Posts Tagged ‘disney cruise line’

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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Least Expensive Dates for your Disney Cruise

by on January 28, 2015

TouringPlans logoIt’s the end of January. The Northeast is covered in snow. You’ve finished paying for Christmas. So who’s ready for a Disney Cruise? I know I am. There’s no question that among the mass market cruise lines (and, yes, as much as I love them, Disney is still mass market), Disney charges a premium for their cruises. For me, it’s worth it, but the price means I have to be careful about when I sail. For the next edition of the Unofficial Guide to the Disney Cruise Line, I looked at a year’s worth of fares to see when the most and least expensive times to cruise are. Let’s take a look…

I used the Disney Fantasy for this look at fares. Why? Because it’s the easiest for comparing apples to apples year round. The Fantasy has two itineraries, Eastern and Western Caribbean 7-Night sailings out of Port Canaveral. This means that unlike the Magic and Wonder, I’m not comparing European or Alaska cruises to ones in the Caribbean. And, unlike with the Dream, I’m only looking at 7 night cruises, not 3-, 4-, or 5-night itineraries.

Sunset is my favorite time of day on a Disney Cruise, but time of year is what really impacts your fare. Photo - Laurel Stewart

Sunset is my favorite time of day on a Disney Cruise, but time of year is what really impacts your fare. Photo – Laurel Stewart

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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)

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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.

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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

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10 Things to Know about Concierge Staterooms on Disney Cruise Line

by on November 11, 2014

Upgrading from your usual category stateroom is a dangerous game. You start off on your first cruise in an inside room thinking, “I’m just happy to be on the ship! How much time will I spend in my room anyway?” On your next cruise, you upgrade to an oceanview for one cruise and realize you can’t ever go back to a room where there are no real windows. Then, just once, you decide to splurge for a verandah—and now you never want the terrible inconvenience of walking up a few decks to be outside in the glorious ocean air. Well, let me tell you those upgrades were but a hop compared to the Grand Canyon jump that is concierge. After my recent sailing in a one-bedroom suite on the Dream (all the suites are “concierge” on Disney Cruise Line), I’m pretty sure I’m going to feel like I’m sailing in a closet in my oceanview stateroom on my upcoming Thanksgiving cruise!

Recently, I was lucky enough to split the cost of a one-bedroom suite on the Disney Dream with a friend on a 4-night, off-season cruise, and my cost wasn’t ridiculous. There are times when the additional cost has passed ridiculous and found full-blown disbelief. Price out the Roy Disney Suite on a longer summer cruise and you’ll be convinced there must be a typo or horrible glitch in the system. No one really pays that right? Actually they do. Concierge sells out all the time. There are reasons it costs more though. And for some people, it’s worth it.

1. Embarkation Day is Super Smooth – For those of you that are frustrated by picking arrival times to the port, you may like to know that concierge guests do not pick an arrival time, they can arrive at their leisure. Once there, they also have a separate check-in with minimal to no waits. After concierge guests check in, they are welcomed into a separate lounge reserved just for them while awaiting boarding. When the ship is cleared, before boarding numbers begin to be called, the concierge guests are led through a side door and up the gangway. When we boarded the Dream, we took our boarding picture quickly and were literally the first guests onboard the ship. The concierge guests gather in an empty lobby and are then escorted upstairs to the concierge lounge on Deck 12 by one of the concierge hosts. They are met there by some of the ship’s officers and the rest of the concierge team. There are snacks and drinks (both non-alcoholic and fully alcoholic), and the concierge hosts meet with each family to go over everything they have booked beforehand to see if they would like to add anything. It’s quite the luxurious way to start a cruise.

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Surprises of the Disney Cruise Line

by on November 8, 2014

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Surprises of the Disney Cruise Line. Several weeks ago we posted an article on Six Reasons To Go On a Disney Cruise, which covered the “big picture” of why you should consider setting sail with The Mouse, but this week we’ll take a look some of the smaller details that made a significant impact on my vacation. Leading up to the cruise, I had done a decent amount of research on TouringPlans, the Disney Cruise Line Blog, and reading Erin Foster’s numerous DCL posts on the blog, but once I stepped onto the deck of the Disney Wonder I still had one surprise after another.  Here are my six favorite surprises of the trip (remember, you can click on any picture to see it in full size)…

# 6 – DCL Beer Mug Card

DCL_BeerMug2

DCL Beer Mug.

 

I’m a big fan of souvenir glasses (and we covered several of options available in the photo reports of the DCL gift shops and Castaway Cay) so I was definitely drawn to the DCL Beer Mug. Aside from being a neat souvenir, the mug has two benefits that come along with it. The first benefit is the fact that each time you get a beer in the mug you are given a 22 oz serving, but only charged for 16 oz.  Secondly, the mug itself has a good amount of weight to it, so it was a nice surprise to find out you don’t have to carry it around with you during the cruise. When you are done drinking, you hand the mug back to your server/bartender, and they will give you a card which you can then exchange for another mug when you are ready to drink again. This option became so handy and convenient throughout the trip, that I began to wish there was some practical way the theme parks could incorporate it into their day-to-day operations.

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Travel Warnings Issued for Nassau

by on November 7, 2014

The U.S. Embassy in Nassau, Bahamas has issued a Security Awareness memo for the holiday season 2014, advising U.S. citizens traveling to the Bahamas to “be aware of their surroundings and remain on heightened alert to avoid being the victims of crime.” This is the fourth memo on this topic issued during calendar 2014. The Canadian government posted similar warnings earlier this fall.

Nassau Harbor

Nassau Harbor

Other than Castaway Cay, Nassau is the most visited port for Disney Cruise Line.

The Embassy memo goes on to state, “Three armed robberies of U.S. citizens have occurred in daylight hours in heavily frequented tourist areas.” Other reports include notes about sexual assaults perpetrated by unregulated jet ski operators on Paradise Island. The advisory mentions monitoring local news stations for updates and maintaining a high level of vigilance when out and about.

The Nassau Guardian newspaper denies the credibility of the Embassy reports, claiming that the local police were unaware of some of the alleged crimes.

The Atlantis resort, site of many of the DCL Nassau port adventures, has increased their security in recent weeks.

We’ve never had any problems in Nassau, but as with any travel, caution is recommended. If you’re on a three or four night cruise and relaxation is a key vacation component for you, you may want to consider remaining on board your ship during the Nassau port stop. (We’ve recommended this prior to any warnings.) The ship’s amenities cannot all be experienced during a brief sailing. Staying on the ship may allow you to more time to visit the spa, participate in the children’s programming, or stuff yourself at the buffet. Remember that many activities on board are included in the cost of your sailing, so staying on board can be an easy way to economize.

If you plan to explore Nassau, be cognizant of your surroundings and interact with only reputable excursion operators. You may also want to consider letting family remaining on board or guest relations cast members know of your on shore plans.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Disney Cruise Line Photos

by on November 5, 2014

Whenever you visit a Disney theme park, you can expect to find photographers available to take your picture at key spots during your vacation. The same is true when you travel on Disney Cruise Line. Here’s what you need to know about Disney Cruise Line photo packages and options.

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Does photography on the Disney Cruise Line ships work the same as PhotoPass or Memory Maker at Walt Disney World?

While there are some similarities, there are many differences as well. The first thing to note is that the shipboard photography and the parks photography are run by different vendors. The pricing structure is completely different. There’s no such thing as an all-in-one photo package for guests doing Land & Sea vacations. If you’re traveling to WDW and on DCL, you’ll have to purchase photos from each half of your vacation separately.

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Menu Monday: Desserts Aboard the Disney Wonder

by on November 3, 2014

Disney Wonder Desserts

A Work Of Art – It tasted as good as it looks!

If you’ve been following along you probably already know by now that I was lucky enough to enjoy a spectacular Disney Alaska Cruise this summer aboard the Disney Wonder. Between rounds of bingo and incredible Port Adventures like dog sledding, riding the rails and soaring in a floatplane, I managed to fit in some time to eat. Talking to several cruisers during my planning, I discovered that dining onboard the cruise ship was a large part of the vacation for most people. Being an extremely picky eater myself, I planned on focusing my meals mainly on dessert.

Please continue on to see my dessert lover’s photo diary as I ate my way around the Disney Wonder!

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