I booked my first Disney cruise, on the Disney Dream, in late 2015. It was a 4-night cruise leaving from Port Canaveral, Florida, that travelled to the Bahamas. It was our babymoon – we were expecting our first little one (Emily!) in March – and it was the last trip we planned to take as a family of two. It was amazing in so many ways and the cruise met, perhaps exceeded, all of my expectations. Full disclosure – I am a Disney fan, but not a fanatic, I swear! And Ken really is fairly ambivalent about Disney. However, we both enjoyed the cruise thoroughly, even as adults travelling without any children. Below is how we saved money on the trip and the things we enjoyed as a party of two adults on what is a very family-friendly cruise line.
How We Saved Money
We booked through Costco. Definitely go this route if you are a Costco member. Although it doesn’t save you money upfront on the actual cost of the cruise – Disney cruises rarely get discounted – Costco provides a cash rewards card for booking through its travel services. The amount of cash on the card increases depending on the cost of the cruise. Our cruise ended up costing ~$1,800 and we ended up getting ~$150 back.
We didn’t do anything “extra” and did not go on paid excursions. Not doing anything “extra” meant that we didn’t eat at the specialty restaurants, which on the Disney Dream, included Palo and Remy, both of which I hear are terrific. We also didn’t do any spa treatments or buy any souvenirs. Lastly, while in Nassau (the 1st stop), we didn’t do any excursions. While it may seem like we restricted ourselves, we really didn’t feel like we limited ourselves at all. Disney includes so many fun and free activities onboard the ship and the food at the restaurants and buffet are great. I never felt like I missed out in any way. In Nassau, we explored on our own at the port and ended up taking a free shuttle bus to the Atlantis Resort, where we did some more free exploring before returning to the ship for a late buffet lunch. Castaway Cay (the 2nd stop), Disney’s private island, was perfect because there are plenty of activities to enjoy and sights to see. The cruise line also serves a simple barbecue lunch and snacks throughout the day. It’s a beautiful paradise that requires no additional spending whatsoever.
We packed our own wine. Our alcohol consumption was near zero because I was pregnant, which certainly benefitted our wallets. However, we could still have saved money on alcohol because each passenger is allowed to bring two bottles of wine onboard. My husband brought two, which was plenty for the 4-night cruise. He typically enjoyed a glass before we went down for dinner, so while he didn’t get to drink at dinner, it was a relaxing way to start each evening after a full day of activities.
Soda is free! So important! Most cruise lines charge passengers for soda, but not Disney. Carbonated drinks are included as part of lunch and dinner. We aren’t big soda people, but both of us had a nice refreshing ginger ale each night at dinner.
How To Enjoy a Disney Cruise as an Adult Couple
Attend all the evening shows. Disney hosts a family-friendly show each evening. We watched each one prior to dinner, since we were scheduled for the later seating. They were all entertaining, although they may be more enjoyable to Disney fans or those who like musical theater. We appreciated the shows simply for the entertainment factor – it sure beats watching television at home.
Watch a few movies. Every Disney cruise has its own movie theater, which we took full advantage of. Disney even premiers new movies on its ships – we ended up watching “The Good Dinosaur”, which was being released on land that week. We also caught “Ant Man”, which was a great film to watch in a movie theater setting.
Listen to live music. In the early evenings, my husband and I would stop by the cruise concourse and enjoy some live music. The musical acts have likely changed, but the Disney Dream had a duo who sang easy-listening pop songs and classic hits. The upbeat music always made us smile.
Hang out in Serenity Bay on Castaway Cay. Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay, is simply the best, particularly the adults-only section, appropriately named Serenity Bay. It’s at the end of the island, but an easy stroll. The walk also lets you observe all the family fun and Disney touches along the way. Serenity Bay is quiet, has ample beach chairs, BBQ lunch service, and its own bar area. We lounged, played in the clearest water, and ate throughout the day. I can understand why folks take double-dip Castaway Cay cruises, where you can hang out for two days – it’s the perfect beach island. I was definitely sad to leave at the end of the day.
Go to “After Hours” activities. Even as a pregnant lady on the cruise, I still went to the bars located in the “After Hours” section of the ship because the cruise always had fun evening activities planned. We did trivia, went to a magic show, and attended a “newlywed game” show. We always had a good time, even without drinking!
Workout. We took daily walks around the ship on the dedicated track and we actually made it to the gym once or twice. One thing to note – if you get seasick easily, it’s best to avoid looking out the huge windows of the gym!
Other than the gratuity we paid at the end of the cruise, we didn’t spend a single dime beyond the original cost of the trip, which was fully paid for before we boarded. Knowing that all costs were fully accounted for made the trip completely stress-free. Being a couple travelling without children on a cruise line that clearly caters to children didn’t matter at all because there are so many things to do that were either adult-specific or adult-friendly. And honestly, Disney gets every last detail right – from the décor, to the service, to the food, to every activity – it was all a treat.