After three Disney cruises, I’ve learned a lot of tips and tricks that I wish I would have known before my first Disney cruise that would have made it even better! I’m sharing everything that I’ve learned with you so you will have the best cruise ever!
*This post was originally posted on 7/18/17, but I updated it on 10/5/19. We have since been on three Disney cruises and have learned so many new tips!
We’re huge Disney cruise fans and cruise as often as possible! So far, we’ve been lucky enough to go on a summertime cruise, a Halloween on the High Seas cruise, and a Very Merrytime cruise! Each one was amazing and magical in its own right but we’ve learned so many tips from each cruise.
Read our 7-Night Eastern Caribbean Honeymoon Disney Cruise review,here.
Watch our Halloween on the High Seas Disney cruise videos!
Watch our Very Merrytime Christmas cruise videos!
We want you and your family to have the best time ever on your next Disney cruise, so I’ve compiled a list of everything that I learned from our three Disney cruise experiences.
The following list and questions are everything that I think is important Disney cruise advice for first-time cruisers to learn before their first cruise. I hope this list is helpful to you and please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions!
Frequently Asked Disney Cruise Questions
Are Meals Included on a Disney Cruise?
Yes, almost all the food on a Disney cruise is included in the price of the cruise. This includes:
- All of your meals at the MDR (main dining room) restaurants
- Cabanas buffet
- Quick-service meals
- Room service (remember to tip at least $1 per item)
- All the self-serve ice cream you can eat!
However, there are a few exceptions that are not included in the price:
- There are two specialty adult-only dining restaurants on the Fantasy and Dream: Palo and Remy. The last time I checked, it was an additional charge of $25 per person for Palo brunch and dinner.
- Sweet on You gelato shop charges a small fee (about $3) per scoop.
- Specialty snacks at the movies (popcorn, candy, treats) are not included. We always bring our own candy from home or get snacks from Cabanas.
- Cove Cafe is the adult-only coffee shop that makes specialty coffees (frappuccinos, lattes, etc.) for an additional price.
Do you want to see all the food options on a Disney cruise? Read this post.
If you’re vegan or vegetarian, read this guide to eating plant-based on a Disney cruise.
What Time Can You Get on the Disney Cruise Ship?
After you book your cruise and your window opens up, you can choose your port arrival time. I believe the first time slot is at 10:45 AM but usually, the ship doesn’t start boarding people until 11:30 AM-ish. If you get there too early you may end up waiting in a long line waiting to board. Our PAT was 12 PM and we walked right on!
Can You Bring Your Own Alcohol on a Disney Cruise?
Yes, you can bring your own alcohol on board with you. This is the official policy, but basically, it says that you can bring two bottles of wine or champagne per person or one 6-pack per person. You can even get more at each port!
Do You Get a Magic Band on a Disney Cruise?
No, you don’t get magic bands on a Disney cruise. When you board you will get your KTTWC (key to the world card) that you will need for everything. It has your dining rotation schedule on it, it’s your room key, and it will also act as your form of payment for anything that you want to buy on the ship.
What Time is the Second Seating on a Disney Cruise?
There’s main seating and second seating for dinner. The main seating starts at 5:45 PM – 6:15 PM and the second seating starts between 8 PM – 8:30 PM.
Are soft drinks free on Disney Cruise?
Yes, soft drinks, coffee, and water are all included in the price of your Disney cruise!
Do They Serve Alcohol on a Disney cruise?
Yes, there is alcohol served on a Disney cruise. There are multiple bars located on the ship that serve alcohol to 21+ guests. You can order alcoholic drinks at dinner, when you’re at the pool, and even in the Walt Disney theater.
If you’re trying to save a little bit of money you should take advantage of bringing your own alcohol on board with you and then buy more at each port.
Is Food Included on a Disney Cruise?
You definitely won’t go hungry on a Disney cruise! Yes, the food is included and you’ll find it everywhere! The only restaurants that cost extra are Palo and Remy.
Which is better: Brunch or dinner at Palo?
What Are the Restaurants on the Disney Fantasy?
- Animator’s Palate (MDR)
- Royal Court (MDR)
- Enchanted Garden (MDR)
- Flo’s Quick Service
- Cove Cafe
Read this post to see what the food is like at all the restaurants on the Disney Fantasy!
Disney Cruise Tips and Secrets 2019
1. Disney cruises aren’t just for kids and don’t let anyone tell you differently! My husband and I went for our honeymoon and we had the best time! There were tons of adult activities, adult-only areas, and fun things for us to do.
Want more Disney cruise tips for adults? Read this –> 11 Funtastic Adult Activities to do on a Disney Cruise!
2. Do your research to find a travel agent that will give you onboard credit, or book your cruise through Costco (if you’re a member) because they will give you a Costco cash card based on the value of your cruise. We did this for our last two Disney cruises and it was so nice to get a Costco cash card in the mail after we returned home from our cruise!
3. Disney offers cruise discounts to FL residents and the Military on the DCL website. I haven’t seen any other sales offered. Usually, the lowest rates are the ones listed on the day the sailing dates are first released.
4. Disney cruises are all-inclusive, unlike other cruise lines. Everything but specialty dining restaurants (Palo and Remy), bingo, excursions, cabanas, and alcoholic drinks are included in the price of your cruise!
5. Splurge and go on the 7-night cruise! 3-4 night cruises are just not long enough to explore everything on the ship and fully relax into vacation mode. (We recently went on a 5-night cruise and it just wasn’t long enough. Trust me, go for the 7-night cruises or longer if possible!)
6. When choosing a stateroom, I recommend booking mid-ship on a higher deck if you’re worried about getting seasick. I’m prone to motion sickness so I was worried that I would get seasick but I ended up having no issues.
I’ve stayed mid-ship on deck 7, 8, and 10, and I’ve never gotten seasick. The only time I ever felt the ship sway is when I’m on the lower decks at dinner. I always wear these herbal motion sickness patches on cruises just in case, I swear by them!
7. You can now book the alcohol tastings online. You used to have to wait until you board the ship and then wait in a really long line to book these classes. Try to book these classes as soon as your window opens up because they fill up fast!
We have done the tequila, rum, cognac, whiskey, mojito, mixology, and the chocolate & liquor tastings. We loved all the classes and would do them all again, you really can’t go wrong with any of the classes.
8. Join a Facebook Disney Cruise group before your cruise to ask questions and learn tips from other experienced Disney cruisers! My favorite FB groups are Disney Cruise Line Junkies and Disney Cruising. (Just type those names into your FB search bar and they will pop up!)
9. You can load Disney gift cards onto your account to use onboard the cruise. Call DCL and they can set it up for you. That way, the bill that will be left at your door on the last day won’t be as painful.
10. Don’t miss your free character call with Mickey, Minnie, or Goofy before your cruise! You can schedule the call on the Disney Cruise Line website.
11. When you’re deciding what port excursions to book, google them first to see reviews from other cruisers to help you decide which excursions are the best. I highly recommend the jetski excursion at Castaway Cay, going zip lining at Tree Limin’ or visiting Trunk Bay in St. Thomas, and walking through The Baths in Tortola.
If you’re in any of the Disney cruise FB groups, you can search the name of the excursion in the group search bar, and most likely, a post will pop up with lots of answers or reviews because someone else already asked about the same excursion you did. That’s how we pick which excursions that we will do on a Disney cruise!
12. Booking a port excursion through Disney is usually more expensive than booking directly with the excursion company but you get the benefit of Disney handling everything for you.
Even though I love to save money, I always book through Disney because I like how safe I feel when they arrange everything. We have booked all of our cruise excursions through them over the last three cruises and I wouldn’t do it any other way.
Watch this video to see what an excursion booked through Disney is like.
13. Book your excursions, ship activities, and Palo/Remy reservations as soon as your Disney cruise online check-in time window opens up.
For first time cruisers, the window opens 75 days prior to your cruise. If you miss a reservation that you want, like Palo brunch, keep checking the week before your cruise because people change their minds about activities all the time. If you still can’t get the reservation, go to Guest Services on the ship as soon as you board and get on the waiting list!
14. Let Disney know if you’ll be celebrating a birthday or special event. We’ve celebrated our honeymoon and multiple birthdays onboard and they always make a big deal of it. They gave us celebration buttons and a special dessert!
15. Don’t pick the earliest boarding time because you’ll have to wait in a really long line to board the ship. We always pick between 11:30 AM – 12 PM to board and we walk right onto the ship with NO wait!
16. ALWAYS buy travel insurance,just in case. We like to get travel insurance directly through Disney because we didn’t want to have any issues or delays in case we had an emergency.
17. Don’t fly in on the same day that you’re supposed to board in case you get delayed. I’ve heard multiple horror stories of families flying into port the day of the cruise, getting delayed, and then the ship leaves without them. Definitely not a great way to start your magical cruise vacation.
18. Use this FREE Printable Disney Cruise Packing List to help you pack for your magical cruise vacation!
19. Trust me, a verandah room is WORTH the splurge! We’ve gotten a verandah for all three of our Disney cruises and we’ll never go back. You’ll love it, I promise.
20. If you’re anything like me, you might have some irrational fears about a verandah room. I actually worried about sleepwalking right off the verandah! The verandah door is very heavy and hard to open, so there is no need to worry!
The lock is located at the top of the door where little kids can’t reach it and then you have to lift the handle up and push the heavy door open. It definitely took me a few tries to get it to open. In case you were wondering, I did not try to sleepwalk out of our room!
21. Don’t overpack! I know you think that you’re going to change your outfit three times a day but you probably won’t (unless you’re my mom). If you do run out of clean clothes, you can always do laundry onboard the ship.
Daily Disney cruise attire is comfy casual for the most part. Think shorts and button-down shirts for men and summery dresses or shorts and a t-shirt for women. If you’re going to dine at Palo brunch or Remy, you’ll need to dress up.
22. Bring a couple of different forms of motion sickness remedies in case one works better than another. I brought Seabands, herbal ear patches, and ginger chews. Luckily, I’ve never gotten seasick even though I am very sensitive to any type of motion, so I highly recommend these items– they really work!
23. We hung this spinning closet organizer in our stateroom closet to hold all of our little things, like small toiletries, medicines, and electronic accessories. It really helped our cruise cabin organization!
24. Many people bring fish extenders to hang by their stateroom door. If you planned on bringing one and forgot to pack it, you can buy one from the gift shop on the ship.
25. Pack a light sweater, just in case you get cold easily. Even during the summer, it gets pretty windy at night on the top deck.
26. Per DCL alcohol policy: You can bring two bottles of wine or one 6-pack of beer per person on the cruise.
27. Assume that someone in your group will catch a cold and pack what you think you might need to feel better. There’s nothing worse than being sick, away from home, and not being able to get the medicine you need to make you feel better.
I always bring sovereign silver drops, oregano oil,elderberry gummies, zinc pills, and vitamin c pills.
28. The doors in your stateroom are metal, so bring magnetic clips to keep important papers organized and out of the way. We hung our Personal Navigator and reservation cards on the door each night.
29. Clothespins are very useful for hanging bathing suits to air-dry on the clothesline in the shower.
30. Pack a pop-up hamper(we love this one!) to keep all of your dirty clothes sorted and then transfer them on the last day to a trash bag to bring home. It keeps your stateroom organized and the laundry process very simple when you get home.
31. There are very few irons on board and you can’t bring your own, so a travel-sized bottle of wrinkle releaser spray will be very useful. We used it every night to get rid of wrinkles in our clothes when we changed into our outfits for dinner.
32. Some people like to carry on a case of water bottles BUT you don’t have to do that– you can get free water on board the ship at the drink stations by the main pool. I’m a bit of a water snob and the ship water is very good water, their filtration system is top-notch!
If you don’t want to drink the ship water or bring your own water on board the ship with you, you can buy a case of water bottles when you board and have it sent directly to your stateroom.
33. Pack a large insulated travel mug (We love these BPA-FREEstainless steel mugs, they keep our water so cold!) so you can fill them up and have water in your room at all times. If you’re like me, then you probably drink a lot of water and don’t want to make a million trips to the drink station to fill a small paper cup.
34. Bring a large reusable shopping bag for shopping at each port. Decline the plastic bags if possible.
35. Pack extra camera batteries and memory cards in case you need more space for pictures or videos!
36. Bring at least $100 in $1’s and $5’s for tips. (This is the amount we usually bring for a week-long cruise but this is not including the extra tips that we leave our stateroom host and servers on the late night.)
37. Pack individual wet wipes or antibacterial hand spray just in case. Even though our stateroom was very clean, I always spray or wipe down door handles, the remote control, and any surface that we might touch.
38. The pool decks are very windy because they’re on the top of the ship and they’re exposed to the weather. We brought these heavy-duty towel clips to clip our towel to the beach chair so it would stop blowing off. These clips work very well!
39. Each stateroom has a really nice hairdryer with an attached diffuser, you don’t need to bring your own.
40. All DCL staterooms have mini-refrigerators underneath the counter. This is where I keep my dairy-free Ripple coffee creamer that I bring from home!
41. Bring magnets to decorate your stateroom door. It’s a tradition for many people to decorate your door + it’s an easy way to help you identify your stateroom door as you walk down the very long hallways.
42. If you’re a first time Disney cruiser, bring a lanyard with a plastic case attached to hold your KTTWC. You’ll be gifted a DCL lanyard on your second Disney Cruise.
43. Bring a beach bag! This is the one item that I forgot to pack for our first cruise that I really needed for Castaway Cay and pool days. This is the beach bag that I have now and I love it! It’s large, it has pockets, it has a zipper so I don’t have to worry about anything falling out, and I love the Mickey and Minnie design– it’s so adorable!
44. Bring at least two swimsuits, it’s not fun trying to pull on a wet suit in a cold stateroom!
45. You don’t need to pack towels for the cruise, there are plenty of towels by the pool that you can use. Save the space in your suitcase for souvenirs! Also, when you go on water-based excursions, you don’t need to bring towels from your room. DCL will give you towels to take with you as you walk off the ship.
46. I packed purses to match my outfits but I ended up wearing my small Disney backpack every day because it was so convenient to carry my water bottle, camera, wallet, etc. Make it easy on yourself, you’re on vacation!
47. Leave the heels at home! If the ship sways at all it will be even easier for you to trip, I’ve seen multiple people fall. Pack an extra pair of comfy sandals instead.
48. Bring an old gift card to keep in the power slot in your stateroom while you’re in your stateroom (only on the Fantasy or Dream). Even better, stick a small piece of magnetic tape on the back at the top of the card so it will stick to the wall when you’re not using it. We bought these special cards on Etsy but regular gift cards work just as well.
49. I know people have different opinions about needing a passport to travel on a cruise but I highly recommend bringing it just in case– even if it’s not required for where you’re traveling. You never know what will happen and it’s better to be safe than sorry.
50. Download the Disney Cruise App before getting on the ship. It’s free and so useful! You can access the Personal Navigator and communicate with the other guests in your group.
51. Parking for one week at the Disney cruise terminal garage costs $135. Some local hotels that are close to the port offer parking deals if you stay at their hotel before your cruise, but we prefer to park at the port. It’s just more convenient.
52. The only pressed penny machine is in the boarding cruise terminal (at Port Canaveral), and you won’t be able to access it when you get off the ship, so make sure you get it before you board.
53. While boarding the ship, keep your photo ID, signed cruise papers and KTTWC handy. You will need them multiple times before you can board the ship. I used one of these RIFD zippered pouches to hold all of our personal documents.
54. Have your video or phone ready because they announce your family’s last name when you walk onboard the ship for the first time. It’s a super fun memory to look back on!
55. In your carry on bag (not luggage), pack a bathing suit, a change of clothes, any medication you might need, personal documents, electronics (camera, GoPro), and any valuables you might have. The suitcases that you check will be left unattended outside of your stateroom later that night.
56. As soon as you board the ship, go get lunch at Cabanas, hit the Aquaduck/Aquadunk (it usually has short lines at this time), and get ready for the Sail Away Party.
57. The safety drill isMANDATORY. You have to check into the meeting with your room number and they will wait until everyone shows up, so don’t waste everyone’s time by not showing up on time. Your assigned letter (A-Z) location will be listed on your KTTWC.
58. Be aware that the cruise itinerary can change at any moment. On our first cruise, our ports were changed last minute so our excursions were changed too. Another benefit of booking excursions through Disney is that if your ports get changed, they will automatically handle canceling and scheduling new excursions for you.
59. Explore the whole ship, every inch is gorgeous! On the first day of your cruise, there is a walking tour of the ship. The tour is very informative and it really helps you to learn your way around the ship.
60. Once you board the ship, turn on airplane mode in all of your phones so you won’t be charged for roaming fees.
61. You get 50 megabytes of free internet but you have to redeem it on the first night of your cruise. After you use the free 50 megabytes there is internet at sea option but it’s very expensive and not worth it in my opinion. Disconnect from your phone and social media, enjoy your vacation and be present!
62. On the first day (before the muster drill), there is a raffle at the Senses Spa where you could win a gift card to use towards a service! Not too many people know about this so you’re chances of winning are pretty good!
63. You can watch any Disney movie on-demand on the TV in your stateroom. We watched a movie every night before bed, it was such an unexpected and cool extra!
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