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Beginners Guide: Disney Cruise Line

The Disney Cruise Terminal at Port Canaveral Florida.

The history of Disney at sea goes all the way back to 1985 when Disney partnered with Premier Cruise Together. They sold 7-night vacations that combined a Disney World vacation, with a cruise and character experiences while at sea on board Premier Cruise Line’s Big Red Boat. Premier lost the right to use the Disney Characters aboard its ships in 1993. The very next year, in 1994, Disney announced its intentions to launch its own cruise line. Preparations started before the ship was built. The groundbreaking ceremony on Castaway Cay was held in 1996. By 1998, the Disney Magic had officially launched from Port Canaveral. The next year, the Wonder joined her sister ship in sailing out of Port Canaveral. By 2001, Disney Cruise Line celebrated their 1 millionth customer. In 2007, Disney announced two new ships, and in 2011 and 2012 the Dream and then the Fantasy joined Disney’s fleet. With only these four ships, Disney has taken a 3% share of the global cruise market, and the line sails not just Caribbean cruises from Port Canaveral, but the Mediterranean, Pacific Coast, and Alaska too. Due to its closeness to Disney World, Port Canaveral (often named Port of Orlando) is usually the home port of most of Disney’s fleet, three of their ships are normally stationed there, with one roving farther afield.

A Disney cruise is like no other cruise. Their ships are splendid, and boast some of the flat-out prettiest interiors on land or sea. There are other luxury lines, but no other line takes it as their mission to bring cruisers into a fairy tale and succeeds the way Disney does. Book your vacation on the Disney cruise line with Go Port today!

The Big and the Big, and the Bigger Boats

A comparison of chandeliers aboard the Disney Dream left, and the Disney Fantasy right.

When Disney built its ships, it looked to the transatlantic ocean liners of the early part of the 20th century for their profiles, and it built its ships to recall that gilded age’s grace with modern updates. They have the classic lines of the old steam ships with twin funnels and dark blue hulls. It does lead to some oddities. The forward funnel on all of Disney’s ships are fake for instance. Instead of being an exhaust vent, it is instead a mid-deck tower that holds the Edge tweens club and the Outlook Lounge on the Dream and the Fantasy. On the Magic and the Wonder, it holds the older teens Vibe club. It’s a dedication to the atmosphere that you simply don’t find in the cruise industry, which is very conscious of it’s bottom line.

Inside too, Disney’s ships look to the past for their style. All of Disney’s lead ships (the first in the class) look to Art Deco for their interior lines. The following ships (the second in class and later) take the rules of Art Nouveau for themes. To provide a little background, Art Deco is an art style that emerged between the two World Wars that put classical artistic sensibilities through an engineer’s calculations, a draftsman’s pen, and cast them into the steel and concrete of the industrial revolution. Art Nouveau is even older (late nineteenth century) and incorporated the curves and irregularities of the natural world into such previously straight edged and regular items as furniture and fixtures. The design philosophy makes for an interesting contrast in similar, but distinct art styles, and different philosophical origins. It can be seen in the comparison of the Disney Dream and Fantasy’s atrium fixtures in the section header above.

Stern of the Disney Magic (Goofy Painting)

Disney Magic ship

Disney Magic

At the time of its delivery, the Disney Magic was one of the largest cruise ships in the world. Royal Caribbean’s contemporary ships were the Vision class like the Enchantment of the Seas, and the Magic was a hundred feet longer. It also launched with larger staterooms than the norm, 215 square feet on board the Magic compared to 120 square feet on another contemporary ship Majesty of the Seas. The majority of the ship’s staterooms also featured verandahs, another Disney first. Previously, if you wanted private access to fresh air you probably would have had to book a junior suite. Another unique trait of Disney’s staterooms is the presence of tubs in all stateroom bathrooms. A necessity if you’re cruising with small children, and one you still won’t find as a standard on other lines. If you’ve enjoyed a cruise on a new build over the last decade, then many of the features you think of as a cruising standard are probably owed to Disney pioneering the concept aboard the Magic. This forward thinking has served the Magic well. It started as a premium cruise ship in 1998 and it is still a premium cruise ship in 2016.

An upgrade in 2013 saw the Magic receive new additions like Marvel’s Avengers and Star Wars play areas in the Oceaneers Club and the removal of the split twin beds in favor of a single queen size bed in all staterooms. Disney’s fleet-wide standard is a queen bed, a fold out sleeper sofa, and a hideaway bunk to provide additional sleeping room for up to four. Larger staterooms that sleep families up to five are available. The Magic is currently splitting a 5 night Bahama cruises itinerary with the bigger Disney Dream.

Donald Duck painting on the stern of Disney Wonder

Disney Cruise Line - Disney Wonder ship

Disney Wonder

A sister ship, the Wonder, has yet to receive the upgrades the Disney Magic has. Although, during 2015 some of the staterooms received the elevated queen beds that are new Disney Cruise Line standards. The ship is rumored to be heading to Cadiz, in Spain, for a complete overhaul sometime after her Panama Canal crossing in August 2016. Until then, the Wonder does lack a few of the most modern amenities that will be found on Disney’s other ships. There is no in room DVR for instance. It isn’t a terrible hardship. After all, spending your cruise in your stateroom isn’t the best use of your time. The Wonder is the last ship of Disney’s classic cruise ships. The décor in public spaces aboard is Art Nouveau, which can primarily be seen in the details like the carpet pattern and overhead stain glassed fixture in the atrium. The Wonder is currently sailing out of Miami but is scheduled to make its way to San Diego, Vancouver, and Alaska before summer arrives.

Disney Dream Stern featuring Fantasia Mickey

Disney Dream Ship

Disney Dream

The Disney Dream is the first of Disney’s new ships and is fresh out of refurbishment to boot. As part of its refurbishment, a mockup of the Millennium Falcon’s cockpit was added, as were play areas for the Avengers and Disney Infinity. The Dream is the first ship of Disney’s newer ships, and like the Magic, the Dream looks to the Art Deco school of design for its interiors, and it does so on a much large scale than the Magic. The increased size of the newer ship adds a lot to the sense of grandeur. Dining venues like Animator’s Palate benefit greatly from new technology, and the size increase has also resulted in new venues like the Royal Palace dining room and a garden of Versailles patterned space called the Enchanted Garden that makes diners feel like royalty. The Royal Palace’s counterpart on the Disney Fantasy is one of the key differences between the two ships. The Edge tweens club is in the forward funnel, and the teens club Vibe is all the way forward and has it’s own outdoor seating area at the bow of the ship. It’s shielded from the wind by an exterior wall.

Dumbo painting the stern of the Disney Fantasy

disney fantasy ship

Disney Fantasy

The Disney Fantasy is a Dream-class ship, and by deck plan, almost exactly the same as the Dream. However, they’re both Disney ships, and the mouse is in the details. For instance, the Royal Court dining room on the Fantasy occupies almost the same dimensions as the Royal Palace on the Dream, but the Fantasy’s version hosts murals of the Disney princesses, and—somewhat oddly—the scenes from classic Disney cartoon add an extra touch of majesty to your meals. Exclusively on board the Fantasy, your little princess can dress up at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and have tea with a Disney Princess in the Royal Court. It does give the Fantasy a slight edge over her sister ship. Plus it is nice to see the classic Disney feature films shown more prominently in the ship’s decor, and activities. The Muppets also make an appearance in the onboard mystery show, their first appearance on a Disney Cruise Ship. The Fantasy is also sailing on a longer itinerary and, therefore, hosts more shows. Including a brand-new show called “Wishes”, reminding teens of the importance of being a kid at heart. All this combined makes it good for families with young children who will love dressing up like a princess (or a pirate), and families with older surlier teenagers. The Fantasy is currently sailing 7-night itineraries in the Western and the Eastern Caribbean out of Port Canaveral.

Planning to Save on Your Disney Cruise

A Disney ship docked at Port Canaveral Florida.

Disney is a premium cruise line at a premium price. A 4-night cruise will cost as much as 7-days at a Walt Disney World resort hotel. Although, to be fair the food is included with the price of the cruise. Even so it is still an expensive prospect for most. Fortunately, there are ways to save.

The first way to save is to book well in advance. The price to cruise goes up the closer the sail away date is. To get the lowest possible price on your cruise, you should plan to book about a year in advance. That applies not just to Disney cruises, but to all cruises. The second is that once you are aboard the ship and enjoying your cruise, you should plan to book again for next year. The other way to reliably save on cruises is to take part in a loyalty program, and the best prices to be had on cruises are always onboard one of the lines cruise ships.

For Disney, specifically, there are a couple of other options. Getting a Disney credit card from Visa-Chase will allow you to redeem points in the form of Disney gift cards, which are redeemable at any Disney store, park, or any cruise. Another way to save is the Target trick. A Target debit card save’s you 5 percent on gift cards, and Disney gift cards are available. It makes for an easy way to save 5 percent on your purchases before you even step onto the ship.

Another way to save is on your onshore accommodations, and cruise transfers. Booking a Disney cruise is well worth the money. It truly is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. To save as much as much as you can, consider a Go Port package to save on your airport transportation, cruise parking, accommodations, and transfers to Port Canaveral. We help start your fantastic voyage on a Disney cruise vacation, call for any assistance. 855-755-4637

Port Canaveral Fly Snooze Cruise

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