Posts Tagged ‘disney cruise line’

Disney Cruise Line Alaska Quick Tips

by on July 23, 2014

Ahoy mateys! I’m back from my first trip to Alaska via Disney Cruise Line. In upcoming posts, new Touring Plans blogger Kristi Fredericks and I will be back with tips on activities, excursions, and pre/post cruise hotel options. But in the meantime, I thought I’d share a few quick tips to whet your whistle, pique your interest, and otherwise get you ready for the frozen fun ahead.

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Vancouver

  • The Disney Wonder port terminal is directly adjacent to Canada Place, a large convention center. Several of the Canada Place coffee shops and snack bars offer free WiFi to their customers. If you’re in need of a last minute Internet fix, grab a cup of coffee with a view of the ship before heading into the terminal where online access can be spotty.
  • A primary attraction at Canada Place is “FlyOver Canada.” This is Soarin’, but with footage of Canadian points of interest rather than shots of California. It ain’t cheap (adults are $19.95, students over age 18 are $17.95, and kids are $14.95, plus tax) for a 10-ish minute ride, but the Disney geek in me felt compelled to compare/contrast the experience to that at Epcot and Disney’s California Adventure. The similarity to Soarin’ was almost shocking; the seating is the same, the lift is the same, even the pre-show safety video is similar. My husband and daughter ended up preferring Soarin’ because the music is better and they like the Smell-O-Vision orange groves in the California version, but I (please don’t take away my WDW annual pass when I say this) think I prefer the Canadian experience. The wind simulation is used to better effect in Canada, the screen is wider/taller in Canada, and most importantly, the film print is totally clean in Canada, so your immersion in the experience is not diluted by specks of dust flying over the countryside.
  • The Granville Island market is a must-do for any Vancouver visitor, but Disney geeks will find special pleasure in knowing that among the displays of fresh salmon, spiced nuts, and exotic fruits, you can find a vendor selling actual real live Dole Whip. Look for a vendor called The Milkman. Enjoy!
Dole Whip in Vancouver

Dole Whip in Vancouver

  • Unlike the somewhat confusing and inefficient town to airport public transportation options in my home town of New York, the Vancouver public subway/rail system is easy to understand, clean, and efficient. If you’re not burdened by copious amounts of luggage, the easiest/fastest/cheapest way to get from the airport to the port is likely public transit. Direct point to point takes about 25 minutes and costs about $7.00, depending on the day of the week.
  • At the Vancouver airport, the international departures area near gates numbered in the 70s and 80s currently features several large display cases with vintage Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Pluto toys dating from the 1930s to present day – think variations on Pez and Happy Meal offerings, but hundreds of them.
  • The Starbucks in the Vancouver airport (and presumably elsewhere in the region) serves an uber-Canadian treat, the Maple Macchiato. It’s like a vanilla macchiato, but with an ample drizzle of maple topping made with “real Canadian Maple Syrup found from the Beauce-Appalanche region of Quebec.” Presumably this is no great shakes for you native Canadians out there, but honestly, this small detail was the thing that made this American most feel like Canada was actually another country.
  • The Vancouver airport will not allow you to check in on site prior to three hours before your trip. Nor, for international flights, will they allow you check in when there are fewer than 60 minutes before your flight. Timing is critical here.

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Things to Do Near Port Canaveral before Your Disney Cruise

by on July 7, 2014

Cruising, especially Disney cruising, can be a vacation in itself, but what if you find yourself in the area a day or two before your cruise? Port Canaveral, the home for Disney’s remarkable ships: Dream, Fantasy and Magic is nearly an hour drive from Orlando International Airport so unless you live nearby, it’s a good idea to stay the night before your cruise somewhere between Orlando and Canaveral. Obviously, spending the extra day at Walt Disney World is a great option, but there are interesting diversions much closer to the port that can be relaxing or exciting as well as educational and surprising.

Disney's Cruise Ship Fantasy passes by the fishing pier at Jetty Park.

Disney’s Cruise Ship Fantasy passes by the fishing pier at Jetty Park.

In particular, there are 4 sites that are wonderful to visit, whether you have the whole family with you or if you’re kid-free. All have been popular attractions for many years and all will give you experiences that are quite different from the cruise you’ll be taking.

Considering that the four provide significantly different experiences, I have decided to list them based on distance from the Disney Cruise Line Terminal, rather than ranking them. The furthest is only a 30 minute drive, while the closest is literally right around the corner from the terminal.

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Everything You Need to Know about DCL Express Walk-Off

by on June 17, 2014

t_logo_fbExpress Walk-Off is a program Disney Cruise Line uses on debarkation day to help people with early flights or anyone who doesn’t want to wait around to leave the ship when it’s cleared by customs. As a frequent cruiser, I prefer to take advantage of Express Walk-Off whenever I can.

To understand DCL Express Walk-Off, it helps to remember how the normal debarkation works. On the final night of the cruise, guests who aren’t using Express Walk-Off leave their packed luggage in the hall by 10PM for the stateroom attendants to put in the luggage hold for transport off the ship in the morning. Guests keep with them a carry-on for any valuables, something to sleep in, and a change of clothes for the next morning. The usual caveats apply when packing the bag you’ll leave out. Don’t put anything in there you wouldn’t put in a bag you’re checking on the airlines – no medicine, no travel documents, no valuables like laptops, cameras, or jewelry.

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TouringPlans #Everywhere: I’m cruising the Southern Caribbean on the Disney Magic from Puerto Rico

by on June 7, 2014

#Everywhere Disney Magic Southern Caribbean Puerto Rico

I’m taking a TouringPlans #Everywhere trip on the Disney Magic!

¡Hola mis amigos! As you may have already heard, the TouringPlans team will be spreading out all over the Mickey-loving world for next October’s #Everywhere project, and I was lucky enough to be selected to sail the Southern Caribbean on the Disney Magic out of Puerto Rico. I’m excited because this trip represents a few firsts for me. I’ve cruised previously with other companies, but am a Disney Cruise Line virgin, so I can’t wait to see if their legendary reputation for service actually exceeds my less-than-perfect prior experiences with their competitors. Also, this will be my first time cruising from a departure point other than Port Canaveral (which is an easy drive from my home), necessitating air travel and a hotel stay. This post is my first entry in a brief series explaining how I’m approaching these issues, in hopes of helping any readers out there who may be contemplating a similar itinerary someday!

Disney Magic Southern Caribbean Itinerary

The Disney Magic, which was extensively refurbished last year, spent the summer of 2014 sailing around the Mediterranean, and will cruise the eastern and western Caribbean out of Port Canaveral from Halloween through next spring. But the 7-night cruise I’m on is somewhat unique, and calls for a different kind of introduction…It is one of only 4 scheduled Southern Caribbean itineraries departing from San Juan, Puerto Rico. (This port is also visited by the Disney Fantasy during some of its 7-Night Eastern Caribbean cruises.)

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10 Reasons to Try Disney Cruise Line over Other Cruise Lines

by on June 4, 2014

It’s time to try a Disney cruise! Now before the Royal Caribbean lovers and Norwegian loyals get their feathers ruffled, let me be clear – there are other excellent cruise lines out there. Even the most strident of Disney fans can have a wonderful cruise on another line. I am not saying you should never go on another cruise line. What I am saying is that there are good reasons to try a Disney cruise in particular. Yes, even over other (often less expensive) cruise lines. Here are ten of those reasons.

Disney Cruise Line1. Bigger Rooms – The standard rooms on Disney ships are bigger almost across the board. There are rooms that are bigger on other cruise lines to be sure, but here’s the difference – Disney’s standard rooms are bigger. Many other lines have rooms that won’t sleep more than 2, but all rooms on Disney ships sleep at least 3 with the vast majority of rooms sleeping 4 or more. Odds are good that your first words in any cruise ship room will not be, “My word this is huge”, but there is a difference onboard a Disney ship. You’d be shocked at the difference 20 square feet can make in a small space.

2. Split Bathrooms – I cannot oversell these. Having two bathroom spaces to get ready in when you’ve got 4 people staying in a room is invaluable. While split bathrooms are found in every category except category 11 (and some accessible rooms), they are not even close to the norm on other lines. The split bathrooms on Disney ships consist of one room with a sink and toilet, and another with a sink and tub/shower. See? Priceless!

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Live from the Disney Dream – Bar Menus

by on May 6, 2014

Today is Castaway Cay day of our second cruise, and I’ve already run a 5K. Because I’m feeling so righteous, I’ll post some bar menus. First is Pink – my third favorite bar on the Disney Cruise Line (click to open the full sized images).

Page 1 of the Pink Menu

Page 1 of the Pink Menu

Page 2 of the Pink Menu

Page 2 of the Pink Menu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next is a label from the Crémant d’Alsace Blanc de Blanc, which Len (who is kind of a Champagne snob) pronounced very good last night, and is at a really decent price.

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Live from the Disney Dream – Menus

by on May 2, 2014

Welcome back to Day 2 of the 3 night cruise. On a three night cruise, you are scheduled for one dinner each of the main dining rooms. Each location has a set menu – because it’s a 3-night cruise, there are no special menus such as the Pirate menu, even though tonight is Pirates IN the Caribbean.

Here are photos of the menus (click for full size):

Enchanted Garden

Enchanted Garden

Animator's Palate

Animator’s Palate

Royal Palace Menu

Royal Palace Menu

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Disney Gift Cards 101

by on April 30, 2014

Disney gift card

The classic Disney gift card design

As a frequent traveler to Disney parks and the Disney Cruise Line, I’m a huge fan of Disney gift cards. They reduce my need for cash on hand, allow me to sock away money for trips, and make great gifts for people who will be in the parks. As this type of card becomes more and more ubiquitous, you may think you know all there is to know about Disney gift cards. But maybe not. Read on.

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Disney Cruise Line Itinerary Change

by on April 24, 2014

A few weeks ago, Disney Cruise Line announced its itinerary offerings for most of 2015 and they’ve already started to tinker with their schedule.

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Thanks to heads up from Scott Sanders of the Disney Cruise Line Blog and a note from a travel agent friend, we’re confirming that the 11-night Norway/Iceland Magic sailing departing from Copenhagen will now include a day-10 stop at Kirkwall, Scotland rather than at the previously announced Torshavn, Faroe Islands. The exact language provided to travel agents states:

In order to provide [your clients] with a premier family experience, we have modified our 11-night Copenhagen to England repositioning cruise to include a call on Kirkwall, Scotland, instead of the call on Torshavn, Faroe Islands. We’re excited to provide our Guests with this revised sailing itinerary that offers the opportunity to visit both of the countries that inspired the recent blockbuster hit, Frozen from Disney Animation Studios and Brave from Pixar Animation Studios. Your assistance in passing this information along to your client is appreciated. Kirkwall, located off the Northern coast of Scotland in the Orkney Islands, offers many fascinating historic attractions, adventure tours, and bountiful wildlife.

As a guest who is booked on this voyage, I have to say that I’m happy about the change. I don’t have anything particularly negative to say about the Faroe Islands, but in doing some preliminary research it did seem to have quite a bit of activity/atmosphere redundancy with many of the other ports on this trip. Scotland should provide more variety and, as the note mentioned, it has the added cachet for kids of being the site of another recent Disney film. (I mean, I seriously LOVE Frozen, but at this point haggis would be a welcome palate cleanser for all that icy reindeer.)

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Disney Cruise Line Tips from our Research

by on April 24, 2014

DCL pool deck photo

Hit the pools when people are ashore to avoid crowds

This month Len Testa and I are heading on our next cruises, back to back 3 and 4-night Bahamas itineraries on the Dream. Two years ago after the Fantasy debuted, we began to toss around the idea of expanding our DCL coverage, and the result has been our DCL subscription on TouringPlans, which we brought online last fall, and the Unofficial Guide to the Disney Cruise Line, which we co-wrote with Erin Foster.

Between our theme park research, not living in Florida, the cost of fares, and needing to work around school schedules, we’re not able to cruise as much as we’d like (unlike the lady in front of us on the last cruise who checked into her 70th cruise), so each time is still special. (I can’t say that about every trip to Walt Disney World anymore.) However, even though I haven’t cruised 70 times, I feel like I’m really getting the hang of cruising Disney. Here are some things I’ve learned along the way.

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