One of my favorite things about a Disney Cruise Line vacation is that it doesn’t require months and months of advance planning like a Walt Disney World Resort vacation. You don’t have to schedule your dining reservations 180 days in advance or any FastPasses 60 days in advance. A Disney cruise offers both a less stressful planning experience ahead of time and more relaxing vacation while you’re away enjoying your vacation. Although you don’t have to spend hours preparing for a Disney Cruise Line vacation, there are a few things that you can take care of in advance to make your vacation even better!
Here are 11 things to do before your Disney cruise:
- Online Check In: As soon as your booking window (determined by your Castaway Club status) opens, you should complete online check in. This provides Disney with all of your important information and in turn, allows you to choose how early you would like to arrive at the port. If you are not taking Disney transportation to the airport, this will get you on the ship as quickly as possible by choosing the earliest time available.
- Book Port Excursions: If you are planning to participate in any excursions during your cruise, you can book them in advance, as well. Some of the most popular excursions do fill up before the sailing so booking them as soon as your window opens insures the best availability for you to choose your favorite excursions. There’s also a desk onboard that can help you make changes or book excursions during your vacation, if necessary.
- Book Onboard Experiences: There aren’t too many activities that need to be booked in advance for a Disney cruise, but there are a couple character experiences (Frozen Meet and Greet and/or Princess Gathering), beverage tastings, Disney Junior character breakfast (for minimum seven night sailings), speciality dining, and spa treatments that can be reserved in advance. If you forget to book these in advance, they can be booked onboard as well, pending availability.
- Choose your Dining Time: Disney Cruise Line offers two dining times, either 5:45 pm or 8:!5 pm which also determines your evening show times and even breakfast on the last morning of your cruise. When you book your cruise, you will have the opportunity to choose (pending availability) your preferred dining time. If main dining is full, you can always waitlist it or even ask to change after you board if you are unable to secure it in advance.
- Schedule Character Call: You can schedule a complimentary pre-recorded character call from either Mickey Mouse, Goofy, or Mickey and Minnie. This is a fun way to either tell your kids about your upcoming vacation or get them even more excited to go!
- Passports: Although passports are not required for some cruises, they are still strongly recommended. If you’re planning to purchase a passport for your cruise, be sure to order it far enough in advance to avoid any rush fees. If you already have a passport, just double check to make sure that it will still be valid for your sailing (and preferably at least six months afterwards).
- Transfers: Whether you are purchasing Disney Cruise Line transfers, parking at the port, or purchasing private transfers, you will want to arrange in advance how you’ll be getting to and from the port.
- Join your Cruise group on Facebook: Almost every sailing has a group on Facebook where you can connect with fellow cruisers. The biggest advantage to joining these groups is if you’d like to participate in a fish extender (gift exchange) with your fellow passengers. It can also be nice to find fellow cruisers with kids around the same age, if you have any that are apprehensive about going to the kids clubs onboard.
- Download the Disney Cruise Line Navigator App: You will want to download the Disney Cruise Line Navigator app before you board the ship, if possible. Disney is eliminating the practice of leaving a paper copy of your Personal Navigator in your stateroom each evening so you’ll need to use the app to find out all of the activities planned onboard each day of your sailing. Plus, they have a fun countdown app that will help pass the time while you wait for your vacation.
- Prepay Gratuities: You can prepay your gratuities with your cruise fare so you won’t have to worry about them onboard. If you do not prepay your gratuities, Disney will automatically add them to your onboard account. It is nice to have them prepaid so you can only worry about spending money on souvenirs during your vacation.
- Purchase a Photo Package: If you’re interested in having any of the pictures taken onboard or at Castaway Cay, you will want to purchase a photo package in advance to take advantage of a pre-cruise discount. One big difference if you’re used to Disney PhotoPass photographers in the parks is that the cruise photographers are not able to take a picture on your device in addition to theirs.
Next, it’s time to start packing for your Disney cruise! What do you think are the most important things to do before your Disney cruise?