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There are many things to consider when planning a cruise, but perhaps the most important step is choosing the best cruise line. Cruises require quite a bit of time at sea, so a good onboard experience can make or break a trip. The key to deciding on a cruise company comes down to what you're looking for, whether that be fun, elegant, or family friendly. It may take a bit of research to determine your course, but hey, that's why you're here, right?
The Basics of Disney Cruises
It's easy to be drawn to Disney due to the brand's reputation alone, which is something that remains in tact in the cruise industry. The cruise line has garnered several awards over the years; it was named the best for families, the best in the Caribbean, and the best overall three times. Disney Cruise Lines sails five ships: the Disney Fantasy, Disney Dream, Disney Wonder, Disney Magic, and Disney Wish. The ships are able to travel to numerous places, as the company has ports in Europe, Mexico, and Canada, upon others. This sounds great on paper, but you shouldn't make a choice before learning the specifics.
Consideration 1: The Rooms
Staterooms are one of the biggest factors as far as price is concerned. Rooms come in a slew of styles and sizes to accommodate families, couples, and those who simply have exquisite tastes. Each ocean liner has 10 room types, aside from the Disney Wish, which has 11. The most luxurious accommodation, the Concierge, can have up to two bedrooms and even two stories, as well as a verandah with every room. Another way to enjoy a verandah is the aptly-named Verandah room. This option provides splendor at a lesser price than the Concierge.
Perfectly suited for couples, the next tier of rooms are Oceanview. These don't have a balcony, but you can still see outside via porthole. If a view of the ocean isn't a must, an interior room may be right for you. It's usually the most affordable, and it's great for those who plan to spend more time exploring the ship and less time at your temporary home.
Consideration 2: Dining
Whether you'd prefer fine dining or fun dining, Disney Cruise Line has a range of eateries, some of which are unique to each ship. If you have kids (or a young heart), you can chow down in one of several movie-themed restaurants, such as Disney Magic's Rapunzel's Royal Table or Disney Wish's Arendelle Frozen Dining Adventure. Available on every ship minus the Disney Wish, Animator's Palate is more than a meal — it's a show where your favorite Disney characters come to life. After dinner, you can grab a snack at Preludes or an ice cream at the Dream's Vanellope's Sweets & Treats.
For the fancier folk, Disney Wish's 1923 is a glamorous restaurant that serves Asian, European, and South American cuisines. Named for Disney's founding year, it's decorated with props that celebrate the company's history of animation. On the same ship, Enchanté serves amazing and authentic French cuisine. An ode to Beauty and the Beast, its menu is headed by Chef Arnaud Lallement — the owner of L’Assiette Champenoise and the recipient of three Michelin stars.
Consideration 3: Character Experiences
In the last slide, we covered some of the character-related, dining-room fun, but mealtimes aren't the only way to come face-to-face with your favorite Disney star. One such event, Pixar at Sea, allows guests aboard the Disney Fantasy to meet the cast of Toy Story, the creatures of Monsters Inc., and a range of other beloved Pixar characters. Another event, Pirate Night, is offered on every ship and includes a themed dinner, costumes, and dressed-up stars such as Mickey and Minnie. Each itinerary boasts a different schedule, so it's important to make sure meet and greets with your must-see characters are available on your trip. Some other fun guests include the Frozen cast and Marvel's superheroes.
Consideration 4: Kid's Entertainment
With the talk of themed dinners and character meet and greets, it's already pretty obvious that Disney caters to children. Still yet, there are an overwhelming number of activities to entertain young ones. First, there are youth clubs specifically designed for each age group, like the Edge sports club and the Oceaneer club. Secondly, there are an abundance of outdoor activities that keep kids of all ages active while effectively fighting boredom. As well as traditional pools, Disney cruise ships are equipped with splash pads, water slides, basketball, and mini golf. As always, these features vary from ship to ship.
Consideration 5: Adult Fun
Folks with kids: it's time to call your babysitter. Disney cruises are loaded with bars and nightclubs where you can try unique cocktails, get moving on the dance floor, and enjoy late-night entertainment, such as adults-only comedy shows. For a quiet date night, you can dine at Palo, an Italian restaurant that doesn't allow children. If you're on the search for a peaceful experience, you can visit one of the relaxing spas, and if you want to soak without getting splashed, you can swim in the adults-only Quiet Cove Pool.
Consideration 6: Destinations
We've spent so much time discussing onboard activities that you might have forgotten the reason you're cruising in the first place. You could find an amazing ship with the best food and most exciting features, and none of it would matter if you didn't like the destination. Luckily, Disney cruise ships provide transport to tons of places, so finding something you like shouldn't be too difficult. For island dwellers, tropical stops include the Bahamas, the Caribbean, Bermuda, Baja, the Mexican Riviera, Hawaii, and the South Pacific. This also comprises of Castaway Cay, Disney's privately owned island in the Caribbean.
There are plenty of adventurous options for travelers not interested in island life as well. These stops include Northern Europe, the Norwegian Fjords, the Mediterranean, the British Isles, Alaska, Canada, the Panama Canal, the Pacific Coast, Transatlantic, New Zealand, and Australia. If you're wondering, the Northern Europe trip consists of Sweden, Finland, Russia, and the Netherlands, and the Mediterranean cruise stops in Italy, France, and Spain. Which cruises are available to you depends on which port you plan to sail out of.
Consideration 7: Excursions
No matter which cruise line you choose, I highly advise you book shore excursions to make the most of your time at your destination. By booking through Disney, you eliminate the stress of finding a reputable company, doing unnecessary research, and making sure your activity doesn't take longer than you have. Excursions, obviously, vary by location. At tropical destinations, you'll get the chance to snorkel, swim with sea life, or chill on the beach. In more historical places, excursions will take you to the top-rated tourist attractions where you can immerse yourself in the area's culture.
Now that you've learned the ins-and-outs of Disney cruises, it's time to ask yourself a few questions. One, how big of a Disney fan are you? Will you, or any potential children enjoy the character meet and greets? At the risk of influencing your decision, I think this cruise line suits families with children and Disney fanatics the best, so that's something to consider when comparing other options. Though there is a decent selection of entertainment for adults, you should be prepared for a flood of kids, which might not be what you're looking for on vacation. With the knowledge that I have, though, I undoubtedly believe Disney ranks high on the best choice for children.
One final tip: booking your cruise as early as possible guarantees the best rate. I typically check out Cruise Direct, as it price matches to ensure its cruises are cheaper than anywhere else. Happy sailing!