Jan 272016
 

By Teresa Pittman

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I strolled through the airport, dragging my Minnie Mouse suitcase behind me. A young couple smiled at me, and the wife said “Are you just back from Disney World?”

“Actually,” I replied, “I’m just back from a Disney cruise.”

“Oh,” she said. “We love going to WDW, but we figured the cruises were just for families with kids. Is there anything to do for adults?”

She may have regretted asking me that question, as I spent the next 15 minutes or so listing all the activities the Disney Fantasy offered for adults, but they seemed both interested and surprised. I’ve heard similar comments from other people I’ve met, too. Disney’s TV commercials have tended to focus on families, so they may have perpetuated that myth. But I’m here to tell you: a Disney cruise is a whole lot of fun for adults traveling without kids, too.

Like me. I’m single and a grandmother. I’ve cruised with my family in the past, but my last two cruises – one on the Dream and one on the Fantasy – were “girlfriend getaways” with friends.

So what can adults do on a Disney cruise?

  • You can relax. Really relax. Are you worried that your attempts to sunbathe or read a novel will be ruined by hordes of screaming children running past? Stop worrying. Just head to the adults-only decks and stretch out on a handy deck-chair. Every now and then a smiling CM will show up to ask if you want a drink. No kids in sight.
  • You can relax even more. If your past few weeks of work have left you exceptionally stressed, or you just want some pampering, a visit to the ship’s spa may be in order. Watch the Navigator for special offers – I had a great “anti-sunburn” treatment the day after spending too much time on the beach at Castaway Cay. And be sure to check out the Rainforest Room.
  • You can be entertained. You’ve heard that Disney Cruises offer Broadway-quality shows, and that’s true. Trust me, adults enjoy these as much as the kids do. There are also family comedy and magic shows throughout the day. In the evenings, though, many of those entertainers return to the stage with adult-only versions of their shows. It’s Disney, so we’re not talking X-rated by any means, but the humour is a bit more geared to an adult audience.
  • You can exercise your competitive side. Think you know everything about Disney? Or do you shine at general trivia games? You’ll have your chance at fun trivia competitions held throughout the cruise – and you could even win a nice prize or two. Or challenge your friends and family to a mini-golf game up on the top deck.

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  • You can learn something new. Take a tour or try a class. I learned to draw some Disney characters while discovering a bit about the history of animation. I also tried my hand at folding towel animals – let’s just say that wasn’t my best work. The mixology class gave me and my friends a chance to make and taste five different drinks while being entertained by a very skilled bartender.
  • You can shop. Until you drop, if that’s what you like. The shops on board have a nice selection of items, including clothing and accessories, and every port will have some attractive shopping options.
  • You can explore new places. One of the reasons cruises are so popular is that you get a chance to check out several ports, without unpacking, going through airport security or any of the other hassle travelers can face. You can book excursions ahead of time – Disney lists some, or you can go online to find others – depending on your interests. Or you can just wander around the port, do a little shopping or have a meal or a drink.
  • You can eat without kids. Each of the Disney cruise ships offers at least one adults-only premium restaurant, where you pay a little extra for a fancier meal and a kids-free experience. Even if you don’t choose that option, though, taking the second seating for dinner will usually work. Most of the kids who are present will leave as soon as they finish eating – whisked away by the kid’s club staff – and you can linger over dessert and drinks.
  • You can party! The nightclub section of the ship is as lively and fun as you could want. Wander from one themed area to another, or find your favorite and hang out there. You’re sure to find a place that plays the music you like. And at the end of the night, no worries about finding a cab to get home. The Pirate Party that ends with fireworks will have plenty of kids joining you, but the adults seem pretty good at getting into the pirate spirit.
  • You can be alone. Not the partying type? Hang out on your balcony with a room-service snack and drink, watching the waves. Cuddle up with your partner and watch a movie on your cabin TV. Pick a secluded corner on the adults-only deck and dream for an hour or two.

I’ve really barely scratched the surface here. Disney cruises are naturally fun for families, but they have just as much to offer for adults traveling without little ones. Of course, there’s one more bonus about a Disney cruise – if you want to, you can become a kid again! Get your photo with Mickey, scream as you zoom along the Aquaduck, solve the clues in the moving pictures and dance with the pirates on the pool deck. And maybe that’s the best way of all to relax.

May 202015
 

Disney Cruise Line - Longer Cruises are Better Cruises

By Ginamarie Palmieri

My family and I will not be cruising this year. My four year old son is not pleased, but, I’m going to share something with all of you that I have been sharing with him. I would rather spend this year saving up money so that next year we can book a longer Disney Cruise vacation, because longer cruises are better cruises.   If you have not had an opportunity to take a 14 or 15 night cruise, you may not know why this mantra holds true, so this article will share some tips and information about what makes a longer itinerary an excellent decision.

First, a longer itinerary gives you the opportunity to visit more unique ports of call, including some that may be once-in-a-lifetime visits. Whether you choose to take a 14-night Panama Canal itinerary that takes you through the locks of the canal or a transatlantic cruise with day after day at sea without sight of land, these experiences are only available on longer itineraries. We found a special peace in sailing across the ocean much like our ancestors had 100+ years ago (albeit in better accommodations). By taking these longer itineraries, we were able to visit places like Aruba, Puerto Vallerta, St. Kitts, Madeira, and the Canary Islands. These ports felt like special opportunities, and since they were off the beaten path, we did not have to compete with multiple other cruise ships at the piers like you may find on Eastern or Western Caribbean itineraries or in the Bahamas.

One of my favorite things to experience on a Disney Cruise is the food, and longer itineraries mean you have far more opportunities to try more food. This is beneficial in several ways. For one thing, with more sea days on your trip, there are more slots available for things like Palo brunch or dinner. This makes it less likely to get locked out of brunch due to lack of availability. In fact, we have found that Palo dinner reservations are easy to obtain on longer cruises, even after you get onboard.

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In the main dining room, a longer cruise gives your servers the opportunity to get to know you better. While service in the dining rooms is always good, it is even better when your servers know your preferences a couple of nights into the cruise, and then you have another 10+ days still to share with them. One caveat- after 14 nights with your dining team, you may be even more likely to ask them to come home with you!

The longer cruises also give Disney Cruise Line the opportunity to create special menus just for your cruise. These menus may contain local ingredients and cuisine or relate to a special celebration or show scheduled for that evening. We always love seeing some new menus to go alongside some of our old favorite menus (like Captain’s Night or the Pirates in the Caribbean menu). We also love having multiple opportunities to sneak up to the shwarma station or the poolside grill for some lunch.

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Longer cruises also tend to have a lot of extra events onboard. These range from extra dining opportunities like a royal princess tea or a character breakfast to extra evening activities like flamenco dancers in Spain and mariachi bands near Mexico. We have seen extra specialty acts onboard (Alfonso Ribeiro and Joey Fatone did a cabaret show one year) and participated in lecture series by Imagineers, Disney artists, historians and nature experts.  We also experienced a beer tasting session that we never would have found time to do on a shorter cruise with fewer sea days. Another benefit to a longer cruise is that many of the activities onboard will get repeated, so if you miss a dance party or a character meet and greet there are no worries- you can make sure to add it to your activity list the next time it is offered.

Conversely, longer cruises also give you more opportunities to relax rather than feeling like you need to squeeze in a new activity every minute. We treasure the time spent at the pool, riding the water slide over and over, or finding an empty window seat or deck chair where we can watch the ocean fly by.

I know what you may be thinking- Disney cruises are expensive and a longer Disney cruise is going to be even more expensive. However, there are also some financial incentives towards longer cruises. For one thing, the per diem rate on a Transatlantic or Panama Canal cruise is often a good deal lower than the per diem price on sailings from Port Canaveral (part of this reason is that these longer itineraries are offered on the “classic ships” rather than the newer Disney Dream or Disney Fantasy). This means that the long sailing may be more expensive overall than a shorter one, but if you average out the price per day, the longer itinerary is less expensive per day.

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Additionally, while these itineraries are twice as long as a 7-night sailing, things like an unlimited photo package do not double in price. We have been able to take hundreds of pictures while on these longer itineraries, making the photo package an even better deal for us. Since we were onboard longer, it meant we were able to make good use of things like wine and beer packages as well. While the embarkation/debarkation ports may be more expensive to get to than a round trip cruise from Port Canaveral, by spacing out these cruises to every 2-3 years, our travel expenses become equalized.

The biggest downside to taking a long Disney Cruise itinerary is that it’s hard to go back to the shorter cruises! In fact, many people who take one of these itineraries feel compelled to continue taking longer Disney cruises. On our last Transatlantic cruise (September 2014), the vast majority of people onboard were not only Castaway members, but also people who had taken a prior Transatlantic cruise (including most of our sailing party).

Overall, I hope that this article has piqued your interest in some of Disney Cruise Line’s longer itineraries, and maybe I can catch you onboard a future sailing.

Nov 122014
 

By Rikki Niblett

Top 10 Best Things About Cruising with Disney Cruise Line

I’ve been in your shoes before. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking about potentially taking a Disney Cruise Line vacation, but you just don’t know. You’ve mastered a Walt Disney World or Disneyland vacation, but would you really enjoy a Disney Cruise Line one?

I can answer this question with a resounding YES! Without a doubt, a Disney Cruise Line vacation is one of the best vacations around. But why? What makes cruising a great option? Well for that answer, I have 10 reasons…my top 10 Best Things About Cruising with Disney Cruise Line!

 

Disney Cruise Line Stateroom

  • Staterooms: Not only are the staterooms larger than most other cruise lines, but they come with some unique features too. For many rooms, the bathroom is a split bath; a shower and sink in one part and a sink and toilet in another. Another neat perk is lots of storage space to hide luggage (like under the bed) and for those who don’t have a view of the ocean, on the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy they offer the virtual portholes, where you can see exactly what is going on outside, but courtesy of video screens! (Be on the lookout for Disney characters which may pop up!)

Disney Cruise Line Wait Staff

  • Rotational Dining: One of the things that is unique to Disney Cruise Line is rotational dining. Here guests rotate to the three different restaurants each night, but their dining staff rotates with you! This comes in handy because your staff knows what drinks you like, what items to recommend, and more. Honestly, the dining staff become like family to you too. You bond with them, chat with them, and yes, even take photos with them at the end of your cruise…like we always do.

Disney Cruise Line Pools

  • The AquaDuck/AquaDunk: These two water slides are one of a kind options only available on Disney Cruise Line ships! (The AquaDuck is on the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy and the AquaDunk is on the Disney Magic.) If you are a water slide fan at all, you’ll want to experience these for yourself. If you’re not a water slide fan, there’s lots of areas to swim and play. There’s the Aqualab, the Nemo Reef section, and of course the Mickey Pool! Swimming in some form is a guaranteed must while cruising and what better way to do it than on these fantastic ships?

Oceaneer Lab

  • Oceaneer’s Club, Oceaneer’s Lab, Vibe, Edge, and every other kid’s section: Holy cow! What can I say? These kids sections are fantastic! There is just so much to do that oftentimes kids don’t want to leave. (Heck, let’s be honest, I wouldn’t want to leave…too bad I’m a grown up.) It’s playtime, all the time and it’s oh so fun! (And during the open house portion of these areas on the first day on the ship, I may have had some fun playing too!)

Palo Brunch

  • Palo Brunch: Want to know the ultimate in meals (at least according to me.) It’s Palo’s Brunch. Only offered on at sea days and for an extra cost, the brunch is a must do, can’t miss, if you can. There are so many different options to choose from. You have great breakfast options like fruit, yogurt, salmon, danishes, and more. Then for lunch choices you have different salads, shrimp, ahi tuna, etc. Then on top of that you can choose to order flatbreads. Oh then you can choose to order an actual brunch meal, such as pancakes, omelets, or even chicken parmesan. Finally it’s the dessert course. If you don’t roll out of here stuffed to the gills, you did something wrong.

Pirates in the Caribbean Night

  • Pirates in the Caribbean Night: Did you know that special to Disney Cruise Line is the Pirates in the Caribbean party? It starts with the guests who are encouraged to dress the part. Then guests get to partake in a special dinner menu. Guests are to head out to the deck where the Pirates in the Caribbean party is taking place. There’s a special version of the show for kids and then a version that’s a little scarier (I mean…as scary as you can get for Disney) later in the evening. Of course you will not want to miss out on the fantastic fireworks extravaganza. (Did you know that DCL is the only cruise line that offers fireworks.) Oh and then to top it all off, most of the time there is a wonderful midnight buffet, which features delicious dishes, along with turkey legs! It’s a arrgh-tastic!

Senses Spa

  • Senses Spa: Are you looking for a little luxury during your vacation? Look no further than Senses. Here you can have all the pampering you want done (of course for a price.) You can get manicures, facials, and even massages. Of course, my favorite section is the Rainforest Room, where guests can sit on heated loungers, enjoy “private” hot tubs, take a steam, or rinse off with the famous rainforest shower heads. (Do keep in mind that you can purchase a Rainforest Room pass, but they are only available on a first come, first served bases starting as soon as you board the ship.)

Disney Cruise Line Tiny Touches

  • Disney touches everywhere: While Disney Cruise Line is of course a Disney ship, the Disney touches aren’t so in your face. There are little things everywhere…some more open than others. You can see the touches in the stairwells, you can seem them in the artwork, heck, you can even see them in the elevator (look at the arm telling you what floor you are on.) Though there are times when you forget you are on a Disney ship, the details are so wonderfully hidden; like a giant Disney Easter egg hunt! It’s so elegant and regal. The whole ship! Of course, there are more overt touches too…like the Mickey Pool or Mike Wazowski’s Eye Scream Ice Cream. But you want to know one of the coolest Disney touches? You can be walking down the stairs and literally run into a Disney Princess. Yep…it’s happened.
  • Broadway Caliber Shows/Other Entertainment: Can I just say that the entertainment and the staff here on DCL is redonkulous! Oh my gosh! They are just so, so great. (Actually all the Cast Members are top notch. Really, you won’t find one who doesn’t work super hard to make your vacation fantastic.) But as far as entertainment Cast Members, they get the party pumping from the moment you step on the ship until you dock back home. The Broadway caliber shows are just incredible too. They are so special and most tug at the heart strings. Do not miss these! You also have the option of playing game shows, they keep the clubs thumping, and they have lots of activities going on the pool deck. There’s really just a ton to do. Don’t worry about being bored on a Disney Cruise Line vacation…it’s really the opposite…you’ll have too much that you want to do and not enough time to do it in!

Castaway Cay

  • Castaway Cay: How can you not talk about Disney Cruise Line and not mention Castaway Cay. For many, many sailings, stopping here is a requirement. It’s like an extension of the ship. It is the epitome of a tropical island. There’s so much to do too! If you want to go parasailing, you can. Want to feed a sting ray, you can. Want to go on a bike ride, yep. Want to run a 5k, that’s a yes. Want to play in the ocean…yes sir! Or if you just want to rest on a lounge chair and read a good book, you can do that too. Castaway Cay is the ultimate paradise and a major reason why many choose to cruise with Disney Cruise Line.  (And the ultimate is the Castaway Cay double dip, which I get to participate in next time. It’s where you visit Castaway Cay twice during your cruise!)

As you can see, a Disney Cruise Line vacation is a ton of fun! Honestly, this vacation is one of the best ones we’ve taken. I’m more of a go-go-go Walt Disney World vacation taker…my hubby prefers to relax…but on a Disney Cruise Line trip, we are always able to meet right in the middle. Preferably on Deck 4…but that’s another great hidden gem that I want to keep to myself. (Oops…I think I gave it away.  Darn!  Well, it’s between me and you, right?)

May 292013
 

By Teresa Pitman

 

Disney and Disney cruise with Lenore 564

I took my first cruise on the Disney Dream more than two years ago – and wasn’t sure if I wanted to go back. I’m vegan (as are most of my children) and one of the reasons I love visiting the Disney parks is that they are so good about meeting special dietary needs, whether these are because of food allergies, gluten sensitivities, or preferences such as eating vegan or vegetarian. I had hoped for the same experience on our first cruise.

Unfortunately, we were very disappointed, and the meals were (to say the least) a challenge, although we loved everything else about the cruise. Dare I say it? Disney let me down.

But I wasn’t ready to give up yet. I wrote to Disney to let them know about our experience and they promised me that if I came back, I’d have a better time.

In March of this year, I took them up on it. And once again, Disney came through.

At our first dinner, our server greeted us warmly and said “I understand you are vegan, we are ready for you!” The head server also stopped by our table to bring us some vegan bread and talk about the food that was on the menu and what could be modified for us. Already, things were looking up.

On our first trip, we found no vegan options at all on most of the menus. On this trip, there was one entree at each restaurant that was either vegan or could easily be made vegan. Not only that, but our server told us that the chef would prepare some additional meals for us so that we could have more choices. Were we thrilled? Oh, yes!

Continue reading »

Dec 282011
 


By: Rikki Niblett

It was a crazy year again for the Disney Parks. Lots of great things happened and a ton of new attractions opened. Some attractions reopened after lengthy refurbishments. We also lost a few things and a brand new Disney destination premiered. So, we here at Magically Speaking thought we’d taking a look at some of the biggest news stories that happened with Disney this year.

First, 2011 started off a little sadly with Mickey’s Toontown Fair closing at the Magic Kingdom. Many were heartbroken to see this area go, but with the new Fantasyland approaching for 2012 it was a necessary evil. This was the last land added to the Magic Kingdom and the first to ever close at the Walt Disney World Resort.

Debuting on both coasts in January was The Magic, The Memories, and You. This show is projected on Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom and it’s a small world at Disneyland. For many, I think this show was a surprise hit (I know it was for me!). It’s so amazing to see what technology can do! It truly is a remarkable show and if it doesn’t leave you with a tear in your eye, I don’t know what will. Continue reading »

Jul 132011
 

Alright, I guess I’ve already kind of fibbed…this was technically not my first time cruising.  I’ve been on two other cruises in my life…once to six different Caribbean Islands (I can name them all if you really want to know) and the second was on The Big Red Boat which at the time WAS the Disney Cruise.  However, both of those cruises happened when I was just a youngin.  I was fortunate enough to have parents who wanted to show my brother and me the world.

But with that being said, I had never been on a cruise as an adult, where I was the one who was in charge of all the planning.  So, to me this really was my first experience cruising.  So, what better cruise line to start with than Disney?

My cruise was this June, the 21st – 26th.  It was a trip that included just my husband and me and was a 5 night stay on the Disney Dream with a stop in Nassau and two stops at Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay.  I know that a lot of people suggest shorter trips for first time cruisers, but I didn’t want to go with a 3 night cruise, as I felt that was too short of time and the same goes for a 4 night.  A 5 night cruise sounded like just the right amount of time to enjoy what the ship has to offer, but not be too long, just in case we didn’t like the experience.  It turns out that both my husband and I thought that 5 nights still wasn’t enough!  We would have loved to be on the ship for a few more days, though I think we both feel that any more than a 7 night cruise might be a bit too long for us.  (So we say now!)

The first thing I learned about taking a cruise vacation is that it took much less planning than a typical Walt Disney World vacation.  It was so nice that I didn’t have to figure out where I was going to eat (which was assigned to me once I boarded the ship), where I was going to go, or what events I was going to participate in.  I didn’t even plan any excursions!  I just let the days take me where they wanted to go.  I pretty much did no planning whatsoever besides learning some of the basics of the ship. I just went with it.  I wanted a simple experience.  So, to quote my man Crush, one of the best things to do on a Disney Cruise is to “Go With The Flow.”  Trust me, you won’t regret it!

Something else that I enjoyed immensely is the Spa; particularly the Rainforest Room.  This was one of my favorite areas on the ship because my husband and I were able to use the hot tubs that can be found here and (bonus) we didn’t have to fight a bunch of people to use them.  As a matter of fact, most of the time we were the only two in the hot tub area.  (A little tip, go to the Rainforest Room at night…there is never anyone there, so it’s like you have the whole place to yourself!)  In addition, we both enjoyed the 3 different types of saunas they had, with our favorite being the one that was a mixture of steam and heat.  Oh, and if I could have brought home one of those heated chairs that can be found in here, I probably would have!  I took many a nap on those heated chairs!  They were just so cozy.

The one thing that I didn’t quite get the hype for was the actual Rainforest Showers that make this room so famous.  While they are nice…their purpose was essentially lost on me. The room as a whole was well worth the money we paid.  (Another tip:  go on the first day of your cruise to get the special Rainforest Room pass.  There are a limited number sold per cruise.  On ours, I believe there were only 40 sold, but you’ll get access to the room during the entire length of your stay.  To me, it was WELL worth the money.  I would buy the pass again in a heartbeat!

I also really enjoyed the restaurants onboard the ship.  Of course, who wouldn’t when it’s pretty much all you can eat?  My favorite restaurant was Royal Palace as the food was excellent and I loved the atmosphere.  I really felt like I was a princess, enjoying dinner at one of Cinderella’s special soirees.

I was also lucky enough to dine at Palo for dinner not once, but twice this trip!  If you’re a fan of seafood, their scallops are excellent and you can’t go wrong with their chocolate soufflé!  While Palo does have an additional charge (at the time of this article, it was an extra $20 per person) it is well worth the money, given the experience you will have.

The fun thing about all the restaurants is if you want 2 desserts, you can have 2 desserts!  If you want to try something on the menu that you never thought you’d ever eat, you can!  (I tried duck for the first time! Tasted like a mixture of pork and chicken to me, but I liked it!)  You may gain like 20 pounds while you’re on the cruise though!  It feels like you are constantly eating at every corner!

Of course, there are the things that everyone raves about that I enjoyed immensely as well.  The Pirates in the Caribbean night was a ton of fun!  I loved getting to dance on deck in my pirate garb and the fireworks at sea were a sight to see!

I also really liked getting a double dip at Castaway Cay.  Since we got to go twice, I got the chance to really experience a lot of aspects of the island and learned what areas I really liked to hang out in.  I really enjoyed the new Pelican Plunge area.  There was always a ton of action going on, but it wasn’t as crazy as the first family beach seemed to be.

We did try out Serenity Bay, the adults only beach too.  It most certainly was serene!  It was very quiet with plenty of chairs and umbrellas, and the ocean wasn’t so deep, so it allowed you to pull a chair out into it to just sit there and talk or read.  Serenity Bay was the perfect place to take a nap.

I conquered the AquaDuck, too!  I didn’t get the chance to ride it a ton, but I did get to enjoy it both in the daytime and at night.  I liked riding it both ways, as they were totally different experiences.  I suggest if you’re gonna ride the AquaDuck, you try both too!

My final tip, if you can ever manage it, is to take a cruise with a group!  It is a ton of fun cruising this way.  The cruise I went on was for The Be Our Guest Podcast, as I’m a co-host of the show, and let me tell you, I have certainly been spoiled!  I would never cruise without going with a group of people again!  It was always so much fun running into people you knew in the halls, getting to participate in a Fish Extender exchange (kind of like a secret Santa game, in case you didn’t know), eating dinner together, experiencing the shows together, and getting together to hang out as a group at the different ports.  You never felt alone!  There was always someone fun to hang out with, talk to and laugh like crazy!  Even the kids enjoyed it too!  So many friendships were quickly cemented amongst the younger set!  As a matter of fact, some became as thick as thieves. I hardly saw them all cruise!

A lot of people ask the question, should I take a Disney Cruise if it’s just two adults?  Won’t it be too kiddy?  I’m not going to lie…in the middle of the summer…on a Disney Cruise….yes…there are a lot of kids, especially in that family pool area.  (There were a lot of people in general on the ship, since it was the summer.  From my understanding, it was a completely full ship, as Disney’s cruises tend to be.)  That being said, if you are an adult, even in the summer there are plenty of areas and things that you can do, where you can go and not only will you not see a lot of kids, but you may not see a lot of people in general.  You sometimes have to search these places and activities out a bit but, trust me, they are there and we took full advantage of them!  So, don’t be scared to cruise as an adult without kids on the Disney Cruise Line.  There really is plenty to do.  We weren’t bored once.

In all, the whole cruising experience was truly a blast!  I will leave you with one tiny warning though, which is that cruising is addicting.  Once you try it, you will never look back.  I know…I’ve been bitten by the cruise bug myself…I’ve already got my second Disney cruise all lined up for the future!