In February our family checked an item off of our travel bucket list and took a 7-night Disney Cruise aboard the Disney Fantasy. Our Western Caribbean itinerary included a stop at Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay, as well as a Star Wars Day at Sea. Although I researched the trip in advance there were a few other things I wish we had known in advance. Here are our 12 tips to make the most of your Disney Cruise.
12 Disney Cruise Tips You Won’t Want to Miss
- BOOK AN ITINERARY THAT INCLUDES CASTAWAY CAY
- BOOK DINING TIME, CHARACTER MEETS & MORE AHEAD OF TIME
- PLAN ON ATTENDING ALL OF THE DISNEY SHOWS
- BOOK FLIGHT IN NIGHT PRIOR TO EMBARKATION
- BRING COSTUMES FOR PIRATE NIGHT
- FEEL FREE TO SKIP ASSIGNED DINING ROTATION
- BUT DON’T MISS ANIMATOR’S PALATE
- BRING 2 SWIMSUITS
- STOP TO BUY & BRING ABOARD WATER & WINE
- BRING SUNSCREEN
- BRING MAGNETIC DOOR DECORATIONS
- BRING LANYARDS
Here’s more detail on what we learned through my research prior to taking our Disney Cruise that was super helpful.
7 Disney Cruise Tips for First Time Cruisers
Book an itinerary that includes Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island.
With clear turquoise waters, soft sandy beaches and the service that Disney is known for, it is the highlight of ports available. If you are a Star Wars fan, be sure to consider the itinerary with the Star Wars Day at Sea.
Bring two swimsuits
You will want or need to get back into a swimsuit before the first is dry. Even if you don’t want to get into the crowded pools, you will want to try the Aqua Duck and enjoy the beach at Castaway Cay.
Bring water and wine
Stop to buy and then check a case of water with your luggage, and bring on up to two bottles of wine or a six pack of beer per adult in your carry on.
Bring costumes for Pirate Night
Pirate Night is fun. Bring costumes for the entire family.
Bring plenty of sunscreen
While shampoos and soaps are provided, you will also need lots of sunscreen.
Bring magnetic door decorations
Door decorations are a thing. While we didn’t go all out to do any of the crazy reciprocal decorating we did bring a handful of Star Wars magnets so our door would be easily recognizable.
Book dining times, character meets and special activities in advance
Book character meets and other special activities such as Jedi Training on in advance. But if something is sold out go to Guest Services upon arrival and see if they can help you get in. No guarantee, but we were able to get our kids into Jedi Training, which was a highlight of the cruise.
If you are a first time Disney Cruiser bring lanyards. While they provide veteran cruisers with special lanyards as a first timer you won’t receive one. These are helpful in carrying the one thing you really need, your key to the world.
5 More Tips to Make the Most of your Disney Cruise
While the above Disney Cruise tips we figured out with research in advance here are five additional Disney Cruise tips that we didn’t figure out until we had made our plans, and were even aboard the Disney Fantasy.
Book your flight in to arrive the night before embarkation
Book your flight in the night prior to eliminate worries about delayed flights. If you do have to fly in that day purchase travel insurance and book a private shuttle. We did both. Because we were concerned about making the cruise and our return flight we booked the #1 rated private shuttle company on TripAdvisor, TUXEDO. They were fantastic and really not much more cost than other means of transportation. They kept on top of flight delays and were waiting for us. They also had TV in the van and introduced our five-year-old to America’s Funniest Home Videos which he found hilarious. This also enabled us to make a stop for a case of water, wine and sunscreen once on the ground in Orlando.
Bring costumes for Pirate Night
Bring costumes for the whole family for Pirate Night. It is a really fun night and everyone gets into it. We had purchased costumes for the kids and then the night before we departed I borrowed costumes for my husband and I from neighbors who had previously taken a Disney Cruise. I am so glad we did!
Plan on attending all of the Disney shows
The Disney productions are incredible. Don’t miss any of the original shows! At the welcome show we spent a bit of money on drinks and popcorn. But then we figured out how to have the perk of food and beverages without much additional cost. If you purchase the souvenir popcorn at the first show you can bring back your bucket to the other shows and get a refill for just a couple of dollars. We would also stop at the pool deck on our way and get a lemonade for the kids to bring. Some evenings we would fill a coffee cup with the wine that we brought on board in our carry ons. Disney allows adults to bring aboard two bottles of wine.
Work around assigned dining times
Don’t feel like you have to go to all of your assigned dining rotations, especially if something else works better with your child’s schedule. We had a hard time with the late seating for dinner and only discovered how wonderful Cabana’s is for dinner towards the end of our cruise. We would have eaten there more on our own schedule had we realized it earlier.
But make it to Animator’s Palate!
Do make the seating at Animator’s Palate. It is a fun and interactive experience. Read more about it and other Disney Cruise Dining Tips.
What else to know about a Disney Cruise
Disney Cruise does service like no one else. Our last day on the ship, after visiting the self serve ice cream station for umpteenth time, our daughter informed us that she was really going to miss being called princess. Our son asks almost every day when we can go on another Disney Cruise. When we ask him why he wavers between answering “donuts for breakfast every day” and “seeing the genie from Disney’s Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular”. Our family feels grateful to have been able to check this off of our bucket list.