- Beautiful ships full of Disney magic and extraordinary service.
- The evening shows – excellent Broadway-style entertainment for the whole family.
- Designated well-themed areas for children (and teens) with incredibly creative activities and lots of FUN (and safety!).
- Designated adults-only areas with adult entertainment, refreshments, separate pools, restaurants, and more.
- Castaway Cay – Disney’s Private Island is one of the ports of call on many Disney cruises and it is truly a paradise with something for everyone. Want to run a 5k? Ride a bicycle? Snorkel, parasail, swim, eat, dance, drink, play in the sand, lay in a hammock and do nothing at all – in an absolutely gorgeous setting! Adults-only, teens-only and family beaches ensure everyone can have the time of their life. Even a massage in a cabana on the beach is available! (Full review here.)
- Castaway Club – once you’ve taken that first cruise, you’re automatically a member with perks for repeat cruisers. This article gives more details.
- Excursions – Disney offers a tremendous number of family-friendly, adults-only and teen-only port excursions and they take good care of you! We’ve had incredible family adventures (like zip-lining in Alaska, swimming with stingrays in the Bahamas, and exploring the ruins of Pompeii) we will remember for the rest of our lives.
- Fish Extender groups and Door decorating! You can pre-arrange to take part in a gift exchange (like secret Santa) with other cruisers. You can (and should) bring fun magnetic decorations for your stateroom door. See Fish Extender deets here and Door Décor here.
- Characters – They seem to be everywhere and much easier to meet than in the parks. Drop off a pillowcase or a photo mat and some markers at Guest Services and the characters will autograph your items…which will then be returned to your stateroom.
- Parties and First-run Movies – The Sail Away and pirate-themed parties are both bunches of fun (especially for children). Each ship’s movie theater shows the latest releases (and favorite Disney movies).
- BONUS – Rotational Dining and Room Service. You keep the same restaurant servers at dinner each evening (unless you dine at an adults-only restaurant) for the duration of your cruise – you get to know them and they cater to (and often anticipate) your every need. The room service menu items (with a few exceptions) are included in the price of your cruise. Order appetizers while getting ready for dinner or a show, order cookies and milk for a bedtime snack! Too tired to leave your stateroom? Order dinner!
The reasons I’ve just listed are solely based on my own family’s experiences. We are not people who generally suffer from seasickness – it would be rare for one of us to have an episode, but not unheard of. We are a family that loves Disney vacations above all others. (I believe if Disney had its own ski resort, we would never stray from Disney property or cruise ship.)
The difference between a Walt Disney World vacation and a Disney Cruise Line vacation is, for us, purely a relaxation factor. All the things we love about Walt Disney World like good food, great service by friendly Cast Members, wonderful resort accommodations, Disney’s magical details (even hidden Mickeys!), meeting Disney characters, awesome entertainment – are all there on a Disney cruise. What is NOT on a Disney cruise? Walking ten miles a day, rope-drop frenzy, waiting for transportation in the blazing sun (or late at night), or favorite thrill rides and attractions (but there ARE plenty of adventures to be found on a cruise). We go home much more relaxed, but completely satisfied that we did and saw a bunch of amazing things!
HOW did we become such big Disney Cruise Line fans? What made us opt to turn away from Walt Disney World and take that very first cruise? I’ll tell you – it was our children. After we got home from a spring break trip to WDW one year (2006), Megan started asking when we would be going back, but Joseph said, “WAIT – I want to go to the beach. I want to see the ocean. Last time we went to the shore, I was so little I can’t remember what it was like. We need to go back to the beach!” And a months’ long argument began between the two of them from that day forward.
As for me, that’s when an idea began to form – I knew my plan wouldn’t be an easy one to pull off since I was certain Raymond would not initially be on board with it (YES! score a pun point for me!). Why not give both children what they want as a Christmas gift? Land and sea vacation package! Knowing Raymond would be adverse to the cruise portion of the trip, I talked him into it with 4 days at WDW followed by a 3-day cruise. He was picturing the cruise being rather like a hostage crisis – he’d be stuck on a ship with nothing to do! I was determined to show him the joys Disney Cruise Line had to offer. The happy ending to this tale is that when we walked off the ship, Raymond announced that he’d had a wonderful time and would gladly take a 7-day Disney cruise in the future! (The story of the Christmas gift reveal is here.)
Our baby steps from that first short Bahamian trip to a Disney cruise European adventure went like this:
- December 2006, Land and Sea (4-days at WDW followed by 3-days in the Bahamas which consisted of stops at Nassau and Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island)
- December 2007/January 2008 – New Year’s Eve 7-day Western Caribbean (for Megan’s senior trip), followed by a couple of days at WDW (Orlando to Key West to Grand Cayman to Cozumel to Castaway Cay and back to Orlando)
- May 2010 – 5-night Castaway Cay double-dip (+ 2 days at WDW. Orlando to Castaway Cay to Nassau to Castaway Cay to Orlando)
- May 2011 – 7-night Alaskan cruise (from Vancouver, visited Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan, and Tracy Arm Fjord, back to Vancouver)
- August 2013 – 7-night Mediterranean (from Barcelona to Ville Franche, France and then to La Spezia, Civitavecchia, and Naples in Italy, then back to Barcelona) (Trip report starts here.)
Our bravery increased over time – the more fun and adventure we had, the more we wanted to see and do! The price of airfare was, is and always will be the big holdup for doing more cruises that leave from distant ports, but we have always had as much fun (or more, gasp!) on a Disney cruise as we have had at each of our 12+ trips to Walt Disney World. Next up? Disney’s cruise through the fjords of Norway, summer 2015.
Have you taken a Disney cruise? If not, have you been considering one? What do you or don’t you like about the idea?