately. The last time I remember being this sad about having to come back to the real world was when we were on our honeymoon. Normally I’m the type that likes to get home, back to my house, my bed and my usual routine, but not this time. I would have stayed on that Disney ship or at the Disney resort for as long as possible. It was seriously the best trip ever and I am so thankful we were able to do it. The family time and memories made were irreplaceable. I can’t even say enough good things about the cruise…it totally blew us away and far exceeded our expectations. We loved it so much that we booked another cruise while we were still on that one, so that should tell you something right there!
I plan to do several posts, providing more details, tips and thoughts about the cruise, especially since we have gotten a lot of questions from friends, and of course include pictures! I have so many and it’s hard to pick and choose. We were gone for 11 days after all. The ones in this post are from our time in Sarasota, the hotel we stayed at in Port Canaveral before boarding the ship and then our first afternoon/evening on the ship
We started the trip with a visit to Sarasota. It’s always nice to go “home” and relax in sunny Sarasota. I’m really glad we started the trip like this – besides the obvious perk of seeing my parents and grandpa, I felt like we were able to get in vacation mode and relax a little before the main vacation started. I don’t know about you, but it always takes me a few days to unwind, and on most vacations, that’s usually halfway through the trip. I feel like just when I start to unwind and relax, it’s time to go home. That wasn’t the case this time since I had these few days to decompress and by the time we boarded the ship, I was truly in vacay mode. While in Sarasota, we basically just relaxed, did some shopping, and spent a lot of time outside. We had an early birthday celebration for both Asher Wade and Matt, and AW experienced his first hibachi dinner at our favorite, DaRuMa.
My parents kindly drove us over to Port Canaveral the day before we disembarked on the cruise. If you ever leave for a cruise from Port Canaveral (which is one of the most popular ports), I definitely recommend staying at a nearby hotel the night before. It was nice to already be there and have the shuttle take us right to the port in the morning. We stayed at the Radisson, which was literally 5 minutes from the port, was reasonably priced, and it had an awesome pool. We surprised AW with a specially made PJ Masks “Catboy” costume.
Boarding the ship was a breeze. On past cruises, I remember this process being really chaotic, but this time was not bad at all. I assume Disney caters to families, knowing that with young kids, quick and efficient is the way to go. We were greeted by characters in the terminal and just a whole lot of excitement in general. When we first walked on to the ship, they make a big deal out of it and announce your name and you basically walk a red carpet….”Now entering, the McWilliams family!” It was adorable. We waited to board until 1 o’clock that afternoon, so we were able to get right in to our room, although our luggage wasn’t delivered until later that afternoon. When we got to our room we saw that it had been decorated for Asher Wade’s birthday! So, so cute, and totally worth the extra fee I paid to have this done. All week long, every time we walked in to our room, he would exclaim “Mickey did this for me!” He seriously thought Mickey had decorated the room for him. So precious. Another tip about boarding day: Pack a carry-on with swimsuits, change of clothes, sunscreen, and anything else you may want until you get your luggage. We did this and were able to go enjoy the pool immediately. By the time we got back to our room, our luggage was there and we could get cleaned up and ready for the evening.
That night we kept it simple. Matt and I were ready for some adult time, lol, so we sent AW off to the kid’s club for an hour and we enjoyed a cocktail and the sunset before collecting him for dinner. You alternate restaurants for dinner each night and like most cruises, you either have the early or late seating. We had the late seating (8:15 p.m.) and it worked out fine. I was a little nervous because normally AW is in bed by then, but I’ll tell you right now…just throw bedtime schedules out the door completely on the cruise. He was up until midnight most nights. There’s so much fun stuff going on, you just don’t want to miss anything. We always had some sort of activities going on after dinner. This first night was kind of low-key and after listening to some music after dinner (and AW busting some moves on the makeshift dance floor), we headed back to our room to watch a movie.
Honestly, one of my favorite memories from the cruise was laying in bed at night watching Disney movies. You have an “on demand” option from your room where you can watch basically any Disney movie. It was so fun to turn one on every night before falling asleep. Asher Wade was introduced to some of our favorites like The Lion King and Finding Nemo. He was also obsessed with those old school Mickey cartoons.