5 ways Disney makes cruising Europe easy for families
Many people know Disney Cruise Line for its family-friendly cruises from North American home ports to the Caribbean, Bahamas, Mexico and Alaska. But did you know that every summer, one Disney cruise ship makes its way across the Atlantic Ocean for a season in the Mediterranean?
Previously, Disney Magic was the lucky ship to cruise among the charming European ports, but in 2023, Disney Dream sailed to the Mediterranean for the first time. The ship will continue to take families to bucket-list-worthy destinations around Europe, including Italy, France, Greece and Norway, next summer, too.
If you're thinking about taking a European cruise and wondering how to balance traveling with kids and venturing into historic cities, don't panic. Here are five ways Disney is making the Europe cruise experience as simple and smooth as possible for families of all types.
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Children can stay in the kids clubs while parents explore the ports
Long port days can be hard for parents who want to see the historic sites in Rome, visit wineries in Tuscany or enjoy a guided hike in Norway but fear their kids will get bored quickly or are too young to participate in some activities.
One of the biggest perks for families cruising with Disney Cruise Line is that kids can stay in the dedicated kids clubs on board the cruise ship while parents explore the various ports of call on their own. Parents can drop junior cruisers off at the clubs before getting off the ship and know that their children are being cared for by the counselors their kids have already met.
Even better, playtime in Disney Dream's four youth activity spaces is included in the overall cost of the sailing. Disney's Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab are dedicated spaces for kids ages 3 to 12, where they can play games, do crafts or hang out with a good book while under the supervision of the counselors.
Related: Best cruise lines for families
While you're out enjoying the port, you can also be assured that Disney is taking care of your children's rumbling tummies because the kids clubs provide meals inside the club during the day.
Older kids have their own shipboard spaces. Edge is Disney's tween club for those ages 11 to 14, where guided activities, like video game competitions and dance parties, take place daily. Edge is located inside the faux forward funnel on Disney Dream, so it feels exclusive.
Teens ages 14 to 17 can enjoy Vibe, where they'll learn how to make movies or watch them on the 103-inch TV. Disney Dream also has a private sundeck for teens, which is only accessible with a Vibe-coded room keycard. (Be sure to check in at Vibe on embarkation day to ensure your teen's room key will allow them into the deck area.) Both Edge and Vibe have a free come-and-go policy, so kids can enjoy the spaces as they want without parents having to check them in or out.
No matter which club your kids hang out in, they will have plenty of fun, and parents can rest assured that if anything happens, the counselors know what to do. They have access to every phone number for Disney-led port excursions, so if your child has an emergency and the ship can't reach you directly, Disney can call the tour operator.
If you are touring ports on your own, inform the counselors of your plans and give them your best contact information on embarkation day.
Disney Cruise Line offers both family-friendly and adults-only shore excursions
Disney's shore excursions in Europe cater to all types of travelers and desired experiences with family-friendly and adults-only options.
Grown-ups who may be traveling without kids or have dropped their children off at the kids clubs can enjoy tours designated for cruisers ages 18 and older. The adults-only tours often move at a faster pace, so pack your walking shoes if you plan to do a heavy day of sightseeing, especially in cities like Rome or Athens.
Adults will find that excursions through Disney Cruise Line encompass a wide range of interests, from wine tastings and local food tours to venturing into historical sites. There are even some adventure sports like riding ATVs.
If traveling with young kids, book the tours labeled "for families" or "featuring exclusive youth activity" early since they fill up quickly.
Related: Shore excursions: What new cruisers need to know
Family tours are often less strenuous than the traditional or adults-only departures, allowing for little legs to keep up with the group. They feature longer breaks or time on your own, so kids can get a rest and perk up with a sweet treat, like gelato in Italy.
Tours labeled with the phrase " featuring exclusive youth activity " will include time for adults and kids to have separate activities. One of the options with this label is a tour of Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast, where kids learn how to make pizza at a local restaurant with the help of the Disney Cruise Line youth counselors while parents enjoy time on their own or on a guided tour. Everyone comes back together for lunch.
Booking shore excursions through Disney Cruise Line also guarantees that you won't be left behind in a foreign city if your tour runs late getting back to the ship.
Casual dining options are plentiful after long days of sightseeing
After a long day sightseeing in port, the last thing your kids want to do is sit through a long dinner in one of Disney's three main dining rooms. This means finding dinner elsewhere on the ship, which is easy thanks to Disney's quick-service options on the pool decks.
Families can grab a quick bite from three "Cars"-themed service windows at Flo's Cafe every evening. The menus here are packed with kid-friendly favorites, such as chicken tenders, burgers, salads, wraps, pizza and more. Flo's also has sandwich specials that change daily, including tasty options like spicy fried chicken and pulled pork.
You can be in and out in 15 to 20 minutes and then have time to see the nighttime shows or get to bed early before another day of exploration in a new port.
Alternatively, families can order room service , which is included in the cost of your Disney Dream cruise. Room service can take a while to arrive if you, like hundreds of your shipmates, are ordering during peak dinner hours. However, the joy of eating dinner in your pajamas in a space where kids can squirm freely may be just what your family needs after a long day off the ship.
Related: 12 dining mistakes you must fix on your next cruise
Pro-tip: If you're a chicken wing connoisseur, Disney Cruise Line has some of the best wings at sea on its room service menu. They are crispy and juicy, served piping hot, and the buffalo sauce is spicy.
If your family wants to eat in the main dining room, and you're on the early seating rotation, Disney offers some leniency on longer port days when tours tend to return to the ship late. A ship officer or dining team member will often be out on the pier announcing that the main dining rooms are still seating guests until a certain cut-off time. If your family can make it to your assigned dining room in time, you can enjoy a meal there.
Just know that if you miss a dinner show one night, there's no second opportunity to see it again, even on longer sailings. So, if your family is set on seeing or participating in a certain dinner show, like "Animation Magic" – where you draw a figure on a special sheet of paper and it comes to life on screens around Animator's Palate – you will want to ask your dining team which night that show is being performed.
The cruise ship is a familiar home base with plenty of Disney charm
Visiting new cities and towns can be as draining as it is exciting. Riding for hours in a bus and walking around all day in the warm European sun can wear out both adults and kids. Also, the stress of navigating different languages and unfamiliar cities can be unsettling if you're not used to it. That's why it's nice to have a friendly home base for your travels on a Disney cruise ship.
One of the biggest perks to cruising, in general, is that you unpack once. You don't need to deal with the hassle of packing up and swapping hotels mid-trip.
Upon returning to the ship each day, children can enter a familiar world where they have their stuff set up how they like in their cabin, they can interact with their favorite Disney characters, and they can join friends in the kids clubs to play games and swap stories about the day's adventures. Parents can relax and not worry about where to eat dinner in a strange city.
Around the ship, families will find plenty of familiar Disney fun, so evenings are easy and carefree. Most nights, families can watch a live performance in the main Walt Disney Theater or catch a movie in the Buena Vista Theater, including newly released movies currently playing in theaters at home.
Related: 26 Disney cruise tips, tricks, secrets and extra magic to unlock when setting sail with Mickey
If your kids are into meeting characters, they are in for a treat. Mickey Mouse and all his pals will dress up in themed outfits for the various European ports of call and come to the ship's public spaces for meet-and-greets.
The Disney princesses are also onboard to greet everyone and pose for photos. They also host tea parties, but parents be warned, the tea party is an added cost, and reservations fill up quickly.
Of course, no Disney cruise is complete without a deck party or two. On select Mediterranean sailings, fireworks will light up the sky over the Mediterranean Sea with Disney's iconic Pirate Night deck party.
Travelers can bookend cruises with Adventures by Disney short escapes
Extending your stay in Europe is a great way to take advantage of flying halfway around the world to get on a Disney cruise. Take the hassle out of planning what to do before or after your cruise by booking an Adventures by Disney guided tour.
Families with kids ages 5 and older are allowed to book, though Adventures by Disney does suggest that kids are at least 6 years old. Children under 5 are not permitted on these tours.
The tours take place in Barcelona, London and Rome, all of which have associated ports that Disney Cruise Line sails from throughout its European season. The guided tours include meals, hotel accommodations, transportation to and from the ship and tours of the major sites in each city.
Escapes in Barcelona are four days long. Families can enjoy a privately guided tour of La Sagrada Família cathedral and Parque Güell, plus time at the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona and the medieval abbey, Santa Maria de Montserrat.
If your cruise departs from Civitavecchia, Italy, the Rome escape may be a fun add-on to your trip. The four-day tour includes a VIP Colosseum tour, a tour of St. Peter's Basilica and the Vatican Museums, and plenty of time to explore the city on your own.
Families departing on Disney Cruise Line from Southampton, England, can book the London escape , which is only three days. The trip starts with a high-speed boat ride on the River Thames and dinner at a local pub. Other activities on the tour include a private viewing of the Crown Jewels, afternoon tea and a private tour of St. Paul's Cathedral.
Whether you're a cruise pro or sailing around Europe for the first time, Disney Cruise Line makes sailing the historic coastlines of Europe easy and fun for families.
The ship makes for a familiar home base, with plenty of activities for kids and adults. The cruise line's shore excursions satisfy the interests of families exploring together while providing options for adults who need a more grownup experience in port. Just be sure to pack your walking shoes and a positive attitude!
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Experiencing Europe on a Disney Cruise!
4/23/2021 | Cruises
Every summer Disney Cruise Line sails one of its ships to Europe for one of the most special sets of itineraries available. Disney Cruise Line separates their European itineraries into Northern Europe and Mediterranean itineraries. My family was able to experience the unique 7-night repositioning cruise that connected these guest experiences. We started in Dover, England and ended in Barcelona, Spain and it was a vacation we will never forget and recommend to all interested in visiting Europe with their family.
Visiting Europe on a Disney cruise allows families to visit multiple countries and cultures in a short time while keeping a home base on the ship. The tours offered by Disney’s port adventures team allow for the interests of all ages with varying tour lengths to accommodate your needs.
On our particular cruise, we docked in Le Havre, France; Lisbon, Portugal; and Cadiz, Spain with 3 full days at sea. All of these countries were new to our family so we took advantage of the tours to see all we could while we were in port. Le Havre is located in northern France and about a 2 ½ to 3-hour drive from Paris. With a 16 hour stopover, there was plenty of time to take an adventure into Paris and see the main sights of the city. Lisbon’s city tour showed us how important the city and its inhabitants were to navigation of the oceans and the discovery of the new world. Cadiz’s town square, just steps from the dock, allowed us a walking tour of the city that dates from the time of the Phoenicians, about 1100 BC. Another amazing sight was seeing Africa as we sailed through the Strait of Gibraltar late one evening.
Families of all ages can be found on Disney’s European cruises. If you have young children, exposing them to historical locations, introducing them to new languages, and giving them a fun time each day is a great introduction to Europe. Tweens and teens will get excited when they recognize places and people that they’ve studied in school and then when they are back on the ship the excitement doesn’t stop when they meet up with new friends in Edge and Vibe.
What makes Disney’s cruises so special to experience Europe is the fun, family-friendly atmosphere. From the shows to the onboard events, the age-appropriate port adventures, and the characters that dress in the native clothing of the ports, you will find everyone young and old enjoying each day of the cruise from morning until night.
Going on a European Disney Cruise Line vacation is one of the most memorable vacations that a family can have. Disney’s European itineraries are available for booking by contacting your Me and The Mouse travel agent.
Tagged: activities , Cruise , Disney , Family , Line , Planning , Travel , Vacation
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My First Disney Cruise – Everything I Loved and Hated (Honest Photo Review)
For YEARS I’ve wanted to try a Disney cruise and last week I finally did it.
I’ve just disembarked the Disney Magic and I thought I knew what to expect from a Disney cruise, I’ve been cruising since I was a child with other cruise lines but this cruise was the biggest culture shock ever.
Every couple of hours I would find something new that I didn’t expect at all, some of which were really great surprises and some things I really didn’t like at all.
I was definitely skeptical when I booked this cruise. I’d heard amazing things from my friends who love Disney but I just didn’t see how a Disney cruise could be worth the price.
This cruise was the most expensive cruise I’ve ever paid for and it was 3x what I usually pay when I cruise.
I was worried that I’d feel as though I wasted that money and although I’d heard about how amazing the food was and the service but I wasn’t sure if this was better than the other cruise lines that I know and love, would it be 3x better to justify the cost? Or if it was just a case of paying a premium for the Disney brand.
Why Did I Decide to Book a Disney Cruise?
When I saw that a Disney ship was coming to the UK though, I thought this was my chance. I’ve been curious about it for years and although I didn’t think I was the target market for a Disney cruise. I wanted to find out who was.
The Disney cruise experience started before we even got to the port.
When I booked this cruise, Mickey Mouse phoned me to welcome me on board when I boarded the ship, Mickey and Minnie were there to welcome us too.
Mickey and Minnie Welcomed us Onboard
Usually when you embark on a cruise you might be handed a glass of something bubbly but you’re pretty much left to your own devices, you can just wander off and explore the ship but on the Disney Magic when you board, your family name is announced and Mickey and Minnie do a dance.
It was a great start to the cruise because it really kind of set the scene, there was never any doubt what cruise line you were on and the kids seemed to love it.
The crew do this same kind of welcome show over and over again for embarking guests and afterward we were sent on to do our muster drill.
The Muster Drill Was Completed Next
The muster drill is a compulsory safety drill that has to be completed on cruises where they tell you about things like what would happen in an emergency and how to put on a life jacket.
The muster drill was completed on our phones and Disney have an app that you use to do most things onboard.
The app was pretty good overall. There are definitely other cruise lines with better tech and better apps but that isn’t really the point of a Disney cruise.
We went onto find our muster station and had to scan the sign with our phones. Mum’s phone was having none of it but luckily we could complete the muster drill for both of us on my phone.
The crew onboard were really really helpful and they would have helped us to do the muster drill if we got stuck or if you don’t have a phone I’m sure they’d have an alternative.
I Loved The Promenade Deck
Our muster station was this big promenade deck and this quickly became one of my favourite places onboard, I love a promenade deck where you can walk all the way around and I think it’s good to note the extra safety precautions like the glass here to stop any little children from trying to climb between the bars.
The Disney Magic Was Built in The 1990s
The Disney Magic was built in the late 1990s and that makes her pretty old by cruise ship standards.
She’s also pretty small, for the time she would have been a large cruise ship but now the world biggest cruise ship is almost 3x the size of the Disney Magic.
I have to say I did love not having far to walk to the top deck and wherever I was, I was never far from my cabin which was good but personally, I’m a fan of the big cruise ships.
That is a personal preference though and I’m sure many people cruising with Disney prefer the smaller ship size.
If you’re cruising with young children I doubt you want to be having to go 15 decks up to get the buffet, that isn’t a problem on the Disney Magic though.
The thing that’s more important to me than the age and the size of a ship, is how the spaces work and if they’ve been well looked after by the cruise line. I’ve been on some ships from the 1980s and 1990s, which were in much better condition than newer ships.
After completing our muster drill, we went to the top deck to take a selfie with the funnel. I feel as though that’s a thing you have to do on a Disney cruise and I actually managed to find some sunshine briefly for the photo which was a miracle. It’s the Disney magic I guess!
Soda is Included on The Pool Deck
Wandering around the top of the ship I realised that this is where you could get free soda from.
On Disney cruises soda and tea & coffee are available in the buffet and on the pool deck free of charge. If you order a soda from a bar it’ll cost you money, so I made good use of it and I drink a lot of soda and we grabbed one to start exploring the ship.
On the top deck there is a swimming pool, waterslides, sports court and lots of seating.
Theres also an adult only pool too and we did find that there were a few adult only areas onboard, which I thought I may need to retreat to at some point.
I was a bit worried that I would be totally overwhelmed by this Disney cruise. When I cruise I usually cruise to relax. I don’t have any children myself but I decided to embrace all things Disney, I was only cruising for 3 nights but I don’t really think I understood at that point what I was actually getting myself into.
We Went in Search of Food (Of Course)
One of the most important things about cruising for me, is eating and by the time we got onboard we were pretty hungry. We headed to the buffet but it was closing so we decided to grab a hotdog and fries from the poolside grill.
The buffet was closed a lot more than I would expected and sometimes lunch would only be open from 12-2 and then the buffet wouldn’t reopen until around 6pm which I found really strange.
On most other cruise lines the buffet rarely closes at all, if it does, on some cruise lines like MSC the buffet is open for 20+ hours a day.
The buffet was a nice big space with lots of seating and when we did manage to eat in the buffet though the food was great, just more of it would have been nice.
Room Service is Free on Disney Cruises
The room service is free though, which is good. I ordered a pizza and some cookies which was nice, on some cruise lines you do have to pay for room service.
If you order drinks through room service they’ll cost you money though so if you are doing this, run up to the pool deck to get some soda and bring it to your room, that’s what I did. Luckily because the ship isn’t very big, it was never far to go.
We Had a Balcony Cabin
We went next to find our cabin and I’ve never had a cabin quite like it. One thing that Disney seem really good at is giving out upgrades. I booked an oceanview cabin and was upgraded to a balcony cabin.
Most of the people I spoke to onboard had either been given an upgrade or had paid to upgrade their cabin, the sailing I was on was at reduced capacity so it may have something to do with that.
I’m usually more of an inside cabin kind of person but they weren’t available to book when I booked this cruise. Disney cruises almost always sell out very fast and that’s one of the reasons they can charge as much as they do.
The cabin was pretty big and our balcony was a really nice size. There were lots of surprises in here, like me having to sleep on the sofabed and the toilet being in a different room.
Disney do ‘Rotational Dining’
After exploring our room and wandering around the ship it was dinner time. When it comes to dining, Disney do something that no other cruise line does.
On most mainstream cruise lines you’ll either have fixed time dining or flexible dining where you just show up the restaurant when you’re hungry.
On Disney everybody has a fixed time for dinner and it’s not just your time thats set but actually the restaurants you eat in too.
Disney calls this ‘rotational dining’ and basically, you are assigned a different restaurant each night and your waiters and everybody else in that restaurant follow you to the next restaurant.
I thought that it worked really well and our waiters knew that I was drinking Coke Zero throughout the cruise, so I never even had to order a drink, it just arrived like magic (see what I did there)!
I love the soft drinks being included in with meals and because our cruise was only 3 nights, we never had any kind of dress codes or formal nights, I wore jeans to dinner everyday which made a nice change.
The service was really good and the waiters would take the time to talk to the kids. Some of our dining experiences were much better than others but the best was the first we had in Animator’s Palate.
Animator’s Palate Was a Great Dining Experience
I’ve never ever had a dinner quite this one and I don’t know if I would have believed it if it was described to me. When we came into the restaurant, everything was black an white and when we sat down we were given a piece of paper and a pen and told to draw a character.
After we had finished our food, the animations came to life and danced around the restaurant. It was really clever and fun and it was definitely the dining highlight of the cruise.
The Food Quality Was Good
The food was good and I liked that there were multiple veggie options available.
Having cruised recently with other cruise lines like Princess and Celebrity, I’d say that the food was about the same in quality.
To find out what’s included in a Disney cruise (almost all the food and lots more) check out this post: What’s Included on a Disney Cruise? – Food, Activities and Exclusions
The Theatre Shows Were Great (If a Little Overwhelming)
After dinner we went onto the theatre and really I think this is what a Disney cruise is all about. We watched Tangled the musical and it was great, it was definitely of broadway quality and no expense was spared.
The team of singers and dancers were all very talented, the set design was amazing and in other shows they even had things like bubbles and fake snow.
A word of warning though, I did find the theatre to be quite overwhelming. I had kids kicking me from behind, toys being dropped on me, kids were running around the back and it was hard to see through everybodies’ Mickey ears.
I did talk to a few people when I was onboard and after I got back, they said that I should have picked the late dining seating and therefore gone to the earlier shows because there would be less children on that schedule.
I didn’t really think about that before but it does make sense.
I understood that I was on a cruise line mostly aimed at children and because I cruised out of the school holidays, most the children onboard were between about 2-5.
I didn’t expect the kids to sit still throughout dinner and the show but its definitely worth being aware of. My mum was hit by a Thor hammer, whipped with a Rapunzel braid, you name it, the kids were a bit wild and it did get very, very loud at some points.
If you’re a parent though, or a child, it must be nice to be able to see a theatre show without having to worry about the kids making too much noise.
Top Tip: Buy Mickey Ears Pre-Cruise!
I will say I did feel a bit out of place without any Mickey ears! If you are taking a Disney cruise definitely get some before you go.
They only had one type left in the gift shop and for $40 I decided against it. You can get great ones online before you go though and lots of people had personalised ears.
If you want to wear custom T-shirts and things that is totally cool on a Disney cruise. Lots of people had matching Mickey ears, T-shirts, bags, you name it. I’ve never met cruise guests that are so passionate about their cruise line.
If you’d like to learn more about Mickey Ears, check out this post from a Expedition Hopper which explains what they are for, who wears them, and where to buy them: Everything You Need To Know About Mickey Ears
Disney Cruisers Decorate Their Cabin Doors
It was intense but really cool to get to talk to people from the Disney crowd, Disney fans always are very friendly and they decorate their cabin doors like nothing I’ve ever seen before. It’s incredible.
Below are a couple of my favourite examples from the ship.
These magnets can be bought on Etsy here: Disney Cruise Door Magnets.
Disney do Towel Animals and Chocolates on the Pillow
When we came back to our cabin we found a towel animal waiting for us and a chocolate on the pillow.
10 years ago you’d find that most cruise lines would do towel animals and chocolates on the pillow but this is definitely a thing that the majority of cruise lines have stopped doing recently.
I personally quite like it and the chocolate on the pillow was good too.
As I went to sleep in my sofa bed I felt pretty content and happy with my first day onboard, I still had some questions though that I needed answering.
What would the daily schedule be like on a sea day? Would there be many activities for adults and would I be able to eat enough cookies to make back the cost of the cruise fare?
Breakfast Options Onboard (I Found Mickey Waffles!)
The buffet was open until 10.30 for breakfast which was good because I’m not an early riser and we also went to the sit-down restaurant another day for breakfast because I was told that I HAD to try the Mickey waffles.
I did try them, and they were good, very very sickly sweet with this pink sugary stuff but it was nice to try them. Maybe that was why the kids on board were so hyper, they started their day with Mickey waffles!
The Daily Schedule
Despite the bad weather, plenty of people went for a swim and they constantly showed different Disney movies on the pool TV. They’d also show movies in the theatre and there were lots in the cabin to watch too, if you could get the little TV to work that is.
The daily schedule on the sea day was made up almost entirely of waving at characters, Disney trivia and Disney movies.
Sometimes the schedule would look like: waving, waving, bingo, waving, waving, selling something, beer tasting, waving, waving, drawing, waving. (A real example from my Disney cruise).
I did my fair share of waving on this cruise and it was cool to see all of the Princess and Marvel Characters.
COVID Social Distancing Measures Were Still in Place
It was a little bit strange because there are still COVID social distancing rules in place, so nobody could put their arms around Mickey Mouse or hug Thor but it is what it is, not much can be done about that.
One thing that I missed on the daily schedule was live music, there was a little bit but I’m more used to cover bands and singers being around the ship.
Of course, we did have the Disney music being played through the speakers, all day but for me personally, I’m a big fan of sitting in a big lounge with a band playing and I didn’t find any big lounges really, or much live music.
There Are Kids Clubs For Kids of All Ages
Most of the kids would be enjoying extra activities in the kids clubs of course. Most cruise lines have kids clubs and I actually went to the kids clubs with Norwegian Cruise Line when I started cruising, I loved it so I’m sure the kids on this cruise did too.
They have kids clubs for kids of all ages and they get to meet the characters and do crafts and dance and everything.
An Interesting Discovery on The Promenade Deck!
When wandering around the promenade deck, I came across this area which I thought was so cool. I’ve never seen anything like this just open to the public before but that’s the nerdy ship side of me coming out.
The promenade deck was also the jogging track so people would be running and walking around here in the evenings and day times.
Frozen at Sea – A Pool Deck Party
Despite the cold UK weather, Disney did manage to put on a show called Frozen at Sea.
This was like a festival, but Frozen themed and for kids on the top deck by the pool. Anna and Elsa sang and even Olaf came out to see everybody.
There was fake snow, lots of people dancing and it was cool to see everybody having such a good time. It was freezing though, I imagine this would have been quite different in the sunshine.
Adult Only Activities and Areas
In the evening there would often be adult-only trivia which did sometimes have non-Disney themes, there was a 90s music trivia at one point that I remember and a few other things.
There are only a couple of places onboard that are adult-only and we didn’t really spend much time there. I’d prefer to be out and about seeing what’s happening on the ship, than spending too much time in the pub.
If I was on an cruise line that included drinks, or I had a drinks package, this might have been different.
There isn’t much late night entertainment happening on a Disney cruise, so we would usually watch a movie before bed in our cabin, which was nice.
Disney cruise ships don’t have casinos and they don’t have drinks packages. To find out what else Disney cruises don’t have, check out this post: You Won’t Find These 9 Things on a Disney Cruise
Who Are Disney Cruises For?
I spoke to quite a few people onboard and since I’ve got home, who LOVE Disney cruising.
They all said to me that they cruise with Disney because of the Disney community and how well the staff take care of them and their children.
I came at this cruise from a cruise perspective, as opposed to a Disney side and I had great fun finding out who Disney Cruises are for, but personally when I look at the cost and what I could get for the price on other cruise lines, it just doesn’t add up for me.
It really confirms my point about there being a cruise line for everybody and not every cruise line being for everybody. Life would be very very dull if we all liked the same things.
To put it into perspective, my next cruise is over double the length of my Disney cruise, it includes flights to Spain, transfers, luggage, all gratuities, and all-inclusive drinks, a ship I much prefer personally and is quite a bit cheaper than my Disney cruise. Over double the length and cheaper.
You’ll never get the Disney magic or Disney entertainment or anything Disney on other cruise lines though, so it’s difficult to compare, and really it’s just a case of if that’s worth the price to you.
For me personally, no. For many many other people, absolutely yes.
One thing that I did find strange, and it seems like even Disney cruisers find this strange, is the way that Disney do tipping. To find out how that works and why I was so confused to find this in my cabin, check out this video:
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Disney Cruise Review 2024
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Table of Contents
Booking a Disney cruise
Online check-in, embarkation , aboard the ship, disembarkation, disney cruise review recapped.
I’ve always been a big Disney fan. Whether I’m visiting nearby Disneyland or flying to its big brother Disney World, there’s little about Disney I don’t like. This includes its cruises, which I have been eyeing enviously for years.
Happily, I was recently able to take a Disney cruise, and the experience lived up to my expectations. Let’s talk about it in this review.
Like most everything Disney, its cruises are expensive. While you might find a cruise for a couple of hundred dollars on a different line, expect to pay more for Disney. Room rates start at $1,400 for two guests on the four-night cruise from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, that my family and I booked.
Rather than settling for an interior category room, we booked a deluxe oceanview stateroom with a verandah. Prices can vary but expect to pay a minimum of $2,500 for this room type.
While booking a Disney cruise is costly, there are ways to help bring down the price. If you subscribe to Disney+ , for example, you may be able to take advantage of an offer allowing the third and fourth guests in your stateroom to sail for free.
Those who live in Southern California, Florida or Canada may also qualify for discounted rates on select routes and dates, as do those in the military.
If you’re looking to lower your out-of-pocket cost, you may want to consider paying with a credit card and using statement credits. The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card has this ability, as does the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card .
» Learn more: How to get the best deal on your next cruise
Once we booked the cruise, we received an email confirmation. Along with details about our itinerary, the confirmation also included information regarding online check-in and documentation.
We needed to provide a variety of information before departure, including our passport information, COVID vaccination status and other personal details. Once completed, Disney assigned my family a port arrival time, which let us know when to show up for embarkation.
We were also mailed luggage tags to attach to our suitcases. This meant we were able to drop off our bags upon arrival and receive them in our room a few hours later.
» Learn more: The best Disney resort for adults
On the day of departure, we were due to board at 1:45 p.m. Once we arrived at the cruise terminal, however, we were required to join several very long queues before actually getting on the ship. This included a security screening as well as an additional check-in process.
The cruise ship terminal is decidedly unmagical. It’s a large concrete building filled with ropes and one sad vending machine. The entire process took an hour from arrival until the time we got into our rooms.
I wish I could say this was unexpected, but Disney is as known for lines as it is for quality. All in all, I didn’t love the embarkation process, but I understand the necessity.
For what it's worth, those who book Disney cruise concierge rooms enjoy an entirely separate and expedited check-in experience.
» Learn more: The best Disney credit card might surprise you
(Photo courtesy of Carissa Rawson)
We were aboard the Disney Wonder, which is one of five ships that Disney operates. As I mentioned, we had booked a room with a verandah. It felt pretty large for a cruise room, especially since it fit both a king bed and a fold-out couch.
The total square footage of the room came in at 268 square feet, which means a total of three to four guests can fit. However, my family had booked two separate (and connecting) rooms, which meant just my brother and I were sharing a room.
The room included all the standard amenities you’d expect, including a hair dryer, expansive closet and fridge.
It’s clear that Disney expects many different types of guests. I was grateful for the curtain divider that separated the “living room” from the “bedroom,” since my brother and I each had a private space.
My favorite part was our private verandah, where we spent a lot of time hanging out, reading and enjoying the wine we’d brought with us.
I also especially appreciated the bathroom design. Rather than cramming everything into a single space, Disney has chosen to create two distinct bathing areas. One features the shower and a sink.
The other has an additional sink as well as a toilet.
Such a design allows two groups of people to get ready simultaneously, which is super convenient. The shower also includes a tub, which is unusual for cruises. I imagine the intention is to make it easier for children and families.
Note that each night housekeeping came in for turndown. This included creating fun towel animals, converting the couch into a bed and providing chocolates.
Food and beverage
I’ve been on cruises before where the food was unlimited but nearly inedible. This wasn't the case on my Disney cruise. Simply put, there is food everywhere, all the time, and nearly all of it is incredible. Most food on the ship is included with your fare, though there is one specialty dinner restaurant that costs money.
Most non-alcoholic drinks are also included, such as coffee and soda. Specialty coffees and smoothies cost extra, as do any alcoholic beverages.
Guests are allowed to bring up to two bottles of wine or six cans of beer with them when they board and at each port of call.
In the mornings, there are two dining options: a buffet or a sit-down restaurant. We tried out both, and the result was a resounding mixed bag. I greatly preferred the sit-down option, which had fewer options but a much slower pace.
As for food, I particularly enjoyed the eggs benedict, though you’re able to order as many meals as you’d like.
My dad, meanwhile, loved the plethora of choices provided by the buffet, although it was much more crowded than the sit-down restaurant.
At lunchtime, it was also possible to enjoy a plated meal, but we generally found ourselves too full to go in for a big portion. Instead, we enjoyed quick bites from the pool deck, which included paninis, ice cream, chicken tenders, fries, hot dogs, salads and more.
Dinner was the crown jewel of the evening. Each night, we showered, got dressed, then went to eat at a rotating variety of restaurants. Disney breaks up diners into two groups: First seating is at 5:45 and the second seating is at 8:15. We had the second seating, which was a little late for my taste.
Again, you can order as much as you like during your meals, which quickly becomes a slippery slope. The first night I ordered just a single entree, but by the end, a veritable pile of plates surrounded me during dinner.
I still have no regrets.
A final note: Although water is free onboard, it can be difficult to come by, especially if you didn’t bring your own refillable bottle. While room service will charge you for a bottle of water, it’ll bring you as many glasses as you like for free.
» Learn more: Is cruise travel insurance worth the cost?
There are almost too many things to do aboard this cruise ship, and we struggled a little trying to fit everything in.
Each night, Disney put on a different show in its main theater. This is perhaps one of the things I was most looking forward to — although nearly all cruises provide live entertainment of some sort, Disney’s is said to be the best. They didn’t disappoint. While these weren’t, maybe, Broadway-quality, they were high-end, well-designed and really fun to watch.
Most everything you do during your cruise takes place courtesy of the Disney Cruise app. This includes viewing the daily schedule and booking any paid activities. While these are completely optional, they are a lot of fun.
During our trip, we tried both the whiskey tasting and the beer tasting, both of which were worth the additional cost. If this is something you’re planning to do, be prepared to pay from $40 to $70 per person for your activities.
Games and other activities
Like I said above, there is an absolute abundance of things to do onboard. If you’re not interested in the pool, gym, spa, deck, sports or shows, it’s still possible to find tons of things to do.
(Photo by Carissa Rawson)
One favorite activity was bingo, which featured a rolling jackpot and took place three out of the four days of our cruise.
There are also things like Disney movies playing in various theaters, towel folding classes, karaoke, trivia contests, drawing classes and more.
Activities for teens
If you’re traveling as a family, you’ll be glad to note that there are plenty of things for teens to do as well. While I didn’t spend any time in these venues, I did peek into Vibe, the teen-exclusive hangout area at the top of the ship. Teenagers also have access to the Chill Spa, which is designed specifically for their age group.
Tweens aren’t left out, either. The Edge club fills the niche between teens and children and features video games as well as a dance floor.
Again, we were a group of four adults traveling together, so we didn’t need to take advantage of any children’s activities, but suffice it to say that kids have a lot to choose from. The Oceaneer Lab was especially popular and is for those ages 3 to 12.
» Learn more: How I did a 5-day, $4,000 Disney trip for just $1,600
Deck Nine and above featured a couple of different pools, a splash pad, a waterslide and a sports area.
Although Disney cruises are definitely oriented toward children, they also maintain separate adult-only areas. As a family of four adults, we certainly enjoyed the quiet that came with our own private pool.
The Senses Spa and Salon offers a wide variety of treatments, from couples massages to haircuts and manicures. I didn’t indulge, but my parents did, and they had a great time. There’s also the option to purchase access to the Rainforest Room, which includes heated stone chairs, a sauna and a steam room.
If you’re the type of person who wants to exercise while on vacation, the ship’s fitness center has you covered. Although I visited only once, I quite enjoyed the well-stocked facilities and the ability to look out over the water while working out.
There were quite a few treadmills, bikes (both spinning and recumbent), free weights, ellipticals and really interesting curved treadmills that I was too afraid to try.
Disney gives all its customers 50 MB of free data on day one. After that, you’ll need to pay, though the pricing is exorbitant and starts at $19.99 for an additional 50 MB. It’s not that fast, either, according to my mom, who spent the money and immediately regretted it.
I resisted the urge to purchase any and instead relied on my international data when we made port. It was tough but I survived.
» Learn more: How to save on your first — or next — Disney vacation
This four-day cruise included just one stop in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. I’ve never been a huge fan of stopovers on cruises, mostly because I feel like they’re too short and inauthentic. That was the case here, though this wasn’t any fault of Disney.
The disembarkation and re-embarkation process was smooth, though we did need to board a smaller boat to get to land. Although we could have stayed out from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., we ended up returning early to enjoy lunch on the ship.
Note that it is possible to book excursions through the Disney Cruise Line app as well as onshore, though we chose not to.
» Learn more: Cruises might be a surprisingly affordable way to visit the South Pacific
After breakfast on our last morning, it was time to disembark. We chose to hold our luggage with us, though it was possible to have it delivered down to the terminal.
The disembarkation process was as magical as the embarkation process. That is to say that it was terrible, disorganized and took way too long. We stood in line for more than an hour both on the ship and onshore as we waited for the immigration clerks to process the many thousands of passengers.
I’ve waited a lot of years to experience a Disney cruise, and at the end of it all, I’m glad I had the opportunity. Was it expensive? Yes. Was it worth the cost? Also, yes. Although I haven’t booked another Disney cruise yet, I’m looking forward to the day I can board one again.
(Top photo courtesy of Carissa Rawson)
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Disney European Cruise Review
In Destinations , Disney , Disney Cruises , Europe by Tamala Prickett September 11, 2017
This was our second Disney European Cruise , and I still think that its one of the best ways to see Europe with children. I reviewed our experience cruising Europe on the Disney Magic in detail here and here.
Since I’ve already been through the ins and outs of a Disney European Cruise, I won’t re-hash the same details in this post. However, there have been a few changes on the Disney Magic that I think are important to point out. There are also some things that I noticed cruising with teenagers this go around.
First of all, Disney has sadly decided to put the half-size lounge chairs around all pools except the Adult Pool. I understand the reasoning behind this is to provide more room for passengers, but now no one is comfortable sitting by the pool!
They have also switched the cups at the soda machines to half size ones. This is a royal pain the you know what. You take two sips, and have to go back to fill it up! My advice would be to bring your own cups!
Lastly, Disney Cruise’s alcohol policy has changed. Last time, we were allowed to bring whatever we wanted on board. Now you can only bring 2 bottles of wine or a six pack of beer. You are not allowed to bring Liquor on any of the Disney Cruise ships.
My main beef with this policy is not the monetary affect it has on your cruise costs. I just don’t want to go to a bar every time I want a cocktail. I like sitting on my balcony after a long day of touring, and enjoying a cocktail. Furthermore, I am the only one who knows how to make it the way I like it! As a grown ass adult, I feel like this should be my right. Just saying.
Also, I noted that most of the activities around the ship were either for adults only or children ages 12 and younger. Its true that they have clubs for teenagers, but mine didn’t want to go to them. We discovered that there really wasn’t anything for them to do other than pool activities and the movie theatre.
I know this sounds like a really negative review of the Disney European Cruise , but overall we really enjoyed it. I’ve already written a review of all the good things about cruising Europe with Disney here . Also, this Disney European Cruise review provides valuable information for the tour guides that we used both times.
My daughter, Evelyn, videoed our entire Disney European Cruise experience. Don’t forget to subscribe to our youtube channel!
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Find a Cruise on Disney Dream
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A ship’s traveler rating is provided under license by Cruiseline.com , which manages one of the largest databases of cruise reviews and ratings by travelers. A total of 1031 guests have reviewed Disney Dream , giving it a rating of 4.5 on a scale of 1-5.
Cruiseline Travel Rating:
Reviews by traveler type, most recent reviews.
Magical Disney Cruise
Jan 24th, 2024
It may be cliche to say our cruise was magical, but it truly was. The Disney touch was everywhere and it was a dream come true. From the moment you walk on the ship the entire crew makes you feel special. Everyone is personal, helpful and a delight to be around even though they all work so hard. There was always something to do, but also was just a wonderfully relaxing experience. We became friends with our two Dining staff that were with us each night and they truly were a highlight for our family. We can't wait to go again!
Family (older children)
Not up to Disney standards
Jan 10th, 2024
Good but not great cruise. We’ve been on better Disney cruises in the past.
Jan 6th, 2024
We have been on many Disney cruise and have been all over the world with Disney from Spain to Hawaii it is difficult to beat a Disney cruise for food ,service and cleanliness.
Family (young children)
Dec 16th, 2023
Before I start my review, I want to mention that this cruise was my 15th and my first, and last, with Disney Cruse Line. We went to sail on the Disney Dream departing from Fort Lauderdale on Dec 9 2023. We were a party of 5, 3 adults and 2 kids of 6-7 years old. Since we didn't do the online check-in, we we able to get on the ship only at around 4PM. Guess without the online check-in had to wait in line up until 3PM to be able to get assistance to complete the check-in. I'm fine with that, but when you have 2 kids woken up since 7AM, in a town you don't know, it is not a walk in the park to keep your cool... All the other cruise companies I tried, Royal Caribbean (10 times approx.), Celebrity and Norwegian we we're able to be on the ship the latest at 11AM, which makes way more sense to me. We we're automatically scheduled for the 8:15PM dinner. Again, 2 kids of 6-7 years old with us, when do you expect they would be sleeping? Probably around that time... I complained to guest service, the restaurant assistant manager, the restaurant manager, my room steward and also the manager of a boutique I bought some sandals for my son. Nobody could/would do anything to accommodate us. The 2 kids and their age we're known from the moment we booked the cruise 6 months ago, it's a complete non-sense to me that there is no automatic priority for the early dining option at 5:45PM for all the cabins with kids under 10 years old. That was the biggest disappointment. We went to the 8:15PM dinner once, on the last day and the food and service was ok, nothing impressive. I still looked at the menu of the dining everyday of the cruise and I was surprised to see the menu doesn't rotate or have special daily meals on it. All the other cruise companies I cruised with always had at less 2-3 different options from day to day apart from the fixed "most popular" items on it. The only dining option we had was hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken tenders and grilled chicken for the whole week because the only opened restaurant apart from the main dining rooms is a burger joint... 4000$ for 5 days for burgers and fries for dinner! The buffet, which had the best food quality and taste I had on any ship I went yet (congrats for that Disney!) was closed for dinner... Why? People stuck on the bad dining time like us would have enjoyed more food variety... The characters are available several times throughout the cruise but make sure to come early in line not to invest 30 minutes to 1 hour of your day for just a couple of pictures. Not many characters we're available, Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy, Pluto, Chip & Dale, some Disney princesses but weirdly nothing from Marvel. The fireworks we're nice but to keep your kid woken up until 10:30-45 PM to watch a 2 minutes show is not the best way to accommodate the young passengers. I don't recommend this cruise line unless you have Disney's blood that circulates in your veins or if you are ready to reserve everything in advance and invest time to see the characters you like. Never again for me and I don't recommend at all.
All good except the kids’ club
Dec 8th, 2023
We had a great vacation even though the ship felt more crowded than any other experience we have ever had. Our heart hurt when our 12 yr old was denied Oceaneers Club b/c of an unexpected new rule. Enjoyed the dining rooms & Castaway the most. Beauty & the Beast was outstanding too.
First Time Cruise on Disney Dream
Dec 7th, 2023
Overall a good experience for a first time cruiser. I would definitely try some other cruise before coming to a conclusion about the offering from Disney. The biggest disappointing thing was the options of food for the vegetarians, which were very few to say the least. Castaway Cay Island was a good experience and I would like to do similar in the future as well. Overall satisfied with the whole package, though with the amount of money spent I would say in the end I was left wanting a little.
1 cruise (first)
Dec 3rd, 2023
Overall would always recommend Disney over other cruise lines. However, food quality has really gone down.
Fantastic Halloween cruise to Canada
Oct 25th, 2023
It was a lovely pop of Disney magic. I wish it was longer but hope they sail out of nyc again soon
The cruise staff was not prepared as we expected for motorized wheelchair , deafness etc .
Oct 24th, 2023
I wish the supervisors were more aware of requests of special services
Oct 6th, 2023
We will never do another Disney cruise. My daughter who was with us probably will since this was her fifth Disney cruise. It was our second and not nearly as good as the other one. Even my adult daughter who is a big Disney fan said she would go with us on Cunard where we are diamond members because it sound better to her than what we experienced on this cruise.
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The 8 Best Mediterranean Cruises Of 2024
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T he history of Mediterranean cruising is closely tied to the beginnings of cruising itself: the first ever passenger cruise by P&O Cruises embarked from Southampton, U.K. in 1844 to Athens, Gibraltar and Malta. 140 years later, the Mediterranean continues to be one of the world’s most desirable destinations for cruisers. The best Mediterranean cruises make it easy to enjoy the region’s scenic views, storied culture and world-renowned cuisine with comfortable accommodations, thoughtful amenities and personal touches that prioritize your interests and travel pace.
If island hopping in the Mediterranean is on your radar this year, we’ve selected the best cruises for every type of travel style, from families and couples to foodies and history buffs. Our top overall pick is Princess Cruises’ newly launched Sun Princess ship, which calls upon Montenegro, Corfu, Sicily and more. For foodies, we love the premium cuisine found onboard Silversea Cruise’s Silver Moon , and for couples, the romantic Viking Saturn is sure to be a hit. Below, our selections for the best Mediterranean cruises of 2024.
Best Mediterranean Cruise Overall: Princess Cruises, Sun Princess
Best luxury mediterranean cruise: the ritz-carlton yacht collection, evrima, best mediterranean cruise for families: disney cruise line, disney dream, best mediterranean cruise for couples: viking, viking saturn, best value mediterranean cruise: holland america line, oosterdam, best mediterranean cruise for history lovers: azamara cruises, azamara pursuit, best mediterranean cruise for foodies: silversea cruises, silver moon, best mediterranean cruise for active travelers: celebrity cruises, celebrity ascent.
The 7-Day Mediterranean with Greece & Italy on the brand new Sun Princess, setting sail on her inaugural voyage in February, is a terrific way to experience this part of the world.
Recommended Itinerary : 7-Day Mediterranean with Greece and Italy
Departures : March-September 2024; April-June 2025; August 2025; October 2025
All-Star Amenities : Medallion, a wearable device that makes the cruise experience effortless; the Signature Collection, exclusive to Sun Princess : premium stateroom amenities and exclusive access to a restaurant, lounge, sun deck and more; the Reserve Collection, debuting on Sun Princess : premium location mini-suites and exclusive access to a private restaurant and more
Princess Cruises first started sailing in the Mediterranean in 1985, and the cruise line has never looked back. In celebration of its 40th anniversary in the Med next year, the cruise line is sending the new Sun Princess to join her sister ship, Star Princess , for her first season of cruising. Until then, the 7-Day Mediterranean with Greece & Italy on the brand new Sun Princess is a terrific way to experience this part of the world. Departing Piraeus, near Athens, she calls upon Montenegro; Corfu, Greece; and Sicily and Naples, Italy, before arriving in Barcelona, with plenty of shore excursions from which to choose. Back onboard, there’s no shortage of activities to keep guests busy, from the Sea Breeze Rollglider, the first at sea, at Park19; to a Victorian-themed bar with magicians performing tricks; and Love by Britto, an imaginative and colorful culinary experience curated by Rudi Sodamin.
The yacht sails myriad Mediterranean itineraries ranging from five to 13 nights, calling upon the most captivating ports in the region.
Recommended Itinerary : 10-night Venice to Rome
Departures : July 2024; July 2025
All-Star Amenities : Less than 300 guests; all-suite accommodations, each with private terrace; onboard marina with water toys; five restaurants; six lounges; The Ritz-Carlton Spa; cigar lounge; customized shore excursions
Enjoy the exemplary service you have come to expect from The Ritz-Carlton Hotels when sailing the Mediterranean with The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection. Whether you opt for the 300-square-foot Terrace Suite, the 1,091-square-foot Owner’s Suite, or any sized suite in between, you will quickly feel right at home and find yourself living the yachting lifestyle on Evrima, which is Greek for “discovery.” The yacht sails myriad Mediterranean itineraries ranging from five to 13 nights, calling upon the most captivating ports in the region. We recommend the 10-night Venice to Rome itinerary, which explores Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast before calling upon Montenegro, the Amalfi Coast and Capri before arriving in Rome. Curated excursions in each port are designed to provide exceptional experiences that make the most of each destination. In true Ritz-Carlton fashion, the Concierge Ashore can also create a personalized outing tailor-made just for you.
Just like other Disney Cruise Line sailings, its Mediterranean cruises feature spacious cabins, kids clubs, all meals, Broadway-quality shows and more.
Recommended Itinerary : 9-Night Mediterranean with Greek Isles Cruise from Barcelona ending in Civitavecchia (Rome)
Departures : June 2024
All-Star Amenities : Wide range of spacious cabins, all with split bathrooms; Broadway-quality shows; specialty dining restaurants; adults-only pool and hot tub; spa and salon; unparalleled kids’ activities
Combining the rich history and ancient cultures of some of the Mediterranean’s most iconic destinations with all of the fun of a Disney vacation, Disney Cruise Line is a great option for families of all sizes. Choose from itineraries that range from five to 11 nights, all of which sail aboard the Disney Dream . Just like other Disney Cruise Line sailings around the world, its Mediterranean cruises feature spacious cabins with split bathrooms; kids clubs for ages three to 17; all meals, including snacks and room service; Broadway-quality shows; and more. Adults can find plenty of alone time on a Mediterranean Disney Cruise, too, with adult-exclusive dining, an adults-only pool and hot tub, a fitness center and a spa for ultimate relaxation. Shore excursions on the 9-night Mediterranean with Greek Isles Cruise include 4x4 adventures, sailing, fiestas, tasting tours, archeological expeditions and more.
Highlights of the complimentary shore excursions on this itinerary include a panoramic tour of Corsica, seeing the sights in Rome and Algiers and a walking tour of Málaga, to name a few.
Recommended Itinerary : 15-night Malta, Morocco and the Mediterranean
Departures : November-December 2024; February-March and November-December 2025
All-Star Amenities : Five categories of spacious staterooms, some of which are the largest at sea; destination-focused dining, highlighting regional specialties; impeccable service; complimentary shore excursions in each port of call
Viking has curated a group of itineraries during the quiet season in the Mediterranean—the fall and winter—when there are fewer travelers, easier access to iconic landmarks and more opportunities to interact with the locals for a more immersive experience. One of those itineraries is the 15-night Malta, Morocco and the Mediterranean cruise, sailing round-trip from Barcelona. The newly added itinerary lends itself to days of lingering longer to explore ports like Marseille, France, Valletta, Malta, Casablanca, Morocco and plenty more. Complimentary shore excursions are included with each Viking cruise; on the itinerary, guests can choose from excursions like a panoramic tour of Corsica, sightseeing in Rome and Algiers, and a walking tour of Málaga, to name a few. Couples who want some alone time can also choose to wander off together and find their own way to spend each day. Back onboard Viking Saturn , relax in your spacious cabin, enjoy a cultural performance, enjoy a wine pairing dinner at the Chef’s Table, or enroll in a cooking class to learn how to take the flavors of the Mediterranean back home with you.
Sailing roundtrip from Piraeus, near Athens, the 7-Day Jewels of the Mediterranean itinerary calls upon Rhodes, Santorini and Mykonos, Greece, as well as ports in Turkey and Cyprus.
Recommended Itinerary : 7-Day Jewels of the Mediterranean: Greece, Turkey and Cyprus
Departures : May 2024
All-Star Amenities : Less than 2,000 guests; a variety of balcony accommodations; Mariner's Dream beds with plush Euro-top mattresses; pickleball courts; two specialty dining restaurants; private balcony breakfast or dinner
Holland America Line makes the jewels of the Mediterranean accessible to every budget, all while delivering comfortable accommodations, myriad onboard activities to enjoy during sea days and plenty of dining options. Those cuisine offerings highlight fresh, regional dishes, including new dishes from Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, the cruise line’s Global Fresh Fish Ambassador. Sailing roundtrip from Piraeus, near Athens, the 7-Day Jewels of the Mediterranean itinerary calls upon Rhodes, Santorini and Mykonos, Greece, as well as ports in Turkey and Cyprus. Venture out and discover the ports on your own, or choose to join excursions coordinated by the Holland America team, ranging from visiting UNESCO World Heritage Sites and Seven Wonders of the World, to soaking up the Mediterranean sun on a gold-sand beach, to wandering the narrow streets of Oia, a town on the island of Santorini known for its blue-domed buildings.
Curated excursions highlight the history of different ports of call, showing them in a different light.
Recommended Itinerary : 11-Night Best Of the Med Voyage, from Venice to Barcelona
Departures : May 2024; July 2024; October 2024
All-Star Amenities : Gratuities included in fare; fresh flowers and plush robes in each stateroom and suite; seven restaurants, cafes and lounges; special dietary needs accommodated; White Night party; new Sanctum Spa
The Mediterranean is rich in history, and Azamara’s 11-night Best Of the Med Voyage dives right in, starting in Venice, with its cobblestone streets, overarching bridges and iconic canals weaving through the city. From there, Azamara Pursuit calls upon ports in Croatia, France and other parts of Italy before arriving in Barcelona. Curated excursions highlight the history of these ports of call, yet show them in a different light. For example, cruisers can opt to take a tuk-tuk ride through the historic city of Zadar on the Dalmatian Coast, go hiking in Ston, built in 1335 and considered one of Europe’s best-planned cities, or stroll through the medieval walls of Old Town Dubrovnik. In Italy, guests can travel to the ancient seaside resort town of Herculaneum to witness its archeological excavations and recovered ruins, wander the Renaissance city of Lucca, or watch an Italian opera at the Goldoni Theatre, which opened in 1847. Back onboard, cultural evenings featuring performances by locals will immerse you even further into each destination.
The cruise line’s all-new Sea And Land Taste (S.A.L.T.) culinary program was created to enable guests to travel deeper and learn about destinations’ culinary heritage.
Recommended Itinerary : 20-Night Fusina (Venice) to Barcelona
Departures : July 2024; August 2024 (Barcelona to Fusina)
All-Star Amenities : Less than 600 guests; all-suite spacious accommodations, most with private verandas; highest guest-to-service ratio at sea; butler service; complimentary shore excursions and onboard lectures; all-new Sea And Land Taste (S.A.L.T.) culinary program
The Mediterranean is world-renowned for its excellent cuisine, so it’s no wonder that foodies flock here to experience the region through its many flavors and native dishes. Silversea invites its guests to dive right in with its 21-day Fusina (Venice) to Barcelona itinerary aboard the Silver Moon , calling upon 21 ports in seven countries, beginning in Venice and ending in Barcelona. The cruise line’s all-new Sea And Land Taste (S.A.L.T.) culinary program was created to enable guests to travel deeper and learn about each destinations’ culinary heritage through curated gastronomic experiences, both at sea and in port. Gastro excursions on the Fusina to Barcelona itinerary include an authentic farm-to-table dining experience in Dubrovnik, taking a cooking class and make some of the delicious specialties of Italy’s Apulian region, a full-day S.A.L.T. organic winery and cooking experience with lunch in Montenegro and a S.A.L.T. cook and taste of Sorrento with Michelin starred Chef Peppe Guida, to name a few. Back onboard the Silver Moon , step into the S.A.L.T. Lab to participate in cooking classes and workshops to learn more about regional dishes, including how to make them at home.
Whether on the water or solid ground, there are plenty of ways to keep active during Celebrity’s 9-night Italy, France & Spain itinerary, beginning in Rome and ending in Barcelona.
Recommended Itinerary : 9-Night Italy, France and Spain
Departures : June 2024, July 2024, August 2024 (also Spain, France and Italy)
All-Star Amenities : Widest variety of staterooms and suites in the entire Celebrity fleet of ships; two pools; fitness center; rooftop garden; 32 restaurants, bars and lounges; excursions rated from mild to strenuous.
The Mediterranean’s temperate weather beckons active travelers to spend their days outside exploring and immersing themselves in the region. Whether on the water or solid ground, there are plenty of ways to keep active during Celebrity’s 9-night Italy, France & Spain itinerary, beginning in Rome and ending in Barcelona. Cruisers can opt for the kayak and walking adventure in Valletta, where they can meander through farms, woodlands, and even Neolithic tombs before setting out in a kayak to paddle along the rugged coastline. Or, paddle a kayak along Corsica’s coastline to Trottel Beach, where you can relax under the warm sun, walk in the sand and swim in the clear water. In Sardinia, ride a 4x4 into the wetlands and oak forests before dismounting for a hike in the island wilderness. Onboard, the Celebrity Ascent keeps active guests engaged with its fitness center, activities and entertainment, and fueled for more activity with 32 restaurants, bars and lounges.
About Susan B. Barnes, Your Mediterranean Cruise Guide
I’m a Florida-based freelance travel and lifestyle journalist who has embarked on more than a dozen cruises, including several in the Mediterranean. As a traveler, I am just as comfortable bicycling through Italian olive groves and SCUBA diving the wall of sharks in French Polynesia as I am sipping bubbles in a Champagne house and dining at Michelin-starred restaurants. I enjoy diving into topics, interviewing expert sources and sharing stories in interesting and engaging ways for publications like Forbes Vetted, AARP, AFAR, Condé Nast Traveler, Forbes Travel Guide, Garden & Gun, Global Traveler, Southern Living and Wine Enthusiast.
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Review of Mediterranean Port Adventures
- Thread starter rainythursdays
- Start date Jun 6, 2022
Earning my ears.
- Jun 6, 2022
Just got off my first cruise on the Magic and it was absolutely fantastic!! I know I would have wanted to know this before the cruise (planner that I am) and would like to give a short review of each of the port adventures I was on. We did all Disney port adventures since it was our first time. Naples - Mt Vesuvius Hike, Wine Tasting and Pompeii (Adults Only) - This was the best tour! Our group was relatively small and the guide was phenomenal. We stopped at this place that sells Jewelry made of seashells (didn’t get anything), and hiked Mt Vesuvius in the morning (relatively steep, but paths were wide and not dangerous at all). We then went to this lovely vineyard when we had a decent lunch and wine tasting of several wines. Our guide then brought us to Pompeii and guided us through a section of the ruins (it’s impossible to see the whole thing in a day, but I believe we saw the highlights). Tour was not rushed at all and we made it with plenty of time to spare back on board. Highly recommend! There’s a similar tour for families as well which I believe should be the same without the wine tasting, but would be a much larger group. Civitavecchia (Rome) - Tarquinia and Olive Oil Tasting - Having been to Rome before, I knew I didn’t want to squeeze all of Rome in a day and therefore opted for this tour which was the only half day one that didn’t go to Rome. This was okay. We had a guided tour of Tarquinia which was a quaint little town, but being from Europe, was not a must see. We then had some free time in Tarquinia which in my opinion was a little too long as the guide did not really give any ideas on which are the best places to visit during our free time, and just recommended cafes you could sit in or for bathrooms, which is useful in its own way, but I‘m the type that likes to explore the best parts of the town rather than sit in a cafe for the whole hour. We didn’t want to get lost or run out of time so decided to sit in a cafe in the end. Olive oil tasting was disappointing - I was expecting a proper tasting with explanations but they just set up a buffet table with some bread, and four different types of olive oil for lunch and we had no explanations whatsoever. The farm we were at was picturesque and quite lovely though. An tour through the olive farm would have been nice. Disappointing tour for the price. Livorno (Florence/Pisa) - Easy Pisa - Skip this. We were originally booked on Pisa (with the guided walking tour) but it got moved to the afternoon which clashed with one of our other activities so we moved to this in the morning. All they did was to bring you to Pisa, give you some free time (which was not enough at all to see the sights), and then put you on an electric train and give you a short guided tour while driving. Tour by train was definitely not a good way to truly see and learn about the sights. Extremely expensive for what it is. I would recommend booking your own transfer to Pisa, the sights are concentrated around the miracle square anyway. If climbing the tower is important to you, go to the ticket counter first thing!!! (Also something our guide neglected to mention to us.) They have staggered times for climbing the tower. Cannes - Monaco, Monte Carlo and Eze - Itinerary sounded great in theory, but it was so poorly organised for ours. We ran into bad traffic (which I’m not sure why it wasn’t anticipated considering they have ran this tours for ages), and we arrived late in Monaco and so the whole day was very rushed. Had a very very brief guided tour (maximum 10 minutes) which was just pointing out the sights as we passed them, then some free time (not long enough to see anything properly). We then drove to Monte Carlo where we got to see the casino and Cafe de Paris. Again, very short amount of free time to properly see anything. Note that the casino opens at 2 pm, and we are there for the morning, so if you want to try a hand at gambling, pick a tour that goes to Monte Carlo in the afternoon. Otherwise, it’s nice to see the inside of the casino when no one else was around. It’s €17 per person just to visit. Pricey, but worth it just to see it once in person in my opinion. Ran into some issues with the bus coming late in Monte Carlo which again wasted lots of precious time. We then had a very mediocre lunch which was disappointing, and took way too long (all the Disney tours congregated there for lunch and they couldn’t seem to handle the crowd despite, again, probably being used to this crowd). This cut into our Eze time, and after a while most people were fed up and just left lunch half way (honestly, no loss on their part) to explore the town alone. We decided to wait for our guide (mistake), and she ended up giving us only a brief 5 minute tour pointing out the sights as we walked up the village and we only had 15 minutes left to see the village on our own. Time would be much better spent if we walked on our own. Made it back to the port with time to spare though. Well this ended up longer than expected! Only thing I would recommend whole heartedly would be the Naples excursion. Cannes was in theory good but the planning was extremely poor that day - enough to put me off returning. Also open to answering any questions about the cruise!
Great report! What was the passenger count? Did you have your own dining table in the main dining rooms?
DCL Repeaters said: Great report! What was the passenger count? Did you have your own dining table in the main dining rooms? Click to expand...
Thanks for your review! We sail July 6th. Can I ask what your port of arrival time was? I was on at midnight last night, as usual the website was finicky, it took me 45minutes to get it all uploaded. We ended up with an 11:30-11:45 arrival. Thanks.
lorimay said: Thanks for your review! We sail July 6th. Can I ask what your port of arrival time was? I was on at midnight last night, as usual the website was finicky, it took me 45minutes to get it all uploaded. We ended up with an 11:30-11:45 arrival. Thanks. Click to expand...
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A Family Travel Blog
Disney Cruise Port Stops and Shore Excursions in Europe
By Eric Stoen on September 12, 2016 • Last Updated March 22, 2023 This post may contain affiliate links. Read my Disclosure here .
We’ve gone on three Disney cruises now – two in the Mediterranean and one in northern Europe – and stopped at 20 different ports. At those stops we’ve done a little of everything on our shore excursions: we’ve booked official Disney Port Adventures; we’ve booked our own private or group shore excursions, and we’ve wandered around without booking anything. To assist with your own planning, here’s how we planned our own shore excursions and how it worked out.
Athens, Greece Shore Excursions
Here’s what you don’t want to do in Athens – book a large group tour that goes straight to the Parthenon/Acropolis. You’ll be there with busloads and busloads of day-trippers, taking away from the experience of visiting one of the world’s great sites. Instead, we booked a foodie walking tour with Athens Walking Tours . Roughly 15 of us walked through the streets and markets of Athens, led by a guide who purchased unique Greek dishes for us along the way and discussed the Athens food scene. It was a good tour, with our kids trying most of the foods, and at the end of the tour our guide led us up to the Parthenon. This was a perfect time to visit (mid-afternoon) since most other people on shore excursions had already come and gone. We ended in the Plaka area before taking a shuttle back to the port. If it’s your only time in Athens you may want to book a private tour seeing more of the historical sites, but we had a successful day.
Akureyri, Iceland Shore Excursions
There are a number of sites around Akureyri that you don’t want to miss during your Disney cruise – Gullfoss Waterfall, Lake Mytvan, Hverir with its suphur pits, steaming fumaroles and mud pools, and the chasm where North America and Europe literally collide. We took a small 16-person tour with Saga Tours, which was priced roughly the same as Disney’s official big-bus excursion. Because we had fewer people, though, we visited several more locations than Disney cruise excursions did. Our kids’ highlight was the spot where the continental plates collided. The Disney buses never made it there.
Barcelona, Spain Shore Excursions
Barcelona was the embarkation point for one of our Disney cruise destinations and the final stop for two of our cruises. I’m including it here because we booked one of the official Disney excursions at the end of our first cruise, a day trip to Montserrat. Upon arrival into port, we arranged for our luggage to be sent to the airport and then boarded the bus. There were only 15 or so people on the Disney excursion, and we had a great time seeing the mountains north of Barcelona and the Benedictine abbey there. Afterwards we were dropped in the center of Barcelona, where we explored for a few hours before taking a taxi to the airport and meeting up with our luggage. It was a great way to kill time before our flight, and was our most-successful Disney Port Adventure.
Bergen, Norway Shore Excursions
Our stop in Bergen was only 5 1/2 hours – not nearly long enough to go sightseeing on the fjords. So we walked around town, did some shopping (we bought a Norwegian mailbox!), had coffee and pastries, and purchased large quantities of berries at the Fish Market in the middle of town. If it hadn’t been raining we would have taken the Funicular up Mount Fløyen. The area around Bergen is stunning so it was disappointing not to have more time in port.
Civitavecchia, Italy Shore Excursions
My philosophy on Florence and Rome is that, unless it’s your only opportunity to get to the cities, you don’t want to try to see them in half a day off of a cruise ship . Civitavecchia is the port stop for Rome. There will be at least a dozen buses leaving from the Disney Magic to take people into Rome on Disney cruise excursions, but you’re looking at almost an hour and a half of driving just to get the city, then more time on the bus (in traffic) going from site to site, enough time at the sites for some quick history and photos, a lot of time waiting for the 54 other people on the bus to go to the bathroom and get lunch, and an hour and a half back to the ship. That’s not enjoyable to me, and it’s not kid-friendly. Since we were opting out of Rome, we spent the day in Civitavecchia. It’s not an interesting town, but we had a casual lunch, found a playground and got gelato. If you really want to go to Rome, book a private tour – it would at least be at your pace and you would see more than with a large tour group. Look into other day-trip options as well that are closer than Rome, but which would get you out of Civitavecchia.
Ajaccio, Corsica, France Shore Excursions
Napoleon’s hometown is utterly walkable, with excellent restaurants, colorful produce markets and a gorgeous harbor. We explored for the day and had a great time. Any excursions would have taken us outside of town on windy mountain roads, which our kids don’t love, so we never considered booking anything.
Crete, Greece Shore Excursions
Anytime you’re able to meet up with locals and get a personalized tour, do it! We were fortunate to do this in Crete and again in Scotland. We decided to skip the Disney cruise excursions, and instead, a friend met us at the ship in Crete and showed us around the town of Heraklion. Next, we took a couple of taxis down the coast a few minutes to Ta Kalitera taverna and the surrounding beach – which we had practically to ourselves. Lunch at Ta Kalitera was excellent – one of our best meals in Greece.
Ephesus, Turkey Shore Excursions
For the Disney cruise destination Kusadasi, we booked a full-day shore excursion well in advance through Best of Ephesus . Işık was our guide, and one of the best guides we have had anywhere. She and a driver picked us up at the ship and we headed to the major sites. Işık was excellent at setting the order of our destinations (House of the Virgin Mary, the ancient city of Ephesus and the Temple of Artemis) to avoid other large groups as much as possible, which was difficult given that there were seven ships in port that day. Ephesus itself was crowded and hot, but she let us go at the kids’ pace, and she always tried to make things interesting for them.
When Işık noticed that our younger kids were getting a little tired, she added in a stop at a carpet weaving center – mainly just to get cold drinks and let the kids sit for a little bit. It turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip. I’ve been to a lot of touristy “factories” around the world – stuck looking at cloisonné or jade or fabrics for half an hour because the guide and driver were getting kickbacks to take us there. This wasn’t like that. The guys at the center rolled out carpet after carpet for us to look at, and the kids ran around for an hour, helped unroll carpets, rolled around on the carpets and otherwise had a great time. We then had an excellent lunch next door to the carpet center, in a courtyard where the kids could play. Very good food, great location, and really enjoyable to spend more time talking to Işık. One of our two favorite shore excursions on this list.
Invergordon, Scotland Shore Excursions
Invergordon isn’t an interesting town, but there are a lot of great sites nearby. We met up with friends who drove us to Dunrobin Castle. We explored the castle, watched the falconry show (very cool) and then had lunch in nearby Golspie. We also explored the area between Dunrobin and the ship a little, finding seals and sea otters. It was a fun day, and we only heard positive things from the people on the ship who had chosen Loch Ness and other areas to explore.
Kirkwall, Scotland Shore Excursions
I mentioned above that we’ve had two favorite shore excursions. Kirkwall, in Scotland’s Orkney Islands, was the other. More than a year in advance I booked a full-day private tour with Lorna at See Orkney . She picked us up as soon as the ship docked and off we went. We started with two circles of standing stones not far from Kirkwall, since we wanted to see those sites before the big buses arrived, but then we headed off to explore the area.
We went to a working farm, to some burial mounds and to an excellent rural pub/brewery for lunch, and then drove out to the Brough of Birsay, an island that can only be reached at low tide. We let the kids play on the beach for a while as the tide was going down, when suddenly a walkway appeared linking the mainland and the island. It was so cool! We walked across and explored the Brough of Birsay, finding the ruins of old Viking settlements and, even better, puffins. Overall an amazingly fun day, and one in which we saw very few of the other 2,400 people from the ship. It made us want to return to the Orkney Islands in the future.
Kristiansand, Norway Shore Excursions
Kristiansand is a nice little town, with grassy areas for kids to play, excellent cafes and bakeries ( Kjerstis Kjøkken especially), and good street markets. Having said that, this wasn’t a very exciting stop. Instead of giving us 6.5 hours in Kristiansand and 5.5 hours in Bergen, Disney should have skipped Kristiansand and given us enough time in Bergen to really explore. Maybe that’s not possible with cruise scheduling, but it’s difficult to understand what Disney thought we would do with a little over six hours in this small town.
La Spezia (or Livorno), Italy Shore Excursions
La Spezia was Disney’s port stop for Pisa and Florence. It’s now been replaced on most cruises by Livorno. My take on Florence is the same as Rome – unless this is the only chance you’re going to have to visit Florence, don’t try to see it in a day off of a cruise ship docked an hour and a half away. If you decide to go anyway, definitely don’t go with 54 others on a large bus. Book a small private tour so that you can fit more in and have the tour tailored to you and your kids. An alternative would be to book a private car to Pisa, Lucca or elsewhere in Tuscany – get away from the crowds, enjoy Italy and don’t try to see one of the world’s most amazing cities in a day.
We spent the day in La Spezia, a cute little town near the Cinque Terre. We lingered over cappuccino, shopped and enjoyed a long Italian lunch.
Mykonos, Greece Shore Excursions
There’s no need to book anything in Mykonos. Walk off the ship, head into town and get lost in the narrow, twisting passageways. Pick a café for lunch, get gelato and let your kids play on the beach. If your ship is there for sunset, walk up to the windmills for the best view. Mykonos isn’t my favorite Greek island for multi-day family trips given its popularity and the nightly party scene, but it’s a good cruise stop.
Naples, Italy Shore Excursions
Naples was our other semi-successful official Disney port shore excursion. We signed up for the half-day trip to Pompeii and had a good time. While the large group necessitated some waiting around for snack and bathroom breaks, overall it was a decent way to see Pompeii, and we enjoyed the guide. In the afternoon we dropped two of the kids at the Disney kids club on board and walked around town with our youngest child, getting pizza (of course).
Oslo, Norway Shore Excursions
Oslo has a lot of great sites and museums, all conveniently linked by public transportation. Download the OsloPass App in advance and buy one-day Oslo Passes through the app. With the passes pre-loaded, we walked off the ship and headed straight for the ferry to Bygdøy. We missed the ferry by seconds, so we turned around and walked one minute to the bus stop (near the Nobel Peace Prize Center) and took the next bus to Bygdøy instead. At Bygdøy we went to the Fram Museum, which showcases the Norwegian Arctic exploration vessel (my kids’ favorite museum in Oslo). The Kon Tiki Museum, Viking Ship Museum and Norwegian Folk Museum are all nearby and worthwhile as well.
From the peninsula, we hopped on a bus to Frogner/Vigeland Park, or as close to the park as we could get, and walked to the park and to the statue garden in the middle. We spent the better part of an hour there, walking through the statues, playing at the playground near the main entrance and throwing a Frisbee. We then took the T-Bane from nearby Majorstuen one stop to the center of town and walked down Karl Johans Gate to the Opera House, getting lunch on the way.
The kids loved running around the Opera House – be sure to head up to the roof. Then we took the T-Bane from the central station back to the National Theater and walked back to the ship. Total expense: only the Oslo Passes and lunch. If we had had a few more hours in town, I would have taken the T-Bane to Sognsvann, a gorgeous park with lakes and hiking trails, and gone to see The Scream at the National Gallery as well. And Holmenkollen can be fun, with its ski jump overlooking the city. So much to do! And no need to arrange a tour.
Palermo, Sicily Shore Excursions
We hadn’t intended to go to Palermo, but Disney substituted it in when they canceled their port stop in Tunis, Tunisia. We booked a Disney Port Adventure that included a quick city tour and a ceramics workshop. It was a truly terrible tour – too many people and disorganized, and our kids hated creating and painting ceramics with 40+ others. This tour was the primary reason we stopped booking anything through Disney.
Reykjavik, Iceland Shore Excursions
We had a two-day stop in Reykjavik. When we arrived in the early afternoon of day one, my wife and oldest daughter took a taxi to Laxnes Horse Farm and went horseback riding (on Icelandic horses naturally) for two hours and had a great time. I walked around Reykjavik with my other two kids, met up with friend, and headed to the iconic Hallgrímskirkja church for a great view over the city.
On day two we went to the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa. I had booked a shore excursion through Reykjavik Excursions , which picked us up at the ship at 8:30 and took us to the main bus station in town where we quickly transferred buses and went on to the Blue Lagoon. When we arrived we showed them our voucher (pre-purchased through Reykjavik Excursions), changed, showered and spent roughly an hour in the lagoon. We then showered again, hopped on one of the hourly buses back to town and were taken directly to the ship. It couldn’t have been easier and it cost us US$169 total (two adults at 77 Euros each and free for our three kids).
The exact same shore excursion was offered through Disney Port Adventures for $500 (two adults at $139 each and three children at $74 each). And if you went with Disney you had to wait in an entrance line, since you were arriving with 50+ others, and you had a set departure time. We could have stayed as long as we wanted and taken any of the hourly buses back to the ship. Another reason to always check out alternatives to the Disney shore excursions.
Rhodes, Greece Shore Excursions
We loved exploring Rhodes Town – one of the best-preserved medieval cities in Europe. We walked around the city and the palace, let the kids play in the moat (they highly recommend jumping off the piles of cannon balls) and had an excellent Greek lunch in a charming square under towering ficus trees. One of our best cruise stops. Be warned though – don’t get the black henna tattoos !
Santorini, Greece Shore Excursions
This is another island where you don’t need to arrange anything in advance unless you want to get out of the main cities and explore the lesser-traveled areas. We departed the ship as soon as we were able to, rode on donkeys up the hill to Fira, jumped in a taxi and headed to Oia for the day. Our favorite restaurant in the world is on the water below Oia ( Dimitris Ammoudi Taverna ), and we enjoyed an amazing three-hour lunch there before shopping a little, taking a bus back to Fira and then taking the cable car back down to the ship. It worked out perfectly, except that we wouldn’t ride on the donkeys again since we felt bad for them – it’s a hard life being a donkey walking up and down stone steps all day. Also, the line for the cable car down was 40 minutes or so. If we didn’t have a sleeping child we would have walked it.
Valletta, Malta Shore Excursions
We stopped in Valletta twice. The first time we simply walked around the town, got gelato and explored the Battery, gardens, and cathedral. The second time we booked a full-day private tour through TouringMalta. I don’t remember our guide interacting with our kids as much as others have, but it was a good tour and we were able to see a lot more of the island, including Marsaxlokk Fishing Village, the Blue Grotto (with a boat ride) and the medieval city of Mdina. The tour ended with a walk through Valletta, where we were given the history of the city and island – far more than we pieced together our first trip. We particularly liked Mdina and our lunch there.
Villefranche, France Shore Excursions
Villefranche was a nice, lazy stop for us. We wandered the steep, narrow streets, got amazing pastries (because France) and spent several hours on the stone beach while our kids played. We also could have easily taken a train to Nice, Cannes or Monaco, all just minutes away.
We made some mistakes our first cruise and shore excursions but learned from them. My general advice for these or any other cruise ports:
- Plan far in advance. As soon as you book your cruise, look at the ports and figure out where you want to do tours and where you don’t need to book anything. Some of our stops were in towns of 7,000 people. That means that there aren’t going to be a lot of private tour options. If you want the best guides and tours, contact them at least a year in advance.
- Choose the kid-friendliest option for your shore excursions or private tours. Ask yourself whether a 10-hour bus trip through a major city is something your young kids will enjoy.
- Look at the list of official Disney Port Adventures to get a feel for what to see at each stop, but don’t book shore excursions unless it’s your only option. With 55 people on a bus there’s going to be limited flexibility, and there can be delays for unscheduled bathroom stops. You’re also likely not getting the best pricing – Disney’s price for the Blue Lagoon port shore excursion in Reykjavik was three times as much as the exact same tour booked locally.
- To research the best private tour options, simply Google “day trips from Livorno” or wherever your stop is. And go to TripAdvisor, search for that city, and then look at Activities and Tours. Don’t go by the rankings, since those sometimes aren’t indicative of quality, but definitely read the reviews.
- Remember that your cruise is supposed to be relaxing. That includes the port stops. Don’t feel pressure to plan something in every port.
- My review of our first two Disney Cruises is HERE .
- My open letter to Disney about what they need to improve is HERE .
- My review of our Disney Fantasy cruise in the Caribbean is HERE .
Everything above is based on our experiences at each Disney port and shore excursions, but I’d love to hear from you too. What have been your most successful or least successful European port stops? What would you recommend to others?
More from Travel Babbo
September 30, 2016 at 12:36 pm
We have never been on a cruise, but I’m tempted to try after reading this post. It seems like such a great way to see a lot of of destinations in a limited time. What scares me, is the thousands of people on the cruise and the crowds everywhere you go. Would you recommend it for the Greek Islands or is it better to just stay at one or two islands instead? I read your post about Naxos earlier and it looks like a nice place to stay as well, maybe in combination with the other islands nearby…
September 30, 2016 at 4:55 pm
Hi Jurga – for Greece I’d recommend going to one or two islands for several days or a week rather than seeing a bunch of islands off of a cruise ship. Cruises are a good way to get an introduction to a place, but like you said your view of that place will be skewed by the fact that there are thousands of day-trippers there with you. When you travel to an island separately, depending on the island, there will be days without cruise ships in port. That will let you enjoy the destination more. I highly recommend Naxos! We’re going back next summer.
September 30, 2016 at 11:34 pm
Thanks Eric – that’s the feeling I had too. We might see each other in Naxos then 😉.
November 24, 2016 at 12:05 pm
I’ve booked a Disney Alaska tour for next year and am taking your advice to look up independent tour options to the Disney por activities. I don’t suppose you’ve been and have recommendations?
November 24, 2016 at 12:45 pm
Nope, not yet. It’s on our agenda in the next year or two, but we’ll likely go with a smaller cruise line like Uncruise. No idea yet on the best excursions. Sorry!
March 20, 2017 at 11:19 am
DCL has a 11-Night Northern Europe Cruise from Dover to Copenhagen in summer of 2018. The port of call will include Netherlands (Amsterdam), Germany (Warnemünde (Berlin)), Sweden (Stockholm), Finland (Helsinki), Russia (St. Petersburg), Estonia (Tallinn), and Denmark (Copenhagen)! Russia is the only port with 2 full days and everyone else with close to a full day.
Do you think this itinerary allows a family of 3 with a 6 yrs old be able to enjoy all the destinations? Initially I got a little sticker shock with the cost (about 15k with 5B Catg.) not including the airfare but after reading your article I guess its not too bad??
Any thoughts will be appreciated..
March 21, 2017 at 1:50 am
What a great itinerary! I would have loved to have gotten to St. Petersburg on our cruises, but Disney only sails there every few years. I wouldn’t hesitate to do that with a 6-year-old. Amsterdam, Helsinki, Copenhagen and Tallinn are utterly walkable, so you would be good in those cities even without any port excursions booked. Berlin is doable too, using public transportation. Disney is overpriced compared to other lines, and as I wrote about after our last cruise there’s a lot that they can improve on, but they remain the kid-friendliest line, and you’ll enjoy all of those ports. And if you went to all of those cities individually you would be looking at $500-1000/day for hotels, food, etc…, so the cruise experience is really just a moderately-priced bonus (mainly for your 6-year-old). Enjoy! And definitely book quickly. DCL sells out fast.
June 22, 2017 at 2:44 pm
Thanks for your article! I totally agree!
We just returned from a Disney cruise to Norway. We always book our own excursions. In Stavanger, Norway Disney’s Pulpit hike excursion was an incredible $195.00 per person. We bought the same ferry/bus tickets for a total of $112! A savings of $668! We also rent cars at the ports. In Norway, we rented a car at 2 of the ports and we were able to see so much more of Norway and on our time schedule.
June 23, 2017 at 5:28 am
I love hearing that! Well, I hate hearing how much Disney continues to overcharge families for excursions, but ideally one family at a time will choose to book things themselves and maybe Disney will eventually become more competitive. Great idea to rent cars in ports. We’ve never done that.
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