This post is courtesy of our contributor Cheryl of Kids On A Plane…The Walt Disney Company has been entertaining families for decades – offering everything from movies, TV shows, toys, theme parks and family vacations. Disney’s passion for providing memorable and unique experiences to their guests can also be found aboard their four cruise ships – Disney Magic, Disney Wonder, Disney Dream, and Disney Fantasy.
It’s not surprising then that two of Disney’s cruise ships top the list of Cruise Critic’s 2015 Cruisers’ Choice Awards for Best Overall Experience.
Why do families love cruising with Disney?
After several Disney cruises with my kids and polling other DCL passengers (my friends and family included), here are their top 11 reasons they would cruise with Mickey Mouse again:
1. Larger than Average Staterooms
Staterooms on a Disney cruise ship are 20% larger than other cruise lines and your family won’t go stir crazy when you’re not out on deck.
The split baths (one with a toilet, one with a bathtub) make it easy for family members to use facilities at the same time.
Bathtubs in every stateroom are great for families with young children. To get a tub on other cruise lines requires booking a higher category room or suite.
2. Excellent Food and Drink Options
When you think of cruising, all you can eat buffets usually come to mind. While Disney’s cruise ships have multiple buffet options for cruisers, it’s the full service restaurants that get top marks from DCL guests.
With its rotational dining system where staff follow you from dining room to dining room each night of the cruise, servers get to know more about your family, their food preferences and dietary concerns.
Having been notified that we had one child with severe tree nut allergies, the dining room staff were constantly letting us know the dishes our son could and could not eat.
This put my husband and I’s minds at ease and we didn’t have to repeat ourselves about his allergy to new servers every night. They had nut free dinner rolls set up on his plate before dinner started and brought out nut free cookies for him at dessert time so he didn’t feel left out.
Animator’s Palate is a restaurant found on all four ships where a black and white dining room turns to colour and Disney movie characters come to life and interact with diners during dinner service. Many cruisers (including my family) love this dining room.
Hands down, the best meals can be found at the adult-only restaurants – Palo and Remy. There’s an additional fee to dine here but it’s well worth it if you’re looking for fantastic Italian or French fare.
3. Complimentary Drinks and Room Service
It must also be mentioned that soda, juice, lemonade, coffee, tea and water are unlimited and included in the price of the cruise – other cruise lines typically do not offer this.
Room service is available 24 hours a day and also complimentary for DCL passengers – aside from tip and a few specialty items that costs extra. Mickey Ice Cream Bar at midnight? Why not?!
4. Broadway Worthy Entertainment
Every night, the DCL staff keep cruisers entertained with Broadway worth stage shows, movies in two different theaters and the Pirates in the Caribbean deck party (for Caribbean and Bahamian itineraries only).
The live shows are kid-friendly (another thing you will not find on other cruise lines) and extremely popular so it’s recommended you head to the Walt Disney Theater at least 15 minutes before show time if you want to get a good seat.
If you’ve missed any of the live entertainment, they replay it on the stateroom TV so you can watch from the comfort of your bed.
5. Fireworks at Sea
Speaking of Pirates in the Caribbean deck parties, there’s a fireworks show at the end of the night which cruisers love. This is no show with a few measly fireworks – it’s a full on production – several minutes long with fireworks synchronized to Disney music.
It’s not as big of a production as IllumiNations at EPCOT or Wishes at Magic Kingdom in Florida, but it is a special event that cruisers don’t get to experience very often.
6. Castaway Cay
Disney’s private island in the Bahamas is the perfect way to spend a day at the beach.
It’s truly one of the best (if not THE best) private islands owned by a cruise line.
7. Character Meets
There are characters everywhere on Disney cruise ships – the Fab 5 (Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Pluto), princesses, Disney Junior characters, Frozen’s Anna and Elsa, Stitch, Chip and Dale, Peter Pan, Tinkerbell, and more – it’s just as good as visiting Disney’s theme parks with a lot shorter line up.
With multiple meet and greets throughout the day, I think sometimes the parents get more excited to meet the characters than the kids do!
You can even find them in their beach gear on Castaway Cay.
8. Phenomenal Kids Programs
Disney Cruise Line run age appropriate activities for kids of all ages.
The nursery is available for young cruisers 6 months to 3 years old and is open as late as 1AM.
Kids’ club areas feature interactive video walls, slides, a science lab, animation studio and craft center and of course a TV/movie lounge.
Older kids (tweens and teens) have their own space on-board each ship and programming for these two groups include special sports challenges, dance parties, and karaoke night. A computer center and full soda bar can be found here as well.
Several cruisers I polled said their kids loved the youth clubs so much they barely saw their children aside from port days and at meal time.
9. Top of the Line Toiletries
This may be a small detail but it’s an important one for those who are picky about toiletry brands when they travel.
I’m not too fond of most hotel soaps and creams as they’re too drying or not moisturizing enough but I love the H2O toiletry products on Disney cruise ships.
It cuts down on what we pack into our toiletry bag which in my kids’ minds means more room for souvenirs!
10. Stay in Touch with Your Group with Wave Phones
Cruisers will find two Wave Phones (cell-phone style handsets) in their stateroom to keep in touch with other passengers on board. Voice calls and text messaging work anywhere on the ship as well as Castaway Cay – and it’s free so you don’t need to worry about data or roaming fees while you’re on the ship.
My husband and I used them almost every day during our previous cruise because our kids rarely agreed on what they wanted to do – one wanted to go to a character meet, the other wanted to play basketball.
11. Relaxing Adult Areas
Sometimes, parent’s need their own space and some downtime.
Disney cruise ships have gourmet coffee shops, adult only pools, night clubs, full service salon and spa and a fitness center available for guests 18+.
While my husband and I haven’t been able to take advantage of these amenities much (we opted for a champagne brunch at Palo instead), other passengers love being able to squeeze in some R&R during a family vacation.
There you have it, 11 Reasons to Go On a Disney Cruise.
While Disney cruises tend to be a bit more expensive than other cruise lines, it is worth the extra cost – especially if you’re a Disney fan. If you want to experience the Disney magic but don’t want to deal with long line ups at the theme parks, you’ll love it too.
Depending on how far in advance you plan and the timing of your cruise vacation, you can bring down the price of a Disney cruise vacation to match or beat other cruise lines.
Visit Kids On A Plane for even more great Disney travel tips like this Free Walt Disney World Souvenirs post! Cheryl is always adding new ideas for family travel – follow her on Facebook for the latest!