Disney Cruise Line

Surprises #Everywhere On The Disney Dream

by on November 18, 2014

I had never boarded a cruise ship prior to the TouringPlans #Everywhere event in October, which tasked my family with sailing on the Disney Dream. I had knowledge of Disney Cruise Line from colleagues, relatives, podcasts, and random people in theme parks. Plus, I did the technical work for the Disney Cruise Line portion of the TouringPlans.com website, so I’ve been exposed to plenty of facts about sailing with Disney. Still, Disney Cruise Line (and cruising, in general) was full of surprises for me, some good and some bad. I share some observations as a cruise novice below, well aware of the fact that what suprised me would not have shocked someone more familar with cruises.

Pools are boring.

There’s a pool in the shape of Mickey’s head! Doesn’t swimming in his ear sound great? Well, the pools are tiny and crowded, so you won’t do more than sit or stand. It’s neat that you can watch a movie on the giant Funnel Vision screen while wading, and my kid enjoyed splashing around in the Mickey Pool, but the pools are not at all like the pools at Disney Resort Hotels. That said, the slides are fun, and there are plenty of great swimming opportunities on Castaway Cay and on many shore excursions.

Disney Dream Deck 11

Doesn’t this look fabulous? Looks can be deceiving.

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

Disney Cruise Line Testing Palo/Remy Brunch on Nassau Port Days

by on November 17, 2014

Guests sailing on recent 3-day Disney Cruise Line voyages on the Dream have reported that DCL is now testing brunch service at both Remy and Palo during port days at Nassau, Bahamas. Previously, brunch at these locations had only been offered on days at sea.

Typical Palo brunch offerings.

Typical Palo brunch offerings.

Remy and Palo are the Dream’s premier restaurants, offering enhanced food, beverages, and service for an upcharge over the ship’s other dining venues. Brunch during sea days has typically been popular, often with higher demand than availability.

A few guests have reported seeing booking for this available via their DCL Planning Center online, but this is inconsistent. Others have been told about the expanded dining options while speaking with cast members on board the ship. If dining at Remy or Palo during a port day is something you’re interested in, check your Planning Center frequently and/or stop by Guest Services on your embarkation day to ask about availability.

I’m happy to see Disney attempting to provide more dining choices for guests opting to stay on board during the Nassau port call.

Please let us know if you’re offered Palo or Remy brunch during your Nassau stop on the Dream, or on any of the Disney ships. We’re eager to learn more about this new offering.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

Disney Cruise Line: RunDisney Castaway Cay 5K Photo Report

by on November 12, 2014

My recent sailing on the Disney Wonder brought with it several surprises, the biggest of which – for me – was biting the bullet and signing up for my first official runDisney event, the Castaway Cay 5k. I had no plans to participate in the event before the cruise, as it would clearly cut into my buffet time, but when researching a Castaway Cay 5k question from a TouringPlans reader, I temporarily lost my mind and signed up for the race. I will now present a gripping tale of human triumph and the 100% totally true story of how one man overcame all obstacles, including Mother Nature herself, to take home the elusive Castaway Cay 5k medal.

CastawayCay5K_bibs

Castaway Cay 5k bibs.

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

10 Things to Know about Concierge Staterooms on Disney Cruise Line

by on November 11, 2014

Upgrading from your usual category stateroom is a dangerous game. You start off on your first cruise in an inside room thinking, “I’m just happy to be on the ship! How much time will I spend in my room anyway?” On your next cruise, you upgrade to an oceanview for one cruise and realize you can’t ever go back to a room where there are no real windows. Then, just once, you decide to splurge for a verandah—and now you never want the terrible inconvenience of walking up a few decks to be outside in the glorious ocean air. Well, let me tell you those upgrades were but a hop compared to the Grand Canyon jump that is concierge. After my recent sailing in a one-bedroom suite on the Dream (all the suites are “concierge” on Disney Cruise Line), I’m pretty sure I’m going to feel like I’m sailing in a closet in my oceanview stateroom on my upcoming Thanksgiving cruise!

Recently, I was lucky enough to split the cost of a one-bedroom suite on the Disney Dream with a friend on a 4-night, off-season cruise, and my cost wasn’t ridiculous. There are times when the additional cost has passed ridiculous and found full-blown disbelief. Price out the Roy Disney Suite on a longer summer cruise and you’ll be convinced there must be a typo or horrible glitch in the system. No one really pays that right? Actually they do. Concierge sells out all the time. There are reasons it costs more though. And for some people, it’s worth it.

1. Embarkation Day is Super Smooth – For those of you that are frustrated by picking arrival times to the port, you may like to know that concierge guests do not pick an arrival time, they can arrive at their leisure. Once there, they also have a separate check-in with minimal to no waits. After concierge guests check in, they are welcomed into a separate lounge reserved just for them while awaiting boarding. When the ship is cleared, before boarding numbers begin to be called, the concierge guests are led through a side door and up the gangway. When we boarded the Dream, we took our boarding picture quickly and were literally the first guests onboard the ship. The concierge guests gather in an empty lobby and are then escorted upstairs to the concierge lounge on Deck 12 by one of the concierge hosts. They are met there by some of the ship’s officers and the rest of the concierge team. There are snacks and drinks (both non-alcoholic and fully alcoholic), and the concierge hosts meet with each family to go over everything they have booked beforehand to see if they would like to add anything. It’s quite the luxurious way to start a cruise.

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

SATURDAY SIX: Six Surprises of the Disney Cruise Line

by on November 8, 2014

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Surprises of the Disney Cruise Line. Several weeks ago we posted an article on Six Reasons To Go On a Disney Cruise, which covered the “big picture” of why you should consider setting sail with The Mouse, but this week we’ll take a look some of the smaller details that made a significant impact on my vacation. Leading up to the cruise, I had done a decent amount of research on TouringPlans, the Disney Cruise Line Blog, and reading Erin Foster’s numerous DCL posts on the blog, but once I stepped onto the deck of the Disney Wonder I still had one surprise after another.  Here are my six favorite surprises of the trip (remember, you can click on any picture to see it in full size)…

# 6 – DCL Beer Mug Card

DCL_BeerMug2

DCL Beer Mug.

 

I’m a big fan of souvenir glasses (and we covered several of options available in the photo reports of the DCL gift shops and Castaway Cay) so I was definitely drawn to the DCL Beer Mug. Aside from being a neat souvenir, the mug has two benefits that come along with it. The first benefit is the fact that each time you get a beer in the mug you are given a 22 oz serving, but only charged for 16 oz.  Secondly, the mug itself has a good amount of weight to it, so it was a nice surprise to find out you don’t have to carry it around with you during the cruise. When you are done drinking, you hand the mug back to your server/bartender, and they will give you a card which you can then exchange for another mug when you are ready to drink again. This option became so handy and convenient throughout the trip, that I began to wish there was some practical way the theme parks could incorporate it into their day-to-day operations.

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

Travel Warnings Issued for Nassau

by on November 7, 2014

The U.S. Embassy in Nassau, Bahamas has issued a Security Awareness memo for the holiday season 2014, advising U.S. citizens traveling to the Bahamas to “be aware of their surroundings and remain on heightened alert to avoid being the victims of crime.” This is the fourth memo on this topic issued during calendar 2014. The Canadian government posted similar warnings earlier this fall.

Nassau Harbor

Nassau Harbor

Other than Castaway Cay, Nassau is the most visited port for Disney Cruise Line.

The Embassy memo goes on to state, “Three armed robberies of U.S. citizens have occurred in daylight hours in heavily frequented tourist areas.” Other reports include notes about sexual assaults perpetrated by unregulated jet ski operators on Paradise Island. The advisory mentions monitoring local news stations for updates and maintaining a high level of vigilance when out and about.

The Nassau Guardian newspaper denies the credibility of the Embassy reports, claiming that the local police were unaware of some of the alleged crimes.

The Atlantis resort, site of many of the DCL Nassau port adventures, has increased their security in recent weeks.

We’ve never had any problems in Nassau, but as with any travel, caution is recommended. If you’re on a three or four night cruise and relaxation is a key vacation component for you, you may want to consider remaining on board your ship during the Nassau port stop. (We’ve recommended this prior to any warnings.) The ship’s amenities cannot all be experienced during a brief sailing. Staying on the ship may allow you to more time to visit the spa, participate in the children’s programming, or stuff yourself at the buffet. Remember that many activities on board are included in the cost of your sailing, so staying on board can be an easy way to economize.

If you plan to explore Nassau, be cognizant of your surroundings and interact with only reputable excursion operators. You may also want to consider letting family remaining on board or guest relations cast members know of your on shore plans.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

Frequently Asked Questions About Disney Cruise Line Photos

by on November 5, 2014

Whenever you visit a Disney theme park, you can expect to find photographers available to take your picture at key spots during your vacation. The same is true when you travel on Disney Cruise Line. Here’s what you need to know about Disney Cruise Line photo packages and options.

IMG_1077

Does photography on the Disney Cruise Line ships work the same as PhotoPass or Memory Maker at Walt Disney World?

While there are some similarities, there are many differences as well. The first thing to note is that the shipboard photography and the parks photography are run by different vendors. The pricing structure is completely different. There’s no such thing as an all-in-one photo package for guests doing Land & Sea vacations. If you’re traveling to WDW and on DCL, you’ll have to purchase photos from each half of your vacation separately.

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

Menu Monday: Desserts Aboard the Disney Wonder

by on November 3, 2014

Disney Wonder Desserts

A Work Of Art – It tasted as good as it looks!

If you’ve been following along you probably already know by now that I was lucky enough to enjoy a spectacular Disney Alaska Cruise this summer aboard the Disney Wonder. Between rounds of bingo and incredible Port Adventures like dog sledding, riding the rails and soaring in a floatplane, I managed to fit in some time to eat. Talking to several cruisers during my planning, I discovered that dining onboard the cruise ship was a large part of the vacation for most people. Being an extremely picky eater myself, I planned on focusing my meals mainly on dessert.

Please continue on to see my dessert lover’s photo diary as I ate my way around the Disney Wonder!

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

#Everywhere – 5 Lessons Learned On The Disney Fantasy

by on November 1, 2014

Castaway Cay is the favorite port of call for many cruisers

Castaway Cay is the favorite port of call for many cruisers

 

Assigned with the enviable task of sailing aboard the Disney Ship Fantasy, the Hazelton/Brazeau family set sail on Touringplans.com #Everywhere Day. But, we sailed short one member of our party.

Lesson # 1 – Study the terms of your insurance coverage

My middle son, Alec, was unable to join us on the trip due to health insurance. His health is stable but because he recently sought medical attention from his doctors for an issue with his vocal cords, that essentially negated his travel health medical coverage. Should he travel and require medical attention for his vocal cords, an insurance claim would be denied.

What we learned: If you feel the cost is justified, trip cancellation insurance (purchased within 20 days of booking) is your only protection if you require medical attention near your departure date.

Lesson # 2 – Retrieving forgotten items after disembarkation is easy

We realized as we approached customs that we left an empty suitcase under our stateroom bed. “Research” I shouted, and we asked the nearest cast member what to do. Turns out, each disembarkation team includes a few ‘runners’ and once we completely exited into the terminal, a runner was authorized to retrieve the bag for us (it took about 20 minutes, in total).

What we learned: Do your best to check the stateroom before you leave the ship, but if you forget something, cast members are there to help.

Lesson # 3 – Book a rental car at port by phone, not online

We arrived at the port of Cozumel ready to hop into our rental car only to discover that the rental location we booked was at another pier, and currently closed. Getting there may have been costly, and fruitless. So we abandoned the idea and enjoyed the ship for the day.

What we learned: A quick conversation with a local agent may have provided enough information to work out the logistics of renting a car at port. Don’t assume the renting process will be as simple as at major U.S. airports.

Lesson # 4 – You never know what the kids will like

At Disney parks I am often surprised by what entertains my kids. I’ve spent many unplanned hours at diversions like Mission Space: Mission Control and the Pangani Forest Trail. Same goes for the Disney Cruise Line apparently. I assumed I’d be dragging the kids to rotational dining – they loved it! I assumed they would explore the ship once or twice and get bored – they wandered every day and found something new each time.

What we learned: Try everything! Some of the kids best experiences may be from something you didn’t expect.

Lesson # 5 – Inside staterooms are small but functional

We were surprised at how the small staterooms were actually quite functional. Disney obviously designed each stateroom with plenty of thought to how the room would function. They manage to squeeze an enormous amount of storage space in a 169 square foot room by providing space under the bed, in an ottoman, and in the well-organized desk and closet.

What we learned: With a little bit of thought, you can completely unpack when you arrive and still have plenty of room to move about the room.

Beautiful view of the shores of Falmouth, Jamaica

Beautiful view of the shores of Falmouth, Jamaica

The best view on Castaway Cay is back at the ship

The best view on Castaway Cay is back at the ship

Sun soaked after the day ashore

Sun soaked after the day ashore

 

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! October 2014 Photo Report of the Disney Outlet Store

by on October 31, 2014

MMM positiveToday marks the end of October, and what a month it was. Our long national nightmare finally came to an end as Disney announced that the Sorcerer’s Hat would finally be leaving Hollywood Studios. Also leaving DHS will be the Legend of Jack Sparrow, bringing the total amount of attractions at the park down to something like two (give or take). A new lumberjack show made its debut at Epcot, nets around the Tree of Life came down at Animal Kingdom, and Marvel announced it would be making Disney approximately 100 billion dollars over the next five years. All of this and I somehow managed to sail on my first ever Disney Cruise. This may go down in the history books as the greatest month of all time, at least until next month.

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.)

IMG_0711

I Know What You Did Last Summer Mickey plush.

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print