We had the best time on our first Disney cruise. We learned so many awesome Disney cruise tips that I wish we would’ve known before we went on the cruise! This list of 159 Disney cruise tips has everything you need to know to have the best vacation ever!
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Now that we’ve been home for a month since our magical Disney cruise honeymoon, I started thinking about everything I learned.
I did so much research before the cruise because I wanted us to have the best time ever! Now, I want you and your family to have the best time ever on your next Disney cruise! So, here are 159 of the best Disney cruise tips that we actually used and learned from our honeymoon cruise.
159 Disney Cruise Tips I Wish I Would’ve Known Before Our Cruise!
1. This might be my most important tip: Disney cruises aren’t just for kids! My husband and I went for our honeymoon and every bit was of the cruise was absolutely fantastic!
2. Do your research to find a travel agent that will give you an onboard credit, or book your cruise through Costco (if you’re a member) because they will give you a Costco cash card based on the value of your cruise.
3. Disney offers cruise discounts to FL residents and Military on the DCL website. I haven’t seen any other sales offered. Usually, the lowest rates are the ones listed on the day the dates are released.
4. Disney cruises are all inclusive, unlike other cruise lines.
5. I know there are 3-4 night cruises available but it’s just not enough time to explore everything on the ship and fully relax into vacation mode. Save for the week long cruise next year instead! I wish we could’ve stayed on the ship longer than one week!
6. When choosing a stateroom, I would recommend booking mid-ship on a higher deck if you’re worried about getting sea sick. I’m prone to car sickness so I was worried that I would get seasick but I ended up having no issues. We barely felt any movement in our stateroom #8552, we only felt a little bit of swaying when we were at dinner on Deck 2.
7. You can book a free character call with Mickey, Minnie, or Goofy before your trip through the Disney Cruise Line website.
8. Join a FaceBook Disney Cruise group before your cruise to ask questions and learn tips from experienced cruisers!
9. You can load Disney gift cards onto your KTTWC card to use before the cruise. Call Disney and they can set it up for you.
10. You can now book the alcohol tastings online. You used to have to wait until you boarded the ship!
11. When you’re deciding what port excursions to book, google them to see reviews from other cruisers to help you decide which excursions are the best.
12. Booking a port excursion through Disney is generally more expensive than booking directly with the excursion company but you get the benefit Disney handling everything for you.
13. Book your excursions, ship activities, and Palo/Remy reservations as soon as your window opens up. For first time cruisers, the window opens 75 days prior to your cruise.
14. Let Disney know if you’ll be celebrating a birthday or special event. We celebrated our honeymoon and they sang us the happy honeymoon song at dinner and gave us buttons and a special dessert!
15. Pick the earliest boarding time available so you can get on the ship as early as possible and start your vacation!
16. Order travel insurance just in case. We ordered insurance directly through Disney because we didn’t want to have any issues or delays in case we had an emergency.
17. Don’t fly in on the same day that you’re supposed to board in case you get delayed. I’ve heard multiple horror stories of families flying into port the day of the cruise, getting delayed, and then the ship leaves without them. What a way to start your magical vacation!
18. Cruising is not like flying, there is no limit to the number of carry-on bags you can bring. If you can carry it, you can bring it on.
19. Trust me, a verandah room is WORTH the splurge! You’ll love it, I promise.
20. If you’re like me, you might have some unrealistic fears of sleep walking right off the verandah. The verandah door is very hard to open, so there is no need to worry! The lock is located at the top of the door where kids can’t reach it and then you have to lift the handle up and push the heavy door open. It definitely took me a few tries to get it to open. In case you were wondering, I did not try to sleep walk out of our room!
21. Get my personal packing list of 35 essentials that you NEED for your next Disney Cruise!
23. We ordered a spinning closet organizer but it didn’t arrive in time so we had to go without it. It would’ve been so helpful to have it hanging in the closet to organize all of our small toiletries, medicines, and electronic accessories. At least I have it for our next cruise!
24. Pack a box of gallon-sized ziplock bags, they really come in handy for organizing and packing wet swimsuits.
25. Pack a light sweater. Even during the summer, it gets pretty windy at night on the top deck.
26. You can bring two bottles of wine or one 6-pack of beer per person on the cruise.
27. Assume that someone in your group will catch a cold and pack what you think you might need to feel better. There’s nothing worse than being sick, away from home, and not being able to get the medicine you need to make you feel better.
29. Clothes pins are very useful for hanging bathing suits on the clothesline in the shower.
30. Bring a clean empty trash bag for each person to put their dirty clothes in. When you get home, it’s much easier to just wash everything in the bag.
31. There are very few irons on board and you can’t bring your own, so a travel bottle of wrinkle releaser spray will be very useful.
32. You can get free water onboard the ship at the drink stations by the main pool or you can buy a case of water bottles when you board.
34. Bring a large reusable shopping bag for shopping at each port.
35. Pack extra memory cards in case you need more space for pictures or videos!
36. Bring extra $1’s and $5’s for tips.
37. The doors in your stateroom are metal, so bring magnetic clips to keep important papers organized and out of the way. We hung our Personal Navigator and reservation cards on the door each night.
38. Bring a highlighter to mark which activities that you want to do the next day on your Personal Navigator. If you have kids, bring multiple colors so everyone can easily see what activities they want to do at a glance.
39. Each stateroom has a really nice hair dryer with attachable diffuser, you don’t need to bring your own.
40. Staterooms on the Fantasy and Dream have mini refrigerators underneath the counter.
41. Bring magnets to decorate your stateroom door. It’s tradition for many people to decorate your door + it’s an easy way to help you identify your stateroom door as you walk down the very long hallways.
42. If you’re a first time Disney cruiser, bring a lanyard with a plastic case attached to hold your KTTWC. You’ll be gifted a DCL lanyard on your second Disney Cruise.
43. Bring a beach bag! This is the one thing that I forgot to pack for our cruise that I really needed for Castaway Cay and pool days.
44. Pack an extra swimsuit, it’s not fun trying to pull on a wet suit!
45. You don’t need to pack towels for the cruise, there are plenty of towels by the pool that you can use. Save the space in your suitcase for souvenirs!
46. I packed purses to match my outfits but I ended up wearing my small Disney backpack every day because it was so convenient to carry my water bottle, camera, wallet, etc.
47. Leave the heels at home! If the ship sways at all it will be even easier for you trip. Pack an extra pair of comfy flip flops instead.
48. Bring an old GC to keep in the power slot in your state room while you’re in your stateroom. Even better, stick a small piece of magnetic tape on the back at the top of the card so it will stick to the wall when you’re not using it.
49. Passports aren’t required for US travelers going on Eastern & Western Caribbean cruises but I would recommend getting them just in case of emergency!
50. Download the Disney Cruise App before getting on the ship. It’s free and so useful! You can access the Personal Navigator and communicate with the other guests in your group.
51. Parking for one week at the Disney cruise terminal garage costs $128.
52. The only pressed penny machine is in the boarding cruise terminal, you won’t be able to access it when you get off the ship.
53. While boarding the ship, keep your photo ID, passport, and signed cruise papers handy. You will need them multiple times before you can board the ship. I used one of these RIFD zippered pouches to hold all of our personal documents.
54. Have your video or phone ready because they announce your family’s last name when you walk onboard for the first time. It’s a fun memory to look back on.
55. In your carry on bag: pack a bathing suit, a change of clothes, any medication you might need, personal documents, electronics (camera, GoPro), and any valuables you might have. The suitcases that you check will be left unattended outside of your stateroom later that night.
56. As soon as you board the ship, go get lunch at Cabanas, hit the Aquaduck (it usually has short lines at this time), and get ready for the Sail Away Party on Deck 11.
57. The safety drill on the first night is MANDATORY. You have to check into the meeting with your room number and they will wait until everyone shows up, so don’t waste everyone’s time by not showing up on time. Your assigned letter (A-Z) location will be listed on your KTTWC.
58. Be aware that the cruise itinerary can change at any moment. Our ports were changed last minute due to a delay on the first day of the cruise so our excursions were changed too. Another benefit of booking excursions through Disney is that if your ports get changed, they will automatically handle canceling and scheduling new excursions for you.
59. Explore the whole ship, every inch is gorgeous!
60. Once you board the ship, turn on airplane mode in all of your phones so you won’t be charged for roaming fees.
61. You get 50 megabytes of free internet but you have to redeem it on the first night of your cruise.
62. After you use the free 50 megabytes there is an internet at sea option but it’s expensive.
63. You can tell what side of the ship your stateroom is on based on the symbol next to your room number. If you have a FISH symbol, which is four letters just like PORT is four letters, then you’re on the port side. If you have a SEAHORSE symbol, then you’re on the STARBOARD side.
64. There are nautical maps on the floor, if you stand in the center of the map it will direct you which direction is Forward and Aft.
65. Your suitcases will fit underneath your bed, so unpack as soon as you get in your room and get the suitcases out of your way.
66. There is a safe in each stateroom. The safe is big enough to fit a 15-inch laptop. Make sure to lock up your valuables just in case.
67. You can watch any Disney movie on demand on the TV in your stateroom. We watched a movie every night before bed, it was great!
68. You can track the course your cruise ship is taking on the TV in your stateroom.
69. There are wave phones in your stateroom for you to use while on the cruise. Just don’t get them wet!
70. Every night, your stateroom host will leave a Personal Navigator (schedule for the next day) in your room for you to review and plan for the next day.
71. You can find extra personal navigators and ship maps at the guest services desk on Deck 4.
72. Room service is free, just remember to tip! We loved ordering coffee, water, and fruit for breakfast every morning and warm chocolate chip cookies and Mickey bars for a snack at night.
73. Soda, coffee, and water are all free on a Disney cruise!
74. You can tip in cash on the cruise but everything you purchase will be charged directly to your KTTWC.
75. Your name, MDR dining rotation schedule, room number, and table number will be listed on your KTTWC (key to the world card).
76. You can call ahead and request your MDR dinner rotation but it’s not guaranteed. This only matters if you have a favorite MDR restaurant because you will go to one MDR restaurant three times and twice to the other two MDR restaurants. You might want to request your favorite MDR restaurant be in your rotation three times.
77. The MDR and specialty restaurants will easily accommodate vegetarian or vegan diets. I ate vegetarian meals the entire trip (you can see everything we ate HERE) and each dish was unique and delicious!
78. You can order as much food as you want at each restaurant. If you can’t decide between two desserts, you can order both! Just try not to waste food, please.
79. On Animation Night at Animator’s Palate, you will get your drawing back after the magical animation!
80. Make friends with your dinner table mates, you’ll be sitting with them every night of the cruise!
81. You can ask for recipes at the MDR restaurants. I got the recipe for my favorite Snow White’s Mushroom Soup and the recipe for glazed portobello mushrooms!
82. The 1st dinner seating is at 6:30 pm and the 2nd dinner seating is at 8:15 pm. We prefer the second seating because it gave us more time to enjoy activities during the day and we didn’t have to rush back to our room to get ready.
83. If you love a specific meal that you had at one of the MDR restaurants, you can request it the next night too. Just let your server know the night before and they will try to accommodate your request.
84. Make sure you walk all the way around the Royal Court MDR restaurant, there are beautiful princess mosaics on each wall!
85. I highly recommend going to brunch AND dinner at Palo, both are FANTASTIC!
86. Palo brunch and Palo dinner both cost an additional $30 per person.
87. Palo strictly enforces the dress code, so make sure to follow it or they will ask you to go back to your room and change. We know better now!
88. I recommend making a reservation for Palo brunch on a day at sea so you don’t have to miss any port day adventures. Make the reservation as soon as your window opens up, Palo brunch reservations on sea days are hard to get!
89. On port days, ask the cast members where to find free wifi spots. They will know the best secret spots!
90. Formal night is on the second night of the cruise. Before dinner, there will be photo opps and you can greet the captain. Free drinks are served during this meet and greet.
91. Formal night isn’t that formal. Of course, if you want to dress up then go for it! I wore a comfy sundress with flats and I was just dressy enough.
92. The alcohol tasting events cost an additional $20-$35 per person but they’re worth it for the number of drinks that you get to try during the class!
93. If drinking tasting events are sold out, show up anyway and ask if they can accommodate you. We did this twice and they squeezed us in both times!
94. There is a new $5 Drink of the Day special every day of the cruise. Our favorite was the Sunken Treasure.
95. There are early morning drink specials at the adult pool before noon. Bloody mary’s, screwdrivers, and mimosas are only $4.25!
96. There are two adults-only pool areas, make sure you check out both! We didn’t find Satellite Falls until the middle of the cruise, it’s kind of tucked away at the bow of the ship.
97. Disney photographers won’t use your camera to take pictures of you with the special photo backdrops, but you can ask people in line behind you to take a picture of you and then offer to take a picture of them. We met some new friends this way too!
98. Disney uses a reverse osmosis water filtration system (this was very important to me to find out because we don’t drink soda or juice) and it tastes crystal clear.
99. You don’t need to bring your own stroller, Disney has strollers on the ship that you can use. We don’t have any kids yet but we saw lots of families pushing the Disney strollers.
100. There are so many chances to meet your favorite Disney characters. You can see the schedule for character appearances on the Personal Navigator. You might also run into a few characters roaming the ship like we did!
101. If there is a new Disney movie being released while you’re on the cruise, there’s a good chance that they’ll play it on the cruise. We got to see the premiere of the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie while we were at sea!
102. Pack your own candy for the movie theater, the ship candy and popcorn isn’t free and it’s expensive.
103. There’s a pirate-themed buffet (see the video of the buffet HERE) after the fireworks on Pirate Night.
104. The best spot to watch the fireworks on Pirate Night is on deck 12, Starboard side right by the railing.
105. If you forget your costume for Pirate Night, there are kids costume for sale in the gift shop + you’ll receive a Mickey bandana for each person in your party in your stateroom on Pirate Night.
106. The horn on Disney cruise ships plays Disney songs! It’s so cool!
107. Don’t miss the Diaper Dash in the lobby atrium, it’s hilarious and everyone cheers on their favorite baby. We didn’t plan on going to the race until our table mates told us that their baby was going to race so we wanted to watch him. I’m so glad we went!
108. There’s a magical map onboard, make sure you look for it!
109. The health center has (off brand) free sea sickness medicine if you need it.
110. DCL serves (my favorite) free Joffrey’s coffee onboard.
111. If you’re dairy-free, they have almond milk that you can use AS a coffee creamer but they don’t have real almond, soy, or coconut coffee creamer.
112. You can buy affordable toiletries at the ship gift shop. We dropped a toothbrush on the bathroom floor in the middle of our trip so we obviously needed a new one for the rest of the cruise. I was expecting to have to shell out $20 bucks for a toothbrush at sea but I was happily surprised to find that it only cost $2.95!
113. Arrive early to Pin Night in the lobby atrium, the best pins go first!
114. The line for the Aquaduck is shortest in the early morning and late at night.
116. There are complimentary pastries in the adults-only Cove Cafe for you to enjoy with your coffee.
117. Plan to watch the sunrises and sunsets on the water, they are GORGEOUS! Don’t miss it!
118. You can order a corkscrew and wine glasses from room service to use for the wine you brought onboard with you. Or you can pack your own corkscrew.
119. There is a free ice cream machine on deck 11 by the pool!
120. Go to as many stage shows as possible, they’re all wonderful!
121. There are movies played at the Funnel Vision Theater every night on Deck 11. Grab an ice cream cone or hot cocoa and enjoy the show!
122. If you decide to do a craft class, go to the early morning class so you get first choice of supplies. I did a tile coaster class in the morning and I decided to go back for the afternoon class too but they were running out of the popular color tiles! Some people had to make their coasters with all brown tiles!
123. The Disney trivia games are fun and the questions are hard! Do you know what Donald Duck’s middle name is? I didn’t but I do now!
124. Don’t miss the adults-only Match Your Mate comedy show, it’s so much fun!
125. Skip the elevator and take the stairs! It will really help work off all the calories you’ll eat at dinner!
126. You can now get pineapple dole whips on board!
127. There is a super convenient hand washing station at the entrance of Cabanas. I loved this feature! I still caught a cold but I really appreciated the attention to cleanliness on the ship.
128. Unfortunately, Bingo isn’t free to play. The cheapest option we could find was $30 for four cards!
129. On Castaway Cay day, I recommend eating breakfast at Cabanas and then grab lunch at Cookie’s BBQ buffet (Read the restaurant review HERE) on the island! There’s no need to go back to the ship for lunch, lunch at Cookie’s BBQ is free and delicious!
131. Everyone who wants to snorkel in the Snorkeling Lagoon is required to wear a life jacket. The water is very deep!
132. At Castaway Cay in the snorkeling lagoon, the underwater Mickey and Minnie statues, the submarine, and fish castles are marked by big floating white buoys.
133. You can only buy Castaway Cay merchandise at the gift shop on the island, don’t miss it!
134. You can mail a post card from the Castaway Cay Post Office. Buy a postcard ($2) and stamp ($.65) onboard the ship the night before port day. It might take a little while to get delivered, our postcard took one month to make it to our house!
135. There is a free 5K race that you can run or walk on Castaway Cay. Everyone who finishes gets a medal! We would’ve done it if it wasn’t 100 degrees out.
136. The mojito tasting event is held at Head’s Up Bar on Castaway Cay.
137. You can arrange a private tasting for your party if you have enough people to attend.
138. The slides at Pelican Plunge on Castaway Cay are not just for kids! Don’t miss it!
139. There are plenty of beach chairs on Castaway Cay for everyone on the ship! According to a ship cast member, there are 2:1 beach chairs to people. However, there aren’t as many umbrellas.
So, if you want a shaded chair to sit in, you need to get off the ship early and claim your spot!
140. If you’re over 18 years old, make sure you visit Serenity Bay at Castaway Cay. The adults-only side of the island is GORGEOUS!
141. You don’t need to pack towels for Castaway Cay. They will hand you towels right after you walk off the ship at port. You return the towels at the same place before you get back on the ship.
142. DCL has Deet bug spray for you to use when you get off the ship at each port but if you prefer a natural spray you need to pack it. We use this organic bug spray.
143. The pools are pretty empty on port days.
144. When you get off the ship at port, take a picture of your passport info on your cell phone and lock your real passport in the safe in your stateroom. Don’t risk it getting stolen.
145. All of the gift shops on the ship are closed while the ship is in port.
146. If you travel to an Eastern or Western Caribbean port during the summer, there’s a good chance that it will be extremely hot. You need a fan necklace to cool yourself off! It’s the only reason that I didn’t sweat to death in Puerto Rico in the middle of May.
147. You can bring on more alcohol (two wine bottles or one 6-pack of beer per person) at each port.
148. You must order any DCL pictures that you want to buy from Shutters Photography by the last night of the cruise.
149. The Disney photo package is a little bit cheaper if you buy it before the cruise.
150. You don’t have to eat breakfast at your assigned MDR restaurant on the last morning, you can take your time and eat at Cabanas instead.
151. You can prepay your head server, server, assistant server, and stateroom host’s gratuities before your cruise so you don’t have to worry about it on the last day.
152. You will get envelopes on the last night of the cruise for you to put the gratuities in. If you feel that the service has been amazing (which it will be) then it’s customary to give an extra tip based on their service level.
153. On the last morning, you’ll get an itemized bill listing all the charges you made on the cruise.
154. You can book a placeholder for a future cruise for each person in your stateroom.
155. A placeholder is worth it because it’s no-risk and it counts as a reservation for a future cruise (you don’t have to pick the date yet) within the next two years + you get a 10% discount and onboard credit! If you decide not to go on a cruise in that time period then you get your deposit back. Fill out the form (the stack on the right side of the picture) and drop it into the box next to the stack of forms.
156. I highly recommend bringing some type of video camera to record all the special moments of your cruise. We brought a GoPro specifically for the cruise so we could take it zip lining and snorkeling with us. It’s a fantastic piece of equipment! You can watch all of our vacation videos HERE!
157. Something that nobody warned me about was the extreme withdrawals you’ll have after the cruise! Thank goodness I took so many pictures and videos to watch and enjoy once we were home. It’s the only thing that helped me to get out of my post magical vacation slump.
158. Once you get past the extreme withdrawals, it’s time to start planning your next Disney cruise! We’re looking at Halloween on the High Seas for our next cruise! Yes, Disney does holiday-themed cruises too. Is there anything they don’t do?
159. Most importantly, relax and enjoy every minute! It will be the best vacation of your life!!
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