All the things I wish I knew before my First Disney Cruise

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It’s me, your neighborhood Disney World expert with an unhealthy obsession with theme parks… except this time, I went on a Cruise! 

My first Disney Cruise, I went for the food (as I cover Food Allergies and Gluten Free options at Disney World) and ended up learning SO MUCH, which is incredibly humbling (in the best way possible). Then I promptly booked another Cruise because it was that good! Now I get to share that with you, my internet Disney Family, who might be planning a first time trip on a cruise.  

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There’s so much to do, you won’t be bored… unless it’s past 10 pm.

There’s a lot a lot to do on the cruise! I thought it would be more relaxing and napping, but I was surprisingly busy. 

In the evenings, after the shows and parties, there’s not a lot going on after 10 or so. Which was fine for me, as I was kid-less on this cruise, and we did several bar crawls (most of those locations closed at midnight). 

The kids location were still open at the time, but most of the kids had headed off to bed. This meant that one of the nights, they did an open house in the avengers section of the kids club at 10:45. The Crew Member said that all but two of the kids had gone back to parents. 

The First Day can also be rather… slow. Here’s a full list on the first day of your Disney Cruise.

This is a good time to wind down, check out all the movies on the TV in your stateroom, and plan for a fun day in the morning! 

The Disney Cruise App has all the times and options for the Cruise (no paper options) 

I’ve read that many Disney Cruises used to offer a paper ‘navigator’, but with the 2020 closure, those went by the wayside (like many things!) 

Instead, you’ll need you mobile device connected to the Disney Cruise LIne Wifi so that you can see all the options available for the day! You can also see the options available on other days, which helps to plan the entire cruise. 

I will admit, there was a few hard calls where we had to pick between two items we really wanted to do, but seeing other days itineraries all on the app made it easier to decide. 

On the Flip Side, There are lines for everything, and you won’t have a lot of time during the day

Lot’s of influencers and youtubers (and bloggers if we’re getting real honest) don’t convey how much there is to actually do when you are on the ship. Many times we’ve had to get dressed before several hours before dinner because there was a show we wanted to watch before dinner and wouldn’t have much time between the show and dinner. 

Likewise, right after breakfast there isn’t much time before your get your day started if you want to do #allthethings. 

Plus, there’s lines. I should have expected lines, lines are a normal part of life, but I kinda assumed there would be less waiting and more playing!

Characters are only listed for 15 minutes, but meet longer than that 

We skipped a few character meets because they had long lines, and it was almost at the end of the 15 minute window shown in the app. 

But we were so wrong (so so wrong!) as the Crew Member Character Attendant was the one who would close the line, sometimes 20/30 minutes after the time slot shown on the app. This was especially true at night, where we got in line to meet Goofy and saw him 20 minutes after his time had ‘ended’. 

Most of the Princesses were for Walking Around, and meet and greets needed to be scheduled. 

For example, I saw Rapunzel and Flynn Rider from the atrium balcony several times, but there was no meet and greet for Flynn Rider! Same with Prince Charming, who was on the atrium balcony, but only Cinderella was available to meet.

And the Princess meets, for the most part, are prescheduled options that you need to book ahead of time. There is an option the very last night, where they do the end show in the Atrium, and some princesses are available for meets.

Luggage Drop Off and Pick Up 

Fun Fact, Disney Cruise has tags that they mail you for when you drop off luggage. The first time I went I didn’t know this… and thankfully my friend had an extra one for me to use.

You can also get the luggage tags the day of if you’ve forgotten your tags or didn’t get them in the mail.

Want more about what to pack in your Checked Luggage? See the 15 items you shouldn’t Cruise without on your next trip.

When your on the cruise, on the night before you leave, you put new tags on and put your bags out by 10 pm to have it taken down to the port for you to pick up on your way out. 

We didn’t know that, and with a second dinner at 8:15, we had no time to get our bags out in time! I say ‘we’ but I really just mean ‘me’, as my cruise mates just lost track of time. With our second dinner time finishing at 9:50, it was too stressful to run back to the room just to avoid our bags the next day. 

You do need a day bag for embarkation and debarkation day 

Since you drop off your luggage before boarding, and then drop off your luggage the night before debarkation, it’s good to have a designated ‘cruise’ bag. 

Here’s a helpful list of all the things you want to pack or consider packing on your Embarkation Day.

For the most part, you’ll want some items in your bag, which include things like a swimsuit, a snack and autograph book for embarkation day (or day 1). For your last day, which ends early in the morning, have room for last minute items like your pajamas, your personal care items like your toothbrush, and your Id and Passport (which you need to get back on dry land)

Merchandise Sells out fast! 

Want merchandise with “The Wish” or “Disney Cruise Line” on it? Go to the shops on opening night. 

Much like a Disney World merch rush, there was a line out the door on Embarkation Day once we made it out to sea! 

Which wasn’t a big deal, so we decided to do other stuff and stopped by at 9:30 before the shops closed at 10. Problem was… most of the ‘ideal’ sizes had sold out! There were tshirts and spirit jerseys, all in odd sizing and with very few on the racks. The Crew Members did say they would restock, but that they just didn’t have many in the back with lots of sizing. 

We managed and got other items, but if you want that speciality shirt or spirit jersey, make sure to go when the shops first open around 6 pm. 

Here’s a look at some of the Travel Essentials onboard Disney Cruises.

Castaway Cay is exhausting 

Castaway Cay is Disney’s Private Island, and I highly recommend it!

But here’s the thing, you walk out forever to get to the beach areas. Not really forever, but it’s a nice hike and you’ve got all your bags and towels with you. 

Then the Sun zaps it out of you!

If you take the tram (which is an option) you miss out on several photo oppurtunities and you don’t get to see the characters as much. (There are characters after the tram though). 

So I walk all the way there, check out the shops, then have to walk another stretch to get to the trams for the adult only beach. That tram took us far out to a nice but very busy stretch of beach just for the eighteen plus crowd. 

There’s no activities on the adult Serenity Beach, so after lunch, we trammed it back to the main area to snorkle. Played in the water there some, saw some clouds, and headed back to the other tram to get back to the boat. 

Needless to say, I was hot and tired despite properly eating and hydrating. That direct afternoon sun in the islands is no joke. (Jokes on me that I didn’t believe anyone and came home tired with a sunburn). 

Photo Packages sell out wicked fast 

If there’s one thing that boggles the mind, it’s how fast these photo packages sell out! I didn’t realize they were limited options, and waited too long.

You could buy the Digital Photos individually (same price for digital or print at that!) or just take screenshots like I did. 

Side note: They will sometimes use your phone, but sometimes they say only camera. So I had my friend take a lot of pictures for me!

The Coffee ‘Ripple’ Designs are included, so have fun with it! 

At Disney World, at some Coffee Locations, they offer the “ripples” which makes a design on your coffee. 

It’s cute and very picture worthy! On the Cruise, it’s included when you purchase a foamy top drink and I didn’t even realize this for my first three coffees (the good crew members just gave me random designs until I finally asked!) 

You can pack water as Checked Luggage  

This really was like the hack of all hacks, and I was silently cheering on their ingenuity. I saw in two different staterooms where someone took the luggage tag and just taped the whole tag to a case of water. Efficient and effective, 10/10. 

Lastly, Just because it’s a Disney Cruise, Doesn’t mean everything will go Perfect

While my First Cruise went really well (And considering I have allergies and lived to tell the tale, I’m very happy). Lot’s of people had a rough time. 

Overheard (easedropped a very inebriated guy) whose wallet had been stolen of the bed in his stateroom. Thankfully he had some cash and his ID and Passport as he went into Nassau, but his wallet with the rest of his cash and cards vanished. 

Another conversation I stumbled upon at Guest Services was from a solo traveler who complained that the people on the verandah next to him were too loud and he demanded he be moved (quite the site to see people with all their luggage at the Guest Services desk at 9pm at night). 

Another lady wanted her entire cruise refunded, While I didn’t get the details, it was obviously pretty severe as it held up the guest services line for quite some time (three crew members helping the guest, with one left to tend to the very long line made for quite a long night). 

Disney Cruising is what people wish Disney World was! Lot’s of Characters out and about, plenty of things to do, original broadway style shows, easy and accesible food options, unlimited soda and tea, and lower crowds. 

Maybe the most suprising thing I wish I knew before my trip was how much I would love Disney Cruises and that I can’t wait to go back. 

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