We’ve only been on one other Disney Cruise and it was during the Disney Dream’s inaugural year. It was magical and wonderful being on a brand new ship! It was our second cruise, the first was a Carnival cruise for our honeymoon, and believe me when I tell you it was pathetic compared to our Disney cruise!
We were lucky enough to cruise with 13 of our closest friends. We were all adults so we spent plenty of time in the adults-only areas and didn’t bother too much with the kid areas on the ship.
Fast forward six years, and we are getting ready to surprise our kiddos with their first Disney Cruise for Christmas! The really exciting thing is that all 13 of our friends are going too – only with all of their kids! It will certainly be an awesome time, but I feel like a newbie all over again planning.
Here is what we learned so far:
- BOOK EARLY – Unlike many other cruise lines and vacation destinations, prices do not go down the closer you get to your sail date. In fact, they often go up! When we booked our first cruise, we booked two weeks after our friends because we had just finished our Disney World wedding and weren’t sure we could swing the trip. We ended up paying almost $1100 more than they did for the same exact room! Booking early can definitely save you money! Lesson learned here, believe me!
- Arrive Early – One of the things we make sure to do is to arrive at least a day before the cruise. This way, if anything happens and your flight is delayed, you are still able to make it on the ship! There would be nothing worse than being stuck in an airport 1000 miles away as your ship pulls out of port without you. Already being in Orlando the day you set sail means you are guaranteed to get there in time! Arriving to the port early is also a good idea. While you may have to wait until they start boarding, knowing you’re there with everything you need reduces anxiety and helps you relax for the trip!
- Enjoy the Ship – Sure, it’s tempting to just eat in the buffet area for dinner. I mean, who really wants to leave the pool to get dressed for a big sit-down meal. Here’s the thing, especially on the shorter cruises, it is necessary! Every dining room on the ship is uniquely themed and seriously can’t be missed! Even on days where we could stay later at port, we always made it to dinner just for the fabulous experiences. And the food! My goodness, the food is ridiculously good – and all you can eat! Don’t plan on losing weight on this vacation! See the Shows – Another thing tempting to miss are the shows on the ship. While every cruise line offers nightly shows, Disney offers Broadway-style night time shows! They are out-of-this-world! On the Disney Dream (which is the ship we’ll be sailing on!), they are currently doing a brand new production of Beauty and the Beast. It’s based off the live-action screenplay and from the YouTube behind the scenes videos I’ve seen, looks like it’s going to be great! Seriously, don’t miss them!
- Spend all day at Castaway Cay – One of Disney’s best kept secrets is how magical Castaway Cay is. On our last cruise, we spent the entire day at Serenity Bay, which is the adults-only beach. It was everything you would expect an island in the Caribbean to be! White sand ran right into a perfectly turquoise ocean. We saw Barracuda and giant sting ray just swimming along beside us. What we didn’t get to do was to snorkel in the family section where there are plenty of hidden mickeys, nor did we play on the children’s playground in the ocean. We’re really looking forward to the girls getting to do that on the cruise! They are going to love it. Another really cool thing we are going to do is to run the Castaway Cay 5K! Unfortunately you have to be 10 to run it, so the girls can’t participate, but I think Kev and I can knock it out quick! Don’t worry, we’ll let the kids play with our medals, so they won’t be too sad!
- Pirate Night! – I mean, you’re on a ship so anything called Pirate Night should be something to look forward to, right? Pirate Night was like nothing I’ve ever seen! There are pirate dance parties, characters out, a special pirate menu at dinner, and the night ends with fireworks off the back of the boat! While pirate night on our last cruise was awesome, this time it’s going to be even better seeing it through our kids’ eyes! Don’t forget to bring your pirate outfits (you can buy some accessories on the ship too!), or if you’re like us, wear your favorite Pittsburgh Pirate gear! Go Bucs!
I am seriously excited to see this cruise from a different perspective, but if you’re an adults-only group, don’t think that you will miss out on anything. The beauty of a Disney cruise is that it is Disney and full of magic, but if you want adults-only time, it’s provided for you! There’s a whole section of the ship that’s only for adults! It has a swim-up bar, hot tubs, pools, and lounges. There are also a handful of nightclubs on the ship. They are, of course, themed and there is something for everyone, from a low-key pub to a high class bar. There is nothing Disney hasn’t provided you!
For those cruising with kids who still want some adult-only action, there are kids clubs, teen clubs and the Small World Nursery that provide full child care options so that you aren’t always stuck in the kids section! It’s a win-win for any family travel!!
Want to learn even more about why taking a Disney trip is so awesome? Check out this video and Jones Family Travels! Trust me, you’ll be following them and watching their videos as much as I do! Disney magic at its finest, and before you know it, you’ll be booking your next adventure at sea with Disney!