10 things you should know before your first Disney cruise.
GUEST POST: Joe
1. It’s the Disney experience at sea, but it’s not a floating Disneyland.
There are plenty of opportunities to meet famous Disney characters (Mickey, Minnie, the various princesses, etc.) but it is not at all over-the-top cartoony. If this is your first Disney cruise it definitely takes some getting used too!
2. Disney cruise line is geared toward people of all ages.
Though families are the focus, there is plenty for adults without children to do and enjoy – and many adults do! There are dedicated areas with age-appropriate activities for children (ages 3-9). “tweens” (10-12), teens (13-17) and adults (18+). There are, of course, also lots of family-focused activities.
3. Spacious staterooms
Disney cruise line is known has having some of the largest standard stateroom offerings in the industry. The smallest rooms are 17 square meters (184 sq.ft.), and most verandah staterooms are between 25 and 28 square meters. If you’ve cruised with other lines but this is your first Disney cruise the space may come as a surprise!
4. Food and dining
Each of Disney’s cruise ships has a topside buffet, quick service stops and three main dining rooms with various themes. DCL assigns each family a set dinner service time, and families rotate through the dining rooms over the course of the cruise. The waitstaff move from dining room to dining room, so you’ll have the same service every night while experiencing each dining room’s unique setting. The food itself is good, varied and plentiful, and Disney cruise line is very good about addressing special dietary needs, allergens, and so forth.
In addition to standard dining, all of DCL’s ships have Palo, an extra-charge Italian-themed adults-only restaurant with amazing food. The Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy also have Remy, a super-premium French-themed restaurant with Michelin-quality food and service (seriously, it’s co-managed by 3-star Michelin chef Arnaud Lallement.)
5. There’s no on-board casino (but there is bingo).
For some people, no casino is a deal-breaker. For others, it’s an added bonus. But none of Disney’s ships have casinos on board.
Let’s be honest for a moment: this is Disney doing what Disney does best. The live shows are near Broadway quality (prior to appearing on American Idol, Jennifer Hudson was a member of DCL’s performing cast). In addition, Disney cruise line is able to show Disney-owned and distributed first-run movies. When a new movie has its theatrical premiere on land, Disney has a concurrent premiere on board. And nobody knows how to throw a party like Disney, and these parties sometimes include… (see point 7)
Disney cruise line pioneered the ability to launch fireworks from the ship, and they remain the only cruise line to do so on a regular basis. When weather permits, DCL has a fireworks show on each of its cruises (and has, on occasion, been known to do two shows on a cruise!). If this is your first Disney cruise this may come as a surprise!
8. Okay, maybe ONE nod to theme parks…
Aquaduck is the only water coaster at sea, and is only found on the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy. It loops around the ship, cuts through the forward funnel (DCL ships have two funnels) and features a 4-deck drop.
9. Disney’s private island
Castaway Cay is Disney’s private island in the Bahamas. Largely undeveloped, it contains two public beach areas (one is designated adults-only) and offers lots of youth and family activities. One of the highlights is the Castaway Cay 5k run. With lots of loungers, umbrellas, available rentals, excursions and the occasional adult beverage, Castaway Cay is a little slice of paradise.
10. The fleet
Disney cruise line currently has four ships in its fleet, with two more scheduled to arrive in 2021 and 2023, respectively. The Disney Magic spends its summers in Europe, sailing the Mediterranean and occasional northern European routes. The Disney Wonder spends its summers sailing to Alaska and along the Mexican Riviera. During the winter, the Magic and Wonder both sail in the Caribbean.
The Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy both sail full-time out of Port Canaveral, Florida. The Dream sails shorter itineraries to the Bahamas, while the Fantasy ventures deeper into the Caribbean, including Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Mexico, Grand Cayman and Jamaica.
Emma says: Thanks for this one Joe. I’ve never been on Disney so it is really interesting for me to learn a little about them, it does look like a lot of fun. I had no idea that they didn’t have casinos!
I don’t think I’ll be booking a Disney cruise anytime soon though, they seem really expensive from what I can gather and I am not a big time Disney fan…
I’ve never watched the Lion King! *gasp*
(feel free to prove me wrong on the expensive thing).
About Joe: Joe is a Disney-loving frequent traveller and sometimes-cruiser. You can follow his blog at FlyInfrequently.