Our week-long Disney Eastern Caribbean cruise was the absolute highlight of our U.S. trip.
Why the kids love it
- there are all the Disney characters and princesses that Disney World has
- it has a ride – they loved the AquaDuck waterslide so much that they thought it made up for all the Disney World rides!
- the pools are just as good as the Disney hotels
- there is a character breakfast like at Disney World
- there’s a Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique like at Disney World, and
- there’s fireworks like at Disney World
PLUS they get to
- sleep in bunk beds
- be on a ship in the middle of the ocean
- go to discos and deck parties
- get off the ship for the day and go to the beach
- do cool things like swim with dolphins and sting rays, and
- visit new countries
Why I love it
- everything is family friendly while still being luxurious
- everything is so easy! Everything’s done for you, everything is wonderful – service, food, staterooms, organisation, decor, activities, ports, characters. All our expectations were surpassed.
- the kids loved the kids clubs so much that they begged to go, which meant guilt-free mummy and daddy time, and
- there was a ridiculous amount of things to do. The pools, the shows, the ports, the deck parties, the character meet-and-greets … So much that we could do as a family and ALL enjoy!
A Disney cruise is like a sophisticated Disneyland. Still completely and totally kid-friendly, but more upmarket, more elegant, with the best service and facilities you’ll find on a cruise ship anywhere.
This post covers our Disney Eastern Caribbean cruise highlights – the main reasons why we loved it. However, I have excluded everything character-related, the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, and the ports that we visited. They all deserve posts of their own.
Disney Caribbean cruise
Because this is a bit of an epic post (in length anyway!), you can use this table of contents to jump to the section that you want to read –
Our ship – Disney Fantasy
Disney Fantasy staterooms
Disney Fantasy pool deck
Inside the ship
Disney Cruise restaurants
Disney Cruise kids clubs
Our ship – Disney Fantasy
This is the Disney Dream docked next to our ship, Disney Fantasy, at Port Canaveral in Florida.
It’s very unusual for them to be in port at the same time, but very convenient to get a pic from our balcony before we departed on our cruise. Dream and Fantasy are sister ships, practically identical. It was like looking in a mirror.
Beautiful, isn’t she?
Once you arrive at the boarding gate, you’re so close to her that all you can do is stare in wonder.
I’ll gush over all the character fun in a separate post, but I had to show you this pic. Here we are happily checked in, kids signed up for kids club with their ID bracelets already on, grabbing a photo with Captain Mickey while we wait to board.
Feeling so excited and a little bit overwhelmed!
Disney Fantasy staterooms
Here is our temporary home at sea – Disney Fantasy stateroom 7162. It was towards the aft (back) of the ship. And was perfectly fabulous.
You pay extra for mid-ship cabins to minimise movement, but we had fantastic weather and movement was barely perceptible.
Inside our little oasis, and our lovely comfy queen-size bed.
Sorry it’s looking a bit crumpled. The kids got to it before I took my pics!
Our little lounge area leading onto the cosy, yet perfectly delightful, balcony.
While we’re at dinner it magically transforms into bunk beds for the kids, complete with starry ceiling and a soft nightlight to scare the shadows away. Both kids wanted to sleep up top, so they took turns, and I loved snuggling up with whoever was on the bottom for bedtime reading.
The bathroom is quite clever being split in two. One half has basin and bath/shower (and two very useful clothes lines!).
The other half has toilet and basin.
Very handy to be able to get on with other bathroom activity while someone’s in the toilet!
Plenty of storage – we had two wardrobes like this – one for me and one for hubster. I hung up the kids’ party clothes, but they had plenty of drawers for the rest of their clothes.
We didn’t use this patch of heaven enough, but it was lovely to have. Especially when arriving or departing a port. The balcony door has a child lock and the white railings are on the outside of a sheet of plexiglass, so it felt quite safe, although you would never let the kids out here unattended.
We were absolutely thrilled with our stateroom. Compact, yet comfortable, and laid out in a very practical way.
Disney Fantasy pool deck
Far and away the kids’ favourite part of the ship was the Disney Fantasy pool deck. I thought they might think the pools were a bit small, but the novelty of playing in different pools, the AquaDuck waterslide, the smaller waterslide, the hot spas, and watching a movie from the pool all combined to create their idea of paradise.
There are two main pools, with additional pools in the adult area, and one exclusive to the teen kids club!
The Donald pool (below) is quite deep and perfect for sitting on the edge or bobbing about relaxing and watching a movie on the big screen.
The Mickey pool (below) is very shallow, but so lovely and warm that I was quite content sitting in it while supervising the kids.
The AquaDuck is the waterslide wrapping around the pool deck. Miss 8 adored this ride. She went on it as often as she could considering she wasn’t tall enough to go on it alone. It is quite gentle with only a few small drops and curves, so I actually enjoyed it too. Very relaxing.
The above pic was taken when we came back to the ship early on a port day. The chairs are stacked and deck is wet because we had a 10 min storm – the only rain of the trip. But below was a typical day on the pool deck. Taken from my nice, shady deck chair.
Beautifully lit up at night. You can see the smaller yellow waterslide, which the kids also loved.
There’s also Nemo’s Reef and AquaLab water play areas, and multiple hot spas.
Unfortunately we didn’t find the time to use the adult areas, but we had a wander through and they looked divine. So elegant.
Inside the ship
The central foyer is magnificent, even without Cinderella randomly coming down the grand staircase as we walked past.
Once we got to know the ship we used this corridor a lot. It’s on an entertainment deck full of restaurants, bars, and the central foyer is behind us. Typically we would catch the aft lifts near our cabin down to this level to get to dinner or a foyer party.
There’s some pretty cool technology around the ship.
There are multiple interactive detective games for the kids to play (or adults – it’s really fun!). You get a map and a card which, when held up in front of particular pictures, unlocks clues for you to solve.
Here Hamish is moving the card around to pop balloons in the picture to reveal the clue. Even better, every time you solve a crime the culprit is different, so even though we only got through one game each for the kids during our week on board, you could play again and again.
And it’s not only the detective pictures that are interactive. Many others around the ship will activate just by you walking past, or are like this one where you need to steer the ship in the picture to get the treasure. I was impressed by the kids’ ability to figure out what they were supposed to do! There’s no instructions, but they figure it out pretty fast.
Out of the 7 nights on board a Disney Caribbean cruise, there is a Formal night, a Semi-formal night, a Pirate night, a Halloween night, and the others are “cruise casual”. There’s no compulsion to dress up, but most people do and I found the overall effect of having everyone dressed to a theme wonderfully bonding. It gives you an exciting sense of being a part of the entertainment.
On Formal night there were a handful of men in tuxedos, but most common were suits and ties, or pants and collared shirts. Women were in long evening gowns, short cocktail dresses or just a nice summer dress.
We enjoyed dressing up and it was a great opportunity to get some lovely family photos from the professional photographers that were set up in the central foyer every night.
Or some lovely snaps of our own –
For October cruises the ship is decorated for Halloween and one night there is a Halloween party, which is MASSIVE! I absolutely loved being part of a U.S. Halloween and seeing how full on it is! I would say at least a third of the adults were dressed up (Disney characters were very popular!) and all of the kids! The characters dress up too and host a dance party, and there’s HEAPS of lollies given out for trick or treating.
It might look a bit crazy and crowded in the photos, but there is an awesomely positive vibe and everyone’s having a ball. There’s plenty of characters around and they move on an organised rotation (you can see Minnie’s helper next to her), so you can stay in one spot and they will come to you.
Or if you need a break, just step to the side of the room and sit down, or watch from a deck above.
We took light, soft costumes that wouldn’t take up much space in the suitcase. Next time I would take a costume for myself!
A Sail-Away party on the pool deck starts the cruise off. And for Pirate night the characters return for a pantomine-style pirate show with some pretty impressive stunts and lots of audience participation. It is all about Captain Jack Sparrow and Pirates IN the Caribbean. Arrr me hearties!
Later on that night there’s an incredible fireworks display, which is quite magical in the middle of the ocean.
Semi-formal night was more casual than formal night and, to be honest, was hard to tell apart from a “cruise casual” night.
But another night, another party!
Check out Minnie’s helper getting down! There’s absolutely no excuse for not getting into the party spirit with the passion and excitement these guys generate!
This was the day Alannah visited the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique to have her hair, make-up and nails done, which I’ve covered separately here, but I love this family photo against the backdrop of the most divine Cinderella’s Castle mosaic.
Disney Cruise restaurants
This is how we typically started our day. Everyone in swimsuits and cover-ups ready to go straight to the pool or visit a port, enjoying the vast array of food available at the buffet at Cabanas restaurant.
This restaurant is on the same level as the pool deck, so it’s high and light-filled with floor-to-ceiling windows to take in the never-ending blue of the sky and ocean.
Or this was a beautiful breakfast option too, outside in the fresh air and sunshine.
Dinner on Disney is quite unique, because they have rotational dining. You are assigned a rotation among the three Disney Cruise restaurants, so you might start with Royal Court, then Enchanted Garden, then Animator’s Palate, then start back at Royal Court again. Each has a theme and unique decor.
The super awesome thing about rotational dining is that your waiters come with you. They will treat you like royalty, get you pretty much anything you want even if it’s not on the menu, and very quickly get to know what you and your kids like and don’t like. So from the second night onwards everyone’s favourite drink will be on the table before you arrive, you don’t need to explain allergies every night, and they will completely spoil you. They would play with the kids, shocking them by drawing on the tablecloth (with washable crayons!), doing magic tricks and making them laugh. Meal times were great fun.
You can order as much as you want. There are 4 courses, we usually ordered 3, but you can have more! If you want to try every main on the menu, then you can order all of them! Our waiters quickly worked out that hubster and I love desserts, so every night they brought multiple desserts to our table! It was ridiculous, fun and very delicious!
There are also two fine dining adult Disney Cruise restaurants, which incur a surcharge, but I’ve heard for foodies they are magnificent. We are not foodies and found the normal restaurants fancy enough for us.
You can also have a more casual meal at Cabanas (where we had breakfast above), or hot dogs/burgers/nuggets type food at the pool deck.
There is no doubt that this is the best family-friendly restaurant on board, and I would consider requesting a rotation that meant you could eat here 3 times during a 7 day cruise.
The food is the same great quality at all three Disney Cruise restaurants, but here it’s the technology that will blow you away. There are screens covering all the walls and during one dinner Crush from Finding Nemo will come and talk to you. And it’s not just a movie. He will ask you questions and you can talk back to him. Completely magical.
And in the second dinner you make your own animation. Everyone draws a person and by the time you’ve finished your main course they have turned all those drawings into a movie. Super cool!
This was our last night at Enchanted Garden with our incredibly hard-working waiters Dejan from Serbia and Leo from Argentina. I might have shed a little tear saying goodbye to them. They really contributed so much to our enjoyment of the cruise.
Disney Cruise kids club
There are several kids clubs on board with each age group having their own space, from the It’s a Small World nursery for bubs, to the late teens who have their own private pool.
The biggest are the Disney Cruise Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab for kids 3-12 years. They are VAST, taking up about half a deck. These areas can be divided or combined depending on the number of kids and activities going on.
The younger kids love the Toy Story and Monsters Inc rooms, while the bigger kids love the interactive play floor and the computers. Driving the ship on a computer seemed to be the thing that Hamish loved the most. While Alannah loved the character visits, when a princess would come and read them a story, or Pluto or Minnie would come and do craft with them.
The staff were wonderful, the kids were free to move around these huge spaces and it feels very safe. The kids wear a GPS locator on their ID bracelets, so the staff know where they are at all times (it’s amazingly accurate!). You need to scan your room key (it comes up with your photo on their computer) plus say your password in order to take your kids out.
The Disney Cruise kids clubs are open 9am-midnight and you can use them as often and for as long as you like. We found ourselves so busy that some days they would only go in for an hour while hubster and I had a quiet drink in one of the bars. Next time we will try and use them more, because the kids were always excited to go in and sad to come out.
And so so SO much more!
There’s so much more good stuff that I haven’t gone into like –
- Nightly stage shows – the Aladdin one was an abridged version of the Broadway production that’s coming to Sydney soon. Absolutely incredible.
- Cinema showing latest Disney movies
- Full back catalogue of Disney movies showing on demand in your stateroom
- Several bars and nightclubs if you fancy an adults-only drink or dance
- Self-serve ice-cream 24 hours a day
- Spa, mini-golf, basketball, fitness centre, free room service, adults-only coffee shop, art gallery
- And endless activities and classes like cocktail making, animation, making towel-animals and bingo (Bingo is the only form of gambling – there’s no casinos on Disney ships).
More information on their website: Disney Cruise Line
Check out the rest of our 3 week Disney Extravaganza trip here.
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Which part of a Disney Cruise do you think would be your favourite?