DAY THREE — Our first day at sea and there is so much to do! We can go to a lecture about Malta where we will be tomorrow, play Bingo or go to a cooking demonstration, learn napkin folding or Origami. There is the spa and fitness center with the “Rainforest” relaxation area but there are also decidedly Disney activities–an early morning Playhouse Disney Party, a princess gathering (for those who want to meet their favorite characters). Our daily “navigator” tells us who will be where when Donald in the Gazebo at 1:15; Minnie in the Lobby at 10 p.m. for example.
There are a half dozen bambinos in Flounder’s Nursery on the Disney Magic (www.disneycruise.com), which seems like a very well appointed day care center (ratio is 1 staffer to six toddlers and 1:4 for infants. Parents pay $6 an hour ($5 for the second child) but considering that many ships don’t have in-room sitting or supervised activities for babies, this is a great bet whether parents want to explore the ports (imagine lugging an infant around Pompeii or Rome in the heat!) or just get a couple of hours for an adult dinner or a snooze at the adult pool.
There are also organized scheduled “family activities” to do with the youngest cruisers, whether playing in the pirate ship themed area on the slides, an hour of water play in the “Splash Zone” designed just for toddlers at the pool area or a special early morning Playhouse Disney Dance Party.
Nearly 100 kids ten and under are busy in the Oceaneer Lab—they’ve just finished making Flubber. Others are playing computer games. In the Oceaneer Club nearby on Deck 5, kids are playing floor games, and doing art projects. The program has now been designed so that kids can do what they like rather than what their age group is doing and siblings can stay together.
But there are also plenty of kids on the water slide at the pool, eating chicken fingers and burgers by the pool, watching Beauty and the Beast on the huge outdoor screen, wandering around the ship with their friends and parents. Our two jetlagged 14 year olds have only left the cabin this morning to get some food. Sad!
We have brunch at Palo, the adult-only restaurant at the top of the ship. Where to start? After our complimentary glass of sparking Italian wine our waiter Mladen Lekic from Serbia (the 980 crew are from 55 countries!) shows us around the appetizer table-where to start… crab claws and shrimp, seared tuna and scallops, caviar on toast points, smoked salmon and trout prosciutto with melon or wrapped around asparagus, grilled vegetables, cheeses (gorgonzola or cheddar with sage perhaps?), mozzarella and tomato salad, blue cheese and walnut bread, olive focaccia….green salad. And this is just the appetizer table! We can also opt for breakfast Danish, sticky buns and a sweet stolen with whipped cream and berries (who is counting calories or Weight Watchers points this sunny Sunday morning?).
After we’re sated, we have a choice of eggs Benedict, Florentine or Julia (made with smoked salmon) soup (mushroom or cold strawberry) or lunch offerings—pastas , chicken parmesan, oysters Rockefeller, grilled tilapia, veal ….We opt to do a “tasting” so there is room for dessert. Did I mention the assorted thin-crust pizza including one “sweet” pizza grapes and nuts)? The food is delicious and it is nice to be surrounded by adults on a ship teeming with kids for a leisurely meal. There is a surcharge for lunch and dinner here (less than $20) but it is well worth it—if only for the deserts—assorted petit fours that are too pretty to eat pink and white and chocolate, pot au crème, crème Brule, tiramisu.
We practically roll back to the cabin. Now what? Of course on a cruise ship this size on a day at sea there are activities every hour for all ages. We can go hang out at the adult pool, go to an art auction, go see a movie, join a shuffleboard challenge, go to a tequila tasting, a dance class or an “Ab Attack”…I like that the daily Navigator tells us “special activities” character meet and greets, movies, as well as family, adult only and what is going on at the various kids’ clubs, which include “Out and About“ activities for the kids 10-14 which today includes making pizza.
Why am I so focused on food?!