Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Blue Loop. Today we are sharing what you need to know to start planning your Disney Cruise.
The first step in planning your Disney Cruise Line vacation is picking a cruise. With four amazing ships visiting a variety of cruise destinations throughout the year, this is no easy task.
We’ve been on a number of cruises, and three of those have been with Disney Cruise Line. Here’s how to choose your cruise…
Back in 2012, we were planning a Disney cruise vacation not just for ourselves, but for our extended family as well. This included nearly every age range, from infants to teens to adults, with many first-time cruisers.
We needed to find the perfect cruise for everyone, and we think we did.
When to Cruise?
|Lisa enjoying our Key West day on the Disney Magic|
The first decision we made in planning our cruise was deciding on when to go. Disney Cruise Line itineraries are released about 18 months in advance, so knowing when you want to cruise can help you plan ahead to get the best rates, which is typically right when the itineraries are announced.
When you cruise may be determined by a number of factors, but the main factor for us was finding a time that everyone was available. With kids in school, this meant a holiday or summer break. Ultimately we settled on a summer cruise. This gave everyone the flexibility to plan their trips around the cruise, allowing for different travel options and being able to add time on before or after the cruise to extend the vacation.
Which Departure Port?
|Lisa, Bella and Jackson met Captain Mickey at the terminal|
Where your cruise departs from is an important factor. Disney Cruise Line has several home ports for its cruise ships, but some of these are only used at certain times of the year. If you have a specific time of year in mind, like we did, then you can check to see what ports each ship will be sailing from at that time.
As of this post, Disney Cruise Line is operating out of the following ports for the rest of 2015 and all of 2016:
- Barcelona, Spain
- Copenhagen, Denmark
- Dover, England
- Galveston, Texas
- Honolulu, O’ahu
- Miami, Florida
- New York, New York
- Port Canaveral, Florida
- San Diego, California
- San Juan, Puerto Rico
- Vancouver, Canada
The convenience of getting to and from the Departure Port can be a big factor. When planning our 2012 cruise, Disney Cruise Line did not have any sailings from New York, which would have been incredibly convenient for us.With no choice but to travel to a port, we opted for Port Canaveral because it gave us several itinerary choices to choose from, and everyone was experienced with traveling to Florida from our many trips to Walt Disney World.
|Lisa and Bella at Castaway Cay with Disney Dream|
Cruise itineraries consist of length and destination. Where does the ship go? How long will the trip take?
Disney Cruise Line offers short cruises (3-4 nights), medium-length cruises (5-7 nights), long cruises (8-13 nights), and really long cruises (14+ nights). Generally speaking, the shorter cruises are more budget-friendly, but the longer cruises give you more time to enjoy the ship and various ports of call.
The really long cruises are usually used to reposition a cruise ship from one Departure Port to another. That’s important to keep in mind because you would not get off the ship in the same port you boarded.
For 2015 and 2016 sailings, Disney Cruise Line will explore the following destinations:
- California Coast
- Canada & New England
- Panama Canal Cruises (Repositioning)
- Transatlantic Cruises (Repositioning)
For our 2012 cruise, we opted for a 4-night Bahamian cruise. We felt it was the best combination of destination and length for our traveling party. It was one of the more affordable cruises, and the shorter length also eased the concerns with some of our first-time cruisers of handling being at-sea.
The ports of call included Nassau, Bahamas and Disney’s private island: Castaway Cay. The 4th night also gave us a built-in day at sea to enjoy the ship without feeling pressured to get off at a port of call.
|Disney Characters help celebrate the beginning of each cruise with a Sail Away Party|
Disney Cruise Line boasts 4 incredible ships: The Disney Magic, Disney Wonder, Disney Dream, and Disney Fantasy.
To date, we’ve sailed on 3 out of 4 DCL ships, and they’ve all been AMAZING!
At this point in the process, if you’ve narrowed down the when, where, and how long, then your choice of ship might have been made for you. In 2012, once we had narrowed down everything else, the Disney Dream was the only ship that met our requirements.
If not, perhaps you might find yourself choosing between ships. For what it’s worth, there isn’t a bad choice in the bunch, but each ship is unique in some ways.
|Funnel on the Disney Magic|
The Disney Magic and Disney Wonder are older and smaller than the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy, which means they carry less passengers. You could look at it as there being a little bit less ship to explore, or less people to possibly be in your way.
The Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy have some high-tech flourishes that were not available on the earlier ships. Interactive features such as the Mid-Ship Detective Agency and Crush at the Animator’s Palette restaurant come to mind. The Disney Magic recently went through a re-imagining that gave it some newer toys, like the Marvel Avenger’s Academy in the kids’ club and the Aqua Dunk waterslide. The Wonder, for now, remains the more classic ship, with slightly less flair.
|Our servers were like family by the end of the cruise|
But the service on all the ships is outstanding. For us, we might be swayed to choose the Disney Fantasy for our next cruise simply because it’s the only one we haven’t sailed on yet. That’s providing that all the other factors fall into place for that to happen.
So which cruise would you choose? Leave a comment to let us know!
Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Blue | Disney Cruising 101 Loop:
- 1st Stop – Home is Where the Mouse Is | Disney Cruising 101 | Which Cruise Should You Choose?
- 2nd Stop – Mommy to All Girls | The Kolb’s Guide to Disney Cruising 101
- 3rd Stop – This Roller Coaster Called Life| Top 10 Favorite Things about the Disney Dream
- 4th Stop – Family Travel Escapades | Three Nights on the Disney Dream
- 5th Stop – Adventure in the Great Wide Somewhere | The Joy of Cruising Concierge