Disney Cruise Gratuities

One thing to keep in mind for your cruise budget are gratuities.  It is expected that you will receive excellent service you are sure to while on your Disney cruise and you will want to reward those individuals who helped provide that!

There are few things you should know about gratuities.  First, gratuities are always at your discretion.  While Disney does have some suggestions you are in control of how much you tip.  Some gratuities will added as you go.  This includes spa services, room service and bar services.  Others, like your stateroom host and dining servers will be given at the end of your cruise.

You have the option to prepay your gratuities for you Restaurant Server, Restaurant Assistant Server, Head Server and Stateroom Host.  You can prepay them up to 3 days before your sailing.  If you do not opt to prepay your gratuities Disney will automatically charge the suggested amounts to your stateroom on embarkation day.  You can make modifications to these amounts if you like and you will receive a letter in your stateroom explaining this.  You will receive gratuity tickets and envelopes to be handed out on the last night of your voyage with the gratuity amounts on them.

So, what are the suggested amounts?  Disney recommends the following PER PERSON:  Restaurant Server:  $4/night, Restaurant Assistant Server:  $3/night, Head Server:  $1/night and Stateroom host:  $4/night.  So that's about $12 per per night/ per person.

There are some auto-gratuities for bar services while on board or at Castaway Cay.  If you get a drink at any of the bars you will automatically be charged 15% gratuity.  Tipping for spa services is at your discretion but the standard amount is 15 - 20%.

As always, here at The Mouse Connection we are here to help you navigate the waters and answer any questions you have about gratuities or anything Disney cruise related!

The BEST Disney Cruise Souvenir

How would you like to return from dinner on the last night of your cruise and find something like this sitting on your bed:

With a little advance planning and some help from Guest Services you can make it happen!

Before our cruise I was cruising Etsy and found some great work from a vendor called Stitches N' Bows.  You can find a link to her Facebook page here.  She has a ton of Disney inspired pillowcases, fish extenders, clothing, and other fun stuff.  After looking through some photos of her work, I knew exactly what I wanted.  I contacted her via Etsy with what I was looking for and it arrived in the mail a few weeks later just as I described.

I discretely packed the pillowcases in our luggage and we headed off for Port Canaveral.  While my kids were enjoying some Super Sloppy Science in the kids club, I grabbed my pillowcases and popped over to guest services.  I asked if they could arrange for the characters to sign the pillowcases for me.  They asked if I wanted "Princesses" or the "Classic Characters".  I asked if they could do "all available characters."  I left the cases along with a sharpie in a gallon size Ziploc bag that I bought from home.  They promised that the signed cases would be returned on our last night.

When we returned from dinner our last night, my girls were THRILLED to find the treasure that was waiting for them.  It was the icing on the most fantastic cake!

So for your next cruise, consider bringing a photo mat, t-shirt, pillowcase, hat or some other special item for the characters to sign. Other than the cost of the item, the service is free, fun, and a spectacular keepsake of your Disney Cruise!  


Character Meet & Greets

One of the most fun things, especially for kids, on the Disney cruise ships is the character interactions.  The character fun begins at Port when Captain Mickey and Minnie often make appearances in the terminal while guests are waiting to board.  They will also lead the way onto the ship with the "First Family" to get boarding started!  And, while you are eating lunch special friends might make their way into the dining room to welcome everyone aboard.

Mickey, Minnie and the whole gang will be at the Sail Away party to wave bye-bye to port and get your vacation started.  After that there will be lots of times for photographs and autographs with characters all around the ship.  Your daily navigator has a special section for character appearances.  There is also a listing near guest services with all the character appearances for the day.  The locations of the character appearances are all around the ship from the Lobby to the lounge to the Pool Deck.   Characters also find their way to Castaway Cay and make appearances all around the island.  

Some of the characters we saw on our last cruise included:  Mickey & Minnie (in several different outfits), Chip & Dale, Goofy, Pluto, Snow White, Donald & Daisy, Tiana, Ariel, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Lilo, Peter Pan, Captain Hook, Tinkerbell and Jack Sparrow.   

Disney Cruise Line has photographers available at most of the character meet & greets as well.  Similar to Disney World's Photopass you give the photographer your room key, they scan it and then your pictures will be posted at Shutters for your viewing pleasure.  You are also welcome to take your own pictures.  Characters will also sign autograph books.  On our last cruise they would not use a Sharpie though so be sure to bring a different pen.  

If you are on a 7 night cruise or longer you will have a character breakfast scheduled.  You will find your assigned day and time in your stateroom upon check in.  Your dining team will serve you and character friends will come to each table.  

The character interactions are just another thing that set Disney Cruise Line apart from all other cruises!

Castaway Cay V: The Wrap Up

Note:  This is the final post in a series about Castaway Cay

All week we've been talking about the little slice of paradise that is Castaway Cay, Disney's private island.  We've given you an overview of the island, talked about what to do while you are there, given you the 411 on food and shopping and talked about the beaches.  Today I thought I'd give you some tips & tricks to make the most of your time on the island.
  • No need to bring your own beach towels - there are cast members handing out towels as soon as you debark the ship. It's OK to ask for more than one!
  • All you need to get back on board is your Key to the World Card.
  • The first tram stop is located close to the ship.  Jump on there if you want to head to Pelican's Plunge or Serenity Bay.  
  • The first family beach area is a short walk from the tram stop.  There are some photo ops along this walk.
  • There are strollers, wagons and wheelchairs available at the first tram stop which is also the end of the walkway to the family beach.  They are complimentary but on a first come, first serve basis.  They are all equipped to roll on the sand!  Perfect if you have a little one or a guest that needs some special attention.
  • If you forget your sand toys no worries..there are some available for purchase.  They range in price from $5 to $20.  
  • Bring a water bottle and fill it up at the beverage station before you leave the ship.  Bottled water is available on the island but it's pretty pricey.  Also, the cups at the beverage station on the island don't have lids.  
  • The Oceaneer Club and Lab relocate to the island at Scuttle's Cove.  Kids will enjoy the planned activities there!
  • Wave phones work on the island so don't forget to grab yours!
  • Water shoes are not a bad idea.  The sand is beautiful but can be a little rocky.  Tender feet might feel a little uncomfortable walking on it.
  • Don't forget your sunscreen!  
  • If you find treasures at the shops cast members will deliver them right to your stateroom so you don't have to lug them around all day. 
  • The bike path has a great viewing spot halfway around the main loop.  Be sure to have your camera!  
  • It can get very hot around the island.  There are water coolers in various locations around the island.
  • Relax and have fun!  You're on a magical vacation!!  


Castaway Cay IV

Note:  This is the 4th in series about Castaway Cay

Today's post about Castaway Cay is about the beaches!  The beaches are just gorgeous and a great place to spend at least a portion of your day at Castaway Cay.

There are two main areas to the Family Beach.  You can take a tram to either of these areas if you don't want to walk.  If you have little ones the walk can be a bit long.  There are tons of chairs - lounge chairs and short chairs for guests.  There should be enough chairs for everyone!  There are also umbrellas and hammocks.  The chairs closest to the water and the ones closest to the play areas tend to fill up fast.  If you have someone who can go out early and reserve your spots it's not a bad idea.

There are lifeguards at various stations along the beach.  There are also a couple fun play areas on the family beach.  The newest one, Pelican's Plunge is a waterslide in the ocean! It's very fun!  There is also another "floating play area" on the other part of the family beach.  There are lots of places to swim and play in the ocean and an area for snorkeling.

If you'd like a little time without children around head over to Serenity Bay, the adult only area of the island.  Just as the name implies Serenity Bay is a very peaceful area of the beach.  And no children around make it very serene.

If you want to enjoy your beach day in luxury Disney has private Cabana's to rent.  There are cabanas on both the family beach and Serenity Bay.  The cabana area on the family beach has it's own beach area.  There is seating inside and outside of the cabana and you have your own cabana host to attend to your needs.  There is a fridge stocked with soda and water.  The cabanas come with a pretty steep price tag but might be well worth it if you want to hang out in style on the beach!


Castaway Cay III

Note:  This is the third in a series of post about Castaway Cay

We've given you an overview of the island and some of the activities you can do while you are in port.  Today we'll explore the food & shopping!  Two of my favorite things!

There is post office on Castaway Cay so that you can mail postcards home.  While the post office will be open at some point during your visit to Castaway Cay it may not be exactly the hours posted...the locals run the post office and well...they operate on Bahamian time.  Note that you do have to have cash to purchase stamps here.  

Shopping venues include She Sells...and Everything Else and Buy the Seashore.  These shops carry a variety of Castaway Cay t-shirts, shirts, hats, key chains, magnets, towels and much more.  Including sun screen and sand toys!  There is also a small Bahamian marketplace that has some local offerings like baskets and t-shirts.  Hair braiding is also available on the island.  

Lunch is served on Castaway Cay and is a delicious bbq!  Hamburgers, cheeseburgers, BBQ ribs, BBQ Chicken, salads are more are available at Cookies and Cookies Too from 11:30 - 2:00.  While lunch has set hours there is a beverage station that is available during the time you'll be on the island.  There are also some snacks out like fresh fruit, cookies and ice cream.  You certainly won't go hungry while you are on the island!

And for the guests 21 and over there are several bars on the island serving some fantastic adult beverages.  Most of the bars open upon arrival and close around 3:30.  While you are on the beach there are often servers available to get you a cold beverage as well.  


Castaway Cay Part II

Note:  This is the second in a series about Castaway Cay

One of the questions I get every now and again is:  "My husband/father (note: not usually the woman) doesn't like to just sit on the beach.  What is there to do at Castaway Cay?"  After my shock of thinking someone doesn't like to sit on the beach (seriously..what is there not to like?  Sun, gorgeous view, chairs, umbrellas, servers coming to take your drink order?) I empathize because my husband is one of those people.  About 30 minutes of beach time is all he needs.  Luckily Castaway Cay is a great stop for us because I can have beach time while he's entertained with other activities.

First, Disney has all kinds of Port Adventures available on Castaway Cay.  You can go parasailing, snorkeling, water skiing, kayaking, go to Castaway Ray's stingray adventure or do a glass bottom boat tour.  You can book all of these online before you leave for your trip or you can visit the Port Adventures Desk onboard to set up your excursions when you get onboard.

If a guided group excursion isn't for you then no worries - there are rentals available on the island so you can explore on your own.  There are bicycles to rent for $6/hr.  There are mens and womens bikes, kids bikes including bikes with training wheels and bikes with a child seat on the back.  Disney also has helmets available.  There is a nice bike path on the island.  You can also rent floats and snorkeling equipment.  And there is an area to rent boats including paddle boats and water trikes.  I will warn you that the water trikes are a lot harder than they look!

There is also a full schedule of Cruise team sponsored activities at Castaway Cay.  Your daily navigator will list all the fun things going on for the day on the island.  One of the more popular events is the 5K.  Runners and walkers meet by the bike rentals and can participate in a "race" around the island.  Participants get a special prize upon completion.  Other activities include beach volleyball, yoga, crab races and of course character meet and greets.

Want to get out of the sun for a bit?  In-Da-Shade games offers complimentary billiards, ping-pong, foosball, shuffleboard, giant checkers and basketballs.

Definitely something for everyone on Castaway Cay!


Castaway Cay Part I

Note: This is the first in series of posts about Castaway Cay

If you are lucky enought to be on a Disney sailing that goes to Castaway Cay you are in for a real treat! Castaway Cay is Disney' private island in the Bahamas. It's a true bit of paradise! First, the island is absolutely beautiful and Disney has taken great pride in making it a wonderful destination for most of the sailings to the Caribbean and Bahamas. There is certainly something for everyone at Castaway. You can make your day there as active and/or relaxing as you'd like it to be. We'll be exploring the different aspects of Castaway Cay through a series of posts - there's just too much information for a single entry! In this post we'll give you an overview of the island.

You will port at Castaway Cay fairly early on your morning there. Upon exiting the ship there will be cast members handing out beach towels and directing your towards the tram and beach areas. Just off the boat is the Castaway Cay Post Office. This is a Bahamian post office and run by locals. The locals are on Bahamian time so they post office may or may not be open!

There are 2 main beach areas - the Family beach area and Serenity Bay. Serenity Bay is an area for adults only. The family beach areas are large and there are plenty of chairs, umbrellas and hammocks for guests. There is plenty of space to swim and snorkel. The family beach is also home to Pelican Plunge, a water slide out in the sea! There is also a designated beach area for some water sports like paddle boating, water trikes and kayaks.

If you feel like doing some shopping on Castaway Cay there are a couple of shops. She Sells Sea Shells and Everything Else and Buy the Seashore are two of Disney's shops on the island. There is also a small Bahamian Retail shop that sells Bahamian Arts & Crafts.

Want to get out of the sun for a bit? You can head over to In-Da-Shade for basketball, billiards, ping-pong and other games! Want to play some sports? Volleyball, tetherball and soccer are available. You can also rent bikes (yes..the kids too) and take a ride around the island. Let's not forget Spring-a-Leak - a wet play area that's off the beach!

The kids clubs relocate to the island while the ships at port at Cataway Cay. Kids ages 3 -10 will find some very fun activities at Scuttle's Cove. Teens have their own area at Hideout.

And last, but not least the food! There are a few locations serving lunch on the beach: Cookies BBQ and Cookies Too BBQ are located close to the family beach area. There are also a few locations to enjoy some frozen drinks and cocktails near both the family beach and Serenity Bay.

In our next post about Castaway Cay we'll explore all the things to do during you stay on the island!


That's Entertainment

Each night aboard your Disney cruise there will be featured evening entertainment.  The featured entertainment will be highlighted in your daily navigator.  The entertainment is family friendly and designed to delight and entertain children of all ages!  Several of the shows during your cruise will be Broadway caliber Disney original live shows.  These shows are not to be missed!  Most of them are musicals and feature a number of character appearances.  Each Disney ship has a unique show schedule.  Some shows play on multiple ships but some are unique to their ships.

The production of the shows is absolutely unbelievable!  The sets, the costumes, the characters, the musical arrangements all done a boat!  It really feels like you are watching a Broadway show while at sea.  The acting and singing are first rate.  Disney knows entertainment!

On the nights there are not shows Disney has other featured entertainment. It could be a magic show, a comedian (rated G of course) or a first run Disney movie (on my first Disney cruise they showed Toy Story 3 in 3-D one evening.  It was still in theaters).  If you happen to be sailing when there is a Disney movie premiering on land it will probably be premiering at sea as well.  For example The Avengers premEared on the Disney boats at 12:01 on release day (lucky guests!).

The featured entertainment will have 2 showings at 6:15 and 8:30 to accommodate both dinner seatings.  On your day(s) at sea there may also be an afternoon matinee.  There is a concession stand outside of the theater if you wish to take snacks and/or drinks into the theater.  Be aware that these snacks are an extra charge.  There are also servers walking around with smoothies and milkshakes for children with light up straws.  Be prepared to buy one or tell your child no and know that likely children around you will have them and you may see lights flashing during the shows.

The evening entertainment is certainly a highlight of your cruise!


What do I Wear to Dinner?

We get this question a lot - what is the proper attire for a Disney cruise, specifically what do I wear to dinner? According to Disney Cruise information the proper attire schedule includes: Cruise Casual, Pirate or Tropical Attire, One Formal Night, One Semi-formal night. So what does that mean?

Cruise Casual - this is how most people dress each night of the cruise. Disney requests no shorts, swimwear or tank tops in the dining rooms in the evening. For my family this meant my girls wore dresses or skirts, my husband and son - polo style shirt and khaki's and myself a skirt, dress or nice capri pants.

Pirate/Tropical - One night of your cruise will be Pirate Night. It's usually the day you are at Castaway Cay. It's such a fun evening! All the dining rooms have a special menu (all the same) for Pirate Night. Cruisers are encouraged to dress in their best pirate attire (eye patch anyone?) or tropical attire. This evening shorts are allowed in the dining room. You see everything on this night from people if full on Jack Sparrow costumes to those folks in a Pirate Mickey t-shirt. If you opt out of dressing up then Cruise Casual is requested. On the Disney Fantasy cruisers will have an option to get Pirate-ready at the Bippity Boppity Boutique! We didn't dress up our first cruise but this next time I am determined to pirate us up!

Dress Up Night/Formal Night/Semi-Formal Night - Depending on the length of your cruise you will have one Dress Up Night and the 7 night cruises will have a Formal and Semi-formal night as well. On the Dress Up evenings the suggested attire is jackets for men, dresses or pantsuit for ladies. And on the 7 night cruises the Formal Night suggested attire is a tuxedo or suit for men and dress or gown for women. The Semi-Formal night would be the same as Dress Up Night. You see everything on this night - from ladies dressed up in their finest princess attire complete with tiara's to sundresses. They do have photographers set up in the lobby to take formal pictures on these nights. And Mickey and Minnie will make an appearance in their finest! It's a great opportunity to get a good family picture! On the Disney Fantasy the Bippity Boppity Boutique will be open to help everyone get princess -ready!

Palo/Remy - The adult only dining rooms have a dress code too. At Palo men need pants and a dress shirt or jacket and women dress or pantsuit. No jeans, shorts, capri's, flip flops or tennis shoes. At Remy the attire for me is a tuxedo or jacket is required, tie is optional. Women are asked to wear a cocktail dress, pantsuit or skirt/blouse. No jeans, shorts, capri's, flip flops or tennis shoes please.

I would advise you ladies to bring a sweater for the dining rooms. I am not too cold-natured but I froze in the dining rooms!

Also, be mindful of windy conditions on deck....you wouldn't want to wear that full skirt and head out to the deck on windy evening!


Come Sail Away

Disney Cruise ships are full of fun and activities! The action officially kicks off right after the mandatory muster drill that occurs at 4pm sharp on Embarkation day. After you leave your designated spot head up to the pool deck for the Sail Away Party! The Goofy pool is transformed into a stage where Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and friends welcome guests to Disney Cruise Line and say goodbye as we embark upon a vacation of a lifetime! The cruise staff will introduce themselves and get everyone ready in vacation mode with a variety of songs and fun as the ship prepares to "sail away." Be sure to wave goodbye to port and get ready for very magical cruise!!


Let's Go to the Movies

You may have noticed that Disney is pretty big into the movie business. And because of this they are able to show first run movies on a big screen on the cruise ships. You can bet whatever Disney films are playing in the theaters while you are on your cruise will be shown on the ship as well! If you are lucky enough to be sailing when a movie premiers then it will premiere while you are at sea too!

Movies are all around the Disney ships as a matter of fact. In your stateroom there are a number of movie channels playing Disney favorites all the time. Up on deck 11 there is Funnelvision which plays family friendly Disney movies all day long in front of the pool. Your little sailors can swim in the pool while watching their favorite Disney movies!

If you'd prefer to watch movies on the big screen in an air-conditioned theater then you are in luck. There is a theater that shows the first run movies pretty much all day long. When my family sailed in September of 2011 Cars 2, The Help and Fright Night were playing, just to name a few. Generally the films shown during the day are family friendly with G and PG ratings while the movies shown later in the evening might be PG-13 or R.

There is certainly a movie for everyone aboard your Disney cruise!

Ahoy Matey

One of the most fun events during a Disney Cruise is Pirates IN the Caribbean Night! This is usually Castaway Cay night on 3 and 4 night cruises but could be a different night on 7 day cruises. The festivities kick off before dinner when Mickey & Minnie come to their character meet and greet in their Pirate attire. Guests are also encouraged to dress up for the evening by donning their best pirate costume (eye patch anyone?). If you just can't summon your inner Jack Sparrow then no worries tropical attire works too! Characters around the ship this night include Jack Sparrow himself, Captain Hook, Smee and Peter Pan.

On the 4 or more night sailings the three main dining rooms all have the same Pirate Menus on Pirate night with some delicious seafood featured. After dinner the real party kicks off! They have a kid-friendly pirate party at 8pm at the pool deck. There will be some dancing, singing and special surprises awaiting for the littlest pirates. After the second seating dinner there is more action up by the pool. More dancing, singing, a short skit and fireworks! That's right..fireworks..right from the ship itself! Disney is the only cruise line to do a fireworks show from sea. And if you know Disney you know their fireworks shows are spectacular!

After the fireworks show there is a dessert buffet set up and more adult entertainment on the pool deck.

For guests sailing aboard the Disney Fantasy, Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique transforms into the Pirate’s League on Pirate Night. Here swashbuckling boys, girls and grownups can get ready for the pirate life. Each guest gets an official pirate name then it’s off to Muster Station for applications of beards and bandanas, swords and scars, earrings and eye patches – all done with the savvy skill of a pirate master.

Get ready for swashbuckling good time!


Disney Cruise Rotational Dining

One of the unique things about Disney cruising is the Rotational Dining they use on the ships. Upon checking in each family is assigned a dining time (Main or Second Seating), a table number and a dining rotation. Your Key to the World Card will list a series of codes that tell you what dining room you are assigned to eat in on which night. This information will also be located on tickets waiting for you inside your stateroom. There are 3 main dining rooms on the ships and you will have the opportunity to eat in each dining room at least 1 time during your cruise. The unique thing is that your servers will rotate with you! You will meet your serving team at dinner on your first night. They will quickly learn about your family and will happily meet you in each dining room during your cruise. They will also make sure you know which dining room to go to the next evening and they will serve you breakfast on debarkation day.

Each dining room is very different both in the menu and decor. The rotational dining is a great opportunity to see different dining rooms and experience different menu options. It's wonderful to have the serving team follow you from dining room to dining room as well. They really take the effort to learn what your family likes and dislikes. You'll go home and really miss having that drink waiting for you at the table when you arrive for your dining time and having the "crumb comb" cleaning up after you each evening!


No Kids Allowed

My husband and I went on a Disney cruise this past September. We left our 4 kids at home. Yep..we, 2 adults, went on a Disney cruise without kids. By choice! When we told people what we were doing we got a lot of funny looks. Like people couldn't believe we were going on a Disney cruise WITHOUT kids. We absolutely loved it and in fact, booked another adult only cruise for this year!

Let's see if I can answer some common mis-understandings about traveling on a Disney cruise without kids:

Weren't there kids every where? I'm sure there was but honestly, we didn't notice. We sat at a dinner table with 6 other adults - 2 other couples and a pair of sisters that were traveling together. When we wanted to go to the pool we went to the adult only pool..where no kids are allowed. When we wanted to hang out after the shows we went to the adult only lounges. Again..there is strict monitoring to ensure that no kids are in those adult-only areas. At Castaway Cay - same thing..adult only beach! And the spa - heaven! And again..no kids allowed at the spa!

Isn't everything for kids on a Disney Cruise? Absolutely not! There is TONS of adult only entertainment. The ships have a fabulous cruise staff who puts on great programming for adults. From games at the pool to lively parties in the late evening there is always something going on.

What about those characters everywhere? While there are tons of opportunities to see Disney characters onboard we didn't seek out any characters so this wasn't a big deal to us. We occasionally would walk by a character meet & greet but we never stopped to say hi.

If you and your sweetie or girlfriends want to take an adult only trip I highly recommend a Disney cruise. It can be a very relaxing, peaceful and fun way to vacation! The service is unparalleled, the food amazing and the entertainment is fabulous!


Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique...for the Princess (or Pirate) at sea.

+We got a glimpse at the Fantasy's Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique today! Here, your young cruiser can be transformed into a princess or pirate at sea by one of the boutique's Fairy Godmothers!
The salon is really fit for a princess, complete with comfortable "thrones" and full length mirrors.

With the purchase of a Castle Package, your princess can choose which princess she's like to become in the Boutique's dressing area...

Pricing at the Boutique is as follows:
The Coach Package-includes choice of a hair style, shimmering makeup, face gem, cinch sack, and princess sash-$54.95

The Crown Package-All of The Coach Package plus nails-$59.95

The Castle Package-All of The Crown Package, plus choice of costume, coordinating wand, tiara and shoes-$184.85...choices shown below...
The Fantasy (exclusive to The Disney Fantasy)-All of the Crown Package plus tutu, sparkling t-shirt and head band-$119.95
Under The Sea (exclusive to Disney Fantasy)-your choice of swimsuit, cover up, vibrant sunblock application, floral clip, necklace and nail polish-$99.95

Boys and Girls can enjoy one of the Pirates League Packages-$34.95 for the basic, and $99.95 if you want a full costume.

If you've got a large budget and your child really wants to get into character, you can purchase The Royal Sea package. For just $595.00, your little princess will get a Rolling Royal Trunk, plus three makeover experiences including The Castle Package, Under The Sea package, and The Pirates League package. Plus she will receive a Boutique frame with a photo of the Fairy Godmother and a special invitation with a glass slipper necklace and a keepsake glass slipper.

As you can see, there is plenty of opportunity for kids to be pampered on The Disney Fantasy in the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique...it's their own private spa! Be sure to make reservations, as appointment times fill up fast! Check back for new entries as we continue to explore the Fantasy! And don't forget to enter our giveaway...time is running out!


Disney Fantasy: First Look

Greetings from Port Canaveral! We just caught our first live look of the Fantasy. The Fantasy looks much like her sister, the Dream. Both are impressive in size and appearance!
The lobby is just as impressive as the other ships. I thought it would be hard to top the art deco style of the Disney Dream, but the Fantasy's art nouveau flair does not disappoint.

\A few guests had already found the pool deck, and were already relaxing by one of the Fantasy's pools before the Sail Away party! Check out the AquaDuck surrounding the pool deck!
Keep checking back for more photos and information from Disney's newest ship! And don't forget to "like" us on the left side of your screen and comment on some posts to qualify for our giveaway!


We're leavin' on a cruise ship....

Don't know if we'll be back again!

Of course we'll be back, full of information and pictures to share, but for now, we're focused on going! We are so excited to have the chance to do a preview cruise on the Fantasy, and we want to be prepared. As we were packing and making preparations, we thought it would be fun to share some of our tips and tricks for getting ready for a Disney cruise! Although we could go on and on with tons of info on this topic, we'll keep it to the very important basics...for now! Although you can apply these packing tips to most of the cruise itineraries Disney has to offer, these are great tips especially for the 3, 4 and 5 night Bahamian itineraries. Obviously if you go to Alaska, you might pack a little differently, as you would for a 7-8 night cruise as well.

1. Clothes. Don't forget these. They are very important. When choosing what to wear on your cruise, think cool and comfortable. On deck, casual is great. For the dining room, Disney requests that guests do not wear shorts or swimsuits. No sleeveless shirts here guys. Jeans are fine unless it is "Dress-Up Night" in which case many men like to wear jackets and women kick it up a notch with dressier outfits as well. If you are dining at Remy, jackets are required for men and women should wear dresses or pantsuits. Also, do not forget your pirate attire if you want to get dressed up for "Pirate Night." Do not forget your underwear, swimsuits, cover ups, a waterproof jacket just in case in gets cooler in the night and/or rains, and any workout clothes you might want. Hats and visors come in mighty handy on these sunny vacations too!

***Attention Ladies: Although those short flowing skirts/sundresses can be totally super cute, unless you have on totally super cute underwear that you want everyone to see, you might want to avoid them. One gust of wind on deck, and you'll be pulling a Marilyn Monroe, which I don't recommend, unless of course, you actually LOOK like Marilyn Monroe. Personally, I will be sticking to the capri pants and non-flowing sundresses. ***

2. Toiletries. You know what you need here. Disney does provide H2O Plus Spa products, including shampoo, conditioner, lotion and facial soap in your stateroom. But some extras to think about might be anti-nausea aids and pain relievers...not to mention any other prescription or otc medicines you might need for the trip. I'll add sunblock here too-bring tons.

3. Electronic-type items. Cameras. Extra batteries and memory cards. Ipods, tablets, cell phones, laptops, chargers, etc. (There is an extra charge on board for internet connection, and you may want to check with your cell phone company before opting to use your phone at sea). You also might want to bring a sound machine if you need white noise to help you sleep. There is an Ipod docking station in the stateroom, but for you fellow Android users, you might want to throw in an auxiliary cable (or your own player).

4. Carry-On bag. This is very important, because once you board the ship, it may be a few hours before you see your luggage. It is a good idea to carry a swimsuit and a change of clothes that would be suitable for dinner, as well as your camera (there will be plenty of great photo ops before/as soon as you board, and you don't want to miss them). Carry on any medications you may need as well as some sunblock, sunglasses, and a hat. Snacks, water bottles, juice boxes, etc. are also a good idea. And although Disney does a great job of entertaining guests in the port while they're waiting to board, a little something to entertain the kiddos might not be a bad idea just in case. Your carry-on luggage is also where you will need to place any alcohol you want to bring on the ship. Disney allows you to bring your own (awesome money saver and perk for adults), but it has to be in your carry-on. All of your paperwork and documentation (listed below) must be with you as well.

5. Paperwork/Documentation: You will need your cruise documentation including your cruise confirmation number as well as your government issued ID. Although a passport is not required to board the ship (you can use your license and birth certificate instead), we always recommend that our clients have passports in the unlikely event of an emergency.

Well, that about covers the important basics (plus a little more). We have many many more tips and tricks to help make your cruise a great one, and if we shared them all here, we'd be out of blog material. Don't forget that in order to celebrate the inaugural sailing of the Disney Fantasy, we are doing our first Sail Disney giveaway! Click here to visit the giveaway blog and enter!


Sail Disney Giveaway: Help us Celebrate the Inaugural Sailing of the Fantasty!

We are so excited about the Disney Fantasy's Inaugural sailing this month that we want to share the joy with our very first give away! You can win your choice of Disney Cruise Vinylmation AND a $25 gift card or a TMC Travel voucher worth $50. See all the details in the link below.

We are thrilled to be sailing on a preview cruise on the Fantasy this Friday. As soon as we are on board we will be busy discovering all the newest ship in Disney's fleet has to offer. We will be updating this site with a lot of great information, and lots of great photos. Stay tuned!

You can enter our contest by liking us on Facebook, liking TMC Travel on Facebook, or commenting on / liking individual blog posts...or better yet, do it all so you can have multiple entries.

We will draw a winner on March 31st to celebrate the maiden voyage. So start clicking and keep clicking! And please share us with a friend!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

"Duck in, Fly out" on the AquaDuck

Are you thinking about a Disney cruise, but afraid you'll miss the thrill of the rides? Who says the rides are only at Disney World? If you're cruising on the Disney Dream or Fantasy and you're more than 42" tall (54" to ride solo), you too can enjoy the thrilling twists and turns of the first water coaster at sea: Disney's AquaDuck. This one of a kind "water coaster" not only sends riders plummeting down, but shooting back up (hence the term water coaster and not water slide). Riders also go flying through one of the ships' funnels and even teetering out oven the open sea and back. The ride is 765 feet long, and it provides some awesome views of the ocean and your ship's pools and decks.

Of course, all fun things usually come with a few warnings. Since people of all different ages and stages enjoy the AquaDuck (that's right Grandma, there's no sitting this one out), there's a possibility of some long lines, so try to ride during some of the less crowded times. During dinner hours the lines are shorter, as well as while the ship is in port. Also, you will get WET. I'm not talking about a damp rear end...I mean soaking wet. Don't even think you're going to hop off this ride and head into the dining room for dinner. If the weather is bad or it is too windy, the AquaDuck may be closed.

So even if you share one of my personal favorite cruising activities: no activity at all, the AquaDuck is not to be missed. Go ahead and ride a few times...you won't even have to carry your tube back to the top. It's definitely worth abandoning that poolside lounge chair...for awhile anyway.


Virtual Portholes

I'll admit it - inside staterooms used to sort of scare me. I mean all that dark and no window? I was just never convinced I could stay in a room without a window for several nights while on a cruise. Well, leave it to Disney to come up with a virtual porthole so an inside room becomes not only affordable but also desirable!

Virtual portholes are new to the Disney Dream and the Disney Fantasy. My husband and I stayed in a virtual porthole room on our 4 night cruise on the Disney Dream in Sept. We picked it because it was the most affordable room and because I was curious about this Virtual Porthole.

So what is it? Basically it's a LED TV screen right over the bed. The screen shows you real -time what is going on outside the ship. If your screen faces aft you see what's going on at the back of the ship and if it faces forward you see what's going on in front of the ship. This is Disney after all so every now and again a familiar Disney scene might pass through your screen. We saw Rapunzel's lanterns and Jasmine & Aladdin fly across our screen. The best part about this was you can turn it off whenever you want. When we went to bed we turned it off our room was pretty dark. In the morning, we'd turn it on when we woke up so we could see the daylight.

I love the concept. It definitely makes an inside room not scary at all. In fact, I'd chose it again and again!


Extra Costs of a Disney Cruise...OR How much is this REALLY going to cost me?

Bahama Mama?  Yes. Please!
So, you finally decided to take the plunge and go on a Disney Cruise!  If you are like me, then one of your top questions is "How much is this REALLY going to cost me?"  You know the dollar amount that is on the bottom of your confirmation, but you have a pretty strong suspicion that that is not the true bottom line.  And you are right.  There are a few extra costs associated with the cruise that you really need to factor into your budget.  The good news, is that food is not one of them!  The other good news is that while Mickey has several ways to tempt money from your wallet, you can have a great time with out spending much extra.  I can honestly say that unlike other cruise lines, I do not feel "nickle and dimed" after leaving a Disney Cruise.

So what are the extra costs associated with a cruise?  I break things up into to 2 categories:  The Negotiables and the Non-Negotiables.

The Non-Negotiables
  • Transportation Costs to the Region - Will you be flying into the Orlando or Melbourne Airports early in the morning and hoping your flights are on time?  Are you within a reasonable drive of the port?  Will you stay in a hotel the night before you cruise to eliminate transportation variables?  Remember:  The ship will leave with or without you, so a good arrival plan is critical!
  • Parking or Shuttle to the Port - If you are flying in, remember to factor in the cost of Disney's Magical Express, a private car service, or even a car rental to get to the port.  If you are driving, remember to factor in the parking fees of $15.00 per day for any part of the day.  We can also help you arrange a pre-cruise stay over at a local hotel that will provide parking for the duration of your cruise and a shuttle to the port.
  • Standard Gratuities - While gratuities on a Disney ship are always at your discretion, I know you will want to be sure to thank the incredible crew that provided you such great service.  Disney recommends a total of $12 per person per day to cover gratuities for your Dining Team and your Stateroom Host/Hostess.  You can prepay these gratuities before you go, or you can arrange it while on board.  They will give you specifics as to the breakdown, or stay tuned to this blog for more information.  I honestly felt a little guilty only tipping $12 for the level of service I received. so I was glad I had a little extra cash on hand to tuck in the tip envelopes provided!
  • Other Gratuities - Again, I hesitate to include gratuities as a "non negotiable" because tipping is always at your discretion.  Since tipping is customary, and in most cases very well deserved, I am including it here.  If you order room service, remember that the kind face that delivers your food is not part of your Dining Team. A tip for their promptness would be appreciated.  Technically, part of the extra cost of Palo and Remy includes a $5 tip that is shared amongst the manager and waitstaff.  If you feel that your level of service exceeds a $5 tip, please feel free to leave more. A 15% gratuity is automatically added for alcoholic beverage purchases.  You may wish to include gratuities for your spa services, excursions, etc.  
The Negotiables
  • Excursion Costs - There is a huge area of budgetary discretion when considering excursion costs.  You can stroll off the ship and explore your port city or Castaway Cay on foot and not spend a single dime.  Or, you can go for a top shelf beach day at Castaway Cay by renting a Family Cabana for $499, followed by an $80 per person parasailing adventure, and ending the day with a $475 Couple's Choice Spa Time.  In the Bahamas, for example, you can wander around and see the sights and barter for inexpensive souvenirs in the Straw Market or you can head off to Atlantis for the Ultimate Dolphin Trainer experience for $459 per person.  And, of course, there are plenty of high end jewelry stores ready to tempt you!
  • Spa Services - You can skip the spa entirely, or take advantage of a wide variety of services.  You can do the inexpensive Rainforest Experience and enjoy the saunas, sensory showers, hot tubs, and the super comfortable heated tile loungers (LOVE those!)  for about $15 for the day.  If you and your significant other want to splurge, you can do the 150 minute Ultimate Indulgence package for couples.  Of course, there are a variety of services in between.  You can add gratuities at the time of check in or purchase.
  • Beverages - There is a free beverage station on board providing soft drinks 24 hours a day.  Soft drinks are included with each meal at no additional cost.  Traditional breakfast beverages delivered with your breakfast room service order are available at no additional cost.  All other beverages will be charged to your stateroom.  This includes any alcoholic beverages served at the pool, at dinner, in a bar, from room service, or at Castaway Cay.  This also includes any non alcoholic beverage - smoothie or soft dink  - served at the pool, in a bar, from room service or at Castaway Cay.  Gratuities will be automatically added to beverage purchases.
  • Special Meals - Castaway Cay is considered an extension of the ship, so lunch and snacks are available there at no additional cost.  If you are doing excursions in port, be sure to check to see if lunch is included. If not, plan to return to eat on the ship or check out a local restaurant.  Remy and Palo are the adult only  restaurants available on board.  There is an up charge to dine at these restaurants.  Candy and special snacks are also available outside the theaters, for an additional fee.
  • Souvenirs - Again, this is an area with a huge amount of discretion.  You can skip the shops entirely, but let's face it, that is not likely to happen! You can find cute mementos from pens, to magnets, to key chains for a few dollars...and it goes up from there.  We recommend that you set a budget and stick to it.  Giving children a preset spending limit is also a great way to keep a rein on your budget.  We like to shop early in our cruise, but buy a little later in our cruise. 
  • Internet and Phone Calls - We recommend you totally "unplug" and enjoy your cruise, but if you are unable to do so, you can pay for internet use by the minute or purchase a package of minutes.  The internet is slow, so "surfing" is not very practical.  If you must send and receive email, log in, download and log out.  Once you are logged out, type any necessary responses and log back in to send.  Ship to shore calls are also possible, but they are expensive.  Roaming cost for your cell phone can also be expensive.  Find out what your options are before you go.
  • Photographs - Take all the photos you wish with your own camera, but if you wish to take advantage of the professional photographers on board, include photographs in the budget.  Disney photographers will take pictures in the dining room, at character meet and greets, and various other locations on board.  While not inexpensive, a photograph of your entire family all spiffed up and having a great time can be priceless!
Disney does a great job of letting you cruise your way.  You can have a fantastic time and not spend any extra money besides the gratuities once you are on board. (And if you pre-pay your gratuities, you can leave the ship without one extra dollar spent!)  While that is certainly possible, it is not practical for most families.  So set a budget and make some smart choices...or don't and splurge!  The good news is that it is totally within your control!



While Disney does not have casinos on it's ships they do have plenty of exciting BINGO games to play with the whole family! Generally BINGO is in the afternoons in one of the theaters or lounges. You may not know this but Bingo has gotten pretty sophisticated in the last few years. Now the electronic bingo cards are all the rage. No more Bingo markers on Disney ships! Never fear, they do have paper cards if you'd prefer that method! There are quite a few packages of Bingo cards to chose in a wide range of prices. Disney also offers several opportunities to get free cards during the week. Some of the Bingo games offer free prizes (Spa services anyone?) and all have cash prizes. The Bingo jackpot culminates all week and ends with a big Jackpot Bingo game on the last afternoon of your cruise. Bingo is run by the cruise staff and they are always an entertaining bunch!

Be sure to check your Daily Navigator for information about the daily Bingo games they are a ton of fun for the whole family!


"Y" Sail Disney?

“Y” Sail Disney?
You know the song from the old Mickey Mouse Clubhouse days…

M-I-C…”C”-ya real soon!
K-E-Y…”Y”? Because we like you!

In keeping with the Mickey spirit of “Y?” we hope to answer another big “Y?” when it comes to the Mouse and his crew.

“Y” Sail Disney?
Thinking about cruising? Sit back, relax, and “cruise” our blog. We can help you answer this big “Y?” and many others with helpful information, personal experiences, colorful pictures, frequently asked questions (link to FAQ page), etc. Let us tell you "Y" we think Disney Cruises are the best cruises out there for all types of groups of all ages. When you’re ready to book, or you just need more information, contact us, and one of our agents will be happy to help. We're happy to be your one stop shop for all things Disney Cruise!


Under Construction!

Welcome to the brand new Sail Disney blog!

We are currently under construction, but hope you will check back with us soon for lots of great content about Disney Cruises!