Disney Cruise Line

Historic Cocoa Village: Unique Shopping and Dining near Port Canaveral

by on January 23, 2015

Here at TouringPlans, we always recommend that cruisers arrive a day early for their Disney Cruise if possible. Things can happen, and the ship will leave without you if you’re running late. So what do you do for entertainment in the 24 hours before you leave? Sure, you could spend a day at Walt Disney World or even stay there and take a Disney transfer to Port Canaveral, but that’s a lot of money in park admission, plus the additional cost of the bus ride ($70 round trip, per person). Or you could stay closer to the port and explore the area.

Just a short drive from Port Canaveral, a historic downtown district offers riverfront views, eclectic dining, unique and local shopping, and an atmosphere that promises fun for all ages. It’s called Historic Cocoa Village, and it’s the perfect addition to your Cocoa Beach or Port Canaveral stay.

Cocoa Riverfront Park - Natalie Reinert

Riverfront Park, just east of Cocoa Village, offers a boardwalk along the Indian River.

Stretching over a handful of city blocks alongside the Indian River and State Route 520 (King Street), Cocoa Village is a thriving example of downtown revitalization, with a distinctively Floridian feel. Umbrella trees shade cafes tucked away in quiet courtyards, palm trees line the streets, and shops dedicated to flip flops and resort-wear stand alongside restaurants featuring house-made ice cream and Southern cooking.

On the eastern side, a playground shaded by live oaks gives way to an outdoor amphitheater and a boardwalk stretching along the Indian River, offering panoramic views of the boat-dotted river and the faraway shoreline of Merritt Island.

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

10 Differences between the Classic and Dream Class Ships on Disney Cruise Line

by on January 20, 2015

I get asked all the time how the four Disney Cruise Line ships differ. And I especially get this question from guests who have sailed on one of the two newer ships (Disney Dream or Disney Fantasy) and are contemplating sailing on one of the classic ships (Disney Magic or Disney Wonder).  “What are the differences?” “Will I like the Magic and Wonder as much as I liked the new ships?”

To be sure, there are many things about the four ships which are the same, like the level of service Disney Cruise Line is known for, those amazing Disney stylistic touches, and the excellent officers and crew. But, make no mistake, there are differences. I’ll break them down for you here!

1. Size and Capacity– The most obvious difference between the ships is the physical size, and thus the number of passengers each can carry. The Magic and Wonder were originally 83,000 gross tonnage when constructed, but the Magic, after its 2013 reimagination when it added a little bit more weight and then length to balance that weight, is now approximately 84,000 GT. The Dream and Fantasy, however, are longer, wider, and heavier, weighing in at just under 130,000 GT. The physical size difference is most apparent to me in the lobby. The lobbies of the Dream and Fantasy feel practically cavernous if you’re used to the Magic or Wonder. The Dream and Fantasy have 14 passenger decks while the Magic and Wonder only have 11. The Magic and Wonder have a passenger capacity of around 2,400, while the Dream and Fantasy hold more than 50% more passengers at 4,100 (with a similar increase in the crew size).

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

Planning Tips for Your Disney Cruise

by on January 9, 2015

Disney Cruise Line's Castaway Cay

Dreaming of a Disney Cruise?
Photo – Laurel Stewart

Greetings from chilly North Carolina! The cold was so bad yesterday that it killed my car battery. My reaction (other than to buy a new battery) was to think of all the places I’d rather be than here. Naturally, one of the first ones that came to me was on a Disney Cruise.

I’m lucky enough that at this point, after 13 cruises, I can pack and prepare for a trip in my sleep. And I’ve learned a few things along the way. Everyone knows about preparing your travel documents, like passports and birth certificates, doing your online check-in, and booking your Port Adventures before cruising. But what about all the little things that come with preparing to be on a ship, somewhat isolated from things like unlimited free Internet and Target? This is my list of things I do before cruising to reduce surprises the day before I pack for a Disney Cruise:

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

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

by on December 31, 2014

MMM positiveIt’s the last day of 2014 and forget about what a year it has been for theme park merchandise. There was The Good: Both Universal and Disney upped their game with the new Film Vault and Memento Mori stores.  The Bad: There is an actual movie using nothing but Disney Vinylmation And The Ugly: Turns out the heavily anticipated Adventureland-themed gift shop in the Magic Kingdom will instead be a Sunglass Hut. Here’s to even better (and weirder) happenings in 2015.

Also, before we go on, be sure to check out our Year End “Best” of the Disney Outlet Store article.

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).

Our first item could be a foreshadowing of things to come. It’s rare to see Muppet related items at the Outlets. Especially based on the popular Kermit the Frog. Out in Disney California Adventure, Muppet*Vision 3D has been jettisoned for Frozen Fun, and rumors persist that the attraction could join the Studio Backlot Tour, American Idol Experience, and the Legend of Jack Sparrow in the recycling bin at Disney Hollywood Studios here in WDW. If that happens, expect the Outlets to be flooded with items featuring Beaker, Dr. Honeydew and the rest of the gang.

IMG_2548

“It’s not easy being green…or being sold at half price.” Originally $24.95, now $12.99

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

10 Reasons a Cabana on Castaway Cay is Worth Trying to Get

by on December 18, 2014

If you’ve been lucky enough to score a cabana on Castaway Cay when your Disney Cruise Line vacation stops at their little slice of paradise in the Bahamas, you can skip this blog post and go on to the next one. I’m betting you know how amazing they are and already know everything I’m about to say. If, however, you are on the fence about getting one, this post is for you!

First I’ll give you the bad news. The cabanas are expensive! $549 for 6 guests at the family beach and $399 for four guests at the adult beach, Serenity Bay. You can add 4 more guests at the family beach, or two at the adult beach. Each additional guest will cost $50. If that didn’t scare you off, here’s more bad news. They’re almost impossible to get! Concierge guests usually snatch these up before most guests ever get a shot at them. That should tell you something about how awesome they are though! They do show up for everyone else from time to time though! People cancel their cruise, change their minds on cabanas, etc. So if you want one, keep trying! And here are some reasons why you should.

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

25 Drinks of Christmas Countdown – Day 17: Balsamic Grande at Disney Cruise Line’s Palo

by on December 17, 2014

The Christmas season is my absolute favorite time of the year. Growing up, one of the little things I loved most was getting an Advent calendar and counting down the days until Santa would be coming down the chimney. As I grew older, I had to leave Advent calendars in the rear view mirror,* but I still miss that daily countdown building anticipation to the big day. So, we’re going to start a virtual Advent calendar here at TouringPlans. For 2014, we are going to countdown our favorite drinks at Walt Disney World and the Universal Orlando Resort.

Criteria: Drinks can be alcoholic or nonalcoholic. Drinks can come from any venue on property as well as the Disney Cruise Line. Bonus points awarded for atmosphere where drink is served. Any drink with glow cubes is immediately disqualified. Ready? Let’s go!

DAY SEVENTEEN: Balsamic Grand at Palo (Disney Cruise Line)

25xmasdrinks_palo_hirsch

Balsamic Grand at Palo. (photo by William Hirsch)

 

There were many aspects of the Disney Cruise that I sailed on earlier this year which gave me a better understanding of why so many people become “addicted” to cruising. One of the areas that stood out to me the most was the overall level of service that guests receive while on the ship, and the pinnacle of that service was at the ship’s upscale Italian restaurant Palo. To summarize: an amazing dining experience, one of the best I have had anywhere, land or sea. The signature cocktail of Palo is the Balsamic Grande, and it is the perfect drink to begin the journey you are about to take within this gorgeous restaurant.  Ingredients: 5 fresh strawberries, divided, 1 1/2 ounces agave nectar, 1/2 ounce balsamic vinegar (aged 8 years), and 5 ounces Grey Goose Vodka Muddle strawberries with agave and balsamic vinegar in a mixing glass. Add vodka and ice; shake and strain into chilled martini glass.

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

25 Drinks of Christmas Countdown – Day 4: Sunken Treasure on the Disney Cruise Line

by on December 4, 2014

The Christmas season is my absolute favorite time of the year. Growing up, one of the little things I loved most was getting an Advent calendar and counting down the days until Santa would be coming down the chimney. As I grew older, I had to leave Advent calendars in the rear view mirror,* but I still miss that daily countdown building anticipation to the big day. So, we’re going to start a virtual Advent calendar here at TouringPlans. For 2014, we are going to countdown our favorite drinks at Walt Disney World and the Universal Orlando Resort.

Criteria: Drinks can be alcoholic or nonalcoholic. Drinks can come from any venue on property as well as the Disney Cruise Line. Bonus points awarded for atmosphere where drink is served. Any drink with glow cubes is immediately disqualified. Ready? Let’s go!

DAY FOUR: Sunken Treasure on the Disney Cruise Line

25Drinks_SunkenTreasure

Sunken Treasure on the Disney Wonder.

 

One of the fun surprises on our first Disney Cruise sailing was experiencing Pirate Night. We were not prepared for how many guests onboard the ship got into the occasion, many with costumes rivaling the quality of Disney itself, and I was completely blown away by the fireworks show on the sea. The “drink of the day” for Pirate Night is the Sunken Treasure, and it was one that stood out, both visually and in taste. The green/yellow appearance makes the drink pop with color, and the tropical look completely fits with the Caribbean theme for the entire day at sea.

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

Thanksgiving on the Disney Wonder and Castaway Cay

by on November 30, 2014

Let’s clear something up right away. If you’re caught up on the TouringPlans blog, or follow us on Twitter, you already know that the Bloom family won Thanksgiving. We’re all just battling for second place at this point.

This Thanksgiving, Len Testa and I were on a 5-night Western Caribbean Disney cruise on the Wonder. To be honest, cruising wasn’t my first choice for celebrating. My intent was always to spend the holiday in Palm Springs. Unfortunately, no one else in the family was keen on it, and airfare to California from North Carolina never dropped to within my comfort level. So with two weeks to spare, and having eliminated a few other options, I found restricted rates* on the Wonder for the 23rd to the 28th. This met my needs of warm weather, not having to cook, and price, so after finding favorable airfare, I booked it.

The atrium of the DCL Wonder decked out for Christmas in November. Photo - Laurel Stewart

The atrium of the DCL Wonder decked out for Christmas in November. Photo – Laurel Stewart

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

DISNEY CRUISE LINE: Christmas Merchandise Photo Report

by on November 28, 2014

Last month we featured photo reports of the merchandise available in the Disney Cruise Line gift shops, along with Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay. Since that time, DCL has shifted over into its Very Merrytime sailings and has a limited selection of Christmas-related items for sale.

DCL_XMAS_1

DCL Christmas Ornament. $11.95.

Read the rest of this entry »

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Print

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