ABC’s of Disney Cruising Like a Pro (from a former cruise line employee)

Finally booking that vacation is the most rewarding feeling in the world (except maybe being able to finish a whole pizza alone). But once the ‘vacation booking’ jitters have stopped the stress of planning the perfect trip sets in. For many trips there just seems like endless activities, recommendations on where to stay, where to eat, and the list goes on and on. Cruising is no different and when you cruise with Disney you know you’ll have even more options to choose from to give it that magical touch. Here are the ABC’s of Disney cruising  that will save your sanity from trying to cram everything in. And because I’m nice I’ll let you in on a little tip before we even get started. Many of these tips can be useful on other cruise lines too!

Alcohol– It’s a no brainer that alcohol on ships is very expensive. Everyone is there to have a good time right? The ships let you bring on a limited amount of your personal choice so make sure you use that to your advantage. Every person 21+ is allowed 2 bottles of wine/champagne or 6 beers at each port. Use it to your advantage!! Remember though, the drinks you bring MUST be in your carry-on. Anything you pack will be confiscated until the end of the cruise.

disney drinks

Insider tip* The fancy drinks they serve up on the top decks during the Sail Away party or Pirates’ Night aren’t free.

Bingo– Disney ships don’t offer any gambling onboard. However, the exception to the rule is BINGO! It is such a fun time that even the kids can partake in. There is always a pretty good chance you could win and the Cruise Staff know how to make bingo an unforgettable event!

Cabins-Whether you are in an indoor cabin or lucky enough to have a balcony your room will have all of the magical Disney touches. Funny animal towels, magical portholes (for the indoor cabins) and the most attentive stateroom host/ess ever. Bring a few props to leave in your room and they might even use them with your towel animals.

Insider tip* Bring an old gift card or something similar to stick in your light switch. It will save you from forgetting your Key To The World card when you leave your room.

Door Decorations– Disney Cruisers are notorious for decorating their doors to add more pizazz to your trip. It’s a fun way to interact with other guests and makes it easier to find your door. I highly recommend you bring some magnetic decorations on your next cruise.

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Insider tip* Some crew like to roam the halls looking for their favorite decorated doors and may leave little notes or surprises for you. I always loved seeing the doors every cruise.

Entertainment– there is always so much to do on a cruise. Don’t try and pack it all in because you will end up feeling exhausted instead of relaxed on your vacation. If your cruise has an app download it and see the activities offered beforehand so you can plan accordingly.

Insider tip* Do not miss the live shows every evening before or after dinner (depending on your dinner seating). They are amazing and broadway quality!

Food– Everyone’s favorite past time on a cruise. Disney Cruise Ships serve up some great cuisine and a lot of it. Don’t be afraid to order extra or ask for something special. The crew members are there to make sure your taste buds are satisfied!

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Just some typical Pirate Night fare. Sorry this picture is so bad. It was taken before I knew what I was doing!

Insider tip* If you were fond of a particular dish and would like it again, ask your server because they can arrange that meal for you. Also, order everything on the menu if you’d like! It’s totally normal!

Special Insider tip* Your meal may be amazing but the crew meals are anything but exciting. We will constantly fantasize about your endless feasting.

Guest Services– Literally there for any question you could possibly have but sometimes the wait can be a while. If you have question just go and ask any crew member on the ship. They will always know the answer or find out for you!

Insider tip* If you want to get all of the characters’ autographs but don’t have enough time, drop by a pillowcase or autograph book to guest services and Mickey and his friends will sign them for you!

Edit* Apparently Guest Services doesn’t allow this anymore but it could still be fun to try!

Hidden Gems– There are so many hidden and exciting things to see on the ships. Look for hidden Mickeys, visit Pepe’s door (on the Fantasy), or Top Deck Detective Agency, or see what characters are out roaming around. It’s great fun whatever you see!

Information– There are plenty of ways to find out what’s going on onboard. The easiest ways are the Navigator (the newsletter delivered to your room nightly) and the Navigator tv channel in your stateroom. Both are the easiest ways to map out your day of adventures.

navigator

Insider tip* The crew all have a Navigator with them. If you ever need to know what’s on or where it is, feel free to ask them.

Journey– Enjoying your family or friends on a Disney cruise should be a joyous occasion but we all know sometimes being with them that much can be a little overwhelming. Don’t be afraid to journey around the ship and find some fun activities to do alone. Solo travel is all the rage now anyways. (Ok so J was a bit of a stretch but it’s a good tip anyways)

Insider tip* Crew members are allowed to attend some events on board that the guests are invited to. Keep an eye out and you might spot one out in the wild. (The kids especially love this when they see a youth counselor walking around without their costume. It’s like seeing a teacher outside of school! Yes we do get to do other things besides work.)

Kid’s Clubs– As a former youth counselor I can assure you this is the BEST spot on board. The kids will love all the fun activities and the parents will love being able to drop them off and enjoy their own time. With the Oceaneer Club/Oceaneer Lab for 3-12 year olds they will have the time of their life with character appearances, super sloppy science, storybook time, and SO MUCH MORE! For the 11-14 year olds check out Edge. It’s awesome, (my favorite space to be a counselor) and your kids will make lifetime friends. Teens 14-17 should check out Vibe. It’s a laid back hangout for teens only and there are always fun, competitive activities for Vibe and Edge. Take your little ones (0-3) to It’s a Small World Nursery for a calm, fun play.

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Don’t ask me how I got up here.

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Surfing on Rex. (Sorry kids, this is only for the counselors)

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Just getting a “Piggy Back” ride from Ham

Lounge– The lounges always have fun shows and games going on. After hours the lounges become an adult playground with great music, fun games and fancy drinks!

Insider tip* The best show in D Lounge is easily So You Wanna Be A Pirate! Don’t miss out. If your kids want to go but you’re not so keen, there is a show just for the kid’s Club and Lab that will take them down.

Movie Theatre– The best part about being on a Disney ship is that you get to see the newest Disney movies! They will premEAR the same day as they do on land! Trust me, I’ve seen so many new Disney movies at sea and it’s amazing!

Insider tip* Instead of buying concessions at the stand for your movie, head up to the top decks and get a meal/ snack/ ice cream/ soda for free and bring it in with you!

Navigating the Ship– It’s always hard to get your bearings when you first get on board. Disney tries to make it easier for you to find your way. In the carpet you will see a globe within the ship’s wheel. When you look at the map with it facing North it points you towards the front of the ship. That way you can always tell which way you are going. Who can say Disney doesn’t think of everything?

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Looking at it this way you’d be facing the Forward (front) of the ship.

Special Insider tip* the crew areas aren’t so decorated. Basically it’s all white walls and floors. It’s a lot harder to find your way. I got lost every time I left my cabin for the first 2 weeks. I’ve known people that have worked on the ships for years that still get lost sometimes. So you are not the only one!

Occasions– Disney sees guests visit for all kinds of special occasions. Birthdays, Anniversaries, holidays, etc. If you are celebrating make sure you mention it so the crew can make it extra special.

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Insider Tip* Each ship has a Pumpkin Tree at Halloween and they all have different names!

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He’s my favorite!

Insider tip* If you’re cruising during a holiday you can be absolutely sure there will be special activities and costumes happening during your cruise!

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Port Adventures– going on a tour or an adrenaline seeking trip while in port is a great way to spend your cruise. The list of options may seem extremely overwhelming but asking the Port Adventures desk is always handy. Many of them have been on a number of the trips so they can tell you the pro’s and con’s of whatever you have in mind. Remember many trips are also half days so you will still have time to explore the port more before you head back to the ship.

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Scuba Diving in St. Thomas (ignore the goggle marks)

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Rafting down the Martha Brae River in Jamaica

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Horse back riding on the beach

Quiet Spaces-sometimes finding a quiet place away from the crowds is nice. The best place to do this for adults is at Satellite Falls. It’s always a quiet spot with fresh ocean air. The best part is that at night hardly anyone goes up there. It’s the perfect place for a night of relaxation.

Insider tip* On the classic ships (Magic and Wonder) there is a secret back deck with a few chairs that nobody even knows about. It’s hard to find but worth it. It’s located on deck 7 or 8 at the aft. You have to walk through the cabin hallways to get there.

Edit* the back deck is no longer on either of the classic ships since dry dock. (Let’s all have a moment of silence for the best spot to be gone)

Room Service– Disney Cruises offer FREE room service! Use this to your advantage if you want to sleep in late or want a nice night in instead of heading to the dining room. It’s your vacation, do what you want!

Insider tip* You can practically order unlimited Mickey Ice Cream Bars sent to your room! BEST. THING. EVER!

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Sea Days-these are always the busiest days on the ship since nobody can really get off (unless you are really determined…but seriously please don’t). If there are onboard activities you are interested in your best bet is to save them for a port day when most people are ashore (Aqua Dunk, Goofy’s Golf, Sports Deck, etc.)  If you are going up to the top decks, for your best chance at finding a spot, go early.

Towels– Don’t bother packing towels for your trip. They are provided for you at the pools, on excursions and in your room. Save the space in your bag for all of your new souvenirs.

Insider tip* Everyone knows about the fun towel animals your cabin attendant will make for you. If you bring a fun colored towel they might even use that in with their design if you just happen to leave it lying around.

Unique Events– Disney Cruises have many unique and special events onboard throughout the trip, special meals, character meet and greets, limited edition product sales, etc. are all great add-on’s to your trip. These events fill up VERY quickly though so booking them as soon as possible is a must. Typically they are available at midnight the day your cruise starts or at check-in before you board the ship.

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The Royal Tea Party is always one to fill up quickly.  Photo by Disney

Voyage– There are many different lengths of cruises Disney offers. Personally I don’t feel like the short 3-4 day trips are worth it but to each their own. Keep an eye out for changes in the seasons though because when ships change itineraries there are some new port of calls thrown in sometimes. It could be a fun trip to see a new place instead of the typical ports Disney visits.

Insider tip* The Wonder goes through the Panama Canal before summer and heads up the west coast of States which offers some great short cruises. Then they head to Alaska! Plus the Magic does the European cruises! How amazing would those be!?

Wifi– Wifi is expensive on a cruise ship but there are always plenty of spots in port to get reliable free wifi. Just ask a crew member and they can probably give you about 10 good spots within a 5 minute walk from the ship.  Insider Tip* If you are traveling on a Disney Cruise you have the option to get a FREE 50mb! The catch is that it’s only offered on the first day so you get it while you can.

X– Come on, did you really eXpect me to have a word for X? Here’s a tip anyways, Pin trading is such a fun activity to get into. Many people (like myself) collect Disney pins and trade them. There will be at least 1 officers pin trading session on every cruise. It’s such fun to go and see all of the different pins, and even trade with people.

Insider tip* Any cast or crew member who works for Disney is required to trade a pin with a guest. So don’t worry about being denied if there is a pin you like!

Yes-Disney cast and crew are there to make your experience memorable! Don’t be afraid to ask for anything! We will do everything in our power to make it happen!

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Some amazing Youth Activities Counselors!

Zippity Doo Dah– Your trip will zip on by as much as you don’t want it to. Everyone hates the end of vacation. Even the crew. You have become our family by the end of the cruise and it’s hard to say goodbye. That’s why we say,”See ya real soon!”

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The most magical sunset over the water.

What do you think about these tips? Does it make you want to hop on a Disney Cruise right now? Have you ever been on one and wish you knew about these before hand? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Also I love to talk (non-stop) about my time working onboard the Disney ships so if you want to ask me questions I would LOVE that!

To see more pictures of my time at Disney check out my instagram.

xx-katiebug

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ABC's of Disney Cruising


*All opinions are my own. This is not a sponsored post nor am I currently affiliated with Disney.

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9 comments

  1. Katie McC | Katie's Kronicles

    How fun! I never knew that people decorate their doors on Disney cruises. The only time I have been on one was when I was little and I don’t remember that. Thanks for sharing this post! Sounds like you had a really fun job.

    -Katie
    http://www.katieskronicles.org

    Reply

    1. travelingkatiebug

      Yeah they are so fun to look at because it shows everyone’s personalities and they are so creative! Bummer you don’t remember much of your cruise. I guess it’s time to go on another one then! haha
      My job was amazing! I had fun everyday at work which I think is really important! Definitely a memorable experience!

      xx-Katie

      Reply

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  3. RJB

    As a current DCL crew member, all great tips!! However, one thing to note, the characters don’t offer the “Mickey Mail” service anymore so you can’t take your items to Guest Services to be signed by the characters!

    Reply

    1. travelingkatiebug

      Well thank you! Good to know about Mickey Mail (it’s sad but I totally get it. Mickey wouldn’t have time to see the guests if he was signing pillows all day). I’ve edited it.
      xx-Katie

      Reply

  4. Tony

    They no longer allow you to drop items off at guest services to be signed by the characters but the characters will sign them at the meet & greets.

    Reply

    1. travelingkatiebug

      Thank you for the heads up. I’ve updated the information now. Thank you for reading!
      xx-Katie

      Reply

  5. Liz

    Oh my gosh thank you for the tips!

    Reply

  6. Helene

    What a detailed and helpful post about such a cruise. And that lovely sunset 😍

    Reply

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