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10 Things to Know Before Sailing Disney Cruise Line

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By Jess Meissner

Disney Cruise Line continually ranks highest in guests’ minds on service, entertainment, and overall cruise experience for families.  The line is unique in many ways, and boasts experiences that can’t be found elsewhere; the fireworks at sea, for example.  If you’re considering booking a Disney cruise for your next vacation, here are ten things you need to know.

1. The Disney Vacation Planners lead the way

Planning any vacation can be overwhelming, and a Disney cruise vacation is no exception! There are four different cruise ships, with destinations and ports all over the world. How do you even begin to know what is right for you? Contact a Disney Vacation Planner like myself who works for an Earmarked Agency, like Mickey World Travel. Being Earmarked means that we are trained by Disney and that our agency has Disney’s “stamp of approval.” The best part: when you book through us, there is absolutely no cost to you at any time. That’s right, it’s a free service! Our job is to help make sure that you have as stress-free of a vacation as possible, and have the time of your life. Time to focus on each other, enjoy the magic of Disney, and make memories that last a lifetime.

2. On Disney cruises, meals and entertainment are included.

From the time you are welcomed aboard with a huge lunch buffet, to breakfast the morning you arrive back in your home port, there is food galore and always available. Amazing, mouth-watering, deliciously prepared and presented foods for any type of diet and even the pickiest eater. Hungry at 2 am after you have danced away the evening? Want to start your day with coffee as you watch the sunrise over the ocean? Call room service! Yes, even 24-hour room service is included in your Disney cruise. Disney is known for their entertainment, and on the cruise ship that is well evident. You have your choice of a nightly Broadway-style performance, or take time to listen to the world-class music performances that take place every evening in the night clubs or in the foyer on Deck 3.

3. Disney cruises have something for everyone.

Yes, you can meet Mickey and Pluto and all their friends. Want to talk with Cinderella or Elsa? That is possible too! There are also kids clubs, tween and teen clubs, interactive onboard ship games, and family pool and water areas. However, Disney is not just for families and kids! My husband and I loved our Disney cruise as just a couple. Disney has adults-only areas on the ship such as a top notch spa, an adult-only area consisting of a pool, swim-up bar, hot tub, and lounge area, as well as adult-only restaurants and night clubs. On Castaway Cay (Disney’s private island in the Bahamas) there is even an adults-only beach area for you to enjoy!

4. Pirates and Fireworks

Although entertainment was already mentioned, this topic deserves a number all its own! During your cruise, one night is Pirate Night. Join your cruise mates in dressing up as a pirate and take in the pirate party after dinner that evening. You may even be joined by Captain Jack Sparrow or Barbosa! That evening (weather permitting), Disney Cruise Line also does something that no other cruise line does…fireworks at sea. It is truly a spectacular sight! Afterwards, there is a dance party and pirate buffet to finish off the night.

5. Disney Staterooms

Disney really does think of everything. Ever try to fit two people in the bathroom at once to get ready for the day? How about comfortably fitting a family of 5 in one room? Disney has figured how to do it! Disney Cruise Line staterooms have split baths. This means there is one bathroom with a shower/tub and sink and one bathroom with a toilet and sink. This allows for more than one person to get ready in the morning simultaneously. Disney Deluxe Family Staterooms also have a hidden murphy bed so that not only is there a very comfortable queen size bed, and a lovely couch that becomes a double bed, but also a hidden murphy bed for another guest. The housekeeping service is amazing, too. The staterooms are cleaned daily and fresh towels, soaps, etc. are replaced as often as needed. When you come back to your stateroom after dinner, you will find that your housekeeper has left you a good night treat, as well as maybe a new decoration to enjoy for the night.

6. They have rotational dining.

Disney does what is called “rotational dining.” That means during your cruise you will experience three different themed restaurants for dinner. Although each is amazing and the food is out of this world, that isn’t my favorite part. My favorite part is that your main server and their assistant are with you for the duration of your cruise. That is right, they go with you through your rotation to each restaurant! They quickly learn your favorite drink, how you like your meat prepared, if you are allergic to anything, and call you by name. Personally, I loved that our server had pomegranate lemonade waiting for me each evening, knew I liked my meat medium-rare, and that I am allergic to honey (it allowed him to check with the chef each night before I arrived at the table). I also loved it because we got the opportunity to know our server and the assistant a little bit better too; they were more than just a name. We got to the point that we asked them what their favorites were on the menu, what the best activity to do that evening on the ship was, and even talk with them about their families and experiences.

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7. Ports of Call & Port Adventures

One of my favorite parts of a Disney cruise is the different ports of call that you can visit. You can stay local to the United States with your cruise and go to the Bahamas or Caribbean, journey to Alaska and see some of the glaciers, or visit some of the coastal shores of Canada. If you have more of an adventurous heart, you can take a Disney cruise to ports in Iceland, Norway, Ireland, Scotland, and many others as well. While in those ports of call, you have the option of choosing to just visit the port on your own or, for an added cost, doing what Disney calls a “Port Adventure.” This is your chance to try something different, really learn about the country you are in, or just add in something really special to an already magical vacation. Plus, who can forget about their private island Castaway Cay.

8. Plenty to do onboard and off!

One of the most common worries I have heard is that people are afraid they will be bored on the ship. Not on a Disney cruise! There is so much to do; shopping, swimming, onboard interactive games, clubs for the kids, clubs for adults, movies, a full-service spa, shows… the list goes on and on. Seriously, there is so much to do, you could leave your stateroom at 8 am and not come back until midnight and still not do it all.

9. The have fabulous customer service.

Disney is known worldwide for their customer service, and once you have experienced a Disney cruise you will understand why it applies here too. From the moment you arrive in port to embark, to the second you are back and heading home, you will experience it with each person you meet. Everything is clean, well-organized, and first class. You are more than just a customer to a Disney Cast Member, you are Ohana (family) and they do everything they can to make sure that you love your time with Disney Cruise Line.

10. There is tons of Disney magic.

It is the “little extra” that you feel from the first moment your name is announced as you board the ship. It’s the out-of-the-ordinary little things like the housekeeper adding an extra set of shampoos because they discover you love the smell, or making your blanket into a sea turtle because they discover your spouse loves them! It is the reaction you experience when your favorite character interacts with you and makes you feel like the most important person in the world. It’s the attention to every detail from the clean, fresh towel hand delivered to you by the adults-only pool, to the beautifully presented meal set before you at dinner. It is watching your child experience it all for the first time and hearing all about their magical moments in the clubs just for them. It’s the way you are really treated like Ohana and no question or concern is ever a bother. It is all of this and so much more! Disney magic is what happens when you allow yourself to relax and enjoy all that is offered and find that child inside yourself. It is something that you won’t find on any other cruise line; it is what in fact makes Disney rated the best cruise line by US News and World Report.

What tips do you have for guests considering sailing with Disney? Leave us a comment below!

Jess is a travel planner at MickeyWorldTravel. You can learn more on her Facebook page: facebook.com/mickeyworldtravelJessMeissner

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Disney Cruise Ship Will Have a New Tangled Restaurant

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Disney Cruise Line’s ship Disney Magic is going into dry dock early next year, and will emerge in March with some redesigned areas and new theming. The highlights of the renovation will include an adults-only café, transformed teen club, and a new family dining venue.

Rapunzel’s Royal Table

At the new dining venue themed around the story of “Tangled,” characters and live entertainment will transport guests to the kingdom of Corona for an evening of music and fun featuring Rapunzel and the mischievous thugs from the Snuggly Duckling.

Guests step inside a regal ballroom-themed space, lit by glowing lanterns and adorned with colorful drawings that reflect Rapunzel’s artistic talent. Throughout dinner, guests will be treated to spirited singing and dancing led by the maître d’, a band of musicians, the thugs, and Princess Rapunzel herself. The fun is complete with themed menus, special activities, and a lively parade. The charm of “Tangled” in Rapunzel’s Royal Table is the perfect pairing for “Tangled: The Musical” which is performed on each sailing.

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Redesigned Teen Retreat

Vibe, the space for teens 14-17 is being transformed into a space with an urban loft feel. Teens will enjoy a new coffee and smoothie bar, play video and virtual reality games, and participate in a DJ spin-off and movie making.

Adults-Only Escape

Adults will be able to relax at Cove Café, an adults-only retreat that will be redesigned in a sophisticated tropical style. It’s a great place to sip tea or coffee during the day, and wine or a cocktail and light bites in the evenings. Drink tastings are also available at select times here for an additional fee. Just steps away, the Signals Bar will also be renovated with a similar design.

Elsewhere around Disney Magic, other highlights include the addition of Club Disney Junior in the Oceaneer Club for kids, and a redesigned Rainforest Room with steam and hydrotherapy in Senses Spa for adults.

The enhancements will debut aboard the ship starting March 9, 2018 on sailings from Miami, Florida. The four and five-night cruises visit Key West, Nassau, and Disney’s private island Castaway Cay. On May 14, Disney Magic will reposition to Europe for the summer season.

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Disney Cruise Line to Return to San Diego

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Disney Wonder – Photo: Disney Cruise Line

In early 2019, Disney Cruise Line will be returning to favorite destinations on a variety of itineraries, including an expanded two-month season from San Diego to the Baja and Mexican Riviera. There’s also a notable range of options to the Bahamas and Caribbean from Florida, as well as cruises to the southern Caribbean from San Juan, Puerto Rico. From January to May, all cruises departing from Florida will feature a stop at Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay.

San Diego

Disney Wonder will return to San Diego for an extended season from March to May 2019, with a variety of cruises to Mexico where guests can enjoy a large array of activities. Two, four, five, and seven-night voyages are all on the schedule, so there’s something for everyone.

Most sailings to Mexico’s Baja peninsula call on the coastal city of Ensenada, known as the “Cinderella of the Pacific” with turquoise blue water and rugged mountainous terrain. Two-night cruises to Ensenada have Friday departures from San Diego, giving guests the perfect weekend getaway. Four and five-night Baja options include a visit to Cabo San Lucas, a destination favored for its arid climate, sunny weather, white-sand beaches, and dramatic rock formations.

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Seven-night cruises to the Mexican Riviera call on Cabo San Lucas and feature snorkeling and scuba diving hot spots Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlán. Guests can soak up the history and Old World charm of Mexico’s Pacific Coast, and take in the beauty of stunning beaches and the nearby Sierra Madre Mountains.

San Juan

In January, three special Disney Wonder cruises will sail to the southern Caribbean from San Juan. The ship will arrive in San Juan after a five-night journey departing January 9 from Galveston, Texas with a stop in Falmouth, Jamaica. On February 3, after the three cruises from Puerto Rico, a four-night cruise will take guests to Port Canaveral from San Juan, just an hour away from Walt Disney World.

Port Canaveral

With three Disney ships in port and cruise itineraries spanning three, four, and seven-nights, vacationers looking for a getaway in early 2019 have a lot of options from Port Canaveral, Florida.

Disney Fantasy continues to sail seven-night Caribbean voyages, with eastern Caribbean itineraries visiting Tortola and St. Thomas, and western cruises calling on Cozumel, Grand Cayman, and Falmouth. Disney Dream embarks on three and four-night Bahamian cruises to Nassau and Castaway Cay, and Disney Wonder will alternate similar three and four-night itineraries throughout February.

Miami

To kick off the year, Disney Magic continues sailing from Miami with four and five-night voyages to the Bahamas, plus five-night western Caribbean cruises. Castaway Cay awaits guests aboard every one of these sailings, and other ports of call on the Bahamian voyages include Nassau and Key West. For western Caribbean, a stop in Grand Cayman or Cozumel.

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Disney Cruise Line

7 Tips for Your Disney Fantasy Cruise

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Disney Fantasy cruises are packed with activities and adventures for every age group and interest. There’s so much for everyone to experience on these memorable sailings. If you’re planning a cruise on Disney Fantasy, here are seven tips to help you get the most out of your vacation on both land and sea.

Connecting with characters is a Disney Fantasy cruise highlight

1. Reserve popular events in advance.

Disney Fantasy cruises offer a wealth of unforgettable experiences. It’s important to get to know the “My Disney Cruise” area on the Disney Cruise Line website while planning your voyage. On this page, you can learn more about the many experiences, shore excursions, and activities available on your cruise and decide what you’d like to do. Make sure to check ‘My Cruise Activities’ to see what’s offered. Popular activities and excursions can sell out quickly, so it’s important to reserve them in advance. These include events such as the Princess Gatherings, Frozen Meet and Greets, Character Breakfasts, appointments at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, dining reservations at Palo and Remy, and It’s A Small World Nursery babysitting hours for little ones. If you haven’t had a chance to pre-book these activities before sailing, check as early as possible after boarding on embarkation day to see what might still be available.

PODCAST: Review of Disney Fantasy

2. Connect with characters by phone.

Parents and others can arrange free character phone calls in advance for an even more enriching Disney cruise experience. These fun pre-recorded calls are a great way to get the whole family excited about their upcoming Disney Fantasy cruise before leaving home. There’s a limit of two calls per reservation and character phone calls are available only for guests in the United States, Canada, (excluding Quebec) and the United Kingdom. Simply review the “Free Character Call – Request Call” section of your cruise confirmation page on the Disney Cruise Line website for more information. From there, choose your desired character and follow the directions provided in order to schedule your call.

3. Enhance your memories with character autographs.

Character Meet and Greets are popular on Disney Fantasy

Disney Fantasy guests can create their own personalized souvenirs free of charge with character autographs. Autograph books are popular, of course, but guests can also get creative. Feel free to bring along your own t-shirts, pillowcases, and other items to be autographed and get personalized signatures during Character Meet and Greets. Some guests even come with their own picture frame mats for characters to sign, which can then be used to make their framed Disney Fantasy cruise pictures even more special.

4. Make friends with your Personal Navigator.

Disney Cruise Line’s daily Personal Navigator is an important key to getting the most out of your Disney Fantasy cruise experience. If you plan to use the Disney Cruise Line Navigator app, download it on your smartphone before leaving home. In addition to providing detailed cruise information, the Navigator app will also allow you to send messages to family and friends sailing with you once you’re onboard the ship. Character Meet and Greets on Disney Fantasy take place both at set times in designated spaces, and spontaneously throughout the cruise. Check your Personal Navigator to find scheduled times and then arrive at the spot 10-15 minutes in advance to get the most out of your experience. Lines for character greetings are often quite short on port days, so consider spending some extra time on the ship on one or two days to maximize your character interaction opportunities. In addition, don’t miss the Open House events in the Oceaneer Club and the “See Ya Real Soon” character farewell show. They’re truly memorable.

5. Relax over dinner.

Relax over dinner at Animator’s Palate

Cruise ship dining should be leisurely, so take the time to enjoy your dinner. There are a number of evening dining options available on Disney Fantasy. For those seeking a casual meal, buffet dinners are available at Cabanas from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. every night except the first and last night of a 7-night cruise. Dinners at Cabanas feature dishes from the main dining restaurants plus a number of exclusive options. Parents can enjoy relaxing dinners as well. Families confirmed for second seating dining can take advantage of the Dine and Play program, allowing parents to check their children into Disney Fantasy’s Youth Clubs without leaving the dining room. Once seated, parents can simply let their server know that their children will be participating in the Dine and Play program. Kids will receive their meals first while the adults enjoy the full dining experience. Counselors will arrive in the dining room about 45 minutes after the seating begins to sign the kids into their groups in Disney’s Oceaneer Club or Oceaneer Lab and will escort them to the areas, allowing parents to relax and enjoy their dinner. For the ultimate in dining enjoyment, book a meal at adults-only Palo and Remy. The experience is truly exceptional and well worth the additional cost.

6. Get a great spot for fireworks.

One of the coolest entertainment events on Disney Fantasy is Pirate Night, complete with fireworks and a huge “Pirates in the Caribbean” show. Disney Fantasy’s fireworks can be easily seen from Decks 11 and 12, but top viewing spots fill up early. Deck 12 starboard is the best and most popular place to see the fireworks. Arrive about 45 minutes in advance to claim a prime spot.

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7. Fully explore Castaway Cay.

Disney Cruise Line’s Castaway Cay

Popular Castaway Cay has been named the “Best Cruise Line Private Island” by multiple travel publications and it’s exclusively available to Disney Cruise Line guests. With its white sandy beaches and clear turquoise waters, it’s easy to see why Castaway Cay fits many vacationers’ images of an idyllic Bahamian island. There’s much more to Castaway Cay than just beaches, however. Check out all the great activities and shore excursions offered at this port of call. One of the best ways to explore Castaway Cay is by bike. The island features a network of paved bike paths allowing guests to easily reach remote beaches and lookout towers. There are also a wide variety of adventures available here including diving, fishing, snorkeling, and other exciting activities.

Nancy Schretter is Managing Editor of the Family Travel Network.

Photo Credit: Nancy Schretter

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