Disney Cruise Line Magic: Secrets of A Great Disney Cruise

How to Have a Magical Disney Cruise

Have you ever dreamed of a Disney Cruise? For over a decade Disney cruise line has transported thousands of passengers on a magical journey on the Disney Wonder and Disney Magic ships. So what makes Disney cruise line so special? Disney is known as one of the best cruise lines in the World. Its reputation for service, well-designed cabins, entertainment, food quality, and of course that very special magic has made Disney one of the most popular and highly regarded cruise lines in the World.

  • But is Disney Cruise Line just for kids?
  • Which itinerary should I choose?
  • Can I get a deal on a Disney Cruise?
  • When is the best time to travel?
  • Which cabin should I choose?
  • Will I have enough to keep me entertained?

This guide will answer these questions and many more – giving you a great place to start before booking your Disney Cruise Line vacation of a lifetime.

Disney Magic and Disney Wonder

Which Disney Cruise Ship Should I Choose?

The first choice that you need to make is which of the Disney cruise itineraries you want to sail on. There are 2 ships. The Disney Magic built-in 1998 and the Disney Wonder cruise ship was built in 1999.

Photo by flickr/lemoncat1

The basic design of each ship is the same but they vary in interior design. Disney Magic is Art Deco in style and Disney Wonder is Art Nouveau. Each has 877 staterooms, 4 restaurants,4 buffets,11 decks,4 swimming pools, and 2 theaters.

There are a number of ‘set’ itineraries which tend to remain throughout the year which sometimes has slight variations. For 2024, you can choose from 3 or 4-night cruise of the Bahamas or a 7 night Caribbean Disney cruise. The 3 and 4-night Bahamian cruises can also be combined with a land-based cruise at Walt Disney World.

And then there are the ‘special’ itineraries such as those which have just been announced by Disney for 2010 to the Mediterranean and Northern Europe. There are also 2 repositioning Transatlantic cruises for 2024.

In the past there have been cruises to Mexico is 2005 and 2008 but at present, there are none scheduled – I am hoping this will be a regular route for the new ships though!

Which Disney Cruise Line sailing should you choose? Well, of course, most of this is going to depend on your budget and the time that you have available.
If you are new to cruising then a 3 or 4-night sailing may be the best one to start with. Just checking the waters! But for those who really want to have time to relax then the 7 night is ideal. It gives you time to kick back and really relax.

The repositioning cruises tend to offer great value on a per night basis. Why? Well, they are the least popular ones as they tend to be lengthy at 14 nights and not that many people have that much time to devote to a vacation. You also do have to depart from one place and find your own way back from another.

How Do I Get The Best Deal on A Disney Cruise?

Are there ever any specials on Disney cruises?

Usually, the general rule is that the earlier you book your cruise the better deal you are going to get. This is just the way that the cruise industry tends to work. You can sometimes secure a great last-minute deal on a Disney cruise. To do this you are most likely to get a special deal the more flexible you are as to date and itinerary.

Photo used under Creative Commons from Flickr/pikmin

There are some fabulous Disney cruise special deals on at the moment.

One of the best offers I have seen is the current deal. If you book a 4 or 7 night Disney cruise during select nights this winter you can Take a relaxing 3-Night Bahamian Cruise next fall for only $99 per person based on double occupancy. There are rules and restrictions of course, but anyway you look at this it has to be one of the best deals Disney Cruise Line has offered.

Disney Cruises are also offering round-trip airfare of $199 per person from select airport locations east of the Mississippi when you book a 7-Night Caribbean Cruise or 7-Night Land and Sea Vacation commencing in January 2024.

So there are sometimes bargains to be had and now is a great time to book. Check out those fabulous Disney Mediterranean Cruises and European Cruises for 2024 too.

Which Cabin Should I Choose on A Disney Cruise?

What are the different staterooms like on a Disney Cruise?

There are 12 different categories of a cabin on a Disney Cruise ship. Which one you choose will largely depend on your budget and availability on your chosen cruise. Some cabins categories sell out more quickly than others.

Photo used under Creative Commons from Flickr/pikmin

Categories range from 1 to 12 with 1 being the Walter E and Roy O. Disney Suites.

Category 1 Suites

If you are looking for absolute luxury then the Category 1 Suites are amazing. 1029 sq ft of luxury which sleeps up to 7 guests.

Category 2 staterooms

Category 2 staterooms also sleep 7 guests and are 945 sq ft. With 2 bedrooms and 2 1/2 baths with a whirlpool tub and triple wide verandah, these suites are luxury itself.

Category 3

Category 3 has a bedroom, living room and dining room, 2 bathrooms, double wide verandah, and sleep 4-5 in 614 sq ft of comfort.

There are just 22 suites available so if you have your heart set on one of these you really do need to book early. Deposits on bookings for suites are non-refundable and don’t expect a deal – you just aren’t going to get one!

Category 4 Family Suites

Category 4 is the very popular Family Suites with Verandah. These sleep up to 5 guests so as a mother with 3 kids these are my first choice. The generously sized 314 sq ft family suite has a Queen sized bed, Queen sleeper, and an additional pull-down bed. This has the ‘split bathroom’ – another great feature of Disney ship design. The shower and a sink area separate from the toilet and an additional sink. It makes lines much shorter in the morning when everyone is wanting to take a shower! A seasoned Disney cruisers tip though for families of 5 and above is that it may well be a better option to book two connecting Category 9 or 10 staterooms. This will allow your family even more space than a Category 5 and two full bathrooms often for less money too.

Category 5 & 6 deluxe staterooms

Category 5 and 6 are deluxe staterooms with verandahs for 3 to 4 guests with 264 sq ft of space. Category 5 cabins are all on deck 7. Category 6 is on decks 5 and 6. The verandahs are slightly larger on Deck 6 than 5.

Category 7 staterooms

Category 7 staterooms mostly have ‘navigator’s verandahs’ which means they are enclosed balconies with an open-air porthole. These are an option worth considering if you want the space and views of a verandah for less cost.

Category 8 & 9 outside cabins

Category 8 and 9 with portholes are outside cabins with portholes. So no verandah but this can be a great option for those trying to save money on a Disney cruise. You will still have the daylight and the views, but not, of course, the luxury of a verandah. The cabins are 214 sq ft. This is one of the most popular categories for Disney cruisers. The only difference between Category 8 and 9 is where they are located on the ship. Category 8 is located on the higher decks and are higher in price than Category 9. Both types of rooms have a split bath feature.

Category 10 staterooms are inside staterooms. Meaning no window. These are on decks 1,2, 5, and 7. If you can then go for deck 7. Category 10 can be good for large families or groups of friends as they have a lot of connecting staterooms. This can be a good budget alternative for a family of 5 or more like us.

Category Secret Porthole Staterooms

Category 10 Secret Porthole Staterooms. There are six Category 10 cabins with a secret porthole! Well, they do have an obstructed view but hey, they are the same rate as other Cat 10’s so if you can get one of these then you could be very happy! The cabins are all on Deck 5. The secret porthole cabin numbers are 5020,5022,5024,5520,5522,and 5524. Unfortunately, these cabins aren’t that well kept a secret anymore so you need to book early to get them – but it is always worth a try!

Category 11 & 12 Inside Cabins

Category 11 and 12 staterooms are inside cabins located on decks 5, 6, and 7.

A cabin choice is, of course, a very personal decision. Many people prefer the luxury of a verandah – there is nothing more relaxing than sitting on your own private balcony with a cup of coffee arriving into the next magical port each morning. But there is often a choice to be made based on price. The Disney cruise cabins are very well designed and you will be comfortable in an inside cabin too. On any cruise, and particularly a Disney one, most guests do not spend very much time in their cabin. There is so much to do outside.

Plenty To Keep You Entertained on a Disney Cruise Ship

What is there to do on a Disney Cruise?

You can do as much or as little as you want to. There is so much to entertain you on the Wonder and the Magic that you will never be at a loss for what to do.

As you would expect, Disney has some of the very best shows at sea. The shows are very family orientated and are spectacular.

Photo used under Creative Commons from Flickr/pikmin

On the 3 night cruises, you will see a show each night. Golden Mickey’s, Disney Dreams, and either Twice Charmed on Disney Magic, or if cruising on the Disney Wonder the show is Toy Story – The Musical.

Longer cruises mean even more fabulous shows. On the 4 night cruises, a variety show is added. On the 7 night cruises, there are 2 variety shows, a movie and usually an entertainer such as a juggler or magician.

Disney is, of course, famous for its movies and there are endless chances to watch Disney movies on your cruise. Watch a movie on the huge outdoor screen, or the Buena Vista movie theater, or even in your own cabin.

The shows and movies are popular so arrive up to 30 minutes early to get the best seats.

Are spa activities more your thing? Well, you can always take some time to relax in the Vista Spa and Salon on Deck 9 forward. Here you will find a salon, aerobics studio and fitness room, spa treatments, and even the very popular Tropical Rainforest suite.

There are plenty of chances to enjoy the swimming pools onboard. Goofy’s Family Pool is located midship and is one of the most popular places onboard. It features 2 whirlpools, a stage, and Pinocchio’s Pizzeria is close by for that all-important snack.

There is a pool reserved for adults only – The Quiet Cove Adult Pool. This is a lovely place to relax on the ship and let’s be honest, escape the kids for a while. Contrary to popular belief Disney cruises are not just for kids and this is just one of five totally childfree places reserved just for the grown-ups. More than on most other cruise ships. It is close to the spa on Deck 9 forward. You will also find Cove Cafe, Signal’s Pool Bar, and 2 whirlpools close by.

Mickey’s Kids Pool is of course in the shape of Mickey Mouse. It has a great water slide. Children not yet potty-trained and in diapers are not allowed in the regular pools but can go in the Mickey Mouse ear part of this pool on the Magic. This is a ‘splash zone’ with interactive water fountains. If you are sailing on the Disney Wonder then the place for babies and toddlers in diapers is the Toddler Splash Zone. Having cruised with toddlers I know it is unusual to find any kind of water facility which the very young ones can use so this is a very welcome facility for them.

Disney Cruise Bon Voyage Sailaway Celebration

Starting Your Disney Cruise!

There is nothing more exciting than sailing away from port on the first day of your Disney cruise. Of course, Disney knows how to help everyone celebrate in style with the Bon Voyage Sailaway Celebration Party.

Photo used under Creative Commons from Flickr/pikmin

The Goofy Pool on Deck 9 is the location for this party. Disney cleverly designed the pool to have a fully retractable cover so providing a great area for deck parties. Disney really does think of everything!

Food on the Disney Cruise Line

What are the dining options on a Disney Cruise?

When anyone thinks about a cruise then they tend to think about food. Well you certainly aren’t going to be disappointed on the Disney ships. They have some of the best and most innovative dining on any of the cruise lines. With brilliant restaurants, the unique rotation dining concept, and of course those seemingly endless buffets there really is something for everyone on a Disney cruise.

Photo used under Creative Commons from flickr/lemoncat1

Each Disney ship has 3 wonderfully themed dining rooms. Disney Magic has Lumieres. Disney Wonder has Triton’s. Each has Animator’s Palate and Parrot Cay. You will visit each on your cruise and each is included in your cruise price.

You will be assigned a table for dinner – most tables are for 8. So it is likely that you will be seated with other diners. For most people this is all part of the enjoyment of the cruise, but if you have a specific request of table size then make sure to make this known before you cruise. You can also ask to be reassigned a table once you get on board. If all else fails there is always the buffet!

There are 2 seatings. The main seating is around 5.45 and Late Around 8 pm

There is open seating for breakfast and lunch.

Disney invented the concept of Rotation Dining. What this means is that whilst you dine at different restaurants each night in a set rotation, your wait staff will stay with you each night. This means they can offer a higher standard of service as your waiters get to know you and your dining preferences.

The restaurants are works of art in themselves. Particularly Animator’s Palate. You arrive and the decor is black and white. No windows. Just theatrical black and white design. In true Disney magic style, the room’s color palette soon begins to change. Disney characters appear to come to life. It really does defy description and has to be seen to be believed!

Tritons and Lumieres are of course inspired by The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. Each is a very elegant restaurant with excellent food.

Parrot Cay has a relaxed informal feel. Many cruisers feel this is their least favorite of the restaurants on board, but it is still great fun with its grill house style menu.

Palo is a very popular adult-only restaurant. This requires reservations and has a supplement of $15 per person. You can book online in advance of your cruise but usually, only one reservation per cabin is accepted. Book early as it is very popular and deservedly so. The food, service, and atmosphere are wonderful.

There are of course endless informal dining choices too. Breakfast and lunch menus are served at open seating at Lumiere’s, Triton’s, and Parrot’s Cay.

Disney Magic has the Topsider’s Buffet and Wonder has the Beach Blanket Buffet. Breakfast and lunch are always offered. On some nights there will be a dinner buffet too where you serve yourself salad and dessert, but entrees are brought by servers.

Other informal options include Goofy’s Galley, Pluto’s Dog House, Pinocchio’s Pizzeria, and the Outlook Bar.

You can even dine in your Disney stateroom by calling room service 24 hours a day. This is also included but you will want to tip your room steward for the food at $1-2 per person.

You are not going to go hungry on a Disney cruise!

All food (except Palo restaurant) and drinks are included in your cruise price except alcohol, some specialty drinks, bottled water, and smoothies are included. Disney is unusual amongst cruise lines in that it includes branded soda drinks.

Disney Wonder Kids Swimming Pool

The Disney ships are one of the best cruise ships for family’s with children under 3 or not potty trained. On most cruise ships there is nowhere for your toddler to splash around in the water, but on Disney cruise ships they have there own area – in Mickey Mouse’s ear of course!

Photo used under Creative Commons from Flickr/wyscan

Is a Disney Cruise Just For Kids?

Absolutely not! It is for anyone of any age, and Disney has put a lot into thinking not just about the younger guests but about the grown-ups too.

Of course, there are great facilities for the kids. The Oceaneer Club and Lab have a 15,000 sq ft facility which provides one of the best kids programs at sea. The Club/Lab are available for those aged 3-12 and is usually open from 9 am to midnight. If you want a quiet meal away from the kids they will even take them to dinner for you.

Photo used under Creative Commons from Flickr/pikmin

The Oceaneer Club is for 3-4 and 5-7-year-olds. The Lab is for 8- 9 and 10-12-year-olds. Exceptions of age groups are not usually made and the kids do have separate areas – so prepare siblings and friends for this so they know they will be split up.

There are babysitting facilities of up to 2 hours a day for the under 3s or those not potty trained, but this does cost extra.

The organized activities are fun and of course, Disney themed. Most kids just don’t want to leave!

Disney has not forgotten about Teens either. They have their own special Teens Only Club located on deck 11. It is a place designed for teens to hang out – with a dance floor, bar area ( with no alcohol of course), video screens and flat-panel TVs. There are parties and other organized activities too.

So that takes care of the kids. What about the adults?

Some of the guests onboard travel without kids, and the adults who bring their children often want some time to themselves. Disney caters very well for this. There are many areas on the Disney ships reserved just for adults including the adults-only Quiet Cove Pool, Cove cafe, Palo restaurant, Vista Spa, Signals bar, and the adult entertainment district. These entertainment districts are on Deck 3 of each ship and are for adults over 18 after 9 pm. They include a dance club, a lounge, and a pub.

Adults even have their own area on Castaway Cay at Serenity Bay Beach.

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