Ten Favorite Disney Cruise Line Perks: Should You Sail with DCL?

Disney Cruise Line's Magic in the Mediterranean.

Ten Favorite Disney Cruise Line Perks: Should You Sail with DCL?

What are Disney Cruise line perks? It’s the Disney Difference. There’s no better way to describe the extra heartwarming experiences that await passengers aboard a Disney Cruise Line sailing. Once you arrive port, you’ll begin to sense the excitement that incorporates feeling like a VIP and a carefree child.

Ten Disney Cruise Line Perks

While I’ve enjoyed sailing other cruise lines (hey, any pleasant day at sea is a good day, right?!) and actually have an upcoming cruise booked on Royal Caribbean, there are some unique experiences that you’ll only find when sailing with Disney. Allow me to share my favorites with you…

1. The Welcome Aboard

If you’ve sailed with Disney Cruise Line (DCL), you know the welcome aboard ambiance is absolutely unique. For those of you that haven’t sailed with DCL yet, here’s what’s chokes me up EVERY time:

After checking in and standing in line for your optional welcome aboard photo, you’ll walk over the gangway. There’s just something about having both feet on the ship and leaving the real world a few steps behind you. And just as you are taking in the thrill of finally embarking, you’ll be awestruck again as you step inside the traditional, jewel-toned atrium. Nope; no entering on a less than beautiful deck here.

Step inside the Disney Dream's Atrium
Disney Dream Atrium

And then, you’ll be asked for your family name. As you walk through a line with DCL staff bordering each side of you, you’ll hear “Welcome Aboard, (insert your family name)“! I don’t know about you, but I’m not getting applause when I enter other places. LOL And let’s admit it, the welcome cheer feels good.

I know my fellow Disney fans also get a lump in their throat over this glowing reception.

2. Sail-Away Celebration and the Ship’s Horn

Disney knows how to throw a party. And this party is more like an event. I’ve witnessed multiple generations of my own family dancing and singing on deck during this extravaganza. There’s nothing dull about it. Images of party-goers on the jumbo screen (Funnel Vision), dancing characters, energetic Cast Members, confetti, an exciting countdown, and a ship’s horn that whistles “When You Wish Upon A Star” just as you leave port. Yep, I’m tearing up again.

Sail-Away Celebration
Let’s Sail Away!

3. Pirates IN the Caribbean Deck Party with Fireworks at Sea

I’ve seen other cruise lines attempt to throw deck parties. But DCL’s pirate party draws a whole ship full of passengers to the outdoor decks for an evening of entertainment. There’s many of the same elements of the Sail-Away party with the added excitement of passengers in pirate costumes (or simple pirate accessories like bandanas or eye patches), a pirate vs. Mickey show, and then fireworks. Boom!

DCL Fireworks
Fireworks at Sea

4. Aesthetics of the Ship’s Design and Stateroom Layout

You won’t find neon lights on these ships. Disney Cruise Line boasts old-world charm along with unique, richly appointed staterooms. From bow to stern, the beautifully round portholes portray glimpses of a bygone sea-faring era. Beautiful carpets, art-deco lighting, and ornate woodwork add to the overall ambiance.

DCL Lighting
Gorgeous light fixtures adorn the Disney ship

And then there’s the cabins. Inside, you’ll find split-bathrooms, which aid families in getting ready for early morning excursions and late-night bed time routines. Behind door number one closest to the exterior hallway, there is a toilet and vanity with sink. Enter door number two for the shower (with tub!) and another vanity with sink.

DCL split bathroom
Vanity with sink and tub with shower

The standard tubs are appreciated by many families with small children! I know they worked well for us.

5. Unique Dining

I’m not a gourmet diner due to my picky palate, however, I adore attentive service and unique restaurant ambiance. Disney Cruise Line gets high marks for both. And, then there’s the anticipation of dining in a different restaurant each night. It’s fun and exciting. And since your waitstaff follows you to each restaurant, you’ll get a high level of service for each meal. By the second or third night, they may have your favorite beverage waiting for you at your table!

Cast Members on Disney Dream
Your waitstaff follows you to each DCL restaurant

My two favorite restaurants are Animator’s Palate and Palo. (Remy is still on my bucket list.)

Animators Palate
Animator’s Palate on Disney Dream

Plus, the room service is delightful. Love getting chocolate chip cookies and Mickey ice cream bars delivered for a late night snack!

6. Youth Clubs

Our son first sailed at the age of 6. I’ll admit that on our first cruise, Michael and I peered in countless times to see how Nic was doing in the youth program. The first time that we looked in, we saw him partying with Captain Hook. That was a sight to behold and one we still treasure. Another time, he was making flubber. And at Castaway Cay, we saw him participating in a treasure hunt. He never wanted to leave and we were happy for him.

Disney Youth Program
Making Flubber on Disney Cruise

It gave us some cherished time alone, however we couldn’t help but snoop to see what he was up to. Being a kid (and a parent) on a Disney ship is a priceless experience.

7. Frette Linens

I sleep like a baby at sea. My mom says it’s the rocking motion since she still remembers sleepless nights rocking me to sleep! Add in the luxury of Frette® Egyptian cotton linens with Posturepedic® Premium Plush Euro-top mattresses and you’ve got a beautiful combination for glorious sleep.

Disney Dream Bedding
Decadent bedding includes Frette Linens aboard the Disney Dream

8. Castaway Cay

It’s the best private island owned by a cruise line that I’ve ever sailed to. In fact, it’s better than most Caribbean resorts that I’ve visited. This beautiful island is a paradise for anyone seeking solitude, excitement, or a combination of both. Two of my favorite activities here are bike riding to the observation tower and petting stingrays during Castaway Ray’s Stingray Adventure.

Castaway Cay's bike path
Bike Path on Castaway Cay

After a couple of morning activities, settle me under a palm tree with an ocean breeze, the view of the ocean, and a fruity adult beverage and you’ll have a happy Kim. What will you do at Castaway Cay?

Castaway Cay
Beach at Castaway Cay

Of course, there’s an abundance of activities for adults and kids, including character greetings. Oh, I loved me some photo ops with Captain Jack. 😉 For the characters that will be on Castaway Cay during your visit, check out your Navigator.

Captain Jack on Castaway Cay
Ahoy, Captain Jack! (Remember when The Flying Dutchman was anchored there?!)

9. Character Greetings

Meeting your beloved friends at sea is a special experience. Disney princesses, Mickey, Minnie, and other characters are found throughout the ship at specified times and during surprise interactions.

Disney Princesses on Disney Cruise
Belle and Beast

Even if you aren’t willing to wait in line for a photo and/or autograph, seeing Disney characters throughout the ship is sure to warm your heart. I love watching the grandparents take it all in. Memorable.

10. Remember the Magic: A Final Farewell Show

It’s a sweet show with characters and Cast Members. Presented on the last night of your cruise (where it all began in the atrium lobby), you’ll be running to book another Disney cruise after this performance. Go ahead and sing along. Arrive early for a front row spot. Or tear up (again) at the magic of it all. I do.

Mickey says farewell
Captain Mickey in Farewell show

What are your personal favorite moments aboard a Disney ship? What Disney Cruise Line perks am I forgetting? Let me know in the comments below!

Top Ten DCL Perks

Kimberly LaPaglia

Kimberly shared her passion for Disney when she was selected for the inaugural Walt Disney World Moms Panel and then as the first Disney Cruise Line panelist. As a Disney Mom, she helped countless families plan their own dream-filled journeys. Blending her love for research, travel, and writing, Kim has been an editor for Disney Food Blog for nearly 8 years. At The Castle Concierge, she blogs about travel, parenting, celebrations, and the road to empty nesting.

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4 thoughts on “Ten Favorite Disney Cruise Line Perks: Should You Sail with DCL?

  1. Love, Love, Love this article. Oh..my it brought tears to my eyes seeing my now teen grandson boarding the ship. And the memories aboard the Disney cruise ship.
    Would love to sleep on one of those beds again. So comfortable, like sleeping on a cloud.

    1. Melissa – Definitely a bucket list item. They are more expensive than other cruises but the uniqueness is definitely worth busting the budget at least once!

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