We finally did it! We went on our first Disney Cruise as a family and we LOVED every single minute of it! If you are planning on going on a Disney Cruise or are thinking of going one, here are some of my tips, tricks, and insights!
Backstory: We originally booked the cruise for my daughter’s birthday, but because of COVID, it got postponed and we finally went for Thanksgiving 2021. Coincidentally, the day of embarkation was my dad’s birthday, so it made for such a great trip and memory for all of us!
Make Embarkation Day Memorable- Since it was our first Disney cruise, we wanted to make it special so we wore our matching Mickey t-shirts. It was so much fun to match each other and made taking pictures extra special!
Buy the Pre-cruise Unlimited Photo Package– Speaking of photos, this package was worth every penny! You can definitely buy the unlimited package on the cruise too, but it was cheaper to get pre-cruise. Plus, it was like having a personal photographer everywhere we turned on the ship and on Castaway Cay! The photographers were so great to work with and did an amazing job uploading the photos quickly so we could view and download them from the app. You can also pick up a USB drive at the end of the cruise with all of your photos at Shutters! That was a great plus!
Decorate Your Stateroom Door– This is a really BIG deal for many Disney Cruisers! We saw so many families decorate their doors with cool magnets and even exchanged magnets with other families! Since it was my dad’s birthday, I bought a Mickey Birthday banner and hung it outside our door. It made our stateroom more festive and super easy for us to find our room.
Have the Ship to Yourself– One of the best ways to have the ship to yourself to take pictures or tour the ship without crowds is to do so on Castaway Cay day. Once the ship is docked, many families immediately and understandably head out to the beach. We stayed back to eat breakfast until 8:30 AM and then headed to Deck 11 to take pictures of the ship and the kids. It was so nice since it felt like we had the whole ship to ourselves! It was perfect!
Pack your Disney Apparel with You– From t-shirts to swimsuits to our daughter’s Disney Princess dresses, we packed them all! It was so fun to wear them on the ship and made taking pictures with all the characters and Princesses even more exciting!
Download the Navigator App Before the Cruise– This is definitely a must-have since everything you need for the duration of the cruise is on it including showtimes, menus, activities, and more!
Register and Sign Up for the Kids Club Before the Cruise– This was such a time-saver for us! You can do it directly on the Navigator App before the cruise and select the best times for your kids before they get booked up. If you register beforehand, your kids will get their wristbands for the Kids Club as soon as you check-in at the port on Embarkation Day. Also, you have to drop the kids off exactly at the time of your scheduled time due to limited spacing because of COVID.
Attend the SHOWS– This should go without saying, but DO go to the shows! It’s like having BROADWAY on the ship and it was one of our favorite things to do!
Dance with the Characters– We attended two Character Dance Parties and the Dance Parties after the firework shows and had so much fun!!! All the characters came out and the photographers were there to capture all the cute moments for us!
Get to Know Castaway Cay- There are three main areas on Castaway Cay. The first trolley stop is the family beach area. The second is the Pelican Plunge, which had the waterslides and snorkeling area along with the beach. The third is Serenity Bay for adults only.
- Bring a lanyard and card key holder for your room key. It makes keeping up with your room key easier!
- Life Vests are FREE to use on Castaway Cay! You can either bring your own snorkling gear or rent them, but the life vests are readily available for you to borrow on the beach! They were so handy when we went snorkling at Pelican Plunge! Also access to the snorkling areas was also included for you find treasures and statues of characters by the white and yellow buoys.
- Don’t pack your beach towels! They are available for you at the meeting area when you check in for your Disney excursion and right when you get to Castaway Cay. There are bins for you to return the towels before heading back on the ship and castmembers also pick up used towels at the end of the day on Castway Cay.
- Order Your Dessert to Go– To full to eat your dessert after dinner? NO worries! Ask your server to pack it and bring it to your room to enjoy later!
- Keys will be placed by your door. Once you are clear to go to your room, you will the keys there!
2. Find or create a FB Group for your cruise with other cruisers! This is a great way to share information, insights, get to know other families, and arrange pin/magnet exchanges!
3. Come early to find good seating at the theatre for shows and movies!
4. Character Meet and Greets are scheduled with lots of time slots throughout the cruise. Contact Guest Services to find out the exact time of any specific character or princess, if you have one in particular that you really want to meet.
The AquaDuck Coaster is for two people only. If you have an odd number in your party, ask another family or party that may also have an odd number to go along.
Free viewing of dolphins and sea lions at The Blue Lagoon. If you purchase tickets for The Blue Lagoon, you can view the dolphins and sea lions for free!
There are 3 restaurants on the DREAM that you will rotate through for dinner and your last sit-down breakfast.
All in all, it was the MOST MAGICAL cruise we’ve taken as a family and we would do it again in a HEARTBEAT!