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!

Two vacations in one: Disney World & Disney Cruise Line

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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!

 

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!

Disney Cruise Line: Fact or Fiction

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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). IMG_7136

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!IMG_7139

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.

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!

 

Packing for your Disney Cruise

Throw your Disney World packing list out the window, because Disney Cruise Line packing is a lot different. The style of vacation is a lot different as well! There are two types of cruising families – the first: the ship is the vessel that takes them to the unique destinations they want to explore and the second: the ship is the destination and an all inclusive vacation. My family falls into category number 2.

If your family is the first type of family, your Disney World packing list may be helpful – comfortable clothes, closed toed shoes, extra socks, etc.  For my family it’s all about the experience, so we pack for every experience – formal, semi formal, pirate night, cruise casual, and more! THREE suitcases later, we’re ready to go! So what’s in our suitcases? Let’s take a look!

Clothes, clothes, and more clothes. A complaint I get from many first time cruisers is that there’s not enough space in their bags for all of the special nights. On longer cruises you’ll have a formal night, semi formal night, some sort of themed night (Frozen, Pirates, etc.) plus “cruise casual”. Disney’s policy on attire at rotational dining is pretty lax. We find that we are more comfortable in skirts and dresses (my husband in khakis and a polo) than in more casual clothing because of our restaurant surroundings. They are just a little bit nicer feeling (I liken them to California Grill or even Cinderella’s Table in Disney World). With extra attire comes extra shoes, jewelry for me, and some cardigans to go over the dresses because those restaurants are CHILLY!

Swimming anyone? For us, our cruise is our destination. We don’t spend a lot of time on port adventures (mainly because I don’t want to chase around a 3 year old OR carry her around when she’s done walking) so outside of Castaway we are on the ship enjoying our experience. That means swimming and relaxing. I, for one, do not like getting into a wet swimsuit, so we bring 2-3 suits per person. Thankfully they don’t take up a lot of space. We leave our beach towels at home. There are plenty of towels on the ship (you can ask your room attendant for more if you need them). On your Castaway Cay day, you are given medium sized towels to bring with you. Take as many as you can comfortably carry as you’ll likely be in and out of the water. We also pack water shoes. Safer for a 3 year old to have a little bit of “grip” on the pool deck and it saves our feet from the hot sand and walking paths at Castaway.

Speaking of carrying... Two more important things – BAGS! On the day of embarkation, I have a bag that rolls/with wheels. We try to have an early check in time to take in an early lunch and get a little swim time in before the Disney resort buses get to port. Staterooms are not available until 1:30 pm, so anything you carry on board, you’ll have to carry. Camera, computer, and other misc. things get heavy in a backpack, so I like an option with wheels. Additionally, if you want to carry on wine or beer (according to Disney’s alcohol policies), it needs to be in carry on luggage and not anything checked.

I also need a bag to carry things around Castaway. An extra change of clothes, a cheap watch to put around the handle, and a place to stash sunscreen. You are welcome to head back to the ship if you want a change of clothes, but that’s a time consuming effort! Since we aren’t getting off the ship at all of the ports, we get our money’s worth out of Castaway and spend the entire day there. A large beach bag is perfect for everything we need!

Hydration, hydration, hydration! We also bring a water bottle per person to stay hydrated on the ship as well as Castaway Cay. Disney has refill stations for both water, soft drinks, and select other options are available. The refill cups available at each station is small. We use the cups to put water and ice in and then transfer it to our bottles. It’s also nice to have a full bottle of water before going to bed so we don’t have to run up several flights of stairs or hit the elevators late at night since the refill station is on the pool deck.

What not to bring. There are a handful of things that you should NOT bring onto your Disney cruise. The obvious things like weapons (or toys that look like weapons) but there are some less obvious things:

  • Hard liquor – Disney’s alcohol policy only allows guests to carry on 2 bottles of wine/6 beers per person. No hard alcohol can be carried on. It will be held and returned to you after you disembark.
  • Extension cords/power strips. There are some specific requirements for power in each stateroom and having extension cords or power strips can overload the circuits. If you need an extension cord for medical reasons (example: CPAP machine), an approved version can be rented upon boarding the ship. For those of us with lots of electronic devices, consider a multi-USB device charger. We purchased a 4 USB charger and it works well for our using. We try to charge the iPad during the day and phones at night because the iPad takes more power to charge than phones do.
  • Homemade or opened food. There is plenty of food on the ship and chefs can accommodate dietary restrictions. Disney does allow pre-packaged and unopened items brought onto the ship if you do need to bring something.
  • Irons or bottle warmers (similar to the extension cord/power strip policy). If you need either, guest services can help.
  • Recreational pool equipment – pool noodles, large tubes, etc. Floatation devices for safety are allowed (such as wings and floatation devices sewed into swim suits).
  • Over the door hanging devices – this can scratch/damage doors and Disney no longer allows them.
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!

 

Friday Five: 5 Reasons a Disney Cruise is the best family vacation!

 

Earlier this week, Disney released cruise details for summer 2017 sailings. With some new itineraries and the return of double Castaway Cay sailings, it’s sure to be an exciting year! BUT you don’t have to wait until 2017 to sail aboard a Disney Cruise! There is still availability for this summer, fall, or winter if the excitement is brewing and you just can’t wait (or what I like to call Melissa-itis) as the 3rd most impatient person in the history of the world (just ask my husband).

So why do I think Disney cruises are the best family vacations? There are too many reasons to count, but I’ll narrow it down to my top 5:

  1. Disney cruises were created with families in mind. Of course you understand this idea – Disney = family but Disney took all of the comments made by families who have traveled on other cruise lines and thought about how to plan spaces with families in mind so you’ll see split baths – meaning 2 guests can get ready at the same time – in MOST staterooms, family activities for all age groups – young children, tweens and teens, and adults only experiences, and staterooms designed to help make everyone comfortable – rooms that sleep up to 5 (so families don’t have to get split in many situations), what I would consider a significant amount of storage, and generally larger staterooms than other cruise lines. Disney cruises are also not “booze cruises” – you won’t see bar or liquor packages available. While alcohol is available for purchase and there is a wine package, it’s very different than what you will see on other cruise lines that don’t have family first.
  2. Kids Clubs/Youth Activity Centers. This falls into a similar category of “created with families in mind”. Disney offers some unique adult only experiences, but what do you do with the kids? The answer – youth activity centers! Kids from ages 3-17 can enjoy time “on their own” for FREE! It’s included in the cost of your cruise. All locations are appropriately staffed for safety. For moms like me with younger kids, as long as your 3 year old is fully potty trained, they can also enjoy the kids clubs (although they may only last an hour or so). That’s long enough for some quiet time at one of the adult pools, a quick spa treatment, or even enjoying one of the many “classes” available – mixology, wine tastings, and more! Adults can also enjoy a unique brunch or dinner at one of the fine dining locations on the ship while kids make friends and play as well!
  3. Character appeal! We love Disney World (this is not surprise to anyone who only knows me just a little bit) DCL Pirateand much of that is because of my 3 year old’s love of Disney characters. You can get ALL of this magic on a Disney cruise and save your feet from aching and limit your wait time. Your personal navigator will have all of the available character meet and greets for the day (and characters are also available on Castaway Cay for Bahamian and Caribbean cruises). It’s a great way to not worry about waiting in heat or trying for FastPasses and the look on your kids faces are the most priceless piece of the puzzle!
  4. It’s all inclusive. (Almost) Your cruise fare includes almost everything you’ll need or want as part of your experience. Disney includes all of your dining (including world class rotational dining each evening), daily entertainment, the aforementioned characters and youth clubs, and even most items on the room service menu! The few things not included are gratuities to the men and women who work incredibly hard to make your trip absolutely magical (standard cost is $12 per person per night – you may add more for exceptional service), alcoholic beverages, specialty coffee and smoothies, and bottled water, and of course, souvenirs. You can absolutely make your adventure all inclusive by not adding more whether it be port adventures, alcohol, or adult only brunch or dinners not included in your rotational dining. We are often happy to skip port adventures and remain on the ship for the most part.
  5. It’s a vacation for everyone! Everyone gets what they want. Mom gets what she wants because she has some time to be “off duty” with the youth clubs and doesn’t have to entertain everyone for every waking moment. Dad gets the amazing food and adults only events (which mom also loves, but she really wants some relaxation on vacation but for everyone to still be happy), big brother or sister isn’t “stuck” doing things that are “kid friendly” and can enjoy the tween clubs and make new friends and learn new things, and younger brother can enjoy the Oceaneer’s Club and Lab and have the time of his life playing and getting visits from his favorite Disney characters. Everyone can come together at meal time and for a family swimming adventure. Everyone gets a little of what they want but there’s still family time as well! And in the end, that makes everyone happy!
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!

Disney Cruise Line Halloween on the High Seas 2016!

 

Recently announced, Disney will again host Halloween on the High Seas fleetwide in 2016! For those that have attended this fun addition to all things Disney Cruise Line know that it’s great fun and adds to the magic of your cruise experience!

This event adds Halloween themed parties, fun themed entertainment, unique decor on board the ship (including the amazing Halloween Tree that continues to transform throughout your experience).

Halloween on the High Seas will take place in 2016 on the following sail dates:

Ship

Sail Dates

Disney Magic

Disney Dream

Disney Fantasy

October 2 – October 29, 2016

September 2 – October 31, 2016

September 3 – October 29, 2016

Other special experiences include:

  • Mickey’s Mouse-querade Party—an atrium party scare-a-bration in addition to Pirate Night—with ghoulish games, trick-or-treating, dancing and some favorite Disney Pals in their Halloween attire
  • Halloween-themed activities for all ages, such as mask-making for kids and pumpkin-carving for teens
  • Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas Sing and Scream, an interactive movie experience where you’re part of the action, followed by a meet-and-greet with Jack and Sally
  • Haunted Stories of the Sea—a campfire-style storytelling experience on the deck
  • Halloween movie marathon to get you in the spirit, shown on Funnel Vision and on the dedicated in-room television channel
  • Halloween Isn’t Just for Kids—an adults-only party that includes a costume contest

For those looking to just starting their first cruise experience or test the waters (no pun intended), the Disney Dream hosts 3 night cruises that are a great way to start out. It’s a more cost effective way to enjoy all of the fun, excitement, and family time of a Disney cruise. The best part about Halloween on the High Seas is that there is NO extra cost for all of the extra fun. Additionally, fall is one of the most cost effective times to cruise with kids recently back in school so you’re really getting more for your money.

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’d like more information on this special holiday offering or pricing on any available cruise in 2016 OR 2017, I’d love to help! 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!