Disney Cruise Line

Changes Coming for Disney Dream

by on April 21, 2015

The Disney Cruise Line Dream will come back from its 20 day dry dock in October with several new features, some of which are already on the Disney Fantasy, and some that are brand new to any Disney ship.

Bringing the Dream in line with the Fantasy, Disney is adding the ever-popular (especially on formal nights and Pirates in the Caribbean night) Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique on Deck 5. Pricing should be the same as on the Fantasy. And bringing a guest favorite from the Fantasy’s adult area, Deck 13 will now add Satellite Falls, a scenic sunning and water area just for guests 18 and older.

Satellite Falls on the Fantasy. Photo - Laurel Stewart

Satellite Falls on the Fantasy. Photo – Laurel Stewart

The Oceaneer Club (the kids’ club for ages 3-12) will get a Star Wars makeover (similar to the Marvel makeover the Magic saw in 2013) and Jedi Training Academy will make its at-sea debut.  (I had to check the Star Wars Days promos to verify it won’t be offered this spring.) There will also be Disney Infinity play areas added to the current video gaming space.

Vanellope’s Sweets & Treats, themed after the Sugar Rush game in Wreck-It-Ralph, will serve handmade gelato and ice cream, and sell candy (extra charge).  This new area will be on Deck 11 with an entrance from Cabanas on the inside and outside from the pool deck. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s going in the current Arr-cade space.

Concept Art for Vanellope's Sweets - ©Disney

Concept Art for Vanellope’s Sweets – ©Disney

The dry dock is scheduled October 4 – 24, 2015. The first scheduled cruise after that is a 4-night Bahamas cruise from Port Canaveral October 26. Guests may remember that the first cruise after the Magic’s dry dock in 2013 (which was more extensive than this) was canceled when work was not finished in time to sail as scheduled.

This is great news for fans of the Dream. I may just have to cruise the Dream again before my December cruise. How about you? Reason to book or wait for the reviews?

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How to Spend Your Tax Refund with Disney

by on April 15, 2015

TouringPlans logoDisclaimer: Somehow discussions on the Internet of taxes and refunds and who gets them will inevitably lead to talk about government policy. If you feel yourself hearing the siren call to post about politics on a travel planning blog, please ignore it and pretend we’re talking about any random cash windfall. You’ve been warned.

Happy April 15! Are your taxes filed? If so, you may be one of the 8 in 10 US taxpayers who are getting a refund on your 2014 taxes. According CNBC, as of last week, the average check the IRS is cutting to people who overpaid is $2815. A lot people choose to overpay and use this as a de facto savings account (and with interest rates as low as they are, who can blame them?).

So let’s say you’re getting a tax refund. What are you going to do now? If you’re reading this blog, your answer may be “I’m going to Disney World!” Or Disneyland. Or taking a Disney Cruise. What will $2815 get you?

Walt Disney World

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10 Places to Stay the Night before Your Disney Cruise out of Port Canaveral

by on April 10, 2015

So where should you stay the night before your Disney cruise out of Port Canaveral?  My number one answer is – not in your own bed!  Well, unless your bed is within a few hours driving distance of the port that is.  In Port Canaveral, everyone must be onboard the ship by 4 pm, so while for many people there is certainly time to travel in on the day of the cruise, recognize that you are taking a risk!  That ship is sailing with or without you, so any travel delays won’t just make you late for your vacation, they could make you miss your vacation!  On an Alaskan cruise, a one hour flight delay due to wind was enough to make us miss our connection and we couldn’t make it into Vancouver until the next day.  But thankfully the ship wasn’t leaving until the next day!  So we made it.  Another hundred dollars or so for a hotel room within driving distance of the pier is the best insurance you can buy in my opinion.  So here are a few options for you!

Walt Disney World

1. Walt Disney World Resort – The most obviously fun place to stay would be any resort at Walt Disney World! Walt Disney World is a little over an hour away from Port Canaveral and has a lot of options and price points. Who wouldn’t want to visit Disney World for a night (or six) before you sail away? If you would like to take Disney transfers to the port, they cost $70 per person roundtrip and will pick you up from any Disney resort. Be aware, if you are in a hurry to get to the port for the earliest possible boarding, transfers from Disney World won’t usually get you there until noon at the earliest. Your hotel will give you a pick up time the night before. If you are desperate to be there earlier and want to stick with Disney transfers, you can also take Disney Magical Express back to the airport and catch a transfer from there. It’s a little more time consuming, of course, but you could be on one of the earliest transfers if that’s your goal! The transfers from the airport usually start leaving a little after nine and those first busses are the first people in the terminal.

2. Shades of Green – If you are eligible, Shades of Green is a great place to stay on property. Located within walking distance of Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, Shades of Green is owned and operated by the U.S. Armed Forces. It’s open to all active duty U.S. military personnel, including members of the National Guard and Reserves, retired military, employees of the U.S. Public Health Service and the Department of Defense, foreign military personnel attached to U.S. units, and some civilian contractors. The rooms are some of the largest on property, and rates are determined by rank. Disney Cruise Line transfers will not pick up at Shades of Green, but if you wish to take Disney transfers, you can walk over to the Polynesian and catch them there. Shades is a beautiful, peaceful resort and I’d recommend it to anyone eligible to stay there.

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The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! March 2015 Photo Report of the Disney Outlet Store

by on March 31, 2015

MMM positiveThough the March Hare is about to leave us on the last day of this very month, you need not worry because the April Fool has arrived a day early and is here with a brand spanking new Outlet Report. So take a break from hunting for Easter Eggs at Epcot, put aside your souvenir mugs from the soft opening of Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, hold off on booking that breakfast reservation for Be Our Guest, and be sure to pick your jaw up off the ground because it’s still there from finding out the Magic Kingdom opened up Aunt Polly’s on Tom Sawyer Island earlier this week. 

Prepare yourself for a trip to not just one, but BOTH Disney Outlet Stores in Orlando (physical addresses for both are located at the end of every edition of MM&M.) That’s right Dear Reader, I did the impossible and braved the I-4 traffic and horrendous parking situations at both outlets, for YOU.

Enough jibber jabber! Who is ready to hit the Outlets? Remember that clicking on any picture will open a full size version of it (don’t say we didn’t warn you).

Our first stop is the Disney Outlet closer to Universal at the end of I-Drive and was surprised to see the first ever Tsum Tsums show up. I’ve seen them before at Once Upon a Toy in Downtown Disney, but never felt compelled to buy one at $6 a pop. That said, unlike Vinylmation, I can definitely see the cuteness factor and why people would want to collect them. The only Tsum Tsums available were the seven dwarfs and only the ones pictured below. Of course I bought them all.

IMG_5449

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Change to Disney Cruise Line Onboard Booking Benefit

by on March 27, 2015

©Disney

©Disney

Have you ever wanted to take advantage of Disney Cruise Line’s onboard cruise booking benefit (reduced deposit required, 10% off your fare, an onboard credit from DCL, the joy of knowing your next cruise is already lined up), but didn’t quite know which cruise you wanted to take?

The previous solution to this problem was a work-around – guests would book a specific cruise and then change the dates as they figured out what actual cruise worked best for them. Now, Disney Cruise Line is allowing guests to put down a deposit to simply hold the benefit without tying up inventory that won’t be used.

In Disney’s words:

Effective immediately, Guests sailing with Disney Cruise Line can take advantage of the onboard offer without selecting an actual sailing date.

This new placeholder process allows your Clients to book the onboard offer without booking a reservation for a specific sail date. The confirmation will include a confirmation number, but will not display details such as ship name, sail date or category. Once your Client decides on an actual sail date, you can reference the confirmation number when you call back to modify the booking.

Please note while this is a new process for confirming placeholder date reservations, there are no other changes to the current onboard offer policies, including the number of bookings allowed or the need to complete travel within 24 months from the date the reservation is booked.

The deposit is $200 per stateroom (thanks to Tammy Whiting with Storybook Destinations for the intel on the deposit!).

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Why This Disney World Regular Wants to Go on a Disney Cruise

by on March 25, 2015

DisneyCruiseLine_Dream

The Disney Dream

Disney World is my favorite place on earth and I love to visit as much as I can. There’s plenty to do with four theme parks, two water parks, a shopping district, and a number of incredibly themed resorts; but this Disney World Regular has her eye set on another Disney vacation for her next trip: a Disney Cruise! I have wanted to experience the Disney Cruise Line for years; but I must admit, I’m not much of a beach person and when having to choose between Disney World and a Disney Cruise, Disney World has always won out. But lately, I’ve learned a lot more about the Disney Cruise Line and have actually booked my first Disney Cruise on the Disney Dream for this summer! So keep reading to find out why this Disney World Regular wants to go on a Disney Cruise.

Castaway Cay

Castaway Cay (Photo Courtesy of www.disneyworldenthusiast.com)

To Visit Castaway Cay: For anyone who knows about Castaway Cay, this should be an easy one. I mean, it’s Disney’s own private island! Who wouldn’t want to go there? The Disney Cruise Line ships are able to pull right up to the island and enjoy designated beaches: the Family Beach, Serenity Bay Beach for adults, and even a beach area reserved just for teens. There are characters, places to eat, shops, water play areas, and the chance to experience Port Adventures, otherwise known as excursions. Just a few things to do on Castaway Cay include biking, glass bottom boats, snorkeling, parasailing, and even the chance to run the Castaway Cay 5-K. Basically, Castaway Cay sounds like a real life Neverland where there’s something for everyone and every preference, but all with the Disney touch. Want to know more? Check out how to have the perfect day at Castaway Cay.

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Disney Cruise Line Wonder Summer 2016 Itineraries

by on March 24, 2015

TouringPlans logoCastaway Club Gold and Platinum members can book via phone starting tomorrow, March 25. The general public can book online and by phone on the 26th.

Continuing from today’s Disney Cruise Line announcements about the Disney Magic, we have more information about the Wonder’s itineraries for next summer.

The Wonder will reposition through the Panama Canal from Miami on a cruise that starts May 1, 2016.

14-night Westbound Panama Canal

Ports: Miami; Cozumel; Cartagena, Colombia; Panama Canal; Puerto Vallarta; Cabo San Lucas; San Diego; 8 days at sea.

 

The Wonder will then sail the California Coast out of San Diego.

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Disney Cruise Line Announces Summer 2016 Itineraries

by on March 24, 2015

Mickey Atrium Statue on the Magic

Helmsman Mickey returns to Europe Summer 2016. Photo by Laurel Stewart

Castaway Club Gold and Platinum members can book via phone starting tomorrow, March 25. The general public can book online and by phone on the 26th.

Disney Cruise Line announced Summer 2016 itineraries this morning. There are very few surprises, though the Eastbound trans-Atlantic cruise and British Isles cruises are new itineraries for Disney.

Disney Magic

Most of the news today concerns the Disney Magic, which will be doing Northern European and Mediterranean cruise summer of 2016. The 12-night British Isles cruise is a new itinerary for Disney Cruise Line.

The  14 night Eastbound repositioning cruise leaves Port Canaveral May 15, 2016 with the following ports and 9 nights at sea: Boston; Sydney (Nova Scotia), Canada; Dublin; Liverpool; Dover. Other than Dover, each of these is a brand new port for DCL.

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Advantages of DCL Port Excursion Booking Methods: On Your Own or Through Disney

by on March 18, 2015

If you’re like many Disney Cruise Line (DCL) guests, you’ve booked your cruise at least in part because of the ship’s itinerary. You’re excited to explore the ports of call and see the cultures of new lands.

Some folks will “wing it” at the ports, hopping off the ship without a specific plan and going wherever the mood takes them. But most guests will disembark at port with a pre-planned, reserved activity – an excursion or, in Disney parlance, a Port Adventure. There are two ways to arrange excursions, on your own or through Disney. Here are the advantages to each method.

Port excursions expose you to new perspectives.

Port excursions expose you to new perspectives.

BOOKING PORT EXCURSIONS THROUGH DISNEY

  • Convenience of selection. To book a Port Adventure through Disney, just head over to the DCL website. For each port you’ll see a menu of options, it’s a one stop spot for information including activity descriptions, age/height/weight restrictions, costs, and related data. If you find an excursion appealing, you can have it booked with just a few clicks.
  • Convenience of billing. When you book your excursion through Disney, the fee appears on your stateroom bill, which you can pay using any of the acceptable DCL methods, in US dollars, British pounds, or in Euros. As an added bonus, you don’t pay a deposit and you don’t pay until you sail. If you’re booking an excursion in another country on your own, you may have to pay a large deposit, you may have to pay in another currency, or you may be limited to use of a particular credit card or other form of payment. And remember if you’re using Disney Gift Cards as a payment method on the ship, you may be able to have an effective 5% discount if you’ve purchased your gift cards through Target, or other discounts when purchasing through Sam’s Club, Costco, or another retailer.
  • Safety. Of course, whenever you’re on a port excursion, you’ll want to exercise and abundance of caution, but if you book a Disney-vetted excursion, you know that they’ve done some of the work for you. Disney verifies that the excursions they offer are via legitimate businesses. They make sure that the transportation used is safe and that the guides are accountable for your whereabouts. If you book an excursion on your own, the onus is on you to do the research.
  • Communication with the ship. When you book an excursion through Disney, they know where you are. If something unforeseen happens, they have representative who can contact your group and vice versa. If you book your excursion on your own, cast members on the ship will likely have no idea where you are. And they’re not going to wait for you if you don’t arrive back at the dock prior to sail-away time.
  • Language issues. Booking your excursion through Disney means that the transaction will take place in English. If you’re booking an excursion on your own for a port in another country, the website or phone representative may use another language.
  • Cancellation policies. Disney Cruise Line’s Port Adventure cancellation policy is clearly stated on their website. If you book on your own, you may be subject to an entirely different set of policies, which may or may not be clearly outlined, or fair.

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The 10 Best Disney Cruise Line Tips

by on March 18, 2015

I am often asked for tips or helpful hints for an upcoming cruise on Disney Cruise Line, and there’s no short answer to that! I’ve learned a lot of helpful things over the years both from obsessive reading about Disney cruises and experiencing Disney cruises (the latter being the most fun of course). I thought I’d share my 10 favorite tips. Share yours in the comments!

1. Rebook Onboard It may sound a little funny spending time on your current vacation planning the next one, but do it. If you think you will ever cruise again on Disney, stop by the booking desk and book another one. Even if you have no idea when or where you want to cruise again, book something. Currently you will save 10% on the published fare (a few blacked out dates notwithstanding), you will get 50% off your deposit on cruises of 7-nights or longer, and you will get a nice onboard credit for your new booking. If you book something and change the dates, those benefits will move to the next date as long as that date is within 24 months of booking. You can move the dates as many times as you need to in those 24 months! So rebook onboard! It’s worth a few minutes of your time. (But, don’t wait until the last night of the cruise to rebook. The desk will be VERY busy at that time!)

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