Wednesday, March 3, 2021

The Old Disney Cruise Line Website! Part 1: The Homepage and Rates, Dates, & More

 A few months ago, I wrote about the updates made to the Disney Cruise Line website.  The updates made the site even easier to use and made the cruise booking process more pleasant.  But have you ever wondered what the Disney Cruise Line website looked like before all of these modern updates were made?  In this series of posts, we're going back in time!

A fascinating resource on the internet is the Internet Archive.  This website is a library of old websites, files, and resources from the past that were archived for people to view long after they were taken down.  The Internet Archive allows you to visit old websites that aren't normally available anymore using its Wayback Machine.  For this post, I'll be using it to go around the oldest version of Disney Cruise Line website it has.

The oldest archived version of the DCL website is from 2001, which was almost twenty years ago!  Throughout the post, you may notice the date in the top right changing.  This is because not all of the pages were archived at the same time.  With that in mind, we'll start at DCL's old homepage.

Do you notice any differences from the modern website?  Well, there's no cruise suspension alert at the top.  The links at the top are in a wavy shape that reminds me of the DCL logo.  I like it.  There's also a pretty large picture of Mickey Mouse and some text describing a Disney cruise.  Even though there were only two Disney ships when this website existed, the names of all four DCL ships are on this page.  Can you find them?  It's cool that all of the information on this page seems to be still accurate to this day.  Even the phone number at the bottom is the exact same as it is now!  Good job 2001 Disney.

Let's click on the first link at the top, "Rates, Dates, & More".

Here, there are quite a few links on the left.  There isn't too much to talk about here, so let's move to the first link, "7-Night Caribbean Cruises".

In 2001, Disney only offered one type of 7-Night Caribbean cruise.  This cruise went to St. Maarten, St. Thomas, and Castaway Cay.  This is closest to the 7-Night Eastern Caribbean cruise currently offered on the Fantasy.

Later in 2001, Disney announced 7-Night Western Caribbean cruises that started on May 11th, 2002.  These cruises went to Key West, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, and Castaway Cay.  The original Caribbean cruises were now called 7-Night Eastern Caribbean cruises, but there were no changes to the itinerary.

This is the Rates & Dates page for the 7-Night Caribbean cruises.  The stateroom offerings at this point were similar to what they offer now, though they're a lot cheaper here.  Was it inflation or was it Disney that raised the price?  Interestingly, the minimum age to go on a Disney cruise in 2001 was 12 weeks, which is less than three months.  Now, the minimum age is 6 months.  A bit further down the page, I'm confused about why it says, "More than five Guests staying in a Category 1 or 2 suite will require booking an additional Walt Disney World® Resort room at an additional cost."  Why does it mention Disney World?  This is the 7-Night Caribbean cruise page, not the 7-Night Land and Sea page.  Disney may have included this information on all of their Rates & Dates pages for clarification, but it's making things less clear for me.  At least the modern site is less confusing.  Anyway, lower on the page, the list of cruises is much simpler here than it is on the modern site, but there aren't any useful pictures or maps to help visualize the cruise.  You also can't book a cruise from here.  You'd have to use the Reservations tab, which we'll look at in a later post.

One of the ways Disney offered vacations in 2001 was through a 7-Night Land and Sea vacation, and they still do this.  Back then, there were three options:

The first option was to spend three nights at Disney World, then go on a 4-Night Bahamian cruise.  These cruises went to Nassau and Castaway Cay, and had one day at sea, just like the what Dream does now.  However, back in 2001, the departure time from Nassau was 2 AM!  Now the DCL ships leave in the early evening.  I'd actually like if they still stayed in port until 2.  Even though I don't usually get off the ship at Nassau, less people would be on the ship during the evening, which means that the lines for the AquaDuck would be even shorter than they usually are in the evening. 

The second option was just like the first, but instead of a day at sea, there was a stop at Freeport, a port that Disney no longer visits.  Why did Disney stop going to Freeport?  I don't know.  Maybe it was too similar to Nassau.  Or, maybe the docking fee at Freeport was too expensive.  I doubt this, though, the port is called Freeport.  

The third Land and Sea option was to spend four nights at Disney World, then go on a 3-Night Bahamian cruise.  These cruises went to Nassau and Castaway Cay, identical to the Dream's current 3-Night Bahamian itinerary.  For my family's first cruise, we spent three days at Disney World before getting on the Dream for a 4-Night Bahamian cruise.  It's a nice way to experience both, and it's great for people who aren't sure if they'll like a cruise or Disney World better.

Next, we have the rates and dates for the 7-Night Land and Sea trips.  There are three groups of options.  The first and most expensive group consists of the concierge rooms for the cruise and a stay at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.  The mid-range group includes the various types of verandah rooms and Disney World resorts like Disney's Polynesian Resort and Disney's Wilderness Lodge Resort.  The last and least-expensive group includes the oceanview and inside staterooms and less-fancy Disney World hotels like Disney's Port Orleans Resort.  This site doesn't say if it was possible for someone to choose a stateroom and a hotel from different categories, like a verandah room on the cruise but a cheaper hotel at Disney World.  If it was possible, calling DCL may have been the way to do it.
The next page, Walt Disney World Events, has a list of all the exciting upcoming events that Land and Sea guests could look forward to.  Well, they were upcoming twenty years ago.  The various links take you to the old Disney World website, which I won't be covering because I'm the DCLKid, not the WDWKid.
This is the 4-Night Bahamian cruise page.  These two itineraries are the same as the 4-Night Bahamian cruise itineraries available for Land and Sea vacations, so I won't be spending much time here.
Here is the 4-Night Bahamian cruise Rates & Dates page.  These were already listed in the Land and Sea section, and these trips are the same, minus the Disney World portion.  At first glance, this page isn't too special, until you find the error.  Above the stateroom list, it says, "The following is a list of rates that apply to both of our 7-night cruises."  The Rates & Dates page for the 7-Night cruises said this as well, but it made sense there.  Maybe whoever was working on this site copied this information from the 7-Night cruises page but forgot to change it.  Let's go forward in time to the next archived version of the site from August 11th, 2001 to see if it was fixed.
Hey look, they fixed it!  It's really cool how the Wayback Machine allows you to view later versions of websites to see changes, even minor ones like this one.
The next link on the list on the left side of the page is the link to the 3-Night Bahamian cruise page.  As I said earlier, this itinerary is identical to the Dream's 3-Night Bahamian cruises it does today.  A problem I have with this page is that it says Nassau is exciting.  In my experience, once my family and I went there a few times, Nassau got kind of boring and we don't think it's worth getting off at.
The 3-Night Bahamian cruise Rates & Dates page has the same error the 4-Night Rates & Dates did.  Let's travel to a slightly more recent version of this page, from November 20th, 2001.  I'm assuming these errors were fixed, but they could've forgotten.
Yup, they fixed it here too.  I doubt errors like this happen much on the modern DCL website, I'm sure more people manage it and look over it before changes get made.
Enough about charts and itineraries.  Let's look at Disney Cruise Line's entire fleet from 2001, the Disney Magic and the Disney Wonder.  Unlike the modern DCL ships overview page, this has some of the ships' stats.  Back in 2001, the Magic and Wonder were both 964 feet long.  Since then, they've been lengthened during their Reimaginations.  They're now both 984 feet long.  They've also gained weight.  This site says they are both 83,000 gross tons, but they're now around 84,000 gross tons.  They still both have 875 staterooms, and they're still registered in the Bahamas.  However, both the Magic and the Wonder don't have any cruises scheduled that start from Port Canaveral.  Their old jobs have been taken over by the Dream and the Fantasy.

The next link is to the deck plans.  There's a lot to discuss there, enough for an entire other post, so I'll be skipping them for now.  Keep an eye out for that post in the future, though.
Here's an overview of the staterooms.  The general description mentions the word 'spacious', and they weren't kidding.  The DCL staterooms were designed to be larger than what the competition offers.  Did you know that the staterooms on the Magic and Wonder are actually larger than those on the Dream and Fantasy?  It seems kind of backwards, the smaller ships have bigger rooms and the bigger ships have smaller rooms.  

The description here has a couple of interesting facts.  73% of the rooms on the Magic and Wonder have an ocean view, and 44% of those are verandah rooms.  Additionally, this page has an old photo of what appears to be a verandah room.  Some things are different, like the red couch (it's blue now), and the comforter on the bed (it's white and fluffy now).  Also, it looks like the curtain and the table next to the couch are different.  However, some things are the same, like the Disney music art on the wall and the basic layout.  
The first group of staterooms on the list are the Royal Suites.  There are only two Royal Suites on each of the DCL ships, the Walter E. Disney Suite and the Roy O. Disney Suite.  This version of the site is from February 2nd, 2002, so it's a little newer than the others I've been using.  This was the earliest version of the site where the image would load in, so I had to use this one.  Speaking of the image, it's a very detailed layout of the room.  The modern DCL site doesn't have diagrams like these.  Instead, it has photos.  The photos allow users to see what to expect from the room, but the diagrams show the layout of the entire room, which would still be nice to have today.

The Royal Suites are the two biggest staterooms on any of the DCL ships, including the Dream and Fantasy, and they sleep 7 people.  They also come with massive verandahs and a VCR!  I'm pretty sure they don't have VCRs anymore.  Does this mean that the concierge rooms have been downgraded through the years?  I think this room is just too big.  If I stayed in this room, I wouldn't want to leave it and enjoy the rest of the ship.  I'd be totally fine with a normal room.

Below the features, it says, "'Land and Sea' Guests in Category 1 Staterooms may choose to stay at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa."  As I said before, if it was possible, calling Disney was probably the way to choose a different hotel than what was assigned with your stateroom choice.  I wouldn't bother calling to ask about their website from twenty years ago, but you can if you really want.
Like the last page, I had to go forward in time for this one to work right.  The Two-Bedroom Suites with Verandahs are similar to the Royal Suites, but they're a little smaller.  The Royal Suites sleep seven, these sleep five.  The Royal Suites aren't even that much bigger than these, these are less than 100 square feet smaller than the Royal Suites.  Like the Royal Suites, guests in these rooms on Land and Sea vacations could stay in Disney's Grand Floridian.
One-Bedroom Suites with Verandahs are significantly smaller than the last two stateroom categories, but they're much bigger than normal staterooms.  These rooms sleep four people, but some sleep five.  That's strange, since the modern page for these rooms says they all sleep five.  They've probably changed thanks to renovations to the ships in the past two decades.  These rooms also allowed Land and Sea guests to stay at Disney's Grand Floridian.

That's it for the suite (they're now called concierge) rooms.  The site is actually missing a category of concierge room, the Concierge Family Oceanview Staterooms with Verandahs.  This is not an error, because some of the existing rooms on the Magic and Wonder were converted into these rooms at various times after the early 2000s.
Surprisingly, I didn't have to manipulate time to see the layout of the Deluxe Family Staterooms with Verandahs.  These rooms sleep four people, with some being able to sleep five.  Unlike the suites, these rooms don't have a VCR, and they still don't!  Also, all of the non-concierge rooms either included a queen-size bed or two twin-size beds.  Now, the rooms only have a queen-size bed, which has to be more comfortable than two twin-size beds put together.  According to the diagram, these room could not connect to other rooms at this point.  However, there are now some connecting Deluxe Family Staterooms with Verandahs on the Magic and Wonder.  Another thing changed about these rooms is their name.  They were called Deluxe Family Staterooms with Verandahs, but now they're called Deluxe Family Oceanview Staterooms with Verandahs.  Adding 'oceanview' seems a little redundant, isn't it assumed that if you get a room with a verandah, you'll be able to see the ocean from it?  Well, there are some cruise ships, like Royal Caribbean's Oasis-Class ships, that have verandahs that face towards the center of the ship, but none of Disney's verandahs are like that.  Oh well, I guess extra clarification is a good thing.  Anyway, Land and Sea guests in these rooms could stay at deluxe resorts at Disney World, like Disney's Wilderness Lodge.  
The next type of room on the list are the Deluxe Staterooms with Verandahs.  These rooms can sleep 3-4 people, and some of them can connect to an adjacent room.  Like the Deluxe Family Staterooms with Verandahs, these rooms have had a name change.  Their modern name is Deluxe Oceanview Staterooms with Verandahs.  Land and Sea guests in these rooms could stay at deluxe resorts at Disney World.
Does this page seem familiar?  The image used for the Deluxe Staterooms with Navigator's Verandahs is the same image as the one used for the Deluxe Staterooms with Verandahs.  The two rooms are very similar, except none of the rooms with Navigator's Verandahs are connecting rooms.  Also, Deluxe Staterooms with Navigator's Verandahs can only sleep 3 people.  Like the other verandah rooms, Land and Sea guests in these rooms can stay at deluxe Disney World resorts.
One of the last stateroom types on the website is the Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom.  These rooms can sleep 3-4 people.  Also, some of them can connect to the adjacent room.  Deluxe Oceanview Staterooms are some of the lowest-priced rooms DCL offers, so Land and Sea guests in these rooms can stay at moderate Disney World resorts like Disney's Port Orleans Resort.  Did you notice that this diagram is wrong?  I've stayed in a Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom on the Wonder before, and the bed is between the bathrooms and the couch area, not next to the window.  This website is outdated, so the diagram could be wrong, but I don't think that's the case.  Changing the layout from what's in the diagram to what these rooms are like today would've been very difficult.  The desk, its cabinets, and the couch would've had to have been moved toward the window, and the bed would've had to have been moved to where the desk was.  I think this is just a mistake, because... 
...The Deluxe Inside Stateroom diagram is exactly the same!  For this type of room, the diagram is right.  Since there's no window to look out of, the bed can go next to the back wall.  Some of the inside staterooms are connecting rooms, so everything is correct here.  These rooms are very similar to the Deluxe Oceanview Staterooms, since they're both the same size and can hold the same amount of people, 3-4.  The biggest difference is that this type of room has no window.   
Land and Sea guests in Deluxe Inside Staterooms can stay in moderate Disney World resorts, just like the previous category.
Finally, we have the last type of room from 2001, the Standard Inside Stateroom!  At 184 square feet, these are the smallest rooms on the Magic and Wonder.  Even with their small size, they can sleep 3-4 people.  Unlike any of the other rooms we've looked at, these rooms don't have a split bathroom.  Instead, it's all in one room.  When I was on the Dream in 2019, my family and I stayed in some unusual rooms that didn't have a split bathroom.  Having the entire bathroom in one room was less convenient, but it worked.  Land and Sea guests in Standard Inside Staterooms could stay at moderate Disney World resorts.

If you went into a stateroom on the Magic or the Wonder in 2001, then went into one now, they'd feel very similar.  Even in the smaller rooms, the layout works well and I'm glad the Dream and Fantasy kept a similar design.  Hopefully, Disney won't change the room design with the Wish, since it works well already.
Next on the left-list are the Resorts.  There's a collection links to Disney World resorts available for guests on Land and Sea vacations, though most of them don't work anymore.  Let's make the most of what does work.
According to this, Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa is only available when booking a Category 1, Category 2, or Category 3 room.  It looks like guests would have to pay for an expensive stateroom to go to the expensive resort.  Some room category flexibility would've been nice, but maybe it was possible to mix accommodations by calling Disney.  Anyway, Grand Floridian looks like a really nice resort to stay at, but if I were to stay at it, I'd probably spend too much time at the parks to enjoy everything it has to offer.
Disney's Beach Club is a deluxe resort, available with the verandah rooms during Land and Sea trips.  It features a water park, a pool, and some other amenities.  It doesn't seem as overwhelming with features as Disney's Grand Floridian Resort, so I'd rather stay here.

Unfortunately, none of the other resort links work for some reason.  They must've worked back when this website was actually in use, but it doesn't look like they were archived for us to view in 2021.
There wasn't much to do in Resorts, so let's move to Special Offers & Packages.  These packages included a regular cruise, plus some extras.  Because they added to the cruise experience, Disney charged more for these packages.  Also, I'll only be going over the ones featured on the main Special Offers & Packages, from August 2001.
The first package listed is the Romantic Escape package.  On this page, the picture wouldn't load in, but unlike the stateroom diagrams, it's not necessary.  So, just imagine there's a picture of a couple at Palo or the Quiet Cove.  There were two versions of this package, one for Land and Sea vacations and one for cruises only.  At Disney World, people with this package would get two commemorative pins, two limited-edition watches, and a choice of either dinner at a specialty restaurant, a special spa treatment, or a professional honeymoon photography session (one choice per person).  The DCL benefits are the same for both versions of the package, and these benefits are a romantic stateroom gift, a half-hour aromatherapy treatment at the Vista Spa, and priority seating at Palo for one night of the cruise.  To me, the Disney World benefits seem better than the DCL benefits, which explains why the Land and Sea package is significantly more expensive than the cruise package.
The next package is the Discovery Magic package.  This package was only available to Land and Sea guests, as all of the benefits were at Disney World.  Guests with this package received a commemorative pin and got to pick two "Magical Wishes" every night they were at the park.  These Magical Wishes included recreational experiences, dining experiences, and park tours.  This package would probably have been a good deal for people that knew that they'd use them all.
The Deluxe Magic package is next.  Like Discovery Magic, this one was only available to Land and Sea guests.  This package made the time at Disney World closer to an all-inclusive resort, covering meals, tours, and excursions.  Also, each guest with the package got to choose between admission to Cirque du Soleil:  La Nouba, spa treatments, a collectible art piece, or a copy of Walt Disney World Quest - Magical Racing Tour, a video game for the original PlayStation.  People who chose to get the game also got a limited-edition watch.  I'd choose either the art or the game, since guests could keep these forever.  
Following Deluxe Magic is the Family Reunion package.  Unlike the past two packages, this one has benefits for a cruise, not Disney World.  For $29 per person, it appears that this was a really good deal for family reunions.  People with this package received custom family reunion shirts, likely similar to the ones you often see families wearing on cruises.  They also got a photo book and a DCL family reunion certificate for each family member.  Groups of eight or more could choose between a one-hour reception, a steamer trunk filled with snacks delivered to each of the staterooms the group was staying in, or a bottle of wine delivered to each of the staterooms the group was staying in.  The reception was probably the best option to choose for this package.  It guarantees family time and is more special than the other options.  Why would anyone want a trunk of snacks when room service exists?
We'll now be looking at a couple of special offers.  The first one, the Fall Fantasy special offer, encouraged people to book cruises in the fall, a time that probably wasn't super popular because of its proximity to the start of the school year.  People who booked 7-night vacations, either a 7-Night cruise or a Land and Sea trip, could take advantage of lower prices.  Unlike the name suggests, this has nothing to do with the Disney Fantasy, the ship that started sailing eleven years after Fall Fantasy was created.
The other special offer I'll be looking at in this post is Fall Fantasy Plus.  When I was looking through this page, I was confused about whether I was reading about normal Fall Fantasy or Fall Fantasy Plus.  I think it would've made more sense to keep the discounted cruises under one special offer, Fall Fantasy, to make things simpler and more straightforward.  Anyway, while normal Fall Fantasy discounted 7-night vacations, Fall Fantasy Plus discounted 3-Night Bahamian cruises and 4-Night Bahamian cruises.  Fall Fantasy Plus only applied to eight cruises (four for each length),but it did not apply to Land and Sea vacations.

The final link on the left is for Questions & Answers.  Like the deck plans, there's a lot to talk about there, so I'll save it for another future post.

The old Disney Cruise Line website is nowhere near as fancy as the modern website, but it's still completely useable.  In most areas, the modern website does everything this one does plus more, but the old website has some features the modern one doesn't.  For example, it has diagrams of each of the staterooms, while the modern site just has photos.  Additionally, the old site has stats about the ships while the modern site doesn't.  They're not necessary, but they're cool facts that may have come in handy during DCL trivia.  Also, the modern site doesn't offer any cruises that go to Freeport or staterooms that come with VCRs, so this older site is more advanced in those aspects.  Of course, if VCRs were still available in some staterooms today, I doubt they'd get much use.  The 2001 website has much more content than I though it would, and since there's so much more for me to talk about, more posts in this series will be released in the future.  I hope you're looking forward to those!  In the meantime, feel free to explore the archived DCL website on your own!

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