Disney Cruise Line offers Holiday Themed Cruises, including Halloween on the High Seas and Very Merry Time Cruises. Both are equally fun, but very unique!
Halloween on the High Seas
Early September through late October sailings.
Very Merry Time Cruises
Early November through Christmas sailings.
(Check out our blog on Very Merry Time Cruises as well!)
I am sure your first question is, would my family enjoy this cruise? What special Halloween experiences are there?
My family just completed a Halloween on the High Seas Cruise and I will share with you our experiences on our 7 Day Western Caribbean sailing on the Disney Fantasy.
Have you heard of the legend of The Pumpkin Tree? After sailing on a Disney Cruise Line Halloween on the High Seas Cruise, it will be the coolest Halloween story you have heard in years. As soon as you enter the ship on Embarkation Day, you will see it, the center piece decoration, sitting alone and bare in the lobby atrium, an awesome decoration but it looks a bit sad next to the fall colors and brightly decorated pumpkins and banners hanging on most of the other railings.
But don’t worry, you and your family will help fix that. As you begin your DCL adventure, make sure to head to the atrium to hear the legend of the Pumpkin Tree told by the care taker. The event takes place about 7 pm, between both dinner seatings, so that everyone can hear the story. The care taker tells the story of how the four pumpkin trees came to be (One unique tree for each of the Disney ships) and how they keep the history of Halloweens past alive.
After the care taker tells his story, which is in no way scary even for littles, each family will be asked to help the care taker tend to the tree, by writing their family name on a seed in order help the tree bloom. Through magic, the tree will bloom only once per year. You can find these seeds on tables around the lobby! The seeds are perforated, remove it from the card after writing your name.
The care taker will collect the seeds, then you wait for the magic to work.
Make sure to pack your Halloween costumes to celebrate with the characters during Mickey’s Mouse-Querade Party. You can call your PPDD Travel Planner or DCL directly to find out which day will be your “Halloween Party” about three weeks before your sailing.
The fun starts with a character dance party in the lobby. The dance party is a great way for kids, and kids at heart to interact with their favorite characters in a less formal setting that what you would find at a meet and greet.
The characters do short introductions from the 4th floor balcony then a short dance routine and head out to different areas of the lobby to party with the guests.
On our sailing, there were two parties guests could attend, one at 4:30 pm and another at 7:30 pm. We attended both, and I can promise the 4:30 show was much less busy.
We also did the early afternoon meet and greets with the characters in their Halloween costumes and the lines were much shorter, which allowed us time to get professional pictures taken by Shutters while in our costumes!
And of course, our favorite characters were all dressed up for Halloween.
Let’s talk about Meet and Greets during the cruise, the lines are not even comparable to those in the parks. Most meet and greets are scheduled on your personal navigator at about 15 minutes long for each appearance – as long as you are in line within those 15 minutes, you will get to see the character. Character Meet and Greets are staggered on the cruise, only one or two characters meet at a time and are often held either in the lobby decks 3 and 4 (midship) or at Preludes deck 3, (forward – and also directly in the middle of all the ship’s shops so that your littles have time to decide what they will beg you for while in line for their favorite character!)
I don’t suggest winging it when it comes to meeting characters on the ship. It could be very frustrating if you get to a line and are told the character’s line is closed but you can see them another day, especially for those characters you don’t get to see often such as Peter Pan, Hook and Smee, and Tinkerbell.
Plan which characters you want to meet and when. Make sure to take a look at your personal navigator when it is delivered to your stateroom each night, you can also check for character appearances for the day on your DCL Navigator app.
By far the longest lines were for Mickey and Minnie through out the cruise. If we were going to get in line for Mickey and Minnie, I made sure we were in place at least 20 minutes before the meet and greet started. Being at a Meet and Greet earlier than the scheduled start time will keep you close to the front of the line and give you time to get to the next character before the line gets long or closed.
Remember that magic you were waiting on, to see if the Pumpkin Tree would bloom? I would bet that on your Halloween Party Night, the pumpkin tree will have bloomed, featuring bright pumpkin spirits with various faces!
So what else is there to do during the Halloween Party? Well, what is Halloween with out some trick or treating? Your stateroom host will leave you treat bags after servicing your room for the day. Don’t worry if you somehow misplace them, they are everywhere. Some how we ended up with 5 different bags (full of candy)!
There were quite a few other activities available for kids and adults alike. While the kids were off at the Oceaneer’s club doing Halloween crafts and games, mom and dad could head to the Adult district for a costume contest.
The Halloween fun wasn’t over even though the party only lasts one night. On the third night of our sailing, Funnel Vision featured Haunted Stories of the Sea. Make sure to grab your deck chairs early!
This is held later at night, so young children may be a bit tired. Mom and Dad may enjoy the show just a bit more if the littles end up falling asleep before the show starts or if you are like me, I take the “we are on vacation, right” stance, so some ice cream and a healthy dose of orange soda at dinner helps the littles keep going .
The stories are those of an old sea captain, who like Jack Sparrow, has seen and done it all.
It was a bit scary for littles as there is a good amount of projection work and live action characters on the decks during the show. Thanks to the orange soda we were wide awake and only lasted about four stories before it was too much for my 6 year old to handle and we had to leave. My suggestion, if you really want to see this show, let the kids go to the Oceaneer’s Club for an hour while you take in the show.
A much more family friendly event, was Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas presented in 4D. There are a few things to note about this show. First, depending on the length of your cruise, there may only be one showing the entire time, we were on a 7 day sailing and there were only two. Second, it is held late at night! The show also starts at about 10:15 pm and ends about Midnight.
It was shown the first night of our cruise, and while I don’t get sea sick, I was still getting my sea legs. It is shown in the Walt Disney Theater, which is about as forward on the ship as you can go, so there was a good amount of motion, in the dark. So, not only are you exhausted, you may be slightly nauseated. It worked out that I ended up closing my eyes to stop the nausea from the ships motion and the 3D glasses but fell asleep for a bit. I missed about a half hour of the middle of the show, but what I did see at the beginning and end was awesome. The biggest surprise of the show is at the very end. To top off all the other 4D effects, Jack and Sally rise from the stage to recreate the absoulute last scene live! They then do a meet and greet outside the theater entrance. So make sure to sit toward the back of the theater and on the 3rd Deck so you don’t have to make it to the stairs, down a level and then to the end of a very long line (at midnight). Oh, yes Jack does talk. This really took my son by surprise for some reason, though he has met him before, I think it really scared him as he didn’t seem to want to interact with the characters as much as normal.
Before boarding our cruise we did Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at the Magic Kingdom, we skipped meeting Jack at the Party knowing we would be able to see him on the cruise. I did not know the only scheduled showing would be so late (there was eventually a second showing on our second sea day at 2 PM, but thankfully we did the late show as we had other events booked at that time). If I were to do this cruise and the party at the park again, I am not sure I would skip Jack at the party. It was awesome to see Jack and Sally but it was just too late of a night, especially as we had an early morning planned the next day.
While there isn’t a specific Halloween menu in the restaurants the kids did get a nice treat after finishing their plates. We were at Animator’s Palate that night, and Crush took special notice of our costumes, pointing out there was an alien at the table and that one of the servers should catch it before it gets out into the ship. Being lucky enough to be “the family” Crush picked to talk with was really cool, but we upped our chances by being the only family out of three at our dinner table to get dressed up. While costumes aren’t necessary it really made a difference in the level of fun we had celebrating. I promise if you get dressed up, you will not be the only family wearing costumes. We learned on our Very Merrytime Cruise last year, some people go ALL OUT when it comes to costumes especially for pirate night. We decided we would put a bit more effort into getting in the spirit this year with costumes and it was absolutely worth it to me. We didn’t do overly large costumes with big accessories, both were home made, so not overly expensive either. We also didn’t waste a ton of space in the suite cases, and even though I took a few things out before leaving home we were still way over packed!
I will note, as I am writing this blog, Hurricane Mathew is tearing through the Bahamas on his way to the Eastern Florida Coast. We had absolutely beautiful weather minus about 20 minutes of drizzling rain while in port in Grand Cayman this year and also had no weather related issues when we sailed during hurricane season last year.
The Halloween on the High Seas, and some of the Merrytime Cruises do sail during hurricane season – which is 6 months out of the year. I have never sailed without travel insurance, and have no intentions on sailing without it! There is just too much you can’t control to not have a backup plan. While it is rare that Disney would have to cancel a cruise entirely, should it happen, with travel insurance you are able to recover 98% of your vacation costs, including flights, I don’t know what I would do if we were to ever just loose the total cost of a vacation and have nothing to show for it. Aside from strongly encouraging Passports, I honestly believe in value of travel insurance especially when cruising.
Overall, we really enjoyed our Halloween on the High Seas Cruise. It wasn’t over bearing Halloween themes everyday, day in and day out, or outrageously scary. It didn’t take away from the fun in the sun, wind in your hair and sand on your toes vacation at all! It did bring even more Disney Magic to life while cruising and created great memories for both myself and my son, who was excited because this year he will get two Halloween costumes (one for the cruise and a second for school) and about getting to trick or treat earlier than all his friends!
So the question remains, would you do this cruise again? Would you recommend it? My answer would be, Absolutely YES. While I hope the Aquaduck camera will be working next time, and though would find a different port adventure while in Cozumel, there isn’t anything else I would change!
The activities were perfect for every age and spaced out nicely , the ports (even Cozumel – where I just wasn’t comfortable with the beach area due to a sharp drop off about 5 feet into the water) were beautiful, the weather was perfect, staff on the ship was fantastic, don’t even get me started about how good the food on the cruise is! You really can’t get a better vacation!
The PPDD Travel Planners are here to help you plan out all the details of your Disney Cruise. We can also help you set up pre or post cruise hotel stays along with any needed transfers. We look forward to helping you create magical memories with your family!