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Disney Cruise Tips & Info

Tour of Disney’s Private Island: Castaway Cay

Did you know that Disney has their own private island in the Bahamas?  Castaway Cay is one of my favorite places in the world!  

You can walk right off the ship onto Castaway Cay and enjoy free chairs, umbrellas, hammocks, water-slides and a splash area for the kids.  You are also treated to a fabulous (also FREE) buffet lunch at Cookie’s BBQ (or Cookie’s Too BBQ) or on the adult only side – Serenity Bay Adult Buffet (which includes steak from Palo!).  Characters are out and about for meet and greets in their beachwear, not to mention a FREE 5K on the island for every cruise that stops there!  What’s not to love?!

Let’s take a tour of this beautiful island, starting with the walkway from the ship:

castaway cay welcome sign

castaway cay

castaway cay map

castaway cay

If you are planning to head to the Castaway Cay 5K first thing, you can drop the kids off at Scuttle’s Cove (the island’s kids club):

scuttles cove

Next head over to the 5K (Don’t forget to go read my review of the Disney Castaway Cay 5K)

castaway cay 5k start

Or, go ahead and find out a great spot to lounge:

castaway cay

castaway cay

castaway cay

castaway cay

Snorkeling equipment is available for rent on the island (or you can bring your own) and this entire area is roped off for snorkeling:

castaway cay snorkeling

snorkeling castaway cay
Life jackets are provided free to use (must wear while snorkeling)

Grab a drink at a bar:

castaway cay bar

castaway cay

castaway cay

castaway cay

Take the kids for some fun on Pelican’s Plunge (life jackets are available for use):

pelican's plunge

Grab a free wagon, stroller or jogger if you need one:

castaway cay wagon

Now let’s head over to Serenity Bay (the Adult Only Beach on Castaway Cay):

serenity bay castaway cay

serenity bay castaway cay

serenity bay castaway cay

serenity bay castaway cay

You might just even catch Jack Sparrow stumbling by:

jack sparrow castaway cay

Grab some lunch at the Adult Buffet:

serenity bay buffet

serenity bay buffet menu

serenity bay buffet serenity bay buffet serenity bay buffet

serenity bay buffet

Did I mention after all that there is also all you can eat ice cream??

There’s also an area called “In Da Shade” with basketball, pool and other games that the teenagers (or big kids) would enjoy:

in da shade castaway cay

Excursions are available on the island such as jet skis, parasailing, bike riding, tube rental, sting ray encounters and more!

parasailing castaway cay

Be sure to stop on your way back to the ship for some pics:

castaway cay

castaway cay

Are you ready to go yet?  What was your favorite thing to do at Castaway Cay?

Be sure to check out my Trip Reports!

As an Independent Travel Agent with Mouse Counselors, an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, I offer concierge travel planning for Walt Disney World® Resort, Disney Cruise Line, Disneyland® Resort, Adventures by Disney®, Aulani and all other destinations at no cost to you.  Message me today if I can help book a magical vacation for you.  

Photo Tour of the Disney Wonder

The Disney Wonder was the second ship to join the Disney fleet, entering service in 1999.  It is nearly identical to the Disney Magic with 11 decks, accommodating 2400 passengers in 875 staterooms.  The Disney Wonder is the ship used for specialty sailings such as Alaska and Panama Canal, as well as the Bahamas and Caribbean. 

Pools – The Disney Wonder sports the Goofy pool on Deck 9 along with 2 whirlpool spas. Quiet Cove pool is the Adult Only Pool with a bar area close by.  The Aqua Lab is a play area that has a “Twist ‘n’ Spout” slide and Dory’s Reef, a splash pad area for toddlers 3 and under.  

tour of disney wonder
Quiet Cove Pool for Adults Only

tour of disney wondertour of disney wonder

Kids Clubs:  The Wonder has kids clubs available for all ages.  The Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab are for children ages 3-12, the Edge for ages 11-14 and Vibe for ages 14-17.  It’s a Small World Nursery is available for children ages 6 months to 2 years, but does require reservations and a small fee per hour.  For ages 3 and up, all of the kids clubs are free.  Castaway Cay also has a kids club available on the island.  

tour of Disney Wonder

tour of Disney Wonder

tour of Disney Wonder

tour of Disney Wonder

Adult Bars/Lounges:  The Wonder has several adult bars/lounges available with plenty of activities to keep adults busy such as Music Trivia, TV Tunes Trivia, late-night games such as “The Feud,” “Match Your Mate,” “Intuition,” and more.  Azure is where the nighttime entertainment takes place, while Cadillac Lounge is used for the beverage tastings (Mixology, Champagne, Martini, etc).  The Crown and Fin Pub is where most of the daily adult trivia is held.  You can also catch the latest sports game live at the Crown & Fin.

tour of disney wonder

tour of Disney Wonder
Inside Azure where late night adult games are held, as well as Family Bingo games during the day

 

disney cruise to alaska

tour of Disney Wonder
Cadillac Lounge where beverage tastings are held

 

tour of Disney Wonder
Crown & Fin is where you can catch the latest sports, as well as partake in some adult trivia games throughout the cruise

 

Senses Spa & Workout Room:  The Disney Wonder has a spa onboard where you can get treatments from acupuncture to massages, as well as a Rainforest Room where you can purchase a day pass to use the sauna, sensory showers and hot stone lounge chairs.  A workout room is also available for those 18 and older with the latest equipment and some spectacular views.

Treatment Room
Couples Villa Whirlpool
Couples Villa Lounge Chairs
Couples Villa Treatment Room
Sensory Showers
Waiting Room
Locker Rooms
Hot Stone Loungers
Singles Treatment Room

 

tour of Disney Wonder
Workout Room

Family Spaces:  The Disney Wonder has separate spaces for adults and kids, but they also have some family areas too.  The D-Lounge is used for family trivia, family karaoke and talent shows among many other activities.  The Promenade Lounge is used for animation classes, some trivia, live music and more.

tour of Disney Wonder
D-Lounge
Promenade Lounge

 

Theaters:  The Disney Wonder has two theaters onboard (three theaters if counting the outdoor movie screen by the pool).  The Walt Disney Theater is where the live entertainment is held each night.  The Buena Vista Theater is where you’ll find the newly released Disney movies, and if you’re lucky, you can see a Movie Premier onboard!  tour of Disney Wonder

Inside the Walt Disney Theater where you’ll find live broadway caliber entertainment

tour of Disney Wonder

tour of Disney Wonder
Buena Vista Theater

 

Dining Rooms:  The Disney Wonder has 3 Main Dining Rooms, with guests rotating between each restaurant.  Triton’s, Tiana’s Place and Animator’s Palate.  The dining rooms are beautifully themed and have their own unique menus.disney cruise to alaska

 

disney cruise to alaska
Tiana’s is the newest restaurant on the Disney Wonder, with a New Orleans Inspired Mardi Gras atmosphere and menu as well as live music

tour of Disney Wonder

Animator’s Palate starts out in black and white, and slowly colorizes as dinner goes by. The drawings come to life at the end, with Sorcerer Mickey dropping by for a visit
tour of Disney Wonder
Triton’s is the most elegant of the three dining rooms with an Art Deco theme

 

Adult Only Restaurant:  Palo is the adult only restaurant that requires reservations and a nominal fee.  Brunch is the popular reservation that can be difficult to get (read my Palo review here).  The food is great and a nice romantic getaway for adutls.tour of Disney Wonder

Disney Cruise to Alaska

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique:  Just like Disney World, the cruises also offer the experience for girls (and boys) to get a makeover.  Offerings include princess & pirate makeovers, as well as special experiences such as Star Wars for special sailings.

tour of Disney Wonder

Miscellaneous:  Check out some miscellaneous pictures of the Disney Wonder.

Chandelier in the Atrium
Shutters Photography where you can tap your Key to the World card to view your photos
Hallway with gift shops
Carpet design that helps you navigate where you are on the ship (Forward or Aft) by using the direction on the map.

Thanks for taking the time to Tour the Disney Wonder!   Be sure to check out my other blog posts for some Disney Cruise Tips & Tricks!

As an Independent Travel Agent with Mouse Counselors, an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, I offer concierge travel planning for Walt Disney World® Resort, Disney Cruise Line, Disneyland® Resort, Adventures by Disney®, Aulani and all other destinations at no cost to you.  Message me today if I can help book a magical vacation for you!

Cruise Comparisons: Royal Caribbean vs. Disney Cruise Line

Today on the blog I will be doing Cruise Comparisons:  Royal Caribbean Majesty of the Seas vs. Disney Cruise Line 3-Night Cruise.  

#1: Ship and Staterooms

Winner: Disney is the clear winner. Ship is much prettier, Staterooms nearly 100 Sq ft bigger (Oceanview room). Disney ship looks new after their renovations. RC still looks like a 24 year old ship.

Cruise Comparisons Royal Caribbean vs Disney
Disney Magic:  First sailed 1997..only 5 years newer than the RC Majesty but a world of difference as Disney consistently does upgrades on all their ships. Magic most recently received new carpet, decor, kids areas updated).
Cruise Comparisons Royal Caribbean vs. Disney
Royal Caribbean  Majesty of the Seas:  First sailed 1992. Upgrades were done in May 2016 but it still looked like a 24 year old ship to us…other than outdoor movie screen with limited views…struggling to see what was upgraded.
Cruise Comparisons Royal Caribbean vs Disney
Disney Magic Oceanview Room:  214 square feet with split bathrooms (toilet and sink in one bathroom, shower and sink in the other, plus a separate living area/sleeping area separated by curtain).
Cruise Comparisons Royal Caribbean vs. Disney
Royal Caribbean Majesty of the Seas Oceanview Room:  Only 120 square feet…two twins pushed together and no separate living area. Very small porthole window and tiny bathroom. Also in desperate need of updates. No way more than 2 people would fit in this room.

 

#2: Castaway Cay (Disney) vs. Coco Cay (Royal Caribbean)

Winner: Disney again. Both islands are beautiful. However Castaway has a larger beach area, chairs are not on top of each other (you can’t even step between 2 chairs at Coco Cay they are so close to each other). Disney had a separate adult only beach, a roped off snorkeling lagoon that is only for snorkelers, a floating water slide that is free of charge, and umbrellas free to use by the chairs. RC snorkeling lagoon has snorkelers or regular swimmers, no umbrellas unless you rent them ($50 pp), inflatable water slides ($22 pp – per hour!). Disney cruises start out more expensive initially but you really feel nickeled and dimed on RC. Disney’s lunch on the island was much more organized, RC had lines going every which way and was just a cluster. Food was better on Disney’s island too although RC wasn’t bad. Disney has towels on the island for pick up and drop off, RC you have to check out towels on ship and then bring them back on ship with you or be charged $25 per towel. Disney island is walk on from ship, with RC you have to be tendered over on a boat.

Cruise Comparisons Royal Caribbean vs Disney
Disney island with umbrellas and chairs spaced apart nicely.
Cruise Comparisons Royal Caribbean vs Disney
Coco cay with chairs about an inch apart.
Cruise Comparisons Royal Caribbean vs Disney
Disney’s free floating water slides.  No charge!
Cruise Comparisons Royal Caribbean vs Disney
Coco Cay inflatable water slides. $22 per person per hour. Ouch.
Cruise Comparisons Royal Caribbean vs Disney
Snorkeling in disney lagoon. Only snorkelers allowed. To rent snorkeling equipment charge is $31.18 ages 10+. $15.05 ages 3-9.
Cruise Comparisons Royal Caribbean vs Disney
Snorkeling in Coco Cay…also open to swimmers. Rentals $54 per adult, $44 per child.

 

#3: Pre-cruise documentation / information and cruise check in process

Winner – Disney. Disney mails you this great personalized spiral bound booklet containing important information you need to know before your cruise, along with sticker luggage tags. With Royal Caribbean you go online and print and staple or tape your luggage tags to your bags and print out your cruise documents. Check-in at the port is quick (15 minutes) and organized with Disney. With RC it took us an hour to get checked in. Disney also has a great app for you to download. Prior to your cruise there is a vacation countdown on the app. Once on cruise you can connect to wifi for free within the app and find ship layout, times for all activities offered, dinner menus and can text members in your party within the app. You also get a paper itinerary each day. Royal Caribbean only offers a paper itinerary. No app to find times or menus or texting so you either need to memorize schedule or carry paper around with you.

Royal Caribbean vs Disney Cruise

#4: Drink packages

Winner: Royal Caribbean. Bet you all thought Royal wouldn’t win any of my comparisons.  Disney’s only drink package offerings are bottles of wine (1 bottle per night – 3 bottles total – at dinner) for a 3 night cruise – $95. They also offer a refillable 22 oz beer mug for $16.95 that you can refill each time for price of 16 oz beer. Disney does have numerous bars and lounges which all serve alcoholic drinks. Prices for mixed drinks range from $7 to $12. They also do a “happy hour ” special on a certain drink in the afternoons (timed vary) where that drink will be buy 1 get 1 free or half price. Royal Caribbean offers a beer and wine package for $49 per person per night (must purchase for length of cruise) or a mixed drinks, beer and wine package for $59 per person per night. So for a 3 night cruise the beer, wine and mixed drink package for 2 people would cost you around $420 because 18% gratuity is added on to every package. You would need to drink 5 or more drinks a day to get your money’s worth.

cruise comparisons royal caribbean vs disney

#5: DINING EXPERIENCE

Winner: Disney. Disney has 3 main dining rooms, themed and beautifully decorated. On the Disney Dream the restaurants are Animators Palate, Enchanted Garden and The Royal Palace. Your servers follow you to each restaurant each night. They know you by name, remember what you like to eat, drink, etc. Service is top notch. With Royal Caribbean you go to the same (plain) dining room every night. You do have same servers and although service is good, they don’t personalize it like Disney does. They don’t know your name and don’t care to. Lol.

cruise comparisons royal caribbean vs disney
Animators Palate on the Disney Magic. Drawings on the wall start out in black and white and you guess what is being drawn…at the end of the meal they come to life and in color. Very cool.
cruise comparisons royal caribbean vs disney
Enchanted Garden – Disney Dream
cruise comparisons - royal caribbean vs disney
Royal Palace – Disney Dream

 

and now the Royal Caribbean Dining Room:

cruise comparisons royal caribbean vs disney
Moonlight dining room on Royal Caribbean.

Are you as underwhelmed as I was?

So as you can see, I highly favor a Disney Cruise.  My first cruise was actually a Disney Cruise.  I LOVED it.  I quickly booked a Royal Caribbean cruise next….after all, it was cheaper.  Well, I found out why.  As they always say, you get what you pay for.  The Disney brand delivers…exceptional customer service, extremely clean, always updating ships to keep them looking new and modern and plenty of activities to keep you busy – at no extra cost.  We felt like we had to pay for activities (spa, etc) to keep us entertained on the Royal Caribbean cruise.  This post, of course, is only comparing the 3-night cruises.  Royal Caribbeans 7-night cruises are on their nicer, newer ships and therefore should be more competitive.  

Have you sailed both Disney Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean?  I would love to hear your thoughts! 

As an Independent Travel Agent with Mouse Counselors, an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, I offer concierge travel planning for Walt Disney World® Resort, Disney Cruise Line, Disneyland® Resort, Adventures by Disney®, Aulani and all other non-Disney destinations (all cruise lines, All-Inclusive Resorts, European vacations & more) at no cost to you.  Message me today if I can help book a magical vacation for you.  

 

Disney Cruise Packing List: My Top 10 Must Haves!

These are items on my Disney Cruise Packing list that I must take with me!

  • Sound Machine. I don’t know about you, but I have to have my white noise when I sleep.  It can get pretty quiet in your cabin, so this is a must have for me!  Yes, there are white noise apps on your phone, but I haven’t found one that I love, and this is very compact, so doesn’t take up too much travel space.

Disney Cruise Packing List

  • Pirate Outfits!   Almost every Disney cruise has a Pirate Night!  They will leave some pirate bandanas in your stateroom, but this is a chance to get the entire family dressed up for the festivities!  I found these shirts on Amazon for a great price.  Check them out here!

Disney Cruise Packing List

  • $1 Bills. We like to take advantage of room service on our Disney cruise, so we always like to tip the server who delivers our food.

Disney Cruise Packing List

  • Lockable Beach Bag. This is a great thing to have for your cruise, not only on the ship, but at ports also.  There are times you want to get up to go grab a drink, the unlimited ice cream or get in line for the Aqua Duck and can’t take your bag with you.  It’s nice to have peace of mind knowing that your belongings are secure.  Just lock it to your chair and go.  Click here to find it on Amazon.  
Disney Cruise Packing List
Lockable Beach Bag
  • Sea Bands / Dramamine. Luckily I don’t get motion sickness, but my husband tends to get queasy.  These both work great for him!  The last thing you want to do is be nauseous your entire vacation!

Disney Cruise Packing List

  • Sunscreen.  Definitely don’t forget the sunscreen!  Here’s my favorite that smells great (like suntan lotion instead of sunscreen!) and it feels good on your skin.
Disney Cruise Packing List
The BEST smelling sunscreen ever!!
  • Binoculars.  This is something that we wish we had on our first cruise as we struggled to see some dolphins swimming at sea.  Fun especially if you are in a Verandah stateroom.

Disney Cruise Packing List

  • Light Sweater. Even if you are on a cruise in the heat of the summer, the indoor spaces such as theaters and restaurants can get cool!  I’m cold-natured anyway, so taking a light sweater is a must for me so I can enjoy the entertainment comfortably.

 

  • Lanyards.  When you check-in for your cruise, you are given your “Key to the World” card.  This unlocks your cabin doors, contains information with your dining rotation schedule and is used to make any purchases on the ship.  It’s nice to take a lanyard to hold these in so you don’t have to dig around in your bag or hope they don’t fall out of your shorts/pants pockets.  Once you have sailed with Disney once, each time you sail again, you are given a lanyard as a gift for being a Castaway Club member.  I’ve been on several Disney cruises, so I have plenty of Castaway Club lanyards, but this one is still my favorite!  Click on the pic to take you directly to Amazon.

Disney Cruise Packing List

  • Poo-Pourri. This can be a life-saver!  First off, we know what we all do on a cruise right?  Eat!  All.The.Time.  The staterooms are not the largest, so we carry this on cruises with us and it works amazingly well!  Just click on the picture to find it on Amazon!

Disney Cruise Packing List

 

Disney Cruise for a Large Family

Disney Cruise For a Large Family

 

A Disney Cruise for a Large Family (3 or more children), can sometimes be tricky with accomodations.  With Disney Cruise Line (as well as most other cruise lines), the most a cabin will sleep is 5 people.  There are only certain room categories that will hold 5 people, and especially if your children are older, it can still be pretty tight.  

So what does a large family with four or more children do?  Our family of six gets two connecting staterooms.   Even when you are a family of five, sometimes it comes out cheaper to book two connecting rooms instead of one of the higher category rooms that sleep five, so make sure you check out that option – the extra space having two cabins is wonderful! 

With our family, we would leave the connecting doors propped open so basically it was just like a bedroom next door where we could always keep an eye on the kids.  

Disney Cruise Connecting Rooms

DCL Connecting Rooms
Open Door to the left is opening to the connecting room

DCL Connecting Rooms Doors Propped Open

Most Disney Cruise staterooms offer the split bathroom plan, so you get a toilet and sink in one room, and a shower and sink in the other.  So if you have two connecting rooms for your large family, you get 2 toilets and 2 showers – which definitely helps out!  You are also getting double the storage space.  This is especially good if you are on a 7-night or longer cruise so each person can have some space and not be on top of each other.  Although Disney cruise staterooms are larger than other cruise lines, it can still be cramped after a while, so stretching out into two rooms is great (and necessary if you have more than 5 in your family!)

Do you have a large family and want to know the best ways to afford a Disney cruise?  Be sure to check out my blog post “Ways to Save Money on a Disney Cruise”

Ways to Save Money on a Disney Cruise

Let’s be real.  Disney cruises are expensive.  Are they worth it?  Absolutely.  But I am a bargain hunter, and I want the best deal possible.  These are ways that I save money on my Disney cruise:

  1. Book EARLY. Disney cruises can be booked up to a year and a half in advance.  When rates are first released, this is the best pricing you’ll get.  As rooms sell out, the price goes up.  Not to mention, it gives you plenty of time to make payments.

ways to save money on a disney cruise

  1. Book with a travel agent specializing in Disney vacations. Disney specialists often earn higher commission from Disney (since they sell mostly Disney) and therefore can offer better incentives than other travel agents.  (Shameless plug and Full Disclaimer – I am a travel agent and I offer generous on-board credits to my clients for booking a cruise with me, as well as a five page tip sheet with everything you need to know before you cruise).  Keep in mind, this is based on each individual agent, and not all Disney specific agents will offer incentives.  It is free to use a travel agent, and you are still able to do your own online check-in, book excursions and activities if you want.  The only requirement is that payments be made through the agent, as well as any changes/cancellations (but who wants to sit on hold with Disney anyway when someone will do that for you!).  Check out Why You Should Use a Travel Agent

ways to save money on a disney cruise

 

  1. Disney Visa. When you use your Disney visa card, you get 0% financing for six months and also some discounts on merchandise, photo packages, excursions and spa services, not to mention the rewards you earn from everyday purchases that can be used to make payments on your cruise. *Discounts only on specific packages – check your card member benefits before sailing.

ways to save money on a disney cruise

  1. Discounted Gift Cards. There are several ways to obtain discounted gift cards that can be used to make payments on your cruise.  I buy my gift cards from Sam’s Club ($500 for $485).   BJ’s wholesale club also offers discounted gift cards ($100 for $95) and you can buy these online with no membership.  Also if you have a Target RedCard you can buy Disney gift cards in store for 5% off.  This may seem small, but it definitely adds up!

ways to save money on a disney cruise

 

  1. Book your cruise in the off-season. Summers and holidays are very expensive on a Disney cruise, so if you can pull your kids out of school, that’s definitely when you’ll get the best pricing on a Disney cruise. 

ways to save money on a disney cruise

  1. Book your next cruise while on-board. This is basically the only time you are guaranteed to get a discount on a Disney cruise.  When you book a cruise (or just book a placeholder) on-board, you will get 10% off your next cruise, as well as an on-board credit ($100 for up to 6 nights, or $200 for 7+nights).  This is in addition to any on-board credits you receive from your travel agent.   When you book a placeholder, you do not have to have a set date, you just pay $250 to reserve your discount, and then must book a cruise within the next two years.  If you do not book a cruise, then your money is refunded. 

ways to save money on a disney cruise

 

  1. Money Saving Apps.  Use money-saving apps on your phone to save money for your Disney cruise such as Ebates and Ibotta.

ways to save money on a disney cruise

  1. Last Minute Deals For Florida Residents & Military. Disney occasionally offers special rates for cruises that aren’t selling out.  There is never a guarantee and you must be able to get vacation time off at the “last minute.”  If you are not a planner and can go on vacation with a few weeks notice, this may be the route for you.  Usually only certain room types are available for these rates and only a certain amount of rooms are allocated, but the discount is generally pretty good.  Proof of residency/military status is required within 48 hours of booking or will be cancelled. 

ways to save money on a disney cruise

 

  1. Book an Interior Room. Oceanview and Verandah rooms can be right much more expensive than an Interior room.  Any room on a Disney ship is a great thing, so if the budget is tight – going with an interior room is a great way to save some money.  Interior rooms on the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy also have a “magic porthole” window which offers real time views, not to mention cute characters swimming by to say hello. 
ways to save money on a disney cruise
The Magic Portholes are only on the Dream and Fantasy

 

10.  Book 2 Connecting Rooms. As mentioned in my “Disney Cruise for Large Families” post, families of 5 or more can sometimes save money by booking two connecting rooms (interior or oceanview) instead of a higher category Deluxe Family room that sleeps 5.  To me this is a win-win as you are not only getting a lower price – but also much more space! 

ways to save money on a disney cruise
This photo is with doors propped open taken from one room looking into the other

 

As an Independent Travel Agent with Mouse Counselors, an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, I offer concierge travel planning for Walt Disney World® Resort, Disney Cruise Line, Disneyland® Resort, Adventures by Disney®, Aulani and all other destinations at no cost to you.  Message me today if I can help book a magical vacation for you.  

Disney Cruise Extra Costs (What other costs to expect on your cruise)

So you are ready to book your Disney cruise, but still want to know what hidden fees you are missing?  Here’s a breakdown of everything you may have to pay extra for on your cruise:

  • Gratuities.  Gratuities are recommended at $12 per person per night.  This will automatically be charged to your on-board account at the end of your cruise unless you go to Guest Services to make any changes.  Tip envelopes will also be left in your stateroom the last night of your cruise.  Most people tend to tip their servers in addition to the $12 per person per day, because service is that good on a Disney Cruise – so you may want to plan ahead.

Disney Cruise Extra Cost

  • Alcoholic or Specialty Drinks.  Unlike other cruise lines, Disney cruise does include unlimited sodas.  However, alcoholic and specialty non-alcoholic drinks, smoothies and coffees are not included and do cost extra.  Please also note that an 18% gratuity is automatically added to any specialty drink purchase. 

Disney Cruise Extra Cost

  • Excursions.  This should be a given, but any excursion at the ports are going to be extra.  Parasailing, swimming with the dolphins and snorkeling are just some of the types of excursions offered at ports.  Excursions can also be booked direct (outside of Disney Cruise Line) and can save you money.
Disney Cruise Extra Cost
Parasailing at Castaway Cay!
  • Martini, Champagne & Wine Tastings.  Disney offers certain beverage tastings on their ships for an extra fee.  The fee is reasonable, with some starting around $20. 

Disney Cruise Extra Cost

  • Concessions outside theaters.  There are concessions outside both theaters for daily movies and the evening entertainment.  Sodas, popcorn and candy are sold, although you are allowed to bring in your own snacks and drinks as well.

Disney Cruise Extra Cost

  • Bingo!  One of our favorite activities on the Disney Cruise is Bingo.  This does cost extra, but is family friendly and tons of fun. 

Disney Cruise Extra Cost

  • Photos.  Disney has professional photographers set up throughout different places on the ship (character meet and greets, special backdrops on pirate night, formal night, etc.) and also on Castaway Cay.  The photographers are not allowed to take a photo with your phone, but sometimes at the character meet and greets there are cast members there also that will take a picture with your phone.  Different photo packages are offered, and you can save a little money if you pre-order at www.mycruisephotos.com.

Disney Cruise Extra Cost

  • Internet.  Disney does offer some internet packages with their Connect@Sea, but they are pretty expensive.  You can get 50MB free your first day of the cruise by signing up through the app.

       Small Package (100MB) – $19.00

       Medium Package (300MB – $39.00

       Large Package (1000MB) – $89.00

 

  • Adult Only Dining.  Disney offers two adult only dining choices – Palo and Remy.  You can read all about the Palo Brunch here.  These are five-star restaurants and a really good price if you want a special date night or adult only time on your cruise.  Palo is current $30 per person, while Remy is $85 per person. 

Disney Cruise Extra Cost

  • Souvenirs.  What is a trip to any Disney destination without going home with some goodies?  There are several gift shops on board and also at Castaway Cay for you to find that perfect souvenir to take home. 

Disney Cruise Extra Cost

  • Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique & Pirates League.  Disney offers this service to girls who want to be made up like their favorite princess, or kids who want a pirate makeover for Pirate Night!  This is very popular and reservations can be made at your online check-in date (75 days before sailing for first-time cruisers). 

Disney Cruise Extra Cost

  • Spa Services.  All Disney ships have a spa on-board with services such as massages, facials, pedicures & more!  There is also a Chill Spa available for teens.  The spa will run specials your first day on-board, but usually require a booking for the first night in order to get the discount.  If you are a Disney Visa cardholder, certain services will be eligible for a discount.  Read about the Rainforest Day Pass here.

Disney Cruise Extra Cost

5 Things to Know Before Booking a Disney Cruise

 

  • Book Early. If you want the best price on a Disney cruise, the earlier you book, the better.  Disney cruises are based on “on-demand pricing.”  As rooms sell out, the price goes up.  There are occasionally some last minute special rates for cruises that aren’t selling out, but you can never count on these.  Plus the earlier you book, the longer you have to make payments.
  • Use a Travel Agent. Yes, I am a travel agent – but hear me out.  You like free money, right?  Well, when you book with me, I give you free money (on-board credits) to use on your cruise.  I also provide a 5 page tip sheet with everything you need to know before you cruise.  You still have access to book all your activities (or I will happily do this for you).  Do you remember Hurricane Irma and all the chaos?  I’m sure a lot of people wished they had used a travel agent then instead of being on hold for hours trying to get a customer service rep….I’m just sayin’!!  🙂
  • If you are flying, plan to fly in a day early. You would be surprised at how many people have missed their cruise due to flight delays.  The cruise ship will NOT wait on you to arrive!  As your travel agent, I can recommend some great hotels at the port that will provide shuttle service.
  • Learn about the extra fees involved when you cruise. Gratuities, any alcoholic or specialty drinks, port excursions, etc.  Check out my post on Disney Cruise Extra Cost.  
  • Learn about different stateroom options to determine if an interior room, Oceanview or Verandah room is right for you and your family.

Everything You Need to Know About Disney Cruise Fish Extenders!

My first Disney cruise (before I became a travel agent) I walked around wondering what all the cute organizers hanging from the hooks outside the cabin were?  Well, they are called Fish Extenders.  Every stateroom has some sort of fish hanging on the wall outside the door.  A Fish Extender is a type of pocket organizer hanging from the fish hook with compartments for each family member.  There are usually groups of 10 cabins in each Fish Extender Group.  The best way to find your cruise group is to type your cruise date and ship name in the Facebook search bar (ex. “Disney Wonder March 22, 2018.”  Once you find your cruise group, you will need to request to join the group and then you can sign up for Fish Extender.  This is a gift exchange with the other cabins in your group, giving a small gift for each person in the group – averaging around $15 spent per cabin, although some people do give a “cabin gift” that would serve everyone in the cabin.

Disney Cruise Fish Extenders
See the “fish” the organizer is hanging from? Hence the name… 🙂

I’m not going to lie – Fish Extenders are a lot of work – but a whole lot of fun.  It took me until my 4th cruise to decide to participate.  I’m glad I did because it was so much fun for the kids.  They loved coming back to the room to find little gifts left for them, and they also enjoyed delivering our gifts to other cabins.  It could get tricky if you are flying, because you likely will need a separate piece of luggage just to hold the gifts you give and bring back the ones you receive!

You can make your own Fish Extender if you are somewhat crafty, or you can purchase pre-made from sites such as Etsy or eBay.   Although I am not the craftiest person around, I didn’t want to spend $50 on a Fish Extender, so I decided to make my own.  I bought this organizer from amazon.com for around $10:

Disney Cruise Fish Extenders
Clicking on the photo will take you straight to Amazon! Comes in Navy and Red. Can’t be beat for the price.

I then bought items from the Disney craft section in Michael’s to decorate my organizer along with some ribbon:

Disney Cruise Fish Extenders
Crafts from Michael’s….around $5

I was pretty happy with the end result.  I then added our names using vinyl from my cricut machine. 

Disney Cruise Fish Extenders
LOVE my Cricut machine! It has saved me tons of money being able to make my own Disney shirts, fish extender gifts, etc.! Just click on the photo to take you to check it out on Amazon.

Disney Cruise Fish Extenders
We had one for the girls and one for the boys!

 

 

Once all 10 cabins have been assigned to your group, you will be given a list of the name of each person, their cabin number and the children’s ages, along with helpful information such as each person’s favorite character, favorite Disney souvenir, if you are celebrating anything, etc.  This is usually done months in advance to give you time to decide what kind of gifts you want to give those in your group. 

I decided to give everyone the same gift (all the women received the same gift, same gift for men, etc).  I wanted to give them something useful but also something a little personal and of course something “Disney-fied.”  

These are the gifts I ended up giving:

For the women, a small makeup organizer with a Disney cruise vinyl logo from my cricut machine, with a sample of Advil and a shout wipe:  

Disney Cruise Fish Extenders

For the men:

Star Wars socks and an anchor bottle opener.  For the socks, I bought a set of 3 from JCPenney  and broke them up.  The anchor bottle openers were purchased from eBay for only about $1.50 each.

Disney Cruise Fish Extenders

For the girls:

I made Pirate mickey ears.  I  had bought these headbands from amazon: (insert pic/link) to give away at a travel booth I had at a vendor event, and had some left over.  So after googling how to make a bow without sewing, I decided to go with this.  I was happy with how they turned out, and even made some for the girls and I which we wore on Pirate Night.

Disney Cruise Fish Extenders

For the boys:

I had a really hard time trying to decide what to get boys of all different ages that could be the same gift.  So I probably took the easy way out, but I think it’s something they all probably enjoyed – a candy movie kit for the theater on-board in a Star Wars Gift Bag:

Disney Cruise Fish Extenders

After I got everything made it was time to figure out how to package.  I bought clear cellophane bags from amazon.com for the headbands, Frozen Ziploc bags for the women’s gifts, Star Wars Ziploc bags for the mens gifts, and then the Star Wars gift bags for the boys movie kits.   Everything was pretty compact when I finished so I was able to pack it in a smaller suitcase:

Disney Cruise Fish Extenders

 

Each gift does need to be labeled with the name and cabin number and I also put which cabin the gift was from along with our last name.  If your gift is too big for the Fish Extender pocket, you can set it in front of the door.  It’s up to you when you want to deliver the gifts.  We spaced ours out each day and delivered to rooms at the Aft of the ship one day, Mid-ship one day and then Forward.  This helps not walking all over the ship.  Make sure you take a look at the layout so you’ll have a plan in place.  

The best advice I can give is to not stress out about it, it’s supposed to be fun!  Don’t feel like you have to break the bank to give a nice gift, we all know the cruise is already expensive.  Homemade gifts are appreciated or you can find some cute but useful items in the Target dollar spot, Etsy or at www.aliexpress.com (if you are ordering from Ali Express, you need to do it a few months in advance, as most items are shipping from China and can take a while to arrive – but they have some great prices. 

These are some of the gifts we received from our Fish Extender (not all!)

Disney Cruise Fish Extenders

 

I definitely recommend trying Fish Extender on your next cruise if you are able, this was one of our kids fondest memories from our last cruise! 

Have you ever participated in Fish Extenders?  Do you have any questions or comments?  Pictures to share?  I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

 

 

Palo Brunch on the Disney Cruise

Palo is a fine-dining, adult only (18+) restaurant on all four Disney Cruise ships that serves brunch and dinner.  There is a nominal fee (currently $30 per person), for each meal.  Reservations can be made (and should be!) when you are able to check in for your cruise (75 days for first-time cruisers), and brunch is definitely the more popular option, therefore harder to get a reservation for. Palo brunch reservations are sometimes sold out the first day check-in opens for first-time cruisers!  

There is a dress code for Palo brunch and dinner.  Men are recommended to wear dress pants, slacks and collared shirts and women a dress, skirt or pants and blouse.  Jeans may be worn if in good condition (no holes).  Shorts or hats for men are absolutely not allowed.

I have been to both Palo brunch and dinner on the Disney Dream, and my preference is brunch.  Not only did I enjoy the food better at brunch, I do not like to miss out on the fun rotational dining options in the main dining rooms.  We did enjoy the dinner as well though, and the atmosphere is perfect for a romantic date night. 

The Palo Brunch includes a complimentary glass of champagne or a mimosa, as well as a buffet and an a la carte menu, and as with all things on a cruise – it’s all you can eat.  

The buffet consist of a variety of pastries, seafood and cheeses:  

palo brunch disney cruise

palo brunch disney cruise

palo brunch disney cruise

palo brunch disney cruise

palo brunch disney cruise

These were our plates:

palo brunch disney cruise

palo brunch disney cruise

 

The Palo Brunch a la carte menu:  

palo brunch disney cruise

We started first with some soups:

palo brunch disney cruise
Tomato and Basil Soup
palo brunch disney cruise
Celery Soup

On to our entrees…..

I tried the Chicken Parmesan (heavenly!) 

palo brunch disney cruise
So delicious!

Eddie ordered the lasagna:

palo brunch disney cruise

After all of that, there is still the delectable dessert bar!  I love the sizes of each dessert as it gives you the opportunity to try many things – which as you can see – we did!  

palo brunch disney cruise

Our plates:

palo brunch disney cruise

palo brunch disney cruise

Please note gratuity is not included in the $30 per person fee.  I also try to tip based on what the prices would be, as this is a five-star worthy restaurant, as opposed to basing it on the cost of $30 per person. 

Have you tried the Palo brunch?  Check out my post on my must-do’s for a Disney Cruise!