For many parents with young children, a Disney theme park vacation is a must-do. And if you’re a family that also loves cruising, it may be difficult to choose between a land or sea vacation.
Here’s a few reasons why a Disney cruise can be just as magical and memorable as a Disney World/Disneyland vacation:
1. Variety of Dining Options & Personalized Service
For many, a cruise vacation means good food and Disney Cruise Line does not disappoint.
Dining on a Disney ship follows a rotating schedule. Each night you experience 1 of 3 restaurants aboard the ship and your wait staff will travel with you from restaurant to restaurant for the entire cruise.
This type of schedule gives you a chance to get to know the staff a bit more and is especially great for those with food allergies or special dietary requests
Animator’s Palate is a restaurant that can be found on all four Disney cruise ships and it’s easy to see why this is a crowd favorite.
Black and white movie scenes adorn the walls and as dinner progresses they start coming to life. By the time dessert arrives, the pictures are in full color and characters are interacting with guests. It is truly a magical dining experience that you’ll find only on a Disney cruise.
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For cruisers looking for flexible dining options there’s also quick service restaurants on deck, free 24-hour in room dining, complimentary soft serve machines and drink stations (including soda, juice, coffee, tea, and water) onboard as well.
2. Spacious Staterooms and Bathtub in Every Cabin
Staterooms on a Disney cruise ship are 20% larger than other cruise lines and you won’t feel as though you need to spend every waking moment out on deck.
The split baths (one with a toilet, one with a bathtub) make it easy for family members to use facilities at the same time.
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Bathtubs are a great in room amenity as those traveling with young children won’t need to hold a wriggly child in a little stand-up shower like other cruise lines.
3. First Class On-Board Entertainment and One of a Kind Features
Disney being in the entertainment business means cruisers can expect on-board productions and shows to be as entertaining as their most loved Disney movies.
All boats feature original Broadway-style productions either before or after dinner and just-released movies (including movie premieres) are played several times a day in a theater or on an outdoor screen near the main pool.
There are two must watch shows for cruisers on the Disney Wonder. The Golden Mickeys is a show presented as an awards ceremony where Disney characters are nominated in a series of categories. Toy Story – The Musical is exactly what it sounds like – a musical production of one of Disney’s most loved movies.
There are several one-of-a-kind features and activities on each of the Disney cruise ships.
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Kids can splash around at AquaLab (Disney Magic, Disney Fantasy and Disney Wonder) and young and old thrill seekers can try out the drop-out waterslide – AquaDunk (Disney Magic) or the 765 foot long elevated water coaster – AquaDuck (Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream).
Water play areas dedicated to kids 3 and under featuring jets, bubblers and fountains can be found on each of the ships as well.
All inside cabins on the Disney Dream have a Magical Porthole window that gives cruisers a real time view of what’s going on outside.
The Midship Detective Agency game on the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy is an interactive adventure game where guests use a special card to find clues and solve mysteries using “Enchanted Art” around the ship. This is a free activity that the family can do together or kids can do with other young cruisers.
The Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique found on all Disney cruise ships allows girls and boys to transform into princesses and pirates.
4. Separate Areas for Kids and Adults
Disney Cruise Line is fun for all ages and unlike the theme parks, there are areas dedicated just for kids and adults.
For the youngest cruisers (6 to 36 months), Disney Cruise Line nurseries offer some of the best care and entertainment in the cruise industry. For around $9/hr, little cruisers can enjoy toys, books, videos, crafts and games under the watchful eyes of trained caregivers. The nursery is open until midnight or 1AM depending on the day.
Kids’ club areas (Oceaneer Lab and Club) feature giant video walls, a science lab, animation studio and craft center and of course a TV/movie lounge.
Tweens and teens also have their own space on-board each ship and programming for these two groups include special sports challenges, dance parties, and karaoke night.
Live game shows and adult only areas like restaurants, bars, pool and spa allow guests 18+ to relax and rejuvenate as needed.
Activities and programs are constantly running throughout the day (some go all the way up until midnight) and this enables groups to spend as much time or as little time together as they want during their cruise.
5. Castaway Cay – Disney’s Private Island in the Bahamas
Castaway Cay is Disney’s private island in the Bahamas. The only way people can visit is on a cruise with Disney.
This island offers activities for the whole family. From the supervised children’s beach area, dance parties, private cabanas available for rent, to deep sea fishing, stingray encounters, a slew of water and land activities and an adults only beach appropriately named Serenity Bay.
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Like everything that Disney does, there’s a lot of attention to detail at Castaway Cay. Cruisers just have to show up with sunscreen and let Disney do the rest.
6. Stay in Touch with Wave Phones
No need to worry about data or roaming fees if you’re cruising with Disney. Disney provides guests with cell-phone style called Wave Phones.
Cruisers will find two phones in each stateroom and you can use them (for free) to stay in touch with other cruisers or other members of your party. Voice calls and text messaging works anywhere on the ship and Wave Phones work on Castaway Cay too!
There is only one charger per cabin though so you’ll have to remember to rotate each handset to keep the battery from going down to zero.
7. Save Money on Drink Packages
Disney Cruise Line allows passengers 21 years of age or older bring their own liquor onto their ships. Whether you bring your alcohol during embarkation or from a port of call, cruisers can save money by bringing their own drinks instead of purchasing the wine and alcohol package. You can enjoy your drinks in your room, on deck or at dinner.
There is a corking fee however if you decide to bring wine to dinner and liquor purchased on-board at the duty-free shop will be held until the last night of the cruise.
Also, Disney Cruise Line passengers have 24/7 access to soda, water, tea, coffee and select juices on all Disney ships without the purchase of a drink package. These drink stations can be found on the main pool deck of each ship.
It’s worth noting that Disney cruises tend to be pricier than other cruise lines, but may be worth it for these amenities and perks.
If you are a Disney fan but would rather skip the process of planning a theme park vacation (booking hotel, figuring out transportation to the parks, planning meals and researching how to avoid long lines), a Disney cruise vacation is a good alternative.