Just what is so magical about a Disney Cruise?

So we finally cruised with Disney a few weeks ago.  I had been hearing such amazing reviews for so many years, I was very excited to try it. Just what was so magical about it? My standards are pretty high so the bar was set.  And the verdict is...

What is so magical about a Disney Cruise?
Overall, very good. I was expecting magic but instead we got a very well run machine. Exactly what I would expect from Disney.  The real "magic" is the absolute relaxation I felt as a parent, knowing the trip is designed for our needs.  While I generally prefer more exotic adventures, this trip made me realize that there is an underlying tension in exploring a place that isn't built around children. It may sound silly to say that because its rather obvious but I had never really considered it in that way before.

What is so magical about a Disney Cruise?What is so magical about a Disney Cruise?

For example, if my daughter wanted to sing loudly at dinner or had a fit, I didn't flinch because everyone else on the ship understood.  There was no concern about not having a changing table nearby or difficultly finding milk. The day was filled with activities we could enjoy as a family easily. It's a kind of relaxation that I can't say I have ever had while traveling with my daughter before this experience.  Kudos for Disney for doing it right.

What is so magical about a Disney Cruise?What is so magical about a Disney Cruise?

Don't get me wrong - I have no intension of chucking all of my travel plans in lieu of family geared resorts and cruises - the relaxation that comes with easy family trip is offset by limited exploring of new places - but there is something especially enjoyable to be catered to sometimes. Especially with a tantrum prone toddler in tow.

I will dispell the myth about the food: it's just okay. Not bad but nothing to rave about.  It's quite standard cruise fare from my experience. (We did not do Palo or Remy which is the finer dining option so I'll save my review of that for another time.) In fact, I'd say Disney puts less emphasis on food (no midnight buffets, for example) than other cruise lines.  That was totally fine with us as there is more than enough and it all seemed of good quality. Just don't expect any Michelin stars.

What is so magical about a Disney Cruise?What is so magical about a Disney Cruise?

I was also surprised to find that during the seated meals, there wasn't much in the way of children's entertainment. Not a deal breaker but I think it would be rather easy for Disney to improve on this so the adults could enjoy their dinner.

Service everywhere was good but I find that to be the case with all cruises.  The people on these ships work incredibly hard to make our life easy.

We loved the numerous character meetings.  Agatha's face just lit up when she got to meet the princesses - even the ones she didn't know about beforehand.  Extra points for the actresses playing those princesses who do such an amazing job of staying in character and engaging all of the children in a little chat.  My favorite was Snow White who crushed it.  (All of them were considerably better than the princesses at Disneyworld in my opinion with considerably shorter lines)

What is so magical about a Disney Cruise?What is so magical about a Disney cruise?

The shows ended up being a bit late for us to enjoy all the way through but I think they were of better production value than shows on other ships.  Naturally they are all family friendly but there is enough humor and nostagia mixed in that the adults can enjoy it as well.

DisneyCruise15042689DisneyCruise15042530

Overall, we had a great trip and you can add me to the people that will recommend sailing with Disney (so much so we booked 2016 European cruise).  I understand why it's so highly recommended now and I look foward to doing it again.

This post is already too long so I'll end here with the tease that I have a few not to miss tips for anyone thinking about booking coming up in my next post.





16 comments:

  1. I enjoyed your write up. While we love traveling all around the world as you do. I know when our child comes home, one day we will do the whole Disney thing. I know it will be fun it just won't be every vacation. Glad you had a nice relaxing time.

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    1. Thanks! As I'm sure you know, our usual trips aren't very relaxing. Or at the very least, my idea of relaxing is not typical. But it is nice to just take a breather every once in a while.

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  2. It's nice to hear a honest review. Your take was interesting since I've never been. Your daughter looks as cute as ever.

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  3. Glad you guys had a great time! We are cruising in July on the 4 day Bahamas Disney cruise! Can't wait for your tips!

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    1. You'll love it. This was a 3 day Bahamas but Im sure it all applies. In the meantime, if you have any questions just ask.

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  4. Great review, we almost did the European cruise this past summer, but unfortunately my husband's travel for work got in the way - he's gone all the time now and not to very fun places for us to tag along ;) So I'm eager to hear about that one next year. The family we were supposed to go with gave it very good reviews. Just a little side fact, I used to do upholstery designs for their cruise ships, they shopped stuff around and the lowest priced manufacturer won, which we never were. But I always got sneak peeks of what they were doing at the resorts/cruise ships/etc. Jobbers (the go betweens in the fabric biz) usually have one dedicated team just to handle Disney. It's like Northeast, Southwest, West, Southeast, Disney, Vegas... You get the idea. They are a powerhouse like that ;)

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    1. Oh I can imagine. There is a lot of fabric on just one ship so it must be a pretty coveted job.

      I'm sure the European cruises are a different beast than the Bahama one we just took. I'm hoping its a good mix of interesting locales along with the Disney magic but we shall see. If you end up going next summer, let me know! I might be on the boat with you.

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  5. Have you ever looked into their Disney Destinations? Those trips, IMO, are for well-off grandparents who want to take grandchildren on real adventures with little worry about planning or having child-friendly places to stay etc... I am glad you had a fun time. Sometimes vacationing with your children should be geared around them. I think that is what makes it so much fun.

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    1. Yes I have and they look pretty perfect for us (except for the price of course but even Disneyworld is a huge expense so Im not surprised). The min age for most of those trips is 5+ so it's not an option for us for a few years but I'm sure we will look into them when the time comes. They have one that goes to Vietnam that would be great.

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  6. A Disney cruise is on my To Do list so I loved hearing your review. Agatha looked like she completely enjoyed herself and it's good to hear you found the trip relaxing. Disney is a machine - a well timed, well-run one. Like you, I don't feel it's magic so much as it is them delivering exactly the quality experience you want and expect. Is it crazy that I want to go on the Disney Frozen cruise to the Norwegian Fjords for me? Looking forward to your tips.

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    1. Thanks!
      Not crazy at all. We opted to book the one that isn't so Frozen focused just because I really want to see St. Peterburg and I know that I probably wouldn't bother with all the hassle of a direct trip now (the visas, etc). Can I convince you to come with us? We can make it a blogging international conference :)

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  7. My husband swore up and down that he would NEVER take a cruise. But recently a friend recommended Disney cruises for families, and with your review, too we might have to give it a try! I might wait until my toddler is at least 3 to take advantage of the kids' club though. How was sleeping all together in a small stateroom? That's one of my concerns since toddlers go to bed so early.

    Of topic, but if you are looking for a good destination with kids, I would suggest Panama. We just got back from a trip with our 18 month old and we had ample changing facilities, high chairs, and safe, modern playgrounds. It's not the most exotic destination, but within a 30 minute drive (or less) of our hotel we had rain forest, the canal, modern skyscrapers, and historic Casco Viejo. Beaches aren't much farther away, too!

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    1. My kid is the same way so we ended up paying extra for a larger room. ( Well worth it because it wasn't cost prohibitive for just the 3 day) But now we have done it, it would have been fine with a smaller space. They do a good job of putting a curtain in to close off the living area of the room so you can use that and just be a bit more quiet than usual. We will have a smaller room for our next cruise and I'm not worried about it.

      Thanks for the Panama tip. I didn't realize there was much else to do there beside the beach.

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  8. What is your opinion on the length of your cruise? After you boarded, would you have preferred to stay longer? Thanks for the feedback. We are considering visiting Disney World for a few days and then taking a 3 or 5 day cruise.

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    1. We did something similar by doing a 3 day and then a couple of days at Disneyworld resorts. I picked the 3 day because I just wanted to get a flavor but I definitely would have enjoyed more time on the boat. With 3 days, you just barely get comfy and its time to go.

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