Time for a little game of Disney Cruise Line Factor or Fiction where I’m going to give my personal opinions on some common info on the internet about Disney cruises (or cruising in general).
Cruising is only for families with kids. FICTION!!! This one is kind of silly to me. Yes, it’s got “Disney” and characters are plentiful, but there are so many things to do on Disney cruise ships from dance clubs, bars, fine dining, a spa, adults only pools and an adults only area of Castaway Cay (Disney’s private island). Adults will not run out of things to do and without kids you’ll save on dough, have more space inside your stateroom, and have no limitations on what you can do both on and off the ship!
Cruising with a child who is not potty trained is more difficult. FACT!!! We waited until our daughter was fully potty trained before booking our first cruise for several reasons. The two pools on the pool deck are only available for children who are fully potty trained (no swim diapers allowed). There is a splash play area for kids who are not potty trained which leaves less ways to cool off on a ship. Additionally, you won’t have access to the Oceaneer’s Club or Lab for kids age 3+ who are fully potty trained. Fully potty trained means that your child can use a bathroom without any assistance and are capable of washing their hands by themselves as well before returning to play (for mommies of newly potty trained kiddos like us, we did made sure our daughter didn’t have a ton to drink before we brought her into the kids club and checked on her every 60-75 minutes for a quick potty break outside of the club and then checked her back in).
Your kids will LOVE the Oceaneer’s Club/Lab. FACT!!! We have an absolute social butterfly for a daughter so we knew this to be true before we even arrived with her. We set her up for success by going in with her and allowing her to explore during the embarkation day open house so she could play with us in eye shot. The first time dropping off, she was upset that I couldn’t go with her but as soon as she saw her familiar fun surroundings, she was off. There are children who may be only children or those that are more attached to parents that would not go so easily, but the vast majority of kids love the kids clubs and parents have a hard time dragging them out.
First timers need to leave the ship for Port Adventures to get the full experience. FICTION!!! As a family with a 3 year old who loves to run and have open spaces, we decided not to leave the ship outside of Castaway Cay and for us it was the best decision ever. Our trip was built on relaxation and swimming so as a large majority of guests leave the ship for at least one port adventure when the ship docks, we found the ship fairly empty. Wide open spaces to swim in both pools, plenty of open seating at breakfast and lunch, and the ability to experience the AquaDuck with little or no line! If you find it stressful to plan for port adventures or are concerned about keeping track of time, skip it! (as I believe I’ve mentioned before, there are two types of cruisers – those that the ship IS their destination and those that the ship is the vessel that takes them TO their destination).
Disney cruises are an “all inclusive” type vacation. FACT(ish). This one depends on what your plans are for the ship – going back to what type of cruiser you are, but for us, outside of a few drinks, our cruise was all inclusive and we didn’t feel like we were being “cheap” about our adventure at all. We had 3 meals per day, time to swim, watched movies that are still in theaters, and had an amazing family adventure. This adventure will feel more all inclusive if you pre-pay for gratuity vs. waiting until you get to the ship and having it charged to your room.
You won’t wait for character meet and greets like you do in Disney theme parks. FICTION(ish). We waited in a few true “lines” during our adventure – namely Captain Mickey on Formal Night and the first day Tinker Bell made her appearance. A few helpful hints – if you have a longer sailing (7+ nights), it’s easier to skip the first few times a character is available as we found the lines MUCH longer than it was later in the sailing. For characters that have limited availability like princesses or Captain Jack Sparrow, the lines were always really long. If there is a specific character that is extremely important, plan on lining up 10-15 minutes before the window opens. It’s also a great way to meet princesses or characters with you (or your kid) in specific clothing. In a theme park, you’d have to bring lots of clothing changes. On a cruise, you just take a quick trip back to your stateroom before the next meeting.
A character will stay for meet and greets until the last person is done. FACT!!! Your Personal Navigator will have a list of characters, a location, and a time increment on it (either 15 or 30 minutes). This time limit references the amount of time after the start of the meet and greet that guests have to get into the queue. For example – Daisy is meeting in Preludes, Deck 3 at 3:30 pm for 15 minutes. That means you would have until 3:30 pm to get in line before the cutoff happens. A crew member is available to help answer question if you’re looking to jump in a line or waiting for the character coming up next. Use them as a great resource to help answer questions (or if you are missing a cutoff when the next time you can see a character will be). You can also ask about the attire a character will be wearing – Minnie Mouse had at least 5 different outfits. Each character has formal wear, her “Caribbean” outfit, her Sailor dress, a Princess dress with hat, and another attire change for Pirate Night. If you have something specific you want!
You’ll need a LOT of clothes. FICTION!!! We brought a ton of clothes – daily attire for each day and separate outfits for each night for dinner as well as attire for formal night, semi-formal night, and Pirate night. Having attire for each dinner was nice, but I could have easily re-used skirts and capris from dinner and just changed tops to conserve space. We also each brought “day clothes” for walking around the ship and we found ourselves not in them much – more bathing suits and swim cover ups during the day so a lot of those clothes went unworn. If you have space, feel free to bring the clothes, but it’s not necessary in my book!
Fireworks on the ship don’t match up to those in theme parks. FACT!!! Think about it, you’re shooting fireworks off in the middle of the ocean from a moving ship. Not an easy feat, so what you do see is really miraculous! Something to keep in mind as you trip to compare it to your favorite theme park fireworks show or even 4th of July spectacular.
Rooms in the forward (front) part of the ship feel the worst motion when at sea. FICTION!!! We found this to be complete fiction. Our room was forward from the forward bank of elevators and I was really nervous that I would end up sea sick or feeling too much motion during our voyage. We found the most motion in the aft of the ship – and more vibration than motion. We were told by a crew member that the vibration typically happens when the ship is moving at full speed. The only other motion we noticed was when the ship was positioning for the fireworks show on pirate night (a lot of people were looking pretty green that night). I didn’t notice any sort of motion in the far forward public areas as well such as the adult pool or spa.
It takes at least a day to get your bearings around a ship you’ve never been on. FACT!!! No amount of research will be able to help you navigate a cruise ship that you’ve never been on before. We found ourselves getting lost a few times getting to our stateroom. Due to it’s location there were a few dead ends. It also took about 24 hours for both my husband and I to really get our sea legs to feel completely comfortable on the ship and the idea that we were on a moving vessel. For regular cruisers, this concept is probably a little easier, but something to consider for a first adventure. This is definitely something to keep in mind for a 3 or 4 night cruise. While this experience is amazing and a great way to test the waters (no pun intended), you’ll just be really getting excited about your experience and it’s time to say goodbye. As a mom who works hard for her money, I get that voyages longer than 4 nights can get pricey very quickly so if given the choice of a 3 night cruise or nothing, I’d choose a 3 night cruise!
Your rotational dining staff and stateroom attendant will become like a member of your family. FACT!!! This piece of the puzzle was unexpected for me. It’s amazing how much all of your assigned crew members get to know you and your preferences from preferred drinks to what food your family likes to remember your names outside of the dining setting, it’s pretty amazing! Your stateroom attendant came to our rescue a few times when my clumsy 3 year old gave herself two big bonks on the head at the ready with ice and anything else she might need to make her feel better.
I hope this makes you comfortable and excited about your Disney Cruise! The process of booking a Disney cruise can be VERY confusing, so let a professional help you! Please contact me at any time for a free quote.The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation! Plus you won’t have to watch for any possible rate drops, research everything there is to offer, or keep track of milestone dates for any “extras” you want during your voyage. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!) If you already have your cruise planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!