And just like that, another year of helping clients travel to Walt Disney World and beyond is over. I am so incredibly thankful for the more than 70 families that allowed me to become a vital part of the magic of their vacations in 2021. More resorts, restaurants, and experiences returned to Walt Disney World. We saw the reopening of Disneyland and the return of Disney Cruise Line sailings. While protocols shape the magic to keep everyone as safe as possible, it is still there. I was fortunate to travel to Walt Disney World twice in 2021, especially for the start of the 50th-anniversary celebration. However, the magic was powerful on our Disney Cruise Line New Year’s Eve sailing. 

I’m not going to lie; the last two years have been difficult for everyone. I decided we needed to get away after an especially difficult 2021. As parents, we could not wait for the girls to open their gifts from us and see a DCL vacation just six days away! Their excitement was more than I could have ever imagined. As we made final preparations, we knew the current surge of Delta and Omicron variants was an added risk. Honestly, we stressed, A LOT. Were we making the right decision? Were we crazy? We have avoided COVID for nearly two years. We knew Disney had excellent protocols in place – the PCR required the day of boarding was one of the reasons we felt comfortable. We needed this escape. 

Leading up to the cruise, the girls and I quarantined. We didn’t leave our house. Beau had to work, but they were operating with minimal staff. Two days before the cruise, we tested at home. Thankfully, the results were negative. We loaded up the car the next day and headed to Port Canaveral. The morning of the cruise, our family was filled with excitement and anxiousness. The PCR test was a breeze for 3 out of 4 of us. My seven-year-old is not a fan of the brain scraping and did not believe it was a shallow swab!  The best feeling ever was getting the email that we were NEGATIVE and CLEARED TO SAIL!!

I walked down Main Street USA in August 2020 and cried. It felt amazing to be home after the COVID closure and what felt like a new beginning with my travel business. I stepped off the Disney Magic on February 10, 2020. As an agency, we discussed the pandemic on our cruise. None of us could have predicted what the future held only a few weeks later. As I stepped onto the Disney Dream, I am pretty sure I cried more than I did walking into the Magic Kingdom. Even with Omicron threatening everything all over again, I felt hope. I felt safe. 

The cast members were so nice and welcoming. We shared stories and experiences from the cruises before the 18-month long closure. We decided to wear KN95 and cloth masks as a family but would have felt comfortable with only one mask.
As a parent of a child with generalized anxiety disorder, going anywhere these last two years has been a nightmare, but for the first time in two years, I saw all of her anxiety melt away during the NYE deck party. She took her mask off, let her hair down (figuratively and literally), and danced her heart out. I needed to see that more than anything. 

We opened 2022 in the best way possible. One experience the girls have been unable to participate in is a visit to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. Disney Cruise Line offers princess and prince makeovers. So, of course, I jumped on this opportunity as soon as we were able. All of the Fairy Godmothers were pure magic. Our family had the entire boutique to ourselves. The girls took their time selecting their princess outfits and hair. This experience is modified to follow COVID-19 onboard mask protocols – makeup and glitter tattoos are given as a to-go option. But they were sprinkled with pixie dust, and that was magic enough. We had plenty of time to do their makeup in our stateroom before dinner. They absolutely loved it! I am so glad we could do this while they are both in the age range; I was so worried we would miss it!  

This was my fifth Disney Cruise sailing and my third on the Disney Dream. It is probably my favorite cruise ever, even over our first DCL 7-day Disney Fantasy sailing.  We felt so safe and never worried we had been exposed. Cast members were so cautious, friendly, and exceeded our expectations. High touch areas were thoroughly cleaned frequently, pool capacity was reduced and timed, seating was spaced out but plentiful, and contact tracing from activities was done.

If you are like our family and you’ve spent the majority of the last two years avoiding people but you really, really, really need a safe place to vacation, I recommend a Disney Cruise Line sailing. We are already planning our next getaway with DCL. After being home for over a week, everyone tested negative!

Are you ready to set sail?

Claire Carroll

Be sure to check our series on other DCL experiences! 

Read more about how Disney Cruise Line is working to keep guests safe