So, it’s the new year.
By this time, we have all made our resolutions and goals for the next 12 months – but was a VACATION included in those plans?
My blog is about being a parent to human children, so let’s face it, Disney was bound to show up in one of my posts sooner or later! Here is the first of a short series on the WHOs, WHYs, WHENs, WHEREs, and HOWs of different types of Disney vacations.
*Please note that I am not trying to sell anyone on a Disney vacation, but since this a common vacation goal for many parents of young children, I thought I would take the time to spell out the differences and highlights of each vacation type. I have done my homework for each of our trips, so if I can save the next family a little time and research, I am happy to!*
First in this series is a Disney Cruise
Let’s start with…
WHO is a Disney Cruise for:
Disney cruise line (DCL) is an (almost) all-inclusive vacation. It is intended for those who don’t want to plan a darn thing, but still want to have an amazing and event-filled time on their trip. It is ideally suited for families of all ages and stages or even hardcore Disney lovers without children. If you or your family members are all about Princesses, Star Wars, Pixar, Mickey Mouse, or Marvel – this cruise line is for you!
WHY a Disney Cruise over any other cruise line?
Because they are awesome!
No, really. Because the amenities are amazing! How many vacations can you think of that include top-notch and protected child care, teen services, and daycare? These fantastic amenities are totally optional, but think of the possibility of taking a vacation where everyone in the family has the ability to do what they want? No more travel arguments, rental cars, missed exits, finding gas stations or edible food in an unfamiliar location. No more unplanned “boring” downtime. No more scraping for SOMETHING to entertain your kids while you try to use a few minutes of the vacation (you paid, planned, and stressed over) on yourself!
Disney cruises provide all the entertainment your child could imagine! Kids care (Oceaneer’s Club) is several rooms worth of play for kids ages 3 – 12. They can climb, dance, craft, and be entertained to their heart’s content! They can meet and play with several iconic Disney friends, and engage with the staff and other kids in their environment. It is strictly kids only. Parents must check in and check out their children, it’s very secure.
Pre-teen space (Edge) is for kids 11-14. It’s the middle ground between the kids club and the teen space. This is sort of Disney Channels sweet spot right now, so all the music, comedy, characters, and fun is being carried over to the cruise line. It specializes in group activities and games. There is also a dance floor, karaoke, music listening areas and consoles for video games.
The teen space (VIBE) is for ages 14- 17. It includes a private pool and sun deck, game spaces, movie theater, Coffee bar, spa, and karaoke. Again, everything.
Baby care services (6 months – 3 years) are from morning to late evening. ‘It’s a Small World Nursery’ is fully staffed to engage with and care for your baby. Want to go to dinner? They’ve got you. Need some self-care time at the spa? Done. Keep in mind that they Babycare services are not part of the all-inclusive package. Prices are $9 an hour for your first child, $8 an hour for any additional children.
Why take a Disney cruise as a parent? There are several adult only options including pools, spas, lounges, restaurants, and nightclubs. The best part is, thanks to all the youth clubs, you can actually have time to see and use these grown-up places!
The last incredible ‘Why Disney?’bonus is Castaway Cay. It is Disney’s private island in the Caribbean. Very family friendly on most of the island (there is an adults only area), with a ton of great beachside activities, play structures in the water, excursions, food, and free play. It’s all Disney staffed and even provides a shuttle to get around the island.
WHERE does the cruise line travel?
Disney cruises sail a select variety of locations. Mostly to the Caribbean and Alaska, and a handful of transatlantic, Southern California, and transitional cruises.
WHEN is the best time to go?
Well, that really depends on your desired destination(s). Look at the available dates and decide what will work best for schedule and budget. Even if it’s colder than you’d like, you’ll still make the best of your experience. There will still be plenty to do and see!
HOW do I get on a ship ASAP?
Here’s where this dream vacation gets real – REALLY REAL. It’s not cheap. The average cost of a 7-day cruise (during hurricane season) for a family of 5 is roughly $7,700! Your family could easily cruise another line for much cheaper – BUT – there won’t be nearly as much for your whole family to do and, as a parent, you’ll lose a lot of freedom and flexibility. A lot more of your time will be spent entertaining and less time relaxing or playing.
So, the real question is:
HOW can I make this trip happen for my family?
First, decide on a destination and a general time of the year you would like to travel.
Request quotes from several places, I suggest you get a baseline price from the Disney website and then a few more from third-party vendors. One of the cheaper places to price is through EasyClickTravel. Other sites you can try are Dreams Unlimited Travel and Small World Vacations; these are vacation planners, so they may cost a little more but can plan everything but the airfare. Third-party or vacation planners can sometimes offer better prices or shipboard credit incentives that you wouldn’t get buying directly from Disney.
Side note: If you have young children, you may not even want to deal with the hassle of getting off the ship. If that is the case, then picking a cruise with the most possible stops may not be the best choice for your family. Do your homework on this, it may save you a little money in the end.
Second, decide how you will be traveling to the ship port.
Are you close enough to drive?
Calculate the cost of gas, parking, and maintenance.
Do you need to fly?
Play with dates online and decide when it makes the most sense to travel. Some dates to fly are cheaper than others. Are you close to a holiday? Are you flying on a Monday? All these things will play into the final price of the tickets.
Third, take the approximate totals of the cruise and travel, and add another $100 – 150 per day to the total of your cruise.
For a 7-day cruise, you will need to budget an additional $700 – $1050. This will pay for the items that are not included in the cruise price. This includes tipping, alcohol, smoothies, fancy coffee, popcorn, souvenirs, and any incidentals that you forgot to pack before you left. Also, you have the opportunity to book special events, excursions, baby care, restaurants, and spa treatments after you secure your cruise. Take advantage of this opportunity, as certain things can sell out months before your sail date.
Fourth, take this data and work out your timeline to have it paid off.
Adjust dates as needed and re-work numbers. The sticker shock is crazy, but if you plan to go in December as opposed to July, you have more time to save and pay the balance. I believe cruise dates are generally scheduled out up to 1 1/2 years out, so maybe start planning now for 2019.
There is tons of more information to be found on the Disney Cruise Line. Check out a few YouTube videos, download the Disney Vacation Guide on their website, and join a DCL Facebook group. Practically every question you can think of can be answered from these three resources.
Check back for my next posts on Disneyland and Disney World!
See ya real soon!