Disney Cruise Line

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.

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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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Enhancing Fireworks Displays at Disney Parks

by on July 23, 2014

FireworksSummer is here, and by now hopefully everyone has had a chance to enjoy a fireworks display. I got a chance to enjoy the fireworks in a small Colorado town on the 4th of July. My friends’ house had a great view of the town’s fireworks display from their back deck, so all we had to do was sit down and enjoy!

I did notice that something was missing. While the display was an impressive sight and had a variety of fireworks, there wasn’t really any plan to the show. One shot went up. BOOM! Another shot went up. BOOM! Oh – here’s a change of pace - two going off at the same time! BOOM BOOM! The only time the show really ratcheted it up was at the end, when the sky was smothered with all of the fireworks they had left.

Was your viewing of fireworks the same as mine? Did you feel like it was missing…well…a little Disney magic?

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Connect@Sea Internet Access on a Disney Cruise

by on July 15, 2014

t_logo_fbAlthough many of us enjoy going on a cruise to unplug and get away from it all, sometimes you can’t leave your connection to the mainland behind when the ship sails away. In the past, Internet connections at sea were slow, spotty, and expensive. With the Connect@Sea plan, Disney Cruise Line has made Internet access more affordable, easy to use, and fairly reliable with decent connection speeds. I recently went on the Disney Dream and had to bring work with me, which meant I got to put Connect@Sea through its paces. Here’s what I discovered.

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Things to Do Near Port Canaveral before Your Disney Cruise

by on July 7, 2014

Cruising, especially Disney cruising, can be a vacation in itself, but what if you find yourself in the area a day or two before your cruise? Port Canaveral, the home for Disney’s remarkable ships: Dream, Fantasy and Magic is nearly an hour drive from Orlando International Airport so unless you live nearby, it’s a good idea to stay the night before your cruise somewhere between Orlando and Canaveral. Obviously, spending the extra day at Walt Disney World is a great option, but there are interesting diversions much closer to the port that can be relaxing or exciting as well as educational and surprising.

Disney's Cruise Ship Fantasy passes by the fishing pier at Jetty Park.

Disney’s Cruise Ship Fantasy passes by the fishing pier at Jetty Park.

In particular, there are 4 sites that are wonderful to visit, whether you have the whole family with you or if you’re kid-free. All have been popular attractions for many years and all will give you experiences that are quite different from the cruise you’ll be taking.

Considering that the four provide significantly different experiences, I have decided to list them based on distance from the Disney Cruise Line Terminal, rather than ranking them. The furthest is only a 30 minute drive, while the closest is literally right around the corner from the terminal.

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10 Points of Comparison between Cruise Loyalty Programs

by on June 25, 2014

I spend a lot of time talking about Disney Cruise Line and my deep abiding love for it. Disney, like all major cruise lines, has a loyalty program for repeat guests called the Castaway Club. These programs are all somewhat similar, but they all are different as well. So, let’s compare! There are lots of cruise lines out there, but I’ll stick to five of the biggest players in the American market like Disney, Royal Caribbean, Holland America, Norwegian and Carnival. And, here are 10 things you may be wondering about these cruise lines’ loyalty programs.

1. What Are The Loyalty Programs Called? – Perhaps not surprisingly, every cruise line takes great pride in their loyalty program and calls it something different. Repeat guests on Disney Cruise Line for example, are called Castaway Club Members. On Royal Caribbean it’s the Crown and Anchor Society. On Holland America they are members of the Mariner Society, and on Norwegian it’s called Latitudes Rewards. Carnival calls it their VIFP program. Otherwise known as a Very Important Fun Person. See what they did there? Who doesn’t want to be a very important fun person?

2. How Do I Become A Member? – The standard way is by sailing. With Disney you are automatically registered after your first sailing. Disney will send you a card with your membership number on it after your first sailing (but don’t worry if it doesn’t come in the mail, you can call and get the number). After you have sailed Royal Caribbean, just take your sailing date and ship name and register online. You can also register while onboard your first cruise with Royal Caribbean. On Carnival you can actually register before you ever step foot on a ship and take advantage of some discounts for members. With Holland America, you are automatically enrolled after the first time you sail with Holland America, but you will also be enrolled when you make your first booking if you’ve previously sailed on a line that they have a relationship with – Princess, Cunard, Seabourn, Carnival or Costa. Finally, Norwegian will let you register with Latitudes as soon as you have made a booking, but you will not receive any membership benefits until you have completed your first sailing.

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Everything You Need to Know about DCL Express Walk-Off

by on June 17, 2014

t_logo_fbExpress Walk-Off is a program Disney Cruise Line uses on debarkation day to help people with early flights or anyone who doesn’t want to wait around to leave the ship when it’s cleared by customs. As a frequent cruiser, I prefer to take advantage of Express Walk-Off whenever I can.

To understand DCL Express Walk-Off, it helps to remember how the normal debarkation works. On the final night of the cruise, guests who aren’t using Express Walk-Off leave their packed luggage in the hall by 10PM for the stateroom attendants to put in the luggage hold for transport off the ship in the morning. Guests keep with them a carry-on for any valuables, something to sleep in, and a change of clothes for the next morning. The usual caveats apply when packing the bag you’ll leave out. Don’t put anything in there you wouldn’t put in a bag you’re checking on the airlines – no medicine, no travel documents, no valuables like laptops, cameras, or jewelry.

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TouringPlans #Everywhere: I’m cruising the Southern Caribbean on the Disney Magic from Puerto Rico

by on June 7, 2014

#Everywhere Disney Magic Southern Caribbean Puerto Rico

I’m taking a TouringPlans #Everywhere trip on the Disney Magic!

¡Hola mis amigos! As you may have already heard, the TouringPlans team will be spreading out all over the Mickey-loving world for next October’s #Everywhere project, and I was lucky enough to be selected to sail the Southern Caribbean on the Disney Magic out of Puerto Rico. I’m excited because this trip represents a few firsts for me. I’ve cruised previously with other companies, but am a Disney Cruise Line virgin, so I can’t wait to see if their legendary reputation for service actually exceeds my less-than-perfect prior experiences with their competitors. Also, this will be my first time cruising from a departure point other than Port Canaveral (which is an easy drive from my home), necessitating air travel and a hotel stay. This post is my first entry in a brief series explaining how I’m approaching these issues, in hopes of helping any readers out there who may be contemplating a similar itinerary someday!

Disney Magic Southern Caribbean Itinerary

The Disney Magic, which was extensively refurbished last year, spent the summer of 2014 sailing around the Mediterranean, and will cruise the eastern and western Caribbean out of Port Canaveral from Halloween through next spring. But the 7-night cruise I’m on is somewhat unique, and calls for a different kind of introduction…It is one of only 4 scheduled Southern Caribbean itineraries departing from San Juan, Puerto Rico. (This port is also visited by the Disney Fantasy during some of its 7-Night Eastern Caribbean cruises.)

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10 Reasons to Try Disney Cruise Line over Other Cruise Lines

by on June 4, 2014

It’s time to try a Disney cruise! Now before the Royal Caribbean lovers and Norwegian loyals get their feathers ruffled, let me be clear – there are other excellent cruise lines out there. Even the most strident of Disney fans can have a wonderful cruise on another line. I am not saying you should never go on another cruise line. What I am saying is that there are good reasons to try a Disney cruise in particular. Yes, even over other (often less expensive) cruise lines. Here are ten of those reasons.

Disney Cruise Line1. Bigger Rooms – The standard rooms on Disney ships are bigger almost across the board. There are rooms that are bigger on other cruise lines to be sure, but here’s the difference – Disney’s standard rooms are bigger. Many other lines have rooms that won’t sleep more than 2, but all rooms on Disney ships sleep at least 3 with the vast majority of rooms sleeping 4 or more. Odds are good that your first words in any cruise ship room will not be, “My word this is huge”, but there is a difference onboard a Disney ship. You’d be shocked at the difference 20 square feet can make in a small space.

2. Split Bathrooms – I cannot oversell these. Having two bathroom spaces to get ready in when you’ve got 4 people staying in a room is invaluable. While split bathrooms are found in every category except category 11 (and some accessible rooms), they are not even close to the norm on other lines. The split bathrooms on Disney ships consist of one room with a sink and toilet, and another with a sink and tub/shower. See? Priceless!

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Disney Cruise Line Fall 2015 Intineraries Announced

by on May 19, 2014

Aloha!

As expected, Disney Cruise Line announced today that it will be returning to Hawaii this fall. The Disney Wonder will make two 10-night sailings in September, circling from Honolulu to Vancouver with stops during each trip in Hilo (Hawaii Island), Nawiliwili (Kauai) and Kahului (Maui).

Mickey's going Hawaiian again with the Disney Cruise Line.

Mickey’s going Hawaiian again with the Disney Cruise Line.

The Wonder will remain on the West Coast in October 2015, making San Diego, California its home port for the month. Itineraries will include 5-night Baja voyages making stops in Cabo San Luas and Ensenada, Mexico. The Wonder will also make 3-night trips stopping in Ensenda, as well as 2-night “cruise to nowhere” weekend escapes.

Beginning in November 2015, the Wonder will again home port in Galveston, Texas, making 7-night Caribbean holiday trips with stops in Key West, Nassau, and Disney’s private Castaway Cay.

Following a Transatlantic trip from Barcelona to Miami, the Disney Magic will resume a regular routine of four and five night Caribbean and Bahamian voyages.

During Fall 2015, the Disney Fantasy will travel 7-night Caribbean voyages. The Disney Dream will run its standard 3 and 4-night Bahamian trips during most of Fall 2015. There is a gap in the Dream’s schedule during late September and early October. Disney Cruise Line Blog is speculating that this break will provide time for the Dream’s first dry dock.

What are your thoughts on the new cruise itineraries? Will you make Hawaii part of your cruise schedule next year? What do you think about the return to Galveston? Let us know in the comments below.

If you enjoy our DCL content, take a look at our Disney Cruise Line subscription or buy our new book, the Unofficial Guide to the Disney Cruise Line, written by Len Testa, Erin Foster, and Laurel Stewart – available at Amazon.com and on Apple iBooks.

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Disney Cruise Line Fare Tracker in Action: Timing Your Cruise Booking

by on May 8, 2014

Before delving into some travel planning decisions for my upcoming Disney Cruise Line adventure, I thought it’d be useful to explain how our Disney Cruise Line Fare Tracker tool accelerated my booking this cruise.

I am sailing on the 4-Night Bahamian Cruise on Disney Dream – Itinerary A on October 12, 2014. I get to enjoy the cheapest cabin (11C), which my group of 2 adults and 1 child will call home for the journey.

Comparison with Similar Cruise from Last Year

If our Fare Tracker finds an identical itinerary departing on a comparable day (for example, the third Sunday in October) in 2013, it displays that on the same chart when looking at a 2014 cruise. For example, our Fare Tracker for my itinerary but sailing on October 19, 2014, is shown below. Note that data for both that cruise and last year’s October 20, 2013, cruise are displayed:

4-Night Bahamian Cruise on Disney Dream - Itinerary A departing October 19, 2014

As you can see, Disney’s fare adjustments for the 2014 cruise have been similar to what is shown for the 2013 cruise. However, for this particular 2014 sailing, some trends leap out:

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