Disney Cruise Excursions – Nassau Scuba Diving Adventure

We’re a family that likes outdoor activities…A LOT.  You may have noticed this if you’ve been here before.  We’re into running, bicycling, hiking, and we once had that interesting sea kayak adventure in Norway.  In an effort to keep challenging ourselves and have even more fun at the same time, 2017 was the year for scuba diving.  Like we do most things, it was a family affair and we’re now proud PADI Advanced Open Water Scuba certified.  Of course that meant that we looked for opportunities to try out our newfound skills.

Disney Cruise Excursions – Nassau Scuba Diving Adventure

Raymond and I signed up for the Certified Scuba Dive at Stuart Cove to add an activity to our 4-night cruise on the Fantasy in September (other than eating!).  Let me disclose right now that we missed Megan and Joseph every minute we were on this excursion – they would have loved it so much!  If you have your open water scuba certification and are sailing with Disney in the Bahamas, we highly recommend this adventure.

As with every other Disney cruise excursion we’ve taken, we met our tour group at the designated area on the ship.  In this case, it was at the D-Lounge where we found out our entire excursion group consisted of four people.  Raymond and I, along with a father and his tween (8th grade) daughter.  You know me, so you know I did try to make friends, but they were a hard pass on virtually any conversation – with us and with each other.  To each their own, we say, so we respected their preference for silence throughout the adventure.  Raymond and I kept our discussions to ourselves, the boat captain, and the dive master.

We’d been asked shortly after boarding the Fantasy to stop by the Excursions Desk to present proof of scuba certification and verify our BCD (Buoyancy Control Device) sizes.  So when we arrived at D-Lounge and checked in, we were on our way off the ship almost right away.  We were met at the pier by some representatives from Stuart Cove Scuba who led us through the crowded port area to our transportation.  We boarded a clean, well-kept van with plastic-covered seats and found a seat among other cruise line passengers also headed to Stuart Cove.

If you’ve been to Nassau before, you may have already experienced what I’m about to describe.  The trip from port to cove was an indirect route that took us through lovely, manicured properties and trash-filled razor-wired areas by turns.  The driver directed our attention to points of interest along the way, but there’s no disguising Nassau’s…well, I’ll call them warts.  Luckily, Stuart Cove is lovely and the dive shop well-equipped and professional.

In short order, we’d gotten our equipment together and boarded the boat.  Raymond and I had brought along our own regulators, masks and snorkels for comfort, but all necessary items were available.  We were off!  This was a two-tank dive and our first stop was Mike’s Reef.  What a fantastic spot!  Visibility was great and I don’t know who Mike is, but his reef was teeming with life.  Colorful fish of all shapes and sized swam among beautiful corals and plants.  There were sharks!  Black-tipped reef sharks swam around us, but not close enough to be anything other than thrilling in a fun way.

Our second dive was to see Two Sisters – a double wreck site.  The swim there was as devoid of life as Mike’s Reef had been abundant.  Except for the lone shark that we saw when we first entered the water, this area of the cove was like an underwater dessert – sand, sand, and more sand.  Finally, one of the Sisters appeared out of the dark.  Fish were abundant all over both wrecks.  We were able to explore each sunken boat from stem to stern and as a novice diver, I was blown away.  They were like haunted houses, but covered and filled with amazing (instead of scary) sights.  Once we’d used up most of the air in our tanks, it was time to head back to shore.

This was, to date (and by far), the best of any visit we’ve had to Nassau.  Given the chance, we’d do it again for sure.  Once home, I made like my mother and ordered the National Audubon Society Field Guide to Tropical Marine Fishes so Raymond and I could show Megan and Joseph all the cool sea life we’d seen.  And we could revisit the adventure by looking at fish pics again and again.

I highly recommend two things for your first (or next) Disney Cruise to the Bahamas.  Get your open water scuba certification and give the Stuart Cove Scuba excursion a go!  It ranks up there with some of the best fun we’ve ever had on a Disney cruise.

Have you sailed with Disney?  What were your favorite port adventures?


New Year, New Disney Plans

2017 was such an exciting, action packed, fun-filled year!  So much so, 2018 has a lot to live up to.  I believe in you, New Year!  You can do it!  Adventure is out there and we’ve got a big Disney to-do list ahead of us.  Since I’m not one to make official New Year’s resolutions, this is as close as it gets…Magic Picture with Tinker Bell

New Year, New Disney Plans

Disney Park Firsts – Raymond and I have an unbelievable four Disney trips planned this year with opportunities to try some things for the first time.

  • New Festival:  We’re excited to have a couple of days to experience Epcot’s Festival of the Arts later this month.  The festival’s 2017 inaugural year went so well, we heard nothing but glowing praise for this brief, but fun event from everyone we knew that attended.
  • Tiger Cubs! It’s no secret that I’m an Animal Kingdom fan & have often touted the joys of the Maharajah Jungle Trek…these new babies are yet another reason to spend all day in this park!Maharajah Jungle Trek Artistic Details
  • Disneyland (Finally!):  After last year’s anniversary trip was cancelled due to Hurricane Irma and 2016’s family vacation was interrupted by Hurricane Matthew, Raymond and I are taking no chances this year.  We’ll be celebrating our 29th anniversary on the West Coast and we couldn’t be more excited to finally get to explore Disneyland’s parks and restaurants.  I’ll be working on my must-do list shortly and welcome any and all suggestions you may have!

Disney Movies to See – Nick, Dave and I just talked about Disney’s 2018 movie line-up on The Disney Exchange (Episode 159).  There’s a lot to look forward to!  Honestly, I’m pretty stoked about Solo: A Star Wars Story (May) and Wreck-It Ralph 2 (March), but if I narrow down the list to my top three, I’m most excited about these…

  • Avengers: Infinity War (May) – I’m geeking out about this one!  It had better be as good as it looks because my expectations are really high.  Avengers and Guardians…how could that not be awesome!?!
  • The Incredibles 2 (June) – We’ve only been waiting 14 years!  That’s practically forever.  The original has always been one of my all-time favorite movies and with the way it ended, didn’t we all thing the sequel was right around the corner?  It’s about time!
  • Mary Poppins Returns (December) – I didn’t care for Saving Mr. Banks at all, so I’ve got my heart pinned on this movie to recapture the magical, whimsical wonder that was the original Mary Poppins.  C’mon, Disney, don’t let me down.

Disney Recipes to Try – I’ve barely tried anything from the Raglan Road cookbook I got for Mother’s Day last year, so cooking up some Irish dishes is high on my priority list.  I’d also like to try Sanaa’s Naan Bread, ‘Ohana’s Stir Fried Noodles, Jiko’s Macaroni & Cheese.

RunDisney 2018 – This year, Megan will be joining Joseph and I for her first runDisney events.  The three of us are headed for Disney World in February for the Enchanted 10k and the Princess Half Marathon (now called the Fairy Tale Challenge).  Of course, Raymond will be there to cheer us on.  (I feel like the luckiest mom in the universe.)

West Coast Disney Cruise:  Before we go to Disneyland, Raymond and I are sailing on the Disney Wonder’s 4-night repositioning cruise from Vancouver to San Diego.  The last time we sailed on the Wonder was in 2011 on an Alaskan cruise and that was an outstanding vacation.  I’m sure this trip will be fantastic as well…can’t wait!

Still here?  I’ll let you in on something – there are a couple more things planned for 2018, but I can’t share them quite yet.  Check back in about two weeks and I’m sure I’ll be able to elaborate then on what special secret adventures our family has coming up soon.

Your Turn!  What are your 2018 Disney plans?



Disney Cruising – The Disney Dream’s Gingerbread House

There’s a small window in November to sail on Disney Cruise Line between their themed Halloween on the High Seas and Very Merrytime Cruises.  During this time, guests miss both holidays.  That’s when we sailed.  I was a little bummed about it on account of our cancelled cruise would have been a Halloween on the High Seas cruise and I’d bought us some totes adorbs (as the young folk say) Jack and Sally shirts to wear.  Oh, well.  All was not lost!

The Disney Dream’s Gingerbread House

The morning after we set sail, Raymond and I were up early (as always) and I had time to admire the gorgeous lobby atrium without anyone else there.  Something was off.  There was a wall.  Mysterious!  Later, as I approached the wall, I could very distinctly smell gingerbread – an amazingly delicious aroma that had me practically pressing my nose against that wall.  I detected activity and then saw a man behind the wall measuring something – he was making a gingerbread house!  You know how I am so it should come as no surprise when I tell you that I sort of hollered over, “Hello the Gingerbread House!  When will you be finished?”  A voice responded, “Before this cruise is over.”  I kind of felt like Dory speaking whale, “Thank youuuuuuu!”  And we went on with our vacation.

True to his word, the mystery gingerbread construction guy was right!  The morning we prepared to disembark, the Disney Dream’s Gingerbread House was complete!  And, BOY!  What a creation!  Inside and out, the house was packed with Disney magic.  Have you ever seen the gingerbread houses at Walt Disney World like the ones at the Grand Floridian or the Contemporary maybe?  This one was very unique with lots of details inside and out that captured a more playful, wistful feeling that the ones we’ve seen at Disney World.

As we made our way down the gangplank, Raymond directed my attention to the dock where a virtual forest of plastic-wrapped Christmas trees were being unloaded.  While it would have been fun to see the Dream in all her Christmas finery, we were there for the building and unveiling of the Gingerbread House and that was pixie dust enough for us.

Have you sailed on Disney Cruise Line for a seasonal cruise?  Which one?  How did you like it?



Considering a Disney Cruise? Why a Four-Night is Just Right!

Lots of Walt Disney World and Disneyland fans I know have considered adding Disney Cruise Line vacations to their Disney travel lineup.  I wholeheartedly encourage this idea!  While I’ve been a Disney World fan for almost 30 years, it took me a while to see the light and embrace Disney Cruise Line in the same way I do Disney World.  Yes, they’re vastly different experiences, but equally magical in their own way.  A while back I compared the two.  Today I’m offering advice on choosing the right first-Disney-cruise experience.

Considering a Disney Cruise? Why a Four-Night is Just Right!

If you’ve never taken your family on a cruise before, choosing the right one may make or break any future cruise potential.  Think about it.  Will anyone get seasick?  Will there be enough activities to make everyone happy?  Will the accommodations be sufficient for your family size?  All legitimate first-time cruiser questions.  I really worked hard to talk Raymond into that very first Disney cruise and it was only for 3-nights!  He was worried about all of the above plus thought a day-at-sea sounded like a hostage crisis.  Choosing an itinerary that offers the best chance of a successful first Disney cruise experience is crucial to success!

Four-Night Itineraries are like the Momma Bear’s stuff in Goldilocks and the Three Bears.  A three night cruise is too short.  Just when you get your bags unpacked and figure out where everything on the ship is located, it’s time to go.  A seven night cruise is too long for the first one.  It’s a pretty big commitment of both time and finances for trying something new.  For extreme seasickness sufferers, I imagine seven nights would feel like a month.  Four nights?  Just right!

The best things about Disney cruises – the service, the food, the characters, the shows, the gorgeous ships – it all takes time to explore.  Getting used to using the Disney Cruise Line app and the Personal Navigators to plan activities takes a day or so.  Your dining room servers stay with you in every dining room for every dinner service and they want to make you happy!  They try to anticipate your every need.  After a day or two, they know what your kids want to drink, they know what kind of wine you like, and they adapt to any food preferences/restrictions you have.  Four nights gives all this a chance to come together.Mickey and Minnie Mouse, DCL

Finally, the four night itineraries out of Port Canaveral are perfect for combining land and sea vacations!  Spend some time at Walt Disney World either before or after your first cruise.  Best of both worlds!  We’ve done this several times and have enjoyed every minute!

Have you taken your family on a Disney Cruise?  What itinerary to you like best?