Here are some tried and true tips to make your cruise more magical!

Embarkation Tips

The port officially opens around 10 AM.  If you are planning on trying for an upgrade, get there no later than 9:30 am.

Boarding begins around noon

If you are staying at a Disney resort, and you are taking Cruise transfers, then make sure to check in with the cruise desk the day before you depart.  You should have your luggage ready by 8 AM for pick up, even if you aren’t leaving yet!

When you arrive at port, you’ll go through a luggage screening much like at the airport, only liquids ARE allowed (including alcohol…isn’t Disney grand?)

When you check in, have your online check in paperwork ready along with passport (or birth certificate and photo id) for every member of your party.  You will receive boarding cards for each person, which serves as a stateroom key and charging card (for those you authorize).  On your key, you will also see your dining assignment, and it will read something like this: APLAPL (Animator’s Palate, Parrot Cay, Lumiere’s) or PTAPTA (Parrot Cay, Triton’s, Animator’s Palate)  That is your dining order depending on what ship you are on.  There is no way to get your dining assignment ahead of time, so don’t bother calling and trying.

When you get onboard (as long as you are boarding before 1:30), try to avoid the buffet.  They try to direct you there…say politely but firmly that you’d like to wait for Parrot Cay or Enchanted Garden.  You won’t have to wait long and you’ll be able to sit down with your carry on luggage instead of trying to navigate the buffet while balancing your bags.

If you have to change Palo or Remy reservations or Spa treatments, do so now. 

The pools are usually the emptiest you will see them on embarkation day.

Sailaway party is fun, but crowded…if you want a good spot, get there early!

Muster (or Safety Drill) is mandatory and doesn’t take long.  You do not have to bring your life jacket.

Your stateroom will be ready around 1 PM.  Your luggage will be delivered by around 5 PM.

Stateroom Tips

Lift up your mattress and store your empty suitcases.

During your vacation, put dirty clothes in the suitcases under your bed

Bring a shoe hanger or the like to hold things like sunscreen, toiletries, and other things…it is very handy to have

There is a hook between the bathroom and the room…handy to hang lanyards with stateroom keys so you don’t set them down and lose them

The blue hardbound book on the deks contains the room service menu

You can call for a wake up call

It gets very dark in the staterooms, especially in interior cabins.  Bring a travel clock that is illuminated, the clocks in the cabins are cool looking but hard to see and impossible to see in the dark.

Disney Cruise Line shampoo and conditioner is awesome…spa quality.  You can buy more in the onboard shops

Decorate your cabin door but only with magnets, no tape

Fish Extenders are hanging items (like shoe hangers but cuter) that hang from the Fish clips by your stateroom door…they are fun for families or friends to give each other notes or gifts

You can put a white board with a magnet on your door so your family or friends can leave you notes…our stateroom attendant liked writing on ours.

If you have a balcony, watch leaving food out there…birds will find it

Bring a power strip if you have a lot of pluggable items

There is a hairdryer but it is weak…you CAN request a more powerful one from your stateroom attendant

Future Cruise BookingTips

Be sure to book onboard for benefits only available onboard

Make sure to give the DCL rep your travel agent’s name. If you forget, don’t worry, you can transfer it to your agent when you get home but it is better to do it upfront!

You will receive a discount and Onboard credit on a future cruise for most cruises.  If you aren’t positive when you want to sail, make up a date a year ahead…you can always transfer it…just lock in that discount and OBC!

Book early on, because towards the end, there will be long waits at the desk.

Palo Tips

Palo, Palo, Palo.  Just do it.

Some people think it matters where you sit at Palo…it is nice to sit by the window, but at night, you can’t see the ocean anyway.

At Palo dinner, the Gorganzola Filet is to die for.

To call the Pizza, Pizza is really an understatement…it is really an Italian culinary flatbread delight.

The Chocolate Souffle is a requirement.  Again, Just do it.

There is an item on the menu called Shrimp Salad.  It is NOT a Salad…it is a delicious whole shrimp appetizer, and I recommend it highly.

You SHOULD tip your Palo server above and beyond your other tips for the cruise.

For Palo Brunch, there is a cold buffet, and a hot made to order menu.  Do both!

There is also a high tea…another enjoyable experience.

Please note…the Brunch is available on 4 day cruises or longer, and the High Tea usually only on 7 days or longer.

Laundry Tips

Dryers will probably require two cycles

Do laundry on port days or very early on sea days.  Later on Sea days is VERY difficult to do laundry, it will be extremely busy

Pressing is only half price of cleaning.  On the day you embark, send out items to be pressed…you’ll get them back the next day in lovely condition for the rest of the cruise!

Bring little packets of laundry detergent with you

Last Night & DebarkationTips

Your last Evening, give out tips (if you prepaid them, you will have received gratuity slips and envelopes already)

Make sure your luggage is out for pick up before you leave for dinner, and keep valuables to carry off the ship, as well as clothing for the next day (this is important…as people have been seen shoeless and in jammies the next morning!) You will place the luggage tags given to you by your room steward on your bags, and place your luggage outside your door.

Breakfast will be offered at the same dining venue as your last evening; your server will let you know what time.

Once you leave for breakfast in the morning you will be out of your cabin…you will take all of your carryons with you to breakfast and be unable to enter your cabin again.

Everyone is off ship by 9:30 AM or so.

Upon debarking, look for your luggage tag color.  There will be porters everywhere willing to help, for tips.

Bye Bye, Mickey!  Till next time!

General Disney CruisingTips

Navigators:  The single most important tip:  Make sure every night you study the Navigator for the next day!  It has a ton of information for ports, times, events, shows, characters, parties, ect.

Bring an Item, like pillowcase, photo matte, tshirt, in a large Ziploc with sharpies and non melting candy.  On your first evening, bring it to guest services and request that it be signed by characters…the candy is for the characters as a thank you!  The items will be delivered to your stateroom on your last evening.  What a GREAT souvenir!

Make sure not to miss the fireworks on Pirate Night, even if you aren’t into Pirate Night.  Disney is the only Cruise line authorized to have fireworks at sea! Some voyages don't have this.

If you are there around Christmas, decorate!  You can hang Christmas lights around your porthole if you have an oceanview…or order a small tree. 

Buy Pirate supplies ahead of time and bring them with you…they are mighty pricey onboard

If you have a Disney Visa, put onboard credit on your stateroom…not only will you be pre paying things, but you’ll also be earning more Disney Reward money!  Make sure you do this a couple of months in advance so it has time to cycle.

Plan to get family photos done…there are no sitting fees!

The infirmary is on Deck 1

 DCL Dooney & Bourke Items are available

The shops have items specific to the DCL ports (example…if you are in the Mediterranean, there are Med items)

There are DCL Scrapbooking items available

Lots of Christmas Items are available including many ornaments

Get there early for shows

First run Disney movies are shown onboard

Kid Tips

You can pre register the kids for the kids clubs online before you board

At port, if the line isn’t long you can check in officially for the kid's clubs.  If it is long, skip it and do it on deck five later that day

The first night, let the kids check the clubs out

For Tweens, you have to make the decision to let them check themselves in and out or not. You can request they page you on your Wave phone if they check out.

Kids must be 3 and fully potty trained or they have to go to nursery.  FULLY potty trained means they have to need no help with wiping or anything else.

The last day, they’ll have a goodbye program, where they’ll get tshirts.

Make sure the little ones do Snow White’s Do Si Do, it is adorable.

Older kids love to make Flubber.

If you want to see Captain Jack or the Princesses, especially Anna & Elsa, make sure you get in line early, they’ll be a demand.

You CAN leave the kids onboard while you go to port, just let them know you’ll be off ship

Adult Activity Tips

Spa:  Rainforest passes are cheap and it is very enjoyable

My favorite spa treatment is Alone Time…heavenly.

Check the Navigator for Spa Specials…sometimes they offer sampler packages, some of them include Rainforest time with champagne

Check the Navigator for things like Martini Tastings (small charge).  Such fun!

Bingo is offered just about daily…the first day is the least crowded.

Go to the DVC presentation if only for a chance to win onboard credit

The art auction can be a lot of fun just to watch

If you ever see a 70’s or 80’s party advertised, go!  Good music and staff in funky outfits.

Diversions is a great place for chess and other games, and is usually fairly quiet except during presentations or group games

Deck 4 has really comfy deck chairs

Internet can be spotty.  Don’t be shy…if it doesn’t work and eats up minutes you bought not working…complain.

Dining Tips

If you drove, bring your own case of water onboard in a piece of luggage (carry on)

If you drink Pepsi, bring some; DCL is a Coke Provider.

Bring refillable bottles for the soda stations instead of using the small cups there

Try lunch at a sit down restaurant at least once, as well as breakfast.

For room service, order the All Hands On Deck cheese platter…yum! 

Please note, soda isn’t free on room service menus or at the bars.

Try the food at Goofy’s Galley; the Brie & Bacon sandwich when available is really delicious, and there are healthy choices available.

In each dining room, you will have the same table number

Parrot Cay has an Island Theme

Animator’s Palate is a Stage restaurant with a Performance flair

Tritons (Wonder) is based on the Little Mermaid

Lumiere’s (Magic) is based on Beauty & The Beast

If you have tweens, let them go get some food by themselves at Plutos or the like…they’ll feel super cool.

Castaway Cay Tips

Get off the Ship as soon as possible and get a good spot on the Family Beach…clear water for snorkeling early in the morning

Sometimes Bahama Mamas are 2 for 1

Buy Castaway Cay postcards at Mickey’s Mates onboard and fill them out in advance…mail them from Castaway Cay Post Office

Try to Eat right when Cookie’s BBQ opens, usually right at 11:30 AM

Go to the food line at the far right at the BBQ

Floats by midday are usually abandoned and “free”J

Bring your own sand toys and snorkel gear and save a ton of money, although the Castway Cay sand toys are pretty cute

Servers will walk by and offer to sell small coolers with water, soda, or a mix…not a bad buy and a nice way to stay hydrated without walking up to Cookie’s constantly.  The cooler makes a nice souvenir.

My favorite way to spend a day at Castaway Cay:  get off the ship asap; go to the family beach and get a nice spot and snorkel in clear water.  Play and hang out when it is not crowded, and eat right when the BBQ opens.  Then when it is nice and crowdedJ take the kids to the club and head over to the adult beach for some quiet afternoon beach time!