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View Full Version : Questions from a real ignorant DCL newbie!!


pjlla
03-18-2004, 08:06 PM
I know almost nothing about cruising or the DCL. That said, we are contemplating cruising (family of 4) in late winter/spring of 2006. The thing we have in mind at this time is three days at the parks/4 day cruise thing. Does this get booked all together or can you book them separately?

I understand from what I have read here that room types go by "category".... is that correct? What category would give us a room similar to a typical hotel room (two dble beds, tv, bathroom). Are all of the rooms real small?

If we get a rental car to use during our park days and then drive to the port, is there a place at the port to return rental cars or would we have to pay to park it there? IF we return the rental car, what would be the best way to get back to the airport?

Are you required to dine at the "formal night" dinners? We are a real casual family and I wouldn't really look forward to being forced to dress up.... especially since I don't own any dressy clothes.

Really dumb question here but.... should I assume that day 1 and day 4 of a four day cruise are embarkment and disembarkment days? So you really on have two full days on board?

How far in advance can you book these? The websites I have checked only offer a schedule one year out. Is that typical?

From what I have seen it looks like the 3 and 4 day cruises don't go to Castaway Cay. Is that correct?

We like to vacation during off season. Is cruising off-season the same as Disney off-season? We usually go to WDW in January, but have read that the weather on a cruise in Jan can be pretty chilly. We wouldn't want that. Would March be okay? Or is that high season due to spring break?

What should my first step be at this time? Can you recommend any good books? I love all of the theme park books, but have never noticed a DCL book (maybe because I wasn't looking?)

Thanks so much for all the help I'm sure will be coming my way!.......P

mketting
03-18-2004, 08:25 PM
First step is to read this board and post questions. People are very, very helpful.

Rental Car- You can rent from budget at the airport, use it for you time at WDW and then drive to the port, drop off family and drive 3 miles to budget office to return the car. They provide a shuttle back to the port. When you return you can once again get the shuttle to Budget, get a car and return it to the airport.

The 4 day cruise leaves Sunday and returns Thursday. You have 3 full days and 2 partial. Definately to the 4 day, 3 isn't enough.

Do WDW first.

We went Feb 29. The weather was good and so was the price. It was after the Feb. break we NYorkers have and prior to spring breaks starting.

The 4 day does not have any formal nights. They ask for no shorts but other than that we saw people in all different types of dress for dinner so you can wear whatever would be comfortable for you.

Both the 3 and 4 day go to CC. It is a beautiful Island. We all wished we could have spent another day there. We did the Banana Boat and Parasailing and my DD6 had a great time at the kids club for awhile in the afternoon.

As far as booking we used AAA but from reading this board I can see there are many, many different options and it is worth the time to check them out. Costco seems to very popular, with great rates.

If you do a land/sea package through Disney it will include all your transfers from the airport to park to port and back to airport. However, you can definitely get a better deal doing it on your own. We did just one day at Mk the day before the cruise. We stayed outside the park (1 mile from entrance) at a nice hotel with a pool for just $39 a night. If you are the type of family to spend all day at the parks this is a good route to go. If you want to be able to go back to your hotel throughout the day staying within the park is better.

Our trip was the best vacation I have ever been on!!!!

Good Luck!

mketting
03-18-2004, 08:32 PM
I forgot, the cabins.

We were in a Cat 11 room. It had a king sized bed with a couch that was turned down to a bed each night. The Cat. 11 for 4 people have a bed that drops down from the ceiling.

It was definitely smaller than a hotel room but plenty of room for us. We were only in the room to change and sleep. Once again it depends are your family vacation style. If you are the go, go ,go type like we are, this room was fine.The only hard part was the mornings when there is no light so it is hard to get up.
If you plan to spend more time in your cabin than you might want to go for an outside cabin with a veranda which gives you a lot more space.

mketting
03-18-2004, 08:34 PM
I forgot, the cabins.

We were in a Cat 11 room. 3 People. It had a king sized bed with a couch that was turned down to a bed each night. The Cat. 11 for 4 people have a bed that drops down from the ceiling.

It was definitely smaller than a hotel room but plenty of room for us. We were only in the room to change and sleep. Once again it depends are your family vacation style. If you are the go, go ,go type like we are, this room was fine.The only hard part was the mornings when there is no light so it is hard to get up.
If you plan to spend more time in your cabin than you might want to go for an outside cabin with a veranda which gives you a lot more space.

Michelemouse
03-18-2004, 08:43 PM
There aren't any cabins that have a setup like a standard hotel room. Most cabins have one queen sized bed (which can be separated into twin beds if you choose) and a set of bunkbeds. The bunkbeds are made up of a sofa that converts to a twin and an upper bunk that drops from the ceiling. This upper bunk is taken down each evening by your Stateroom Host/Hostess. He/she will put the bed away when they make up your room each morning.

There are some suites that offer multple double/queen beds but they are rather pricey and difficult to get as there are not may of them and they are booked up very quickly.

Horace Horsecollar
03-18-2004, 08:49 PM
Originally posted by pjlla
Really dumb question here but.... should I assume that day 1 and day 4 of a four day cruise are embarkment and disembarkment days? So you really on have two full days on board?
The Disney Wonder offers 3-night and 4-night itineraries. A common mistake on this board is that people call them 3-day and 4-day cruises.

You can board around noon on the first day. That night is your first night. Each night, you get dinner and a show. After your final night, you eat breakfast and leave the ship. T

A 4-night cruise gives you the afternoon and evening of day 1. Then you get full days on days 2, 3, and 4. And day 5 barely counts.

CM_Mom
03-18-2004, 08:56 PM
In addition to this post, check out www.passporter.com and get a copy of the PassPorter's Field Guide to the Disney Cruise Line. I bet it will answer lots of your questions...as well as a bunch you haven't asked yet.

pjlla
03-18-2004, 09:05 PM
Wow.... lots of answers really fast! Thanks so much! .........P

hydster
03-18-2004, 09:23 PM
We werent new to cruising or disney but we were new to DCL and WDW when we went in 2002. We found it to be cheaper for our family of 5 to do the land/sea package through Dreams Unlimited and they provided wonderful service for us the whole time. One nice thing about doing a land/sea pkg with dreams is that you get an agent who becomes kind of your own personal trip planner. We had our agent get us the coveted Cinderella Castle Breakfast and she took care of it all. Another nice thing about doing the pkg together is that when you register at your hotel you're done registering. You show passport or birth certificates for your party at the hotel at a special desk set up and they check you into the cruise as well as into the hotel. That way you already have your room key for the Disney resort you are staying in AND you use the same key for your room on the cruise. You use it for charges to your room and you can use it through Disneyworld if you wanted to buy something. Another perk of staying on Disney Property is the fact that you can buy something at the park and have it sent to your hotel so you dont have to carry it around with you.

I'd get some prices from different places and find out what is the cheapest way to go for your family.

We got a car service since we stayed on property and it was nice to not have to stress about where we were going and how to get there. You can rent a car but if you stay on property and dont plan to go off property you might check out towncar sites and see if they compare.

We dont usually like to dress up either so it was nice to not have to deal with that on the 4 day cruise although I am looking forward to a formal dinner on the 7 day in a few weeks just to see us all dressed up and get a picture taken.

Also to see pictures and read some GREAT information put out there by Barb and Tony aka inkkognito and atigeg (hope those are right) they have a lot of information on their site at
http://www.*****************/ and also from Dave's site at
http://www.dcltribute.com/

Usually the year is about the longest out you can book a cruise. The earlier you book the better deal you will get most generally.

When we went we got a Cat 4 family suite with a balcony but we had 5 people. This time we got 2 connecting cabins for much cheaper. Also these rooms are not as big as a hotel room but you usually arent in them much so it doesnt make a huge difference. We found that a standard cruise room is plenty big enough for our family (when we had 4) and since you can all stay in one room your kids would be considered 3rd and 4th passengers which gives them a cheaper rate! I dont remember how old your kids are but unless they are in the adult age range they would qualify for the 3rd and 4th passenger.

My suggestion would be to do a little reading up on the websites listed and also the passporter is a great place to start and then of course here is also a great place to get a feel for the whole thing.

HTH
Heidi

pjlla
03-19-2004, 04:47 PM
Hydster..... thanks so much for taking the time to provide me with all that information. I really appreciate it. Yes, my kids would be the 3rd and 4th passengers in that room. When we are planning on going they will be about 8 and 10 1/2. Does that still qualify them as children? I was looking at the per person prices and assumed that was for each one of us.... I would be thrilled to find out differently!

I wasn't really fond of the Passporter for the WDW theme parks, but everyone here on the DCL boards seems to recommend them, so I think I will try to get a hold of a copy. Thanks again...P

hydster
03-20-2004, 03:29 PM
pjlla--Yes your kids would qualify at those ages for the 3rd and 4th person rates which are usually much cheaper! They qualify for the 3rd and 4th person rates from age 3-12. Usually they are between $399 and 699.00 per child depending on the cabin you choose and when you choose to go. I just looked at the DCL website and plugged in April 28-May 5 on a 3 day land/4 day sea vacation and for you and your kids in one room the cheapest through dcl (though you can probably get it cheaper from somewhere like Dreams or AAA or Costco) was $3319.40 on a Cat 11 inside stateroom. It would put you in a Moderate Resort like Port Orleans Riverside or something like that, give you tickets into the parks for the 3 days before and your cruise for that rate. That rate doesnt of course include transfers, insurance or gratuities but it gives you kind of an idea of the cost. So for the 33 hundred you would each get a 3 day park hopper pass, a room at a Moderate Resort and your cruise. For 7 days total that only works out to something like $118 pp per day.

I havent seen the passporter for DCL but have heard it is useful. I think you can gain just as much knowledge on these boards as you could with the Passporter and for MUCH cheaper! :teeth:

HTH
Heidi

pjlla
03-21-2004, 08:35 AM
Yes, but I can take the Passporter along to read in the car while I wait to pick up my kids and things like that. The Disboards keep interferring with my housekeeping;) :rolleyes: ........P

CM_Mom
03-21-2004, 09:45 AM
And you can take the Passporter on Board Ship, where access to the DisBoards via the internet is $.75 per MINUTE. And as much as I love the Boards, I've got better things to do on a cruise that sit at a computer in the Internet Cafe.:wave2:

Look at that countdown go...wish I could speed it up.

felixdacat
03-21-2004, 11:23 AM
PJLLA,

For the most flexability, I would highly suggest booking the Land/Sea separately. I have a thread on these boards that explains some of the hassles I have gone through because I booked the package together. (If you end up booking during a non-peak period you should actually save money booking spearately)
I booked my vacation 15 months out which I believe is the maximum. However this may have been because I booked the Land/Sea together. I would start inquiring with a travel agent around 18 months out.
I purchased the Passporter for the cruise on Amazon and feel it was worth the $11 I paid for it.
Considering the ages of your children, I would suggest a category 6 cabin. It has a verandah, it has the fold out couch plus the hidden bed in the ceiling. Thats is what I purchased. I'm cruising in 5 weeks, so you can wait for my report once I get back.
An advantage of booking early is that you can specify which cabin you want.I believe all the rest of your questions have been answered by otehrs.
Warning, these boards are addictive. I generally come here 5-10 times a week. But you do learn alot.

crisi
03-21-2004, 04:23 PM
My personal two cents.

Do the cruise or go to WDW. Don't combine them. I haven't so this isn't from my own personal experience, but our tablemates did and they said from now on, one or the other.


The reasons:

3 or 4 days at WDW isn't enough for me, particularly if you have children. I think six days is pretty much the minimum I would want to spend in the World.

We did four days at sea, which was wonderful. Three would have certainly been too short, but, as it turned out, seven would have been better. We elected to start with four because we didn't know if we'd enjoy cruising and didn't want to bother with formal night.

Packing for both is a hassle. You need to bring along some nice clothes to cruise in. And, while I'm sure you don't do WDW in rags, it is a little different dressing experience.

I'd lose half a day in transit. Morning of cruise day is pretty much a waste (I could probably fit an early character breakfast in - and some people have even managed a morning at the parks).

Cruising happens at a different pace than my WDW vacations. Cruising is what my husband has decided he enjoys as a relaxing vacation - he'd never consider our WDW trips relaxing. I find it takes a few days to fall into a pace.

I know I'll be back to WDW, so I'm not anxious to get there "right now."

hydster
03-21-2004, 05:22 PM
We did ours as a land/sea/land experience and enjoyed every part of it! It was really fun to go to WDW for the 3 days before and then get on the ship and then get back to WDW for 3 more days! Nice that you knew when you got off the cruise you got 3 more days afterwards to play before you had to go home. It made getting off the ship much easier for us!!

For packing we packed 3 suitcases (we would have packed that many no matter what) so we packed 1 suitcase just for the 1st 3 days at WDW, the 2nd for the cruise wear and the 3rd for the remaining days at WDW. It was nice because we only unpacked one suitcase at a time! Made traveling much easier! We also used the big ziploc bags and put 1 day's clothes for each child in the bag which was underwear, shorts, t-shirt, socks...then we never had to look for a pair of clean underwear or some socks! Then when we were on our last night at WDW before coming home I seperated the laundry (took about 20 min) and used 1 suitcase for whites, one for colors and one for souveniers! I didnt think packing for 3 seperate trips was hard at all..in fact I thought it was one of the easiest trips we've had with luggage and packing.

It didnt feel at all to us as we lost a 1/2 a day in travel. The morning of the cruise we had a car service booked so we went to AK for a few hours, caught the car and drove to the port..did the same basic thing after the cruise..went to POR and then to the MK for the day..all you basically lose is the drive to the port and you have to do that no matter what!

Doing a cruise AFTER WDW is a nice way to relax after a few hectic days in the park!

For us we LOVED doing the parks and then the cruise..but I guess to each his own!
Heidi

pjlla
03-21-2004, 06:35 PM
Originally posted by felixdacat
PJLLA,

For the most flexability, I would highly suggest booking the Land/Sea separately. I have a thread on these boards that explains some of the hassles I have gone through because I booked the package together. (If you end up booking during a non-peak period you should actually save money booking spearately)
I booked my vacation 15 months out which I believe is the maximum. However this may have been because I booked the Land/Sea together. I would start inquiring with a travel agent around 18 months out.
I purchased the Passporter for the cruise on Amazon and feel it was worth the $11 I paid for it.
Considering the ages of your children, I would suggest a category 6 cabin. It has a verandah, it has the fold out couch plus the hidden bed in the ceiling. Thats is what I purchased. I'm cruising in 5 weeks, so you can wait for my report once I get back.
An advantage of booking early is that you can specify which cabin you want.I believe all the rest of your questions have been answered by otehrs.
Warning, these boards are addictive. I generally come here 5-10 times a week. But you do learn alot.

I KNOW they are addicting......look at the number of posts I have! And that doesn't include the time I spend just "lurking"!! :wave2: .......................P

april riddle
03-21-2004, 06:46 PM
I agree with Chrissi - I have never combined my vacations but before I booked my future cruise I talked to alot of my friends that have done the three or four day cruise and felt like they just didn't have enough time on the ship. That is partly why I talked DH into a week long cruise - that and the fact we have done Disney twice in four years (I would do Disney every six months if I could). I just found out that my younger sister is thinking about getting married sometime in the next year and is strongly considering Disney(yeah!!!!!) so I may get another trip to Orlando. I just wanted a vacation that I could do as little or as much as I wanted - a trip to the parks for us is nonstop from opening to closing. just my 2cents

pjlla
03-21-2004, 07:37 PM
Just a quick note.........we don't go to WDW nearly as often as I would like. We went in January 2002 and again this past January. Before that we hadn't been since our honeymoon in 1992!! I would love to be able to go every year, but for a few reasons it just isn't possible. And I couldn't bear the thought of being in Florida, but not going to the parks! I'm sure that a 7 day cruise is terrific, but I would really miss the parks! Plus my DH is concerned that we won't "love" cruising like I think we will. So I really think a 3/4 split is the best way for us to start. Maybe we will become "cruise addicts" like you all!! Thanks again for so much helpful advise! KEEP IT COMING!.....................P