Over the mid-winter break my kids had in February, we took our whole family on a Disney Cruise to the Bahamas!
Last September, we knew by February we were going to be sick and tired of the terrible cold weather in New York so we were going to want to head south to some place warm. After talking with Gordon, going back and forth with options, we decided on another Disney Cruise.
We first went on a Disney Cruise in 2017 when Eddie was only 11 months old, before we moved to New York. I didn’t want to go because Eddie was still such a terrible sleeper, but thought I didn’t want my other two to miss out on anything. Well, lo and behold the rocking of the ship changed Eddie’s biorhythms in his body and he turned into a dream sleeper on the ship! Once we got on land, his sleep patterns returned to normal, but man what a nice break that was! We love and much prefer the cruise over Disney World. So much so that we knew we wanted to go back and do another one, we just weren’t sure when we’d get the opportunity.
Well, the stars aligned and we were able to book a 4 day cruise in February. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Disney cruises are the best. Cruising in general is such an easy vacation and when Disney caters so heavily to your kids, it suddenly becomes worth the money.
Staying in Florida
For this trip, we didn’t want to feel rushed in the least, so we flew to Orlando a day early and stayed at the Ritz-Carleton Orlando Grand Lakes hotel, just so we could enjoy the warm weather, their delicious breakfast buffet (which was amazing) the pool situation and feel relaxed even before we technically got on the ship and were “on vacation”. They had several pools that we didn’t take advantage of because we ran out of time, but wished we could have tried!
The kids had a grand old time playing in the water and I, surprisingly was feeling great at 11 weeks pregnant. I was so worried I would look super pregnant in all these photos (totally paranoid) and would be feeling awful with all the travel, but my body hung in there and I felt amazing the entire time! Such a huge blessing.
Boarding the Ship
After we checked out of the hotel, we drove the 45 minutes to Cape Canaveral to board our ship. We ended up doing the 4 day Bohemian cruise on the Disney Wonder, with stops in Nassau and Castaway Cay. (See my notes below on how to get cheaper prices on Disney cruises.)
Our boarding time was 1pm, so we were just in time to have some lunch at Triton’s. Both my boys were thrilled that they got macaroni and cheese AND fries. Haha! Get used to it, kids.
In Nassau, Bahamas
Our first stop on the trip was in Nassau. We ended up purchasing day passes to Atlantis to have access to their beaches, Aquarium and restaurants. We took a taxi from the port over to Atlantis and had trouble finding the right place to check in. Every person we asked kept telling us different places to go. But after 20 minutes or so, we got our wristbands and a map (aha!) and we were on our way. I wasn’t thinking too much about the Aquarium when we got our passes, but turns out that was one of the highlights of the whole trip! We could have spent a lot more time exploring, but we wanted to get to the beach.
I think we ended up staying about 4 hours total at Atlantis, playing mostly in the ocean and taking a quick break for reapplying sunscreen and having a little lunch (which was totally average food). The last hour, Brooke and I swam in the deeper parts of the ocean while all the boys played in the sand. Was a super fun day. If we were to do it again, I would probably get a pass for the lazy river and the pools. Like, the ocean was super fun, but I think we would have enjoyed the other parts a little better and not have to walk so far.
Driving back to the ship, Brooke really REALLY wanted to get her hair braided but it was so expensive. She was literally begging and said she would “do anything”. So after thinking about all the things she would hate to do or the chores she could do for me, I bargained with her and said she could get her hair braided if she didn’t have any sugar or treats for 30 days. I really really didn’t want to pay for it. Haha! (Gordon and I had just finished a 6 week no-sugar challenge and she had said she would “never do that” so that’s why I chose it as the bargaining chip.)
After a good 5 minutes of really thinking about it, she agreed to my terms. Both Gordon and I were shocked. So much so that we said things like “that means no dessert tonight” or “that means no cake at your friend’s birthday party in two weeks” or “after we take the braids out in two weeks, you’ll still have to stick to the agreement” etc. etc.. But she stuck to her guns. The taxi dropped us off at the port again and Brooke got her hair braided and man was she a happy camper the rest of the trip. And I’m happy to report that she hardly complained about the no sugar for those 30 days because she understood what she got. We were so proud of her!
Ah, our favorite part of the trip! We love this Disney owned island because everything is so easy here! Beach chairs, umbrellas, palm trees, fruit stands, lunch restaurants, everything is there for you to enjoy. We did end up buying some sand toys (because I’m a sucker and life is just easier when kids have toys to play with) and renting some tube floats for my older two. It was fabulous and relaxing and I loved it. Especially the ribs, watermelon, pineapple and ice cream at lunch. But I think that may have been a pregnancy craving.
Back in Florida
Once we got off the ship again, we stayed another day in Florida to not have to rush to board any flights. We even contemplated changing our flights and extending the trip a few extra days, but ended up deciding against that. We stayed at the Four Seasons Resort Orlando and so so glad we did! This hotel is what made us want to stay the extra time. They had their own lazy river, splash pad, kiddie pool (with tiny little water slide) and dueling water slides! It was amazing and our kids favorite part of the whole vacation. (I’m so glad we paid all that money to go on a cruise/sarcasm) We even found some amazing Acai Bowls and croissants for breakfast that we adored. We’ve decided next winter break to just come stay at this hotel because it’s basically it’s own vacation. Skip Disney, skip the cruise, just stay at the hotel.
I’ve partnered with the Four Seasons before (in Hawaii, Seattle and Las Vegas) and know the kind of hospitality and service they give. But this Four Seasons in Orlando is very much tailored to kids. Most luxury resorts are not, so it’s nice to find one that takes it over the top. This is not a sponsored post in any way, but we have been convinced that these are the best hotels to stay at. This Four Seasons was the best one we’ve ever stayed at, having three (and a half!) kids.
The afternoon we checked in, we changed into our swim suits and spent at least 3 hours together as a family going around the lazy river they have. It was ridiculously fun to not only be able to do that all together, but do it together as a family. They had mini tubes with a bottom so Eddie could float right along with us without us having to worry *as much*. It was probably one of the best memories I have of that trip. All of us holding onto each other’s tubes in a line and going as fast as we can past people and through the water falls. Seriously, Gordon and I were kids again. After dinner, Gordon took Brooke back to the lazy river AGAIN while I put the boys to bed. Even before we checked out the next morning, there we were, back in the water again.
It was such a fun part of the trip. Actually the whole trip was so much fun and I can’t wait until our next vacation. If only Gordon had more vacation days…
How to save money on a Disney Cruise
I’m sure there are plenty of discount travel agents who can get you a steal of a deal on a Disney cruise, but I don’t know any of them. The best way I know how to save some money is:
- book well in advance
- choose a more unpopular month to go and
- choose a shorter length cruise.
We booked 6 months in advance and had a bit of a hard time finding the best deal because we had strict dates. Also, their cheaper rooms were already taken, so we had to get a larger cabin with a veranda. I mean, the veranda was nice and I won’t turn my nose up at a few extra square feet, but it comes at a cost. If I could have booked a year or more in advance, I would have saved probably $2000. Thankfully the week of the winter break coincided with their cheaper cruise. They did have a 7 day cruise available, but we couldn’t make that work and didn’t want to pay the extra money. So 4 days it was!
I know that on the cruise, you can put $100-$200 on your next cruise vacation and save 10% on the total cost. You don’t have to pick the cruise or anything. Just book within the next 2 years. So that’s pretty good.
Again, there might be other tips and tricks, but these are the most practical ones I know of.
Other Miscellaneous Things about our trip
I get a lot of questions about my black swimsuit which I love! It’s a cute one piece (as pictured above) and gives good coverage while still being comfortable and cute. Got it from here (and currently its on sale for under $20!)
Such a broken record, but these are my boys sandals and we continue buying the same ones every year because of how much we love them! Water shoes, beach shoes, sandals, etc.. They work for any circumstance and are so cute.
My cheapy sunglasses are from ASOS and come in a pack of 2, though I usually only wear the black ones.
Had my Birkenstock sandals for a good year now and still love them Spring, Summer and Fall. Brooke has even asked for a pair!