With all of the anticipation (and speculation on itineraries and ports of call) over the release of the rest of the 2015 cruising schedule, DreamFinder Travel Planner Kim Merrill shares her experience with cruising the Mediterranean with Disney Cruise Line.
The Mediterranean à la Mickey
I’ve been to the Mediterranean with Mickey not just once, but twice. Why, you ask? Well, other than being Disney-obsessed (and if you’re reading this, I’m betting you are, too!), it’s a great way to travel. I’ve managed to see places that I would have never been able to cover on my own in the span of 10-12 days. From Barcelona to Turkey and back on your own in under two weeks? Yes, please! Got kids? This is a fantastic option to satisfy the entire family.
Our family’s first trip to Europe was when my daughter was 7. I had never been overseas before, and the thought of trying to figure out how to do it on my own with kids was overwhelming. Going on the Disney Magic seemed to solve many questions I didn’t have answers to. Let’s start with the obvious attraction of a cruise: you only have to unpack once!!! Ok, let me back up a bit…did I mention that my husband wasn’t too thrilled with the idea of a cruise? His experience with cruise ships was courtesy of the US military and I pretty much booked the trip and informed him of our plans afterward. Sink or swim, right? And one of my mottos is pulled from Finding Nemo: Just keep swimming, just keep swimming!
I spent 22 months (yes, DCL actually released cruises that early back then) obsessing about our plans. I covered all the major travel sites online and researched multiple options for lodging, tours, food, wine: You name it, I obsessed over it! I had scoped out my flight, figured out the hotel I wanted to stay at (and booked it more than a year out), and knew EXACTLY how I was going to fight jet lag before getting on the ship. And you know what? It. Was. Awesome! I did learn, however, that no matter how much you want to try tapas in Barcelona, your kid is probably not going be so thrilled. On an off note, I did get to try apples with Nutella at a Barcelona McDonalds. Yeah, we caved for the sake of family harmony. Which brings us to another perk of a cruise ship: The FOOD!! It’s varied, plentiful (for those of you with teenagers), and familiar for the little ones.
Last summer was round two, but this time I planned a trip for not just my family, but for my dad and some friends (whom we’d met on our previous Med cruise) who opted to come with us. Our ages ranged from 10-73 with ability levels that stretched just as far. The challenge of this trip was two-fold. Try new stuff that we hadn’t seen before while still visiting the highlights for my dad. The beauty of Disney Cruise line is that they offer excursions that are rated by level of activity. You can plan excursions as a group or can break up for the day, coming back to the ship at night to share stories of the day’s adventures. We did a mix over the course of our 12-night cruise of Disney-sponsored excursions and private tours. We saw and experienced a LOT! Which brings me to a third perk of a Disney cruise: The ship!
Ah…..sea days!…built-in relaxation in between busy port days, right? Well, maybe. It depends on how you travel. If you want to hang out on deck and watch a movie, you have that option. Or, you can attend a wine tasting while the kids are occupied at the Oceaneer’s Lab. Wait, what??? Kids, occupied? Yep. The kids have their own haven where they can go hang out. Do you hear the spa calling your name? I did!! So what else is there to do on a Disney cruise? This brings me to yet another perk of a Disney cruise: The entertainment!!
Each evening, there is some sort of family-focused entertainment in the Walt Disney Theater, ranging from Disney’s own award –winning productions to entertainers flown in for a few nights to entertain the crowd. During the day, you can consult the Navigator (your daily newsletter of activities) which is left every evening in your stateroom to see what’s going on at any point during the day. One of my favorites is the “Art of the Theme” ship tour. You’re guided around the ship and many details are pointed out and trivia dispensed. Want to sing karaoke or play bingo? You’ll have no problem finding activities to suit your interest.
So now I sit here and wait. Where am I going to go in 2015? I’ve been anxiously awaiting the release of the rest of the year (along with many of you, I assume). I want to go back to Europe! I want to see new stuff, have new adventures, and create new memories! The anticipation continues to build as we wait for the upcoming announcement (which should be coming VERY soon!)
So lets get down to the dollar signs. Some of you may be thinking that a European adventure via Disney Cruise Line might break your budget. With the Euro as strong as it is, travelling on land in Europe is going to be paid in Euros (ouch). Disney cruises are charged in US dollars, as are all the on-board purchases, including your tours. Your room, transportation, and the vast majority of your food is included in your cruise fare. While these cruises are pricier than a week in the Caribbean, you’re looking at a completely different experience. What is the best way to get the best deal? Book early, especially if it’s a specialty itinerary. A personal example: By booking on the day of release for Silver Castaway members, I was able to transfer a placeholder cruise date that I had on hold, and pay less for a 12-night inaugural Greece itinerary cruise than I did three years prior on a 10-night cruise. I was in the same category of room both times. However, the category of cabin that I was booked in went up $3000 in price prior to sailing, YES, three grand! The moral of the story is that the early bird catches the cheaper prices. Can prices go down on lower demand cruises? Sometimes, but it usually isn’t done until you’re in the penalty period, and then you have to determine whether it’s worth taking the hit on your deposit. And if you wait to book, then you don’t have the luxury of stalking cheap airfare rates. Remember, one benefit of booking with DreamFinder Travel (other than our great onboard credit offer), is that we monitor those prices for you! So if the rates do go down after you book, we automatically take care of applying the better rates for you!
So, let’s review:
- Unpacking once.
- The food.
- The ship.
- The Kid’s clubs.
- The entertainment.
- Transportation from port to port, food, and lodging all included in the cruise fare.
- The experience!
Book early and save.
These are some of the best vacations I have ever taken and I cannot wait to do it again!
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