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Old 03-30-2005, 04:37 PM   #1
jhorstma
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3/19/05 Eastern Part 2/2 - Was it worth the DCL Premium?

Our Disney cruise was the best vacation we’ve ever had. The weather, islands, activities, and ship experience were all fantastic. We came away with some very special memories that will last a lifetime; memories that will outlive DW and me as our kids take them through their lifetimes (good Lord willing). When getting off the ship on Sat. morning I got some dust in my eyes as they played farewell music – I wasn’t the only one having problems with those pesky tear ducts. The kids have not stopped pestering me to book a 7 day Western – after all the issues we had w/DD not wanting to stay in OL she can’t wait to see her counselors again.

If you’re a first-time DCL cruiser who’s already booked on the Eastern and you and your family are bursting with anticipation then read no further, book your excursions if you haven’t done so already (or at least plan for activities beyond Phillipsburg and Charlotte Amalie), pray for nice warm weather and calm currents around CC, and get ready for a magical vacation. Maybe read part 1 of this review as well as other Eastern reviews to get a sense of what to expect. Believe me, you’re going to have an incredible, once-in-a-lifetime experience with your family.

Back to cold harsh reality - we paid top dollar for the experience, especially given that it was spring break week for many school districts and right before Easter. And the kids (DS11 and DD9) were getting bored and restless come the long haul back from St. Thomas (CC cured this thankfully). Regardless of the week we chose, as is well documented elsewhere we could have cruised the same itinerary on another line with a bigger stateroom and more activities for a lot less money. RCCL Mariner of the Seas was docked at Havensight when we were in St. Thomas (way out in Crown Bay) – that is an amazing vessel. DCL sets themselves apart (slightly, I would argue) from the rest of the cruise industry with CC, the Disney service experience (and they really do come through with consistently excellent service), and an overall focus on wholesome, top-quality family programming and entertainment with an optional tie-in to the WDW resort. So is the DCL premium worth it?

The short answer, IMHO, is “yes” if you fall within the following categories:

1. Your family has sailed DCL before and you can’t imagine sailing with any other cruise line (fair enough – it’s a wonderful/magical way to go, plus you’ve developed expectations that you can realistically expect to have met);

2. You have children between the ages of 4 and 8 that are comfortable in play group settings (OC is a great experience, as is Scuttles Cove);

3. Grandma and Grandpa are hosting a voyage with your family (including some form of subsidies), possibly as part of a family reunion. This category effectively cancels out the DCL premium, making a Disney cruise much more attractive.

If you don’t fall into these categories then you probably would do better on another cruise line. Disney obviously markets to a much broader niche; here are my thoughts on various scenarios:

1. Your family loves Disney: Vacation at WDW and maybe do a 3 day weekend cruise to Nassau and CC – you’ll be able to cruise cheap by having maximum scheduling flexibility (minimal school/work impact) and not be as tempted to have a pricey verandah stateroom.

2. You have infants or toddlers: Again, vacation at WDW and hold off on cruising until they a) can swim and b) are old enough for OC.

3. You are a first-time cruiser with preteens or teens: Go w/RCCL due to the much wider range of available activities. Look, I hate to say it but on the 7 day cruises most kids in these age groups run out of things to do on Disney, especially with 3 sea days on the Eastern (not all kids – OL and the Stack do appeal to a good number of young people who have a great time – but in most cases these are from families who have sailed DCL before and know what to expect).

4. You’re adults: If you love Disney then by all means sail DCL – you’ll love the shows as well as Quiet Cove and Palo. But again I’d probably recommend the Land/Sea w/WDW instead of 7 days on the Magic.

The bottom line as I see it for people in these categories is by all means sail on Disney for that “wonder”ful DCL experience, but leave the “magic” to WDW.

Here’s a modest proposal if you’re eyeing 7 days on the Magic – plan 2 cruises! First sail on a 3 day Wonder cruise on a weekend that’s right for you (and your wallet), booking the cheapest cabin available. Go easy on the booze and Nassau excursions and you can comfortably do this for under $2,500 for a family of 4. You’ll get CC, the Disney shows, AP, Palo, and everything else Mickey, but you’ll minimize the DCL premium and the potential for older kids not enjoying OL or the Stack and being bored. Before going on the Wonder research Caribbean cruises on other lines out of PC, Miami, or San Juan (which opens up more exotic Southern Caribbean islands with fewer sea days). On the last night of the cruise sit everyone down and find out what your family would like to do next (this will ease the pain of having to leave the boat the next morning). If your family loved Disney then by all means book a 7 day Magic voyage, taking advantage of the onboard booking discount. Otherwise (assuming you still like cruising – and you will) when you get home you can book a 7 day cruise that best meets your family’s wishes. If you decide on a 7 day cruise on a line other than Disney, the premium you save will go a long way towards paying for the 3 day cruise on the Wonder, plus you’ll have a much more enjoyable Caribbean cruise.

For our family we will definitely cruise again, but after shelling out well over $12K for this trip it will be quite some time before our next voyage. DS and DD will be a few years older and RCCL will likely be a more attractive choice for us. But we will always have our Magical memories from an absolutely incredible cruise with the Mouse. Gosh I’m tearing up just typing this. You can’t go wrong cruising Disney.
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Last edited by jhorstma; 04-13-2005 at 01:06 PM.
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Old 03-31-2005, 03:20 AM   #2
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Great observations. After sailing twice with Disney, I am looking at other options. Still love Disney but willing to try something different. Problem is that I think that my daughter will expect to see characters on other cruiselines.
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Old 03-31-2005, 09:14 AM   #3
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Thumbs up Thank you for a great report!

We're sailing in 2 weeks, you detailed report is very informative.

Sue
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Old 03-31-2005, 04:23 PM   #4
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We sailed our first time last October with DCL and we loved it . We have already booked our next DCL cruise for next July and can't wait. Our kids are older but still love it. DS is 12 will be 13, DD is 16 will be 17 when we sail again. We have sailed other cruise line and DCL has them beat with activities and shows by a long shot. Of course, we are Disney lovers.
I would recommend the 7 night eastern cruise to everyone, which I have. The ports and islands are beautiful. Even though our kids are much older, we enjoyed sitting around and watching the younger kids play on the decks. Seeing their reaction on their face when they saw a character was so cute. It make you feel like a kid again. It was wonderful.
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Old 04-02-2005, 07:07 PM   #5
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I agree with all of your sentiments posted above....Being a FL Resident just makes cruising on DCL too attractive and less $ for a 7day cruise than any other cruise line, including Carnival's older ships, in addition to not having to pay for plane fare.....The 5/7 cruise we are taking is $5000+ for 4, cat 9, airfare not included for non FL res.....we paid 1/2 for our upcoming Western....Our friends crusing with us got an equally great deal for 5...$4100 in a cat 4....
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Old 04-02-2005, 11:20 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alexandrew
I agree with all of your sentiments posted above....Being a FL Resident just makes cruising on DCL too attractive and less $ for a 7day cruise than any other cruise line, including Carnival's older ships, in addition to not having to pay for plane fare.....The 5/7 cruise we are taking is $5000+ for 4, cat 9, airfare not included for non FL res.....we paid 1/2 for our upcoming Western....Our friends crusing with us got an equally great deal for 5...$4100 in a cat 4....
I seriously need to move to Florida - I'd go broke saving money on cruises.
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Old 04-03-2005, 05:58 PM   #7
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ahhhh, but I pay this savings back in homeowners insurance, which, due to 4 hurricanes in 04 was recently raised to $3000.00 per year....
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Old 04-03-2005, 06:02 PM   #8
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DCL vs RDDL

After reading your post, I am now a bit excited about our upcoming cruise (in 2 weeks) on RCCL. We have only ever cruised Disney and have been told that we will be very unhappy with any other line. We are cruising this time with friends and the Mariner was their choice, not ours. Our DD are 12 and 15, so it sounds like they will enjoy the new experience. Disney wil always be #1 in our hearts, but I am now looking forward to our new adventure. Thanks for the report!
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Old 04-03-2005, 08:12 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jhorstma
So is the DCL premium worth it?
The short answer, IMHO, is “yes” if you fall within the following categories:

1. Your family has sailed DCL before and you can’t imagine sailing with any other cruise line (fair enough – it’s a wonderful/magical way to go, plus you’ve developed expectations that you can realistically expect to have met);

2. You have children between the ages of 4 and 8 that are comfortable in play group settings (OC is a great experience, as is Scuttles Cove);

3. Grandma and Grandpa are hosting a voyage with your family (including some form of subsidies), possibly as part of a family reunion. This category effectively cancels out the DCL premium, making a Disney cruise much more attractive.
I knew this was the vacation for us!! We sail this June West Coast to Mexico and fall into these catagories almost to a tee!
*This will be our first ever cruise but there have been numerous trips to DL & WDW, so we love disney.
* Our kids are 4 and 8 and, although they have never been in day care, they both are great in play group settings, cooperating, making friends, etc.
* The inlaws subsidised our cruise a bit by paying the initial deposit and insurance! It was suppose to be a big family thing but MIL's health took a turn for the worse and she cannot cruise. SIL got a divorce. Things happen
It is unfortunate that the Inlaws can't come now or more of the trip may have been "subsidised!!"
Thanks for the tips! You iterated everything I was thinking about cruise vacations...DCL now and RCCL when the kids are older.
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Old 04-04-2005, 12:58 PM   #10
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We are going on our first disney cruise in two weeks and it has turned out to be quite expensive, but as we are Disney fans we realize Disney is expensive.
Once you get over the shock of the prices you realize how wonderful the service and everything else they offer is. Again, you have to get over the price. We booked our cruise a year and a half ago and for 4 of us on a 7day we paid $2800. Unfortunately it is an inside cabin, a larger one but still inside. When I wanted to upgrade my DH reminded me how lucky I was to be going. I also know how much time we spend in our room at WDW and realized that it probably won't be that bad.
The cruise itself was not that bad it is all the extras. I could not get flights when I wanted and to get reasonable airfare we are going 2 days earlier and staying 2 days later. Fortunately we have friends we will be staying with but still that would have been expensive! And we still have to pay for excursions, car rental and food.
I also could not resist going to WDW one day to see the castle decorated.
So overall it has turned into a pricey, but hopefully wonderful vacation!

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Old 04-04-2005, 04:16 PM   #11
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What a great review overall part I and II we did our first this past feb and went cat 9 we are doing 7 day eastern next feb Pres week and took a verhanda this will most likely be the last one due to price but who knows. I just think you hit the ball out of the park with this review.
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Old 04-04-2005, 07:45 PM   #12
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Thanks for all the positive feedback! It's what makes this board the best out there - that and all the great info people share. To all those about to sail, I'm so jealous!
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Old 04-05-2005, 01:51 PM   #13
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once again a great and unbiased report !!
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Old 04-05-2005, 03:39 PM   #14
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What an interesting report. I was glad to read it.

Interesting suggesstion about the two cruises instead of a 7 day. Our first cruise was the 7-day Eastern and we loved it!

Also, about the get out there on the islands. It really depends on what you would like to do on your vacation. What worked for your family might not work for another.

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Old 04-06-2005, 12:48 AM   #15
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Having sailed both Disney and RCCL (and Princess) I agree with all you stated. We are going with another couple who wants to do DIsney and happily agreed (it is great) but for money and the most fun on a ship I have had is definately on RCL's Voyager....that is the ship that keeps on giving. I love Disney for other reasons...great service, best staterooms, fantastic private island, great childcare hours (continuous and late). Since the first time on Disney was our first time cruising it will be interesting to look at it through veteren eyes. Any cruise is a great cruise in our book!!! But so far Voyager has been the best! Let's break that record this Sept Disney!!!!
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