Let us begin by saying, WE LOVE DISNEY CRUISES!!! If you are looking for an all-inclusive vacation to satisfy the entire family then we believe a Disney cruise ticks all the boxes.
Whether you are in the planning stages or have already booked your Disney cruise, read below for our best tips when cruising with Disney!
1. There is a Facebook Group for every Disney sailing
Just use the search bar, type in your ship name and dates, and the group should appear. You may have to request to join, but these groups can be a great resource to connect with others that will be on your sailing. You can make a post if you have any questions specific to your cruise, or you can simply read as others share info. During our previous sailing there was actually a NASA rocket launch scheduled to occur on our return day. The Facebook group was a wonderful resource as people continued to share about how this event could impact traffic leaving Port Canaveral and what it would mean for those with earlier flights. Without the group we may not have discovered a rocket launch would be happening and known to push back our flights!
2. You do not have to book shore excursions or paid extras to enjoy your vacation
When we were new to cruising, we thought you had to disembark at every port or always have a scheduled activity to do. You certainly can do this if you would like, but it is not a requirement. In fact our favorite time to enjoy the ship and explore is often when others are getting off the ship! Whether it is a day at sea or the ship is docked for port, there are always included activities/events happening onboard. So many in fact that you may actually struggle to fit everything in you would like to do! If your itinerary includes Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay, there are paid for excursions you can book like swimming with stingrays or an off shore fishing trip. BUT you can also choose to lounge on a beach chair in the sand, swim in the ocean, take a few turns sliding down Pelican Plunge, dine at the restaurants, drop your kids at Scuttle’s Cove kid club, and explore the island on your own at no additional cost.
3. All Disney ships have rotational dining
This means your server and waitstaff will stay with you every evening as you switch restaurants. When you arrive on the ship you will receive your dining rotation schedule. For example, on the Disney Wish night 1 might be Arendelle (a Frozen dining experience) night 2-Worlds of Marvel, and night 3-1923. If on a 4 night cruise on The Wish you will have a special Pirate menu at one of the previously listed restaurants on Pirate Night. If you are on a longer sailing your dining rotation will start again. Rotational dining not only gives you the opportunity to experience different food and dining experiences, but also with consistent waitstaff they get to know your family (and you get to know them!) and your preferences. Before your cruise you will be given the option to choose the early (usually around 5pm) or late (usually around 8pm) seating. Unless you have littles ones that just cannot stay up past 8pm we highly recommend choosing the later seating. It is very difficult to make the early dinner time if you plan to leave the ship on port visit days or participate in other activities on the ship.
4. Embrace the themes
One thing we looked forward to each evening on our Disney Wish sailing was seeing how others would Disney bound for the amazingly themed restaurants. We also enjoyed dressing up ourselves! For Worlds of Marvel many guests would be decked out in their favorite super hero shirts, colors, or costumes. At Arendelle we spotted many sparkly blue dresses, braids, and Frozen Minnie ears. 1923 may have been the best with all the 1920’s flapper looks. Pirate Night is also a fun experience on every ship where both kids and adults alike are sporting eye patches, hats, and bandanas. Of course dressing up in theme is not required, but is super fun if you or members of your family enjoy it. We highly recommend getting in on the fun!
5. Participate in a cruise wide Fish Extender
As we mentioned above, every cruise sailing has it’s own Facebook group. Within this group you can sign-up for a gift exchange called a Fish Extender. If you choose to join you will be placed in a group with a few other staterooms. Those participating will hang a Fish Extender outside their stateroom. You can purchase a Fish Extender or make your own, but they need to be able to hang on the hook outside your door and have pockets for those in your group to leave your gifts. The gifts do not need to be expensive and are typically homemade. On our previous sailing we received plastic drink tumblers, wristlets with the Disney cruise emblem, Disney scented candles (mine was Mainstreet USA), magnetic picture frames with the ship name and date, and coin purses with our favorite Disney character. Participating in a Fish Extender is completely optional, but can be a fun way to both give and receive souvenirs for your Disney cruise.
6. Buy the photo package
It can seem like a good way to save a little extra money by electing not to purchase, but the pictures are great quality and there are SO MANY photo opportunities. Character meet and greets occur all during the day and night, photographers will stop by your table at dinner, there will be several backdrops set-up in the main atrium every evening, photographers will be roaming the ship decks, and you will even come across several photographers and characters on Castaway Cay (if included in your itinerary). You will not regret having all the high quality digital images from your cruise when you return home!
7. You can bring up to two bottles of wine onboard (or 6 beers) at the beginning of your voyage or at each port of call
While we do not recommend skimping on the photo package WE DO recommend bringing your own wine to save your spending cash. It is important to note the two bottle limit is per adult and not per stateroom, so you can easily bring on more bottles if traveling with multiple adults. The bottles must be in your carry-on luggage and not packed away in checked bags. Another important reminder is if you bring a wine bottle to dinner with you and ask your waitstaff to open you will be charged a $26 uncorking fee. Best to open ahead of time to avoid the fee!
8. Order the 'Drink of the Day'
If you prefer mixed drinks to wine then be sure to ask a bartender or consult your Disney Cruise Navigator app for the drink of the day. This drink will be considerably cheaper than the other mixed drinks (priced around $6) and is usually a tasty choice!
9. Always schedule your flight to arrive by at least the night before your cruise is set to sail
Flights have been even more unpredictable lately and you absolutely do not want to chance a delayed or cancelled flight preventing you from making your sailing. On the flip side, we also recommend giving yourself enough time to make your flight home on the last day of your sailing. Try not to schedule your flight any earlier than mid-afternoon just to be safe.
10. Kid Clubs are open until midnight, are fully supervised, and do not cost extra to use
Not to mention, your kids will be begging to go back each day. The clubs are full of built in entertainment and planned activities ranging from character appearances to scavenger hunts to science experiments. Whatever their interests, your children will love the designated kid spaces on the ship. Ages 4-11 can enjoy the Oceaneer's Club and Labs, Club Edge is for kids ages 11-14, and your teens ages 14-17 can hang out at Club Vibe. Each space is specifically designed for the targeted age group with fun but safe offerings and programming. If you have children under the age of 4 you can reserve a time slot at Small World Nursery, but please note there is an hourly fee for nursery services. Prices may vary, so always check your Disney Cruise Navigator app for the most up to date information.
Have you sailed on a Disney Cruise? Or currently planning for your first DCL adventure? Please leave any comments and questions down below, we'd love to hear from you!