When I tell people that I worked for Disney Cruiseline, so many people are surprised because they had no idea that Disney did cruises!
If you live in America it may be a different story, but in England nobody seems to know that it’s a thing. (And you should because the Disney Magic ports out of Dover in the summer, so get on those ‘no flight deals’!)
Well, whether you’re a die-hard Disney Cruiser or waiting to board your first Disney cruise, I have compiled some hints and tips in order to help your vacation run as smoothly as possible and ensure you make the most of your time onboard…
Attend the initial Safety Drill
On your first day onboard, before the ship sets sail, a mandatory Safety Drill is called for all guests to attend.
You HAVE to go to Safety Drill. It’s not an option.
By law, every guest on the ship has to be briefed on safety procedures before the ship can set sail. Even the Crew have to do a drill every two weeks, so nobody is exempt!
The quicker you get to your Assembley Station and check in, the quicker the teams can get the drill over and done with and everyone can get back to enjoying their vacation. Bring everyone in your party; even children sleeping in the room should be brought. If you don’t come to drill then safety officers will be sent to find you, so avoid that awkwardness and just go…
And even if you’ve cruised a million times before and know the drill, GET YOUR BUTT TO DRILL ANYWAY cos everyone will be waiting for you and hating on you for the rest of the cruise if you don’t.
Check your Navigator
Every night you will have a Navigator left in your stateroom for the next day. This entails all of the events going on on the ship from Walt Disney Theatre shows to Deck parties, to trivia, to live music, to events happening in the kids clubs.
But most importantly (to most people), the Navigator lists all of the Character appearances occuring throughout the day and evening.
Make sure you plan to be in a character location at the time specified on the Navigator. The lines are only open for a maximum of 15 minutes, so if you don’t want to miss out on meeting your favourite characters then get there on time! Plus, the prompter you arrive, the less time you have to wait in line before you meet the character.
Character Meet & Greets
Meeting your favourite Disney characters is a magical moment for everyone involved. Families get to hang out with their idols, the greeters and photographers enjoy interacting and seeing people enjoying themselves, and Mickey and the gang love meeting guests!
So here are my tips to help you get the most out of your Character experience.
1. As already stated, arrive on time!
Don’t be like the White Rabbit… ya know, always late!
2. Just as you are arriving towards the front of the line, get out your ‘Key to the World’ card (aka your room key) and, if you have autograph books, open them to blank pages for the character to sign. Also, have a pen ready to go, with the lid off.
By having these things prepared, you save yourself having to scramble for it all in the moment, which means you won’t miss any precious moments or time interacting with the characters.
3. Have a question you’d like to ask the character.
The characters love to hear about your day and love to chat about their worlds and fellow friends. So have an idea of something you may like to chat about. It will prevent you feeling awkward and make your interaction all the more entertaining and special.
4. Check for ticketed events!
On Embark day there are a number of special events you can sign up for (most of which are free!), so be sure to check with Guest Services when you arrive on the ship.
Popular Character Meet & Greets, such as Frozen and Princess Gathering, are ticketed to keep lines from being too long. These events are free of charge so don’t hold back on getting your tickets!
Just be sure to keep an eye on your time slot so that you don’t miss your time!
Head to the Walt Disney Theatre
Disney Cruiseline prides itself on its Broadway-style shows that are performed every cruise. You don’t want to miss them!
Each ship has its own signature show, along with several others, and they’re all fantastic. Shows you can catch include Frozen (on the Disney Wonder), Tangled the Musical (Disney Magic), Aladdin (Disney Fantasy) and the upcoming Beauty and the Beast (Disney Dream). Other shows across the ship include Believe, Wishes, The Golden Mickeys and award-winning Disney Dreams.
You can catch these all-singing, all-dancing musicals twice a night (and sometimes three times on selected cruises), so you can make it to a show around your meal time.
Be sure to cheer when you see your favourite Disney characters live on stage!
Eat at Palo
Palo is the adults-only restaurant on ships such as the Disney Magic and Wonder; it is exquisite! On the bigger ships there is also Remy’s which is apparently EVEN BETTER! (But I haven’t been to it, so I can’t really comment.)
Stick the kids in ‘Oceaneer’s Club’, get spruced up (there’s a dress code), and make a reservation for either brunch or dinner at Palo. Or both – live your dream!
The food is amazing, the waiting staff are second to none and you get a great view of the ocean while you sit comfortably in the restaurant.
It is an additional cost to eat there (it’s not included in the dining plan), however it is worth it for a bit of ‘me time’ and finer dining.
I love Palo dinner (the chocolate souffle IS MY JAM!) but the brunch is one of the best dining experiences I’ve ever had. It is incredible, from the expansive buffet to the large, varied, cooked menu. If you can only afford one, aim for Palo brunch!
Couple up in the Couple’s Retreat
Honeymooning? Or just need a relaxing, romantic bit of time as a couple? Then check out the Couple’s Retreat in one of the villas at the spa.
My boyfriend and I came across the beautiful spa villa on Embark day (you can take a tour of the facilities on the first day onboard) and we instantly booked ourselves in on Christmas morning. Not too shabby way to spend Christmas, right?!
For 3 hours we had our own private villa with a Jacuzzi, shower, sun loungers and two massage beds, looking out on a clear view of the ocean. We received foot scrubs and a 75 minute hot-stone massage, side by side, before finishing with tea and fruit, gazing out on the ocean with the windows open to cool down by the breeze.
It may not be cheap, but it works out at being only a little more expensive than if you each got an individual massage in the spa.
It was pure bliss!
Deck 4 is the quietest spot
Pretty much what it says on the tin. Deck 9 is great and all, but if you want to just take a walk and enjoy the sea spray, or read your book without music playing in the background, then head down onto Deck 4 for some tranquility.
It also has a running track and shuffleboard to play, so you can keep yourself easily amused if you don’t feel up to a full-on event at that time.
I spent so much time reading and walking on Deck 4 and it was perfect for down time!
Enjoy getting to know the crew members!
The difference between Disney and any other place you may visit is that the staff and service are excellent. There’s a reason Disney has a good reputation and it’s because of the great people they employ to share the magic.
So have fun and get to know the crew members you meet around the ship, from your stateroom host to the crew staff to the officers. You may even see the Captain wandering around too so don’t be scared to say hi!
It’s the crew that returning cruisers credit for their reason they come back time and again, so strike up conversations and get to know the amazing staff from all around the world. You’ll meet so many people on your vacation so make the most of getting to know them. It’s memories that you will always remember!
I hope this post gives you some handy tips and helps your vacation to run that little bit smoother. Have a magical vacation!
For a sneak peek at the Disney Dream’s upcoming stage show, Beauty and the Beast, check out this link!
For more information on Disney Cruiseline as a whole, click here!