Disney holidays on the high seas

Watching Walt’s crew work magic on the water

The holidays—any holiday, really—are my catnip. I’m the enthusiast that puts up my tree after Halloween and keeps Christmas CDs in the car year-round. And don’t get me started on the “seasonal” section in stores; those are very dangerous for me (and my credit card).

For this reason, during the fall and winter festive season, cruises are my kind of getaway. More than any other vacation, they know how to deck the halls and party.

Whether this celebratory spirit dates back to treasure found, paradise found, or the elegance of an ocean escape, cruise ships go the extra nautical mile when it comes to pairing occasion with vacation. 

My most recent session at sea was aboard Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Dream, where—in addition to packing my bathing suit and little black dress—I brought a suitcase full of costumes for Halloween, the kickoff point for Disney’s fleet-wide holidays on the high seas. 

My spooky stint at sea only confirmed that Walt’s crew works wonders on the water. Here’s a peek at my time aboard, plus some extra tips about what a Disney cruise holiday can offer.

Ahoy

Ahoy

Let’s start with Mickey, the star of the show who shares his captain duties with Captain Hook, Jack Sparrow, and the ship’s captain; thankfully the bridge is big enough for all of them.

Hallow-wow

Hallow-wow

“Halloween on the High Seas” sailings start in early September and run into late October, meaning there are multiple weeks of trick-or-treating on Disney’s four ocean liners. I just returned from the season’s inaugural Halloween sailing, and I’m (Captain) hooked.

Cruise costumes

Cruise costumes

Every Disney character has a wardrobe the size of a stateroom to fit all their cruise wear, including a special section devoted to ghoulish garb.

Trimming the “trick or tree”

Trimming the “trick or tree”

From a pumpkin-adorned tree to haunted stories at sea, I’d have to cruise 100 times to participate in all the Halloween activities.

“MerryTime” in the tropics

“MerryTime” in the tropics

The Walt Disney Imagineering department has a direct line to the North Pole, ensuring Santa finds his way to the tropics, as does snow.

Castaway Cay

Castaway Cay

Spending a day on Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island in the Bahamas, will make you want to seriously consider applying for a job with the more than 100 crew members who live on the island and tend to its tropical terrain. Jack Sparrow need not apply, though you might spot him stumbling around!

Yo ho ho

Yo ho ho

In addition to being one of the official captains aboard Disney ships, Captain Hook relinquishes his navigational duties to make an appearance at the “Pirates in the Caribbean” deck party offered on most itineraries.

Party hardy

Party hardy

My family in pirate attire at one of Disney’s many parties, which are timed throughout the day and night to fit every sailor’s schedule.

Movie night

Movie night

When the festivities wind down, how about a funnel-size flick at sea? You can watch classic Disney favorites as well as first-run films that premiere simultaneously at sea and on dry land.

The grand finale

The grand finale

With all the festive fanfare aboard Mickey’s fleet, it’s probably no surprise there’s also a fireworks show—a pyro performance only Disney can provide, as the first and only cruise line to offer fleet-wide fireworks.

 

Select images courtesy of Disney Cruise Line.

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Trip Styler

Trish Friesen chose an unlikely profession given her fear of flying and propensity toward car, air, boat, train, and chairlift sickness. Thanks to Gravol, Sea-Bands, and cruise ship stabilizers, the reluctant—yet enthusiastic—jetsetter packs her bag once every two weeks to swim with sharks in the Great Barrier Reef or to sample the latest libation in Portland. Trish unpacks her suitcase in Vancouver, Canada, Eh! where she’s the editor-in-chief of TripStyler.com, a travel lifestyle website for aspiring jetsetters. Find her moonlighting on Expedia, Fodor's, Jetsetter, and as a travel expert on TV while circumventing the globe with her entourage: a MacBook Air, an Olympus camera, and the biggest carry-on she can fit on the plane.