8 Surprising Things About the Disney Cruise Line, including fish extenders, fine dining, rotational dining, and on-board booking benefits.
The first time I traveled on the Disney Cruise Line (on a Disney Fantasy media cruise), I was amazed. All four ships are absolutely stunning, with so many things for families to see and do. Even if you choose a 7-day cruise, you’ll still find that there are things that you didn’t have enough time to do during your sailing.
While I was impressed, I wasn’t necessarily surprised – as an avid fan of Walt Disney World, I’ve come to expect a level of service and magic. But there were a few things that I did find surprising because I didn’t necessarily expect them. Here are 8 surprising things about the Disney Cruise Line.
8 Surprising Things About the Disney Cruise Line
I knew to expect lots of food on the Disney Cruise Line – I’d heard stories about delicious buffets and endless ice cream. But I was surprised to see the fine dining options. All four ships offer Palo, an upscale adult-only Italian restaurant, while the Disney Fantasy and the Disney Dream also offer Remy, a French restaurant.
These restaurants do cost an additional fee, but are definitely worth it if you are looking for a premium dining experience. I’ve dined at Palo a few times, for both dinner and brunch, and have always enjoyed my meals. If your kids like the kids’ clubs (and they will!), definitely book a meal there – you won’t regret it! While you may not initially consider brunch, I’d recommend it. The selection is outstanding, and the food is all so delicious. Book early though, because it sells out.
Rotational Dining on the Disney Cruise Line
When you are on the Disney Cruise Line, you’ll have the same serving team for your whole cruise. You’ll rotate among the three different restaurants on the ship, but your serving team will rotate with you. This is especially good for families with dietary concerns. My daughter has tree nut allergies, and it’s always good to have the same server.
We love the familiarity of seeing our serving team in a new venue each night. They always seem to remember our preferences, and by the last night, they already know what drinks my kids will be ordering! The servers do a great job entertaining us too. We’ve had some that do magic tricks, or tell us brain teasers. You’ll have a main server and an assistant who work together as a team.
On Board Booking
Once you experience your first Disney Cruise, you are likely to want to book another one right away. If you book through the onboard booking desk on the ship, you can get a discount on your next cruise. You don’t even need to know the exact dates of what you want to book – there is an option to book a placeholder for a small deposit. Keep in mind that the discounts can vary. You may not be able to get the discount if you are booking a special cruise, or a sailing over a holiday. These desks get very busy on the last day of each cruise, so you’ll want to visit as soon as possible.
In addition, if you are interested in doing an Adventures by Disney trip, you can also get an on board booking credit by booking onboard. We did that for our Adventures by Disney Greece trip, and were able to save about $1000. For that, it’s best to know what trip you are hoping to take, because there isn’t a placeholder option. Deposits are refundable for a limited time, however.
While some cruise lines charge for soft drinks, they are complimentary on the Disney Cruise Line. You can also get other complimentary drinks, like coffee and iced tea, although I generally prefer to get my coffee at the adult-only Cove Cafe (pictured above – additional fee applies). Surprisingly, my kids don’t go crazy with the free soda, but it’s always nice to have the option. There are dispensers on the pool deck level that are open all day and night.
Adult Time on the Disney Cruise Line
I had this image of kids running all around the ship, but that isn’t necessarily true. Of course, it’s Disney, so there are plenty of kids on board. However, there are lots of fun adult-only areas, as well as loads of adult things to do on the Disney Cruise Line.
My kids always love spending time in the kids clubs, so I usually find myself with lots of free time, especially on days at sea. Pictured above is my favorite spot on the ship – Satellite Falls (offered on both the Disney Fantasy and the Disney Dream). Bring plenty of books with you – you may actually find the time to read them as you enjoy some quiet time.
In addition to the adult only pool areas, you’ll find lounges and bars that cater to specifically adults. During the evening hours, there are also game shows that are for adults only. I’ve cruised with my friends on the Disney Cruise Line, and we’ve always found plenty of things to do during our vacation.
I had heard all about the pirate nights on the Caribbean itineraries, but I had no idea how big an event this is. Many cruisers dress in full pirate apparel, and the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique on board is transformed into the Pirates League for the day. If your kids like pirates, be prepared with gear (including apparel) before you board the ship! Don’t miss the delicious pirate night buffet that’s offered after the fireworks. If pirates aren’t your thing, don’t worry about dressing up. It’s totally optional.
In addition to the adult-only areas of the ship, there are a number of beverage seminars that are offered for adults. These can be booked as soon as you are on board the ship, and include martini tasting, margarita tasting, wine tasting, and mixology. These seminars do tend to fill up, so book them as soon as you are on the ship. Whether you are traveling with your family or friends, these can be so fun to attend, and you’ll actually learn something.
Fish Extenders/Door Decorations
Did you know that Disney Cruise Line guests decorate their doors and exchange little gifts? If you are heading on a Disney Cruise, you may want to prep these things in advance. Participation is completely optional, so don’t feel obligated or stressed about it.
If you are interested in participating in these fun customs, we have some posts that can help. Check out this post for information about decorating your Disney Cruise Line door, and participating in a fish extender exchange to learn more about both of those unique traditions.
Have you been on a Disney Cruise? Did anything surprise you? Leave me a comment, and I’ll regularly update this post.