If you have even a basic knowledge of Disney vacation opportunities, you’re probably aware that Disney offers much more than its theme parks and water parks. Disney Cruise Line (DCL) and Adventures by Disney (AbD) are Disney-quality vacation options that don’t involve the parks at all.
With an Adventures by Disney Supplement, your port excursions are pre-selected by AbD experts who have an extensive understanding of popular sites in the local port areas. Currently, this is available on five, seven, nine, and thirteen-night Mediterranean cruises on the Disney Magic.
If you think this might be a good option for you, look at the ten benefits below before booking.
Benefits of an AbD excursion over a regular excursion
1. Familiar Guides
On a regular DCL port excursion, you can have different guides for every trip. Booking with AbD means you’ll have the same two Disney-trained guides throughout the entire cruise both on the ship and on the excursions. They’ll get to know you and your individual needs including medical needs and special interests. If the guides know you’re a true Disney geek, they can point out where you can find Disney souvenirs in the local area. You might get some pretty cool souvenirs by expressing these interests. In addition to these guides, you’ll be joined by local expert guides at each location.
2. Familiar Companions
On AbD excursions, you will travel with a cohort of guests, meaning you will also become familiar with the other people in your group rather than a random group at each excursion. This can be beneficial especially if you get anxious in social situations. You may even establish friendships that last beyond the cruise!
3. Guest to Guide Ratio
AbD excursions have a maximum enrollment of 40 people, but there are usually fewer people participating. When you consider the fact that local guides will be joining you at destinations, you’ll usually experience a maximum ratio of 20 to 1, but more common is 10 to 1. A regular DCL excursion is about 30 to 1. Consequently, you’ll get much more personal attention on an AbD excursion.
4. Quality Control
Since you’ll be traveling with Disney including Disney-trained tour guides, you’ll get the same quality control you’ve come to expect from Disney. All AbD drivers, local tour guides, and translators have been vetted by Disney so you’re getting the best of the best.
Although there will be some overlap with AbD and DCL, Adventures by Disney has the ability to offer unique activities like visiting a family farm in Naples, making your own gelato, or sailing on a private boat tour of Capri. These things are not available to the general public.
6. Safety Precautions
Again, since you’re traveling with Disney, safety is a top concern. All of the busses have seatbelts, and the drivers have submitted credentials. There is also extra security in particularly dangerous areas. For example, if the guides know that there is a specific danger like pickpocketing, extra security guards will be stationed in plain clothes to survey the group and recognize potential dangers. What’s more, AbD will pick you up at the airport and transport you to the ship or the hotel eliminating the scary middlemen involved in transportation.
7. Time and Energy Balance
Especially if you are unfamiliar with the area, you can easily over or under book when planning your own trip. However, booking with AbD will assure you that the knowledgeable guides have everything under control. They know the right balance of activities to keep you entertained without exhausting you. You’ll neither be bored or too tired with the help of Adventures by Disney.
Disney knows how to take care of its VIP guests, and it’s no different for AbD Supplement cruisers.
Tour guides are equipped with extras to keep you comfortable including snacks and water, hand sanitizer, fans, misters, OTC meds, and sunscreen. They are even trained to recognize when guests aren’t feeling well before the guest even knows it! They’ll immediately give you basic medical attention and make you comfortable before the issue can escalate into something more major like heat exhaustion. They also know where clean restrooms are at each stop, which is pretty important if you ask me.
They’ll also arrange for dining extras. Most meals will be included with AbD excursions, and these meals will be much nicer than those on regular DCL excursions with expanded menus, extra courses and lots of adult beverages “on the mouse.” What’s more, the guides will often surprise the group with ice cream from a cute store or local treats on the bus ride back to port.
Finally, the tour guides will often sprinkle your AbD excursion with a little bit of Disney pixie dust. Are you visiting the Trevi Fountain but don’t have any coins? Yes you do! Did you forget to buy a postcard from that posh hotel where you ate dinner? Not only did they buy everyone in the group postcards, but they’ll arrange to have them mailed with international postmarks and stamps! The guides will give you pins of the day and serve as your personal photographer. The hundreds of photos they take with their own camera will even be available on your PhotoPass along with all of the photos taken on the ship. You’ll have access to all of these photos on your MyDisneyExperience app.
Adventures by Disney will cover all of your mid-trip gratuities for the drivers, waiters, and excursion staff, so you don’t need to worry about tipping them. However, you will need to tip the AbD guides. By the end of the trip, you’ll want to tip them (well) for everything they’ve done for you.
10. On-board Priority
All Adventures by Disney groups are given preference over other guests on-board the DCL. AbD groups will be the first to tender in the morning and are the only ones who have the ability to hold the ship’s departure. In other words, if your bus breaks down on a regular DCL excursion and you’re late to return to port, the ship will leave without you leaving you responsible for your own transportation back home. If you’re part of the AbD group and your bus breaks down, the ship will be notified, the guides will find you alternative transportation, and the ship will wait in port until you arrive. This is vacation insurance in and of itself!
With all this talk of excursions, you maybe wondering what you’ll be doing while at sea. The Disney Tour Guides will stay with you throughout the cruise and be available for advice or questions. They’ll also plan a couple optional activities everyday giving you the freedom to explore the ship or participate in structured activities depending on how you want to spend your vacation.
If you think you’ll miss the flexibility of determining your own destinations, which will likely only happen if you are familiar with the area and know exactly what you want to do, you might want to consider booking one or two regular excursions if what you want to see is not on the AbD itinerary. This, however, would mean that you aren’t getting the full value of the price you paid for the AbD Supplement, which isn’t cheap.
You can, however, save money in other places. Some travel agents will give on-board credits like drink or food coupons. If you’re a Costco Member, consider booking through Costco Travel, which might give you Costco Rebate Vouchers. You can also use DVC points if you’re a DVC member, though you should first consider selling your points and using the cash since you’ll probably get more for your money than for your points outside of Disney World or Disneyland.
You may be asking yourself if an Adventures by Disney Supplement is right for you. Although it is a great option for anyone looking for a little more personal attention during their Disney Cruise, there are a few groups who might benefit even more. If you’re traveling alone, you might appreciate the extra measure of attention and safety. The tour guides might indeed become your travel companions. For single parents, the extra eyes looking out for your kids may give you a peace of mind so you can enjoy your vacation even more than you would otherwise. Finally, for people who become stressed very easily or those who don’t like to or don’t have time to plan, it can be a welcome respite for the AbD experts to do all of the work for you.