Wondering what is the best cruise line? Here are 11 reasons you will like Disney cruises the most plus tons of Disney Cruise tips.
Best Cruise Line
If your family is considering taking a cruise this year, there are lots of choices. Besides the obvious sticker (price) difference, there are different destinations and ship features. But please don’t stop there when comparing cruises.
Some of the seemingly smaller differences are what are going to make the difference between a nice vacation and the most amazing, wonderful vacation you’ve ever had!
Here are 11 reasons families will love a Disney Cruises best!
Disney Cruise Tips
The Staterooms are HUGE!
The average cruise cabin is 175 sq feet. As a comparison, an average hotel room is 300 sq feet. Now you may be saying, I don’t plant to be in my room that much anyway. And that may be the case, but you still have to put away all your clothes, formal wear, and what-not plus live in this space with your family for an average of 7 days.
Our Family Ocean view with Verandah (pictured above) is 304 sq feet including Verandah. HUGE by cruise standards!
Your room has lots of features you’ll appreciate:
- Bathroom is a bath & a half (so someone can shower and someone else can use the restroom or shave at the same time!)
- Bathroom has a tub – extremely helpful for families traveling with babies, toddlers, and preschoolers
- We loved the spa grade toiletries provided and replenished twice daily plus the very nice hair dryer
- The parents part can be separated from the children’s sleeping area by a curtain – love the privacy
- During the day there is ample seating not only on the parents bed, but on the 3 person couch, armchair, and two seats on the balcony
- At night the beds will magically pop out of the wall to comfortably accommodate up to 5 guests
- There is TONS of storage in the closet, in one of 3 drawer areas, and under the parents bed which is all open for suitcases (unlike most cruise lines that have the support of the bed underneath)
- The main bed is not two beds pulled together – it is ONE bed! We really appreciated this in addition to the super comfy linens and duvet.
- The large balcony made it a breeze for us to read books (along with our son) while our youngest two napped during the day (or at night with the balcony light)
Lots of Unique Character Experiences
Royal Caribbean just started offering DreamWorks characters, but there is no way that it compares to the popular, well-loved Disney characters! Although characters vary cruise by cruise you can expect to see 4-5 princesses, Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, Donald, Daisy, Chip & Dale, Captain Hook & Mr.. Smee, Stitch, Peter Pan, and more. The newer ships (like the Disney Fantasy) even have Anna and Elsa from the popular movie Frozen!
Not only are their a huge number of opportunities to meet and great characters all throughout the day and see them in some very unique costumes (varies by destination), but there are also a lot of unique opportunities to interact with characters. Here are just some of the ways you will interact with the
- Deck Parties (they come out and dance with guests)
- Formal Night Dance Parties (they come and dance with guests in their formal wear)
- Kids only Club Events (characters make frequent visits sporadically throughout the day to interact with guests)
- At Castaway Keys (Disney Cruise Lines private island in the Bahamas)
- Princess Tea Party
- Wake up with Disney Junior
- Open House Family times at Oceaneers Club like Mickey’s Puzzle Time, Story time with Belle, and more)
- Wandering around the ship (we saw Goofy in his exercise clothes out taking a job on the track!)
- During Dinnertime Shows (we saw Sorcerer Mickey, Flamingo Dancer Minnie, and Beauty and the Beast at dinnertime)
The very cool and innovative concept of rotational dining is unique to Disney. You will rotate through three different dining rooms for dinner. But don’t worry, your friendly wait staff will move with you to better serve you. On our recent trip on the Disney Magic our dinning rooms consisted of:
Carioca’s – a fun, Brazilian themed restaurant
Lumiere’s – an elegant, Beauty and the Beast inspired restaurant. Do you see the roses in the ceiling lighting?
Animator’s Palate – our favorite! A black and white restaurant that comes to life throughout your meal. We enjoyed several different shows here including watching beloved Disney characters come to life as they are sketched on the walls, a Pirate themed show, and one where they actually brought our drawings to life all around us using Disney magic!
Lots of Programs designed for Families
There were a lot of options for families wanting to spend some quality time together! While many cruise ships assume you are sleeping or hanging out by the pool during the day and therefore limit the activities to mainly the evening. Disney Cruise Lines has lots of fun activities planned throughout the day! This is truly the ultimate family vacation!
Here are just some of the fun activities your family can enjoy:
- Mickey Mania Game Show (pictured above)
- Who Wants to be a Mouseketeer Game Show (like Who Want to be a Millionaire with Disney Trivia)
- Disney Music Trivia
- Family Dance Party (often times with characters)
- Family Karaoke
- Boat Building Bash
- Story time with Belle
- Wake up with Disney Junior (fun dancing with character visits from popular Disney Junior kids shows)
- Mickey Puzzle Time (based on the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse your kids will solve clues and then color with Minnie, play bean bags with Goofy, march around with Mickey, and more)
- Science Experiments (including eggs, flubber, and more)
- Family Cooking Classes (make cookies and more in the Remy’s Anyone Can Cook Class)
- Family Friendly Evening Shows (musicals like Villains Tonight and Twice Charmed, Illusion Shows, Ventriloquists, and our favorite String Fever)
- Scavenger Hunts around the Ship
- Officer Hide-and-Seek
- Officer Pin Trading (plus lots of opportunities to trade Disney Pins with crew members throughout the ship and gift stores)
- Movies (lots of choices that change daily for the pool side funnel vision, stateroom television, and the movie theatre which features some movies in 3D)
- Dance Lessons
- Princess Tea Party
- and lots, lots more!
Out-of-this-World Kids Program
Every cruise ship we’ve ever been on has a kids program. They all offer trained staff, secure check-in, and fun things for kids to do. But Disney Cruise Lines goes way above and beyond fun to outrageously OUT OF THIS WORLD!
There are three dedicated kids spaces: Oceaneers Nursery (0-2 years old, for a fee), Oceaneers Club (3+ who are potty trained, free), Oceaneers Lab (3+ who are potty trained, free; geared towards kids 7 and older). Each space offers both free play opportunities, special programming, and about 2 hours a day where the club is open to families to use together. The check in-out is highly sophisticated with staff being able to tell you the exact room your child is playing in at all times. The trained staff do an excellent job of engaging with the kids. If for some reason your child wants to see you, they will just send you a text message on your Wave phone (free phone you can take with you throughout the ship to keep in touch with others in your stateroom!)
The Oceaneers Club has 4 rooms that allow kids to use their imagination and play: Andy’s room is fun for the preschool / Kindergarten crown, Pixie Hollow is a fun area where kids can enter the fairy world, Disney Junior room has all your preschoolers favorite characters, Marvel’s Avengers Academy has the video games your older kids will love, and Star wars area are immersive areas that bring kids imaginations to life.
This room also featured some fun programs like Pluto’s Pajama Party (watched cartoons, interacted with Pluto, and made their own pillowcase), Story time with Belle, Fly to Neverland (with Peter Pan), Kings & Queens (with Disney Princesses and free crowns), and more.
The Oceaneers Lab is geared towards kids seen and older, but all kids 3 and older are welcome. My son really enjoyed the pirate ship computer games while my daughter enjoyed the craft room and cartoons on comfy bean bags. This room featured programs like teaching kids how to make animations, Super Sloppy Science with Professor Make-O-Mess, Cooking with Remy, and other fun activities.
Disney Movies in the theater, funnel vision, and staterooms
And just in case you think you will be bored or you just want to chill out and watch a favorite Disney movie, they’ve got lots to choose from. There were different movies in the:
- Buena Vista Theatre (some in 3D and new movies show the same they they open in theatres in the US)
- Stateroom (there are 3-4 dedicated channels constantly playing favorite Disney movies
- Funnel Vision (this is the large screen by the main pool) We loved coming here early and watching an 8am movie while eating breakfast or watching it from the kids safe “hot” tub.
What our family loved most was that we felt like we could always go out by the main pool without being worried our kids would be exposed to a movie that was inappropriate for their age.
NOTE: There were more mature movies like Pirate of the Caribbean in the evening on deck.
Exceptional Customer Service
Yes, cruises in general are known for their service. So honestly, we weren’t expecting to see a big difference. Boy where we wrong!
Disney Cruise Line shines in their exceptional customer service from the guest relations desk to your wait staff to even maintenance workers you run into from time to time. They are all incredibly kind and helpful. We noticed especially how as you roamed the ship you were never more than 15 feet from a crew member who was ready and eager to help you with whatever.
Pools for Everyone!
Sure there are other cruise lines with pools and even waterslides. But Disney does it all, and they do it really well!
Children 10 and under will especially enjoy Huey Duey Louis Pool that is only about waist deep which allows kids to feel comfortable and confident in playing. Surrounding it were sprayers, adding to the giggles and the Aqua Lab with lots of spraying, tipping water buckets to interact and play in. Adjacent is the under 3 area where little ones can play in shaded, warmer water. This area was our go to spot as we could sit on the bench by the pool and read books while the kids played. The self serve ice cream was right around the corner as was the twist & shout water slide!
Note: We really appreciated the free life vests by all the pools for kids to use and the fact that there was a lifeguard watching over the pools for added security.
Families who all wish to get in will like the main pool – Goofy (on our particular ship). Although it seemed small for a main pool, it held up to demand fine. From here everyone could cool off, dip in the hot tub, catch a movie on funnel vision, or grab some pizza from Pinocchio’s Pizzeria. Nearby was the Aqua Dunk that shot you straight down a tub and then twisted you out over the side of the pool. So cool!
Then there was the adult’s only pool. This quieter area had extended hours, it’s own bar/snack area, comfy lounge chairs (some doubles) and was perfect for adults wanting a little more quiet.
Unlike other cruises where there never seemed to be a lounge chair available, we never had trouble finding a spot to claim as our own. The pools are definitely the most crowded from 12:30-3:30pm, but then again, that’s pretty normal on any ship.
Deck Parties Like Only Disney Can Do
I’ve always avoided deck parties like the plague on all other cruise lines. They tend to be crowded with lots of adults showing off their moves with a drink in hand to Caribbean music. Disney’s Deck Parties were something our whole family looked forward to.
Our big send off deck party included fun dancing (with cast members choreographing numbers), characters, hand held streamers for everyone, and a big shot of streamers in the air. It was really, really FUN! The adults and kids enjoyed it alike.
HINT: Each of the four Disney cruise ships has a slightly different show!
Our favorite Deck party was the Pirates IN the Caribbean deck party (on all cruises 7 nights and longer). At dinner everyone has a pirate themed menu and receives a pirate mickey bandanna (everyone dressed up for the occasion!). Then the party starts – including an interactive game, dancing with cast members choreographing, lots of pirate dressed characters, zip lining Mickey, and fireworks! It was SO COOL!
HINT: If you get a balcony stateroom, ask for portside so you can see the firework show from the quiet and tranquility of your balcony!
Castaway Key’s (Disney’s Private Island)
Many of Disney Cruise Lines cruises stop in their fabulous private island – Castaway Keys! I have so much to say about this wonderful island I’ll have to write a whole post about it. Something things you’ll love:
- shaded freshwater splash area for kids
- free soda & soft serve ice cream on the beach
- Beach BBQ lunch (in 2 convenient locations)
- tram to take you from the boat to various beaches
- clean restrooms
- supervised kids play area
- no tendering – walk right off the boat onto the island
- chance for character Meet & Great
Special Disney Touches
It’s hard to put into words or in a picture all the special Disney touches that go in to Disney Cruises to make them truly special. From the Mickey shapped doorway when you enter the ship and they announce your families arrival to thunderous applause to the energetic pre show in the Walt Disney World Theatre; you will find special attention to details at every turn. These details come together to make a truly magical, and memorable family vacation!