Some Things to Know about Disney Cruises
Let’s be honest. We’re all just moving on after the worst cabin fever of our lives. We were stuck inside too long, and it’s like we were grounded for a year.
We missed everything, and we’re ready to catch up on all of life’s glories. For many of us, a cruise qualifies.
We want to set sail on a grand adventure after more than a year of looking at the same four walls.
If you’re a first-time tourist, you probably have many questions. Here are some things to know about Disney cruises.
Embarkation Times Matter
Okay, this part will sound strange, but it’s very important. When you reach your cruise terminal, you’ll encounter a crowd.
Disney cruises host between 2,700 and 4,000 guests when the ships are full. Analytically, most of them will arrive at the terminal at the same general time.
That goes double for the Port Canaveral locale because Magical Express buses run from Orlando International Airport.
Disney stacks embarkation times based on some factors beyond your control, most notably status.
Frequent Disney Cruise participants are in higher tiers than you will be. That gives them an earlier opportunity to pick a time.
Still, you’ll have some options. I strongly advise you to pick the earliest time. In doing so, you can enter vacation mode that much quicker.
You Won’t Have Your Bags at First
I presume that you’ll use Magical Express or some other kind of airport transportation.
Historically, that means that someone else takes care of your luggage. Now, we’re all flying a bit blind in projecting Disney trips in 2022.
However, Disney has explicitly stated that ground transfers will remain available to cruise guests.
Presuming that you’re heading straight from the airport to the cruise ship via ground transfer, your bags won’t be available at first.
You’ll find them in your room late in the afternoon, generally sometime between 4 and 6 p.m.
That gives you a few hours on the ship where you’re without your luggage. I strongly suggest a carry-on that includes some loungewear and/or swimsuits.
You can hang out at one of the many pool areas and maybe even take a dip while waiting on the rest of your stuff.
Yes, you can shop and eat in the interim, but you could have as much as five hours to kill without your bags. Please plan accordingly.
You Must Book Certain Character Greetings Early
Okay, this one may blow your mind if you’ve spent a lot of time at the parks. Character interactions at the Happiest Place on Earth are first come, first served.
With Disney Cruises, the process works differently for some characters. You must book greetings in advance for these characters:
- Princess Gathering
- Frozen Meet and Greet
- Disney Junior Character Breakfast (select cruises only)
- Disney VIP Character Breakfast (select cruises only)
- Royal Court Royal Tea (select cruises only)
Here’s where you’ll struggle as a first-time guest, too. You’ll be last in line to book reservations. Your window will open 75 days before your cruise.
Platinum Castaway Club Members and concierge-floor guests may book the same character greetings 120 days prior to the trip.
Don’t freak out, though! Many frequent Disney Cruise guests have gotten quite jaded about character greetings. They’ve seen and done it all.
So, as long as you plan your bookings in time to call immediately when your 75-day window opens, you should get some of these greetings!
You Must Book Certain Meals Early
Here’s one that will seem more familiar to you. Some restaurant experiences will require advanced reservations.
Adults-only dining represents the dream for many parents. They get to leave the kids playing at designated activities. It’s like glorified babysitting.
If you know any parents, you understand how much they like to kick back when they have a babysitter. It’s like freshman year at the dorm all over again.
So, demand for some of these dining experiences is *ahem* extreme.
The Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy both host Remy, an haute cuisine meal based on Ratatouille.
Meanwhile, every Disney Cruise vessel offers a version of Palo, an Italian fine dining experience.
If your sailing includes a character breakfast, you should try to book it 75 days in advance as well.
If you’re unlucky and cannot snag a dining reservation, there’s still hope! When you arrive at your ship, ask a cast member to help you.
They’ll explain the process to try to grab a reservation on embarkation day. These Disney restaurants hold back some inventory just for newbies like you!
Spas Are Co-Ed!
You’ll occasionally hear stories about how a mortified cruise guest realized too late that the spas are co-ed.
Either they stripped down past their bathing suits, or they saw someone else do it. Both scenarios are mortifying.
The spas on Disney Cruises are in massive demand. In fact, this is another experience you should book in advance to guarantee you have spa days.
Once you’re at the spa, you might not want to leave. However, you DO want to pack a swimsuit because nekkid isn’t an option here.
By the way, you should buy a multi-day package. I haven’t ever known anyone who felt that one day at the spa was enough.
You Should Download the Disney Cruise Line App
We still don’t know how a post-pandemic world will look, especially in the cruise industry.
Historically, paper itineraries had stood as the means of knowing the daily cruise schedule.
However, this system had already grown outdated in a way when Disney introduced its cruise software.
With the Disney Cruise Line Navigator app, you can check the itinerary from your phone whenever you want.
Please note that you can use the ship’s Wi-Fi to use this app. It’s the only “free” Wi-Fi available, though.
You must pay to access the internet from your cruise ship, and the prices aren’t cheap. For 300 megabytes, you’ll pay $30. A gigabyte costs $89.
Also, those prices are from before the pandemic. Disney may raise them for future cruises.
Plus, generally speaking, the internet connections are spotty since, you know, you’re at sea.
Still, the app is a must-use item for a first-time Disney Cruise tourist. You’ll feel lost without it. Oh, and it has a travel party messaging service built in.
Given the volume of group chats I have during Disney trips, I truly appreciate this functionality.