Disney Cruise Line

How I’ll Get to Port Canaveral – TouringPlans #Everywhere

by on September 19, 2014

Photo by Nick Mitchell

Photo by Nick Mitchell

I’m heading to Port Canaveral to get on the Disney Dream on Sunday, October 12, and – once I’m on the ship – things seem pretty easy since there is plenty to do: I’ll eat, swim, play shuffleboard, etc. As I wrote in April, the challenge for me is getting to Port Canaveral. Over the past three months, I’ve made a few decisions, and I want to walk you through my calculations. The Internet is a place where people freely mock others’ ideas and decisions, so I welcome your thoughts.

Decision 1: When to Arrive and Leave?

I am going to arrive in Central Florida on the day before my cruise. Everyone recommends this, and since it’s a requirement of my job to get on the Disney Dream on time, I’ll minimize my chances of literally missing the boat, even though it will cost an extra $100-200 for a hotel room and food on Saturday.

After my cruise, I’d love to extend the magic by visiting Walt Disney World for a few days. Even though I have a Tables in Wonderland card that expires on October 31 that I’m tempted to exploit for more “value,” after running the numbers I couldn’t pull this off at a price I’m willing to stomach. If I stayed at Disney World for 4 days/3 nights after my cruise, it would run me roughly:

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Disney Cruise Line Misty Fjords National Monument Flightseeing Excursion

by on September 19, 2014

Misty Fjords National Monument

©www.disneyworldenthusiast.com

Fellow Touring Plans blogger Erin Foster and I were fortunate enough to sail aboard the Disney Wonder on an incredible cruise to Alaska this summer. In case you missed it, we recently compared our Skagway dog sledding excursions as well as our Juneau train excursions. This time I’m back with all of the details from my final excursion in Ketchikan; the Classic Misty Fjords National Monument Flightseeing Port Adventure. Here’s everything you need to know to help you decide if this outing sounds like a good fit for you.

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Touringplans #Everywhere – Cruising for Larger Families and Families With Special Needs

by on September 9, 2014

We’ll take seats for five please

I’m excited to announce that our assignment is the 7-night Western Caribbean Cruise aboard Disney’s ship, Fantasy. The mission: to plan the trip and write about it to help others plan their own Disney Cruise Line adventures and learn from our mistakes. You’ve seen my colleagues write about their trips to Disney destinations in California, Tokyo, and everywhere in between, so I will write about the aspects of our trip that make it unique.

The world was built for a family of four – especially when you travel

My brother-in-law used to say this, having experienced life with a wife and three kids. Cars, hotels, and restaurants are designed for parties of 4. He was right. The Hazelton/Brazeau group is a party of five, so one of our first struggles in the planning process was to pick a stateroom that would accommodate us. The group includes me (Fred), my two sons Bram (age 13) and Alec (age 11), my wife Chantale (age censored), and her son, Matice (age 9). The most economical of Disney’s stateroom options for a family of five are the Deluxe Family Oceanview Staterooms that sleep 5 (category 8) or two adjoining Standard Inside Staterooms that sleep 4 (category 11). Although a Deluxe Family Oceanview Stateroom with Verandah was a hundred dollars less than two adjoining inside staterooms, we chose to get the two rooms. Our feeling was that with the age of the kids, the negligible cost difference and having the second bathroom made it the smarter choice for us. Plus, if the kids need an escape from us or we need an escape from them, having the second stateroom provides a nice separator.

Alec (left) and Matice

Alec (left) and Matice

Alec was born with spina bifida and hydrocephalus and, although ambulatory, does have some mobility issues. We are interested to see how easy or difficult it will be for him to manoeuvre around the ship, especially if the seas are rough. Our choices of Port Adventures may be limited, as well, to those that don’t involve a lot of walking. Beach days, Jeep tours, and boat excursions will be a lot better for us than climbing ruins or walking tours. He’s an easygoing kid, though, so he will likely be just as happy to spend the week alternating between the buffet and the Edge Club.

 

Stay tuned for more about our trip and the other Touringplans #Everywhere trips, the planning, the during and the aftermath.

[Our cruise departs on October 11, 2014, from Port Canaveral. If you happen to be sailing on that cruise with us, please let us know.]

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Disney Cruise Line Vancouver Hotel Compare/Contrast

by on September 9, 2014

t_logo_fbTouring Plans blogger Kristi Fredericks and I have been sharing some of our excursion experiences (dog sledding in Juneau, trains in Skagway) on our Disney Cruise Line voyage to Alaska this summer. Now it’s time to cover our respective pre-cruise stays in Vancouver.

Both Kristi and I chose to book our pre-cruise hotels through Disney. Kristi stayed at the Fairmont Vancouver Waterfront. By the time I booked, the Waterfront was filled, so they placed me at the Fairmont Vancouver Airport location. Here’s the scoop on what we experienced.

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10 Reasons DINKs Would Enjoy Disney Cruise Line

by on September 9, 2014

I know what some of you are thinking. “Are you sure DINKs would enjoy Disney Cruise Line?” Wait. That wasn’t it? Oh, you’re wondering what a DINK is! Well that’s easy. A Dink is a Double Income No Kids family (and let me immediately apologize if there is another, inappropriate meaning that I am too old or naïve to know). It’s obvious why the first two letters in that acronym would like a Disney cruise. They have more money! But the second two letters may throw you off a little. For many couples without kids, Disney isn’t the first cruise line they would consider (or maybe even a cruise line they would consider at all!) when planning a cruise. Well they should! Because Disney cruises are fun for everyone, even adults with no kids. My disclaimer here is as follows: yes, I know there are lots of other great cruise lines and yes, I know there are good reasons to sail on those other cruise lines. What I am trying to say here is – don’t rule Disney out just because you don’t have kids. There are reasons people love it after all.

1. Adult-Only Pools – When you picture a pool on a family cruise line, you are probably picturing a pool full of screaming, playing, splashing children. Well, you will find those on every Disney ship! The good news is you will also find a pool that is blissfully free of children – the adult only pool. There are certain times of day when it can get crowded, but it’s all adults. Many cruise lines do not have adult-only pools, but Disney recognized there would be times where the adults would want a calmer setting than swimming children afford. The Magic and Wonder have a long rectangular adult pool for swimming with wide shallow ledges on the side, perfect for lounging in water that’s only a few inches deep. There are also two hot tubs adjacent to the pool for adults to enjoy. The Dream and Fantasy have a pool divided into three circular sections. One is rimmed with seats, one is deeper water, and one is only a few inches deep for sunning. There’s a bar on one side of that last circle as well. Additionally, both ships have infinity hot tubs. The Fantasy also has Satellite Falls which is a small wading-type pool built with a waterfall feature. Trust me, even on a crowded day, they’re 1000 times more peaceful than the kid’s pool.

2. Adult-Only Café – All four ships have an adult-only café called Cove Café near the adult pools. It’s a great place to relax and order your favorite specialty coffee and baked treats. The coffee and alcohol are an additional charge, but the snacks are not! There are magazine and books to enjoy while you relax as well. It’s a great little spot!

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Gambling Disney Style – Disney Cruise Line Bingo

by on August 28, 2014

Disney Cruise Line Bingo 2Who’s ready for some gambling, Disney style? While it’s true that the Disney Cruise Line ships do not have casinos, fear not my fellow gamblers, there is still a way for us to get our fix. Disney Cruise Line bingo is a fun family activity that everyone can enjoy! I must admit, I love gambling. Now I’m not hearing my name being called by an evil slot machine or anything, but I do enjoy everything from craps to keno and bingo is no exception. I am a third generation bingo player; both my grandma and my dad are huge fans. So when I found out that I would be covering Disney Cruise Line bingo, I was beyond excited! I’ve played bingo in several places across the United States so I was very interested to compare Disney Cruise Line bingo aboard the Disney Wonder with my previous experiences. Please join me as I share my Disney Cruise Line bingo adventure with you!

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Disney Cruise Line Skagway, Alaska Train Excursions: Compare/Contrast

by on August 28, 2014

t_logo_fbTouring Plans blogger Kristi Fredericks recently compared our dog sled excursions on a Disney Cruise Line voyage to Alaska. We’re back with another round of Alaska Port Adventure comparisons, this time we’re looking at two train related excursions in the port of Skagway, Alaska. Kristi took the White Pass Railway and Trail Camp trip, while I took the All Aboard Steam Train tour. Here’s the scoop…

WHITE PASS RAILWAY AND TRAIL CAMP

  • Price: $168 for guests 10 years old and above, $85 for children three to nine years old and free for children two years old and younger.
  • Price add ons: There is an opportunity to purchase souvenirs at the Liarsville Gold Rush Trail Camp.
  • Time requirement: The total excursion time is about 4.5 to 5 hours.
  • Physical issues: This excursion is both wheelchair and stroller accessible. Both must be collapsible. Guests must be able to walk on gravel to transfer to the train and motor coach.
  • Age limits: None.
  • Other important details: Passports are required for all guests, because this Port Adventure crosses into Canada.

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10 Things to Consider When Booking Excursions Through Disney Cruise Line

by on August 20, 2014

So you’re going on a Disney Cruise! That’s awesome. As I’ve referenced before, most things on a Disney Cruise are included. Most. One biggie not included is port excursions, however. And let’s be honest, port excursions can play a pretty big role in your cruise. Excursions are a terrific way to see the exciting ports you are visiting, and planning them is not something that should be taken lightly. There are a lot of factors to consider! And here are 10 of them.

1. Do You Need to Book Anything? – Maybe! But maybe not! Excursions shouldn’t make or break your ability to cruise. My family has done cruises where we didn’t book a single excursion, and we’ve done cruises where we’ve spent a small fortune on excursions. Think about your vacation. Is your goal to relax and not be tied to a schedule? Does the idea of a quiet ship with empty pools while others are rushing around in ports sound like heaven to you? Maybe passing on excursions this time is for you. Or, is the ship primarily floating transportation taking you to new countries and experiences? In that case you’ll want to either plan some excursions on your own if you’re comfortable, or book excursions through Disney.

2. Cost – For most of us, when considering whether we want to book an excursion, the first thing we ask is, “How much?” And then, even if the price doesn’t scare us too much, we remember the question we should have asked, “How much times four?” (or however many members are in your cruising party). When you’re budgeting for your cruise, the cost of excursions has to be factored in. Excursions can range from $12 for the Butterfly Garden in St. Thomas to $649 for a 4 hour Alaska Hummer Excursion and everything in between. Some of them are worth every single penny. Some of them are not.

3. Booking On Your Own – You can almost always save money by booking port adventures on your own as opposed to booking through Disney. Sometimes a lot of money! Does that mean you always should? Definitely not. While money is a big factor, consider other things as well. Are you comfortable traveling in a foreign country on your own? We’ve toured Rome on our own twice now, and we’ve become comfortable using public transportation and dealing with the language barriers there. If the thought of walking through Rome with a street and bus map doesn’t appeal to you, however, booking through Disney may be worth the cost. Are you going to be so worried about missing the ship that you won’t be able to relax? That’s a valid concern and it won’t happen on a Disney excursion because the ship will wait for you (it won’t wait for you if you are touring on your own and are running late). It’s also possible you just don’t want to deal with the stress involved in planning and researching port adventures you book on your own (you are going on vacation after all!). If this describes you (and I have dear family members who care very much about these real concerns), then booking your port excursions through Disney is for you. So, get off your wallet and book through Disney.

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Disney Cruise Line Alaska Dog Sled Excursions: Compare/Contrast

by on August 14, 2014

t_logo_fbTouring Plans blogger Kristi Fredericks and I were both on a recent Disney Cruise Line sailing to Alaska. During the Juneau port stop, we both chose dog-sled related excursions for our families. Kristi took the “Dog Sled Summer Camp” excursion with her husband and two sons, ages 8 and 11. I took the “Dog Sled on the Mendenhall Glacier by Helicopter” excursion with my husband and my 17 year old daughter. Here are the particulars to help you decide which type of experience might be right for you.

DOG SLED ON THE MENDENHALL GLACIER BY HELICOPTER

  • Price: $579.00 for all guests ages two and up. Guests under age two are free.
  • Any price add ons?: Guests whose weight (including clothing and gear) is greater than 250 pounds will encounter a fuel surcharge. There is an opportunity to purchase a professional photo at the end of your dog sled ride. Expect to pay about $20, cash only.
  • Time requirement: The total excursion time is about 2.5 to 3 hours.
  • Physical issues: There is a steep step up/down to get into the helicopter. The helicopter seating is tight. Guests with motion sickness or fear of heights issues may be bothered by sensations in the helicopter. Once on the glacier, you will be walking on level snow (“glacier boots”, which are fitted over your regular shoes, are required and provided free of charge). The dog sled ride is in an open vehicle, with no safety restraints, over mostly level snow. The vehicle shifts substantially during movement. Guests who wish to “mush” (drive/steer the sled) must stand on the back of the sled.
  • Age limits: None.
  • Other restrictions: Guests are not allowed to bring iPads or similar tablet-style devices on board the helicopter. Cell phones and cameras are allowed. No backpacks, purses, or camera bags are allowed on the helicopter. There is a storage locker at the heliport, free of charge.
  • Other important details?: Helicopter flight is strongly impacted by the weather. You excursion may be cancelled without much warning if adverse conditions arise. If you have sensitive eyes, I strongly suggest bringing sunglasses. I took mine off for a few photos and was nearly blinded by the bright sun reflected off the snow.

Erin’s experience with Dog Sled on the Mendenhall Glacier by Helicopter:

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Disney Cruise Line Alaska Quick Tips

by on July 23, 2014

Ahoy mateys! I’m back from my first trip to Alaska via Disney Cruise Line. In upcoming posts, new Touring Plans blogger Kristi Fredericks and I will be back with tips on activities, excursions, and pre/post cruise hotel options. But in the meantime, I thought I’d share a few quick tips to whet your whistle, pique your interest, and otherwise get you ready for the frozen fun ahead.

IMG_1580

Vancouver

  • The Disney Wonder port terminal is directly adjacent to Canada Place, a large convention center. Several of the Canada Place coffee shops and snack bars offer free WiFi to their customers. If you’re in need of a last minute Internet fix, grab a cup of coffee with a view of the ship before heading into the terminal where online access can be spotty.
  • A primary attraction at Canada Place is “FlyOver Canada.” This is Soarin’, but with footage of Canadian points of interest rather than shots of California. It ain’t cheap (adults are $19.95, students over age 18 are $17.95, and kids are $14.95, plus tax) for a 10-ish minute ride, but the Disney geek in me felt compelled to compare/contrast the experience to that at Epcot and Disney’s California Adventure. The similarity to Soarin’ was almost shocking; the seating is the same, the lift is the same, even the pre-show safety video is similar. My husband and daughter ended up preferring Soarin’ because the music is better and they like the Smell-O-Vision orange groves in the California version, but I (please don’t take away my WDW annual pass when I say this) think I prefer the Canadian experience. The wind simulation is used to better effect in Canada, the screen is wider/taller in Canada, and most importantly, the film print is totally clean in Canada, so your immersion in the experience is not diluted by specks of dust flying over the countryside.
  • The Granville Island market is a must-do for any Vancouver visitor, but Disney geeks will find special pleasure in knowing that among the displays of fresh salmon, spiced nuts, and exotic fruits, you can find a vendor selling actual real live Dole Whip. Look for a vendor called The Milkman. Enjoy!
Dole Whip in Vancouver

Dole Whip in Vancouver

  • Unlike the somewhat confusing and inefficient town to airport public transportation options in my home town of New York, the Vancouver public subway/rail system is easy to understand, clean, and efficient. If you’re not burdened by copious amounts of luggage, the easiest/fastest/cheapest way to get from the airport to the port is likely public transit. Direct point to point takes about 25 minutes and costs about $7.00, depending on the day of the week.
  • At the Vancouver airport, the international departures area near gates numbered in the 70s and 80s currently features several large display cases with vintage Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Pluto toys dating from the 1930s to present day – think variations on Pez and Happy Meal offerings, but hundreds of them.
  • The Starbucks in the Vancouver airport (and presumably elsewhere in the region) serves an uber-Canadian treat, the Maple Macchiato. It’s like a vanilla macchiato, but with an ample drizzle of maple topping made with “real Canadian Maple Syrup found from the Beauce-Appalanche region of Quebec.” Presumably this is no great shakes for you native Canadians out there, but honestly, this small detail was the thing that made this American most feel like Canada was actually another country.
  • The Vancouver airport will not allow you to check in on site prior to three hours before your trip. Nor, for international flights, will they allow you check in when there are fewer than 60 minutes before your flight. Timing is critical here.

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