Best. Vacation. Ever. If you’re considering a Disney Cruise or are lucky enough to have one on the horizon, here are a few tips I’m happy to pass along. We loved our first cruise enough to book a 2nd one before we left the ship–at a 10% discount + $200 onboard credit. (More on that later.)
Tip#1: You WILL want to book another cruise so do some prep work. I had to book my mother without even asking her opinion since you’re able to get up to two rooms on the discount. Pre-plan!
As Disney Vacation Club members we’re no stranger to the Mouse, but Disney Cruise resides on a whole new level. We started small with a four night, five day Disney Dream cruise from Port Canaveral to Bahamas and Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island. And while the Castaway Cay outing was spectacular filled with character dance parties on the beach, crystal blue water and ocean water slides, we decided against a tour during the Nassau stop, getting off for a brief jaunt but mainly taking advantage of the ship’s lighter traffic.
Tip #2: If it’s your first Disney Cruise, take advantage of the ship’s activities while others are exploring the island, or at least don’t rush off. Spend the morning onboard, grab lunch and then explore the island a bit as other passengers are beginning to return.
When I heard about the Disney’s Oceaneer Club having registered the kids online before the cruise and receiving our wristbands before boarding the ship at Port Canaveral, I had NO idea how much they would love it. Nor how fluid it would be as they visited at different times of the day–after breakfast one day, after lunch another, after dinner most nights. They begged to go back and play, dance, explore, and even interact with Disney characters. We used the alone time to talk about future cruises lounging at Waves and even catch Monday night football at 687 (sports bar).
Tip #3: The youth clubs, with trained counselors and more security than Fort Knox, will be your kids’ highlight of the trip. Even if you don’t typically utilize babysitters, seriously consider and use the time to sit by the adult pool, schedule a spa service or shop uninterrupted for souvenirs.
Once the cruise was booked I searched blogs and forums researching insider Disney cruise tips trying to get a handle on how to be 1st time Disney cruiser. While I may have left the highlighter home (to highlight preferred activities on the daily “navigator” of activities) and the scotch tape (to hang pics kids made in Oceaneer Club) took up more space than it was worth, I did learn a few valuable pre-trip tips.
Tip #4: Buy a pillow case for each kid and some fabric markers. Put them in a ziploc and give to Guest Services on the ship. They will have all of the Disney characters sign and return on the last day of the trip. I purchased these Disney pillowcases from Etsy and also grabbed some personalized magnets too which we placed on our cabin door which is magnetic. Many people do this to distinguish their doors for fun.
When we disembarked, it was a sad morning. The best vacation in memory was over, and even months later we have the post-Disney cruise blues a bit. The only bright spot? Rather than boarding a bus to the airport, the family extended our trip with a good ol’ WDW vacation. As DVC members, we make the trip once or twice a year and even though the cruise was unparalleled, there’s nothing quite like Magic Kingdom or seeing “Welcome Home” as you enter a WDW Resort.
Tip #5: Plan a few day WDW vacation to mitigate those post-Cruise blues. For this trip we stayed at Fort Wilderness Lodge and loved the ambiance, pool slides (kids must have gone down them 200 times) and view of the Water Pageant from the beach. Take a bus directly from the cruise to your resort and make it a 2-for-1 Disney Dream vacation.
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