Top 10 Things We Did to Prep for our Disney Cruise!!

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1. Get some Disney Shirts!!

Didn't these customized tees turn out cute?? Y'all Tees did a wonderful job designing these and handling such a large order.  Make sure you check them out on Facebook or Instagram

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2. If you have a themed night get your costumes together before you go.

Our themed night was Pirate Night. My fam was pretty low key with just bandanas, but my cousin and her family, and my grandmother had full on costumes.

We have been looking forward to this cruise for about 8 months now. We gave our kids the big news at Christmas that their wonderful great-grandmother would be taking us all on a Disney Cruise. And by everyone- I mean the whole extended family on my mom's side!! There were 60 of us in total (I only had 2 cousins who couldn't make it- and then also my 2 sisters because they just had babies this week! One nephew was born two days ago and a niece was born two minutes ago!! And of course my uncle, James wasn't able to come with us, who you met on our podcast last month when he talked about his liver transplant. Listen here to his story and his wife's story if you missed it! We're sad they all couldn't make it!).

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3. Arrive in town the day before the cruise.

We decided to fly to Orlando the day before the cruise left port, just in case our plane was delayed or some other crazy thing got in the way of making our flight. We are quite the sight at the airport with our seven kids in tow. 

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When we got on the plane Hallie (age 7) hurried to buckle her and Mia's (3) seat belts as quick as possible. Hallie hurried to shut the window cover. Confused, at her haste, my husband, Warren asked her why she was in such a hurry. 

Hallie replied, "Because Jake (9) was telling me the plane would be doing flips, and I don't want to have to watch the plane go upside down!" 

Mia on the other hand, wanted the window cover open because she really wanted to check out the action. Ha ha!!

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Notice: Hallie won out with the closed window cover ;)

I got to sit by the nervous flyer- who will not be named- who had a rough take off, but did awesome during landing. We were super proud of the bravery!!

Baby James surprised us all with his enthusiasm during take off. He thought it was the best ride of his life! It was hilarious!!

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For some really fun footage of James, check out our Facebook page.

4. If you can stay at a hotel that shuttles from the airport it saves you on cab fares and head aches trying to fit your luggage in a cab!

We took the hotel shuttle from the airport to the Marriott Residence Inn, once we had all our bags (packing was crazy!! I'll attach a picture of the way I did my packing list below). They had a beautiful two room suite with a kitchenette that was perfect for our family.

We met up with some of the fam and headed to dinner at Red Robin. It was super close to our hotel. There were tons of places to eat that were in short walking distance. I'm such a sucker for their nice thick fries, and it was a safe eating spot for our gluten free family members. 

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My girls so happy to be reunited with my cute mom!!

5. Go to bed at a decent time the night before the cruise.

The kids were all bummed we didn't let them stay up late to swim with their cousins, but there will be plenty of time for that on the cruise. We needed to get up early to catch our boat!!

When I was doing some quick coordinating with family members just before bed, I noticed these sweet pictures on my grandmother's hotel room door. She wanted to make sure even though Grandpa and Aunt Karrie (you may remember hearing about her from my cousin, Lani- she and I did a podcast on creativity helping her get through grief) had passed on, they were still with us on the trip. She also gave Grandpa all the credit for taking us on the cruise. She is the cutest!!

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6. Plan ahead on your transportation from your hotel to the port. I was so glad I knew what we were doing ahead of time so I didn't try to haul our car seats on the trip.

So how do you transport 60 people to a location an hour away? Ride a gigantic motor coach bus, of course! After breakfast, we all loaded onto the huge bus to get to the dock. My sweet grandmother wanted to have a family meeting once we were on the boat to all introduce ourselves and say things we all loved about our family members. Someone had the great idea to use our driving time to do this. We all had a chance to go to the front of the bus and talk into the driver's microphone. To keep things from going way too long winded, someone gave instructions we should just keep our kind words we would say to immediate family members and everyone just got one word each.

There were a lot of funny, sweet and cute things said. But my personal favorite was when Jake went up there and said, "My mom is perfect and my dad has upper body strength!" We all cracked up! Everyone has been teasing Warren about his upper body strength ever since. 

Isn't Grandmother the most darling?!!! And there's Becky (James' wife) from our other podcast- linked up top

7. Have all your documents and proper forms together and ready to go.

We got passports for my husband, my oldest daughter and I, and passport cards for the rest of the kids. All you needed for the younger kids were birth certificates, but in an emergency, we wanted the security of having more solid documentation.

I always breathe a sigh of relief when we make it through security, so I was even more relieved when we were finished with security checks plus going through customs. But it was all just fine. We matched our kids up to the right guardians in the proper rooms (we have such a big family we had to have 3 rooms- my parents had 2 kids listed on their room), got our room key cards(which are also basically your ID and credit cards on the cruise) and loaded onto the ship.

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8. Have an organized packing list

Packing for this type of a trip can be a nightmare! So many random things and different types of clothing: swimwear, nice clothes for fancier occasions, dinner clothes, hoodies, costumes, snorkel or beach gear, different types of shoes, etc.

Here's how I did our packing list this time. It was the only way I could figure out how to keep track of what was in suitcases and what still needed to be stowed away. I gave all the kids (and even my husband) lists like this, but this was my master copy. Other random items I had hand written on the right side of the paper- it just didn't quite make it into the picture crop.

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9. Door Magnets

Another thing that is really popular on the Disney Cruise Line, is to make magnetic name tags for your stateroom door. It makes it a lot easier to pick out your room in the long line of doors, especially when you're looking for different family members and can't remember their room number. Here are the ones we came up with. And that's Grumpy with Snow White- not Santa Claus. ;)

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There are so many other really cute printables you can find on Pinterest. My cousin, Lani, made some super cute ones for several family members on our trip. She also made special little magnets that were all the same that everyone in our group placed on their doors, so we knew who was with our group.

10. Bring a cruise journal. 

Having or not having a custom magnet on your door will not make or break your cruise. Prep what you can, and just enjoy the adventure. Writing down the things when they are fresh in your head each night makes the adventure truly last a lifetime!! It can be as simple as these little notebooks my mom made for us. They were perfect!

Hillary HessComment