35 Disney Cruise Tips, Tricks, and Hints
I took my first Disney cruise in December 2017 and another one in February 2018. I got familiar with Disney Cruise Line pretty quickly. Having been on both the Disney Magic and Disney Dream, I feel like I have a pretty good handle on what all the cruise line offers and does well.
There are always things you can do to make the most of your time onboard and save some money. A little planning goes a long way–especially on a Disney Cruise!
Here are 35 Disney Cruise tips, tricks, and hints to help you have a magical vacation.
#1 Decorate Your Stateroom Door
One of the most significant ways Disney cruisers show their excitement is by decorating their stateroom door. You will see Disney themed nameplates, banners, and characters all over the stateroom halls.
Whether you choose to buy a pre-made decoration from Etsy or make your own, you will look like a pro with a decorated stateroom door.
Read Disney Cruise Line’s full policy here.
#2 Use the Online Portal
Disney Cruise Line has a great website. One of the biggest Disney Cruise tips we can give you is to use it! In addition to helping you prepare for your trip, some onboard activities require registration and the website allows you to do so in advance.
From the popular Princess Gathering (meet Cinderella, Tiana, Rapunzel, and Belle) to alcohol tastings (wine, champagne, tequila), spa appointments to premier dining reservations (Remy or Palo), you can book all of them online ahead of time.
#3 Bring Your Own Alcohol
Save some money by bringing your own alcohol onboard. Disney Cruise Line allows guests 21 and older to bring two bottles of unopened wine or champagne (750 mL max) or six beers (no more than 12 ounces) on board at the beginning of the cruise and each port of call.
Note: There is a $25 corking fee if you choose to drink your wine or champagne in the dining rooms.
#4 Don’t Pack Beach Towels
The cruise line provides all of the towels you will need for your trip, even in port.
#5 Soda is Free
Soft drinks are free on the Disney Cruise Line. Head to a beverage station (on deck 9 or 11) and help yourself to fountain Coca-Cola products or order one from your server in the dining room during dinner.
This is one of our money savings Disney Cruise tips!
Note: Soda is not free if you order it from an onboard bar or lounge.
Tip: Bring yourself a cup with a lid so you can carry your drink around the ship with you.
#6 Use the Pool and Slides on Embarkation Day
Start your Disney Cruise by using the pool and waterslides as soon as you board. Since most guests are checking out the buffet and exploring the ship, the pool deck is virtually empty.
Both children and adults love the AquaDuck and AquaDunk waterslides.
Note: If you wish to do this, you will need to bring your bathing suit with you. Your luggage will not arrive at your stateroom until much later in the evening.
#7 Pack First-Aid Items
It’s always a good idea to have first aid items on hand–accidents happen! Save money by not having to buy them on the ship as the prices are much higher.
Need more help with packing? Check out our Cruise Packing List!
#8 Store Your Suitcase Under The Bed
Save some room in your stateroom by storing your suitcase under the bed. The bed is tall enough to fit a standard size suitcase under it–and several of them!
#9 Dress Up For Pirate Night
Select itineraries will have an onboard themed Pirate Night. After a special Pirate themed dinner, head up to the pool deck for the Pirates in the Caribbean Deck Party. Show off your dance moves, watch a unique Disney production with some familiar faces and see the Pirate Night firework display.
Pirate Night is incredibly popular, so be sure to dress up for the evening–the characters will! A bandana and eye patch will be provided in your stateroom should you choose to use them.
FYI: Disney is the only cruise line currently allowed to let off fireworks at sea.
Shop Our Pirate Night Essentials On Amazon!
#10 Watch Disney Movies in Your Stateroom
One of my favorite Disney Cruise tips is that you can watch Disney movies in your stateroom. Disney, Pixar, Marvel favorites–they’re all there! Whether you spend a day at sea watching movies or catch a few minutes of one just before going to bed, take advantage of this offering.
#11 Bring An Old Gift Card
The Dream and Fantasy ships have an energy-saving light switch in staterooms that require you to insert your Key to the World card for the lights to work. With your card in the slot, it increases your chances of leaving it behind. Put an old gift card in the slot instead! Just remember to take it out when you leave the room to help Disney save energy.
#12 The Navigator Is Everything
Each day, you will receive a Personal Navigator in your stateroom listing all activities taking place onboard. You will need this to know what events are going on, where they happen, and what time. Don’t miss out!
Note: You can pick up additional copies at Guest Services.
#13 Get Disney Character Autographs
Drop a memento off at Guest Services to have all characters onboard sign it. T-shirts, picture frame mattes, and pillowcases are popular choices.
#14 Order Everything on the Menu for Dinner
Do two appetizers on the dinner menu sound good? Three desserts? You can order them all! Although I do not recommend ordering the entire list for dinner, you certainly can. Live your best life–you’re on vacation!
#15 Take Part in Character Greetings
Character greetings are part of the Disney Cruise Experience. Whether you are an adult or a child, don’t miss out. The lines are much shorter than what you will find in the theme parks. Plus, who doesn’t want to post a picture with Mickey Mouse on social media documenting your Disney Cruise?
#16 Stay on the Ship
If you do not feel like getting off the boat in port, you certainly do not have to. Enjoy a nearly empty ship! My mom and I did this during our Disney Dream Cruise, and we had the entire Quiet Cove Pool to ourselves. It was very nice.
Note: Don’t stay on the boat at Castaway Cay. Disney’s private island is well worth the visit!
#17 Take Snacks and Drinks to the Theater
Although the theaters sell snacks and drinks, you can bring your own from the buffet for free. Whether it’s a bag of chips, soft drink, or some fruit, you will have something to snack on, and best of all, you didn’t have to pay extra for it.
This is another one of our money savings Disney Cruise tips!
#18 Don’t Miss the Pin Trading
Although you can trade Disney pins with other collectors anytime during the cruise, the most significant event is Officer Pin Trading. Several cruise Officers grab a lanyard full of pins and meet with all onboard guests interested in Pin Trading. The Officers are not allowed to decline a trade, so this is an excellent opportunity to snag some really cool Disney Pins! You can also trade with other collectors during this time.
Not a Disney Pin Trader? It’s never too late to start!
Stock Up On Disney Gear Before Your Cruise!
#19 Make Use of Your Wave Phone
Stay in touch with your travel party with Disney Cruise Line’s unique Wave Phones. Each stateroom comes with two that allow you to send texts and make calls to other onboard Wave Phones.
Note: Be sure to keep your Wave Phones charged!
#20 Enjoy a Themed Cruise
What’s more fun than a regular Disney Cruise? A themed Disney Cruise! Celebrate the magic of Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year onboard a Holiday Cruise.
You can even sail with your favorite Marvel superheroes and Star Wars characters!
#21 Watch the Evening Shows from Your Room
Are you tired after spending a day in the sun? Are you taking the time to get ready for dinner? Whatever the reason, you can watch the evening’s live show performance from the comfort of your room. It’s nice to have the option, should you not want to get dressed and go to the theater.
#22 There are Snacks in the Cove Café
Although the Cove Café is primarily a coffee shop, it also has free snacks. Some of the desserts are really good, so be sure to check it out!
Note: This an adult’s only space.
#23 Become Part of the Midship Detective Agency
The Midship Detective Agency is an interactive game similar to Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom. Use your detective skills to solve a whodunit mystery. The game will take you on a self-guided journey through the ship as you examine different characters’ stories and alibis.
There are currently three games to choose from: The Case of the Plundered Paintings, The Case of the Missing Puppies, and The Case of the Stolen Show. Play one or play them all during the span of your cruise!
Start on Deck 2 mid-ship or on Deck 5 near the “it’s a small world” nursery. Be sure to pick up a detective badge, casebook, and pencil.
Note: You can only play The Midship Detective Agency on the Disney Dream and Fantasy.
#24 Take Your Own Photos
Although photographers will be stationed throughout the ship, ask one of them to use your phone instead. Photos on your phone are free, making this one of our best Disney Cruise tips.
#25 Skip the Dining Room Dinner
Although each Disney Cruise dining room offers something unique, if you do not like what’s for dinner, you can skip it. Opt to order room service or visit the buffet instead.
Take this opportunity to dine at one of Disney Cruise Line’s premier adult-only restaurants, Remy or Palo. You will need a reservation, and there is an extra charge ($95 for dinner at Remy while Palo is $30 per person).
#26 Bring a Lanyard with a Card Holder
Keep up with your Key to the World card by bringing a lanyard with a cardholder.
#27 Your Wine Travels with You
If you order a bottle of wine at dinner but do not finish it, you can have your wine travel to your next day’s dining room, or you can take it with you to finish in your room.
#28 Eat Mickey Waffles Every Morning
One of my favorite things about cruising with Disney is that Mickey Waffles are on the buffet every morning! What better way to start your day?
#29 Get Wi-Fi for Free
On the first day of your cruise, head to the Connect@Sea desk and sign up for the free 50 MB Wi-Fi plan. You will probably run through your 50 MB pretty quickly, but hey, it’s better than nothing–and it was free!
Is this not one of the coolest Disney Cruise tips?
Note: This deal is only available on the first day.
#30 Watch Current Disney Movies
Head to the Buena Vista Theater to see first-run Disney movies. During our cruises, the Buena Vista Theater showed Coco, Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther, and Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
You don’t need a ticket to see these movies; just show up at the time listed on your Navigator.
#31 Visit the Awesome Oceaneer Club
It should come as no surprise that Disney has a fanatic children’s program onboard. Kids ages 3 to 12 can spent their days exploring the Oceaneer Club with the supervision of trained Disney youth counselors. The spaces within the Club are modeled after Disney movies, and each offers something unique for kids to do.
Note: The Oceaneer Club will host an “open house” a few times during your cruise so that adults can come to enjoy this space, too!
#32 Let Mickey & Minnie Announce Your Disney Cruise
Get your whole family excited for your cruise by scheduling a character call from Mickey, Goofy, or Mickey and Minnie. You may schedule two-character calls per reservation.
This is a great way to let kids know they’re going on a Disney Cruise!
Note: On the Disney Cruise website, select My Reservation, then Request Call.
#33 Ask About the Hidden Mickey Challenge
Pick up a copy of the Hidden Mickey Challenge from Guest Services. How many can you find?
#35 Go on a Cruise After Visiting Walt Disney World
This is one of my favorite Disney Cruise tips. Pair your Disney Cruise with a few days at Walt Disney World. After pounding the pavement at Disney World, it’s nice to have a few days relaxing while still in the Disney bubble.
Use Our Disney Cruise Tips
Well, there you have it, 35 Disney cruise tips, tricks, and hints.
I hope you have a magical vacation, no matter where your sailing takes you!
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Taylor Pittman Hardy wrote this article.