We aren’t cruise people (or so we thought) – and last year when we took our first cruise we realized we were right. Ah, but while we are not into cruises in general we have found that we are most definitely Disney Cruise people. From the arrival experience to the impeccable service to the shows to the private island – we adored our Disney Cruise experience. Today I will share my tips from that experience.
Booking your cruise
If you have a travel agent you normally use, great! If you don’t then I recommend calling Disney directly after familiarizing yourself via their website to book the cruise you want. The agent will take you through the simple process, and help you decide on the right room, deck, and details just for you. We booked deck #7 (smack in the middle of this ship both on our floor, and height wise) and it was perfection. Walkable in all directions, a quiet “rooms only” floor, and we loved it.
Don’t Miss Out!
There actually wasn’t much at all to research ahead of time – which made me nuts! Oh, you can read Disney blogs and travel blogs and get trip recaps… but really there isn’t any one great resource I recommend outside of reading through your official Disney Cruise stuff. The #1 tip I got and it was absolutely true was to read the Navigator and any daily reports/papers/etc. that are handed to you. Things like “at noon on departure day you can book a time to visit with princesses” or when a new movie is showing or there is a party or… well it’s ALL in there. So read up ASAP!
Speaking of not missing out, there are three things we did that I 100% recommend:
- Did the check in/excursions at the very moment I first possibly could (about two months prior to sailing)
- Took the early dining time
- Took the very earliest check-in (Port Arrival) time available (about 10am)
The early check in gave me the most options. I marked it on my calendar and was ready at the computer – it was worth it! All the extras (excursions, adult dining, spa, etc.) become available at that time and you guys it’s first come, first serve! We also really liked being done eating around 7, and having a bit of wander around time before an evening activity. As for check in… well when you arrive to an EMPTY cruise ship terminal and you’re the very first person being waved in and greeted by a happy cast? That’s cool. Also, being first in meant we had the kids registered for kid’s club, all the info we needed, and the chance to sit and chat about the activities laid out before us in the day’s guide BEFORE the boarding began. We were way ahead of the crowd – and about the 30th family to board!
Favorites on the ship:
- The food is amazing – really quality the sit-down restaurants are worth relaxing for! We are people who love a quality meal – and we were impressed. Don’t fill up on chicken fingers or hot dogs. Enjoy the amazing 3-course meal for dinner!
- Kids club: FULL of fun activities just for the kiddos. Ours LOVED their time on their own and all the parties/fun that could be had
- Adult only lounges: QUIET places to chill, enjoy a cocktail, or have conversations without little ones around. I found them to be really quiet earlier in the evening and an absolute blessing when I was overwhelmed by being trapped on the ocean with so many people!
- “In theaters” movies! If it’s in the theater, it’s on the ship! We enjoyed Big Hero Six the day it came out – super cool.
- Pirate night! We all enjoyed the fireworks (but the pre-show was way cheesy – ah well!) and we loved the post-show buffet full of treats.
- Aqua Duck! Get in that float and wheeee on the amazing ride/slide/coaster that will have you flying around the ship!
Our cruise took us to Castaway Cay – Disney’s private island! It was, in a word, amazing. FULL of umbrellas everywhere for shady seating (or sun, if you wished) and plenty of space. Here are my top notes from that experience:
- There is a 5k you can run! Just sign up (info in your daily navigator!) and win a medal!
- Stingray experience is feeding and then snorkeling with their stingrays – it was awesome!
- The big ‘you’ve got to swim to it to go down’ slide? SO FUN.
- Get off that boat early, go play and have fun, then head back early because there won’t be much of a line for the on-boat water ride!
We decided to just pick and choose – we went to two of the three shows, we just met characters if there was no line, etc… and that worked well to make our time relaxing vs super scheduled. It isn’t a cheap trip by any means – but the short cruise really was a good experience for us and everything so clean, everything at such a high standard of excellence – we really had a blast and hope to replicate the experience again in a few years.
My final tip is that if you do it – no matter where your destination – do like us. Wear bathing suits under clothes when you board (first!), go grab lunch at the yummy buffet, sign up for that princess meet if you want it, and get on the Aqua Duck! My girls rode that thing 8, 10, maybe 15 times with NO line those first few precious hours that people were just barely boarding and checking out the ship. They only got to ride it 3times the whole rest of the time because it was soooo busy and often an hour long wait!
If you have any Disney Cruise questions I’d be happy to answer what I can! Just leave a comment here…