Many who have never cruised before often ask me if it is worth it to sail with Disney Cruise Line. Most of the time there is confusion regarding what is included in your cruise fare. So, let’s dive in and tackle those questions now!
My Recent Experience
As some may know, I recently took not one, but two Disney Cruise Line (DCL) cruises this Fall. One was on the newest ship, the Disney Wish, with my family for Halloween on the High Seas. The second one was aboard the Disney Fantasy and was also a Halloween on the High Seas themed sailing. Halloween on the High Seas is Disney Cruise Line’s Halloween themed cruises where the ship is decorated in not-so-spooky decor and they have special events and activities around the theme. Each trip was unique as the ships are unique and I traveled the first cruise with my husband and children and the second one with just another mom!
A little about the ships I sailed…
The Disney Wish is currently sailing on 3-4 night Bahamian itineraries from Port Canaveral (Florida) and the Disney Fantasy is sailing to the Eastern and Western Caribbean, on alternating weeks. All Disney Fantasy sailings are currently 7 nights and also departing from Port Canaveral. Most all the itineraries include a stop on Disney’s Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island. This is a very popular and well loved stop for almost anyone that has ever sailed with Disney Cruise Line.
The Disney Wish is the newest in the fleet and the Fantasy is the second newest ship. The Fantasy has a sister ship, the Dream, which I have also sailed on previously. These ships hold approximately 4,000 passengers (give or take of course). While definitely hinting similarities to the previous ships, the Wish does offer a lot of new spaces and theming. Personally, I fell in love with this ship and was more than happy to see something so unique (but also familiar) to the offerings of DCL.
Entertainment, Dining and Activities – Galore!
A key difference in a Disney Cruise vs. other cruise lines is what is included in your cruise fare. While there are special dining, spa treatments, fitness classes, alcohol tastings, shore excursions, and beer/wine packages, that are not included in your cruise fare, the majority of the things are already included in your cruise fare. You don’t pay for any “extras” until the time of sailing and their are not a gazillion types of drink packages to choose from, etc. While you will definitely want to add-on items, the booking process feels a lot simplified than most other cruises.
Not just for kids OR families with children
You don’t have to be a child, or an adult with children, to enjoy a DCL cruise. There are equally as many items to do with kids as there are for adults. From adults only dining, spa, fitness, coffee shops, and pool areas, there are plenty of spots aboard to just chill with other grown-ups. Disney does a great job of offering a mix of togetherness and solitude aboard the ships. If you do have children, you may find your kids love the kids club and never want to leave, or in the case of my children, want to do as many activities with you as they can. Either way, there are plenty of ways to structure and spend your time regardless of who is traveling in your travel party.
The Disney difference
Everything you experience on board has the same Disney standard of excellence you come to love and appreciate. Your cruise fare covers the cost for your stateroom, rotational dining, most events and activities on-board, such as the Broadway style shows, the new release movies in the theaters, activities like crafts and trivia, themed parties (such as Pirate Night, Halloween, etc.) and so much more. Kids clubs, including those for babies up to young adults, are included in cruise fare as well.
You don’t have to be a huge Disney fan to enjoy a DCL cruise. There are pools, fitness and spa activities, trivia, and other activities on board that don’t require you to be a big fan and not everything is heavily themed to characters, etc. There are lounges and bars aboard every ship with various theming that can accomodate the sports fan, movie buff, or just someone wanting to chill with some live music.
If you are a big Disney fan, there is obviously plenty for you to do and see and get your Disney fix. Themed trivia, movies, shows, character meets and more. You can be as interactive or involved in these activities as you wish.
Another big difference currently on Disney Cruise line is that there are no casinos. There are activities each day to play Bingo and get a little gambling type of fix but there are no casinos on-board the current Disney Cruise Line fleet.
The fleet does offer adult-only spaces as well as concierge level rooms. Disney Cruise Line operates booking priorities for those who are the most loyal cruisers to their brand down to the first timer. Thus, payment deadlines and excursion booking windows vary based on your loyalty level with Disney Cruise Line. BUT, don’t let that discourage you from the ability to snag an excursion or special activity. If those items are not available for you to book at your eligibility window, you can always go to Guest Service or the Excursions desk and check availability once on-board.
Once you have completed your first sailing with DCL, you become a Castaway Club member level Silver. The program goes up to Pearl, which is 25 sailings or more!
When is the best time to book a cruise?
Disney Cruise Line offers sailing year round at a variety of ports. Port Canaveral typically always has Caribbean and Bahamian sailings whereas other ports and destinations are seasonal (Hello, Alaska, Europe and soon, the South Pacific!). When is the best time to book a cruise is as soon as the itineraries come out. When the new season is released, that is typically when you see the best pricing. Why? Similar to airlines, as the demand increases and you get closer to the date, you could see fare increases. As stateroom categories fill-up and availability becomes more limited, the prices will typically increase.
As far as when during the year you should sail….That really depends on someone’s personal schedule as well as the itinerary you wish to do. For example, Alaska is typically an early Summer – early Fall offering on almost all cruise lines.
There is so much to share about Disney Cruises and this is just the beginning. We will deep dive in future posts about itineraries and amenities! I’d love your questions, so please send them to Blair@Crushonthemagic.com