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Exploring the High Seas: A Theme Park Fan's Top Takeaways from a Disney Cruise

Setting sail with your family on a Disney cruise can be an unforgettable experience filled with magic, adventure, and memories to cherish forever. However if you are considering your first cruise, you might have a few concerns.

We are theme park people. We visit Walt Disney World and Universal frequently so we love our magic, thrills and good food. But we decided to see what everyone was talking about and instead booked a Disney Cruise! We sailed the first week of May for 4 nights aboard The Wish and I have so much to share! So much that I think I'm going to do one post per month on a different topic, so stay tuned!

Let's first dive into 4 common questions most families have before embarking or even booking their inaugural Disney cruise and how to navigate them with ease!

The views at Castaway Cay are amazing!

Is a Disney Cruise worth the cost?

While a Disney Cruise may seem expensive when compared to other family friendly cruise lines, you really have to look at the inclusions.


Taco from Donald's Cantina

On The Wish there was so much dining included. You don't need to pay anything additional

for food unless you choose to. Here are all the included options;

  1. Marceline Market, the buffet open for breakfast and lunch. There was everything you could image. I even found crab legs during lunch, an omelet station, eggs benedict and Mickey waffles of course for breakfast.

  2. Mickey & Friends Festival of Foods on the pool deck is open from around 11am to 6pm. Each window features a different character and type of food; Donald has Mexican, Goofy is burgers, Mickey is a BBQ, Daisy has pizza and Minnie is soft serve ice cream. I will say the tacos, burgers and fries were REALLY GOOD!

  3. Each night you are rotated between 3 table service restaurants. On The Wish it's Worlds of Marvel, Arendelle and 1929. Each ship features different restaurants but some are shared. The Wish is a new class of Disney cruise ship so these are all new concepts. The Treasure will also feature Worlds of Marvel and 1929 but instead of Arendelle will be a Coco themed experience. I929 was strictly a dinner but the other two are a dinner show keeping it fun for the whole family.

  4. Soda and juice are included. There are beverage stations around the buffet and on the pool deck. These you can access 24/7.

  5. Room service is included and available 24/7.

  6. Unlimited soft serve ice cream!

The rotational dining was the stand out for me. Your serving staff follows you to each restaurant. By the end of the cruise they have become an integral part of your vacation! They know how to entertain your kids and what you all like to drink. You even get to see them upstairs at the buffet!

Our serving staff! Sara, Deniz and Lloyd

Most other cruise lines make you purchase a beverage package for soda and also make you pay additional for the fine dining options on board. The only thing you really need to budget for on a Disney Cruise is alcohol but you are allowed to bring 2 bottles of wine or 6 beers on board at each port stop per person. If you really crunch the numbers, by the time you add up the soda package per person and the upgraded dining you may end up paying close to the same amount as a Disney Cruise. If you prefer a more all inclusive, luxurious vacation for the whole family, Disney may be the way to go.


The entertainment is top notch, just as you'd expect from Disney! Broadway style shows each night, the only cruise line to include Pirate's Night and fireworks at sea, deck parties and character greetings are all included. And there are SOO MANY opportunities to meet characters!

I'd compare it to character dining at the theme parks where you get a lot of bang for your buck seeing so many characters in a short amount of time. But those character meals can get pricey at around $50 for guests over age 10 and $30 for children ages 3-9. Plus the characters are in these adorable cruise outfits and they even have Disney Princesses, Marvel and Star Wars characters on board so it's the best of all worlds!

While other cruise lines include all sorts of entertainment as well there's just something about those classic Disney films and characters that appeal to all ages. And Disney started as an entertainment company so you know you can expect the best.

The hand washing station before you enter the buffet.

What about Germs and Seasickness?

If you are worried about getting sick, they take plenty of precautions on board but it’s really up to you. Before you enter the buffet, they require you to wash your hands. There is a cast member standing there to ensure that everyone does. All around the pool deck by the food stations are hand washing stations and they even hand out sanitizer wipes before you head into the main dining rooms. I carry hand sanitizer on me all the time so by following normal hand washing procedures and drinking plenty of water it’s not much different than when you travel anywhere else.

Choosing a stateroom as close to midship as possible should minimize the feeling of any movement. Plus having a verandah to get a little fresh air or even just an ocean view room can help. I found it better when I could see outside and my mind could connect that we were moving. I felt the motion the most on our first night during the Marvel dinner which was on a lower deck with no windows to the outside. I could feel the movement but I couldn't see that we were moving.

My oldest felt a little uneasy the second night. I'm not sure if it was his poor eating habits since we left home or the motion. I'd also recommend packing a few medications just in case such as Dramamine or Ship-EEZ patches or consider acupressure wristbands. He took some Dramamine and wore a patch for a bit and was fine the next day. We all got used to the movement so by the end of the cruise it didn't bother us at all.

Will it be Crowded and Feel Packed All the Time?

You won't believe how big a cruise ship is until you see it in person! It doesn't feel crowded because there are so many places for everyone to be. Dining is split into two times and there are 3 restaurants. The buffet is huge, duplicated on both sides so we never waited long in line. There were multiple opportunities to meet characters and two movie theatres on board plus most activities were repeated a few times so you can always try again if the first one is too crowded for your liking. The Navigator app is your lifeline thru the entire cruise.

Even Castaway Cay, their private island is large enough for everyone to spread out without having to walk too far. There are also designated quiet and adult-only spaces for mom and dad when they need a break. Complete with a bar, coffee shop and pool. It's the perfect place to relax. There are also a number of lounges on the ship to grab a table and chill out.

I will admit, the busiest it felt was on the pool deck in the afternoon on our sea day. Everyone is on the ship so all areas were busier. A great idea is to stay on board at Nassau or enjoy the common areas during one of the meal times if you skip the show. If you start to feel like you need some space, head to the top deck or take a walk around the promenade. Fresh area always does a person good.

Will There Be Enough to Entertain My Kids?

Disney cruises are meticulously planned with children in mind. From age-specific clubs and character meet-and-greets to the pools and shows, there's non-stop fun for every age. Even adults and teens have dedicated spaces and activities to enjoy.

I was worried that my 9 and 12 year old would miss the huge water slides, pools and arcades but they did not. Disney ships are known for having many smaller pools but the wait was never very long for the Aqua Mouse, the water coaster, so they rode by themselves a few times.

They enjoyed the movies on board the top deck or Funnel Vision, Bingo, Hero Zone which is the sports deck and the kids clubs. I lost track of how many times they went to the Hero Zone to play ping pong, basketball or air hockey! They even set up an inflatable course for half a day. There’s so many trivia games and a silent dance party, we never made it to any of those there’s that much to do!

And I need to mention Castaway Cay, their private island. For my nature loving boys they LOVED feeding and swimming with Stingrays, bike riding and snorkeling with the fishes. And of course there were even more sports plus a kids club where they placed sand soccer.


Once we stepped on board cruising was all we talked about! We spent the entire length of the cruise talking about the other Disney cruise ships and comparing them to other cruise lines but mostly Royal Caribbean! They are obsessed with how HUGE Icon of the Seas is.

We loved it so much I had to take advantage of the on board booking offer…..it’s too good to pass up so you have to know about it! Put down a $250 deposit while you are still on board a Disney cruise and get 10% off a future sailing! You have 2 years to use it and you can reserve up to 2 staterooms with this offer. And you can link the reservation to a travel advisor so be sure to choose your favorite advisor from Coasters & Castles Travel for your next cruise!


Melissa Lenox specializes in concierge vacation planning. I cater to those who don't have time to research and plan a vacation or those who just want some assistance along the way! Where to go, when to go, daily recommendations for your trip and even assistance while you are away so the entire process is seamless and stress free.

My specialties are theme parks, all inclusive resorts and ocean cruises. I am a Senior Travel Advisor with Coasters & Castles Travel and Blog Editor of Main Street to the World.

Follow me on my pages below or contact me at mlenox@travelcnc.com to plan your next adventure!

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