Disney cruises are an amazing family vacation.
You want to make the most of your time and enjoy your vacation.
Over the years as we have cruised with Disney, I have learned a few quick and easy tips that will make your Disney cruise even more magical.
These tips are quick and easy to implement, but make your cruise a more smooth sailing experience.
Here are 24 tips to get you started.
Before you go:
#1 Get the earliest boarding time
Once you have your cruise planned, grab your calendar and figure out when you can complete your online check-in.
Not only will completing your online check-in save you time, it will allow you to pick the earliest boarding time!
First-time Disney Cruisers must wait until 75 days prior to the day you set sail before you can check-in online, choose your port arrival time, book dining or reserve a port adventure.
Once you complete one sail you become a silver member of the Castaway Club, and you can book 90 days before sailing.
The other levels are gold (5+ cruises) which can book 105 days before sailing and platinum (10+ cruises) which can book 120 days prior to sailing.
Determine when you can check-in, add it to your calendar, and set an alert.
Here is a helpful website to walk you through the 10 Steps of Online Check-In.
#2 Register Kids for Kids Clubs Online
I did not know this was an option on your very first Disney cruise, and it is so much easier to register online.
When you arrive at the port to board your ship, there could be a HUGE line to register and grab your kids’ bands for the kid’s club.
I would advise you to not wait in this line. Once you have registered your kids online for the clubs, there will be an opportunity to grab the bands before they go into the club on the ship.
The kids’ clubs are not open for drop off until the evening of your first day on board so you have time to wait until the line is smaller before grabbing the band.
#3 Pre-book Certain Activities
While it is easy to pre-book excursions, there are also certain activities you can book online before setting sail.
There are certain character meet and greets, as well as a Disney Junior Breakfast that you can grab tickets for online. These are included in your cruise and are free of charge.
In past cruises, we have gone online for tickets to the Princess Gathering, the Frozen meet and greet, and the Disney Junior Breakfast.
All of the activities that are available will be on your Disney cruise dashboard once you have registered and checked in online.
#4 Download App
Everyone that will be sailing with you can download the Disney Cruise Line Navigator App.
This app will only work once you are on the Disney Cruise Ship, and connected to the Disney guest wireless network.
It is free to use throughout your entire cruise.
Some of my favorite features are the onboard activities, the ability to send text messages to family and friends on board, and the times of all the character appearances.
Be sure to download the app before boarding the ship, and you can set the countdown on the app to get ready for your vacation.
#5 Arrive at Port City the Night Before
Arriving ahead of time in your departure city ensures you will be ready to set sail.
We have always stayed at a local Hampton Inn before we set sail on our Disney cruises.
#6 Packing Tips
As a family of 7, packing can be tricky.
On our last 7-night cruise, I packed all of our costumes in a separate suitcase.
Our pirate costumes, Star Wars costumes, and princess costumes were all in labeled ziploc bags. Once the costumes were worn, it was easy to place them back into the bag for our next cruise (or Halloween!)
I also used Ziploc bags for my kid’s day and night outfits. They all were labeled. Once in our stateroom, I placed the bags into drawers on the cruise.
Everyone knew which outfits were for day or night and who it belonged to. This made all the difference!
First day onboard:
#7 Have Snacks in Your Carry-on Bag
Once on the ship, there is a plethora of food. However, I like to have a few snacks on hand as we are waiting to board. There is nothing worse than a hungry, whining child so I like to be prepared. Disney will not allow you to bring open snacks on board so small, individual sealed bags are best.
#8 Be on Time
Be sure to arrive at least an hour before your online check-in time. This will ensure you time to make it through security, park your car, and be ready to board.
#9 Hit the Water Slides First
Throughout the cruise, there will be some lines at the water slides.
We have found that it is a lot of fun to hit the water slides first thing.
Most cruisers will head immediately to the buffets to eat lunch.
Sometimes we wear bathing suits under our clothes, and hit the slides first before eating lunch.
#10 Take Pictures and Videos of Your Family Entering Your Stateroom.
It will never look this good again, and it is fun to look back on your magical stateroom.
#11 Grab the Free 50 MB of WiFi
Even if you do not plan on purchasing a WiFi plan (and they are pricey!), you can still grab the free 50 MB of WiFi. However, you can only grab it the first day on board.
#12 Bring Water Bottles to Refill
This past cruise we each had our own water bottle to refill. This allowed us to carry them off the ship, as well as fill up before going to bed each night.
#13 Arrive at Animator’s Palate 10 minutes Early for Dinner
Our family is always running late! We have found that it is fun to arrive at Animator’s Palate a few minutes early.
You will have more time to complete your drawing.
To see your work of art on the screen, color in your drawing and write your name big.
#14 Speciality Coffee Reward Card
If you plan on buying specialty coffee drinks at the adults-only area, grab a reward card.
Once you buy five coffee drinks, you get one free
#15 Formal Portraits
If you want to miss the line for formal portraits, go about 20 minutes early before first seating.
We have not done the formal portraits, but I know the lines can get long!
#16 Do Not Miss Any Shows.
They are amazing!
We always buy the refillable popcorn bucket on the first night. You can refill with popcorn before shows and movies for cheap!
Also, you can bring sodas from the pool deck into the movies and shows to save money.
#17 Art of the Theme Show Tour
Guest 18 years and older can go on the Art of the Theme Show Tour.
I have not had the opportunity to do this yet, but it is on my bucket list for Disney cruises.
This tour shows design choices and facts about Disney Cruise Line.
#18 Do Not Miss the Fireworks on Pirate and Star Wars Night
The fireworks are fantastic, and the kids always enjoy these shows.
#19 New Releases at Buena Vista Theater
There are plenty of Disney movies to see on the ship.
Grab free drinks and snacks first on the pool deck, and head to the Theater!
#20 Try to Sneak Away for the Adult Entertainment
There are plenty of options for the adults at night. If your kids are in the Kids Club, you will find lots to do.
Arriving 10-15 minutes early gets you a front row seat.
#21 Character Meet and Greets
There will be plenty of opportunities to meet characters on the ship.
The Navigator App has a list that will walk you through all of the options.
We have found that 5:15 pm character meet and greets are the least busy.
Also, if you can arrive 15 minutes before the character you want to see, then you will usually be first in line.
#21 Castaway Cay 5K
Guests 10 years and older can participate in a 5K on Castaway Cay.
#22 Over the Door Organizer in Closets
We like to use an over the door organizer on a hanger – one for each family member.
I loved these organizers. They are durable, and I use them at home to hold items when we are not traveling.
I highly recommend using these organizers for underwear, shoes, hair accessories, bathing suits, shirts, etc.
#23 Bring Clothespins
Clothespins are a game changer.
In the shower, there is a line to hang wet items.
Maximize this space by bringing clothespins to hang wet items.
#24 Bring Lots of Sunscreen
That Caribbean sun is hot and burning.
I suggest bringing extra sunscreen just to have on hand to keep everyone safe.
And Most Importantly, Have a Lot of FUN!!
Enjoy each moment of your magical vacation, and keep these tips handy for your vacation.
These easy tips will make your Disney cruise one you will never forget.