A Disney Cruise is a dream vacation for so many. It takes quite a bit of planning and preparation before you step foot aboard your home away from home. Here are some tips to help your planning and time on board go smoother!
Reserving & Planning Tips
- Plan & Book early! – Most often, the best rates you will find for your desired cruise will be when they are first released. This is also the time you have the most options for your choice of stateroom. After this, the ship will begin to fill and supply and demand will have rates rising. The least expensive times of year to cruise with Disney will be in September when kids are just going back to school & May when kids are finishing up school.
- Travel Documents – Look into what you will need to board the ship and to visit each port. They WILL NOT let you board without proper documentation! Take it from someone who knows! I had a friend turned away with her two little girls in tow because she did not have her marriage license to show the difference between her license and birth certificate.
- Get the Insurance – I can’t suggest this enough. Things happen – flights are delayed, weather messes up travel, family illness occurs. You do not want to forgo this and risk losing this wonderful investment you have made.
- Choose an appropriate dining time. Some littles cannot wait until late dining to eat. This is another great reason to book early; first seating usually fills up first. We always choose late dining because we all prefer to spend more time by the pool as it starts to quiet down.
- Mind Your Milestones! – This is a big one and a huge reason I suggest using a travel agent like yours, truly. There are several things that you will need to do prior to boarding. Your check in and boarding time is big one because it will determine when you can board the ship. Me personally, I always choose the earliest time possible. As you cruise more frequently you will develop a “status” in their Castaway Club. Platinum & concierge can check-in online at midnight 120 days prior to sailing, Gold is 105 days prior, and Silver is 90 days prior. Everyone else is 75 days prior to sailing. Checking in is a big milestone because once you do that, you can plan all sorts of on-board fun that will fill up!
- Platinum -10 completed cruises
- Gold – 5 completed cruises
- Silver – 1 completed cruise
- Packing – Do not overpack. You will spend a vast majority of your trip in a swim suit! But do think about the unusual things you may need that wont be on every packing list – goggles, a few small pool toys, snorkel gear. These three things were invaluable to our littles when we cruised. I have this list here for reference.
- Download the Navigator App – It will have so much helpful information on it but also you can communicate with other cruisers without using your own data package.
- Alcohol – Each passenger 21 and older may bring on 2 bottles of wine or champagne OR (6) 12oz. beers. You can do this at your initially boarding AND when you board from each port. They need to be hand carried or in your carry on.
- Pack a Day Bag – On embarkation day, you will not get your luggage until around 5pm. We come prepared with a day bag. It will have anything we would need the first day including swim suits, medicine, sunscreen and other pertinent necessities.
- Research the ship – It is good to know something about the decks of the ship before you travel. It will save you time once you are onboard from always having to find a map. (although there is a really handy one on the Navigator App)
- Plan Port Adventures – Plan and book your port adventures after you check in. These do fill up so if there is something your heart is set on, do it as soon as you can.
- Plan Adult Time – Want to have a romantic dinner at Palo or Remy? Hoping to have a nice relaxing spa experience? These are also things that fill up and you will want to book them as soon as you can.
- Plan Character Interactions – Some of the meet & greets can be reserved in advance. Get these as soon as possible, especially for littles or anyone else who has a hard time waiting in line. For the ones you cannot reserve – know that the lines are shorter after the first and second day.
- Sign up your kids for their appropriate clubs – they will not fill up, you will not get blocked out, but it will save you time when trying to board.
- Sea Sickness Preparedness – If you have ever had this, you know it can ruin a trip. It will only happen once though because after that you will be prepared. It is less likely on these bigger and newer ships to have any issues, but we are always prepared with seasickness bands and Bonine. We do bring Dramamine as well but Bonine does not cause you to be as drowsy. If you are lucky enough to be able to get the patches through insurance – DO IT!!
- Door Decor – We always decorate our door. Not only is it fun but it makes it easier to find. There are endless possibilities on etsy so check em out!
- Fish Extender – If you would like to partake in this, sign up for it and purchase what you will need.
- Pirate Wear – On sailings that have pirate nights, the whole family can get involved in the festivities. Majority of guests dress up so why not be prepared. Purchase whatever you would like in advance – eye patches, bandanas, make up. Its so fun and you will be glad you were prepared.
- Bibbity Bobbity Boutique – Another reservation to make as soon as possible. They also have pirate options on the day of the Pirate Party.
- Last Day Bags – Its awful to think about leaving your trip before you get there but it is best to be prepared. They will have you put out your bags the night before you disembark before you go to dinner. It is best to have a packing list with you of what to put in the bags that you will not have them take. Once you are onboard you will not want to be bothered with trying to think of what you will need. Things like pajamas, clothes for the next day…etc.
- Getting to Port – Finally the day is approaching! But how are you getting to the ship? If you are driving yourself, you may want to look into options around the port because the port garage is quite pricey. If you are flying into MCO, you will need a transfer. There are several options; Disney Cruise Line Transfer, renting a car, other shuttle companies. Choose what is best for you – or contact me for your planning and I can do that all for you!
Embarkation & Onboard Tips
- Record Special Moments – Make sure to live in the moment and not be stuck behind a camera – but, there are a few things you will definitely want to be ready to capture. When you first board, they will announce your family’s name – that is worth a video taping for sure! Animator’s Palate is another great place for some video. Be sure to bring your camera to the pirate party as well and of course all the meet and greets.
- Key to The World – You will receive a card to use for all charging purposes, getting into your stateroom, and getting on and off the ship. This needs to be kept safe! Past cruisers will receive a lanyard on embarkation day. Guests also use these for pins and pin trading on board. If this is your first cruise or you would like a specific lanyard, consider purchasing one before hand.
- Old Hotel or Gift Card – The lights and A/C come on when you place your Key to the World in a Slot in your stateroom. Keep the A/C on by using an old card.
- Cruise Bucket List – The first night at dinner, we always discuss what we want to be sure to do while on board. This way we all try to help each other get it all done. Once the cruise gets going, it is easy to forget you wanted to try mini golf or eat in a special location.
- Entertainment – Go to the shows! They are done in a way only Disney can and they are amazing and fun for the whole family.
- Tips – Gratuities were not included in your cruise far. Be prepared to tip stateroom attendant, Head waiter, assistant waiter, Maitre D, and anyone else who made your trip magical.
- Photos – There are Disney Cast members constantly taking photos. Make sure to go see them and consider purchasing a photo package – they can save you money!
- Customs – You will visit this in some ports as well as when you return home. Make sure you have proper documentation filled out for each person in your group.
Tips for Littles on DCL
- You can request a stroller or pack n play in advance.
- You can have diapers, wipes, food and more delivered to your stateroom through Disney
- Remember to reserve any Nursery spots as soon as possible. It’s great for a date night but they will fill up quickly.
- Waiters in the main dining room can honor special requests from the pickiest little eaters. They will also cut or even puree (ew) their food. Awesome!
I hope this has helped you with some of the things to look out for before and during your cruise. I know it seems like a lot and most of it is not required, but it is very helpful to have the least stressful and most smooth sailing. Whether this seems overwhelming or not, I would be happy to be your travel agent for your Disney Cruise. I can handle everything from all of your milestones & reservations down to port transportation. With my knowledge and experience, you will be in the best of hands. If you prefer to do it all yourself and manage your own reservation, I can still be a huge help! Let me watch for promotions for your sailing that may come out after you have purchased and notify you of any changes that we may find out before the general public. My services are TOTALLY FREE. If you are already booked and interested in possibly transferring over to me, let me know! In addition to my knowledge and the ability to save you time and money, you will receive our agency’s signature Minnie Box. Our gift specially tailored to your family that is sent to you before you leave for your trip. Contact me today for a no-obligation quote!