There is absolutely no experience in the world like spending time on a cruise ship. Where else can you go to stay at a floating hotel, be offered innumerable amounts of activities and things to do, as well as end up in different location every day or so? There is truly nothing like it.
A few weeks back, I provided you with some tips for things to do when you reach your cruise destinations, but today I'm giving you my top 10 things that you must try, when traveling on a Disney Cruise Ship, and especially the Disney Fantasy.
If you are a HUGE Disney fan, and are leaving from the Florida port, consider spending an extra day or two, either before or after your cruise, at one (or even all) of the Disney parks. You've come this far already, so why not simply do an add-on, since you're already in the same state? For discounted Disney World tickets, check out Undercover Tourist for the deals that they offer on Disney World trips and packages.
If you are looking to book for a Disney cruise, or a cruise in general, skim to the bottom of the page for website links for some current cruise offers.
Disney Cruise Ship Must Do's
1. Go to at least one of the restaurants that cost extra.
My philosophy, before I went on my cruise, was that I was paying quite a bit of money for my cruise, therefore I did not want to spend any extra money on board, as everything I needed was already included. Yes - this is true, BUT someone was kind enough to treat me to one of the special restaurants (which I never even considered going to) and let me tell you, for the experience and the incredible quality of the food, I discovered that it was certainly worth the money.
All four of Disney's cruise ships include the restaurant Palo (Italian restaurant), as well as a second fancy dining room. On the Disney Fantasy ship, the other high end restaurant was an incredible French restaurant called Remy. Both dining experiences are for adults only and have a semi-formal dress code. It is recommended to make reservations before the cruise begins, to ensure that you don't miss out. If you choose to wait, you do have the opportunity to reserve on board.
As for my experience with Palo, we went for brunch and it was one of the on-board highlights of my trip. Upon arrival, we were treated like royalty and were seated at a table with a backdrop designed to give the illusion that we were right in Italy, when taking photos with flash photography. We chose the brunch option, which I would highly recommend, as it came with the choice of a Mimosa (or champagne) and it was a perfect meal to start off the day, as well as hold us over until our 8 pm dinner at the regular restaurant. (I really enjoyed our evening restaurant rotations, and was very glad to not miss out on getting to do that as well.) The day we went to Palo also happened to be a sea day, which I suggest aiming to do, as it didn't take any time away from visiting ports. If you hope to go on a sea day, I would recommend reserving as soon as you can, as I'm more than confident that those dining slots will fill up first.
Our meal was all you can eat, which included both a menu option, a fresh Italian brunch buffet, and a delectable dessert buffet as well. Just like with any Disney cruise menu, you can order as much or a little as you want off of the menu, or even parts of multiple different menu options, then head over to the buffet whenever you like. As I mentioned, our brunch came with a complimentary Mimosa, but more than anything else, the food itself was just incredible. I more than recommend coming very hungry, because as Disney likes to say, the food is "It's all you care to enjoy."
2. Take advantage of on board activities.
As you wander around the cruise ship, you will see all sorts of various activities provided, to enjoy at your own leisure. Since there is quite a bit of down time on the ship, if you haven't booked yourself too many things to do, a great way to fill in some of this time is to take advantage of some of the free facilities.
After a long day out at port, why not hit the hot tub and relax? There are also great things to do for large or small groups of people, which make for great quality time together, like mini golf, the sports court, shuffleboard etc.
3. Ride the Aquaduck
From the time that we arrived on board, my friend and I continued to eye the massive water slide that circled the entire ship. It was our goal, before we left, to go on this giant water slide, the Aquaduck.
Things got busy, and before we knew it, it was the day before arriving home. We made a plan that no matter what it took, we would ride this thing, and eventually we did. It was such a blast - great for both kids and adults alike. We rode it multiple times, screaming and laughing the entire time. I wish that we had done it sooner, as more than likely, we would have done it a few different days. It is something that you WON'T want to miss!
4. Take advantage of the ship's offered itinerary options (and the phone app that accompanies it).
From the beginning of the day, to the wee hours of the night, every cruise ship has events and activities offered, as a part of the ship's itinerary. At the beginning of the week, take a look at what there is to do, and be sure to note anything that you are remotely interested in.
Our ship had a cell phone app that we could download (before we got on board) and we could get all of the information that we needed each day on it. It was called the Disney Navigator App. It sent reminders to my phone when events that I had starred were soon to begin. It also allowed us to text our friends, who were also on board, through this app, to help keep us connected.
Guest acts, late night entertainment, game shows, tours of the ship, live music, quizzes, you name it, there are constantly exciting activities to get involved in at all times on board, even during port hours. Always be sure to take a look at what is being offered, as there are plenty of great opportunities and fun things to do.
5. Play board games.
I went to a movie quote quiz one day, during my time at sea, and I noticed that in the bar, where the quiz took place, there were loads of different board games. I wish I had seen them beforehand. If you love playing board games, I would definitely recommend taking some time to connect with your friends and spending some nice time together playing a board game you've never tried, or even an old favourite.
6. Go to the movie theatre.
A movie theatre? On board? Yes! The Disney Fantasy has a beautiful movie theatre and every day, all throughout the day, it shows different movies that are free for passengers to come and enjoy. We were on a Star Wars themed cruse, so we had plenty of films to choose from, including many of the Star Wars films, including the one that had just been released in theatres, The Last Jedi. Because Disney can do what they want with their own films, we also had a chance to see the new movie Coco, which was currently in theatres as well. The ship also sells popcorn and drinks on board, if you are searching to get the full "movie theatre" experience.
7. Watch the Broadway style live shows.
Disney tours around the world, searching for the best of the best for their live, on board entertainment. Almost every night, they offer live shows with a theme and a story line, along with some of the popular Disney music. One of the evenings, they even put on a full production of a known Disney Broadway style show. We were fortunate enough to get to see Aladdin while we were there, and it was excellent.
The cruise entertainment also hires in some pretty great guest acts to fill in the evenings, when there are no Disney shows taking place. They are also very high quality and are quite entertaining.
8. Take advantage of the free TV shows and movies in your room.
Every room has a television with a large selection of movies and TV shows to choose from. Whether you have had a long day and just want to relax in the room, or are in transition of getting ready for the next event, consider watching something provided on your TV. Even if it's just an old favorite being played in the background while you are organizing your things, it's a wonderful little "perk" to have at your fingertips.
9. Take the food from the buffet onto the deck to eat.
It can be nice to eat inside the buffet area, especially being at a close access to the food and drinks, but I found that a few times, when I took my breakfast or lunch from the buffet, the dining room was very crowded, loud or cold. For someone who isn't particularly a morning person, I really enjoyed taking my food out on deck, to eat at the table there. I could avoid the crowds, the noise and the air conditioned room, while enjoying the view of the sea or the port where we were headed, while peacefully enjoying my food.
10. Dress up for events.
I LOVE dressing up - I'm just going to put that out there. Disney offers numerous opportunities to dress up for different occasions and themes.
There is always a Formal Night - an evening where everyone, the crew and the passengers alike, dress up to the nines and everything is even more fancy than normal. They often serve free drinks in a specific location as well as there is plenty of opportunity for taking photos.
Pirate Night is also quite a blast. It's a really fun experience to be a part of the many passengers who are dressed as Pirates, walking around the ship, and to later on attend the "Pirate Night" festivities, which include entertainment along with some fireworks and dancing music. Our cruise even included a pirate themed, late night buffet. (Disney is the only cruise ship, as far as I know, who does fireworks at sea. The fireworks are biodegradable and provide food for fish in the sea!)
As I mentioned earlier, I was fortunate enough to go on a Star Wars, Disney cruise. One of our sea days was a "Star Wars day at Sea". Many of the passengers used this as an opportunity to dress up as well, with anything from their collection of Star Wars t-shirts to full out costumes of their favorite characters. Again, dressing up can be a blast and it can be an enriching experience to be a part of something bigger going on, on board. Our Star Wars day concluded with Star Wars entertainment similar to that of Pirate night, but with the Star Wars theme.
Have you ever been on a Disney cruise? What was your highlight and is there anything else you'd like to recommend? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!
Here are some great booking options and deals for Disney Cruise Lines.
If you are inspired to try a cruise but don't quite think that Disney is for you, have no fear, here are some great cruise companies who can help you book your trip and potentially even save you some money. Be sure to check out companies Cruise Direct or Expedia for some current deals for numerous cruse lines.