Disney Cruises - convince me this is a good idea

Phoenix and the older kid are all jazzed up to go on a Disney cruise in 2012. It sounds like a lot of fun, except I have some worries.

  1. Will we get seasick? The kidlet and I are both prone to motion sickness, like I can’t ride in the back seat of the car without turning green, and she can’t tolerate trips longer than about 20 minutes without feeling queasy.

  2. Will the younger one climb over the railing and drown? I know, this is probably ridiculous, but I can’t get the picture out of my head. She will be 4 by then, but she has been slow to mature emotionally. She’s rash and impulsive, and gets into everything. Normal babyproofing has never stood up to her. Please tell me they have some foolproof railing-defense system. Preferably with lasers.

  3. How small are the cabins? I need to be able to retreat to my own space, and if I can barely stand up or move around in there, it won’t be soothing, to say the least.

Paging Dangerosa. I was thinking of going on one a couple years ago (but didn’t) and she had some good advice.

I have never been on a Disney cruise, but on other cruiselines the cabins are generally roomy enough. You will not bump your head or have trouble walking, it’s about the size of a small hotel room. If you are prone to motion sickness, your doctor can prescribe a behind the ear patch called transderm scop which should help immensely.

As far as the 4 year old climbing over the railing, I would imagine the Disney cruise lines are even more sensitive to the safety of children than normal ships, and I can’t imagine that a 4 year old would be allowed to run around on the deck by herself for long periods anyway. Hopefully someone with more experience with that specific cruise line will be able to give you more details, but with my experience on other cruise lines I expect they would have an amazing time, and it would be well worth the trip.

My wife is extremely susceptible to motion sickness and she loves going on cruises. She stocks up on the non-drowsy form of Dramamine and has never had any problems. Mythbusters did an episode on sea sickness and found that ginger pills were also effective if you want to try something of a more natural nature.

ETA: boards.cruisecritic.com is an excellent source of information on all things cruising.

  1. Sea sickness is possible; my parents always get the patch. I’ve not been on Disney but modern cruise ships tend to be large and with stabilizers to minimize motion.

  2. I’m 5’7" and all the ships I’ve been on the railing is chest high. Sometimes there’s a solid plate of metal near the bottom to make it hard to climb. Others will have a solid fiberglass or metal sheet all the way to the wood rail. You should look at pictures of the ship you intend to go on.

3)Varies depending on the room type you purchase but it’s my understanding the Disney rooms tend to be slightly bigger than other ships.

Been on the Disney Wonder, about eight years back. Loved it.

We never did. The only night it might have been possible was the first, when they were sailing faster than we did the rest of the time. We had Dramamine (also available on board) but never needed it.

Not a chance.

Disney deals with kids - all kinds of kids - and they are very, very good at it. As I recall, the rails are covered so you couldn’t climb on them if you tried.

There is plenty of headroom. We got a cabin with a balcony, so my wife and I could sit out there while the kids were off exploring or swimming or playing games or doing the 1001 other things they have to do. It’s basically a hotel room, so I never felt particularly cramped. But we were mostly out and playing all day long.

And there are other spaces on board for grown-ups only.

We had a blast, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. My wife and I are considering doing it again without the kids (who are both working this summer).


I worked on the Disney Wonder for six months in 2006 in the Youth Activities department. That’s 10 hour days, 7 days a week - and mine was one of the better jobs on board. I can’t in good conscience recommend cruising to anyone, on any line. My objections have to do with social justice (flags of convenience) and environmentalism. Having seen it from within, I can see how cruisers can choose to ignore these objections, but as a Doper, I feel like fighting ignorance on these issues is important.

But none of what you said related to the questions in the OP.

I haven’t stepped foot on a cruise ship in 20 years because I got so motion sick on my cruise. Everyone told me that there’d be no chance I’d get sick because cruise ships have stabilizers, etc. and my ship (the Norwegian) was the largest ship in service at the time. I vomited for 3 days. Yippee!

Cabins are small. Basically enough room for a bed, closet, dresser and tiny bathroom.

You will have no space of your own within your room. If you want some alone time, go in your room while everyone is somewhere else, or go somewhere else while they’re in the room, or go somewhere else while they’re somewhere else. There’s not much point to hanging out in the room, unless you get a balcony like Shodan did, there’s nothing much there but a bed and a little TV.

We’ve been on both the Wonder and the Magic (the two older boats). The Dream started sailing this year and a new ship will be out next year (can’t remember the name).

I didn’t get seasick, but people DO get seasick. We didn’t have rough seas. One of my friends gets mal de debarquement - she feels like she is on the ship for months (it can last years) after getting off. They can try and avoid rough seas, and MOST people do fine on MOST cruises.

There is plexiglass over the rails on a Disney ship - and on the kids deck the plexiglass extends up a long way (over my head) - Disney has been doing this for a LONG time with hundreds of kids on a ship (many with some exceptional challenges) - you aren’t going to fall off accidentally. Someone did decide to jump off (while in port - a stupid teenager), so its possible to scale and jump if you are dedicated to it.

Disney rooms were - when the ships were built - bigger than the industry standard. They are pretty nice for families - most rooms sleep four and the kid’s bunks are separated from the big bed with a curtain. There is a lot of storage in the closets - the trick is to put your empty suitcases under the beds (you have to lift them a little). You don’t tend to spend a lot of time in your room on a ship. The kids beds turn into a living room with a couch (your room steward does this for you - they work REALLY hard) - which gives you a lot of room during the day - if you were to hang out there - plenty of room to stand up and move around - especially when your family is off and about. I can’t remember how many kids you have - if its more than two, the thing to do is to book two connecting cabins - inside if you need to save money. That will be cheaper than getting a cabin that sleeps five - and pretty much the only affordable way to cruise if your family is larger than five (and the suites that sleep more than five are difficult to book anyway).

I’d do two things - I’d go over to www.disboards.com and check out the cruise forum - there are some SERIOUS Disney cruisers over there and ANYTHING you want to know (from “whats on the menu” to “what kids activities were running last week” can be answered.) For Disney specific cruising, much better than cruise critic (which is a great site for general cruise information). I’d go to the Disney web site and get the DVD.

ETA: We haven’t cruised in about five years, but if you have any questions, go ahead and ask. My kids really liked it and we may cruise again at some point in time.

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  1. Will we get seasick? The kidlet and I are both prone to motion sickness, like I can’t ride in the back seat of the car without turning green, and she can’t tolerate trips longer than about 20 minutes without feeling queasy.

No. Mostly likely she will either be killed on impact, torn apart by the propellors or cut in half by the saftey lasers.

Serious. Probably nothing will happen, but it is a ship. You have to be careful.

It depends on the ship and what class of cabin. Do you have a balcony? Are you in the bowels of the ship?
I’m not crazy about cruises so I might not be the best person to ask.

My family took our first cruise ever on the Disney Wonder last year. We liked it so much that we booked another cruise for later this summer on the new Disney Dream.

My wife was concerned about sea sickness, but was only really affected the first night, when the ship was traveling at a relatively quick pace down to the Bahamas. She applied a anti-sea sickness patch religiously thereafter, and was not affected again.

We made a point of getting a cabin with a balcony (aka a “verandah”) so that my wife could get some fresh air quickly if she need it. She couldn’t bear the thought of being all closed in. (As a former submarine officer, I was pretty used to being “closed in,” so it made no difference to me one way or the other. ;)) As it tuns out, we all really enjoyed having the balcony. The sunrises and sunsets on the water were just gorgeous.

All of the railings have plexiglass included. A child could theoretically climb onto a chair on the balcony and make it over the side, but it would take some doing. To prevent this, all of the balcony sliding doors have two independent sets of locks to keep children in the room. It’s no more dangerous than a typical hotel balcony.

As for cabin space, they are much tighter than typical hotel rooms, but reportedly larger than the cruise industry standard. We had no issues.

Perhaps this deserves its own thread, but do you think that the environmental issues associated with cruising are any worse than would be associated with equivalent number of people (i.e. several thousand) flying to typical cruise destinations in jet aircraft and staying there in local hotels?

I have heard reports of excessive food waste, but this would be easily curbed if the industry would get away from the “all-you-can-eat” mentality.

This will never, ever happen. That is probably one of the top three selling points for a solid majority of people (or American people, at least) who take cruises.

Yes, it’s much worse, because cruise ships dump their waste - including ground up plastics and untreated fecal matter - directly into the ocean. A hotel is connected to sanitary waste processing, and possibly waste reduction facilities such as municipal recycling depending on jurisdiction. They are regulated (in the US) by the EPA or (in Europe) comparable environmental oversight. Most cruise ships fly “flags of convenience” that allow them to bypass US health and labor laws. This is aside from the fact that the ships use massive quantities of high-sulfur-content diesel fuel in addition to the fuel it took to get to the point of departure. Finally, discharged ballast water (an issue not unique to cruise ships) can cause the spread of invasive species.

So, these motion sickness patches - they don’t make you drowsy? It’s been over a decade since I’ve tried Dramamine, so I suppose there have been advances. I remember it totally knocked you on your ass.

The flags of convenience issue is something I never would have thought of. I’m not one for boycotts in general, but this seems much more direct than “I won’t buy L’Oreal lipstick because Nestle violates the WHO code for baby formula marketing.” I’ll think about it.

The flags of convenience issue is complicated. A lot of the crew on a ship are from countries without workers rights. A ship offers them a job - it might not be a great job by American or European standards, but there are almost no living expenses and it enables them to send cash home to their families.

If cruise lines had to abide by U.S. or European type employment laws, cruising would be much more expensive, fewer people would cruise and their would be fewer of these jobs available.

All of these environmental concerns are regulated by the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL). The MARPOL regulations apply to all member states of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), including the Bahamas, under which the Disney ships are flagged.

The discharge of sewage at sea is regulated by Annex IV of MARPOL. It is generally considered that the oceans are capable of assimilating and dealing with raw sewage through natural bacterial action and therefore the regulations prohibit ships from discharging sewage within a specified distance of the nearest land, unless they have an approved wastewater treatment plant. This applies to all ships (including U.S. Navy ships, on which I served). Like most environmental regulations, these restrictions are frequently revised, with increasingly stringent standards. The regulations are moving toward requiring onboard treatment plants for most ships over a given size.

As for disposal of plastics at sea, Annex V of the MARPOL regulations totally prohibits of the disposal of plastics anywhere into the sea.

The MARPOL regulations (most recently with the 2008 and 2010 Amendments) also have increasingly stringent regulations on sulfur oxide (SOx) emissions from ships.

Re: fuel usage. When I worked on the Disney Wonder, we did two cruises a week, a 3-day and a 4-day. These cruises had the same itinerary and the same destinations, but day 4 of the longer cruise was designated a “sea day.” On this day, the ship would literally be driven in circles, purely so the guests on-board would experience their day at sea, out of sight of land. I can’t imagine the amount of fuel wasted by this enterprise.

I thought that the ship simply reduced speed to return to Port Canaveral at a slower rate. I certainly wasn’t aware of constant heading changes, and I think I would have noticed if this had been the case–but then again, I was just a passenger getting a massage, not a crewmember on the bridge. :wink:

Certainly on the outbound leg to the Bahamas on the first night, the ship was traveling at a much higher rate of speed.

I’ll also note that fuel usage for any ship is exponentially related to the speed of travel (i.e. traveling at a lower speed uses dramatically less fuel).