As a family, there is nothing we enjoy more than traveling. Be it hopping the pond to Europe, spending a few days on the slopes, or my absolute favorite sun drenched beach getaways, it seems like every weekend or summer, we pack and just go! A few years ago, we adding cruising to our vacation arsenal, with a three night Disney cruse. As a trip geared towards kids, ours had an absolute blast, so we wanted to try it again. A few weeks ago, we set out on a 7 night Star Wars Disney Fantasy Cruise with the Eastern Caribbean islands destinations of Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, and Disney’s own private plot in the Bahamas called Cataway Cay.
Going on a Disney Cruise is like going on three vacations in one. Cruise, Disney and beach! With that, you are guaranteed to keep everyone in your family happy.
Things to know before you cruise
Come with decorations for your stateroom door! Yes, this is totally a thing, and you feel kind of left out if your door is the only one bare in the entire corridor. We’ve seen all kinds of decor, from personalized magnets, to pin trading posters, to wreaths. My advice- check out ETSY! Just type in Disney Cruise magnets, and you’ll be blown away by all the options available. We picked up ours here.
Another cruise tradition unique to Disney trips is the Fish Extender Gift. Passengers onboards sign up in advance to participate in a fun gift exchange with one another, by dropping little prizes or treats in each others’ Fish Extenders, which look like hanging file folders, throughout the cruise. We didn’t participate, but it’s definitely something we want to try on our next Disney trip.
Get the matching outfits! This was a Star Wars themed voyage, so you can have lots of fun with your wardrobe. I’m not talking full cosplay, although we did see some of the Empire’s and Republic’s finest, so you can channel your inner Leia or Vader, if you’d like. We took a more conservative approach with our matching Star Wars t-shirt, but the kids loved it. And just because this trip was Star Wars themed didn’t mean all the little princesses couldn’t have their moment! Anything princess related is always a great idea when it comes to all things Disney. For fun twirl dresses for the girls, I love Mini and Me. Oh, and I should mention that most Disney Cruises have a pirate night. Again some guests go all out with outfits and makeup, where as other were as simple as bandanas and an eye patch. So have fun, but make sure you plan ahead. Check out my other post on tips on where to find cute Disney gear here!
We stayed in a Deluxe Family Oceanview Stateroom, which was surprisingly comfortable for families of 4 or 5. With a queen bed, single sleeper sofa, wall pull-down bed and upper-berth pull-down bunk, the stateroom can be modified during the day to stow the bed, leaving us more freedom to move around, and enjoy time in the room. Disney Cruises offer a variety of room types to accommodate different budgets. Lower cabins without balconies are available at a lower price point, while Disney Concierge Level offers larger staterooms with private areas and amenities, and tailored service. Mickey doesn’t mess around!
While we look forward to the days at port, all cruises have days at sea. Our days at sea included hanging outdoors on the top deck for hours upon hours. The kids favorite on deck activity was the AquaDuck slide, which they probably rode on 100 times. It’s kind of a “water coaster” that runs the entire circumference of the pool deck, even shooting you throw a tunnel in the ship’s massive smoke stack. In addition to the slide, there were multiple pools on board, multiple dining options, an ice cream parlor, mini water park for both little and big kids, mini golf, basketball court, and so much more. It was so nice to go an entire week without anyone saying “how bored they were” for a change.
With three young kids, one thing that Jason and I struggle with when on vacation is finding time alone. Sitters are expensive, and I don’t typically trust strangers in far off lands with my little ones. Well, Disney has a solve for this! Their Kids Clubs are epic, and there are multiple levels which are tailored to kids of all ages, rangng from toddlers to 17 years old!
It’s a Small World Nursey, inspired by the classic attraction, is a fanciful daycare center provides a colorful and soothing environment for little ones under 3 years, allowing parents the opportunity to pursue more adult-oriented adventures. A nice change from dirty diapers all day!
Vibe – calling all teens! I had the opportunity of taking a tour in this space and let me just say its a pretty cool place to hang! Teens can chill out, watch TV, listen and dance to music, play video games, make new friends, and even enjoy their own pool! With age limit of 14 to 17, Vibe is a great option for these young adults.
There’s something for everyone, and I mean everyone!
Watch The Video:
What would any Disney trip, to theme parks, cruise or otherwise, be without the legendary Disney characters. The character experiences on the ships are absolutely priceless. At almost anytime throughout the day or night, you are sure to run into your favorite characters for a photo or high 5. Special meet and greet sessions are available that you can sign up for during your time on the ship to eliminate wait times.
Palo – dine on Northern Italian delicacies with a modern twist, where Italian-inspired décor and live music compliment spectacular sea views. During dinner here, Jason commented on how it was odd to not have the kids by our side, but we enjoyed those few hours alone, nonetheless!
Remy – with decor cues lifted from Disney Pixar film Ratatouille, the French-inspired menu of superior offers guest another adults only option for dinner. There’s no crying at dinner!
Whether you try one or both restaurants during your time on the ship, I promise you will not be disappointed. Meals at each come at an additional cost, but its well worth it, for the more intimate, low key experience.
Bars & Lounges
On a lower deck, Europa was an area with multiple European-inspired nightclubs, lounges and bars. Whether it was bellying up to the bar at McGills for a pint, or enjoying a specially infused Negroni at La Piazza Bar, this was another great area to sneak away to, while the kids were in Kids Clubs.
Port Adventures – Puerto Rico
In all of our travels, we had yet to visit Puerto Rico, so we decided to take advantage of Disney’s Port Adventure with a guided tour of New and Old San Juan. Our tour started in New San Juan, points of interest like the Capitol Building, Convention Center, Plaza Las Americas, Roberto Clemente Coliseum, Hiram Bighorn Stadium, the Golden Mile Banking District, Museum of Art Puerto Rico and many others.
Our time in Old San Juan included a guided walking tour of the San Cristobal Fort, built in 1783 by the Spanish to protect San Juan from invaders. Our experience was capped off with a true Puerto Rician meal at Barrachina, birthplace of the Pina Colada. An ice cold drink was just what the doctor ordered after the scorching tour of the fort. After lunch, we walked back to the ship taking in the beautiful architecture along the way.
Pirate Night, an event on most ships is truly an all day affair. Captain Hook made an appearance or three, roaming the decks, along with guests in pirate gear at the nighttime party on deck, capped with a spectacular fireworks display at sea.
The Senses Spa & Salon was just incredible. Jason and I enjoyed a couples massage and took advantage of the spa amenities likes the rainforest-themed aromatherapy steam rooms, and a dry sauna fashioned after a Roman bath. A spa treatment was the perfect way to kill some time during a day at sea, or to get some time out of the sun. I definitely recommend reserving your sessions early, because time slots get booked up, especially on days at sea.
Port Adventure – St. Thomas
St. Thomas was definitely my most favorite Port Adventure. We opted for a catamaran ride, where we cruised along St. Thomas’ southern coast snorkeling and swimming in the pristine waters of Island Cove. The sea turtles and barracuda were just some of amazing sea life that we encountered. After some fun in water, we docked at Lanai Beach for some beach time, snacks and frozen beves!
Star Wars Day At Sea
Star Wars Day at Sea is by far the coolest day at sea of any cruise we’ve ever encountered. All of our Star Wars favorites were on board for character experiences including Chewbacca, R2-D2, C-3PO and Darth Vader. Kids are welcome to dress up as their favorite hero or villain, sign up to train to be a Jedi, or witness an epic Star Wars-themed stage-show under the stars on the pool deck. The day and night festivities came to a close with yet another awesome firework show at sea. To say Ryder was in his glory is the understatement of the year.
Port Adventure – Castaway Cay:
Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island in the Bahamas had sprawling beaches, sparkling lagoons, water park play areas, scenic walking trails, and open-air BBQ dining locations. We saw some pretty cool marine life while snorkeling off Castaway Family Beach. And naturally, Mickey, Donald and some others made an appearance while we were on shore. Castaway Cay is only open to one Disney cruise per day, so it’s truly a private island experience!
So, what do you think- are you ready to go on a Disney Cruise yet? Since our last Disney Cruise, its always one of the trips they always seem to talk about by the kids. A week filled with lots of family time, magical moments, and even some alone time for Jason and I. With three vacations in one, a Disney Cruise is truly an experience of a lifetime!
Biggest thank you from the bottom of our hearts to Disney for hotel, accommodations, and memories that will last forever!