First time on a cruise

Discussion in 'Disney Cruise Line Forum' started by MomRN, Apr 16, 2018.

  1. MomRN

    MomRN DIS Veteran

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    At my sons request our next big vacation will be a Disney cruise and time at Clearwater. We have been to the parks many times, but never on a cruise, never out of country. I have so many questions!

    We will do 4 nights on the Dream.

    Do we really need passports? Will birth certificates suffice?

    How much do you spend on tips?

    When do you plan excursions? Any specific ones that people recommend?

    Can you carry on alcohol?

    I'm not sure if we will fly or drive in. If we fly in what airport is closest? MCO

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

    Any links or websites you suggest?

    Thanks for any help.
     
  2. Ben E N

    Ben E N DIS Veteran

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    Do we really need passports? Will birth certificates suffice?
    Yes, you really need them (I'm wrong there, but would absolutely get them if I were you)

    How much do you spend on tips?
    They are for the most part preplanned by Disney. Your room will be charged $12-16 per person, per day (12 For now, but it can still rise) and they will be distributed for you, unless you want to handle it yourself.

    When do you plan excursions? Any specific ones that people recommend?
    On Castaway Cay, I would just chill out if I were you. I don't like Nassau much but you may enjoy something centered around Atlantis resort.

    Can you carry on alcohol?
    One 6-pack or 2 bottles of wine per adult

    I'm not sure if we will fly or drive in. If we fly in what airport is closest? MCO
    MCO

    Check out cruise critic
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2018
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  4. PrincessShmoo

    PrincessShmoo DIS veteran

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    Passports - the minimum requirement for US citizens on a closed loop cruise (starts and ends in the same US port) is a birth certificate and (for those 16 and over) a government issued ID. That said, if something were to happen and you'd need to fly home from a foreign port, you have to have the passport. Yes, you can get it at that time, but why add that stress to what may probably be an already stressful situation?

    DCL adds auto gratuities to your onboard account in the amount of $12.00 per person (each person in the room) per night. That $12.00 breaks out to $4.00 per person per night to your room host; $4.00 per person per night to your dining room server; $3.00 per person per night to your assistant server; and $1.00 per person per night to your head server. Any purchased beverages have a 15% auto gratuity added. Any other tipping is at your discretion.

    I'd suggest you start now looking on the DCL site for what excursions are typically offered on your cruise. Only you can decide what appeals to you.

    Each adult 21 and over may bring onboard the ship 2 bottles of wine/champagne (max size 750ml) OR 6 beers (max size 12 oz). This limit may be brought onboard on embarkation and from each port of call. Hard liquor is not allowed to be brought onboard.

    MCO is the one that most people fly into. There are DCL transfers available for purchase that will get you to the port.
     
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  5. apathetic

    apathetic Mouseketeer

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    Links or websites? Search this forum and you will find at least 10 threads on all of those topics. They are worth a read because there are so many perspectives, especially on the passport issue (no, you don't need one for a cruise that starts and stops at the same US port).
     
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  6. Sunshine2U

    Sunshine2U Disney Nana

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    Oh so excited for you! How old is your son and when are you sailing? Plan to arrive the day before embarkation. Lots of topics on staying at WDW, MCO hotel or Port Canaveral hotel, along with transportation on each option. We drive from SC and like freedom to not be limited by airline baggage space. We park at the port for $16/day - which is less than you will pay for transportation.
     
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  7. MelSpees

    MelSpees DIS Veteran

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    (You might want to make sure you give out accurate information.)
    PrincessShmoo hit everything right.
    I wouldn't bother going to CruiseCritic. You get much better detailed and accurate information here
     
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  8. Ben E N

    Ben E N DIS Veteran

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    Eh, pretty dead on. Hit the $12 from memory. Passports are a good call to avoid any possible mess. Cruise critics has plenty of detailed deck plans, reviews of individual parts of the ship, etc. MCO really is the closest, with Melbourne being a close second. So what did I really miss on, worth pointing out?
     
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  9. Sunshine2U

    Sunshine2U Disney Nana

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    hahaha I thought you were just a teensy bit sarcastic until I remembered there is a Melbourne, FLORIDA!!! So kudos on the accuracy.
     
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  10. MelSpees

    MelSpees DIS Veteran

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    Okay, this "old lady" will point out that you said passports are a necessity. They aren't. They're good to have and I always take mine, but you can do a closed loop cruise without one.
    You said $12-$16 for tips. That was misleading, they are $12 per person per day.
    You said "one six-pack or 2 bottles of wine". While it might be obvious to you that a "six-pack" means beer, it may not be to others.

    I rarely criticize and did not point out what I thought were the specific inaccuracies as PrincessShmoo already gave what to me were clearer answers. It just stuck me that you said things with a lot of authority and some of your answers were not accurate. I apologize for bringing it up. Now, please don't make judgements about people you know nothing about. I judged the answers, not the person. Discussion finished..
     
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  11. MichelleCanada

    MichelleCanada Mouseketeer

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    - Room service is included Mickey ice cream bars can be ordered this way but do not appear on the menu.
    - There are drink classes that you can sign up for (there is a cost) and they are informative and fun.
    - Palo brunch and/or dinner are awesome.
    - You can bring another 6-pack of beer or 2 bottles of wine on the ship with you at every port.

    Have a great time and don’t try to do it all!
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2018
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  12. NAB

    NAB <font color=green>That first page just got too hea

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    But they will take the bottles you buy in port until the end of the cruise where you pick up on your way off the ship. They give you a slip to bring them.

    Remember that if your flying out you will have to get that bottle back into your suitcase because it won't go though security. Only say this because we were on a airline where they would take your luggage and you wouldn't see it to your final destination not pick it up in the terminal. We ended up not being able to use this service so we could get the bottle in the suitcase on the way to the airport. Can't remember which airlines Disney does this for.
     
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  13. starvenger

    starvenger DIS Veteran

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    I think this is true for DCL and if your only stop is Castaway Cay. Since you're going to Nassau there is some useful information there.

    Passports are generally a good idea when travelling abroad. As an American I don't believe you need a passport for the cruise.

    The automatic charges are fair and will suffice. I usually tip the wait staff/room attendant extra if they've done over and above what I expected. Either I'm lucky or I'm easy (like Sunday morning) but this has been the case on all my cruises (across 3 cruise lines).

    As people have pointed out MCO is closest. HOWEVER you mentioned going to Clearwater as well so don't dismiss flying into Tampa.

    I wish I'd known how to relax and engage Cruise Mode (which is basically the inverse of Beast Mode) from the get go. My first cruise was a 10-day Panama Canal cruise (on Princess) and it took me until Day 5 or 6 before I truly figured out how to enjoy the pace of a cruise ship. We have so much hustle and bustle in our lives that sometimes it's hard to slow down right away, and that's what I experienced.

    If you're still looking for beach time the Colonial Hilton is a 5-10 minute walk away and a day pass gets you access to their pool, beach, and a $40 food/drink voucher. Do a google search for "Colonial Hilton Nassau day pass" and you should get several options at basically the same price.

    There is a public beach just past the Hilton. It will cost you a few bucks for loungers and an umbrella, and apparently there are food/drink stands in the area.

    If you're looking for something other than the beach I've seen 3rd party sites that advertise a food tour of Nassau. I've always been tempted but the timing never works out

    Finally there is a micro-er, craft brewery called "Pirate Republic" just outside of the cruise terminal. I'm hoping to go there if the wife lets me. :)
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2018
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  14. MomRN

    MomRN DIS Veteran

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    Thank you for all of your responses and replies. I hate to invest the money in passports when realistically we probably won't leave the country again, but I will consider it.

    I'm at a loss as to flying in. If we fly into MCO and rent a vehicle there (which we've done when staying offsite) it seems like such a waste to park it for 4 days and pay a fee in addition. If we stay onsite and use ME to get to our hotel, does Disney offer a shuttle to the cruise of not part of a package? Or other options to get to the port?

    And then after the cruise is there a car rental that is close that could be returned in Tampa. Transport action seems complicated and almost worth taking the 16 hours to drive in.

    My son will be 12 when we go.
     
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  15. PurplePencil

    PurplePencil Mouseketeer

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    If your son wants to go to Edge (the Tween Club) make sure he goes the first night for Icebreakers.
     
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  16. Dolby1000

    Dolby1000 Feel free to call me Ocean Wave

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    This. Can't agree more. We've learned to always try and arrive at least a day early, to get one's self into Vacation Mode prior to the start of the cruise. Now that we live in Florida, for our next cruise in 2 weeks, we plan to leave the house 2 days early and stay in the Cape Canaveral area. This gets us out of the house and into travel mode before we get on the ship. I like to break the day-to-day routine as quickly as possible to get into that relaxation mode right away.

    Dolby1000
     
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  17. Ben E N

    Ben E N DIS Veteran

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    I really hope I am giving accurate information in this post. If you notice them, please kindly point out any errors, as I am only trying to help.

    I think Disney's Magical Express can pick you up from a Disney hotel and take you right to the cruise port. It is $35 a person. If it is just you and your son, that could be an economical choice. The more people in your family, the more it makes sense to just book a private shuttle or town car. I know that there are car rentals not too far down A1A from the cruise port. I did a similar trip as what you are planning back in 2009. The details are a touch fuzzy, but I think our car rental place sent a shuttle to pick us up from the cruise ship and drop us off at the rental location. If I am wrong in remembering that, you could always take an Uber, as the drive is not far.

    One other piece of advice: If it looks like you are getting serious about booking a cruise, do so through a travel agent. I think there is one sponsored either through this board or mousesavers that people like to work with. My wife and I went with a different one and they were good as well. The benefit of going through them is that you get the cruise for the same price, but get something like a $250 on board credit that you would not otherwise get if you booked it yourself. That credit can then be used to pay for your tips, or whatever else you want to spend your money on.
     
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  18. Dug720

    Dug720 DIS Veteran

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    Nope. Disney's Magical Express is a free service offered between MCO and WDW Resorts only. It does NOT go to the port.

    Disney Cruise Line Transportation IS $35/person each way, so that is correct.
     
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  19. Ben E N

    Ben E N DIS Veteran

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    Ok, thanks for the clarification on specific language. It is literally the same busses and drivers, though, and some of those busses say "Disney's Magical Express" on them, just as some of the Magical Express ones say "Disney Cruise Line". The part I wasn't positive on is if they picked people up the hotels or not.
     
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  20. lanejudy

    lanejudy Moderator Moderator

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    Transportation can be a challenge to figure out. You have multiple parts involved, so you'll have to do some research and crunch numbers, then decide what works best for you.

    • Magical Express is free between MCO and WDW resorts. If you fly in early and stay at WDW, you can use ME from the airport to WDW.
    • DCL transfers run between WDW and Port Canaveral OR MCO and Port Canaveral, on embarkation/debarkation day only (not a day prior, etc.). These cost $35 per person one way or $70 round-trip and can be added one-way or round-trip. You are not required to purchase any kind of package to book the transfers. You cannot book these online except during initial booking, but transfers can be added by calling DCL.
    • One-way car rentals are available between MCO and locations in Cocoa Beach, with a shuttle to the port. Rates vary. We've rented an intermediate size vehicle for $50 total (including taxes and fees). You may be able to do a one-way rental from Port Canaveral to Clearwater... you'll have to do the research on that. Keep in mind that car rental rates change frequently; I find the best rates come out somewhere between 3-6 weeks prior to when I want the rental. Unless you booked a special rate requiring prepayment, rental car reservations can usually be changed/canceled quite easily if you find something better next week.
    • Car rental and parking at the port -- yes, it involves paying the parking fee for 5 days (I believe the port charges for embarkation day and debarkation day). But you may get a better rate than individual one-way rentals, especially if you plan to keep the car for a period of time once reaching Clearwater. Again, you'll have to do the math.
    Passports are not required, though they are recommended. If you are comfortable with the risks involved -- not able to fly home for an emergency without dealing with obtaining an emergency passport, that is acceptable. My family has cruised with passport cards and accepted the risk. I don't recommend the cards simply for cruising as it has no benefit over the birth certificate (plus photo ID).

    Enjoy your cruise!
     
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  21. dolewhipdreams

    dolewhipdreams Counting days until my next Dole Whip

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    When we took a cruise on the Dream out of Port Canaveral we stayed in Orlando the weekend before, then took an Uber to the port. I think it was around $60 for that one-way trip. Then we reserved a rental car from the port back to Orlando after the cruise for the few days we were remaining in the area.

    Have you considered a ride share like Uber or Lyft?
     
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