If this is your first time going on a Disney Cruise, get ready to have a lot of fun. However, before you sail away, make sure to go over these Disney Cruise tips to help you maximize your time.
Even though there’s a misconception that Disney Cruises are only for kids, your entire family can have a great time on the cruise.
I bet that the person who said, “time flies when you are having fun”, took a Disney Cruise. No matter if it’s a short or long cruise, by the time it’s over, you will probably be sad. It happens so often that it’s even called the Post-Cruise Depression.
However, since I’m always looking for ways to save time and be more productive, vacationing on the Disney Cruise would not be the exception. After all, I wanted to enjoy up to the very last cent paid.
And, I bet that you want that too, so let’s get started…
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- 5 Disney Cruise Tips to Maximize Your Time
- Final Thoughts on Disney Cruise Tips
5 Disney Cruise Tips to Maximize Your Time
Disney Cruise Tip #1 – Keep your documents organized
Keeping all documents organized is important even when you are vacationing.
To make it easier, I classified my documents into one of two categories: essential documents or other important documents.
The essential documents are important documents that you will need to use or show in order to access an area.
While traveling on the Disney Cruise, there are essential documents that you may need frequently. Because of that, keep the documents handy and in one place.
Imagine waiting in a long line to get off the cruise and start exploring the new port of call, just to realize that you left the passports in your stateroom and can’t go anywhere ☹.
That’s why I bought a functional bag like this one. It’s easier to carry and keep with me at all times. For the most part, here is what I carried inside that bag:
- stateroom cards
- passports for my family
- tickets for the tours
- credit card
- blank paper (to take notes if needed)
- an extra pacifier (only a mom knows how important it is if it gets lost!)
Other important documents
You will probably have more important documents than the ones mentioned in the previous section. The difference is that these documents don’t always need to be carried. In my case, they were mostly documents needed before the cruise, after the cruise, or “just in case”.
I found a mini file to be perfect in keeping this type of documents organized. I used a mini file similar to this one and added some labels for extra organization.
My mini file included the following:
- Disney Cruise planning book – this is the one you receive in the mail that has important details of your trip
- Online parking payment receipt – on our second cruise, we drove to Galveston and left the car in a parking lot next to the port.
- Airplane reservation
- Cruise insurance document
- Any hotel reservation – in our case, we drove for several hours and then stayed in the hotel the night before leaving in the cruise.
Your documents may be different from the ones I had for our cruises, but the key is to keep your documents organized and handy, so you can have more time to enjoy your cruise.
Disney Cruise Tip #2 – Use the cruise rotational dining
Rotational dining is something that I really like about Disney Cruises especially when you are traveling with little ones.
Here is a quick summary of how it works.
Every day, the Disney Cruise reserves a table for you to eat dinner at one of its three main restaurants. It’s rotational dining because Disney reserves a table at one of those restaurants every night. It’s a simple concept with several benefits:
- The reservation is already made for you: Therefore, there’s no need to waste time looking for a table because everything is ready for you and your family. I even had a high chair ready at the table. And to make things easier, your table number is the same every day.
- Scheduled time – Since it’s a reservation, you (and the servers) know exactly when to go. That’s a huge benefit because you can decide what activities to plan before and after your dinner time.
- Assigned servers rotate with you: Kids feel more comfortable when they know what to expect. In this case, your kids can interact with the same servers they already met.
In addition to saving time and reducing stress, those main dining restaurants are a magical experience for kids (and parents 😉).
However, rotational dining is completely optional and there are more places available to eat including ordering room service from your stateroom.
Disney Cruise Tip #3 – Packing Tips: Simplify and minimize
If you want to take advantage of many activities during your trip, you will probably be running from one side to another trying to be on time for breakfast, character appearance, tour, dinner time, pirate night, show, musical, and much more.
Getting your family ready for the next activity or part of the day will take time. Follow these packing tips to make it better:
Packing tips for clothes
For the first Disney cruise, I grouped the clothes without knowing how much it would help me down the road. After seeing how easy it was, I immediately did the same for the second cruise.
Here is what I did to save time getting the clothes:
- Got the cruise itinerary and identified the activities or events for each day. It will be something like this: a day at sea, tour at the Bahamas, Castaway, etc. Also, add the three main dining restaurants if you plan to use their rotational dining.
- Wrote the identified activities on index cards (the contrast makes it easier and faster to see the information).
- Separated my daughters’ and my clothes based on the activities or events. You can add the dates but keep in mind that you won’t know your assigned rotational dining restaurant until that same day in the cruise.
- Grouped the activity clothes together, put them (nicely) inside in a storage bag like this one, and taped the index card to the bag. I did the same for every single activity or event. For example, if I had a bag labeled “Enchanted Garden”, it included all the clothes for that restaurant: my outfit, my two daughter’s dresses, and even her hair bows.
Again, my purpose is to save as much time as I can.
Whenever it’s time to get ready, all you do is grab your already prepared outfit bag corresponding to that activity. You won’t waste time thinking about what to wear or trying to find the clothes that you left with the other things.
Since the bags that I used had a vacuum valve, it was easier to fit things inside the luggage too. There are different sizes available depending on your needs. I mostly used large and x-large to fit all the outfits together.
And speaking about the bags, here I found similar storage bags that seem to work even better based on the reviews received.
When you choose your clothes, it’s normal to take into consideration the weather of your destination. However, it’s also important to check on how the weather will be when you return from your cruise.
For example, when we went on the Very Merrytime Disney Cruise, the temperature in Texas was in the fifties. While Cozumel had beautiful sunny weather with a temperature in the mid-eighties.
Packing tips for shoes
Don’t go overboard with your shoes. Here is where I suggest you minimize.
To save time, I chose shoes that I could use for different occasions AND I only packed one pair of each:
- Tennis shoes for tour days and days at sea
- Casual shoes for casual main dining and musicals
- Dressy shoes that can be used for both casual and fancy activities such as eating Royal Palace or attending an event with the Captain.
- Flip flops for the pool or beach at the port of call
Disney Cruise Tip #4 – Use the personal navigator
Every day, the Disney cruise prints a personal navigator which they distribute directly to your stateroom. It’s a newsletter that includes all the details for a specific day such as special instructions, reminders, character appearances, movies, important numbers, highlights, shows, games, and much more.
You normally get the navigator on the previous day. Therefore, don’t just put it aside or in your luggage. Instead, use it to plan the next day ahead of time.
My strategy was simple.
Every night, I was going over every single detail included on that navigator since I didn’t want to miss anything. Especially, because some of the activities are only offered once or twice during the trip.
After circling all the activities that my family would enjoy, I made a list of those activities with their location, which was based on their time. I kept that list handy in my purse to refer to it when needed.
Download the app
After having the list of activities for the next day, I was adding them to the Disney Cruise app.
What I liked the most is that it lets you create reminders to help you stay on top of the cruise events. It also has the time and location for each event, and even the map of the ship so you know exactly where to go.
Make sure to download the app during embarkation because it has other helpful features available too.
Disney Cruise Tip #5 – Wake up early
If you like to sleep until late, this tip is definitely one that you won’t like to hear. I understand that being on vacation should be part of a relaxing experience.
However, getting up early helps you maximize your time on the cruise as well as in your daily life.
You want to get up early in the day for a few reasons:
- Cabanas – It’s a delicious buffet place to have breakfast. Even though there’s a variety of food available, it gets crowded (at least during non-school days).
- Castaway Cay (or any other destination) – Castaway Cay has is a pretty island to explore, play, and take beautiful pictures. Make sure you have enough time to enjoy the island.
- Exercises – It gives you time to do some exercises before starting the activities planned for the day.
- Nature – For some reason, the sky, sea, and the sun look prettier when you are cruising. This is the perfect time to enjoy nature and to take more pictures too!
By the way, if you want to learn more about their shows, dining, activities, and more, request the Free Disney Cruise planning DVD.
Final Thoughts on Disney Cruise Tips
You are ready to sail away! Make sure to follow the tips discussed above to maximize your time and enjoy every minute of your magical Disney Cruise!
If this is your first time, don’t forget to download the 9 Extra Tips You Want to Know Before Your First Disney Cruise.
Do you have another Disney Cruise tip to help maximize the time? Or, if this is your first time, which tip did you like the most?
Either way, leave me a comment to let me know.