After my trip on the Disney Fantasy a few weeks ago, I’m definitely “on board” (pun intended) with the idea of family cruises. However, like most family vacations, a cruise vacation requires lots of advance planning, and if you don’t know what to expect, you’ll want to make sure you are prepared BEFORE you leave! Based upon what I learned, here’s my advice for those families planning to go on a Disney cruise.
- Arrive early. For most, this means flying in the day before and spending the night at a local hotel. For cruises leaving from Port Canaveral, we stay at the Hyatt Regency Orlando Airport. Check prices and reviews here. They offer luggage service to the cruise terminal if you are taking the Magical Express. Make sure you have an early on board time, so you can spend that first day exploring the ship.
- Make meal plans early. There are premium adult-only restaurants (Palo and Remy on the Fantasy and Dream) that require advance reservations. Also, you’ll be given a meal time for your evening dinners – if you want the early time, request it well in advance.
- Complete Online Check-in Early. There are a lot of papers you need to fill out for your cruise, so it’s best to check in as soon as you can. But more importantly, you can choose your port arrival time at this point. If you are a first-time Disney cruiser, you’ll be able to check in 75 days in advance. As you move up to silver, gold and platinum statuses in the Castaway Club (DCL’s frequent cruiser program), you can check in earlier – 120 days prior to sailing for platinum guests, 105 days for gold guests, and 90 days for silver guests. These windows also apply to booking cabanas at Castaway Cay, making premium dining reservations, and scheduling excursions.
- Be smart with packing. Pack a power strip if you have lots of electronic devices. Keep in mind that you can’t plug in your own hair dryer (one is provided), and there’s no iron in the rooms. Also, space in the bathroom is very limited – there’s no spreading out of all of your toiletries (like I tend to do). Think vertical space!
- Bring magnets! All of the doors are magnetic, so consider bringing magnetic hooks so you can hang things from the door. If you’re feeling especially organized, you can purchase a magnet on Etsy to decorate your exterior door.
Also take a look at my stateroom tour video, so you know exactly what to expect.
Disclosure: I was aboard the Disney Fantasy as part of the Traveling Mom Retreat.