Disney World Disney Cruise Line Tips
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We've become hooked on the Disney cruises, and subsequently, we always book our next cruise while on the current cruise. We get a 10 percent booking discount (discount not valid for concierge room/suite), a shipboard credit and the comfort of knowing that next year's vacation is confirmed. It makes the ending of the first vacation less difficult, knowing that you're coming back for sure. And then, while on the ship, we buy albums, post-its, note pads, pens, etc., because we don't pay any tax on the ship. I also buy my new 16-month Disney calendar, and start filling in important dates, such as the newly planned trip, Advanced Dining Reservation call times, Castaway Club Member booking dates, and whatever else I may need. For us, Disney is our "home away from home." - Jackie Psarianos
EDITOR'S NOTE: If you normally book with a travel agent, just tell the cruise reservation specialist to transfer the reservation to them! Or once you get home, call your travel planner and request to have the booking moved. DCL only allows 30 days for you to transfer.
A lot of people do not realize that once you unpack [on the Disney Cruise] you can actually store your empty suitcases and other luggage. The Disney Dream and Fantasy have storage space under the bed. If you are on the other ships, you may be able to ask your cabin steward to store your luggage for you. This is not guaranteed, but it never hurts to ask!
-- If you have your own transportation, get to the port early, as early as 10:30 or 11 a.m. The line to register the kids for the Oceaneer's Club activities can get quite long and they begin boarding the ship right about noon. If you're in the first few groups, you can go directly to Cabana's and have a leisurely lunch while you wait for your room to be ready.
-- You have two options for parking at the port: in the garage ($90) or on a surface lot ($110). We chose the surface lot because we were told the lines to get out of the parking garage can get pretty crazy. We walked off the ship, over to the car and were on our way with no wait at all. Well worth the extra $20 if you're in any hurry (and we were since we wanted to go to WDW for the day). Got to WDW right at 9 a.m. for park opening.
-- Read the directions to use the Wave phones. We didn't, and couldn't figure out why they weren't working! You must dial a 41 first if you're going phone to room or room to phone. Phone to phone, just dial the phone number. Wave phones work on Castaway Cay.
-- It is futile to try and limit soda and ice cream for the kids. Just explain to them that the cruise is special and regular rules apply once back on land.
-- It's hard to find 12 seats together at the buffets. Stick to the table service dining when possible.
-- Take an iPod with soft music or white noise. It is VERY quiet at night (except for kids [not ours!] running down the hallways).
-- We stored lots of "junk" in the coffee table. The top opens and there's lots of room for things you don't need, but don't want to lose. Just don't forget to empty it when you pack the last night.
-- Try to schedule a short nap (or at least an hour of relaxing time) each day if you plan on any of the late-night adult activities. Morning comes very early on the ship and you don't want to be dragging all the rest of the day.
-- Remy is awesome, but only worth the $75 up-charge if you truly enjoy food and food preparation as an "art," and understand that this is an "experience" and not just another great meal.
-- The second family beach (near Pelican Plunge) on Castaway Cay is much less crowded than the one near Scuttle's Cove.
-- Cookie's BBQ on the island is outstanding! Get off the ship if for no other reason than to have lunch, and don't pass up the ribs!
-- Bring a couple bottles of pump/foam soap for the bathrooms. It's much less messy than those little bars of soap.
-- Be sure to keep your smart phone on airplane mode (except when using it to access WiFi is you purchase a package). Otherwise, texts, "push" messages and e-mails may come through at international data rates.
-- Lost Key to the World cards are not a problem; just get a replacement from Guest Services. You WILL need your Key to the World cards to debark on the last day, so don't pack it in your luggage.
-- Bed rails are available. Think about doing without a porta-crib. It makes your room much less crowded to just use the bottom bunk with a rail for a little one if at all possible.
-- Don't forget that Disney will let you bring aboard wine in your carry on luggage (NOT in your checked luggage!). You cannot carry an opened bottle around the ship. If you take an unopened bottle to dinner, there might be a corkage fee.
-- If characters are scheduled to appear twice during a day (around 4:30 and 7:15 usually), go to the earlier appearances and get there a bit early. The lines are MUCH shorter than the evening appearances.
-- Don't wait until the last night to go to Shutters (for your photos). It's a zoo! Same advice for any souvenir shopping. The stores are really crowded on the last night, so shop earlier in your cruise.
-- If your gratuities are not pre-paid, go to Guest Services the second or third night of the cruise to take care of it. If you wait until the last day, you will have a much longer wait in line.
1. Use the luggage tags in your cruise booklets! We didn't, and getting our luggage was a bit of a problem. It took the Disney Magical Express baggage handlers longer to get our luggage, which in turn took the hotel longer to deliver our bags. We arrived to the hotel around 12:30 p.m. EST and our bags didn't get to our room until approximately 4:30 p.m.!
2. If you or your kids want to get pictures with the characters, read your Navigator (which you receive every day) to find out the times. Since the characters are only out for 20 minutes at a time, time is of the essence. Once you know what time they are arriving, head to the atrium on Deck 3 at least 10-15 minutes early. Once kids start to see the characters, lines get really long. Disney Cast Members will have a cut-off and you might not get in. - Sean Mc.