by Cruisin’ Diva
If you are one of the lucky ones to be able to book a Disney Cruise last minute, just weeks or maybe even months, before your cruise, this article may not be for you. This is for those of us who book around a year or more in advance. These are some things that I do to stay engaged and excited and not make the cruise seem so far away!
(1) Get involved with a cruise group on Facebook specifically for your cruise.
There is a group for everything! Literally! This was only my second time to be involved in a cruise group, believe it or not. I had no idea they existed until about two years ago! You can learn tips, tricks, must haves, must do’s, and many other things from these groups. They are comprised of those that are rookies and first-timers, to those seasoned and experienced. You can learn a lot just from the group itself! Most groups usually have sign-ups for things like mixology (never done this, and we are this time around, but pretty sure you are mixing and sampling alcohol) and a fish extender gift exchange (more about this next). Our group is specifically getting T-shirts together for the 5K that is held on Castaway Cay! There are several FB groups you can join to find the link to your specific cruise group, but it’s easiest just to search which ship you are on and the date. Or you can ask me and I would be happy to send you the direct link to your cruise!
(2) Fish Extender
I have to admit, the fish extender gift exchange was new to me until my previous cruise. I had no clue what those things were hanging outside of people’s door and how they got gifts!? It’s sort of like Secret Santa. You never know when and what you will get! The rules are simple (this goes for most groups, unless they make up rules of their own). You get at least one gift per stateroom, if you choose to buy more, that is up to you, but depending on how many families are in your group, you can tailor the gift however you want. You usually get all kinds of information from them; favorite character, T-shirt size, how old they are, what dining rotation they are in (so you can secretly drop off their gift), if they are celebrating a special occasion, if candy is ok, and if they have any allergies. These are the guidelines for our upcoming cruise (Hubby and I are taking a 10 year anniversary-no kid cruise)! They don’t have to be Disney related. They can be just about anything! It’s always fun to see what you get at the end of the day! I think our favorite from last year was our sons’ T-shirts that were made for them! Very thoughtful gifts from some sweet friends that we’ve stayed in contact with! You can make your own Fish Extender or you can purchase them. I have no creative bones in my body, so I purchased ours from Etsy. There are many people on Etsy who make these, but we chose this particular shop called GoldeeloxCreations. See ours below for our upcoming cruise!
Here is a video I did from our Christmas Cruise 2014 about the Fish Extender and another fun activity.
(3) Making new friends
What I gained from my last group, and what I am gaining in this new group is some new friends! While we were putting up our Christmas tree, I had ornaments that I received via Fish Extender on our Christmas cruise in December 2014. I took a pic while hanging the ornament and sent the pic to the friend I received it from. They are from Australia and we enjoyed meeting them on our cruise and we have stayed in touch ever since!
(4) Decorate your stateroom door
See the video I posted above too! You can decorate your stateroom door with magnets or whatever you want (within reason of course). I love the idea of the Mickey body around the stateroom number on the door, we just haven’t been able to try it yet! I honestly haven’t thought about decorating our door for our upcoming cruise, because it’s just the husband and myself, but this is a great craft idea for you and the kiddos for an upcoming cruise. Let everyone design their own magnet, Disney themed or not, to put on the stateroom door once you cruise! It’s a great family activity and makes your door very unique!
(5) Make reservations when your booking window opens
This is probably the most anticipated part of the cruise, before the actual cruise starts. You have a booking window depending on your Castaway Club level (for those returning cruisers) and first time cruisers. The check-in and booking windows are as follows:
First Time Cruisers – 75 days prior to sailing
Silver Level Club Members (Completed 1-4 Disney Cruises) – 90 days prior to sailing
Gold Level Club Members (Completed 5-9 Disney Cruises) – 105 days prior to sailing
Platinum Level Club Members (Completed 10 or more Disney Cruises) – 120 days prior to sailing
I have happily and finally reached the Platinum level and, for some, this may not matter, but there are few things that tend to book up after the first booking window opens, such as Cabanas on Castaway Cay. I was lucky enough to score one for the first time ever, and we are are excited! Some things rarely fill up, such as Bike rentals on Castaway Cay, but if you are interested in Signature Dining (the adult only restaurant(s) on board-cost is extra), those tend to fill up pretty quickly as well. So if you are booking through a travel agent (you can get a quote from Patricia Payne from All For Dreams Travel here), or you have booked yourself, we tend to set reminders when our window opens up and are booking the minute it does. Make sure to plan our what you would like to do ahead of time, so you don’t miss out on once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.
(6) Once you board
A few things once you board! First, Welcome Aboard!! You made it and you are about to embark on one of the best cruise ships out there! I’m very partial, but I have been told by others that Disney doesn’t compare to any other cruise line! Second, if you have little ones (or maybe even yourself) that want to see princesses, Anna and Elsa, or any other special characters that might be aboard the ship, you will need to head to the Port Adventures desk to grab a ticket. These are included in your cruise price and do not cost extra, but you want to grab them as soon as possible so you don’t miss out. This is also where you can purchase the Princess Tea Party tickets (extra cost) and register for the Castaway Cay 5K (free).
I hope this helps you plan your dream cruise!! Be looking for more articles and videos to come from our upcoming cruise!! See you real soon!!