Choosing your Disney Cruise Line Stateroom

So you’ve made the plunge (no pun intended) to a new adventure of a Disney Cruise! Well congratulations. It’s one of my favorite Disney destinations for so many reasons. The relaxation, fun, level of service, adventure, food, and more! So now comes the most difficult part – choosing your stateroom! With so many options with so many reasons for choosing a room, it can be confusing! So let’s unravel this piece of travel! As always, if you have questions of what may be best for your family, pleas don’t hesitate to contact me!

FIRST: How many staterooms do you need? If it’s just one, your possibilities are fairly endless! If you need more than one and you’d like to have a connecting room, it may limit your choices based on how early you book your DCL Piratecruise.

SECOND: Your concerns with motion sickness. Do you or anyone in your traveling party have a concern Truly, I can get motion sick on a windy day on flat ground and I can’t do coasters, but I can enjoy a Disney cruise with some over the counter meds. Consult your doctor or medical professional on what may be best for you. I won’t speak of any specific meds – I’m not a medical professional myself! If you have concerns with motion sickness, staying toward the middle of the ship is best. You’ll read all sorts of guest feedback that higher decks are better or lower decks are better. I can’t say if one is “best” but being toward the middle of the ship where there is less movement in general, will save you any trouble. For longer voyages – Eastern and Western Caribbean for example, aft rooms can feel some vibration when the ship is going full speed (we only really noticed it while in the bars and lounges on our last sailing but we had a more forward stateroom). That being said, many guests with concern for motion sickness prefer aft over forward rooms.

THIRD: Get to know the ship and what each stateroom offers. Standard inside rooms are going to be the smallest. If you have a concern with enclosed spaces, you’ll want to skip inside staterooms. You’ll have no window or way to see the outside world. On the Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream, you’ll have a magical porthole that is attached to a camera so it looks like a window. It’s a sense of calming but not the same as having a big porthole window in your room.

Oceanview rooms give you that view to the outside – with either 1 large porthole or 2 small portholes, you’ll have a way to see where you’re coming and going! For some people it’s enough. Be careful of these rooms as  many of them are on the forward and aft of the ship (the ends) and feel more motion than you would if you were mid-ship! Also beware of “slanted” portholes for Oceanview rooms. These are more like skylights than the ability to look out a window!

Your next tier of rooms are verandah rooms (rooms with a balcony). These are for guests that need a private way to smell the fresh air! Many of these rooms are more mid-ship but you’ll find some forward and aft so they are not all created equal. Some lower cost verandah rooms have navigator’s verandahs which are smaller than average or verandahs with whitewall which means you wouldn’t have clear plexiglass type material that you can see the crashing waves while seated in the chairs on your verandah.

Confused yet? This is why I have my job because it is confusing!!

So now that you’ve figured out the type of stateroom you’d like, it’s time to look at which deck you’d like to be on! This varies by ship of course, but a few basics of every ship:

  • Health Center on deck 1
  • Main lobby/atrium on deck 3
  • Main dining locations on dimg_7085ecks 2-4 (depending on the ship)
  • Walt Disney Theater on decks 4-5 (balcony is on deck 5)
  • Buena Vista Theater (feature films) on deck 5
  • Oceaneer’s Club (kids club for ages 3-12) on deck 5
  • Spa & Pool Deck – last full deck (on the Magic and the Wonder – deck 9; on the Fantasy and the Dream – deck 11)

So now that you know where all of these things are, there are 2 questions – what locations are most important to you? It’s often fastest to travel by stairs to get to many locations – especially after a deck party, dinner service is ending, or a show is letting out. Elevators truly take forever! We’ve hiked up from deck 3 following dinner all the way up to deck 11 for the Pirates Deck Party and my quads were definitely burning. If you’re planning on spending most of your time in the pool, you won’t want a stateroom on deck 2 or if you think you’ll be planning on dropping your 5 year old at the Oceaneer’s Club on a daily basis, deck 10 is probably not ideal! The steps on all of the staircases are small, so 2-3 flights is very manageable but more than that starts to get tiring (especially with little kid legs in tow!)

A few things to be aware of as you consider all of these locations:

  • If you are on a specialty cruise or a cruise with a movie primEAR, you may have late night events in the Walt Disney Theater. Noise can easily carry into the staterooms in deck 5 and rooms directly above on deck 6. On standard sailings, most shows are done by 10 pm and live shows don’t typically cause problems (it’s more the vibration of movies that guests notice)
  • Rooms on 5 aft may have additional traffic with guests walking past to check kids in for Oceaneer’s Club and rooms right above the Oceaneer’s Club on deck 6 may have noise from open to close of the club (which has pretty wide hours – typically 9 am – 12 am daily).
  • Rooms below the pool deck may have some additional noise. Additionally, be aware of the buffet restaurant on the Dream & Fantasy on deck 11. For early risers, it’s a location to grab breakfast and coffee. I’ve heard resorts of guests on deck 10 aft hearing chairs being pushed and pulled around the deck above them that woke them from sleep.
  • I always love to start with deck 7 if availability allows on any of the 4 ships but choose what is available and what your budget allows!

That’s a brief overview of staterooms! Disney is known for their layout of rooms with families in mind so in most staterooms you’ll see split bathrooms – with the shower and a sink in one door and a separate compartment for the toilet and sink allowing 2 guests to get ready at the same time. Where space is a commodity, it’s a nice addition! These rooms are not available in accessible rooms or standard inside staterooms – so if this type of space is important, please know what you are booking.

What about guarantee (GTY, IGT, OGT, VGT rooms)?

What are these rooms and are they for you? These rooms will pop up when Disney feels like a sailing is “underbooked”. It offers a guaranteed minimum room type. You’ll see these guaranteed rooms listed as “guaranteed room with restrictions” and can be in the inside, oceanview, or verandah categories. You’ll be given a room guaranteed at minimum in the lowest tier of that room category and your room will be assigned as your sail date comes closer. This is a nice way to get your cruise at a slightly discounted rate but gives you little control over where your stateroom is, so there is some risk involved. Rooms may be available on party size as well – for example, these guaranteed rooms may pop up for a family of 3 but not a family of 4 based on the number of rooms left in the category. You may be assigned a higher category room – so you could book an oceanview room and find yourselves in a verandah room. Do not book a lower restricted fare in hopes of an upgrade. It’s not a common occurrence. Book in the category that best works for your family! I can’t stress that enough!

Some important notes about these restricted fares – full payment is required in full at the time of booking and is non-refundable and sail date and stateroom category changes are not permitted. You are truly at the mercy of Disney, but it may be a way for someone who has enjoyed a 4-5 night sailing and wants a 7 night sailing but just cannot afford the cost of the longer sailing!

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

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!

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Small Business Saturday – Why to choose an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner

Happy Small Business Saturday! I first want to say thank you to every single one of my guests who has supported me whether it’s allowing me to help plan your Disney World, Disneyland, or Disney Cruise adventure or referred a friend or family member to me. It has truly been a blessing to work with each of every one of my hundreds of guests whether you found me through a blog or friend, truly, THANK YOU! You have allowed me the opportunity to make magic, enjoy what I do for my job, and allow me to stay home with my amazing and beautiful daughter as well as let me “work” in my favorite places on earth.

I’d also like to make a quick thank you to all of you small business owners. I know very well how difficult things can be and why shopping local is so important! I try to do so whenever possible to pay it forward! Keep on keeping on! If it’s a rough time or a slow time during the holidays, it will bounce back. Keep the faith and stay positive! (this is typically my slowest time of year, so I get it).

Now the big question…why choose an authorized Disney vacation planner to help with your Disney World vacation? There are SO many reasons. I’ve touched on many of them before, but it’s a nice refresher and a reason to “shop small” even when shopping for travel!

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  1. It’s FREE! Yes. F-R-E-E, no strings attached FREE! The price you can find on Disney’s web site is the same that I can pull up for you through Disney’s Travel Agent portal. All travel agents have the exact same cost available to them – we are not allowed to discount or offer “signing” bonuses to you, so it’s all about what your agent can do for you! Yes, we still get paid but it’s after you return home from your trip, so it’s in my best interest as a small business owner to work my butt off to make sure I exceed your expectations in hopes that you’ll recommend me to family and friends. Make sure you choose an agency that is an “authorized Disney vacation planner”. We are held to a very specific set of rules and guidelines governed by Disney which is an additional sense of security for your trip!
  2. It’s a time saver. Do you want to wake up at 6 am eastern time to make dining reservations (or even search through the 80+ menus of the table service restaurants available to you?)? Do you want to research FastPass strategy and get an idea of all of the available attractions to make the best choice and then think about how to organize them in a way to go around the parks and then stay up until midnight to book them all? AND Do you want to constantly monitor Disney’s web site for promotional offers,
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    changes in park hours, or attraction refurbishments leading up to your trip? I’d make a wild guess that most of you will say no to all of these things. THIS is where Magical Vacations makes such a big difference. We are a full service DISNEY ONLY* agency which means we know our stuff and know how to make our guests stays a better overall experience. Did you know that many agencies don’t require their agents to book FastPasses for their guests? At my conference, our group was the only one I found that truly booked everything. Yes, it’s a heck of a lot more time consuming, but it’s a heck of a lot more successful as well! It gives you as the guest an opportunity to follow our daily itineraries to help save you time inside the parks!

  3. It’s less stressful. Going back to all of the points in #2, you have someone here to take away the stress and anxiety of planning a Disney trip. Most guests spend several thousand dollars on your trip. Unless you have someone “in the business”, you wouldn’t spend several thousand dollars on your house to make renovations without talking to someone, would you? So allow me the opportunity to help answer your questions, calm your fears, and allow the true magic of Disney come out!
  4. Knowledge. I consider myself a Disney expert, especially Disney World! I’m rarely stumped by a question related to Disney World and if I am (kudos) and I’ll find you the answer! Did you know that you need to get your flight info to Magical Express before your departure? Did you know that getting a FastPass for Anna & Elsa is usually only available at the 60 day mark prior to your arrival (sometimes gone within a few minutes of that important midnight time frame?) Do you know of special events going on during your stay? I’m here to help with all of this knowledge and imparting it in a way that is not overwhelming in little bits and bites culminating in a gift for your family shortly before your departure.
  5. The Minnie Box. This is our unique gift to you and is unique to our agency! It was created and trademarked by our Magical Vacations owner and gives you the excitement of opening your big yellow bow like a present right before you arrive for your vacation! As Disney went “paperless” with the introduction of MyMagic+, there’s nothing much you receive directly from Disney to get you excited. While every Disney vacation is exciting, the Minnie Box just adds a little something extra!!
  6. Being in the middle of the magic! Will you remember the work that Ellie minniewent into planning your vacation and things that went wrong if you spend hours upon hours pouring over blogs, online information, and doing independent research? Probably! What Disney is truly about is the MAGIC! Remembering your child’s first meeting with a character – beeping Minnie Mouse’s nose, giving a big hug to goofy! Having the best meal of your life in one of Disney’s signature dining locations, or seeing the tears in your mother’s eyes as she watches Wishes fireworks with you. It’s those magical moments that I do what I do and not for the money! I’ve gotten asked to return to my office job more than once and I won’t do it because I love the magic making!

*Little asterisk to Disney only – We are also authorized to book Universal Orlando as it is becoming a big player in the area market so we also have training and authorization to help with a little bit beyond Disney!

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

Interested in experiencing a Disney World (Disneyland or Disney Cruise) vacation in 2017?  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 with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. 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!)It’s also a worry free vacation opportunity. I’ll walk through through all of the steps to the process with a few little insider tips along the way! If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how! Thank you so much for supporting my small business!!

Two vacations in one: Disney World & Disney Cruise Line

landandsea

One if by land, two if by sea. Disney World and Disney Cruise Line can be two amazing vacations in one. If you’re already making the trip to the Orlando area, why not extend your trip an extra few nights and end your adventure with the magic and relaxation of a Disney Cruise?

Is this type of vacation for me?

It could be for ANY family, but in my experience, this “taste” of Disney Cruise Line is good for a few different types of groups (but is not limited t0):

  • Families that are “veterans” of Walt Disney World but don’t want to give up their favorite theme park IMG_7136experiences. They can relive some of their favorite pieces of their Disney World vacation and experience anything that is new in a few short nights and then move to the relaxation, pampering, and magic of a Disney cruise and keep all of the wonderful level of service Disney offers across all of their products
  • Families that have a bit of an objection to the Disney World experience. Those that aren’t sold on the theme park experience will more likely be interested to “endure” the parks to be able to enjoy the cruise experience!
  • Families that are a bit concerned on how someone will handle a cruise. A 3 or 4 night cruise is a great starter cruise option. It’s a great way to try out a cruise and see if everyone does well with the motion of the ship. For most people (including me) that can get motion sick on a windy day on dry land, it’s not an issue with a little bit of motion sickness medicine )!
  • Multi-generational families traveling together. It gives everyone a taste of their kind of magic. Grandma and grandpa may enjoy seeing the grandkids with the theme park experience but then get to enjoy the relaxing spa experience and adults only area of a Disney cruise ship (and that amazing benefit that cruising is exponentially less walking)

That’s of course just a small piece of what type of families may enjoy a little bit of each type of destination in one bigger trip!

What about cost? 

Won’t the cost be more if we do 2 different stays at 2 different destinations? Not necessarily! I liken a cruise ship to a deluxe resort at a Disney property. While your stateroom isn’t as large as those deluxe resort rooms, we didn’t find ourselves in them much except to shower, change, and the occasional morning room service. For families with younger kids, nap time is another great benefit to cruising because it’s an easy transition from playing and character meeting to nap so you’re saving money AND time which is priceless. I digress!

Let’s compare a 7 night Disney World deluxe resort experience to a 4 night Disney World deluxe resort experience + a 3 night Disney cruise. This example uses Beach Club as the resort of choice – middle of the road in terms of pricing for a Disney deluxe resort property, favored by many families as well with some convenience to the theme parks with quick access to Epcot and Hollywood Studios and a great pool experience. Travel dates used were the last week of February – avoiding the “peak” travel times that increase pricing of both Disney World resorts and Disney Cruise Line. **Please do not use this pricing as a “quote” for your trip – if you are interested in more information please contact me. This is used as a real time example as the dollars and cents to compare different types of vacation packages**

A 7 night stay at Disney’s Beach Club resort with 6 days of park hopper tickets, Disney dining plan, and Memory Maker for 2 adults and 2 children age 10 and 7 comes to a grand total of $7424.51

A 4 night stay at Disney’s Beach Club resort with 3 days of park hopper tickets, Disney dining plan and Memory maker for 2 adults and 2 children age 10 and 7 comes to a grand total of $4909.38 coupled with a 3 night Bahamian cruise on the Disney Dream in an oceanview room for that same family is$2563.60 for a grand total for both vacations of $7472.98. Pretty darn close to the same package for the same number of dates for this family who gets TWO vacations in one!

The best part about a Disney Cruise is all of the magic that is inside of the experience and everything that is included…

  • The amazing Disney level of service
  • Access to Castaway Cay – Disney’s Private Island
  • Character meet and greets
  • Dining – breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, soft drinks and ice cream virtually anytime you want it. Room service included *a few items not included from the room service menu
  • World class entertainment – nightly live shows
  • Movies and movie premieres
  • Character meet and greets – unique ways to meet characters, characters that are hard to meet, unique attire for characters, and more! We LOVE the time and experience of all of our meet and greets.
  • Kids clubs included with your cruise fare! For families with children ages 3+, the kids clubs are img_7085available for them to make new friends, explore areas on their own, play games, and have their own time and space. Even for kids on their own, it will likely be their favorite place! Our daughter could have easily stayed there all day every day outside of meeting characters. With characters and movies and interactive experiences, she was in absolute heaven! And for adults it’s heaven because they have time on their own to explore adults only areas including pools, lounges, and nightclubs!
  • For adults, you have your own space that is child free which is a priceless moment or two for any mom or dad on vacation!
  • On board pools and water fun no matter what ship you choose
  • Magic around every corner

I can’t tell you how much we truly enjoyed our Disney Cruise Line experiences and I’m mad at myself it took us so long explore one. My hesitation was not price or the qualify of experience but the motion on the ship. While there were some feelings of rocking and motion it truly was not an issue I couldn’t handle with a bit of motion sickness medication. In talking with other guests on the ship on our first sailing, they mentioned that it was a bit rockier ride than their previous sailings and I would agree! That being said, subsequent adventures have been smoother sailing!!

Ready to get started planning your two in one vacation? Please contact me at any time for a free quote. The benefits to using an agent that is part of authorized Disney vacation planner agency include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. 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!) It’s also a worry free vacation opportunity. I’ll walk through through all of the steps to the process with a few little insider tips along the way! If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!

 

“You’re going to Disney AGAIN?”

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It’s a question I receive a lot. Melissa, you’re really going to Disney again? Don’t you get tired of it? Isn’t it all the same? I have clients that actually give me a run for my money in number of trips in a year so I’ll answer for all of us instead of just answering for what I do.

YES!!!!! We are going again. And sorry I’m not sorry about it! It’s my magical home away from home. It’s a place where I don’t have to worry about the troubles of the world or my life at the time. It’s a place where magic happens around you every single day (if you are in the positive mind frame to look for it). It’s a place that has given me some of the best memories of my life and given me strong ties to family and friends! It’s where I’ve made new friendships and a place I can bond with people like ME. The generally bright, shiny, happy-go-lucky, Disney lover. It’s a place where dreams come true.

Everyone has their own memories of Disney and what is important to them. Listening to the music of Main Street Electrical parade for one last time reminds me of that first time we watched as a family. A sweet family allowed my then 2 year old daughter to sit on the curb while they stood behind their kiddos. She feverishly waived and blew kisses to every single character that walked by (even those who she had never seen before). It was absolute joy and delight. That smell of walking into Wilderness Lodge will always make me feel like it’s “home”. For others it’s Beach Club that and that flowery aroma. For others, it’s that taste of Dole Whip or a special dinner you do on your first night.

The best part about our Disney adventures is that no two are the same. There is always something JUST a little bit different about each adventure and a special moment about each adventure. Some of it is the anticipation and excitement of Disney and knowing I have something to look forward to. I definitely feel like something is “missing” when there’s not something in the future.

“But Melissa, you have perks by being an agent.” Well, yes this is true but doesn’t everyone have some sort of job perk or benefit that they get to take advantage of? Yes, I have some nice benefits but I’ve earned them by working hard and staying on top of everything that is up and coming with Disney. I use our trips to continue my knowledge and pass it forward to other guests. So I work on vacation, I wake up at 5 am to book dining and then have to stay away until 6 to do FastPasses for someone else. I work weekends and late night and my house is a mess because clients come first. But all of that is 10000% worth it when it comes to being able to say, we’re going to Disney World! or Disneyland or a Disney Cruise or even Universal Orlando! I love it all. I love what I do and I L-O-V-E Disney!

So don’t let anyone tell you that you’ve done Disney too many times because there’s never a too many for me!

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

If you’re ready for your next adventure, let’s start planning! Disney World, Disney Cruise Line, Disneyland, and Universal all have rates through the end of 2017, so we can start the magic now! 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 with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. 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!)It’s also a worry free cruise opportunity. I’ll walk through through all of the steps to the process with a few little insider tips along the way! If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!

Friday Five: New this Fall on the Disney Wonder

I “wonder” what will be exciting for this fall??  Ha!  Ha!  Well, this fall, new incredible experiences for the entire family are coming to the Disney Wonder.  Here are just a few new things to look for:

Marvel Super Hero Academy
Just on the Disney Wonder you will find the Marvel universe come to life in the Marvel Super Hero Academy. This is where your little ones can train to develop the adventurous and always brave heroes that are inside each of them. This new addition to the Oceaneer Club will offer even more engaging and interactive activities for your children.  One is an integral role with mentors being some of Marvel’s greatest heroes in person and via a large digital display that is interactive (I love technology!).  Lessons learned will be the value of teamwork, problem solving and great bravery through programs just for them!  For example one mission has Spider-Man will appear in person to help children find their “spider senses” by working on their skills of reflex, sharp minds and spidey speed. As they work on their web-slinging, they get to see themselves in the headlines of the “Daily Bugle.” It’s pretty cool!!  Throughout the academy, you will find displays of Captain America’s World War II shield, Iron Man’s helmet, Spider-Man’s web shooters and Black Widow’s gauntlets.

More Oceaneer Club Fun
Even more new play spaces and more character interactions than ever before can be found on the Wonder for those ages 3-12.  Frozen Adventures with Olaf leading games and sing-a-longs on a digital screen and others can help plan a visit for the royal sisters, Anna and Elsa.  In the Club Disney Junior they can find their favorite Disney Junior characters, games, storytelling, and even help Doc McStuffins diagnose and treat the stuffed animals when she pays a visit to the club.  And then in Andy’s Room (where kids feel toy-sized in the multi-level play space themed from the “Toy Story” movies) can have a hoedown with Woody and Jesse in person to join in a scavenger hunt.  I love how the kids can not only meet their favorite movie characters but also get to “play”, dance, sing and more with them!

New Nursery Theme
A new “it’s a small world” nursery will make the your youngest light up in delight with a new whimsical world inspired by the style of the legendary theme park attraction.  Who doesn’t love that ride??!!

Tiana’s Place Restaurant
Another Disney Wonder exclusive, Tiana’s Place restaurant will transport you to an era of jazz entertainment, southern charm, and street parties like no other. The menu is influenced by southern-style cuisine that is good for your body and soul – straight from the bayou, and showing you that “dreams and dishes come true.”  Live music will set the tone of the French Quarter and you’ll be tapping your toes all night!

English Pub Cheers
The adult district includes a brand-new pub that invites you to take a jaunt to an authentic English tavern just like in bloody ole England! Along with the English dark woods, plush leather furniture and brass accents, you are certain to feel the friendly neighborhood pub experience when you walk through the door! An incredible selection of British and specialty beers by pint (or cocktails if you’d rather), also help to create that “perfect pub atmosphere.”  I heard there will even be a pub exclusive brew for you to try!

Lastly, of course Disney does it right and has so much more to offer. Here are a few other enhancements that I will shortly list if you are interested:

After Hours – a new adult district featuring two new additions
An updated Senses Spa & Salon and a new Chill Teen Spa
Animator’s Palate main dining restaurant updated to introduce the popular “Drawn to Magic” and “Animation Magic” dinner shows
D Lounge enhanced for family games and entertainment
Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique providing magical makeovers for children
Edge club for tweens ages 11-13
Cabanas casual dining location
Palo -the specialty restaurant has had a makeover with Venetian-inspired décor
A brand-new Walt Disney Theatre production
The ship’s upper decks also will be redesigned for a few new waterfilled additions

MinnieBox

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

The Disney Wonder will show off all these new enhancements starting November 10, from Galveston, Texas.  The Disney Wonder will continue to sail from Galveston to the Bahamas and Caribbean, until the ship sails to San Juan, Puerto Rico on January 20, 2017. So contact us to see about your next Disney adventure aboard the Disney Wonder!!  The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation and help navigating all of the things to do and planning excursions for your cruise!  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!) It’s also a worry free cruise opportunity. I’ll walk through through all of the steps to the process with a few little insider tips along the way! If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!

Streamlining your Disney Cruise Line Experience

No matter how long your cruise experience may be, streamlining the process to truly maximize your time which means, starting before your departure. Here is how my family streamlines our cruise line experience and what we’ve learned in our previous experiences.

Pack smart. Don’t worry about shoving too much into a single suitcase (an asterisk to this statement if you have to pay for your baggage with your preferred airline). I prefer to use cubes bring hangers for anything that will eventually be hung in the closets. So how do we pack? Stock up on inexpensive wire hangers prior to your trip. I hang ALL of my clothes on hangers and outfit them together so the morning is as simple as pulling the next hanger out of the closet and I’ve got everything I need to get ready in the morning.

My cubes have undergarments (my husband’s also has undershirts for his dress clothes for dinner). Those get pulled right out of the suitcase and into one of the drawers.

I have separate cubes/containers for all toiletries – one that goes inside the bathroom and one that stays outside of the bathroom (sunscreen, aloe, lotion, etc.)

For my daughter’s clothes, all of the clothes she needs for the day is packed in zip lock bags and labeled with the day. Before I pack the bags, I pull the schedule from the DCL web site so I have her formal dress, semi-formal, pirate night, etc. noted on the correct bag. These bags are saved in the suitcase between trips and I use labels to adjust the date. This also makes things easier if my husband is getting my daughter dressed in the morning. Then he doesn’t have to worry about matching something or grabbing something that I had slated for another day.

Be aware that if you are scheduled for the first dinner seating, you may not see your luggage before it’s time to eat, so bring any attire you may want for dinner on the ship with you. Our luggage did arrive in plenty of time for me to unpack, but I never want to run the risk of not having the clothes I want for dinner!

Use your luggage tags. Your Disney Cruise Line documents come with two luggage tags for each member of your party. This is used for any luggage you don’t want to carry on the ship with you. There are different instructions depending on how you are arriving at the port. 

  • Flight arriving same day as your cruise departure: Put luggage tags on prior to checking luggage and the bags will be brought directly to the ship – skipping baggage claim.
  • Staying at the MCO Hyatt (Port Canaveral only): Notify the front desk at the time of check in that you will be departing on a Disney cruise the following day and they will give you instructions on what to do with your luggage. It’s magically taken away from your room, so very easy! Make sure your luggage tags are on your luggage they are taking.
  • Staying at a Walt Disney World resort the night before: The night before your cruise, you will be given instructions on when to have your luggage ready and when the bus will depart. Typically luggage is picked up early – around 8 or 8:30 am from your stateroom but your departure is often around or after 12 pm. Keep this in mind as you use this option.
  • Arriving in your own vehicle or via car service: This is actually a very common option. If you arrive by this method and have your luggage with you, ensure that it is tagged prior to arriving in port. Once you arrive, porters are available to help “guide” your luggage in the right direction. Don’t be afraid to use their help. A few dollars goes a long way and it’s less time you have to drag your luggage around before dropping it for delivery. If you’ve got kids, this is worth it’s weight in gold!

Unpack Everything. We’re generally unpackers when we travel but I realize many people are not. On a cruise, you don’t really have the option to do anything but unpack as there is no space to leave open suitcases unless you are just 2 adults traveling and you can leave your suitcase open on the bed. Your space is truly best used by unpacking your luggage and storing it under the bed. The queen bed in your room is meant to have luggage storage and you can easily fit 4-6 suitcases depending on the size of your suitcases and your level of Tetris skill!

What to bring onboard. Your carry on luggage must fit through a x-ray scanner so think the same size as a carry on in an airport and is subject to search for items that cannot be brought on board. It does not follow the same food and drink rules as the airport so please make sure you know what can and can’t be brought through each type of location and Disney’s rules on alcoholic beverages and other drinks. 

Plan on packing clothes for dinner if you have the first seating (just in case as mentioned above), anything of value like cameras, computers or other electric devices. As you pack, know that your room will not be available to you until approximately 1:30 pm, so anything you bring on board you’ll need to carry with you until that time. I get a lot of questions about swimming and using the pool deck on the day of embarkation. All of the public spaces are available to you, but consider what you’re bringing on board and who is going to watch all of your valuable items while you’re in the pool or waiting for a water slide (name varies by ship so I won’t make a blanket statement on which one). While we prefer an early boarding time to get on the ship more quickly to beat the rush of Disney resort buses, we often take time to take photos and eat lunch prior to our room being ready. Once our room is ready, we do hop into our swimsuits and head to the pool deck.

Prepping for departure. This is the saddest time of our trip. 1-2 nights prior to your departure, you’ll receive instructions in your stateroom of where and when to put your luggage prior to your disembarkation. You will also receive luggage tags to put on your bags so you may find them before you clear customs.

Begin packing your bags BEFORE dinner that evening and only leave out items you will need for the following day. You may choose to carry your own bags off the ship (or maybe you leave one suitcase behind to carry off the ship for your toiletries, PJs from the night before, etc.) We brought a carry on bag for just this purpose and left all of the big suitcases with the crew
members to take for us.

Breakfast is EARLY! Coming from central time zone and not being an early riser to begin with, the 6:45 am departure breakfast was not thrilling. If you have a first dinner seating, you’ll also have an earlier breakfast. Later breakfast seating will have an 8:30 am breakfast seating.  If that’s too early for you, go to your chip’s buffet location and stock up on items you can eat in your room before your departure allowing you sleep in a bit more. Your beverage cooler in your room will hold milk overnight if you are ok with cereal in the morning. The paid coffee bar is also available the morning you disembark if you need a little caffeine to send you off the ship!

Disembarking the ship. After breakfast, it’s time to leave the ship, likely your new home away from home. There will be announcements when the ship has cleared and you’ll see guests with their luggage waiting to be the first guests off the ship. These guests likely have earlier flights so they are hand carrying their luggage. Once the ship is cleared, you may disembark at any time. Each guest must have his or her key to the world card with them to be allowed off the ship and then it’s time to find your luggage and clear customs.

You should have already filled out your customs forms the night prior (it will be left in your room with your luggage tags). Each guest will also need their form of identification – the same ones you needed to board the ship. Have these handy as you get ready to disembark the ship.

If you are disembarking after the first breakfast seating, you’ll see a long, snaking line throughout one of the least exciting rooms you’ll ever seen with tables full of luggage (no photos are allowed in this area similar to TSA screening areas in airports). You will go down an escalator and be greeted by several porters who will ask if you’d like some help with your luggage. Again, if you have more than one piece of luggage per person and/or have children in tow, this is well worth the few dollars in tips for their assistance. We got in the long line while our porter found our luggage, loaded it onto his trolley and worked with us through the entire line and all the way out to the rental car pick up location. Something we would have never been able to do on our own with 4 bags with wheels plus a 3 year old who was not interested in a line that long. Be prepared to see people just jump in the middle of the line after they grab their bags. Yes it’s rude and frustrating, but truly it’s not going to add a lot of extra time so don’t stress over it!

Once you clear customs, you’ll be on your way outside and done with your cruise adventure. Disney crew members are available to help answer questions on transportation to get you to your final destinations. If you are renting a car or taking Disney transportation, the doors you exit will lead you right to those queues.

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

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!