Right after our name was announced, a cast member whisked us away toward the elevators. She explained that our stateroom would not be ready until 1:30 p.m., but we could enjoy the pool and have lunch until then.
Before we took the elevator upstairs for lunch, we took a picture by the statue of Donald:
We then boarded an elevator to head up to Deck 11, the pool deck and where the Cabanas buffet and the fast food places were located. The details on this ship were amazing. The elevators had the Mickey hands. We got in a corner elevator, with glass walls for the first few decks. Then when the glass disappeared, there were Disney paintings we could see on the walls as we went up.
So my plan was to get on the Aqua Duck right away! However, we had boarded earlier than we thought, and the Aqua Duck didn't open until noon (about 20 minutes from then). So we figured we'd eat lunch. The fast food places weren't open until noon either, so we settled down to eat at the Cabanas buffet.
I totally underestimated how much I would like Cabanas. There are huge windows there and great views! The buffet wraps around the entire back of the ship, there is tons of seating, and the food stations are very close to the tables. Which is very handy for people with young kids!
And the crew members at Cabanas--wow. I guess this would be our first time experiencing the Disney Cruise Line service, and we were very impressed. A crew member saw we had young kids and offered to go get their drinks for us. Very helpful!
What a view:
As I mentioned above, the handy thing about this buffet set up was that the tables were so close to the buffet that we felt comfortable leaving our kids at the table while going up to get plates of food. We could always see them.
There was quite the variety of food at Cabanas. I was trying to keep it light, so I had a turkey wrap, a roll and some fruit. The kids had chicken tenders and fries. Brian got a few different types of fish and meat & some vegetables:
I wish I could write that this was a relaxing, enjoyable lunch. But it wasn't. Just because of me--I was so focused on getting to the pools and Aqua Duck at this ideal time before everyone boarded and the area got crowded. We were still finishing lunch until shortly after 12:00 p.m. And I wanted to hurry.
So it was around 12:15 or so when we finished lunch. We decided that I would take Nathan to go on the Aqua Duck while Brian stayed back with the 2 younger kids to go in Nemo's Reef splash pad.
So far, the pools weren't too crowded:
Here are the younger two in Nemo's Reef:
Joshua loved this slippery slide!
When Nathan and I got to the Aqua Duck line, the sign said 45 minutes. So we figured it was from that point, and the line wasn't to the sign. It didn't look that long. So we waited in line which went up some stairs to the funnel. (By the way, I totally recommend having water shoes, as the deck area can get hot in the sun and they make you put all your belongings in some cubbies before entering the ride).
When we got to the funnel, we saw that the line kept going up 2 more flights of stairs on the inside. Oy! The line was longer than we thought. All in all, I think we waited about 30 minutes to ride the Aqua Duck that first day.
And it was a fun ride!
But by the time we got out, the line had gotten even longer, and it looked like it would be a 45 minute wait. We had planned on having Brian go on the Aqua Duck with Nathan, but decided that could wait for another time. We all hung out in the pool area for a while longer.
It was just past 1 p.m. and I decided that I should try to change our adult dining reservation day. We were scheduled to dine in Palo (the adults-only restaurant) on Thursday, but that turned out to be Pirate Night and we wanted our kids to dine with us on Pirate Night. So I went to the designated place to change dinner reservations (with Alyssa in her stroller--maybe if I got lucky she'd fall asleep!). There were only 2 people in line ahead of me at the Royal Palace. I was able to change our Palo reservation with no problem. They said I would also have no problem getting nursery hours for that new night.
By now it was getting close to 1:30 p.m. when our stateroom would be ready. We all wanted to see our room and drop off our backpacks. So Brian and I arranged to meet back at our stateroom around 1:30 p.m.
We stayed in stateroom #8510 which was a category 8C, Deluxe Family Oceanview. One of the changes made to the 2 new Disney ships were more rooms that could fit a family of 5. And this was one of those rooms. (On the 2 older ships, the rooms that fit 5 are a higher category with a verandah and therefore more expensive. For a family of 5, we would either have to get one of those more expensive rooms or 2 rooms on the older ships).
The porthole was really big! And it had a cushion to sit on. We sat in the porthole quite a few times on this cruise!
The room was bigger than we thought it would be! It was long and narrow. It basically had 3 main sections: the front hallway with 2 closets and 2 bathrooms, the middle section with the queen bed, and a curtain that separated out the 3rd section which contained a sofa, an upper berth bed, and a murphy bed (and a long desk).
Looking at the room from the end of our hallway:
The hallway by our front door, with 2 bathrooms and 2 closets and another cabinet area:
There was actually quite a bit of storage space in this room! The big suitcases could be stored underneath the bed. The coffee table opened up with storage inside, which is where we decided to keep all of the kids' loot. And the desk had 6 drawers and the front cabinet had another 3 drawers. Each closet also had some shelves plus room for hung clothes.
Everything in the room was so, well, thick and sturdy. Not sure how else to describe it.
We ended up liking our stateroom location a lot, too. It was far towards the front of the ship, only a few cabins were more forward than ours. So we didn't have a lot of foot traffic or kids running down the hallways near us. We also didn't hear any noise from the theatre/adult clubs/pool, etc.
It was great to drop off our backpacks in our room! We knew we needed to unpack and get organized, but with the kids in the room that would be hard. We decided to save that for later, and head to the kids' clubs for their open house.
We took the elevator to Deck 5 Mid-Ship for the kids' clubs. I took Alyssa into the It's A Small World nursery first to look around while Brian took the boys to the Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab to get their wrist bands and look around.
When we first entered the nursery, there was a little play area where the kids could get comfortable while we signed them in.
Inside the gates there were toys and play areas that were very age appropriate for the under-3 crowd. I figured Alyssa would have a good time here.
While we were there, I asked about scheduling additional nursery time for Alyssa. We were allowed to book 10 hours online before the cruise, which I used mostly for dinners, but I wanted to see if I could get her in the nursery while I ran the Castaway Cay 5k run the next day so that Brian would have to only look after 2 of our kids instead of 3 while I was gone. They were totally flexible and accommodating. They said I could book as much time as I wanted! So I booked her for 9-11 a.m. the next morning.
We stayed for a few more minutes, but then I wanted to take Alyssa to explore the bigger kids clubs. She was not happy about leaving the nursery! I told her not to worry, she would be back there tonight after dinner.
So when we left the nursery, the boys were already in the Oceaneer Club checking out everything.
First, we saw the automatic hand-washing machines. Those were cool.
And the interactive dance floor:
Pixie Hollow: (coloring, some computers, dress-up area)
Andy's room (a big hit with the younger ones! There was a giant Mr. Potato Head, a giant piggy bank, a big slinky dog to crawl through...)
During the open house, parents had to stay with their kids. Starting at 6:00 we could check the kids in for supervised club time. But I thought it was neat that the kids' club staff really tried to interact with our kids while they were there at this open house.
At this point we had been mostly checking out the Oceaneer Club, which is open to kids ages 3-10 but is geared more for the younger kids. When we went to the back of the club, there were some table & chair/lab areas that connected to the back of the Oceaneer Lab, which is also for kids age 3-10 but is geared more for the older kids. Brian and I each took a turn checking out the Oceaneer Lab, too. It wasn't as heavily themed at the Club and it seemed to have more computers/video games. But still nice. The boys were still in the Club discovering everything. We figured eventually during the cruise they would make it to the Lab.
Up next: The Vista Cafe, the lifeboat drill, the Sail Away deck party, dinner at Animator's Palette, and our first evening on the ship.