By Cruisin’ Diva
Whether it be to the fabulous Walt Disney World or at sea on the Disney Cruise Line, a date with the mouse is something I look forward to once, sometimes twice a year (more if I get the chance). I will be the first to tell you, that I will take either, any day of the week, but my favorite, by far, is the Disney Cruise Line. It could be on the Magic, Wonder, Dream or Fantasy, I’ve been on them all and love them all!! I will be embarking on my 10th cruise this coming December and I am stoked about earning my Platinum Club membership!!! For those who have never cruised, you are automatically entered into the Castaway Club. It’s free and you receive different gifts for every consecutive time you cruise. You also have different member perks when you reach Gold and Platinum Levels. As a Gold member, you will book earlier than first cruisers and other Silver Club Members. As a Platinum member, you have the earliest booking window, get to board the ship first automatically, as well as FREE Palo Dining!!! All three are great in themselves!!
I have been asked on occasions by many friends and family members for my tips on the cruise, so I thought I would share them with you.
- Embarkation – First off, your room will not be ready until around 1:45-2:00 pm. Keep that in mind when you are packing for your cruise. When you arrive at the port, you will be dropping your bags off with the dock workers. Make sure you have your luggage tagged and ready to go before you arrive. Disney will send you several tags (more than some need), so anything you can tag and you want to leave with the workers to be taken to your room, I highly recommend it! Take as little on board with you as possible, because you will most likely want to eat lunch once you get on board. If you have kids (or use this for yourself), take your bathing suit with you on board, because once you grab a quick lunch, you will want to go soak up some sun!! But don’t forget, they will close the pool for the mandatory muster and the Sail Away Party!!!!
- Ports of Call – When you are able to check in online to your cruise, you are able to book dining reservations and ports of call excursions. I have honestly done two excursions in nine cruises. There are so many things to do at each port, that are free mind you, that worrying about being somewhere on time (and making sure I’m back at the ship on time) is not something that I call “vacation”. I want to relax and enjoy the ports, especially Castaway Cay, rather than be on a time restricted schedule. Something we have done is rent the snorkels and tubes and it’s an all-day rental that’s cheap!
- Food – One of my favorite reasons for the cruise is the food (and there is tons of it)! There are three main restaurants on each cruise and you will rotate to each of them on consecutive nights. What most people don’t know is that you can order as much as you want!! You can try more than one thing! Order dessert first!! You can have two apps, two entrées and two desserts, oh my!!! Do whatever you like. If you don’t like something, send it back!! The wait staff is wonderful and very accommodating, so you have any special needs or special requests, they will do their best to help. (Side note: I recommend the 2nd dinner seating for two reasons: At the ports of call, you don’t have to rush back to get ready for dinner which is around 5:30, and for the 2nd dinner seating, they offer dine and play. For those occasions that we get the kids for dinner, after they are done eating, the CM’s from the club will come into the dining room and pick up any kids that are ready to go play! You don’t have to walk them back down to the club.) There are other alternative dining options other than the rotational dining. You can make a reservation to eat at a Premium Restaurant (an extra cost), you can head to the buffet, to the fast food options that lay poolside, and there is room service. Something that you may not know about room service (price is included in your cruise) is that they have unlimited Mickey Bars!! Order them morning, day and night!!
- Kids – If you have kids, which most people do on a Disney Cruise, but hey, I have gone twice before kids, take advantage of the kids’ clubs. The Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab are intended for ages 3-10 (must be potty-trained). Honestly, my kids go on the cruise for this club. They absolutely love it! I drop them off at around 9 in the morning (after we have eaten breakfast) and usually don’t pick them up until around midnight that night. They feed them lunch and dinner (fast food options) and have a ball playing and learning (yes, they learn…they can make flubber!). For those with babies, which I have for my upcoming cruise, they have the nursery. It’s an extra charge per hour, but it’s worth it if you have premium dining reservations or just want some adult time. I honestly can say that on the last few cruises that we have been able to do adult only activities and go to the adult only beach (Serenity Bay) on Castaway Cay and it was amazing!
- Fireworks – That’s right. I said fireworks. I didn’t mistype! Now, if you compare these to Walt Disney World, you will be a bit disappointed. They are short in comparison and definitely not as large in scale, but what’s impressive is that Disney Cruise line was the very first cruise to do fireworks at sea!! This happens at the end of pirate night, which is greatly fun in itself. Come dressed as a pirate and make way to the pirate party that night. There will be games and an awesome show!
This covers some of the basics for first-timers going on a Disney Cruise. Keep it simple. Once you’ve cruised, plan your 2nd cruise (book it on-board, get a discount and get an on-board credit for the upcoming cruise) and change it up. Do an excursion now that you have the idea of how the cruise works. I have many more tips for the Disney Cruise Line so stay tuned for more!!!