You are booked on your first Disney Cruise! You know that it is going to be magical and wonderful. From Broadway-style musicals, special moments with Disney characters, themed deck parties, immersive activities for the kids and more, this is a vacation everyone will enjoy! Here are a few tips for a first-time Disney cruiser.
1 – Find your Facebook group
Joining a Facebook group for your cruise is a great way to “meet” others in advance. You can find out if there are others traveling with kids of similar ages, sign up for the fish extender (FE) gift exchange, join a mixology class, and have your questions answered by others in the group who have prior cruising experience. We have made some wonderful friends this way! Also, check out my article “Waiting for your Disney Cruise” to keep you busy while you wait for embarkation day to arrive!
2 – Lights in stateroom
When you are sailing on the Disney Fantasy or the Disney Dream, you will notice that the lights will not turn on until you put your Key to the World (KTTW) card in a slot just inside your stateroom door. Disney has done this as an energy conservation measure. It also reduces the air conditioning in the stateroom and turns off the TV if you happen to have left it on. If you don’t want to use your KTTW card, you can bring along an old hotel keycard or used gift card.
3 – No cash needed onboard
There is little need for cash onboard the ship. Any “extras,” such as gift shop purchases, spa services or alcoholic beverages, will be charged to your onboard account. I would recommend having some cash if you plan on ordering room service. The food is included in the cost of your cruise, but we usually tip the server in cash.
4 – Activities by age group
The Navigator (onboard newsletter) will show activities by age group. You will get a copy for each day during evening turndown the night before. Your stateroom host will leave one for you.
5 – Carpets in the hallways
Carpets in the hallways indicate what direction you are moving. If the map is right side up, you are headed FORWARD. If the map is upside down, you are headed AFT. Believe me, it’s easy to get “lost” when you are first navigating your way around the ship!
6 – Starboard vs Port
If you are never sure about starboard and port sides, here is how I remember. Looking forward, starboard is on the right and port is on the left. Port and left both have four letters. On the Fantasy and the Dream, outside of each stateroom, if there are seahorses on the wall, you are on the starboard side. If there are fish on the walls, you are on the port side.
7 – Gratuities
You can pay for your gratuities in advance for your stateroom host and dining room servers. For more information about tipping, check out my article “Tips for Tipping on a Disney Cruise“.
8 – Disney Cruise Line Navigator app
Prior to your cruise, be sure to download the Disney Cruise Line Navigator app to your cell phone. The app is something you will definitely use onboard the ship. The app details the daily activities and has a chat feature so you can keep in touch with your family and your new cruise buddies. But before you get onboard, the app offers a countdown so you know exactly how many days until you sail away.
DIStracted Tip: Using the onboard Wi-Fi for other activities such as downloading the Navigator app (if you haven’t done it in advance), email and surfing the internet, is subject to additional charges.
9 – Cell phone
Disney Cruise ships offer Cellular at Sea, an advanced onboard network that allows Guests using most wireless providers to use their cell phones. Prices vary depending upon your cellular provider and usually include international roaming charges. It is highly advised to check with your carrier for information about their cruise/vacation rate plans prior to your cruise. Or just unplug and relax! Use your cell phone for the DCL app and texting onboard but leave the rest of the outside world at home.
Bonus Tip! Relax and have fun
You are on a Disney Cruise. Find a lounge chair, perhaps a frosty beverage, relax and enjoy!