This was our second Disney Cruise. The first on the Magic 4 years ago (Western Caribbean 7 Night) Our girls were 6 and 8 then. My 8 year old literally fell asleep at the dinner table one night (think face plant on the table) on that cruise and missed the pirate party on deck and the fireworks.
I have become really good at scouring websites and cruise booking engines and know how to find the deals. I stumbled upon kids sail free promo in October and didn't have to ask twice to book this trip. My oldest daughter was finally going to get her pirate party!
This trip our girls were one and two months shy of 11 and 13.
We flew into LAX the morning of our cruise and arrived at 11am.
We hired a private shuttle service for under $70 total including tip and arrived at the cruise terminal at 12:15. We were on the ship by 1:00.
Our ocean view stateroom was fine. Cabins are small on all cruise ships. Bathrooms are tight. If that's not what you are looking for...don't cruise.
We've had inside, outside and balcony cabins on cruises and feel that for the amount of time you spend in your cabin go for the best value price wise when booking. Yes a balcony is nice to sit on, but it can double your cruise price. Our family would rather have more money to spend in ports and activities. This time booking an ocean view was less expensive than the inside room!
Our girls enjoyed the sail away party again. Disney does a great job with this.
Dining was typical cruise ship. Disney is great with the unlimited soda/beverage choice on the pool deck and at the buffet. It would be nice if the drink station was located in the middle of the ship versus the back.
I wouldn't say the food was horrible nor would I say 5 star all the time.
We had some really great things- some mediocre and a few things that were not good at all. If you don't like it don't eat it. Find something else to eat. There are options available.
I would say the steak and lobster were fabulous. One steak was overcooked. I asked for another. If the menu isn't to your liking- talk to your waitstaff- they can suggest or modify what is on the menu. Don't be afraid to order 2 entrees if you can't decide or are unsure about something.
I've been cruising for 12 years and yes- dining/food has declined across the board on all cruise lines over the years. If you are looking for off the chart fabulous meals and accommodations- you should be booking with a luxury cruise line. Disney is not in that category.
Also for a change of pace- make sure you visit one of the sit down lunches. Check the kids into kids club and enjoy a leisurely lunch instead of buffeting it everyday.
Kids club- The staff at the Edge was great! We were able to get our almost 11 year old into this club space and the girls had a ball. The wave phones on this ship were a godsend and our girls enjoyed total freedom the entire cruise. We also enjoyed many hours of kid free time as they were busy with the many friends they met on the boat. I am almost embarrassed to say that we usually returned to our cabin by 11 or so each night and our girls stayed at the Edge until Midnight. They stuck together and along with the other 6 girls they met, had a fantastic time. No complaints here!
Adult Activities/Entertainment- this is one area I think Disney can improve on.
There are movies showing. A few geared toward adults. We saw "The Help" on our way to Puerto Vallarta on a sea day and were looking forward to seeing "War Horse" on our last sea day. For some reason they changed the showing the last day to "Pirates of the Caribbean". We had a piece of literature in our room the first day of our cruise that had all movies listed and purposely saved "War Horse" for the last sea day for a time filler.
When our navigator arrived, it had been changed. I went to Guest Services to inquire. They had the week long list we had so the gal was confused as well. She went to investigate and came back and said yes- it had been changed.
Sorry.... not the kind of remedy I would expect from Disney- they could have easily have shown the movie that was supposed to have played after Pirates and made everyone happy. I give Disney an F here. There are lots of alcohol tasting seminars, the Quiet Cove pool area, the spa. I feel there could be a few more activities offered during the day while at sea. I do have to say it was fabulous to lay by the pool in the Quiet Cove- no loud music or screaming kids. Just the occasional buzz of my wave phone when the girls were checking in with us. Very Relaxing! Other cruise lines should take lesson from Disney here. Our last Disney Cruise we lounged at the Mickey pool while the girls rode down the water slide all day long.
Nightly Entertainment- the shows are a must. I do have to say that they are the exact same shows we saw 4 years ago. It was long enough ago that I didn't remember everything, but also feel that Disney should get into a 2 year rotation to keep guests wanting to come back. Our girls loved to dance and do Karaoke each night too. On sea days, why don't they have Karaoke during the day? The pirate party was fun- fireworks are fun too- we ate at second seating so couldn't even think about eating again at the party.
Staff- Of all cruise lines- Disney staff is overall most friendly- willing to help- and do what they can to make your trip enjoyable. I do have to say that the attention to detail was down a notch from the last Disney cruise.
The princesses in the lobby are great- if this is on your list to do- make sure you arrive a bit ahead of time and be prepared to wait. Even my girls at 11 and 13 had a few pics taken.
One last huge shout out to Disney- thanks for letting us bring our own liquor on board! a bucket of beer is $30 and most drinks are over $7. A glass of wine at dinner each night- it can get pretty costly.
We brought 4 bottles of wine and my husband walked to Walmart in Puerto Vallarta and purchased a 12 pack of Corona. Each night we enjoyed a glass of wine poured in our cabin. We enjoyed it all the way to the dining room and then only had to order a glass during dinner. I enjoyed the ports, but do have to say that I much more enjoy the crystal clear water of the Caribbean and the warmth of the water.
I also really missed the private island. A must if you are paying full price for a Disney cruise.
In Puerto Vallarta we opted to take a taxi into town- see the cathedral and then walk thru shops and the beach. There are the typical port shops, restaurants etc.
In Cabo we enjoyed a stroll thru the marina and ended up on the beach for the day- day 2 we hired a water taxi from booth A-7 to take us around the arch and for time on lovers beach for $35 for the 4 of us. I heard from others who used this booth that para sailing was just $40 per person.
**the dolphin adventure in cabo is literally within walking distance of the tender drop- book that independently- not thru Disney and you will save quite a bit of money**
In summary- a vacation is what you make of it- if you want to find something to complain about- there will always be something. When the trip is over- ask yourself- do the good points outweigh the bad? Most of the time it will.
Secondly- most people who write reviews only do so if they have a bad experience. Future Disney cruisers... this is not an awful cruise- I admit a few things slipped thru the cracks- but I also had a great week and my kids had the opportunity to take a second Disney cruise. There is a reason why Disney is offering kids sail free and the prices are a bit lower on this destination. keep that in mind when you book and you will enjoy your trip.