What Should I Do Before My Disney Cruise?

Your Disney Cruise is booked!  Congratulations, but now that you are officially sailing with the mouse, what should you do next?  Other than continue to build your excitement, here are a few good next steps you can take while anxiously awaiting the start of your cruise.

  1. Check In Online and Print Out Your Paperwork:  After booking, you can process your online check-in and print out all your required paperwork that will have to be signed and handed in on embarkation day.  This may require entering passport or ID information along with release forms.
  2. Register the Kids:  Similarly, you can register your children for the children’s play areas ahead of time.  You will still have to physically complete this process at the port or on the ship the day of the cruise and obtain the Mickey Band for each child, but this process will save time for you once you board.
  3. Book Your On Board Activities:  While there are a great number of freely available activities on the Disney Cruise, there are a few ticketed events, which require that you make advance reservations.  Most of these events are also free, but just require reservations, including special character meet and greets (Frozen, Princess Gathering and character breakfasts) and seasonal events (like Tea with Alice and gingerbread house making).  Some items do have an additional cost, like the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique.  The booking window for these (and the next three steps #4, #5 and #6) depends on your Castaway Cay Membership level and/or your stateroom category:
    First-Time Guests  75 days prior to sail date
    Silver Castaway Club Member  90 days prior to sail date
    Gold Castaway Club Member  105 days prior to sail date
    Concierge Guests and Platinum Castaway Club Member  120 days prior to sail date

    Family shot with Mickey at the Character Breakfast
  4. Book Your Dining Reservations:  There is so much really good food available on the Disney Cruise, from your main dining rotation to the lunch and breakfast buffets to the fast service windows for pizza and hamburgers and the free soft serve ice cream.  However, for additional fee, you can also enjoy the high end adult-only dining experiences at Palo and Remy.  These reservations book up quickly, so if you think you want to go, make your reservation as soon as possible.
  5. Book Your Excursions:  Excursions, or Port Adventures as Disney calls them, are the planned activities in which you can participate while at different ports.  Disney offers a wide variety of Port Adventures that can be booked directly through them.  These Port Adventures offer the security of a Disney approved tour, leaves the administration and organization of the efforts to Disney and usually includes transportation.  You can also opt to book your own excursions, which offers a few benefits as well including customizing your time (and potentially saving a lot of it) and customizing your experience (which can save a lot of money).  Some people are more comfortable booking through Disney, however, and that makes a lot of sense.
  6. Book the Rainforest Room Day Pass:  The rainforest room is amazing (you can see more details from the Rainforest Room on our last Disney Cruise) and is also a great deal.  You can book a day pass for only $16 per person if you reserve it ahead of time.  And, sometimes, the only time you can reserve this is ahead of time as it quickly sells out once the ship sets sail.  The Rainforest Room offers multiple dry and wet saunas, an unique showering experience, heated lounge chairs and hot tubs.

    Example of the shower head and lighting in the Rainforest Room
  7. Seek out Your Facebook Group:  There are lots of other passengers also excited about their upcoming Disney cruise and you can find those that will be sailing with you by joining a private Facebook Group.  To find your private group on Facebook, do a search for your ship name and year and then scroll through the results to find your departure day.  For example, if you are sailing on the Disney Wonder leaving on November, 24 2017 from Galveston, you would first search in Facebook for Disney Wonder 2017 and the scroll down to find your cruise.  Next, you will need to request to join the group and, once approved, you will have full access to communicate and read through what other passengers are doing to prepare for their cruises, as well as pose any questions you may have.
  8. Plan for special nights:  It is likely, especially on longer cruises, that you will get to enjoy a themed day and/or night aboard the Disney Cruise.  Whether it is seasonal, like Halloween, Thanksgiving or Christmas, or centered around a Disney owned franchise, like Marvel or Star Wars, there were be an opportunity to dress up and participate.  Additionally, most sailings include a Pirate Night, with a themed menu, late night deck party, fireworks and buffet.  There are shops aboard the Disney Cruises that offer appropriate clothing, costumes and accessories for each of these days, but if you would like more choice (and perhaps to save a few dollars), it is helpful to pick out these items ahead of time.  On our last cruise, there was a Star Wars Day at Sea and Brooke found some great Star Wars shirts for us all to wear on Amazon ahead of time, each less than $5.  Pirate night is another perfect night to for which to prepare.  Some of your fellow passengers will adorn elaborate, full costumes, but we found our comfort zone is with themed shirts or by slightly modifying existing clothes to fit the bill.
  9. Customize Your Wardrobe:  Whether you are so inclined to do this yourself or feel more comfortable going with someone on Etsy, it is relatively inexpensive to have a few outfits customized for your trip.  You will see very many passengers with printed t-shirts customized with family names and dates, but you can also customize more generically as well.  Be creative!

    Customized shirts
  10. Craft Your Door Magnets:  A quick Google search reveals a large number of freely available designs for creating door magnets for your stateroom.  Browse those, pick your favorite and find a way to turn them into magnets (you can buy an adhesive magnet at Michael’s or another craft store, or look around your house for something).  These magnets make great decorations for your stateroom and make it easier for the entire group to quickly identify your door from all the rest.

    Door Magnets for our Stateroom
  11. Download the Disney Navigator App:  While you cannot use the Disney Navigator App until aboard and connected to the ship’s WIFI, you can download it ahead of time and potentially save on expensive at sea internet costs.  Download here for Android and Apple iOS.
  12. Schedule the Disney Character Call:  A great way to really get the kids excited is to have one of the famous Disney characters call them and tell them about their upcoming cruise.  After you’ve booked your cruise, visit My Reservations under My Disney Cruise and select “Request Call” beside the Free Character Call header. This link will take you to a site where you can choose a Disney character, enter your phone number, schedule a call time and provide additional information for your Character Call.


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