Welcome aboard for this week’s Disney Cruise Line Preview for the week of August 12th! I’m Brand Glover and I’ll be giving you everything you need to know before cruising with Disney Cruise Line this week. As always, let’s take a look at the weather and see who is going to need a parka this week.
Ports of Call (High/Low Temperature, Chance of Rain)
- 12 August -Barcelona (78/66, 20%)
- 13 August -Day at Sea
- 14 August -Naples (90/70, 0%)
- 15 August -Civitavecchia (87/70, 0%)
- 16 August -Livorno (85/67, 0%)
- 17 August -Villefranche (83/72, 70%)
- 18 August -Day at Sea
- 12 August -Ketchikan (56/51, 100%)
- 13 August -Day at Sea
- 14 August -Vancouver (69/56, 20%)
- 15 August -Day at Sea
- 16 August -Tracy Arm Fjord (61/50, 70%)
- 17 August -Skagway (59/51, 70%)
- 18 August -Juneau (62/49, 60%)
- 12 August -Nassau (91/81, 80%)
- 13 August -Castaway Cay (89/81, 20%)
- 14 August -Port Canaveral (90/77, 20%)
- 15 August -Nassau (91/83, 20%)
- 16 August -Castaway Cay (90/82, 20%)
- 17 August -Day at Sea
- 18 August -Port Canaveral (89/77, 50%)
- 12 August -Port Canaveral (89/77, 40%)
- 13 August -Day at Sea
- 14 August -Day at Sea
- 15 August -Tortola (82/72, 20%)
- 16 August -St. Thomas (86/79, 40%)
- 17 August -Day at Sea
- 18 August -Castaway Cay (91/82, 10%)
Disney Cruise Line: In The News
One of the most anticipated additions to Walt Disney World may be a couple light years away from completion, but with the Disney Cruise Line you can soon travel to the galaxy far, far away with the Star Wars Day at Sea itinerary. Disney Cruise Line’s Twitter account has posted a teaser for what they call an “unforgettable deck party” featuring the iconic characters from the Star Wars universe. On select 7-night Caribbean itineraries, guests will experience a deck party featuring Star Wars fireworks, dancing, and more. There will also be Star Wars characters available for meet and greets, a Disney Cruise Line-specific version of Jedi Training Academy, a film festival featuring the Star Wars films, and for the young Padawans, special offerings in the Oceaneer’s Club and Oceaneer’s Lab. If you’re a huge fan of Star Wars (like myself), this is an exciting experience to celebrate the film franchise in a way only available to passengers on Disney Cruise Line. A few years ago, Disney discontinued the massively popular Star Wars Weekends, which provided similar experiences to what these itineraries include. Other than sporadic up-charge events at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, this will be your best opportunity for character meet and greets as there are only three permanent Star Wars character fixtures in the Walt Disney World parks at this time. Until Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens at Disneyland and Walt Disney World in a few years’ time, this will be the most complete Disney-produced Star Wars experience available. Sailings for the Star Wars Day at Sea are exclusive to the Disney Fantasy for dates between January 2018 and April 2018.
Cruise Critic has an interesting post looking at 9 of the most overrated cruise activities in the Caribbean. Among them are activities such as ship-sponsored port excursions, local market shopping, various aquatic tours, and visiting touristy chain locations. The author suggests things that could be summarized as a waste of time or money at the end of the experience. After reading, I thought back on my sailings with Disney Cruise Line and how these hold up to my experiences. One idea I would definitely agree with is that beach days are best spent as an explore on your own option. When I traveled aboard the Disney Fantasy on its preview sailing of the Eastern Caribbean itinerary, we made stops in St. Maarten and St. Thomas, both of which had beautiful beaches to explore. While St. Maarten’s beach was a short walk from the dock, we were able to enjoy the beach and then explore more of the city as the day went on. In St. Thomas, we took a local transportation shuttle to Coki Beach, which was a ways away from the port and cost roughly $20 round trip. Basically, to supplement the author’s argument, these are two examples of where I was able to cheaply and freely enjoy the beaches at my leisure, whereas a cruise-led excursion may not afford you the same freedoms or quality of experiences. As for the Segway tours, dolphin encounters, and boat tours, I feel those are things I can experience at home (potentially for cheaper and a more comprehensive experience) and would rather use that time to explore a new city or have a fine meal at a unique restaurant. Don’t get me wrong, I think these kinds of experiences are neat and will be memorable, but for me, I’m getting the most value out of unconstrained exploration. Wandering around a port aimlessly is how I found out that McDonalds restaurants on St. Maarten serve Heinekken in a large sized cup for $1. Yes, you read that correctly, a McDonalds that serves beer! For a buck. (In case you’re wondering, an extra large Coke Zero would have rung up north of $3, so that makes the price even more comical to me.) Lastly, the post mentions that a major waste of time would be to visit chain locations such as Senor Frogs or Margaritaville. For those of us local to Orlando, one could easily visit these places stateside without ever leaving town, so when I’m on vacation I make it a point to avoid anything that is a chain or that I could experience at home. (Well, except for that McDonalds in St. Maarten!) There are so many wonderfully unique places spread out around these ports of call that introduce you to some new flavor or an experience that you’ll never find at the aforementioned bland, cookie cutter offerings. Take time to explore, experience new cultures, and soak in the surroundings– you’ll have a much more enjoyable experience that way. It is always worth pricing out experiences through your cruise line to see what costs and activities are included, because it may turn out to be the best value for you or your traveling party. But never feel obligated to utilize only their services, as you may find something that better suits your needs or budget. What kind of things do you find to be a waste of time on your cruises? Leave us a comment and tell use what your thoughts are on this list.
We have another recipe from the Disney Parks Blog this week, once again featuring desserts from the brand new Sweet on You aboard the Disney Fantasy. The Rice Krispies Bars have a raspberry jam flavor and are very simple to make, requiring no stove or oven preparation. If you’d rather wait to taste these items on-board the ship, each recipe item shared by the Disney Parks Blog (and more) are available at Sweet on You. On that note, if you need a taste tester for any of these recipes, author Derek Burgan and I are professional taste testers and ready to help out!
Our last story this week is near and dear to my heart. The Disney VoluntEARS program is a volunteer-based community outreach program that assists local charities and organizations located within the various communities that Disney’s businesses occupy. The VoluntEARS are made up of Disney cast members volunteering their time to assist with programs and fundraisers that aid their community. From the Disney Parks Blog, we have a story mentioning a recent two-day event that VoluntEARS from the Disney Dream as well as the Port Canaveral Disney cast members assisted with the Brevard School Foundation Supply Zone, packaging school supplies and lunches for 2,000 students in need across Brevard County. Crew members from the Disney Fantasy then assisted with distribution of these items as well as helping students find books that they could take home to read. As a chairperson for a local Brevard County organization, I commend the Disney VoluntEARS for their assistance with the Supply Zone as you have helped support the future leaders of our county and ensured that our students in need will have meals to eat during their school year.
The following films are being shown aboard the Disney Cruise Line ships this month:
- Beauty and the Beast
- Born in China
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
- Cars 3
- Spider-Man: Homecoming
For future reference, films debut on the Disney Cruise Line the same day of their initial release in the United States. Show times are available in your Personal Navigator or the official Disney Cruise Line app.
This Saturday, August 12th, Kevin Massey and Kara Lindsay will be performing in the Walt Disney Theatre aboard the Disney Magic as part of the Stars Set Sail concert series. This month’s performances are listed below, and show times are available through the official Disney Cruise Line App or Personal Navigator.
- Kevin Massey and Kara Lindsay on August 12th
- Kerry Butler on August 19th and 26th
And in case you missed it, last week on the TouringPlans blog, Tammy Whiting covered the Best Staterooms in Each Category. This is a helpful resource so you can find the best room for your needs.
Captain’s Log: Important Tips and Information
In the past few weeks, we’ve looked at the new Beauty and the Beast musical that will be debuting on the Disney Dream this fall, but what other Broadway-style shows do the Disney Cruise Line ships have to offer? Whether its an original production or based off one of Disney’s classic tales, each ship has several shows that will entertain the whole family. The Disney Magic features Tangled: The Musical, Disney Dreams – An Enchanted Classic, and Twice Charmed: An Original Twist on the Cinderella Story. The Disney Wonder has Frozen: A Musical Spectacular, Disney Dreams – An Enchanted Classic, and The Golden Mickeys. The Disney Dream is currently home to The Golden Mickeys, Disney’s Believe, and Villains Tonight! And on the Disney Fantasy you can see Disney’s Believe, Disney’s Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular, and Disney Wishes. While I have not experienced any of the musicals based on Disney films, the original productions are full of your favorite characters, and silly or fun musical numbers, as well as some heartwarming moments that you would expect from a Disney story. And as is the case with Disney’s Believe, the room becomes awfully dusty towards the end of the show, so have those tissues ready. You’ll quickly find that a lot of your favorite Disney tunes are incorporated into these shows, matched with marvelous sets and costumes that are worthy of a Broadway-style production. One production is performed each evening of the cruise with two performances each evening. The shows are performed during dinner seatings, with one performing at the early hour as well as the late dinner seating. If you are not able to make it to the theatre, the shows are shown on your stateroom television throughout the evening.
Earlier we mentioned Port Adventures in the news section, so for those of you who may be interested in exploring your options through Disney Cruise Line, there are several for each port of call. Advantages of booking excursions through Disney Cruise Line are ensuring that all aspects of booking, such a currency exchanges, transportation, and negotiable fees are taken care of. Also, Disney Cruise Line guarantees that if a ship is late arriving to the port, the Port Adventures times will be adjusted to ensure you recieve a full experience, and in the event that a port is missed, you will be fully refunded for your missed adventure. It is worth noting that Disney Cruise Line does not operate nor maintain any of these Port Adventures companies, and Port Adventures may be cancelled or changed due to weather, itinerary changes, or availability. Pre-paid Port Adventures paid in full at time of booking are non-refundable and may not be canceled. All other Port Adventures may be cancelled up to three days prior to the cruise departure date, which after that period of time, all reservations become final and are non-refundable.
The greatest souvenir you will bring home from any cruise, vacation, staycation, or even trips to see Grandma are the photos that capture the moments you’ll look back fondly on forever. Disney Cruise Line has an army of photographers waiting to capture all of your special moments. If you’re not familiar with the Disney Cruise Line, Shutters is your one-stop shop to buy digital photos, prints, and even camera gear in the event that you forgot yours at home. For their on-board photos, Disney Cruise Line partners with MyCruisePhotos.com, a service that allows you to pre-purchase your photo packages before your cruise. Photos are taken literally everywhere, including meet and greets, dinners, Pirate Night, special events, Castaway Cay, and even on the Aqua Duck to name a few. If you’re looking to purchase one of their packages, we recommend utilizing the pre-purchase option as it comes with a discount from the price you’d expect to pay on-board at Shutters. What options are available? Our Cruise Photos, a USB drive based option, offers three packages including a 15% discount from the Shutters price. They include: 10 Digital Photos, All of Your Digital Photos, and All of Your Digital Photos Plus Prints. For a point of reference, on my upcoming cruise a package including all of our digital photos and prints would cost $269.95 if bought before the cruise. On board that would cost $310.44. If you’re looking for an all printed photo package, that is listed on the website for my itinerary as being $194.95. On board 8×10 prints cost $20.95 each, so if you were to purchase all 8x10s, that is roughly the cost of 9 individual photos. No discount is listed for this package, but it does mention that you will save verses the individual print prices on the ship. The last option available on this website is the custom PhotoBook which includes up to 34 of your professionally shot photos, delivered to your home after the cruise. At $139.95, this is $10 off the price of purchase on the ship, which for guests traveling from the Continental United States (also including Hawaii and Alaska) will essentially cover the $10 shipping charge applied to this item on board. International guests will be charged $15 to ship the PhotoBook to their residence. If purchased on board, and assuming one lives in the United Sates, that will cost a total of $159.95 compared to $149.95 if pre-purchased – a small savings that could be applied elsewhere on the cruise. There are many options for purchasing photos through Shutters and MyCruisePhotos, but in summary, it is well worth it to consider purchasing your packages beforehand to take advantage of these savings. You can always visit Shutters during your trip to view your digital photo folder and decide if you would like to purchase any of these options. Please note that the above figures are relevant to an upcoming three-night itinerary, and may vary depending on length of the cruise or season.
In case you missed it, as part of our Ask It series, Julia Mascardo posed the question: ‘When you take a Disney Cruise, do you buy the professional photos taken on board?” The results showed that out of our readers, the majority either purchased none or only a few photos from the photo service on board. What category would you fall under when it comes to purchasing photos? Join the discussion on our Ask It page and keep an eye on the TouringPlans Twitter account for more questions in Julia’s Ask it series.
We’ve talked about excursions and Port Adventures by Disney Cruise Line, but did you know there are several extra experiences available at Castaway Cay? Rentals on the island include snorkeling gear, bicycles, inner tubes for floating in the waters, kayaks, paddleboards, paddleboats, and the rad looking aqua trike. If relaxing in the warm Caribbean sun is more your style, private cabanas are available on the family and Serenity Bay beaches for an extra cost. Quantities are limited for cabanas, so it is recommended to book ahead of your cruise. These options are suggestions that you could consider in place of similar experiences at another port. They are operated by Disney Cruise Line and include all of the amenities available to Castaway Cay as well as having the convenience of your ship being a short walk or tram ride away.
Are you deciding whether to book a Disney Cruise but are having a tough time deciding which ship fits all of your desires? Well, our own Laurel Stewart has put together a chart that makes it easy to compare all of the options in one place. Also available as a valuable planning and companion guide from authors Len Testa, Erin Foster, and Laurel Stewart is The Unofficial Guide to the Disney Cruise Line. The companion guide contains a complete overview of each Disney ship as well as Castaway Cay and includes valuable tips on how to save time and money during your cruise!
That concludes this week’s preview of the Disney Cruise Line. Join us next Friday as we take a look at what happens in the world of Disney Cruise Line over the next week. In the meantime, check out the latest edition of The Saturday Six from author, illustrator, and masked luchador Derek Burgan. Special thanks to Derek Burgan, my better half Adrian Rowda, Julia of Best Week Ever fame, Rikki Niblett, and Scott Sanders of the DCL Blog for their assistance on this article. You can follow Scott on Twitter @TheDCLBlog for daily updates on the cruise line. Tune in to the Be Our Guest WDW Podcast to hear Rikki discuss topics covering all things Walt Disney World.