Are you a Walt Disney World and/or Disneyland addict who has never been on a Disney cruise? That’s not surprising, since there are a lot of misconceptions out there about Disney cruises! Well, I used to be one of those Disneyholics who thought I got all the magic I needed in Orlando or Anaheim. Well I was wrong. Disney cruises have become my family’s favorite form of vacation after we got past some of these misconceptions, and I highly recommend all Disney fans give it a try at least once.
According to statistics, ninety percent of people who take a cruise, go back. There’s a reason for such a high return rate. Because Disney cruises are awesome!! Now, I fully recognize that a cruise may not be the best vacation for every person on the face of the planet, but I don’t want anyone trying to avoid a cruise because of a misconception. So, let me try to debunk some myths right here and now about Disney cruises.
1. It’s Too Expensive – Of course, “too” is relative. What’s “too” much for one person is “not too bad” for someone else. The question should really be whether a Disney cruise is comparable to a similar vacation you might consider elsewhere. If you compare a Disney cruise to a Disney vacation, make sure you’re not comparing apples and oranges. First, remember how much is included on a Disney cruise because it’s really pretty all-inclusive. On a Disney cruise, you don’t have to individually purchase theme park tickets, a room to sleep in, or the Disney Dining Plan. Second, when you’re comparing costs of a Disney cruise to a theme park vacation, make sure you compare the cost of premium theme park tickets, deluxe hotel accommodations, and the Deluxe Dining Plan. So don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying a Disney cruise is cheap. I’m just saying it may not be as relatively expensive as you think. Right now two people can book a week long cruise in a verandah in September on the Disney Fantasy for about $2100. Two people in the least expensive deluxe resort (Disney’s Wilderness Lodge) for a week in September with free dining and 7 day base tickets would be over $3300. See what I mean?
2. I’ll Get Bored? – Bored? Only if you want to. There are so many things to do on a Disney cruise. The ship is full of options like cooking classes, wine tastings, first run movies, animation classes, trivia contests, bingo, and Broadway quality shows (and I haven’t even mentioned the wonderful kids clubs for your kids). Or you can focus on health, fitness, and beauty by using the fitness center, the 1/3 mile running track, or the Spa. Every port is full of options as well. We’ve ridden camels in Tunisia, wandered the streets of Rome, ridden Segways in Malta, snorkeled with sea turtles in St. Thomas, kayaked in Ketchikan and zip lined in Skagway. Does any of that sound boring to you?
3. There Are a Bazillion Kids – Several cruise lines have the reputation of being full of older people, but Disney has the reputation of being all kids all the time. Are there a lot of kids on a Disney cruise? Absolutely (but depending on what time of year you go and your cruise’s itinerary, there could be relatively few). Disney cruises are paradise for kids. But here’s the good news if you want some time to escape the kiddos—adult-only areas! Disney has created several adult-only areas onboard every ship. There are adult-only pools so you can swim without the fear of an errant child’s foot in your face or a giant splash getting your hair wet that you spent so much time on that morning and really didn’t want to have to redo (I speak from personal experience)! The night clubs turn into adult-only spaces at night with adult shows, dance parties, and games. On Disney’s private island–Castaway Cay–the adults even have their own beach and restaurant. Odds are your own kids won’t even miss you because they’ll be too busy enjoying all the activities just for them. And, if you don’t have kids, I can tell you from firsthand experience that my husband and I have cruised sans kiddos with friends (also sans kiddos) and we had a glorious time!
4. The New Ships Are Tons Better than the Classic Ships, but the New Ships Cost More – When Disney announced it was building two new ships, the Dream and the Fantasy, speculation immediately began about what would happen to the classics (the Magic and the Wonder). Would people really want to sail on an “old” ship when these beautiful new ships were the other option? The answer is a resounding yes. The classic ships are still enormously popular. Many people choose their sailing based on the itinerary, not the ship, and I wholeheartedly agree. While I love the Fantasy and the Dream, when the Magic is taking me to Europe, or the Wonder is taking me to Alaska – I’m there without hesitation. The classic ships are still beautiful ships. Some people even prefer the smaller setting. And if you’ve been living under a Disney rock and haven’t heard, the Magic is about to enter dry-dock for several weeks to undergo an extensive update. The Wonder won’t be too far behind I’m sure. As a general rule, cost does not directly correlate to ship; it correlates to itinerary and time of year. So, don’t make any assumptions about the cost or the quality of the ships!
5. It’s Over Disneyfied – Maybe you’re someone who enjoys Disney but don’t really want characters in your face all the time. Hey, that’s okay! I won’t judge! Well, don’t worry. Disney characters are certainly on the ships and available to find when you want, but it’s not like they’re tucking you in your bed at night. The theming onboard is tasteful and even subtle. The ships feel luxurious, not garish (looking at you Pop Century even though I love you) in any way. Disney is there to be sure, but it’s “classic,” not over the top.
6. I’ll Get Seasick – I certainly can’t promise you won’t get seasick, but maybe I can reassure you. Being on a giant cruise ship is nothing like being on a small boat. I’ve been very, very ill on a ferry in Alaska and have never felt like that on a Disney ship. I get motion sickness on the Mad Tea Party, on Star Tours, and even riding in a car at times, but I’ve never been physically ill on a ship. Being prone to motion sickness is fairly common and not in any way a definite indicator that you will be one of the rare people who can’t handle the normal motion of a ship. There are times when a ship can get into extreme seas, but those times are not the norm and are avoided as much as possible. If you’re worried, I do recommend preventative measures. There are a lot of good sea-sickness medicines out there. Try a non-drowsy version (preferably before you cruise and always in consultation with your doctor).
7. I Have to Get Dressed Up and I Don’t Like Getting Dressed Up – First, the only places onboard with a dress code are the dining rooms. Second, it’s really more of a pirate-type code. As Barbossa would say, “The code is more what you’d call “guidelines” than actual rules.” Aside from the adult-only restaurant options which do have strict rules for dress, Disney has never been known for enforcing the dress codes in the dining rooms. Most nights are cruise casual which means no shorts, tank tops or swimsuits in the dining rooms. And while the official Disney Cruise Line website doesn’t confirm it yet, recent reports are that Disney ships are going even more casual and taking shorts off that list of no’s. There are formal and semi-formal nights on the longer cruises, so if you don’t want to eat in the dining rooms on dress up nights, let me assure you that you will not go hungry. There are plenty of other options for dinner. Food is abundant.
8. I’ll Gain a Lot of Weight – Speaking of abundant food, many people are concerned about gaining weight on a cruise—and the opportunities are definitely there because dining is one of the highlights of a cruise. Unless you are an uber-foodie, you will probably find the meals among the nicest you’ve ever had when you factor in the service. It’s like eating at the best restaurants at Disney World or Disneyland for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day of your cruise. My husband has been known to diet before a cruise so he will be at “eating weight” once he gets onboard (insert rant about how much easier it is for men to lose weight here). You do not, however, have to gain weight on the cruise. The fitness center onboard is state of the art (so I’m told anyway – can’t say I’ve actually verified that myself) and deck 4 is a continuous loop for running if you’d rather be outside. There are also lighter options on the menus and fruit and salads abound in the dining areas. So can you gain weight? Absolutely! Do you have to? Nope.
9. I’ll Have to Follow a Certain Schedule – The only schedule you can’t ignore is getting on the ship on time (and the lifeboat drill, you HAVE to go to that as well on embarkation day). You don’t want to miss the ship when it leaves the home port or any additional ports. Other than that, you can do as you please! If you don’t want to go to dinner at a certain time, don’t! Order room service or go up to the top deck and get some pizza! Or a panini! Oh yeah, or a salad! If you don’t want to go to bed early and want to stay up in the clubs dancing the night away, do it! If you don’t want to get off at Castaway Cay (although that’s just crazy talk), don’t! Sleep in and enjoy having the ship practically to yourself. Your schedule truly is your own. It’s your vacation and you need to do what makes you happy. If you’re starting to feel rushed or stressed about missing something – you’re doing it wrong.
10. The Rooms are Tiny – Unless you have splurged on the Roy O. Disney Suite, the rooms are not giant and spacious by any means. But many people are afraid of a room where the door hits the bed when you open it and a claustrophobic attack is threatening every time you’re in it. That’s not the case with Disney Cruise Line. Disney’s standard staterooms are, dare I say it, quite spacious compared to many other cruise lines. Disney pioneered larger staterooms with families in mind. Almost every room has a bath and a half design so two people can get ready at the same time. There’s a curtain worth its weight in gold that divides the main bed from the living area which your stateroom host will magically transform into bunk beds while you are away at dinner. Storage is fairly abundant in the rooms with a decent sized closet, many shelves, drawers, and even trunks in most rooms. Once you’ve unpacked, you may be surprised at how much space you have!
So what’s keeping you from trying one? Any myths you may be worried about?