5 Crucial Things to Know about Disney Cruises
Are you interested in cruise life? Do you want to board a ship and travel the world? Disney’s got you covered. Their Disney Cruise Line is one of the best-reviewed and most beloved cruise lines on the planet. You should want to take a Disney cruise one day, but there are a few things you might want to know first. Here are five things to know about Disney cruises.
Packages Are All-Inclusive!
I used to work in the hospitality industry. One of the recurring jokes involved all-inclusive resorts and cruises. People NEVER believed that packages included food and entertainment options. There’s a natural skepticism that’s difficult to overcome.
With Disney cruises, the one thing I can say for sure if that each package is all-inclusive. You’d expect the entertainment to be free. That’s part of the Disney culture, after all. What will surprise you is the level of detail in the cruise shows.
Disney recreates some of their most beloved movies. Blockbusters like Tangled, Frozen, and Beauty & the Beast are nighttime shows on Disney cruises. In fact, they’re all musicals, and some of them include music specially created for cruise performances. No less than Alan Menken wrote three new songs for Tangled! It’s like a night on Broadway, only you’re out at sea.
The food system in place on Disney cruises is brilliant. Disney refers to it as a rotational dining plan. In layperson’s terms, you switch restaurants each night. This way, you never get tired of the food you eat or the theming of the restaurant and, yes, all Disney cruise restaurants are themed!
One of the particularly clever aspects is that your wait staff follows you from restaurant to restaurant, meaning that you’ll have the same people during your trip. You’ll get to know them and, more importantly, they’ll learn your party’s dining tendencies. It streamlines the process and guarantees the highest quality service.
I don’t want you to get mad at me, so let me clarify one point that should be kind of obvious. You CAN do things during the cruise that cost more money. Disney has some special restaurants and bars that aren’t part of the all-inclusive package. They’re clearly marked as such, and you specifically must choose to frequent these places. Your regular meals are 100 percent included in the package. It’s an upsell, something Disney fans are familiar with. There’s also the matter of tipping, but Disney’s put together a thoughtful chart for this topic.
Every Room Has a View on Disney Cruises!
Cruise fanatics know that not all rooms are created equal. The blueprint of a giant sailing vessel dictates that some rooms will have terrible views. The pricing reflects this necessary fact of the industry.
On Disney cruises, you’ll see several price tiers. They generally start with Standard Inside Stateroom and go all the way up to Concierge suites. You would expect the inside staterooms to have no view. It’s impossible, right?
You’re underselling Disney Imagineering! Some geniuses in the company created a technology called the Magical Porthole. Located in the center of room’s wall above the bed, this porthole is an LED display. It shows the view that your room would have if there weren’t any walls. A high-definition camera outside captures the images and relays them in real-time to your Magical Porthole. You’re seeing what’s actually going on outside!
Of course, guests willing to pay more will get the real thing instead. Oceanview rooms have one or two portholes (real ones) while Verandahs provide exterior seating areas. From these spots, you’ll appreciate the ocean like you never have before.
Port Canaveral Cruises Have a Kind of Magical Express!
Okay, there’s a bus that will take you from Orlando International Airport (MCO) to Port Canaveral, but please don’t get your hopes up too high. It’s not free. Disney has infrastructure in place to solve your luggage and transportation issues all at once.
Since Port Canaveral is an hour away from the airport, however, they can’t give this service away. Instead, it costs $70 per person. Critics note that this gets pricey for larger families, which is fair. You may want to investigate other options. For example, Disney’s adding Minnie Van service to Port Canaveral in a few weeks. Depending on the size of your party, it may be a better option. At a minimum, it’s a more stylish one.
Assuming that $70 per person is okay with you, the Disney Cruise Line transfer system is terrific. You’ll get luggage tags, the same as with Magical Express. You’ll attach them to your luggage prior to your trip. When you drop off your bags at the airport, Disney will take responsibility for your bags from that point forward. Once you reach MCO, you’ll head to the Magical Express section of the main terminal, same as you would for a Walt Disney World trip. The difference is that your bus will take you to Port Canaveral instead.
I should note that Disney has other transfer system options in place at other cruise drop-off locations beyond Port Canaveral. The information is available here.
Disney Owns a Freakin’ Island!
You’ve dreamt of owning an exotic island, right? You fantasize about getting away from it all and living in a place where you’ve trained monkey butlers to cater to your every whim. Alas, this dream has a couple of conceptual problems. First of all, islands are super-expensive. Second, monkeys aren’t easy to train in butler skills. Finally and most importantly, even if you could work out all of the other details, you’d be in the middle of nowhere without food, drink, or internet access. You can’t and shouldn’t own an island.
The story is different for a multi-national conglomerate. Disney’s got deep pockets and can buy or build basically anything. They could even make some monkey butlers, although the lil dudes would be audio-animatronics.
With so many available resources, Disney decided to put some oomph into their cruises. In 1997, they purchased a 99-year land lease for an island in the Bahamas. Yes, they will own an island until 2096! When they made the purchase, they were the first cruise line EVER to do something so bold as to lease an island.
The land in question is Castaway Cay, an island in the Bahamas, and it’s kind of an oddity. Virtually all of its daily guests aren’t residents. They show up at port, spend the day at this themed area, and then leave for the next destination. Since Disney has daily operations here, however, they need permanent residents. There are roughly 60 residents of Castaway Cay at a given time. Each of them is a Disney employee. Their sole purpose is to ensure that you have the best possible island getaway on the day that you’re at Disney’s private island.
The Characters Are on Vacation, Too!
When you travel the world, you pack your outfits for the trip. Disney believes that their lovable cast of characters does the same thing. That’s why your character interactions will have some variation during the trip. One day, you might see Mickey Mouse in a fisherman’s outfit. Later that week, he might be in sailor gear or a captain’s outfit.
Part of the fun on a Disney cruise is scouting your best Insta-worthy moments on your vacation. Attentive guests will become social media darlings, because they’ll capture those special moments in photographs. The key is to be attentive about the when and where of Disney character greetings. Then, look and see whether your favorite is in an outfit you’ve already seen or not.
Are you sold on a Disney cruise? Well, Disney cruises are cheaper than you may realize. Speak to a MickeyTravels agent to learn how you can turn your dream vacation into an affordable reality!