Walt Disney World’s Pirate Adventure Cruise Review by Kelly.
My kids recently enjoyed the Disney’s Pirate Adventure. There are 4 ports where the cruises depart from and each is themed a little differently, but the general idea and premise are the same.
Albatross Treasure Cruise – Yacht and Beach Club Dock
Disney’s Pirate Adventure – Grand Floridian Dock
Island of the Caribbean Pirate Cruise – Caribbean Beach Resort Dock
Bayou Pirate Cruise – Port Orleans Riverside Dock
When I booked it, I didn’t have a preference where we set sail from because I knew nothing about them. In fact, I didn’t even knew it existed! I only found out about it when I’d called to inquire about the Pirate Adventure Makeover at Magic Kingdom, and the reservation Cast Member told me about the cruise. I went for the cruise and my 5 year old daughter was booked aboard the Albatross setting sail out of the Bayside Marina at the Yacht & Beach Club. (Again, I didn’t have a preference, it was what was available that worked best for our schedule at the time.) The reservation CM was super helpful and knowledgeable. Here’s what she told me:
- Kids must be between potty trained (no Pull-Ups, they must be fully potty trained and I highly recommend you encourage your child to go to the bathroom before going on the cruise because it’s 2 hours on the water with no real access to a bathroom) and between the ages of 4-12.
- Kids are highly encouraged to wear comfortable shoes that will stay on their feet such as sneakers. Crocs are not recommended. No, kids will not get their feet wet.
- Life vest (that they provide) must be worn at all times
- A snack is served while on the cruise so if your child has any allergies, you should notify them ahead of time as well as speak with the captain when you arrive.
- At least 2 CPR certified Cast Members will be part of the young pirates’ “crew” on their cruise
The cruise departs promptly at 9:30 am and I was told by Disney Reservations to be at the dock at least 15-20 minutes early. We actually got there 30 minutes early, by way of the Friendship Boat from Hollywood Studios. Our resort (All Star: Movies) concierge told me that was the fastest way to get to Yacht Club: take bus to Hollywood Studios then take the Friendship Boat over to the Yacht Club which is the second stop. While on the boat en route to Yacht Club, my daughter saw one of the clues set out by the Cast Members for the cruise and asked me if that was something related to the cruise. I figured it was, but I didn’t want to spoil it for her so I simply said, “I guess you’ll have to find out and tell me all about it!” It’s along the shoreline if you care to look for it. :) You may not think anything of it if you didn’t know about the Pirate Cruise activity that shares the same waters as the Friendship Boats.
We met up with the cast members for the Pirate Cruise at the Bayside Marina of the Yacht Club. I’d gotten there early and was a little confused because the sign said the marina didn’t open until 11am. Well, the cruise starts at 9:30 am so I was baffled. I didn’t know there was a back side to the little hut at the dock where the sign was until I told my daughter she could walk around and explore and we stumbled upon it. So hint! Walk around the side of the hut that’s facing the water. That’s where you need to check in and pay. We were soon greeted by the Captain (I forget her name) and First Mate along with another captain, Captain Ron all in pirate character, speaking in pirate tongue. The first order of business, before anything else, was Captain Ron outfitting the young pirates with life vests which were aptly black with a pirate skull on it, and the other Captain provided name tags for everyone. Then I checked in with First Mate who handed me a waiver to sign. While I was signing the waiver, the female captain lined the kids up and went through the rules of the the cruise. They had to remain seated until told they could get up, and a few other safety rules. Then they were given a briefing on pirate speak. First, it was how to do the pirate hook with their fingers by holding up their index and middle fingers and hooking them. They were told that whenever they saw a Friendship Boat, they were to hold up their pirate hooks and shout, “ARRRRRGH!” (At one point I could hear the captain of a Friendship Boat telling passengers about the little pirates and responding to them.) While the Captain went through the rules, First Mate told us parents that the they will dock in the same spot at 11:30 am, however, she highly recommends being back at the dock by 11:20 am because that’s when they will chase a pirate and it’s a great photo op. Once everyone was present, accounted for, and the rules were clearly stated, the captain lead the group down to the pirate flag decked pontoon. When everyone took their seats, First Mate passed a map around and asked the kids to inspect the map. They discussed the map and came to the conclusion that the first clue is on the buoy just beyond the dock, and away they went. When they approached the buoy, I saw First Mate reach out to get the clue. (Wouldn’t be safe to have a little pirate do that I suppose. :) ) They got their clue, discussed it, and off they went. The last I heard and saw from them until 11:20 am was the group shouting, “ARRRRRGH!” at an incoming Friendship Boat. :)
The pirate’s perspective: (an interview with my 5 year old pirate about her experience on the cruise)
“The first, we got on the boat, looked at the treasure map that was passed around, talked about where we were going to go, then we went out to the buoy, there was another map on the buoy with a picture to figure out where to go. We went to the next location on the map. We did that over and over again. We would dock, get off the boat to look for maps and Hidden Mickeys and my pirate team found a Hidden Mickey while on my pirate cruise! At one point, our boat got stuck! The captain told us to jump up and down to get us free. She backed the boat up but we were still stuck! That’s when we got our bandannas and sword. I secretly made a wish…I wished for a red sword and my wish came true! I got a red pirate sword! Someone came to rescue us and brought snacks! We got Goldfish, pretzels, were for those with allergies, and apple juice. Then we discovered the island with a scary black box and a skeleton. The skeleton had a map. The captain grabbed the map really fast, fearing the skeleton would come alive! Then the first mate helped the captain get the black box. We thought we got the treasure! Then we found out that Captain Stinkyfeet tricked us! We chased Stinkyfeet on his boat who sniffed his smelly feet but he got on the dock, and ran away. I think he dropped the key to the treasure box so First Mate picked up the key and gave it to one of the kids on the cruise and he got to open the treasure box, but he had a hard time with it so the Captain helped him.”
So that’s the quick, super excited, 5 year old version of what goes on during the 2 hour cruise. Here’s what *I* saw upon returning to the dock at 11:20 am. I saw a “high speed” boat chase. I saw a guy dressed in a pirate costume similar to Captain Jack Sparrow’s appear out of no where in a speed boat with a giant pirate flag flying in the wind. His name was Captain Stinkyfeet. It was clear he was “taunting” the young pirates, and I can hear the little pirates shout, “get him! GET HIM!” while waving their swords in the air over and over. I could see bandannas on their heads: pink with skulls for the girls, black with skulls for the boys. The chase went on for about 10 minutes just off the Bayside Marina dock, between it and the Boardwalk dock, essentially putting on a show for passengers of nearby Friendship Boats (who I could over hear being told they were under attack of pirates!) They weren’t careless or wreckless or anything. Everyone was practicing safe boating and were very watchful for boats around them. I could see there were Disney security and guards on their guard boats in the water keeping an eye on the chase as well as the Friendship Boats. Like all things Disney, it ran like a well rehearsed, well oiled machine, but very entertaining for the kids and the parents. Soon Captain Stinkyfeet docked and took off. The little pirates docked soon after and tried to chase after him but he was gone! No matter, they got their treasure chest and the key! They came running up to the dock, chanting and still screaming with excitement. One lucky kid got to open the treasure chest, but it wasn’t without trouble and the entire crew excitedly tried to help him. First Mate had to warn the kids to be careful of the treasure so they didn’t lose anything that was inside the chest. They were just too excited!
They finally got the treasure chest opened. They each got a back pack (nothing fancy or sturdy, probably couldn’t really hold books, and not suitable for school use) filled with goodies inside including some play coins, jewels, compass, telescope, beads, pirate rubber ducky, pirate tattoos, eye patch, and a beach ball. They also got to keep their sword and bandanna. After they raided the treasure chest, the captain and first mate had the kids huddle up around the treasure chest, and pose for the parents to take pictures. They all put one foot up on the treasure chest, raised their swords, and shouted, “ARRRRRGH!” as the cameras went off.
Notes: You do need a credit card to hold your spot and you must provide at least 24 hour cancellation notice or your credit card will be charged. They actually advised me to cancel 2 days before our cruise if necessary, just to be on the safe side. Prior to our trip, I scoured the Internet to try to find information about it but I could find very little. Detailed info on what goes on during the cruise was non existent…not surprising at all since adults are not allowed. A few things I did learn during my research that I did notice were different from our experience were: they used to give out pirate Mickey Ears on the cruise. That’s not the case any more, replaced with bandannas. You can purchase the pirate Mickey Ears that they used to give out from the gift shop outside of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride in Magic Kingdom. It appears that different resorts have departures on different days. It also seems that there used to be 2 departures a day, but when I booked my daughter’s cruise back in March, 2011, (to set sail sometime during the last week of May, 2011) I was told by Disney Reservations that they now only have one departure a day per port that’s scheduled to have it that day and it’s only at 9:30am. You may wish to double check to see if that’s changed when you book it. It may be a seasonal thing, I don’t know.
Your kids might also enjoy the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique or the Pirate League Makeover.
photo credit: Thank you, Rayleen L. & Tara P.