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What is a Disney Cruise really like? Even though Disney is consistently rated as one of the very best cruise lines out there, unfortunately, there is still confusion about what the Disney cruise experience really is like.
Disney Cruise Line Myths
Even some diehard Disney Park fans think that are cruise is not for them. Is this really true? Here we will debunk some of the myths about Disney cruise lines and separate the fact from the fiction.
A Disney Cruise is Just For Kids
Disney cruise line is one of the most family-friendly cruise options available. Most definitely there will be a lot of kids onboard your Disney cruise.
The only exception to this is likely to be the longer cruises such as the Panama Canal and Transatlantic Disney Cruises. Those Disney repositioning cruises tend to have relatively few children on board.
However, most of the time you will be sailing with a large number of children onboard a Disney cruise.
This doesn’t mean that Disney cruises only cater for families with children or that adults sailing on their own should avoid a Disney cruise. We think that Disney Cruise Lines are a great option for adults sailing without children.
Why? Disney cruise lines do a great job of having areas for kids, families, and adults only. On each of the Disney ships, there is a very large area that is devoted to adults only.
Adults can relax by the pool, have a drink at the bar, get a massage or relax in the Rainforest Room. You can enjoy all the entertainment on the ship, including the events which are reserved for adults only.
On each of the Disney cruise ships, there are restaurants that are reserved for adults only.
All of the ships have Palo, a wonderfully themed Italian restaurant that offers Brunch on Sea Days and dinner every evening. There is an additional charge of $40 per person, but this is very reasonable considering the quality of the food and the experience.
On the Disney Dream and the Fantasy, you can also dine in Remy. This adult-only French restaurant is acknowledged to be one of the finest dining experiences at sea.
We have sailed many times on Disney ships both with and without the kids. Each is a different experience. But we definitely think that Disney Cruise Lines are the best for keeping everyone happy. No matter what their age.
My Stateroom Will Be Too Small
First-time cruisers are often worried that their stateroom will be small and that they won’t have much room. However, Disney has some of the largest staterooms in its class.
They are incredibly well designed so that even if you are in the lowest priced staterooms on the ship, you will not feel cramped.
The Disney Wonder and Magic are the original, Classic ships. They were followed by the Disney Dream and the Fantasy. The newer Dream Class ships are larger than the Classics, but the stateroom design remains remarkably similar.
The smallest of the Disney cruise staterooms is the Standard Interior which gives you 184 square feet of space. This is the only category of Disney Cruise Stateroom which does not have the “split bathroom”.
The Split Bathroom is an idea that is unique to Disney. Most staterooms have a room with a toilet and a sink, and another room with the bath/shower and sink. This split bathroom design means that one person can get ready while the other is using the shower. This is particularly helpful for families with children.
The split bathroom design helps to give more of a sense of space in the Disney cruise staterooms.
Whilst the smallest staterooms are 184 square feet space, the next step up, the Deluxe Interior Stateroom which does have the split bath, has 214 square feet.
So that you can get an idea of exactly what a Standard Inside Stateroom is like on the Disney Wonder and Magic, I have made this video for you:
You may prefer to at least have a window to the outside world. If you sail on the Disney Fantasy or the Disney Dream you will have a virtual porthole in an Inside Stateroom. The virtual porthole is a unique feature for Disney cruises.
The virtual porthole has a video feed that shows you what is happening outside the ship. If you watch carefully you may even see Mickey and his friends.
Virtual portholes are not available on the Classic Ships, the Disney Wonder and the Disney Magic. I would guess that all the interior staterooms on the new Disney Wish will have virtual portholes.
Many guests love the inside staterooms on the Disney ships, however, others would prefer to have a window to the outside world. The outside staterooms are the same design as the Deluxe Inside staterooms, but they have one large or two small portholes.
The most popular staterooms are of course the Verandah staterooms. There really is nothing like having your own balcony space.
For the ultimate in luxury, every Disney ship has Concierge staterooms.
Not only will you have the option of Verandah staterooms, but you can also choose a one-bedroom or two-bedroom suite. For the ultimate in luxury, each Disney ship has a Walt Disney Suite and a Roy Disney Suite.
Concierge guests have access to a special lounge and sun deck. There are also many other perks including Priority Boarding, special Embarkation Lunch, daily evening complimentary drinks in the lounge and priority access to reservations such as Castaway Cay Cabanas, Frozen Meet and Greet and Character Breakfasts.
A Disney Cruise Costs Too Much
It is certainly right to say that a Disney cruise is not a bargain basement experience. Therefore you would expect to pay a reasonable price for a high-quality vacation experience. However, a Disney cruise may well cost less than you imagine.
You do need to remember that whilst many other types of vacation have hidden costs or ones that you can’t really calculate accurately, a Disney cruise has a lot included in the basic price.
Once you have paid for your Disney cruise you know that many costs are already taken care of. The basic price includes all accommodation, food, kids clubs for the over 3-year-olds, soft drinks and entertainment. Here you can see What is Included in a Disney Cruise.
Of course, there are some items that are extra. Gratuities are at your discretion, but there is an expected amount for your Servers and your Stateroom Steward. These can be adjusted up or even down if you prefer.
Here is an article about How Much to Tip on a Disney Cruise.
There are many things which you can spend extra money on with a Disney cruise, but you do not have to. In theory, you could just pay the basic price and gratuities without paying anything additionally.
However, in reality you will probably be tempted by such things as port excursions, spa treatments or a Rainforest Pass, alcoholic beverages and photos. You may even want to get some gifts from the onboard stores. The point is though that you don’t have to.
I Will Get Sea Sick
No one really wants to talk about this, but it is true that for a small minority of people seasickness is, unfortunately, an issue. However, for most, it really isn’t something that you will have to deal with.
The Disney ships are modern, large and equipped with state of the art stabilizers. Most of the time you won’t even know that you are sailing on a cruise ship as you will not feel any movement.
I have sailed through storms and skirted around hurricanes and always felt fine.
However, if you are sailing for the first time, or know that you are prone to seasickness there are things that you can do to minimize the effects.
Wristbands for motion sickness are a simple, but very effective solution. These Sea-Band Adult Wristbands are a very inexpensive solution as well. They are drug-free and you can use them over and over again.
Motion sickness patches work for many people in preventing seasickness. There are many motion sickness patches available over the counter so that you don’t need a prescription.
One of the most popular and affordable is this Motion Sickness Patch. This is a 100% natural product and it is reported as being very effective by most users.
If you want to learn even more about this you can read my Guide to Staying Healthy on a Disney Cruise.
I Am Going to Gain 10 Pounds
The food on a Disney cruise is excellent. And there is certainly plenty of it. As soon as you board your Disney ship you will be tempted by a huge buffet lunch at Cabanas.
On each Disney ship, there are three individually themed main restaurants. Disney has a unique concept of rotational dining. This means that you will dine in each of the three restaurants at least once, and will “rotate” around them with your Servers.
All of the restaurants are a lot of fun, with each having their own very tempting menus. Also, if you want to order more than one entree, appetizer and desert you are positively encouraged to do so. The calories add up quickly!
There are endless food choices. Breakfast and Lunch are also served in one of the restaurants each day. Or you can opt to eat at the buffet.
You can also choose from a number of options on the pool deck. Soft serve ice cream available 24 hours a day anyone? Freshly cooked pizza?
As you can see, food is everywhere, and it is very tempting. However, it is possible to enjoy a Disney cruise and not bring excess weight back with you as an unwanted souvenir!
Think about what you are doing. Easier said than done I know, but do you really need that second chocolate souffle, your third plate of buffet food or yet another slice of pizza.
You can very quickly consume a whole lot of calories, but just because you can doesn’t mean to say that you have to. The fabulous Disney Server will offer you another beignet in Tiana’s Place, but that doesn’t mean that you have to accept!
Just think about what you are doing. There are plenty of low-calorie healthy options available – you just have to step up and choose them! No, I am not suggesting that you eat fruit all week – just do things in moderation.
Also, don’t forget that there are plenty of ways to burn off some calories on a Disney cruise. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Simple, but it will help.
Every Disney ship has a well-equipped gym – start your morning there and that extra portion of your favorite food won’t have as much effect! At the very least you can get rid of some of the guilt!
Enjoy a stroll around the Promenade Deck on Deck 4. It’s a wonderful way to relax and get some exercise at the same time.
I Have to Get Dressed Up
A lot of people have the wrong idea about how you need to dress on a Disney cruise. Really it is entirely up to you how you dress.
Of all the cruise lines that I have sailed with, Disney is one of the ones where there really isn’t any expectation. You do whatever you want to do.
There are formal nights and semi-formal nights on Disney cruises. This means that some people really do get into their finest evening wear. Others are still wearing Goofy t-shirts and Minnie Ears.
However, if you love to dress up then a Disney cruise ship is also the ideal place for you. Most sailings have a Pirate Night. This is an evening where you will have a special priate themed menu, a spectacular pirate show and fireworks. If you still have an appetitie then there is even a Pirate Buffet late at night.
If you want to dress up in your finest Pirate Gear then go ahead. If you don’t, then that’s also fine.
You really don’t need an excuse to wear a costume on a Disney cruise, but if you want to celebrate in style you should think about sailing on one of the Halloween on the High Seas itineraries. You can dress up as your favorite Disney character or even have your whole family in themed costumes. Or you can wear jeans and a shirt. Totally your choice.
The one place where there is a dress code is in the adult-only restaurants.
For Palo the guidelines are:
- Men: dress pants or slacks and collared shirt; jacket is optional
- Women: dress, skirt or pants with a blouse
- Jeans may be worn if in good condition (no holes)
On the Disney Dream and Fantasy if you dine at Remy for dinner the guidelines are:
- Men: A jacket is required, with dress pants/slacks and shoes. Ties are optional. No jeans, shorts, sandals, flip-flops or tennis shoes.
- Ladies: Cocktail dress, evening dress, pantsuit or skirt/blouse are required. No jeans, shorts, capri pants, sandals, flip-flops or tennis shoes.
For Brunch at Remy the dress code is slightly different:
- Men: Dress pants and a shirt are required for men. A jacket is optional. No jeans, shorts, capri pants, sandals, flip-flops or tennis shoes.
- Women: A dress or pantsuit is required. No jeans, shorts, capri pants, sandals, flip-flops or tennis shoes.
Disney cruise lines are very relaxed about what people are wearing. Dress up or dress in Mickey Ears. It’s your choice.
I Will Be Overwhelmed By The Disney Theme
I think it is fair to say that if you actively dislike Disney (are there such people)? you really shouldn’t choose a Disney cruise.
However, if you are open to seeing Mickey Mouse in the corridor once in a while and don’t mind it if Tiana stops by your table at dinner, you will be fine on a Disney cruise.
What really surprises some Disney cynics when they sail on their first Disney cruise is just how incredibly subtle the Disney theme is. The Disney ships are beautifully designed and the theme is tastefully done.
The Disney theming is most certainly there. However, it is not overwhelming. The Disney ships are beautifully designed.
If you look at the picture above of the atrium on the Disney Fantasy you will see just how beautiful the ship is.
Yes, there is a statue of Minnie Mouse, the pumpkins are in the classic Hidden Mickey shape, and the detailing around the border and ironwork show Disney characters. However, the details are beautifully incorporated into the opulent design.
Of course, there are places on the Disney ships where the theme is very obvious. In the Kids Clubs for example, or Tiana’s Place restaurant. However, there are many places where you have to really look for the detail.
I Will Have to Share a Table
For some people, dinner is a time to socialize and meet new people. For others, this is their worst nightmare.
Disney does dining a little differently to most other cruise lines, but if you want to be seated just with your family and friends, they will do everything they can to accommodate that request.
If you decide that you want a private table for dinner you should call Disney Cruise Lines to request one, or you should ask your Travel Agent to do this for you.
Here is more about How To Request a Private Table on a Disney Cruise.
If you do want to sit with other people you can ask for that too. Disney usually does a great job of putting people together who have things in common. For example, if you are a single parent you will most likely be seated with other single parents and their kids.
Before you dismiss the idea of eating with others just think about it for a while. I have made some great friends on board Disney cruises and being seated at dinner with others is a great chance to meet people.
I Think I Might Feel Trapped
Until you have sailed on one of the Disney ships you probably won’t have a sense of just how large they are and how many different things that you can do to keep yourself entertained.
The Classic ships are the Disney Wonder and the Disney Magic. These were the original ships in the Disney fleet. 11 public decks, can accommodate 2,400 passengers in 875 staterooms and have a crew of approximately 950.
The Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy are larger than the Classic ships. They are each 1,120 feet long and 138 feet wide. They have 1250 passenger staterooms.
As you will see, these ships are not the huge giants of the ocean like the 5,000 passenger mega-ships out there. But they are large enough to make sure you have plenty of places to be and lots of options for keeping you entertained.
Or you can easily find a quiet space just to be by yourself.
Also, it isn’t just about being on the Disney ship. There are plenty of fabulous ports to explore. Even though there is so much to do and see on your Disney ship, you will probably want to explore at least one of the ports that you visit.
One of the most popular ports is Disney’s private island Castaway Cay. If you imagine the perfect paradise island, you are probably imagining something pretty close to the reality of Disney’s Castaway Cay. It is quite simply, Paradise.
Disney cruise lines sail to many different places including Alaska. The scenery is breathtakingly beautiful and a Disney Alaska cruise is on many a bucket list. If you want to see all of the places that Disney sails you can see the 2020 itineraries here.
You really will not feel trapped on a Disney cruise. There is so much to do onboard and so many exciting ports of call to explore you will be booking your second cruise before you know it!
Mickey Mouse Will Be Everywhere
One of the appealing things about a Disney cruise is the opportunity to meet the characters. Each day a selection of characters will appear in the atrium of your Disney ship.
It is much easier to meet the characters on a Disney ship than it is in one of the Disney Parks. The lines tend to be much shorter. The characters always seem to have more time with each guest. Another advantage is that the lines are all in air-conditioned comfort, and you don’t have to stand out in the sun as you do in the Disney Parks.
One of the things that is particularly great about a Disney cruise is that you sometimes just meet a Disney character in one of the corridors on their way to or from a meet and greet. Whilst in the parks they usually walk briskly away, sometimes om the cruise ships they do have time to stop and talk. Somehow that makes it even more magical.
The amazing Disney cruise stage shows are also another great way to see the characters. One of my favorite shows is The Goldern Mickeys which is a celebration of many of the most popular of the Disney characters. It is amazing to see them all up there on stage.
Another favorite is Disney’s Frozen a Musical Spectacular. This is performed on the Disney Wonder and more recently on the Disney Fantasy.
I know sometimes you may feel that you have heard Let It Go one too many times, but you really have to watch this show if you get the chance. It is breathtakingly good. If you saw a show of that caliber on land you would be paying many hundreds of dollars for a seat. Here it is included with your Disney cruise fare.
So there plenty of chances to meet the Disney characters and see them perform. However, if you really aren’t interested that is fine too. If you have no interest in getting up close with Minnie or talking to Belle about her dubious taste in men, you really don’t have to. It is optional.
Will you be sailing on a Disney cruise? Tell me in the comments below.