Did you hear Disney Cruise Line is sailing to Europe again this summer and next? Are you one of the lucky cruisers headed there? The Disney Magic has begun its voyage across the pond, so I thought it might be a good time to post some tips specifically for those meeting her there. If you are currently on the Magic, I’m afraid this is too late and I must apologize to you. I’m sure these were the exact 10 tips that would have completed your planning and I have failed you. For everyone else – 10 tips for your trip to Europe for a Disney cruise!
1. Packing Tips – Unless you are flying Southwest or carry certain credit cards, checking bags stateside has become expensive. How many of us try to cram everything we own into a carry on to avoid baggage fees these days? Well good news: when flying internationally almost all airlines will allow you to check one bag…phew! Checking two, however, will be quite expensive, so stick to one! Plan to do laundry onboard and pack as light as you can. While packing, you do need to be aware of dress codes in the places you plan to visit. The Vatican, for example, does not allow visitors to wear shorts or sleeveless shirts, so make sure you have appropriate clothes. You should also be aware that lost luggage is a more common problem when traveling internationally. When you’re packing, spread each family member’s clothing across more than one bag. That way if one of your four suitcases is lost, little Sally still has some clothes in other bags and isn’t stuck with what was in her carry on for the entire cruise. As you can imagine, if your luggage is still in transit when your ship is leaving, it’s going to be pretty hard for it to catch up with you.
2. International Flight Tips – At first thought, spending eight hours on a flight sounds awful. In reality it’s not as bad as you think. On flights of that length there will be complimentary meals served, which is pretty much unheard of on stateside flights these days. I recently sat next to a gentleman from Norway on a 5 ½ hour flight across the US and he was shocked that we needed to pay for something to eat on that long of a flight. On international flights on almost every airline you will be served one, or even two, meals. Many flights will also pass out toothbrushes and toothpaste for you to use at your leisure. I can’t even tell you how wonderful brushing your teeth feels after eating and sleeping and sleeping and eating again. There will also be movies to watch to pass the time, usually with several to choose from. That long of a flight can still be a challenge for little ones, so be prepared with whatever you can to keep the little ones comfortable and entertained.
Are you thinking of trying your first Disney Cruise? Are you a skilled Disney Cruise Line Veteran who doesn’t need no stinkin’ help from anyone? Well we can help! Even if you don’t think you need it! TouringPlans blog posts have a little something for everyone. I’ll prove it! Keep reading!
1. Should You Go On a Disney Cruise? – That’s the first question to ask right? Should you go? Will you like it? Are the kids too young? etc. etc. Well if you’re a Disney fan, I gave you 10 Reasons right here! Savannah loves Disney and she agreed in this article. Chances are that if you’re reading this blog post, you are a Disney fan, but if you’re not, look at this blog post for 10 reasons to try one. Derek joined in with 6 reasons of his own to try a Disney Cruise. Kristi wrote a blog post specifically geared towards people that hate cruises! Laurel and I both added thoughts on why Disney cruises are fun for adults and couples with no kids. Erin wrote two blog posts for parents thinking about a Disney cruise, one about whether your children are old enough and one that compares a Disney cruise to summer camp! If you haven’t figured it out by now, the answer to #1 is an unqualified “yes.”
Good news, East Coasters – Disney Cruise Line will have sailings out of New York City to Canada and the Bahamas in 2016 on the Magic.
I was lucky enough to catch the Canada itinerary the last time Disney had it, and loved the change of scenery. If you’re looking for something new on DCL, and Alaska or Europe are too far or too much money (in my case – both!), this is a great option to consider.
You’ve booked a Disney Cruise Line voyage, yay! One of the first things many guests ask (after “How am I going to pay for this?”) is “What should I wear?” This simple question is a hotly contested topic in some circles. I’m here to talk you through what you need to know.
What should I wear to dinner?
Disney Cruise Line ships each have three main dining rooms (MDRs). You will be assigned to eat at one of the three MDRs every night of your cruise.
One version of semi-formal.
The default dress code at the MDRs is “Cruise Casual.”
The MDRs may also have any of several possible other dress suggestions depending on the specifics of your sailing. These might include formal attire, semi-formal attire, pirate attire, tropical attire, Pixar attire, Frozen attire, or Star Wars attire. In the main dining rooms, everything other than cruise casual is simply a suggestion and is completely optional. I repeat EVERYTHING OTHER THAN CRUISE CASUAL IS OPTIONAL.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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?
Disclaimer: 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?
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.
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.