Last weekend, we did our tenth Disney cruise. It was a very nice, if somewhat short, retreat that I desperately needed. Ten cruises means we're officially platinum Castaway Club members, which comes with a few nice perks (chief among them "free" dinner upgrades to Palo, concierge check-in, first crack at booking extras and new itineraries, merchandise discounts and officer receptions). When we booked our first one for early 2013, I wasn't even sure I would like cruising. But here we are. My concern prior to that first one was the expense, because it's not cheap, and I wasn't sure I got the value. Maybe others still wouldn't see the value in it, but I'm hooked.
We finally got off to an itinerary that wasn't the Bahamas this year when we went to Alaska. I may describe that trip as life changing, but all of these trips deliver on the thing that I most want out of a vacation: Blissful disconnection and lack of responsibility. Seriously, people tell me where I need to be to eat and do stuff, and aside from posting a few photos on Facebook via a few megabytes of crappy satellite Internet, there is no outside world. I'm able to be completely present and with my darling little family. It's awesome. I'm sure that there are less expensive ways to achieve this, but this really works for me. As a father and husband, I happily accept my obligation to be a provider, because I love my little family, but having others completely take care of me in every way is a welcome thing to enjoy sometimes.
And despite some periodic difficulties with being a parent, even on cruises, we've been able to make some fantastic memories. Even on this one, our beach day got rained out, hardcore, around 2 p.m., but we had some great laughs about it. Cruises for us have been a great environment to remember to laugh more.
What's next? We're not really sure. We've been in the continuous cycle, since our second cruise, of having advanced booking placeholders set (refundable). They take a little of your money, and you get 10% off the next cruise, plus an onboard credit of $100-200 depending on the length (maybe more for longer trips, I'm not sure). That's no joke... we saved about $800 on our Alaska trip. We've got two in the queue, because often the time periods overlap when you book way out. We're considering finally doing a long one in the Caribbean next year, hopefully one with San Juan if it works out. We'd like to do a short one on the Wonder this winter, which I think for the first time will sail out of Canaveral instead of Miami. That's the ship we did Alaska on, and it's in dry dock right now getting a massive overhaul and a new Frozen stage show.
I feel fortunate for being able to do this, and I hope I'm teaching Simon not to take the opportunity for granted. He's a lucky kid.