13 Thoughts on a Disney Cruise

Our Disney Cruise for Julie’s mom’s 75th birthday was a big success! I can pretty safely say that I’m not a cruiser, but the person this trip was actually about had a great time. I’m happy we could make this happen. Here’s some thoughts to wrap up the trip:

  • The port arrival process was way less hassle than I thought it would be. We arrived at the port around 1:20pm and was on the ship by 2pm. It would have been even faster if there hadn’t been an issue with the scan of Julie’s passport
  • Disney=lines. Lines=Disney. There’s no way around it. Lines to get on the ship. Lines to get off the ship. Lines to check into kids club. Lines to meet characters. Lines for dinner. Lines for ice cream. Lines for the water slide. Lines to get a beer.
  • The cabins are bigger than you think they would be, but not laid out as well as you’d hope. I like that the toilet and shower are in two separate rooms. I like the way they have a curtain to segment the main bed from the living area/other beds: this does a good job of giving the illusion of two rooms. But on the main bed side of the cabin (i.e., the adult side), there’s almost no counter space and only one (yes, one) outlet. Along with other oddities, there wasn’t much we could do after the kids went to bed without waking them up.
  • The food on the ship was actively bad. Everything was low quality, bland, and not memorable. The sole bright spots were the chicken tenders (no, really) and lunch on Castaway Cay, the latter highlighted by fall-off-the-bone babyback ribs
  • I understand that cruises and all-inclusives are two sides of the same coin. But while I can tolerate (and even like!) all-inclusives, I just don’t understand the appeal of cruises on a fundamental level. I get the benefit of being able to travel to different locales while coming back to the same room at night. But you’re so time limited at each port and required to stay close to the ship that even in the most ideal scenario, the trade off of space and freedom do not seem even remotely worth it. It’s like travel with training wheels. That’s a good thing for some people, but that’s not the way I like to do things.
  • On the flip side, it’s kind of cool that something this big is able to move from place to place. It’s neat to think about a cruise ship like a floating city: taking a bunch of people from one place to another.
  • There’s something about the packaging of Disney live experiences that makes my skin crawl. I like their movies. I find the engineering that goes into creating their parks and cruises really impressive and interesting. I don’t want to hate on things that other people find meaningful, but it feels so empty and corporate to me. Like a facsimile of something that has meaning rather than something that is actually meaningful.
  • On a similar note, it also feels kind of exploitative. Movies in general and Disney movies specifically create these incredible worlds and characters that people connect with and relate to. I saw Moana shortly after finding out that Julie was pregnant with Vale and I spent the whole movie connecting with this story of a daughter trying to find her way in the world. If there had been an actor dressed as Moana on this cruise, I would have sought her out. But that actor wouldn’t have been the Moana I connected with. It’s hard to swallow the reality that the whole point of a Disney-themed cruise is to charge you $20 every time you want to take a picture with an actor dressed as a character that holds meaning to you. It’s well done and clearly performed with care, but it’s half a click away from the chain-smoking Transformer in Times Square pick pocketing you while you’re getting the one-eyed Minion’s autograph.
  • The whole schedule is not as tight as you think it would be for a family-focused event. There’s a lot of “must do” events that take place after 9pm. There’s no reason they couldn’t move that schedule up to accommodate kids' earlier bedtimes.
  • The Beauty and the Beast Broadway-style show was legit impressive. We didn’t make any of the other shows, but considering the limitations of staging a show on a fucking boat, it was really well done.
  • The best part of the whole trip was Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay. I wouldn’t say it felt under crowded, but definitely not over crowded. There was plenty to do and the food was good. Definitely the highlight of the trip.
  • Disney does a pretty good job (read: they’re actively aggressive about it) of getting people to wash their hands. But can confirm– cruise ship sickness is a real thing. One of the people we were traveling with got strep throat. We’re several days post-cruise at this point so I think my immediate family is all good.
  • I had a plan to blog and post pictures while on the trip—but I weirdly found it difficult to do. Not because of the internet situation (which needless to say was sloooooooooow), but because there was a lot of repition in the day and nothing that I thought was interesting enough to share.

Bonus airplane one:

  • Southwest’s 737-800s are way better than their 737-700s– more pitch, more width, more modern cabins. It’s the best domestic coach I’ve flown on in the past five years.