Since Tuesday was ‘National Plan for Vacation Day’, I thought that I would take a small break from the theme parks to talk about one of my favorite vacations…taking a cruise.
Recently I was invited to learn more about cruising with Disney Cruise Line on a three night cruise, and today I will be sharing some of the things I learned, tips for making the most of your cruise, some tips for saving for that dream vacation, and Disney Cruise Line Announcements.
Disney Cruise Line for Children
When you think of Disney Cruise Line the first thing that comes to mind is children, and in 2017 they were named the 2017 Best for Families Cruise Critic Editors’ Picks Award.
There are five different youth clubs that are hosted by specially trained and certified cast members and the ages are regulated tightly. However there are open houses that you can attend to see all the cool environments that your children can experience.
The It’s a Small World Nursery is for children ages 6 months to 3 years old with activities that are catered to your child with programs like movie time, story time, and arts and crafts projects will keep tots engaged and smiling from ear to ear.
For Children ages 3 to 12, the Disney’s Oceaneer Club is about learning while having fun, Disney’s Oceaneer Club is pure Disney fantasy. Character-driven performances, special storytelling sessions, larger-than-life playgrounds, dress-up opportunities and cool interactive activities are sure to delight tiny tots and older kids alike. Toys and games, an open seating area for arts and crafts, and ongoing Disney movies mean there’s never a dull moment.
Then over in Disney’s Oceaneer Lab children ages 3 to 12 can participate in magical, memorable guided experiences, with unstructured free time to explore and make new friends as well. Aboard the Disney Dream, Disney Fantasy and Disney Magic, the Lab has a seafaring theme, with a hearty splash of pirate skullduggery thrown in for good measure. Meanwhile, on the Disney Wonder, young voyagers blast off “to infinity and beyond” in a futuristic setting starring a giant Buzz Lightyear.
Tweens ages 11 to 14 can spend time in Edge which is their own special hangout where they can connect with other tweens from around the world. Inside the club is high-tech entertainment areas including flat-screen TVs, computers and video games and featuring daily guided activities, and an interactive play space.
Vibe is a special space for teenagers ages 14 to 17 where they can break off from the family and connect with other teens. Designed with their interests in mind, each lounge is laden with amenities and activities that will keep them engaged and entertained while encouraging them to mingle.
The Edge and Vibe experiences are slightly different on each Disney Cruise Line ship, and are a lot of fun for teens.
Fun for Families
While children have spaces that they can play with other children, Disney Cruise Line also offers families spaces a place to come together and create memories on their vacation.
The D Lounge is a and festive family club and lounge where parents and children are invited to sing, dance, play games and enjoy live entertainment together.
In addition to the family friendly activities in the D Lounge, there are tons of great things to do on board that include character appearances in Disney Cruise Line exclusive costumes, the interactive Midship Detective Agency game that takes you on a crime solving adventure throughout the ship, Goofy’s Sports Deck, and Deck Parties where kids and parents can cut loose and bust-a-move together.
Another fun thing for families to do together is to see first run movies in the Buena Vista Theater, and if there is a new movie from the Disney, Star Wars, PIXAR, or Marvel universes they will also debut on board the Disney Cruise Line at the same time.
Sailing for the Adults
Adults aren’t left out of fun on Disney Cruise Line, and you might be surprised to find out all you can do while you are onboard and on Castaway Cay, Disney Cruise Line’s private island.
The Quiet Cove Pool is an area for adults to relax and enjoy the weather with their own pool, hot tubs, and deck area. Another difference in this area is that it has as slightly different look with muted music. In the Quiet Cove area you will also find a bar and coffee lounge.
And speaking of lounges, on board adults will find differently themed lounges where you can catch the game, enjoy a glass of champagne, dance the night away, or try your best at karaoke. During the day in these areas you can find different wine and spirit tastings as well as a Mixology class that will have you slinging signature drinks like a pro!
Adults can also choose to upgrade their dining experience by booking a brunch or dinner at Palo, serving upscale and delicious Northern Italian dishes, and Remy, offering elegant French dining with a robust wine list and touches of Disney magic.
Then if your Disney Cruise Line adventure takes you to Castaway Cay adults can enjoy spending time on Serenity Bay, a pristine stretch of beach exclusively for adults where sparkling azure waters meet the pristine white sand, and palm trees sway in the breeze, special amenities and activities offer the ultimate in relaxation for adults.
Dining On Board with Food Allergies and Dietary Restrictions
Dining on the Disney Cruises is a huge part of the experience, and if you have food allergies or dietary restrictions Disney Cruise Line has options for your needs.
While there are some notations on the dining room menus, it is best to notify Disney Cruise Line as soon as possible to help set up your meals in advance. When you talk to the Disney Cruise Line Contact Center or your travel agent, please make sure to be as specific as possible and for concerns regarding life-threatening or severe dietary allergies, notify the Special Services team at 407-566-3602 prior to your cruise.
Additionally, lifestyle or cultural meal options, including Kosher and Halal, may be available upon advance request at no additional charge. Be sure to notify the Disney Cruise Line Contact Center or your travel agent of your request.
Also keep in mind that the buffets and walk-up windows might not have the best selection of items for your dietary concerns, so try to visit the sit-down dining locations for breakfast and lunch,
The key to dining on board with food allergies or dietary restrictions is communication, and Disney Cruise Line is absolutely dedicated to helping their guests as much as they can.
My Disney Cruise Line Must Do’s
My Disney Cruise Line Must Do’s list is full of things that you might expect, but also a few that are surprising.
Plan to get wrapped up in the Disney Cruise Culture, which is all about creating a fun environment while you are on board. Some of these include decorating your cabin door with fun magnets, dressing up for Pirate Nights, meeting Disney Cruise Line exclusive characters, and even taking part in the fun that you might normally walk by. I know that you know how to do the Cupid Shuffle!!!
Get to know your waitstaff! Disney Cruise Line still follows a rotational dining pattern, but while your restaurant changes your waitstaff does not which means that they will know your preferences and can help make sure that any of your food allergies or dietary concerns are address and set up for the next day’s breakfast and/or lunch.
While we are on the subject of food…order two desserts or two entree or two appetizers. No one is judging! Most dining, outside of the upgraded dining experiences and places like Vanelope’s on the Disney Dream, are included in the price of your sailings. And YES this includes soft drinks and most non-alcoholic beverages, so make sure you pack a water bottle or cup with a lid (I love my Yeti and Tervis cups) to better utilize the drink stations near the pool.
Go to the shows! This may seem like something you could just skip, I urge you to reconsider that idea. The shows on board Disney Cruise Line are fantastic, high quality productions that are a great way to cap off your day as you head into the evening back on board the ship. Seating is not assigned, so make sure you arrive to the Walt Disney Theater early to grab the best seat. I personally prefer to sit on the second level balcony on the first row.
Take time to take it easy! We all joke that we need a vacation from our vacation, but most of the time it is not an exaggeration. There is no shame in the nap game! Find a comfy deck chair in the sun, find a nice shady spot, or just hang out in your cabin. Vacations are for relaxing, so don’t miss this opportunity to take a break from the hustle and bustle.
Pamper yourself by doing something you normally wouldn’t do. There are so many ways to take care of yourself on board! You can visit the Senses Spa for a treatment or to visit the Rainforest Room, have an upgraded meal at Palo or Remy, or just indulge in that extra desert or a nap that never seems to happen. (Can you tell that napping is one of my favorite things to do on board? I promise the gently movement will have you sleepy, too!)
Take it from me that sea days are the best days! On longer voyages there are days that you spend completely at sea, and on these days you will find that there are activities for the entire family to enjoy all day and night. If there is a Jack Jack’s Incredible Diaper Dash, aka baby race, or putting contest on the sea day schedule don’t miss it!
Take a leap of faith with me as I suggest the next Disney Cruise Line Must Do…Take part in the Castaway Cay 5K. This ‘race’ is not for time, but for fun. The 5K takes you all around Disney’s private island called Castaway Cay, giving you a tour of the island’s amenities AND you get a fun medal at the end. Plus since you exercised on vacation, those extra desserts don’t count.
I really enjoy pin trading, but on a Disney Cruise this experience gets bumped up a notch when you can pin trade with officers on board and with guests from around the world. On my last cruise I traded for pins from Hong Kong Disneyland, Shanghai Disneyland, and Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea. It was awesome!
Tips for saving money on a Disney Cruise
Just like any vacation, finding ways to save money is important. And there are several ways to save money when choosing a Disney Cruise Line experience.
Try to book your Disney Cruise as soon as possible, because the price does fluctuate with the lowest fares typically coming during the early booking window.
Keep an eye on the Disney Cruise Line website for special offers and deals on specific sailings or for Florida Residents.
If your have flexibility with your travel dates and destinations, you could also score some great last minute deals. But to take advantage of these substantial savings, you will probably need to sail when school is in session.
While this may seem old fashioned, book your Disney Cruise Line experience with a licensed travel agent. You will not only get the same price as booking directly with Disney, but will also get incentives (usually shipboard credit) and possibly state room goodies. Another great perk is that they will actively watch the fares for any reduction passing those savings on to you.
Now these next two tips may seem a little out there, but please just stick with me!
There are several ways that you can save money on Disney Gift Cards (such as using at Target REDcard to save 5% or purchasing them at warehouse clubs like Sam’s Club) that can be used to pay for your Disney Cruise or your purchases on board.
Consider applying for a Disney Chase Credit Card. Not only do you earn a percentage back on purchases that can go towards a Disney Gift Card that you can use to pay for your cruise, there are special promotions for card holders, incentives, and discounts for card holders. I do not in any way suggest going into debt to take your vacation, but this is an opportunity to make payments and receive perks.
But the absolute best way to save money booking a Disney Cruise Line experience is while you are on board. While you are on board you can book ‘bounceback’ cruises that will typically save you 10%, discount on deposit, and on board credit.
If you are looking to save money while on board the Disney Cruise Line Guests 21 years and older may bring a maximum of 2 bottles of unopened wine or champagne (no larger than 750 ml) or 6 beers (no larger than 12 ounces) on board at the beginning of the voyage and at each port of call. These beverages must be packed in carry-on (not checked) bags or luggage and if you want to enjoy what you have brought on board in one of the dining rooms you will be charged a corking fee of $25.00 per bottle.
Upcoming Disney Cruise Line Special Sailing and Announcements
This year’s Star Wars Day at Sea is returning on select cruises from January to April with even epic encounter with characters from the saga, out of this world entertainment, and galactic fun. New in 2018, the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique aboard the Disney Fantasy will offer out-of-this-galaxy makeovers that add to the adventures of Star Wars Day at Sea. Complete with a galactic costume, makeup and hairstyle, kids ages 3-12 can transform into their favorite Star Wars characters.
Then on select sailing from Miami you can experience Marvel Day at Sea from January to April with even heroic encounters, thrilling adventures, and action-packed activities as you take a stand with some of Marvel’s mightiest heroes and villains for an epic day.
In March the Disney Magic will debut new experiences and spaces for the entire family including:
- Rapunzel’s Royal Table, an all-new dining experience inspired by the beloved story of Disney’s “Tangled”, will be the first table service restaurant themed to “Tangled” that features characters and live entertainment that will transport Disney Magic guests to the kingdom of Corona for an evening of music and interactive fun featuring Rapunzel and the mischievous Snuggly Duckling Thugs.
- Vibe, the space space on the ship reserved for teens ages 14-17 and facilitated by trained Disney counselors, is being transformed into a trendy urban loft environment with a new coffee and smoothie bar, play video and virtual reality games, and check out other cool activities like a DJ spin-off and movie making.
- Younger passengers will be able to enjoy the addition of Club Disney Junior in Disney’s Oceaneer Club.
- Adults can relax in new adult-only areas that include the Cove Café that is the perfect place to sip a specialty coffee or tea throughout the day, or indulge in wine or a cocktail and light bites during the evening hours or enjoy the Quiet Cove Pool and transformed Signals Bar.
- If you enjoy the Senses Spa, the Rainforest Room has been redesigned with new steam and hydrotherapy experiences.
I’ll also be watching to hear more about the three new ships that will hit the high seas beginning in 2021 and continuing until 2023 when the size of the Disney Cruise Line fleet size will double. All three ships will be powered by one of the cleanest-burning fuels available, liquefied natural gas.
That’s it for this week’s Theme Park Thursday! I hope that you’ve enjoyed a look at cruising with Disney, and I would love to hear your Disney Cruise Line tips and experiences.
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