New Cruiser - I have no clue!

Discussion in 'Disney Cruise Line Forum' started by codygirl5150, Jan 6, 2010.

  1. codygirl5150

    codygirl5150 Mouseketeer

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    Hi all. My DH, DD7 and myself are planning our very first cruise - most likely the 5 day Bahamian in June 2011. I know absolutely nothing about cruising...I mean NOTHING! I've read the sticky on this forum and have explored the DCL website, but I feel like there is so much I'm missing. Like what's the difference between starboard and portside of the ship? Should I pay the extra $$ for category 6A vs. a category 6B? Should I fly into Orlando the day before departure? What time should I book my return flight? Is a passport necessary? :confused3

    And that doesn't even include the questions I have about what to expect on the ship and in port! Should I book excursions early or when I get on the ship? What's not included in "all inclusive"? Are photos taken randomly like photopass at WDW, or do you book a photo session? Can I take alcoholic beverages to sip by the family/kiddie pools or do I have to stay in a designated area? And what's the deal with the magnets on the doors?

    What do you wish you would have known before you went on your first cruise?

    I know I seem completely hopeless now, but I have 1 1/2 years to peruse the DCL board so I know I'll get there! Thanks DISers!!
     
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  3. KYDIZFAN

    KYDIZFAN Mouseketeer

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    My wife and I (along with my niece and nephnew) have taken onver 15 Disney Cruises.
    Starboard and Port? The left side(port) the right(starboard) standing aft (back) looking forward. No difference except the view at Castaway Cay if you are on the port side you can see people getting on and off the ship, if you are starboard you can see the bay and the Flying Dutchman. Since you are going on the new ship can't tell you about the difference between a 6 and 6b. We like the Cat 5 and Cat 4 with the navigators veranda. Some people don't think the veranda is worth the extra money but we like sitting outside and it is a great place to dry wet swim suits. :)

    We live outside of Louisville KY and can't get a direct flight to Orlando from here. The earlist we can get to Orlando is around 1:00 by the time we get on the bus and to the ship it is almost 3:00. I would reccomend flying in a day early and staying at the Airport Hyatt. They have a stay a fly from there but it is more than getting on the elevator and taking the regular bus.

    You are usually back to the airport by 9:30 or 10:00 a.m. so anything after 12:00 should be fine. ALL of you will need a passport even the DD7.

    I would book excursions early because they can fill up. A lot of people do the snorkingly trips in ports but we wait until we get to Castaway Cay it is a little cheaper (free if you bring your own snorkle and fins) and you can do it as long as you would like. The Bahamas doesn't have as good as shopping as Grand Cayman or St. Thomas but there are still some good deals.

    Whats not included are: any drinks at bars or brought by wait staff pool side. (There is free 24 hour fountain service for soft drinks and milk.) Arcade tokens Wine at dinner Shore excursions, Spa visits that's about it. They do take candid photos and there are chactor photo ops You go to the photo store and find your picture and purchase it. We haven't been in a year they may have photo pass by now.

    You can take your drink anywhere except in the pool or hot tub.

    The doors are metal people use mangets to decorate them. We use a magnetic white board as a "where are you" board for my teenage nephnew.

    Hope this helps let me know if you have any other questions. I will answer them the best I can.
     
  4. sayhello

    sayhello Have Camera, Will Travel

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    See comments in Red!

    Sayhello

     
  5. croppincolburn

    croppincolburn DIS Veteran

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    It can seem overwhelming. I borrowed a book from the library about DCL and also bought the PassPorter guide to DCL. Love the PassPorter guide. www.passporter.com I'm trying to figure out what level of cabin I want too. Should I get the next level up or spend the money on other things? Tough decisions. Good luck!
     
  6. Grandma4ever

    Grandma4ever One day closer and still counting!!!

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    Welcome to cruising. This may be your first but will not be your last! See answers below:


    Keep reading the DIS and you well get your answers. Find your cruise meet thread and join it as well. Your fun is just beginning!
     
  7. codygirl5150

    codygirl5150 Mouseketeer

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    Thanks everyone! That's why I love the DIS!!

    And now for more questions...

    What are standards for tipping? And who all should be tipped? Do you tip cash, or how does it work if it is charged to your room? Do you tip at the time of service (like when room service is delivered, leave a tip everyday for house keeping, tip at the table at the end of dinner, etc..) or in just one lump at the end of the cruise? My daughter will be taking part in the kids activities...do the counselors get tipped?

    My mother will be going with us, and she is a smoker. I read the DCL rules, but what is respectible? Are there designated spots? Will it bother the neighbors if she smokes on the veranda of our cabin? I don't want her to offend anyone.

    For dressing for dinner - are we talking nice sun dresses or ball dresses? For men, is a suit and tie necessary?

    Where do you get the magnets from? I see people design their own...is there a place to order them from or some way to print at home?

    Thanks again! I'm sure I'll think of more! :thumbsup2
     
  8. LMCmom25kids

    LMCmom25kids Mouseketeer

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    I just wanted to chime in with what I understand to be correct about the pass port issue. I was told by Disney, that you DO NOT need a pass port if you are leaving from a particular port as long as it returns to that very same port. Ex: Port Canaveral to Nassau, to Castaway Cay, back to Port Canaveral. Better call Disney Directly yourself. Also, it depends on the weather, water currents etc. if they pull the ship in forward to dock or if they back the ship in. (So you are never really sure of what view you will have from your room until you get there.) Good luck.
     
  9. LMCmom25kids

    LMCmom25kids Mouseketeer

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    The soda is only free at dinner and at the drink station on deck 9. Order one from any place else and you will be charged along with the 15% tip. Yikes !
     
  10. Cherinva

    Cherinva Co-Host of the Va. DIS Meet and avid pin collector

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    There seems to be a lot of different views on this. I was told, by Disney, that a passport was required and that we wouldn't be allowed to board ship without one. It was explained to me, that if for some reason, we missed ships movement in Nassau, without a passport, we would have a very difficult time getting back to the states. A passport is not cheap, but we went ahead and got ours. They came in within 3 weeks.
     
  11. NancyIL

    NancyIL DIS Veteran

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    I second the recommendation to read the Passporter book.
     
  12. LMCmom25kids

    LMCmom25kids Mouseketeer

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    Thank you for inquiring about being considerate of others with the smoking issue. As a non smoker "by choice" never put one in my mouth as everyone knows it's not good for you ... I am very concerned about possibly getting a smoker or worse yet, smokers on the verandah near ours. (We are a family of 7 and have 2 connecting rooms right next to eachother) I would never make rude comments or anything like that, but it would be very sad for myself and my family (5 children) if we could not enjoy our verandah that we paid quite a pretty penney for, because of nasty, stinky smoke. I pray if we get smokers near us, that they are considerate as it sounds you (or your mother will be, I'm sure.) Thanks. Also.... I agree about the tip one poster wrote.... keep reading the boards here and let me add, keep a note book near by and jot down any all all tips ( organize them, type them up and put into a 3 ring binder for future use. We always do this and it works out great! Good luck.
     
  13. LMCmom25kids

    LMCmom25kids Mouseketeer

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    Cherinva is correct on the part about if you missed the ship leaving from Nassau, that you would have problems.... but in general, a pass port is not needed to board the ship. Like I said... call DCL yourself to inquire about this.
     
  14. LMCmom25kids

    LMCmom25kids Mouseketeer

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    To Codygirl5150 ..... Here is the answer to your question about the passport issue. Go to the DCL web site ( www.disneycruise.disney.go.com/ ) scroll to the bottom and on the left side you will see (FAQ) click on it and then click on (Preparing for your cruise.) From there you will see what you are looking for.... "Proof of Citizenship"
     
  15. codygirl5150

    codygirl5150 Mouseketeer

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    Great info! Can anyone advise me on the other questions? Especially with the tipping...
     
  16. oklamomof4boys

    oklamomof4boys DIS Veteran

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    Let me see if I can remember this correctly- server and room steward- figure a tip $4 a day per person( even children), assistant server $3 a day per person, head server $1 a day per person. You do not tip daily- you tip all of them at the end of the cruise.

    So, for a family of 3 on a 5 night cruise- server and room steward $60 each total, assistant server $45 and head server $15. Of course, you can tip more if you want to. I think I figured all of that right.

    Oh, and we just got off of a Western cruise and my nephew didn't have a passport.
     
  17. su_kraft

    su_kraft If I plan it, will you come?

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    The view at Castaway Cay is a crap shoot... If you are on the port side and the port side needs maintenance the you will see the doc. If the starboard side needs maintenance, you will see the bay.
     
  18. noahdove

    noahdove DIS Veteran

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    I know I will be busy writing notes regarding a cruise. I am deathly afraid of water,but, my daughter thinks we need to do a 3 night at sea and 4 night at a resort Disney style..and she has left me to the planning, probably, I am obsessed with details and everything else, so this should be good for my migraines:) :) So far, I am doing ok:) Thank you for all of your help.
     
  19. Tinkermom3

    Tinkermom3 Mouseketeer

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    Below is some info that I had posted after our first cruise in Feb 2008 on the Magic. 2nd Cruise in 65 days - Woo Hoo!! Hope this info helps!....


    We are DVC (Disney Vacation Club) members and used part points and part cash for the cruise. We stayed in a Category 4 stateroom which is the family stateroom with a veranda.

    Ok, now for some of the things we brought with us that were very helpful:

    - Bring a power strip - There is only one outlet in the stateroom so this was great to be able to plug in our phones, camera charges, curling iron, etc.
    - Ladies - Bring your own hairdryer. The ones in the stateroom look like they are from the 1960's or something and barely blow any air.
    - Bring an over-the-door shoe organizer - This was AWESOME for keeping all of our stuff off of horizontal surfaces which helped us stay organized and tidy. We used it for sunscreen, brushes/combs, sunglasses, batteries, makeup pouches, jewelry, etc.
    - Clothespins - I had originally read to bring these to help keep the curtains on the sliding door closed when the ship was rocking. We ended up using these to help better close the privacy curtain between the bed and "living area" in our stateroom. This allowed us a way to get changed with privacy.
    - Pillowcases & Sharpies - I bought 3 new white pillowcases (one for each kid). I placed them in a large ziploc bag with various colors of Sharpie markers and gave them to Guest Services the second day of our cruise. They were returned to us on the last day of the cruise signed by all of the characters!
    - Pop-up Laundry Hamper - This stored easily in the closet and was great to toss our dirty laundry in.
    - Lanyards for room key - These lanyards have a clear zip-loc type of holder for your Key-to-the-World card. We did not realize how handy this would be! We saw lots of folks with these on the first day of the cruise. We were going to buy some but ended up getting them as a gift from Disney Vacation Club! These were great to grab and put around your neck as we headed out and about.
    - Bring Address Labels - This made the last night so much easier! You receive luggage tags (one for each bag) on the last day of the cruise. You have to put your name, address and phone # on each of these as well as your stateroom and number each bag. We had pre-made return address labels with most of this info. All I had to do was place a label onto each tag, add our stateroom # and # each bag. We had 9 bags and this made the process much faster!
    - Seasickness - Bring Bonine and Ginger tablets, I got both at Walmart. I was very worried as I do get seasick. I started taking Bonine 2 days before the cruise. I took one tablet twice a day (morning and bedtime) and it worked great!!! One day at sea we were rocking quite a bit and I started feeling a bit queasy so I took a Ginger tablet and I felt much better! I did not feel tired at all and had no effects when I went off of the Bonine after the cruise.
    - Bring some Pirate gear - We brought some hats, eye patches, etc from home to dress up in for Pirate Night. Lots of folks were dressed in pirate attire for this event! Pirate Night was a blast!
    - Digital clock - Ok, I did not bring one but wish that I had. There is a clock in the room but it is not a digital clock and cannot be seen at night.
    - One Dollar Bills - DH went to the bank before we left and got LOTS of $1 bills to use for tipping. This was VERY handy for the porters, room service, transportation, etc.

    Other tips:

    - Don't overpack - I WAY overpacked. During the days at sea we were pretty much in our swimsuits/cover-ups.
    - Get to port early if you need to book Palo or spa services on board. We tried to get there early by using Happy Limo but Happy Limo had to change our time so we did not get to the port until around 12:00 noon. We ended up on the wait-list for Palo but we were able to get in to Palo.
    - Speaking of Palo- DO IT! It was such a wonderful meal!
    - Kids Clubs - They clubs were great! Be sure to leave time though when dropping off your kids. Many times we had to wait in line to drop off and ended up cutting our time close on a couple of things.
    - Shutters - Get to Shutters EARLY in your cruise!! We chose our package and most of our photos about mid-cruise. We wanted to wait to get our last couple of photos after our Castaway Cay day. Shutters was MOBBED on the last night! Many people were there for the first time and choosing their package and such. I was so glad that all I needed were 2-3 photos!
    - Christmas Cards - Yes, I said Christmas Cards! We had ours made at Shutters so I am all ready for Christmas! (well, at least my cards are ready). We used a family photo from Pirate Night and it says "Yo-Ho-Ho-Ho! Merry Christmas from the _____ Family!"
    - Family Portraits - There is a wonderful background that is all white and it is called a "Lifetime Portrait". The photographer takes several different poses and they look amazing with the white background!
    - Veranda - Get one! It was so awesome to sit out there in the mornings with our coffee. The kids loved to go out each morning and see what the ocean looked like and to watch as we entered the various ports.
    - Princess Gathering - If you have a little princess there is a "Princess Gathering" in the main lobby where all of the princesses come out at the same time for photos and autographs. Get there EARLY as the line was VERY long! This is a very popular event!
    - Topsiders Buffet - We ate breakfast here each morning. Sometimes we brought it back to our stateroom and ate on our veranda and other times we stayed at Topsiders. Try to get to Topsiders before 8:30am to avoid the crowds. It was very peaceful early in the morning!
    - Start packing up early - All of your luggage must be out in the hall between 9p-11p on the last night. There are lots of fun things going on the last night so start packing the day before. I did this and finished up after our day at Castaway Cay and was able to then relax and enjoy our last night on the ship.


    Fun Stuff:

    - DH and I did the martini tasting. This was lots of fun!
    - Order Mickey bars, cookies, coffee from Room Service. We ordered a pot of coffee just about every morning. The kids ordered mickey bars and cookies a couple of times and thought this was the coolest thing!
    - If you are a DVC member go to the member gathering. This lasts one hour. They give you an update on DVC and we got free DVC hats for all of us as well as DVC pins. They also gave away some cool prizes although we did not win any. They also offered some great incentives for purchasing more points.
    - Head up to Topsiders as you are pulling into Castaway Cay for some great photo ops!! You can see the entire island as you pull in.
    - Take some time to enjoy the ship. It is just beautiful!
    - My kids want me to add to eat LOTS of ice cream! There is a soft-serve machine on Deck 9 that was frequented by our kids (ok, us too! ). You can get some big chocolate chip cookies from Topsiders and then make your own ice cream sandwiches! You can also make your own ice cream sodas!
    - My 11 year old DS said to tell you all that the 10-12 year old activities were fun! He really enjoyed the private pool party at the Mickey Pool at 10'oclock at night!
    - My 6 year old DD said to tell you that the Mickey Pool is aweome!
    - We did not see our 13 year old DS much during the day as he really enjoyed the teen area, "The Stack". They had scavenger hunts, video game tournaments, basketball, dodgeball, oh and of course he loved all of the FOOD!
    - Order as much as you want at dinners. On the night of the "Captain's Gala" they serve lobster. DH ordered a second helping. On two nights we got an extra dessert to try. Our servers, Ollie and May, were fabulous! Ollie did several magic tricks for my kids. The kids looked forward each night to see Ollie and May. DD always had a Sprite waiting for her at the table each night and May would ask me each night after dinner if I would like my hot tea. They really made us feel special.

    Ports of Call:

    In Key West we did not do a planned excursion. We just walked around on our own, got a frozen, chocolate dipped key lime pie on a stick and took the Conch train around the town. Key west was very "colorful". There were lots of tacky shops many of which had t-shirts with inappropriate sayings. I was not thrilled that my kids (mainly my boys) got to see this. The Conch train tour was very nice and we got to see a good bit of Key West. Once you get out of the area with all of the bars and tacky shops it is really quite lovely. On the way back to the ship we got another frozen, chocolate dipped key lime pie on a stick. (yes, they are THAT good!)

    In Grand Cayman we did an excursion on our own instead of through Disney. We used Captain Marvins and did a snorkle tour which took us to 2 snorkle spots and also to Stingray City. This was a GREAT excursion and was a highlight of our cruise. Captain Marvins was wonderful and their shop is a short walk from where the tender drops you off. From their shop you ride in a small bus to the other end of the island where they have their boats. On the way to the boat our driver gave us a tour and history of the island.

    In Cozumel we did our excursion through Disney. We went to the mainland to the Eco-Park, Xcaret. Xcaret has a natural underground river that you can float on as well as beautiful white sand beaches and lots of wildlife to see. While this was a wonderfully executed excursion there was a lot of travel time involved. We had to take a ferry to the mainland, walk a bit through town, then board a bus. We wished we had more time at Xcaret as it is a BEAUTIFUL place. If we were to do the Western cruise again we would opt to remain on Cozumel and choose an excursion there. This was also Pirate Night and we were all so tired by that night. Our poor DD slept through the pirate party!

    At Castaway Cay I would recommend getting off the ship as early as possible. We were allowed to disembark at 9:30am and I think we were off the ship by 9:40am. This allowed us to get a great spot on the family beach. It got very crowded by about 10:30am.
    We brought our own snorkle gear that we used in Grand Cayman, Cozumel and Castaway Cay. All of us love to snorkle, even our 6 year old DD! The cost for snorkle rental at Castaway Cay was $10 so by bringing our own we saved $50.
     
  20. waltdisneyworlddreamer

    waltdisneyworlddreamer 100% WDW Fanatic

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    These are some really good tips!! We are also going on a first time cruise this fall. Thanks for taking the time to share all of this. We will certainly be using this for our very first cruise!
     
  21. abdmom

    abdmom DIS Veteran

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    Check out boards.cruisecritic.com
     

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