First Time Potential Cruiser Questions

cookieswithangel

Resident of the Hundred Acre Wood
Joined
Jan 20, 2011
Hi all! I've been a regular at WDW, but now that I work a pretty stressful job, I'm contemplating setting sail on a cruise and mixing things up, and seeing if cruising will be more relaxing to me. I have a few questions as I watch vlogs and read reviews about DCL, and cruising in general.

First off, with a party of two, being myself, who would be 25 at time of potential cruising, and my mom, who would be 60, is the DCL worth it? I've been also looking at Royal Caribbean, but of course knowing so little about cruising, I don't know a lot of the differences. Our main priorities will be relaxing, so maybe a trip to the spa (facials or mani/pedi, we don't do massages) and hanging by the pools, and eating lots of delicious food.

Second question would be for travelers without children, how is it? I am weary of just how oriented the cruise is to families and children. It does look like there is adult-only sections of the ship, but any experiences you can share or blogs/vlogs you can direct me to would be appreciated.

Next, I fear seasickness/motion sickness. If I'm a passenger in a car for more than half an hour, I will get motion sickness, and its always hit or miss on an airplane. I guess my question would be, is it very noticeable that you're on a ship, or for the most part you don't feel rocking/waves?

Last question for now, do you feel that the higher price of a Disney cruise is worth it compared to cheaper cruises? I'll be honest, I'm leaning towards DCL because I know the reputation of Disney and the impeccable hospitality it provides, but seeing as I don't have any cruising experience, I can't tell if any of the other cruise lines are equivalent in the level of hospitality. It might be helpful to mention that the itinerary I'm looking at is a 7 night Eastern Caribbean cruise on the Fantasy.

Thanks so much in advance for answering any or all of these questions!!
 

jdb in AZ

It could end up curdled
Joined
Feb 11, 2011
Hi all! I've been a regular at WDW, but now that I work a pretty stressful job, I'm contemplating setting sail on a cruise and mixing things up, and seeing if cruising will be more relaxing to me. I have a few questions as I watch vlogs and read reviews about DCL, and cruising in general.

First off, with a party of two, being myself, who would be 25 at time of potential cruising, and my mom, who would be 60, is the DCL worth it? I've been also looking at Royal Caribbean, but of course knowing so little about cruising, I don't know a lot of the differences. Our main priorities will be relaxing, so maybe a trip to the spa (facials or mani/pedi, we don't do massages) and hanging by the pools, and eating lots of delicious food.

Second question would be for travelers without children, how is it? I am weary of just how oriented the cruise is to families and children. It does look like there is adult-only sections of the ship, but any experiences you can share or blogs/vlogs you can direct me to would be appreciated.

Next, I fear seasickness/motion sickness. If I'm a passenger in a car for more than half an hour, I will get motion sickness, and its always hit or miss on an airplane. I guess my question would be, is it very noticeable that you're on a ship, or for the most part you don't feel rocking/waves?

Last question for now, do you feel that the higher price of a Disney cruise is worth it compared to cheaper cruises? I'll be honest, I'm leaning towards DCL because I know the reputation of Disney and the impeccable hospitality it provides, but seeing as I don't have any cruising experience, I can't tell if any of the other cruise lines are equivalent in the level of hospitality. It might be helpful to mention that the itinerary I'm looking at is a 7 night Eastern Caribbean cruise on the Fantasy.

Thanks so much in advance for answering any or all of these questions!!
If you cruise during off-season the rates are usually cheaper than during the summer/holidays when kids are out of school. There's fewer kids on board during the off season.

DCL and RCCL are often compared to each other in terms of service -- it can be hit or miss on any cruise. The food is similar. RCCL doesn't have the Disney characters, and they don't have Disney music piped through the sound system.

DCL's evening programs are geared around Disney characters and music, which makes it more fun than other cruise lines rehashing Broadway music with voices that aren't quite ready for prime time.

As for seasickness, it really depends on the weather. If the sea is calm, there's a lot fewer cases of seasickness. You can also take meds or use a patch. And avoid hurricane season. Or cruise Alaska where most of the time you'll have land on both sides instead of the open ocean, which makes a big difference in the waves (or lack thereof.)
 

lklgoodman

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jul 25, 2016
Dh and I went on our first Disney cruise nearly 20 yrs ago for our honeymoon. We really enjoyed it and now cruise with our daughter. Yes, there will be a lot of kids, but there are a lot of places and activities that are for adults only. Most of the time I never feel any movement while on the ship, I have gotten seasick before, but I take bonine and suck on pure ginger candy and it helps a lot. We just did the cruise you are looking at earlier this year. Tortola and St. Thomas have lovely beaches. I would suggest trying to get a mid-ship cabin since you are worried about seasickness. The Fantasy has a problem with vibration in it's aft area, so avoid any cabins in the aft(that's the back part of the ship). I don't know of any vlogs, but for us the higher cost of DCL is worth it.
 
  • Marc D

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 27, 2016
    I guess that if you haven’t cruised before, the questions you ask will only find an answer once you try cruising either on DCL or on another line.

    We are experienced cruisers, having sailed DCL, NCL, RCCL and Celebrity. We have enjoyed all our cruises, but once we tried DCL, we concluded that line was more geared toward our tastes. We do not do pools, casinos, clubs or duty-free shopping. Most adult activities on other lines revolve around those things. We also do not mind and even enjoy seeing small kids having fun. The stage shows and family activities (trivia, bingo, game shows) are better on DCL. We find the food excellent and only surpassed by the offer on Celebrity. We are adventurous eaters and food is important to us, but that might not be your case. There are better spas on some newer ships, notably on the latest NCL ships, but the DCL spa is quite acceptable.

    As for motion sickness, about 10% of cruisers will experience it to some degree. We find it has little link to other types of motion sickness since the movement is so different than anything else. You’ll need to try to know how you react. There are effective solutions, mainly a scopolamine patch or oral medicine.

    Finally, as for cost, it is worth it for us but not because the service is much better on DCL. You will get excellent to exceptional service on most cruise lines. We think the cost is worth it because 90% of things offered on DCL, from food to activities to shows to rooms are in line with our tastes. We rarely or never find things that bother us on DCL, but we find more things to criticize on other lines. That being said, on some port-intensive routes, like in Europe, we find we cannot justify the DCL cost and go on Celebrity, since we spend so little time on the ship. On our recent Baltic cruise, our 1BR suite on Celebrity, with butler, private pool and bar, specialty gastronomic restaurant and concierge services came out to 50$ more per day than a regular verandah room on DCL.
     

    Mainsail Minnie

    Momketeer
    Joined
    Jul 28, 2019
    If you have the time off work for a longer cruise that takes place during the school year, like a Panama Canal cruise, that will have fewer children onboard & be much cheaper per night than a shorter DCL cruise. The drawback is that the adult areas will be more crowded.

    I have issues with motion sickness in a variety of settings, but am not prone to seasickness on cruises. Many others are the same. I recommend bringing Bonine just in case you feel poorly on board, but you may never need it, so don't take it without seeing how you do onboard without medication, first.

    As to the worth it part of your question, I urge you to consider carefully. We love Disney cruises for the elegance of the ships (DCL is one of only a few mass-market lines to feature ships with the classic ocean liner profile, a wraparound promenade deck, and an interior that feels more like a ship than a shopping mall) , good service, Disney whimsy, good entertainment, very nice private island, spacious cabins, and orientation towards families. But if you don't have children & are not a Disney-lover in general, you might get weary of all the kids & the Disney theming. A big part of the higher cost is the Disney brand, so don't expect dazzling luxury or extraordinary service in exchange for the extra money. You might be disappointed if that's your expectation.
     
    Last edited:

    bumbershoot

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 5, 2007
    The seasickness issue is going to be hard to answer definitively. On the short Disney cruises the first night is rough as you cross the Florida straits. It doesn’t mean the whole thing will be rough. I haven’t w countered it on the Royal cruises I’ve been on, so maybe they have a different route or they’re going a different speed etc. there are many things you can do and take to lower the impact. I used seabands on my first cruise, which was an Alaska cruise.

    Last question for now, do you feel that the higher price of a Disney cruise is worth it compared to cheaper cruises?
    Nope.

    I much prefer Royal. Service and food are the same. I prefer the aesthetic of Royal’s ships. I’ve never been into characters.

    And I love cruising, so having a less expensive cruise will benefit me by letting me take a longer cruise or giving my next cruise a budget boost.
     

    Cruising Engineer

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Apr 18, 2018
    We are seasoned cruisers (DH and I) and love DCL. We've also sailed NCL and Celebrity but prefer DCL. Normally we cruise Jan, Sept, or Oct when there are fewer kids, but still some. The kids tend to be in their clubs or at the family pools. Sept and Oct can be tricky because of hurricane season. Alaska is the best.

    The ships are classic looking inside and out and nothing like the "milk cartons" floating on the water with the Mall of America inside.

    Food is great, at least we think so. Enjoy the meals in different dining rooms throughout the ship and cruise. When someone hands me a menu, I am in heaven. If you are a "food-snob" you will have your opinion also. Entertainment is as much or as little as you want to enjoy. Yes, it is Disney and Disney is everywhere. If you enjoy singing the classic Disney songs, you will hear them throughout the hallways and common areas all day long. It's fun, makes me forget about the outside world and enjoy my time on the ship.

    Seasickness is something we have never encountered, probably because we were both pilots and use to turbulence.

    We pay the higher price for DCL because we like the service and value what we receive on every cruise. If you go cheap, you get cheap. We've heard from three different friends (a neighbor, my stylist, and a co-worker) that went on Carnaval and all three had stories ranging from being stranded off of Mexico and dead in the water, to constant extra costs, and finally, wild times all night with drunks puking. You get what you pay for.
     
  • DisneyConvert

    Terrific Tourer
    Joined
    Jun 19, 2003
    If you cruise during off-season the rates are usually cheaper than during the summer/holidays when kids are out of school. There's fewer kids on board during the off season.

    DCL and RCCL are often compared to each other in terms of service -- it can be hit or miss on any cruise. The food is similar. RCCL doesn't have the Disney characters, and they don't have Disney music piped through the sound system.

    DCL's evening programs are geared around Disney characters and music, which makes it more fun than other cruise lines rehashing Broadway music with voices that aren't quite ready for prime time.

    As for seasickness, it really depends on the weather. If the sea is calm, there's a lot fewer cases of seasickness. You can also take meds or use a patch. And avoid hurricane season. Or cruise Alaska where most of the time you'll have land on both sides instead of the open ocean, which makes a big difference in the waves (or lack thereof.)
    There are a lot of great answers here on this thread, and I will mostly echo that:

    1) If you appreciate the detail around customer service and . . . I suppose wholesomeness that is emblematic of Disney, then DCL may be a good fit. We don't drink or gamble (although have no problem if others do so). While alcohol and some interesting bars/clubs are definitely part of the DCL ship, there is not a big "partying" scene. I appreciate that all the shows start on time, my wife who has serious food allergies has NEVER gotten ill (both time on RCCL), and people are generally happy on a DCL cruise. The shows are terrific, although a bit predictable and PG. I like although I would probably appreciate the edgier comedy that doesn't seem to show up at Disney.

    So DCL has a spa, and the various water/drink packages, and the shore excursions, and one or two up-scale restaurants (We love Palo!) . . . but that's it as far as the "upselling" or add-on expense$'s after your stateroom and gratuities.

    It's $6.95 (+ service charge) each to upgrade to "Johnny Rockets" on a RCCL cruise which is typical. Hamburgers, fries, salads, shwarma, ice cream, even fountain sodas, etc are free almost all day on the DCL ships.

    RCCL has some terrific recreation features . . . but the lower cost of one's stateroom often gets made up for by the extra charges one will pay elsewhere One of my favorite examples is that on our various cruises to Europe & Alaska, if the port is more than 1/4 mile away from the town center, there is regularly a free bus to take one into Tallin, Gibraltar, Skagway ($2, run by the town), Juneau, etc. I suppose I like the way I get treated on DCL.

    As far as seasickness . . . I can only say that when I was younger, I often got car-sick and would regularly get sick (to the point of vomiting) when I went on smaller boats for snorkeling or scuba-diving. Over the past 15 years, even though we have regularly stayed toward the stern, I have noticed but haven't been too debilitated by the motion. They have medicine in the Health Center on Deck 1 that is free . . . but it tends to make me drowsy, so I have avoided. I have also tried the wrist bands and now I generally go without, so maybe I am used to the motion.

    Most cruise ships have stabilizers that try to minimize the rocking and the increasing size of most ships may be a factor too. Perhaps you try a short 3-day to the Bahamas (not this week!) and see how you react. For me, it was initially a concern, but it seems to be ok . . . so far.
     

    _auroraborealis_

    I like marshmallows. And adult beverages.
    Joined
    Oct 18, 2015
    I will say that while people complain about "upsell" on other cruise lines, when you consider the overall price difference, you can buy in to some of the upselling and still come out ahead of the DCL price. For instance, there have been heated threads here and elsewhere about "soda packages." DCL does include soda, yeah. But buying a soda package for a family of 4 for a week is under $200 most lines, and you're probably paying a lot more than $50pp difference in fare on DCL.

    So I'd not worry too much about upselling.
     

    bobbiwoz

    I'm happy to dance with you!
    Joined
    Aug 26, 2003
    If you are a regular at WDW, I really would consider DCL for your first cruise. I always smile so much more on a DCL Cruise, it’s natural when you see Captain Mickey or Minnie, Chip and Dale, Donald and the Princesses.

    We are in our 70’s and I’ve had portside workers ask if we had grandchildren coming, and most of the time the answer has been no. I have 9 cruises currently booked, 5 on DCL, 3 on Princess and 1 on RCCL. The timeframe is from a week from now through October 2020.

    If you are told the seas could be rough or rocky, take the precaution before you sail. The cruise ship will supply something for you if you do not have something, or even if you do.

    Cruising can be a very relaxing way to vacation. I hope you try it and like it as much as we do.
     

    cookieswithangel

    Resident of the Hundred Acre Wood
    Joined
    Jan 20, 2011
    Thank you all so much for your responses!! I appreciate your honesty and I know that a lot of things will be personal preference, but I also know that the cruise lines are going to paint this perfect picture of what they offer and how great everything is, but its really good to hear most of you love DCL and what I've been seeing is a good representation of what others feel.
    I work for a school system (I work 11 months out of the year and currently am not given "vacation" days, just sick days and 3 personal days), so unfortunately I can't really go on off-season. If its not an overwhelming amount of children, I think it will be fine, especially with the separate areas for adults to access.

    One thing I did notice, and was wondering about, that someone touched on, was the extras. It seems like DCL doesn't have a ton of extra costs, unlike most cruise lines, which is appealing to me, but I wasn't sure if I was just missing some hidden costs.

    Thanks again, and if you have any tips for a first time cruiser too, I will totally take any advice you can give! I'm so used to planning a WDW vacation that anything else is uncharted territory.
     
  • lklgoodman

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 25, 2016
    Planning for a cruise is a lot easier than WDW. There's no hidden costs once you get on the ship. Things that cost more are up to you whether or not you want to get them. Some things that cost extra would be port excursions, alcoholic drinks, speciality coffee drinks like frapps(regular coffee is free, soda, tea, and juice is also free), and the 2 upcharge restaurants. The 3 main dining rooms and deck food is free. Some items on the room service menu cost extra, but most items are free. You should tip the cm if you order from room service, also tip porters who help with luggage. The Fantasy has free soft serve ice cream on deck and regular ice cream in Cabanas. They also have a sweet shop that has all kinds of treats that cost extra. You can get free treats in other areas of the ship, so really no need to buy them in the sweet shop. If anything on the ship costs extra it will clearly have the price. All activities on the ship are free. Bingo costs extra but we've never done it, so don't know the cost. One of my favorite activities are the Anyone Can Cook demos. A chef shows how to cook something and then you get a sample and a very small glass of wine, both are free.
     

    bumbershoot

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 5, 2007
    RCCL has some terrific recreation features . . . but the lower cost of one's stateroom often gets made up for by the extra charges one will pay elsewhere One of my favorite examples is that on our various cruises to Europe & Alaska, if the port is more than 1/4 mile away from the town center, there is regularly a free bus to take one into Tallin, Gibraltar, Skagway ($2, run by the town), Juneau, etc. I suppose I like the way I get treated on DCL
    I feel like you forgot to finish your thought here.

    What do port buses have to do with cruiseline choice?

    I’ve never once been nickel and dimes on Royal, so I’m mystified as to comments about such things.

    Also, do you special order meals for your wife on Royal? We sat next to a family that had special needs on Royal, and the care taken with them was phenomenal. It’s confusing to me that you’ve had problems with them.


    One thing I did notice, and was wondering about, that someone touched on, was the extras. It seems like DCL doesn't have a ton of extra costs, unlike most cruise lines, which is appealing to me, but I wasn't sure if I was just missing some hidden costs.
    I’ve had no tons of extra costs on Royal. I don’t drink soda, so I’m glad to not be subsidizing the soda habits of others like I do on Disney. I get lattes on both lines. I get booze on both lines; at least on Royal there are drinks packages that might be useful to heavier drinkers than I am! I used to buy better ice cream on Royal where there was no cost on Disney, but what that meant was that my son didn’t get ANY ice cream on Disney. Now DCL has their extra cost better ice cream place, so depending on ingredients he might get to have ice cream on DCL. So Disney actually added an up charge place to match, and depending on ingredients I’m probably happy with that.


    No matter what, I’ve never been *surprised* by anything that cost more on a cruise. It’s all easily figured out and you can make the choice.
     

    Dug720

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 16, 2012
    Also, do you special order meals for your wife on Royal? We sat next to a family that had special needs on Royal, and the care taken with them was phenomenal. It’s confusing to me that you’ve had problems with them.
    My first cruise gluten-free with Royal was equal to Disney in terms of the service team making sure I knew I could ask for what I wanted and they would see if they could make it happen. Menus were also well marked.

    They changed the menus between that cruise (summer 2016) and my last RCCL Cruise (summer 2018) and they have things erroneously marked as being gluten-free (faro - which is flat out green WHEAT and 100% not safe) and the service team, including the head waiter, said it was perfectly safe. Thankfully I - with a wheat allergy - and the mom of a child with celiac knew differently. Someone who is new to gluten-free might not know and might trust that menu and get very sick. It also took me filling out the mid-cruise survey card for them to even offer to see if anything could be made gf if not marked. Prior to that they made it pretty clear that they would only do what was marked. Could have been just a bad trio of servers, but with the menu error, I am far less likely to trust RCCL to be as diligent about allergies.
     

    DisneyConvert

    Terrific Tourer
    Joined
    Jun 19, 2003
    I am glad folks have had good experiences on RCCL too.
    Our's, specifically my wife's clear request on our two RCCL sailings (older ships) were to, "not have any fish or fish oil anywhere near her plate". Didn't work out so well, let's just say.
    We have never had a problem like that on DCL . . . and perhaps we were just lucky.

    There are plenty of ships in the sea and it's clear that many, many folks love Royal Caribbean!
     

    SnowWhite2

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 1, 2007
    I don't know where to start as I have so much swirling in my head to tell you. My DD is about your age and I'm about your mom's age. My DD has only cruised DCL since she was 9. My DH and I have cruised Royal, Celebrity and NCL besides DCL. DCL is our go to cruise line. My DD only wants to cruise DCL. The adult sections are usually kept clear of kids. My DD looks very young and is "carded" in the adult sections often in the beginning of the cruise until the CMs get to know her. The adult shows in the adult nightclub can be a bit edgy but not raunchy and are very fun. Here is an example of the Disney difference: We were at a port that required tendering. Tendering is where you don't dock at the pier but drop anchor close to the island and take tenders into the dock. DCL had a tender service take us to/from the dock. The tenders were clean, open air and had a canopy on the top deck. When boarding from the island to the ship, DCL guests went through the turnstiles into the pier area, had a tent (top only) with ice water -some with fruit flavor- and cold towels to put on your neck, clean your face/hands. RCCL guests were kept behind the fence in the hot sun until their tender arrived. Then it was a mad run to the tender for them. The top wasn't shaded so most people were hot and wanted in the shade. We were treated like royalty, they were not. At Cabo, we had the same setup except they have covered tender areas but DCL had their tent so you knew which one to go to. Some of the other cruise lines use their life boats as tenders. Those things are enclosed like a tube except for the front where you board and hot as can be. If it rains, you will get handed a "park poncho" when you exit so you don't get wet.

    I second the other suggestion that you should go on the Panama Canal cruise if it works into your vacation schedule. Best cruise EVER. Lots of extra adult stuff and very friendly passengers. I've done it twice and it was awesome.

    I get car sick very easily. I would suggest taking Bonine the day before you board and once each day until you get your sea legs. If you leave from Port Canaveral, the first night can be rocky as you go through the jet stream. I usually take Bonine for a few days and them I'm OK. I also stay in the forward section of the boat where you supposedly feel more movement. On modern ships, you don't feel much movement unless there are large waves and then everyone feels it. Don't let that hold you back.

    Have a great cruise no matter what you decide.
     



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