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Opening Magic Kingdom

Opening Magic Kingdom

Sunday, October 9, 2011

All Good Things Come To An End, Including A Disney Cruise

As they say, all good things must come to an end and the same goes for a Disney Cruise.  The last night of a Disney Cruise is an exiting and busy time.  The trick is to balance taking advantage of the rest of the magical experiences your cruise has to offer and get all the “business” done so you’re ready to leave the ship.

Here’s how our family handles the last evening on a Disney ship:

We get our tips ready for our Server, Assistant Server, Stateroom Host/Hostess, and Head Server.  Information about tipping will be left in your stateroom the day before the last day, including little envelopes to enclose the tip.  The form allows you to calculate the appropriate tips.  Remember that tipping is per person in your stateroom and children count.  So, for us, whatever the standard rate is, it is times three for our family.  Tipping is customary in the cruising industry.  Click here for a tipping calculator to help you estimate the tipping costs for your cruise.

Guests can pre-pay their tips through Disney Cruise Line similar to adding funds to an on-board account, can use their credit card or add the tips to their on-board account and receive slips of paper worth the amount of the tip to include in the envelope, or put cash in the envelopes.  We had the amount of cash needed for each tip set aside in a separate envelope before we got on the ship, so we just transferred those amounts to the envelopes provided by the cruise ship to give to the appropriate Cast Members.

Tipping is done the last evening.  We took our wait staff envelopes with us and handed them out after the promenade of chefs and wait staff that happens on the last evening.  We left our stateroom host’s envelope in our stateroom when we left for dinner.

When the boy was done eating, he went to the club and the husband and I went back to the stateroom to finish packing when we were done with dinner.  Directions for leaving your luggage outside your stateroom door the night before are left in your room, along with luggage tags.  It is important to remember the Disney Character and color of your luggage tags, as that is how you will find them in the large luggage room the next morning after you leave the ship.  The room is zoned by color and character.  Ours were red Mickey.  That’s how we found and retrieved our luggage.

You can find more directions on your stateroom television playing in a continuous loop on one of the channels.  The big thing to remember is to have clothing and whatever else you need for the next morning.  This would include important stuff like medications and travel documents, Passports, ID’s, etc. 

If you want to carry your own luggage off the ship, you are welcome to do so and you don’t have to have it out the night before.  We don’t recommend this, as you will be taking it to breakfast with you.  Once you leave your stateroom in the morning, there’s usually no going back.  Already, you are most likely carrying some sort of travel bag—such as a carry-on.  Trust me, in the morning, the restaurant will be filled with bags.  People and bags!

Now, we have done this several times, but our last trip was somehow easier.  Since we were headed to Walt Disney World, instead of a flight where our liquids would have to be in a checked bag, we had access to all of our toiletries the next morning.  What a pleasure!  I just put them in the carry-on bag, along with our clothing from the night before, and we were good to go!  No worrying about TSA requirements, how to get things in checked bags, weight limits, etc. 

When the packing was done and the bags were in the hall, we got the boy from the club (and turned in his bracelet with his electronic chip for checking in and out of the Kids' Clubs) and headed to the Lobby Atrium for the Until We Meet Again festivities held on the last night of your Disney cruise.  This show of sorts lets guests get access one last time to Disney Characters.  We hadn't seen Chip and Dale the whole cruise, so they were our target for the celebration.  After the characters come down the grand staircase in the Lobby Atrium, they find a spot somewhere in the vicinity to have queue form and greet guests.  Just be sure to follow the characters you are hoping to see.  Until We Meet Again only lasts for about 25 minutes, so be sure to move quickly.

The last evening is also a good time to settle your on board account.  You can also do that in the morning, but be warned that lines at Guest Services can get quite long.  If you have secured your on-board account with a credit card and plan on having all the charges for purchases and services added to your credit card, that will be taken care of automatically.  If you have deposited cash to cover your on board expenses for purchases and services, then it would be advisable to check the balance.  We had deposited cash for our ship board account.  When we hadn't spent all of it, we were issued cash back for the balance of the account.  We took care of our on board account before dinner on our last day.

The activities last well into the late evening and night, so be sure to take advantage of all that your last night has to offer.

When you return to your stateroom after dinner, you will find directions for the morning and a customs form.

One customs form can be completed for your entire travel party, which is what we did.  Carry your completed customs form, ID’s, Key to the World Card, and Passports in a handy location when getting off the ship, as you will need all of them at several points in the disembarkation process.

Breakfast will be in the same restaurant you dined in the night before, unless you dined at Palo or Remy.  Then your breakfast will be in the restaurant you would have dined in had you not been at Palo or Remy.  Main seating diners eat early breakfast and late seating diners eat late breakfast.  This is a well oiled efficient system, so it is best not to try to go against it.  There will be a specific menu for breakfast, but if you want to order more than one "plate" you are welcome to.  For example, if you want both eggs and pancakes, this would require more than one "plate" from the menu.  It's OK to do just that.

Hopefully your Disney Cruise has been full of magic and memories.  And, possibly another Disney Cruise is in your future!

Trust me, we all have the same feeling when leaving a Disney Cruise--a bit of sadness, a bit of disappointment and lament, a nice helping of satisfaction, and a great deal of happiness.

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