Disney Christmas at Sea

While many know it's hard to beat a magical Disney Christmas in the parks, it just might be possible with a Disney Very Merrytime Cruise. If you happen to want some Disney magic without all the hustle and bustle, then this could be your answer! Although, you can certainly have a busy schedule if that is your preference but by no means do you have to attend every activity on board. 

Disney Very Merrytime Cruises set sail every November and December with festive entertainment, yuletide activities, and holiday decorations. This year they set sail from Miami, Port Canaveral, or Galveston Texas, for destinations to the Bahamas, British Virgin Islands, U.S. Virgin Islands, Grand Cayman, Jamaica, Mexico, and Castaway Cay (Disney's own private island). Itineraries and Disney Cruise Ships vary, so be sure to check out the Disney Very Merrytime Cruise Itineraries for 2022.

In 2023 they will sail from San Diego, California, Port Canaveral, and (for the first time) Fort Lauderdale, Florida, taking you to destinations including The Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands, US Virgin Islands, Grand Cayman, Jamaica, Mexico, the Panama Canal, and Castaway Cay (Disney's own private Island). Itineraries and Disney Cruise Ships vary, so be sure to check out the Disney Very Merrytime Cruise Itineraries for 2023.

As soon as you step on board the Disney ship and enter the atrium you are immediately welcomed by the gorgeous Christmas decor. The 24-foot Christmas tree, garlands, poinsettias and shimmering lights give you all the feels! Of course, this is not to be outdone by meeting Disney Characters in their holiday attire, or by meeting Kris Kringle himself! It truly is the perfect setting for all your holiday wishes.

You will find themed activities and crafts for kids, holiday merchandise, a life-sized Gingerbread House, Broadway-style shows, Christmas movies on deck, plus all the usual offerings of Pirate Nights, fireworks at sea, trivia, wine tastings, and more. There is so much to choose from and you can do as little or as much as you like. There is no wrong way to enjoy your Disney Cruise.

We took a 3-night Very Merrytime Bahamian cruise out of Port Canaveral last November and we realized we needed to take a longer cruise the next time around. The great thing is Disney does offer the shorter ones if you are limited on time. We sailed on the Disney Fantasy to Nassau, Bahamas, and then onto Disney Castaway Cay (Disney's private island). 

The Disney Fantasy is the fourth ship in the Disney Cruise Line fleet and a sister ship to the Disney Dream. This massive ship features 14 decks and has 1,250 staterooms. Every Disney Cruise Line ship has a signature character and the Fantasy is no different. The ship’s atrium is home to a bronze statue of Mademoiselle Minnie Mouse. This statue keeps in line with the vintage travel theme seen around the ship, Minnie is dressed in fashions from the 1920s and 30s. She even has a parasol and steamer trunk!

The main deck offers plenty of recreation for the whole family, especially the AquaDuck water coaster. The AquaDuck is a unique water coaster that travels around the aft part of the ship, featuring 250 yards of transparent tubing that sends you twisting and turning over the top decks and out over the sea. This coaster is 765 feet long and features a 4-deck drop. Riders must be 42″ tall to ride with someone else, and 54″ to ride alone. If a rider is under 7 years old, they must ride with someone 14 years of age or older. My son has a love/hate relationship with water (specifically when he is splashed with water on his face), so the PLUS for the AquaDuck was that when the raft lands in water at the end, you will get wet, but you won’t be submerged. So, if you have other little ones that don't want to get dunked at the end, this will be a great intro water slide for them to build up their courage.

One thing we were very excited about was the spacious rooms. Since we are a party of 5 it can be hard to find hotels and or cruise lines that allow us all in one room without upgrading to a suite. No problems with Disney Cruise Line though! Plus, DCL offers a split bathroom! This is perfect for family needs or works well with a group of friends sharing a stateroom. Another plus for us was that DCL assigns you a stateroom host that preps your space for bedtime. No need to pull the beds out yourself, they will take care of it while you are out at dinner. So clutch!

Not only do you have the main dining experiences that you rotate through (Animator's Palate, Enchanted Garden, and Royal Court), but the Disney Fantasy offers two signature dining experiences as well, Palo and Remy. Unfortunately, these are adult-only dining experiences AND unlike the main rotational dining, these restaurants are not included in the price of your cruise. So you will need to budget accordingly and make arrangements for younger children if you are cruising as a family. My family truly enjoyed the rotational dining and having our servers follow us each night. My kids were genuinely excited to see them each night and were sad when we were disembarking. They loved how friendly, helpful, and entertaining they were. We made sure to get a picture with them at breakfast before disembarking our ship on that last morning aboard. It's a treasured photo for each of us. 

The Disney Fantasy also offers some quick service dining as well as some ice cream and other sweet treats shops. The all-you-can-eat fro-yo is a HUGE win among kids and grown-ups alike! The Sweet on You shop was my fav place to grab some goodies while on board. I even surprised my hubby and kids by ordering a dessert from them and then had them send it over to our table after dinner that night. Our servers were pros and knew to keep it a surprise too! Added bonus was being able to keep the Mickey bowl it came in & bring it home as one of our souvenirs. Score!

Last November our youngest was not able to disembark the ship when we docked at Nassau. Unfortunately, we still had some COVID protocols in place and that kept him on the ship. He didn't mind though. He was thrilled to have some time to explore the kids' clubs on his own. One of the activities he enjoyed was making slime. He made sure that came home with us too! The Disney Cast Members must know all the tricks because that lasted WAY longer than any homemade slime we have ever done before. While you can't go into the kids' clubs when dropping off, or picking your children up, you can explore the spaces when the ship offers their open house hours. I highly recommend doing this. I like to know where my kids are and what they are up to. It's helpful to get younger ones comfortable in new spaces if you are able to explore with them the first time around. It certainly helps too, when the spaces are absolutely amazing! The creative details and ways each of the kids' club rooms immerses you into thinking you are in a movie is just incredible! 

Depending on what cruise you book through the Disney Cruise Line you may have a chance to spend a day on Disney's private island, Castaway Cay. This was a fun-packed day and yet completely relaxing as well. We opted to do two excursions, the 2-seater sea kayaks (with a paddleboard for our oldest), and Castaway Ray's Stingray Adventure for the whole family. The kayaks and paddleboards were a fantastic way to take a leisure cruise on the water. The water is crystal clear & smooth. Made for a very relaxing experience in the morning. The Castaway Ray's Stingray Adventure was amazing too! I loved learning more about these sea creatures and to be able to visit with them up close made for a very engaging experience. My son has high anxiety and even though he got splashed with water he didn't shy away from this opportunity. It truly made for some great memories!

A highlight on Disney's Castaway Cay during Christmastime is disembarking the ship to be met with a gorgeous Christmas tree decorated in island flair and a little winter scene to accompany it. They do have their usual cast members/professional photographers set up to take your picture in front of the tree, but as we learned the hard way they are not there the entire day. I should have checked the app to see when the photographers closed up, but we were having too much fun. Thankfully, we took pictures for another family as we were walking back to the ship and they returned the favor for us. 

If you're looking for a fireworks display out at sea, then Disney Cruise Line is your best bet. They are currently the only cruise line offering fireworks at sea. The ships have been specifically built for this purpose. I can honestly say that after we witnessed the beautiful fireworks show on one of our cruise nights, it's not to be missed!

I honestly can't say enough wonderful things about a Very Merrytime Cruise on the Disney Cruise Line. It was by far one of our favorite family getaways. We left loving the time we spent with characters, relaxing on the island, laughing so hard our sides hurt, being amazed by all the beautiful artwork and details of the ship, and feeling the Christmas magic every step of the way. Disney Cruise Line makes finding the balance between entertainment and relaxation easy to accomplish. My husband was truly blown away and said, "We have been doing Disney all wrong." Converting him was the big takeaway for me. So much so that we put a deposit on another cruise! The Disney Cruise Line offers a special discount for those who are still onboard and book a future cruise. Details of the current offer can be found during your cruise by scanning the QR code on the “Booking Your Next Cruise” poster located at Guest Services and Disney Vacation Planning. The best part is that if you are currently sailing and working with a travel agent, they will be notified of your new booking. That is if you like them and want to continue working on them. I'm happy to help you have the most wonderful time while on your own Disney cruise. Contact me for your magical quote today. As always, my services are complementary when booking a vacation package through me.

- MaryBeth