Let’s just start off with the obvious: the pro of cruising is the fact that you’re cruising. There really are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Going on a cruise with Disney is like handing over the reigns to your stress and anxieties of real life and letting them pamper you for 3 to 7 days. Cruising is awesome. We love it. But one method of cruising has become more popular in recent years and we want to explore it a little bit. It is the idea of back-to-back cruising.
Back-to-back cruising means that you actually book two consecutive cruises for your vacation. The cool thing is that you can customize it how you want, like a three day cruise and then a four day cruise, or vice versa. I’ve even known of some people who do back-to-back seven nights! Some people love the concept and some would rather stick to just one cruise at a time. We were lucky enough to do a three and four night back-to-back cruise on the Dream before COVID hit, so my observations will be based on that timing. Take a look!
More Cruise: Starting with the most obvious. The biggest pro of a back-to-back cruise is that you get more cruise. Most of the time when cruising, the majority of people say: “This is great! I just wish it could be longer.” Well, now it is. I found the experience of needing more cruise on a back-to-back to be less intense. Because on the first cruise, you know another one is coming. You don’t have to be sad on the last night because it isn’t your last night. And once you’ve reached the end of your second cruise, you’ve already been on two vacations, so the sting isn’t as strong.
Twice to Castaway Cay: Heck yeah! Some Disney Cruise itineraries do what they call a “double dip” at Castaway Cay, which means you stop at the private island twice on your cruise. But back-to-back cruising is so much better because not only do you get a double dip at Castaway Cay, you get a double dip at everything else too!
The island is huge and there are so many things to do that it often feels like there just isn’t enough time to do it all in one day. Well…not on a back-to-back! For our trip, we tried a private cabana on Serenity Bay for the first cruise, and did more wandering of the island on our second cruise. It was super cool, I have to say. Big fan of the cabanas. But it was also great to get to eat at Cookie’s twice and not feel like I was wasting my time on the island by sitting in a hammock all day (which, I’d argue is never actually wasted time).
The Empty Ship Between Cruises: This pro caught me by surprise. Since I’d never done a back-to-back before, I didn’t know it existed. When the first cruise ends, you still have to get off the ship like everyone else. It’s just procedure. BUT you do not have to clean out your cabin or pack up or anything, which is super nice. You get to leave everything as is and just get off the ship like normal. But instead of being depressed and going home, you just get to sit in a nice little private area of the terminal and wait for the crew to tell you it’s clear to get back on board. It took us about 45 minutes. But it was kind of fun to walk around the empty terminal.
But that was nothing compared to walking around the empty ship! It was so cool. My family and a few other families had the gorgeous Disney Dream all to ourselves for a couple hours. Ridiculously fun. We were super obnoxious about it, too. My dad and I rode the AquaDuck about 6 times in a row and my mom got her pick of the fancy Quiet Cove chairs. Plus, back-to-back cruisers get a free drink at Cove Cafe, so I definitely took advantage of that opportunity. While it was only a couple of hours, we loved this unique experience.
Same Menus: While the cons for back-to-back cruising are few, they are worth noting. One of the best parts about a cruise is the all-inclusive amenities. Going to dinner each night is an experience to get excited about. So a con for back-to-back cruising is that on your second cruise, there’s no new dining experience. The menus are going to be exactly the same. There’s no variety, so if you didn’t like a menu the first time, you’re not going to like it now either. The good news for this con is that you can simply plan your dining strategically. For example, for the second cruise, you can choose to eat dinner in Cabanas, or book a Palo reservation for one of the nights. Either way, you still get great food!
Same Shows: Similarly to the same menu con, all of the entertainment on your second cruise is going to be a repeat. Each show in the Walt Disney Theater is going to be the same as the last cruise, every deck party, each dinner show, everything. Exactly the same. This worked out well for me because I love the Beauty and the Beast show on the Dream. So it was fun to be able to see it twice. But some of the excitement does go away when you know exactly what’s coming each night.