Cruising with #DisneyCruiseLine has always been our family’s all-time favorite vacation so naturally when we wanted to experience firsthand what it would be like to cruise post pandemic we headed to #Disney! We did the three-night #Bahamian cruise out of Port Canaveral with the intent of familiarizing ourselves with the latest protocols and requirements needed to cruise. We did miss some things but over all loved every minute.
The two main reason to try cruising now are low capacity and extra precautions! Our ship was half full and the extra measures Disney took prior and during the cruise (along with our own common sense) made us feel good about our decision to cruise.
So, what does it take to cruise today on Disney Cruise Line? Notice I say TODAY because things change quickly these days! All guests 12 years of age and older must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, as defined by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Guests 11 years of age and younger are not required to be vaccinated but must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result (paid for by the Guest) taken between 3 days and 24 hours before your sail date. Tip: DO NOT wait until the 24 hours to do this! The test should be a rapid PCR test or lab-based PCR test. Rapid antigen tests are not accepted. Several options are available for this, including purchasing an at home kit from Disney. Prior to sailing, guest will need to register and create an account on the Safe Passage website. You will need to upload proof of vaccination and negative test (for younger guest) prior to sailing. You will also check this site on embarkation day for your “clear to sail” notice. You should and will need travel insurance. Guests that purchase insurance from a provider other than Disney Cruise Line will need to provide proof of the insurance policy at the port, showing the name of each of the covered Guest(s) and a description of the coverage in the policy prior to receiving clearance to sail. And finally complete the online check in via the Disney Navigator app to submit the required citizenship documents as well as select a Port Arrival Time. It seems like a lot but having all this done up front will make for a smooth start to your cruise vacation.
Speaking of port arrival…Do NOT arrive earlier than your port arrival time. You will be turned away! BUT once your time comes, you will pull up to the front of the terminal, unload your baggage and make your way to the parking garage. On embarkation day all guests will need to undergo a rapid PCR Covid-19 at the terminal (parking garage) prior to boarding. A fee may apply. Once your testing is done, you are directed to grab a parking spot and stay in your car. Remember at this point you do not know who will test positive and Disney is trying to minimize exposure however we found a slight flaw in this process. Very little passengers stayed in their car due to poor cell service. You need to be able to log into your email and Safe Passage website to view your test results and get the “clear to sail” notice. So, beware! Park closer to the open areas of the parking garage or get a mask on and walk over if need be. Challenge number two: bathroom breaks! It can take up to an hour to get results and many folks were running to the bathroom not wearing mask. Either way our entire process from arriving at port to getting on the ship was about 45 minutes! Not bad at all.
Once onboard we noticed a few changes. You still get greeted by the cast members but now it’s in a smaller group. There is no big sail away party ☹ instead, the smaller groups of families are gathered in the lobby and greeted by Captain #Mickey and #Minnie. They do a quick show and then you move on. Sail away for us was around 4:30 pm however, Disney warns it can be as late as 7 pm if embarkation of guest takes longer due to the extra processes. You no longer stop at the front desk at the port to get your key cards. You will now find these on your door in a seal envelope.
A few other changes that made cruising feel a bit different, the main shows on deck such as the Mickey Masquerade party was performed twice so that social distancing could take place. We found a lack of adult entertainment after 10 pm. The lounges/bar were all open but other than Karaoke, Match my Mate (version of the old dating game) and movies there was not much to do. We were okay with that since we love relaxing and enjoying the nighttime sea air. We do miss the theme dance parties!
Other changes included “dots” along the ship that serve as a visual to stand in
your place to observe social distance…yes, the cast members will remind you! Mask required when indoors and hand washing stations and/or sanitizing sanitations available near the restaurants/quick service areas. Cast members now serve your drink at the drink stations and the food from the buffet. Just let them know what you want, and they will be happy to serve it to you.
We did not disembark at the Bahamas but if you have children under the age of 12 (not vaccinated) you can only disembark with them if you have an official excursion booked with Disney. Otherwise, you will need to stay onboard. Vaccinated guest 12 and over are free to disembark and enjoy the Island. This is NOT a Disney rule but dictated by the port of call. Everyone can disembark on Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island.
What has NOT changed? The magic and the service! The cast members still go out of their way to make sure you are comfortable and having fun. #CastawayCay was AWESOME as always and even more so with the reduced capacity. Food was yummy and plentiful, even room service. Plenty of opportunities to see the #disneycharacters and some even made it to dinner!
All in all, I am ready to head back out to the sea. For those that have cruised before, you will notice the changes but still feel the magic of it and for the new cruisers in the group, you will find it more relaxing than a land vacation because you can do as little or as much as you want.
I can keep going but knowing that things change rapidly, I rather guide you step by step when you are ready to book your next cruise with us! I have created a tip sheet exclusively for our clients and although we cannot control ALL aspects of your cruise, having the firsthand experience, we can help you navigate the requirements to ensure you have a safe and fun cruise.
Here is a summary of the most important things to know:
· All guest 12 and over must show proof of vaccination
· Pre-Trip COVID-19 Testing (for guest 11 and younger not vaccinated)
· Embarkation COVID-19 Testing (for ALL Guest)
· Travel Insurance (Need I say more?!)
· Safe Passage Website/Registration (15 days prior to sailing)
· Online Check-In
NOTE: We understand traveling at this time and new protocols may not be for everyone. However, for those that are ready this is a great time to take the plunge and try out a cruise. When you're ready reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org