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16 Reasons why a Disney cruise is worth the money

16 Reasons why a Disney cruise is worth the money via christineknight.me

I’m going to be upfront and say Disney cruises are REALLY expensive. Crazy expensive – much more so than a lot of other cruise liners, in fact, that offer similar itineraries. So why choose to spend your time and your money that way? Simply because the experience is unparalleled. We just got back from the 7-Night Eastern Caribbean cruise aboard the Disney Fantasy, and can happily say that here are 16 reasons why, for us, a Disney cruise is worth the money.

Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me

1. It’s (almost!) all-inclusive
All your food at the main restaurants and snack joints, entertainment, use of facilities and even room services are included in the price. What’s an extra charge? The spa services, popcorn before the shows, snacks from additional cafes not in the main dining areas and alcohol, and gratuity at the end of the trip (it’s charged to the room at a rate of $12 per person per day).

Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me

2. The service is impecable
We received some of the best service of our lives on the ship, especially from the servers in the dining rooms. Our head waiter, assistance and dining room head all knew our name and our dining preferences (for example, I’m a fussy vegetarian and my daughter is fussy period), and would be prepared to offer us with alternatives to the menu each evening if they knew we wouldn’t like them. Our amazing servers followed us each night through the dining rotation (there are three restaurants that we rotated between) so we were always greeted with their smiling faces each evening.

Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me

3. Mickey is everywhere
It’s fun to make a game of finding all the hidden Mickeys. From tiny nautical Mickeys made out of ropes in the shower curtains to bigger emblems on the ships decks, there are Mickeys everywhere you look in both discrete and obvious ways, but still pulled together so harmoniously as to present an elegant ship for adults rather than a carnival for children. A masterful design.

Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me

4. Disney magic is all around
Disney is renowned for making the ordinary magical, and they don’t disappoint on a cruise, either. Little touches like magical pictures that guests can interact with, or a steering wheel set up in front of what looks to be an ordinary painting but turns out to be a pirate ship that you can steer in search of treasure really give the illusion of a bit of pixie dust sprinkled liberally over every element of the ship.

Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me

5. See the world with zero effort
One of the big bonuses to taking a cruise is that you get to wake up at exotic destinations without lifting a finger. Everything is so incredibly easy and manageable, which is what we wanted with a young child. On our cruise, we visited Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, St Thomas in the US Virgin Islands and Disney’s own island, Castaway Cay. We were offered off-ship excursions at additional costs, or you can also just walk straight off the ship and find your own way around.

Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me

6. Incredible entertainment every day and night
Dazzling shows is what Disney does best, and again they bring this to the cruise. Every night there is a new show to see, the highlight on ours being Aladdin. The performers and staging in these shows is just incredible – it’s a standard of quality that you would happily pay to see under ordinary circumstances.

Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me

If you feel like seeing a movie on the cruise, you can head into one of the two movie theatres playing brand new or recent releases (on our ship we had Finding Dory the same day it was released globally in cinemas, Jungle Book and the new Captain America movie), or lie in luxury on the pool deck and watch the “Funnel Vision” movie screen playing Disney classics above the pool on the top deck during the day and night.

Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me

7. Water play all day
The top desk is all about getting wet! Our number one fave water play activity was the AquaDuck slide, an exhilarating “water coaster” that sends guests clinging to rafts speeding around the ship enclosed in a tube. Kids can also enjoy a more sedate Mickey slide, the Nemo Reef splash area for littlies, the shallow Mickey Pool and AquaLabs for older kids. Adults can sit back and relax in adult-only pools, too.

Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me

8. Everything is super high quality
This is Disney, after all, where nothing but the best is good enough. Every detail about the ship is flawless, and I’d challenge anyone to find a paint chip or a carpet stain on the entire boat. The rooms, the food, the facilities, absolutely everything is top notch, shiny and brand-new looking.

Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me

9. The kids won’t want to leave kids’ club
There are plenty of options for kids to be entertained while adults take some time out to relax. As well as a nursery for babies, there’s the “Oceaneer Lab” and “Oceaneer Club” for kids 3-12, “Edge” for tweens 11-14 and “Vibe” for teenagers 14-17. Cheese was a great age for the Oceaneer Lab/Club and loved going so much she would request to be dropped off when we asked what she’d like to do. In the Oceaneer Lab/Club, as well as various open play areas, kids are also entertained with games and visiting characters such as Lilo and Stich or Tinkerbell.

Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me

10. Activities are endless
Let me put it this way, no one will be bored. Every evening, an activity sheet is released for the next day which is jam packed with options for the whole family. Adults can choose from plenty of 18+ options such as bingo, animation and fitness classes, but the majority of activities are family-focussed, such as character appearances, trivia competitions and even baby racing. Yes, you read that right.

Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me

11. The food is top notch
Dining aboard a boat was a major concern of mine, which thankfully we didn’t need to worry about at all. There were both plenty of options, as well as lots of fresh, healthy food to choose from. Each morning and lunch we dined at Cabanas, the buffet restaurant on the top deck, blown away with the choice of food such as fruit, made-to-order omelettes, yogurts, cereals, toasts, bagels, Mickey waffles and more for breakfast, followed by salads, more fruit, and hot food options such as vegetables, pasta dishes, pizza and so forth for lunch.

Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me

Dinner each night was served in a rotating restaurant – Animator’s Palate, Enchanted Garden and Royal Court, where we were presented with a three course menu to select what we would like. While there were always vegetarian options made available, if I didn’t particularly fancy that night’s menu, the kitchen staff were more than happy to either send me a dish from another restaurant, or whip me up something specially in the back.

Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me

If we missed our dining rotation or the Cabanas buffet times, there were snack options available on the pool deck most of the day, including burgers, sandwiches, pizza and fruit, plus the 24-hour room service. It was hard exercising off all the food we ate!

12. Free-on demand tv
On a Disney boat, you’d expect a lot of Disney TV, wouldn’t you? In the rooms, Disney TV shows and movies are streamed 24-hours on demand, with a huge variety to appeal to both the kiddies during the day, and adults once the kidlets have gone to bed at night.

Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me

13. The Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
Wittout a doubt my daughter’s favoruite thing abut the ship was her transformation into a princess at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. You can read about our experience here.

Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me
14. Plenty of 18+ only areas

While we loved spending time with our daughter on the Fantasy, we occasionally needed some adult time, so when she was keen to head off to the kids’ clubs we would also happily wander up to the 18+ areas for a drink or just a coffee and would sit happily watching the ocean roll past and chat or read a book without having to listen to other peoples’ children screaming. Bliss!

Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me
15. Everything is seamlessly run

The ship is run with what can only be called Disney efficiency. Everything happens exactly when it is supposed to happen, to the very second, and there are no hiccups, no mishaps, no wrinkles in the perfect Disney holiday experience. A Disney cruise is a slickly run machine.

Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me
16. Countless character interactions

The numerous character interactions were a big plus for our family and our daughter who is at the age where she likes to throw herself with gay abandon at all Disney characters like they’re a long-lost loved one. Luckily the characters are ready for four-year-old missiles and handle all the poking and whacking with swords with good humour.

Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me

I did wonder if, after the first day or so, she’d get bored with seeing the same characters over and over again, but, the geniuses, have outfitted the characters in numerous costumes, so each time we saw them they always looked a bit different (except for Peter Pan, who always looked exactly like Peter Pan in his tights and little green hat). On formal night, for example, the characters appeared in tuxes and sparkling gowns, and needless to say, pirate night was full of eye patches and bandanas.

Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me Every day the times and locations for where the character meet and greets will occur is printed in the “navigator” that is distributed to the rooms each evening with the following day’s activities so you always know where to find your favourite giant plush or princess. Characters often just roam the ship too, so you never know who might start crowing over the balcony (yes, the crowd favourite, Peter Pan, yet again).

Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me

The most popular characters have free ticketed events that you can sign up for online before boarding the ship, such as the princess Royal Court, Anna and Elsa from Frozen and the Disney Junior character breakfast.

Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me

Compared to Disneyland and Walt Disney World, the characters on the boat spend a lot of time with each guest interacting with them personally, rather than it just being a quick photo op. This does make the wait a bit longer, but the characters and also Disney cast members who are managing the crowds, make the kids each feel so incredibly special that it’s worth it.

Ready to book a Disney cruise? Don’t book before you read my tips and tricks here!

Have you been on a Disney Cruise? I’d love to hear your feedback!

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

Disney Cruise Planning Tips & Tricks

Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me

We’ve just gotten back from our first cruise aboard the Disney Fantasy – a 7-night Caribbean cruise. The cruise was incredibly fun, but there was so much to learn beforehand to really get the most out of the experience. I’ve noted down all the tiny tips that I learned below to help you plan your own perfect Disney cruise, before you even get on board.

  • Book well in advance. Hard core cruisers book a year in advance when the cruise is released. It’s believed they get the best prices then. Booking three months out is considered last minute but cabins are often still available. Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me
  • Think hard about what cabin/type do you want. We went for middle ship with a verandah as I was terrified of sea sickness. The cabins to the edges and with a porthole or “magic window” are cheaper.
  • Log onto the Disney Cruise Liner website once your cruise is booked (https://disneycruise.disney.go.com) and input your reservation number to lock in activities.
  • Your advance booking window is determined by your Castaway Club membership level, as follows: First-Time Guests – 75 days prior to sail date; Silver Castaway Club Member – 90 days prior to sail date; Gold Castaway Club Member – 105 days prior to sail date; Concierge Guests and Platinum Castaway Club Member – 120 days prior to sail date. Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me
  • Take note of the day that the activities are released in US time – 12:01 EST and log on during the night to book things like the princess royal court. Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me
  • Book your activities as soon as you can as the popular ones book up fast. You can easily cancel your activities up to 3 days before departure – including the port activities. Some popular activities, like the Princess afternoon tea, book up as soon as they are released. Others have plenty of spots but you should still book in as soon as possible to get the days and times you want. Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me
  • Free on-board activities that require booking include the Princess meet and greet, Frozen meet and greet and Disney Junior breakfast (currently only available on 7-night or longer cruises).
  • Join your cruise Facebook group – search for the ship departure date and name in Facebook. Many of the people in the Facebook group will be frequent cruisers so can answer all of your tricky questions.
  • Join a cruising experts Facebook group! This one I’m part of is run by a Disney Travel Agent.
    Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me
  • Many frequent cruisers hang decorations on their door called “Fish Extenders” and take park in a “Fish Exchange”. Every stateroom has a fish of some kind hanging on the wall outside the door where Disney staff place important communications to you such as excursion tickets and notes.  A Fish Extender (FE) is something that you hang off the fish while still allowing the Disney staff to use it for its original purpose. All the people in the exchange buy or make little items and place them in each other’s fish extenders. It’s basically a gift exchange. Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me
  • Choose your dining rotation when you book your cabin – main dining is the early session which begins at 5:45pm, and second seating, which starts at 8pm. If you book too late you will be placed in late dining like we were and have to request a change and hope it comes through. For your assigned seating time and restaurant rotation, please check the dining tickets located in your stateroom upon arrival. Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me
  • “Main” or early dining fills up fast. If you’re not sure what dining rotation you want when you book your cruise, choose early as it’s the most popular. It’s always possible to change it to the late session when you board, but rarely the other way around. If you book late (like I did) you might be allocated the late dining session. if this happens, call Disney Cruise Line and request to be put on the wait list for the change.
  • Both dining session get to see the same live shows at night. If you do “main” or early dining, you will then be able to see the late show, which is at 8:30pm. If you do late dining, you can then do the early show, which is at 6:15pm.
  • If you aren’t able to get the dining session you want, you can still use several other flexible and included dining options on the ship, including the free 24-hour room service.
  • If you missed out on your dining session even after being wait listed, there are Disney Cruise Line employees set up in one of the main dining rooms on embarkation day to try to accommodate dining requests (which dining room it is will be listed on the Navigator that you get at the Port).
  • In case you forget where you’re supposed to eat dinner each night, your dining rotation will also be listed on the Key to the World card as well as the tickets in the room.
    Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me .
  • Many frequent cruisers place Disney magnets all over their doors, often with their family names and pictures on them. You can make your own or order some on Etsy. Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me
  • Take note of your Port Arrival time (PAT). Your PAT determine your boarding number therefore when you board the ship. If you do not complete online checking then you will most likely get a high boarding number and sit in the terminal waiting to board the ship. PAT are first come first serve therefore by completing your checkin as soon as it is enabled online, you will have a better chance of a earlier PAT. Note: If you are taking the Disney Cruise Line busses from the Walt Disney World resorts then this is not that important since the buses will not get to the port until after 1pm anyway. Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me
  • If you buy a disney photo premium package in advance you get 15% off. If you don’t like the photos on board you can ask for a refund. This discount only applies to the most expensive packages, like purchasing all of the digital images. Go to: http://www.mycruisephotos.com/DCL Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me
  • You are also able to register kids for kids’ club online before boarding the ship. I’d highly advise doing so as it just saves time filing in more forms when you go to drop them off for the first time.
  • Pack breakables in your carry on bag, plus anything you might need for the rest of the day as it can take a while for luggage to be delivered to rooms. Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me
  • Put a pair of swimmers in your carry on so you can head straight to the pool when you get onboard. Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me
  • Be early for everything onboard. If there is a movie, a show, even a character meet and greet, be early, by at least 15 minutes if not longer. If you want to see it, everyone else is bound to as well. Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me
  • Formal, semi-formal and pirate dress-up nights are really optional. We were travelling a long way before and after our cruise so had minimal luggage space for special formal or dress-up wear, and it ended up not being a big deal at all. We just wore our nicest clothes and they were fine. Some people go al out, however, wearing suits and fancy dresses, and make the most out of the opportunity to get glammed up and have portraits taken. Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me
  • If you book another cruise onboard you get a discounted rate. The deposit you place down on the cruise is completely refundable so it’s a good idea if you’re strongly considering taking another cruise in the near future.
  • The water in the cabins is drinkable but a bit funky tasting. I’d advise taking large refillable water bottles with you and refilling them throughout the day at the free beverage station on the pool deck. Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me
  • There are shops onboard where you can buy most things you might forget, like sunscreen, hats, toothbrushes and so on, but they are on the pricey side. Stock up on your own everything before boarding, including sea sickness medication, just in case. It is possible to get free sea sickness medication free of charge from guest services if you forget to pack your own.

Are you a Disney cruiser? I’d love to add your tips and tricks!

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.