A Disney Cruise travel review by Jeff Bailey
My wife and daughter wanted a Disney Cruise for Christmas. It took me quite some time to agree to such a significant expense, but in the end, love and the promise of fond memories beat the bean counter in me. I’m glad the bean counter lost, and love prevailed. Here’s a recount of the five-night cruise experience. If you want to avoid spoilers and love surprises, skip links to videos. I was happy to be surprised by most of the trip, so tread with caution.
A Disney Cruise isn’t cheap. A reservation for a family of three will run about $2000. On top of the cruise reservation, you’ll need to pay for a flight, transportation, and additional fees for premium activities. Check out the Disney cruise website to see the damage.
On a scale of one to ten, I would give the Disney cruise a seven. If you’re a huge Disney fan, you’ll likely go above a seven, but I’m not a fanatic about Disney. I like Disney entertainment, but it doesn’t make me go googley eyed. It’s a great experience, and I’ll never forget it, but many minor issues added up to a reduced score.
It was nice to escape from reality. The trip forced me to unplug from the Internet for four whole days. I think that’s my longest disconnection in well over a decade.
My family went to the Bahamas out of Port Canaveral in Florida. My wife wanted to visit long-time friends in Florida, so Port Canaveral was a no-brainer for us. There are many other destinations, and we might take a different route someday.
We spent the night traveling to the island and the day getting acclimated to the ship. The stateroom we picked was small, but it met our needs.
As you can see here, the amount of space between the bed and the walkway is minimal.
However, the view from the deck is phenomenal.
Disney has a private island called Castaway Cay the captain takes you to first.
Glass Bottom Boat
We booked a glass-bottom boat scenic voyage. Unfortunately, Disney canceled the glass bottom boat adventure due to faulty equipment. I’m glad the boat didn’t go faulty while we were out to sea, and luckily we found a glass bottom section of the cruise ship.
The views were amazing.
We decided to turn lemons into lemonade and booked a stingray adventure. The adventure includes time feeding stingrays and then spending personal time with them. Don’t worry; they have no stingers and can’t harm you.
Before you get in the water with the stingrays, you’ll see these feeding contraptions. The stingrays swim through the U shape when you place food on the platform. I was dubious that they would come through, but they did, and it was a lot of fun.
Shortly after feeding, we put our snorkels on and swam with the stingrays.
Here’s the view before you jump in the water. The area is enclosed, so there’s no worry of getting a surprise shark visit.
Our next stop was Nassau. We didn’t venture around Nassau, only the dock, but instead went to the Blue Lagoon Island for a sea lion adventure.
We landed in port and were transported from the boat to The Blue Lagoon Island.
Sea Lion Encounter
My wife loved the sea lion encounter, and the island itself was beautiful. Fun fact, some of the dolphins on this island starred in Flipper.
You’ll get pictures taken on the white platform under the blue roof if you visit the sea lions. The sea lions are well trained and will give you hugs and kisses.
If sea lions don’t tickle your whiskers, you can spend time with dolphins or stingrays.
Unfortunately, the island is overpopulated despite limiting how many people they let on it. That didn’t stop us from finding a fantastic view that was relatively devoid of people. Look to the north side of the island to avoid the crowds.
Dining and Bars
The dining experiences consist of three themed restaurants and a general-purpose buffet-style restaurant. I’ll recount my experience of each.
The Cabanas restaurant is open most hours and serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Cabanas was the first restaurant we visited, and it was full service likely due to pandemic protocols.
The views from the restaurant were great, and if you got up early as we did you can watch the ship make its way to port each day.
The Animator’s Palate provided an interactive Finding Nemo show on large digital displays.
During your dinner, Crush will chat with you and your companion dinner guests. You will be seated next to the same dinner guests during your cruise. So strike up a conversation and know you’ll likely see them every night.
Watch this video if you are curious about the Crush interactive experience.
The Enchanted Garden
The Enchanted Garden is a France and Mickey Mouse themed restaurant. After dinner, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, and Goofy danced through the restaurant.
The fountain in the middle of the restaurant was beautiful, and the food was delicious.
The Royal Palace
The Royal Palace is the fanciest restaurant that includes various Disney character royalty. We saw Belle from Beauty and the Beast but didn’t see others appear.
It was pirate night when we visited The Royal Palace. About halfway through our meal, a pirate busted into the middle of the restaurant, and an interactive show ensued.
Our pirate parrot was a big hit. He was named Percy by one of the local pirates.
The Royal Palace also makes a great breakfast, and it is less busy than Cabanas.
I experienced Yama coffee for the first time at Cove Café. It was the best cold brew I’ve ever had. Beyond the coffee, there is some interesting photography from days gone by.
Here, I’m writing about Disney, so they packed the ship with entertainment. We spent time watching plays, doing crafts, and taking advantage of free child care.
The Walt Disney Theater is unique. At first glance, it looks like a run-of-the-mill theater, but it has some tricks up its sleeve. We watched Beauty and the Beast and witnessed a marvel hybrid of digital and real-life theater.
We couldn’t take any pictures of the actual theater show, but here’s a rebel’s recording of the play if you want to skip the surprise. Here’s a more in-depth view of how the play came to life.
My family enjoyed the Disney Cruise out of Port Canaveral to the Bahamas. I have so much more to share, but I’ll leave the rest to your imagination. Notably, Disney forces you to discover the ship yourself. Descriptions of events, announcements, and pretty much everything about the cruise are shrouded in mystery. It’s a little frustrating that you’ll need to contact guest services to understand what you’re supposed to do next.
If you go in with a discovery mindset, you’ll have a blast and find endless possibilities. We could have easily spent a whole month on the ship and still discovered new entertainment. Someday, maybe we’ll do just that.