First of all, I want to start by saying that if you are looking for a vacation that is all things Disney, then you will probably be satisfied w/ a Disney cruise. In my case, my husband and I fell in love w/ cruising after our first Carnival cruise to the western Caribbean a couple of years ago and we wanted to share the experience w/ our children. We chose Disney because it was the most kid friendly, we heard what a great kids program they have and lots of activities. We are always impressed when we go to Disneyland or Disneyworld. It amazes me how clean and well run they keep the parks. Of course, we expect the same from thier cruise ship. When we vacation, we stay in extremely nice, clean, top notch resorts and that is what we were expecting from the Disney Cruise. We were extremely impressed w/ our Carnival cruise 2 years ago. I am a total clean freak and don't mind paying extra money for my vacation to be perfect. I assumed that all the extra money that I paid for Disney More
would assure me that everything would be top notch.
Then we entered our stateroom. I was extremely pleased w/ the size and layout of the stateroom and I love the split bathroom. However, I was shocked to see that the bathrooms had chipped tiles on the floor, dirty grout, and the toilet and tub were so old and scratched and damaged that I cringed every time I took a shower. The tub, toilet and grout need desperately to be replaced. This was completely unacceptable. If I were in a hotel, I would have insisted that we either switch rooms or leave to a different hotel. Thank goodness that my children are older and take showers. I would NEVER bathe a baby or toddler in that tub! Also, for the money that I paid I would expect to at least have ONE outlet in one of the bathrooms. Very disappointed in the condition of the bathrooms! The Magic should have been dry docked for bathroom overhauls and updates at least 8 years ago.
As far as the kids club and family activities... I have 2 boys ages 8 and 10. They are extremely easy to entertain, they go with the flow and always find something to do. They were also w/ other kids that we were traveling with. Honestly, they would have been just as happy at the Kids Camp on Carnival or any other cruise ship. They begged to back to the Kids Camp at the resort we stayed in on Maui last year. Disney, they could take it or leave it.
Really, the only thing special about the Disney Cruise is the characters.
My husband and I splurged on a couples massage at the spa. Complete waste of time and money. The spa is decorated in outdated colors and severely worn furniture. Not comforting and relaxing at all. But the absolute WORST experience was putting on the dingy, gray, tattered robes. Those robes needed to be donated to a homeless shelter about 8 years ago w/ the tubs and toilets. I was truly appalled at the condition of the robes. I've seen nicer spa services in cheap hotel chains. This was a HUGE disappointment. I would have cancelled our massage but they still charge you 50% of the cost.
Overall, I would have to say that the best experiences we had were when we were off the ship. We had a great time on all of the islands. So we could have had a great time exploring islands on ANY cruise ship and saved the money. The food, shows and movies on the ship were comparable to any other cruise line.
REALLY, THE ONLY THING SPECIAL ABOUT THE DISNEY CRUISE IS THE CHARACTERS.
So, I also saved the best part for last. Just like the Disney theme parks, it's not enough to charge you outrageous prices just to get into the park, or on the ship. Where the parks scam you with a $20 hamburger and bag of chips, the cruise ship scams you on their excursions and activities. Too bad that we pay $300 just to get into Disneyland, they charge you for a bottle of water what you could buy a case for. We booked a dolphin swim excursion (NOT THROUGH DISNEY). When I called the dolphin company directly they started booking me by name and how many people in my party and which package I wanted. The cost was to be $99 per person and they were offering a 25% discount, which came to $75 per person. They also told me there was no charge for additional people to come in and watch (the dads were taking pictures instead of swimming w/ dolphins). Then they asked if I was coming in on a cruise ship and which one. When I told them Disney, they informed me that I can only book through Disney (according to policy). Hmmm, I did a little research and found out that Disney prebooks the majority of the company's time slots and forces them to have Disney guests book only through Disney. They are the only cruise line to force this upon a guest. And guess what??? Disney's prices are $159 per adult, $139 per child under 10 and... they charge $89 per person just to come and watch!!! So I called the company back, booked my excursion telling them I was on a Carnival ship, and I SAVED ALMOST $700!!!!!
In summary, if you are looking for a wonderful, relaxing cruise that won't break the bank, then go somewhere else because you can take 2 cruises for the price of one Disney cruise. If you have little girls who love the princesses or kids who LOVE the Disney characters and you want to give them the experience of a lifetime... by all means you should pay double the cost. Because...
REALLY, THE ONLY THING SPECIAL ABOUT THE DISNEY CRUISE IS THE CHARACTERS. Less