This is a guest post from Chad Bredderman. Here's Chad...
With Walt Disney World being so huge, it’s easy to not realize how many cool things they have going on outside of the parks.
On our last trip, we had some family that was meeting us partway through our 8 day trip, and we were going to change resorts to have adjoining rooms. So we set out to look for something fun for our 6-year-old son to do while one of us handled the check out, luggage transfer, and check in, but wouldn’t mean needing to track someone down in the park.
We found a great activity that turned out to be one of our son’s favorite things from that trip, a Pirate Adventure Cruise!
Pirate cruise options
The Pirate Adventure Cruises have four different options, and depending on which you choose, the day it happens will vary. They each embark from a different Disney resort, and have slightly different themes.
The majority of the adventure takes place on a boat that cruises around one of the waterways on the property while they tell their story and follow a map to the treasure. A snack and drink are provided to each kid, and they also get some pirate booty when they find the treasure chest at the end of the adventure.
Now comes the somewhat tricky part: the schedule isn’t advertised anywhere, and may change seasonally, yearly, bi-annually, every time it rains in Florida, or when Jack Sparrow says “savvy.”
- Disney’s Pirate Adventure departs from The Grand Floridian’s marina and tells the story of Gasparilla. The voyage takes place on Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon. Sails Monday through Saturday.
- The Islands of the Caribbean Pirate Cruise sets sail from Barefoot Bay Bike Works at The Caribbean Beach Resort. This cruise highlights Old Port Royale and its pirate history. Sails Sunday, Tuesday, and Friday.
- The Albatross Treasure Cruise tells the tale of The Legend of the Albatross. It starts the voyage from the Bayside Marina at the Yacht and Beach Club, and sails around Crescent Lake and Epcot’s Showcase Lagoon. Sails Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
The Bayou Pirate Adventure rounds out the quartet of excursions and sails from The Fishin’ Hole on Ol’ Man Island at Port Orleans Riverside. They talk about Captain Jean Lafitte, a New Orleans pirate, while cruising down the Sassagoula River. Sails Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday.No longer available as of April 1st, 2017
The booking details
The cruises are only available to children ages 4-12, and they must be potty trained. The kids will be provided a life jacket and required to wear it while on the cruise. The cost for the trip is $37 per person.
They start fairly promptly at 9:30am, and last until 11:30am. Reservations are required and can only be made by phone (sorry no internet booking) by calling (407) 939-7529.
They request that you arrive at least 15 minutes early to fill out paperwork before the cruise starts.
You do NOT have to be staying at the resort where the cruise starts (and finishes) to be able to participate. It certainly makes it easier, because there are no busses from resort to resort.
We drove from Art of Animation to the Grand Floridian when my son went. Having a car will make it easier if you’re not at one of the resorts, but you could always Uber, or if you’re a real glutton for travel, go to your nearest park via Disney transportation, then transfer to the proper resort.
Parking at the resort was pretty easy, but we were happy to have gotten there early because we needed to find out where the actual starting location was. Having never been to the Grand Floridian, it took a few minutes to get our bearings, but the Cast Members were, as usual, quite eager to help and get us where we needed to be.
One nice thing about the Grand Floridian cruise is that if you plan well (and hey, would you be here if you didn’t?), you can also schedule yourself a treatment at the spa there while your kids are out pirating.
What do they do on the cruise?
So what really happens on a Pirate Adventure Cruise? Well, according to my son “lots of fun stuff, like learning about pirates and singing, and getting jewels!”
Please give me a moment while I bask in the fact that the first thing he said was that learning was fun.
Ok, I’m back.
Trust me. I took quite a lengthy moment while I was typing this, just in case you didn’t.
The guides also had a treasure map, and as they cruised, they looked for clues, landmarks, and other fun things to be sure they were on the right path to find the treasure (which they apparently found, brought back to shore, and divvied up the loot).
Note that the bandana is also included. They get to fill up the small treasure chests that you see in the large chest with loot, as well as a few more handfuls to put into a small bag that is provided.
My son said that he really enjoyed it, and would like to do it again the next time we go to Disney World. This was also a great way to get a little down time into what is usually a rather hectic week of traipsing across the parks.