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!

Advertisements

Which Disney destination to take my child under age 3

Disney Cruise or Disney World for kids under age 3

I often get questions about what the most appropriate age is to take your child to any Disney destination. I think any age is a great time to take your child to Disney! Well diapers aren’t extremely easy (especially to pack), neither is taking a recently potty trained child. So what’s the best destination to take your under three-year-old child? Let’s look at the pros and cons of each one.

Disney World

Pros:

  • Any child under age 3 is free for park tickets and dining plan. They also do not count toward the room maximum.
  • It is a great way to introduce your child to their favorite Disney characters
  • No worries about seasickness
  • Rider swap option on many major attractions will still allow adults have fun
  • Ample food options throughout property
  • No age restrictions on any pools or swimming opportunities

Cons:

  • Only the more expensive accommodations makes taking a break outside of the parks a convenient option
  • Parks are very large and pushing a stroller might be tiring
  • Lots of noise

Disney Cruises

Pros:

  • Leans itself to an easy opportunity for frequent breaks
  • No issues getting back to your room for naptime
  • Lots of character interaction with shorter lines

Cons:

  • Regardless of age Disney Cruise Line requires you to pay for children in your room
  • Even children under three count towards the room maximum
  • Kids activity center start at age 3 (under age 3 is a fee-for-service “nursery” which isn’t cheap)
  • Some pools are off-limits for kids that aren’t potty trained

The final decision of where to take your child on their first Disney trip is up to you, my strong recommendation is that Disney World is a first choice until they turn at least three years old. You’ll get more for your money and they will enjoy the Disney Cruise Line experience more as they are able to enter the kids activity centers as well as some of the more elaborate pool adventures for kids that are three and older. While both locations have a fee-for-service/babysitting options for children under three, Disney Cruise Line offers the kids activity centers which are included in your cost for your sailing while Disney World child services are paid regardless of their age.

If your child is over age 3 and you’re looking for a destination think about how active you’d like to be during your time. Disney World is less of a “vacation” then lots of activities, while Disney Cruise line is more relaxing. You can enjoy adult only activities,  adult only dining, and the kids can meet new friends all well and enjoying the magic of Disney in a family friendly environment. You also have to decide how long you’d like to stay. Cruises are a bit better for shorter trips. Disney World is best for a longer period of time where you can take your time a bit and enjoy everything the parks have to offer!

I highly recommend both opportunities as your family continues to age and grow. You’ll notice some major differences between the two, but both are amazing and unforgettable experiences!

Ready to get started planning your 2015 Disney World vacation? 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!

Disney Cruise Line’s Piece of Paradise: Castaway Cay

IMG_0689

One of our favorite things about sailing the high seas on a Disney Cruise is Castaway Cay – your very own private island.  It is the ultimate destination for the Caribbean and Bahamas cruises.  I thought I would list just a few of the “need to knows” about the tropical paradise…

This exclusive 1,000 acre piece of tropical paradise is for Disney guests only.  Once you walk off the boat you are on the dock built just for you with easy access to where your beach towels are handed to you. (I love how the boat is docked right there for easy access to come and go as you please throughout the day.)  You then jump on a tram to the many different points throughout the island retreat. If you want to walk to the closest beach, this is only about a 15 minute stroll.  You might even meet Captain Jack Sparrow or Mickey and Minnie on this route for photos.

We Love Minnie!

We Love Minnie!

You can grab your complimentary beach chair and umbrella on Castaway Family Beach to splash in the water, ride bikes out to the look-out point or take a nap in a glorious hammock.  Disney always designs many unique activities for all ages  There are the kid’s club (Scuttle’s Cove) and the teen’s club (Hide Out) or the Serenity Bay Beach just for adults. There are two water play areas: Pelican Plunge and Spring-a-Leak.

The island has your choice of water toys and equipment for any water sport enthusiast!  Snorkel-gear, paddle boats, sail boats, kayaks, water cycles, and floats are all available for rent.  Fun excursions that Disney offer are such as fishing, sting-ray feeding (which was great!), para-sailing, and even the personal water-craft ski adventures around the island and through the fantastic mangroves!

Paddle Boats

Paddle Boats

The island has two BBQ all-you-can-eat buffet dining options: Cookies and Cookies II where there is no shortage of food!  It is a covered outside area with picnic tables and very informal but fitting for the beach.  The soft serve ice cream was my kids favorite and we also love the street dance party after lunch with many different characters.  There are bars for the 21+ crowd and private cabana rentals if you wish to truly pamper yourself for the day.

Lastly, Disney offers shops to cater to your every need whether it be sun screen, sand toys, or your favorite Castaway Cay souvenir.  If you would like to send a postcard back to the inland for your not-so-luck family and friends then you can at their very own post office with special Castaway Cay stamps – but cash is needed for these.  All other costs can be charged on your Key to the World card so sit back and enjoy!

The Dream in the distance

The Dream in the distance

Disney definitely knows how to do things right and they do not skimp of this perfect piece of paradise!  It is most certainly first-class entertainment, atmosphere, recreation, food, and great forever-memories as only they know how to do. So come relax on the beautiful white sand beaches and clear turquoise waters. It is very safe to say that the island has Disney’s magic and fun for all!

Disney’s Special Cruise Offer until February 15, 2105:  if you book now through February 15th for any 2015 Disney cruise then pay only half of the deposit on the day you book.  The remainder of the deposit will not be due until your final payment.  Don’t let this great deal sail you by so contact us today!  Sailings are filling fast for 2015!

Castaway Cay

Castaway Cay from our verandah

Pelican Plunge

Pelican Plunge

Hammock View

Hammock View

The Dream in the distance

The Dream in the distance

The Look Out Point by bikes ride

The Look Out Point by bike

Heading back to the Dream after a fun-filled day of paradise. See ya real soon!

Heading back to the Dream after a fun-filled day of paradise. See ya real soon!

Ready to get started planning your 2016 or 2017 Disney cruise? 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 time and frustrating trying to research the information yourself! 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 vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!