Posts Tagged ‘disney cruise line’

Tips for Meeting Characters on a Disney Cruise

by on November 21, 2016

Disney Cruise Line - Mickey

I recently got back from my first Disney Cruise, and as a character fan, meeting characters was a top priority. I ended up meeting 22 different characters, with 57 different outfits, and a total of 70 actual meets on our 7 day Disney Fantasy cruise. Each cruise (even on the same ship and same time of year) will be different, but here are some tips on having as much character fun as I did.

Make the Navigator your new best friend. Each night, you’ll receive a Navigator for the next day, which has the daily schedule for many activities on your cruise. You’ll find the characters listed in a yellow box on one page, as well as on a tv guide looking chart on a separate page. I recommend using the yellow box to plan your character hunting, since sometimes, there are too many characters in a given time to list them on the chart. I also found the yellow box easier to read and glance at quickly. I folded the navigator page each day so that I would only see the character yellow box (tip: pick up extra Navigators at the Guest Services to keep as mementos from your trip.)

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10 Options for Getting to the Port for Your Disney Cruise

by on October 28, 2016

So you’re booked on a Disney cruise and ready to go!  Almost ready?  You need to figure out a way to get to the port!  Well I have some things for you to consider. 10 of them of course!

disney-magic-1091. Disney Transfers From the Airport – Disney offers transfers from at least one airport in every port city to the terminal. If you are planning on using Disney transfers, check which airport you are flying into!  For Port Canaveral, for instance, Disney transfers run to and from the Orlando International Airport.  The do not run from Sanford.  Sometimes the money you save by flying into the smaller airport isn’t worth it when you look at the new transportation costs you’ve incurred!  Several other cities have similar situations.  The transfers vary in price depending on how far the airport is to the port.  In Orlando they are $35 one way.  In Miami they are only $20 one way.  The port in Dover, England, is a very long way from Heathrow Airport, so the transfers are $75 one way there.

2. Disney Transfers From a Hotel – You can also get transfers from certain hotels to the port. In Orlando, you can get transfer from any Disney resort to the port for the same price as airport transfers, $35 one way. You can also stay at the Hyatt in the Orlando International Airport and take the airport transfers.  That’s one of my favorite places to stay because Disney will pick up your luggage from your room and deliver it right to your ship’s stateroom.  In other ports, transfers from a hotel are always available if you book a pre- or post-night stay through Disney Cruise Line.  You could also book a hotel near the airport, and just get back to the airport and take a transfer from there.

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10 Steps to Conserve Wi-Fi Onboard Your Disney Cruise

by on October 20, 2016

I don’t want to brag, buuuut – on the last three cruises I’ve been on, I’ve actually gotten off the cruise and still had free data left. Lots of free data! And I’ve sent pictures and emails! How crazy is that? So it’s possible I’ve cracked the code on keeping usage down. I don’t want to get my hopes up, but it’s possible. So let me share what I’ve learned and what is working for me. Some of these steps may not be necessary, but better safe than sorry, right? Wi-Fi onboard is expensive, people. You start with 50 megabytes free (150 megabytes in concierge), then the price goes up fast. 100 MB is $19, 300 MB is $39, and 1000 MB is $89. We want those megabytes to stretch as far as they can! My disclaimer is that I am an iPhone user. So some of my directions are iPhone specific. The broad principles should still apply though!

img_02401. Use Airplane Mode – Once you leave Port Canaveral, you will definitely want to be in airplane mode. Not being in airplane mode means you are risking using unwanted cell service—like Cellular at Sea. If you have an international plan and want to turn off airplane mode in ports, then go for it. But while you are at sea, I highly recommend airplane mode to avoid any unwanted charges. Once in airplane mode, you can still turn on Wi-Fi and use the Disney Cruise Line app and data as desired.

2. Get Disney’s Helpful Internet Sheet – Sometime during the first afternoon, stop by the internet help desk and pick up their sheet describing how to minimize data usage. They have a sheet for iPhones, Galaxy, Droid, etc. There may not be anyone at the desk the first day, but that’s okay. There’s usually a brochure holder on the desk full of them. Look towards the back of the pile if you don’t see them. Follow the steps. Some are listed below.

3. Turn off Location Services – Location services are a data sucker! Turn that baby off! No one needs to find you while you’re sailing! Not apps, not friends that are stalking your phone, no one! Turn it off. On iPhones, you turn it off in “Settings” and then “Privacy”.

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10 Frequently Asked Questions About Travel Insurance for Your Disney Cruise

by on August 26, 2016

If only I had a dollar for every question I get about travel insurance!  Well I might just be able to pay for another cruise.  A short 3-night cruise in the off season in an inside cabin, but still.  Insurance is a mysterious creature.  Coverage is hardly ever cut and dry, and there are reasons for that.  And it’s not cheap!  Trust me, I understand it’s painful to pay for something you may or may not ever use.  In fact, you are paying for something we hope you never have to use!  I can’t tell you what to do, but maybe I can help you approach the insurance choice for your Disney cruise from a more informed place.  Here are 10 frequently asked questions!

1C4A28351. Should I Get It? – My answer here is an unequivocal yes. Yes yes yes. I’ll be honest, the odds are overwhelming that you aren’t going to need it. But, oh if you do. I’ll spare you the full retelling of the story of my healthy mother coming down with pneumonia on a Greek Isles cruise a few years ago. But, needless to say, her insurance bills were over $5,000, and they almost made her stay in a hospital in Athens which could have multiplied that bill by 10. If not more. here are so many other stories of a child’s appendix unexpectedly rupturing in Mexico (and really does it ever expectedly rupture?), a teenager breaking an arm in port, stories of people missing the ship because their flight was delayed, etc. etc. etc..

I even used my trip insurance one time to get reimbursed for having to spend the night in Seattle when weather prevented us from getting to Vancouver from Colorado for an Alaskan cruise. That was in May. No snow, no storms, just a windy day! Just remember, a cruise isn’t like a normal vacation where you can just go a day late should travel delays or weather occur. If you miss the ship, you miss your vacation! Insurance is important for so many reasons on a cruise.

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10 Tips for Your Europe Cruise (Disney or Otherwise!)

by on July 6, 2016

Bonjour! I recently returned from an amazing 12 night British Isles cruise with Disney Cruise Line! It was my third European cruise and I learn something every time I go! For various reasons, I find European cruises take more planning than standard Bahamian and Caribbean sailings. I wouldn’t recommend going in unawares! So here are 10 things I’ve learned. Hopefully they’ll help you out too!

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Mathew Street, Liverpool

1. Rent Mobile Wi-Fi – I can’t even tell you how what a lifesaver this was, and I’d like to publicly thank a commenter on a post of mine last year who told me about these devices! There are a couple of options here, you can buy a device and pay a fee based on the number of days you use, or rent a device and pay by the day for the rental period. The data is unlimited and you can use up to 5 devices at once. If you’ve got a cell phone signal, these handy little mobile devices create a Wi-Fi network for you. We chose to rent the device from Tep Wireless and we picked it up and dropped it off in Heathrow. It was a super easy process. I’m all for unplugging as much as you can on vacation, and I did. I had someone covering for me at work and I didn’t even look at it! But I had Wi-Fi! So I knew if there was an emergency or a question, they could get a hold of me. Being plugged in actually helped me unplug if that makes any sense at all! Plus, what fun it was to post to social media at will?! Or google when we had last minute questions about where we were going and what we were doing, or downloading handy city-specific apps (see #6 below). It was wonderful! We named our device (Jeb) and may or may not have gotten a little attached to it, making that the only hard part of turning it back in.

St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall

St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall

2. Skype App – Now that you’ve got Wi-Fi, you can also make incredibly cheap international calls with the Skype app. Our flight was delayed repeatedly leaving the US, and I knew our transfer company in the UK wouldn’t wait at the airport indefinitely for us. Unfortunately, they had an international number and I was dreading how much it would cost me to call them.  Until I checked out the Skype app. I bought a $10 Skype credit and called right from the app on my phone. Calls to most of Europe range from 2.3 to 10 cents a minute.  A minute!! There’s also a connection fee around 5 to 10 cents with each call, but even so, that $10 is going to last me for a very long time! We ended up using it a few times while traveling. We had to make an emergency phone call back to the states at one point and it was a lifesaver having the Skype credit to enable us to do so without mortgaging the house. It even came in handy when we got back home and I realized a hotel had overcharged us and I needed to call back to clear things up!

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10 Mistakes I’ve Made on a Disney Cruise

by on May 11, 2016

After 19 Disney cruises and counting I’ve learned a lot along the way, but I’ve also made my fair share of mistakes! I wrote a previous blog post on mistakes first timers make, and I made a few of them, but here’s my list of mistakes I personally have made! Hopefully I can keep you from repeating some of them. I’m here to help!

x1191. Overpacked – I admit it, I’m a chronic overpacker. I constantly tell people to lay out what they think they need and then reduce it by half. And yet somehow, I cannot follow my own advice! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve arrived home and unpacked things that were never worn! That should not be! While the rooms are very well designed with lots of storage, they aren’t THAT big. There’s no reason to bring a bunch of things you don’t need. There is a laundry service and there are washers and dryers onboard. I’m leaving for the British Isles cruise next month and to make our pre- and post-cruise travel in Europe much easier, I’m going to practice what I preach. I’m packing for 18 days like I’ll be on a 7-night cruise. Or less! Overpackers unite! We can do this!

2. Overspent – I’m sure anyone who knows me finds that very hard to believe, but it’s true. I’ve overspent. Like on clothes that I thought were so awesome in a Disney environment and when I got home to real life – not so much. Or maybe on excursions when I didn’t research our options and realized later we could have done something on our own much cheaper. Or how about a bunch of pictures that are still in the folder I brought them home in? I don’t drink, but I suspect there’s some of you out there that have some regrets about your alcohol bill. This doesn’t have to be! Let’s make a budget and stick to it! No impulse buys!

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Disney Cruise Line 2017 Summer Itineraries

by on April 12, 2016

©Disney

©Disney

Big shout out to Tammy Whiting for the assist on this one!

Tammy is the owner of Storybook Destinations. Did you know Storybook Destinations offers a complimentary subscription to TouringPlans with qualified Disney and Universal bookings? Click here for a no-obiligation quote on your next vacation.

They’re here!  Today, Disney Cruise Line announced the release of the summer
of 2017 itineraries!

Gold and Platinum Castaway Club members (those who have sailed more than
five times on Disney) can book tomorrow, April 13.  Everyone else can book
Thursday, April 14th.

Disney Cruise Line has changed things up a little with all four ships
offering a little something new!

May 13th, the Disney Magic will sail from San Juan back to Port Canaveral,
followed by a 15 night Transatlantic sailing to begin a wonderful summer in
Europe.  The Transatlantic sailing will stop in Portland, England
(Stonehenge) and Amsterdam.  Summer itineraries will include a return to the
British Isles, Norwegian Fjords, Northern Europe and the Mediterranean.
There is a 10 night Northern European sailing on June 18th, and an 11 night
Norwegian Fjords and Iceland sailing on June 28th.  Mediterranean sailings
will range from 5-10 nights.

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10 Things You May Want to Know About Disney Cruise Staterooms

by on April 4, 2016

Are you wondering what your stateroom will be like on your Disney cruise?  What does it have, what does it not have?  I am here to help!  Here’s 10 things you may want to know.


Disney Magic 2951. Stateroom Size
– They’re small! No two ways about it, if you are comparing a cruise stateroom to the average hotel room, it’s small. Now if you’re comparing them to a standard room on another cruise line, well then they could be huge! The smallest stateroom on a Disney ship will still sleep 3 people with a queen bed and convertible sofa. On many other cruise lines the standard cabin only sleeps 2. Standard rooms on Disney ships are usually around 25% bigger than standard rooms on other lines.  But we are still talking small here. There are some smaller inside rooms that are 169 square feet, with most rooms running between 204 and 241 square feet. Laurel and Len created an excellent visual of how big (or small) Walt Disney World Resort hotel rooms are when they taped off the size of Disney rooms in their driveway! Value resort rooms are 260 square feet, so they are bigger than a stateroom onboard. So, remember, your Disney cruise stateroom will be small, but you can feel happy knowing you likely have more room than passengers on other cruise lines. And you should by happy because you are on a Disney ship. And who doesn’t feel happy there!?!?

Disney Magic 3002. Beds – The beds are kind of important, right? Well good news, they’re comfortable! Maybe it’s the gentle sway of the ocean, maybe it’s the $1500 sheets, or the perfect pillows, but I sleep like a baby on a cruise. (Is that really a good analogy? Perhaps not. A baby that sleeps all night. Not a baby that screams every few hours allowing no one else to sleep.) The main bed in all staterooms is a queen bed (they say queen, they feel a little bigger to me) with lots of space underneath for suitcases. Now that the rooms on all four ships have been updated, none of the beds separate into two twins as you find on many other lines. Good news for those that like to sleep in the middle of the bed, bad news for some single travelers. In standard staterooms categories 5-11 on the Wonder and Magic, and 5-7 and 9-11 on the Dream and Fantasy, there is also a couch that converts into a single bed and a single that pulls down from the ceiling in most rooms. Not all rooms have that pull down, so if you are a family of three with a little one that really wants to sleep in the super cool bed that pulls down from the ceiling, make sure you are booked in a stateroom that has one. In categories 8 on the Dream and Fantasy, and 4 on all the ships, there is also a pull down murphy type bed. The couch and pull downs are definitely not as comfortable as the main bed, but I’ve slept in one and they aren’t bad! Concierge staterooms R, S and T have various other configurations sleeping between five and seven people.

3. Bathrooms – Maybe even more important than beds! And I have more good news. The bathrooms are great! They’re small (small rooms remember), but they’re great. On all ships, with the exception of accessible staterooms and category 8A’s on the Dream and Fantasy, everything in categories 4- 10 have split bathrooms. Split bathrooms are genius! A split bathroom means there essentially two bathrooms which is so helpful with multiple people getting ready. One has a sink and toilet, and the other has a sink and tub/shower. You heard me bath loving people, Disney has a tub in their bathrooms. On most other lines, you’ll have to get to the suites before a tub is an option. In categories 8D, 8C, 8B, 4 and V on the Dream and Fantasy, there are actually round tubs! With rainfall shower heads! The V on the Magic and Wonder, and R, S and T on all ships have a whole ‘nother level of bathrooms and tubs. The tub in the 1-bedroom suites on the Dream and Fantasy is more like a small pool.

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Get to Know Vanellope’s on the Disney Dream

by on January 18, 2016

Spending Christmas on the Disney Dream was a lot sweeter due to the recent addition of Vanellope’s Sweet Shop. During the late 2015 dry dock, the Dream lost its gaming arcade (Deck 11, near Cabanas) and gained an ice cream store.

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Before anyone gets upset, I’ll say up front that while there are charges for purchasing the items at Vanellope’s, you can still get free ice cream in many places. The soft serve dispensers on deck pour out a constant stream of sweet treats, ice creams are part of many buffet and dining room desserts, and you can still get Mickey bars as your restaurant dessert or from room service (though neither of these are advertised). Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way … here’s what you can expect to find at Vanellope’s.

The main offering here is gelato, ice cream, and sorbet, in many flavors, changed daily and seasonally. The gelato is made on the ship, not outsourced. The cast members on board the Dream were uniformly enthusiastic about Vanellope’s, all raved about the fresh taste and fun flavors.

They seemed genuinely excited about having something new and special. During my sailing, a four-nighter, the following flavors were available on various days: Candy Explosion, Egg Nog, Oreo Cookies & Cream, Amarena Cherry, Hazelnut, Red Velvet and Cookies, Cherry Chocolate Chip, Pistachio, Ginger, White Chocolate & Roasted Almond, Mixed Berry, Blueberry Lemon Zest, Cappuccino, Chocolate Orange, Mascarpone Cheese & Raspberry, Salted Caramel, Peanut Butter Cup, French Vanilla, Cookie Dough, Strawberry Cheesecake Chunk, Raspberry Sorbet, Dulce de Leche, and Butterscotch Waffle Crunch, and I’m sure there were several others that I missed. No promises, but my impression was that you could ask for your favorite flavor and they might be able to make it for you in the next day or two.

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Adding to the variety, are many topping options. Of course there are chocolate and butterscotch sauces, whipped cream, and maraschino cherries. Other toppers may include: chopped Snickers, chopped Kit Kat, Toffee Crunch, chocolate rocks, sprinkles, chocolate curls, Skittles, rainbow non-pareils, brownie chunks, Oreo chunks, fudge cookie chunks, pistachios, fresh strawberries, strawberry compote, cherry compote, raspberry compote, caramel popcorn, candy corn, candy canes, gummy bears, M&Ms, mini peanut butter cups, popping Boba pearls, crispy pearls, and more. Seriously, it would take even me quite a while to work through all the combinations.

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10 Great Things That Happened on Disney Cruise Line in 2015

by on January 13, 2016

Well 2015 was another great year for Disney Cruise Line!  While there were admittedly a few things that were not popular, the new alcohol policy for instance, there were also some great things that happened!  To me, Disney cruises keep getting better and better.  Here are 10 of my favorite new things!

1C4A59251. Dream Refurbishment – The Disney Dream came out of a short dry dock in October with some great additions and changes! I covered 10 of them in-depth in a previous blog post. The Dream refurbishment was a huge success in my opinion, and it excited me for a lot of reasons. Disney took a great ship and made it even greater. The Dream was new enough that Disney could have gone in, done a little sprucing up, and everyone would have been perfectly happy. But they didn’t!  Disney isn’t resting on those very substantial laurels they’ve earned, they are constantly learning and improving with their ships. They took the very popular Satellite Falls from the Disney Fantasy and added it to the Dream. They added much needed shade on the top deck after seeing how valuable it was on the Disney Magic. They added Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, which began in the parks and worked wonderfully on the Fantasy. They added an all new concept for Disney Cruise Line in Vanellope’s Sweets and Treats Shop and themed it to the nth degree.  Disney took amazing kid’s clubs, which no one was complaining about by any means, and made them even better with the addition of Star Wars and Disney Infinity. They even put work in where no one was expecting it (the concierge sun deck for example)!  Disney under-promised and over-delivered on the Dream refurbishment, and I for one, was impressed.

2. New Itineraries and Ports – Disney keeps trying new ports and itineraries out on us! Which I like! When Disney announced they were going to sail the fjords of Norway and journey to Iceland, there was a booking frenzy.  These sailings booked fast and were very well reviewed by those lucky enough to go.  They were so successful that similar itineraries showed up for the summer of 2016.  Disney also returned to Tortola in 2015 and will be visiting several times in 2016.  2016 has some more great additions—the British Isles cruise is going to be amazing and worth every crazy penny I’m spending on it.  We absolutely loved our cruise out of New York City a few years ago, and I’m thrilled they announced they’re going back in 2016!  Keep ‘em coming Disney!

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