The Magic of a Cold-Weather Disney Cruise
Erin Foster, coauthor of The Unofficial Guide to Disney Cruise Line shares with us why she loves a good cold-weather Disney cruise.
When most people hear the word “cruise,” they think beaches, bikinis, and fruity drinks decorated with paper umbrellas. Disney Cruise Line (DCL) does offer many wonderful itineraries that suit that description to a T. While I’m always up for a tropical voyage, I must confess that I prefer the Disney Cruise Line sailings to cold-weather destinations.
DCL makes trips to Alaska, Canada, and Northern Europe, including port visits in England, Scotland, Iceland, Ireland, Norway, Demark, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, and Russia.
Here are five reasons why I’ll choose a cold-weather Disney Cruise every time.
Sights are more varied on a cold-weather Disney cruise
If you head to a tropical destination, the vast majority of excursion opportunities are variations of sunning, swimming, and water sports. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but over the course of several days, there’s a certain relentless sameness to the daily routine. At Disney’s cooler weather destinations, there are more opportunities to make every day different. In Alaska, you can spend the day observing wildlife and glacial calving, followed by a day of panning for gold, followed by a day of dog sledding or taking a ride on a vintage steam train.
In Northern Europe, options include touring the historic sites of a world capital, bathing in a geothermal spa, exploring an ancient cathedral, or even making a home visit with a family from your host country. Every day is different in a way that’s not possible with the island itineraries.
No sweat on a cold-weather Disney cruise
Depending on your destination and your exact travel dates, you might encounter chilly weather, but most of the time you’ll just find mild, pleasant climes. During most of my recent Northern European Disney cruise, we were perfectly content outdoors in jeans and a light jacket. And other than our glacier days, the same held true on my Alaskan voyage. I was able to take long strolls outdoors without feeling like I needed to shower immediately afterward. Contrast this with a tropical destination where you’ll almost certainly be subject to beating sun. My personal preference is to be cozy in a sweatshirt rather than dripping with sweat when taking a walk around the block.
Frozen Fun and other onboard festivities
DCL does a great job of integrating Disney theming on the ships in cold weather. Not surprisingly, on cold-weather sailings, there’s an entire day devoted to celebrating the film Frozen. In addition to a setting-appropriate on-deck stage show, there are special themed menu items, crafts from the northland, and even a hunt for Anna’s favorite food, chocolate.
Additionally, many of the classic Disney characters get to wear outfits only seen on these sailings. My favorite was Viking Goofy, but Eskimo Minnie was a close second.
Variety of food
DCL changes some of its menus to suit the itinerary. Beyond the usual offerings, there are meals devoted to celebrating the cuisine of the area you’re visiting. For example, in Alaska there’s an on-deck BBQ featuring game meats and salmon. In the European ports, you can try any of their local offerings for a real flavor of the place. My daughters couldn’t get enough of actual Danish Danish, and they even tried a bit of haggis in Scotland (verdict: not as bad as they thought it would be).
A particularly nice touch during cold-weather sailings is the beverage cart rolled around deck during sea days. You can get an Irish coffee or hot toddy to warm you while you view the glaciers.
Smaller ships and longer voyages
Disney uses its larger ships, the Dream and the Fantasy, for most of their short and moderate length voyages in the Caribbean and Bahamas. While those ships are loaded with bells and whistles, I’m partial to the cozy feel of the Magic and Wonder, the ships used on colder weather routes. The more intimate nature of the ships’ entertainment venues means that you’re more likely to interact with the same cast members in many different situations. And the longer length of some of the cold-weather sailings means that you’ll have more opportunities for repeated conversations with both cast members and other guests, many of whom will feel like family by the end of your trip. All this serves to make the cold-weather voyages much warmer than the tropical sailings.
What’s your favorite cold-weather Disney Cruise? We would love to hear from you.