Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Disney Cruising Q&A ~ Part 3

(You can find additional Q&A posts here:  Part 1, Part 2)

Let’s Go!

1.  (from Lindy) I've loved following along on your cruise. Would you recommend a Disney cruise for a couple without kids or even for a single person?

If you are a person or couple who enjoys children and the excitement and busyness that they bring then my answer is a resounding ‘Yes!!!’  If you’re planning a relaxed cruise where you can stroll at leisure without little ones around then a Disney cruise might not be for you.  Our ship was almost at capacity (we were 3800 guests + crew, max is 4,000 + crew) and I would hazard to guess that at least 40% of the guests were children, tweens and teens.

Hannah, Nana and I had a ton of fun together and there were times that we too enjoyed watching other families.  This was a cute event called ‘Jack Jack’s Diaper Crawl.’   You can see how many people stopped to cheer on these 2 little cuties!   

I saw tables in the dining room of only adults and they were thoroughly enjoying themselves! 

(One day I had one of those classic ‘foot in mouth’ experiences!   Hannah and I were waiting to meet one of the characters and I was chatting with the lady behind us.  She was on her own but this wasn’t unusual as one parent often waited in line while the other one took the kids elsewhere during the wait.  As we talked she said that she and her husband were on the cruise on their own as they weren’t sure their children would really enjoy a Disney cruise.  I asked how old her kids were, thinking she’d say ‘babies’ but instead she said they were 4 and 6 years old!  And….this was their 4th Disney cruise without their children!!!  I was shocked to say the least but kept it together and didn’t say anything other than that my 4yo was having the time of her life! 

Now…for my moment.  Shortly after that we were in an elevator and I shared with Sharon about the lady that I’d met who had left her young children home for the 4th time and was on the cruise alone with her hubby.  This time I didn’t hide my shock!  Well…the lady beside me (a different lady thankfully!) looked at me and said in a serious tone, ‘My husband and I are here alone and left our children at home.’  Oye!!  Thankfully she got off at the next floor! 

Will I never learn to wait until we’re in the cabin to share this stuff?  LOL – reminds me of our other infamous faux pas on my part when I was out with Sharon!)

On Disney cruises there are also many opportunities for adults to do things that do not involve children.  There are adult only decks and a pool.  I was only their once but there was lots of room and it was not crowded.  There are some other parts of the pool/deck area that I didn’t take the time to see but wish that I had.  Another time. Smile

There are 2 fine dining adult exclusive restaurants on the Fantasy that are available for brunch and supper for an additional cost.  Palo offers Italian dining and Remy is French.  We thoroughly enjoyed our time at Palo!! 

There are many spa experiences available for an additional charge.  We did not participate in these but I’m sure they are wonderful!

There are also a number of nightclubs and lounges that are restricted to adults. 

The one thing to keep in mind for some is that Disney ships do not have casinos onboard.  This might make a difference to some so is something to note.

I hope this helps!  I believe couples and singles without children could have a great time on a Disney cruise as long as they enjoy being around other people’s children! Winking smile

2.  (from my sweet friend Circe) I had friends who went on a Disney Caribbean cruise in February and didn't like it! They said it was loud and chaotic, and there were way too many kids, etc. My question is, can you imagine anyone not liking the cruise?

Hmmm, it seems my experience was much different than theirs.  I will agree that there are times that it is loud and you could possibly call it chaotic but they chose a Disney cruise! 

I will say though that very rarely did I find it crowded.  I was surprised over and over again at how uncrowded (is that even a word??) the ship was!  The two main exceptions to this would be the pool area anytime that the sun was shining and, in the main atrium lobby from about 5:00 – 8:00.  The pools are fairly small and there are A LOT of children on the ship so the children’s pools and in turn the decks around the pools were often very busy!   That being said, we could always find a place to sit quite easily. 

The lobby atrium area was busy each evening as it was the location that people gathered for professional photographs, to wait for their supper reservations, to listen to live entertainment and to meet some characters.  It was a busy time but oh so exciting!  How nice to see people dress up for dinner and photos!  We live in a day when people dress up so rarely that I was excited to see the dress code so many set for themselves and it was a beautiful sight!

Other than that, I was surprised at how spacious the ship felt considering there were almost 5,500 people on board!  The Disney Fantasy is approximately 4 football fields long and 14 decks high.  That’s a big ship and yet I was still surprised that you could easily walk around only seeing a few people in many locations. 

The kids clubs had many children in them but never appeared overcrowded and Hannah never complained about there being too many kids and not being able to do something.   The live shows were presented 3 times each day.  While the theater had a lot of people in it we never had any problems finding a seat and there were always empty seats available.

I find Walt Disney World in August to be crowded and at times like park closing it near impossible to move yet I never felt anything like that at all on the cruise!  I guess it’s all personal interpretation and expectations but for me I was nothing but impressed by how spacious and open the ship felt!

Could someone not like the cruise?  Yes, but they’d need to put a lot of effort into that or….forget that it was a Disney cruise they chose to take!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Disney Cruising Q&A ~ Part 2

(Continuation of Part I)

Without further adieu….Part 2!

1. What are some of the things that were not included on your cruise and you had to pay extra for? Is the spa included?

Here are some of the extras that have additional charges:

  • Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
  • Palo – fine dining, adults only restaurant where we celebrated Nana’s retirement
  • Remy – fine dining adults only restaurant
  • Internet
  • Phone calls to numbers off the ship
  • Gratuities ($12/day per person).  We chose to add additional funds to these because our servers and stateroom steward were exceptional!!
  • Port Adventures/Excursions
  • Excursion tips
  • Professional Portraits
  • Fruit smoothies
  • Specialty coffees
  • Alcohol
  • Mixology classes and wine tastings
  • Bottled water
  • BINGO
  • Arcade
  • Souvenir shopping
  • Tips for room service
  • Cabana rental on Castaway Cay
  • Hair Braiding
  • Spa services
  • Nursery services for babies under 3 years of age
  • Children’s MagicBands if you choose to take it home
  • Virtual Sports Simulators
  • Snacks and popcorn sold outside the theatres
  • Art
  • Welcome Aboard/Birthday packages
  • Onboard/Castaway Cay wedding ceremonies
  • Vow renewals
  • Laundry
  • Parking/port transportation
  • Port Porters
  • Deposit for next cruise Open-mouthed smile

One thing Disney does include that I don’t believe any other cruise line does is complimentary soft drinks.  There is a soda machine on the 11th deck that I believe is open 24 hours a day that has pop, iced tea, lemonade and more.  There is also complimentary coffee and tea at the same location.

I know the list above is extensive but in reality there weren’t  many of those that we chose to partake in and most of those that we did we planned for in advance and went prepared.   Sharon and I both chose to take cash with us that we applied to our onboard accounts soon after boarding.  Rather than having anything charged to our credit cards we were able to pay for everything before leaving the ship.

Aside from gratuities I’ve heard of some people paying as little as $50 in additional charges to others who pay thousands!  Yikes!!!  You truly can have a very enjoyable cruise without paying for many things that require additional charges.  This year Nana and I treated Hannah to Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, went to Palo for lunch, purchased a few professional photos and used a porter when we left the ship.  We were happy with all of these choices!

Here are the professional portraits I chose to purchase.  I have a frame for the first one and will hang it alongside a picture of Hannah with Mickey and the photo mat that was signed by all the characters.Shutters pic Hannah and Mommy

There were many opportunities to have pictures taken by professional photographers and they took beautiful pictures!  If you go on a cruise I highly recommend preparing for a family picture as they are beautiful keepsakes of your time together.  (The photographers can also be booked for family sessions outside of the times that they are available for all.  We saw many families doing this and it was a great way to gather many people into a beautiful photo!)Shutters pic Hannah, Nana and Mommy

2. What did you enjoy most about the cruise?

Hands down I would say it was the time we spent together as a family!  Hannah, Sharon and I travel really well together and sharing this time together was the best!!  There was nothing else to take our time away from each other (eg. cooking, house work, work, etc.) so we focused on each other.  Perfect!!  Our preference was to eat in dining rooms for the majority of our meals which gave us quiet times together each day when we could talk in a quieter atmosphere, enjoy great food and discuss our upcoming plans.

Aside from that I think it would be the way the cruise allowed us to relax, and at the same time do a lot, all in the time frames that suited us best.  

Here is a typical ‘at sea’ day for our family:

- wake up between 7 and 8 and prepare for the day

- breakfast in the dining room

- character greetings or clubs for Hannah.  Sharon would often go for walk on the 4th floor walk/run track at this time.

- if Hannah chose not to go to clubs we would either play Midship Detective or go for a swim

- lunch in a dining room

- most afternoons we spent at the pool although a couple of afternoons went to a cooking display or galley tour

- supper

- photos and/or character greetings

- live show in the theatre

- AquaDuck and swim in the Mickey pool

- crash sometime between 11 and 12pm, excited to start again the next day!


3. How does the dinning with another family work? I never heard of this.

Dining with another family is optional and quite common on cruises.  You can request a table on your own if you wish and Disney will do their best to fulfill your request.  We chose to dine with other people and it worked out wonderfully for us!  It was great to meet Tonya and her family and we continue to keep in touch. 

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Disney Cruising Q&A ~ Part I

Thanks for your questions!  It’s fun to hear them and share from my experience.

I want to begin with a disclaimer that I am posting from my own point of view.  I have experienced 1 cruise in my life and it was a Disney cruise.  Hannah and I are HUGE Disney fans which also influences my thoughts and opinions.  That being said….let’s get on with the questions! 

1.  (From Lisa N)  “I wanted to ask you if you thought the cruise was worth the extra expense as compared to a regular Disney vacation and/or other cruises?”

In one word, ‘YES!’ 

I will say that I agree with you, Disney cruises are pricey!  Some may say they’re not but to the general public and in comparison to a regular WDW vacation or other cruise lines, the cost of a Disney cruise is more.

But, that being said, the extra cost is worth it to me.  Personally I would choose to cruise less often and go with Disney than to pay less and choose a different cruise line.  Hannah is 5.  She loves Disney!  She loves Disney characters and I love the way Disney treats people.   I loved the fact that we could go to any show on the cruise and know that it would be good, clean fun and geared to family entertainment.  I didn’t need to worry about inappropriate jokes or material being presented to my child.  I am very cautious at home about what she watches on TV, etc. so our vacation is just an extension of this. 

The ship was filled with children and adults.  This was huge as it was a family atmosphere and children and families were celebrated!  We say many family reunions onboard ship and it was precious to see so many families sailing together! 

One thing Sharon and I both noticed during our trip was that onboard the ship neither of us heard any swearing.  I’m not saying it wasn’t there, it just wasn’t prevalent and it was a nice treat.  Also, Disney is very restrictive about smoking areas.  They are available for those who need them but away from the general public and with so many children onboard, I appreciate this.

I also love the children’s programs offered.  Hannah went to clubs 4 times (outside of the open house when the 3 of us went together) and she loved it each and every time.  One night she went to Pluto’s pyjama party and had so much fun she didn’t want to leave even though it was after 10pm!   The kids could choose to go in their pj’s and many chose to do this, including Hannah.  when I dropped her off there were over 106 kids at the pyjama party (their magicbands can give stats in an area to cast members at any given moment)  and they were having a blast!  When the clubs are not in open house we can see a bit of what they’re doing from outside but are not allowed to enter nor to take any pictures.  I desperately wanted to as they looked adorable and were having such fun but I respected the rules.  Hannah said Pluto was there for the party and played games with them and more.  I could hear them playing, ‘What Time is it Pluto?’ a version of ‘What Time is it Mr. Wolf?’  Pluto tapped his paw to tell them how many steps to take.  Shrieks of delight could be heard from outside the club and it made me smile!  She also coloured this sweet pillow case.  Another wonderful keepsake of our trip!IMG_3146

One way we found to save money was we chose an inside cabin.  I know that doesn’t suit everyone’s taste but for us we were in our room so little that I could not justify the cost for a room with either a port hole or a veranda.   The virtual port hole also made such a difference as it gave a more open feeling to the room.  If I could afford it I would love an exterior room but as with all our Disney trips, cutting back in small ways = more Disney travel which wins out for us every single time!IMG_2689

As for the cost of Disney Cruise Line vacation vs. a Walt Disney World vacation, that’s a good question.  Many have asked me that since we got home and my answer normally is something like, ‘I like they both the same, they’re just so different from one another that they can’t be compared.’  We can enjoy more days in the park for the same price as a shorter cruise.  For Hannah and I we really like them both so as we’re able, we’ll do both.  If I had to choose only one right now it would be WDW for us.  We tend to visit WDW during ‘off season’ which lowers the price of our room and I always go during a Free Dining offer which makes a big difference in the price of our trip.  At WDW we stay at value resorts and for the amount of time we’re in the room this works perfectly for us.

2.  (from Jenna)  Do you know if there were any make a wish kids on your cruise?

Hi Jenna,  Although I’ve seen many ‘Make a Wish’ kids at WDW, I was not aware of any on our cruise.  What a wonderful wish that would be to receive!! 

I wonder if the length of our cruise and/or distance to medical care makes any difference on the cruises awarded by Make a Wish?  Just thinking out loud. Winking smile

I’ll post this for now and answer more questions in my next post.  Keep them coming!  This is fun and helping me relive the memories one more time!!

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Any Disney Cruise Questions?

I hope you enjoyed sharing our Disney Cruise with us!  It sure was fun reliving the memories as I worked on these posts.

Have you caught the Disney Cruising bug?  We sure have!!  This was us a couple of weekends ago as we dreamed of Mediterranean and Alaskan cruises we could not afford but the thankfully dreaming doesn’t cost anything!Cruise Planning..

Do you have any questions about cruising with Disney?  I’m happy to answer any that I can. 

Someone asked in a comment recently how the cruise compares to our trips to Walt Disney World.  I can honestly say that I enjoyed them both the same even though they are such different vacations.  (I’m surprised to be saying this as before we left I didn’t know what we’d possibly do to fill our days.  Heh!!!)   WDW is busy and exciting filled with rides, shows, fireworks, character greetings and much more.  Disney cruising is filled with much the same (if we consider our many rides on the AquaDuck) but in a different way.  It’s busy but in a contained way.  Both are chock full of family time which we love and is one of my favourite parts about Disney.  They do so much for us that I can leave everything else behind and just concentrate on Hannah and being with her.  Truly, that’s one of the greatest reasons I love Disney is the way is draws our family together whether it be Hannah and I alone or when we share time with the grandparents too.

What questions do you have?  LOL – are you read to book?

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

See You Real Soon!!

As we disembarked our first cruise on Saturday, March 1st we walked under this sign.IMG_2922

I’ll be honest and say that it was much easier to leave the ship knowing that we’d taken the advice of many on DISboards and had booked our next cruise before leaving our first!!  Wheee!!!!!

Thursday during our final full day at sea, Hannah and I sat down with a Disney Cruise planner and chose a cruise for next February.   I’d planned ahead to look into this to see if we could swing it but wasn’t holding my breath.  I had saved for 7 years to pay for this first cruise so I wasn’t sure we’d be able to do it again so soon.  (And to be honest, I had no idea how much we would both fall in love with Disney cruising!!)  Disney offers a 10% discount and an onboard credit if you book another cruise while still onboard.  Well, after checking the prices of a few I found one that would work for us and it was less than 50% of the one we were currently on.  That works!  I booked it for the two of us and then we went in search of Nana.  (Hannah is still young enough that she had no idea what was happening even though I was speaking openly in front of her.)

We went down to the cabin to find Nana and I shared the exciting news!  Her reaction was exactly what I’d hoped it would be – she wanted to book for she and Papa too!!  Woo hoo!!!  Next year is their 50th Wedding Anniversary and what a wonderful way to celebrate!   We went back up to the booking desk and booked a cabin for them too!  Smile  Hannah was tired of all this booking stuff so took the opportunity to catch a nap before lunch.  I’m guessing all those late nights and days filled with swimming and play were catching up with her.

IMG_2747

We went for lunch after this where Hannah continued to nap in my lap while Nana and I celebrated our exciting news!! 

Later that afternoon Hannah and I went to the kids club while Nana went for a walk around the ship.  She bumped into Tonya and her family and yes….they went ahead and booked the same cruise for next year too!   Yay!!!  We’ve already linked our reservations together and requested to sit together again.  IMG_2826

As the day proceeded I had a niggling that just wouldn’t go away.  I knew I needed to make one more booking and hope that it all worked out.  And…it did! 

Next year on February 20th our family will board the Disney Wonder for a 5 night cruise to Grand Cayman and Disney’s Castaway Cay, plus 2 days at sea ~ which are our favourites!  (Truly I’d be happy if we left the dock, sailed around for a week and then went back to the same port!  I know it’s not possible but the sea days are the ones we enjoyed the most!)

So here we go….Hannah and IIMG_3108

Nana and PapaIMG_3013

and…….Grandma and Grandpa!!!IMG_3014

will board the Disney Wonder and set sail for a beautiful family vacation together with Tonya and her family!

So Mickey, we’re happy to say, ‘See you real soon!!’IMG_2922

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