Congratulations!! You booked your getaway aboard the Disney Cruise Line and are starting to think more about your trip. Here is my list of things to do prior to leaving home to make sure you have an extra magical time and smooth sailing, so to speak.
1. Check-in Online– Here you will fill out all the necessary forms, place a credit card on your account and assign charging privileges for your family and selecting your port arrival time. This will make embarkation much faster and easier for you! You can easily complete the forms online, print them out and bring them along. Otherwise, you will be doing all of this at the check-in counter. You are not required to check-in ahead of time, but, it will save you time in the long run and should only take a few minutes to do at home prior to your trip.
2. Get a passport– While the Disney Cruise Line does not require passports for closed loop cruises, beginning and ending in the USA, it is always a great idea to have a passport whenever leaving the country. In the event of an emergency, if you have to get a flight home, a passport is going to be needed for re-entry to the USA. So err on the safe side and bring one along!
3. Make dining reservations for adult-only dining experiences– If you are looking for a nice, quite dinner without the kids, then I highly recommend making dinner reservations at Palo and/or Remy ahead of time. These dining locations are very popular among cruisers and do fill up. But do not fear, if you are not able to make a reservation prior to the trip, you can always check for reservations once you get on-board as the cruise line sets aside some extra times.
4. Packing for the first day– When you arrive at the port, you drop your bags with a porter and you may not see them again until they are delivered to your stateroom early in the evening. I recommend packing a day bag to include anything you might need until your luggage arrives. Things you should pack include medications, passport, identification, travel documents, electronics and your bathing suits. Embarkation Day is a great day to go swimming…so if you aren’t already wearing them under your clothes, don’t forget to pack them! A small rolling suitcase makes a great day bag so you don’t have to carry a bag all over the ship. Staterooms are typically ready around 1:30pm.
5. Port Adventures– Explore the different adventures that are waiting for you in the various ports of call and see if they look like something your family would enjoy doing. These also book up quickly, so if you are looking to get off the ship and explore the islands or different lands, then be sure to reserve your excursions in advance.
6. Spa Treatments– Carve out some extra time just to relax in an adult-only sanctuary and enjoy a massage, facial, wrap or other treatment. You are also able to book a massage at Disney’s Castaway Cay in an open-air cabana. Amazing! Booking some time at the spa is also a great way to get dolled up before a fancy dinner at Palo or Remy.
7. Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and The Pirates League– You are able to make reservations to have your little ones receive a royal makeover prior to leaving home. Just visit the Disney Cruise Line’s Planning Center and under My Cruise Activities you will be able to select your date, time and package. And adults- don’t forget…you can get made over like a pirate for Pirate Night!
8. Reserve Kids Club Time– As part of online check-in, you are able to register the kids for their time in the Kids Club. Once you are in the terminal, you can head over to the Check-In desk for the children’s activities. Since you already completed all the paperwork ahead of time, you can get around all those waiting to register their kids and get your kids their Mickey bands to wear and get any questions answered. If you do not do this in the terminal you will have to do this onboard. During the online check-in process, you are also able to reserve time in the nursery for the littlest cruisers to give you some much deserved downtime too!
9. Castaway Cay Cabanas– There are 20 private cabanas on Castaway Cay available for rent. The cabanas include cushioned chairs, chaise lounges, side tables and a dining table, along with a refrigerator, lockable storage unit, outdoor shower and a shaded deck. You will receive non-alcoholic beverages, suntan lotion and towels with your rental. For a fee, you can add food and beverage options and a private cabana host. The cabanas will hold a maximum of 6 guests and range from $399 to $549 depending on location.
10. Download the Navigator App– The Disney Cruise Line Navigator app can be downloaded from the Apple App Store for iOS devices and Google Play for Android devices. Be sure to download this before you arrive at the port and then once onboard connect to the ship’s WiFi network (complimentary for app use only) to enhance you vacation. The app will keep you up to date on character experiences, deck parties, dining, entertainment, ports of call, spa services, shopping and youth clubs. You can also use the app to chat with other cruisers, similar to texting. You will never miss a thing by using this app!
The day of the cruise, be sure to arrive at the terminal early enough. There is lots to do in there terminal, like getting photos taken with Mickey and Minnie and checking out the detailed model of a Disney Cruise Line ship. Traveling with kids? Then be sure to pack snacks. There is a vending machine in the terminal, but no other food options. And if you get there early enough, you might be lucky and be able to board the ship early, giving you time to tour the kids’ clubs, getting amazing photos in the ship’s atrium before the ship becomes too crowded and grabbing lunch before you set sail.
Disney Cruises are truly magical experiences and I would love to help your family plan your next getaway. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on Facebook to begin discussing your next vacation!