Disney Cruise Line

Julia’s Best Week Ever, May 5, 2016: Dream On

by on May 5, 2016

About halfway through this week’s adventure, my husband turned to me and said, “There is no way if we were living anywhere else that we could justify traveling down for a three-night cruise.” Ah, the benefits of the Florida life. Grab breakfast, drop that cats at the kitty hotel, pick up daughter from school, head for a late lunch at Cabanas as we set sail away for a weekend on the Disney Dream (and still have time to get daughter back to school on time on Monday).DSC03727

 

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our pre-cruise breakfast at My French Café, located a short distance behind the Magic Kingdom in Windermere. Between the quality of the food and the prices, it makes for a delightful treat. I had this sugar crepe (which, if unfolded, would have more than covered the entire plate), and only set me back $4. And yes, that whipped cream is heavy cream that has been whipped, not stuff from a can.

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Time flies when you’re on a sugar rush, and soon we were headed out 528 towards the port. I love the position of Disney ships at Port Canaveral, as you get little glimpses of the ship as you get closer and closer to the port.

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Disney Cruise Line 2017 Summer Itineraries

by on April 12, 2016

©Disney

©Disney

Big shout out to Tammy Whiting for the assist on this one!

Tammy is the owner of Storybook Destinations. Did you know Storybook Destinations offers a complimentary subscription to TouringPlans with qualified Disney and Universal bookings? Click here for a no-obiligation quote on your next vacation.

They’re here!  Today, Disney Cruise Line announced the release of the summer
of 2017 itineraries!

Gold and Platinum Castaway Club members (those who have sailed more than
five times on Disney) can book tomorrow, April 13.  Everyone else can book
Thursday, April 14th.

Disney Cruise Line has changed things up a little with all four ships
offering a little something new!

May 13th, the Disney Magic will sail from San Juan back to Port Canaveral,
followed by a 15 night Transatlantic sailing to begin a wonderful summer in
Europe.  The Transatlantic sailing will stop in Portland, England
(Stonehenge) and Amsterdam.  Summer itineraries will include a return to the
British Isles, Norwegian Fjords, Northern Europe and the Mediterranean.
There is a 10 night Northern European sailing on June 18th, and an 11 night
Norwegian Fjords and Iceland sailing on June 28th.  Mediterranean sailings
will range from 5-10 nights.

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10 Things You May Want to Know About Disney Cruise Staterooms

by on April 4, 2016

Are you wondering what your stateroom will be like on your Disney cruise?  What does it have, what does it not have?  I am here to help!  Here’s 10 things you may want to know.


Disney Magic 2951. Stateroom Size
– They’re small! No two ways about it, if you are comparing a cruise stateroom to the average hotel room, it’s small. Now if you’re comparing them to a standard room on another cruise line, well then they could be huge! The smallest stateroom on a Disney ship will still sleep 3 people with a queen bed and convertible sofa. On many other cruise lines the standard cabin only sleeps 2. Standard rooms on Disney ships are usually around 25% bigger than standard rooms on other lines.  But we are still talking small here. There are some smaller inside rooms that are 169 square feet, with most rooms running between 204 and 241 square feet. Laurel and Len created an excellent visual of how big (or small) Walt Disney World Resort hotel rooms are when they taped off the size of Disney rooms in their driveway! Value resort rooms are 260 square feet, so they are bigger than a stateroom onboard. So, remember, your Disney cruise stateroom will be small, but you can feel happy knowing you likely have more room than passengers on other cruise lines. And you should by happy because you are on a Disney ship. And who doesn’t feel happy there!?!?

Disney Magic 3002. Beds – The beds are kind of important, right? Well good news, they’re comfortable! Maybe it’s the gentle sway of the ocean, maybe it’s the $1500 sheets, or the perfect pillows, but I sleep like a baby on a cruise. (Is that really a good analogy? Perhaps not. A baby that sleeps all night. Not a baby that screams every few hours allowing no one else to sleep.) The main bed in all staterooms is a queen bed (they say queen, they feel a little bigger to me) with lots of space underneath for suitcases. Now that the rooms on all four ships have been updated, none of the beds separate into two twins as you find on many other lines. Good news for those that like to sleep in the middle of the bed, bad news for some single travelers. In standard staterooms categories 5-11 on the Wonder and Magic, and 5-7 and 9-11 on the Dream and Fantasy, there is also a couch that converts into a single bed and a single that pulls down from the ceiling in most rooms. Not all rooms have that pull down, so if you are a family of three with a little one that really wants to sleep in the super cool bed that pulls down from the ceiling, make sure you are booked in a stateroom that has one. In categories 8 on the Dream and Fantasy, and 4 on all the ships, there is also a pull down murphy type bed. The couch and pull downs are definitely not as comfortable as the main bed, but I’ve slept in one and they aren’t bad! Concierge staterooms R, S and T have various other configurations sleeping between five and seven people.

3. Bathrooms – Maybe even more important than beds! And I have more good news. The bathrooms are great! They’re small (small rooms remember), but they’re great. On all ships, with the exception of accessible staterooms and category 8A’s on the Dream and Fantasy, everything in categories 4- 10 have split bathrooms. Split bathrooms are genius! A split bathroom means there essentially two bathrooms which is so helpful with multiple people getting ready. One has a sink and toilet, and the other has a sink and tub/shower. You heard me bath loving people, Disney has a tub in their bathrooms. On most other lines, you’ll have to get to the suites before a tub is an option. In categories 8D, 8C, 8B, 4 and V on the Dream and Fantasy, there are actually round tubs! With rainfall shower heads! The V on the Magic and Wonder, and R, S and T on all ships have a whole ‘nother level of bathrooms and tubs. The tub in the 1-bedroom suites on the Dream and Fantasy is more like a small pool.

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons March is Going to be AWESOME!

by on March 5, 2016

This week’s SATURDAY SIX presents a brand new concept for us. The first Saturday of each month we are going to give a quick preview of some of the coolest things going on here in the theme park world in Florida, as well as those out there in California. We present to you Six Reasons March is Going to be AWESOME. Now it is going to be hard to top February considering we finally received details on Star Wars Land, had the soft opening of the Wizarding World West, saw the start of Universal’s Mardi Gras, and let’s not forget my personal debut as a YouTube sensation, but I think March just may be able to top it. So sit back, make sure you are wearing something green, and let’s start off with…

# 6 – Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar Has Actual Souvenir Mugs! (Disney Springs)

Our long national nightmare is over. Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar, one of the coolest new additions to Disney Springs, finally has more souvenir mugs in stock. The Hangar Bar opened last September, and it debuted having a menu filled with pictures of unique souvenir mugs. There was only one catch: none of the mugs were available. Late in the year, the awesome Cool-headed Monkey mug arrived but nothing else. In March 2016, the clouds lifted, and new souvenir mugs are now in stock! Added to the list of available mugs are Reggie’s Revenge and the Hovito Mojito.. The cool mugs, unique stirrers (including a python snake and a blowdart), and a multitude of coasters make the Hangar Bar one of the best places at WDW for collectors.

JockLIndsey_mojito_wallen

The Hovito Mojito. (photo by Dirk Wallen of @WDWNT fame)

# 5 – Zootopia Opens

Having just made its national premier yesterday, Disney’s newest animated film Zootopia is already wowing both critics (with a shockingly high 98% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes) and audiences alike. Since Disney bought Pixar, the two companies have seemed to go in opposite directions. The once flawless Pixar has been criticized for churning out sequels and even produced its first ever “flop” with last Fall’s The Good Dinosaur. Meanwhile Disney animation has been killing it with an incredible run that includes Wreck It Ralph, Big Hero 6 and the world wide phenomenon Frozen. Early reaction to Zootopia by the fans are overwhelmingly positive, and right now you’ll be able to catch the two main stars of the film at both the California and Florida parks. If the box office of the film matches the height of that audience score, we just may see more Zootopia in the parks sooner rather than later.

zootopia_meg

Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde posing with a true character, the SATURDAY SIX’s own Megan Stump.

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10 of the Best Desserts on a Disney Cruise

by on March 4, 2016

BlogMmmm. Dessert. I have dessert on the brain!  his summer I am headed on the 12 night (!) British Isles cruise and I am already excited about the food! Is that wrong? I think not. Dessert is a highlight of course, so let’s talk about dessert on a Disney cruise! There are wayyyyy too many options to list, so I’ll highlight some of my (plus some friends’) favorites.


1.
Chocolate Soufflé from Palo – Hands down, my favorite dessert onboard. Maybe on the planet Earth. The soufflé is served hot out of the oven with decadent chocolate and vanilla sauces, and a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side. My advice (because it’s also the advice most Palo servers wisely offer) is to break open the top, fill it with chocolate AND vanilla, and then add the ice cream. It’s simply amazing. Everyone must try this dessert at some point. It’s a good thing I’ve never sailed in the Roy Disney Suite where guests can order it every night in their room. I would gain 30 lbs! Pretty sure I gain a pound just by looking at it. Totally worth it, by the way. And if you are gluten free, I have some wonderful news for you. The chocolate soufflé can be made gluten free. I said it. Gluten free. A friend with celiac I was travelling with may have broken down in tears when our server told her that. I didn’t judge.

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The Decision Process: What Type of Disney Cruise Line Stateroom Do I Need?

by on January 29, 2016

There are more than two dozen stateroom classifications on the Disney Cruise Line ships (and a variety of floor plan arrangements within some of those classifications), but overall there are just three main types of rooms on the Disney ships:

  • Inside staterooms: Those with no window to the outside world – though some do have a simulated “virtual porthole”
  • Oceanview staterooms: Those with one or more porthole windows
  • Staterooms with verandahs: Those with a “porch” outside the room.

Ask around and you’ll find that some guests will only travel in a verandah room, avowing that they MUST have an outdoor place of their own, while others prefer an inside room because they enjoy the cocoon-like darkness for sleeping. The truth is that the right stateroom type is the one that meets your individual needs. Here are some things to think about as you make your decision.

The ships have many public places to view the water.

The ships have many public places to view the water.

What is your budget?

Your overall budget will obviously be your guide in all your travel decisions. If the sky’s the limit, then all other things being equal, a verandah room will likely be appealing for most folks, if only to have the extra square footage. However, if you’re watching your pennies, then getting an inside room may be an easy way to economize. You’ll also want to think about how your stateroom selection will impact your ability to enjoy other aspects of the trip. Will you have more funds available for excursions or fine dining if you opt for a different type of stateroom?

What is the price difference between the category types?

On some sailings, the price differential between the basic stateroom classifications can be many, many thousands of dollars, making the decision quite impactful to your trip. However, on other sailings, the cost variance between stateroom types is minimal. For example, on one 3-night May 2016 sailing on the Disney Dream, the least expensive room available is 204 square foot standard inside stateroom. The price for two guests is $1,464. On the same sailing, they could also get a 241 square foot oceanview (porthole) stateroom for $1,506 (a difference of just $42), or a 246 square foot verandah stateroom for $1,584 (a difference of $120 over the inside room, or $78 over the oceanview room). Given the macro cost of a vacation, these modest price differences may be small enough for you to be able enjoy whichever stateroom type suits your fancy.

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Get to Know Vanellope’s on the Disney Dream

by on January 18, 2016

Spending Christmas on the Disney Dream was a lot sweeter due to the recent addition of Vanellope’s Sweet Shop. During the late 2015 dry dock, the Dream lost its gaming arcade (Deck 11, near Cabanas) and gained an ice cream store.

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Before anyone gets upset, I’ll say up front that while there are charges for purchasing the items at Vanellope’s, you can still get free ice cream in many places. The soft serve dispensers on deck pour out a constant stream of sweet treats, ice creams are part of many buffet and dining room desserts, and you can still get Mickey bars as your restaurant dessert or from room service (though neither of these are advertised). Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way … here’s what you can expect to find at Vanellope’s.

The main offering here is gelato, ice cream, and sorbet, in many flavors, changed daily and seasonally. The gelato is made on the ship, not outsourced. The cast members on board the Dream were uniformly enthusiastic about Vanellope’s, all raved about the fresh taste and fun flavors.

They seemed genuinely excited about having something new and special. During my sailing, a four-nighter, the following flavors were available on various days: Candy Explosion, Egg Nog, Oreo Cookies & Cream, Amarena Cherry, Hazelnut, Red Velvet and Cookies, Cherry Chocolate Chip, Pistachio, Ginger, White Chocolate & Roasted Almond, Mixed Berry, Blueberry Lemon Zest, Cappuccino, Chocolate Orange, Mascarpone Cheese & Raspberry, Salted Caramel, Peanut Butter Cup, French Vanilla, Cookie Dough, Strawberry Cheesecake Chunk, Raspberry Sorbet, Dulce de Leche, and Butterscotch Waffle Crunch, and I’m sure there were several others that I missed. No promises, but my impression was that you could ask for your favorite flavor and they might be able to make it for you in the next day or two.

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Adding to the variety, are many topping options. Of course there are chocolate and butterscotch sauces, whipped cream, and maraschino cherries. Other toppers may include: chopped Snickers, chopped Kit Kat, Toffee Crunch, chocolate rocks, sprinkles, chocolate curls, Skittles, rainbow non-pareils, brownie chunks, Oreo chunks, fudge cookie chunks, pistachios, fresh strawberries, strawberry compote, cherry compote, raspberry compote, caramel popcorn, candy corn, candy canes, gummy bears, M&Ms, mini peanut butter cups, popping Boba pearls, crispy pearls, and more. Seriously, it would take even me quite a while to work through all the combinations.

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10 Great Things That Happened on Disney Cruise Line in 2015

by on January 13, 2016

Well 2015 was another great year for Disney Cruise Line!  While there were admittedly a few things that were not popular, the new alcohol policy for instance, there were also some great things that happened!  To me, Disney cruises keep getting better and better.  Here are 10 of my favorite new things!

1C4A59251. Dream Refurbishment – The Disney Dream came out of a short dry dock in October with some great additions and changes! I covered 10 of them in-depth in a previous blog post. The Dream refurbishment was a huge success in my opinion, and it excited me for a lot of reasons. Disney took a great ship and made it even greater. The Dream was new enough that Disney could have gone in, done a little sprucing up, and everyone would have been perfectly happy. But they didn’t!  Disney isn’t resting on those very substantial laurels they’ve earned, they are constantly learning and improving with their ships. They took the very popular Satellite Falls from the Disney Fantasy and added it to the Dream. They added much needed shade on the top deck after seeing how valuable it was on the Disney Magic. They added Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, which began in the parks and worked wonderfully on the Fantasy. They added an all new concept for Disney Cruise Line in Vanellope’s Sweets and Treats Shop and themed it to the nth degree.  Disney took amazing kid’s clubs, which no one was complaining about by any means, and made them even better with the addition of Star Wars and Disney Infinity. They even put work in where no one was expecting it (the concierge sun deck for example)!  Disney under-promised and over-delivered on the Dream refurbishment, and I for one, was impressed.

2. New Itineraries and Ports – Disney keeps trying new ports and itineraries out on us! Which I like! When Disney announced they were going to sail the fjords of Norway and journey to Iceland, there was a booking frenzy.  These sailings booked fast and were very well reviewed by those lucky enough to go.  They were so successful that similar itineraries showed up for the summer of 2016.  Disney also returned to Tortola in 2015 and will be visiting several times in 2016.  2016 has some more great additions—the British Isles cruise is going to be amazing and worth every crazy penny I’m spending on it.  We absolutely loved our cruise out of New York City a few years ago, and I’m thrilled they announced they’re going back in 2016!  Keep ‘em coming Disney!

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10 Possible Extra Costs Onboard a Disney Cruise

by on December 18, 2015

It’s that time of year when we are all thinking about money!  Oops, I mean gift giving!  But money is usually a part of that right?  So let’s talk money onboard a Disney Cruise.

I am often asked how much money you should budget to spend onboard.  My answer is – that totally depends.  I’ve been on cruises where my final bill was over $1000, and I’ve been on cruises where my final bill was $11.  How much you spend onboard will truly be up to you.

Note that I am not including gratuities in this discussion.  Gratuities are an unavoidable expense (unless you are truly channeling the spirit of Scrooge), but you can prepay them before you board.  See my Tips on Tipping blog post for some clarification there.

So let me try to help you plan!  Here are 10 ways Disney Cruise Lines tries to tempt you into spending even more onboard!

x1001. Excursions – The first chance to spend money onboard actually starts before you even get onboard! You can book excursions online as soon as your booking window opens, and they will be charged to your onboard account. You can cancel your excursions up until 3 days prior to your cruise departure date.  If you change your mind onboard, Disney will often let you change excursions as long as the price stays the same or goes up. Depending on the ports you are visiting, you could drop a lot of dough here.  The operative word there is “could”.  Excursions are in no way mandatory and there are other options.  Many ports have nearby beaches you could take a taxi to and/or fun towns to walk around in.  You could also book excursions directly with the tour operators and save money that way.  Finally, you could just stay onboard!  You’re on a beautiful ship with plenty to do!  Nobody is making you get off!  Well not until the end anyway.  Sadly, I can promise you that they will make you get off on the end.

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Kimberly-Clark Announces Strategic Alliance with Walt Disney Parks and Resorts

by on December 10, 2015

©Kimberly-Clark Corporation

©Kimberly-Clark Corporation

Another company has announced that they are expanding their alliance with the Walt Disney Company. Kimberly-Clark, the company responsible for Huggies, Kleenex, Cottenelle, and more, is increasing their availability and offerings with Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and Disney Cruise Line.

Through this partnership, the Baby Care Centers will now be hosted by Huggies. This also means that Guests will now be able to purchase products such as Huggies diapers and wipes, Kleenex tissues, and Pull-Ups at the Baby Care Centers, as well as in select retail area locations throughout the resorts and cruise line.

In addition, stroller rental locations sponsored by Huggies will be featured throughout Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort and Disney Junior –Live on Stage! will be sponsored by Pull-Ups.

According to Mike Hsu, Group President, Kimberly-Clark North America, “This relationship will provide millions of parents each year with convenient access to their favorite family products featuring Disney licensed characters as well as comfortable diaper changing areas as they experience the joy of visiting Disney parks with their children.”

This updated alliance should be welcoming to hear for all parents traveling to a Disney park in the near future.

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