Last December, I happened upon a cruise that would check of many of our must-see places all at once! It was a 12-night Disney Cruise on the Magic to Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Scotland, and England!! I was so excited, and when I told MyMan about it – he immediately said, “Book It!!” So that’s what I did. And boy, we weren’t disappointed!!
Let me say this upfront – because it’s important. MyMan and I are NOT huge Disney goers. We of course we have all the movies, and enjoy them. We have been to Walt Disney World exactly ONCE – when Oldest was 4 years old, and Littlest was 9 months. We enjoy Mickey and Minnie as much as the next person, we just aren’t the huge avid fans that you can run across. But seeing as Littlest is now 6 years old, we thought this particular cruise could tackle a couple of birds with one stone – she would be able to get some of that Disney magic that she doesn’t remember from our first experience, and we would be able to see lots of new places in one trip. What could be better?
I booked this trip the night before we left for Barcelona in December of last year – so after that trip, the new year, getting back into the groove of school, birthdays, and Carnival earlier this year – I didn’t even BEGIN to think about plans for this cruise until around late March or so. This was not our first cruise, but it WAS our first cruise with Disney. I had forgotten just how much planning is needed for cruises!! If you have ever been to either of the parks, or on a cruise – you know that some SERIOUS planning can be involved! You can wing it of course, but to get your true money’s worth out of the experience, some good planning can take you a LONG way. Luckily for MY family – I enjoy planning our trips. So I hunkered down and started looking at our itinerary.
And then I immediately got extremely overwhelmed! There was SO MUCH information. I was very anxious and stressed out about picking the right excursions that everyone would enjoy. Plus I needed to research the locations we were going, because frankly – I didn’t know much about them, and some of the ports I had never heard of! So I wasn’t sure where to begin even knowing what would be fun to do in those places! I will say this – THANK GOD FOR TRIPADVISOR!! And a HUGE THANK YOU to my good friend and Disney Travel Planner, Shanna Lumpkin with Magical Moments Vacations – she booked our trip, answered my questions, and kept me calm when I would begin to freak out!
Shanna hooked me up with a Facebook group that had started of passengers who would be on our cruise – and that was invaluable! Not only did I make some great friends by doing this, most of them had sailed with Disney cruises before so they knew what to expect and shared their knowledge with the rest of us clueless people. I also read the DisBoards and that was also a wealth of information (but can be VERY overwhelming). But it’s a great place for information regarding anything Disney.
To help calm my nerves and soothe my organizational needs, I created a cruise folder. This was so helpful for me. It kept the Port of Calls separate and in order, and it allowed me to have tickets if needed at each Port of Call.
Here is an example of the inside. On the left is Day 8. On the front I had what our schedule was for that day, and on the back I had our tickets for an ATV tour of Reykjavik, Iceland. I just took this section with us when we went ashore, and I had information about the tour guide we were meeting, and proof of our paid tickets. I don’t enjoy relying on technology to keep that information as I’ve been burned before when something I needed didn’t save. On the right is the itinerary for our second Sea Day – which you can see I had several things booked aboard the ship throughout the day. Disney has rotational dining, so on each day I wrote the location where we were to have dinner (this day we ate at Lumier’s).
Another thing I really enjoyed about having a folder system like this was I was able to write notes and reminders to myself for the following day. On this particular day in Kirkwall, we didn’t have any specific excursions booked, so I wrote down various things I wanted to see around the city (after I had researched TripAdvisor). And we ended up seeing all of them except the distillery!
Last, but not least, were some of the must haves that many people who have cruised have said they take with them to make life aboard the ship easier. And I followed most of their advice, and have to say – it ALL did come in quite handy!
A pop up hamper. Yes, a hamper! This was a 12 night cruise, plus an overnight stay in Copenhagen before the cruise, and a stayover in London after the cruise. So that meant I had to pack enough clothes for a family of 4 to last 15 days. I managed to do it, thanks to packing cubes (that I absolutely ADORE). Plus I didn’t want to have to do laundry on the ship if I didn’t have to! So I went to Ikea and bought a $10 pop up hamper like this one. It folds flat and doesn’t take up room in the suitcase, plus it weighs next to nothing.
I kept it in the closet part of the ship – out of the way, and easy to get to when undressing for the night. Highly recommend taking one! I left ours behind because I have plenty of hampers here at the house, and just didn’t have space for another one. It held all of our clothes for the trip, with no overflowing.
Another great idea is a shoe holder. Disney has a new rule that prevents you from hanging anything over their doors. but they do have hooks that you can hang items from around the room. So while at Ikea buying the hamper, I bought a $6 shoe holder. It folds flat, and also doesn’t weigh hardly anything, so easy to pack. I also left this behind when the cruise was over, but it was great to have during the cruise! A family of 2 adults and 2 kids can go through a lot of shoes throughout a long trip. This keeps them off the floor and organized so no one is wasting time looking for the “missing” shoe every day! It’s also great for any other items you wish to keep close at hand besides shoes. This was taken the last day of our cruise, so all of our shoes had been packed but what MyMan and I were going to wear off the ship. Plus this hook was a great place to keep our lanyards/Disney ID cards within easy reach. You can’t see it in the picture, but this is hanging by a coat hanger type of hook. Other items that I found to come in quite handy throughout our cruise were:
- a highlighter to mark things you wanted to do in the daily Navigator.
- a dry erase board and marker to be able to leave notes for other members of your party when you leave the stateroom.
- large zip lock backs – great for wet clothing, bathing suits, taking on excursions to help various items that might need waterproofing, etc.
- a light backpack – this was needed for us because where we went, the weather was always changing. Some days were cold and we needed a jacket, but got warm as the day went on, others day could get rainy. A backpack was great for a handsfree place to keep layers, a camera, my page for each day from my folder, water bottles, snacks, etc.
After much planning, the cruise was finally here! Everyone was so excited and ready to go on vacation and see some exciting new places. First up – Copenhagen, Denmark!