Thursday, January 17, 2013

Disney Cruise Line…Some (Un) Planning Advice


Please welcome back Rebecca Farrell, our Type A planner!  To read her previous posts, click here and here.

I do hope that Disney Babies Blog readers have enjoyed my two previous posts on planning Disney vacations. True to our pattern of vacationing with Disney as often as possible, my husband and I enjoyed our first Disney cruise in May of 2011 and it didn’t really take much planning at all! If you’ve ever been on a cruise (prior to Disney, we cruised with Norwegian, Royal Caribbean and Carnival), you know that the meals are usually schedules, e.g., an early seating and a late seating, there are 1-2 shows per night, sometimes a movie.
View of DCL from the Magical Express

And even for a Type A personality like me, that was OK! So let’s talk about some of the choices you’ll need to make and things to consider when deciding if a Disney Cruise is for you.

Similar to planning a Disney Parks vacation, you need to decide on a budget – and know that DCL cruises are more expensive than the discount cruises you often find with carriers like RCC and Carnival. I have nothing against any other cruise line, but please believe me when I say that the additional money you’ll spend on a DCL vacation is worth every penny.  Here are some more things to consider:
  • When to go.... We went over Memorial Day weekend – the seas were calm and the weather was HOT. If you’re planning a cruise from the east coast ports, keep in mind that August and September are hurricane season. If you have kids in school, maybe you can find a cruise over a holiday so that they don’t miss as much school time. DCL offers itineraries year-round!
  • Where to go…for cruises, this includes the port you’ll leave from and the cities you want to visit while on the cruise. We chose our April 2013 Western Caribbean cruise on the Disney Fantasy because it goes to ports we’ve never been to before. Check out the Disney Cruise Line website for more information.
  • Where to stay…seems strange, right? Obviously in this case, I’m referring to which of the Disney ships you’ll sail on. Our cruise was on the Dream, one of the two newer ships. You’ll also want to decide the type of stateroom you want and where on the ship you’ll be positioned. We enjoyed a stateroom with a private veranda – it was lovely.
  • When to eat…there are two seatings in the dining rooms. If you’re like us, the later seating is preferable because that’s closer to when we usually eat when we’re at home.

Here are some insights on the restaurants and food choices from our experience aboard the DCL Dream:
  • There are three dining rooms on board, and the length of your cruise will determine your dining rotation. As with other cruise lines, your service crew travels with you. We enjoyed Animator’s Palate, Enchanted Garden and the Royal Palace.
  • The full-service buffet, Cabanas, is great and is open when you board the ship so that you can get something to eat while you wait for your luggage.
  • There are two high-end restaurants on board, Palo and Remy, where you pay a $20 per person service fee and enjoy some of the best food you’ve ever eaten. Check out the DCL website for more information, I don’t think I can do it justice here.
  • Room service is available 24 hours a day, anything and everything you want to eat. There is a service charge, but it’s worth it!
  • You can have as much as you want to eat whenever you want it – our first night at Animator’s Palate, our head waiter didn’t think I would like what I ordered (I loved it, by the way), that he brought me a second entrée. I ate both of them! Amazing!

The entertainment and shows were fantastic – not the typical cheesy cruise fare.  We genuinely enjoyed all of the shows that we saw, including:
  • The Golden Mickeys – an awards style show that includes clips from Disney favorites and even a taped message from Disney CEO Bob Iger.
  • Believe – the story of a father and daughter and the need to believe in a little bit of magic.
  • Villains Tonight – emcee Hades performs a tongue-in-cheek set that makes the best-known Disney ‘baddies’ seem almost sympathetic. A little scary for the younger cruisers, but we loved it, our favorite show
  • There are first-run movies on board; we got to see the latest Pirates flick in 3D. Great fun!
  • We very much enjoyed the adults-only standup comic, Taylor Mason, who performed two sets for the grownups in one of the ‘clubs’ during our cruise. We were doubled-over with laughter!
  • If you fancy hanging out in your stateroom, the DCL TVs are programmed with nearly every Disney and Pixar movie EVER MADE. I wish there was a way to take that little gem home with us.


Other onboard activities include pools (kids and adults ONLY), a wonderful spa, and of course there are shore excursions…so much to describe, I am saving it for another post!  In closing, here are some other (but definitely awesome) differences between a DCL trip and other cruise lines:
  • DCL has fireworks at sea – no other cruise line (that I’m aware of) does this – it’s all part of Pirate Night, which is fantastic fun!
  • DCL does not have casinos
  • DCL does not have midnight or chocolate buffets
  • DCL’s private island (Castaway Cay) has areas for kids AND adults
  • Your family will be announced and applauded when you board the ship
  • You will have ample opportunities to meet many of your favorite Disney characters and princesses while on the ship


With my husband, Chip and Dale during ‘formal’ night on the ship – Dale took me for a little spin on the dance floor before this picture was taken. 

To reach out to Rebecca, find her on twitter @RMZFarrell


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