I seriously didn’t know what to expect on a Disney cruise or on any cruise per say since it was our very first time. Despite all the reviews I had read and my friends had said; I still was not sure what to expect. All I knew was that we wanted to experience cruising and we were 100% sure that the kids would love everything and anything Disney.
You see, my husband and I are more like Venturer type of travelers so cruising to us was the least appealing travel option. However, many friends mentioned they love cruising and since I was starting my career in the travel industry, I thought we should try it out.
Here we go!!! We sailed with Disney Magic and here are some of the things you can expect on a Disney cruise.
First timers? I know exactly how you feel. So, I suggest to definitely make use of the online check-in and choose an early arrival if you can. The check-in process in the embarkation hall is fast and smooth so don’t stress out. As soon as you’ve checked in and had your paperwork done, you go to the customer service desk so you can register the kids for the Oceaneer Lab (it’s their kids club) and get their wristbands. Then, sit back and wait until your group is called for boarding:)
If you are like us and are arriving in the morning from another city then you’ll be happy to know that lunch will be available when you board.
If you board early you might not be able to go to your cabin yet, so use your time to enjoy the lunch; walk around; catch some sun; use the pool; book your tickets to any onboard special events; make reservations to the specialty restaurants, spa treatments or shore excursions.
Getting the Oceaneer Lab wristbands. Oceaneer Lab, where children 3 to 12 years old can play and learn at sea through imaginative themed activities and games, offered daily.
While onboard, you can walk around and familiarize the ship… just like what we did:)
This high energy deck party happens on embarkation day. Best time to keep everyone in the family excited for the sailing.
From the research I made many stated that the rooms on Disney cruise ships are larger than those on most cruise lines within the same category. Every room features elegant floor-to-ceiling Art Deco touches and depending on your budget, you can choose from lower end with an Inside Cabin to the high end with a Concierge Cabin which is Disney’s most luxurious accommodation.
My family decided to get an Ocean View cabin which offers larger space and a real porthole window.
Tip: If you are on a tight budget, an Inside Cabin is your best option which still offers generous space; you probably won’t be spending a lot of time in your room anyways.
Disney takes a lot of pride in their food and now I understand why…. The food they serve at the snack bars, buffet restaurant, main dining restaurants, room service and the elite dining options are all definitely of a good quality. (There were only a few dishes that we thought could have been cooked better but I guess we all have our days.)
On your first night, you will meet your assigned server and assistant pair and they will continue to serve you each evening at whichever restaurant you dine at. I thought this is amazing as it gives the servers a better chance of providing you a personal service and the kids are more comfortable this way too.
Disney has a unique approach to cruise dining; they have a rotational dining system in which it allows guests to enjoy each of the themed restaurants. For Disney Magic, they have Animator Palate, Lumiere’s and Cariocas.
We were seated next to Lucy’s family on our dinner seating. Such a lovely family from Delaware.
They also offer specialty dining, Disney Magic has Palo, features outstanding Northern Italian cuisine. If you are interested in dining at the Palo then be sure to make your reservation as soon as you board the ship, the best time slots are taken quickly and what remains are those that don’t quite fit the timings of your shore excursions or the wonderful night entertainment. Since your server doesn’t follow you to this restaurant, Disney imposes a $30 cover charge per person.
Tips: When you make your cruise reservation, make sure to request for your preferred seating time and table size. And if you are traveling with a group you can have your reservations linked by Disney so that you are seated next to each other.
A little unknown secret and in my view the best part is that you can make a special order 24hrs ahead for whatever food dish you wanted; they will make it for you as long as they have the ingredients on board.
Oh boy…. the onboard activities are non-stop. There is always something happening every hour and in every place. Get your vitamin C and energy drinks ready… you will definitely need it.
We all know that Disney has entertainment deeply rooted in their soul and always provide the perfect blend of family fun for all ages; Disney cruise line ships are no different. A full day of organized programs for the kids at the Oceaneer Lab, or a variety of activities that are available throughout the day and night. Tweens and teens have tons of activities as well.
The daily main event is the production at the Musical stage which can be enjoyed for the whole family. For Disney Magic, they have Twice Charmed: An Original Twist on the Cinderella Story, Disney Dreams and Tangled the Musical. Wow… we were very impressed… I would say they were (just) Off-Broadway caliber.
The actors have day duties too so if you have a keen eye you might just spot one of them about the ship; our kids had fun talking to some we bumped into.
Our daytime favorite- Goofy’s pool is at least a place where everyone can enjoy.
The Special Onboard Character Greetings is always a hit with the kids, especially for little girls. The Princess Gathering, where they get to meet several of the characters all at one time. So, get tickets for these because space is limited. This is another reason to board the ship early.
Tip: As soon as you board the ship, go to Port Adventures Desk on Deck 5. Tickets for Special Onboard Character Greetings will be distributed between 1130-2pm. If you do not get a ticket, you will have to be extremely lucky to be there when there is almost no one is lined up meeting the characters.
Tips: The last day of Special Character Greetings will be the best option. There are normally shorter lines so you will get to spend longer time with the characters. My girl got to spend a lot of time with the Princesses.
There are Disney photographers EVERYWHERE; photo packages are fairly expensive so if you are even thinking of getting a few pictures then I recommend you go with the all-inclusive digital package and make use of every opportunity to get your photo taken.
The Pirate Night is like no other nights onboard the ship. The ship transforms into a haven for buccaneers. It’s a full blast family fun party on the deck. The show culminates with spectacular fireworks!!!
Tips: If your cruise features Pirate Night, bring your costume. Trust me, most avid Disney cruisers will dress up for this event.
If you decided on getting the digital photo package then grab the roaming photographers and get your picture taken (this goes for all events).
Anyways, enough of the kids’ stuff. Adults are not left hanging bored, Disney designed the ship in which the adults have an exclusive section to have some grown ups entertainment.
Other adult entertainment includes bars, lounges and comedy shows.
FYI: There are no casinos on board any Disney Cruiselines
WHEN TO GO
We sailed in the 2nd week of December and it was the perfect timing. We got a really good deal on the cruise fare and cruise ship was beautifully dressed with the holiday decor.
Finally to the burning questions: was it worth it and would I recommend it? Definitely a YES! on both counts. I can recommend taking a cruise and if it’s going to be a ‘once in your lifetime’ thing then you can’t go wrong with choosing Disney Cruise Lines.
As I told my friends, you gotta have the right mindset on taking a cruise. Know what to expect and your reasons for taking it. I’m pretty sure you will have fun!!! It is an experience in itself.
Are you thinking of cruising? Email me firstname.lastname@example.org to get $25 or $50 gift card (amount depending on room category)
Thank you for reading.
Have you been to a cruise? What is your favorite cruise line? Itinerary? Please share!!!