Retirement… that thing everyone dreams of. My stepfather retired this year after many, many years in the work force and his gift to himself (and us!) was a family cruise on the Disney Magic.
The crew was a party of fifteen and included my husband and daughter, my sister and nieces, my brother and sister-in-law and his sons, my stepsister and two of her children, plus my mom and stepdad. While I book a lot of multi-generational trips and my family has done a few, we had never vacationed with all fifteen of us together. Concerned, was I? Yes, young padawan, I was. The kids ranged from 8 to 16 and then the adults ranged from 30+. We all have big personalities and being together on a cruise ship for 6 days seemed like maybe we’d need a little Magic to make it back in one piece.
We started our journey in Richmond, flying down to Fort Lauderdale for the night. Most Disney Cruises depart from Port Canaveral but this particular sailing went out of Miami. For many air travelers, Fort Lauderdale is a cheaper route than flying direct into Miami so we took that option. After taking a shuttle van (15 people plus a week’s worth of luggage!) to the Port of Miami, we were on the ship and ready for the fun. The Port of Miami experience was very different from Port Canaveral sailings and I’d definitely prefer to sail from Port Canaveral. Miami was just missing that ‘Disney feel’ for me personally.
Onboard, we ate and ate (and ate and ate) all week long. The never-ending ice cream was the cat’s meow for the kiddos (and my husband.) The weather was delightful with an occasional rain shower and despite some rough water, I think we couldn’t have asked for better. We enjoyed two days at sea with a day in Cozumel, Mexico plus a day at Castaway Cay (Disney’s island in the Bahamas) mixed in.
Cozumel was a blast with a little shopping and then a half day excursion out on Polaris RZRs to a beach and Punta Sur Eco Park. The beach was plagued by seaweed which has been a huge problem off and on all year in the Caribbean but we didn’t let it get us down. You haven’t lived until you’ve waded through feet and feet of squishy seaweed. Blech! The RZRs were a blast and everyone loved the ride around the island. We did get soaked by a quick downpour — less than exciting going 80 km/hr with no windshield in the pouring rain — but it was all good.
Castaway Cay never disappoints with the calm waters and bright sunshine. Hours were spent floating and laughing in the ocean there. It was shocking how much the water depth in the lagoons changed during the course of the day, I had not noticed that big of a difference in the past. It went from say 4-5 feet max in the morning to well over 8 feet by early afternoon out by the lagoon edges. The shoreline was also really eroded, I’m guessing from Hurricane Joaquin but not sure. I have never seen a drop off like there was on this visit from the beach chairs to the shoreline.
Service, excellent. Food, divine. Activities, great. Hey, we even met Jack and Sally from Nightmare before Christmas and trick-or-treated on the boat!
After the cruise, we went back to Fort Lauderdale and went out on a brief trip to Everglades Holiday Park home of the Gator Boys of Animal Planet fame. An airboat ride through the Everglades followed by a quick gator show and some gator bites (not for me!) rounded out the trip before our flight home. The airboat was so much fun! I would love to do that again.
Overall, we saw a lot, did a lot, and ate even more. Disney Cruises never disappoint. You know what the best part was though? Bonding with my family. I’m not one to be sappy but I tell you, this was the best trip. I spent some quality time with my brother and sister and I will treasure that forever. I’ve never spent any real time with my stepsister or her kiddos and that was a great addition. Super kids and I’m happy they were with us on this journey. I expected to have fun and maybe a little conflict while all together in close quarters, which of course happened, but I wouldn’t change a thing. I can’t wait to plan the next adventure to get us all back together.
A special thanks to my stepdad, Mike, for taking us on this journey. It means more to me than you’ll ever know and I know I’m not the only one. You brought us all together and that’s no small feat. ❤