Disney Cruise Line

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Review of Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line is a cruise operator, subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. Incorporated in 1996 as Magical Cruise Company Ltd., the company is domiciled in London, UK with operational headquarters in Celebration, Florida.

Currently, Disney Cruise Line operates four ships: Disney Dream, Disney Fantasy, Disney Magic and Disney Wonder. Disney Cruise Line also owns the private island in the Bahamas, Castaway Cay, designed as an exclusive port of call for its ships. In 2012, it was estimated Disney Cruise Lines owns nearly 3% share of worldwide cruise market.

Actually, Disney Cruise Line was created after in 1995 the Walt Disney Company commissioned Disney Wonder and Disney Magic from Fincantieri (Italy), ending the arrangement with Premier Cruise Line for its vacation packages' maritime segment. Disney had previously contracted Premier Cruise Line to provide cruises in the 1980s, also sailing out of Port Canaveral. The vessels were similarly marketed as family cruise vacations and featured costumed Disney Characters.

The building of two new ships in Meyer Werft shipyard (Papenburg, Germany) was announced in 2007. Disney Dream set sail in January 2011; Disney Fantasy in 2012. 

In the beginning of March 2016, Disney Cruise Line, that first launched in 1998, announced plans to build two new cruise ships, scheduled for 2021 and 2023. Disney signed an agreement with Meyer Werft, Germany. The ships will be slightly bigger than the existing ships Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream. Each is currently planned to feature around 1,250 staterooms. The vessels names, design and itineraries are still to be developed.

Disney Ships – Info and Statistics

  • common features: flag (Bahamas), builder (Fincantieri shipyard, Italy[), owner and operator (Disney Cruise Line, operated by Walt Disney Parks and Resorts – a subsidiary of of “The Walt Disney Company”), home-ported in Port Canaveral FL (Wonder – in San Pedro, Los Angeles).
  • Disney MAGIC (maiden 1998 Jul 30, refurbished in 2005) – tonnage 83,000, capacity 2,400 passengers and 950 crew, 11 pass Decks, length 294m, beam 32m This ship pays the highest toll for passing the Panama Canal (over US $330,000 per passage). Sails on 7-day trips to Eastern and Western Caribbean.
  • Disney WONDER (maiden 1999 Aug 1, refurbished in 2006) – a sister ship of Disney Magic (same statistics, design, specification); Godmother: Tinkerbell. The ship, just like the Magic, horns the first 7 notes of “When You Wish Upon A Star”, sails on 7-day itineraries to Mexican Riviera and Alaska.
  • Disney DREAM (ordered Feb 2007, launched Oct 2010, maiden 2011 Jan 26) – tonnage 128,000, 1,250 staterooms, capacity 4,000 passengers and 1,460 crew, 14 pass Decks, length 340m, beam 37m. The ship was built like puzzle of 80 different modules. Sails on 3-4-5-day trips.
  • Disney FANTASY (ordered Feb 2007, maiden 2012 Mar 31) – a sister ship of Disney Dream (same statistics, design, specification). Sails 7-day trips.

Disney Cruise Line Experience

Among the best family lines, with the most family friendly cruise ships, and some of the most attractive cheap all inclusive family cruise packages, Disney Line is the leader in family cruising. The Disney World land and sea packages are the best kids cruise deals to Caribbean, operated with 3 of the MOST FUN ships in the world.

The Disney FUN ship cruise line is an unique enterprise, especially designed for the best family sea travel vacation experiences. Disney offers regular sailings to Eastern Caribbean, and mostly to the Bahamas, from it’s own port terminal at Port Canaveral, Florida – a few minutes away from the Disney Empire’s capital city Orlando, with the best Disneyland Park in the World. Among the best Disney cruise ship specials is the Disney Wonder Alaska cruise from Vancouver Canada , during the “Disney summer months” in the far North.

The four ships of Disney Cruise Line are family-friendly. They offer the elaborate Walt Disney Theater, resembling a plush Broadway house, and Buena Vista Cinema, featuring Disney flicks. Studio Sea is styled like a TV sound stage and provides a forum for G-rated floor shows on Magic and Wonder. A similar venue is named the D Lounge on Fantasy and Dream. Disney Cruise Line also offers "Disney Digital 3-D" aboard Disney Magic and Wonder. It is a cinema experience using lasers, streamers, fog and special lighting effects.

The main pool areas on all Disney vessels are geared toward families. There is a pool for younger children with a 200-feet Mickey water-slide, as well as a small sprinkler tub for toddlers. Disney's adult-only pools exist as well on Wonder and Magic, though on Fantasy and Dream the grown-up area encompasses several bars and decks.

By adding the AquaDuck, Disney Fantasy and Dream stepped up waterpark-at-sea aspect. This one is the first-ever watercoaster available on a cruise ship. Visible atop the vessel, the coaster has a transparent, acrylic tube propelling riders along on a raft, up and down 4 decks of the ship and at one point swinging out 13 feet off side, 150 feet above the sea.

For a real soak, both kids and adults can head to the AquaLab aboard Disney Fantasy. It's just a way to get wet standing up - water pours from fountain jets on the deck, through holes in the wall, and out of buckets.

Older folks have even more to escape. Palo is a boutique eatery onboard each Disney ship, offering northern Italian cuisine. For a real splurge, Disney Cruise Line's Remy pampers with top-of-the-line French fare on Fantasy and Dream and comes with the highest at sea US$85 tab.

The spa is off-limits to younger generation. One of its highlights is the rain forest steam room. The adults-only area of night clubs named "Route 66" on Wonder, "Europa" on Fantasy, "The District" on Dream and "Beat Street" on Magic, is not less compelling. Among the options are a sports pub and dance club.

The kids' program is run and organized by dozens of caring counselors. Scheduled character greetings are held throughout the day. There are many surprise visits, too. By the inclusion of onboard nurseries ("It's a Small World" on Fantasy and Dream; Flounder's Reef Nursery on Magic and Wonder), Disney Cruise Line filled a void for parents who look for childcare for infants through age of three.

Disney's Oceaneer Club spans nearly an entire deck. It is a supervised program for kids aged 3-7 yo, spilt into age groups 3-4 and 5-7 yo. The Oceaneer Lab is for kids split into groups 8-9 and 10-12 yo, and offers hands-on science experiments, ship-wide treasure hunts and high-tech interactive programs. Kids aged 11-12 yo can compete in marine biology game show and send to friends digital postcards. 

Teens (aged 13-17) have a single private club on Magic (the Stack) and Wonder (Aloft). These clubs are home to lots of chairs and couches, MP3 listening stations, the latest video games, board games and magazines, and are served by bars that dispense smoothies and soft drinks. Disney Fantasy and Dream split apart the demographic: those aged 11 to 13 head to the Edge, while the ones 14 to 17 chill in the Vibe (which has an outdoor area with hot tubs). Kids' facilities welcome the young Disney passengers from 9 a.m. until 1 a.m. (times can vary).

Once signed in onboard the Disney Cruise Line ship, your kids are automatically enrolled in children's programs on Castaway Cay, which feature bike riding and supervised games for the individual age groups. However, take note that they don't take the kids swimming. The private island experience also offers Disney character appearances, scheduled several times daily. 

Disney Ships Spa & Fitness Facilities

  • “Senses Spa & Salon” (Dream and Fantasy)
  • “Vista Spa & Salon” (Magic and Wonder)
  • “Fitness Center” (all ships)
  • Goofy’s Sports Deck: (Dream and Fantasy) – an open-air center with golf course, sport simulators, basketball-volleyball court
  • “Wide World of Sports” (Magic and Wonder) – an open-air center with basketball court, ping-pong tables.

Onboard Theatres (all ships)

  • “Buena Vista Theatre” – first-run movies, 3D cinema, top-notch equipment, plush seats
  • “Walt Disney Theatre” – live performances, Broadway-style themed Disney shows, movies.

Youth Clubs On Board

  • Disney’s Oceaneer Club (all ships) – supervised themed activities ages 3-7
  • Disney’s Oceaneer Lab  (all ships) – themed activities ages 8-12
  • “Edge” (all ships) – teens-only, videogames, TV, Internet
  • “Vibe” (all ships) – teens-only, with a sundeck and a pool
  • “D Lounge (Dream and Fantasy) – family lounge and nightclub
  • “Studio Sea” (Magic and Wonder) – family activities center
  • “Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique” (Fantasy) – a kids make-up salon
  • “Arr-cade” (Dream and Fantasy) – arcade (all ages)
  • “Quarter Masters” (Magic and Wonder) – arcade (all ages)
  • “Flounder’s Reef Nursery” (Magic and Wonder) – themed after “The Little Mermaid” (ages 3 months to 3 yo)
  • “It’s A Small World Nursery” (Dream and Fantasy) – 3 months to 3 years.

Nightclubs and Lounges On Board

  • “687” – sports bar (Dream)
  • “Bon Voyage” – family bar (Dream and Fantasy)
  • “Cadillac Lounge” – piano bar (Wonder)
  • “Cove Cafe” – adults-only (all ships)
  • “Currents” – cocktail bar (Dream and Fantasy)
  • “District Lounge” – nightclub (Dream)
  • “Diversions” – sports pub, karaoke (Magic and Wonder)
  • “Evolution” – disco club (Dream) – family during the day, adults-only at night
  • “O’Gills Pub” – Irish themed sports bar (Fantasy)
  • “La Piazza” – adults-only (Fantasy)
  • “Meridian” – adults-only (Dream and Fantasy)
  • “Outlook Cafe” – adults-only (Wonder)
  • “Pink” – adults-only (Dream)
  • “Promenade Lounge” – an Art Deco venue (Magic and Wonder)
  • “Rockin’ Bar D” – music club (Magic), family (day), adults-only (night)
  • “Sessions” – piano bar (Magic)
  • “Signals” – adults-only (Magic and Wonder)
  • “Skyline” – adults-only (Dream and Fantasy)
  • “The Tube” – adults-only nightclub (Fantasy)
  • “Vista Cafe” – family (Dream and Fantasy)
  • “WaveBands” club – family (day), dance club at night (Wonder)
  • “Waves” – family (Dream and Fantasy)
  • “Ooh La La” – adults-only, Victorian furniture (Fantasy)

The FUN Pools

  • “AquaDuck” – 4 decks high water coaster (Dream and Fantasy)
  • “Donald’s Pool” – family (Dream and Fantasy)
  • “Goofy’s Pool” – family, incl 2 whirlpool spas, a toddler pool with splash zones, 7,3×4,3m LED screen on the forward funnel overlooking the pool (Magic and Wonder)
  • “Mickey’s Pool” – kids-only, 1 deck high slide (all ships)
  • “Nemo’s Reef” – kids area (Dream and Fantasy)
  • “Quiet Cove Pool” – adults-only (all ships).

Itinerary of Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line operates Disney Cruise Line Terminal in Port Canaveral FL, which is the home port for Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream. Disney Magic is homeported in Galveston TX, Miami FL and Barcelona (Spain), while Disney Wonder is homeported in Miami FL and Vancouver. 

Disney Cruise Line offers various destinations, including Europe, the Caribbean, The Bahamas, Panama Canal, Canada and New England, Alaska & United States Pacific Coast, and transatlantic destinations.

Most of the sailings are round-trip Bahamas, Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries from the following ports of departure: Miami and Port Canaveral (in Florida), from Galveston Texas, and the Disney Wonder Alaskan cruises departing from Vancouver BC (Canada).

In 2016 Disney returns to New York City for the first time since 2012. In early 2017, the line returns to the Bahamas and Caribbean on various itineraries, most from ports in Florida. Also included are a number of sailings from Galveston, Texas and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

All Disney cruise departures to Bahamas feature one of the world’s best most famous private Caribbean islands – the Disney line’s very own Bahamian Island (and exclusively special port of call) CASTAWAY CAY (located north of Nassau). All Disney ships to Bahamas will visit Castaway Cay as port in the itinerary.

In the end of 2015 Disney Cruise Line decided to remove Greece and Turkey from Magic's Mediterranean 12-night itinerary in summer 2016. According to a statement by the line, the 'Mediterranean & Greek Isles' itinerary was modified as a result of monitoring conditions in the region. The original itinerary had to depart on August 1 from Barcelona and call at Olbia, Civitavecchia, Naples, Palermo, Piraeus, Mykonos, Kusadasi, Valletta, Cannes, and Palma.

Disney confirmed that a revised itinerary, already called 'Mediterranean Cruise' replaced the Greek, Turkish & Maltese ports with Livorno and Villefranche.

Customers were informed of the changes and offered $1,000 (per stateroom) onboard credit as compensation. Full refund is available for passengers who want to cancel reservations.

Disney Magic will spend 2016 summer in Europe. In addition to her Mediterranean cruise, the ship will offer the first British Isles voyage on June 5 and will offer 2 sailings to Iceland and the Norwegian fjords in June and July.

In 2017, Disney Cruise Line will offer new itineraries and to new ports of call, including first-time visits to destinations in Alaska and Europe. During 2017 summer months, Disney Cruise Line returns to the British Isles, Norway, Mediterranean, Caribbean and Bahamas.Disney Wonder

    • For the first time, Disney will take passengers to Alaska’s Hubbard Glacier and Icy Strait Point. These locations are part of a new 9-night itinerary on Disney Wonder. Departing from Vancouver BC on July 24, 2017 the itinerary also sails to Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan and Tracy Arm Fjord. Icy Strait Point features a variety of Alaska adventures, including a zip line which is one of the highest and longest in the world. Glacier Bay National Park is a highlight of Alaska’s Inside Passage and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hubbard Glacier is North America's largest and most active tidewater glacier. A new 7-night Alaska cruise from Vancouver departing on July 17, 2017 includes a visit to Icy Strait Point, in addition to Juneau, Ketchikan, Tracy Arm and Skagway. On August 2, 2017 Disney Wonder will sail her first 5-night Alaska cruise to Tracy Arm and Ketchikan from Vancouver.
    • Disney Cruise Line will also call at Amsterdam, Netherlands for the first time. On May 13, 2017 Disney Magic embarks on a 15-day transatlantic crossing from Port Canaveral to Copenhagen, with a visit to Amsterdam along the way. The itinerary also includes a call at Portland, England which is another first-time port for the line.  A visit to Amsterdam will be as well part of a 10-night northern Europe cruise that departs on June 18, 2017 from Copenhagen to Dover UK. Other ports of call include Warnemunde (Berlin), Stockholm, Helsinki, St. Petersburg and Tallinn.
    • For the first time, Disney Fantasy will sail out of Port Canaveral on longer cruises – new 10- and 11-night sailings to southern Caribbean. On June 17, 2017 an 11-night itinerary will call at Aruba, Barbados, Martinique, Tortola,  St. Kitts and Disney’s Castaway Cay. On June 28 a new 10-night cruise will visit Aruba, Curacao, Castaway Cay, St. Kitts and Tortola.
    • Disney’s private island in the Bahamas, Castaway Cay, is consistently rated top port-of-call by line's guests. Select Disney Dream cruises from Port Canaveral will feature two stops at Castaway Cay. Special 5-night trips, departing June 2, 11, 16, 25, 30; July 9, 2017, will call at Castaway Cay twice with a stop in Nassau. Special 4-night sailings depart June 7, 21; July 5, 2017, with two visits to Castaway Cay and a stop in Nassau.
    • NEWS: In February 2016, the Walt Disney cruise company announced it will use the options with the "Meyer Werft" shipbuilding company to build two more "Dream Class" vessels. The still unnamed new Disney ships are designed similar to Dream and Fantasy, with scheduled launches in 2021 and 2023.

Disney cruise itinerary changes

In the fall of 2017, Disney Cruise Line will return to New York with cruises to the Bahamas and Canada, including a new week-long Canada sailing. San Diego will serve as a homeport for itineraries featuring the Mexican Riviera following a gap of several years. Galveston again will be a base for Bahamas and Caribbean adventures.

Disney Magic

      • On October 21, 2017 Disney Magic will sail out of New York on a 7-night Canada itinerary, the longest cruise the line has ever operated in Atlantic Canada. Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, is new on the cruise.
      • Bar Harbor, Maine, is another new Disney port as part of a 5-night sailing that departs New York on September 27. This voyage will also stop at Saint John, New Brunswick.
      • A total of 6 seven- and eight-night sailings to the Bahamas, all including Castaway Cay, will be part of the NY season.
      • On the Bahamas voyages each passenger will receive a one-day Walt Disney World Park Hopper ticket as well as round-trip transportation for the drive between the cruise ship at Port Canaveral and the resort.
      • In September and October 2017 Disney goes back to San Diego with various Disney Wonder cruises to the Mexican Riviera and Baja California.
      • Most Baja cruises visit Ensenada and Cabo San Lucas. 2-night short sailings depart San Diego on September 15 and 22, and October 13, and a 3-night cruise departs October 5 and includes a day at sea.
      • 7-night Mexican Riviera voyages on September 24 and October 15 call at Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallerta and Mazatlán. 4 additional four- and five-night Mexican Riviera trips sail during the San Diego season.
      • Disney's Galveston program includes 8 seven-night cruises to the Bahamas and the Caribbean. On November 10 and December 1, Disney Wonder will operate on a western Caribbean itinerary from the Texas port to Cozumel, Falmouth and Grand Cayman.
      • On November 17 and 24, December 8, 15, 22 and 29, the ship will sail out of Galveston to Key West, Castaway Cay and Nassau.

Many travelers consider Disney to be, if not overrated, for sure an overpriced cruise line. In mid April 2016, after opening bookings for Summer 2017 itineraries, Disney Cruise Line shocked many of its loyal customers with exorbitant Alaskan and Mediterranean cruise prices. Among the unpleasant peak-season "surprising pricing" examples hotly commented online were:

      • August 2017, 5-night Alaska (Disney Wonder) - category 5C-Balcony cabin (2 adults plus 2 kids) USD 7680
      • August 2017, 7-night Alaska (Disney Wonder) - category 5C-Balcony cabin (2 adults plus 2 kids) USD 9290
      • August 2017, 5-night Mediterranean (Disney Magic) - category 5A-Balcony cabin (2 adults plus 1 kid) USD 7080
      • August 2017, 7-night Mediterranean (Disney Magic) - category 9A-Oceanview  cabin (2-adults plus 2 kids) USD 8880, category 5A-Balcony cabin (2 + 2) USD 10280, category 4E-Family Balcony cabin (2 + 2) USD 12100

In 2017, for the first time ever, Disney Cruise Line offers Alaskan itinerary (9-days from Vancouver, on July 24) visiting Hubbard Glacier and the Icy Strait Point. The othe rports of call are Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, Tracy Arm. Another new Alaskan itinerary (7-days, on July 17) visits Icy Strait Point, Juneau, Ketchikan, Tracy Arm, Skagway. A 5-days Vancouver round-trip itinerary (August 2) visits Tracy Arm and Ketchikan. Also in 2017, Disney returns to Europe with itineraries to British Isles, Norway Fjords and in the Mediterranean. For the first time, Disney ship will visit Amsterdam Holland and Portland England as ports of call of the 15-days Transatlantic cruise from Port Canaveral Florida to Copenhagen Denmark (May 13). Another "first time" for Disney is the Disney Fantasy departing from Port Canaveral (Orlando) on new and longer itineraries (10- and 11-days) to ports in Southern Caribbean:

      • June 17, 2017 - 11-days to Aruba, Barbados, Martinique, BVI-Tortola, St Kitts, Baha,as (Castaway Cay)
      • June 28, 2017 - 10-days to Aruba, Curacao, Bahamas (Castaway Cay), St Kitts, BVI-Tortola

Special Disney Dream Bahamas itineraries from Port Canaveral (Orlando) will include two stops at the Walt Disney's private island Castaway Cay:

  • 5-days (departures June 2, 11, 16, 25, 30 and July 9) plus Nassau
  • 4-days (departures June 7, 21 and July 5) plus Nassau
  • In 2014, Disney was the first of all three (for now) cruise ship companies (followed in 2016 by AIDA Cruises and Hapag-Lloyd Cruises) that have banned Faroe Islands (a Danish territory) as destination part of their North European itineraries. The boycott is due to the island nation's traditional mass slaughter of pilot whales each year. The protected by Denmark gruesome practice of killing whales is called “Grindadrap Grind". Locals use motor boats to drive a pod of whales into a harbor. The defenseless animals are dragged to the shallow water and brutally slaughtered by locals armed with knives (16-19 cm / 6 8 inch long) while their families cheer them on. The killing party even rip out baby whales from their mothers. Faroe Islands have population of about 50,000 and kill each year over 1,000 pilot whales. You can see the cruise ship schedule of Torshavn - Faroe Islands' most visited port.

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