found! not lost blog

“Instructions for living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” ― Mary Oliver

Can you put a price on magic?

20140201-094451.jpg

Well, if it’s Disney’s brand of Magic, you can.  At the risk of being gauche, one magic-filled week on the Disney Fantasy cruising the Caribbean, for a family of four who had to fly in, is around $7,700 (*see the end of the post for a breakdown). I only disclose because if you get a quote, you should know the cruise and airfare cost doesn’t capture total vacation cost.

The more important question is was it worth it?  YES! Absolutely, 100% glad that we could do this, our kids were exactly the right age and it was even more fun having their grandparents join.

Would we do it again, and would we recommend it? Since we took a cruise a few years ago with Royal Caribbean, I think we are in a good position to compare to a similar experience. Some of the big advantages:

  • The variety of ship activities, live shows, and first-run Disney movies and the opportunity to meet and interact with so many of the fun Disney characters (more so than at Disney World or Disneyland).

20140201-094256.jpg{Evie gearing up to watch Frozen in 3D in the theater}

  • The dining experiences, our kids made it through 4-course meals every night because the wait staff made it fun, the menus were kid-friendly, and the variety of themed dining rooms kept it interesting. The food and service were also stellar: rack of lamb, Chateaubriand, and lobster tail to name a few of the entrees we adults enjoyed.
  • The pools and water slides were awesome. Though the pools often got really crowded on the days we weren’t in port, the 24-by-14-foot LED “Funnel Vision” movie screen that you could watch while in the pool or on deck was really fun, as was their “Aquaduck” enclosed water slide which was clear so you could see a bird’s eye view of the sea while shooting through the tube!
  • The industry standard-setting Oceaneer Club and Lab (kids activity center) – our kids didn’t spend much time there, but when they did, the reason was because they asked to participate in one of the many planned activities.
  • The well-designed staterooms, with split bathrooms (one has a toilet and sink, the other a shower and sink, better for a family) and lots of room for the luggage, a drop down bunk bed, and an in-room TV with all your favorite Disney shows and movies on demand (and a few non-Disney movies too!)

The three things that have us uncertain about doing another Disney cruise:

  • The cost — Duh. For comparison, our cruise on Royal Caribbean (albeit, on Serenade of the Seas, an older and smaller ship) was around $6,500 all-in with airfare and extras — BUT we had two connecting staterooms, because the girls were younger and it was better for sleeping arrangements plus we got two bathrooms then). If we did it today with only one room, I bet it would be more like $5,000. Also, our airfare was pricier because we were sailing out of Puerto Rico, not Florida. 
  • The number of kids (and related noise-level). It’s Disney, the same reason you think your kids will love it is the same reasons many others bring their kids. But maybe you don’t want to be surrounded by other people’s kids all week long? I got used to it, but it’s not my first choice. On our last cruise there a lot fewer children, which made it more of a restful vacation.

20140201-094233.jpg{Lauren at the beach in Grand Cayman, alone at last!}

  • Our circumstances, we have done several Caribbean cruises and like trying new things. So we’re unlikely to cruise again for years, and then, it might be to Alaska or somewhere in the Mediterranean. In which case, the “Disney factor” and ship activities are less important because your focus is on the experiences in the cool ports you visit.

In my mind, it comes down to how much the Disney stories and characters mean to your kids, how much you can or want to spend on a vacation, and whether you expect a vacation to be quiet and relaxing or more go-go and action packed (this skews toward the latter)!  If you are a “yes” on loving Disney and liking the action, but cost is a factor, you might consider a 4-day cruise, I think that is plenty of time to enjoy the fun on-board.

It was an amazing, probably once-in-a-lifetime experience for our family, and I am grateful for the memories we made together and the escape from this wicked winter. I hope my notes are helpful for any of your contemplating a Disney cruise yourselves. Of course, feel free to message me or comment below if you have other specific questions, happy to help!

*The breakdown:

  • $4200   an ocean-view stateroom for 4, standard size, not deluxe
  • $1320    airfare for 4 @$330/person
  • $280      Disney transfer for 4 from airport to Port Canaveral (we skipped this as we had free rental car use from points!)
  • $160       hotel in FL night before the cruise departs – don’t want to fly in that same AM and risk a delay that could cause you  to miss the cruise departure.  (we also skipped this and used hotel points – at least there are some  perks to my husband’s frequent business travel!)
  • $400      gratuities to the dining staff and housekeeping (amounts vary depending on duration of trip and party size)
  • $1300    incidentals onboard: excursions/tours in port (we only did 2), alcoholic drinks and lattes at the ship Cafe, two trips to the ship spa, and two Royal make-over sessions for the girls at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique on the ship. Oh, and popcorn and drinks at the movie theater (oddly the only food not included is the concessions).
  • $120       travel insurance (highly recommended when you’ve got young kids and you have such a bug upfront non-refundable investment in the cruise+airfare)
  • -$200     shipboard credit we received for booking the cruise through Small World Travel agency (these are common)
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This entry was posted on February 3, 2014 by in adventures and tagged , , , , .
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