“Okay, give us your best tips.” We hear this frequently while traveling at Walt Disney World and on Disney Cruise Line. Maybe it is the matching shirts that indicate we have “done this before” or, as one Cast Member recognized, our state of relaxation and sheer joy that indicate to others that we might have some things figured out. And, we do even though we are still learning and sharing our lessons with others, like you.
So, here they are, our best tips for Disney Cruise Line:
- Buy the Photo CD from Shutters. Yes, it is expensive ($249 or more depending on the length of your cruise), but there is usually a savings deal on prints after you commit to the CD. Do you really want to have to choose which great pictures to take home? I don’t, so I get them all. I have watched people spend the last night of their cruise agonizing over which pictures to purchase yet, spend the same amount on sweatshirts and other souvenirs without hesitation. Just budget for the CD, get lots of pictures taken by the ship’s photographers, and enjoy them forever.
- Book your next cruise while on board. There is significant savings and on-board credits to be had when booking your next cruise while sailing. You can also give your travel agent credit for your booking and they can handle the details for you when you get back home. Itineraries are usually available 18 months or more in advance. We have done this for all but one of our cruises, and can now do it without visiting with a person at the Future Cruise Sales desk. I grab a booklet with a Cruise Request Card, fill it out, drop it by the Future Cruise Sales Desk located on Deck 4 on all Disney ships, and wait for a reply. We can then conduct business via phone or in person and am given a receipt to take home. Easy peasy! Our travel agent knows we are going to do this, so she looks for our paperwork to arrive, usually before we get home.
- Get up and out early on Castaway Cay days. Our opinion is that Castaway Cay is a highlight of any Disney Cruise and the day is short, so enjoy every minute you can of paradise.
- Be in the first groups on the ship, if you can. I know this isn’t always feasible, and now Disney Cruise Line is assigning Port Arrival Times to make the Port Terminal less congested, but if it is possible, get on the ship as soon as you can. One of the best ways to get the most value for your cruise is to make the most of embarkation day. We take our swimsuits in our carry-on bag and get a head start on swimming, riding the Aqua Duck, soaking in hot tubs, etc. We’ve toured the ship with Midship Detective Agency, or taken a guided ship’s tour. I even toured the spa. We can get a lot into an afternoon before the assembly station drill. We have seen others spending the time waiting. . . for their stateroom to open ( at 1:30 pm usually) or for their luggage to arrive—sometime before 5:00 pm typically. Instead of waiting, we are playing and making the most of our time on board that is typically less crowded than the rest of cruise.
- Go to the shows. The stage shows at the Walt Disney Theater are Broadway caliber shows, family friendly, and just right in length. Guests can see the shows opposite their dinner seating. Guests with late seating see the early show and guests with main seating for dinner see the later show. Except when Disney Cruise Line decides to add a matinee showing, usually at 3:00 pm, which we love! We go to the show and then get changed for dinner giving us the rest of the evening to participate in other activities.
There you have it. Our top tips for sailing with Disney Cruise Line. We met a family from Canada that asked us this question and we shared 3 of the above tips. They left the ship with a Photo CD, a reservation for their next cruise, and big smiles.