Friday, January 31, 2014

Disney Magic 2.0 Day 4: Nassau, The Bahamas

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Today the ship ported in Nassau, The Bahamas. We decided months ago that instead of getting off the ship like last time, we would stay on the ship and take advantage of a lower on-board population.

Here is the navigator for the day.

It was a little foggy when we pulled into port.
I woke up at 5 a.m. but managed to drift back to sleep until 6:30 a.m. I showered and we all went to breakfast at 7:30 a.m. This was the Princess Gathering morning!

The Princess Gathering is a meet-n-greet of a group of princesses in the atrium. There is only one line, and you go from princess to princess. The Princess Gathering happens twice on a 4-night cruise, once on the Nassau day and again on the day at sea. I heard that it's a little less crowded on Nassau day because some families have port activities to get to, so we decided to plan to attend on Nassau day. However, I've also read that you can spend over 2 hours in line to see the princesses. So based on advice we read, we decided to have Brian go wait in line as our placeholder while I finished breakfast with the kids and got Alyssa in her princess dress and the boy ready to swim. Brian got in line about 8:05 a.m. (the gathering started at 9:00 a.m.) and he was second in line! I arrived with Alyssa about 8:55 a.m. and it was a smooth transition. The boys went with Brian to the pools while Alyssa and I waited just a few minutes for the princesses to arrive. I highly recommend this strategy, as Alyssa wouldn't have done very well waiting in line for 1-2 hours. And the line gets very, very long.

We did not attend the Princess Gathering on our two previous cruises, so this was a first for Alyssa. She was so excited to see the princesses that she couldn't stop staring at them. We didn't get any pictures of her looking at the camera. That's ok.

Cinderella, Belle, Tiana and Rapunzel were at this gathering. The number and identity of the princesses varies by ship.

We were done with the princesses by about 9:10, so we went back to our room to change for the pool. It was a great morning for the pools--sunny and 74 degrees. My younger two kids preferred to play at the Aqua Lab pool, which is new. It has a shallow pool in the center and some interactive spray spouts on the side. A little later, the new Twist 'n Spout water slide opened. Joshua went down it many times in a row. I even tried it once---it's a little slow for me, but it's made for kids and they all seemed to be having fun.
Nathan preferred to hang out at the family pool and hot tub while watching a movie on funnel vision.
Later in the morning, we got dressed and went into the Oceaneer Club as a family during open house. The boys watched the Iron Man activity while Alyssa tried on some costumes.
Then we went back to the pool deck and fed the kids lunch. Hot dogs and ice cream.

After lunch, we dropped them all at the kids' clubs so that Brian and I could enjoy a quiet lunch by ourselves. We ate at the sit-down restaurant, Lumiere's.
I was ecstatic to discover the restaurant was serving my absolute favorite dish, mango soup! I had this on the Dream in 2012 and I just can't describe how yummy it is.
I also ate a fabulous key lime pie.

Around 1:00, we picked up our younger two kids from the club to see if they could take a nap in our stateroom. They were a little short on sleep. Brian went to workout in the gym while I stayed back with the kids. Alyssa fell asleep for 2 1/2 hours.
Brian came back from the gym, picked up Nathan from the lab, and they rode on the Aqua Dunk a few times. They said it was thrilling, a little scary. See this video for a look at this steep-drop water slide.

We were still docked at Nassau. I ordered a batch of chocolate chip cookies from room service.
After Alyssa woke up, I decided to take her to another meet-n-greet with Minnie Mouse, who would be in her formal attire.

At the same time, the boys went to a Captain America meet-n-greet.

Then we dropped the kids back at the clubs, where they would eat dinner, so that Brian and I could enjoy dinner by ourselves at the new restaurant, Cariocas. This restaurant replaced the old Parrot Cay restaurant, and it has a South American theme and menu.
We both had empanadas for an appetizer. So yummy!

Brian had ceviche:
And I had black bean soup:
For my main course, I chose the lobster, shrimp and mahi mahi skewers on a bed of quinoa. The salsa mixed with the quinoa was my favorite part of the dish!
We were going to skip dessert, but Senol talked us into trying a coconut tres leches cake. We ate it before I could take a picture. I'm not a big coconut fan, but the coconut flavoring was subtle and the dessert was delicious.

After dinner, Brian and I decided to attend a comedy act, Mike Holly. It started at 7:30 and I figured I'd pick up Alyssa after it was over. We were maybe 5 minutes into the show when I got a page from the kids' club that Alyssa had a potty accident. I left Brian at the show so at least he could enjoy it while I picked up Alyssa.

So it turns out that Alyssa decided to follow her brothers to the lab side, and she didn't know where the bathroom was over there. She's too shy to ask. So the next time I took her to the clubs, I took her to the lab side and asked a youth counselor to show her the bathroom on that side. She never had another accident. The youth counselors were very helpful--they bagged up her wet clothes and gave her some gray shorts to wear until I picked her up.

After I changed Alyssa, we went to see Daisy Duck.

And came back to find this towel dog on our bed:

Brian picked up the boys from the clubs, and managed to get one asleep by 10:00. Nathan and Alyssa were still up giggling. I left for an hour to deliver our fish extender gifts.

Up next: Sea day

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Disney Magic 2.0 Day 3 Part 2: First night on the ship

Still Monday, January 20, 2014:

So we had been on board the re-imagineered Disney Magic for almost 2 hours now, and had eaten lunch and checked out the new kids' clubs. It was 1:30 p.m. and our staterooms were now available. I decided to head to the room by myself to drop off some of our backpacks while Brian stayed in the Oceaneer Lab for a few more minutes with the kids.

We stayed in Stateroom #8500, Category 4B, Deluxe Family Oceanview Stateroom with Verandah (fits 5 people). We had never stayed in a room with a verandah before, because we've never wanted to spend the extra money (on our past cruises it would have cost us about $500 more for a verandah). But for some reason, on this cruise, a verandah room was only about $10 more than 2 inside rooms. We decided to splurge and try the verandah.

We loved our stateroom location. It was on deck 8, starboard side, the very first room on the forward side. There was crew space across the hall and to our left, so we only had one neighboring stateroom. Being at the front of the hallway made it very quiet. Also, we were close to the forward elevators, which are a lot less busy than the mid-ship elevators.

I hung our fish extender and put our personalized magnets (all free from the DIS boards and a Facebook group) on the door. The kids always enjoy seeing these.
The staterooms on Disney ships are larger than most other cruise lines. Our room had a queen-size bed, bunk beds and a pull-down murphy bed near the verandah.
It had a desk and dresser for storage, as well as two closets.
Suitcases fit under the bed.
Since we are Castaway Club members (anyone who has cruised with Disney before), we had a Castaway Club gift on our bed. It was a tote bag with a magnet dry erase board inside. Our tote bag actually broke the next day, but we went to guest services and they gave us a replacement.
The dresser:
The room had two bathrooms: one with sink/shower, the other with toilet/shower/bath.

Our verandah was next to the ship's bridge. The officers waved to our kids when we were out there at the same time.
The Disney Cruise terminal from outside of our verandah.
Brian and the kids came to our room about 10 minutes later, and we already had a few of our suitcases delivered. We hung out in our room for about an hour unpacking, watching Disney TV and enjoying the verandah.

At 3:00, we went to a DIS board group meet-up in the promenade lounge. We met other people on our cruise through the DIS message boards, and this was a chance for adults and kids to meet. One of the members got all the kids together to play games like Simon Says and duck duck goose. These meet-ups are great for kids who are shy and may be hesitant about going into the kids' clubs alone...if they already know some kids they might have more fun.
We were only there a few minutes when my youngest was whining that she was hungry. She hadn't eaten much at lunch. My 6-year-old was having so much fun at the meet-up, Brian stayed with him there while I took the other two kids up to the pool deck for a quick snack.

We went to Daisy De Lites, a quick-service restaurant on deck. They have healthier fast food including wraps, yogurt and fruit. After a drink and some food, the kids felt better (and so did I).
Brian and Joshua met up with us there:
Everything started to close down in order to get all the passengers going to the mandatory lifeboat drill at 4:00. We we made out way to our muster station, which was outside on Deck 4. Everyone had to line up in a single file line by family and listen to the safety instructions. Alyssa insisted on being carried and fell asleep during the drill. After the drill, most people made their way up to decks 9 and 10 for the sail away party. Since Alyssa was still sleeping, I sat down with her in my arms on deck 4 while the boys went to the sail away party. Alyssa awoke about 15 minutes later, and we joined the party already in progress.

Just woke up!

We always like to view the sail away party from the deck's less crowded and easier to see when the ship starts sailing away.
The sail away party is like a big dance party with crew members and characters. It gets everyone pumped up. At the end of the party, the ship sounds the horn to the tune of "When you wish upon a star."

Alyssa was upset that she missed part of the sail away party. She kept saying she wanted to "shake it" more.

At the end of the party, the ship hadn't quite started sailing yet. So we went back to our cabin and watched us sail away from our balcony. We had a great view!
We sailed by Fishlips, which owns the Port Canaveral Webcam. We waved.
We sailed by Jetty Park, a campground with a lot of spectators waving:

And we saw the pilot boat pick up the pilot:
This is my favorite picture from our verandah...the view of cocoa beach, our last bit of land before sailing out to sea.
We received our last suitcase and were able to have our room completely unpacked before dinner. We captured this picture of the sunset from our verandah before heading down to dinner:

Soon, it was time for our first dinner on the ship. On a Disney Cruise, the passengers rotate from dining room to dining room with the same servers. On our 3 Disney cruises, I've always requested to start our rotation at Animator's Palette restaurant (and our request has always been granted). Why? Because I think it is the most entertaining restaurant for the kids, and on the first night they are most alert and least tired/grumpy. Dinner lasts about 90 minutes, and the first night was the only night we had the kids at dinner with us for the entire meal.

Animator's Palate starts out in black and white.

Throughout the meal, animation comes to life and the restaurant turns different colors. (The animation show is different on each ship).

This website has copies of menus on board. I enjoyed the Black Truffle Pasta Purseittes for an appetizer.
And also the baked potato soup:
The kids had their own kids menu with coloring and crayons for entertainment, as well as kid-friendly meal options.
Of course, ketchup is always served Mickey Mouse style.
Brian and I both enjoyed the chocolate walnut cake for dessert.
The kids each had ice cream--a Mickey bars for the boys and a sundae for the girl.

We had Senol from Turkey for our server and Mugu from India as our assistant server. Senol gave us menu recommendations every night and served our food, while Mugu got our drinks and entertained the kids. During this meal, Mugu made the kids origami birds with a sound-effect. The kids were really impressed! Our serving team was fantastic.

At the end of dinner, the animation show ramps up and sorcerer Mickey makes an appearance in the dining room (on the Magic and Wonder only). Alyssa was so thrilled! She was screaming for Mickey Mouse. I captured some of her excitement in our cruise music video):

After dinner, Nathan wanted to go straight to the Oceaneer Club/Lab, but Joshua and Alyssa wanted to get their photo with Minnie Mouse first. Then they went to the clubs.

After the kids were at the clubs, Brian and I headed to the gift shops to peruse. We bought a mug and a tervis cup. Then we headed to the evening's show, Villains Tonight. This was only the second show we've seen on a Disney Cruise. It was entertaining, I thought it was more geared for adults and my younger two kids probably would have been scared.

After the show, I picked Alyssa up from the club. I took her to the ice cream station on deck 9 before putting her to bed. Brian picked up the boys for ice cream about 30 minutes later. We tried to stagger their bed times to get them to fall asleep easier.

Of course, we had a towel animal and the next day's navigator waiting for us in our cabin.
The first day on the ship is always so packed.

Up next: Nassau/our own "sea day"