My husband and two small children, 8 and 6 recently returned from a Disney Cruise vacation. These 2015 tips helped to make our experience more enjoyable. This was my second time sailing with Disney and from my first experience, a lot has changed.
We set sail from Cape Canaveral on the Disney Dream, one of Disney Cruise Lines largest ship. We booked the Concierge Stateroom and was able to get personalized service and inside tips. All of these tips, plus a few of my own suggestions, I’ve compiled for your family to enjoy.
2015 Disney Cruise Tips
1. Book your cruise as early as possible. They require a small down payment to secure your cruise and stateroom. If possible, confirm the Concierge staterooms, there are many perks! Read about them in my post Discover the Magic of Disney Cruise.
2 . Select a stateroom closer to the center of the ship. You’re less likely to feel any motion on the boat.
3. An Oceanview State room is ideal for cruises over 4 days. If you have a short cruise, an inside stateroom would be fine. The time goes by fast and you spend very little time inside.
4 . Select the Main Dining if you’re traveling with small kids. It books quickly so be sure to do this as soon as you give them your deposit.
5. If you’re traveling with another family, “link” your reservation when you book so you can dine together.
6. Select your “Port Arrival Time” as soon as possible. This is the specific time you will be allowed to board the ship on the first day. You can usually confirm this time after you’ve completed your cruise documents.
7. If you arrive earlier than your “Port Arrival Time”, you can ask to board. If the ship is ready to board, they will let you on.
8. Pack a day bag with swimsuits for your arrival. You will not have access to your luggage for a few hours after you get on board.
9. Save money on transportation by renting a car to drive to the terminal.
10. If you do rent or drive your own car, reserve terminal parking in advance. The parking lots need to know your arrival time and cruise information. It will save you time and money. Cost about $60 for a 3day cruise.
11. If you leave out of Port Canaveral you must visit the Kennedy Space Center. (Read my KSC review here.) It’s less than 30 minutes and the Hampton Inn in Titusville is a wonderful place to stay!
12 Bring your own water. They have large packs of water for sale on board but the prices are inflated.
13. Bring your own reusable beverage container. There’s soft drink fountains in the food areas but they don’t provide lids or straws to carry out.
14. There are a few Princess Meet & Greet opportunities on the cruise but you must RSVP. As soon as you get on board go to the Activities Desk to get your family on the list and get tickets.
15. Disney’s Cruise Line host a Pirate Night on all of their cruises. Everyone will be dressed in pirate gear and saying Argh! Make sure you’re not left out of the party. Be sure to pack your gear.
16. Wait until you get on board to book your spa service. They will send you an invitation in the form of a coupon to your stateroom.
17. They have spa passes for sale on board the ship. You can pay to access to the spa per day or for the entire cruise. It cost about $20-$25 a day.
18. Make a reservation at one of the adult only restaurants. For only $10 per person we enjoyed a fine Italian meal at Palo on board the Dream. The adult dining gets books fast. Read more about our experience at Palo on my DCL review.
19. The food on board the ship is all you can eat, including the adult restaurants that cost extra, unless otherwise noted. They prefer to serve you one entree at a time, but our servers didn’t mind us ordering up.
20. Buy the bottle of wine your first night on the cruise. It’s much cheaper and if you don’t finish it they will serve it to you the next night and for the rest of the cruise, at your request.
21. Pack semi-formal attire for everyone. The adult restaurants require you to dress up. No jeans, shorts, t-shirts, flip flops, or sneakers. Also, there there will be family portrait stations set up during the evening.
22. Disney photographers will come to your dinner table to take your photos. You can ask them to take your family’s photo with your personal camera. They don’t mind.
23. Bring your own portable iron. They do not have irons in the room for safety reasons. You can pay for the laundry service or press it yourself in the community laundry room.
24. You can use your stateroom’s cordless phones outside of the room to keep in touch with other cruisers. These devices are meant to be portable and can be used to call or text another stateroom or the other handset assigned to your stateroom. Disney also uses it to contact you if your children are in the kids center.
25. Attend the nightly shows. Disney puts on a live performance every evening, depending on your cruise length of course. This is the Disney experience you paid for. These shows are one of a kind and very entertaining!
26. Get to the shows early or send your spouse to save your seats. Do I really need to tell you why?
27. If you have small children use the booster seats provided. Pick one up on your way in. They are located in the back of the theater.
28. If your cruise stops in Nassau, then you must go to Atlantis on Paradise Island. It is a beautiful resort with casino, shopping, dining, water park, beaches and lots more!
30. Run Disney Castaway Cay 5K. It’s usually held the morning you dock on Castaway Cay. You can register to attend when you get on board. This is a free event for the whole family but can get really hot.
31. On Castaway Cay, beach chairs and umbrella are limited to first come first serve. Get there early to claim your family’s spot on the beach.
32. Reserve the private Cabana on Castaway Cay. The cabanas are in a secluded area of the beach away from the crowds and comes with some extra amenities. They are perfect for large families. These sell out weeks before your cruise so act fast.
33. Be sure to download the Disney Cruise Live Navigator app before you set sail. It’s a handy tool that keeps you informed of all the activities on board the ship. It works with or without a connection.
If you’ve already book your trip on a Disney Cruise or anticipate booking it soon, I hope these tips are as helpful to you as they were for us. You are going to have so much fun. Don’t forget to check out the Daily Activities newsletter that is delivered to your room each morning. There is a lot of information hidden inside. Bon Voyage and I wish you the best!
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To view more photos or find out more about our Disney Cruise Concierge experience check out my post Discover the Magic of Disney Cruise Line Concierge.
Have you recently experienced a Disney Cruise? I’d love to hear about it. For suggestions or questions about DCL fee free to leave me a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
36 thoughts on “2015 Disney Cruise Tips Frequent Cruisers Don’t Want You to Know”
Wow! These are some terrific tips. I am planning to take a Disney Cruise next year and I would have never thought of the things you mentioned, especially the water!
Thanks Ty! I’m glad you enjoyed it!
Great tips! It pays to know them, that way you REALLY get your monies worth and also your pleasures worth. Make the most of your vacation I say! thank you for sharing!
I’m a true believer in getting your money’s worth!Thanks for the read!
These are some great tips. I hope we get to put these tips to use sooner or later.
i love disney. Always thought about going on a disney cruise. I know a couple that went with no kids and had a blast. These are some great tips to have for the future.
This list is AWESOME! Thank you so much for taking time to compile this list. My family and I will most likely plan a Disney cruise in the next year or two, so this is extremely helpful. I’m even more excited now!
Thanks so much for the info!! There were so many things on here I didn’t even think about! Can’t wait for our cruise in July!
Would love to take this cruise with our family.
What are the child care options like for when parents want a few hours of freedom?
Hey Joyce, read this review about the cruise experience. I talk about the Oceaneer Club for kids thats included and opens until midnight!!!
Pinned the other day – we have cruised before, but first Disney coming up later in the year. Yay! Good tips.
As a frequent cruiser this is a great list!! I have never done Disney but my friends blogged on my site about their Disney cruise to Alaska and loved it! Pinned and tweeted!
I just went on my first cruise ever, but have never been on a Disney cruise. Thanks for the great tips!
not sure if anyone replied to this already, but you are not allowed to bring an iron or even a steamer. They confiscated mine til after the cruise, and I picked it up in the terminal. I have sailed with Disney 7 times and this was the first time this happens. I guess I just lucked out that they didn’t check my bags that good before.
Thank you for clarifying Darlene! I did just verify from our cruise documents the following items that you can not bring on board: Homemade, precooked or other perishable items, IRONS, bottle warmers, sporting equipment, balloons, candles, musical instruments, illegal drugs inclusive of medically prescribed and synthetic marijuana and coolers. Thanks again!
Yes….this was our experience as well. Our November 2015 trip we were still able to have irons. But our October 2017 trip, they confiscated our travel iron (and small fan). Fortunately, I was able to get my fan back first night. They had an “electrician” scan it for safety and cleared. I’m thinking they are increasing their security measures, where before we were able to carry certain things on board. I’m just glad I was able to get my fan and use for the week.
Thanks for the update! glad you found my blog. Check back again for more travel tips!
We are cruising in September on the Dream and im just wondering about the attire for dinner on the pirate night. If we are eating in one of the restaurants do we go to dinner dresses in our pirate clothes or will there be time to go change before the deck party?
Thanks for all the info you provided 🙂
Hi Audra, It depends on your dinner time. If you have the earlier seating time then yes you will have time. The later dinner times it will be very close. When we went the party went very very late. However there is a full stage performance that happens earlier. Hope this helps!
Audra…I personally recommend wearing your pirate outfits to dinner. That is part of the fun! They have a pirate menu and everything on the ship is decorated pirate. Plus, they have photo ops with pirate theme backgrounds that are super fun when you are dressed up! We just sailed in August! Have a fantastic time! HTH!
Thanks so much for the tip!!
Hi! Thanks for the tips!
So do people really stick to the no jeans/sneakers at the restaurants? I have no problem with it…just curious…
Yes they do for the adult restaurants. My husband forgot to pack his and they loaned him a pair of slacks. Have fun and thank you for check it out!
Hi and thanks for all the tips
I’m lucky enough to be going in May
How do I rent a cabana at castaway island
Hi there, They can be rent from the excursion area of the cruise site. Go to the Castaway Cay options and you should find them there.
Katrina– you’ve got a great list here, but I feel the need to clarify some information listed. While there are lots of people who prefer main dining with little ones, we did late dining on our last DCL cruise, and we LOVED it! The Oceaneers’ Club will come to the restaurant and pick up the kids from dinner early. Also, lots of travellers from the west coast tend to like later dining since it’s closer to the time they usually eat. Your PAT (port arrival time) is not the time you get to board the ship, but rather the time you are supposed to arrive at the terminal. If you arrive early, you will get a later boarding group number and have to sit around for longer (with little to do). They typically start open boarding about 12:30, so anyone who arrives after that can usually walk right on. Also, while Palo (and Remy) are absolutely AMAZING and more than worth the money, it is NOT $10/pp. It believe it went up to $30/pp last year (was $25/pp). If you manage to get a cabana, that’s AWESOME! However, they typically are sold out as soon as concierge and platinum get to make their reservations, which is months ahead of time. I would just hate for someone going on their first cruise to expect to be able to book a cabana 75 days in advance (when first timers get to do all their check in stuff).
Thanks for the updates Margaret!!
Hi there!! So excited to be cruising Disney Dream with my family in a few weeks!! Love all of these tips!
We want to purchase some bottled water but are flying from Maine so we will be shuttled from airport, is there anywhere in port to buy bottled water?
Hi there, you my be able to purchase some water in the newstands at the airport before you exit the secured area close to the gates. If not, I would suggest bringing empty reusable bottles that way you can refill on water during your trip using the fountain machines or purchase water at your first port. Either way you’re going to love your cruise!
Another update: there is no pirate night on the Alaskan cruises (since we’re not in the Caribbean I guess) and no fireworks too. Great list!!
Thanks a bunch for this update!!