Disney Vacation Club Member Cruise Review: Worth It? What’s Included?

The exclusive Disney Vacation Club Member Cruise has everything you’d expect from an Alaskan Disney Cruise sailing PLUS additional special events, lectures, and previews found only on Vacation Club Member Sailings.

Recently I was invited by Disney to join the 21st Disney Vacation Club Member Cruise onboard the Disney Wonder sailing to Alaska.

Below I’ll recap how the DVC Member Cruise is different than a typical Disney Cruise Line sailing, share details on all of the special offerings we experienced, and dive into the special something that makes this different than any other Disney cruise.

This article is tailored to Disney Vacation Club members debating if a DVC Member Cruise is right for them, prospective Disney Vacation Club Members who are curious about the “Membership Magic” extra perks that members receive, and Disney enthusiasts curious about the programming and my reviews of the early previews.

This article is not specifically focused on tips for the Disney Alaska Cruise. You can read my full review of the Alaskan Disney Cruise experience here and our overview of the Disney Wonder ship here.

Disney Vacation Club Member Cruise Overview

disney vacation club member cruise

The Disney Vacation Club Member Cruise is one of many exclusive “Membership Magic” events for DVC members. Some of the benefits in this category are the in-park lounges (Disneyland Disney Vacation Club Lounge Opening Announced!) and Moonlight Madness where DVC buys out one of the theme parks exclusively for members and provides food and access to rare characters.

Members can book the Disney Vacation Club Member Cruise using Disney Vacation Club points, dollars, or a mix of the two.

During our time onboard we were thrilled with how welcoming all the Disney fans were and how excited everyone was to connect. Through the commonality of Disney fandom, everyone had something to talk about. In many ways, I enjoyed the cruise for the same reasons that I enjoy the D23 Expo. It is a place for Disney fans to come together in real life and connect with other Disney fans around fun events and activities. Yes, there are insightful events and panels, but at the end of the day the real value is connecting in person with someone from somewhere else in the country or world with the same passion as you.

There’s one other item that makes the Disney Vacation Club Member Cruise unique in fandom…

The Boat Factor

The Boat Factor represents the fact that everyone participating in the event is on the ship for the duration of the cruise. Disney notables, expert presenters, family, and friends were all aboard for this ocean voyage and constantly present.

I had breakfast next to the voice of Mickey Mouse, met one of the Directors of Zootopia+ on a rainy walk in Ketchikan, rode the White Pass Railway with Disney artists and historians, and watched friends sing karaoke with a member of 4Town from Pixar’s Turning Red. This was not unique to me. Anyone who wanted to connect with the personalities and other guests on the boat had ample opportunity.

Compare this to the events at the D23 Expo. Many of the same people on the cruise also attend the expo and even some of the panels are the same, but at the D23 Expo once a panel has been completed the panelists are whisked back to the concierge level at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel before a private dinner at Napa Rose. Onboard the Disney Vacation Club Member Cruise we all shared in the same dining, onboard entertainment, and shore excursions. This commonality is the Boat Factor

mickey mouse disney vacation club cruise

You never know who you’ll run into onboard the ship.

Even beyond the Boat Factor, there was clearly a lot of care and effort put into making this event special. The entire ship was decked out with specific signage. Each restaurant had custom menus with the trip’s logo. The guide materials were clear and put together well. All materials shared were witty and informational.

The other unique aspect of the trip was that there weren’t that many kids onboard. While the nature of the cruise may have played in here, it probably had more to do with the fact that the cruise was the last week of August and most kids had just started school. In general, the shows and characters were relaxed. Quite often I saw characters like Princess Tiana, Spider-Man, and Thor meandering just looking for someone to interact with.

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DVC Member Cruise Review – Access to Leadership

One of the lounges on the ship was turned into Member Central for Disney Vacation Club members to meet with member services Cast Members in person. Interactions that are usually conducted over the phone, email, or chat could be conducted face to face. I heard from some attendees who even purchased additional points and had an extremely smooth experience with the help of the Cast Members present onboard.

The intimate nature of the cruise allowed guests to easily ask questions and provide feedback. A couple of times on the cruise there were Member Mixer events for guests to connect with Disney Vacation Club leadership, meet other members in an informal setting, and share their feedback.

DVC Member Cruise Early Screening Reviews

disney vacation club advanced screening walt disney theatre

During our cruise we were also treated to early screenings of a number of new films and series coming to Disney Plus. Here are brief reviews of the new films:

Zootopia+ was my favorite new content that we screened. This series of short films is set in the world of Zootopia throughout the timeline of the original film. Each episode is shot and written to reflect a different genre/style of filmmaking. The episode genres are: action adventure, a Real Housewives style reality show, musical, gangster, dance competition (“So You Think You Can Prance”), and rom com (this episode features two of the sloths from the DMV in the original movie). The original Zootopia is one of my recent favorites from Walt Disney Animation Studios because of its heartwarming story, zaniness, and wide array of inside jokes. The two episodes of this series that we saw during the cruise built on this. The shorts seemed to only be about 7-10 minutes. When the full series comes out, I will fly through it.

The Pinocchio Live Action film starring Tom Hanks as Geppetto was the headlining early screening of the cruise. It was an entertaining blend of live action and CGI. They did a good job delivering a new version of the Disney classic that was fun to watch with the entire family. The film is largely the original storyline lifted into live action with a couple of modernizing aspects. I found Pinocchio to be likable and Joseph Gordon Levitt did a nice job as Jiminy Cricket.

The new Mickey Mouse documentary, Mickey: The Story of a Mouse, aims to be the definitive story on the character’s creation, evolution, and cultural impact. The highlights of the documentary were a new animated sequence of Mickey Mouse flying through his looks from over the years, new to me footage of Walt Disney in Marceline, and commentary on Mickey’s portrayals of race in a healthy way that I haven’t seen Disney attempt before. Unfortunately, the documentary felt disjointed.

There were also early screenings of the new Chris Hemsworth “Limitless” series coming to Disney Plus from National Geographic and Obi Wan Kenobi show making of documentary. We did not catch those screenings.

Disney Vacation Club Member Cruise Special Programming

zootopia plus directors

The Disney Vacation Club Member Cruise was full of special programming celebrating Disney history and providing a look into the future of the company. Walt Disney was known to say he had one foot in the future and one foot in the past and the programming on the cruise represented that.

Below are some of my favorite programs. Many of the presentations did not allow filming due to their exclusive nature so my photos are limited. Hopefully the below list of programs gives you a sense of the types of programming offered during the Disney Vacation Club Member Cruises and provides a fun look into our week.

The presentations largely took place during our three complete at sea days. There were a couple of times that events and screenings also took place during the evening after an onshore day. Presentations never took place while there was an option to be on land.

TOP HIGHLIGHT Disney On Broadway Let’s Get Together – On the final evening of the cruise, four Disney on Broadway stars performed an incredible array of Disney songs and a surprise medley from the Greatest Showman (now part of the Disney family post 20th Century FOX Acquisition). The performers were Bobby Creighton (long running Timon in Lion King), Josh Strickland (original Tarzan on Broadway), Kissy Simmons (longest running Nala in Lion King), Michael James Scott (the current Genie in Aladdin on Broadway), and Kara Lindsay (Katherine Plumber in Newsies). Their talent was incredible and blew the audience away. After each number I felt like I could spring up to give a standing ovation. Incredible. The songs performed were: “Let’s Get Together” from Parent Trap, “All in This Together” from High School Musical, a Hercules medley, “Be Our Guest” from Beauty and the Beast, “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” from Mary Poppins, “Easy as Life” from Aida, “Positoovity” from Little Mermaid, “You’ll Be in My Heart” from Lion King, “Friend Like Me” from Aladdin, “Santa Fe” from Newsies, “Let It Go” from Frozen, and the Greatest Showman Medley.

eric goldberg animating

TOP HIGHLIGHT Sketchbook School with Eric Goldberg – Located inside the Animator’s Palate restaurant, noteworthy Disney Animator Eric Goldberg led drawing classes of a variety of different characters. Goldberg has worked on many Disney films over the years. He is known for being a lead animator on the Genie in Aladdin and Co-Director of Pocahontas. He continues to work on new Disney films and special projects – he animated the tattoos on Maui’s body in Moana and works on special projects for all divisions of the company. We went to both showings because we enjoyed the sketch class so much. Think of this event on the cruise as the Animation Academy in the theme park on steroids.

Strange World: An Inside Look – In the large Walt Disney Theatre, a Disney Animator shared a first look at the new Walt Disney Animation Film coming to theaters this November 23rd. I enjoyed seeing an early look at the film and hearing from a new-to-me voice from the Animation Studio. The film looks like fun – think Journey to the Center of the Earth. As usual, the animation looks incredible and the voice cast clearly brings emotion to the characters.

National Geographic’s Making the Disney Wish – One of the first National Geographic forays into covering Disney was this new documentary on the Disney Wish cruise ship (the next will be this new book on 100 Disney Adventures of a Lifetime). The Emmy Award-winning producer was onboard to talk about the process of capturing the footage and what it was like to be onboard the new ship during construction. I enjoyed seeing the footage and hearing his first-hand account on crossing the Atlantic onboard the ship was work was still going on.

A Walk in Walt’s Footsteps – Soon to be crowned Disney Legend, Don Hahn was joined by Disney Historian and author of some of my favorite Disney books, Marcy Carriker Smothers to share some historic footage and talk about Walt Disney. The footage of Hahn in noteworthy Disney places with other Disney personalities was a new angle to bring some of the stories big Disney fans will have already heard to life. Smothers shared quotes and photos from her book “Walt’s Disneyland”.

Zootopia+ First Look – The Directors of the new series that I reviewed above shared some of their background with the Walt Disney Animation Studios and talked a little bit about working on the new series. I was impressed by their clear passion for animation and how well they riffed off one another. Their energy got the room excited to dive into the first look. For those of you headed to the D23 Expo, I recommend you consider the Zootopia+ panel as it will be identical to the one we saw.

Off Script: Getting Goofy With Voice Acting – The character voices of Goofy, Mickey Mouse, Miguel from Coco, Ahsoka Tano from Star Wars, and a member of 4*TOWN from Turning Red read funny scripts riffing on their character’s classic scenes. The two hosts kept the panelists moving through lots of different scripts and never let it get too serious – “what is this a college symposium?” was used to move speakers on from giving any long answers to the quick questions asked.

dvc sing kareoke

Sing! Disney Hits With the Stars – The musical stars onboard the ship (stars listed above for Off Script and the Disney On Broadway show) each prepared one Disney duet and the hosts picked a guest out of the audience to sing the matching part with the star. While this sounds fun on its own, the bit was elevated even more when family members of the stars joined in on the fun. The real life son of Disney Legend and voice of Goofy, Bill Farmer, joined Bill on stage to sing a duet that was originally shared by Goofy and Max in “A Goofy Movie” and the voice of Miguel from Coco’s brothers joined him on stage for a rousing rendition of “Un Poco Loco” from Coco. Another highlight came when Josh Strickland, the original Tarzan for Disney on Broadway, came out in a tentacled Ursula dress and belted “Poor Unfortunate Souls” in honor of Pat Carroll’s passing.

The Fjord Fest – During one of our at sea days on the inside passage, there was a special deck party featuring a signature dish from Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ restaurant in Disney Springs in Walt Disney World (Smith was onboard) and the merry menagerie puppets that are typically found at Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom during the holiday season were out to play. The chicken and biscuit sandwiches from Homecomin’ were awesome!

As I look back on our seven-day voyage it is pretty incredible to see the wide array of programming that the Disney Vacation Club put on IN ADDITION to the programming offered on any Disney Alaska Cruise. The above is only the programming that we made it to.

Other DVC Member Cruise Extras

The Disney Vacation Club team that puts on the event is clearly made up of true Disney fans. The original Imagineering designer of the Haunted Mansion purple wallpaper was onboard the ship as the guest of one of the other speakers. The Imagineer, Tania McKnight Norris, only recently connected with the Disney community.

On this cruise the DVC team put together a custom photo backdrop and welcomed guests to pose with Norris and the backdrop. A great keepsake that only a true fan of Walt Disney history would understand to pull off.

Disney Vacation Club Member Cruise Gifts 2022

Disney Vacation Club Member Cruises are known for being gift forward. We were all alerted beforehand to plan to have ample room to bring things home.

Each gift was some custom creation with the Disney Vacation Club Alaskan Cruise logo. The Disney Cruise Line is known for constant service and these gifts were an extension of that. Each morning we would leave our stateroom for activities and then return to a freshened-up room and gifts on the bed. We sometimes also received gifts during the evening bed turn down that was completed while we were at dinner.

Here are the gifts that each person on the ship received.

  • Welcome Kit: Lanyard, Mug, Glossy Magazine With Upcoming Activities
  • Brown Alaska Ball Cap
  • Warm Blanket With the DVC Logo
  • Bear Statue With Disney Vacation Club Membership Cruise Logo
  • Electronics Holder and Battery Pack
  • Deliciously Disney: Walt Disney World Book by Marcy Carriker Smothers, Pam Brandon, and the Disney Chefs
  • Disney nuiMOs of Mickey and Minnie Mouse with specialized Alaskan costumes that match the costumes they were wearing on the ship
  • Alaskan Disney Posters Collection – Exclusive hand printed screen print posters drawn for this cruise by Bret Iwan, artist and voice of Mickey Mouse, for six of the destinations
  • Custom Disney Pin with Alaskan Disney Member Cruise Logo
  • Alaskan Disney Vacation Club Duffle Bag

These are the awesome screen print posters themed to the national parks that each depict a day of our trip.

And of course, there was so much more to enjoy on the cruise that is standard with any Disney Cruise to Alaska. I will have much more coverage off our ship and tips for a Disney Cruise to Alaska very soon.

I’ll end with a photo of one of our must dos for Disney Cruising…enjoying LOTS of soft serve up on deck even when it is a little cold and wet outside!

soft serve disney vacation club

DVC Member Cruise 2023

The next Disney Vacation Club Member Cruise is in 2023 and will be onboard the Disney Wish. The cruise will be a 4-night sailing from Port Canaveral, Florida on September 4, 2023. The DVC Member Cruise will include stops at Disney’s Castaway Cay island and Nassau, Bahamas. The cost of the Disney Vacation Club Member Cruise fluctuates by room type and payment method utilized.

The 2023 Disney Vacation Club Member Cruise is already sold out. If you’re a Disney Vacation Club Member, would you consider booking a DVC Member Cruise in the future?

Interested in Disney Vacation Club?

Be sure to check out our other planning guides and information below and join our FREE Mickey Visit newsletter so that you never miss out on key information for planning your trip.

  1. Disney Vacation Club Points Rental Guide – Tips to Save on DVC Rentals
  2. Disney Vacation Club Buying Guide – What You Need to Know
  3. Disney Vacation Club Guide – Everything You Need to Know About DVC
  4. Review of Disney Beach Club Resort Disney Vacation Club
  5. Disney Cruise Line Guide
  6. Review of Disneyland Hotel
  7. EPCOT Morning Strategy 2022
  8. Disneyland Discount Tickets 2022
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  10. Disneyland Genie Plus Tips and Tricks 2022

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About Gavin Doyle

Gavin Doyle is a best-selling author and founder of Mickey Visit. He is an expert on helping families save money and experience more at Disney, Universal, and beyond. He has been featured in Forbes, ABC7, Travel+Leisure, the OC Register, Orange County Register, LA Times, Yahoo! News, and more.

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