Wanting to book our first cruise but I need some help first!

love disney

Active Member
Good advise regarding San Juan. I may still try to sneak in a day at Disney :cautious: so Port Canaveral is still high on my list.


Good to know about the excursions. My son keeps talking about snorkeling so I'll have to find a good snorkel spot. I'll keep your advise on the back of my mind.

Don't worry, I won't try to take my son over to Serenity Bay. I would've if 17 years old was ok but I guess the age has to start somewhere. I really will try for a cabana for the family beach though.

There is a snorkeling trail at Castaway Cay. You can bring your own gear or rent (at a great price actually!) it there. As someone (Chuck I think) mentioned earlier, since this is your first Disney cruise you won't be able to reserve a cabana until 75 days out...I could do it at 90 days my last cruise and they were all gone by then. If they're all reserved keep trying and hope for a cancellation though!

Also remember that the ship is much less crowded when at port, so if you aren't interested in getting off take advantage of all the ship has to offer on port days. We never get off at Nassau anymore (though I am tempted next cruise as the water park at Atlantis is a lot of fun!).
 

Phonedave

Well-Known Member
Good advise regarding San Juan. I may still try to sneak in a day at Disney :cautious: so Port Canaveral is still high on my list.


Good to know about the excursions. My son keeps talking about snorkeling so I'll have to find a good snorkel spot. I'll keep your advise on the back of my mind.

Don't worry, I won't try to take my son over to Serenity Bay. I would've if 17 years old was ok but I guess the age has to start somewhere. I really will try for a cabana for the family beach though.

There is snorkeling at Castaway Cay. You can rent equipment there, but I would recommend bringing my own. Their equipment is pretty poor. They will make you wear a float vest. If you don't have one, but you bring your own equipment, they will let you use one of theirs for free. There is a snorkeling route, they have sunk various things to the sea bed, and have marked them with buoys. You chances of seeing actual marine life is much better the earlier in the day you go.

I don't know about the Key West of Castaway Cay snorkel excursions. If you ever end up in St Lucia, Bermuda, or Grand Cayman, then let me know. Then I can talk about places to snorkel.
 

ZapperZ

Well-Known Member
I'm late to the party, and these questions have been addressed by a lot of people already, but there are my responses:

So excited about booking a cruise in 2020 but honestly I know nothing about cruises. Before I book I'm hoping that I can get a few answers first. It will be my husband and I, and a possibility my 17 year old (at the time) son.

1. Where is the best place to request a room on the ship? We don't know if we'll get sea sick, we're not light sleepers, hall noise won't bother us during the day, we like to eat and be social.

First of all, what type of room will you be booking? An inside stateroom? A room with a porthole? A room with a balcony?

We do not stay very much in our stateroom. So anything fancy, such as a porthole or a balcony are wasted on us, since we'd rather be out of our stateroom. So we tend to go for an inside stateroom. On the Dream and Fantasy, the inside staterooms have virtual portholes, which were a hoot! And when you choose an inside stateroom, it really doesn't matter on what level you're at. We discovered when we were cruising on The Fantasy, that having an inside stateroom on Deck 2 was unexpectedly the BEST location for us. There are fewer staterooms on that level, the laundry facility was a lot more convenient and less busy, and, being lower on the ship meant that the rocking motion of the ship during turbulent waters affected us less than those on higher decks. AND, all of the restaurants are either on the same deck or just one deck up. AND, the exit points to get to shore are either one deck up or one deck down, without having to wait for elevators.

We have been requesting inside staterooms on Deck 2 ever since that cruise (they kept "upgrading" us to higher decks in the end).

2. Is there a superior ship between the Wonder, Magic, Dream?

My personal preference is that bigger is better. There are so much more space and breathing room on The Dream and The Fantasy. The adult areas are also much more well-defined and offer a lot more choices, both on Deck 11 and in the "clubs" area. So if I have to choose, I will choose the two bigger ship.

3. What restaurants are a must?

You always get the 3 restaurants on your rotation (unless your cruise is too short to experience all 3). So there is not a "must" there. However, if you're willing to pay extra, I definitely recommend Palo. Have the lamb chops, and order two deserts, with one of them the chocolate souffle.

If your cruise is long enough that you get two visits to Animator's Palette, do not miss the 2nd one, because this is often where you get to draw your own character and get to see them being animated on the screen. It is a lot of fun. So don't miss out on this, or plan your Palo dinner during this time, or decide to skip dining there on that night.

4. Can my 17 year old son sneak onto the adult only beach at Castaway Cay? It sound so much better to us than the family beach.

I do not recommend it. But the family beach, actually, beaches, aren't that bad, because it is rather large, and you don't have to be stuck in the middle of the where the most crowded areas are. Plenty of spaces on the edges and on the fringe, if you're willing to look for it. There are also more food places/spaces there, where on Serenity, you only have one place to get your lunch.

Zz.
 

MaryJaneP

Well-Known Member
We preferred the late dining for several reasons. We got to see the first performance of the evening show each night. We never were rushed out of the dining rooms to make way for the next group. We enjoyed our tablemates so much that we often were one of the last or maybe even the last table to eventually vacate the dining room. We were able to shortly (except on pirate night) go to bed on full stomachs.
 

ZapperZ

Well-Known Member
I, on the other hand, seem to prefer the 1st seating. I like to have the rest of the evening to do shows, etc.... and on Pirate Night, I want to get to the top deck early, get the best spot for viewing the fireworks, and a nice glass of wine to chill out. I found that having dinner with the 2nd seating was too much of a rush and felt as if we missed too much stuff going on in the evening.

Zz.
 

Phonedave

Well-Known Member
We do not stay very much in our stateroom. So anything fancy, such as a porthole or a balcony are wasted on us, since we'd rather be out of our stateroom. So we tend to go for an inside stateroom. On the Dream and Fantasy, the inside staterooms have virtual portholes, which were a hoot! And when you choose an inside stateroom, it really doesn't matter on what level you're at. We discovered when we were cruising on The Fantasy, that having an inside stateroom on Deck 2 was unexpectedly the BEST location for us. There are fewer staterooms on that level, the laundry facility was a lot more convenient and less busy, and, being lower on the ship meant that the rocking motion of the ship during turbulent waters affected us less than those on higher decks. AND, all of the restaurants are either on the same deck or just one deck up. AND, the exit points to get to shore are either one deck up or one deck down, without having to wait for elevators.

We have been requesting inside staterooms on Deck 2 ever since that cruise (they kept "upgrading" us to higher decks in the end).
.

Some people do a lot better with natural light - either to get up in the morning, or for seasickness. Something to consider if you are contemplating an inside stateroom.

I too have been a "victim" of a DCL "upgrade". On my last DCL cruise, I purposely booked a porthole room. I have verandas before, and loved them. But I was a single dad at the time, and my youngest daughter was tall enough to reach the top lock of the slider, and she also had no sense of self preservation. I seriously doubt anything would have happened (and nothing did) but just for piece of mind, I did not want the balcony door in the stateroom. Well, that was the one and only DCL cruise where I got a free upgrade - to a balcony room. And the room I was upgraded to was directly under the night club as well. So not only did I have a balcony, but we were woken up all hours of the night. Some upgrade.
 

Zipadeelady

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
I'm finally understanding the dining rotation so thanks to you all. I still can't decide on early or later, there seems to be benefits to both. I think I'll just have to learn by trial and error.

The itinerary we will be on isn't my favorite but it's what the boys decided on.

If we go with the 4 night with three port stops is that pushing it? We'll get out at Key West and CC but not Nassau. It just seems like a lot of stops for a 4 day cruise. If we go the 5 night we'll have a guarantee of a day at sea which the husband wants at the extra cost of $1300 or so.

More questions:

Would you send two 17 year old boys to Atlantis waterpark on Nassau by themselves. I have a feeling they would like it but I don't want to get off the ship, I also don't think I like the idea of sending the boys off alone. Are they shuttled by Disney to and from the ship?

What is the Miami port like? Any good nearby hotels you've experienced?

What is the alcohol limit you can bring on the ship? I'm sure I can find that info on the web site in need be.
 

lostpro9het

Well-Known Member
What is the alcohol limit you can bring on the ship? I'm sure I can find that info on the web site in need be.
2 bottles of wine OR 1 6-pack(12oz) of beer per adult of drinking age per port. This means each port you go to you and J could bring on another 6-pack and 2 bottles of wine! Any hard liquor not appropriately bootlegged will be stored for you until you get off the boat at the end of your cruise.
 

DisneyJoe

Well-Known Member
I'm finally understanding the dining rotation so thanks to you all. I still can't decide on early or later, there seems to be benefits to both. I think I'll just have to learn by trial and error.
If it is a sailing that has already opened for booking, you may find that the main(early) dining has filled as it usually fills first.
 

Zipadeelady

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
2 bottles of wine OR 1 6-pack(12oz) of beer per adult of drinking age per port. This means each port you go to you and J could bring on another 6-pack and 2 bottles of wine! Any hard liquor not appropriately bootlegged will be stored for you until you get off the boat at the end of your cruise.
Wow, that's a whole lot of alcohol for us.


If it is a sailing that has already opened for booking, you may find that the main(early) dining has filled as it usually fills first.
Good, making decisions is so hard for me! One less thing of me to decide. :hilarious:
 

Surfin' Tuna

Well-Known Member
When I first read this I had so much to say, but most of it has already been said. I have my preferences of ships (not that it matters anymore), but they are pointless too. All four are great ships, and you won't know what you're missing or what you prefer until you do all four. Then, of course, you'll have to do the new ones.

The only question you seem to still have is 4 versus 5. If you are comfortable and happy spending the money, then do the longer cruise ALWAYS the longer cruise! We just got off two 7 day b2b cruises and would have loved to have done more. If you love it, then you had an extra day. If you hate it, you've saved a lot of future money for only $1300.00.
 

ChuckElias

Well-Known Member
Would you send two 17 year old boys to Atlantis waterpark on Nassau by themselves. I have a feeling they would like it but I don't want to get off the ship, I also don't think I like the idea of sending the boys off alone. Are they shuttled by Disney to and from the ship?
DCL will have Atlantis excursions, but I don't know if they'd allow your boys to go on the excursion without an adult. Even if they do go on a DCL excursion, they won't be going by themselves, but they won't be supervised once they get there. So you have to consider that, as well.
 

Zipadeelady

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
When I first read this I had so much to say, but most of it has already been said. I have my preferences of ships (not that it matters anymore), but they are pointless too. All four are great ships, and you won't know what you're missing or what you prefer until you do all four. Then, of course, you'll have to do the new ones.

The only question you seem to still have is 4 versus 5. If you are comfortable and happy spending the money, then do the longer cruise ALWAYS the longer cruise! We just got off two 7 day b2b cruises and would have loved to have done more. If you love it, then you had an extra day. If you hate it, you've saved a lot of future money for only $1300.00.
Thanks for the input. I think I am leaning towards the 5 day. I have until Monday to decide, the TA I chose is actually cruising on the Magic now and will be able to start my booking Monday.

But here's a question for you. I've always said if I'm going to cruise I'm going to have a veranda, but if my first cruise stops at 3 ports will I really be using that veranda at all. If I do the 5 day I feel that the one day at sea is the only day I would use it. Do I stick with the veranda?
 

Zipadeelady

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
DCL will have Atlantis excursions, but I don't know if they'd allow your boys to go on the excursion without an adult. Even if they do go on a DCL excursion, they won't be going by themselves, but they won't be supervised once they get there. So you have to consider that, as well.
I just don't think I'd be comfortable with it. Even though I feel my son is pretty mature and a good kid (although all parents say that) I don't think I want him there by himself. I just had to talk it out. Thanks :happy:
 

DisneyJoe

Well-Known Member
Thanks for the input. I think I am leaning towards the 5 day. I have until Monday to decide, the TA I chose is actually cruising on the Magic now and will be able to start my booking Monday.

But here's a question for you. I've always said if I'm going to cruise I'm going to have a veranda, but if my first cruise stops at 3 ports will I really be using that veranda at all. If I do the 5 day I feel that the one day at sea is the only day I would use it. Do I stick with the veranda?
YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Port days usually run from 8 or so to 4 or 5, sometimes more, sometimes less - leaving you with many other moments to use the veranda and make memories.

Depending on when you wake up, you can order room service, even if it is just coffee and sit on the veranda and watch the sights - same is true at night - watching and hearing the sea, seeing the stars and moon, feeling the air.

My wife and I had some great moments on our last cruise drinking wine and sharing a cheese/cracker plate.

Sometimes just looking at Castaway Cay from your veranda is worth it.

Warning - once you have a veranda room, you will never want to go back.

If you are someone who will only use the room to sleep, shower and dress, then you could maybe skip the veranda.
 

EOD K9

Well-Known Member
Thanks for the input. I think I am leaning towards the 5 day. I have until Monday to decide, the TA I chose is actually cruising on the Magic now and will be able to start my booking Monday.

But here's a question for you. I've always said if I'm going to cruise I'm going to have a veranda, but if my first cruise stops at 3 ports will I really be using that veranda at all. If I do the 5 day I feel that the one day at sea is the only day I would use it. Do I stick with the veranda?
The wife and I had two trips prior to having children and six since. We have always had a veranda. Sometimes we just stare out as we leave Castaway Cay or watch as we pull into port. I like having the option of being able to step right out and get fresh air. Granted, you can get to deck 4 (walking track) or the pool deck fairly quickly as well. It’s all personal preference.
 

ChuckElias

Well-Known Member
But here's a question for you. I've always said if I'm going to cruise I'm going to have a veranda, but if my first cruise stops at 3 ports will I really be using that veranda at all. If I do the 5 day I feel that the one day at sea is the only day I would use it. Do I stick with the veranda?
Coffee and chocolate croissants from room service in the morning. That's reason enough to have the verandah, IMHO.
 

Zipadeelady

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Port days usually run from 8 or so to 4 or 5, sometimes more, sometimes less - leaving you with many other moments to use the veranda and make memories.

Depending on when you wake up, you can order room service, even if it is just coffee and sit on the veranda and watch the sights - same is true at night - watching and hearing the sea, seeing the stars and moon, feeling the air.

My wife and I had some great moments on our last cruise drinking wine and sharing a cheese/cracker plate.

Sometimes just looking at Castaway Cay from your veranda is worth it.

Warning - once you have a veranda room, you will never want to go back.

If you are someone who will only use the room to sleep, shower and dress, then you could maybe skip the veranda.
Coffee and chocolate croissants from room service in the morning. That's reason enough to have the verandah, IMHO.
The wife and I had two trips prior to having children and six since. We have always had a veranda. Sometimes we just stare out as we leave Castaway Cay or watch as we pull into port. I like having the option of being able to step right out and get fresh air. Granted, you can get to deck 4 (walking track) or the pool deck fairly quickly as well. It’s all personal preference.
Sold! Although it wouldn't have taken much convincing you three just sealed the deal! I'm getting all excited, too bad I have a year and a few months before we sail.
 

Surfin' Tuna

Well-Known Member
A lot of times I will just lean on the railing of the verandah and stare off into the ocean, the sky, or who knows where. No cell phone, no worries about dinner plans, fresh air, and just the mesmerizing sound of the water. DisneyJoe is correct, you'll never go back once having one. The open air decks are close at hand, but there is something about your own space that we all need sometimes.

My kids aren't 17 yet, so I was laying off this. I did not want to show my overprotective nature, but I would keep them close at hand. On Castaway Cay they can be allowed more freedom to explore and do what they want. The other ports just have too many opportunities for trouble to find them no matter how mature they may be.
 

Zipadeelady

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
So now that I've decided on the 5 night and a veranda room, I hopped on the DCL website just to look things over and about had a heart attack. Either I looked at it wrong (i really don't think I did) or Disney raised the prices by at least $1500.00. What I was thinking was going to cost me just a bit over $4000 is now $5800. Am I going nuts or is this normal? So now I'm thinking of changing my itinerary. The other itineraries seem to still be the same. Anyone else ever see that? I feel like a basketcase.
 

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