Disney Cruise Line

Easy Florida Eco-Adventures on the Space Coast

by on February 20, 2015

Did someone say adventure? Well, it’s out there, and it’s right outside of your favorite Disney destinations.

We all know by now that Florida is way more than theme parks, right? And the great outdoors is finally getting its due, with animal encounters and adventure parks all over the place these days. Even within Disney’s Animal Kingdom, guests have the opportunity to get out of the ride vehicle and right into the animal exhibits with the Wild Africa Trek. Zip-lining, close encounters with wild animals, hanging bridges — just in case the Kilimanjaro Safaris are too tame for you.

Disney Ship Manatee Park - Natalie Reinert

A Disney Cruise Line ship peeks over the mangroves at Manatee Sanctuary Park in Cape Canaveral.

But maybe you’re not so into the swinging rope bridge over the crocodile pond. Maybe you’d just like to get a good look at the native flora and fauna. After all, Florida’s a unique place. Well, there are quieter, gentler adventures you can find on your Florida vacation. And if you’re staying at Cocoa Beach or Cape Canaveral, even just for a day before or after your Disney cruise, you can get easily out there and explore Florida’s wild wonders — without even getting out of your car, in some cases. There are easy Florida eco-adventures on the Space Coast that will open up your eyes to Florida’s wealth of wildlife, wetlands, and true wild spirit.

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge – Black Point Wildlife Drive is an easy way to get a taste of Florida wetlands. From saltwater marsh to pine uplands, from alligators to eagles, the Black Point Wildlife Drive was designed to show guests the remarkable number of ecosystems that exist along Florida’s shorelines. And it does so against an unforgettable backdrop: the rocket launch and production facilities of Kennedy Space Center. 

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Five Things the Disney Cruise Line Website Can’t Do, But Should

by on February 18, 2015

I’m a big fan of Disney Cruise Line. I am most decidedly NOT a fan of the Disney Cruise Line website. Even as an experienced user, I’m often frustrated when trying to navigate the site. I know the information is there, they just make it so darn hard to find it.

Here are some of the things I think the DCL website could do to improve the end user experience.

1. Allow you to search for any cruise within a range of dates.

The DCL home screen has a “cruise search” tool with three pull-down menus: Date, Destination, and Departure Port. To search for a cruise, you are forced to make selections for all three parameters. I’d love to be able to see all the cruises available using just one or two of the parameters.

For example, after our very active Adventures by Disney trip to Peru last Christmas, my family unanimously decided to be as lazy as possible during Christmas 2015, which means lounging on the deck of a cruise ship with umbrella drink in hand. Since the point of the trip is sitting and sleeping, we honestly don’t care where the ship is going. And since we’ll have to fly to get to any DCL voyage, it doesn’t matter much to us which port we sail from. I want to input the dates of my kids’ holiday break and see what all our options are in one swoop, but this is not possible. Instead, I have to run multiple searches, choosing the month desired AND a destination AND a departure port. I really don’t care if we sail out of Miami or Port Canaveral or if we go to the Bahamas or the Caribbean, but DCL forces me to make those choices. It takes too many steps just to figure out which sailings occur in December.

Why must I select all Date and Destination and Port every time?

Why must I select all Date and Destination and Port every time?

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10 Ways to Find the Best Deal on a Disney Cruise

by on February 18, 2015

I’ve said before that a Disney Cruise is worth every penny to me. So does that mean I just throw money at Disney and don’t worry about the price? Of course not! More money saved means more money for cruises! So here are a few tips to save money I’ve learned over the years.

1. Book Early! – I always say this. Book early!! If you know you want to be on a particular cruise, book it. Prices usually only go up on Disney cruises, and particular categories will certainly sell out. Don’t risk missing out or paying a higher price. The itineraries for the rest of 2016 will be out soon, so be ready! Last year the 11-night Norway and Iceland cruise filled up extremely fast even as prices went up and up. Verandahs are long gone on that sailing. If you know you want something, book it while you still can! Aside from concierge, all deposits are refundable up to a certain date, so know that date and book away! If you book concierge and have to cancel, as long as you are outside the penalty period, you can move that deposit to another date or category. You just won’t ever get that deposit back, it’s still non-refundable.

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A Tour of Re-Imagined Disney Magic Cruise Ship

by on February 16, 2015

It’s the ship that started it all. The majestic mother of the Disney Cruise Line fleet, the Disney Magic is Disney’s first ship and now she sparkles with renewed pixie dust. While Disney Cruise Line has been expanded to offer two new, larger ships there is still something so marvelous about Disney’s very first ship, especially after an extensive makeover. After many journeys aboard this beauty, I’d like to take you on a tour from stern to bow, of the beautiful Disney Magic and point out the many magical enhancements she recently received.

DSC00621

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Cape Canaveral Dining: Florida Beer Company

by on February 13, 2015

Florida Beer Company IPA - Natalie Reinert

The Swamp Ape Double IPA at Florida Beer Company.

Cards on the table: Florida Beer Company is not, strictly speaking, Cape Canaveral dining. It’s actually one of the southeast’s largest brewers and Florida’s leading brew company, with a 5,000 square foot tap room open to the public. But since you can order in food from any number of great Cape Canaveral restaurants, and pair your meal with flights or single glasses of craft beers brewed on site, Florida Beer Company ranks as one of the great unique dining establishments in the Cape Canaveral area.

You probably know that at TouringPlans, we always recommend arriving for your Disney Cruise a day in advance — after all, that ship is leaving on time, whether your plane arrived on time or not. And so if you’re looking for something great to do in Cape Canaveral the day before your cruise, and you love craft beer, you’ll want to plan a visit to Florida Beer Company.

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Disney Cruise Line Adds Star Wars Day at Sea

by on February 11, 2015

A definitely not Photoshopped image of what to expect at Star Wars Day. ©Disney

A definitely not Photoshopped image of what to expect at Star Wars Day.
©Disney

In a refreshing change from the All Frozen, All the Time promotions throughout the Disney properties, Disney Cruise Line announced Star Wars Day at Sea for early 2016 sailings on the Fantasy. The dates are:

  • January 9
  • January 23
  • February 6
  • February 20
  • March 5
  • March 19
  • April 2
  • April 16

These are all 7-night Western Caribbean itineraries. According to Disney, these sailings will include the only at-sea showings of the latest Star Wars film, Episode VII, The Force Awakens. The day at sea will feature a deck party, Star Wars meet and greets, themed food and bev, and, of course, limited edition special merchandise.

What do you think? Reason to book a cruise? Welcome addition to a cruise you’ve already booked? Just happy it’s not princess-themed? Talk about it in the comments.

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How to Have a Perfect Day at Castaway Cay

by on February 6, 2015

It’s the most loved port for any Bahamian or Caribbean journey aboard Disney Cruise Line. Disney’s very own private island is touted as Shangri La or Neverland and I have to say, I agree. A Disney Cruise is magical on its own, but a visit to Castaway Cay makes the experience truly enchanting. After over ten visits to this paradise of an island, I’ve developed my own routine and experienced many of the wonders around the island to know how to make a perfect day at Castaway Cay.

Let me start by saying up front that the perfect day at Disney’s private island is going to be a little different for each person. A family traveling with young children will have a different itinerary than a family with teens, and of course adults on their own will have a whole different agenda. But, the basic principles are the same.

DSC00490

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New Disney Cruise Line Cancellation and Final Payment Policy

by on February 3, 2015

©Disney

©Disney

Disney Cruise Line has notified travel agents of changes to its cancellation and final payment policy. The policy goes into effect for guests who book a new cruise March 3, 2015, or later, or who change a modify and existing reservation after that date. What was once summed up in two bullet points on Disney’s site is now a bit more complicated. TouringPlans has tried to make it a little easier to grasp. All cruises require a deposit of 20% of the vacation cost to book except cruises booked while onboard, which only require a 10% deposit.

What hasn’t changed:
Categories IGT, OGT, and VGT are still non-refundable, non-transferrable, and must be paid in full at the time of booking. These are restricted rates that Disney used to fill the last few cabins on its cruises. For Concierge (OOV, OOT, OOS, and OOR) level staterooms, all deposits are non-refundable.

What has changed:
Nearly everything else.

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Cape Canaveral Dining: Preacher Bar

by on January 30, 2015

Port Canaveral is rapidly becoming one of the state’s most bustling cruise terminals. And that’s been good news for the nearby towns of Cape Canaveral and Cocoa Beach — at least, where food is concerned.

Preacher Bar Wall - Natalie Reinert

Eclectic decor and rich jewel tones light up an unassuming strip mall location at Preacher’s Bar in Cape Canaveral.

The chain restaurants are always available — if you really want to eat at Denny’s on the night before your Disney Cruise, you can. But if you’re ready to begin the serious eating before you even roll up to the buffet at Cabanas, new local establishments are setting up shop within just a few miles of the port, and they are ready to feed you well. For an eclectic Cape Canaveral dining experience, try Preacher Bar.

Kelsey’s Pizzeria has long been a local mainstay, serving up pizza and Italian dishes to Brevard County residents for more than 30 years. But with at their new Cape Canaveral restaurant, Preacher Bar, they’re diversifying, with a smart Americana menu that hits all the foodie buzzwords. Start with crisp applewood bacon served with a spicy chili-garlic sauce, then cool the tastebuds with a crispy take on the traditional club sandwich, and finish, of course, with Key Lime Pie. (You’re in Florida, after all.)

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How Stateroom Category Affects the Price of Your Disney Cruise

by on January 29, 2015

t_logo_fbYou’ve decided on the ship and itinerary you want – now it’s time to get the best price on your Disney Cruise. There are two factors you can control when booking your cruise to keep costs down. First is your dates – and we looked at that yesterday if you want a refresher. Second is your stateroom category. Some people have strong feelings about their staterooms, right down to wanting to book the exact same one from cruise to cruise. Others take the approach of “it’s where I’m sleeping so who cares – I’ll take what’s cheapest.” But whatever your preference, your choice can have a big (or surprisingly not so big) impact on the price of your cruise.

Click the image to see it full size.

Disney Cruise Line pricing per cabin on a 7-night cruise.

Disney Cruise Line pricing per cabin on a 7-night cruise.

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