My First Disney Cruise: Six Revelations about Living on the Mouse’s Boat

When my parents were talking about taking everyone on a cruise, I did wonder what it would be like. I’ve never considered the idea of a cruise before. I’m either the kind of vacationer who likes to travel to a location or experience a location, I’m not the pampering kind of person. And that is how I imagined a cruise, me being pampered and lying down for a long time.

That is not a Disney Cruise.

Wait, let me correct that. I’m sure if people wanted to they could just lie down and eat all day. (There was sections of the ship “quarantined” just for adults and good food is everywhere), but I found the ship to be exciting with things to do every hour. The idea of lying down for more than an hour would feel like a waste for me.

From the 5K I ran on Castaway Cay (and I was pretty happy with my time) to the big slide on deck to the movies in the theater. A Disney Cruise is an adventure.

In typical Scott fashion, I have to get my thoughts about the experience down quickly, capture these great feelings I have about it… (Oh, and thanks mom and dad for the trip!)

Story vs. Celebration

Anyone who follows my blog, knows I have a thing about Disneyland. There is this post about my adoration for that little location in Anaheim, and this post that might be my favorite on the entire site about having a quiet moment alone in the park as it awakes. The reason for this love is very simple.

See, with Disneyland, I like to think that Walt found a new way to tell a story. The equivalent of the first person who decided to tell a story on a stage or put it on paper. He took stories from a sterile and controlled environment and put it around you. And when a ride (like Pirates of the Caribbean or the Haunted Mansion or an atmosphere (like Adventureland, Tomorrowland needs work) succeeds, it is as special to me as laying on a couch on a lazy Saturday discovering a great book for the first time.

With the cruise it is something different. It can’t be about a story, that would have been hard to pull off; what you get instead is a celebration of Disney and its history.

You see this celebration from the artwork on the wall (some I would have loved to have slipped into my luggage, like Marc Evans sketches for the Pirates ride) to the shows to the restaurants. Oh, lets add more to the list- the fireworks, the parties on the deck, the movies playing by the pool, the trivia contests. Everything is about celebrating the home of the mouse.

So, if you are like me and my family and you have bought into the legacy of Disney and its impact on your childhood (and your children’s childhood), this celebration experience is pretty powerful, tapping into something you remember and felt before. It’s a good energy, just different from the immersion you get from a good park visit. Obviously, because of this difference, my recommendation of the cruise experience is different with different caveats.

For me, I look forward to visiting it again. But if you don’t have a fondness for the movie studio, you might want to take a breath before booking that trip.

All About the Cast Members

Disney has always been about calling its employees cast members. It allows a certain buy in for everyone there, and it pays off well. But you can spend a day at the park without really talking with a cast member. They have their jobs to do, and they aren’t aggressive (like for example, anytime you visit a Best Buy… seriously, does everyone in the store have to say hi!?!), but you know if you were to talk to one it would be nice.

On a boat though, you don’t have the luxury of avoiding anyone. It was really here on the cruise, as compared to in the park that I saw the success of this “cast member” philosophy. I had some great conversation and moments with the workers on the cruise, and I’m certain they weren’t just fulfilling a role. A lot of good people.

I want to give a shoutout to three exceptional cast members. The first is Greg who oversaw our rooms. He did wonderful little touches around our room while we were out. He even celebrated our daughter’s birthday by making a cake out of towels (and giving us enough chocolate to hold us over for a day). Here is one example of his towel art—).

Then there were our amazing servers. Their names are Duran and Rijesh and they really made our evenings for us. Every night they would meet us at our scheduled restaurant, and while each restaurant was amazing (from the décor, show, food, etc.), they made the experience truly magical. Each night we would be there for almost three hours, many times just talking to the two of them. By the end of the cruise, they were sad to see us go too and the picture we took with the two of them is something I am going to treasure forever from the cruise.

The Success of the Little Things

One of the charms that Disney has always had over its competitors is their eye for detail. The boat was no exception. Everything had that Disney touch. Your room wasn’t just a room, it was part of the experience, with as much to discover as the halls and theaters.

There was a moment when I was in the giftshop and a fellow traveler asked what I was buying. It did look odd, but this exactly explains what I mean about the little things. See, it was a Christmas ornament of a trash can.

Wait, I’m getting to my point.

See, at Disneyland each area of the park has its own distinct trashcan and that for me is one of the examples of the “little things.” Disney thought about what a trashcan in Adventureland should look like. Who thinks about things like that?

The ornament was of the cans you would find near the Matterhorn in Disneyland. So that little touch will now be a little touch on my next tree… Okay, now I am seeing it as weird that I am hanging a trashcan on my tree…. That is really weird, right?

Food. Food. Food.

Here is one of the places the cruise wins out over the parks. When you book your cruise, you pay for the special dinners and food you discover around the ship, from the buffets to the free ice cream (and I highly recommend mixing the blueberry and banana ice cream together. It is fantastic).

If you go to a fancy restaurant at a Disney park, you might be overwhelmed by the prices. You might skip the appetizer or avoid the desert. But at the cruise, you can order whatever you want and as much as you want. Prices and receipts be damned! It’s all ready just for you.

And the food is first rate, amazing, wonderful.

Our personal servers would recommend dishes to us and drinks to try, making everything that bit more special. If I do another cruise (and I hope to), I would put the food first on the list of things I look forward to experiencing again.

For Every Member of the Family

I mentioned the fact that there areas quarantined off for adults above, but that is true for all ages. Disney wants to make this special and they focus on each age group.  My kids always had activities to look forward to in their sections (they even got to meet Captain America and Black Widow). As a parent, it was great not to worry about the little ones.

Disney Cruise really had this down to a science. Because of it everyone was able to get what they wanted to out of the trip.

The Shows

Remember my point about the cruise being a celebration of Disney? Well, this is also true here. We got to see three different shows, one was an adaptation of Frozen and the others were about celebrating the history of Disney.

I could see, like with the entire cruise, that if you aren’t into Disney it could be a little too much, but if you are like me, they are amazing. I am also amazed in how much they were able to do with so little. The effects were astounding, the cast members were great. It was really awes-inspiring how much they were able to accomplish in only a little over an hour.

I’m using the word “amazing” a lot in this post. I get that. But I did just get home from an amazing vacation. It’s where my head is at.

6 thoughts on “My First Disney Cruise: Six Revelations about Living on the Mouse’s Boat

  1. I have a colleague who just went on that very cruise last week as well! From both your accounts, it definitely sound like a blast (especially, as you mention, the food – that’d probably be what I look forward to the most as well!).

    Glad you had such an amazing time! (>^-‘)>

  2. I am going on the Fantasy on July 29th celebrating my retirement with 11 other family members, all Disney fanatics. My 8 year old grandson has been at Disney Word 9 times. I will be going with my wife of 42 years, two daughters and their husbands, my son and his girlfriend and 4 grand children ages 8, 5, 3 and 9 months. We have four side by side balcony rooms on the 6th floor. They are all so excited. We have been on over 20 cruises but this is my first Disney Cruise

    • Wow! You have me beat (but I did have an annual pass to DL when I lived in Los Angeles, so I have lost count of my visits there). I hope to take the family to DL next year at some point. But the cruise was a lot of fun, and if you are a Disney fan (which you definitely are) you will love it. Have a great trip and happy retirement!

  3. I’m right there with you on the Disney Cruise magic: the people, the food, the details. All awesome. I’m also a little obsessed with the trash cans. I take pictures of them, and I have two of the ornaments so far. It’s hard to explain to other people.

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