We are less than five months from sailing with the Mouse for the 6th time on Disney Cruise Line. You would think that by now we would be experts at planning and executing a magical Disney cruise. You would think. . .
But in reality, there are still some aspects of planning a cruise that trip me up. Here’s a list of what I find “easy” and “tricky” about planning a Disney Cruise:
- Dining. There’s no need for racing to the phone or website 180 days prior to our sailing to make dining reservations. When we receive our Key To The World Cards upon check-in at the port, our dining rotation will be listed and we will also find it on our dining tickets in our stateroom. Each evening at a specified time, we will report to one of the three main dining rooms on the ship and be treated to excellent service and cuisine. If we are hungry any other time while on the ship there are many dining options to choose from including room service, which is included with the cruise. And, I am sensing that the boy is planning on eating ice cream anytime he walks by the ice cream machines on board.
- Deciding what to do during the day. Each evening a Personal Navigator is delivered to your stateroom listing the next day’s activities so that you can plan your day. Want to sleep late? No problem as there is no need to rush to get Fastpasses. It is also okay to do absolutely nothing but relax and not feel like you are “wasting” a park ticket day or valuable “park time.”
- Packing. No need for umbrellas, ponchos, moleskin for hot spots on feet, foot cream, or many toiletries as they are included. A Disney Cruise is a vacation you can just “show up for” and still have an incredible experience.
- Checking in. The Disney Cruise Line web-site is a breeze to use which makes checking in prior to sailing easy peasy.
- Transportation. Just like our Walt Disney World stays, we relax and let Disney do the driving. Port Transfers with Disney Cruise Line work similarly to Disney’s Magical Express except that there is a fee. Typically $35 per person per leg—either airport to port, report to port, port to airport, or port to resort. $70 per person round-trip is a reasonable fee. If your travel party is 4 or more, private transportation options may be more economical.
Tricky. . .
- Budgeting. When at the World, I know our meals are already taken care with the Dining Plan and I can control the souvenir budget. But on the ship, I don’t know how much some things are going to cost until I get there. . . such as photo packages or the deposit for our next cruise. Shore excursions I do know prices and can plan accordingly and I can control souvenir purchasing on the ship similarly to on land. Spa treatments are not typically on our “to do” list, but that could be another “unknown” if not making the reservation prior to sailing. How many “tastings” will the husband want to participate in and how much will they cost? These are things to consider when budgeting. Thank goodness tips are now included in the total price of the cruise!
- Pre/Post cruise travel. If traveling to the World, your travel dates can vary, but when sailing, you have to make it to the ship on-time! This means less flexibility when selecting flights both pre and post cruise. Typically, we fly in at least one day prior to sailing, and for our most recent sailings, we headed to Walt Disney World when disembarking giving us more flexibility when flying home. Though, guests traveling on day of embarkation need to make sure flights are early enough and late enough when disembarking from the ship.
Obviously, these tricky parts are not keeping us from sailing and we have instituted some strategies to make the tricky parts less tricky. For example, we put the “sea” portion of our vacation prior to the “land” portion given that the cruise is most likely more expensive. Imagine if we went to Walt Disney World first and I spent the time saying “no, we can’t buy that because I don’t know how much money we will need on the ship.” That would not be fun at all! By the time we leave the ship, I know exactly where we are budget wise. And, by putting the “land” portion last, we have more flexibility in selecting flights for the trip home.