Everything You Need to Know About Disney Cruise Line’s Very Merrytime Cruises
Disney and Christmas: My two favorite things in the world! I have experienced Christmas time at Disneyland Resort my whole life, and have visited Walt Disney World Resort for its Christmas decorations a few times.
But there was one Disney vacation destination on my bucket list to experience during the holidays that I hadn’t yet, and was determined to this year: Disney Cruise Line’s Very Merrytime Cruises! While I am no stranger to going on a Disney Cruise vacation (you can read my post about planning and picking a Disney Cruise here), I had never had a chance to see one of Disney’s ships decked out for the holidays.
Our Very Merrytime Cruise’s Itinerary
So this year my family and I ventured out on a dream vacation. The main part was a 5-night trip on the ship Disney Magic which began on November 10th, the ship’s first of many Very Merrytime Cruises this season. The ship departed from New York City, had four days at sea with a stop in Antigua the last day, then ended in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
While I live all the way over in Los Angeles, I selected this cruise because this Christmas-loving gal had also always wanted to see New York City around Christmas time. I used the Disney Cruise Line trip as a reason to also spend time in NYC, checking off another bucket list item. We arrived three days before our cruise’s departure.
After New York City and our Very Merrytime Cruise, instead of taking the long 9-hour flight from San Juan to LA, we decided to instead fly to Orlando and spend a couple of day at Walt Disney World. This broke up our flight time into two shorter flights, plus gave us a chance to visit Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and Animal Kingdom for the holidays. This was three very Christmas locations put into one trip, and I would do it again in a heartbeat!
It was also nice that we got some cold winter-feeling days during the first half of our trip, but then the second half we could transition into summer clothes and enjoy the pool on the Disney Magic as we moved closer to Antigua. Another huge bonus? Leaving from New York City allowed us to pass by the Statue of Liberty as we sailed away. How magical is that?
Now that I’ve told you a little bit about our specific itinerary, let me dive into what you need to know and what you can expect to experience on all Very Merrytime Cruises!
When Are Very Merrytime Cruises?
Disney Cruise Line’s Very Merrytime Cruises begin around the second week of November through Christmas day. You can specifically search for these itineraries by going to the Very Merrytime Cruises homepage. There, you can either click on “View 2019 Itineraries” or “View 2020 Itineraries” (2021 will be added once those itineraries become available). Once you select the year, it will show only sail dates that are Very Merrytime Cruises.
Or, if you rather pick your Merrytime Cruise based on price rather than itinerary, you can easily do so by clicking “View Prices” at the top of the Merrytime page, then put in the number of guests.
Decorations are the main draw for me to go on a Very Merrytime Cruise! When we went on November 10th, it was the Disney Magic’s first Merrytime Cruise of the season so we got a special experience seeing them set up the atrium’s 2-story tall Christmas tree, as well as the lobby’s gingerbread house that’s made from real gingerbread. The gingerbread house I would have to say was my favorite! Since it’s made from real gingerbread and frosting, whenever you walk through the lobby atrium you can smell an amazing gingerbread smell! Also inside the house, you could see Disney character plushes for an added cute touch.
Aside from those main decorations, there’s also Christmas pretty much everywhere on the ship! And the best part? Each tree and wreath is perfectly themed to the spot it’s in. At the Cove Cafe, the adult-only coffee shop onboard, there was a Christmas tree with coffee-themed ornaments. In the Oceaneer Club near Andy’s Room, there was garland and wreaths with Slinky Dogs inside. At Rapunzel’s Royal Table, one of Disney Magic’s rotational restaurants, there was garland with paintbrushes in them. These are just a few of the many themed decorations you could find on-board. I would love to eventually do a Very Merrytime Cruise on all the ships to see the unique decor on each one!
Very Merrytime Cruises On-Board Activities and Meet-and-Greets
Very Merrytime Cruises offer the same amazing on-board activities you’re used to, such as trivia, drawing classes, karaoke, wine tastings, and dozens more. But I wanted to tell you about some of the offerings unique to the Very Merrytime Cruise itineraries. These are all included in the price of your cruise, and they do not require registrations ahead of time. You just find them on the activities schedule for your cruise and show up!
- Tree Lighting: The tree lighting is an event you don’t want to miss! It happens once on the first night, in between the first and second dinner seatings so no one has to worry about missing it. Mickey and his pals, plus Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus sing Christmas songs and countdown to light up the lobby atrium’s Christmas tree for the first time of the season!
- Storytime with Mrs. Claus: Check your on-board schedule for this activity – it was super cute! Mrs. Claus sits by the lobby’s Christmas tree and reads Christmas stories. There was a special spot for children to sit up front, and then adults could stand behind the kid area. If you get there a little early, there are Dickensian-style carolers singing before Mrs. Claus arrives. There are also cast members in the lobby that pass around complimentary cookies and hot chocolate.
- Santa Claus Meet-and-Greet: There were two days on our itinerary where a Santa Claus meet-and-greet is available. I recommend arriving about 30 minutes ahead of time. This way, you can enjoy the complimentary hot chocolate and cookies cast members pass around in the lobby while we await Santa’s arrival. There is also a nice list that you can put your name on! We love how our Santa photo turned out, and it’s even going to be our Christmas card this year!
- Cookie Decorating: There was only two time slots for this activity on our cruise. It’s high in-demand, so I recommend arriving about 30 minutes before start time to line-up. This way, you won’t have to wait too long for your turn once the activity starts. At your cookie decorating station, there’s a pre-made gingerbread man cookie. They provide you with frosting and candies for decoration. We loved doing this together as a family!
- Character Meet-and-Greets: Throughout each day, you can find meet-and-greets with Mickey and his friends. We did several of these, since they are in special holiday outfits exclusive to Merrytime Cruises. You can meet each character more than once, since they each had a couple different holiday outfits. Note to plan these character holiday pictures earlier in your trip, since on Pirate Night they’re dressed as pirates, and the last couple days they were dressed in their nautical outfits.
- Learn-to-Draw Christmas Characters: They have learn-to-draw classes, similar to Animation Academy at Disney California Adventure. These included special Christmas character classes, including Mickey Mouse from Mickey’s Christmas Carol, Scrooge McDuck, and Santa Goofy.
- Funnel Vision Movies; Funnel Vision is the name of the movie screen above the Disney Cruise Line’s main pools. They played some Christmas movies, including Muppet Christmas Carol and Mickey’s Christmas Carol.
Special Treats and Merchandise
- Merrytime Coffee Art: At Cove Cafe, on lattes and cappuccinos you could have a Mickey Santa on top of your foam, complete with your name!
- Exclusive Merchandise in Gift Shops: On our ship, we had a store that exclusively sold Very Merrytime Cruise merchandise. These included a Spirit Jersey, ornaments, shirts, hoodies, mug, tumbler, and some home decor. They also offered the popcorn buckets and straw toppers you can find in the parks. You could find these at the concession stands open for nighttime shows.
- On-Board Gifts: We wanted to add some extra Christmas magic to our stateroom and to surprise Amelia with decor in our room! We also wanted to take a piece of the Very Merrytime Cruises magic home with us. So we ordered the on-board gift package that included Christmas garland, a magnetic advent calendar, a blanket and pillow. We have been using them all since we arrived back home, and absolutely love them! The whole package was $75.
- On-Board Gift Stockings: We also ordered Disney Cruise Line stockings, which we are going to use for our family’s matching stockings this year. They were $14 each. You can order on-board gifts ahead of time here.
And there you have it! Everything you can expect to do on Disney Cruise Line’s Very Merrytime Cruises! Especially doing a cruise from NYC down towards Antigua, we got the best of both worlds getting Christmas decor and activities but with a tropical vacation feel. You can learn more about picking out and planning your first Disney Cruise by visiting my post here.