When one of my friends starting posting about her family’s adventures on a Disney cruise, I was definitely a little jealous. What an awesome adventure, full of surprises, delicious food and fun they were embarking on! Being their first cruise, they spent a lot of time researching and watching YouTube videos to help them plan and prepare. Now that they have this first cruise under their belt, they have some great tips to share for first time Disney cruisers, and I’m so excited she’s letting me share with you!
First Time Disney Cruise Tips & Tricks
Carry a bag, this is important if you have little ones who are still young enough to have an accident here or there and/or in diapers. Having a mini diaper bag helped save a few trips up and down stairs to our room.
Always keep your water bottle on you! Drinks at the buffet and dinner service are included in your price of the trip but anywhere that sells alcohol will cost you money plus 18% gratuity, even if you don’t order alcohol! Everywhere on the ship allows you to bring your own water bottle/bag in, so there’s really no need to waste your money.
Prepay everything, including gratuity, your life will be a lot less stressful when your vacation ends.
Keep track of your purchases, you’d be surprised how fast gifts at the Disney stores and speciality coffee/alcohol adds up. You can always go to Guest Services and get your up to date receipt at any time. If you don’t prepay your tips, this will also be added at the end of your trip before you’re allowed to leave at roughly $10 per person per night.
Be nice to the crew, servers, and room service. Seriously. They do multiple jobs and they’ll follow you throughout your cruise…really. So don’t be “that guy”.
If you love Dr. Pepper, bring it with you, seriously. For some strange reason Disney does not serve Dr. Pepper on cruises. Also if you like your wine/beer, bring it, each adult 21+ can bring 2 bottles of wine or 6 beers every time they get on the ship. This means you can purchase alcohol at ports during the trip as well and bring it back with you. If you bring too much, they’ll hold it for you until you get off the ship at the end of your trip.
Plan your day, there’s so much to do that you can end up just wandering around not doing much or getting stuck at the pool. This means that you should also check out those Adult Only areas as well!
Utilize the kids club, seriously. Best thing ever. The kids loved it so much they didn’t want us to take them out of the club. They have organized events and free play so the kids love it. This also means you can go to some of those adult only shows I mentioned earlier! ** the kids club feeds the kids lunch and dinner if they are in the club at that time. Normally it wouldn’t be an issue but with late dinner, the kids were eating dinner twice, once at the club at 6pm and then at 8pm with the family **
Be prepared to wake up early and stay up late. Especially if you are leaving the states and coming back in. Migration check on the ship takes some time and starts super early in the morning, so be patient and prepared.
Use room service, it’s 24/7 and you will be prepared for those early mornings. You can preorder your breakfast by filling out the form in your room and hanging it on your door before 3AM. This means on those early mornings such as port of calls or migration check, you won’t be grumpy since you’ll have already ate.
Late Dinner is awesome! Although most people frown at eating dinner at 8PM, it was actually really nice, especially if you love food. Since this is the last dinner rotation of the day, you can usually scoop up extra desserts and main courses. This means you can pretty much try everything on the menu (if your party agrees to order different stuff) without having to pay anything extra. In addition, the kids club will pick up your little ones from the dining room around 9PM (the waiters will bring the kids food out early for them) so they can go play and you can enjoy dessert in peace.
Plan something to do at every port. The last thing you want to do is be wandering around aimlessly at the port, especially when you only have a few hours to enjoy that location. Disney makes it super easy to book activities at the ports but it does cost extra money so use caution. If you forgot to book stuff to do before you leave, that’s okay, they have a port adventure desk so you can book it the night before you dock at that port.
Listen to the announcements. Disney loves surprises! We experienced this when we happened to book our cruise during the movie release for Star Wars. They ended up allowing everyone on the ship to be the first in the world to see the movie, no extra charge, and in 3D if desired. Not to mention we had tons of cruise specific items to buy and bring home!
Research your trip and prepare for special events. Some cruises, like the one we went on, have special event nights such as The Golden Mickey’s (Red Carpet Award Show & Formal Night ), Pirates IN the Caribbean and Freezing the Night Away with Anna, Elsa, and Friends. This means, bring your costume because you’ll be surprised how many people dress up!
Take the stairs, if you can. Seriously, will save you SO much time. Although there are tons of elevators, they get busy fast and waiting kinda sucks.
Lanyards for everyone. You won’t need your wallet, only your room key most of the time, so this makes it easy. Also it’s nice for when you have to have your ID, you can just put everything in one place.
Be mindful of what is located below/above your room on the other decks. We happened to be located just above the kids club, which we didn’t mind because we have kids so we’re used to the noise. However, someone without kids or have little ones that are light sleepers may not enjoy that, especially since the kids clubs stay open until midnight.
Get ready for old school cell phones. You don’t want to be using your cell phone on the ship and/or out of the country as it is expensive. Disney provides 2 wave phones, which are old school cell phones, per room that work on the ship and their private island, Castaway Cay. No keyboard or T9 predictive texting, but you can text, just gotta remember to press that button 9 button 3 times for a Y, hahahaha.
Above all, have fun! The memories you make on your cruise will last you and your family a lifetime!