If you’re going on a Disney Cruise soon, you might have noticed that there have been LOTS of changes over the past year or so.
Policies for health and safety, ship itineraries, activities on board, and more have changed a few different times. So we can understand if you’re a little unsure of what to expect on your next cruise. To help out, we pulled together all the recent changes so that you’re prepared for your upcoming vacation on the sea.
First, we’re going to look at each Disney cruise ship and where it’s currently going. Then we’ll see what the current schedule is for reservations and bookings — AKA what you need to do and when you need to do it before you set sail. We’ll check out the current policies in relation to COVID-19 and other health and safety rules. And finally, we’ll round up all the other changes (big or small) that weren’t included in one of those categories. That’s a lot to cover, so let’s get started!
Disney Cruise Ships (And Where They Sail)
The Disney Magic is currently sailing out of Miami and New Orleans, and it’s heading to the Bahamas, Western Caribbean, and Mexico for 4-, 5-, 6-, and 7-night cruises.
4-night Cruises to the Bahamas include stops in Nassau, Bahamas, and Castaway Cay (Disney’s private island). On the Western Caribbean itineraries, there are stops in Cozumel and Progreso, Mexico, and Castaway Cay. One 6-night cruise to the Western Caribbean also stops in Costa Maya, Mexico.
A couple of the cruises to the Western Caribbean stop in George Town, Grand Cayman, instead of Cozumel. The Disney Magic has also started sailing out of Galveston, TX, on some Western Caribbean cruises.
Later this year (beginning in July), the Magic will sail in Europe out of Barcelona, Dover, Copenhagen, and other European cities.
The Disney Fantasy sails out of Port Canaveral, FL, on 4- to 9-night cruises to Castaway Cay or the Caribbean.
The Fantasy stops in Cozumel, Mexico, Castaway Cay, and George Town, Grand Cayman on its 6-night cruises to the Western Caribbean. On Eastern Caribbean cruises, there are stops in Tortola, British Virgin Islands, and St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.
7-night Western Caribbean cruises onboard the Fantasy also stop in Falmouth, Jamaica. This ship will also have a few special events, like Pixar Day at Sea or Halloween on the High Seas.
The Disney Wonder has a lot of different cruises, including some out of San Diego, CA, or Vancouver, Canada.
The longest season of San Diego sailings yet has also been announced for the Disney Wonder! 3-, 4-, 5-, and 7-day cruises to Baja, Mexico, and the Mexican Riviera will begin in the fall of 2022 and will extend into early 2023. Ports will include Mazatlan, Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, and Ensenada, as well as Catalina Island.
Beginning in May of this year, the Wonder will take guests on Alaskan cruises, which depart from Vancouver and stop at Dawes Glacier, Alaska; Skagway, Alaska; Juneau, Alaska; and Ketchikan, Alaska.
The Disney Dream sails out of Port Canaveral, FL, on 3- and 4-night cruises with stops in Castaway Cay and Nassau, Bahamas.
Beginning this year, the Dream will also sail out of Miami for Western Caribbean cruises with stops in Cozumel, Mexico, and possibly George Town, Grand Cayman (depending on the length of the cruise).
The Disney Wish is a brand new cruise ship. This ship’s maiden voyage will take place on July 14th, 2022. You can already book your spot on this cruise ship for sailings this year.
The Wish will sail on 3- and 4-night cruises to the Bahamas, stopping at Nassau and Castaway Cay.
This new ship has all kinds of exciting new features, like new dining experiences, activities, and the first-ever Disney attraction at sea — the AquaMouse.
What to Do Before You Set Sail
As soon as you’ve booked your cruise, take a look at the online checklist that can be found on the Disney Cruise website. This checklist is a good reminder of what you need to do before your trip, as well as requirements for embarkation day. Also, remember to download the Disney Cruise Line Navigator app on your smartphone.
Up to 120 days before your cruise (depending on your Castaway Cay membership, if you have one), you can make reservations for certain activities on board the ship. First-time guests can make these reservations 75 days before they set sail.
Spa appointments, some character meet and greets, babysitting, and other activities can be reserved at this time. You can also make reservations for restaurants besides the ones that are already scheduled in your itinerary (like adults-only dining).
You can do this online by signing into your account, finding the “My Plans” section, and choosing activities for each day.
Or you can also make reservations once you’re on board, but the earlier you make reservations, the more likely you are to get the time and activity you want most.
You will need to check in to your cruise online before you embark. (This isn’t new — just a reminder.) You can check in beginning 30 days before your trip. Part of the check-in process is choosing a port time, which is when you’ll be able to board the ship on the day you set sail.
You’ll want to check in as soon as you can, because then you can choose the earliest possible port time. An earlier port time means more time to enjoy on the cruise ship! And of course, make sure to double check your packing list to be certain you’re prepared for your voyage.
COVID-19 Guidelines and Changes
Some of the biggest changes are the new health and safety measures on board all the ships. This is an overview of all the adjustments that you’ll need to know about:
Guests 5 years and older must be vaccinated. These guests must provide proof of vaccination. Note that “fully vaccinated” in this case means that someone has received all necessary doses of the vaccine at least two weeks before they arrive at the cruise ship.
Guests 4 years and younger (or others not eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine) must provide a negative COVID-19 test taken between 3 days and 24 hours of sailing. Proof of vaccination or of a negative test must be uploaded to the Safe Passage website before you’ll be allowed to embark.
Everyone (vaccinated or not) must take a COVID-19 test at the terminal before they board the ship. If anyone in a party tests positive for COVID, no one in the party may board the ship. Guests will also be required to take a COVID-19 test on the day before disembarking the ship. There is an exception to the testing rules for those who have recently recovered from COVID-19.
For sailings out of US ports after March 10th, 2022, face masks will be optional at most indoor locations on Disney cruise ships.
Masks also will not be required outdoors or on Castaway Cay.
What Else is DIFFERENT?
The changes to itineraries and health and safety measures are the biggest differences. But you’ll see a few more changes before and during your trip. Here are some of the ones you’ll see.
There will only be one party per table during dining. Previously, parties would sometimes share tables and rotate through the restaurants together. Now, servers will still rotate with their groups, but different parties will not be seated at the same table together.
Self-serve food may instead be served by Cast Members. Although self-serve buffets have returned to the Disney parks, as of writing there will not be self-serve station on board the cruise ships.
Princess Tea Parties are available on the cruise ships, but guests will be seated one party per table and the princesses will be physically distanced throughout the experience.
Activities and Entertainment
And speaking of those modified character experiences, Disney has said that the up-close meet and greets will not resume, but you will still get to see characters in a physically distanced way. Based on some of the pictures, it seems like you can get fairly close to them sometimes, but you can’t touch or ask for autographs.
Characters will also sometimes appear during meals, on the decks, or at Castaway Cay.
Inside theaters (like the Buena Vista Theater and Funnel Vision), guests will be seated with physical distancing measures. There will also not be deck parties on board the cruise ships.
Fireworks will be available on two different nights, and guests will be assigned a night to watch the show. (You’ll be able to see which night is your fireworks night before you set sail.)
Pools, water slides, and other activities will operate at limited capacity and have specific queue locations.
Most itineraries on a Disney cruise ship offer one Broadway-style show. This show is repeated during the cruise with limited capacity, and seating will be physically distanced (like at the movie theaters). Like the fireworks show, guests will be assigned one time to watch this show.
The “it’s a small world” Nursery is unavailable at this time. Some other activities are also unavailable, like ping pong, shuffleboard, and basketball. Parents will need to register their kids for activities at places like the Oceaneer Club and Lab. Teen and tween clubs are available with no reservations.
A virtual queue will be used for debarkation at all ports of call. This queue operates on the Disney Cruise Line Navigator app. This includes at all ports of call and at the end of your trip.
More Health and Safety Measures
At Castaway Cay, masks are not required at any outdoor locations. For some indoor areas (on trams, in restrooms, and inside gift shops) masks will be required. Also, there’s a new cavalcade of Disney characters on the island!
Any children who are not vaccinated (4 years old and younger) must have a reserved Port Adventure in order to disembark at ports of call. Port Adventures include scheduled excursions through the Disney Cruise Line, and you can reserve these before you set sail or by talking to a Cast Member once you’re on board.
And that’s it for our review of the Disney Cruise Line changes that you’ll need to be aware of before you set sail! Keep following DFB for more updates, because these policies have changed a lot in the past and are still subject to change.
Are you setting sail with the Disney Cruise Line soon? Let us know in the comments!