Updated March 23, 2018
Today I thought it would be helpful to walk you through what to expect on your first Disney cruise! It’s been a few weeks since our amazing getaway aboard the Disney Dream. To be a little cliche, it was, quite literally… A DREAM! We experienced a 3-night cruise that sailed from Port Canaveral, Florida and made stops in Nassau, Bahamas and Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay.
I know you’re dying to know, so let’s get right to it!
What to Expect on a Disney Cruise
We really had no expectations going on to this cruise. In fact, it was my husband’s first time! It was my 5th cruise, but my first Disney cruise. I’ve sailed with two other popular cruise lines and I’ve been out of Florida and Galveston. I would say that I’ve done nice cruises, but absolutely nothing compares to a Disney cruise. It’s truly first class. We were blown away. Here are some details about our cruise in hopes of it helping you before you board!
Before you board the ship, make sure you download the Disney Cruise Line Navigator App. It’s your little news hub while aboard the ship. It will send you alerts when things are happening around the ship, and also remind you of your shows and dinner times. You can also text other friends and family members through it and not use data or have to buy a WiFi package! You can download it months in advance and there’s a little cruise countdown so that’s fun to get excited about. Definitely make sure to get this on your phone before setting sail, otherwise, you lose service.
The Disney Cruise Line fleet consists of four vessels- the Magic, Wonder, Dream, and Fantasy. The Magic and Wonder are the smaller ships, and the Dream and Fantasy are the larger ships. Disney Cruise Line also will welcome three new ships setting sail in 2021, 2022, and 2023! Every vessel is built with such attention to elegance and detail – they are quite immaculate ships! In fact, you will definitely notice how stunning the Disney ship is in comparison to the others when you are in port. You’ll feel like royalty aboard the Disney cruise ship!
The staterooms aboard the Disney Dream were some of the best I’ve seen on a cruise ship! Keep in mind, staterooms are much smaller than hotel rooms. But, the rooms are extremely comfortable and have lots of storage space. We were able to store all seven of our bags (5 of which were rolling suitcases) in the closets and under the bed. We stayed in an Oceanview Stateroom with Verandah, and we were very comfortable. It had one king bed and on the other side of the room, a bed could be pulled down from the ceiling to make bunk beds. The girls loved that!
Dining on a Disney cruise ship is different than what I have experienced in the past. Unlike most cruises where you have dinner in the same dining room, you rotate through three different restaurants throughout the duration of your cruise. You are assigned a table number and will sit at it in each restaurant, and will have the same servers for the duration of your cruise. It’s really fun getting to know your servers, and they also get to know what you like and bring out fun surprises for your family.
If you’ve ever been to Disney anything, you know the exceptional service to expect from the cast members. Every single person is friendly, helpful, and personable. The same goes for the cruise cast members. They go out of their way to talk to the kids and make them feel special. One thing that stuck out to me was when I had to take Caroline to the bathroom behind the kids’ splash pad. She slipped and fell in the bathroom (it wasn’t a hard fall – she was fine), and one of the cast members cleaning the ladies room gave her a little doll keychain to make her feel better. Unexpected and so sweet.
You’re on a Disney cruise ship. You’re going to see Disney quality shows. Each night is a new show and they’re all stellar quality. Remember, I was an Acting/Directing major in college and I taught and directed high school and junior high theatre for ten years. I am a tough critic. Having said that, I was blown away the most by the quality of the Beauty and the Beast show on the Disney Dream.
The production was inspired by the live-action film. They condensed the storyline down to 45 minutes, but I didn’t feel like there were any holes in the plot. The design elements of the production were beautiful – the entire backdrop was LED screens that could move and change during transitions, and it was amazing. (That Disney budget, tho!) I loved the costuming and how the “object” characters were dressed in period costume but puppeteered their objects. The whole family loved this production!
The Oceaneer Club
This is no ordinary kids’ club. The Oceaneer Club/Lab is beyond anything I’ve seen as far as “babysitting” for kids. First of all, it’s a very safe and clean environment (everyone is required to wash their hands before entering, and kids wear magic bands in order to enter). There are amazing themed rooms including Tinker Bell, Toy Story, Star Wars, Disney Infinity, and so much more. The cast members are constantly doing so many activities with the kids – from dancing to crafts to games, and more! My girls never wanted to leave. It is a nice break for mom and dad, too!
Each Disney cruise will have some sort of themed night/day while you are aboard! For our 3-night cruise aboard the Disney Dream, they had a pirate night. It was so fun! Everyone gets dressed up in pirate gear and heads up to the top deck for a show with Mickey and friends (Captain Hook even makes an appearance!). Later on, they do fireworks off the top of the ship, and it is so cool! Our kids fell asleep by that point but we were able to catch the fireworks from our stateroom balcony. It was so magical to see that at sea! Some other Disney cruise journeys have a Star Wars or Marvel Day at sea. How cool is that?
Did you know Disney has their own private island in the Bahamas? I know I wasn’t surprised. I have been to other private islands before, but absolutely nothing compares to Castaway Cay. It literally is like being in Disney in island form. As soon as you walk off the ship, you’re handed some towels and escorted by tram to wherever you’d like to stop. So many great Disney touches throughout the island, characters to meet and greet, and so many different activities. Also, parents can drop their kids off at Scuttle’s Cove, which is like the Oceaneer Club on the island! We dropped the girls off there for about an hour so Greg and I could do some snorkeling and relaxing.
Castaway Cay also includes a delicious buffet lunch for everyone (included) and all the soft serve ice cream your heart desires. It truly is the best stop off the boat! No need to book any extra excursions, although activities and rentals come at an extra cost.
For Families with Kids Only?
The Disney Cruise is the most family-friendly experience we’ve been on, aside from the Disney parks. There is so much for everyone to do. The cast members are so amazing at granting wishes for the little ones (if you want two plates of mac and cheese at dinner, they’ll happily do that!). The splash pad on board for the kids is so fun. There’s always a Disney movie playing on the top deck. It’s so fun!
While I will say that the Disney cruise is full of families and young kids, there are lots of adult-only experiences and areas of the ship. There are adults-only restaurants, mixology classes, bars, clubs, etc. There is an adults-only pool area, and even an adults-only beach on Castaway Cay!
My husband and I talked about it and we really thought that if we didn’t have kids, we still would thoroughly enjoy ourselves and love the cruise. But, since we do have kids, we would feel guilty leaving them behind!
If you don’t have kids and are considering a Disney cruise, I say go for it. But be prepared to be around a lot of families around the ship, at shows, and at main dining. Otherwise, you can escape them pretty well.
The Disney Magic
There’s something about Disney that screams “magic.” If you’ve been to the parks, you know what I’m talking about. It’s that super special inexplicable feeling that just makes you happy. The cruise ship is no exception to experience the magic. Maybe it’s seeing all the little intricate touches (all the Mickey ears) on the ship, or the constant Disney music playing, the characters, seeing your kids’ faces, or the experiences. I’m not sure what it is, but it just feels magical. It was such an incredible experience for my family and me.
We cannot wait to go on our next Disney cruise. I have a feeling it will be sooner rather than later!