Disney Cruise Line Takes Top Three In World’s Best Ships Poll

When Condé Nast comes out with a readers’ poll, cruise travelers worldwide take notice. To be mentioned near the top of their list is a sought-after award worth bragging about. In the February edition of Condé Nast Traveler, Disney Cruise Line found plenty to be proud of as three of their four ships ranked in the top three places in the large cruise ship category.

Beating out Celebrity Eclipse and Celebrity Equinox to round out the top five, classic Disney Cruise ships Disney Magic and Disney Wonder took the first and second spots, respectively, followed by 2011’s Disney Dream in third place.

“With four ships in our fleet, more families than ever before can set sail on a Disney Cruise Line vacation filled with imaginative fun for the kids and exciting family time for all,” said Karl Holz, president of Disney Cruise Line in a SILive report. “We’re thrilled that the experiences our cast and crew members deliver at sea continue to be recognized as outstanding by our guests.”

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It was all a part of Condé Nast’s 100 Best Cruise Ships In the World, a reader poll ranking travel experiences with categories of small ships, medium ships, large ships and river cruise ships.

Interestingly, it was Disney Cruise Line’s two older ships, Disney Magic and Disney Wonder that took top honors followed closely by 2011’s Disney Dream with the latest, greatest version of what Disney does at sea, Disney Fantasy trailing in eighth place. Not that eight place is bad mind you – just not quite as magical.

Here are all top ten in the large ship category. Click on any of them for more information from Condé Nast.

89.9 Disney Magic

89.6 Disney Wonder

89.5 Disney Dream

88.6 Celebrity Eclipse

88.2 Celebrity Equinox

87.0 Queen Mary 2

86.2 Celebrity Solstice

84.8 Disney Fantasy

83.7 Oasis of the Seas

82.7 Liberty of the Seas

Disney Fantasy Cruise Ship Docks in NYC


[Photo credit- Chris Owen]

Free Cruise Giveaways To Enter Right Now

free cruise

If the idea of a free cruise sounds appealing, right now might be a good time to pay attention. This month, during what cruise lines call “wave season,” travelers can pick up some of the best cruise vacation values available. To promote those exceptional seasonal values to new travelers, some of whom may have never been on a cruise before, cruise lines are teaming with everyone from television program producers to airline operators to give away free cruises.

“Wave Season” unofficially runs from January through March and features what cruise lines and travel agencies promise to be some of the best values of the year. Whether those values are something to get excited about or not, with snow on the ground and winter cold freezing travelers inside, many look to cruise vacations for relief.

Researching, looking, dreaming or buying, cruise travelers probably won’t do better than “free” when it comes to pricing. Let’s take a look at contests going on right now.

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” is giving contestants and one lucky home viewer the chance to escape the winter blues with a Disney Cruise Vacation!

This week, during “Cruise In and Win Week,” airing January 7 – 11, a cruise vacation will be attached to one “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” question in each contestant’s game. Answered correctly, the contestant as well as one lucky winner at home wins the money attached to the question as well as a Disney Cruise Vacation for four aboard the Disney Fantasy.

One randomly selected grand prize winner will choose a cruise vacation on either the Disney Magic or the Disney Wonder, sailing from Galveston, Texas.

US Airways Cruises – Million Miles Dream Getaway Sweepstakes will give one grand prize winner 500,000 Dividend Miles and a seven-night Caribbean cruise for two.

To enter, just sign up to receive US Airways weekly cruise emails by January 31. Signing up for just about any travel service provider’s priority email newsletters or offers is a great idea anyway. Those subscribed often get first notice of special pricing, value sailings and more.

Don’t want your email inbox filling up with what might otherwise be seen as junk? Have a special email address just for this reason.

Five other prize winners will receive 100,000 Dividend Miles

The Smooth Jazz Cruise has sailed annually since 2004, bringing together fans of Jazz music and top jazz musicians. Promoter Entertainment Cruise Productions is giving away a free cruise valued at $5,600 on Holland America Line’s m/s Westerdam, January 13 – 20, 2013, or January 20 – 27, 2013, for The Smooth Jazz Cruise.

On board will be jazz great George Benson along with David Sandborn, Bob James, Alonzo Bodden, Rick Braun, Richard Elliot and others.

Alaska Magazine has teamed up with adventure cruise line InnerSea Discoveries for a Cruise Alaska Sweepstakes.

Valued at over $11,000, the grand prize is seven nights on board 86-guest Safari Endeavour, departing from Juneau, Alaska. Included are all onboard meals, spirits, wine and microbrews, exclusive transfers and baggage handling, taxes and port fees, entry fees to national parks/preserves, all from-the-boat activities and equipment, sauna, hot tub, yoga classes and a complimentary massage.

Enter between now and January 31, 2013.

Looking for other sources of free cruises? Travel agencies often have free cruise contests as we see in this video:


[Photo Credit- Flickr User Peter Nijenhuis]

5 Ways To Save Money Booking A Cruise Vacation

cruise vacation

A cruise vacation has a lot of value already built in. Sailing from one popular port of call to another on board your floating hotel, transportation costs are locked in, as are all meals. Still, there are some additional factors to consider, such as fare codes that can add up to real savings at the time of booking or later, when lower prices come along.

Consider Restricted Fares
Give the cruise line what it wants and savings can add up fast. Locking in a cruise with no way to change or cancel without paying stiff penalties can lead to perks for customers as cruise lines give low pricing and generous upgrades. This is a great option for those who have travel plans set in stone. But those with possible changes in the future should avoid this option.

Don’t Care Where You Sleep
Another way to save is by booking a stateroom category that does not get a cabin assignment at the time of booking. For those that do not care where they sleep, booking an unassigned (AKA “guaranteed”) stateroom can bring great pricing benefits.

Special Discounts
Cruise lines offer special discounts for seniors, residents of certain states or geographic areas, active or retired military members and others who fit into specific groups. Buying far in advance, these fares may not be available as they are often added later in the booking cycle to encourage new reservations.Keep Looking After Booking
New promotions coming up down the line, after booking, may be applicable to your existing reservation. Watch for cruise line sales around the holidays. Check your email or mailbox between booking and sailing too, as special offers may apply to you and your already-booked sailing.

Holland America Line, for example, has its Sail & Save sale, an annual promotion period that started December 10 and features special savings on multiple cruises and destinations.

“Our Sail & Save promotions make this the perfect time to start planning a 2013 vacation,” said Richard Meadows, executive vice president, marketing, sales and guest programs in ETurboNews. “These offers make it possible for more travelers to take a family cruise, an extended holiday or that once-in-a-lifetime trip at a good value.”

Use A Travel Agent For Their Intended Purpose
Travelers can easily click-to-book a cruise on most cruise lines. But should they? Travel agents have first-hand, I-work-with-this-everyday knowledge consumers don’t. Cruise lines commonly court travel agencies for their cruise business with special agency-only offers not available online.

Another way to save? Win a free cruise.

Celebrating the arrival of Disney Wonder in Miami on December 23, 100 lucky families won their own five-night Disney cruise vacation, as we see in this video:



[Photo Credit- Flickr user by blmiers2]

Overnight Stays In Port A Popular Cruise Option

overnight stays

Cruise ship overnight stays in port are becoming more popular all the time. Breaking away from port-intensive itineraries, long-time cruise ship travelers appreciate the extra time at iconic destinations. Those new to cruise vacations like being able to explore strange, new worlds but have the convenience and security of that cruise ship waiting for them at the end of the day.

Azamara Club Cruises features voyages with overnight stays at events such as Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro, the Monaco Grand Prix and the British Open. The focus towards events brings what Azamara calls a “destination-immersive” travel experience.

“We continue to offer more late-night and overnight stays in ports than any cruise operator to offer guests the chance to savor a destination’s nightlife, oftentimes after the other cruise ships have departed,” said Larry Pimentel, president and CEO of Azamara Club Cruises in a Breaking Travel News report.

Azamara is not alone. Overnight stays are fairly common among luxury cruise lines. Dialing back the price a bit, mainstream cruise lines are getting into overnights as well.

Norwegian and Royal Caribbean sail to Bermuda, bringing multiple full days in port to explore the pink sand paradise. Carnival Cruise Lines and others do the same sort of thing in the Bahamas, overnighting in Nassau to allow late-night party time but no drive home.

But other ships, going to areas where they could easily sail to a different port each day and keep moving, are stopping to allow more time in dream destinations.

Disney Cruise Lines will sail Disney Wonder from Los Angeles round trip with an overnight in San Francisco. Costa Cruises has Costa Favolosa with an overnight stay at Dubai.

It’s all part of a focus on delivering what travelers want, a game cruise lines have had nailed for decades. Today, a maturing cruise industry is seeing a different kind of prospective passenger. Travelers now want more time in port, less touristy experiences and more destination immersion.

Cruise lines are setting up to deliver.

The Amazing Supply Stocks For a Cruise Ship



[Flickr photo by joiseyshowaa]

Disney puts their ships where their heart is

Disney puts their ships where their heart is

When new Disney Fantasy comes out next year, Disney Cruise Line will have pretty much doubled their fleet of cruise ships in a very short time. Just like Disney, they have magical plans for each and every day all four ships are sailing. New voyages out of three new ports in 2012 is just the beginning. As America’s master of entertainment prepares to dominate the family cruise business, Disney puts their ships where their heart is.

New York, Seattle and Galveston, Texas will see their first Disney ships next year. The two newest ships, this year’s Disney Dream and upcoming Disney Fantasy will stay close to home, sailing a variety of sailings of varying lengths from bustling Port Canaveral in Florida. We knew that. That is good. Theme-park freaks can still get their fill at Walt Disney World in Florida before or after sailing with a shorter cruise while those with an eye for the sea can enjoy longer itineraries.

That’s great news for Florida but nobody forgot about the west coast…not at this cruise line anyway.
The Disney Wonder is scheduled to continue sailing seven-night Mexican Riviera cruises from the Port of Los Angeles for the majority of the year. (and the entire, cruise-ship abandoned west coast lets out a sign of relief). Now, with the increased fleet size, Disney Wonder will also sail four seven-night Pacific Coast cruises from Los Angeles calling on San Francisco, San Diego and Ensenada, Mexico.

Great big fat good news: Now hear this: The Disney Wonder will offer a special 15-night voyage to Hawaii from Los Angeles, calling on Hilo; Kahului, Maui; Honolulu, Oahu; Nawiliwili, Kauai and Ensenada, Mexico.

I can just hear the wheels turning as guests booked at the new massive new Disney Aulani Resort and Spa try to figure out some way to tack a Disney cruise on the front, back, middle or side of a land vacation.

Flipping back to the east coast for a bit, starting in May 2012, Disney Magic will sail a total of 20 cruises from New York. Included are eight-night cruises to the Bahamas and five-night cruises up the New England coast to Canada.

Disney puts their ships where their heart is

Not sure if a family-style casino-less Disney cruise is for you?

Two-night cruises will be offered to give a taste of the Disney Cruise Line experience over a weekend. I’m betting you come back for seconds. Yes, even in New York.

But that’s not all. The hidden gem in the whole deal is that starting in September 2012, Disney Magic will sail 12 seven-night cruises from the Port of Galveston to the Western Caribbean. That’s huge.


That’s also joining new Carnival Magic (which Gadling will be on in just a few weeks) sailing from Galveston, a first for a new cruise ship, normally brought up in Florida before sent to venture out on its own.
Disney puts their ships where their heart is

But wait, we have another one new to Galveston too. Princess Cruises brings a Love Boat to town with the popular Crown Princess sailing in December 2012 and April 2013.

Galveston hits the jackpot, that’s just all there is to it.

I live in Orlando and if there’s one thing we know here it’s that when Disney does it, they do it right. This roll-out of ships and itineraries, this special deployment, will no doubt turn the cruise industry on it’s ear. All the preparation other lines have done, slapping B-grade animation studios on their ships to prepare for this day will be tested.

You can bet the other lines will have their best foot forward as Disney, quite appropriately, ushers in a new standard in family entertainment at sea. It’s a tall order, even for Disney, but a few simple words come to mind that will clearly define this moment for Disney Cruise Line:

“When your heart is in your dream, no request is too extreme” -Cricket, Jiminy