Ok yes, I know, Halloween is SO 24 hours ago…but if you’re reading this, you probably know that planning a Disney cruise isn’t really a last minute thing, and something you should plan in advance and prepare for…unless you’re me and my family of course. I’d say about 75% of the Disney cruises I’ve been on have been booked within a couple of months of cruising, which, I’m not recommending. I’m just a spontaneous kind of gal, and when my daughter says in August, “Ahhh, a Halloween cruise would be so funnn!” I think, “yes, yes it would. Let me look into that.” And here we are. I don’t recommend this, because with Disney especially, prices usually go UP the longer you wait, not go down. It’s very rare that Disney Cruise Line is thinking, “gee, I sure wish we could fill these empty staterooms…” It happens, but not on a 3-night Halloween on the High Seas cruise, ya know? So my first piece of advice, is plan ahead. I personally recommend MouseFanTravel.com* for all your travel planning needs!
Now let’s get to the point of this article – IS IT WORTH IT?! Well, let me digress here a bit and say that I am a little biased in that I do love Disney Cruise Line. It’s who I’ve cruised the most with, and who my children (2 of which aren’t children anymore I guess at 18 and 20) have cruised the most with, and we are all therefore extremely spoiled by the impeccable service but down to earth fun, and just overall experience of a Disney Cruise. We as a family tend to cruise for the ship, not the itinerary. [Unless it’s somewhere new that we haven’t been, we don’t even get off the ship until Castaway Cay. [We always stay onboard in Nassau (it’s the best time to visit Senses Spa!), and don’t really disembark in the Mexico ports either. In fact, last time we went on a Western Caribbean itinerary to Grand Cayman, I couldn’t convince them to get off the ship then either, and I actually love Grand Cayman. I of course love traveling to new places, but I feel like most cruise ports, especially in the Caribbean are extremely homogenized to the tourist experience: duty free shops that are the same in every port, locals trying to make a quick buck, and even dining that isn’t really authentic. I know there are places to find real experiences, and with research or talking to locals, you can then explore like a local, but that hasn’t really been a priority for us as a family up to this point.] For us, we have traditions that we love to continue on the ship. The familiarity of the dining rotation, the Cabana’s buffet, the pizza-or-ice-cream-whenever-you-want-it…ok I just realized these are all food related but what can I say…we also enjoy killing it at Disney Trivia every single time we sail (Trivia Winners 4 cruises running :P).
Anyway, my point is, we like the experience of a Disney Cruise. What better way to enjoy a Disney Cruise that much more, than a themed cruise? Here’s what I thought of Halloween on the High Seas:
First, we went on a 3-night cruise on the Disney Dream. Due to Disney cruises being more expensive to begin with, our last minute booking, and the fact that we had pretty much just come back from summer vacation when I booked it, I thought this would be a good quick getaway with minimal time away from work/school. A 3-night is my least favorite cruise to take, we always feel like we just got on board and then have to get back off again. Now add to that Halloween activities, and it felt even more rushed. But a cruise is a cruise, we had fun. Let’s run down all the Halloween extras on board.
We aren’t usually into waiting in line for characters, we can do that down the street any time, but for those that are into that, the lines were long but moved pretty quickly, and there are many, many opportunities to meet various characters in regular and Halloween attire. Keep in mind there are some character greetings on Disney Cruise Line where you can make a reservation to receive a ticket to meet with them. You can find more about reserving Disney character meetings here. You can also see the characters in their Halloween costumes during the smaller shows on board your sailing.
This is what I was most excited about, just because it was new to us. I loved the Pumpkin Tree, which apparently used to “grow” jack-o-lanterns overnight on HotHS sailings, but either they don’t do this any more, or don’t do it on 3-night cruises because when we got on board, the pumpkins were all fully grown. It’s still super fun to see, and we did enjoy the Pumpkin Tree show that happened the first night, with the Caretaker narrating and kids chanting to bring the tree to life. You can see the full video of the Pumpkin Tree Lighting on the Disney Dream below!
There were plenty! Crafts for kids in the Oceaneer’s Club and Lab, The Pumpkin Tree show above, Trick-or-Treating, Mickey’s Mouse-querade Party, Nightmare Before Christmas Sing and Scream-along movie showing, and even adults-only Halloween events and a costume contest. I honestly thought there was a family costume contest which is part of why we went with a group costume and were dressing up, but since we had gone to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party in the Magic Kingdom in costume, we were okay with just dressing up and letting my 10 year old trick-or-treat. I can definitely see how having a family costume contest with THAT many kids involved would be a subjective and “let me speak to your manager”-nightmare with some parents. We couldn’t compete in the contest without our Bert, so we chose not to leave him behind and go to the adult events.
Click to see more of our costume night!
Halloween Food Items:
Honestly, I didn’t realize there were specialty food items until I took the Disney Cruise Line survey that arrived in my email this week. Ooops. I did see a fun Pumpkin cupcake in Vanellope’s, my youngest son, who was celebrating his birthday early on board, was given a special spider dessert, and I noticed the Oogie Boogie and Cauldron popcorn buckets and Poison Apple cup for sale at the Walt Disney Theatre, but I totally missed the themed drinks or anything else. That said, I really wasn’t looking anyway. If that’s your thing, you’ll find plenty of ways to spend your money and get an instagram-worthy photo!
I have a confession. I did not buy one piece of merchandise on this cruise. I know. I know. Who even AM I? I’ll tell you who I am, a crazed mother of 3, on a 3-night sailing with so much going on, I never even had the TIME to go to the shops. I walked through a few times after the shows, and said “Oh, I’ll come back when it’s less crowded.” But we had late dining, and were so tired after, we usually just went to the cabin. Then on the last night, “I said I have to go!” but that was also the night for Disney Trivia, at 10:45, and while it was only 15 minutes long, with the stores closing at 11pm, that was just enough time to not be able to go. At all. I could stare through the closed gates, cry my invisible tears, and wonder if I knew anyone going on a HotHS cruise in the next few weeks. I always get a t-shirt, and usually one for my son or husband or mom too. I always get a Christmas ornament. I was really debating getting a giant Tervis Tumbler themed to the cruise. ARGHHH. It really took me a moment to get over it. But at the end of the day, it was the universe saying “you spent enough….you have 4329 t-shirts….” but the tumblerrrrrr. Ok, I’m over it, I swear. I’ll just have to go back. I know there’s ebay, but with a cast member husband getting 35% off, I cringe at paying not only sticker price, but MORE because it’s on ebay. I’ll survive. Anyway, there is a ton of themed merchandise, make sure you go before 11pm when you are in international waters! 😉
Sooo, that was mostly a list of what there is to do or eat or buy, but what did I really think? Well, I’m glad we did it. It was a fun family adventure. And let’s be honest, they could have a Superstar Limo on the High Seas sailing, and we’d have fun. It’s a Disney Cruise. What I will say is that it’s a LOT of stuff going on for 3 nights. Things are already action-packed without adding in additional, this-sailing-only activities and events, and it’s hard to do it all. The Halloween Mouse-Querade and trick-or-treating happens the same night as Pirate Night on the 3-night, so there was a lot of hemming and hawing about wanting to be in costume or pirate attire for dinner that night and the show before dinner too. There are of course, no wrong answers about what to wear or participate in (except forgetting to go shopping), it’s all fun, you’re going to have a great time, whether you are in full costume participating, or just watching it all around you. We did a little of both and it was a great mix. It did feel rushed, but if we were on a longer sailing, I’m sure that wouldn’t be an issue.
My final ruling would be, definitely go, but maybe not as a first time Disney Cruise Line experience. I think there are sometimes too many things going on for the theme and it felt like you constantly had to make sure you didn’t miss something. But again, a longer sailing probably wouldn’t have that problem. If it is your first sailing, try to go for a longer cruise so you can experience the best of both worlds.
Things to Consider:
Costume Storage: We had quite a few articles of clothing and accessories for our group ensemble. A penguin suit, 2 full suits, 3 hats, dresses, a petticoat, high heels, dress shoes, and accessories (and that was with leaving Bert’s cane in the car by accident). SO, keep in mind you may need more luggage than normal. I also had shark onesies for my older two for Pirate Night, so we had a whole huge suitcase just for those items. We also are locals, so it wasn’t a big deal in any way to have one extra suitcase for us. If you’re flying in, it’s definitely something to organize and plan for ahead of time.
What’s Most Important to Everyone: Back when I was on the Walt Disney World Moms Panel, this was my main piece of advice for people overwhelmed by their first visit. It’s impossible to do it all. So make sure each member of your party figures out what they don’t want to miss, and try to plan those things into your schedule. If you want to take photos with characters, do some of that. If you want to see all the special shows, or play BINGO, figure out when to do those things. The best way to make sure you don’t miss anything is to download the Disney Cruise Line Navigator app. It has all of the info from the paper Navigators placed in your cabin each night, organized in your phone. You can set up notifications, and favorite items to get notified before they are about to start. You can also easily text everyone in your party, with nary a wi-fi package charged to your stateroom. Also make sure to plan in some down time. It is a cruise, it’s supposed to be a relaxing way to unplug from the real world. Don’t forget to actually do that, despite using your phone for the Navigator app, it’s so freeing to have no emails piling up in your notifications.
It Will Be Crowded: There were definitely more small children than I’ve noticed on our other sailings. The Pumpkin Tree lighting and the Mouse-Querade Party were swarming with tiny princesses and Captain Americas and Jedis and various Disney Channel characters in miniature form. All Disney Cruise Line sailings will have a lot of kids, but it seems this is amplified with the Halloween theme. I’ve sailed the Merrytime Cruise as well and didn’t find that to be the case here. The draw of costumes and candy are too great. Here are the dates Halloween on the High Seas sailings will be next year:
2019 Sail Dates
September 25, 2019 – October 27, 2019
October 4, 2019 – October 27, 2019
September 9, 2019 – October 28, 2019
September 7, 2019 – October 27, 2019
All in all, it was yet another wonderful time on Disney Cruise Line. This sailing was especially memorable as it was my oldest two children’s first time sailing as adults. They got to experience Palo brunch for the first time, and the Senses Spa as we enjoyed the Rainforest during the Nassau day in port. It was a wonderful day with them and I’m sure the first of many times they stuff themselves at Palo and sweat it all out in the sauna!
What about you? Have you been on a Halloween on the High Seas sailing on Disney Cruise Line? What did you think? What was your most and least favorite part?
*I also work for MEI & Mouse Fan Travel but I paid full price for my cruise and my opinions are my own. ☺️