Disney Cruise Line

Should I Take My Young Child on a Disney Cruise?

by on May 1, 2015

Cruises, and Disney cruises in particular, offer many wonderful activities for children and families. Parents of elementary-age children, tweens, and teens typically leave the ship raving about their children’s engagement in the onboard kids’ clubs, their independence on the ship, and their enjoyment of various port excursions. They had a fabulous time! Many families with smaller children, preschool age and younger, also have a grand time on board; however, a significant subset have a more neutral, or even negative experience while cruising. Typically, the negative reaction comes when there is a disconnect between expectations and reality.

Some families with younger children find the ship pool areas overwhelming.

Some families with younger children find the ship pool areas overwhelming.

When considering what to expect from a Disney Cruise, first remember that travel with small children is almost always more challenging than travel with older kids or grown-ups. Adults who are used to traveling as, well, adults may be surprised at the difficulties posed when traveling with young children. If the Disney Cruise is one of your first travel experiences as a young family, remember that many of the issues you will encounter are not specific to Disney or to cruising, it’s just par for the course with travel at that stage.

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Get to Know the Disney Cruise Line Navigator App

by on April 28, 2015

Guests traveling on the Disney Cruise Line ships have long relied on the Personal Navigator, a daily printed guide to information about the timing of onboard activities such as movies, shows, character greetings, and youth activities. In late 2013, DCL introduced the Personal Navigator in app form. It took a while for the app to be fully functional on all four of Disney’s ships, and there’s some information that still works better in a print format, which is still available, but the app now has enough functionality and unique features that you can almost get away with using it exclusively. Here’s what you need to know …

How can I get the Disney Navigator App?

It’s available via free download from the iTunes App Store or from Google Play for Android.

OK, I got the download, but it doesn’t look like there’s much to it.

You’re right. With one exception, there’s not much that happens with the Navigator App while you’re on dry land. The real functionality of the app only happens while you’re on board a Disney ship. The one cool thing the app can do on land is work as a countdown clock for your sail date. You can use the countdown clock to amp up the excitement as your trip gets closer, or to remind you that you really do have to start packing.

IMG_0349

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Changes Coming for Disney Dream

by on April 21, 2015

The Disney Cruise Line Dream will come back from its 20 day dry dock in October with several new features, some of which are already on the Disney Fantasy, and some that are brand new to any Disney ship.

Bringing the Dream in line with the Fantasy, Disney is adding the ever-popular (especially on formal nights and Pirates in the Caribbean night) Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique on Deck 5. Pricing should be the same as on the Fantasy. And bringing a guest favorite from the Fantasy’s adult area, Deck 13 will now add Satellite Falls, a scenic sunning and water area just for guests 18 and older.

Satellite Falls on the Fantasy. Photo - Laurel Stewart

Satellite Falls on the Fantasy. Photo – Laurel Stewart

The Oceaneer Club (the kids’ club for ages 3-12) will get a Star Wars makeover (similar to the Marvel makeover the Magic saw in 2013) and Jedi Training Academy will make its at-sea debut.  (I had to check the Star Wars Days promos to verify it won’t be offered this spring.) There will also be Disney Infinity play areas added to the current video gaming space.

Vanellope’s Sweets & Treats, themed after the Sugar Rush game in Wreck-It-Ralph, will serve handmade gelato and ice cream, and sell candy (extra charge).  This new area will be on Deck 11 with an entrance from Cabanas on the inside and outside from the pool deck. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s going in the current Arr-cade space.

Concept Art for Vanellope's Sweets - ©Disney

Concept Art for Vanellope’s Sweets – ©Disney

The dry dock is scheduled October 4 – 24, 2015. The first scheduled cruise after that is a 4-night Bahamas cruise from Port Canaveral October 26. Guests may remember that the first cruise after the Magic’s dry dock in 2013 (which was more extensive than this) was canceled when work was not finished in time to sail as scheduled.

This is great news for fans of the Dream. I may just have to cruise the Dream again before my December cruise. How about you? Reason to book or wait for the reviews?

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How to Spend Your Tax Refund with Disney

by on April 15, 2015

TouringPlans logoDisclaimer: Somehow discussions on the Internet of taxes and refunds and who gets them will inevitably lead to talk about government policy. If you feel yourself hearing the siren call to post about politics on a travel planning blog, please ignore it and pretend we’re talking about any random cash windfall. You’ve been warned.

Happy April 15! Are your taxes filed? If so, you may be one of the 8 in 10 US taxpayers who are getting a refund on your 2014 taxes. According CNBC, as of last week, the average check the IRS is cutting to people who overpaid is $2815. A lot people choose to overpay and use this as a de facto savings account (and with interest rates as low as they are, who can blame them?).

So let’s say you’re getting a tax refund. What are you going to do now? If you’re reading this blog, your answer may be “I’m going to Disney World!” Or Disneyland. Or taking a Disney Cruise. What will $2815 get you?

Walt Disney World

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10 Places to Stay the Night before Your Disney Cruise out of Port Canaveral

by on April 10, 2015

So where should you stay the night before your Disney cruise out of Port Canaveral?  My number one answer is – not in your own bed!  Well, unless your bed is within a few hours driving distance of the port that is.  In Port Canaveral, everyone must be onboard the ship by 4 pm, so while for many people there is certainly time to travel in on the day of the cruise, recognize that you are taking a risk!  That ship is sailing with or without you, so any travel delays won’t just make you late for your vacation, they could make you miss your vacation!  On an Alaskan cruise, a one hour flight delay due to wind was enough to make us miss our connection and we couldn’t make it into Vancouver until the next day.  But thankfully the ship wasn’t leaving until the next day!  So we made it.  Another hundred dollars or so for a hotel room within driving distance of the pier is the best insurance you can buy in my opinion.  So here are a few options for you!

Walt Disney World

1. Walt Disney World Resort – The most obviously fun place to stay would be any resort at Walt Disney World! Walt Disney World is a little over an hour away from Port Canaveral and has a lot of options and price points. Who wouldn’t want to visit Disney World for a night (or six) before you sail away? If you would like to take Disney transfers to the port, they cost $70 per person roundtrip and will pick you up from any Disney resort. Be aware, if you are in a hurry to get to the port for the earliest possible boarding, transfers from Disney World won’t usually get you there until noon at the earliest. Your hotel will give you a pick up time the night before. If you are desperate to be there earlier and want to stick with Disney transfers, you can also take Disney Magical Express back to the airport and catch a transfer from there. It’s a little more time consuming, of course, but you could be on one of the earliest transfers if that’s your goal! The transfers from the airport usually start leaving a little after nine and those first busses are the first people in the terminal.

2. Shades of Green – If you are eligible, Shades of Green is a great place to stay on property. Located within walking distance of Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, Shades of Green is owned and operated by the U.S. Armed Forces. It’s open to all active duty U.S. military personnel, including members of the National Guard and Reserves, retired military, employees of the U.S. Public Health Service and the Department of Defense, foreign military personnel attached to U.S. units, and some civilian contractors. The rooms are some of the largest on property, and rates are determined by rank. Disney Cruise Line transfers will not pick up at Shades of Green, but if you wish to take Disney transfers, you can walk over to the Polynesian and catch them there. Shades is a beautiful, peaceful resort and I’d recommend it to anyone eligible to stay there.

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The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! March 2015 Photo Report of the Disney Outlet Store

by on March 31, 2015

MMM positiveThough the March Hare is about to leave us on the last day of this very month, you need not worry because the April Fool has arrived a day early and is here with a brand spanking new Outlet Report. So take a break from hunting for Easter Eggs at Epcot, put aside your souvenir mugs from the soft opening of Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, hold off on booking that breakfast reservation for Be Our Guest, and be sure to pick your jaw up off the ground because it’s still there from finding out the Magic Kingdom opened up Aunt Polly’s on Tom Sawyer Island earlier this week. 

Prepare yourself for a trip to not just one, but BOTH Disney Outlet Stores in Orlando (physical addresses for both are located at the end of every edition of MM&M.) That’s right Dear Reader, I did the impossible and braved the I-4 traffic and horrendous parking situations at both outlets, for YOU.

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 stop is the Disney Outlet closer to Universal at the end of I-Drive and was surprised to see the first ever Tsum Tsums show up. I’ve seen them before at Once Upon a Toy in Downtown Disney, but never felt compelled to buy one at $6 a pop. That said, unlike Vinylmation, I can definitely see the cuteness factor and why people would want to collect them. The only Tsum Tsums available were the seven dwarfs and only the ones pictured below. Of course I bought them all.

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Change to Disney Cruise Line Onboard Booking Benefit

by on March 27, 2015

©Disney

©Disney

Have you ever wanted to take advantage of Disney Cruise Line’s onboard cruise booking benefit (reduced deposit required, 10% off your fare, an onboard credit from DCL, the joy of knowing your next cruise is already lined up), but didn’t quite know which cruise you wanted to take?

The previous solution to this problem was a work-around – guests would book a specific cruise and then change the dates as they figured out what actual cruise worked best for them. Now, Disney Cruise Line is allowing guests to put down a deposit to simply hold the benefit without tying up inventory that won’t be used.

In Disney’s words:

Effective immediately, Guests sailing with Disney Cruise Line can take advantage of the onboard offer without selecting an actual sailing date.

This new placeholder process allows your Clients to book the onboard offer without booking a reservation for a specific sail date. The confirmation will include a confirmation number, but will not display details such as ship name, sail date or category. Once your Client decides on an actual sail date, you can reference the confirmation number when you call back to modify the booking.

Please note while this is a new process for confirming placeholder date reservations, there are no other changes to the current onboard offer policies, including the number of bookings allowed or the need to complete travel within 24 months from the date the reservation is booked.

The deposit is $200 per stateroom (thanks to Tammy Whiting with Storybook Destinations for the intel on the deposit!).

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Why This Disney World Regular Wants to Go on a Disney Cruise

by on March 25, 2015

DisneyCruiseLine_Dream

The Disney Dream

Disney World is my favorite place on earth and I love to visit as much as I can. There’s plenty to do with four theme parks, two water parks, a shopping district, and a number of incredibly themed resorts; but this Disney World Regular has her eye set on another Disney vacation for her next trip: a Disney Cruise! I have wanted to experience the Disney Cruise Line for years; but I must admit, I’m not much of a beach person and when having to choose between Disney World and a Disney Cruise, Disney World has always won out. But lately, I’ve learned a lot more about the Disney Cruise Line and have actually booked my first Disney Cruise on the Disney Dream for this summer! So keep reading to find out why this Disney World Regular wants to go on a Disney Cruise.

Castaway Cay

Castaway Cay (Photo Courtesy of www.disneyworldenthusiast.com)

To Visit Castaway Cay: For anyone who knows about Castaway Cay, this should be an easy one. I mean, it’s Disney’s own private island! Who wouldn’t want to go there? The Disney Cruise Line ships are able to pull right up to the island and enjoy designated beaches: the Family Beach, Serenity Bay Beach for adults, and even a beach area reserved just for teens. There are characters, places to eat, shops, water play areas, and the chance to experience Port Adventures, otherwise known as excursions. Just a few things to do on Castaway Cay include biking, glass bottom boats, snorkeling, parasailing, and even the chance to run the Castaway Cay 5-K. Basically, Castaway Cay sounds like a real life Neverland where there’s something for everyone and every preference, but all with the Disney touch. Want to know more? Check out how to have the perfect day at Castaway Cay.

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Disney Cruise Line Wonder Summer 2016 Itineraries

by on March 24, 2015

TouringPlans logoCastaway Club Gold and Platinum members can book via phone starting tomorrow, March 25. The general public can book online and by phone on the 26th.

Continuing from today’s Disney Cruise Line announcements about the Disney Magic, we have more information about the Wonder’s itineraries for next summer.

The Wonder will reposition through the Panama Canal from Miami on a cruise that starts May 1, 2016.

14-night Westbound Panama Canal

Ports: Miami; Cozumel; Cartagena, Colombia; Panama Canal; Puerto Vallarta; Cabo San Lucas; San Diego; 8 days at sea.

 

The Wonder will then sail the California Coast out of San Diego.

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Disney Cruise Line Announces Summer 2016 Itineraries

by on March 24, 2015

Mickey Atrium Statue on the Magic

Helmsman Mickey returns to Europe Summer 2016. Photo by Laurel Stewart

Castaway Club Gold and Platinum members can book via phone starting tomorrow, March 25. The general public can book online and by phone on the 26th.

Disney Cruise Line announced Summer 2016 itineraries this morning. There are very few surprises, though the Eastbound trans-Atlantic cruise and British Isles cruises are new itineraries for Disney.

Disney Magic

Most of the news today concerns the Disney Magic, which will be doing Northern European and Mediterranean cruise summer of 2016. The 12-night British Isles cruise is a new itinerary for Disney Cruise Line.

The  14 night Eastbound repositioning cruise leaves Port Canaveral May 15, 2016 with the following ports and 9 nights at sea: Boston; Sydney (Nova Scotia), Canada; Dublin; Liverpool; Dover. Other than Dover, each of these is a brand new port for DCL.

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