A Family Vacation That’s Really a Vacation

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By Suzy Fielders

I was lucky enough to take my 6 year old daughter on a Disney Cruise on the Fantasy boat this Easter during her spring break. I can say without a doubt the Disney Cruise is the most amazing vacation experience – better than other cruise lines and even Disney Parks. What made it so great? It was an actual worry-and- stress-free vacation from start to finish! Below are some traveling tips for and highlights of Disney Cruises.

Booking & Pre-Cruise Arrangements
When cruising definitely use a travel agent. Their fee for booking cruises  is covered by the cruise lines and they ensure all the logistics get worked out. After booking, take advantage of Disney Cruise Line website’s online planning center. Approximately 2 months before the sailing date, you can book port adventures, spa appointments, adult dining reservations, simulator activities and Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique appointments. All of these appointments go quick so once it opens up book immediately. These get added to your ship account and you pay for them at the end of the cruise when closing your account.

We flew into Orlando, and our boat sailed from Port Canaveral. Another money-saver tip: Charlotte Airport (CLT) usually has cheaper flights than Greensboro Airport (GSO). If leaving the morning of the cruise get an early flight to ensure time to get to the Port and check in. If traveling with children who’ve never flown before, prepare them by telling them exactly what to expect in security and on the plane (such as, the loud engines during take off/landing and ear popping while flying). By preparing them it’s less likely there will be a meltdown or any fear.

If flying (not directly into the port city), use Disney’s Ground Transportation. Not only will you have a ride to/from the airport on a very nice bus with TV’s but they will pick up your bags at the airport and deliver to the boat so you can completely bypass baggage claim. It also provides eligibility to sign up for their Onboard Airline Check-In Program, where they take your bags the last night of the cruise and directly transport them to your flight plus print your boarding passes for you, allowing guests to go directly to security at the airport.

Some favorites from our Disney Cruise were:

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique – They transform girls into princesses!

Pirates IN the Caribbean night – There is a fun pirate deck party/show and they even give every guest bandanas to wear for the evening. Best of all they set off fireworks at sea, they are the only cruise line in the world to do this.

Live Shows – Disney Broadway style shows are featured in the Walt Disney Theater, which are spectacular and entertaining for all ages. There are also first-run movies that play; ours was the movie Oz the Great and Powerful.

Amazing Service – the entire staff on the boat is incredibly helpful, friendly and happy to be there.

Castaway Cay – Almost every Caribbean Disney cruise stops at Disney’s Island in the Bahamas.

Animator’s Palate – It features an animated show with Nemo & friends and turns guest’s drawings into an animated show.

Dolphin Discovery Cozumel – The one at Cozumel is at Chankanaab National Park which offers not only dolphins, but other wild life, a beach and pool.

Disney Characters – There is some wait to see them, but it is still significantly less then at Disney Parks – plus often the characters are walking around the boat.

Oceaneers Club & Lab – These youth clubs are for ages 3 to 12, offering kids many activities and giving parents some free time. There is also a nursery and clubs for tweens and teens.

Detective Games – There are 3 interactive detective games to play as a family by gathering clues from live artwork throughout the ship.

Unfortunately, something we didn’t do was the AquaDuck, a water slide/ride that wraps around the boat. There was often a line for this so next time we will try for it in the early morning or while the boat’s at a port of call when there is hardly any line.

There is so much to do on Disney Cruises and these are just some of the many wonderful things the vacation has to offer! I’d recommend this vacation to any family! To start looking at dates & destinations of future cruises visit their website at http://disneycruise.disney.go.com/.

Have you been on a Disney cruise? Can you share additional tips?


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