We made a huge mistake last year during our first family cruise on the Disney Dream.
After extensively researching activities to do with a 4 and 1 year old in Nassau, we decided to stay on the ship as suggested by many forum members.
While there were many things we took advantage of due to smaller crowds on the boat, by the time late afternoon rolled around we were all getting a bit stir crazy.
This photo was taken right after lunch and I wish I knew what they were thinking when I snapped it.
Sure the kids got to swim in an almost empty pool, we rode the Aquaduck several times (less than 2 minute wait time compared to 20+ minutes the day before!), were first in line to meet our favourite Disney characters and didn’t have to search very long for an empty table at Cabanas.
But being on a 4-night cruise with two scheduled ports (Nassau, Bahamas and Castaway Cay – Disney’s private island) we should have attempted to get off at each stop just for a change of scenery.
And probably some window shopping since all the shops on board were closed while the ship sat in port.
If anything, we should have walked to the Welcome Center for the free Wi-Fi instead of paying $0.75/minute on the ship. Because sometimes it’s difficult to completely disconnect on vacation – am I right?
There’s apparently a McDonalds with free Wi-Fi near the port and a few cafés within walking distance from Festival Place (Welcome Center) as well where many cruisers and crew members go to catch up on email.
Lesson learned. We WILL be getting off the ship in Nassau later this year during our Disney Wonder cruise.
Atlantis, Conch Fritters and Free Wi-Fi – we’re coming for you!
We thought briefly about staying on the ship on one of our cruises, but I was afraid of the stir craziness. Glad to know it was a good decision to debark.
It’s a mistake we won’t make again, Jessica!
Sally@Toddlers on Tour says
To me one of the benefits of cruising is being on a floating hotel that takes you to different destinations to visit.
Now whilst I know dragging kids around can be a chore, if you find the right activity (surely Disney would have great day trips to inspire the kids) you and your kids will get to see and experience some new sites. Plus with any luck they will come back tired and you can have a rest.
That’s what we were hoping by staying on the ship (the tours were fully booked by the time we got to Nassau) — to tire them out with activities, Sally. Unfortunately we didn’t do enough ;). This year we will be booking tours for every port way in advance.
If I might give you a bit of a warning, DO book an excursion of some type, rather than trying to just hang out in Nassau. Atlantis is lovely, the Welcome Center is okay, but much of Nassau itself is a bit seedy, and I would imagine with small children could be quite nerve-wracking. The Blue Lagoon Island Dolphin Encounter and Atlantis Aquaventure are both very expensive, but a lot of fun and really beautiful. I haven’t personally tried anything else, but there has to be something family-friendly and reasonably priced.
Atlantis and the Blue Lagoon Island Dolphin Encounter are at the top of our list this year. Thanks for the recos, Jo 🙂
Karen Dawkins says
You do know that if you book a room at the hotel near Atlantis you can use the Atlantis water park all day without paying the outrageous shore excursion fee, right? Info is on cruise critic (though I really need to write a blog post about it!) Happy travels!
Thanks for the tip Karen. I don’t think I came across that on Cruise Critic when I was researching (or maybe I wasn’t looking too hard for info because I came across many posts recommending to stay on board). I’ll have to look into it later this year.
eileen @ FamilieGo! says
We took a cruise to Bermuda when Tiny Traveler was 2.5. There wasn’t a lot for her to do onboard aside from the pool. When we got off the ship and got to the beach, she ran in circles yelling, “yah, yah, yah, yah, yah!” The first time I ever saw someone literally getting there yah-yahs out. But the port dockyard had a playground, The possibility of which is reason enough to get off a ship with little kids!
Ha! Cute story, Eileen. I have a feeling my son would have the same reaction this year too. He is a big bundle of energy!
angela m says
We have talked about taking a family cruise. .75 a minute seems very expensive. Is most things on the ship expensive?
Nope, it’s just access to the internet that is pricey on cruise ships, Angela. Cruising is quite affordable and similar to all inclusives.
Most things on the ship are included in your cruise fare. Notable exceptions are alcohol, internet access and soda in certain situations(on a Disney cruise, it’s included with meals or from a specific pool deck fountain setup, but costs extra anywhere else), which are all quite pricey, but also generally avoidable. There are other things that are not included, but they are generally very much extras(spa visits, bingo, snacks at the theater, the adults-only restaurant). You could definitely cruise without spending much beyond your cruise fare, transportation and tips, if you wanted or needed to.
Darlene Schuller says
Live & Learn! If nothing else, I’m sure your next cruise will be much more pleasant.
We traveled around Nassau a few years ago. Everyone headed to the Atlantis, but we headed in the other direction. We wanted to see the city. It was a mistake! It was scary. People followed us to the beach and kept circling around us getting closer. I didnt go into the water, because I had to keep an eye on our belongings. My husband freaked out and we left the beach and couldnt wait to get back on the boat!
Melinda L. says
Hahaha. I know how it is. It’s really hard to live without wifi and it’s hard not to go stir crazy when you are cooped up on the ship most of the time. Well it was definitely an experience, now you know 🙂
thanks for passing on the tips for the rest of us
Mellisa Louise says
I would never be able to stay on the ship if its docked OMG! At least the lines were short though.
DARLENE W says
We have only cruised without children but are thinking of taking the grandkids on a Disney cruise next year. We will be booking excursions before we reach our destinations. 5 grandkids will be coming so we need to keep them all busy
Lila Asnani says
A good tip and one that most people are not aware of! Still looked like a fun vacation. 🙂
Roberta Hofmann says
Even though this is a couple years old, people– like me– will find it. I was in Nassau in 2012 and 2014 on Disney cruises. I did not find it seedy. I was there in 1972 as well, and I will have to say it was far more charming then and in the 1990’s when it was more charming than today. There is not a lot to see there, but I would not call it “seedy.” We walked the 2 or 3 blocks to the beach on both occasions with our young grandsons where they picked up shells and sea glass. Nobody circled or threatened us. We were alone other than a few other families. So nonsense, I say! McDonalds is two or three blocks to the right when you get on the main street. It is on the left side if you are heading for the beach. We used the wi-fi and had ice cream sundaes. It was quite clean. So do not fear Nassau.