The Unofficial Guide series has launched their first ever guide to Disney Cruise Line earlier this month with online orders shipping last week as well as showing up in your neighborhood book stores. This is not the first time the Unofficial Guide series has taken to the high seas, but it is the first to focus on one specific cruise line. The Unofficial Guide to Disney Cruise Line was co-written by Len Testa, the co-author of The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World and The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland, as well as the touring plan software used over at TouringPlans.com. Joining Testa on this new adventure is Erin Foster, a charter member of the official Disney Parks Moms Panel, and Laurel Stewart who manages operations and business development over at TouringPlans.com.
To start off this is the Unofficial Guide, not to be confused with the enhanced Disney Cruise Line brochure, er, I mean, Official Guide known as Birnbaums. I am not try to discredit the Birnbaum guides, but they are written with the assistance of Disney’s PR department and published by Disney Editions. Admittedly, I’ve not read one in ages, but it is hard to imagine them being that objective, especially when it comes to providing you money saving tips. Maybe I’m wrong, but I’m willing to bet I can find all the same information on DisneyCruise.com. It is highly likely based on the fact you are reading this review on our unofficial site that you are looking for more objective information to plan you upcoming Disney Cruise.
The Unofficial Guide to Disney Cruise Line sets out to help the reader plan and get the most out of their vacation dollars with a summary of what is included in your cruise fare accompanied by the 10 Best Bangs for your Buck. The Unofficial Guide presents readers with recommendations for which ship and itinerary is right for a first time cruiser along with an overview of the various stateroom categories available on each class of ship. More money saving tips include suggestions on when and how to book a Disney Cruise vacation. Additional pre-cruise recommendations are included to help the reader cruise like a seasoned Castaway Club member such as what to pack, and the proper identification required to sail.
With four unique ships in the fleet, the Unofficial Guide to Disney Cruise Line offers an overview of each along with unbiased reviews of the onboard restaurants, entertainment, stage shows, and nightlife. Before you ask, the answer is yes; the reviews in the Unofficial Guide to Disney Cruise Line of the Disney Magic are based on the authors’ experiences aboard the re-imagined Disney Magic. In fact, I sat in the Cove Cafe while they were writing some of their reviews that appear in the book as well as on Disney Cruise pages over at TouringPlans.com.
The Unofficial Guide to Disney Cruise Line provides an overview of various onboard activities for families. It covers each of the Youth Activities Clubs noting the differences across the fleet, which is important as the Vibe & Edge clubs on the classic ships are not nearly as elaborate as the Vibe & Edge on the dream class ships. This is an important consideration when selecting a ship if you have tweens and teens. Luckily, we have a few more years of the Oceaneer Lab & Club before our family graduates to the next level. The book also includes an overview of the actives and offerings that are available just for adults, such as beverage seminars such as mixology as well as the Senses Spa.
Since most Disney Cruises embarking from Florida include a day at Castaway Cay, an entire section is dedicated to Disney’s private island in the Bahamas. Recommendations include what to bring, so you know what you can leave at home. Ready to relax on the beach? Good news – the guide has an overview of the many places to do so, from the family beach to the adult only beach. Not one to sit on the beach all day? Not a problem – the book includes some of the popular actives, such as my favorite non-water related activity – renting bikes to explore the island. In the last chapter of the book, there is a breakdown of the various Port Adventures offered on the island.
There is a nice chapter at the end of the book that provides summary information of each port of call. The book groups the ports by geographical region, such as the Alaska or the Caribbean, and includes information such as the language spoken in port, weather for the period the port will be visited by Disney and brief history area. Additional information includes the hot tourist spots, where to eat to get a taste of the port, and what shopping is unique to the area. There is no sense in buying a Venetian mask in Barcelona when you will be in Venice 12 days later.
I mentioned earlier there was a good overview of the Port Adventures at Castaway Cay in the last chapter. The book touches on things to do while in Nassau and Mexico, but that is about it. The authors are candid, and admit it is impossible to cover each port adventure in each port of call at the same level as they provide for the Castaway Cay port which is why they offer recommendations to other websites and books in the opening chapter of the book. Sure they could have pooled user reviews but this would be a cheap way to fill pages watering down the content. After all, you are likely going to read this book because you are already fans of the Unofficial Guide series of books. The authors did include resources for readers looking to find more information from Disney Cruise Line’s official website to a short list of websites with dedicated DCL forums.
Overall, the Unofficial Guide to Disney Cruise Line is a wonderful resource for anyone planning a Disney Cruise vacation. While the book is a perfect introduction for the first time cruiser, or those sailing with DCL for the first time, it also includes information that may be new to even a Platinum Castaway Club member. With so much to see an do on a cruise ship (not to mention that it’s ever changing), it is tough to experience it all. I know I learned a few things myself. For the cost of a couple lattes at Starbucks, you cannot go wrong picking up a copy. Disclaimer: I was provided an early review copy to proofread and as well as two final copies from the authors. That being said, I would still have purchased my own copy
The Unofficial Guide to Disney Cruise Line is available now at your local book store as well the usual online retailers such as Amazon.com. Digital copies are available from the iBook store, Nook, Google Play.
To commemorate the book release, we will have our first giveaway – a copy of the brand new Unofficial Guide to Disney Cruise Line! Enter below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway