We’re setting sail on another Disney Cruise Line vacation, and we couldn’t be more excited. We are on the debut sailing of the all-new Pixar Day at Sea on the Disney Fantasy. The days leading up to a cruise can be a bit stressful reviewing packing lists and ensuring you have travel documents and everything necessary for a fantastic cruise.
Follow us on Instagram for more Pixar Day at Sea cruise coverage!
1 – Download the Disney Cruise Line Navigator App
If you don’t have it already, one of the first things you want to do is download the Disney Cruise Line Navigator App. It’s a free app that is extremely useful before you leave home and onboard the ship. Everyone in your family who has a smartphone will want to download the app while you still have WIFI. Once downloaded, go ahead and sign in using your Disney account details. Get everyone in your party signed in before you leave so you don’t have to worry about forgotten passwords. Once on the ship, simply put your phone on airplane mode and turn the WIFI on. Then you’ll be able to use the app during your cruise. We’ll have more on the app later. It’s such an essential tool to use during your cruise. So, download that app!
Note: A paid internet package is not required to use the Disney Cruise Line Navigator App or to use the group chat function. iPhone users can also text using iMessage while onboard for free.
2 – Online Check-in
Before you leave for your cruise, you’ll want to make sure you have completed the online check-in on the Disney Cruise Line website. The Online Check-In will be available 30 days before your sailing date, and we highly recommend completing this as soon as the option becomes available. This step is crucial because you’ll be able to select an arrival time at your port. On the Disney Cruise Line website, go to “Already Booked” and select “Online Check-In.” There are five sections: Guest Information, Onboard Account, Travel Plans, Port Arrival Time, and Cruise Contract. You can also complete the online check-in within the Disney Cruise Line Navigator app (see #), but I find it’s easier to enter the information on my computer.
In the different sections, you’ll add contact details, travel documents, and photos of your travel party. Next, you’ll add payment information to cover charges during the cruise, enter information about arrival and departure plans, including flights or transfers, select a time period that reflects when you will arrive at the cruise terminal, and finally review and accept the terms and conditions for sailing with Disney Cruise Line. You’ll want to give yourself plenty of time to finish the process.
Once completed, you’ll be able to view and print your Port Arrival Form. You’ll need this when you arrive at the port. Print it now and set it aside in a folder with all the other documents that you’ll need. If you use Apple Wallet, using the Navigator App, you can add your Boarding Pass to your Wallet so you can use it on your phone. I bring both a printed copy and add the passes to my Wallet so that I know I’m covered no matter what.
3 – Plan & Book Cruise Activities
There are so many amazing activities onboard a Disney Cruise Line ship. You’ll want to take the time to explore the Navigator app and discuss and plan for any activities that might require a reservation that is considered “premium experiences.” Here are the different areas you’ll want to explore:
Onboard Fun: discover options for kids, unique recreational offerings for adults, and entertainment options that require a reservation.
Port Adventures: learn about and reserve shore excursions offered through Disney Cruise Line. This section includes the extra activities offered at Castaway Cay.
Adult Dining: Book a dinner or brunch reservation at venues that are exclusively for adults ages 18 and over that feature fine dining and drinks.
Spa & Fitness: Treat yourself to spa therapies and magical makovers. In the app you can reserve treatments ahead of time so you have something to look forward to!
Take the time before your cruise to explore these sections of the app and make any necessary reservations. Many activities do sell out. There may be limited offerings once on the ship, but the sooner you book, the better!
4 – Planning Ahead: Choosing When to Leave
Arrivals at the port begin as early as 11 am on the first day of your cruise. Guests usually check-in up until about one hour before the ship is set to depart. You don’t want to miss the ship. They will NOT hold it for you. So how do you decide when to leave your home? We’ve got some tips.
Disney Cruise Line has home ports in many cities, not just Port Canaveral. Be sure to check and see how far the port is from the nearest airport. Our cruise departs from Port Canaveral, only about an hour’s drive from Orlando. Many people visit Walt Disney World before their cruise, and Disney Cruise Line offers transfers from either your Disney resort or Orlando International Airport (for a fee). Note that flying into Daytona International Airport may also be a good option. It’s also just over an hour away from the port. So while you have the same travel time, your flight may be cheaper than flying into Orlando.
When scheduling flights or deciding when to leave if you drive, you’ll want to give yourself plenty of time for travel. Allow for flight delays, time at the airport, and time needed to get from the airport to the port, or traffic and stops if you are driving. Again, there is a hard deadline on when you get on the ship, and you don’t want to miss the boat! Because so many things can go wrong, we highly recommend arriving in the area near the port one day before your cruise. Allow yourself a full day of travel, so you still have options if you miss a connection or a flight gets canceled. The cost of a hotel the night before the first day of your cruise is so worth being able to enjoy a relatively stress-free first day of your cruise.
So many things can go wrong, unfortunately. When we travel to a port, our rule of thumb is to always stay within an Uber ride of the port the night before. If something goes wrong, you can catch a ride and deal with it when you return. It also lets you transition from the real world to vacation mode before your cruise begins. Many guests stay in Orlando, either at a hotel airport and then take transportation to the port the next day or stay at Walt Disney World for a night and take Disney Cruise Line transportation from their Disney hotel.
5 – Packing: Don’t Leave Home Without It
Like any vacation, there is a lot of preparation for getting ready for a cruise. How did we prepare? In addition to the regular items you might bring on a Disney vacation (don’t forget your Mickey Ears), Disney cruises offer unique offerings such as Pirate Night or other themed experiences, like Pixar Day at Sea. It’s fun to participate, but don’t worry about needing to go all out. A simple t-shirt can often do the trick. We found fun Pixar shirts at Target and plan to wear them on our Pixar Day at Sea. We also have pretty basic Pirate gear for Pirate night. It’s not for us, but some cruise guests love Formal Night and get really dressed up. The great thing about Disney Cruise Line is you can be totally comfortable and often wear what you might at the parks. The only strict attire rule is for adult-exclusive restaurants. Below is the following guideline:
Adult-exclusive restaurants aboard Disney Cruise Line ships are elegant dining experiences. Guests are requested to dress in a manner consistent with the restaurant’s sophistication. Formal or semi-formal attire is recommended. Dress casual attire with a polished look is permitted (such as dress pants, jeans in good condition, collared shirts and blouses and lifestyle shoes). Clothing such as T-shirts, swimwear and sports attire is not permitted.
What else should you bring? Here are some links to help you prepare for your Disney Cruise Line cruise.
Keep in mind that you may want to have a carry-on bag for valuables (such as electronics), medicine, swimsuits, and a change of clothes. You’ll drop off your luggage when you arrive at the port, and it will get to your room by 5:30 pm. A carryon will allow you to have some items for your first afternoon on the ship.
6 – Give Yourself Plenty of Time
Whether it’s your first cruise or your tenth, give yourself plenty of time to pack and get everything together. You don’t want to leave it to the last minute. With every cruise we go on, it always seems like I need to run to the store to get this or that, and you don’t want to find out on the morning of your travel day that you don’t have any sunscreen. While the ship has many items for sale, you’ll save a lot of money by being prepared and having what you need a few days before leaving. Most of all, get excited for a fantastic vacation. A cruise on Disney Cruise Line is truly like no other vacation!
Learn more about Pixar Day at Sea on the Disney Fantasy
Read about our voyage to hear more about the experience, learn tips and tricks for cruising, and read our reviews of all the unique offerings.
Articles with Cruising Tips and Tricks
Days 7-8 are coming soon!
Instagram Story with Photos and Video of our Cruise
Day 5 – Instagram Story Highlight – San Juan, Puerto Rico
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.
Editor’s Note: Disney Cruise Line is providing us with a complimentary Pixar Day at Sea Cruise with special media-specific events and tours during the cruise. However, as always, the thoughts and opinions about Disney Cruise Line contained in this article are entirely our own.