Six Things to Know Before You Step Foot on the Disney Cruise Line

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Pre-Boarding tips

I have been traveling to Walt Disney World for 32 years.  I know the parks inside out, the shortcuts and the optimal touring plan for my family.  I’m online at 6am making my dining reservations at 180 days and my FastPass+ selections at 60 days out, just after Magic Kingdom closes.  I get it!  And I love helping other people “get it”, especially first-timers who are so overwhelmed!  But, I will be honest…the first time I planned a Disney Cruise, I was overwhelmed!  The Disney Cruise Line, while still Disney, is a totally different vacation and requires a totally different approach to planning.  Here are my six tips to planning a successful Disney cruise!

  1. You really don’t need to plan much– Yes, it’s true!  Unlike a trip to WDW, you don’t need to plan your days down to the minute.  There are still many things you will want to plan in advance, like Port Adventures, adult dining, spa services, etc, but you can still get spots in these coveted activities once you are onboard.  The Disney Cruise Line offers a low-stress planning approach and it may feel a little strange to all of you WDW veterans.  The hardest part is actually booking the cruise!  Once you are onboard, just check out the Navigator that’s placed in your stateroom or on your mobile app and see what’s going on.  Then you can decide what you want to do.  Easy peasy!
  2. Port Adventures are optional– At each port, Disney will offer excursions, dubbed Port Adventures.  These Disney lead adventures will guarantee that you are back onboard before the ship leaves port.  But, you don’t have to choose from a Disney excursion.  You can explore the port alone and save a little money.  I personally recommend sticking with the Disney adventures for so many reasons.  Being in a foreign land, I like the peace of mind knowing that my family is in good hands and we’ll get to see the top spots.  And, if you aren’t overly fond of the destination, you don’t even have to get off the boat.  While the ship is docked at port, the crowds will be smaller onboard, so this provides a great time to explore!
  3. Pack a carry-on bag with the essentials– The Disney Cruise Line boasts larger than average stateroom (huge PLUS!), but you don’t have to bring your entire wardrobe along.  And, you will especially want to make sure your carry-on bag has the essential packed.  Since you won’t have access to your stateroom until mid-afternoon at the earliest, you will have to carry a bag around with  you and you don’t want this to weigh you down.  Some things I recommend to pack in a carry-on are cruise documents (the most important!), a bathing suit, and things you can’t live without- like medicine or your phone.  Leave the bulkier stuff in your luggage and your stateroom team will ensure everything gets there!
  4. Don’t underestimate Pirate Night– On each sailing, one night will be themed Pirate Night.  This night is HUGE!  While it’s totally optional to dress up, you will find that about 3/4 of the Guests onboard are decked out in Pirate gear of some sort.  You can go as simple as a bandana and a ragged t-shirt, or dress to the nines in a costume you bring from home.  The bottom line is to have fun with it.  The Pirate spirit will be buzzing aboard and you and your family will want to have a blast at this deck party.  If you are lucky enough to be sailing on a ship with Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, the salon is transformed to a Pirates League type place on Pirate Night and open for the whole family to receive their swashbuckling makeovers!
  5. Go your own way– Many times, we are likely to follow the crowd.  But, it can be very beneficial to go off the beaten path.  When people head to the buffet to eat, which most will, you can find out which dining room is open and enjoy a quieter meal, or, wait a little bit until the crowds dissipate.  Remember, you are here to relax, so let the crowds do their thing while you get a jump start on your laid back vacation!  There are also quick service locations to grab a bit to eat near the pool.  That way you can stay where the fun is and ride the AquaDuck or slides over and over!  Elevators can also have long waits, so don’t be afraid to take the stairs.  In true Disney fashion, you will be rewarded with some amazing Disney artwork in the stairwells.
  6. Getting off the ship is horrible– The process itself is easy.  While the line may seem long, it should move pretty quick and you can hopefully be back on land in about 30 minutes.  But…the worst part is the post-Disney Cruise depression that settles in quickly.   You get so used to being in a Disney bubble that the real world is just, meh.  But, the best part is that you can book another cruise.  And, if you do it while you are still onboard,  you can get a discount and some credits for your next trip.  Doesn’t that make it all seem better?!?!  As you step foot off the ship, you know you’ll be back soon.  Ahh….much better!

And, if you do take that next step and book your next cruise onboard, get in touch with me as soon as you get home, so I can take all the behind the scenes work off your plate, like making final payments and getting things in order for your upcoming trip.  My job is to make your vacation as relaxing and memorable as possible.  So email me at tricia@worldofmagictravel.com to start planning your next Disney vacation, whether on land or sea, or even better…BOTH!  I’m happy to share my expertise with you and truly create a magical vacation for your family!

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