Planning for a Disney Cruise can be a tad overwhelming….there are literally like a million posts out there on excursions, ship info, dining rotations, clothing ideas, pirate night and on and on and on. After now having gone on our first Disney cruise, I know the next one will be a bit more easy to plan for and the apprehension will not be as high. To help you sort through everything you have read, here is my
Definitely the “Tried and True Tips”:
This is a must. You get on the boat in the early afternoon but cannot get in your room until later, and even then, it might be awhile before your luggage shows up. It was great having our bathing suits with us (the kids wore theirs under their clothes when we boarded), a book, our travel documents and passports, camera, etc with us before then. I also made sure our medicines were in the bag, just in case something happened to our luggage.
Participate in the “Fish Extender” and Door decorations
This was such a fun thing to participate in. The kids loved coming back each day and finding gifts in their FE pockets. And I loved making all our gifts….stay tuned for more on that in another post:) We also loved having making our cabin feel like “home” with your door decorations….and honestly for my little guy….this made it super easy to find our cabin door….you know, since he would run ahead of us down the hallways to the room.
Our fun door!
Eat at Palo (or Remy)
This is a must do….yes, it is more $ BUT honestly, our bill was way cheaper and we purchased a bottle of wine than it would have been at most “nice” restaurants where we live. And the food and service were amazing…we did both a dinner at Palo and a brunch at Palo. Highly recommend both…if you can only do one…I would choose brunch as you get such a great sampling of a ton of amazing food AND get to see the view out of the windows during daylight.
The amazing chocolate souffle at dinner at Palo.
In my opinion, this is a must. Get a laynard and card holder attachment for every person in your party. You use your “key to the world” card everywhere and this makes it easy to tap it against their card readers. While I did not let the kids wear theirs around the whole time (there was no need), this was great when we were getting on and off the boat. I just purchased inexpensive Disney laynards off of Amazon and then purchased a pack of plastic card holders there too.
I did not quite understand this before we left or its importance…but again, A MUST! Your electricity will not work in your room unless a “key to the world” card sized card is in the special slot by the door to your cabin. Rather than taking your “key to the world” card in and out of your laynard, just use a hotel card from a previous stay. Lots of people in FE groups also make these little cards to go in the slots too as a gift. We just left our card in the slot the whole cruise so as to not worry with it and then the electricity worked while we were out to charge electronics or such and the lights came on immediately rather then us stumbling around trying to find the slot and put the card in.
While I must say our room was more spacious than I thought…it was still pretty small. Disney has lots of great little organizational systems in the room to help you put your stuff away but three items I brought were super useful:
Pop up hamper: this was awesome…it folded down into my suitcase but popped up during our stay to corral our dirty clothes…then I just tossed the clothes in garbage bags at the end of our stay and packed them away in our suitcase to deal with when we got home.
Closet organizer: you know those 5 “shelf” fabric closet organizers…bring one. I hung it up on the “long” side of the closet and was able to stuff mine and my husband’s clothes in it….drawer space is limited and this really freed up space for us.
Suction cup “cup”: I got a cheap suction cup “cup” like thing in the bathroom section at Wal-Mart. This was perfect to store our toothbrushes and toothpaste in the bathroom. Counter space is very limited and though there are shelves in the bathroom, this made it easier for us.
My “Aha” Moments”:
Buy vacation insurance
About a week before our trip, my daughter came down with a nasty bug. The doctor told me it would most likely run its course through the whole family. Umm, not the news you want to hear a week before you are about to go on a magical vacation you have been planning for almost a year. After getting mad and pouting for the evening, I hopped online, looked at our insurance policy and looked at other cruise dates we could take “just in case”. We were already going to be in Florida prior to the cruise so I also got a plan B together that if we got sick and could not cruise, we would go to Disney instead….not a bad plan B. It was a definite stress off my back to not have to worry about money being lost since we had purchased travel insurance. A cruise is a unique vacation. You cannot just check in later if you are running late, you cannot come home early if circumstance warrant it. Get the insurance so you are covered in case of illness, death or travel related delays. I now know the stress that little insurance takes away if you actually think you might have to use it.
Plan for bad weather
You think of a cruise as a warm, tropical vacation….yeah, not always. And then what happens if you can’t just hang out on the upper deck watching the kids swim with a nice beverage in your hand?
I DID NOT do this, and I should have. Never having been on a cruise, I did not know what to expect. I envisioned us on the top deck at the pool with beverages and kids swimming. For two days of our 3 full days on the boat, the weather did not cooperate. This led to me scrambling to find ways to entertain my kids on a ship. While there are a plethora of ways to entertain yourself, it does take a bit of planning. By the time I realized our day at port in Nassau was going to be windy, overcast, and at sometimes raining….it was a bit late in the morning to get our plans together. We had missed some things we could have done….like the on board movie. We had missed our opportunity to get off the boat and walk around and sight see. I scrambled and took the kids on the ship to participate in solving some of the mysteries in the “Midship Detective Agency” which was fun but we probably could have had a better morning if my act was together.
Exploring the fun on the ship….here we are driving a pirate ship in Pixie Hollow via an interactive “picture” hanging on board the ship.
Castaway Cay Snorkeling
I did not readily realize that snorkeling here at Scuttle’s Cove was actually a lot of work….and pretty far from the shore. I packed my kid’s snorkel gear and planned on renting mine and my husband’s. When we got to Castaway, I did rent two adult pairs of snorkeling equipment. However, I quickly realized I could have saved $30 by only getting one pair. My 6 year old was really too little to be able to have fun going all the way out and snorkeling. So, that meant only one adult really needed the equipment at any one time. And, this is a really big area to snorkel in… my suggestion is to have some idea of where the “hidden” underwater items are so that you are not wearing yourself out looking for them.
If you are like me and are a sucker for photos….pre-purchase the photo plan. It is cheaper to do it this way. And then….make sure you use the heck out of it. It took me a little time to realize where the photographers were and when. You will see lines and backdrops in the main lobby of the ship prior to dinner….get in the line and have your picture taken. I did not realize this the first two nights. Go to the character appearance…the photographers will be there. While at Castaway, they will be walking around…ask them to take your photo. They do not always stop and ask you. At the end of the day, I paid a bit much for our photos since I did not take every opportunity for a picture but with that being said, the ones we got are great and it is so hard to get a family photo that it was well worth it to me.
While DCL has changed their policy about dropping items off at Guest Services for autographs, that does not mean you have to forgo getting those type items signed (think picture mats, pillowcases, etc). Just simply take those same items you would have dropped off at guest services to the character meet and greets and have them sign them there. We did not do this as we just simply took our autograph books. I saw one family doing it with picture mats and another with cute pillowcases and thought “duh, why did I not think of that?”
Again, DCL changed their alcohol policy after we booked our cruise. The new policy is something to the effect of one 6 pack per adult over 21 or 2 bottles of wine per one adult over 21. So, I did not bother with taking 2 six packs on as that just seemed like a hassle for little return. HOWEVER, at every port you stop at, you can then bring on that same amount of alcohol without having it taken away until the end of the cruise. Another, “oh, duh” moment. So, at the end of the day, I could have taken on 2 six packs and then the next day in Nassau, gotten off and brought back 2 more six packs….for a lot less than the 4 six packs we bought on board. And, for a longer cruise with more stops, you could even maximize this even more.
Spot for Pirate Night Fireworks
Deck 12 on the starboard side (right side as you face the front of the boat). The screen should be on your left and you should be in that first section that they let you in for the fireworks. We secured out spot right at the rail looking down on deck 11 so we could see the show too. Perfect spot to see both the show and the fireworks….really good show! We did go up there about 9:15 and were the first ones up there….people started coming up in droves about 10 mins later so it was perfect timing.
Watch the Sun Come Up at least once
We were fortunate enough to have a cabin with a veranda so we could stay in the room to watch the sun come up. But, you could go up to deck 11 or 12 to watch too (on the Dream or Fantasy). This was amazing and breathtaking. The day before had been dismal so to pull in to Castaway as the sun rose was just amazing. We even got to see a rainbow….a full one as the boat pulled into port. I mean, Disney is just good!!!
One last tip…..Relax and enjoy the cruise! You will not get to do everything and see everything…that is why you can book on the ship for a future cruise at a discount 🙂