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10 Things to Know Before You Go on Your Disney Cruise Line Cruise

Can you believe this is finally happening? You’re going on a Disney Cruise! As you jump for joy and daydream about giving Mickey Mouse and big squeeze once onboard, there are some things you’ll want to check off your to-do list before you go. So, put the Minnie or Mickey ears down for just a moment, and check out these ten things to know before you set sail.

Editor’s Note: Disney Cruise Line has suspended all departures through May 2021 and Disney Magic through August 10, 2021. We present this article for future cruise planning.


1 – You’re About to Experience a Paramount Cruise Line!

As if you aren’t already ridiculously excited – you must know the Disney Cruise Line (DCL) isn’t your ordinary cruise line. Some people ask why a Disney Cruise costs sometimes double what a regular cruise may cost… but once you experience the DCL, you’ll understand why. The four ships in the DCL fleet surpass the competition from the outer and inside appearance and maintenance to the food quality, entertainment offered, and most importantly – in guest service. It’s simple really – with Disney, you know what you’re going to get! Give yourself a pat on the back for selecting a cruise line that is sure to provide you with an exceptional cruising experience.

2 – What Your Ship Offers

The Disney Dream, Magic, Fantasy and Wonder are similar in many ways. If you were to review the deck plans of the ships, you would find many similarities between the four. There is however enough of a difference that you could cruise on all four ships and find each one to have its own unique experience. Review what your DCL ship has to offer whether it be how many pools, special water slides, award-winning theatre performances, or delectable dining. Understanding that what you may see in commercials may not be offered on your specific ship is key.

AquaLab water playground on the Disney Magic . Credit: Disney

3 – What to Pack

Before you go, you’ll need to know what to pack! This can be tricky depending on where you are cruising to and what time of the year. Check the weather as much as possible in advance. If you’re going to the Bahamas, you know you’ll need a swimsuit and flip flops, but you may also want a light jacket for the evenings on the ship. If you’re going to Alaska, expect rain and bring a waterproof jacket and the right shoes. Wherever you are headed, a few things that we recommend everyone has includes sunscreen, sunglasses, motion sickness medicine, and cash on hand for port souvenirs and food.

4 – Which Documents to Bring

Speaking of what to pack, be sure you have all the proper documentation with you as required by the Disney Cruise Line and the ports you are planning to visit. This may include a passport for adults and children alike, a photo ID, and possible other signed documents. The DCL does an excellent job of preparing guests for what they will need to get on and off the ship. Make it a point to have all your ducks in a row when it comes to important documents well before you set sail.

5 – Download the Disney Cruise Line App

Go ahead and download the Disney Cruise Line App on your mobile device. You’ll notice that since you are not on the ship, there is little you can do with the app. When you board, your app will become your guide! Not only can you locate places around the ship, but entertainment schedules, dining times, and character meet and greets are also available. While we love the ability to disconnect from our phones on the cruise, we do enjoy the ability to use the app for texting one another when on the ship. It allows for an easy way to pull the family together if going about your separate ways on the ship.


6 – You’ll See Lots of Characters!

Of course! Disney wouldn’t be complete without seeing all your favorite Disney pals including characters like Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy, Pluto and more! The Disney Princesses such as Cinderella, Anna and Elsa, Ariel, Aurora are also available for meet and greets. Many of these characters will have scheduled meet and greet times for you to wait in line to see. Other times, you may find characters walking around the ship, enjoying themselves on the cruise. Get ready for lots of hugs, smiles, and photos!

7 – You Won’t Go Hungry

Maybe you’ve been dieting, getting ready for the big cruise! Well, plan to come home with quite a few pounds added to the scale! While we wish Disney’s delightful food was all calorie-free, we are here to say it’s NOT… but we have more than our fair share anyway. Check out the different dining options and locations before you go to have a better understanding of what to expect. Whether it’s pizza and chicken tenders next the pool deck, carved meat, and salad from the buffet, pasta and shrimp in rotational dining, or a high-end steak and mashed potatoes with signature dining… trust us – you won’t go hungry! Ice cream, cookies, cupcakes, pies, cake, pudding, and any other dessert you could dream up awaits. In fact, you may want to bring a few stretchy pants with you!

Animator’s Palate onboard the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder immerses guests in “Drawn to Magic,” an animated show about a hero’s journey through Disney and Pixar animation from wishing upon a star to happily ever after. (Credit: Disney/Matt Stroshane)

8 – It’s for Kids AND Adults

Yes, the Disney Cruise Line is a kid-friendly cruise line with all the fun deck shows, characters, yummy food, and even kid only clubs! It’s actually the top tier when it comes to kids – but that’s exactly what you’d expect out of Disney. What you may not know is that the DCL is for adults too! There are several adult-only areas that provide an oasis away from kids if needed. Chill out at the Spa, dine at an adult-only restaurant, dance at the adult lounges, or take a swim in the adult-only pool. Disney knows it’s all about the kids, but that doesn’t mean adults shouldn’t have the best experience possible too.

9 –  Book Inhouse Events and Port Adventures Early

Before you go, be sure to book your inhouse events and port adventures as early as possible. Some may wait to do this on the ship, but there are high chances for inhouse events and port adventures to be sold out. Inhouse events such as a Mixology Class or special Spa Services should be booked as soon as they are released, as they do go fast. If you’re looking at a Port Excursion, we highly recommend being on the safe side and booking your excursion through Disney’s Port Adventures. Not only can they guarantee to get you back to the ship before it leaves, but with security issues, Disney is a safe option especially when traveling with family.

10 – Plan to be Generous with Tipping

You may already know that gratuity is not included in your cruise package. This means that at the end of your cruise, you’ll be charged an amount to cover the service you’ve received from a few exceptional Cast Members including the Dining Room Server, Dining Room Assistant Server, Dining Room Head Server, and the Stateroom Host/Hostess. We feel it’s important to plan to be generous with tipping, on top of what Disney requires for these Cast Members. You’ll also want to plan to tip additional Cast Members at your discretions including the Dining Manager, Room Service, Palo, and Remy. On top of this, since alcohol is not covered, you’ll need to tip your bartender/server for the drinks. Cast Members are the heart of the ship. Provide them with a little Pixie Dust in return!

Happy Sailing!

For a no obligation, FREE Quote on a Disney vacation package, please contact our travel partner Magical Vacation Planner at 407-442-0227 (407-442-0215 for Spanish). You can also request a FREE quote online by Clicking HERE.


About Mike & Jamie Sylvester

We are Disney nerds. Two kids at heart who love the magic and the memories of Walt Disney World! We follow all things Disney and have great experiences with being Annual Passholders, Disney Vacation Club Members, and RunDisney participants. We enjoy the vacations, day trips, weekend getaways and geek out over the planning of such events. From lodging to dining to Fastpasses we have a spreadsheet for every occasion. Mike’s frivolous Disney goal is to acquire as many MagicBands as possible while Jamie’s goal is to experience as many Disney desserts as possible. Usually there isn’t a day that passes without some discussion of the master plan of our next trip to the happiest place on earth. Most people think we’re normal – until they travel to Disney with us. We have been married for 13 years and are blessed with two children - our 8-year-old daughter and soon to be 2-year-old son. As a family we thoroughly enjoy the magic and the memories at Walt Disney World and are here to help others experience the magic as well.