God help me - a cruise/park combo trip? (Not a trip report - more a sense check!)

I’ve never been on a Disney cruise before, and for the first time, I’m considering an extended trip that would start with a 3-4 night cruise in mid-April 2023 and end with 6 days in the park. Am I insane? Is this hard? I have a TA (thank heaven).

What do I need to know as we consider this idea? This is kind of a compromise idea because my in-laws wanted to do a cruise and I don’t think they’re going to be happy with the parks in their current state (they aren’t Disney fanatics).

We were going to do a Sat-Sat trip staying at the Poly, but if my math is right, we could conceivably do this 3-4 night cruise trip and stay at Pop for roughly the same price as the prior trip plan. I’m sure excursions cost extra, but we are just looking at one of the Bahamian sailings, so would we be missing out on a lot if we didn’t do excursions on those few days? Are there a lot of other charges I need to consider?

Feel free to explain any and all things like I’m five because I feel very deer in headlights ATM. :smiley:

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I haven’t done a combo trip, but based on experiencing the parts separately, I would lean toward WDW first, cruise second if you have the option. The cruise is so relaxing and can serve as the “vacation after the vacation” many claim to need after WDW. But if it can’t be done that way, it’ll be just fine too.

I think the growing consensus says Nassau excursions are not nearly as good as with other ports. As far as other cruise charges, DCL is much more all-inclusive than other lines so the only other major costs are things like alcohol, fancy coffee/smoothie drinks, eating at Palo/Remy, and then the dining and housekeeping gratuity which will be a couple hundred. Also options like photo package, merch, activities like bingo, etc.

There are at least a few here who have done land/sea trips or are planning one that might have some good advice on all the ins and outs of it, such as transportation between MCO, WDW, and Port Canaveral, etc. @jennyturin and @lizzieanne771 come to mind if I’m remembering correctly. Happy planning. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Switching the order sounds nice, but my reasoning was that the Easter/spring break crowds would be less impactful in the parks the later in April we go, so I thought to front-load the cruise, because I figured crowds have a more limited impact on cruise ships than in parks, and are less subject to last-minute shifts. Also due to work I can’t take the first week of May off, so we’re limited to April. Good to know about the excursions. I think there will be plenty for us to do for 3-4 nights without worrying about too many of those. I think the kids will just want to play in the water/pools/splash pads and the adults will just want to eat, drink, and do shows. If it was a longer sailing I’d be more interested in excursions, but I’m looking at this as a chance to ‘get our feet wet’ with Disney cruising, so I’m keen to keep it simple.

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We did a combo trip over March Break several years ago. Flew in on a Saturday, staying at Pop for two nights with a 4 night Bahamas cruise after. We had a fabulous dinner at Sanaa the first night and spent some time exploring AKL. The next day we did rope drop to late evening at MK and had an incredible day.

The next morning we used the Disney transfer to the cruise ship. Amazing, relaxing trip. We stayed on the boat in Nassau and took advantage of the slightly less crowded ship. Be aware that a lot of people don’t get off in Nassau. Castaway Cay was fantastic. We did the swimming with sting rays excursion but you don’t really need to pay for an excursion there. Maybe bring or rent snorkeling equipment.

We did splurge on a date night at Remy which I loved, but you will get great meals at the regular dining rotation restaurants.

Extra costs are mostly for alcoholic and specialty drinks plus tips. I got a rainforest room pass for the spa as well. Highly recommended! Not sure how it works since Covid.

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Am I insane?

Nope, definitely not!

Is this hard?

Nope, not hard. We reversed what you are planning. We did parks first then cruise. I prefer it that way for what @Tall_Paul1 said. It’s nice to do the relaxing at the end and you’re kind of amped with excitement at the beginning. I always start my early morning days the beginning of the trip when we are more used to waking up early from work/school and less exhausted. The longer I go the more I want to sleep in and relax. For transportation, Disney has a bus service for a fee. We took a limo one of our trips because we ended in Universal Studios and no bus. You can rent a car and park it too but I wouldn’t. I’d let someone drop me off right there next to the port terminal.

What do I need to know as we consider this idea?/I’m sure excursions cost extra, but we are just looking at one of the Bahamian sailings, so would we be missing out on a lot if we didn’t do excursions on those few days?

  • Transportation to/from the parks and port and airport.

  • What port excursions you want to do? I would definitely check out Castaway Cay. It’s free to just use the beach and eat there. If you want to rent a cabana you really have to either be a previous disney cruise member (Platinum member) or in Concierge because they go fast but it’s not necessary. It’s a lovely, relaxing time and easy to do for free or cheap if you want to rent floaties/snorkels. I’d buy the UG Disney Cruise book honestly in addition to the UG WDW book. On Nassau, feel free to stay on board, there is a lot that goes on. My daughter makes me do the dolphin swim at Aquatica which is honestly an amazing experience if you want to fork over a ton of money. Read the book, look at excursion reviews and decide what’s important to you. You can have an amazing time either way.

  • Consider which order you want to go park–>cruise or cruise–>parks

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I did a night before the cruise/cruise/back to the parks in 2019. I remember saying out loud “I am so happy my vacation is not over as I was driving to WDW after the cruise.

I think it will be perfect regardless of the sequence. Enjoy!

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Who is in your group? Is this your first cruise on any ship (it sounds like it is)?

We (DH, me, two sons 14 & 18 at the time) did our first cruise as a DCL 4-night cruise after a 4-night WDW stay. We loved it, and have no problems with seasickness. Since then, we’ve cruised several times but on RCL due to lower cost and better activities for our sons. Disney is a quality experience, and great for kids.

I like doing a cruise after land, since a cruise is so relaxing. Like others have said, you will likely have additional costs for gratuities, alcoholic and specialty drinks, specialty dining, spa/salon services, internet, photos, shore excursions, nursery services for kids under 3. Castaway Key is wonderful and mostly free (except for alcohol, cabanas, extra experiences/excursions as others have noted) since it’s Disney’s private island. I think the major shows on Disney ships are much more aimed at kids than those on other lines, with things like characters and fairy tales.

I agree with the advice to read the UG to Disney Cruise LIne. There is so much to know about how to choose a cabin wisely.for your needs - and cruising in general!

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Yes. :laughing:

I’ve gone both 7-days-Disney-then-7-night-cruise (NCL) and cruise-then-land (4-night-DCL to 7-night-SW/BGT/AQ) and both were amazing vacations.

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I’m actually only doing land in August now that I’ve moved the cruise to May to go with my parents. Initially it was going to be Sea/Land because the cruise before the stay was slightly less than the cruise after the stay would have been.

For Port Canaveral cruises, I always use DCL transportation - I don’t have a car and have not driven since selling it in 2006; as a solo cruiser, the DCL transportation is more affordable than a car service; Lyft/Uber can be harder to get as there is not always a guaranteed fare for the driver coming back. And best of all, you don’t have to worry about your Port Arrival Time.

I’ve done sail/snorkel excursions in Nassau and those have been fine - but I also stay on board, along with a good number if not the majority of passengers. So do not expect an “empty ship” as people often say you’ll find. Once upon a time, perhaps, but not so much now.

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