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Erin’s DCL cruise out of NOLA – PREP 398

Erin’s DCL cruise out of NOLA – PREP 398

Erin and her husband surprised their two children with a 7-night Western Caribbean cruise departing from New Orleans on the Disney Magic. She said their vacation was, “The best time – the trip I had been dreaming we would have for years.” Listen as she shares tips on how she helped make her first family cruise a fantastic one.

Post trip begins: 33 minutes

The Basics

Erin and her family went on their very first cruise as a family on the Disney Magic out of New Orleans – a short drive for their family. Their cruise was 7 nights including Valentine’s Day, Mardi Gras, and the Super Bowl.

They left their home on February 8 to catch a Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans and be close to the port for their embarkation on February 9. They arrived back in New Orleans the morning of February 16.

Erin’s two children, ages 11 and 7, were surprised by this cruise the morning of their embarkation. Her son has some food allergies and they navigated those very well on the ship.

They are going on this cruise because the kids have Mardi Gras off. They haven’t been on a cruise since their honeymoon. They opted to try a cruise again because they are Disney Parks people, but they have done Mardi Gras week at Disney World and it is so busy.

Erin booked through a travel agent. She originally booked a verandah room and picked the room back in July. In October they changed and saved over $2,545 by changing to the Verandah guarantee option. 

Erin’s son has a dairy and egg allergy and her daughter broke her arm 3 weeks prior to their trip. Thankfully, her daughter got her cast off and pins out one week prior to their trip. 

Erin did make requests for servers. She gave names to her travel agent and she submitted those. She did get her requests and was so thankful.

Arrival (February 8)

Erin and her family drove from their home about an hour into New Orleans. They have a hotel for the night and will be seeing some Mardi Gras parades while they are there. 

Mardi Gras Parade NOLA

The kids knew that they were going to New Orleans for a parade. She packed princess dresses in a bag, but the kids didn’t know what they would be doing other than going to New Orleans. 

They arrived a few hours after they intended but they were still able to have fun at the parade. After a little bit, everyone was tired so they went back to the hotel and to bed. 

Mardi Gras Parade NOLA

Erin chose the Hampton Inn & Suites New Orleans Convention Center because of parking and a shuttle. The parking was $8 less per day than parking at the port. 

Embarkation (February 9)

Erin really liked the hotel. They got breakfast in the morning and loved seeing other people that would be going on the cruise as well.

Kids finding out about their surprise cruise!

This trip was a surprise for Erin’s kids. She went to the cruise terminal about 3 hours before their embarkation time. They could finally see the ship and Erin asked her kids if they knew what it was and Erin handed them “My First Disney Cruise” shirts and MagicBand+. 

Kids finding out about their surprise cruise!

Her children were so thrilled that they didn’t have to wait and could be getting on that day! After learning about the cruise surprise, they went to a vegan bakery to get a king cake that her son could eat on the cruise. 

After Erin got back from the bakery, they tagged their bags in the lobby of the hotel. They left the hotel at 11:45 a.m. or so to get to the cruise terminal. They made it to the cruise terminal easily and the embarkation was very smooth. 

Boarding group 14 and had a port arrival time of 12:45 p.m. They were able to move through the whole process very quickly. They connected their MagicBand+ to their account and took some photos on their way. 

Erin and her family finally on the Magic

From the time they arrive until the time they were on the ship, it was about 40 minutes. It was very special getting on the ship. Their room wasn’t ready yet so Erin went to try to get a reservation for Palo Brunch. 

Erin went to deck 3 lounge to make the dining requests. She confirmed her son’s food allergies, and their late dining time. She was also able to get their ideal Palo brunch time. 

After that they went to Cabana’s to get some lunch. It took a little bit longer because they needed to confirm her son’s food allergies, but it was worth it. Erin says this moment was just magical. 

Erin and her family on the ship

As they were eating lunch, they received notification that their room was ready. They went there after lunch. Erin was impressed with how well the room was designed. She loved the split bathroom. 

Erin’s husband went to read on the verandah. They loved having that space. Erin struggled to get the top bunk down before learning that the cast members do that for you.

Erin notes that there is plexiglass on the verandah to make it safer. She also said it helped to have the extra lock on the door. She didn’t worry about safety with her kids.

Erin's daughter with a treat.

They were on deck 7 and had an adjoining room. Erin said they were able to hear things pretty clearly, but she says it wasn’t a problem at all. 

After checking out their room, they had the muster drill. Then they went to deck 10 to watch the Mickey’s Sail-A-Wave. They had a great view from deck 10. The ship pulled away during the Sail-A-Wave which was really wonderful. 

Sail-a-Wave Party

After that they toured the kid’s club with kids. There were some closures in the kid’s club area. Erin’s son is 11 and was eligible to go to the Edge. Erin hoped that her daughter would be able to go with him, but she was unable to do that.

They went to the pool next and it was a great time to be at the pool. It was relatively quiet on the pool deck. They found that the pool deck was quiet between 5:30-7 p.m. which was great. 

Erin and her kids on the Magic

While at the pool, Erin met another mom also on their first Disney Cruise as well. And her kids happen to go to the same school! 

Their dining time was 8:15 p.m. and they opted to get there right at 8:17 p.m. to miss the crowds. Erin really loved the handwashing stations and sanitizers upon entering the dining room. 

Captain Mickey treat

Erin was able to get the servers she requested, which was wonderful. Gonsalo and Sanya were just great. They were also seated closer to the center of the room. They had table 76 and it was the perfect location for the dining entertainment. 

They were seated at a table with just their family but they were seated near the same families in each of the dining rooms. Erin’s daughter made friends with some of the kids around them at their meals. 

Erin's kids with Rapunzel

Erin says the food was really very good. She asked her servers recommendations and enjoyed everything she had. They handled her son’s food allergies really well also. The first night it took a little longer but after that they made notes of what he would eat the next day to make things more efficient. 

The character interactions were just wonderful at Rapunzel’s Royal Table. Erin’s daughter really wanted to meet Flynn Rider but he didn’t come out that night. However, they met Rapunzel and that was great. 

After dinner Erin’s husband went to get some work done while Erin took the kids back to their room for bed. 

Day at Sea (February 10)

The night before, their servers prepared them for the next day. They would need to change their clocks. They were told that the ship time would change in the app, but Erin’s husband’s didn’t! 

Thankfully, Cabana’s was open until 10:45 a.m. so they got breakfast there after Erin got back from the gym. Erin noted that she stuck with the treadmill because the elliptical was too much with the movement of the ship. 

After breakfast they watched the end of Soul in the movie theater. Erin’s kids loved that they could just go into the theater anytime to watch a movie. When they left the movie, they went back to the room to enjoy the verandah. 

They got Cabana’s again for lunch before going to the pool deck. Erin notes that someone shared pixie dust with her daughter and how nice everyone was on the cruise. 

Erin also says that the soft serve ice cream was self-serve for their cruise. She also says to get a cup and fill it up with soft serve. After their time at the pool, they went back to the room to get ready for the kid’s club.

Erin’s daughter did not enjoy going to the kid’s club but her son really enjoyed Edge. After dropping the kids off, Erin and her husband went to Senses for their couples massage. 

Erin's daughter with Belle

They had a wonderful massage but at the end the massage therapists put their hands together. Erin’s husband didn’t realize he was holding Erin’s hand and thought it was the massage therapist. 

It was a wonderful experience but Erin says it wasn’t as luxurious as she expected. They were done a little more quickly than Erin wanted. Erin was also worried about her daughter in the kids club. She requested several times that she come be picked up but they didn’t know during the massage. 

They hurried to pick up Erin’s daughter before getting cleaned up for dinner. Her son wanted to stay at Edge. They got cleaned up and went to see Tangled the Musical. 

Erin's daughter with Mickey dressed up

Erin really loved the show. It was so wonderful and very high quality. She was also impressed that there were booster seats for children in the theater. 

They also purchased a Simba popcorn bucket. It was much larger than Erin expected but her kids loved it. After the musical they went to Luminere’s for dinner on formal night.

Erin and her family on Formal Night

They all had a delicious dinner and great service. Erin’s son wanted to go to Edge again so they allowed him to do that. Erin tried to have her daughter go to the kid’s club but she didn’t want to go in so they just watched from the outside. 

Erin’s daughter was able to meet some characters outside of the kid’s club. They picked up her son at 11 p.m. before going back to the room. They did place an order for black coffee the night before for each morning of the cruise. 

Cozumel (February 11)

It is important to note what time it is in your local port. This is especially important if you have a port excursion. They got up for breakfast at Lumiere’s and were off the boat at 9:45 a.m. 

Erin booked their national park excursion through Disney. They were in port right next to the Disney Dream, which was really neat. 

The island was fairly quiet that day and it took about 20 minutes for their shuttle to get them to Chankanaab National Park. They took photos right at the entrance to the park and got some instructions. 

Iguana at Chankanaab National Park

They went right to the beach to get an umbrella. They basically had the whole beach to themselves and were able to snorkel as much as they wanted. The fish were really abundant. 

Erin's kids relaxing on the beach

They went to the pool and got some food. Erin’s children are in a Spanish immersion school so her son was able to converse at the restaurant about his food allergies.

The excursion included their taxi service back to the port. They got some souvenirs before getting back on the ship. They went immediately to the pool and were able to catch some of the Super Bowl. 

While everyone was swimming, Erin went on a tour of the ship. She learned a lot about the ship, which was really fun. 

Disney cruise ships

After that, they discovered Daisy Delights, which was wonderful. They really loved it and ate there any chance they could. Erin’s son found the Impossible Burger and loved it. 

They all got cleaned up and the kids went to their kid’s club areas. Erin’s daughter was comfortable playing but only if Erin stood outside. 

Their dinner this evening was at Animator’s Palate. Everything they ate was delicious and the experience was just wonderful. 

Disney Cruise ships right next to each other

Erin notes that you should get some souvenirs earlier in the trip, so they went shopping. Erin isn’t a big shopper but found some merchandise that she really loved. 

Erin’s husband hung out in the Cove and said it was just lovely. They picked up her son at 10:45 p.m. and went back to the room. 

Grand Cayman (February 12)

The day started with breakfast at Lumiere’s. Erin’s daughter was still very tired, so she and her husband went to Cabana’s a little bit later.

Grand Cayman crowded beach

Erin made sure to give everyone Dramamine because she was worried about sea sickness on the smaller boat. They arrived for their excursion at 11:45 a.m. and found out at that moment that the excursion was canceled. 

Erin and her family at Grand Cayman

They went to guest services to get on another excursion. They got to the port around 12 p.m. They got to the beach. Their excursion included a beach chair and umbrella but were overwhelmed with people and didn’t get one until later. 

Erin's kids with Stitch

Erin and her family spent their time in the water. After they were done, they went back to the port and got back on the ship. They were all very hungry because their excursion wasn’t over lunch but didn’t include food.

Erin also notes that you need to have your key to the world in order to get back on the ship. They cleaned up a bit and then went to get lunch. It took a little longer because they hadn’t ordered lunch the night before. 

Erin was also able to get allergy-free cookies for her son. They gave her a whole bunch of those, which was wonderful. After that they went back to the room to get cleaned up.

Erin’s son went to Edge and they went to see the show. Their dinner was in Rapunzel’s Royal Table. They loved the dinner show and the food was incredible. 

Rapunzel and Flynn Rider

Erin’s daughter was chosen to lead the parade in the dining room, which was such a delight. After dinner Erin’s son went back to Edge while everyone else went to Pixar Trivia. Erin was also able to do laundry on the ship tonight. She says it was really easy and very necessary. 

Jamaica (February 13)

Erin didn’t have plans for this day. They slept in and Erin went to the gym. They got breakfast at Cabana’s and then got off the ship.

Jamaica was beautiful and Erin says it was the most beautiful port that they visited. She wished they’d done an excursion to see more of the area. 

They didn’t book an excursion because there really weren’t excursions that fit their family and the ages of their children. They did explore the port and then got back on the ship. 

They had a relaxing afternoon at the pool. It was just a really relaxing day. 

Erin's son relaxing

This evening was Pirate Night. Erin and her son did Pirate Trivia and they tied for 2nd place! After that they all got ready for Pirate Night. 

Magic Shot of Erin's daughter as Tinker bell

They all had great costumes and had so much fun. Their dinner was really good. After dinner they got photos taken with Mickey. Then they watched the Pirate show and fireworks. Erin’s daughter had a wonderful time dancing.

Day at Sea (February 14)

Erin and her family slept in. They did a Valentine Exchange with other kids on the ship. They passed out their Valentines in the morning. It was so fun. 

Erin's daughter with Tiana

They had a 9:45 a.m. Royal Gathering Reservation. Erin notes that because it was a longer cruise, they had already met most of the characters there already. 

Erin’s daughter had a Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique appointment at 11:30 a.m. Anyone on the ship could get Pixie Dusted there, even if they do not have an appointment. 

Erin said it was a really good value because of everything that she received. For $99 Erin’s daughter got her hair and nails done, light makeup, a backpack, t-shirt, nail polish, makeup palette, and a sandwich. Erin did ask about tipping but it is not allowed. 

Erin's daughter's reveal at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique

Erin and her daughter met up with her son and husband while they were in line to meet Thor. This was a highlight of her son’s experience. 

Erin's children with Thor

Erin and her husband were able to get a date day. The kids were able to stay in the room while she and her husband walked together on deck 4. They were also able to see Wish on the ship. It was really fun and special. 

Erin’s daughter took a nap while her son went to Edge. She and her husband enjoyed watching the sunset on the Verandah. 

Because it was Valentine’s Day, they did Match your Mate that night. Erin wanted to go with her husband but he ended up staying back in the room with their kids so she could go. 

Erin's husband and son

Day at Sea (February 15)

Erin and her husband had a reservation for brunch at Palo today. Erin got the kids breakfast for them to eat in the room. 

Erin's daughter reading and relaxing

It was Mickey Churro Waffle day and they were delicious! Erin tasted one and loved it. She was also able to get both of her children to go to the kid’s club today. Thankfully, Erin’s daughter had a great time! 

Erin and her husband had a seat by the window and it was just lovely. Their server recommended different options and Erin says the lasagna was the best. 

Their favorite dessert was the chocolate dessert. Everything was just incredible. Erin says that the most surprisingly enjoyable experience was watching people through the window. They didn’t realize you could see them from inside the restaurant. 

Erin didn’t realize that Edge didn’t open until 11 a.m. Her son sat outside for about an hour waiting for it to open. He was fine, but Erin felt really bad about that. 

After brunch, Erin and her husband got their kids and picked up lunch for them. They went to the top deck for more pool time and watching some movies. 

Erin went to the Cove and drank coffee in a lounge chair. It was amazing. 

At 6 p.m. they went to the Dreams show. The performers were just incredible. Then they had a wonderful dinner at Animator’s Palate. They got there early and everyone loved it. 

Erin's husband and daughter walking on the deck.

They said goodbye to their servers, which was very sad. After dinner they took the kids back to the room to finish packing. Erin went out to get some tea and saw some of the Until We Meet Again show. 

This evening Erin had some panic about departure and disembarkation. She woke up early to think through the logistics. 

Disembarkation (February 16)

Erin woke up very early to get things ready for disembarkation and walking off the ship. Their dining time was 8 a.m. but getting the luggage down there felt overwhelming. 

Erin went up to Cabanas at 6 a.m. to get plates of food. They ate in their room and at 7:40 a.m. they made the announcement that they could get off the ship. They went down and were off the ship very quickly. 

They were back home by 9:15 a.m. They had such a wonderful cruise and have booked a placeholder for their next cruise! 

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