The Top 10 Things To Do On a Disney Cruise

January 28, 2018

Did you know that many guests have experienced one of the Disney Parks worldwide and many have experienced sailing aboard a luxury cruise liner to tropical, historic, or scenic locales; but, not as many guests have experienced what Disney has to offer aboard one of their ships? In fact, many First Time Disney Cruisers scour the internet for tips, blog posts, and insight on what their experience may be like.

Photo credit:  Disney Parks Blog

Disney Cruise Line: Ships

The legacy of Disney Cruise Line circles around the revolutionary design of its ships while bringing guests an innovative cruise experience designed with families in mind while transforming the art-of-cruising which allows guests to set out on adventures not only at port destinations, but also onboard!
The Disney Cruise Fleet presently includes four ships: Disney Magic (1998), Disney Wonder (1999), Disney Dream (2011), and Disney Fantasy (2012). At the D23 Expo in Anaheim, California, in July 2017, Disney Cruise Line announced that they will be expanding their fleet by three ships! They are all expected to be built at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Germany and are expected to be completed in 2021, 2022, and 2023. The reason for 3 new ships?

”We decided two ships wouldn’t be enough to hold all of the exciting new experiences we have been dreaming up to take family cruise vacations to a whole new level with immersive Disney storytelling, world-class family entertainment, and imaginative innovations that are fantastically fun and uniquely Disney.”

~Bob Chapek, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts

While the details of all three of the ships are still in development, it has been announced that they will each be approximately 135,000 gross tons and are planned to have about 1,250 staterooms (slightly larger than the Disney Dream and Fantasy).

Disney Cruise Line: Things to Do

1. Inclusions

While all of the items listed below are included in the price of a Disney Cruise, there are quite a few other things you can experience onboard:

  • Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner (and Room Service)
    • While the majority of the meals are included onboard, there are two Adult-Only dining locations which do cost extra:
      • Remy (Disney Dream and Fantasy)
      • Palo
  • Soft Drinks
  • Snacks & Ice Cream
    • Similar to the meals, the majority of the snacks onboard are included. The exception? Pre-packaged snacks (and drinks) sold outside of the theaters.
  • Character Meet & Greets

Additionally, each night a Personal Navigator will be delivered. Utilizing a newsletter format, this document serves as an organized schedule of activities onboard the ship as well as shore excursion options for the upcoming day.

2. Adult Only Activities

When you think Disney, do you immediately think children? If you do, you’re not alone; but, at the same time, you’re incorrect. Disney Cruise Line understands that adults also need to enjoy their cruise (at times without their kids or in adult-exclusive areas).
As a result, each cruise ship has it’s own adult-only:

  • Night Clubs and Lounges
  • Spas (extra cost)

    Disney Magic – Senses Spa & Salon
    Senses Spa
    Photo credit:  Disney Parks Blog

Looking for an Adults-Only amenity during the day? Look no further than the Quiet Cove Pool, the Cove Café, Satellite Sun Deck (aboard the Disney Fantasy), and Serenity Bay (on Castaway Cay). Unless otherwise mentioned, each amenity is included in the cost of the cruise faire and can be found aboard each cruise liner. Be sure to check out the Personal Navigator for other daytime activities and presentations.

3. Children’s Activities

One of the things Disney does best is fulfilling the needs of all of its guests including children and families. While onboard any one of the cruise liners, children may choose to participate in the organized programs of the Oceaneer Club and Lab, offering age-specific programs with lots of fun and interesting hands-on activities, or even enjoy a wide array of other activities that are available. Throughout the day, there are even Disney characters on hand to meet and greet smaller cruisers. Below is a brief overview of all children’s activity locations based upon child age:

  • It’s a Small World Nursery
    • Available for children ages 6 months to 3 years for a small hourly fee. The nursery is available on all cruise liners and must be reserved in advance.
  • Oceaneer Club
    • Oceaneer Club is for children ages 3 to 12. To partake in the Club activities, children must be toilet-trained.
    • Activities may include a play area, dress-up, games, Lego table, computer lab, and stage for impromptu performances and games.
  • Oceaneer Lab
    • Oceaneer Lab is for children ages 3 to 12.
    • Activities may include playing Nintendo on a jumbo screen, playing computer games, constructing ferris wheels or other things from their imagination with K-Nex and other building materials, or performing hands-on experiments in the lab areas.
  • Edge
    • Edge is for tweens ages 11-14.
    • Activities may include playing video games, watching TV, or participating in arts and crafts, karaoke contests, or even scavenger hunts.
  • Vibe
    • Vibe is for teenagers ages 14-17.
    • Designed to look like a hip, loft apartment or coffee shop, teens can meet and have fun in a place all their own. The environment is made up of couches, chairs, a dance floor, and a bar (serving non-alcoholic drinks of course)!
  • Chill Spa
    • Aboard Disney Magic, Dream, and Fantasy, Chill Spa is for teenagers ages 13 to 17 and is located inside of Senses Spa.
    • Teens can get pampered with a special selection of spa treatments including facials, massages, body treatments, manicures, and pedicures.

4. Pools

Whether you’re cruising aboard the Disney Magic or Wonder (Deck 9) or the Disney Dream or Fantasy (Deck 11), each ship has pools for guests of all ages:

  • Mickey’s Pool (Disney Wonder, Dream, and Fantasy)
    • Designed for the littler guests, the pool features Mickey’s profile, a water slide in the shape of Mickey’s arm, and a splash area under Mickey’s hand.
  • AquaLab (Disney Magic, Wonder, and Fantasy)
    • This space features pop jets, geysers, and bubblers; a splash area; and the Twist N’ Spout waterslide which sends guests 38-64” tall through 250 feet of twists and turns back-and-fourth across the ship.
  • Goofy’s (Disney Magic and Wonder) and Donald’s (Disney Dream and Fantasy) Pools
    • Both of these pools are centrally located and each is family-friendly.
  • Cove Pool
    • This pool is on board every ship and is for guests 18 years of age and older. While some versions of this pool may have a cascading waterfall into the pool (Disney Wonder) or a poolside bar (Disney Magic and Wonder), each has two whirlpool spas at the end of the pool. Adult guests are sure to relax in this perfect spot!
Photo credit:  Disney Parks Blog
  • Additional Water Activities
    • On board the Disney Dream and Fantasy, guests can enjoy Nemo’s Reef and the AquaDunk. Nemo’s Reef is a 1,500 square foot glass-surrounded area with a limited number of entrances that reduces the chances of children wandering the ship alone. The area is also shaded from the sun and features characters from Finding Nemo. AquaDunk is the first ever water coaster at sea. Coming in at 765 feet long and featuring a four-deck drop, this coaster sends guests through a transparent tube which twists and turns over the top decks and even out to sea! The water coaster does have three restrictions:
      1. Riders must be 42” tall to ride with another guest
      2. Riders must be 54” tall to ride solo
      3. Riders under the age of 7 must be accompanied by another guest over the age of 14

5. Sporting Activities

Disney Cruise Line recognizes that going on vacation doesn’t mean guests will reduce their physical activity for the duration of the cruise. Therefore, plenty of recreational and sporting activities are available onboard:

  • Basketball
  • Shuffleboard (Disney Magic and Wonder)
  • Ping Pong
  • Running Trails
  • Open Air Sports Deck (Disney Dream and Fantasy
    • Miniature Golf
    • Virtual Sports Simulators
    • Soccer Field
    • Volleyball Court
  • Fitness Centers

6. Onboard Shopping

Guests are free to peruse the shops aboard each of the ships at any time other than when the ships are at port. At that time, the shops onboard are closed, with the exception of the sundry shops. Each ship does have several retail shops, which offer exclusive Disney Cruise Line merchandise as well as other duty-free goods.

7. Onboard Movies

There are various ways guests can watch movies while onboard any Disney Cruise Line ship:

  • In the staterooms
    • Movies are available to guests in the privacy of their own stateroom via the All Movie Channel or the Disney Animated Movie Channel.
  • In the Buena Vista Theater
    • Guests can enjoy first run live-action or animated Disney films in a movie theater setting.

8. Shows

In New York, natives and tourists alike have to reserve and pay for a ticket to a Broadway show in advance (sometimes months beforehand). While onboard Disney Cruise Line ships, guests are able to enjoy Broadway-caliber stage shows. What’s better? These shows are all included in the price of the cruise itself! Some of the shows include:

  • Disney Magic
    • Tangled:  The Musical
    • Disney Dreams
    • Twice Charmed, An Original Twist on the Cinderella Story
  • Disney Wonder
    • The Golden Mickeys
    • Frozen, A Musical Spectacular
  • Disney Fantasy
    • Disney’s Believe
    • Disney Wishes
    • Disney’s Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular
  • Disney Dream
    • Disney’s Believe
    • The Golden Mickeys:  A Timeless Tribute
    • Beauty and the Beast

9. Seasonal Activities

When traveling to the Disney Parks worldwide, guests often plan their vacations based upon the season or the seasonal activities being offered. It isn’t any different when guests plan their Disney Cruise Line vacations. What activities are available? Throughout the year, Disney Cruise Line offers select celebrations aboard the Disney Wonder, Dream, Fantasy, and Magic. These celebrations include:

  • Frozen Day at Sea
    • Offered on select cruises late May until early September as well as once in October aboard the Disney Wonder and Magic.
    • Guests can partake in a Frozen-themed dining experience and a deck party with none other than Anna and Elsa themselves. There’s even the opportunity to play games with Sven and sing along with Olaf!
Land of “Frozen” Coming to Disney Cruise Line in Summer 2015
Photo credit:  Disney Parks Blog
  • Star Wars Day at Sea
    • In 2018, guests can experience The Force on select cruises aboard the Disney Fantasy from January 6th-April 14th. Have Princes and Princesses that love the Jedi Training experience in the parks? Be sure to have them take part in the onboard version of the Jedi Training Academy during the cruise! Afterwards, don’t forget to snag special photo opportunities, chow down on some yummy special food, bust a move at the deck party, and cap off the day with a special firework show.
Photo credit:  Disney Parks Blog
  • Marvel Day at Sea
    • Cruising aboard the Disney Magic on select sailings from January 7-April 29, 2018, Marvel Day at Sea allows guests to meet their favorite Marvel super heroes including Star-Lord, Gamora, and Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy; Iron Man; Captain America; Spider-Man; Thor; Black Widow; Doctor Strange; and Hawkeye. Plus, 2018 will mark the Disney Cruise Line debut of Black Panther and Loki!
    • In the Oceaneer Club, younger guests can partake in Marvel’s Adventure Academy, which includes Marvel-themed games, activities and crafts, as well as select Marvel characters on hand to illustrate what the true qualities of being a hero are.
    • Other activities include catching the latest Marvel movie, entering trivia competitions, enjoying special food & beverage items, partaking in an action-packed deck party, and watching a Marvel super hero-filled show.
Photo credit:  Marvel
  • Halloween on the High Seas
    • Typically begins in September and lasts through the end of October each year aboard all Disney Cruise Line ships.
    • Halloween games, trick-or-treating, and dancing with Disney characters in their costumes while on board a Disney Cruise? Of course! Just check out Mickey’s Mouse-querade Party in the atrium and be sure to wear your costume!
    • If you’ve never had the opportunity of meeting Jack Skellington and Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas in the parks, Halloween on the High Seas is the next best chance.
    • Don’t forget to check out the decorations, including the Pumpkin Tree. It’s inspired by the Ray Bradbury story, “The Halloween Tree” and will magically sprout Jack-O-Lanterns, a booming voice, and flickering lights. Each tree has a mysterious caretaker who tells guests haunted holiday stories too.
Photo credit:  Disney Parks Blog
  • Very Merrytime Cruises
    • Offered Mid-November to Late December each year on every ship.
    • Who doesn’t like to get dressed up during the holidays? Aboard the Very Merrytime Cruise, guests will wear their holiday best to Santa’s Winter Wonderland Ball where they’ll sing and dance with all of their Disney friends and princesses while enjoying treats and watching as a snowman transforms into Santa Claus and snow falls in the atrium!
    • All religions can celebrate during their cruise as holiday storytellers share tales of Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Hanukkah. Sunset Hanukkah services are also offered in addition to Christmas services, which include a midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.
    • The kids are sure to have a blast too! During “Mickey’s Tree-Lighting Magic” on the first night of each cruise, a child will assist the Disney characters as the tree in the atrium is lit. Then, on Christmas morning, Santa Claus and all of his elves will be at that very tree with surprises for all of the children with cookies and milk in tow.
Photo credit:  Disney Parks Blog

10. Nighttime Entertainment

No longer are your Fourth of July Celebrations and visits to Disney Parks the only places where you can see fireworks. Disney Cruise Line prides itself on offering the one-and-only fireworks show at sea and what better way to end the day?

Photo credit:  Disney Parks Blog

Now that you’ve read the “Top 10 Things to Do On a Disney Cruise”, where will you cruise?

As featured on Fairytale Adventures Travel on January 18, 2018.

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