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Seven Reasons to Love Disney Cruise Line’s Cold Weather Itineraries

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When most people think of ocean cruises, they picture sitting on deck in a swimsuit with a frosty, fruity drink in hand or strolling on the sand on an island beach, basking in the sun. Disney Cruise Line offers hundreds of voyages each year that fit that bill exactly.

But did you know that DCL also offers a number of cruises each year that travel to cool or cold weather climates? Some of these include:

  • Alaska – sailings out of Vancouver, Canada. May – September.
  • Atlantic Canada – sailings out of New York. Autumn.
  • British Isles – sailings out of Southampton. September.
  • Northern Europe – sailings out of Southampton. August.
  • Norwegian Fjords – sailings out of Southampton. September.
  • Iceland, Norway, and France – sailings out of Southampton. July.

As much as we’re sure Disney would like to, they don’t control the weather. Depending on when and where you sail, you’re likely to find that temperatures on cooler weather itineraries average in the 40s-60s during the day – you’re unlikely to encounter anything truly frigid during any DCL trip. That said, I’ve been on several DCL trips to Alaska, Northern Europe, and Atlantic Canada and the maxim I’ve heard over and over again is, “There is no bad weather, only bad clothing.” Or, channel your inner Elsa and say, “The cold never bothered me anyway.”

There are plenty of reasons to love cold weather itineraries. Here are just a few:

You can introduce your kids (and maybe yourself) to new cultural experiences.

During warm weather sailings in the Caribbean and Bahamas, most of the activity on shore are variations of beach visits. Obviously there’s nothing wrong with that, but there is are a wide variety of new cultural experiences to be had on cool weather trips. During Alaskan sailings, you can learn about trades like logging and salmon fishing, as well as experiencing my favorite DCL excursion ever – dog sledding. On Northern European trips, you can see museums and castles and often learn words in other languages. If you’re an Epcot fan on a Norway sailing, keep a look out for the real Akershus.

A huge bonus of exploring these places via a cruise ship is that you can soak up all the culture while only having to unpack once. Particularly if you have kids with you, getting to show them interesting swaths of the world, without having to deal with daily land transportation and hotel moves is practically heaven.

There is more variety in the souvenir shopping.

The Caribbean ports nearly all offer the same jewelry via Diamonds International and the same straw bags imported from China. A larger percentage of the souvenirs in cooler locations actually comes from local sources (though you should still double check). Woolen items, ornaments, and furs are just some of the classic souvenirs you’ll encounter.

The photo opportunities are incredible.

Mountains, waterfalls, and glaciers are some of the breathtaking scenery you’ll encounter on cold weather sailings. Most of these itineraries have ample opportunity for spotting sea creatures as well.

My personal favorite cool weather photo opportunity takes place on sailings out of New York City. Passing the Statue of Liberty from the dock of your Disney cruise ship is nothing short of breathtaking.

So much cozy!

During cold weather sailings, DCL typically puts out fleece blankets on the deck and rolls by carts with the fixings for hot toddies and mulled wine. Cuddle up with your family and feel the hygge settle in.

You’ll be exposed to foods of another part of the world.

You’ll encounter interesting local food options both on the ship and in port. On the ship, you’ll see some menus with “regional inspirations” sections, featuring items likely to be served in the area the ship is sailing. Some special dishes we’ve seen include special venison, lobster, and salmon dishes.

In port, you’ll encounter lobster bakes in Atlantic Canada, king crab in Alaska; poutine, maple products, and Tim Horton’s coffee on both sides of Canada; school bread or fresh waffles in Norway; gourmet hot dogs in Iceland; or seafood chowder in Denmark.

Cool weather sailing can be a respite from the brutal summer heat at home.

Most of DCL’s cool weather itineraries take place during the summer months, which can be brutally hot during much of the United States. When it’s sweltering hot at home, there is no better feeling than escaping to a place where you won’t start sweating the second you step outdoors.

The Disney characters often appear in rare or interesting costumes.

There are Disney characters that greet guests on all Disney Cruise Line sailings. The characters may wear different outfits depending on the occasion or the ship’s location. If you love to collect photos with the characters in unique garb, these sailings provide quite a bounty: Donald Duck in a flannel Buffalo Plaid cap, Mickey in traditional Norwegian finery, Minnie in a parka, Goofy as a Viking or as a ski patroller, plus many more. How cute are these guys!

If you’re thinking about booking a cool weather DCL sailing for next summer (how awesome would this be as a holiday gift!), now is the perfect time to book. If you need help or have any questions, the fabulous agents at TouringPlans Travel would love to help you out.

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Erin Foster

Erin Foster is an original member of the Walt Disney World Moms Panel (now PlanDisney), a regular contributor to TouringPlans.com, and co-author of The Unofficial Guide to Disney Cruise Line. She's been to WDW, DL, DL Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland, Aulani, DVC Vero Beach, and DVC Hilton Head. She's a Platinum DCL cruiser and veteran of 10 Adventures by Disney trips. Erin lives near New York City, where she can often be found indulging in her other obsession - Broadway theater.

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