I did a lot of research before my first Disney cruise so I knew some of these going in, but there were some that were a complete surprise to me (especially #2 and #1). If you’ve booked your first Disney Cruise and are looking for some tips, this list should help!
10. The first day of your cruise, drop off a pillowcase, photo mat, plate, tote bag, or whatever you’d like signed, along with some colored sharpies, to Guest Services. It helps if you can fit it in a ziploc bag. It will be signed by all of the characters and returned to you the last night of your cruise. Just like that, you have a unique souvenir that didn’t cost you anything extra, and you didn’t have to stand in line to get autographs.
DIStracted tip: It’s not required, but it’s a nice gesture to include some candy in the bag with your sharpies and item to be signed. The cast members really appreciate it.
9. If you weren’t able to score a reservation for Palo or Remy online, head to Guest Services as soon as you board – sometimes there are reservations available for onboard booking.
8. If you think you want to go on another cruise, stop by the future bookings desk. If you book your next cruise onboard, you will get a reduced fare and also an onboard credit for the next cruise.
DIStracted tip: If you don’t know what dates you’d like to sail yet, there is an option to book a “placeholder” cruise. For a $200 deposit you will have an open-ended reservation. You will have two years to turn it into a “real” reservation, and you also get the credit for booking onboard.
DIStracted tip: If you already have a reservation for another cruise, stop by the desk anyway – sometimes you can rebook a future cruise for a discount too!
7. If you’re interested in spa treatments, check your personal navigator* each night for the next day’s specials. You can often book something last-minute at a reduced rate.
* A personal navigator is a handy little newsletter-type document that details all of the ships activities for the day. It also includes information such as the sunrise, sunset, and temperature, as well as character photo and meet-and-greet locations and times. You can also find movie schedules, kids’ club activity schedules, spa hours and specials, and restaurant information. You will receive your first navigator when you check in at the port, and then your cabin host will leave the following day’s navigator in your cabin each night.
6. If you want some amazing character professional photographs, pre-buy a photo package. There are several configurations available, but the one that our family finds to be the most cost-effective is the package that includes the disk as well as all of the prints. Opportunities for character photographs are abundant, so take advantage! Go to mycruisephotos.com to see the package choices and to purchase one.
Distracted tip: For Anna and Elsa and princess pictures, be sure to stop by Guest Services as soon as you board the ship. Tickets with assigned times are given out for these meet and greets, and once they are gone you’re out of luck. We were able to get tickets for the princesses, and we saw Tiana, Snow White, and Belle. We got pictures with each of them individually, and it only took about 10 minutes. We also got tickets for Anna and Elsa, and they meet together. All pictures were of us with the two of them.
DIStracted tip: For character photos, check your personal navigator for locations and times. If you can, be there about 10 minutes early to ensure that you get in line and the photos you want. The lines can be long, and there is a limit to how many people can be seen in the time allotted.
DIStracted tip: In addition to the character photo opportunities, each night in the atrium, there are two or three professional photography “stations,” each with a different background. You can visit each station, each night, and each one more than once each night if you choose. Have fun with it!
5. Bring pirate wear for Pirate Night. You won’t regret it.
DIStracted tip: We happened to stay onboard the day of Pirate Night, and we stumbled upon Pirate Donald, Pirate Goofy, Pirate Daisy, Pirate Mickey, and Pirate Minnie all in the atrium at the same time. We were able to get individual pictures with each of them in a very short amount of time. Check your personal navigator for time and location.
4. If cruising with kids, take advantage of the clubs available to them. They will have a blast, and it is quite amazing to be able to have a “date” with your spouse while on vacation with your kids. We like to sit on deck and watch the sunset before dinner or spend some time at the adults-only pool.
3. Even though they aren’t on the menu, you can order Mickey bars for dessert in any of the restaurants – and even from room service. (Don’t forget to tip your room service server!)
2. Pack less clothing. I read this while planning, and truthfully, I thought it was nuts. Trust me when I say that it turns out to be very true. Make sure you have your pirate gear, bathing suits (and coverups and flip flops), and formalwear – then bring as little as possible after that. You’ll wear fewer outfits and change less often than you think.
DIStracted tip: In case you find yourself without enough clothes, there are laundry rooms available on the ship. Just bring your room key along with your dirty clothes. The cost will be charged to your room, and you can even buy laundry detergent there. Also, there is an iron and ironing board set up in the laundry room if you need one.
1. You’re not going to want to get off the ship. There is so much to do and so much to see that you will think, “That wasn’t enough time!”
Good thing you stopped by the future bookings desk, right?