Are you preparing for your very first Disney Cruise? I know how exciting that is as you are about to embark on a very magical experience! While there is not as much to prepare as a Disney World vacation, there still are some important things you should know before boarding the ship.
Let’s go through the top 10 most important things I feel were important to know before sailing on a Disney Cruise:
Complete the Online Check-In
If it is your first Disney Cruise, then you will be able to do start the online check-in process 75 days before your sailing date. I strongly advise that you complete it online as it will make your check-in at the port go a lot quicker. That just means you get on the ship faster and start your vacation sooner.
The online check-in is also where you will sign your kids up for the Kid’s Clubs. By doing this online, you avoid the long line up on the first day at the Kid’s Club completing this information with a cast member. All you’ll have to do when you get to the Kid’s Club is get their MagicBand and you’re all set!
If you are using your own transportation to get to the port, you will also be choosing your Port Arrival Time during the online check-in. The earlier you book this, the earlier time you will get. Getting an early Port Arrival Time means that you get to enjoy the ship for that much longer on your first day.
Book the Free Activities 75 Days Out
Along with the online check-in, there are also some free activities that you can book 75 days out (more for Castaway Club members). While you will find many character meet & greets on the ship, there are a few that you will need a ticket to attend. These are complimentary, but you must have a time slot booked. These often book up very fast, so you’ll want to book them as soon as your 75 day window opens up. At midnight, 75 days out from your sailing date, be ready to book time slots for the following free experiences:
- Frozen Gathering
- Princess Gathering
- VIP Character Breakfast
- Star Wars Meet & Greets (only for Star Wars Day at Sea)
- Jedi Training (only for Star Wars Day at Sea)
- Marvel Meet & Greets (only for Marvel Day at Sea)
If you booked your cruise less than 75 days out and there are no time slots left for the above, there still is hope. As soon as you get on the ship, head over to Guest Services and ask if they have any time slots available. They often keep some open that can be booked onboard.
You will meet TONS of characters
Many first time cruisers don’t realize the abundance of characters that will be available to meet on the ship. You may not be at the theme parks, but you will still get a good dose of Mickey Mouse and friends. Make sure to get an autograph book on your first day and be ready to fill it up with tons of autographs!
There are Themed Parties
All sailings will have a themed party and many people dress up for these evenings – both kids and adults! All Caribbean sailings will have a Pirate themed night. You will receive bandanas to wear in your cabin that day, but you can bring more stuff to really get in to character. There will be a deck party on the pool deck, followed by a fireworks show off the boat.
If you are sailing on a cruise that features Star Wars Day at Sea or Marvel Day at Sea, then you will also have that themed evening. Feel free to dress up in character and join in on the fun!
Download the Navigator app BEFORE you get on the ship
Disney has an app that you can use on the ship to keep track of all the activities, it is called Disney Cruise Line Navigator. In the app you will be able to see all the daily activities, your dining time, your account balance, port details etc. One of the best features is the messaging system. You’ll want to make sure that everyone with a device installs it because that is how you can communicate with each other on the ship if you are apart. The best part is that you don’t have to purchase the WiFi package to use the Navigator. Make sure you download it before you get on though, otherwise you will have to use the paid internet to download it.
Look for the Officer Pin Trading Event on the Navigator
If you are a pin trader, then you will want to find out when the Officer Pin Trading event will be happening. Check the daily navigator schedule and keep your eyes peeled. This is an amazing pin trading event and you can find some real good pins there. They have about 10 officers out with their lanyards and you can trade anything you’d like.
Pre-Purchase a Wine Package (or bring wine onboard)
While non-alcoholic beverages are included with your cruise, alcohol is not. You can purchase beverages onboard, but it will save you some money if you pre-purchase a wine package. You purchase it prior to your sailing and then you will have a card waiting in your room that you bring with you to dinner to claim your package. You can find the wine packages online at the In-Room Gifts & Amenities.
You can also bring wine onboard with you, however if you wish to drink it in the dining rooms, you will be charged a $25 corking fee. If you bring wine onboard, then I find it is best to keep that for drinks that you may carry around with you on the ship or bring to the pool. Make sure to bring wine that has a screw top, or bring a corkscrew with you. Each adult is allowed to bring 2 bottles of wine or 6 bottles of beer onboard, and you can bring the same amount onboard at each port stop.
Pre-Purchase the Rainforest Spa Pass
If you would like a bit of relaxation during your sailing, then a visit to the Rainforest Spa may be just what you are looking for. The Rainforest Spa Pass gives you access to their saunas, steam rooms, scented showers and warm stoned chairs. If you pre-purchase the pass from the in-room gifts & amenities, it will only cost you $16 per person. Purchasing it onboard will cost you more, $28 per person.
The Main Pool is Very Quiet on Port Days
Most people get off the boat at port to explore, and I do highly recommend that since it is nice to see the islands you stop at. If you are on a longer sailing of 7 days, you may want to choose 1 port day to stay back on the ship. The ship feels very quiet on port days, and you can enjoy the pool area with very little crowd. It’s a great reason to just take a “lazy” day and sit by the pool sipping fruity drinks.
Also, they play movies by the pool all day long, so little ones just love it. If your kids want to ride on the water slide, then this is also a great time to do this since the line for the slide will be very short.
Join Your Sailing’s Facebook Group
Each sailing has a Facebook group set up that anyone on the cruise can join. You’ll get to be part of this secret community of people sailing on your cruise and get tons of tips to help get you prepared. Members of the groups talk about excursions, and they also organize pin swaps or meet-ups. It is a great way to get to know people on the ship before you even board. Just search for your cruise’s sailing date on Facebook and you should be able to find one that has been set up.
**BONUS: You can ask for Mickey bars for dessert in the dining rooms
You won’t see it on the dessert menu, but anyone can ask for a Mickey Ice Cream bar for dessert in the dining rooms. If nothing on the dessert menu looks tempting enough, then just ask for that Mickey Bar. You can have as many as you’d like!
Our preferred travel agency is Click the Mouse. They specialize in Disney destinations and will help you plan out all the little details. Best part is that their services are FREE when you book your vacation with them. Personalized service at no extra cost to you! To get a quote from a Click the Mouse travel agent for a Disney Cruise, simply fill out the info below and they will be back in touch with you:
Laura is a mom of one adorable girl with a love of all things Disney. She traveled to Disney World with her family in 2010 and was hooked. They have since been a total of over 10 times. With all her knowledge of planning Disney trips, she now wants to share that with others. She loves giving guidance, tips and advice to others planning their magical vacation!