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Summer 2023 Ahoy!

Struggling to nail the perfect family holiday for next year? Drop anchor and relax, Disney Cruise Line and its new European voyages, including departures from Southampton, could be the answer to all your problems.

Ships’ Registry: The Bahamas. ©Disney.

Staycation or overseas? I mean, do we even need to ask?! International holiday bookings are rocketing and most of us are counting down the days until we reach sunny shores once more this summer. But if you’re clever (and of course you are) you may also be quietly eyeing your travel hit list for 2023 now, before the best family holidays and deals disappear.

Whilst air travel remains the default option for many of us, the easiest way to leg it abroad these days, post-Covid, is actually by ship. It actually makes perfect sense. You just tootle along to the port, then lap up the luxury, outsource the kids’ entertainment, work on your tan and get the right royal treatment (no need to waste champagne cracking it against the hull though – we’re sure you’ll find a better use for it).

Ships’ Registry: The Bahamas. ©Disney.

Our money’s on Disney Cruise Lines’ new European travel routes – ideal for those who want to a mix of glamour, fun and ease and the flexibility to take in single or multiple destinations. Read on for our inside line on what puts them first for families, and book before anyone else gets a look in. 


OK, so this is big news! For the first time next Summer, Disney Cruise Liner, Disney Dream, sails from Southampton for its first ever summer season in Europe. Sit on your sun lounger drinking Martinis and languorously dipping your toes in the pool, while the Captain steers you on sailings from four to 11 nights, from Barcelona and Rome and Europe’s loveliest ports including a first ever seven-night sailing to the Greek Islands with stops at Santorini and Mykonos.

Plus, if you prefer late summer/early autumn departures, the Disney Dream will also be heading to Spain, France, the Norwegian fjords and Iceland for four-night breaks. How glam and effortless is that? Bookings just opened yesterday, so this news is hot off the press. Competition will no doubt be fierce for places, so get in quick!  If you fancy escaping to the Caribbean or Bahamas rather than Europe, Disney Cruise Line also offers some awesome itineraries to an array of tropical destinations. You can check out the itineraries here

Bookings just opened yesterday (9 May) so this news is hot off the presses. Competition will no doubt be fierce for places, so get in quick!  If your heart is set on a different itinerary to Europe (a week cruising around the Greek Islands, anyone?) or beyond, there’s a Disney Cruise Line for that too.!You can check out the itineraries here.


If you do manage to book up a sailing on the Disney Dream, you’ll get to experience Beauty and the Beast, a musical production inspired by Disney’s live-action adaptation of the animated classic and the first time it’s been performed on a Disney cruise. Forget the clichés about cruise entertainment (no, Jane Donaldson, you’re not stepping aboard), the live Disney shows are like professional West End productions, and this version of Beauty and the Beast interlaces classic storytelling elements with cutting-edge technology to create a unique, theatrical experience in the 1,340-seat Walt Disney Theatre. It looks amazing from the promo video. Want to watch it?  Be my guest! (I’ll get my coat).     


Ships’ Registry: The Bahamas. ©Disney.

Your children will be deliriously happy. The kids’ clubs on Disney Cruise Line are undisputed champions of the world for creating friendships, keeping kids active, firing imaginations and making sure they’re having the time of their lives, giving you the down time to relax too. Across all ships from 3-12 years, the inter-connected Disney’s Oceaneer Club and Disney’s Oceaneer Lab allow children to play, craft, learn and interact with Disney characters.

Outside there are splash areas, miniature golf and basketball, slides, virtual sports, twisty slides and even a 400m running track in the off chance that your child vacates the pool in daylight hours. There are also genuinely cool hang-out spaces for Tweens (the ‘Edge’ club, 11-14) and Teens (‘Vibe’ club, 14-17) – all the media mod cons and age specific games.

The tween hang out


Ships’ Registry: The Bahamas. ©Disney.

Let’s talk about you, shall we? You’re a Muddy reader so of course you love all things luxurious and en pointe. Admittedly, your younger children will spend their daylight hours surgically attached to their nylon princess and padded superhero outfits and smeared in ice cream, but you won’t care – you’ll be in the Senses Spa & Salon, having a facial or acupuncture or mani/pedi, before dressing up, leaving your kids with the Disney team, and heading out to Palo with your other half, an adult-exclusive restaurant where Italian-inspired décor and live music mingle with stunning sea views.

Ships’ Registry: The Bahamas. ©Disney.


Obviously little people go wild for Disney cruises, but there’s plenty to attract big kids too – it’s not all about dressing up and pretending to be Spider Man (though honestly, if your husband insists on it, just let him – it’s his holiday too). It’s an obvious point but a cruise liner with a captive family audience needs to provide distraction and plenty of it.

On Disney Dream, for example, there are 4 swimming pools, 14 restaurants, as well as the family tour de force – AquaDuck, a jaw-dropping waterslide that will jet propel you through a 765 ft tube with a four deck drop aboard a two-person raft. Children from seven years can do it solo (younger children can go with adults), and it’s a no brainer that they’ll be playing on the entire day. Yes, you’ll be forced to join in with at least once so, if we may be so bold, here’s a Muddy tip: do not, in any circumstance, attempt this slide in a bikini.


Ships’ Registry: The Bahamas. ©Disney.

Family time is plentiful on these cruises with performances, movies, party nights and time out, but for adults-only moments may I suggest Pink: Wine and Champagne Bar on the Disney Dream clearly designed to resemble my happy place – the inside of a Champagne bottle. Sculptured light fixtures reminiscent of Champagne flutes, backlit glass ‘bubbles’, elegant drapery, and in a nod to the wonder of the world’s most famous animator, the famous pink elephants from Dumbo dancing on the glittering walls. Proof, if it was needed, that Disney isn’t just for the kids, it’s for the whole family. Cheers to that!

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