First Updates for PassPorter’s Field Guide to the Disney Cruise Line Second Edition
My, how time flies! We sent the manuscript of the second edition of our Disney Cruise Line guidebook to the printer in late March, and here we are, updating it!
The single biggest changes appear on pages 29 and 36 -- “The Future of the Disney Cruise Line” -- which speculates about the West Coast cruises for 2005. On May 5 we learned Disney’s plan for Disneyland’s 50th anniversary (“The Happiest Celebration on Earth) and Disney Cruise Line’s role in that party. We now know the West Coast cruise schedule and ports of call.
Other notable changes involve news about the shore excursions for the summer 2004 “special” cruise itineraries to San Juan and Antigua, as well as the expansion of “free” soda service on the ships and at Castaway Cay. Sorry, we’re still waiting to hear the details regarding shore excursions at St. Lucia and the changes to the Disney Wonder when it enters dry dock in September 2004. All we’ve been able to learn from Disney Cruise Line is that the changes will take place, and that they will be very similar to the changes made last year to the Magic ú the ESPN Club becomes a teen area, the Common Grounds teen lounge becomes an adults-only lounge, the Promenade Lounge may have some modifications, and Barrel of Laughs, the dueling piano bar, will become a sports-oriented pub.
Here, in classic PassPorter format, are the updates we’ve got:
Page 21 -- Shipboard Meals -- Soda (including Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite and Diet Sprite) is now included at no extra charge at all full-service and buffet meals on board ship and at Castaway Cay, and at the Beverage Station on deck 9 aft. Non-carbonated soft drinks such as lemonade, iced tea, fruit punch, hot tea, coffee and cocoa are still available at no charge at these same locations. There is still a charge for soda at snack bars and lounges.
Page 22 -- Safety and cleanliness. The Disney Magic improved its CDC inspection score to 97 after its June 5, 2004 inspection.
Page 29 -- The Future of the Disney Cruise Line - Replace the fourth paragraph (“We have long expected…) with the following update:
Disney Cruise Line is playing a prominent part in “The Happiest Celebration on Earth,” Disneyland Park’s 50th anniversary party that begins May 5, 2005. The Disney Magic will “reposition” from Port Canaveral Florida to the Port of San Pedro (Los Angeles) on a 14-night sail through the Panama Canal. Then begins a series of twelve, seven-night cruises to Mexico, starting May 28 and continuing through August 20. Finally, another 14-night sailing takes the ship back through the Panama Canal to Port Canaveral (see the page 36 update for itinerary details). The Magic then resumes its normal schedule of seven-night Caribbean itineraries through the end of 2005. The Disney Wonder will continue its regular schedule of three- and four-night Bahamian cruises throughout 2005. There is yet no word on 2006 itineraries. Some folks hope the California/Mexican routes will be repeated, but we’re not willing to speculate, and Disney Cruise Line isn’t saying.
Page 34 -- Can I Do a 7-Night in Summer 2005? For summer 2005 the Disney Magic will cruise the California/Mexico coast on 7-night itineraries. See the page 29 and 36 updates for more details.
Page 36 -- Future West Coast Itineraries. On May 5, 2004 Disney Cruise Line announced its 2005 West Coast itineraries, as part of Disneyland Park’s “The Happiest Celebration on Earth” 50th anniversary celebration. Here are the itineraries:
Seven-night sailings depart Los Angeles every Saturday from May 28 to August 20, 2005
Saturday -- Depart Los Angeles
Sunday & Monday -- At Sea
Tuesday -- Puerto Vallarta
Wednesday -- Mazatlán
Thursday -- Cabo San Lucas
Friday -- At Sea
Saturday -- Return to Los Angeles
14-Night Panama Canal “Repositioning” Itineraries
Saturday May 14 -- Depart Port Canaveral Florida
Sunday -- Castaway Cay
Monday & Tuesday -- At Sea
Wednesday -- Curacao
Thursday -- At Sea
Friday -- Panama Canal
Saturday -- At Sea
Sunday -- Puerto Quetzal
Monday -- At Sea
Tuesday -- Acapulco
Wednesday -- At Sea
Thursday -- Cabo San Lucas
Friday -- At Sea
Saturday May 28 -- Arrive Port of Los Angeles
Saturday August 20 -- Depart Port of Los Angeles
Sunday -- At Sea
Monday -- Cabo San Lucas
Tuesday -- At Sea
Wednesday -- Acapulco
Thursday -- At Sea
Friday -- Puerto Quetzal
Saturday -- At Sea
Sunday -- Panama Canal
Monday -- At Sea
Tuesday -- Curacao
Wednesday & Thursday -- At Sea
Friday -- Castaway Cay
Saturday September 3 -- Arrive Port Canaveral
The Magic will sail from the recently renovated Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro, California (http://www.portoflosangeles.org) , a mere 22 miles from Disneyland. Cruisers can book 2-night “add-on” packages that include a stay at Disneyland Resort. Details regarding shore excursions and special shipboard activities are not yet available, but Disney Cruise Line expects there will be special shows, activities and entertainment on board. Prices for the cruises have proven to be higher than comparable Caribbean 7-night itineraries, partly because demand for these itineraries initially pushed Disney’s demand-driven rates through the roof. If you can’t find a satisfactory rate now, keep trying ú there’s been some “hoarding” of reservations by individuals and travel agents, some of which will undoubtedly be canceled.
Fully-detailed coverage of these itineraries including port-of-call and shore excursion information will be available in the third edition of this guidebook, due to be published in early 2005.
Page 36 -- map -- The Magic will not be visiting Ensenada or Ixtapa. It will also stop at Curacao and Puerto Quetzal.
Page 101 -- Palo -- There is now a $5 service charge for high tea.
Page 102 -- Special Meals at Palo -- There is now a $5 service charge for high tea.
Page 103 -- Topsider’s/Beach Blanket Buffet -- Drinks available now include soda (Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, Diet Sprite) as well as the previously-available fruit punch, iced tea, coffee, milk and juice.
Page 105 -- Castaway Cay Dining -- Soda is now available at no charge at Cookie’s BBQ and Castaway Cay Air Bar-B-Q.
Page 107 -- Beverages -- It’s now fair to say that, “Your food onboard is included in your fare, but some drinks are not free.” Soda (fountain drinks) is now available at no extra charge at all buffet and full-service meals on board ship and at Castaway Cay, and at the 24-hour self-service Beverage Station on deck 9. There is still a charge for soda at snack bars, bars, lounges and from room service.
Page 107 -- Unlimited Soda Package -- This all-you-can-drink offer has been discontinued, as no-extra-charge soda is now more widely available. Souvenir drink mugs are sold for $3, and can be refilled at all times at the Beverage Station on deck 9 (you can also get disposable cups at the Beverage Station at no charge).
Page 107 -- Beverage Station -- Soda (Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, Diet Sprite) is now available alongside other beverages.
Page 111 -- Formal Nights -- On the Eastern Caribbean cruise the formal evening is usually on day 2 and the semi-formal evening is day 6. On the Western Caribbean cruise, the formal evening is generally day 3 and the semi-formal evening is day 6.
Page 126 -- Oceaneer Club and Lab (continued) Tips and Notes -- Parents should be happy to learn that, in these days of ship-board viruses, hand-washing has become a mandatory activity at the kids’ clubs. Whenever children enter either Oceaneer Club or Lab a counselor squirts soap in the children’s hands and sends them to the sink to wash up.
Page 135 -- The Vista Spa aboard the Disney Cruise Line has increased its spa treatment prices and added a few new treatments. The menu of treatments is available in the spa when you board, but here is a sneak peek: Spa Taster (massage and facial for $109/50 min. or $242 for couples massage); Aromaspa Ocean Wrap with Well Being Back Massage ($176/85 min.); Ioniethermie Algae Super-Detox ($145/55 min.); Elemis Absolute Spa Ritual massage and facial ($237/105 min.); LT Oxygen Lifting Facial ($109/55 min.); Well-Being Massage ($109/50 min. or $242 for couples); Chakra Balancing Capsule ($45/25 min., $60/50 min., or $110 for a course of 3 25 min. sessions); Tropical Rainforest ($8 on the day of your “hands-on” spa treatment, $15 for a one-day pass; $30 for a 3-day pass; or $50 for a one-week pass); Rasul Ritual Chamber (Formerly, Surial Ritual Chamber) ($83/60 min.). Recently added treatments include the Aromastone Therapy (approximately $170); Elemis Pro Collagen “Japanese Silk” Facial ($130/55 min. or $60 for an add-on treatment); and the Exotic lime and ginger salt glow ($141/50 min.). Manicures are now $40/40 min. and pedicures are $55/55 minutes. The hair salon’s prices have also increased by about 10%.
Page 143 – It is now available to book shore excursions 90 days in advance, allowing an extra 30 days prior to the trip for booking.
Page 182 -- Making the Most of San Juan: Getting There -- Note that there’s no need for U.S. Customs inspection when visiting San Juan, as the previous port of call on the itinerary is a U.S. territory, St. Thomas. See page 174 for a description of U.S. Customs procedures in St. Thomas.
Page 185-186 -- Embarking on Shore Excursions in San Juan -- Disney has now announced its lineup of shore excursions for this “special itinerary” port. We speculated on the offerings. Just how close did we get?
San Juan City Bus Tours -- replace with New & Old San Juan City Tour. There’s no need to change the description, but note that the tour does indeed include a shopping stop. Price $25/adults, $19 ages 3-9. Duration 3 hours, departs 8:00am & 12:30pm.
Bacardi Rum Distillery Tour -- The original description holds true, but add a presentation in the Bacardi Theater and a rum cocktail-mixing demonstration. $25/adults, $19 ages 3-9. Duration 3 hours, departs 9:00am and 12:15pm
Old San Juan Walking Tour -- As described. $39/adults, $29 children 5-9. Duration 2.5 - 3 hours. Departure 9:45am
El Yunque Rainforest Tour -- We were bang-on! $30/adults, $25 ages 3-9. Departure 7:45am, 12:15pm.
Kayaking -- replace with Kayak & Snorkel Eco-Adventure. (We missed our guess here) This excursion takes place at Seven Seas Beach near Fajardo, out on the island’s eastern shore. 2.5 hours of kayaking and swimming around the reefs, and two, one-hour bus rides to get there and back. $79 (ages 10 and up, only). Maximum weight for kayakers 250 lbs. Departs 8:45am, 10:45am.
Ocean Trail Horseback Ride -- As we described it. $79 (ages 10 and up only). Maximum weight for riders 250 lbs. Departs 8:15am, 10:15am
Mountain Biking PiĖones Reserve ú- Another winner -- Disney suggests you wear a swim suit under your biking attire. $65 (ages 10 and up only) Maximum weight for bikers 300 lbs. Departs 8:45am, 12:20pm
Party Boat and Snorkel -- Close enough! “Catamaran Sail & Snorkel” -- Buffet lunch provided, destination not named (but still seems to be Fajardo). $89/adults, $69 ages 5-9 Departs 8:10am, 11:10am
San Juan Shore Excursions not included in PassPorter:
Hyatt Dorado Beach Golf -- Play a round of golf at one of this resort’s two Robert Trent Jones Sr. courses. Bring your own clubs, or Callaway rentals are available for an extra charge. Greens fees and shared golf cart included. $159 age 10 and up only. Departure 7:45am 7-7.5 hours
Seven Seas Snorkeling Adventure -- Snorkel the reefs off the island of Icacos, near the east coast port of Fajardo. Beverages and snacks included. $79/adults, $59 ages 5-9. Departs 8:10am, 10:30am 5.5 hours
Nature Walk Through La Mina Falls at the Rainforest -- This visit to El Yunque Rainforest is longer and offers more walking than the above Rainforest Tour, with many of the same pleasures. “Nature Boy” Dave would probably choose this one. Wear a swim suit under your hiking togs. $39/adults, $29 ages 5-9. No strollers. Departure 8:10am Duration 6 hours
Bacardi Rum Distillery & Old San Juan City Tour -- Mix an Old San Juan bus tour with the Bacardi Distillery Tour and you’ve got this one nailed. $39/adults, $29 ages 3-9. Departure 8:00am Duration 4.5 hours
Condado Beach Escape -- What’s a port visit without a beach break? This sun and fun excursion takes you to the San Juan Marriott Resort on Condado Beach. Enjoy the beach, theme pool with water slide, lounge chairs and showers. 2 hours of beach time (bring your sun screen). $69/adults, $49 ages 3-9 Departure 8:30am, 12:10pm Duration 4.5 hours
To see the complete, official list of San Juan shore excursions, visit http://www.disneycruise.com, click Fun Onshore, click San Juan (under Special Cruise Ports), and then click Shore Excursions (or just go to this link).
Page 191-192 -- Embarking on Shore Excursions in Antigua -- Disney has announced its lineup of shore excursions for this “special itinerary” port. We speculated on the offerings in the guide -- to get the complete and official list of Antigua shore excursions, visit http://www.disneycruise.com, click Fun Onshore, click Antigua (under Special Cruise Ports), and then click Shore Excursions (or just go to this link).
Page 224 -- As previously noted, soda is now available with lunch at no extra charge.
Page 229 – Disney Cruise Line’s new excursion is called, “Blackbeard’s Cay Beach & Stingray Adventure.” This is less expensive and takes less time than the Blue Lagoon Beach Day (Stingray City).
Page 238 -- On the 7-night cruise, you have one formal night (day 2 on the Eastern Caribbean itineraries and day 3 on the Western Caribbean itineraries) and one semi-formal night (day 6 on both itineraries).
Page 244 -- Hand-washing is now an automatic part of kid’s club activities.