|Meet and Greet with Mickey (photos: Michelle Richmond)|
Disney is by definition for kids (and kids at heart) so I invited Mateo to accompany me on this three-day sailing to their private island, Castaway Cay. No stranger to the cruise experience (he already had five under his cap) I figured that his observations would give me a "youthful" perspective on this voyage. I wasn’t disappointed. I just hadn’t counted on the non-stop activity I would be exposed to. What was I thinking?
We settle into our spacious cabin - complete with verandah - and I can sense Mateo's silent approval. He spies two cellular phones that family members can use to track one another while onboard and quickly voices his enthusiasm.
"Now, we can call each other from all over the ship," he declares.
After freshening up, we set off for lunch at the indoor-outdoor Cabanas restaurant. Simulating a California boardwalk – complete with palm trees, beach umbrellas, and seagulls – it offers an array of cold as well as hot choices scattered throughout the “food stations.”
Thankfully, Disney has dispensed with tiresome buffet lines.
Wishing and Spinning
|Mateo and new friend prepare for "launch"|
My head is spinning with all the excitement, but Mateo is already eyeing the AquaDuck, the enclosed signature water coaster, that spins you up, down and around the perimeter of the ship via raging "river rapids." We head over there before the lines grow any longer. He seems grateful that I'm accompanying him on the maiden run. We climb into the rubber raft and a crew member asks: "Have you ever done this before?"
"No," I respond.
"Well, if anything happens and you get stuck, don’t worry. Someone will be there to get you out right away,” he advises.
I can hardly wait for the "launch," yet it proves to be an exhilarating ride.
Mateo eventually makes “buddies” onboard and no longer needs – or wants - my company on the watery whirling dervish.
Later, I catch sight of the adult-only "tranquility" area with private pools, hot tubs, cozy café, spa and collection of dining options and bars. As appealing as it is, I have to admit that I wouldn't have given up one minute of bonding with my energetic grandson for all the secluded sundecks in the world.
Disney offers a variety of kids clubs ranging from the Oceaneer’s Club and Lab for grade schoolers, to the Edge for tweens and the Vibe for teens. There’s even a “Chill Spa” for teens with age-appropriate treatments.
Mysteries and Magic
Mateo opts out of the Oceaneer’s Club experience because "there were too many girls.”
Instead, he develops friendships with boys around the pool, the hot tub and on Goofy's Sports Deck with its nine-hole miniature golf course. I'm now on my own but he does check in periodically to apprise me of his next destination.
The high-tech, Midship Detective Agency scavenger hunt is a favorite. We're given a “secret” card which brings specific artwork around the ship to life when we pass it and we're given clues which send us off to solve the ship's mysteries. I wonder out loud how it works.
Mateo doesn’t hesitate to reply: “It’s magic.”
|Scary pirate was seen roaming the decks|
Buccaneer Blast, Disney’s pirate party at sea with fireworks is a highlight of the trip. Capt. Jack Sparrow leads the partying by zip lining
onto the deck, launching a raucous pirate show.
When the party ends one of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies starts on a LED screen. People drag out chairs and within minutes, the pounding pirate bash is transformed into a quiet movie-watching soiree.
|Chilling out on Castaway Cay|
Mateo and I don life jackets for a snorkeling expedition and head out to deep water, where we follow a path leading to the "Nautilus" from "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea." The seas are strong and we struggle back to shore, when I feel a small hand plop on my shoulder as Mateo attaches himself to me for the "ride" back. After a very satisfying lunch and beach time, we head back to the ship.
On our last evening, after Mateo shows me how the cell phone works. He has made plans to meet up with his new friend, 8-yr-old Mathew, from Seattle. He saunters away, phone tucked into his cargo pants, leaving me a wreck.
True to his word, he calls me at the agreed upon time, to let me know that he's on his way back to the cabin. We take advantage of the 24-hr room service and order a snack - which arrives within a few minutes - before setting our bags outside the door and call it a night.
While disembarking the next morning, I ask Mateo if he enjoyed the Fantasy and if he would sail with Disney again.
"Definitely," he replies.
I couldn't agree more. Was it relaxing? Not really, but would you expect anything less when traveling with a child on a Disney cruise? Was it fun? You bet!
If You Go:
For more information visit: http://disneycruise.disney.go.com/