In less than 100 days The Family and I set sail on our summer cruise with Disney Cruise Line. The time cannot go by fast enough as far as I’m concerned. The Family LOVES cruising as a vacation. It’s such a relaxed way for us to “get away from it all.”
What do we love about it? For us, it’s the simplicity of the whole trip. You board the ship, unpack your bags, and then you can do as little, or as much, as you want. With The Kids having completely different interests, it would be nearly impossible to plan a non-cruise vacation that kept both of them entertained. With a cruise, we send them off in their own directions and they have plenty to keep them busy. The Girl loves nothing more than to find a cozy spot to curl up with a good book. Sometimes it’s a giant window seat, sometimes it’s an overstuffed chair in one of the lounges, but it’s always somewhere quiet and built for reading. The Boy on the other hand wants his video game time. He makes his way to the kid’s clubs and finds someone to battle. PERFECT! This leaves The Wife and I free to entertain ourselves. Sure there’s the sexy-fun-times to be had with the stateroom all to ourselves. After that quick experience we’re left to our own devices. Usually we end up in the Adults Only part of the ship, sitting in the shade watching the world float by.
As a bonus, after sending the kids on their way, the best part of the cruise is that they can find food and drinks whenever their hearts desire. If they get hungry they don’t have to bug us for money or to take them to the nearest McDonald’s. Nope, it’s a trip to the hot dog stand or pizza counter for a mid-afternoon snack. No cash has to be exchanged, so they just eat whenever and whatever they want. Simply awesome!
As I mentioned, we’re sailing on the Disney Cruise Line this year. It will be our 6th and final time on DCL for a while. Disney has raised their rates significantly for future sailings, so we’re going to make the switch to a more cost-effective line.
This past spring, The Wife took a trip with her sisters on Carnival Cruise Line. She was very wary of sailing on Carnival, hearing tons of horror stories about excessive drunkenness and overall shoddy atmosphere. She was totally surprised by how nice her vacation was. She said there were definitely more drunk people than she remembers on Disney, but not so many that she would consider it to be excessive. She also raved about the food. She said that the food was on par, and in several instances better, than the food we’ve had on Disney. I was totally shocked by that. On the flip side, she also said that the decor was horrible 80’s Vegas and the smoking in the casino seeped into all areas of the ship. That would definitely deter me from putting the whole family on a Carnival ship, but the price is so cheap I might overlook those hassles.
Actually, I think we’ll make the switch to Royal Caribbean. We’ve heard nothing but good things from friends and acquaintances who have sailed with Royal. One of The Wife’s sisters is Diamond or Platinum on Royal. She just raves about it and says its the best she’s experienced. She’s not sailed Disney, but has done most of the others leaving from the US. We’ve already started looking into trips for 2017 and have been extremely surprised with how much we can save by booking Royal instead of Disney. In fact, for the same trip we’re taking this summer we could take 3 Royal Caribbean trips! If that isn’t sufficient reason to make the switch, I don’t know what is. Switching to Carnival makes it closer to 3.5 trips versus Disney!
Beyond price, the other major factor pushing us away from Disney is that the kids no longer really participate in the “magical” experiences on the Disney ships. They aren’t very interested in the character meet & greets, and having breakfast with Mickey lost its allure several years ago. Many of the Disney ship activities are geared for the under-10 crowd, which my kids left behind over 2 years ago. Why pay 3 times as much for a “character experience” that The Kids could care less about?
Do you have any experience on Royal Caribbean? What about Carnival? I’d love to get your feedback on what to expect.