Is a Disney Cruise Worth the Money?
Mickey Mouse has mastered theme park magic and family-friendly entertainment. But have you ever wondered whether a Disney cruise is worth the extra money? Having traveled on other cruise lines, I am here to say that it is! Yes, other cruise lines have nice cabins, fine dining, stage shows and kids programming, but Disney’s famous attention to all the extra details puts them in a class all by themselves.
Right after school ended, we set sail on the Caribbean-bound Disney Fantasy for three nights, spending two of the days at Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay. From bon voyage, we were immersed in Disney’s signature service and magic.
As you can imagine, staterooms on Disney’s Fantasy are designed with families in mind—Disney TV shows and movies even stream on demand for free 24 hours a day. The Fantasy offers family-orientated onboard entertainment like Goofy’s Sports Deck and the largest tube-style watercoaster at sea, called the AquaDuck. The ship also just opened several new spaces, including Sweet on You ice cream shop and Tiffany & Co. jewelry store. At the parks, Disney characters can be somewhat elusive, and greetings are brief, but our experience on the ship was the exact opposite. The countless character interactions are a mainstay on board, and all character greetings are printed in the “navigator” that is distributed each evening with the following day’s activities.
The Fantasy boasts nine themed dining areas with three main dining rooms: Animator’s Palate, Enchanted Garden and Royal Court. With Disney’s innovative dining rotation plan, the same waiters follow your family each evening and get to know your family’s particular likes and dislikes. At the restaurants, you can order as many different items as you want of the appetizers, entrees and desserts. The Royal Court served an unforgettable fried brie appetizer while we were on board—it’s memorable and worth ordering two! Unlike other ships, Disney Cruise Line offers all-you-can-drink soda, as well as places to grab food all throughout the day at no extra charge.
While at Castaway Cay, which is only a few miles long and wide, we spent two days snorkeling, bike riding and eating a mouhwatering (free) barbecue lunch right on the island. One of the favorite attractions is Pelican Plunge, an enormous floating platform with water slides, water cannons and more. Frozen fans find their favorite snowman has set up shop and offers Frozen-inspired drinks like Warm Hugs and Frozen Heart at Olaf’s Summertime Freeze. This was a favorite of our youngest daughter, and she was eager to bring home the Sven souvenir cup to remind her of our trip.
For adults who want to relax at the beach and not chase kids, Disney offers kids programming on the island that’s sure to please your young ones. Castaway Cay is certainly packed with things to do, and Disney’s stamp is omnipresent.
Disney is known for transforming the ordinary into the magical. After a fun day on the island, we boarded the Fantasy, ready for a Disney tradition: an on-board theme night. We launched into pirate night, when our ship transformed into a haven for buccaneers. For dinner, waiters donned pirate outfits, and menus looked like treasure maps. After dinner, cruisers gathered on the pool deck for swashbuckling fun and Captain Jack Sparrow saved the day. The evening culminated with impressive fireworks launched from the ship while floating in the middle of the ocean. Yes, it was amazing!
Obviously, guests can count on Disney’s kids programming to be unmatched in the cruise line industry. Even their nursery for infants includes regular character experiences. The immersive kids space on the Fantasy is Disney’s Oceaneer Club. Two innovative spaces have just been unveiled at the Oceaneer Club: the Star Wars Command Post, as well as the Marvel Super Hero Academy. At the Command Post, children help with missions against the First Order, where they interact with holographic models of various Star Wars ships in a Disneyesque fashion. At the Marvel Super Hero Academy, youngsters learn the value of worthiness and loyalty from real-life superheroes like Dr. Strange and Thor.
Disney prides themselves on not only their kids spaces and fine dining but also on their Broadway-style shows. On other cruise lines, our family was disinterested in the nightly shows and made no priority to see them; however, seeing nightly Disney shows was literally the biggest priority of our cruise. The highlight for us was Disney’s Aladdin—A Musical Spectacular. This fast-paced musical comedy where Aladdin meets the wisecracking Genie who is willing to grant him three wishes was hilarious and mesmerizing with its mechanical wizardry and state-of-the-art effects.
One of the many things that surprised me on the cruise is how much fun the teens and adults have. It’s not about just the little kids! The Disney cruise experience is unparalleled and definitely worth the money. I am not one to sit around and initially was concerned I might feel cooped up on such a kid-oriented ship—but I was wrong! No one gets bored, and days can be as jam packed with Disney magic as you wish. If only I could have rubbed a magic lamp on board and had a genie pop out to grant me wishes—I certainly would be on another Disney cruise very soon!
Susan Gimotty lives in Overland Park with her husband and four kids.