Considering a Disney Cruise, or have one on the calendar this year? Read on for our ‘been there, done that’ tips and tricks to make sure you get the best Disney Cruise experience possible.
What to Bring and What to Leave at Home
A day bag: If you’re travelling to your cruise from a Disney resort, expect to have your bag ready to go hours before departure. The cruise line will arrange for your bag to be transported on the ship, so you’re free to travel light for the day in transit. Having a day pack with a change of clothes, swimsuits and electronic equipment is essential. A small backpack for kids and diaper bags for babies will also helpful. These bags will also be perfect for any day trips you take while at port.
A light jacket or sweater: You never know what kind of weather to expect at each port. It can be quite chilly and windy at Port Canaveral, so pack a light jacket or sweater for each member of your family.
Snacks and drinks for your stateroom: Disney is one of very few cruise lines that allow guests to bring snacks and alcohol from shore to be enjoyed in your stateroom. All alcoholic beverages you bring aboard must be kept in your room. You can purchase drinks to be enjoyed by the pool or in restaurants from staff.
Important documents: You will not be able to board the ship without you family’s travel documents, so ensure you have passports, boarding passes, etc. with you.
Good to know: Be prepared to tip for your stateroom host and wait staff on your final day on the ship. Tip voucher cards are provided by your steward in your room. Click here for Disney’s suggested guidelines for gratuities.
If You’re Travelling with a Toddler or Baby…
Your baby must be at least 6 months old on the day of sailing. The minimum age for Transatlantic, Hawaii, and Panama Canal itineraries is one year of age on the day of sailing.
Leave your travel crib or pack ‘n play at home. If you’re travelling with a small child your stateroom host will be your best friend on the trip. Each evening the steward will come and set up a ship-provided pack ‘n play for your child and (if you wish) will fold it down to make more room during the day.
Bring your stroller. The ship is massive, so having a stroller will make getting to and from meals and activities much easier to navigate. The restaurant cast members (all Disney staff are called cast members) is more than accommodating and will help make room for your stroller in the restaurants—especially if you have a sleeping baby with you.
Kids clubs and babysitting services are available for kids of all ages, although some charges apply for babies and young toddlers. If you’re itching for a grown-up night out you can book a reservation in an adults-only restaurant and the kids will be taken care of by the excellent Disney cast members in the kids and baby clubs.
The pools do not allow babies in swim diapers. That doesn’t mean leave the swim diapers at home. The Disney Dream offers a splash area for toddlers and if you’re in the Caribbean you won’t want to miss out on swimming in the ocean with your little one while at port.
If you’re travelling with young kids, request the early seating for dinner. Your time slot stays the same each night, but your assigned restaurant changes (your wait staff rotate restaurants with you).
Staterooms Are Definitely the Way to Go
Staterooms might appear small in photos, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how spacious they are once you’re settled and unpacked. Each room is equipped with a two wave phones (think 90s cell phones) free of charge for your use while on the ship.
The wave phones come in handy to stay in touch with your family members if you’re separated on the ship. Also, they are essential if you have a child in the kids club so the cast members can get in contact with you. Staterooms have all the essentials to make you feel at home.
Provided are: hairdryers, high-quality shampoo, soaps and creams, flat-screen television, mini refrigerator, super comfortable beds, closets to hang your clothing, safe for travel documents, alarm clock/stereo speaker and more. Bonus, the beds are raised high enough for your suitcase to slide underneath, so you won’t be tripping over them while in your room. If you’re celebrating a special occasion on board, bring decorations to dress up the door to your stateroom.
Get to Know Your Ports of Call Before You Leave Home
A little research before embarking on your trip will save time and allow you to make the most of your days on port.
Castaway Cay is the Disney-owned port-of-call in the Bahamas. If you’re spending a day at Castaway Cay be prepared to simply relax. All meals and non-alcoholic beverages are included as are beach chairs, some activities and more. The beach is breathtaking if you choose to simply sit and watch the waves and make sand castles, for the more adventurous types there are playgrounds on shore and in the water for kids, bikes for rent and water-sport activities and rentals.
It’s All About the Princesses!
Book character experiences as soon as you get on board. Reservations to meet princesses fill up fast, so booking early is essential.
Each ship offers different character experiences, so prep your child before the trip so they are not disappointed if they don’t meet their favourite character.
Go early. To meet characters, be prepared to get there early and wait in line.
Don’t miss the character dance party! It’s a ton of fun for young and older kids.
Each evening your stateroom host will leave an information booklet listing all the next day’s character experiences and entertainment. It’s a good idea to read it over and plan your day the night before so you don’t miss out on any of the fun.
The Force will be with you….soon. In 2016, Disney is introducing Star Wars Day at sea on select Disney Fantasy sailings.