Last year we did the 4-Night Very Merrytime Cruise on the Disney Wish cruise ship and had an amazing time. Whether you already have a Very Merrytime cruise planned or are thinking about doing one in the future, it’s such a fun way to kickstart the holiday season. We’ve put together some of our top Very Merrytime Cruise tips, including onboard activities, itineraries and what to wear for these special Disney Cruise Line sailings.
What is a Very Merrytime Cruise on Disney Cruise Line?
First things first, it’s helpful to know what Very Merrytime Cruises actually are. These special itineraries are part of Disney Cruise Line’s themed cruises, and they include holiday activities during the entire sailing. The ship is decorated for Christmas, and the characters are dressed in cute Christmas outfits. Plus, each day has special activities like crafts and Santa visits to get you in the holiday spirit throughout the entire cruise.
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Disney Very Merrytime Christmas Cruise Activities
The main draw to a Disney Cruise Line Christmas cruise is the special activities offered throughout. I read several Disney Christmas cruise reviews prior to our trip, and I wasn’t able to find a lot of information on the fun activities a DCL Christmas cruise offers. Here are some of the activities on our Very Merrytime Christmas Cruise:
- Christmas Tree Lighting: This is offered on each Very Merrytime sailing on the first night. It’s typically around 7:45pm, between first and second dinners. Santa comes out and everyone can watch the tree lit together.
- Storytime with Santa and/or Mrs Claus: This special activity is offered once per sailing, and on our cruise it was at 1:45pm on the Nassau port day. The best part about storytime was the surprise dance party afterwards. The characters came out in their Christmas gear and spent time with the kids dancing to popular Christmas songs.
- Holiday crafts like ornament making for either adults only or all ages offered throughout the cruise.
- Character Greetings each day with characters dressed in the cutest Christmas outfits. For the most part, the characters were wearing Christmas outfits with the exception of Pirate Night and Castaway Cay.
- Visits with Santa are offered on a few days and times throughout the sailing. He was the best Santa I’ve ever seen!
- Special Photo Ops: Get pictures with or without Santa in front of the tree or with special photo backgrounds. Many people either dress up in their best Christmas outfits or matching Christmas pajamas.
- Holiday Music Performances: In the evenings, there are special musical performances with holiday music.
- Gingerbread house making or cookie decorating have also been offered on Very Merrytime cruises in the past, but we didn’t see it on our particular sailing.
Christmas Decorations on Disney Very Merrytime Cruises
Another benefit to doing a Very Merrytime Disney Cruise is getting to see the ships beautifully decorated with Christmas decor. Some of the amazing Christmas decorations include:
- A huge Christmas tree in the Grand Hall, with special colors and theming based on the ship. The Disney Wish Christmas tree is unique in that it’s a gold tree with gold decorations throughout. While it’s different from your traditional tree, we absolutely loved it! The lights are off when you first board the ship, and then there’s a Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on all DCL Christmas cruises the first night.
- Themed Christmas trees in each area of the ship. The kids’ clubs each had a special tree in each area, and the lounges and even the hair salon and spas had their own trees. It was fun looking for them throughout the ship!
- A Gingerbread House on each Disney cruise ship. Each ship puts together their own Gingerbread house for display, and they have a contest at the end to see which ship has the best tree. The gingerbread house on the Disney Wish was unique in that it was more of a tower than a house.
- Castaway Cay is decorated for Christmas with its own Christmas tree and beachy themed snowmen for a fun photo op as well as decorations throughout the island. Sadly, with a hurricane and other events, Castaway Cay wasn’t decorated for our Nov 14-18 Very Merrytime Bahamas cruise on the Disney Wish. (So keep that in mind that if you’re on an earlier Very Merrytime itinerary in November, Castaway Cay may not yet be decorated!)
What to Pack for a Very Merrytime Cruise
Not sure what to pack for a Disney Very Merrytime Cruise? One of our biggest Disney Christmas Cruise tips is to get super festive! Regardless of whether you’re sailing in November or December, you’ll see people decked out in holiday gear throughout the cruise. It’s such a fun way to get in the holiday spirit. Some things to pack for a Disney Christmas Cruise include:
- Disney Christmas pajamas for the whole family. If you’re planning ahead, Target, Old Navy and Kohls tend to have matching family PJs by late September. Little Sleepies also has the comfiest family matching Disney Christmas pajamas that would be great for a cruise. I bought slipper socks for everyone for nighttime as well.
- Disney Christmas shirts. I stocked up on Christmas gear at ShopDisney after the holidays the year before, and we typically find great deals for kids at Old Navy, Target or Kohls. You can also shop for matching Very Merrytime cruise shirts here on Etsy.
- Disney Cruise Christmas door magnets are a fun way to get festive and “decorate” your room. Some people go all out, but we kept it simple and ordered these Christmas cruise magnets.
- Disney Cruise Christmas Ornaments if you’re participating in an ornament exchange with your cruise group. You also can find some here.
- Fun accessories like Christmas ears, bows or Santa hats.
- Nice Christmas outfits for family pictures with Santa or in front of the tree. I bought this dress for me, a gold toddler dress for my daughter and a similar Mickey Christmas button down shirt for my son.
Head to our Disney Cruise packing list for a full list of items to bring with you on a Disney Cruise.
Disney Very Merrytime Cruise Itineraries
Very Merrytime cruises typically run from early to mid-November through December each year. Historically, all five Disney cruise ships have had Christmas cruise sailings that visit Mexico and the Caribbean during this time.
In 2023, 4 of the 5 Disney ships will have Very Merrytime sailings, with the Disney Wonder being the only one that will not offer them. The 2023 Disney Very Merrytime Cruise itineraries include:
- 5 Night Western Caribbean & 4 Night Bahamian Very Merrytime cruises on the Disney Dream out of Fort Lauderdale
- 6-7 night Western and Eastern Caribbean Very Merrytime cruises on the Disney Fantasy from Port Canaveral
- 3-4 night Bahamian Very Merrytime cruises on the Disney Wish from Port Canaveral
- 5 Night Baja Very Merrytime Cruise from San Diego and 14-Night Panama Canal Very Merrytime Cruise from San Diego to Galveston on the Disney Magic
Looking for a 2024 Disney Very Merrytime Cruise? Fall 2024 Disney Cruise Line itineraries are currently available for booking on Disney Cruise Line. The Very Merrytime Cruises in 2024 include:
- 3 and 4-night Bahamian Very Merrytime cruises on the Disney Wish from Port Canaveral (with stops at either Lighthouse Point or Castaway Cay)
- 4, 5 and 6-night Western Caribbean Very Merrytime cruises from Galveston on the Disney Magic
- 4 and 5-night Bahamiam Very Merrytime cruises from Fort Lauderdale on the Disney Dream (includes itineraries with either Lighthouse Point and Castaway Cay stops)
- 6 and 7-night Bahamian, Western and Eastern Caribbean cruises on the Disney Fantasy from Port Canaveral
If you’re specifically looking for a Disney cruise over Christmas, there are also special Very Merrytime Disney Cruises on Christmas Day. They also have itineraries for Disney cruises over New Year’s Eve. If you’re sailing out of Port Canaveral, be sure to also check out Disney at Christmas either before or after your trip!
Not sure where to start? Contact me Amanda at email@example.com for help planning your next Disney Cruise Vacation!
Additional Tips for a Disney Cruise Line Very Merrytime Cruise
- Be sure to check the Navigator app for all scheduled holiday activities when you board the ship. It’s easy to miss some of the holiday activities.
- Characters tend to be in Christmas gear during most of the cruise, with the exception of Pirate Night and on Castaway Cay.
- Consider purchasing the DCL photo package in advance of your cruise. It’s a great way to get family Christmas photos, and we plan to use our picture in front of the tree for Christmas cards this year.
- Plan outfits in advance, particularly if you want to purchase matching Very Merrytime Cruise shirts like these or something similar on Etsy. Shipping can always take a bit longer this time of year, and we totally missed the window for our cruise!
- Be aware that special one-time events like the Christmas tree lightning will fill up fast. Get there early and try to go on the top floor of the grand hall for the best viewing.
- If you’re on a Bahamas Very Merrytime sailing, consider skipping port excursions at Nassau for more ship time. There’s so much to do, and some special Christmas activities only happen on the Nassau day.
- Join a cruise group on Facebook for ornament exchanges as a way to interact with other guests and leave with several fun and special souvenirs.
- Speaking of souvenirs, if you’re looking for special Christmas gifts on a Very Merrytime cruise, be sure to go to the gift shops on the first night. Inventory is typically lower, and they will sell out.