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Disney Cruise Tips for a First-Timer


I knew our first Disney Cruise would be awesome, but didn't expect to be so completely impressed with every aspect of the cruise. From the magnificent cuisine, to the Broadway-style shows, to the amazing customer service, Disney is truly unbeatable when it comes to family cruising.

There are many, many cruise planning sites, blogs, and tips out there to sift through, (which I did my due diligence reading in preparation for my own trip) including the wonderful articles here on the Kingdom Konsultant Blog. But, actually experiencing it, taught me so much more. Here are the things I wish I knew, but didn't on my first Disney Cruise:

Arrival Day Advice
  • If you want to pay with Disney Gift Cards or Disney Visa Rewards, first thing you should do onboard is go to guest services to put them on file for charges if you didn't already add your credit card to your stateroom when you completed your online check-in. Oh! and make sure you know your pin #!  
  • Traveling with small children? Ask for a complimentary stroller if needed, supplies are limited. Carrying little ones up and down those long halls gets tiring.
  • If you dine at Cabanas (located on 4 of the 5 Disney ships) sit out on the "aft" (which means very back) deck for lunch, it's the only place where you can eat "outside" at the buffet. 
  • Wear your swimsuits under your clothes, so you can swim right away. There aren't many restrooms, and everyone wants to change into swimsuits after lunch. We actually change at the airport when we land.
  • Take a lanyard with a clear, plastic card holder at the bottom (or buy some when you get onboard for everyone), because you need your key card often. Take some tape with you to secure it into the lanyard so it doesn't fall out. Those retractable ID card clips are handy too. 
  • Onboard activities, movies, and event times are often scheduled very close together, even back to back. It's near impossible to make it to the events on time that are back to back. Seriously, it will just stress you out trying to schedule it all in! Accept that you just cannot do everything on one cruise.
For the Mouseketeers
  • If you plan to use the Kid's Clubs, it's a good idea to go before the Sail Away Party.  You can take the Open House tour and get the kids their Oceaneer Bands. The bands do cost a few bucks, but you will get a refund for returning them on the last night if you choose. My kids kept theirs though as souvenirs.
  • The kids can sign themselves in and out of the Oceaneers Club only if you give them check-in permission when you enroll them the first time.
  • Small World Nursery will let you do a 5 minute "test" with your little one to see how they do before you leave them.
  • We would let the older kids leave the dining room together when they were done eating to go play in the Oceaneers Lab while we finished our dinner quietly, and then picked them up afterwards for the show.
  • If your child or picky toddler doesn't see anything on the menu that they want, ask for an Uncrustables PB&J, and the server will bring one to you.
Castaway Cay Day
  • On Castaway Cay, be sure to grab your child a life jacket even if they are good swimmers, because there are a lot of deep spots that are about 7-8 feet, near the water playground. You wouldn't expect it to be as deep as it actually is!
  • You will get beach towels for the island as you get off the ship, but ask for a few extras unless you're bringing your own. They don't have any for use on the island. Drop them in the used towel bins before walking back to the ship. 
  • If it rains on your Castaway Cay day, they will add activities onboard the ship. The kids enjoyed a pin trading meeting, an animators drawing class and a family scavenger hunt.
  • You only need to rent 1 water tricycle per family. You have 30 minutes to use it, so that is plenty of time for two groups to take a spin on it.
Ship Tips
  • The DCL channel on the stateroom TV explains everything you need to know about the cruise including disembarkation rules, procedures, shows and activities. It plays over and over so if you need to know any information, and the guest services desk is busy, just turn on that channel.
  • They make overhead announcements for EVERYTHING, so you're never in the dark about what's going on.
  • There were pretty long lines for the water slide in the daytime, so swim and ride the slide after dinner because the wait times are 5 to 10 minutes at night! We rode it over and over on the last night because nobody was up there!
  • Bring a sweater or sweatshirt to the movie theater and dinner if you get cold easily, the AC gets breezy.
  • Swim diapers are not allowed in the pools, so your baby or toddler must stay in the splash pad area if they aren't potty trained, which is Nemo's Reef on the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy, the AquaLab on the Disney Magic, Disney Wonder and Disney Fantasy, or the Toy Story Splash Zone on the Disney Wish.
  • Bring some magnets for your door! Many guests decorate their doors with photos or Disney characters, along with Fish Extenders (Google this!)
  • Take care of your stateroom account charges at guest services on the LAST NIGHT, not the last morning. The line was about 100 people long on disembarkation day.
  • Pay gratuities on the LAST NIGHT if you didn't pre-pay them. These amounts can be modified if needed at guest services.
  • Pack light! I didn't use half of my clothes. It was nice to have 2 swimsuits though, and not have to wear a slightly wet one the next day.
Planning Ahead
  • Book a Placeholder cruise on board, which is a future cruise without a specific date, before the last night. All you need is a credit card for the deposit, which is fully refundable if you change your mind when you get home (I doubt you will though!)
  • You have up to 2 years to pick your next cruise date. You will also receive Kingdom Konsultant's onboard credits if you book again with your Kingdom Konsultant agent. Just tell the Cast Member who you want to book with and their email. 
Many people associate cruising with an adults-only vacation. Disney Cruises are truly made with the whole family in mind. I had no problem finding everything we needed, even for a toddler. 

The 5-person Deluxe Family Stateroom was perfect for us, and the bunk beds were great. My kids loved the round bathtub, and I loved having a split bathroom so two of us could get ready at once. 

If you're ready to book your Disney Cruise, contact us today!  New to cruising? Get a free, no obligation price quote by emailing Vacations@kingdomkonsultant.com.

Bon Voyage!

Summer fell in love with the Disney Cruise Line on her first sailing, and knew she wanted to help others save money and time while experiencing the magic of cruising. You can email Summer at summer@kingdomkonsultant.com.

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