Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Orange Loop. Today the kids are answering the question, which Disney Park is the best?
I love Disney Cruise Line. I wax poetic often. But after visiting Walt Disney World, surely the kids at least prefer Walt Disney World to the Disney Cruise Line. Right?
Turns out the little Castaway didn’t fall to far from the tree. When asked which Disney Park is the best, they both piped up with “Disney Cruise Line” without missing a beat. Hold onto your hats, because these little pirates took over the blog for the day!
(From here on Adventurer Mom’s comments appear in parentheses.)
Code Name: Adventurer Girl
Age: 7 1/2
Specialties: Vegan Diets, Parkour, Swimming, Singing
Castaway Club: Gold Member
Dream Itinerary: I’d probably go with the Bahamas and Key West because of Key Lime jelly beans.
Top 11 Things To Know About Disney Cruise Line
They’re tidy and kept well when you get there.
It’s so much fun when you get to meet Cinderella. But you don’t have to be dressed up.
Normally they keep up the Christmas decorations until like their first of second cruise in January. So if you need a late Christmas cruise, you can have one in January still. (Adventurer Mom note: They often come down just after New Year’s Eve. Check with Disney Cruise Line for the MerryTime Cruise schedule.)
The beds are warm and comfy. Especially the bunk beds. *vigorous jazz hands*
The waitresses and diners and room cleaner uppers are all very nice.
The horn isn’t too loud it’s just *When You Wish Upon a Star hummed loudly* and pretty.
The best part of a cruise is the splash pads and the Mickey slide.
The kids clubs are A.W.E.S.O.M.E. and there are slides and a big play treasure thing and lots of thingamajiggers. (???)
It’s a big blue shimmery pretty ship. If you like ships. Not like the Titanic.
The thing about the theatres is you never get bored. If they sneak up behind you in Villains Tonight! don’t get scared. It’s all scary but it’s supposed to be. It’s villains.
You have to put magnets on your door unless you want it to be totally plain.
Why Disney Cruise Line instead of Walt Disney World?
You don’t have to walk around all day and there aren’t rides that make you throw up in a throw up bowl. (Says my daughter, the adrenaline junkie who has never been motion sick on a ride in her life.) Instead you have fun rocking away on a verandah on an island port view or with the sea in your ears all the time. (I think she means she enjoys the sound of the ocean and rocking in hammocks).
Favorite onboard activity?
The kids’ club! (Oceaneer Club and Lab.) The Club and Lab is the best because it lets kids interact and talk without parents telling them to shush. And they can play and play and do video games and run around down slides and you can talk to Stitch and sometimes even Lilo.
Tell me about your most unforgettable Disney Cruise.
When we went on the Fantasy with the little Mickey sprinkles, I can never forget. I had hot chocolate, we got Mickey sprinkles in them and they were so yummy. I was in the concierge lounge and the concierge-y Miss what’s-her-name (Miss Julia you mean?) gave it to us.
What words would you use to describe Disney Cruise Line?
Fun, Inspiring, Awesome, Cool, Relaxing, Sunbathing, Splashing, Fireworks, Strengthening (from running around in the kids club “like a maniac”), Patient because the patient waiters are patient for us and the chefs who make our food.
Code Name: Adventurer Boy
Age: 9 1/2
Specialties: Legos, Parkour, Programming
Castaway Club: Gold Member
Dream Itinerary: Pretty much all the way across the world. Like Europe. Britain.
Why is Disney Cruise Line the perfect vacation?
You can relax. I like looking at the ocean. It is pretty interesting to see water in a place where water isn’t that smacked up into a sea. I like having to walk up very little to get to a restaurant because at Disney World it’s like a handful of space between each. I like the water parks, going down the water slide. The Disney Cruise has interesting mechanisms to look at like the elevators. It is interesting to think about how it works.
What is your favorite port and why?
Galveston. It seems more friendly. It is closer to home. (Can’t argue him on that.)
Okay, but what’s your favorite port the ship visits?
Castaway Cay! Because I’ve never seen a beach in my life except for there. (You’ve been to the beach in Galveston; doesn’t that count?) No. (I hate to agree with him, but Galveston really can’t compare with Castaway Cay.)
Favorite onboard activity?
Swimming! It has a bunch of space to swim in. I like sliding down the water slide as I said earlier. It is like pretty fast for a water slide as I first imagined. The Mickey slide is meant for big kids because if a baby was in it, it would not good.
Tell me about your most unforgettable Disney Cruise.
My first cruise. It was like really different from how I imagined when I left. I thought it was going to just be a plain old ship that would plunk us into the sea then plunk us back on land. But I was wrong. We got to see multiple islands like Castaway Cay, Cozumel, Grand Cayman and Nassau. We got to swim with stingrays, me and mom. They were pretty much like squishy flat surfaces with long tails at the backs. I couldn’t forget the water or that day.
What words would you use to describe Disney Cruise Line?
Awesome, Cool, Interesting, Delicious, Fun, Unusual (you don’t see it everyday), Unforgettable, as if I’m part of something big and important (what do you mean?) *shrugs* like I’m special, Adventurous, Curious
(Come back tomorrow to hear what the kids think of Royal Caribbean. How does it stack up from a kid’s point of view?)
For more kid reviews,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!
You’ve heard every daily detail of our trip aboard the Liberty of the Seas…but what did I think of Disney Cruise Line versus Royal Caribbean? Follow along as the two biggest family cruise companies go toe to toe.
Firstly, each cruise line definitely specializes and appeals to many kinds of travelers. I travel almost exclusively with my family. Therefore my impressions strongly lean into my experiences traveling with early elementary aged children.
As always with each experience, your mileage will vary.
Disney Cruise Line versus Royal Caribbean
Liberty of the Seas, much like Disney Cruise Line, let us into the terminal around 10am. Check in and security are pretty nearly identical experiences in terms of efficiency at the Port of Galveston. With a boarding number one in hand, we still had to wait until every other frequent cruiser level boarded ahead of us leaving us boarding at 11:30. The biggest difference is that there aren’t any characters to meet or decorations while you are waiting to board. On Royal Caribbean you’re just sitting there.
On Royal Caribbean and Disney Cruise Line, they call your number, take your number at the door, you walk past (or stop for) the pre-boarding pictures and walk up the gangway. On Royal, you scan your SeaPass, step onto the ship and are left to your own devices. As my son put it, “I don’t feel special here.”
On Disney, you step aboard directly into the stunning atrium, introduced by your family name and greeted by enthusiastic applause as helpful cast members direct you to your lunch options.
Both cruise lines checked our ship cards and lined us up. Royal ran us off of paper and clipboards while Disney ran us off of tablet computers. Both took longer than seemed necessary.
Only eighty-three kids under age twelve cruised with us on Liberty of the Seas and as such, they combined the Explorers (age 6-8) and Voyagers (age 9-11). They met in the Explorers room. Often my children were the only two children and they couldn’t run the scheduled activities so my son sat and played video games and my daughter did crafts with the counselors. (My son very much liked this.) When a dozen or so kids joined them, the only options were to participate in the scheduled activity or sit and read. Free play was discouraged and participation enforced with timeouts. This did not go over well with either of my children. My daughter loved many of the programs (and even said she preferred some of them to the options on Disney) but she never asked to stay longer when I picked her up. There is no way for children or for the club to contact parents other than calling the stateroom and leaving a phone message there.
After a pretty bad experience one evening when the kids wanted desperately to be picked up but without any way to contact me, and subsequently skipping the club for a day or two, the counselors dug up one of the phones used by the Babies and Tots program for us to check out. A day after rejoining the club, they face painted my son because they “had to for an activity” that he did not want to participate in despite him saying he did not want his face painted several times. (Side note: he has never allowed anyone to paint his face in the nine years he has been on the earth.) I was beyond frustrated with the lack of respect this showed for my kids. Basically he let them draw on his face so that he could go back to reading in peace rather than cause another problem and need a time out.
The clubs open and close for three hour sessions with intervening two hour breaks and an optional late night program (for a fee). To use the daytime program, we needed to adjust my kids swimming and rest to fit around the available hours. (We rarely could use any of the afternoon session, for example.)
The last night of our Royal Caribbean cruise, my son wanted me to pick him up early before programming was over in favor of coming back to the cabin and reading by himself. He’d read through all the books available in the club.
In stark contrast to our experience with Adventure Ocean on Royal, hundreds of elementary aged children cruise on each of our Disney cruises. There are overlapping activities to chose from and the kids are free to take part or not. They can transfer from the Oceaneer Club to the Oceaneer Lab at will. The children’s programs are correspondingly larger in scale and scope to support the increased volume of children. Both of my kids beg to get dropped off and enjoy being able to call the wave phones and ask to be picked up at any time. The club is available pretty much all day from nine in the morning to midnight (earlier in the morning on port days). It is easy to be flexible around when the kids need to have snacks or swim or rest when you can pop back in when it suits you. No matter how long and late they stayed in the club, there are always requests for just a bit more time. After thirty-four nights onboard with the kids, we’ve never had an issue with the kids club.
Basically this comes down to trust. I trust Disney to treat my kids well and with respect. I don’t have that level of trust with Royal Caribbean.
Both cruise lines feature Broadway style theatrical productions. While the majority of the shows on Royal don’t have a specific plot (the lovely Cirque de Soleil style “In the Air”) they are technically perfect and the acting is beautifully done. The comedian magician was quite funny and mostly family friendly, but as many of the jokes were political, the kids got bored and wiggly. The full Broadway show on Liberty of the Seas, Saturday Night Fever, is not family friendly, but my mother in law thought it featured an amazing cast and set. The activities during the day seemed either empty (two people showing up for trivia) or not family appropriate (sexiest man alive). I’m not a gambler, I don’t drink and I don’t smoke, so the casino was out. My daughter noticed that almost all the activities were “really just for adults” or in the club “just for kids.” There were a variety of games in the card room, so we took a lot of turns playing together on our own time.
All of the Disney shows are very family friendly, if a little on the short side. We all laugh and cry together as a family. And really that’s part of why I love these shows unabashedly. The animation classes, character meet and greets and activities for the family run from dawn to dusk.
Based on my years as a theatre buff, though, I have to give the stage shows to Royal…but the rest of the entertainment on the ship goes to Disney.
Disney offer basketball and soccer areas, ping-pong, and on some ships mini-golf.
Liberty of the Seas, with the advantage of size, has all of that and more. Although the ice skating and rock climbing don’t run all day everyday, the fact that they’re there at all trumps Disney. If you’re in a mood for something amusing, go check out people attempting to surf on Flowrider.
I will say that for runners, Disney’s deck four running track is far longer (it laps the entire ship and not only a part) and out of the wind compared to the very short jogging track on the top deck of Liberty of the Seas.
I’d say that they’re about even. Both offered a similar variety of excursions for relatively comparable prices and experiences.
The biggest difference was that my kids were the only kids on our Royal Caribbean excursion.
Crew and Service
Royal Caribbean staff seem very efficient and eager to finish to get on with the next guest. Despite this, there was often a line of over an hour at Guest Services on and off throughout our cruise. (I ended up in it the first evening over internet and the last day near lunch over a lost stuffed animal.) All of the crew from bar tenders to guest services often seem busy and don’t seem particularly knowledgeable about the ship. (Getting wrong information and “I don’t know” was common.) The shining exceptions were our room attendants. Both my parents and I loved our stateroom attendants. They performed their jobs quickly without us feeling like we were in the way, greeted us and the kids, went out of their way to find out things if I asked a question and never let things get awkward. Basically they were perfect crew members.
Disney Cruise Line values an excellent rating on their evaluations above an extremely efficient service. This comes across in cordial interactions and crew who either know their way around the ship or are willing to take the extra step to make your day magical. Most of my (reasonable) requests on Disney received genuine effort and pride of doing their job well.
Royal Caribbean is such a large ship and begins disembarkation so much later, with so many more people to disembark, it was early afternoon before I made it home (only an hour from port.) The biggest positive is instead of having everyone congregate near the exits, there are assigned lounges to wait in.
Disney Cruise Line gets me off of the ship before 9am every single time. Without fail. In an orderly fashion. If they assigned lounges to keep people from congregating in the atrium, that’d be another step in the right direction.
I’m going to say this one is slightly in Disney’s favor.
Atrium – I’m giving this one to Disney. Despite the impressive expanse of the Royal Promenade, it had the feeling of being in a mall and not somewhere really special. On DCL, you felt like you’d arrived at a ball.
Stateroom- I’ll compare interiors since I’ve stayed in those on both lines.
Royal Caribbean didn’t have enough storage (if my husband had come, his stuff would’ve needed to stay in a suitcase or hung up. We ran out of drawers. The two sets of bunk beds was a weird configuration and the top bunk’s side rail wouldn’t stay upright. There was no way to lock it into place. The decor was very beach resort but the linens were comfortable enough.
Disney Cruise Line sleeps the parents and kids on opposite sides of the curtain and not in a pair of bunk beds. This just makes sense to me. The ottoman and the chest/cabinet offered a lot of useful shelving. The decor feels timeless.
Disney offers a variety of adults only lounges in interesting and unique themes while Royal offers some very high-class lounges and some pub style lounges, nothing really popped as unique and fun. Also the secondhand smoke drifting by from the casino didn’t urge me to linger overly long.
Royal Caribbean wins. With the loss of the second funnel in their design, they gain enough deck space to put in rather large proper pools and an incredibly splash/play/slide are for the kids as well.
They could do with a bit more shade, though.
Eating in the main dining room for three nights on Royal Caribbean was enough for us. Despite being gorgeous, the food was just kind of okay. Windjammer offered an excellent variety of foods three meals a day and we found the servers here far more helpful and cheery than in other parts of the ship. Johnny Rockets was fun, but I don’t see why it is the only place on board that serves veggie burgers or why it warranted a upcharge outside of the cost of the drinks and shakes. I lost weight after a week on Liberty of the Seas. That’s a first for me on a cruise.
Disney Cruise Line food, oh how I love it. The chefs spoil a vegan, that’s for sure. With new and interesting options every meal, it’s mandatory to bring my stretchy pants when I dine. Palo, the adults only (for a minor upcharge) restaurant is completely worthwhile and a must do each trip. For more casual afternoons by the pool, food is right at hand whether you’re after a veggie burger and fries or a healthy wrap and fruit, it’s available within sight of the pool
Royal Caribbean features beautifully appointed gigantic theatres that would be just as fitting on land as on sea. This is one venue where you truly forget you’re in the middle of the Gulf. While Disney’s theatres are far more intimate, the movie theatres particularly can be a bit of a squeeze.
Royal Caribbean has one. Disney doesn’t.
I’m not overly fond of the merchandise offered on Royal Caribbean, but the shops were well laid out and easy to navigate with plenty of floor space. Disney’s shops are chock-full of interesting items from the kiddie souvenirs all the way up to expensive jewelry. Their downfall is they are often packed with wall to wall guests, particularly after dinner and the shows.
On Disney you visit three restaurants in rotation, so boredom never sets in. Indeed, you’re more likely to find people avoid booking specialty dining because they’d rather not miss the Animator’s Palate show night or the pirate night than locate people who skip the main dining.
Contrastingly, the main dining on Royal Caribbean seemed repetitive night to night, despite the lovely surroundings.
Both cruise lines offer a wide variety, but Disney always has vegetarian and vegan options readily available while Royal offers more exotic choices (sushi, pick your own stir fry, etc.)
Palo chocolate soufflé. <drops mic>
Disney includes all of your soft drinks. Royal Caribbean has reasonably priced drink packages that includes bottled water and Frappuccinos (or whatever they call those outside of Starbucks.) I’m giving this to Disney as the inability to walk up to a soda station and fill up my water bottle is just annoying.
The Promenade Café is larger, kid friendly and offers a rotating case of included snacks. Disney offers both Cove Café’s nearby ocean views and quiet adults only vibe or a family friendly coffee bar as well…I’d give this to Disney but only by a hair.
Actual numbers I found shopping for cruises on March 16, 2016.
Disney Fantasy May 14, 2016
7-Night Western Caribbean
Port Canaveral, Cozumel, George Town, Falmouth, Castaway Cay, Port Canaveral
IGT (Interior Guarantee Stateroom)
1 Adult 2 Children
Base Cost $3,366.62
Liberty of the Seas May 15, 2016
7-Night Western Caribbean
Galveston, Cozumel, George Town, Falmouth, Galveston
IGT (Interior Guarantee Stateroom)
1 Adult 2 Children
Base Cost $1,872.97
Soda Package (x3) $198.24
Gratuity Difference $19.95
Printed Luggage Tags: $35.00
Total Base Cost: $2,126.16
I added in the soda package since DCL includes soda in the base price, as well as the difference in base gratuities between the two lines, and the cost of getting your luggage tags printed and not printing your own. (Yes, Royal Caribbean charges for that.) Before boarding, Liberty of the Seas is leaving me with an extra $1,240.45, but down one day on a private island.
Despite my initial reluctance to spend more once onboard Royal Caribbean (I hate the feeling of paying more money once I’m in an all-inclusive environment) I spent around two hundred dollars more onboard this cruise than I had on my earlier cruise on the Disney Dream (which included a private cabana split among us and a fantastic dinner at Remy). I did not eat in any of the main specialty dining dinners, but I did eat at Johnny Rockets twice.
All in all, I’m guesstimating the price difference is under a thousand dollars between the two (very different) experiences.
So, Disney Cruise Line or Royal Caribbean?
Between the kids club, the second-hand smoke and the general feeling of nickel and dime-ing, Royal Caribbean is just not that magical to me. I wouldn’t take the kids on Royal again until they’re much older, with the possible exception of a very port intensive cruise, such as Europe. I don’t think I’d particularly take my husband without the kids as it doesn’t fit well with our family friendly lifestyle.
For my money, next time I’ll be back on the beautiful Disney Wonder.
Catch up on the live blog from our week aboard Liberty of the Seas:
After a few too many vacations over-packing, I made it our goal to under pack. Or pack the bear minimum. Just the essentials to have a fabulous cruise. My husband claims his goal is to work his way down to boarding with a single small backpack.
Thankfully, Disney makes this pretty easy. With food, entertainment and rooms taken care of, short of the shirt on your back, what are the essentials?
These break down into clothes and toiletries. You can make it as complicated as you want, but pretty much if you aren’t going to wear it or you don’t use it on a daily basis, it’s pretty much optional. The ships provide soap, shampoo, conditioner and (in a pinch) can even find you a bottle of sun relief gel.
Paperwork, pharmaceuticals, valuables, gadgets and gizmos and kid necessities all should stay in your day bag. The only things I carry in my day bag are the items that I cannot live without for the duration of the cruise. Basically anything unreplaceable stays with me until I board.
Non-Essential (but Nice)
Tons of things can be included in this category. Add in anything that speaks to you. Paperbacks, toys, strollers and anything you might think will make your cruise more magical.
Last Minute Items
All those things that you can’t pack until the last minute. I’m forever forgetting to pack the charger that I used the night before we leave. Until I started posting reminders on my phone. Please, make your own notes!
Printable “Essentials Only” Disney Cruise Line Packing List
A freebie to help you as you pack your essentials! A checklist of everything from spare camera batteries (if you use those) to your kid’s favorite stuffed bear. I’m wishing you a magical cruise.
While Disney helpfully lists the Disney Cruise Line Dress Code here on their website, what exactly do people “normally” wear? And before I feel like an extra on a TLC show, what not to wear? Although I previously blogged about “What Not to Wear” on Disney cruises, the continual trend toward comfort and away from formality warranted another post.
What Not To Wear | Disney Cruise Line Dress Code vs. Reality
Disney slowly stepped along with the rest of the cruise industry away from the ballgown and tux and toward a more everyday style of dress. The “dress up,” “formal” and “semi-formal” evenings are strongly optional and if you wear jeans (or yes, even shorts and a t-shirt) you are not out of place any evening. In fact, you’d probably have a fair amount of company…
Despite the relaxing of the dress code, in the main rotational dining rooms, there are still a few rules. Actually two:
No Tank Tops.
The main change is that shorts and t-shirts moved from the definitely no list to a place of acceptance, which follows along with what guests already wore. So that means it’s pretty much an open field as to what to wear…but what do people actually wear?
What To Wear On Disney Cruise Line
I’ve got you covered. During the day, a swim suit and cover up or pretty much anything you’d wear to swing by Target should suffice. Evenings are a bit different. If you plan to dine in the rotational dining rooms in the evening, it’s customary to follow the written dress code. That’s where dress code comes in. Your Personal Navigator (a daily schedule) notes the evening attire as either Formal, Semi-Formal, Cruise Casual, Optional Dress Up or Pirate.
Disney Cruise Line Dress Code: Cruise Casual
Polo shirts, khakis, sundresses, jeans, t-shirts and other regular day clothes are staples.
Often you can wear the same outfit day and night for cruise casual.
This is the most relaxed of the evening dress code variations.
Cut offs, tank tops and swim wear still not allowed. Other than that, skirts, nice jean shorts and anything you would wear to Red Lobster is okay. Jean shorts are not only acceptable on the little boys, but on just about anyone. Be aware that some people find the air conditioning in the dining rooms chilly, so plan accordingly. I’d recommend pants for the a/c alone.
Disney Cruise Line Dress Code: Pirate Night
ARRRR. Appearing on nearly all itineraries, pirate night is an enduring tradition of the Disney Cruise Line.
Yes, guests really do dress up on pirate night. I’ve seen everything from convincingly accurate replications of costumes from Pirates of the Caribbean (people were asking for autographs and photos from these guests) to humorous (though family friendly) pirate tee shirts or Hawaiian print shirts.
A Pirates Life for Me!
Most guests hang out in the pirate t-shirts or a range of pirate attire (Halloween to renaissance festival) with the second most common choice being tropical sundresses and shirts.
In my experience, more people get into the extreme pirate end of attire for longer cruises while the shorter cruises tend more toward t-shirts but either is perfectly appropriate.
Cut offs, tank tops and swim wear. Feel free to have fun this evening! When else will you be allowed to dress up as a buccaneer?
Disney Cruise Line Dress Code: Optional Dress-Up
On shorter cruises, instead of formal or semi-formal, there is a single “optional dress up” night. This runs the gamut of both nights with a healthy representation of cruise casual. If you want to dress up and get a nice family photo, this is your evening to do it.
Optional Dress Up
If you want a chance to relive the elegance of classic ocean liners, feel free to break out the pearls. Just don’t be surprised to see not everyone shares your enthusiasm for dressing up.
What not to wear?
Cut offs, tank tops and swim wear. Any form of dress up won’t stick out as this tends to be the most mixed dress of all the evenings.
Disney Cruise Line Dress Code: Formal Night
Formal nights, found on cruises seven nights and longer, cause the most trepidation among newer cruisers.
These evenings, most guests seem to go with somewhere in the range of “Sunday Best” to cocktail dress. A few opt for tuxedos and ball gowns (when else can you really wear one?) Jackets, once requested on the website, seem pretty rare. Dark slacks and a button down are more common.
Rocking the sweater vests and tiaras.
The little princesses often choose a favorite princess costume from their wardrobe (yes, leftover Halloween costumes, tiaras and fairy wings are welcome) while the boys range from tiny suits to khakis and sweater vests though full length jeans are not unheard of in the elementary set.
Cut offs, tank tops and swim wear. Be aware that while a cocktail dresses won’t stick out, most women tend toward Capri slacks, sundresses and skirts. Jeans are not uncommon.
What if I Don’t Want to Dress Up?
Disney is very lenient on the main dining room dress code. If you forego swimwear and tank tops, almost everything else is acceptable, even if not common. Their minimum standards appear here on their website.
What if I’m self-conscious about being underdressed compared my fellow cruisers?
Again, please peek into the restaurants. The trend toward more casual clothing means that even the most casual dresser does not usually stand out. Alternatively, quick service is available at quick service counters on the pool decks, a more casual sit down dining room is available at the aft of the pool deck and there is always room service.
Veggie burger and fries! No dressing up required.
I’d take a look at the dining room to check it out before you assume everyone dressed like Fred and Ginger.
What about Palo and Remy?
These classy restaurants request classy attire to help set a special and elegant atmosphere. Men need a dress shirt and dress pants for Palo. For Remy, add a jacket (tie optional).
Pull out the dressy clothes!
Ladies need a pantsuit or dress in either restaurant. Flats or heels are your choice.
Jeans, shorts, capris, (basically anything denim), flip-flops and tennis shoes are prohibited. They both call your stateroom to remind you of the dress code in advance of your reservation and enforce it vigorously.
Now you know what not to wear and more importantly what you’ll want to pack.
Wait. Didn’t you just go there with the kids? You’re telling me you go to Disney Cruise Line for ADULTS???
Not only do people wonder this in real life, but all over the internet people wonder whether Disney Cruise Line is really for adults. I think this is from the misconception that Disney Cruise Line is the same as Walt Disney World but at sea. The truth is a bit more complicated than that.
While the characters, theming and standards all match or exceed what you find at Disney’s parks and resorts, the experience is, as a whole, quite different.
While I am an unabashed Disney fan, the reason my husband keeps coming back to Disney Cruise Line has little to do with Mickey in the atrium. Rather the high standards of service, excellent attention to detail, scrumptious food and superior children’s programs keep my husband coming back. The characters, Disney theming and entertainment might be my brand of pixie dust, but as long as the kids busily enjoy their programming he is more than happy to sit back, relax and enjoy a week of unplugged relaxation.
Between fine dining at Remy or Palo, unique night clubs, sports lounges and all kinds of adults only activities, it’s hard to know where to start in on Disney Cruise line for adults.
Martini, wine or beer tasting your thing? They’ve got you covered.
Behind the scenes galley tours? They do that as well.
Adults only pools, hot tubs and cafés ? Yep.
Do you want to meet the big cheese or the princesses?
It’s no big deal and encouraged.
The only thing you cannot do onboard is join in to the children’s only programming when it is in session. If you really want to hang out and take part in the Oceaneer Club activities, daily open houses make even this a possibility.
Because the kids enjoy the kids programming so much, we have plenty of time to try to do everything or lay around on deck with a fruity drink and do absolutely nothing.
And that is really magical.
Adults Only Trip Report
Episode III: Couples only Cruise
February 4, 2013
Four Night Western Caribbean
I went on another cruise on my own with my husband, but it predated my digital camera and my Disney blog and just got home from a moms weekend week cruise on the Disney Dream, so look forward to that review!
During the shareholder meeting yesterday, Bob Iger announced two (as of yet unnamed) new ships will be joining the Disney Cruise Line fleet in 2021 and 2023…
Although they will be a smidge (about 5,000 gross tons, working out to only 4%) larger than the Dream class ships, the new ships will contain the same number of guest rooms…so it’s anybody’s guess what they will change. The only thing we know is that Disney Cruise Ship 5 and 6 will be magical, luxurious and well worth the wait.
What can we expect from the New Ships?
Staterooms that accommodate larger families in a single space? More public guest spaces? Larger kids spaces? Changes to rotational dining? I think it might be fun to include as many as seven restaurants in rotational dining to further avoid repetition (as you get on a seven night cruise). Anything is possible!
Even the names for the two new vessels remain a mystery…
I think that Wish is a likely contender to join the line’s current ships (the Magic, the Wonder, the Dream and the Fantasy). I’d enjoy Yesterday and Tomorrow as new ship names too, though Timeless is perhaps a better description of the ships. Believe and Imagine would work well too…but then I’m not an Imagineer.
I *personally* favor the idea of an entirely Star Wars themed ship. Call it the Believe or the Force. They could theme throughout with Jedi Mickey on the bow, a cantina for the adults and Ewok statues painting the aft. It would be nice to offer a ship specifically geared more toward tween/teens and boy families. Think of it like Hollywood Studios goes to sea. With Ship 5 set to launch two years after Episode IX (yes, they’ve scheduled the Star Wars films through 2019) it would be a fun way to wrap the next trilogy.
It’s fun to imagine and dream!
What would you want to see on the New Ships? What would you name Ship 5 and Ship 6?
The leader in family cruising will grow its award-winning fleet with imaginative innovations that are uniquely fun and distinctly Disney
CHICAGO (March 3, 2016) – The Walt Disney Company announced plans today to build two additional cruise ships, each of them showcasing the immersive family entertainment, enchanting storytelling and unparalleled service that only Disney can deliver.
The company has entered into a memorandum of agreement with the Meyer Werft shipyard in Germany. The schedule calls for the new ships to be completed in 2021 and 2023.
“We pride ourselves on the unforgettable vacation experiences we deliver to our guests each and every day, and the expansion of our Disney fleet will allow us to create even more magical memories for families at sea and in incredible cruise destinations around the world,” said Robert A. Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The Walt Disney Company.
Each new ship will be approximately 135,000 gross tons – slightly larger than the newest Disney Cruise Line ships, the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy – and each is currently planned to include about 1,250 guest staterooms. While design plans, ship names and itineraries are still in development, the Walt Disney Imagineering team is already dreaming up exciting new ways to create the world’s most magical oceangoing adventures.
Since first setting sail in 1998, Disney Cruise Line has provided a quintessential family cruise vacation experience that combines the magic of Disney with the thrill of exploring different parts of the world. Guests step aboard majestic and beautiful ocean liners to enjoy legendary Disney entertainment, exquisite dining, spacious and well-appointed staterooms and magnificent public spaces.
The company also has been an industry leader in innovation and game-changing creativity. With the launch of the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy in 2011 and 2012, the company introduced several firsts for the industry, including a water coaster at sea (AquaDuck) and virtual portholes in interior staterooms (Magical Portholes) that provide real-time views of the sea as well as sightings of animated Disney characters.
Plans for the expansion of Disney Cruise Line come during a period of momentous growth and innovation for Disney properties around the globe.
“The expansion of Disney Cruise Line only adds to our excitement for the unprecedented growth taking place across our vacation destinations, from new Star Wars experiences coming to the Walt Disney World and Disneyland resorts to the 25th anniversary of Disneyland Paris and the grand opening of our newest park, Shanghai Disney Resort,” said Bob Chapek, Chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.
More details about the Disney Cruise Line fleet expansion and onboard offerings will be announced at a later date.
Whether you hit Disney on the surf or turf, did you ever wonder whether there’s a big difference between the two vacations? Will switching it up still feel like a “Disney” vacation or does the magic get lost in translation? Last week as my six-year-old wrote her first compare/contrast paragraph (on Walt Disney World and Disney Cruise Line of course!) I realized that in many ways they are sibling experiences. While they both share Uncle Walt’s smile and storytelling, each grew into a very unique vacation.
Ten Ways Walt Disney World and Disney Cruise Line are Exactly the Same (and TOTALLY Different)
Mickey and the fab five, the Disney Jr. characters, Stitch, the princesses, pirates and even the Frozen friends appear! While random character encounters, particularly with the big cheese, have disappeared on land, on the Disney Cruise Line (DCL) they happen with a startling regularity. To the point that kids will do a wave and keep walking the opposite way down the hall because they’ve seen so many characters that day. Though times to see and meet the characters onboard are plentiful, the variety of characters available is usually limited compared to Walt Disney World (WDW). If you’re in search of a meet and greet with Pocahontas, Mulan, or Snow White you may be out of luck as they are often busy visiting Walt Disney World. In either case, you want to pick up a ticket (through Guest Services at DCL, FastPass+ at WDW) to meet the Frozen Friends.
9. Interactive Experiences
Disney recently blossomed into an interactive explorer’s dream. With adventures ranging from Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure, Jedi Training Academy and the Wilderness Explorers at Walt Disney World and the Midship Detective Agency, Jedi Training – Experience the Force and Anna’s Chocolate Chase on Disney Cruise Line, you’re sure to find something exciting for the whole family.
8. Those Special Cast Members
While all cast members bring their own touches to their roles, every trip (land or sea) I run across at least one person who is practically perfect in every way. This is why we always smile and nod when people ask if we’re going to Disney “again.”
7. See the World
Fancy breakfast in a Parisian Patisserie, the rest of your morning meeting dolphins, lunch in the Mexican twilight, an afternoon exploring Germany and dinner in Morocco next to an enchanted lagoon? Epcot is your best bet. The Kidcot Fun stops offer stamps and coloring activities. (They even have souvenir passport books available for purchase.)
If you want to tour the eternal city, swim with dolphins in the Caribbean and enjoy a Mexican twilight over the open sea, Disney Cruise Line is more your speed. You want a real passport book rather than the Epcot World Showcase passport.
6. Adults Only Dining
Victoria and Albert’s, Walt Disney World’s premiere dining experience earned the AAA Five Diamond Award every year since 2000. The food, service and surroundings are superb. My kids would be happier spending an evening in the Sandcastle Club and although you are extremely unlikely to see children in this establishment, they do allow guest age ten and up to dine.
Palo and Remy both strictly enforce an eighteen and up age limit, as do many of the lounges on Disney Cruise Line during the evening hours. Much like their land based counter parts, the Oceaneer Club keeps my children happy and engaged long after I’m ready to go to bed.
Ah…to be holding down a lounger with the only care in the world remembering to reapply your sunscreen. Walt Disney World offers many different pools and water parks to suit a variety of vacationers. Sand bottom pools more your style? Stormalong Bay, exclusively for Disney’s Beach Club Resort guests might be the waterpark for you.
Or there’s always Disney Cruise Line’s Castaway Cay for the perfect toes-in-the-sand-hammock-umbrella-drink-paradise getaway. Then head back on the ship to be gently rocked to sleep as your ship heads back home.
Whether you’re a Mickey Bar fan, soft pretzels or prefer all you can eat soft serve, DCL includes your snacks in the cost of your cruise. Packaged candies and popcorns cost similar amounts to at Walt Disney World.
If you’re looking specifically for Mickey shaped pretzels, churros or Dole Whip floats, you’ll need to head off to Walt Disney World.
If you love Disney spectacles (and if you read Passporter, there’s a pretty good chance you might) then Finding Nemo: The Musical, Illuminations and Festival of Fantasy top your must do list at Walt Disney World.
Disney Dreams: An Enchanted Classic (and several other stunning stage shows) fill this niche at sea. While the Pirates in the Caribbean Deck Party offers the best fireworks at sea, Walt Disney World has the best fireworks in the world. The deck parties offer something similar to the kinetic nature of the parades, but on a much smaller scale (no floats). There are far better odds of getting to dance with Minnie or Pluto during the deck parties than during a parade.
DCL features fun and quirky waterslides that differ from ship to ship. Exciting port adventures can be found for everything from zip lines, hikes and swimming with stingrays, if you’re into thrill seeking. You could see it as having no rides. Or the ship, in and of itself can be viewed as the longest continuously running most interactive ride ever developed by Disney.
Walt Disney World offers every imaginable ride from a gentle soar through the air with Dumbo to escaping a yeti through the twists and turns of Mount Everest. And my children’s perennial favorite, the monorail.
In both vacations, height restrictions (and for many of the port adventures, age restrictions) are strictly enforced for children’s safety.
1. Pixie Dust
The extra attention to detail that leaves each day seeming magical?
That, I am happy to say is alive and well whether you vacation takes you to land or sea.
Need more comparisons?
Try hopping over to Disney Dilemma: Land or Sea and find out which vacation costs more, which takes more energy and which is more magical. You might be surprised!
I’ve spent the last day laundering and shaking the sand out of our trip laundry, so while I get things all squared away, maybe you’d enjoy a short video tour of Castaway Cay’s Grand Family Cabana.
As cabana #21 on the family beach at Disney’s Castaway Cay, the grand family cabana easily housed twelve of us and I can’t wait to get into trip reporting! But first all of the email and other catch up.
Blogorail Red Loop. Today we are sharing the best resorts to spend the holidays at Walt Disney World.
The carolers sing, the Christmas trees sparkle, the holiday storytellers entertain and the aroma of gingerbread and peppermint lattes fills the air.
From November through Christmas, the joy and good cheer of the season goes out to sea as Disney Cruise Line overflows with the good cheer of the Very MerryTime Cruise sailings.
Many of the Walt Disney World holiday traditions (life-sized gingerbread houses, fanciful decorations and, of course, Santa Claus!) continue on deck. My favorite parts of the Very MerryTime sailings cannot be found anywhere except on the Disney Cruise Line.
Deck the Deck Tropical Holiday Party
Take your daytime deck party up a notch with a holiday themed tropical deck party. Between the deck games, candy cane limbo and dancing with the big cheese, it’s easy to get into the holiday spirit. Just don’t forget the sunscreen! Many people wonder if you need to dress up for this event, but most of the kids and adults I’ve seen attend are wearing whatever they happened to wear that afternoon (up to and including swimwear).
I find the only downside with this event is that it is often lost in the shuffle of activities onboard. If you think you’re going to want to hit the deck party, setting a reminder in the Disney Navigator app or on your phone will keep you from missing out on the fun.
Family Gingerbread Making Activities
After walking through the aroma of the life-sized gingerbread house all week, the opportunity to make (and eat!) our own gingerbread house sounded pretty sweet.
On the day of the Gingerbread House construction, we reported to Animator’s Palate. Our family of four sat at a table with all of the icing, candies and fresh baked gingerbread waiting for us. The executive pastry chef explained briefly how to construct a gingerbread house while an assistant demonstrated. Unlike any gingerbread kit, this gingerbread frosting tastes delicious (my husband *may* have eaten the extra), the candy is fresh and the gingerbread smells incredible. Also unlike any gingerbread kit ever, the house went up and stayed up fairly easily. My son ate the chimney almost before we’d even started decorating the gingerbread and the candies didn’t all make it onto the house.
Either eat a light meal before your gingerbread house making, or plan on ruining your dinner. If you have food allergies/special diets, I’d eat right beforehand or skip this activity as the smell is equal parts amazing and torturous when you aren’t planning on eating it..
If you want to participate, make sure to pick up a ticket early in your cruise. They are included in your fare, but limited in availability.
Snow in the Caribbean
Okay, I’m a warm weather kind of girl, but when Mickey and Santa use a little bit of magic to make it snow in the atrium during the Winter Wonderland Ball (or on deck for the special sailings where Elsa does the honors if she isn’t busy ruling Arendelle) I’m willing to get a little bit Frozen.
If your cruise visits Castaway Cay, you can enjoy the beautiful decorations as you’re welcomed ashore amid a flurry of “Disney Snow” as well as meet all the characters in their holiday/tropical finest. While you’re ashore, you can go “meet” Olaf (he’s a statue) in a photo nook next to the Summertime Freeze frozen drink stand.
Our Disney cruises offer us the unique opportunity to kick back, relax and unplug. To laugh. To spend quality time making goofy memories together that will last a lifetime.
A secret society of Disney Cruise Line veterans with the 411 on the Oceaneer Club, Port Adventures, the Best Staterooms and all the Hidden Pixie Dust.
A system of perks for families who experienced the most magical cruise line and return to once again brave the high seas.
Amazing magic that gets better the more times you set sail.
As soon as you step off of your first Disney Cruise Line ship, you automatically join the Castaway Club. You can use your Castaway Club Number (the eight digit number found on the front of your Key to the World card) to explore the Castaway Club site.
The My Cruises page on the Castaway Club site helps you organize and plan your future voyages while tracking previous cruises.
A fun click through, the Member Magazine peeks behind the scenes as well as letting you in on future magic in store for the Disney Cruise Line
Free printable coloring pages and recipe cards, in case you’d like to recreate Palo Chocolate Soufflé in your own kitchen.
What other perks come to Castaways?
A dedicated toll-free number just for Castaway Club members, making it easy for you to book and adjust your future cruises.
Advanced access to booking as new itineraries release.
Post cruise gifts like art cards or car magnets.
A Castaway Club lanyard for carrying your Key to the World on future cruises.
Pixie Dust! (A welcome back gift waiting in your stateroom.)
Early booking at 90 days in advance of the cruise. Paid off cruisers can book nursery, fine dining and massages and pedicures at Vista Spa & Salon and even a cabana at Castaway Cay, if you can find one.
Onboard booking offers!
Streamlined check-in for all Castaways.
When you’ve cruised more than five times, the benefits grow.
Your lanyard (and stateroom gift) turns a lovely shade of gold to match your new status.
Invitation to a meet and greet with the ship’s officers on cruises over four nights.
Onboard shopping perks (often 10% off of most merchandise).
Early booking at 105 days in advance of the cruise. Paid off cruisers can book nursery, fine dining and massages and pedicures at Vista Spa & Salon and even a cabana at Castaway Cay, if you can find one.
Platinum (and Beyond!)
When you’ve crossed beyond ten completed cruises, not only do you earn the admiration of your fellow cruisers, but in addition to the previous perks, you get a lot more pixie dust.
Your lanyard (and stateroom gift) turn black and platinum to match your new status.
Priority boarding and check-in with the concierge guests.
Complimentary Palo dinner.
Early booking at 120 days in advance of the cruise. Paid off cruisers can book nursery, fine dining and massages and pedicures at Vista Spa & Salon and even a cabana at Castaway Cay, if you can find one.