Interested in some Disney Cruiseline Tips?

Discussion in 'Cruises' started by The Travel Slut, Sep 4, 2008.

  1. The Travel Slut

    The Travel Slut 6 continents, 87 countries & 64 cruises so far

    I am about to enjoy another Disney Cruise and thought I’d share some tips of mine (and thanks to all those that contributed to this knowledge) that might be useful for anyone else taking or considering a Disney cruise—with or without kids. (Disney is adult-only friendly also which surprises many).

    I can try to answer any specific questions now or certainly when I complete my cruise in October after the 7 day Western Caribbean which will include Castaway Cay (Disney’s Private Island in the Bahamas); Key West, Florida; Georgetown, Grand Cayman; and Cozumel, Mexico.


    One trick is to request an upgrade at the port upon check-in. Depending on how full your cruise is, they sometimes are willing to upgrade you for a fee. Usually this fee is much less expensive than if you booked that category originally—but do not count on any upgrades. Many of the Disney cruises are booked 100% and most are done so months in advance.

    Arrive by 11am to avoid the crowds although they will post the earliest possible boarding times and I've never experienced any crowd issues.

    Topsider's/Beach Blanket Buffet is great for lunch. The crew tries to guide you to Parrot Cay, but both restaurants are open for lunch buffet and being up on deck 9 is a beautiful spot to enjoy your first meal onboard while in Port Canaveral.

    Make sure to either wear your swimsuit or bring it with you in your carry-on bag--- Pools are usually empty or at least un-crowded.


    You can skip some of the ship’s lectures because both the shopping and disembarkation discussions are replayed on the television repeatedly. Your vacation time is valuable and attending these lectures in person is not critical since it is available on TV.

    Read your Personal Navigator daily bulletin religiously. This is the newsletter published onboard every day, letting you know what's happening on the ship. By carefully reading and planning you can get in more special experiences than just playing it by ear. Bring a highlighter and carry the Navigator with you throughout the day to remind you what's available.

    Volunteer. Whenever you are at an event onboard and a cast member asks for volunteers, be sure to volunteer if you are comfortable with it. You may just get a free souvenir, like a key chain or magnet. Plus, it's fun to be involved and sets a good example for your children.

    Talk to the Mouse. Getting a wake-up call from Mickey Mouse personally every morning adds a little more "free" magic!

    Food tips:

    Use room service when it’s convenient for you. It is included in the cost of your cruise--except for drinks like sodas, bottled water or specialty items. (Milk, juice, coffee and tea are free.) You can even order cookies and milk at bed time and consider ordering extra cookies to have on hand for snacks. And, if it is still offered, be sure to try the "All Hands on Deck" cheese platter

    Pack a lunch. Actually, let room-service help you out again. Many families order sandwiches and pack them to take on shore excursions. It can save time and money.

    Avoiding lines adds to your vacation value so show up for dinner five minutes after they begin seating and walk right in.

    Knowing where the drinks are free is helpful. Milk, juice, tea, coffee, lemonade and soft drinks free at meals. The Deck 9 self-service drink station has always offered milk, juice, tea, coffee, lemonade and soft drinks for free at all times. Castaway Cay offers milk, juice, tea, coffee, lemonade and soft drinks for free. Room service offers milk, juice, tea or coffee free, but charges for soft drinks and bottled water. There is a charge for all drinks ordered at the bars, including soft drinks. You can also purchase a Soda Package which, if used frequently, is cost effective.


    Be sure to budget for gratuities and you may want to take care of tipping through Guest Services early as there will be longer lines toward the end of the cruise. Pre-paying tips and charging it to your cabin makes a nearly hassle-free option.

    Below are the recommended tipping amounts, at time of writing; check the Disney Cruise Line site for updates.

    Recommended Cruise Gratuities (Tipping amount)
    Per Guest per cruise 3-Night 4-Night 7-Night
    Dining Room Server 11.00 14.75 25.75
    Dining Room Asst. Server 8.00 10.75 18.75
    Dining Room Head Server 2.75 3.75 6.50
    Stateroom Host/Hostess 10.75 14.50 25.25
    Dining Manager Your Discretion
    Room Service Your Discretion

    Note also that "For your convenience, a 15% gratuity is automatically added to bar, beverage, wine, and deck service tabs.


    - Avoid lines and have more fun. Show up five minutes after they begin seating and walk right in--except The Golden Mickey’s where the pre-show is a lot of fun.

    Kid's programs:

    - By allowing your children to be a part of any of the kids' show they may win free t-shirts or prizes.


    You will have many offers and opportunities to get your picture taken including at dinner which is one of the best times. Be sure to check first, but out in the atrium characters are often available during dinner and you can get a quick photo with them between courses.

    Consider the picture packages which can offer significant savings and if you don't purchase enough photos to fulfill the pack, the (photoshop) Shutters staff will refund you the difference so be sure to save your receipts

    Castaway Island:

    Get to Castaway Cay early if possible and consider using room service to have breakfast in your cabin so that you can be onshore no later than 9:30 am. Then, you should have your pick of chairs, no lines for character greetings and photo opportunities, and the snorkeling will be undisturbed by others stirring up the bottom of the reef areas.

    Castaway Cay offers milk, juice, tea, coffee, lemonade and soft drinks for free.

    Your day at Castaway Cay includes a barbeque buffet.

    Adults: Don’t forget to take the tram to the adult-only section of the island where you can enjoy a peaceful time on the beach sipping a libation or just soaking up the sun.


    You can avoid some of the normal crowds by using Mickey's Kids' Pool on days in port when everyone else is off the ship.

    What to bring:

    Consider bring a soft-sided, collapsible cooler. This is handy for shore excursion days or to just keep snacks on hand in your cabin.

    Bring your own bottled water as the bottled water on the ship can be expensive. Consider packing a small suitcase with bottled water and then anything else you think you might need that you do not want to have to pay for onboard. Then on the way home you'll have room for all those things you didn't plan to buy!

    Bring a pillowcase. For an inexpensive and yet priceless souvenir, purchase a new pillowcase and a pack of colored Sharpie pens before your trip. Drop it off at Guest Services on the first night with a request for the characters to sign it. Pick it up on the last night of your cruise.

    Consider bringing your own snorkel gear & floats---Castaway Cove snorkel rentals have been $25/person
    Last day:

    Enjoy every minute on the ship and increase your vacation value the last morning on the ship. Instead of going to the restaurant for breakfast, send someone up to the buffet to bring it back. Then you can relax in your cabin, have a leisurely morning and when you're ready (within reason of course) walk off the ship with no crowds and no hassles finding your luggage and getting through customs.

    These are just some suggestions that may or may not be relevant to your cruise or your situation. Here are some websites with other great ideas.

    Again, if you need something specific, please ask away and I'll do what I can to answer or steer you in the right direction.

    Ann, TS
  2. armen11

    armen11 New Member


    Wonderful tips there, thanks for sharing...

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