Disney Cruise Line set sail again on August 9, 2021, with 3 and 4-day itineraries to the Bahamas making two stops at Castaway Cay, their private island. Many things have changed on board but the magic is still alive!
After sailing myself on August 20, 2021, on a 3-night itinerary with two stops in Castaway Cay I’m here to answer all of your questions!
Your Questions Answered
Table of Contents
updated August 25, 2021
Before Your Cruise
How do I purchase travel insurance?
Travel insurance can be purchased with your Disney Cruise vacation from Disney Cruise Line or you can purchase a third-party travel insurance policy from your Travel Advisor. If purchasing a third-party insurance provider make sure that it meets Disney’s requirements for unvaccinated travelers.
Can unvaccinated kids travel?
Children that are not eligible to be vaccinated can travel but need to follow different guidelines for boarding the ship which includes multiple covid tests and travel insurance. Make sure you check the Know Before You Go website prior to sailing. Rules and requirements are changing rapidly.
Does everyone have to be vaccinated to sail?
Beginning September 3 through November 1, 2021 everyone who is eligible to be vaccinated must be vaccinated to board the ship. Children under 12 years of age that are not eligible to be vaccinated can sail with Disney Crusie Line but must follow a series of procedures to board the ship.
Tips for first Disney Cruisers?
I have so many tips! But that could be an entire blog post in itself! Here are a few of my top tips for new cruisers.
- Bring more than one bathing suit, there’s nothing worse than putting on a wet bathing suit in a cold room.
- Bring a sweatshirt or jacket, just in case. It can be cold in the dining rooms and theatres.
- Bring water shoes or some type of outdoor footwear to wear at the beach.
- Get the VERANDAH! It’s worth every extra penny. Even if you think, “I don’t spend that much time in my room”. The time you do spend there is 1000% worth having the verandah!
How early can I arrive at the port?
When you do your online check-in on the Disney Navigator App you’ll select a port arrival time. Guests can not arrive any earlier than their selected Port Arrival time or they will be turned away. This is to help promote physical distancing. The only exceptions to this rule are guests who are sailing Concierge Level or arriving by Disney Cruise Line motorcoach.
If I’m doing a back-to-back cruise do I need to do the boarding procedures twice?
Yes, if you are sailing on back-to-back cruises you’ll need to complete the Safe Passage website and Navigator app online check-in procedures for each sailing individually.
Is a Verandah stateroom worth the money?
1000% yes! Even if you don’t think you spend much time in the room, the time you are in the room is made better with a verandah and views of the ocean. It’s fun to look out to sea when you sailing and also enjoy coffee and wine in the mornings and evenings.
Is Disney Cruise Line limiting capacity?
Disney Cruise Line is reportedly limiting capacity to 70% with the restart of sailings however there is no indication of how long capacity will be limited.
What ships are sailing?
The Disney Dream is sailing 3 and 4-night itineraries out of Port Canaveral, Florida (Orlando). The Disney Fantasy will resume sailing in September with 4-night itineraries hoping to add 7-night sailings to the calendar soon.
The Disney Magic is sailing 2 and 3-night staycations on board with no port stops for UK residents only.
To stay as safe as possible should we visit Disney World or Disney Cruise Line?
This is a very personal decision however when I sailed on the Disney Dream there were much fewer passengers and crowds than what I experience weekly at Disney World.
Is the kids club still open?
Currently, the Small World Nursery (ages 6 months to 3) is not open. The Oceaneers Club (kids ages 3 and potty trained to age 12) is open with limited capacity. Reservations should be rescheduled prior to sailing but can also be made onboard the ship based on availability. Edge and Vibe, the teen’s clubs are open and no reservations are needed.
At the time of my sailing, August 20, 2021, the Oceaneers Club was using a small group, centers type arrangement to help minimize the spread of germs. Kids club crew members will have no more than 17 kids at one time and will rotate through the play areas letting the kids play in each section for a designated amount of time. All high-touch items like crayons will be provided for each individual child, no sharing, and other surfaces will be wiped down after use.
What’s the biggest change on the cruise since Covid?
There are a lot of little changes but probably the biggest change I noticed was the entertainment. Pre-covid cruises had one show each night so guests would see a new show each evening of their cruise. Now the same show runs each evening allowing guests to spread throughout the ship each evening rather than all gather in one space. The theater does have limited capacity and guests are escorted to their seats that are socially distanced. Every other row is being filled and space is being left between each family. Make sure you arrive 30-45 minutes early to ensure you’re able to go to the show of your choosing. However, if you are not able to get in, don’t worry! The same show will happen the next evening.
Another notable item is character meets, although I feel like our expectations surrounding this have already changed based on the last year at Disney World. Character gatherings are at a distance and masks are required unless a Disney photographer is taking your picture. There was a mix of opportunities to meet characters with photographers and without them.
Compared to pre-covid cruising, how did this cruise measure up? Is it worth the money?
Personally, I’d say yes. There was enough to offer without feeling overwhelmed by options which is typically how I feel when I’m on a cruise ship. I did have a little more downtime than I normally would when sailing however that didn’t feel like a bad thing. It was nice to have a low-capacity cruise and truly just be back at sea again. The price was less than normal and I think Disney Cruise Line did a spectacular job with the current times and restrictions. I’d sail again in a heartbeat!
Can you decorate your stateroom door?
Yes! Stateroom doors can still be decorated however Fish Extender exchanges are not allowed at the moment.
Are masks required? Are Cast Members enforcing them?
Masks are required for all guests that are in inside spaces on the ship as well as in the stores on Castaway Cay and on transportation. I did not experience guests not following the policy on my sailing except for one guest who had the mask below his nose. A Cast Member did ask him to cover his nose.
Is the spa open?
The spa is open by appointment only. All massages are 50 minutes in length, even if you select a 75 or 90-minute massage it will be reduced to 50 minutes in length. Facials are currently paused. All of this is per CDC guidelines. Couples massages are not taking place currently. If you book a couples massage each guest will receive a massage separate.
Is the Rainforest room open?
The Rainforest Room is open by reservation only and is not included with other spa treatments. It is a stand-alone appointment lasting for 1 hour and 45 minutes with limited capacity.
Are the shops open on the ship?
Yes! You can visit the shops on the ship when the ship is at sea. Due to port regulations, the shops are not open while a ship is in port. (this is normal, not a covid change) Keep this in mind when sailing so that you dont’ miss getting the items you want. Shops are NOT open on debarkation day!
Also note that if you see something on Castaway Cay that you want, get it. The same items are not sold on the ship!
Is there wi-fi on the ship?
Guests can have 50 Mb free wifi IF they sign up before leaving the originating port. Guests can also purchase additional wi-fi in various capacities from the Navigator app once onboard.
Can you still swim and ride the Aquaduck?
Yes! The pools and Aquaduck are open! The family pools have queues to enter in order to promote social distancing. Guests will be allowed to swim in 5 and 10-minute increments depending on the length of the line.
The adult’s pool is self-regulated for social distancing.
The Aqua Duck is open with a socially distanced line queue and all rafts are being wiped down prior to guests’ use.
Are the characters out? Who did you see?
Our favorite characters were out and they were out quite a bit! We saw Mickey & Minnie, Chip & Dale, Donald, Goofy & Pluto. Toy Story Toy Soldiers, Cinderella, Tiana, Ariel, Jasmine, and Rapunzel! But my favorite photo opportunity was on Castaway Cay with Mickey and his jeep!
Are there still shows onboard the ship?
Yes, they are still performing one show per sailing. The same show is performed nightly to promote social distancing.
Are there fireworks at sea?
Yes! There were still fireworks at sea. It is not the normal Bucanners Pirate Night fireworks, it’s a new show called Disney Ever After. Fireworks will happen two nights and guests are assigned a night based on their dining rotation. This helps to promote physical distancing on the ship.
If you are in a verandah stateroom on the starboard side of the ship you can see the fireworks from your verandah!
Is pirates night still happening?
Pirates night is not currently happening on Disney Cruise Line.
Ports of Call
Does Disney stop in Nassau yet?
Currently, Disney Cruise Line is not stopping in Nassau. The three-night itinerary is two stops at Castaway Cay (their private island) and on four-night sailings, there are two stops at Castaway Cay and one day at sea. Beginning September 10, 2021, the Disney Dream will make a stop in Nassau as well as Castaway Cay.
Is the buffet still served for breakfast and lunch?
Yes, the buffet at Cabanas is still open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Crew members serve the food to you rather than a typical buffet where you serve yourself. The buffet offerings were more limited than normal but there was still enough to choose from.
Can I have Mickey waffles on the cruise ship?
Yes! Mickey waffles, gluten-free Mickey waffles too, are available in the dining room at breakfast. Mickey waffles are not being served at Cabanas, the buffet, currently and they are not served at breakfast on debarkation day. Which honestly, I have no idea why! We all need one more round of Mickey waffles before we leave the ship!
Do you still rotate dining (restaurants) each night?
Yes! You will still rotate dining rooms each night and your dining room servers will rotate with you!
What gluten-free options are onboard Disney ships?
Disney is always fantastic with food allergies and this holds true on Disney Cruise Line. Each menu has gluten-free and other allergy-friendly options. Your server will take your breakfast, lunch, and dinner order each night and let the kitchen staff know prior to mealtime. If there is something on the menu that you want but it’s not marked as gluten-free, ask your server if he/she can make it happen. Often times they can modify the offerings to meet your needs. Also know that items from another restaurant can be ordered. You’re not restricted to that dining rooms menu!
I find it much easier to eat in the dining rooms than I do at Cabanas, the buffet. Items at Cabanas are not marked as gluten-free so you’ll either have to ask for help or do your best to figure it out.
Keep in mind that allergy-friendly times do take longer to be served, even if pre-ordered the day before, so plan your time accordingly.
Gluten-free Mickey waffles, donuts, dinner bread, and dessert are all available!
Castaway Cay Days
If you are visiting Castaway Cay twice does the ship stay in port overnight?
The ship does not stay in port overnight. It will sail away from the island and sleep at sea and then return to the island the following day.
Are there any restrictions on Castaway Cay? Is everything open?
The only restrictions on Castaway are the use of masks inside the shops and restaurants. Everything else on the island is open and ready for guests.
Can I still run the Castaway 5k?
The Castaway Cay 5k is available but in a different way. Currently, the race is self-run at any time you’re on the island. The race is not a group event as it has been prior. You can find information on where to pick up your race medal on the Disney Navigator app.
Have more questions? Are you ready to book your Disney Cruise Line vacation? Email me at Jamie@LOTMV.com
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