Aleisha, her husband, and their 10-year-old and 7-year-old children, recently experienced their first trip overseas and first cruise. She shares with Shannon details of their two-week adventure including packing in carry-on bags only, navigating London via the Tube, downtime in nearby Weymouth, and a week-long stay on the Disney Dream cruise ship exploring ports in Norway. Listen to hear Aleisha’s thoughts on the cruise food, port adventures, character meets, and her list of pluses and minuses of international cruise ship travel.
Post trip starts at 29 minutes.
Aleisha, her husband, and their two children traveled from their home in Vancouver to London. They spent a few days traveling England before boarding a Disney Cruise.
Aleisha and her family departed Canada on August 12. They spent August 13-18 before embarking on their cruise on August 19. They arrived back to port on August 26 to fly home.
They were planning to go to Alaska in 2020 and when it was canceled they decided to plan something else now that they kids are bigger and can do more things. When they decided to book something, they chose to go international.
Departure (August 12)
Aleisha and her family flew from Vancouver to Heathrow. They only packed carry-on bags and their flights were on time. Aleisha was worried about flights but everything was so smooth.
They were even able to bid on an upgrade for the flight over there and were in premium economy for their overnight flight. No one slept well, but the flight was uneventful
Arrival in London (August 13)
The line was fairly long so they did the fast track lane and loved doing the London Eye. Their Disney training prepared this for them. All attractions have the same elements – lines, paying more to skip lines, ending in a gift shop, etc.
They played at a playground before getting dinner and arriving back to the hotel at 8:30 p.m. Everyone slept really well and they were acclimated to London time.
London (August 14)
They had a wonderful hotel breakfast that morning. After breakfast they took the tube to the Natural History Museum.
The tube was incredibly easy to navigate. The museum was very busy and crowded, but amazing. After the museum, they went to a really great tea at a nearby hotel.
They had planned to do a hop on hop off bus tour but decided to do a Terrible Thames boat tour. This was a very good time.
When they got back to the hotel after the tour, they looked up some of the things they’d learned on the tour to learn more.
They went to a market to get some food for dinner before going back to the hotel to watch a movie.
British Museum (August 15)
They had previously booked a guided tour at the British Museum. It was 3 hours long, but they only lasted about 2.5 hours. Aleisha said that the guided tour wasn’t the best value, but it did make the museum more manageable.
The museum was fun for their family and there were things that were very interesting for the kids. After that they did some wandering and shopping. They loved a book store especially.
They’d planned to see Buckingham Palace, but the kids were more interested in the book store and ice cream. They had already walked a lot that day.
They went to an Indian restaurant that was really fun for dinner. They didn’t do the hop on hop off bus tour but the kids wanted to ride a double decker bus. They took one from dinner to their hotel.
Harry Potter Studio Tour (August 16)
Aleisha and her family had a very early morning with the earliest time to do the Harry Potter Studio Tour.
They were first in line in the lobby. They were with a group for a bit and then they were on their own to tour. The kids were a little disappointed that there weren’t any rides, but they liked it.
There were incredible photo opportunities and lots of really neat things. They had lunch at the cafeteria before heading back to the hotel.
The kids were so tired so they took naps when they got back to the hotel before their night out!
Aleisha and her son saw the Lion King and her daughter and husband went to see Wicked. They loved it. Her daughter really loved Wicked. Her son was right on the aisle and there was a lot of action in the aisle which kept him engaged.
They both took cabs back to the hotel after the shows. When they got back to their room, they started packing.
Tower of London (August 17)
They woke up a little later than intended and rushed to the Tower of London. It was a 15-20 minute walk and they arrived around 9:20 a.m.
Their first stop was the Crown Jewels because it can get very busy. They wandered around looking at things and then took a bus back to the hotel.
They changed when they got back to their room, got their bags, and took the train to Waterloo station.
Aleisha really loved the food options at the tube stations. It was very easy to get snacks and food on the go.
They got lunch at Waterloo Station to Weymouth. Aleisha was really grateful for carryon luggage because it fit in the train.
While on the train, Aleisha was also able to get 12 Taylor Swift tickets! They had wifi on the train and were able to get tickets for their friends as well.
They arrived at Weymouth and it was very fun. It reminded them of what people would think of the Jersey Shore.
They checked into their hotel and the kids were at the beach within 15 minutes. They didn’t even mind that it was cold. They loved just playing in the water.
Weymouth (August 18)
They had planned to rent a car in Weymouth but the car rental location in town was closed, so they opted to just use the bus.
They wanted to have a slower-paced day. They rode on an open-air double decker bus. They went to Durdle Door. They did some hiking and exploring.
They had some lunch before taking the bus back to their hotel. They got some food for the room and then they just relaxed.
Around 4 p.m. they went on some carnival rides and play at the arcade. They got some seafood for dinner that was delicious.
Embarkation (August 19)
This hotel also had a great breakfast. Aleisha really enjoyed this.
They planned to take the train at 9 a.m. Aleisha had used Trainline to purchase them but it ended up that they could go anytime. Their port arrival time wasn’t until 12:45 p.m.
They took the train at 10 a.m. and arrived at Southampton at 11:30 a.m. They walked from there to the port, which was a 15 minute walk.
They arrived to port at 12 p.m. and were told they could check their bags immediately, even though their port arrival time was 12:45 p.m.
They hadn’t received their luggage tags prior to arriving but they were just given them at the port. Everything was very quick and they were in the lounge by 12:30 p.m.
Aleisha was able to get logged into ship wifi and book an Amsterdam excursion. It took about an hour to board the ship.
By the time they were able to board, their room was available. They went to Cabanas and the open house for the kids club. Then it was time for their muster drill.
Aleisha’s husband was able at that point to take their dirty laundry – he got the last washer as a lot of the machines were broken.
The Sail Away party was next and the kids were able to be right up front to see everything. When that was over they did some swimming before getting ready for dinner.
Dinner that evening was at the Enchanted Garden. Aleisha thought it was very pretty. The food overall was good but not great. They were really good with having food for the children and making substitutions for vegetables and things.
The children went to the Kid’s club after dinner. Aleisha and her husband unpacked, Aleisha got a reservation for the sports simulator for her son, and then she took the kids to see the Golden Mickeys while her husband rested. They really liked the Golden Mickeys, especially the starfish!
The kids enjoyed the kid’s club. Her youngest really loved it because he loved playing Mario Cart and video games. Aleisha’s daughter was a little older for the Kid’s Club. The tween section is 11-14 years old and she might have liked that better.
Her daughter was able to have a bit more freedom than her younger brother. Aleisha wishes she had a device so that she could contact her daughter on the ship.
Because they’d already been traveling, they arrived on the cruise tired already. The kids had some trouble sleeping the first night on the cruise as well.
Rotterdam Port (August 20)
The night before they had ordered pastries for breakfast for the kids. These were delivered around 8 a.m.
Aleisha had previously booked a 75 minute massage for today at 8 a.m. She enjoyed the spa and the massage. She felt it was a bit salesy at the end but the service was lovely.
After her massage, Aleisha met her family at Cabanas. It was chaotic and a bit overwhelming. The food was good but not great. It was like a Disney buffet on a cruise ship.
There were a lot of options but the quality wasn’t the best. Every other morning it was much less chaotic.
They booked the Amsterdam on their own tour. They booked that from the terminal when they arrived at the ship. They met in the theater at 11 a.m.
Disembarkation in Amsterdam was very chaotic as well. They were with their Disney excursion group but it was still very busy. They waited in a line for a very long time to get off the ship.
They got on a bus around 12 p.m. and were dropped off in Amsterdam. They arrived at 1:15 p.m. and took an Uber to the Van Gogh Museum. They had previously purchased tickets. When they got there they decided to do the audio tour.
The audio worked really well for the kids but her youngest only lasted about an hour. They didn’t have much of a plan afterward.
Aleisha had trouble planning their day around the excursions because there wasn’t a whole lot of information provided beforehand.
They had to be back at the bus at 5:30 p.m. They opened to walk back to the bus slowly, getting snacks along their way. The walk took a while and they shopped their way back.
Public restrooms aren’t very popular and even the paid options are not very convenient. Aleisha recommends that when you find a public restroom you should use it because you might not find one when you need it.
They arrived back at the port and got stuck in some traffic. They were back to the ship at 7:30 p.m. Because of this, they missed dinner. They’d been told that Cabana’s would be open for dinner, but it wasn’t.
They went to the quick service option on the ship for dinner. The kids spent some time at the Kid’s Club while Aleisha and her husband enjoyed a drink and wandered around.
They got the kids and were able to meet Donald, which was really special because he is her son’s favorite. After that, they were able to go to trivia and get some more food.
Aleisha’s husband went to bed and she took the kids to play a game called Mirror. They ended up winning, which was super fun!
Day at Sea (August 20)
After sleeping in they got some breakfast at Cabanas. It was much less chaotic than the day before.
After breakfast they rope-dropped the pool. They waited in line for the AquaDuck. Aleisha went to the adult’s only hot tub for a bit.
They did the Midship Detective Agency. This was really fun and Aleisha said her kids were the perfect ages for this.
Aleisha’s son went to the Kid’s Club for a while. They tried to do the Animation class but it was very crowded. They ended up at another game and Aleisha’s daughter won!
Aleisha’s son went to the Kid’s Club after that to stay. Aleisha and her daughter read on the deck before it was time to get ready for formal night.
Aleisha said that people were wearing everything from very formal to much more casual. She and her family were somewhere in the middle.
Aleisha got the kids ready and her husband went to get in line to meet Mickey Mouse. They got in line with him and got their photos taken with him.
Their dinner this evening was at Animator’s Palate and this was Aleisha’s favorite. They were very close to Crush, which was really fun.
After dinner they went to the Family Game Show. Aleisha’s son didn’t want to go to the show that night, so he and her husband did something while she and her daughter went to Beauty and the Beast.
Aleisha went to Guest Services to check on their excursion the next day. It was booked for 2 p.m. and was showing in the app at 12:45 p.m. They got back to their room and had a note on their door saying that all port excursions for the next day were canceled. They weren’t sure why.
Skjolden, Norway (August 22)
Aleisha and her family woke up and got breakfast before going down to the atrium at 9:45 a.m. for disembarkation. They were supposed to disembark at 10 a.m. but it wasn’t until about 10:15 a.m. before they knew where they needed to go.
It was a bit chaotic but they were off the ship by 10:40 a.m. They had shuttles set up for anyone with an excursion cancelled to a waterfall. They took the shuttle to the waterfall and looked around. They had the driver drop them in town.
In town they walked to a viewpoint in town and it was just beautiful. After the hike, the kids were ready to be back on the ship. They got back on the ship for a late lunch.
They did some things on the ship like mini-gold and playing some games. They did more Midship Detective Agency before ordering pizza room service for the kids for dinner.
They tried to see Stitch but they got there 15 minutes early and there were at least 75 parties in front of them. They opted not to wait because it was just too long.
Aleisha says the service was excellent and the food was incredible. They were sailing out during their dinner, seeing beautiful views.
After dinner it was raining so they got some snacks and went back to the room with the kids.
Nordfjorerd, Norway (August 23)
Aleisha and her family woke up early at 6:30 a.m. and went down for breakfast. They were supposed to be getting off the ship at 8 a.m. and they got to the atrium at 7:45 a.m.
Once it was 8 a.m. things started to move quickly and they were off the ship easily. They rented a car and that process was very smooth.
They drove to Briksdalsbreen Glacier. The hike was fairly moderate but they did it! It was really beautiful. It was drizzling, but it wasn’t raining.
On the way down, there went to the Loen skylift. They were a little rushed for time and they wish they’d had more time. They did have lunch at the top, which was really nice.
The gondola was timed and not constantly loading, but they did get back to the ship around 3:05 p.m. They didn’t need to be back until 4 p.m. so they had plenty of time even doing two excursions.
When they got back to the ship and they had some relaxing time before having dinner. Then they went to Mickey’s Color Dance Party. It started raining and they cut it short, but they really enjoyed it.
Her son went to bed early while her daughter watched a movie in the theatre.
Mekjarvik, Norway (August 24)
Aleisha let her daughter sleep in a bit because of the late movie. They found that leaving a bit later was much easier to disembark. It was less chaotic.
They had previously booked a taxi to take them to their excursion but then it was announced that shuttle buses would be provided. They canceled their taxi and took the shuttle bus to Stavanger.
They arrived around 9 a.m. and had about an hour to walk around town before their rib boat tour. They got some treats before getting to the excursion.
The boats go about 65 miles an hour, which is very fast! Everyone enjoyed it.
They had lunch at the marina when they got back and enjoyed that. They planned to stay longer, but they opted to just go back to the ship.
They took the shuttle back to the ship. Aleisha’s son went to the Kid’s Club while she and her daughter went swimming.
They wanted to meet Stitch so they went to the lobby at 4:40 p.m. for a 5:15 p.m. meet and greet. They met Stitch and Chip & Dale.
Day at Sea (August 25)
They slept in a bit before their 9 a.m. reservation for the Royal Gathering. They went right to their reservation first thing.
They got breakfast and Aleisha’s son went to the Kid’s Club. They played some trivia.
At 11:30 a.m. Aleisha’s daughter went to her Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. It was a wonderful experience. At 12 p.m. her son had a sports simulator appointment.
After that, Aleisha’s daughter and husband went to see the Haunted Mansion again while her son went to the Kid’s Club. She read for a bit and they played some trivia together.
At 4:15 p.m. they met Donald again and went back to the room to get ready for their semi-formal dinner night.
They were able to get photos with Minnie tonight as well, which was really fun.
They had a good dinner and then they went to Vanellope’s for ice cream. Aleisha went to Shutters to pick out photos from their trip. After that they went to the Believe show together. They all enjoyed it.
After the show they did some shopping and finished up the Midship Detective Agency. They went back to the room and went to bed.
Disembarkation (August 26)
Everyone woke up at 6:15 a.m. and got some breakfast. They got in line at 7:10 a.m. and were off the ship at 7:25 a.m.
They pre-booked their airport shuttle to Heathrow and they got there around 9:15 a.m. They were told not to book a flight before 2:50 p.m. and their flight was at 2:10 p.m. so Aleisha was very nervous about getting there on time.
However, they were there plenty early to get on their flight. They had a smooth flight back and were back safely.
Additional tips from Aleisha:
Two additional things to pack:
- Magnetic hooks (stick to all the walls) for hanging hoodies, coats, and key to the world lanyards and keep stateroom organized
- Lanyards for first time cruisers for your key to the world cards (they need to have the plastic pouch to hold the cards)
- We used esim cards through an app called airalo for our whole trip. They are very cheap ($20 for 5gb of data good for 60 days). The only thing is it won’t be your home phone number when texting
- Also worked when in port and on the ship at many points when cruising through the Fjords/Rotterdam. It only didn’t work on days at sea when nothing in range
- Aleisha’s husband bought a wifi package one day at sea on the ship to do his fantasy football draft and it worked fine (although a bit slow)
- Andaz London Liverpool Street
- Briksdalsbreen Glacier
- Loen Skylift
- Fjord Safari RIB Boat Lysefjorden
- Disney Cruise Line
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