Disney Cruise Line

How to Pick the Best Disney Cruise Line Port Adventures

by on April 10, 2014

t_logo_fbWith so many options offered, many cruisers are frustrated trying to find the best Disney Cruise Line port adventures. Because no one person would ever have the time or money to try them all, we’d like to offer up some tips to help you sort through your options.

What are you actually getting for your money?

Take a hard look at the description of your excursion. It is just transportation to a destination and back? Is there a meal included? Many Caribbean beach excursions are simply putting you on a bus and driving you to the sand. You’ll return to the ship with everyone else, regardless of when you’re ready to go. For parties of more than 2 people, you may be better off taking a taxi to your destination (don’t forget to budget for the round trip and gratuity). As an example, the St. Martin Beach Bash Tour consists of transportation to the beach and fruit punch, and will run a family of four nearly $150 for two hours on the beach. We suggest taking a taxi to Maho Beach to see something truly extraordinary and saving your real beach time for Castaway Cay.

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Is Disney Cruise Line Fun for Adults?

by on April 8, 2014

The Rainforest is reserved for adult guests

The Rainforest is reserved for adult guests

One of the most frequently asked questions about DCL is “Is Disney Cruise Line Fun for Adults?” Because the Disney brand is so firmly associated with family entertainment, many people who are new to cruising, Disney Cruise Line in particular, or even to Disney parks wonder if there’s anything for them onboard the Disney ships. I see the question every day when I check out the DCL section of Cruise Critic. When I tell people that I co-wrote a book about DCL, they ask “what’s there for adults to do onboard?” Now, I know telling the people who read this blog that Disney is as much an entertainment company as a family company is preaching to the choir, but hopefully anyone else out there who Googles “will I have fun on a Disney cruise if I’m not traveling with children?” will find this article.

Nassau

One of these ships might not be a “party ship”

A little history, I will take my 11th cruise (yay! Platinum Castaway Club, baby!) next month. all but one of those cruises were solo or with a friend or my partner. The other cruise was with teenagers who we couldn’t get away from Vibe, so it was nearly like not cruising with kids too. It’s safe to say adult cruising is my normal. And if I didn’t think it was fun, there probably wouldn’t have been a book written about it. Of course as a big Disney fan, I also think that Walt Disney World is a great place for folks without children. If you  enjoy the whimsy and artistic touches that make Disney parks a good experience for adults, you’ll have fun on their ships.

One caveat, I’ve been in port in the Caribbean when other ships are there. How do I say this? DCL does not seem to draw the same crowd as some other lines. If you’re looking for the party ship, Disney isn’t it. On the other hand, those cruises tend to be less expensive by a long shot, so…win, win, you know?

When I first began thinking about this article, I compiled a list of adult activities onboard. I came up with the spa, the bars, tastings…pretty much all great ideas for folks who drink and don’t mind a bill at the end of the cruise. That seemed a little lame. So I kept thinking….

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Where’s The Casino On My Caribbean Disney Cruise?

by on March 31, 2014

Where’s the Casino on my Disney Cruise?

There are some activities many adults consider integral to the cruising experience – hitting up a buffet multiple times a day, shopping for tax free goods in port…and gambling. Those folks will find themselves asking “where’s the casino?” Here is the lowdown on what to expect when you cruise the Disney Magic, Wonder, Dream, or Fantasy on an Eastern, Western, or Bahamas cruise.

Bingo at D Lounge

Bingo at D Lounge

 

You’ve Got To Know When To Hold ‘Em

Welcome to Disney Cruise Line. If you’re booking your first cruise with DCL, you may be surprised to find out there is no casino onboard. What there is is bingo. Don’t scoff. Bingo is seriously fun and you may win some money back onto your onboard account. Bingo is played on both sea days and port days (check your Navigator for times and locations), and both kids and adults can participate. Most people opt for the electronic cards (just sit back and watch them mark themselves off) though purists may choose manual cards with ink stamps. Game play goes quickly though, so we don’t think anyone but a seasoned pro would be able to keep up with more than 1 or 2 manual cards. Each cruise will have a big final big day with a potential (though not guaranteed) $5000 or even $10,000 jackpot.

You’ve Got To Know When To Fold ‘Em

Even if you don’t win cash as bingo, you may win other small prizes like tote bags. Jackpots and crowds get larger as the cruise goes on, so your chances of winning something are better earlier in your itinerary. Other opportunities to win random things onboard include raffles for treatments or cash at the spas on embarkation day. You do have to be present to win. These are usually around 3pm (before the lifeboat drill). If you need baseball caps, bags, or want to participate in another raffle for cash, stop by any Disney Vacation Club presentation – there will be plenty during your cruise.

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10 Reasons Every Disney Fan Should Try a Disney Cruise

by on March 28, 2014

A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog post on why every Walt Disney World fan should visit Disneyland. Well, now it’s time for Disney fans to expand your vacation options again! If you haven’t yet, it’s a great time to try Disney Cruise Line.  The 2015 itineraries were just released, and there are some great options out there. The prices are high, but you may still want to consider it. Especially if you are a Disney fan! And here are 10 reasons why…

1. Disney Difference – Disney has always been known for their service. Their goal isn’t just to meet your expectations, it’s to exceed them. If you’re a Disney fan, you have probably been impressed by their customer service at some point during one of your park visits. Well, if you haven’t been on a Disney cruise, you ain’t seen nothing yet. I kid you not, the service will blow you away. You aren’t just ushered onboard the ship, you’re announced to an atrium full of guests and a cheering group of ship’s officers. And that’s just the beginning. When you walk down the halls, stateroom hosts who are not cleaning your room and will never see a gratuity from you, will greet you warmly and ask how you are. Maintenance men will stop working on their project to smile and say, “Hi,” when you pass. You’ll probably fall in love with your servers in the dining room and beg for them to come home with you after you disembark. Service on a Disney cruise is top notch. Truly.

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Disney Cruise Line Releases Summer 2015 Itineraries

by on March 25, 2014

Sound the horns! Disney Cruise Line has released itinerary information through August 2015. There are some exciting additions to the usual repertoire of DCL sailings – here’s what you need to know.

Disney Magic

Every part of Disney is Frozen.

Every part of Disney is Frozen.

The Frozen juggernaut has now made its way into Disney Cruise Line. For the first time in forever, Disney Cruise will be visiting the fjord region of Norway, with additional stops in Iceland and the Faroe Islands. These stops are part of 7, 9, and 11 night sailings departing from Copenhagen, Denmark.

Additional Northern European ports including Tallinn, Estonia; St. Petersburg, Russia; Helsinki, Finland; and Stockholm, Sweden are part of a 7-night sailing from Copenhagen. A 12-night sailing from Dover, England adds Warnemunde (Berlin), Germany to the port itinerary.

At the beginning of the summer, the Magic will make a long 15-night Eastbound Transatlantic (EBTA) journey from Port Canaveral to Copenhagen, with stops in New York City, St. John’s Newfoundland, and Reykjavik, Iceland along the way. Personally, I had been hoping for a New York/Canada loop as had happened in 2013, but this is only part of the EBTA.

Toward the middle of the summer, the Magic changes course for usual Southern European home. This starts with a 7-night repositioning sailing leaving from Dover and stopping in Gibraltar, Lisbon, and Vigo, Spain on the way to her traditional summer home in Barcelona.

August will see the Magic sailing familiar routes from Barcelona, with a 5 night voyage stopping in Villefranche, France; La Spezia (Florence) and Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy; and three 7-night voyages which add a stop in Naples, Italy.

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Disney Cruise Line Pirate Night FAQ

by on March 24, 2014

Ahoy mateys! If you’re going a Disney Cruise, then you’re almost certainly going to encounter a “Pirate Night” during your voyage. Here’s what you need to know to keep the scurvy at bay.

There will be a Pirate Night on most Disney Cruise Line sailings.

There will be a Pirate Night on most Disney Cruise Line sailings.

Is there a pirate night on every Disney Cruise?

Not all, but most of them. There are pirate nights on nearly all Caribbean and Mediterranean voyages. In 2013, the Alaskan cruises replaced Pirate Night with a Pixar Night, but they have had Pirate evenings in the past.

What happens during Pirate Night?

There are three main elements to Pirate Night: a themed party, themed food, and costumes.

Party? Did someone say party?

The party is really more of a performance, with a bit of “clap along with me” interactivity to keep you involved. This will happen by the main pool area. Expect to see the Disney pirate version of go-go dancers strategically stationed at points around the deck. I think of them as the saucy wench equivalent of bar mitzvah dance facilitators. Up on stage, you’ll get a show with characters (Mickey, Goofy, and the other usual suspects) trying to thwart Captain Hook’s diabolical plot to take over the ship. And there’s music – loud, loud music.

Typical Pirate Night Menu.

Typical Pirate Night Menu. Click to enlarge.

The highlight of the event is a brief fireworks show off the side of the ship (weather permitting). Disney is the only cruise line allowed to do this, and it really is cool to see fireworks set off in the middle of the ocean.

It’s good silly fun, but if you’re an adult with a character aversion or a child with sensory processing issues, you might want to skip the party.

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The Adventures by Disney Supplement to Disney Cruise Line: What You Need to Know

by on March 18, 2014

You probably know about Disney Cruise Line (DCL). And you might know about Adventures by Disney (AbD). But did you know that you can combine them into one completely over-the-top travel experience? Here’s what you need to know…

What does “Adventures by Disney Supplement” mean?

On most cruises, you select your port excursions on an ad hoc basis, choosing the bits and pieces that seem most interesting and/or affordable. With the Adventures by Disney supplement, your excursions are pre-selected by AbD experts to give a well-rounded overview of the opportunities at each location. The AbD supplement also gives you the constant guidance and expertise of two Disney-trained guides during all portions of the cruise.

Our AbD guides gave us coins to throw in Trevi Fountain.

Our AbD guides gave us coins to throw in Trevi Fountain.

Is this available on every cruise?

No. Currently the AbD supplement is being offered on the 5, 7, 9 and 13 night 2014 Mediterranean voyages on the Disney Magic. In the past, the AbD supplement has been offered on Alaska sailings on the Wonder.

Have you done this?

Yes, I’ve been on several regular DCL voyages, and several standard AbD trips, as well as one DCL trip with the AbD supplement. Ours was a 7-night Med cruise originating in Barcelona and stopping in Villefranche, France (Monaco); La Spezia, Italy (Florence); Civiatavecchia, Italy (Rome); Naples, Italy; and Palma de Mallorca, Spain. Additionally, we purchased the “Barcelona Escape” three-day, pre-cruise AbD package, which is only available to guests sailing with DCL.

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10 Good Terms to Know for Your Disney Cruise

by on March 14, 2014

A vacation on Disney Cruise Line (DCL) can be a whole new language lesson! If you’ve never been on a cruise, there are so many new terms! If you’ve never cruised with Disney in particular, Disney even has a few of its own to throw at you. Have you ever sat in a room full of military people who keep throwing around acronyms like they’re part of the common English language and everyone knows what they are, and you feel like you shouldn’t interrupt the story to say you don’t know what the heck they’re talking about? No? Just me? Okay, well try to imagine that situation, because it can be a little bit like that! While there’s not enough room to list all the new terms you will encounter onboard a Disney ship in this blog post, here are some of the more common ones!

1. It’s a Stateroom Not a Cabin, a Ship Not a Boat, and a Deck Not a Floor – There are a few terms associated with a cruise that should be pretty obvious, but they’re not! You don’t go up to the tenth floor to get some pizza as a pre-dinner snack. You go to deck 10! If Brent has ever been your cruise director, he will remind you (in an awesome Australian accent by the way) that you are NOT on a boat. You are on a beautiful ship. A boat is the little tiny thing that pulls up next to the ship and guides it out of the ports. Unlike most other cruise lines, Disney also does not refer to their rooms as cabins. They are staterooms! Disney does not want you thinking of a tiny little cabin when you are talking about the rooms onboard. Doesn’t stateroom just sound more spacious and upscale? See what they did there?

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Castaway Cay Port Adventures Updates

by on March 4, 2014

The beach at Castaway Cay

The beach at Castaway Cay

TouringPlans has just released updated content for Castaway Cay port adventures for our Disney Cruise Line subscribers.

The most important takeaway is that many prices on the island have gone up substantially. While Castaway Cay excursions are relatively inexpensive compared to those on the other islands, increases of 25 to over 50% for most port adventures leave us asking if we’ve discovered the true pirates of the Caribbean.

Port Adventure Sample Prices
Adventure Old Price New Price
Bike Rental $6 $10
Snorkel Rental (adult) $25 $29
Wildside Teen Adventure $35 $45
Castaway Ray’s (adult) $35 $45
AquaTrike Rental $15 $24
Parasailing (adult) $79 $95

 

Castaway Cay

Castaway Cay

Castaway Cay Best Values

Best values on the island include Bike and Snorkel rentals, and Castaway Ray’s Sting Ray Adventure. For folks who want to double or triple up on activities, DCL offers package deals for bikes, floats, snorkeling, and the sting ray adventure that will save you money off booking everything separately. These package deals must be booked online or from the Port Adventures desk once you’re onboard. They can only be booked a la carte once you’re already on the island.

If you have comments or questions about Disney Cruise Line or Castaway Cay, let us know in the comments section.

The Unofficial Guide to the Disney Cruise Line

The Unofficial Guide to DCL

Pre-order Our DCL Book Today

The Unofficial Guide to the Disney Cruise Line by Len Testa, Erin Foster, and Laurel Stewart is available for pre-order on Amazon and will be released in April.

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St. Martin and St. Thomas DCL Port Adventures Content Updates

by on March 3, 2014

New Port Adventures Information for St. Martin and St. Thomas

The port of St. Maartin in Philipsburg

St. Maartin Port

After our latest cruise, a 7-night Eastern Caribbean aboard the Disney Fantasy, TouringPlans has updated content for our DCL subscribers on the ports of St. Martin and St. Thomas. We also have the latest information on the DCL port adventures available to cruisers on that itinerary, including links to external web sites for the tour operators to help you make the best decisions with your time and money.

If you have comments or questions about Disney Cruise Line, the Fantasy, or the Eastern Caribbean ports, let us know in the comments section.

The Unofficial Guide to the Disney Cruise Line

The Unofficial Guide to DCL

Pre-order Our DCL Book Today

The Unofficial Guide to the Disney Cruise Line by Len Testa, Erin Foster, and Laurel Stewart is available for pre-order on Amazon and will be released in April.

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