1st cruise, I've got questions

Discussion in 'Disney Cruise Line Forum' started by Karin1984, Dec 6, 2018.

  1. Karin1984

    Karin1984 DIS Veteran

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    I booked yesterday my first cruise! I’m so excited! :D In 2017 I finalized my wish list to see all Disney castles, so the 4 cruise ships are next! Cruising has been on my bucket list for a long time, and now it will happen! End of January, on the Magic to the Bahamas, 4 nights. Which should be just long enough to figure out if I even like cruising. If I do, Transatlantic or Panama Canal, here I come!

    Somehow, with cruising I have a feeling that it’s like a secret society where you have to be ‘in the know’, to know all the secrets. So looking for tips and tricks for first time cruisers!

    Okay, who am I: European female solo traveler in her 30s, love for theater/Disney/storytelling/history, don’t drink alcohol, no kids, no beach person.
    Cruise is booked (OGT), I got my flight, flying in from Amsterdam 2 days before departure, and all is left is a hotel in Miami.

    Before & after cruise:
    - Any recommendations for hotels (Thinking about Holiday Inn near the port) and activities in Miami?
    I won’t have a car, I plan on a taxi or an Uber to the ship.


    - My flight out of Miami back to Amsterdam is at 4pm, so plenty of time to do something in Miami on the departure day, any suggestions where I could store my (carry on) luggage?


    During the cruise:
    - PAT, I don't know anything about boarding groups, never cruised before, so I won’t be the first allowed on board. Any reason why I still should select an early PAT? All options between 12:00 and 3:30pm are still available; I selected 12:00-12:30pm for now.


    - Silly question maybe, but for breakfast & lunch, the restaurants in the rotation aren’t open? Everyone goes to Cabana’s? That’s what I get from the trip reports.


    - Tips: I come from a non-tipping culture, but I’ll adjust :) I have read the recommendations and I’m in doubt about paying in advance or not. I normally do not carry cash anymore. I take it there are ATMs on board?


    - I love musical theater and I saw the stage show of Tangled on Youtube, I’ve got the music on my phone, and there are of course two shows. Is it allowed / possible to see the same show twice?


    - In My Cruise Reservations I can make reservations for the stuff like the princess gathering, BBB, tastings etc. but there is a lot more offered.

    If I want to do a guided tour of the ship, or a yoga class, etc. it’s not possible to register online, this happens only on the ship? And it’s only published which activities are when, when I am on board?
    I have downloaded the app, and I know where to find previous navigators :) so I have a global idea of what is offered.


    - Any suggestions for activities, on board or in the ports (Castaway Cay & Nassau)?
    Only thing I really want to do is the Castaway Cay 5k, and to do a tour of the ship.
    Spa treatments are much cheaper where I live, so I’ll skip the spa, but I understood you could also use the sauna in the dressing rooms in the sports area for free?


    I think those are my questions now :) Thank you all for helping out!
     
  2. Dug720

    Dug720 DIS Veteran

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    Before & after cruise:
    - Any recommendations for hotels (Thinking about Holiday Inn near the port) and activities in Miami?
    I won’t have a car, I plan on a taxi or an Uber to the ship.

    I like the Hampton Inn and Suites Blue Lagoon. Super nice, a few places to eat and grab wine pre-cruise - and a Starbucks in walking distance. They offer a shuttle to the port for $10. Or I'd use Lyft. I have issues with some of Uber's past practices and they have not done anything to win me back.


    - My flight out of Miami back to Amsterdam is at 4pm, so plenty of time to do something in Miami on the departure day, any suggestions where I could store my (carry on) luggage?

    Sorry, no idea here.


    During the cruise:
    - PAT, I don't know anything about boarding groups, never cruised before, so I won’t be the first allowed on board. Any reason why I still should select an early PAT? All options between 12:00 and 3:30pm are still available; I selected 12:00-12:30pm for now.

    The sooner you get on, the more time to explore the ship and settle in before Muster Drill. Also time to see if you can sign up for anything you didn't get to beforehand.


    - Silly question maybe, but for breakfast & lunch, the restaurants in the rotation aren’t open? Everyone goes to Cabana’s? That’s what I get from the trip reports.

    Usually one of the MDRs is open for a short period for breakfast. I think for most people it's just easier to go to Cabanas and grab what they want. Only time I've ever seen it nuts was when we had to clear customs in Key West because we went to Castaway Cay first. Everyone had to do it, so everyone was up. Otherwise I've never found it too maddening.


    - Tips: I come from a non-tipping culture, but I’ll adjust :) I have read the recommendations and I’m in doubt about paying in advance or not. I normally do not carry cash anymore. I take it there are ATMs on board?

    I have never looked to see if there is an ATM on board. I buy onboard credit ahead of time or put a gift card on my account. The ship is really a cashless culture - it's probably easier to just let the daily gratuities go on your account if you don't pre-pay them.


    - I love musical theater and I saw the stage show of Tangled on Youtube, I’ve got the music on my phone, and there are of course two shows. Is it allowed / possible to see the same show twice?

    Unless they go back to the much-maligned cut one show and shoe the other multiple times, the only way to see the live show twice would be to skip your dinner in the MDR (and either eat REALLY early or even later than late dinner). The day of the show, it will be on the television in your stateroom, but it will be a different cast most likely.


    - In My Cruise Reservations I can make reservations for the stuff like the princess gathering, BBB, tastings etc. but there is a lot more offered.

    If I want to do a guided tour of the ship, or a yoga class, etc. it’s not possible to register online, this happens only on the ship? And it’s only published which activities are when, when I am on board?
    I have downloaded the app, and I know where to find previous navigators :) so I have a global idea of what is offered.

    General walking tours are on embarkation day - another reason to get on early. Art of the Theme Show Tour will be announced in your Navigator - delivered to your cabin every night. You show up, you don't sign up. No other ship tours are offered.

    Yoga...it's NOT true yoga, more like a stretch. If they are doing sign-ups for it, you'd do that in the fitness center.



    - Any suggestions for activities, on board or in the ports (Castaway Cay & Nassau)?
    Only thing I really want to do is the Castaway Cay 5k, and to do a tour of the ship.
    Spa treatments are much cheaper where I live, so I’ll skip the spa, but I understood you could also use the sauna in the dressing rooms in the sports area for free?

    Castaway Day is 100% chill at Serenity Bay for me. I don't even bother with the not-a-true-5K anymore. Boring, crowded, and hot. LOL.

    Nassau...in Feb I'm making it a Spa day with Alone Time and a Rainforest Room pass. Since I'm cruising in Feb, I don't want to commit to a water-based excursion and have it be cold.
     
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  4. Ensusieasm

    Ensusieasm DIS Veteran

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    Keep your early boarding time. It gets you on the beautiful ship to start enjoying right away.
    There is a restaurant open every day for breakfast and lunch. You don’t have to go to Cabanas. We did this even on embarkation day for lunch.
    Go ahead and automatically pay your tips, you can add more later if desired.
    The stage shows are generally set to work with the Dining schedules. You may not be able to go to both showings unless you skip dinner. But if you can squeeze in two showings, why not? Nobody is checking.
     
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  5. apathetic

    apathetic Mouseketeer

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    Port Arrival Time determines when you get on the ship. A lot of people want the earliest time so they can get on and enjoy the ship as early as possible. But, if you pick a later time, you will probably get on the ship with less wait time. Keep in mind, that counts as your first day of the cruise. So, if you are on a 6 day cruise, the day you get on the ship counts as 1 of those 6 days. So, the later you get on the less you enjoy the ship.

    Breakfast and lunch usually have at least 1 main dining room open. However, they have reduced hours, usually about an hour and a half. It is a sit down option where they bring your food to you. Cabanas is a buffet for breakfast and lunch with longer hours. If you want to relax for your meal, plan one of the main dining rooms.

    I don't think there is an ATM because it is mainly cashless on the ship. Your tips for the most part will be billed to you automatically. If you want to increase a tip, you can do that too without bringing cash. The main part you will need cash is on the excursions. Just hit an ATM before you get on the ship. Almost anywhere you go they will gladly accept US dollars.

    You can see the shows as often as you want. However, one will be opposite your dinner time, so you have to choose the show or your regular dinner rotation.

    Castaway 5K you register on the ship. They have a ship tour, or they used to. Sometimes you can only register for stuff on the ship, not online. However, some stuff you have to book online and may fill up before you even get a chance to register.
     
  6. Geomom

    Geomom DIS Veteran

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    Disney Magic:

    As far as breakfast/lunch:

    Deck 9: Cabanas--buffet, Counter service: Daisy's Delite--some healthier food like yogurt drinks/fruits/salads/sandwiches; Duck In Diner--shawarma, burgers/chicken tenders/fries; Pinocchios Pizzeria. Cove Cafe--beverages cost $, but the snacks are free--morning/afternoon pastries/desserts, evening has meats/cheese/olives/breadsticks. And of course, soft serve ice cream machine open all day...it does get cleaned out/shut off in the evening...maybe 10-11PM.

    Deck 3: Lumiere's is open for a sit down breakfast or lunch--as others have said there are limited hours for it, check the navigator for times.

    Tips: The tips will automatically be charged to your account by the end of your cruise--$12/person/day--covers the stateroom host ($4/day), server ($4/day), assistant server ($3/day), and the head server ($1/day). (They are unfortunately positions where the base pay is low enough for them to 'need' our tips!) Really the only thing you'd need some cash for is if you order room service...and even then you can ask for a slip to add a tip and have it get added to your account that way.

    Shows: While you can see the show whenever you'd like--no tix are required, the theater holds under 1000 people--so it works best when people go to the show opposite their dinner seating (when possible), especially for newer or popular shows...older shows it doesn't matter as much.

    Port Arrival Time: I'd pick the earliest time you can get--then you'll be able to have lunch on board. You're allowed into your room at 1:30PM and luggage should arrive by 5:30PM. There are afternoon tours of the ship and if you want to peek into any of the kids' clubs--they're in open house mode until dinnertime.

    Enjoy your cruise!
     
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  7. Sytrace

    Sytrace DIS Veteran

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    1. There are a couple of hotels that DCL works with that you can book via calling to check availability.
    2. There will be one dining room open for breakfast and lunch in addition to Cabanas..that open MDR will be noted on the DCL Navigator app and your dining room serving team will also be able to tell you the breakfast and lunch hours as well.
    3. No ATM's on board but you are permitted to cash checks at Guest services with proper ID.
    4. You can see the shows twice, but they are shown during dinner..so you could always see the first show and then the second if you are willing to skip dining in the MDR and just grab something at the quick locations on the pool deck.
    5. There is a ship tour offered the first day and is noted on your Navigator app with meeting location and time...it is just an overview however and is complimentary. The tour does not go behind the scenes or to the Bridge etc. Typically at 1:30 PM is the first tour. Yoga classes and fitness training are available, but cannot be pre booked in advance. Go up to Senses Spa and sign up there.
    6. In Nassau, my family enjoyed the Greycliff Chocolatier tour as well as Atlantis a couple of times. Castaway Cay we loved the Stingray adventure and riding bikes, snorkeling and floating in the lagoon. Also, the Kayak and Walking tour was a lot of fun too. You can truly do as much or as little as you want to do and have a great time. On the ship, I love Bingo and trivia games, on the Magic there is no mini golf course, but they do offer a fun activity called Chip It Golf...lots of fun! Check the Navigator daily and mark favorites that you want to try day by day.
     
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  8. Mommb

    Mommb DIS Veteran

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    This is implied in some of the previous responses, but just to clarify: Most of the activities on board do not require, or even permit, reservations. If an activity is listed in the Personal Navigator you receive the previous night (or on the App) and doesn't say that it requires a reservation, then you can simply show up at the listed time and place. This is true of trivia games, theater shows and movies, most character greetings, port overview presentations, and more.

    Yes, any adult is welcome to use the dressing rooms, showers, and sauna in the Spa area and the equipment in the Fitness area at no extra cost. Just walk in at any time the Spa is open. Even if you're not interested in booking a treatment, you might find it helpful to stop by the Spa on embarkation day and take a brief tour, just so you know where the various areas are.

    Happy planning!
     
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  9. g_ppetto

    g_ppetto Earning My Ears

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    Special dining and Tastings - if you are unable to book these prior to the cruise, check the Navigator you receive when you check in for the location and time of the reservation desk / table. We were able to book a Palo brunch once we boarded as well as a champagne tasting. We really enjoyed the brunch and booked a dinner reservation for another evening on our way out.
     
  10. Dug720

    Dug720 DIS Veteran

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    Also the pre-cruise tastings are a limited number. There are usually others only available on board.
     
  11. Karin1984

    Karin1984 DIS Veteran

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    The only tastings I could pre-book all say 'sold out', but they are all alcohol tasting and I don't drink, so that's no issue. I am interesting in the 'anyone can cook' classes, that is one of those only-available-on-board?
     
  12. Geomom

    Geomom DIS Veteran

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    'Anyone can cook'--you just go to it, no signup required. You get to watch the chef make something in one of the lounges (it was D Lounge for us), taste a sample of it, and you get the recipe. DD18 and I went to the Apple Strudel one during our last cruise--we were really impressed with how the chef made it!
     
  13. kiford

    kiford DIS Veteran

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    Open boarding is usually around 12:30-12:45 so there are unlikely to be line-ups for check-in or any wait to board the ship. Your room won't be ready until 1:30 so you have to carry your carry on bag around until it's available. That's why we prefer a 1-1:30 boarding ourselves. I hate waiting in line and I hate carrying that bag around. I like to walk in, walk on, and go to my room immediately. There's always still been time for lunch.

    There's always at least one MDR open for breakfast and one open for breakfast. You don't have a pre-assigned table as with dinner. You just show up during the open times (listed in the Navigator). They ask for your room number (to make sure any allergy requirements are noted) and show you to a seat. You may be seated with other people, especially at lunch. Breakfast in the MDRs is pretty much the same offering every day (also true of Cabanas) but lunch is usually different each day. Embarkation day lunch at the MDR can be a buffet, somewhat more limited than Cabanas, but they seat you and bring your drinks to you. I've heard that recently it's been a sit-down lunch on embarkation day. Either way, we have started to prefer the MDR for breakfast and lunch unless we are in a hurry to get to a port tour in the morning. We just find it more relaxing.

    I don't think there are ATMs on board but since the ship is cashless, unless you're paying your onboard account in cash, you won't need any except possibly on shore (though we nearly always use credit card when off the ship or can definitely find an ATM in the port), for the porters who take your luggage when you drop off (and if you need assistance when you disembark), or for room service tips (most of the room service food is no additional charge so there's not always a chit to sign where you would normally add a tip to your account). The standard $12/day/person tip for the four positions as others have described will be automatically charged to your onboard account near the end of the cruise and you'll be given "tickets" to give to those people but it's really just an acknowledgement of your tip - they actually have it deposited directly to their own onboard account so no need for cash or for payment in advance. Other tips are usually charged on a chit that goes to your onboard account. If you order speciality drinks, even non-alcoholic ones such as coffees from the Cove Cafe or speciality non-alcoholic cocktails at dinner, you'll be given a chit to sign. There's an automatic gratuity put onto it and you can add an additional tip (that amount goes to the server instead of into a pool) but both are just charged to your account. I know you're not planning spa services but there is an automatic gratuity put on that and it's charged to your account.
     
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  14. disneylove69

    disneylove69 DIS Veteran

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  15. mousefan73

    mousefan73 DIS Veteran

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    You only need cash for the following :
    1. Room service tips we usually give a dollar a plate. On average about 3 to 4 dollar tip per order.
    2. Porters at the port. We give a dollar per luggage piece but we have a lot as we are a family. If I were so lone had one suitcase I probably give two dollars or maybe three. I’m not a big tipper hear some people get like five bucks per luggage which for me is kind of a lot.
    3. Public transportation or cabs or any other tips that have to do with getting from A to B while in Port.


    But other than that it really is a cashless environment while on board. everything gets added to your onboard account. Even drink tips if you were to buy a drink you would just sign for the 15% and that’s it. Even though you don’t drink alcohol, the tip line is included if you order a specialty coffee drink
     
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  16. TortoiseTaughtUs

    TortoiseTaughtUs Earning My Ears

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    I feel like I’ve heard someone say that they have been able to request a receipt from Room Service so they could tip without cash. Can anyone confirm that?
     
  17. Karin1984

    Karin1984 DIS Veteran

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    Thanks everyone, I decided on the Discover Nassau Land & Sea Tour for my Nassau day, now I need to see what to do for my Castaway Cay day. My problem is that I'm a solo traveller and even when it's a private island, I don't feel comfortable with leaving any valuables (phone/camera/wallet) on the beach while I go for a swim, are there lockers?

    Other question, I can't seem to find where in my reservation I can leave remarks about what I'm celebrating. Was that only possible while making the reservation or am I missing something?
     
  18. pascalspal

    pascalspal Earning My Ears

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    During the cruise:
    - PAT, I don't know anything about boarding groups, never cruised before, so I won’t be the first allowed on board. Any reason why I still should select an early PAT? All options between 12:00 and 3:30pm are still available; I selected 12:00-12:30pm for now.
    Keep your PAT! Youll be able to hop on the ship and grab some lunch before your room is ready!

    - Silly question maybe, but for breakfast & lunch, the restaurants in the rotation aren’t open? Everyone goes to Cabana’s? That’s what I get from the trip reports.
    I haven't had breakfast at Cabanas at all on my last three cruises. I will order room service if I want a relaxing morning, or I will go to whichever rotational restaurant is open for a breakfast! I love the rotational restaurant breakfasts because it is not a buffet. You order off of a menu just like you would for dinner and everything is delicious. I also do this almost every day for lunch! I'll swing by Cabanas if I want something super specific like peel and eat shrimp!

    - Tips: I come from a non-tipping culture, but I’ll adjust :) I have read the recommendations and I’m in doubt about paying in advance or not. I normally do not carry cash anymore. I take it there are ATMs on board?
    I am not sure about the ATMs on board, but I do think I remember seeing them. If not there are always ATMs at the ports, but you may have fees being that you are travelling internationally. I would give your bank a call just to double check on that! Most taxis/ubers everything including tip is electronic, so no need for cash. I always tip the bag porters a few dollars (2-3) for taking care of my bag for me. If I order room service I'll give whoever delivers a few dollars as well! Other than that the on board recommended tips I usually just put on my stateroom bill. I believe they go on there automatically. I usually carry some extra cash to put in envelopes if the service was fantastic (which is always is). The servers and housekeeping crew work SO HARD all day so I like to give them as much extra as I personally can!

    - I love musical theater and I saw the stage show of Tangled on Youtube, I’ve got the music on my phone, and there are of course two shows. Is it allowed / possible to see the same show twice?
    You can see all the shows as many times as you want. They'll have one showing during your assigned dinner time, but you can skip your dinner rotation and eat at Cabanas or one of the pool side options or room service if you want to see it twice.

    - In My Cruise Reservations I can make reservations for the stuff like the princess gathering, BBB, tastings etc. but there is a lot more offered. If I want to do a guided tour of the ship, or a yoga class, etc. it’s not possible to register online, this happens only on the ship? And it’s only published which activities are when, when I am on board?
    I have downloaded the app, and I know where to find previous navigators :) so I have a global idea of what is offered.
    You are correct! Things you can book online are the beverage seminars which I saw are not of interest to you, and a few character meet and greets. Everything else that is not ticketed will show up in your daily navigator. You can just simply show up at the time and place and partake. There is usually a ship tour on embarkation day and often it is offered on the sea day as well! It goes through a lot of the architectural and design inspirations for the ship! Yoga is offered quite frequently on the ship. Usually on the deck very early each morning and usually on the beach at Castaway Cay. If I remember correctly there is no extra charge for yoga classes. Some exercise classes like 'boot camp' will show up on your navigator that are an extra fee but that is always denoted so you know before hand!

    - Any suggestions for activities, on board or in the ports (Castaway Cay & Nassau)?Only thing I really want to do is the Castaway Cay 5k, and to do a tour of the ship. Spa treatments are much cheaper where I live, so I’ll skip the spa, but I understood you could also use the sauna in the dressing rooms in the sports area for free?
    The 5k on Castaway is very fun, so I highly recommend that. Since you said you are not a beach person I would recommend renting a bike on Castaway as well to enjoy the bike paths and views! I personally just like to relax and read a book in a hammock on the island! Anyone can cook classes on the ship are also great!! I always try to watch jack jack's diaper dash on the ship (guests let their small children race*crawl* to a finish line). I always find it funny. I really enjoy finding a nice quiet spot to relax and read (cove café is great for that, and the coffee is awesome too!)
    I agree with you on the spa treatments, they have always been great for me but are on the pricey side. One thing I do like to do that is moderately priced is the rainforest pass. It gives you access to heated lounge chairs and different spa showers/steam rooms. They have day passes and passes for the entire cruise. I always really enjoy it and spend about an hour there every morning after my run!
    You can use any of the gym and locker room amenities for free! I cannot remember if there is a sauna in the locker room or if you need a rainforest pass for that. I would ask once you get on board! You can use the showers in the locker rooms, they are larger and have some great bath products as well!

    I think those are my questions now :) Thank you all for helping out!


    Thanks everyone, I decided on the Discover Nassau Land & Sea Tour for my Nassau day, now I need to see what to do for my Castaway Cay day. My problem is that I'm a solo traveller and even when it's a private island, I don't feel comfortable with leaving any valuables (phone/camera/wallet) on the beach while I go for a swim, are there lockers?
    To my knowledge there are still no lockers on Castaway Cay. I usually leave anything of value in my stateroom for the day as the ship as it is never too far away! I have left items in my chair on the adult beach with no problems before. You could always see if you could leave your items behind the bar at serenity bay when you go for a swim!

    Other question, I can't seem to find where in my reservation I can leave remarks about what I'm celebrating. Was that only possible while making the reservation or am I missing something?
    To specify what you are celebrating log into your account on the dcl website. From there under "my Disney cruise" go to "my reservations". If you scroll down to the bottom of the page you will see a section that says special requests. Click on make requests and you will be able to denote what you are celebrating per their preset options of honeymoon, birthday, anniversary. If you are celebrating something other than that you can call and have them add a note onto your reservation!
     
  19. MomOTwins

    MomOTwins The Mommy Fairy

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    There is no need to bring a wallet onto castaway cay. You just need your stateroom card (you can room charge any purchases) and ID to get back on the ship. We put these into waterproof pouches that you wear around your neck on lanyards. You can also get a waterproof neck pouch for phones--my husband did this last time so he could take pictures snorkeling and said it worked really well (just test it first with a quick dip to make sure you sealed it properly).

    There is a special requests link when you sign in where you can add remarks on celebrations.
     
  20. PrincessShmoo

    PrincessShmoo DIS veteran

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    In reality, you don't have to put those in a waterproof pouch. Both are plastic and can get wet.
     
  21. MomOTwins

    MomOTwins The Mommy Fairy

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    Since OP mentioned she was from Amsterdam I figured she might have a passport instead of a plastic ID.
     
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