How Disney is a Disney cruise?
This is a question I’m asked constantly, both by people I know in real life and individuals I encounter on the Internet. Many people hear the word “Disney” and automatically places like Walt Disney World and Disneyland come to mind. They think a Disney cruise is non-stop Disney in your face 24/7. Having now been on five Disney cruises, I’m here to debunk some of those myths and let people see the “correct” light where the Disney Cruise Line is concerned.
Myth: I’m going to be surrounded non-stop by Disney characters in costume
Fact: While each day of your cruise will feature character appearances, they are hardly non-stop. Quite the contrary. In fact, on my most recent cruise I felt that the character appearances were somewhat lacking, or more importantly, didn’t really include ones other than the “standards” (Mickey, Minnie, Chip and Dale, etc).
Myth: It’s a Disney cruise, of course you’re going to be surrounded by screaming, crying, and wound up kids.
Fact: Yes, there will be children on a Disney cruise. But honestly, unless you’re staying somewhere where children are not allowed, most places in the world today have kids. That’s a fact. I did observe there to be fewer kids on my cruise to Norway last June than the three night Bahamian cruises I’ve taken but I attributed this to the cost of transatlantic airfare for a family (something a lot of families wouldn’t be able to shell out for), and the Norway cruise being significantly higher in cost than the ones that depart from Port Canaveral. But on all of the Disney cruise ships, a great effort has been made to make sure there are areas that ARE kid free, where you can go listen to piano music while enjoying a cocktail and not even know that there are kids near to you. When I see ill-behaved kids on board, I know that is a reflection of the parent, not the cruise line.
Myth: Everything is going to be Disney themed
Fact: One of the things I like most about Disney cruises is that the ship’s decor is first and foremost classic and elegant (i.e. it resembles ships from the glory days of cruising). There are Disney “influences” here and there but nothing overwhelmingly so with the exception of the restaurant Animator’s Palate which is, as its name suggests, animated themed. Your stateroom may have a print or two on the walls but it’s subtle, along with the hidden Mickeys found everywhere from pillows to lampshades. You see influences from the Disney movies in the decor, the menus, etc, but the movies are not the sole influence of the ship’s design and offerings.
Myth: I’m an adult without kids. There isn’t going to be anything remotely of interest to me.
Fact: I feel Disney works quite hard to make sure there are a decent number of offerings to its adult cruiser demographics, whether they’re parents looking for some quiet time away from their kids or a couple just wanting to enjoy themselves. Everything from an adults only swim area to adults only lounges (on our Norway cruise I loved getting a pre-dinner cocktail in one of the lounges while listening to piano music and no, songs from Disney movies were not played). They also offer a wide selection of drink seminars on just about every spirit you can imagine, and beer too (for my review of the Mixology seminar which I took on my most recent cruise back in November click here). They also show first run movies in their movie theater and yes, there are some that are rated “R” (i.e. not kid friendly).
My favorites of the adult only experiences on board are the adult only restaurants, Palo (Northern Italian cuisine) and Remy (French cuisine). You pay extra for these (Remy costs a bit more than Palo but is so worth it) and if you want a more relaxed and quiet dining experience and obviously adore good food, I would definitely recommend reserving at one or both of the restaurants, depending on how long your cruise is.
Myth: I really don’t like the Disney theme parks so I doubt I will like a Disney cruise
Fact: Don’t get me wrong, I still love the Disney theme parks. I’ve been to Disney World countless times, Disneyland twice (once as a small child, the other a couple of years ago), and even Disneyland Paris. However, as I’ve gotten older my patience with crowds and lines has diminished. So here’s the thing- if I had to choose between the parks and a cruise trip, I’m going to go with the latter. Yes, a cruise does have extra costs but it’s nothing remotely compared to what you spend at the parks. Cost wise, I feel a Disney cruise is more effective. A Disney cruise is also an experience where you can choose to do as much as you want or as little as you want, because that in short is what a cruise is all about versus at a park, where you may feel like you’ve wasted money if you’re not taking advantage of every single offering since theme park tickets are so expensive.
Conclusion: A Disney cruise is nothing remotely like a Disney theme park vacation. Yes, you have “Disney” all around you, but not nearly to the same degree as you do at the parks. Disney Cruise Line strives hard to give its passengers an above and beyond cruising experience and I truly feel they do. It’s not really a surprise why they’re given numerous travel industry rewards year after year.