Trip Report: A Disney Fantasy Cruise with Little Ones – Part 3
BY BETH S – MAY 2012
We made a bit of a scheduling mishap, and scheduled brunch at Palo the morning following our delicious dinner there. It would have been better to do brunch first and dinner the next night, because we were still full from the previous night.
The girls both needed to be fed prior to our brunch reservation, so we got breakfast for them at Cabanas and dropped them at the Club and Nursery. Brunch at Palo was a treat. I enjoyed it more than dinner the night before, and would suggest if you can only choose one, to do brunch. There is a well-stocked buffet full of gourmet offerings, including caviar and specialty hot entrees. The brunch dessert choices were decadent and superb.
Following brunch we hit the pools on Decks 11 and 12. Ella enjoyed the Mickey Slide and floating in the Mickey Pool. Mia loved Nemo’s Reef. We also found there is a small pool on Deck 12 that is quiet and less crowded. It allows toilet-trained children and adults, and has more chairs available for lounging. Also, it is shallow enough for a young child to play without needing a hovering parent or water wings.
Instead of bulky disposable swim diapers I packed two reusable ones for Mia. They worked great, took up less suitcase space, and didn’t hold moisture as much as the disposable ones do. You can buy disposable ones at Quacks (Deck 11) or use the Babies Travel Lite service to have all diapers and baby foods delivered to your stateroom and avoid the excess bulk packing.
I made her take a bath before the appointment, and we showed up at BBB with wet hair. They do not have scissors, hair dryers or curling irons, and will not paint toenails. We selected the Castle Package for $184.95. The package included a dress, shoes, crown, wand, sash, tiara, makeup, face jewels, fingernail painting, and a full dosing in glitter. There are multiple pricing levels and packages available but I knew Ella was mostly interested in the dress. To lessen the cost you could bring a dress or costume from home (Target has less-elaborate versions for around $20), or just buy the dress in one of the shops on Deck 3 for $64.95. Most, but not all, of the identical dresses are available in the shop, as are some of the accessories. It appears the package prices equal the actual cost of buying all of the items (hair, makeup, dress and accessories) separately. For just hair and makeup BBB charges $54.95.
BBB is available for girls and boys ages 3 – 12. Boys can choose from a few pirate selections, and girls can be princesses, mermaids, Tinker Bell, Minnie, or a pirate. When you make the appointment they ask for dress and shoe sizes, and the child’s personal dress package is compiled and ready when you arrive.
Ella was elated to be transformed into Tinker Bell. BBB has a private changing room, and asks parents to change the child into their costume before the makeover. Each child is assigned a “Fairy Godmother In-Training” to do his / her hair and makeup. Each child can choose her hairstyle from a menu of three, ranging from classic Fairy Tale Princess to some more punk looking ones that include colorful extensions. Ella opted for the classic up-do, which included a tiara. She also chose her eye shadow colors, nail polish colors, and which sparkly jewel she wanted on her face. She got to bring home all the makeup and nail polish, and her wand / crown. The whole transformation takes approximately thirty minutes.
After the makeover, Ella was so excited she was star-struck by herself. She felt very special and like a princess (although if you asked her she would say she felt like a fairy). It was definitely one of the highlights of the trip for her. She immediately wanted to be dropped off at the Club so she could show her new look to all the other kids. Ella wore her Tinker Bell dress for at least part of each day for the remainder of the trip. It was good to do BBB early in the week so she could really enjoy the costume. However, I must say the Tinker Bell dress had a major flaw – the wings were detachable and didn’t Velcro on very securely. Ella lost her wings the very first night she wore them, and they disappeared. For a $64.95 dress, I think it should be a bit better made. Eventually we did recover some wings from Lost and Found, but I suspect they might not have been Ella’s because it was several days later when they appeared.
That night we let Ella sleep with her hair / makeup intact, and even a full night’s sleep did little to alter the massive amounts of gel and hairspray BBB used. It took about 4 hours of playing in the ocean at St. Maarten to get her hair thoroughly rinsed, and a bath with ample shampoo to get it back to soft little girl hair.
Late that night I realized one thing my husband and I hadn’t had a chance to do yet was the AquaDuck. So after I put the girls to bed, I put on my suit, left Danny in the cabin with them, and snuck out to do some late night water sliding. The AquaDuck is open until 10:00 pm, and has fun lights throughout. At night it feels a bit like Space Mountain. That night the wind was high so they required two passengers to ride. I partnered with a dad whose kids were older, and it was a lot of fun. When I returned to the stateroom my husband took a turn riding the AquaDuck.
Our girls go to sleep early (between 6:00 – 7:00 pm at home), and both need a lot of rest to be pleasant human beings. I find that if they get decent sleep at night they take fewer or shorter naps during the day, and I would rather be out and about during the day than out at night. So we missed many of the night activities to allow the girls to sleep. Most nights we were so tired from the day that going to bed before 9:00 was welcome.
The sand was white, fine and perfect. There were not any beach toys available to use, and even though I packed some I forgot to bring them with us. The kids used plastic cups to try to form sandcastles. The beach faced east and the waves were medium sized. For the most part they were small enough for Ella to play in with close parental supervision. Ella has not learned how to swim by herself yet, but has taken several swim lessons and is comfortable in the water.
The beach area had access to shops, restaurants, bathrooms, showers, and a bar. It was an easy and perfect beach day with little kids. If you have young children I recommend signing up for excursions because they are a mindless and simple way to see the port destination. We’re finding that with little kids, staying on the beaten path is often the best choice while traveling.
Mia napped on a beach chair under an umbrella. We rented a Peg Perego stroller from Disney and found we really didn’t need it. The bus dropped us right at the beach and returned us to the ship. The bus ride takes approximately 20-30 minutes and traversed the entire island, so we saw what most of St. Maarten looks like.
It was just enough beach time. After returning to the ship we rinsed off and played in the pools, and had soft serve ice cream on Deck 11.
Mia and I returned to our room to shower and bathe for dinner, and Danny and Ella stayed on Deck 11 playing in the pool for a bit longer. When they returned, Ella went into the bathroom and accidently closed the bathroom door on her thumb. My husband quickly assessed the injury, squeezed toilet paper over her thumb to put pressure on it, and told me we needed to go to the Health Center.
The Health Center is on Deck 1 Forward. We took the elevator to Deck 1 Midship and had to go back up to Deck 3, go to Forward, and then back down to Deck 1. We also didn’t realize that the Health Center is only open in the morning (7ish – 9ish) and evening (4:30pm- 7:30pm). During the off hours, you can call the health emergency number listed on your stateroom phone for access to the medical staff. Also, sometimes even during the times the Health Center is open there is a sealed heavy yellow door blocking the entrance. There are instructions on how to open the door, and you can do it yourself to gain entry to the Health Center. Hopefully this is information you will not have to use!
Ella required stitches, x-rays, and significant bandaging over her thumb. The Health Center was fully stocked and capable of dealing with her injury. Disney contracts out the Health Center staffing to Vanter Cruise Health Services, and there were two doctors on board and five or six registered nurses. Ella received prescription antibiotics and pain medication. We had to return the next two evenings to check the healing process. The Health Center staff was helpful, friendly, compassionate, and professional. While it was unfortunate that Ella was injured, the Health Center was fully capable of taking care of her medical needs.
The cost was not too crazy ($425 for all of the care provided) and it appears it will be covered by our trip insurance. Additionally, after we returned home and saw our pediatrician, got further x-rays, and consulted an orthopedist we found the care regimen and diagnosis made by the onboard medical staff were exactly in-line with our trusted specialists at home.
After finishing up at the Health Center, we returned to our stateroom to get the girls dressed for dinner (Mia was in just a diaper and Ella was still in her swimsuit when this all happened). Ella wanted to wear her Tinker Bell dress from BBB, and proved once again how amazingly resilient kids are. Other than not being able to do much pool or beach time, Ella was barely slowed down by her bandaged appendage. Impressively, there was more than enough for her to do on the boat even without the pools.
It was the night of the Pirate Party, but we largely missed the fun because we were fairly exhausted by the end of dinner. The crew members gave Ella special attention and extra care. Our dinner server brought her special foods that weren’t on the menu and a fun light-up cup. In fact, throughout the week the crew members who heard about her injury gave her all sorts of free gifts and toys. When we got home, Ella asked her grandmother what present she had for her because of her thumb!