Rachel & Raleigh weigh in after their recent experience!
Disney cruises are often thought of as being the gold standard for cruising, especially for those with children. I can’t tell you how often over the years people have come to me wanting to take their family on a cruise. They don’t know which cruise line yet and are open to Disney or others, but once they see the price tag for the Disney Cruise Line vs. others, they opt for the less-expensive, non-Disney option. My sister Rachel and daughter Raleigh recently returned from a Disney cruise, and I sat down with them to find out if a Disney Cruise is worth the hype (and the price tag)!
Rachel is a mom of four kids ranging between the ages of 8 and 12. Raleigh is married and doesn’t have any children yet. This was Rachel’s first time cruising, and Raleigh’s first time with Disney; Raleigh’s also cruised a couple of times with Royal Caribbean. The three of us had a great conversation about their experiences.
I loved that the Disney Cruise Line doesn’t just provide downloadable luggage tags; they actually send you a packet in the mail. It’s a nice touch in this digital world.
Rachel loved using the Disney app for the pre-cruise checkin, booking the excursions, and finding all of the cruise info.
Raleigh had fun pre-purchasing some birthday swag for my younger daughter who went also and was having a birthday onboard.
Rachel and her family loved seeing all of the Disney characters onboard. The characters were everywhere, with planned meet & greets so you could sign up to see them. Their cruise also included a Marvel Day at Sea, with characters from Thor and also from Guardians of the Galaxy available to meet. The lines were a lot shorter than they’ve experienced at Disney World or Disneyland.
Raleigh loved hearing the variety of Disney music playing onboard, reminiscent of her childhood, and also loved the Disney-themed everything: from the towels, to the plates, and even the drink cups.
They both noted how family-friendly everything was on board. Rachel loved how interactive the wait staff were with her children, making up fun puzzles and jokes at dinner, and being so happy to greet them every evening.
The Disney Cruise Line has three different dining rooms; guests are assigned to a specific one each night. Your amazing wait staff follows you to whichever dining room you’re in, complete with the accompanying costume and menu which matches the theme for the evening. Raleigh especially liked that in comparison with other cruise lines’ having a single main dining room.
Both agreed that the onboard Disney entertainment was absolutely over the top! With Broadway-style shows and entertainment, the Disney Cruise Line entertainment was the best Raleigh had ever experienced on a cruise. Rachel commented that one of her boys saw the matinee show on the final day of the cruise, and then insisted on going back and re-watching it again after dinner!
Rachel had plenty of experience with the kids’ area for her children. One thing she recommends is that parents go with their kids and tour the area on the first day onboard, so that they’re knowledgeable about what activities they might be doing.
Rachel noted that there never seemed to be a time when the kids’ club wasn’t open and available. And their system is so great: parents can either allow their kids to check themselves out when they’re ready to leave (like Rachel did for her 12-year-old daughter), or set it so that the parent or guardian has to check them out. The staff notifies the parent when the kids are ready to leave, and everything runs very smoothly.
You might not know that a Disney Cruise offers adults-only areas! Raleigh and my daughter Sabra hung out quite a bit in the adults-only pool area, which they said was relaxing and quieter, even playing different music than at the playful kids’ pool area.
As with any other cruise line, Disney offers plenty of great excursions while you’re in port.
Rachel and her family swam with the dolphins in Cozumel, which was a HUGE hit for everyone! She hadn’t known about the professional photography that would be a necessary additional expense, because you’re not allowed to take phones or cameras on the excursion. But the photographer did a fantastic job, which Rachel was happy with.
Raleigh and Sabra went on an ATV ride in Cozumel, which also included a lunch and spending time on a beach. They had a great time.
The other stop for this cruise was on Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay. Rachel’s family did an excursion which included renting bikes for an hour, waterslides and pool play, and snorkeling. One highlight of the snorkeling in the bay was that they had a sunken statue of Eric from The Little Mermaid, and one of the yellow submarine boats from Disneyland to see underwater.
Raleigh and Sabra didn’t pay for an excursion on Castaway Cay; they just enjoyed the beach and the pools. Raleigh noted that she enjoyed Royal Caribbean’s private island, Coco Cay, more than the Disney private island.
Was it worth the money and effort to go on a Disney cruise? Rachel says yes; she, her husband, and kids all loved it. Raleigh also says yes. She’s a Disney fan and loved that influence. She also loved that, as an adult with no kids, she could have just as much, if not more, fun, than other cruises she’s been on. So, it’s a two-thumbs-up for both of them!