Planning Your First Disney Cruise
When you ask an avid Disney fan which Disney destinations they have visited, most will say Disney World and some Disneyland but a good portion of Disney fans have never been on a Disney cruise. Many Disney fans love the parks and have not ventured to other destinations Disney has to offer. Here are some tips to help you plan your first or subsequent Disney cruise.
Disney Cruise Line
Disney Cruise Line in comparison to other cruise lines has a fairly small footprint. They currently have 4 ships whereas Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise Line both have 24 ships. Norwegian Cruise Line has a staggering 28 ships.
Disney Cruise Line is expanding their fleet with the Disney Wish this summer and expand to 5 ships. Disney also has two new additional ships in the pipeline almost doubling their original fleet in the next several years.
The Disney Magic, Wonder, Fantasy, and Dream currently make up the fleet. The Disney Wish will start sailing in June of 2022.
The Disney Magic sails in the Caribbean out of Miami in the spring and Europe during summer. The Dream and Fantasy spend the year in the Caribbean out of Port Canaveral.
The Wonder stays mostly on the west coast with Mexico and Alaska sailings with sailings from San Diego, Vancouver, Galveston, and New Orleans.
The new Disney Wish offers 3- and 4-day Bahamian sailings out of Port Canaveral while the Dream will move to Miami.
Planning Your First Cruise
Planning your first Disney Cruise can be a daunting task. It can be hard to know where to begin. One of the first things you should do when considering a Disney Cruise is to find a Disney travel agency to help you with your trip. It will not cost you any extra and will provide you with a wealth of knowledge. I would also recommend using a travel agency that sells primarily Disney vacations.
The COVID pandemic has also changed operating procedures for cruise ships. Namely masks, vaccine requirements, and mandatory testing. If you do not book your cruise through an agent, you will be responsible for reading all the updated information on operating procedures. If you use an agent, they will update you with all the changes.
Selecting a Destination
Disney Cruise Line currently sails to the Bahamas, Alaska, Mexico, Europe, Hawaii, Bermuda, Canada, the Caribbean, Panama Canal, the Pacific Coast, and a transatlantic sailing a couple of times a year. If you are considering a Disney Cruise it is first important to decide which destination you would like to visit.
Families with young families will likely select a Caribbean, Bahamian, Mexico, European, or Alaskan sailing as they tend to sail during the summer months when school is out of session. The Panama Canal, Canada, Pacific Coast, and transatlantic sailings tends to take place while school is in session. If you are an adult traveling without children these may be the sailings you gravitate towards.
Disney Cruise Line has five ships you can book currently. Once you select your destination, it is time to select your ship. If you’d like to check out the new Disney Wish, your only option is the 3- and 4-night Bahamian sailings. The Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy also have Caribbean or Bahamian itineraries. The Fantasy tends to have longer 7-night sailings while the Dream has 3- or 4-night sailings.
The Disney Wonder and Disney Magic have more options for itineraries. The Wonder sails out of New Orleans, Vancouver, San Diego, and Galveston. The Magic sails out of Miami, New York, Galveston, New Orleans, San Juan, Barcelona, Dover, Copenhagen, and Rome.
The Magic and the Wonder are sister ships. The Dream and the Fantasy are also sister ships too. Each ship has the differences and similarities.
Entertainment is one of the areas where Disney Cruise Line stands out. Broadway caliber shows are performed on each ship. The Dream features Beauty and the Beast as their signature live theater show. The Wonder features Frozen while the Magic features Tangled. The Fantasy features Aladdin. The brand-new Disney Wish will feature The Little Mermaid.
Several of the ships also feature character dining entertainment. The Wonder features Tiana’s Place as one of the rotational main dining options. Guests are entertained while by a festive New Orleans themed live show while they dine. The Disney Magic features Rapunzel’s Royal Table entertaining guests with Flynn Rider, Rapunzel, and the Snuggly Ducking crew from Tangled.
The Disney Wish will feature a theatrical dining from no other than Elsa herself. Elsa will also be joined by the lovable Olaf. Ant-Man and the Wasp will also join guests in Avengers: Quantum Encounter one of the other main dining options on the Wish.
Once you decided which itinerary and ship, it’s now time to pick your stateroom. Disney Cruise Line offers options to fit every budget on board. The rooms come in four basic categories: inside, ocean view, verandah, and concierge. Suites are also available.
You will have three areas of the ship to choose from when booking: Aft, Midship, and Forward. Most rooms on the Disney ships sleep 4 but some larger rooms can sleep 5.
The least expensive option is the inside room. The inside rooms are located throughout the ship in most decks. The inside staterooms offer a standard or deluxe room.
Oceanview is the next option for guests. The Oceanview room typically provides two small portholes or one large porthole. Oceanview rooms are also located throughout the ship.
Verandah rooms are the most popular since they provide a balcony with a beautiful view of the ocean.
Concierge rooms are the final booking category besides suites on the ships. Concierge rooms are larger than other rooms on the ship. Concierge also offers other perks like pre-arrival concierge services, priority check in, and a lounge only for concierge guests.
Disney Cruise Line uses rotational dining. Guests will be assigned a rotation for the main dining restaurants along with an assigned time. When you book your cruise, you will be able to pick main or second seating. Main dining begins seating between 5:45 and 6:15 while second seating is between 8:00 and 8:30. It is important to note if you book your cruise close to the sailing date, second dining may be the only option still available.
Once you’ve booked your Disney Cruise, you will want to plan your activities while in port. Disney Cruise Line includes all meals, entertainment, kids club, and activities while on the ship but many people want to participate in port adventures while in the various ports. Disney Cruise Line allows you to book these port adventures in advance depending on your castaway club member status.
First time cruisers will book at the 75 day window all of these activities. Silver members can book at 90 days. Gold members can book at 105 days. Platinum members can book at 120 days.
Guests can book in advance port adventures, It’s a Small World nursery, spa treatments, Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, alcohol tastings, photo sessions, and upgraded dining such as Palo or Remy. In the past guests could also book character experiences but these are currently spontaneous on the ship and do not require planning.
Disney Cruise Line typically offers the lowest pricing the day that an itinerary opens up. Disney Cruise Line is popular and many return cruisers book the first day they are able to. Prices tend to continue to increase over time. It is important to book your cruise as soon as your able to take part in the lowest pricing.
An exception to this rule is that Disney Cruise Line offers guaranteed rates that are non-refundable but also offer a lower price. In these categories guests book a category and not a particular room. Is is a great way to find a deal on a cruise if you do not plan to cancel your trip.
Disney Cruise Line is currently offering 25-30% off spring 2022 sailings along with a 50% off the deposit promotion through March 11 for sailings June 18, 2022 through May 31, 2023.. Disney Cruise Line rarely offers promotions so this is a good opportunity for guests. Disney Cruise Line is currently booking through May 31, 2023.
Do you want more help planning your next Disney vacation? As an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, my goal is to help you plan the Magic your way. I also create customized itineraries, book advanced dining, monitor for discounts for your vacation, and much much more! Also, did I mention that my services are FREE!!!! Contact me at SLoehrlein@MickeyTravels.com or follow me on Facebook @MickeyTravelsShannonLoehrlein