Thinking of cruising with Mickey? Check out our pick of the best tips to help get the most out of your Disney cruise…
If you’ve never cruised before and aren’t sure whether you’ll like it or not, try the 4-night cruise to start with. In my opinion, the 3-night is too short, and the 4-night includes a day at sea for you to relax and explore the onboard activities. If you decide you like cruising Disney-style you can go for a 7-night or longer next time!
If you are a family of 5 or more, you can save money by booking two Category 9 or 10 connecting staterooms rather than one of the more expensive Category 4 or higher staterooms. Just make sure you request connecting staterooms when booking.
Make advance reservations online. Check out our guide of when you’ll be able to pre-book things like Palo, Flounder’s Reef Nursery and excursions online, and stick to it. You’ll be in with the best chance of getting the reservations you want to and won’t have to worry about rushing to make bookings on embarkation day.
Take a carry-on bag with everything you’ll need, including a change of clothes for dinner if you’re on the main dining seating. Luggage is normally delivered to staterooms in good time, but just in case your bags don’t arrive in time for you to get ready. Also pack swimwear if you fancy a dip, as the pools are usually quiet on embarkation afternoon.
Read the Personal Navigator which you’ll find in your room each day. It lists every single activity for that day, character greeting locations, and opening times. Take a different colored highlighter pen for each person in your party then they can each highlight which activities they want to do on the Navigator. Extra copies of Personal Navigators are available from Guest Services.
The fast food places such as Pluto’s Dog House and Pinocchio’s Pizzeria are open for most of the day if you want a bite to eat between meals or late-night snack. Topsider’s (Magic) and Beach Blanket Buffets (Wonder) are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner each day if you don’t want to dine at one of the table service restaurants.
Make use of room service – it’s free! Get breakfast in your room if you want to get an early start on port days. You can use stuff to take on excursions for lunch (soft drinks and bottled water cost). Sandwiches and cookies can be ordered and used to take for lunch on excursions, saving money on buying food in port. The only things you’ll have to pay for through room service are soft drinks, alcohol and snacks such as candy and popcorn.
On port days, if you’re not interested in that particular port or have visited before, stay onboard! It’ll be much quieter, the pools and spa are open, as are the snack places, and somewhere will be open for lunch. Activities and tours (such as the bridge tour) are also offered.
When visiting ports, stick to the main tourist areas. Street crime is common in some places, with tourists being easy targets. Leave valuables onboard the ship in your room safe, and keep a very close eye on any you take ashore. Wear bags across your body and don’t put money or wallets in back trouser pockets.
Before going to each port, write down the phone number of the ship’s agent, which you can find on that day’s Personal Navigator. Keep it with you in case of emergency if something goes wrong while you’re in port.
On Castaway Cay day, I’d recommend getting off the ship as soon as you’re allowed to. You’ll get first pick of the beach chairs (& parasols!), and if you’re interested in snorkeling, it’s best to do it early before the sand gets disturbed and vision reduced.
If you think you’ll want to buy photos taken onboard, buy one of the packages early on. They save a lot of money on individual prices and if, by the end of the cruise, you change your mind and don’t need the package you can get a full refund.
Last, but not least, check out our comprehensive guide to Disney Cruise Line, which will tell you everything you need to know about cruising with Disney, with menus, photos, stateroom details, and much more!