All the Essential Tips for Embarkation Day (Day 1) on a Disney Cruise

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Disney Cruises are a lot of fun, but they are sometimes not clearly explained online leaving you confused on your First Trip. Maybe that’s part of the allure for an all-inclusive vacation, but if you are like so many of us, we’d rather know ahead of time!

Let’s discuss what you need to do and bring on the first day of your Disney Cruise to get your vacation off to the best start! 

First Time Disney Cruise? See all my thoughts about what I wished I knew for my First Disney Cruise.

Embark on a seamless Cruise adventure with a team of dedicated travel agents who listen, orchestrate and make your dream vacation come to life! Ready to take the first step in a planning a Vacation that you’ll remember forever? Connect with the team here!

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The Day before- Double Check that all your Phones/Tablets and Computers have been backed up

While technically not the day of, I do recommend checking the day before that all of your data is backed up. If you loose, or damage your electronic items on vacation, you’ll at least know that you can restore everything to a new device when you get home!

Update your App before traveling 

Most of you will have the app downloaded, as you have the option of uploading preboarding materials and checking out the limited offerings in the app. It’s very clever how Disney has this set up, and I love that the app is useful while on the ship. 

However, I had to update my app on the first day of the cruise (embarkation day) and it took a good 20 minutes to download. No big deal as I was having lunch with my travel party and chatting about all the fun things to do, but it was also another ‘piece’ of the vacation that complicated things some.

On subsequent cruises, I always made sure to have it updated before I got on board. This way, I could quickly switch to the Disney Cruise wifi option to use the app, and see all of the entertainment options, menus and my room number. 

➡️ Go ahead and set the Disney Cruise app to auto update! 

Embark on a seamless Cruise adventure with a team of dedicated travel agents who listen, orchestrate and make your dream vacation come to life! Ready to take the first step in a planning a Vacation that you’ll remember forever? Connect with the team here!

Plan to arrive early 

Typically, you will get to select your arrival time when you Check-In for your Cruise! It’s a good rule of thumb to plan to arrive at least an Hour early to manage parking, drop off, luggage drop off, check-in, security and the option to load as soon as your boarding group is called! 

How early should I get to the port for Disney Cruise?

You should get to the port an Hour before your Check-In Time. You can arrive as early as 10 am, but you will be standing around waiting to get check-in depending on your Check-in time and Disney Cruise Line Status.

➡️ Note if you arrive too late… the Ship WILL leave you. Make plans ahead of time for all the unknowns. You must be there before 4.

Enjoy lots of great food!

Lunch is provided on the first day, and there’s some great options! You’ll get a chance to see the Buffets available, though restaurant options vary based on the Ship.

To start things off right, I always get a celebratory ice cream from the Lunch Location, or a Mickey Bar from Room Service!

Of Course Dinner time brings the themed restaurants into play, and you’ll want to check your Disney Cruise Line App to see what location you’ve been assigned. This is where you’ll meet your servers (who will stay with you for the whole cruise) and your Table Mates!

Yes, Gluten Free Cones!

Pack your bag with Day 1 essentials which includes: 

Portable Charger

I just brought my fuelrods that I use at Disney World, but any portable charger will do! By the time you get in your room around 4, your battery might be low. Couple that with needing to get ready for Dinner and the Shows and your battery is dead before you know it! 

Shop Portable Chargers on Amazon.

Cash for Tips 

While you can include tips for your , bring cash for others who help you with your vacation. 

These include the luggage porters, the bus driver or ride share, and the Crew Members if you order Room Service. 

Bathing Suits 

There isn’t much to do when you first board the ship, but there is swimming! You can go ahead and check out the available pools and lounge in the chairs. Some folks wear their swimsuits under their clothing, so you don’t always have to pack it. 

Sun Protection

Personally, I bring it all. I bring a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen! You know yourself best!

Heads up you wont be able to purchase Sun Protection until the shops open, typically around 6pm.

Headphones or Earplugs

The Cruise terminal before boarding, the inside of the Cruise when you come inside, and the Dining areas can be very loud. People are excited to be on vacation, intercoms are blasting instructions overhead and the decks are filled with blaring horns and equipment sounds. 

But truly, the Safety Drill is the loudest thing you will hear on your cruise. Around 4 pm, you are instructed to go to the Safety Assembly Drill. Here you learn how to survive should an emergency occur, and they test out the horns. 

So if you are a hearing person that dislikes loud noises, hollering kids, has a noise sensitivity, has a sensory need, etc… consider ear care in your embarkation day bag. 

Since the rooms weren’t ready and there was no ‘quiet’ place to escape, my headphones came in great use on opening day! But for the kids, they have there own headphones/ear plugs packed into their bag. 

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

Check out the Kids Clubs, Restaurants and Spa

This would be my number one tip- If it’s a new ship to you, go ahead and get familiar with the layout! Check out the maps, walk the floors, find all your dinner locations.

This is a great use of time when things aren’t all the way open, and then you know where to go when it matters later in your cruise. 

I’d rather be slightly lost on the first day as I’m checking out the ship, then lost in the middle of your cruise when you have somewhere to be.

Take the time to Unpack 

Since you’ve got the time, go ahead and unpack. I am so glad to take a few minutes to get the room all straightened, as it makes the rest of the cruise so much more enjoyable!

Your StateRooms are typically ready at 4, so you can take time before or after the evening Show and Dinner to get your things settled.

There is so much room in the Staterooms- from hanging space to drawers and room for your luggage under the bed! We are able to quickly come in and change into dinner clothes or our bathing suits as everything was unpacked. I will forever be a fan of quickly unpacking and organizing on embarkation day. 

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

Catch the Shows 

Typically there’s several shows the first day.

There’s the:

  • Send Off Show
  • The Theater Show
  • And sometimes a show with your Dinner, depending on the Ship and Restaurant.

The very first show on the cruise is purposefully a ‘WOW’ kinda show. Sure, as a consumer I loved the embarkation day send off and then the before dinner show, but also, I understand it from a marketing point of view.

You want to get excited, you want to feel part of the magic, you want your kids and your inner child to get in vacation mode. Catch all the shows offered- it is a great use of time on embarkation day! 

(I also don’t have a picture since that’s not allowed… you’ll have to believe me when I say they are broadway quality! )

Go Shopping 

My first cruise, I was shocked to see the line for people trying to purchase Disney Merch. I did not expect a limited time merch Disney World-esque style run on merchandise, but here we were! As soon as the shops opened on my first visit (I now know better), I went to go try to find a souvenir.

Key word is ‘try’ as lines were so long I couldn’t get in the store! We waited till they reopened on the second day only to find that much of the items were sold out or only available in certain sizes. If you have something in mind, head there on day 1 to hopefully get it in your size and style.

Overall there’s a lot to do on the First Day of the Cruise

Be sure to pack your Carry-on with everything you need, Check out the Ship, Enjoy All the Food and Shows and settle in to enjoy your vacation.

Embark on a seamless Cruise adventure with a team of dedicated travel agents who listen, orchestrate and make your dream vacation come to life! Ready to take the first step in a planning a Vacation that you’ll remember forever? Connect with the team here!

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