If you are here, then you must be interested in going on a Disney cruise, but can’t decide if that’s what you should do or not. I get why most people are hesitant to go on a Disney cruise. First, it’s an investment. There’s quite a bit of money that goes into it. Second, what makes it that much different than other cruise lines? I’ve only been on Carnival and Disney cruises so I can’t attest to some of the other cruise lines, but these are the reasons why I love Disney Cruise Lines and why I think you will too!
Reason #1: Castaway Cay
Honestly, this could be the ONLY reason in itself! Castaway Cay is Disney’s own private island. It has perfect sandy beaches, calm waters, a floating water playground, and best of all, everything on the island is included in the cruise (minus special excursions and alcohol).
The sand is like powder.
You don’t even have to wear shoes or anything while walking around the beach. I like to just dig my feet into the sand and feel the warmth in my toes! There’s not a whole lot of sea shells which makes it soft, but it can be kind of disappointing for the kids who want to collect them. You can usually find an area that’s a little rougher that has shells to find, though.
The water is warm and clear.
And there’s snorkeling too. Disney is part of a restoration/conservation effort to restore the coral reefs in the Bahamian waters near Castaway Cay. Snorkeling gear costs to rent, but it’s a reasonable price and you are free to come and go as you please throughout the day.
Kids Club on shore too!
In addition to the family beach area, there’s a teen beach area and Scuttle’s Cove, which is a kids only zone away from the water packed with all kinds of activities led by camp counselors.
There’s a floating playground!
Say what?! Yes! There is a water playground on the waters in the middle of the ocean! (Well, not middle, but off the shore, lol.) You have to swim out there, but don’t worry if you aren’t a strong swimmer or even if you don’t know how to swim because they have lifejackets that you have to wear out there. And, since it’s Disney, there are lifeguards and cast members everywhere so you are safe everywhere you go.
Lunch is provided.
Since the island is part of Disney, the food on shore is all included in your cruise. So you don’t have to worry about paying extra for food or going back to the ship to eat lunch. This maximizes your time spent on shore! Not to mention, it’s Disney level quality food so you know it’s going to be good!
There are character meet and greets.
During your walk to the beaches, there will be several characters along the way for photo opportunities and meet and greets. These characters are the main ones like Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and Donald. There won’t be any princesses on shore.
You can mail a postcard from the island.
How cool would it be to mail a postcard to yourself from your vacation and have it waiting for you when you get home to remind you of the amazing vacation you just had?! Just make sure you are carrying cash as it is cash only.
There is no soliciting.
I remember when we went to Nassau, we did the beach excursion and there were solicitors everywhere, selling anything from water to hair braiding to water sports. There was even one time my son, who was 2 at the time, yelled out “Yes!” when a guy walked by asking who wanted to go parasailing, lol! At Castaway Cay, you don’t have to worry about some random stranger asking you to buy something.
Reason #2: AquaDuck and Nemo’s Reef
If you like rides and water, you will LOVE the AquaDuck. From the deck, it doesn’t look like the ride is that fast, but once you are on it, it is unexpectedly exciting! The wait times can be kind of long for it, but there’s always times where it is less of a wait than normal, like during dining times or when there is a show going on.
Our son wasn’t potty trained when we went on our first Disney cruise so he wasn’t allowed in the pools (There are no swim diapers allowed on board) but they have a great splash pad area called Nemo’s Reef for the little ones that he absolutely loved. He had a blast running under the falling water and sliding down the small slide. They even have a lifeguard patrolling that area too so you never have to worry about danger. Not that you would, but you can’t leave your kids there unattended. 😉
Reason #3: Oceaneer’s Club/Lab
All of the kids LOVE the kids clubs on Disney cruise ships! They make so many friends and so many amazing memories, and while the kids are there having the times of their lives, the adults can relax by themselves in Disney’s adults only areas. The ships also have It’s a Small World Nursery (6 months-3 yo) and Edge (11-14 years old) and Vibe (14+). With the exception of It’s a Small World Nursery, the kids clubs are all free.
Reason #4: Dining
Disney invented rotational dining. You have the same servers the entire stay, but you rotate dining rooms so you can experience each themed dining area. There’s the Enchanted Garden, Royal Palace and Animator’s Palate on the Disney Dream. You do NOT want to miss Animator’s Palate during your cruise. We missed our night at Animator’s Palate on our first cruise because our son had fallen asleep early, so I would recommend early dining if you think your kids will fall asleep.
There is also Palo and Remy on the Disney Dream which are upscale adults-only restaurants. Palo features Northern Italian cooking and Remy is French cuisine. Both require reservations, and they’re very popular and get booked up fast, so make sure you book it as soon as you can.
The Cabana cafe also serves exceptional food, and the selection is wonderful! But, if your kid is the kind who basically only eats ketchup and maybe some fries with it, there’s also Flo’s Cafe which has pizza, burgers, and chicken.
All soft drinks and juices and milk are free on Disney cruises so there’s no need to buy drink packages.
Reason #5: Broadway Shows and First Run Movies
Nobody does live-action like Disney. On board, they have original shows like Believe (about a workaholic father who reconnects with his daughter through some Disney magic) and the Golden Mickeys (a Hollywood-style awards show paying tribute to Disney movies). If you have little ones that won’t sit through a show, you may want to drop them off at the kids clubs or nursery so you can still catch them.
There’s also a theater that plays Disney movies that are still in theaters on the boat. There’s a tiny concession stand where you can even buy popcorn and snacks for the movie. We watched Spiderman: Homecoming on the last cruise we went on.
Reason #6: Disney Magic
The cast members on board are so great about making your stay there as magical and easy as possible. Don’t be surprised if a cast member goes out of their way to do something special for you. Also, other passengers on the ship have fun with it too! Some participants in the Fish Extenders groups can “pixie dust” you with a gift randomly too.
Disney also has its own Navigator app that lets you use on-board WiFi to text between your group. This makes it so much easier to meet up with your family after doing your own thing. This also works on Castaway Cay!
There’s a detective game onboard too that is a lot of fun to play. There are stations throughout and you can choose between 3 storylines, and you follow the clues around the board kind of like a scavenger hunt. There are moving photos that you interact with by using your badge. This was a lot of fun when there wasn’t a show or something we didn’t want to miss. Kids (and adults!) who like detective and spy mysteries will have a blast doing this.
Room service is always free. A lot of passengers like to get Mickey Bars sent to their rooms before bed!
And now, 3 Reasons Not to Book Disney
A lot of families cannot afford to go on a Disney cruise, and that’s ok. However, if you really want to experience it, there are a lot of tips and tricks to save money on it like this post from MouseSavers.
There are a lot of kids.
All cruises are going to have a lot of families, including kids, on them, but Disney is especially kid-friendly. I didn’t feel like it was too many kids, but I don’t mind kids either. So, if you don’t like kids yelling or screaming or having fun, this may not be the thing for you (and that’s ok!).
You don’t like fun.
If you are a Scrooge and don’t like to be happy and have fun, or you don’t like seeing other people enjoying themselves, then I wouldn’t recommend a Disney cruise. In fact, probably not any cruise in general, haha.
Have you ever been on a Disney cruise? What was your favorite part? I would love to hear from you!