As they say, you get what you pay for. In
the case of a Disney cruise, you get more -- and you pay more.
From the kids
facilities and programming for infants through teens, to large
cabins with a bath-and-a-half, and family-oriented entertainment
inspired by Disney film greats, the line offers a product that
stands apart from the big-ship crowd.
And so do their
Carnival, a three-, four-, or seven-night Disney cruise typically
costs 30% to 80% more for comparable accommodations on the same
sailing date, said Charlie Funk, co-owner of Just Cruisin Plus in
Caribbean, the difference is less but still ranges from 20% to 75%,
even when comparing Disney to Voyager-class ships. Brochure rates
may not reflect this difference, due in part to Disneys tendency to
sometimes discount brochure rates less, he said.
And in comparison
with Princess Cruises, Celebrity Cruises and Holland America Line
on their Caribbean sailings, Disney is still a price leader,
sometimes by nearly the same margins as Carnival and Royal
Caribbean, Funk added.
minimum-category outside cabin on a Feb. 10, three-night Bahamas
cruise, Funk quoted the Disney Wonder at $672 per person, the Carnival Fantasy at $363 per
person and Royal Caribbeans Sovereign of the Seas at $382 per
Though its no
secret Disneys rates on its two ships, the Wonder and the Magic,
are higher, they fill them week after week, and with hundreds of
Disney is such a
class act we find clients are more than willing to pay extra for
such a solid product, said Mark Fletcher, vice president of
operations for Charlotte, N.C.-based Mann Travel & Cruises.
They see real value in Disney.
I experienced it
for myself on a cruise in August. Service was particularly
impressive considering the size of the ship, especially in the
twin boys were treated like royalty during their lunch in Tritons:
High chairs were whisked to the table immediately, and the servers
doted, bringing paper and crayons and making hats out of napkins.
Still, the service and atmosphere remained professional and
Even at the more
casual and bustling eating outlets, service was tops. The server at
the Plutos Dog House snack bar by the pool was always smiling,
courteous and efficient when we and a steady stream of other guests
kept him trotting back and forth filling orders for chicken fingers
and fries all afternoon. The young women staffing the nursery were
Even the masseuse
at Serenity Bay on Disneys private island, Castaway Cay, was among
the best Ive had, and Ive had a lot of massages on 70-plus cruises
over the past decade.
here-to-please work ethic isnt limited to midlevel staff. I was
delighted to find that the captain of the ship sat in a public room
one evening on our three-day cruise to autograph guests
The hotel manager
and other officers also circulated among the passengers before
dinner and participated in the pin-trading session beloved by
Its not the
cuisine itself, though tasty, or the multiple venues (most ships
have those) that make Disneys five restaurants stand out. Its their
distinct themes and ability to cater to both adults and
From the bright
pink, orange and green jungle theme of Parrot Cay to the elegance
of Tritons and the whimsy of Animators Palette, where video screens
and lighting change colors during the meal, these venues break the
mold of the typical ship restaurant.
Only the Beach
Blanket buffet disappointed. Its ultra-cramped quarters made it
nearly impossible to squeeze through the throngs with kids in tow
during busy breakfast and lunch times.
entertainment-and-activities repertoire also set the line
Though the same
Bahamas and Caribbean itineraries are repeated all year long, with
the exception of a seven-day Mexico itinerary being offered next
summer out of Los Angeles, Disney has been making a concerted
effort over the past few years to keep things fresh
both ships now have a teen area that has been built in the former
ESPN sky bar space, three times the size of the old Common Grounds
On the Disney Magic its called
the Stack, but on the Wonder, which unveiled its refurbished teen
room in October, its called Aloft. It has two rooms, one with video
screens for movies and the other a teen disco with a private
For the 3 to 12
set, 24 activities were introduced in 2004. On the entertainment
front, an interactive Name-That-Tune-style music game show called
Sound Waves recently was introduced along with an expanded kids
Some 200 to 300
children dance and do sign language on the stage of the Walt Disney
Theater while a slide show highlights the weeks activities.
cruises, theres a new dinner and deck party, Pirates in the
Caribbean, complete with themed meals (such as Blackbeards jumbo
crabcakes), music and pirates rappelling down the
All that aside, a
Disney cruise isnt for everyone. Gamblers are out of luck, as there
is no casino aboard either ship.
Though the Disney
touch is subtler than you might imagine, the experience is still
all about Mickey. You have to appreciate the mouse and his legacy
to enjoy this cruise.
And youll still
encounter big-ship issues, from long waits for room service to
lines at check-in and at food outlets.
But for parents,
theres relief on the Disney Wonder: the newly added Cove Cafe, next
to the adults-only Quiet Cove pool, is a grown-up hangout with
magazines, Internet access and, at night, gourmet coffee, specialty
drinks and light food.
Another new spot
in the evening entertainment area is Diversions, and it combines
elements of a sports club and karaoke bar with board games and
the reporter who wrote this article, send e-mail to [email protected].