Big Red’s Disney Bootcamp: DCL: More than a children’s playground at sea

So, you have explored Walt Disney World, you may have even ventured over to the West Coast to where the dreams all began in Disneyland I bet you’re wondering what else you could do that’s Disney but different? Why not try what everyone has been talking about lately, Disney Cruise Line.

Cruising became popular in the 1980’s when air travel became boring and crossing the seas in a luxurious ship become all the rage. What was once though of as a “rich folk only” mode of transportation, cruising has become second nature for many families. So popular in fact that is has grown to a $29.4 billion dollar business. In 1995, Disney created Disney Cruise Lines, commissioning two ships to be created in the same Disney fashion as the theme parks we know and love. The Disney Magic set say July 30th, 1998 and from there, has grown to 4 ships as of March 2012 when the Disney Fantasy will set sail for the adventure seekers. From 2400 passengers to the current 4,000 on the Disney Dream, Disney has truly created a magical experience for their guests. Many different ports of call to choose from, again, it merely requires some investigation and imagination and Disney will certainly take care of the rest.
Of course, choosing your room type and your ports of call is literally the only thing you will need to decide, along with transportation to and from the location if you so chose to travel to someone other than the Port Canaveral region for travel to and from the Florida base which the Disney Dream and the Disney Fantasy shall remain. As for the Magic and the Wonder, they will be setting sail to both the East & West Coasts respectively.

I highly recommend a 3 day cruise if you are a first timer. This is a lovely way to “get your sea legs’ as one might say and discover if cruising is something you enjoy. With the size of ships coming a very long way, one would be safe to say being sick wouldn’t be so difficult back in the day but it would hard with the stabilizers and the like of today’s modern ships.However, 3 days is a delightful way to get accustom to the surroundings and enjoy a little quiet time. If traveling to say the Bahama’s from Port Canaveral on the Disney Dream, after arriving at MCO (Orlando International Airport) you can certainly enjoy the Disney Cruise’s Lines Express shuttle from the airport to the ship. You will be whisked away, luggage and all and meeting you in your stateroom magically from the airport.

Once checked in by Disney Cast Crew Members, (please bear in mind a passport is required to travel Internationally) you will be given your key packages and your off to explore your new home for 3 glorious and enchanting nights.
Disney has, as they have always become accustom to, creating a wondrous retreat. As an adult with no kids, I was weary as to travel aboard without children as most would assume Disney Cruise Lines is children only. So not the case to my amazing surprise. Many options to choose from including a Concierge Level if this is more to your liking. Coming as a Concierge I was delighted to hear that. Offering staterooms with veranda and even a jetted tub, they have certainly thought of everything. As your friends have once informed you of their cruise to Caribbean many, MANY years ago, the food on cruise ships is beyond your imagination. This is true for Disney Cruise Lines as well.

Disney has created an amazing opportunity to try many different options on your journey and offer a rotation so to offer choices for the guests. With such restaurants as “Animator’s Palate” “Parrot Cay” “Triton’s” and many more, Disney has offered many amazing and truly unique dining possibilities. My favorites of course, may not be yours but I know you will find your own. If room service is something more to your liking, this option is available as well. These dining options are all included in your cost of course, however, alcoholic beverages are of course, an extra fee.

Speaking of, but a wonderful one I highly, HIGHLY recommend is dining at “Palo”. Palo is a finer dining experience but one you will certainly thank me for suggesting. It is an extra cost, but if you can consider $20 per person an exaggerated fee, than by all means stick with your rotation and ignore this next bit of information. Palo can be used as a switch out selection for one of your rotations and most people try for this. It is something you must request and despite perhaps being declined the opportunity due to over booking, please do not fret, you will have another opportunity the day you arrive on-board when you check in and you can ask a cast member for assistance for creating the reservations. Please also be advised that Palo requires a dress code, simply meaning absolutely no jeans. Khaki’s and button down shirts for the men and dress pants and sleeved shirts for the ladies No need for the ball gowns, but one night of dressing up is always a treat. The food in incredible and that is merely all I will give away about that so you can create your own memories but I will merely leave you with this tip: order the CHOCOLATE SOUFFLE when you check in. You will totally thank me later 😉

There is so much more than I could ever write in a note about Disney Cruise Lines but a few tips and pointers and you will find yourself on your way to magnificent journey’s on the seas. You will spend one day at sea traveling, during this time, trust me, Disney has provided more than enough options to keep yourself occupied. Don’t ever think you’re going to be sitting in your room bored and counting down the minutes until it’s all over, on the contrary, you will be finished before you even blink your eyes and wonder where to time got to.
There are first run movies to watch (meaning if Disney-Pixar’s Brave is out in theatres during your cruise, it’ll be showing at the cruise ships movie theatre- even in 3D if applicable!) clubs to dance the night away to, games, art galleries to view, pools to swim in of course, basketball courts to sweep across, gyms to get your sweat on in, Spa’s to relax in (more later of course ) and theatre’s to watch award-winning Disney productions in. That isn’t even mentioning what there is in-store for the children in your life. Disney has provided this magical thing that you can drop your kids off at a club to be entertained whilst you are given a pager in case your kids want to contact YOU, not the other way around. This way, you can get away to the Spa to get that massage you were dreaming of.
The children’s programs are, of course as you would expect, totally Disney tested and approved by millions of parents around the world. They offer from babies to teens and everyone in between. You can explore, take a cooking class, fight with Pirates and that’s only the toddlers. Ask your reservations agent for my information on the programs available on what ship or you can, as always, go to the amazing Disney website for more details and information.

Now, you have exhausted yourself and your settled in for a restful sleep in your cabin and you’re wondering what’s tomorrow going to bring? CASTAWAY CAY!!

 This well-known Island, or for those of you living under a rock for the last few years with all that has been said about it, Castaway Cay is Disney’s private Island. Yes, you read that right, PRIVATE ISLAND. Registered to Disney Cruise Lines, this Island offers everyone, and I do mean EVERYONE the opportunity to do whatever their heart desires. Parasailing? You fancy that? DCL has you covered, watercraft more your speed, sure they can accommodate that too. Now, you have dreamed of feeding a stingray, well, I can tell you from experience, it is something they can do as well. You see, as the stories go, Wishes do come true. We haven’t even started with the activities on the Island. There is something for families, private Cabana’s if you want to lie in a hammock and have fruity drinks all afternoon in the sunshine.

You want to do some snorkeling and search out a hidden Mickey with the local fish? I have photos I am not going to share because I don’t want to give the location away, but I can tell you that Castaway Cay is truly incredible. Relaxing and fun. Grab a bike and take a wee spin around and explore. Oh, you say you say the Flying Dutchman from the Pirates of The Caribbean movie series, yup….you sure did. It’s parked at the Island and you can certainly take some incredible photos and bring the movies right into your reality. Of course, there are alway many awesome opportunities to spend some quality time with some pretty charming characters during your stop as well. It seems as though Stitch, Captain Hook and even Mickey & Minnie love to getaway as well and get some sun and surf time in as well.

Whew………….like I said, there is way more to do during a Disney Cruise than you may have first anticipated. Excited yet? Well, not to worry, your off again and about to visit the Bahama’s. Nassau Bahama’s is a charming Port offering many things to keep you occupied whilst the ship docks for the day. Atlantis Resort is probably one of the most popular, exploring a Casino, an incredible aquarium and Hotel, Nassau offers so much more than meets the eye. The straw market is certainly a must see. Rows and rows of stalls with merchants offering many different displays of handcrafted products, there are historic harbor tours available, even visiting the Blue Lagoon Beach. Ask your Disney Cast Crew Member for details and options. Enjoy your day in the tropical Island.

Senses Spa is located on the Disney Dream, or Vista Spa offered on the Disney Magic & Wonder and I can certainly say from vast experience, this is a MUST DO when you’re cruising aboard Disney Cruise Lines. Now, of course, with the newer ships comes more space and more amenities, the Disney Dream’s Senses Spa has created an enchanting and relaxing oasis waiting for your arrival.

 Sure, they both offer the usual Spa menu, Mani’s, Pedi’s and massage that will send you into a euphoria, the Senses Spa’s have begun offering some fantasy items. What do you think of when I say a RAIN FOREST ROOM? That’s right, Disney Cruise Lines has created a wet and dry Shangri-La. Looking to chill out for an afternoon whilst your hubby goes to the gym to work off that souffle? Well, might I recommend a trip into the Hamam (Steam Bath) and then a massage out in the private Villa?? Sssshhhhhh, he doesn’t have to know, it will be our little relaxing secret.

As I have confirmed, cruises in the 21st century has become something of a Resort on the open seas. A place where you can do nothing and everything. The possibilities are endless and are only as open as your imagination allows.

The Disney Cruise Line website is where all the information is for these unbelievable offerings, check it out and find something that tickles your fancy and I assure you, your going to want a lot more than a mere 3 days.

Now, if you will excuse me, the Pirates IN the Caribbean Party is about to begin and I have to get my Pirates Costume on and get out to the deck because I want a fantastic spot for the FIREWORKS. See ya on the open seas…….



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