Disney Cruise & Disney World 2013 Edition

Last month we went on another Disney Cruise. If you remember our last Disney Cruise (October 2012) was a lot of fun, but was interrupted by Hurricane Sandy. This trip was much better with the weather pretty much sunny and 80 degrees every day. The cruise was a total of 8 nights and left out of Galveston, Texas.

Our first stop was Disney’s private island called Castaway Cay (Bahamas). The island was really nice. They’ve got the beach kinda sectioned off for the different types of people and activities.
An area for snorkeling, jet skis, family beach area, adult beach area, a little kid water spout area and even an area of the beach for kids who want to play on the big water-fort-water-slide thing. And yes, Jennifer and I tested out the water-fort-water-slide thing. Since Disney owns the island there are hardly any people that live on the island, except for the workers. There aren’t any “locals”. Just workers who are there to serve you as soon as you arrive. There was even a daycare area so you could drop your kids off while you relaxed at the beach. I refer to their daycare as “The Fun Zone”, because it’s basically a bunch of kids playing on an awesome playground.

They even feed you lunch while you’re there. A huge buffet with all types of food. Whenever you get hungry, just walk up and ask for it. Doesn’t matter if you’ve already ate, just grab a new plate and have at it. They even have a few “all you can eat” ice cream cone machines.

The snorkeling was kinda neat because they had a sunken ship and “treasure chests” on the ocean floor that you had to try and find while you were snorkeling. They even had an underwater Mickey Mouse that you had to try and find. The snorkeling area was really big, but never got more than 12ft deep. You could tell Disney had done work to the island and the surrounding water front to make it more “friendly”. You are actually in the ocean, but without any of the dangers of being in the ocean. My wife calls it a “friendly fish” island. Something about Disney only allowing friendly fish around the island. I don’t know how true that is, but I’ll take her word for it.

Our next stop was Disney World. We docked at Port Canaveral early in the morning and about 7:00am we loaded up on a Disney bus and headed to Orlando. It was about a 45 minute ride. They play Disney cartoons on the bus TVs, which kept Siler content. We arrived at Magic Kingdom about 15-30 minutes before it opened, which allowed us to be some of the first people in the park. Some of the characters did a performance before they opened the gates.

We spent about half the day at Magic Kingdom and the rest at MGM. Some time around 8:30pm we got on one of the Disney buses and headed back to the boat at Port Canaveral. I believe the last bus left about 9:30pm from the parks, heading back to the cruise ship. So you get to spend a solid 12 hours if you want at any of the parks.

Our last stop was Key West, Florida. Maybe my favorite part of the trip was here when we got to go kayaking and snorkeling around Archer Key (one of the islands).

Archer Key is an island about 10 miles west of Key West and is a part of the National Wildlife Refuge. Which means you can’t touch the ocean floor or mess with any of the trees. The weird thing about this area is that it’s only about 6ft deep in most areas and 12ft is about as deep as it gets. There are a ton of sandbars all around Key West and you have to be really careful to follow the channels or you’ll end up running a shore. We saw a boat that had run up on the sand bar and our guides said there is a $5,000/day fine for that. They said most people go bankrupt or just leave their boats sitting there for someone to claim.

Our boat anchored to some buoys somewhat close to the island and then we got on our kayaks and went around the island. The guide was a big time hippy and had me cracking up. He kept trying to catch random animals. It was kinda neat because we ended up seeing a barracuda and a baby shark. My favorite part was just looking up from the kayak and seeing nothing but a tiny island and ocean water. It just a cool feeling like you’re out in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico with nothing but a kayak.

After kayaking we got our snorkeling gear and start snorkeling. Jennifer was a bit nervous cause we were pretty close to the area where we saw the baby shark. I assured her that the guide said the shark was only interested in the plant life. Honestly, I wasn’t 100% if that is what he said, but I’m pretty sure I heard him say something similar.

It was also a little different being in water with fish that aren’t afraid you’ll eat them. As we swam around the fish would just swim right with you like it was no big deal. Some would even give you a look like “hey buddy, would you mind getting out of the way – I’m swimming here”.

Once the snorkeling was done we went back towards the marina and looked for dolphins. We lucked out and ended up getting to see one right before we had to head back.

The trip was lots of fun and I would definitely recommend taking a Disney Cruise. Everything is top-notch and you just can’t beat the service.

Here are some useful links:
All the photos of the cruise that we uploaded to Flickr:

Flickr slideshow of all our cruise photos:

Below is a Flickr embedded slideshow of all our cruise photos: