Disney Cruise Line’s “Star Wars Day at Sea”.

Jackie WL Star W

Disney Cruise Line motor coach transport is super convenient from your Walt Disney World Resort hotel, which in my case was Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort, to Port Canaveral. Doing a land stay before a Disney cruise is the ultimate vacation, combining the best of both worlds!

In this case we were on our way to our “Star Wars Day at Sea” aboard the fourth and newest ship, the Disney Fantasy.

Star W Port C

You’re made to feel super welcome by Minnie Mouse all decked out in her sailing attire just before you board the ship. Disney Cruise Line contracted photographers on hand for those professional photos, for which the collection can be purchased onboard at “Shutters Photography”, either in individual photos, or in packages. You can even customize your cell phone case.

Jackie Star W Gate

The best gate to a gangway at sea, Terminal 8-Disney Cruise Line at Port Canaveral. Loving those Disney Imagineering details!

Atrium Lobby StarW

Magical Guest introductions making Guests feel like royalty into the “Star Wars Day at Sea” adorned Atrium Lobby aboard the Disney Fantasy.

Stateroom 5022

We have always booked verandah staterooms, but on this sailing which I booked just short of a year out, I reserved a category 8A oceanview stateroom, #5022. The best selections of staterooms are at your feet, the earlier you book. This stateroom accommodates 3 people, offers a queen bed and a single convertible sofa bed. The restroom is not the traditional “split-bath” configuration, which is an industry first for Disney Cruise Line.

Star W Teacup Table

Booking far out enough (usually a year) in advance, affords you the opportunity to score these coveted dining tables, called, “Teacup Tables” in Enchanted Garden, one of the three dining rooms on Disney Cruise Line’s industry first, “Rotational Dining”. The unique convenience about this dining system is that your serving team follows you on your rotation through a total of three restaurants, Enchanted Garden, Royal Court and Animator’s Palate. We, on this cruise were greatly surprised, and I’ll tell you why.

I requested a “Teacup Table”, because we greatly enjoyed ours on our previous Disney Fantasy sailing. To our great surprise, we were seated at the very same table on this sailing, and I mean the exact table number, #59. The second biggest surprise, was the photobomber …our server from our Mediterranean cruise back in July 2014 aboard the Disney Magic, Eder G. Now what are the odds of that happening! It’s Disney *pixie-dust* at work, that’s what!

Eder and Jackie

Here’s what I love about dining rotation. State your needs to your serving team once and you’re taken care of for the rest of the cruise. I was on a special diet, not allowing any carbohydrates or sweets, and Eder worked with me to make my dining healthful, yet highly palatable. I didn’t feel like I missed out on anything.

Andrew Mini Golf

Here’s what keeps us coming back…the social interactions, and spontaneous developmental bursts from my son, who has Autism. You’d never know it looking at him here playing mini golf on “Goofy’s Sports Deck”. Andrew can take you throughout the entire ship, just tell him where you want to go and follow his lead. It’s incredible!

Captain Hook Goofy Sports Deck

Just when you’re involved with playing ping-pong and mini golf, a visitor strolls through for some greets!AquaDuck DF

The “AquaDuck” another Disney Cruise Line industry first. 763 feof water coastering, with a 20 foot extension over the side of the ship. This feature is found on both the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy. Accessible only by stairs, right into and out of the funnel, in a tandem raft.

AquaDuck lazy river

Guests finish off in a mini lazy river allowing ample time to exit, although some, like my son like to splash about.

Set sail on your Star Wars Day at Sea and plan your voyage to a galaxy far, far away!

 

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My BIGGEST Personal Dream Came True

Disney MP 2016

The Disney Parks Moms Panel is an official Disney online forum where Disney travel enthusiasts with first-hand knowledge answer returning and potential Guests questions regarding Disney Parks planning. The advice and tips presented to Guests is unparalleled with the abundant depth of knowledge from first-hand experience. Panelists represent various Disney Parks destination specialties around the globe, such as Disneyland Resort in California, Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Vacation Club, runDisney and ESPN Wide World of Sports. As well, panelists are well versed with Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa and Adventures by Disney. Best of all, most panelists have a rich tapestry of combined destination experiences, as well as knowledge of travel with special needs family members, and multiple languages such as Spanish, Portuguese and French.

After eight years of applications, (which typically begin in September), progressing through three rounds, and a telephone interview, I was invited for a coveted spot representing the Walt Disney World Resort Specialty! I couldn’t be more grateful and pleased for this important opportunity in assisting returning and potential Disney Parks Guests with their vacation planning. This year for me will be one that I cherish every single moment of answering questions and helping people create life-long, unforgettable memories with their visits to the Walt Disney World Resort. If you’re interested in applying, check the Disney Parks Blog for official application announcements late August or early September.

My Disney Parks experience begins with over 30 visits as a Walt Disney World Resort hotel Guest at over 12 of their resort hotels and Disney Vacation Club Villas. I have celebrated each of my children’s birthdays, except 5 at Walt Disney World Resort and with Disney Cruise Line. I have stayed and played at Disneyland Resort in California and at Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa in Hawai’i. As well, I have sailed with Disney Cruise Line fleet wide on the Caribbean, and Mediterranean itineraries as a Platinum Castaway Club member with over 11 sailings.

That’s how much I love anything related to Disney! I would be honoured to assist you with your upcoming or potential Disney Parks vacation, just look for Jacqueline P. from Ontario over at the Disney Parks Moms Panel representing Walt Disney World Resort.

Jackie Acropolis

Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Dream Will Enhance Guest Experiences

Disney Cruise Line announced very exciting news today about the third ship in the fleet, the Disney Dream! When the ship goes into dry dock this October, many new appointments will be added.

Youth Clubs- Disney’s Oceaneer Club

(Star Wars: Millenium Falcon)

A newly themed area will appear in Disney’s Oceaneer Club with a Star Wars theme. The area will be called, Star Wars: Millennium Falcon which draws inspiration from the popular spacecraft from the legendary Star Wars saga. The spaceship will offer areas where children can partake in galactic activities, including crafts and games. Children will have the opportunity to watch “Star Wars Rebels”, the new Disney  animated series. The Jedi Training Academy will also be offered onboard for young Jedi hopefuls called Padawans. They’ll learn lightsaber moves with missions to face off with Darth Vader.

Photo Credit: Disney Cruise Line/ Disney Parks Blog

Star Wars Disney Dream

(Disney Infinity Toy Box)

Disney’s Oceaneer Lab will also offer Disney Infinity Toy Box, an interactive space where children can experience virtual games which are customized. Characters from Disney stories will spring to life. Children that sail on the Disney Dream will be able to continue to play their exclusive Disney Cruise Line content once backat home.

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique

The huge popularity of this boutique at Walt Disney World Resort and on the Disney Fantasy is making its way to the Disney Dream. It will be located on Deck 5, midship and will offer pixie-dusted makeovers by Fairy Godmother’s in training. On the special Pirate Party Night days, the boutique will transform into The Pirates League transforming little guests into pirates.

Photo Credit: Disney Cruise Line/ Disney Parks Blog

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique

Vanellope’s Sweets & Treats

Get ready to enjoy tons of ice-cream and gelato, candy and goodies at Vanellope’s Sweets & Treats. The area takes theming from the popular game Sugar Rush in “Wreck-It Ralph”. The store will have two entrances through Cabanas and the pool deck.

Photo Credit: Disney Cruise Line/ Disney Parks Blog

Vanellope's Treats

Satellite Falls

The adult exclusive Satellite Falls on Deck 13, Forward will feature the ever popular water features found on the Disney Fantasy Satellite Falls, such as a splash pool, a falling rain curtain, loungers and shady areas.

I love back to back cruises and love the newer ships, Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy, so for us, I see a couple of back to back cruises on the Disney Dream. Booked far enough in advance, I’ll be able to secure the same stateroom making life convenient in between sailings. Staying in the same stateroom will save me from packing in between cruises.

Photo Credit: WDWLuxuryGuide

Satellite Falls

Best of all, I can book three cruises, one right after the other and really extend my sailing making for many blissful days at sea.

Can you guess where I’ll head before and after my cruises?

Thank you.

Sailing the Mediterranean with Disney Cruise Line

For years and years I dreamed about exploring the historic sites of Europe. As an art history minor in university, I had written countless essays on architectural and artistic genres, I had identified slide upon slide of famous sculptures and paintings, and I knew I could navigate my way through these incredible places from all the readings I had done.

Europe had to wait, however, our son was unable to make the lengthy overseas trip, let alone be expected to stand around the countless museums and fully appreciate what he was looking at. What he could do, to his immense pleasure, was to visit Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Resort and sail with Disney Cruise Line.

We’ve sailed ten cruises on all four ships in the fleet, with the great majority of those sailings including itineraries of seven days or longer. These cruises laid the groundwork for my son and helped him acclimate to vacationing because there were many rewards all around him. It was on these cruises that we saw huge developmental improvements, there was motivation everywhere. I could use my ‘first and then’ routine and get him to do just about anything. After all, who wouldn’t want to finish their dinner to go and greet Mickey Mouse, or play in the full scale version of Andy’s Room from the hit movie ‘Toy Story’, after many attempts at minor social behaviour training sessions while sailing. Reinforcement was instant and anything we attempted to teach our son was a hit.

Without fully realizing it, vacationing with Disney Cruise Line and the Disney Parks had laid the foundations for expanding our horizons beyond and had prepared us to embark on new adventures.

We decided to sail with Disney, on our first ever, family trip to the Mediterranean, with stops at our ancestral homeland of Greece. We were beyond excited! We selected the nine day Disney Cruise Line itinerary aboard the re-imagined Disney Magic, in our regular mid-ship verandah stateroom. Sailing the Mediterranean with Disney Cruise Line meant peace of mind and stellar standards. We would know exactly what to expect each and every day. We would be sleeping in the same bed every night which would afford my son consistency and no transitioning issues, which can make or break a vacation. So, I began to plan the port adventures in the Mediterranean with ease right through Disney Cruise Line’s online Planning Center. I selected a port adventure at every single port and all were almost day long excursions with outstanding and well planned itineraries.

Our adventure began in Venice, Italy where we decided to spend a few days before the cruise in order to visit various historical places. I booked a private tour company for these days and although the tours were extensive and detailed, they were exhausting, demanding and proper breaks were not included, you kept going all day long. I tried my best to keep up with the groups all the while attempting to keep my son comfortable, well-behaved and happy. That was difficult for me.

Andrew Venice

I secretly couldn’t wait to board the Disney Magic and was excited when our Saturday came along and we boarded our motor coach for the ride to the port. The port, owned of course by the port of Venice didn’t look anything like the one in Port Canaveral, but Disney Cruise Line made many successful attempts to make it look and feel like the one in Port Canaveral, with colourful Captain Mickey banners, booths and cast members wearing the familiar outfits and big, white Mickey Mouse hands waving away. Boarding process and screening was similar, but we had to walk outside, alongside the ship towards a make-shift building with huge elevators and a stairwell in order to reach deck three and board the ship.

DCL Venice Port    DCL Venice Gangway

Once inside, it was as if a huge burden was lifted off my shoulders because we were home and all would be well. My son even lead the way to our stateroom and helped me decorate our stateroom door. Things were back to normal now, we were on the Disney Magic.

Jackie Selfie with Helmsman Mickey      DCL Venice Stateroom Door

Right away normalcy dominated because we knew the ship well, and knew what to expect at every turn. It truly was just like being at home, with a whole lot of fun everywhere you looked.

The first port of Katakolon, Greece, took us to ancient Olympia and here, my son had the unique opportunity to stand on the actual marble starting point in preparation for his sprint through the length of the stadium. In Pireus, we were taken to the Panathenaic Stadium, Athens Acropolis, Plaka and the Athens Museum. We visited Kusadasi, Turkey and went through an extensive tour of the last known House of the Virgin Mary, saw the magnificent ruins of Ephesus, followed by an outstanding lunch at a replicated version of ancient Ephesus. The Lindos Acropolis fascinated my son and we tried to get him on a donkey but he felt too shy. Old Town Rhodes was breathtaking and we always caught a brief glance of the beautiful Disney Magic, which dominated the sea and land. The windmills in Mykonos captivated my son because they were enormous and he’d never seen anything like that before. Upon our return for two glorious days in Venice, in the luxury of the Disney Magic, there was nothing better than looking out of your verandah and seeing St. Mark’s Square a stone’s throw away. Andrew at that point said, “Epcot.” Imagine that! He made the connection and I was so grateful.

Photos below at Olympia’s Stadium marble starting line and the Disney Magic docked at Katakolon, the port nearest Olympia.

My children enjoying the views atop the Athens Acropolis.

Pete Andrew Olympia starting point   Disney Magic Katakolon

Pamela Andrew Parthenon

Below, a most captivating day at Ephesus.

Psarianos Ephesus

Siblings getting along in Rhodes.

Pamela Kissing Andrew

Approaching the fortress of Old Town Rhodes.

Andrew going in Fortress Rhodes

Strolling through Old Town Rhodes.

Andrew Pamela Rhodes Old Town

Andrew winding his way through Mykonos.

Andrew Mykonos

Andrew and my mom.

Andrew and Grandma Mykonos

Andrew made many connections to the Italy Pavilion at Epcot’s World Showcase at St. Mark’s Square in Venice.

Psarianos St marks

Here is what I was most grateful for. On every port adventure, every guide made Andrew feel valued and important because he was given the opportunity to have a purpose. Andrew was presented with the task of leading each of our tour groups and I cannot express how that made him or us feel. What I do know is that I saw his confidence soar, right before my very eyes. I saw a joy in my son’s eyes and a happiness I had never seen before, all because the tour guides afforded him a completely inclusive experience. All this because of Disney Cruise Line port adventures.

Andrew Holding DCL Sign   Andrew DCL Sign Acropolis

Watching my son leading the tour group by holding the Mickey Mouse tour group sign was one of the most gratifying moments of my life. Andrew has come such a long way and the majority of his developmental improvements have happened during our Disney parks vacations and sailing with Disney Cruise Line.

Psarianos DCL Europe Dining Room

Disney Characters Sail with Disney Cruise Line

You won’t miss greeting Disney characters sailing with Disney Cruise Line. The excitement and magic extends from the Disney Parks right on to all four ships in the fleet. All types of entertainment involving characters takes place. Characters entertain guests of all ages in the Youth Clubs during special activities, they dazzle audiences during Broadway-style Disney theatrical musicals in the Walt Disney Theatre, meet and greet guests daily during designated times and places and even interact with guests on Disney’s Castaway Cay, a private island reserved just for them.

Disney Cruise Line’s Personal Navigator, a daily paper schedule delivered to every stateroom is filled with activities, their times and locations. As well, guests can also download for free, the Disney Cruise Line Personal Navigator App for their mobile devices, which is just like the paper Personal Navigator on the go.

Disney Princess Characters

The most beloved princesses, Cinderella, Snow White, Belle, Tiana, Ariel and Aurora typically meet guests in the Atrium Lobby for unique meet and greets where professional photography can be captured. As well, the Disney princesses also partake in the Broadway-style stage shows at the Walt Disney Theatre aboard every ship.

On the Disney Fantasy, the fourth and newest ship in the fleet, little princesses can have magical transformations by fairy godmothers in training over at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, a recreation of the ever popular ones at Walt Disney World Resort. Furthermore, also on the Disney Fantasy’s Royal Court restaurant, the Royal Court Royal Tea is an exclusive event with unique character interaction while enjoying a high tea in the middle of the dining room.

Characters from Frozen

On all the ships in the Disney Cruise Line fleet guests will enjoy Anna and Elsa and their friend Olaf. The Disney Magic and Disney Wonder will also feature a special deck celebration which is inspired by the Disney movie Frozen.

Pixar Pals Sail Too

For Alaskan sailings aboard the Disney Wonder, guests will delight in meeting and greeting all the favourite Pixar characters and celebrating with parties and dancing. As well, Crush will entertain guests dining at Animator’s Palate.

Star Wars Characters

Early in 2016, aboard the fourth ship, Disney Fantasy, on select sailings, Star Wars characters will sail to greet guests and a day-long celebration will take place called, “Star Wars Day at Sea”.

Pirates Are Onboard

Captain Jack Sparrow sails the seas and hangs out over at Castaway Air Bar on Serenity Bay, but also makes his way throughout the private island for Disney Cruise Line guests.

Disney Junior Characters

Jake and Sofia from Disney Junior are onboard the ships and highlight a popular family party called the “Disney Junior Pirate & Princess Dance Party”.

 

Saving Money Booking with Disney Cruise Line

We’ve been visitors to the Disney Parks since 1998 and will never stop going. Raising an autistic teen who loves Disney is a powerful force in our lives that gets us to the Disney Parks without question. Our very first cruise with Disney was back in August of 2005, a land and sea which we figured was a smart way to visit Walt Disney World and sail on the Disney Wonder. We were right! I of course tacked on more land days at our Disney resort before and after the cruise making it a nice land/sea/land….it was fabulous. Since then, we’ve completed nine  cruises and are proud Gold Castaway Club members with the tenth cruise in the near future. Most importantly, we’ve sailed all four ships in the fleet and love every one of them.

I would like to share my tips for saving some money, because the cruises, believe it or not cost as much as a typical Disney Parks vacation and in some cases much less.

Book Early

Booking as far out as possible, will give you lower rates, a much better choice of dates and itineraries and a greater chance at scoring the stateroom you like. Disney Cruise Line offers rates as far out as a year and a half out, posted on their user friendly and incredibly fun website. There are many different categories of staterooms all offering Disney’s superior service and all at different price points.

Book Late

Typically seventy-five days before sailing, and sometimes as late as twenty-one days before sailing, Disney will post ‘Restricted Guarantee Rates‘, which are very similar to the earliest booking rates. What happens with these rates is this:
-you select the category, not the location
-IGT are the inside staterooms
-OGT are the oceanview staterooms
-VGT are the verandah staterooms
-full cost of cruise must be paid upon booking
-all people in the party must be booked at the same time, with no changes

Roughly thirty days before sailing and even up to two weeks before, Disney will assign you your stateroom.

Rebooking While Sailing

Another way to save is rebooking while sailing on your current cruise. You can do this at the Future Cruise Bookings Desk, mid-ship, deck four near the Vista Café, Excursions Desk and the Disney Vacation Club Kiosk. The benefits of doing this is that you receive a 10% discount for up to two sailings, a shipboard credit ($100 for cruises 3-6 days in length and $200 for cruises 7 days or longer). You also have the luxury of booking a ‘dummy’ cruise to which you can figure out the exact dates once at home and then book it by calling Disney Cruise Line.

Re-shop While Onboard

If you have previously booked a cruise with Disney, you can re-shop this cruise when sailing again. Visit the Future Cruise Bookings Desk and speak to the Cast Member who will rebook that cruise for a better rate. This is not guaranteed, but very well worth looking into.

Special Offers on the Disney Cruise Line Website

Disney Cruise Line offers many special offers throughout the year. The many special offers that I have seen are when children sail for free, discounted percentage offers, special offers for select ports. Disney also offers Special Military Rates and Florida Resident rates. Those are always very favorable and worth looking into.

Book a Back to Back Cruise

Some of the ships offer shorter cruises at great rates. What I’ve done in the past is put two cruises, on the same ship, back to back. I’ve booked a three night cruise followed by a four night cruise giving me a longer sailing at a very good price. If you book far enough ahead, you’ll even be able to book the same stateroom and when one cruise is finished you won’t have to pack. At the end of the first cruise, simply disembark (be sure to bring your travel documents and identification) and the Cast Members will direct you accordingly. What often happens is that you pass through U.S. Customs and then are directed back into the cruise terminal. There you’ll wait for a bit and then you’ll be allowed to re-board. Sometimes your stateroom host will let you back into your stateroom to rest and I usually take this time to do laundry, when there are virtually no passengers onboard. I also take this time to take photographs and it really feels as if the ship is all yours. It’s neat.

Discussion Board and Podcast Cruises

Many social media discussion boards and podcasts will host special cruises, where they have blocked out a certain number of rooms at a discounted offer. Not only will you get to meet your friends but you’ll sail at a great rate!

Expedia and Travelocity

Sometimes, at about six months before sailing I have seen discounted rates through these sites. Very well looking into.

Disney Visa

Banking your Disney Visa points can go towards future cruises. Disney Visa will also offer a $50 onboard booking credit as well as some special offers.

Lower Category Staterooms

All staterooms with Disney Cruise Line are luxurious and all have the same stellar service. They do come in various categories such as inside staterooms, ocean view staterooms, verandah staterooms and concierge level staterooms and are priced accordingly. The lower category staterooms are the inside and ocean view. Many inside stateroom aboard the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy offer the ‘Magical Porthole’ windows, offering real time feed from the exterior of the ship, making you feel as if you’re in an ocean view stateroom.

Lower Rate Times of the Year

Cruise prices are historically lower during:
-last week of August into September
-October
-first half of December
-January
-April

Do not be intimidated by booking on your own through the Disney Cruise Line website. It’s very easy to navigate and a lot of fun. Through the Planning Center you are prompted to book excursions, special dining, spa treatments and the like. You’ll get notification when to do what. You can even pay down your cruise a little at a time. They guide you through the process step by step and it’s very easy.

Special Needs Guests and Disney Cruise Line

Travelling with a special needs family member involves many considerations to ensure a safe and positive experience. The amount of forethought and extra planning to meet unique needs can be daunting, therefore, it is helpful to know that travelling with a reputable company will ensure a most positive and memorable experience. That company for us is the Walt Disney Company and in particular Disney Cruise Line.

Having completed eight Disney cruises on all four ships in the fleet, through Eastern, Western and Bahamian itineraries, we felt equipped to embark on our first Mediterranean adventure aboard the first ship in the fleet, the Disney Magic.

The peace of mind, the exemplary service and standards, the entertainment and organization is like no other. Guests needs are always and consistently anticipated and no passenger is overlooked. Disney Cruise Line takes great strides to provide an inclusive experience for all guests, regardless of ability.

When booking, the importance lies in finding a travel agent who has actually sailed the fleet. First hand experience is paramount as without it, some details might be overlooked and it might be those details that might make the biggest difference.

What works for us is booking directly with the Disney Cruise Line because once you make your situation known to them, it’s noted in your file and will not be overlooked. Furthermore, guests are asked to fill out a Special Services Information Form retrieved online through their website, highlighting specific concerns so that they will be accommodated.

Stateroom Selection and Accessible Staterooms

Selecting a stateroom is vital for parents of special needs children to ensure peace of mind and safety. For parents of children who pose a flight risk, an ocean view or inside stateroom would be the best choice. Many inside staterooms aboard the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy offer the ‘Magical Porthole Windows’ which offer real-time feed from the exterior of the ship. This large LCD screen in the shape and look of a porthole window gives the illusion of an ocean view. The interior staterooms aboard the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder have large porthole-like mirrors offering a feeling of depth perception.

The Magical Porthole Window below on the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy.

Magical Porthole7

 

Parents who do not have flight risk concerns, may find some rejuvenation and relaxation in a stateroom with a verandah. The verandah may serve as a restful spot for  parents while their child rests in the stateroom. The verandahs are safely enclosed, with high, solid glass railings. Some near aft are solid steel, called the Navigator’s Verandahs.

Most Disney Cruise Line staterooms offer the split bath configuration. One room has a tub/shower and a sink, the second room has a toilet and sink. This set up allows two people the ease of getting ready.

Staterooms are also a great place to enjoy a slower paced and quieter meal when times in the dining room might be too stimulating. It’s best to let the Head Server know of this preference and meals will be delivered to the stateroom. As well, many of the quick service poolside eateries are open which offer food that can be taken to the stateroom to be eaten. Room Service is available and the menu list quite good. Guests in Concierge have an expanded Room Service menu available to them.

Accessible staterooms and suites are offered in great number throughout various locations on all four ships. All accessible staterooms and suites must be requested at booking to ensure access.

Such staterooms are equipped with ramped bathroom thresholds, open bed frames, 32″ minimum doorways, additional phones in the bathroom and on the nightstand, bathrooms have handrails at the toilet and shower, fold-down shower seats, hand held shower heads and emergency call buttons.

These staterooms support the use of Special Equipment which are available upon request which include bed boards, bedrails, portable toilets, refrigerator for medications, transfer bench, shower stool and Stateroom Communication Kits. Stateroom Communication Kits contain phone alerts, door knocks, phone amplifiers, bed shaker notification, strobe light smoke detector and a Text Typewriter TTY.

Wheelchair accessible staterooms are available and if mobility equipment does not fit in staterooms there are designated areas with electrical outlets. Parking for such equipment is located on deck six mid-ship on the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder and on the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy the location is deck two mid-ship, outside Enchanted Garden dining room.

Hearing Disabilities

Disney Cruise Line offers a number of provisions to provide an inclusive and enjoyable experience for all guests.

Guests must request open captioning on the television set by contacting Disney Cruise Line Special Services prior to sailing or Guest Services once onboard the ship. Common areas on the ships offer common video monitors with captions provided the sources of television signals are operating properly.

Stateroom Communication Kits, discussed above, are also available upon request at the time of booking or through Guest Services once onboard. Guest Assistance Packets are also available upon request through Guest Services which contain show scripts.

The Walt Disney Theatre on all four ships has two sign language interpreters supporting all shows. They are positioned at the stage front right from the audience perspective.

Children With Special Needs

The Youth Clubs are exciting and offer activities and programs to potty trained children aged 3-17,  who are able to interact easily with peers and counsellors. Although no guarantees are made for children who require 1:1 assistance, Disney Cruise Line does try to accommodate special needs children in modified programs based on staff availability. This once again is not guaranteed. It is advisable to contact the Special Services Coordinator at (407) 566-3500 and download  the Special Services Information Form, readily available on the Disney Cruise Line website. My personal experience with modified programs and/or Youth Club Counsellor interaction has always been positive. Many counsellors have special training and are able to interact smoothly with special needs children.

The Special Services Information Form deals specifically with dietary request information and policy, sharps boxes for medications, wheelchair accessible stateroom requests, communication kits for passengers with hearing impairments, service animal needing to travel with guests and arranging for wheelchair access and lifts. This form is easily accessible through the Disney Cruise Line website and instructions on how to deal with the form is also available there.

The Youth Clubs have frequent open house sessions which are good opportunities for parents to accompany their children, giving them the opportunity to acclimate to the environment, staff and other children. Youth Club Counsellors have always made an effort to interact with my son and engage him where possible and have allowed him to participate in modified activities. This is something I requested from the staff at the beginning of the cruise.

My son, who enjoys his independence benefited greatly from the individual Pod Stations which look like large portholes with cushioned seating and have listening stations and video monitors. These pods are located at Vibe aboard the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy.

Special Seating and Access in Public Areas

All ships are wheelchair accessible, providing elevators, ramps, special entrances and designated areas for ease and comfort. The Walt Disney Theatre has designated wheelchair seating for guests and their travel party. All dining rooms, lounges, common areas and restrooms have ramped entrances leading to designated areas for people in wheelchairs. Cast Members are readily available to assist and are very friendly and accommodating. Arriving a little bit early is also a good idea, allowing guests the ease of getting ready before the crowds arrive.

Disney’s Castaway Cay

Most itineraries include a stop at Disney’s Castaway Cay, their private island in the Bahamas dedicated to guests only. The island has a Family Beach and an adult only beach called Serenity Bay. Guests have access to complimentary beach loungers, chairs under a large umbrella, many port adventures (fee applies), a complimentary beach BBQ. Teens have their own area, away from the beach filled with activities, called Hide-Out and children have their own activity filled area called, Scuttle’s Cove. Both the teen and children’s areas are supervised at all times and are complimentary. Modified programming may be offered to special needs children depending on staffing. No guarantees are made.

A great convenience for guests is that the Disney Cruise Line ships dock at the island, requiring no tendering.

An open-air Tram, which accommodates strollers and wheelchairs picks guests up near the ship and transports them to the beaches. Pathways, for those wishing to walk are all paved and flanked by lush, tropical plants. All walkways, excluding the beach, are paved.

Special needs guests have access to all public areas, including the beach. People needing wheelchairs have the use of special beach wheelchairs which are complimentary. The island offers also offers accessible restrooms.

We love renting private Cabanas on the Family Beach; they are also available on Serenity Bay (adult only beach). The Cabanas are open-air structures with a living room equipped with a mini-fridge stocked with water bottles, soda in cans and fresh fruit. Dry snacks such as peanut free granola bars and potato chips are also offered. Wet cloths for wiping sandy faces and hands are also on hand. A Cast Member is available with the ring of a buzzer to replenish snacks, water bottles and soda. As well, they can give you  ride to the restroom and BBQ. Accessible Cabanas are available on both the Family Beach and Serenity Bay (adult only beach), near the entrance of both areas, close to amenities.

The Cabanas also have covered porches with two padded loungers and padded bench, a basket with sunscreen and magazines. Beyond the porch is an open-air shower and hammock. Bicycles and snorkel equipment are included but must be requested.

In front of the Cabana there is a private strip of beach with the use of all floatation toys, two loungers, two chairs and umbrella.

For us, renting a Cabana allowed our son to have respite from the heat and the sun giving us an opportunity to fully enjoy our day at Disney’s Castaway Cay. Well worth the money.

Peter Cabana

Cabana Psarianos