Posted in Autism, Disney, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Parks Moms Panel, Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, Europe, Jackie's Adventures, Special Needs, Travel, Uncategorized

Andrew Soared Sailing with Disney Cruise Line

Who would have thought that we could take our son to Europe? We never, ever thought this would be possible, ever, and we consider ourselves hopeless optimists which has kept us going year after year after year through these chapters called, autism.

We were blown away during our recent sailing on the Disney Magic throughout the Mediterranean seeing our son acclimate so well and I’ll say this – it’s because of our past sailings with Disney Cruise Line. It’s because of the familiarity having sailed all four ships in the fleet (with more to come in the near future). You see, while each ship has its own distinctive features, there are many similarities with the others that create consistency and through that, foster an environment of security. Here’s how they do it:

  • the staterooms all have similar layouts, furniture design and fabrics
  • the basic colours both inside and out are similar
  • the basic layouts of the ships are basically similar
  • the rotational dining system in the three main dining rooms carries throughout the fleet
  • the youth clubs, while slightly varied, do evoke a sense of familiarity offering a welcoming and friendly vibe in all

Andrew can take you almost anywhere onboard. In fact, he quite often leads the way, usually ten paces ahead of us. Yes, it’s become that easy for us. He knows the routine well now. When we open our stateroom door, he knows exactly what to expect and where he will sleep and proceeds to ‘organize his space’ if I may, where he lays out all his comforts from home – his iPad, his tactile, sensory toys to name a few things. It’s all become systematic and seamless. You can see him doing this in the photo below – he’s organizing, as he calls it.

Then, let’s talk about the Port Adventures. We did all of them in Europe because of all the logistical planning and mostly the peace of mind. With Disney Cruise Line you get all of that and much more. On each and every Port Adventure, the guides did all they possibly could to ensure Andrew was comfortable, safe and happy, but most of all, they valued him for who he was and made him feel included. One example, is how Andrew was asked to lead the Port Adventures group straight to the Acropolis of Athens by carrying the group sign. I cannot tell you how his confidence soared right before our very eyes and what great hope that gave us, seeing him so proud and happy. He was all smiles for the entire cruise.

This is what keeps us coming back for more with the cruise line where “there’s something for everyone.”

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Disney Cruise Line’s Halloween Pumpkin Trees

Disney Cruise Line’s “Halloween on the High Seas” as part of their “Holidays on the High Seas” is in full swing right now. Our family loves Halloween because my husband is a Halloween baby and we sailed with Disney Cruise Line during his birthday back in 2006 before “Halloween on the High Seas” took place. I can’t wait to book the next cruise sailing over Halloween!

Guests sailing these unique sailings fleetwide, are in for real tricks and treats, elaborately Halloween themed areas, activities, parties, entertainment, and many special experiences in addition to the stellar services and amenities already in place for people of all ages.

A special event is the evolving Halloween Pumpkin Tree in the Atrium Lobby which transforms into spooky wonders throughout the sailing. Leave it to Disney Imagineering to go the extra mile with meaning and significance regarding the tree.

Of particular note with this Halloween Tree is that it has a different name on each of the four ships in the fleet. The tree is actually a pumpkin tree with a supporting legend during the mysterious time of the Pumpkin King, who needed someone to help keep his favorite, beloved Halloween holiday tradition alive.

The Pumpkin King reached into his head and collected four pumpkin seeds, each representing one attribute of his mean personality. When planted, the four trees grew into beautiful, yet morbid looking trees, which only bloomed once a year, on Halloween. Legend has it that when everyone learns the who, the what and the why, the Pumpkin King’s spirit will bring the pumpkin trees to life.

Each tree has a special name on each ship:

Reap– Disney Magic

Bog– Disney Wonder

Grim– Disney Dream

Muckelbones-Disney Fantasy

Pictured below is ‘Grim’ on the Disney Dream. Photo Credit: Matt Stroshane/Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line will treat guests sailing this fall to a wickedly good time as the Disney ships transform into a ghoulish wonderland during Halloween on the High Seas cruises. For this extra-spooky celebration, each ship boasts its own signature Pumpkin Tree, which magically transforms throughout the cruise with the help of a storytelling caretaker. (Matt Stroshane, photographer)

These special sailings are on right now through Holiday Cruises and Special Days at Sea with Disney Cruise Line.

Posted in Uncategorized

Disney Cruise Line’s Live Stage Shows

When it comes to entertainment, Disney takes the prize! They’ve captured and maintained the interest of millions of people world-wide at all of their Disney Parks, live theatrical stages, on ice and with Disney Cruise Line. Top notch, Broadway style theatrical productions with special effects await every Guest who sails.

The Walt Disney Theatre

The lavish, state of the art, Art Deco and Art Nouveau designs of the Walt Disney Theatre, (depending on the ship), aboard all four ships in the fleet, is equipped with Dolby 3D and Dolby sound. The theatre is constructed to include a 40 foot wide proscenium stage allowing for movable sets, projection systems and special effects lighting. The theatre entertains Guests with live, Disney themed, theatrical shows as well as family friendly variety acts and Disney movie PremEARS. The featuring of Disney movie PremEARS allow Guests to partake in a Disney movie’s opening at the same time as nationwide on land.

Theatrical Shows on the Disney Magic

  • Twice Charmed: An Original Twist on the Cinderella Story
  • Disney Dreams-An Enchanted Classic
  • Villains Tonight!
  • All Aboard: Let the Magic Begin
  • Remember the Magic: A Final Farewell
  • Tangled: The Musical will be premiering in November of 2015

Theatrical Shows on the Disney Wonder

  • Toy Story- The Musical
  • Disney Dreams- An Enchanted Classic
  • The Golden Mickeys
  • All Aboard: Let the Magic Begin
  • Remember the Magic: A Final Farewell

Theatrical Shows on the Disney Dream

  • Disney’s Believe
  • The Golden Mickeys
  • Villains Tonight

Theatrical Shows on the Disney Fantasy

  • Disney Wishes
  • Disney’s Believe
  • Disney’s Aladdin- A Musical Spectacular

Walt Disney Theatre 2 DCL  Walt Disney Theatre DCL

Posted in Uncategorized

Saving Money Sailing 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 ten cruises and are proud Platinum Castaway Club members with the eleventh cruise sailing Star Wars Day at Sea in the near future. The highlight of our Disney Cruises was our recent Mediterranean voyage. 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.

Costco Travel

Check with Costco Travel which could save you money and earn dollars towards Costco purchases or membership.

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.

Posted in Disney Cruise Line, Europe, Special Needs

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

Posted in Uncategorized

Disney Cruise Line Navigator App’s Newest Feature, the Onboard Chat.

Guests sailing with Disney Cruise Line benefit from the hard copy ‘Personal Navigator’ which is full of daily news, events and activities, delivered nightly to each stateroom. Taking a highlighter to many desired activities will guarantee guests don’t miss out. Now, Disney Cruise Line has added an extra convenience by not only offering the Disney Cruise Line Navigator App for mobile devices, delivering the same convenience but with an added benefit called the ‘Onboard Chat‘. Currently, the Onboard Chat is only available on the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy and soon to come on the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder. The app is offered, however, on all four ships.

The Onboard Chat allows guests to communicate with other members of their travel party and new friends who are on the same sailing by using a convenient ‘Chat Number‘. The Chat Number adds protection and privacy allowing guests the feeling of safety and security. Through this feature guests share a unique identification, not stateroom number as is the situation with the Wave Phones.

Disney Cruise Line Navigator App Features:

  • view onboard activities
  • find Disney character locations and times
  • plan entire day
  • save favourite activities in a list
  • review ports of call; review sea days
  • check all menus
  • receive daily spa and shopping offers and specials
  • navigate the ship deck by deck
  • stay in touch with Onboard Chat
  • receive vibrating message alerts
  • control access by children using the permissions feature

Disney Cruise Line has taken extra measures to protect adults and children by using the privacy feature, as well, the primary guest on the reservation has full authority over children aged 13 years and older by activating a PIN. The PIN can be cancelled at any time by the primary guest/parent. Children are protected because the App does not disclose stateroom numbers or personal information. It is the primary guest, however, who must exercise diligence in monitoring texts to ensure personal information and stateroom numbers are not disclosed in the texts between children and their contacts.

Controlling the App for children is easily accessed by tapping on the child’s profile icon.

Guests can take further comfort in knowing that contacts and chat history are not saved when the sailing is finished.

To use the Disney Cruise Line Navigator App guests will need and iOS or Android device and link to downloading the application may be found here:

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/disney-cruise-line-navigator/id671153791?mt=8

Photo Credit: Disney Cruise Line and Apple Online Store – iTunes

DCL Navigator App1     DCL Navigator App

Posted in Disney Cruise Line, Uncategorized

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”.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Disney Cruise Line Now Offers Mickey Check Meals

Mickey Check meals are now available on the children’s menu aboard all four ships in the Disney Cruise Line fleet. This tool allows parents and children the ability to make wise food choices which are nutritionally sound.

The Mickey Check meal in addition to the creative theming and activities offered in the three main dining rooms aboard all four ships is sure to please even the most discriminating little cruiser.

Any special dietary requests should be made upon booking by downloading the Special Services Information Form, available in the Planning Center through the Disney Cruise Line website. Guests should also speak to the Head Server once onboard to make sure special dietary  requests are honoured.

The Mickey Check meals offer selections from more than three food groups and meet the Disney Nutrition Guidelines. Meal presentation looks fun and is highly palatable for children.

For actual recipes and more information: http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2015/02/mickey-check-makes-its-way-to-disney-ships/

Photo courtesy of Disney Parks Blog.

Meal Check DCL

Posted in Disney Cruise Line

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.

Posted in Uncategorized

My Son’s Confidence Soared Sailing the Mediterranean With Disney Cruise Line

After having sailed eight Disney cruises on all four ships in the fleet, we felt ready to head over and explore Europe with the peace of mind and comfort offered by the cruise line. Always keeping my Autistic son in mind and the consistency that he needs, it was only Disney Cruise Line for us. Andrew knows all the ships and can take you from bow to aft in a flash, with great ease and certainty, while stopping for some soft serve ice-cream along the way. The staterooms are consistent in appearance and layout on all the ships, the decor comfortingly similar with unique flourishes and dining rooms all familiar and captivating. These are the considerations that keep us sailing with Disney Cruise Line. If Andrew is at peace, then we relax and focus on memory making. Disney Cruise Line creates a safe and secure environment which fosters growth for our son. Both my children have grown up sailing with Disney Cruise Line and celebrated eight of their actual birthdays onboard.

My daughter celebrating her birthday sailing the Disney Fantasy.

Pamela Birthday Disney Fantasy

Booking port adventures throughout Europe was easy through the Disney Cruise Line website http://disneycruise.disney.go.com where we registered for free. Disney Cruise Line guides you through every step before your cruise, offering detailed descriptions of port adventures, even describing benefits for children, allowing guests the ability to make informed decisions.

I booked a port adventure at every Mediterranean port and was very excited and comforted by the high standard offered by Disney Cruise Line and great peace of mind. Booking port adventures through them was inexpensive and I knew that if anything went wrong, Disney would be there to assist. They partner with only the best tour companies who fit Disney’s high standards.

Andrew at the starting line at Olympia.

Pete Andrew Olympia starting point

The Disney Magic docked at Katakolon, Greece, where we walked through Olympia, enjoyed a fabulous lunch and walked through the port friendly Katakolon.

Disney Magic Side Photo

Disney Magic Katakolon

Katakolon Lunch DCL

While I won’t elaborate on every port, I will say that every guide was highly trained, paced the tour perfectly and every guide included my son above and beyond the norm. They made Andrew feel a part of the group, they made him feel valued and important. He was given small tasks which fostered inclusion and made Andrew very happy. Andrew held the Mickey Mouse port adventure signs many times leading the group and kept it together, even in the Athens Museum (where I was worried about him making loud vocalizations). Andrew was great, he was immersed in our world, his behaviour was appropriate and just before boarding the bus, having reached his limitations, he asked the tour guide to take the sign back, saying, “I’m tired, no more sign.” We felt so gratified to see our son so happy and we could see his confidence growing on the spot.

Acropolis Andrew

Here is Andrew feeling pride at having led the group closer to the Athens Acropolis.

Andrew Holding DCL Sign Olympia

I never once had any behavioural issues on this trip where the port adventures involved a lot of walking in the hot sun, because of the immersive allowances, the pacing of the tour and the stops at the most amazing, high end restaurants, taverns and cafes for meals and refreshments.

Andrew leading the Disney Cruise Line Port Adventures group to the Athens Acropolis.

Andrew Holding DCL Sign Acropolis