My family and I recently made it to our first Disney Cruise. The Western Caribbean journey began at Port Canaveral, FL, and the ports-of-call included the Grand Cayman, Costa Maya, Cozumel, and Castaway Cay. This trip was planned several months in advance, and we were excited to try something new.
Many years ago, I sailed on Carnival and Royal Caribbean. On Royal Caribbean, the trip began in Vancouver, Canada and continued to Seward, Alaska. The ports were terrific, but the cruise was in mid-October, which meant that the Alaskan weather was a bit chilly.
For the most part, people go on cruises to get away from day-to-day responsibilities. When on the ship, you can expect to be pampered. There is so much food that it’s easy to put on the pounds. The goal of any cruise company is to sail 100% full because many of the charges come from liquor, merchandise, and excursions.
Some people are surprised that gratuities are charged on a per-person basis. For example, on a 7-day cruise, each person (including children) will likely pay about $77 (about $11 per day) for gratuities, which are distributed among the cabin stewards, dining room waiters, assistant waiters, and headwaiters. As I noted here, this is not optional. If you have a family of four, expect to pay about $308.
The Disney Cruise
Our ship was the Disney Fantasy, which is the newest and most modern. This huge vessel has a capacity for about 4,000 passengers and 1,500 crewmembers. While this sounds like a ton of people, it really didn’t seem too crowded, except during the day in the family swimming pools.
My family and I decided to take advantage of the unbelievable food offered on the cruise. Each evening, for example, we went to the selected dining room, such as the Animators Palate, Enchanted Garden, or Royal Court. Upon arrival, the waiters greeted us. We were assigned to one of the three dining rooms, and the waiters traveled with us. It was cool that they knew us and remembered our preferences. For example, I like to drink Diet Coke with my dinner, and black coffee with my dessert. Since I’m not too much into sweets, my dessert is fresh fruit, and I only had to make this request on the first night.
By the way, on the 7-night cruise, there were three Broadway-style shows. The cast did an excellent job of making them fun, and everyone had a terrific time. I also liked that the presentations where generally about an hour, which meant we had time to enjoy other ship activities.
Disney Cruises will easily cost an extra 40% or more when compared to those offered by Carnival and Royal Caribbean. Is the extra money worth it? It depends. If you have kids, the investment makes a difference. You can leave the kids at the assigned clubs, and enjoy time for yourself. For $200, you can have a great massage, manicure, and pedicure. You can also bypass the spa treatment and head to the adult pool area.
The beauty of cruising is that you can decide how much to do. If you are looking for downtime, get a stateroom with a balcony, a glass of your favored wine, and enjoy the beautiful view of the ocean. You can’t go wrong!