Why Your Sea Day Will Be Your Favorite Disney Cruise Day

For years, I thought that I wouldn’t enjoy a Disney cruise — the thought of being “trapped” on a ship for those long days at sea really didn’t appeal to me. In fact, earlier this year when Disney invited me on a five-day cruise that was to include not one but TWO at-sea days, I groaned inwardly. How would I ever survive two whole days with nothing but expanses of water all around me and no way to get off the ship and DO something?


Disney Fantasy

I’m here to tell you that I’ve changed my mind! I enjoyed my at-sea days so much, I almost didn’t want to get off the ship when we were in port!

Here’s why I think you just might find that your at-sea days on your next Disney cruise are your favorite days of the voyage!

Sleeping In

On days when the ship’s in port, you probably will want to get up early, rush through breakfast and make your way off the ship to get to the tour or excursion you’ve booked. If it’s a Castaway Cay day, especially, you’ll want to debark from the ship as early as you can to make the most of Disney’s beachy paradise island.

Not so on at-sea days. You can sleep in, with no set agenda. Have a nice leisurely breakfast — you can even order breakfast in your room!

Simple room service breakfast on the Disney Magic

That’s right — your meals are included with your cruise, right? And that means room service, too! Of course there are certain things that are additional charges, like fancy coffees. But a basic breakfast in your room doesn’t cost any extra, and it’s a most civilized way to start your low-key at-sea day.

You’ll even have time to check out your favorite Disney website over your morning coffee.

Palo Brunch

Another alternative is to skip breakfast altogether and visit Palo for brunch. Brunch at the upscale Palo is ONLY offered on at-sea days, and it’s a BIG reason that at-sea days are so special, at least in my book.

Brunch at Palo Aboard the Disney Magic

I’ve had dinner at Palo on the Disney Cruise ships before, but friends told me that the brunch was even better, and I have to admit that they were right.

There’s a fabulous spread with everything from crab legs to arancini to deviled eggs to salmon mousse to pastries to… well, you name it!

The spread at Palo Brunch
The spread at Palo Brunch
Mini Bloody Mary Shrimp Cocktail at Palo Brunch

Not to mention a fabulous cheese board and an array of miniature desserts that are to die for.

Cheeeeeeeeese at Palo Brunch!
Mini desserts at Palo Brunch
Pastries and more at Palo Brunch

Oh, and did I mention that you can also order off the menu? Eggs Benedict, Strawberry Mickey Waffle… the choice is up to you.

Strawberry Mickey Waffle at Palo Brunch

Spa Day

Instead of (or even in addition to!) indulging at Palo on your at-sea day, you might want to pamper yourself with a treatment or two at Senses, Disney’s on-board spa.

Senses, A Disney Spa aboard the Disney Magic
To the treatment rooms at Senses on the Disney Magic

There’s such a variety of treatments available to you — everything from Swedish massage to hot stone, facials, even acupuncture. You can even get your teeth whitened!

This is the perfect day to truly give in to whatever pampering you have secretly been wishing for. And if you over-indulged at that Palo brunch, there’s a full gym here with treadmills, stationery bikes and other equipment, as well as some fitness classes, so that you can exercise away any guilt you might be feeling!

Special Programs and Activities

Every day of your Disney cruise, the crew puts out what they call the “Navigator.” It’s basically a newsletter of what’s happening around the ship on that particular day.

But if you compare the Navigator from a day in a port to the at-sea day Navigator you’ll see a HUGE difference. There are so many more activities scheduled for your at-sea day — which makes sense, I guess, since everyone is captive on the ship, not going anywhere.

Disney Cruise Line daily Navigator

That means this is the perfect time to take advantage of all those special programs that you might otherwise miss while you’re soaking up some rays at one of the pools or out on an excursion on a shore day.

Have you wanted to learn fancy napkin or towel folding? Or how to draw like a Disney animator? Maybe you want to find out more about the theming of the ship, or try your hand at some crafts or making  apple strudel? These are just a few of the ways you can spend your time on an at-sea day.

Learn to draw like a Disney animator on your day at sea

Themed Days

If you happen to be sailing on a themed cruise (Star Wars Day at Sea, Marvel Day at Sea), you will have even more activities at your disposal.

On those at-sea days, there will be characters wandering around the ship all day, and a wide variety of programs related to the theme, followed by a specially themed dinner, evening deck parties and more.

Dr. Strange – Marvel Day at Sea, Disney Magic


On Marvel Day at Sea, for example, you’ll have characters like Captain Marvel, Captain America, Black Panther, and Iron Man holding scheduled meet-and-greets at designated spots. But you also might encounter other characters like Black Widow, Doctor Strange, and Star-Lord just casually roaming the decks.

On Star Wars Day at Sea, it’s not uncommon for Stormtroopers or Chewbacca to walk the halls, while special activities like mission simulators and Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple are available for the younger set.

These themed at-sea days are amazing for the fans of these films — but even those with a casual interest in the Avengers or the Skywalker Saga will be entertained.

Time to Just Be

While the main point of a Disney Cruise vacation is obviously to relax and enjoy yourself, it’s easy to get swept up with trying to fill every minute of the day with something. Especially when the ship is in port, you may feel compelled to hurry up and do things before it’s time to get back on the ship. Somehow, the knowledge that you are stuck on the ship, and couldn’t go anywhere else even if you wanted to, takes away the pressure to go, go, go! At least, it did for me.

Like I said earlier, an at-sea day is the perfect day to sleep in. Or don’t. Spend time with the kids, or let them enjoy the kids’ clubs while you pamper yourself. Sit by the pool… or by the pool bar. Have a coffee in the Cove Cafe, or take a walk and explore the ship — there’s a lot to see!

Enjoying a sunrise on a day at sea

No matter how you decide to spend your day, or days, at sea, I’m willing to bet that they will be the best days you spend on your Disney cruise.

What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re spending a day at sea on a Disney cruise? Do you prefer shore days? Let us know in the comments.

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Debra Martin Koma wrote about food, travel and lifestyle issues for a number of local and national publications before she fell in love with Walt Disney World on her first visit — when she was 34! She's returned to her Laughing Place more times than she can count in the ensuing years, and enthusiastically shares her passion with readers of AllEars.Net and AllEars®. Deb also co-authored (along with Deb Wills) PassPorter's Open Mouse for Walt Disney World and the Disney Cruise Line, a travel guide designed for all travelers to Walt Disney World who may require special attention, from special diets to mobility issues.

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4 Replies to “Why Your Sea Day Will Be Your Favorite Disney Cruise Day”

  1. Besides castaway cat which is the best day the see days are great. If you are going to Bahamas don’t bother to go ashore best day to relax on board explore, the pools are not crowded Bahamas is a waste of money why pay 179 per person to go to Atlantis to swim

  2. We love Disney, are Premium Annual Passholders and have sailed once on a Disney ship. The ship was gorgeous, and yes, lots to do at sea days. Our concern with Disney is the nickel/ diming, pay for so many ” extras”, almost better to be off the ship. We have cruised 11 times with a very high end cruise line,and love that everything is included. No need to worry about your ‘tab’ while whiling away the day at the pool bar, dining in specialty restaurants, wine, spirits with meals, champagne or spirits every day in your cabin, unlimited shore excursions, gratuities, unlimited wifi, free weekly laundry, some ship to shore phone time, specialty coffees, and more, all included. Oh, and balconies, walk in closets, double sinks, standard in most cabins. Zero bill when you disembark, unless you had spa services or gift shop purchases, and usually there is a ship board credit that covers those. Yes, it costs a lot up front, but sometimes, if you take advantage of all that is included, it works out about the same as ‘regular’ cruise lines. The bonus is you have about a year to save up after booking, you know the exact cost before you set foot on the ship, not worrying how many cocktails, water bottles or shore excursions you had and if you kept aside enough money for tips. Just walk off the ship, no bill. For us, it is the only way to cruise.

    1. Um. Has something changed on A Disney cruise. I don’t remember alcohol being included. And yes, Disney “nickles and dimes” like the rest of the industry.