Tips to Ensure a Magical Disney Cruise!

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planning tips

Ahoy, mateys!!!  If you are thinking of planning a Disney cruise, then you will want to read on.  It’s the little things that make your trip truly magical and I’m here to help you make the most of your Disney cruise through fine attention to detail…

Before Getting Onboard:

  • Book your cruise early- the earlier you book, the lower the cost.  A Disney Cruise Line Cast Member told me that cruise fares fluctuate on supply and demand, so if you know you want to take your cruise, I always recommend booking sooner rather than later to lock in that lower price.  Your deposit, typically 20% of the cruise fare, is normally refundable up until the time your final payment is due.  And, you can make payments along the way.  Disney Visa holders can also enjoy the added perk of some on-board credit (if offered).  As a travel agent, I’m able to help you find the best stateroom for your group and help come up with a payment plan.  And….in no way will your fare increase by using a travel agent.  Think of us as an extra resource to make your trip magical!
  • Know theterminology-
    • Embarkation = get on the ship
    • Debarkation = get off the ship
    • Port = left side of the ship as you face forward
    • Starboard = right side of the ship as you face forward
    • Forward = the obvious, forward (or front of the ship)
    • Aft = the rear of the ship
  • Building time to play in Walt Disney World- many of my clients enjoy spending time at sea AND spending time at the WDW theme parks.  If you are going to do this, think about how you would like to structure your trip.  Do you want to cruise first then hit the parks?  Or vice versa?  Personally, I like to do the parks first and then relax at sea!
  • Think about when you’d like to dine- Onboard, dinner is served at 6pm and 8:15pm, also known as Main and Second seating.  Many families with kids think they want the Main seating and this fills up quick, so they feel like they are out of luck.  Second seating is NOT a bad thing at all. It gives you extra time to get back on the ship after your port adventures, freshen up and relax a bit.  If you are traveling with your kiddos and have the Second Seating, you can also take advantage of Dine and Play.  The kids can order their meals right away and then counselors from the Oceaneer Club  will pick them up and take them to play.  This will let you, the parents, enjoy a dinner together and then hit the club, karaoke or lounge!
  • Book your Port Adventures- Once you make your final payment, you are able to start making reservations for your excursions.  Adventures have a tendency to fill up quick, so if you know you definitely want to do something, I recommend booking in advance.  Plus, it eliminates having to take time away from all the fun that is waiting for you on your Disney Cruise Line ship!
  • Pack your Pirate gear- during your sailing, there will be a Pirate Night featuring an amazing deck party.  The Disney Cruise Line encourages you to dress up and immerse yourself in all of the fun!  So bring along your best bandanas and pirate swag for a swashbuckling good time!
  • The mandatory muster drill- this is held the afternoon of embarkation, usually around 4:00pm.  Everyone needs to attend this drill to learn the location of your lifeboat and other important safety information.  The drill only takes about 30 minutes
  • There are not many clocks on board, so bring along a watch, especially to avoid any roaming charges while at sea.
  • If you are leaving from Port Canaveral, the terminal offers some things to entertain the kiddos, such as ship models to look at, cartoons playing with limited seating and a balcony for close up views of the ship.  Disney characters usually make an appearance for photos and autographs, too!

While Onboard:

  • Know your dining rotation- throughout your cruise, you will be rotating through all of the dining rooms on your ship and your dedicated service team will follow you from location to location.  The order of your rotation will be printed on your room key and if any changes need to be made, you can do this as soon as you get on board with the dining room staff
  • Schedule your kiddos- it’s best to reserve your kids spots in the nursery or kids program early.  You can do this when you complete online check-in, in the port, or once you get on the ship.  It’s also not a bad idea to bring along some activities for kids to entertain them while in the room.  Another fun way to immerse the kids in all the fun is to give them a disposable camera so they can take photos as they go.  It’s always so much fun to see the perspective through a child’s eyes and these help make for great memories.
  • Navigating Castaway Cay (pronounced “key)- the most important thing I stress to clients is to get off the ship as early as possible!  Room service is not a bad idea for these port mornings so you can eat and head off to all the fun.  You may want to bring along a little cash while on the island, just in case you see something really cool.  There’s a real post office on the island and they only accept coins.  Mail yourself (or a loved one or friend) a postcard and it will arrive with the Castaway Cay postmark (another great inexpensive souvenir or scrapbook idea!).  And, don’t let the fun carry you away too much…you want to make sure you are back on the ship in time so you don’t miss the boat (literally!)
  • Theater Snacking- the theaters where movies and live shows take place sell munchies, at a premium.  To help keep your costs down, go to the pool deck to the self-serve station and get free beverages.  You can also find free cookies from the counter-service locations that you can bring along as well.
  • Stay in the Know- before you go, be sure to download the Navigator app for Apple or Android devices.  You are able to use this app complimentary while onboard.  Along with giving you the day’s activities, the app also features menus for various restaurants and some other helpful hints.  You will receive a paper copy of the Navigator in your stateroom each evening.  Take it with you wherever you go…it contains so much valuable information.  If you misplace your copy, you can pick up a new one at Guest Services.

As you can see, the more you plan ahead the more prepared you will be to make the most of your Disney cruise.  Another great way to be prepared is to seek expert help, such as myself, to ensure that no detail is overlooked.  To begin planning your next Disney cruise, email me at and be sure to follow me on Facebook to keep up with the latest Disney news, promotions and events.  I can’t wait to help you and your family set sail on a magical voyage!  Happy Sailing!

Tips to Ensure a Magical Disney Cruise!

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