Disney Cruise Line

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.

IMG_4121

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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My 10 Favorite Things on the New Disney Dream

by on November 4, 2015

I just disembarked the first sailing of the new (as Captain Henry referred to it) Disney Dream, and she looks amazing! Not that I expected any less. I’m not going to lie, I love being on the first sailings right out of dry dock, which I’m sure has nothing to do with my deep-seated desire to be the first person to be in the front of the line and the first to see everything. Disney surprised us this time — while they had announced several things we could look forward to after dry dock, there were several things they had not announced! And here are ten of my favorites:

Four_Rectangles1. The Millennium Falcon – Really what else needs to be said? Disney added Star Wars to the Disney Dream.  Okay, maybe that does take a little explaining. Disney completely removed the (cute but not a huge loss) Explorer Pod which was themed after Disney Pixar’s Finding Nemo in the Oceaneer Youth Club and replaced it with the interior of the Millennium Falcon. Yep, you read that right; you can sit in the pilot seats and steer as you are blasted into hyper-drive through space and onto various planets like Tatooine and Endor, where your flight continues. The details are just amazing: There’s a life size R2D2 that moves and talks!  (I am not hyperlinking R2D2 because if you don’t know who he is, you need to skip to item number two.) There are also life size replicas of the Marksman-H combat remote, lightsabers, and video games to try. Seriously, we were sad when open house ended and the children reclaimed the club!

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Video: 4 Must-See Disney Cruise Line Shows

by on October 28, 2015

must see disney cruise line shows

Pirates in the Caribbean fireworks, one of 4 must-see shows on the DCL Magic (videos by Seth Kubersky).

The Disney Cruise Line is famed for its live entertainment offerings, and the DCL Magic is no exception. Despite being the oldest ship in the fleet, the Magic has some of DCL’s freshest shows, which I was lucky enough to experience on my recent Transatlantic crossing. You can’t go wrong with any of the mainstage production in the Walt Disney Theater — I’m particularly partial to Disney Dreams, and am excited to see the new Tangled musical — but there are tons of other live shows around the boat that you shouldn’t overlook. If you are stuck on dry land dreaming of sailing the seven seas with Mickey, whet your whistle with these new videos of 4 must-see Disney Cruise Line shows from the DCL Magic.

 

Freezing the Night Away Deck Party

Ok, this first entry might be stretching the “must-see” moniker for most adults, but if your kids are still Elsa-crazed you aren’t going to want to skip this one. Freezing the Night Away with Anna, Elsa and Friends is a relatively recent addition to the DCL deck party rotation, which debuted earlier this year on the Disney Wonder, and was subsequently added to the Magic. It serves as the capstone to a full day of Frozen-themed activities, including a chocolate scavenger hunt, maypole dance, and special Norwegian-inspired dinner menu.

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Early 2017 Disney Cruise Line Itineraries Released

by on October 6, 2015

©Disney

©Disney

If you’re planning a Disney Cruise Line 2017 vacation (the first part of the year anyway), you’ll have your chance to start booking Thursday October 8 (tomorrow if you’re a Gold or Platinum Castaway Club member). Remember that for the most part, your best rates are found when fares are released or at the last minute. So if you know when you want to travel, and don’t want to play fare chicken at the last minute, now is the time to book.

There are no big changes in what’s offered: Bahamas, Eastern, Western, and Southern Caribbean cruises sailing from Port Canaveral, Miami, Galveston, San Juan, and New York City in lengths of 3- to 8- nights are offered.

See Disney’s web site for more information.

 

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Seth Kubersky’s Best Week Ever October 1, 2015: Six Things to Do During a Transatlantic Disney Cruise

by on October 1, 2015

Transatlantic Disney cruise

What do you do with all those sea days once you’ve sailed past the Rock of Gibraltar on a Transatlantic Disney Cruise? You have the Best Week Ever! (photos by Seth Kubersky)

Howdy folks, I just swam in from Spain and boy, are my arms tired! <Rimshot> If you follow the Touring Plans twitter feed, you are probably fully aware of — if not fed up with — my just-completed voyage across the Atlantic Ocean on the Disney Magic. The 11-day journey was certainly a Best Week Ever and a half, but I’m certain some of you are wondering how you can spend 6 straight sea days stuck in a giant floating hotel without jumping overboard. I had some apprehension before going aboard about being away from dry land for so many days in a row, but now I’m wishing the Disney Cruise Line had cruises to nowhere out of Canaveral, because my week on the water was more wonderful than any port of call (with the possible exception of Castaway Cay), thanks to the jam-packed schedule of activities and events and events you’ll find exclusively on DCL repositioning routes and other extended oceanic cruises. So, at the risk of stealing Derek Burgan‘s gimmick, here are my top six ways to while away your sea days during a Transatlantic Disney Cruise.

 

6. See a Movie or Twenty

Who wants to spend an expensive cruise inside a movie theater? I do! If you love Disney, you probably love movies, and there are few movie theaters on land that can compete with the Disney Magic’s Buena Vista Theatre. Over our 11 day journey, we averaged two movies a day, many in eye-popping Dolby Digital 3-D (the same system used in Star Tours and Escape From Gringotts, and far brighter and sharper than any multiplex) including Avengers: Age of Ultron Inside Out, and Ant-Man.

 

The highlight of the cruise’s cinema schedule was the multi-day marathon of the first six Star Wars films. Though screened in release order rather than episode or Machete order, these were the most recent versions created for the Blu-Ray release projected in stunning ultra-high-definition, making it the best presentation of the classic movies I’ve seen since ’77.

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10 Mistakes First-Time Disney Cruisers Make

by on September 30, 2015

First-time cruisers have a lot of questions!  I totally get that, because I did too.  I was a seasoned Walt Disney World and Disneyland vet, and yet cruises were so foreign to me that I spent hours researching what to expect.  Well, here’s the good news.  You can’t really do it wrong.  You’re there, you’re going to have a blast.  There may be some things you would do differently the next time though!  Here are 10 examples.

1C4A19661. Overpacking – Guilty! It’s hard not to do! But you do not need as much as you think you will. My standard tip is, lay out the clothes you think you need and take only half. The benefits here are numerous – you could save on checked baggage fees with the airlines, you have more space in your stateroom, etc. etc. There’s laundry onboard should you run short! Disney-themed clothes are always available to purchase onboard as well of course.

2. Not Buying Insurance – I’m a huge proponent of insurance for cruises. It’s not like a trip to one of the parks where you can probably move your dates, arrive late, etc. If you miss the ship, you miss your vacation. If you get sick and are denied boarding, you miss your vacation. If you need medical attention at sea or in a port and your insurance doesn’t cover you when travelling abroad (check your policy because most don’t) you can be out thousands of dollars. I can tell you story after story after story of cases where insurance saved the day. The thousands of medical bills my healthy mom incurred after developing pneumonia halfway through a Disney Mediterranean cruise. The tens of thousands of dollars of medical bills a family occurred after their child’s appendix burst abroad. A simple broken arm on an excursion becomes anything but simple in a foreign port. Just do it! It’s worth it! It’s not worth taking the risk. If you are a frequent traveler, you should look into year-round insurance. It’s very reasonable.

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