I can’t believe this is making it on my blog. A cruise is the opposite of everything travel that I stand for. However, with my kids in 2nd and 4th grade, and Max doubting if Santa is real, I’m willing to turn in my travel “cool card” on this one.
Last November we went on a 4 night cruise to the Bahamas with Disney and it was my kids favorite vacation of all time. Now that we’re living in Spain, I decided to bite the bullet again and book another Disney Cruise for September of 2019. I know it’s dorky BUT not every trip can be cathedrals, WWII memorials, nature, and museums. Sometimes it needs to be about good old fashion family fun.
Here are 9 reasons I’m going to convince you that a Disney Cruise is something to add to your family bucket list:
Yep. You heard me. Last March I asked the kids: “Go on a cruise or get Christmas gifts?” They quickly chose NO GIFTS. And we were true to our word. They got nothing from us. Santa still came but *our Santa* only has about $100 budget per kid. (It’s a big world people!)
If I tried to have this “experiences over gifts” with any other experience (travel to Croatia, the Amalfi Coast, Carlsbad Caverns, etc) it would be a no-go as they are not hype for these places at their age. This year I told them no gifts AND they need to give me 2 Euro of their weekly allowance. They were so excited, it was no contest for them again. I think we can all appreciate a minimalist holiday.
2. HASSLE FREE EVERYTHING.
You have to book your trip early – like a YEAR early. Once that is done, you really just count down the days and book your flight. It’s a great way to see a new place without doing a lot of work to plan. As the family travel planner, I can relax leading up to the big trip and I can’t say that for any other travel that we do. It’s a LOT of work usually. Thanks Mickey.
At first glance, you might balk at the price…but do some digging. My best advice: book through Costco Travel. They will give you a Costco Cash card for your booking. They only beat Disney’s prices by 50 cents per person they just offer Costco Cash. I got a $380 Costco Card for my 7 night cruise.
Also, book off season. The same itinerary in August for our cruise to Norway was $600/per person more expensive than in Sept. so that was a no-brainer. Our cruise to the Bahamas and Castaway Cay was in November at about half the price of that same cruise itinerary in December.
Here’s how I look at it from a money standpoint: Our cruise to Norway and Denmark is 7 nights and is costing us $5,387 all in. That breaks down to $770 per day. If you think about an “average vacation day” it would look something like this:
– $300 Hotel
– $150 Food ($50 for 3 meals)
– $40 snacks/drinks/souvenirs
– $150 museums, tours, entertainment
So at $770/day you are only $130 away from a “regular” vacation. This is how my mind works so I could justify, with all the extra Disney magic, the additional cost. **Wait…add that Costco Cash card for $380 and there’s only a $76/day difference!! Boom.
Unless you’re a boozehound, you won’t spend much money in addition to your booking because everything is provided – in spades. This includes non-alcoholic drinks. Even room service is free.99! Every night we did milk and chocolate chip cookies before bed and ate them IN BED! So many little fun extras just add to the magic.
4) TRUE RELAXATION.
Usually during travel I spend so much energy figuring out daily itineraries, dealing with hangry little people, navigating new places, etc. With a cruise, you can truly relax and enjoy your family. Sit poolside, put the kids in Kids Zone and eat at an adults only restaurant, or enjoy a show. No stress. You’ll never go hungry. Just unwind and focus on fun and family time.
I have to mention this because the nightly shows on a Disney Cruise are AMAZING. Yes, all caps. They are Broadway caliber, that simple. On our last cruise I saw the same show twice it was that good. Seriously.
6) NEW PLACES.
There can be a bit of a cultural experience if you play your cards right. This means that parents and kids can get a little something out of a Disney Cruise. You’d be surprised at all the destinations that Disney cruises to.
Our cruise to Northern Europe stops at 3 different cities in Norway and Copenhagen. We will have all day to explore the cities and get a feel for the local flavor. This is perfect for Norway as it’s a country that is super expensive so we’re able to see it without having to stay there. (It leaves from Dover and that’s only a 50 euro flight for us as we’re living in Spain).
On our Disney cruise to the Bahamas, we got to swim with dolphins and ride scooters, and spend a relaxing day at “Castaway Caye” – Disney’s private and stunning island.
I like to pick a place that I’m not dying to see as you’re only at port for a day at a time and you won’t get a great feel for the culture. Instead, I pick somewhere that feels like a “bonus” destination.
7. THE MAGIC ONLY LASTS SO LONG.
While our kids are young, I want to enjoy the moments of wonder. My kids were 6 and 8 when we first cruised and we’re going again at 8 and 9. This is a time where princesses still exist, you still want your dad to ride the waterslide with you, and cookies in bed are a super special treat.
When you book your cruise you can schedule a personalized call from Mickey or Minnie to get your kid pumped for the big bon voyage. The merriment starts there and just gets more and more special: pirate night, fireworks, family games, magic tricks at dinner, and more.
If you don’t go on a Disney cruise with your children when they’re younger – you’ll miss out. There’s plenty of time for the more cultural trips as they age. The magical years are a narrow window.
I went on another cruise with Royal Caribbean in 2008. I did NOT want to ever cruise again. I didn’t like sitting at the same exact table every night for dinner, food was decent, and it was just cheesy overall. With Disney – it’s different. You rotate through their unique restaurants and menus every night. Each is themed and the food is fantastic! They have great options and healthy alternatives on every menu. The rooms are also really clean and the bathrooms are well appointed.
9) IT BEATS DISNEY WORLD.
I’m going to get lambasted for this but…I don’t want to sit in long lines, be hot, run around, deal with Fast Passes, and get good seats on the pavement to watch a parade. It sounds exhausting and the opposite of magical. There. I said it.
A cruise scratches the cultural, magical, and quality-time itches for me without needing to come home and take 3 extra days off of work to recover. The hubs got a massage on our last cruise. THAT is the pace I have in mind;)
There are no long lines, easy access to pictures with princesses and characters (every 3 hours!) and never a long line. Of course, there are no rides – BUT the magic is still never lacking with special Disney touches around every corner.
I hope you do this at least once. Email or comment with questions. Any more cruise hacks? I’d love to hear them.