I just got back from my second Disney cruise, and as with all things Disney, my trip was amazing. I went on my very first Disney cruise almost exactly one year ago and while that trip was also great, I felt I had a better time this go-around because I was a bit more familiar with the on-goings of Disney cruising. I know lots of people love the idea of cruising in addition to Disney, so I wanted to share all about our experience as well as some Disney cruise Disney Dream tips.
Disney Cruise Disney Dream Experience
My experience was 100% positive. I honestly loved everything about our Disney cruise. We did a 3-day cruise this time, and although I seriously wish it was longer, I had such a fantastic time. Disney does their best to ensure all aspects are as magical and fun as possible. Even while waiting to get on the boat, they had characters coming out for photos as well as Disney music playing and TV shows for the kids.
Getting on the boat is easy and there is a lot of staff always willing to help out. There are tons of staff stocking towels, lifeguards watching the pools, and drink people selling tasty fruity beverages – there’s always someone ready and willing to help and make your time there magical. Also, the cleanliness of the entire boat was on point. I’m always kind of paranoid about germs when I’m around so many people, but as per the usual Disney fashion, everything is clean, staff members are always cleaning, and they even have you use hand wipes before going in and out of the food areas.
There are so many things to do for both kids and adults. There are shows each night around dinnertime that are really cute to watch. We also got our fair share of character meet and greets and even got to do pin trading with the Officers. There’s a lot of adult stuff too – like champagne tasting, clubs, and karaoke.
The boat has a lot of pools as well. There’s an adult only area with a pool and hot tubs. There are a few main deck pools, which I will admit can get really crowded. They have a Nemo themed splash area for kids which is super cute. The best part of the pool area is the Aqua Duck. The Aqua Duck is an AMAZING water slide that takes you around the deck and even over the ocean. It can have a long wait sometimes, but it’s 100% worth it.
Disney cruises give you lots of dining options. There are 3 restaurants that you rotate through for dinner as well as 2 other restaurants you can make reservations for (Remy & Palo). For breakfast and lunch, you go upstairs for buffet style meals. It can get pretty crowded, but it’s not as bad as you might imagine and the food is pretty good. I’ll admit, I thought the dinner food tasted better last year than this year. I’m pretty sure the meals were almost exactly the same, and it may be because I had a lot more booze last year, but I wasn’t as impressed with the dinners this time. Not that they were bad – the food was good, just not amazing or as tasty as I thought it was last year. Although there’s no typical cruise dessert buffet (at least not on the 3 or 4 nights) they do have a midnight buffet during pirate night which was, in fact, pretty tasty.
My favorite part of the whole trip is going to their private island, Castaway Cay. That place is the thing vacation dreams are made out of. The sand is white, the water is clear and a lovely turquoise color, and it’s really just a heavenly spot to be. This year we managed to snag one of the elusive cabanas and holy mother was that thing worth it. It’s not cheap (again, Disney, need I say more), but man was it nice. Cabana isn’t really the right term, it’s more like your own beach hut that has a fridge packed with drinks and fruit, plenty of lounge chairs, a hammock, and you get to be on a private portion of the beach with access to free rentals. It was seriously nothing short of amazing and made me feel like I was in paradise.
Disney Cruise Disney Dream Tips
1. Book as early as possible. When Disney releases their dates/prices/itineraries, if you can, jump on it and book. The prices really never get any cheaper than that. When I first toyed with the idea of taking a Disney cruise, I was like woah man that is a hefty price tag. All things Disney are expensive, but if you’ve ever compared the price of a regular cruise to a Disney cruise, it can be a hard financial pill to swallow. With that said, I still think the price tag is absolutely worth it. If you’re more flexible with your dates and can do something more last minute (and you’re a FL resident) they offer FL resident discounts for certain sailings.
2. If you love the cruise, re-book on board. When on board a Disney cruise, you have the option of reserving a place holder cruise for $250. This $250 is good towards any cruise within the next 24 months and that amount is cheaper than the usual money required as a down payment when reserving a cruise. You also get an onboard credit and if you decide not to actually go on a cruise, that $250 is refundable within the 24 months. It’s a win-win in my book.
3. Participate in Fish Extenders. Fish Extenders are these cute little things you hang from your door that you can leave presents in. There are lots of Disney cruise groups on FB and they usually set up Fish Extender (FE) groups. You sign up and you leave little gifts for the people on the list and they do the same for you. I’ve only done this with my travel party (we cruise with friends) and not a formal FE group, but it’s seriously so much fun. We usually put small things in there like Disney pencils, pins, etc, but you can really go all out with this if you wanted to.
4. Dress up for Pirate Night. Pirate night is honestly the best. When I tell you that people dress up, I mean some people really dress up. I loved seeing all of the costumes on both adults and kids and this was my favorite night on the boat. There’s a Mickey Pirate party and Jack Sparrow makes an appearance. As I mentioned earlier, there’s also a midnight pirate buffet which is not to be missed.
5. Ride the Aqua Duck – during the day and at night! The Aqua Duck is seriously one of the coolest things, period. I mean, it’s a water slide on a cruise ship. The tube you go through on the ride is clear so you can see the deck, the ocean, and all the people. It’s so much fun. It’s even cooler at night when it has all of the lights turned on. This is a must-do thing on the ship, no ifs, ands, or buts.
6. Enjoy all the ice cream you can eat. On the main deck there are ice cream machines. Eat all of the ice cream! There’s chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, and banana along with cones and the machines are open all day long. Nothing says fun like getting up and grabbing free ice cream whenever you want. If you want to indulge in more than the free stuff, definitely check out Vanellope Von Schweetz ice cream shop – you can get the Wreck It! Ralph car filled with ice cream and toppings – that’s a major fangirl dream right there.
7. Treat Yo Self! You’re on vacation – relax, treat yo self, feel free to indulge a bit. If getting off the boat and doing all of the shore excursions are your thing, then go for it. If you really just want to laze at the pool, do that too. Don’t stress that you’re not doing enough or give yourself anxiety by doing too much – just enjoy yourself in whatever form works best for you. Whether it’s ordering a bottle of your favorite champagne on the beach, snorkeling, or even just taking a nap in a lounge chair, treat yo self to exactly what you need to make this the best vacation ever.
So that about sums up my Disney cruising experience. It was everything I could ever dream of and then some. Not only did I have a great time, but my son and husband did as well. They have a Kids Club for children and my son adored it – he begged to stay in it longer most days. My husband and I both did alcohol tastings, had great food, and enjoyed lots of adult time including trips to the Rainforest Room (like a cool all access spa with showers, hot tubs, saunas, etc). We would Disney cruise even if we didn’t have our son because it’s truly just that nice and so much fun – plus there were plenty of adult couples there without kids. Disney cruising is really for everyone and I can’t wait to *hopefully* go on another one next year.
Have you ever cruised before? What was your best cruising experience?