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The Happiest Cruise That Ever Sailed

How to Set Sail on Your Disney Cruise like a Pro

The Sailing Away party aboard the Disney Dream in January, 2017. (Photo by Nicole Needles)

You've done it. You've booked your next Disney Cruise. You've marked your calendar, you've made your payment, and you're counting down the days until you set sail. How are you going to prepare? What can you do to make sure that when you're boarding the ship, you're ready to go? As a gold member of the Castaway Club — fancy, I know — I am here to provide a couple of tips for you to make sure that your next Disney vacation is noting but smooth sailing.

1. Bring a Travel Cup/Mug/Water Bottle

There are soda fountains set up all throughout the ship where you can fill your cup for the rest of the day. There are also certain places on the ship with water bottle filling stations, and water fountains. Save some of those paper cups, and get more bang for your buck.

2. Order Lunches-To-Go the Night Before

The night before your excursion, order a sandwich that can stay in the fridge overnight. The next day, you can pack it and take it with you when you get off the ship at your port-of-call. You won't need to spend money on food, and you won't have to go out of your way to find somewhere to eat.

3. Know What Your Stateroom Provides

You can easily pack a little lighter when you take the time to learn what your stateroom provides to you. For example, you won't need to bring a blow dryer because there is one normally in the drawers under the mirror in your room. Also the amazing housekeeping staff replenishes your shampoo, conditioner, lotion, body wash, and soap as needed.

4. Arrive Before Your Boarding Time

If you arrive a little before your boarding time, you can still ask to board the ship. If the ship is ready, they will let you go ahead and step on.

5. Pack a Day Bag

The day that you board the ship, you will likely not be seeing your luggage again until dinner time. So be sure to pack a bag with a swimsuit — the pools will be open when you board — if you want, and a change of clothes, if needed. Also, maybe some deodorant, body spray, or anything else you might need to refresh. You will probably be sweating from the sheer excitement of being on a Disney ship.

6. Decorate Your Stateroom Door

The doors are magnetic, and you are allowed to decorate your door, so do it! It's a fun, cute way to make the stateroom your own, and people walking by enjoy looking at them, too.

7. Make Dining Reservations Before You Board

While the rotational dining service is included in the price, there are a few nicer restaurants available for reservation for only $30 more. Make sure you reserve these dining experiences before your vacation. Bonus tip: if you need to cancel your reservation, make sure you do so at least 24 hours before your reservation time to avoid not being refunded.

8. Breakfast Can Be Brought to Your Stateroom

This is something I wish I had known before now. I found myself struggling between my loathing for mornings and my love for breakfast. Little did I know that there are doorknob papers left in the drawers in your room that can be filled out with what you want for breakfast and what time you would like it delivered. If you put the form on your door knob by 3 AM, room service will get it to you. 

9. Disney and Pixar Movies on Demand

Your stateroom has a TV with a vast selection of Disney classics and Pixar movies. Definitely take advantage of this during your stay.

10. Stay Connected with the Disney Cruise Line App

Make sure you download the navigator app. It is a huge lifesaver when it comes to communicating with your party, keeping you updated on events, providing store/bar/cafe hours of operation, and much more. It also has a nifty feature where you can like an event or activity you want to go to, and the app will send a reminder so you don't miss it.

11. Pack According to Themed Nights

Whether you have a 4-night cruise or a 7-night cruise, you will most likely have a formal night, and a pirate night (for Caribbean cruises only). The formal night attire can be whatever you are comfortable with. Some people wear prom attire, and some people dress for church. Either is fine, and you don't need to feel pressured to dress up, although it is something fun to do. For pirate night, you and your family/friends can go all out and dress up as pirates, and it is not just for little kids. I repeat: Pirate night is not just for little kids. It can be as simple as a pirate T-shirt, or you can dress like you've walked straight out of a Pirates of the Caribbean film. 

12. Do Your Souvenir Shopping Early On

The shops on board will be closed the day you disembark from the ship. Also, sometimes certain items go out of stock, so make sure you get your whozits and whatzits early on.

13. Hidden Mickey Hunts are a Must

Just as they are famously in the parks, hidden Mickeys also reside on the cruise ships. I can say from experience that hunting for them is really fun. Make it a competition! If your party is big enough, split into teams, take pictures of the Mickeys you find, tally up the points, and the winner receives whatever honor your entourage sees fit. 

14. A Personal Favorite...

This last tip is my favorite memory of the Disney cruises I've been on thus far. My four siblings and I love to get into our pajamas, go to the main pool deck, grab some coffee or hot chocolate, and watch whatever Disney movie is playing on the huge movie screen that's on the deck. There is nothing like family-bonding on the most magical cruise on earth under a star-splattered sky.

Now when your Disney cruise comes around, you'll be able to step on board with your head held high and your cruise knowledge plentiful. Get ready to sail away on your most magical vacation yet.

Disney Cruise

"See 'ya real soon!" (Photo by Kristi Needles)

Get ready to sail away on your most magical vacation yet.

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