Our family was blessed to take a Disney cruise in 2006. Tim and I decided to take the boys on the anniversary of our wreck, as a nicer way to remember that date. After all the kids (and we) had been through the prior year, it was just the vacation we needed.
I'm saddened knowing this was Austin's first and last "major vacation" but what a special one to have as your only memory! It was his first and only trip on an airplane. He was so excited to go on the trip that he stayed up nearly all night at the hotel talking. We gave the kids their own cameras and he used most of his film taking photos from the plane, loving how the scenery went from miniature houses to clouds. When he exited the plane, he said "this is the best vacation ever" - and it hadn't even started yet!
Disney really spoils you with excellent customer service. We never lifted a finger the entire trip. The boys were surprised with gift bags from "Mickey Mouse" when we made it to our cabin. Austin was most impressed though with the quality of the food. From the cruise on, my cooking was never on the same level as what "Disney" offered! He loved being able to order anything off the menu without having to worry about the cost (because it was all inclusive)...and even order seconds if you wanted. Every night before we went to bed, we'd order room service. Warm chocolate chip cookies and milk or pizza or grilled cheese. It was nice to tuck into bed with a yummy treat, a favorite movie, and let the waves rock you to sleep.
Austin was 11 when we took the trip and I was a little concerned that he would think Disney too childish; however, he thoroughly loved it. I think he enjoyed watching Noah's excitement in meeting the characters. Whenever he would see someone, he'd shout for Noah to run to them for a picture. No matter what age you are, the cruise made you feel younger and happier anyway. He enjoyed going into the pre-teen section where he could play video games, explore parts of the ship and hang with kids his age. However, he enjoyed being with us and never strayed from us for very long. That surprised me, as I figured at his age, he'd not want to be seen hanging with Mom and Dad but he seemed content that way.
He loved watching the sunsets at sea or just sitting on our balcony and looking for dolphins. The first night was a little rough on Austin, as he was slow to find his sea legs. I don't know if it was motion sickness or just the result of an extra long day but he was glad to finally his bed.
This cruise was the first experience of the ocean for all three of my guys. I looked forward to us docking at the private beach, Castaway Cay, so I could witness the first time their toes touched sand and sea. We instantly hit the ocean and tried our first attempt of snorkeling. It was quickly apparent this was NOT the idea of a fun activity for Austin and Noah! They were both scared and wouldn't even really attempt to try it. Austin decided it was safer on the beach and was eager to call babsitting duty for Noah. He played in the shallow area with Noah on floats and helped to build a sandcastle while Tim and I explored the ocean floor.
With all the great memories of the trip, I have to say my favorite was watching fireworks at sea. I can't say I looked at many of the fireworks however, as seeing the light and excitement in my children's eyes was by far a better show. At one point, Austin leaned over to hug me and said, "this is so great!" And I agreed. I will never forget that trip or those special moments, seeing them experience such magic. I'm sorry he won't be with us for future vacations but I am so thankful we took that wonderful trip and know we will always have those memories.