Welcome Back to our Friday Blog Series: Jamie’s Destination “Do”s and “Don’t”s, where our favorite Travel Planning Aficionado shares her wealth of knowledge and experiences about traveling the world! After every trip to a new destination, Jamie gives us her perspective as both a traveler, and a travel advisor, through a quick but comprehensive list of what to do or not do at each vacation location!
As many of you who follow along know, Jamie just got back from this year’s BRB Cruise, which happened to be a Halloween on the High Seas Disney Cruise Line Sailing! Jamie and Shannon and all the Sweet Friends who joined this cruise had the most Spooktacular time! If you haven’t gotten in on the fun of group cruising with Jamie, you have multiple opportunities to do so with Disneyland Daily Casey’s Pearls on the Pacific Cruise in May of 2024, and also on Jamie’s Virgin Voyages Group Sailings in January and June, too!
But for this installment of Jamie’s Destination “Do”s and “Don’t”s, we’ll keep the focus on Disney Cruise Line, so that you’ll have all the tips and tricks of making the most of your Disney Cruise whenever and wherever you’re sailing with Mickey, Minnie and the rest of our favorite pals!
So Let’s Step Onboard Disney Cruise Line for a Magical Sail! But First…
Table of Contents
Jamie’s “Do”s and “Don’t”s for Disney Cruise Line!
Top Favorites, and Jamie’s “Must Do” Experiences
1. DO Book Early
Disney Cruise Line is one of the most popular cruise lines out there and it’s not hard to see why: put together two of the most sought after types of trips, a Disney Vacation and a Cruise, and combine that with Disney’s legendary attention to detail and their commitment to providing guests with the highest level of service, and you have routinely sold out sailings, especially to the most highly desirable locations.
So, to make sure you have your choice of the ship and itinerary you prefer, as well as they type of cabin you’d like, you need to Book Early (your favorite Love of the Magic Travel Advisor will know release dates for specific itineraries, and can help you book your Disney Cruise every step of the way). Plus, the longer you wait to book, the more expensive the cabins get, not the other way around, so book early to avoid disappointment and higher prices!
2. DO Reserve Specialty Dining Ahead
While the dining options in rotation on every Disney Cruise Line ship are spectacular, and you should definitely plan to experience the restaurants in your scheduled dining at least one night each, there are also other options to consider as well. There are a few fine dining experiences offered on each Disney ship that are definitely worth planning into your time and budget (there are kids clubs and babysitting options on board, and some specialty dining options do cost extra). Palo and Palo Steakhouse, Remy, and Enchante are some favorite fine dining experiences across Disney’s fleet, and all require reservations well in advance, since they fill up quickly!
3. DO Attend the Live Disney Shows
Everyone knows that when it comes to live performances, Disney for sure knows how to put on the BEST shows in the business. From Broadway Musicals, to live performances in the Parks, to shows on their Cruise Ships, Disney always delivers with the highest quality entertainment. Their nightly offerings are not only some of the best entertainment at sea, but are also some of the best live entertainment you’ll find anywhere! Don’t miss out on these signature Disney Cruise experiences, and definitely plan to attend whatever shows your Disney Ship offers!
4. DO Utilize the Disney Cruise Line Navigator App
The Disney Cruise Line Navigator App is to Disney Cruise Line what the My Disney Experience App is to the Disney Parks: absolutely necessary! It’s where you’ll make your reservations for specialty dining and excursions long before boarding, and where you’ll find ship maps and daily schedules once you’re on the ship. It also has a chat feature so you can communicate easily with fellow passengers throughout your sail. Download the Disney Cruise Line Navigator App as soon as you book your cruise to learn how to use it and utilize all of its features.
5. DO Enjoy the Adults-Only Areas
Even though many people choose Disney Cruise Line because of the legendary family friendliness and accommodations that Disney provides across the board, from Cruises to Parks, there are still plenty of opportunities to enjoy some kid free time, or even to make your own Disney Cruise experience a grown-up getaway! The same way that so many adults visit the Disney Parks without kids, there are plenty of adults who choose to sail with Disney Cruise Line sans children, as well, and have the most incredible time while doing so.
If that’s the kind of experience you’re looking for, you’ll definitely want to spend some time in the Adults-Only Areas designated throughout the ships in the Disney fleet. Specialty Dining options such as Palo, Remy and Enchante are all just for adults, as are some of the nightclubs and lounges, too. In addition, the Quiet Cove Pools, fitness centers and spa areas are Adult-Only as well. And if it’s a truly kid free experience you’re looking for, ask your favorite Love of the Magic Vacations Travel Advisor about Virgin Voyages!
6. DO Find the Hidden Mickeys
Hidden Mickeys are EVERYWHERE on Disney Ships, just like in Disney Resorts and Parks. Searching for Hidden Mickeys and other Disney Characters incorporated subtly into the design of the ships is always a great activity, whether you’re trying to fill time before your dinner reservation or trying to motivate your kiddos to finally get out of the pool (“Let’s look for hidden Mickeys on our way back to our room!”). They’re everywhere if you keep your eyes open, and kiddos never tire of looking for them!
7. DO Seek Out a Sunrise View
With so much to do all day and night on Disney Ships, it might be tough to get up before the sun, but you really should do it at least once throughout your cruise. Rise early, grab your coffee and head to the top deck to watch the sunrise. You’ll gift yourself a quiet, magical Disney moment that most people never take advantage of, and you’ll start your day in the most beautiful and peaceful way.
8. DO Explore the Enchanted Art
Besides the Hidden Mickeys and Disney Characters incorporated into the decor, there are even more special touches to find in the design of Disney Ships. Enchanted Art is sprinkled throughout each Disney Ship, and while these works of art look just like regular paintings from afar, they come to life when someone approaches them! Enchanted Art is especially fun to find if you have any Harry Potter fans in your group, since the moving pictures will remind them of the portraits that move and talk throughout the Harry Potter Series (though of course, you won’t find any actual Harry Potter images onboard a Disney Ship, just a fun crossover effect for fans!).
9. DO Visit the Castaway Cay Tower EARLY
One of the popular activities on Disney’s private Island, Castaway Cay, is visiting the Observation Tower and taking in the panoramic views from the top. Because of its popularity, it’s often quite crowded; however, if you bike to the Tower early, before most people make their way over to it, you’ll get the amazing views with far fewer tourists.
Top “Must-Don’t”s, or Things Jamie Would Do Differently
1. DON’T Overpack
Stateroom space on most cruise ships, Disney Cruise Line included, is very limited, so it’s best to pack light! While it’s tempting to bring a special outfit for every occasion throughout your cruise, try instead to stick to mostly basics with a few standout pieces for when you really want to be fancy. As much as you might want to bring a different bathing suit for every day, no one is going to notice if you repeat an outfit. Packing light gets a bit tricky on cooler weather cruises, such as those to Alaska, so be extra smart with your layers on these itineraries.
And, while avoiding overpacking is great advice, Jamie admittedly hardly ever sticks to it, so don’t feel too bad if you can’t either. You still get points for trying!
2. DON’T Miss Character Meet-and-Greets
Meet-and-Greets with Characters are, without a doubt, one of the highlights of Disney Cruises! Interactions with Characters on the Disney Cruise Ships are closer to those found in Disneyland, where the Characters wander around the Park and stop to talk and take pictures. Like in Disneyland, there are certain scheduled Character Meet-and-Greets that you can plan for, and there are also those wandering Characters who offer more spontaneous interactions, too.
On the Cruise Ships, there are even some Characters that you can make reservations to see, as well. Plus, the lines for Character Meet-and-Greets on Cruise Ships are much shorter than the lines in the Parks. Definitely check the daily schedule on the Disney Cruise LIne Navigator App, and prioritize Character Meet-and-Greet Experiences!
3. DON’T Forget Sunscreen
Sunscreen on a cruise ship, and any excursions, is ALWAYS a must! The sun bounces off the water and becomes twice as strong, especially in the Caribbean, and sunscreen should be worn even in places you wouldn’t expect because, yes you can get a sunburn in Alaska from the sun bouncing off of the glaciers (sounds crazy, but it’s a thing). So, do yourself a favor and pack sunscreen (or you’ll wind up buying it on the ship for way more than you’ll pay at your local grocery store)!
4. DON’T Skip the Water Slides and Aqua Play Areas
The Water Slides and Aqua Play Areas on Disney Ships are so much fun for the whole family! While kiddos will probably want to ride and play over and over, nothing compares to having their parents get in on the fun with them, too! Letting loose on a water slide with your kids is a great way to connect with them, and once you ride a few times, you can relax in a lounge chair as your kids ride and play all day. Some slides do have lines that build up, so try to get there at an off-peak time if that’s the case on your cruise.
5. DON’T Pass Up the Kids Clubs
Speaking of fun for the kiddos, the Disney Cruise Line Kids Clubs are legendary (would you expect any less of Disney? I think not). Once kids have experienced The Oceaneer Club on DCL, many don’t want to do anything else on the cruise besides go back to it every day! And if YOU want to see the Kids Club yourself (even if you don’t have kids), you can attend the Open House on the day you board the ship to check out just how incredible it is! However, once the Open House hours are over, the Kids Club is closed to adults for the remainder of the sailing, so if seeing where your kids will be is important to you, be sure to make the Open House a priority on day one.
6. DON’T Be Afraid to Make Special Dinner Requests
Disney prides itself on its excellent hospitality and providing guests with the most Magical experience possible, including Dining experiences. So, if you absolutely loved the dish at one of the restaurants, but aren’t crazy about the options at another restaurant in your rotation, just ask your server if you can get the same meal you had and loved, and they might bring it to you from the other restaurant.
While it’s not guaranteed that the answer will be yes, it often is, and it’s worth it to check if you can get what you really want! Also, if there’s a dish you love and you want to try making it yourself once you get home, ask for the recipe! The chef will often gladly share the recipe with you!
7. DON’T Rush to Disembark
Getting off of a cruise ship, especially a Disney Cruise Ship, is sad enough as it is, so don’t make it worse by rushing off (unless you have to in order to make a connection). Enjoy your last morning on board, and be sure to indulge in your last onboard breakfast, too (although by that point, you’ll be totally stuffed from all the amazing food every other day of the cruise, even on a 3-day sailing)!
8. DON’T Assume Everything is Free
While part of the beauty of choosing a cruise vacation is how much is included (cruises are basically like floating All-Inclusives), there are some experiences that do incur an additional cost. As mentioned, some of the fine dining options have an upcharge, and a few specialty onboard activities have associated costs as well. And of course, don’t forget that excursions are always an additional cost on Ocean Cruise Ships, too. As always, your favorite Love of the Magic Vacations Travel Advisor will be able to answer any questions about additional costs on your cruise, so that you can budget accordingly for your preferences!
And…that’s a wrap of Jamie’s Destination “Do”s and “Don’t”s for Disney Cruise Line!
Ready to Plan?
Now that you have all of Jamie’s best advice for having the best cruise on Disney Cruise Line, are you ready to plan your next Magical Adventure at Sea? Contact your favorite Love of the Magic Vacations Travel Advisor or email hello@LOTMV.com to start planning today!
Just like last year, in 2023, a new Destination “Do”s and “Don’t”s list will come out the Friday after Jamie returns from her latest trip! And you can find links to all of Jamie’s 2022 Travel Tips at this Blog: Jamie’s 2022 Destination “Do”s and “Don’t”s: A Recap.
Looking for more of Jamie’s Destination “Do”s and “Don’t”s?
So far, we have:
And don’t forget to check out our Inspiring Itineraries as well, featuring a Perfect Plan for your next vacation, and highlighting a new destination each month! You can find links to all of 2022’s Inspiring Itineraries in this Blog: A Year of Inspired Travel: 2022’s Inspiring Itineraries, Month by Month.