Planning Advice

Discussion in 'Disney Cruise Line Forum' started by MissyMouse88, Jul 17, 2011.

  1. MissyMouse88

    MissyMouse88 Earning My Ears

    Jul 17, 2011
    We are scheduled to go on the 5-day Bahamian cruise in August. This is our first Disney cruise, but we often go to WDW. We will be on the cruise with our daughter, age 7, and two sons, ages 5 and 4.

    We go to WDW every year, which is a very "planning intensive" trip. What do I need to plan for the cruise beyond excursions?

    What tips can you give me to maximize our cruising experience?

  2. Makayna

    Makayna Something brought you here, Flynn Rider. Call it w

    Apr 19, 2011
    The first thing I would do is check out this thread:

    And make sure to read the linked threads as well (there's one excellent one, I believe it's under "T" for "tips" that's especially excellent ;)). That will get you started. Have a wonderful trip! :)
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  4. jkburns

    jkburns Mouseketeer

    Mar 18, 2006

    We will be on the same cruise. Me, my wife and our daughters (ages 12 and 8). This will be our second Disney voyage (the first on the Wonder in August 2009).

    You and your family will have an absolute BLAST!

    The best tip I can offer: Don't over-plan. You'll get a daily navigator which will list all the great things to do. Remember, you're on vacation! :)

    Hope to see you on deck,

  5. gatorgirl98

    gatorgirl98 Earning My Ears

    May 9, 2010
    I just typed an email for a few friends that are sailing soon, so I will share some tips I have learned on here and on my own over our last two cruises!

    *Register online when you are able to. Also do the kids' club registration online. Print out all your registration info and take it with you.

    *Do not bring any towels with you.....they are readily available all the time on the pool deck and when you get off the ship at Castaway Cay. There is no need for you to keep up with wet beach towels.

    *Go to the Dollar Tree (or equivalent) before you leave and buy some cheap beach/sand toys......leave them at Castaway Cay at the Kids' Club after your day there so you don't have to deal with sandy toys back on the ship!

    *Things to take with you......
    --Power Strip - there are only 2 plugs in your stateroom and one of them usually has the wave phones plugged into for charging - they have a special plug. (The wave phones are free cell phones to use on the ship - you can call/text other wave phones, staterooms, etc.) You will definitely need lots of plugs with camera chargers, hair dryers, etc.
    --Mesh laundry bag - for your dirty clothes
    --Clothes Pins - to hang wet bathing suits and cover ups in the bath tub/shower - there are clotheslines in the shower.
    --Over the Door Shoe Organizer (I got a cheap one at Walmart for $6) - this was extremely helpful - I put it over the bathroom door and put all of our toiletries in the organizers. The bathrooms do not have much storage space at all so this helps organize all your stuff so you can grab it when you need it!
    --Ziploc Bags - all sizes - we used these a lot
    --Candy/Snacks for the shows - I bought several boxes of the "movie candy" at Target before we left. Snacks are available to buy at Preludes during the show, but they can be a bit expensive. If you don't bring snacks - grab some cookies or chips from Flo's Cafe before heading to the show for a snack....these are free. You can also order cookies from Room Service before you go. Just a little side note.......Mickey Bars (ice cream Mickey Heads covered in chocolate) are free through room service too - they are not on the menu, but they do have them and they are sooooooooooooooo good!!!
    --Alcohol/Bottled Water - if you plan on buying drinks on board, you may want to pack your own liquor, beer, or wine. Disney lets you bring it on in your carry on luggage (not on ice). You do have a small refrigerator in your room to keep it cold and your stateroom host/hostess can get you ice as needed.
    --Soft Sided Cooler - for alcohol/bottled water to take with your around the ship and/or Castaway Cay.
    --$1's - If you plan to order from room service, bring an envelope of ones to use for tips! Everything (food wise) through room service is free, you just have to do a tip!
    --Clipboard/Highlighter - to keep all your Navigator's (cruise activity/character/show/movie schedule for each day), maps, etc. on....the highlighter for highlighting all the things you/your family want to do each day.
    --Downey wrinkle release spray
    --Stain Stick or spray
    --Pack an extra bag in one of your suitcases - in case you need more room on the way home!
    --Address Labels - the last night you will have to tag all of your luggage with the tags they provide for you on the last day. I made address labels with our name, address, and stateroom number on them to stick on the will keep you from writing the same thing over and over again. You will also have to fill how many bags you have all together. (example: bag 4 of 6)
    --Big Insulated Cups - there are free drink stations on deck 11 by the pools, in Cabana's, and at Castaway Cay. They have soda (Coke products), juices (in Cabana's), water, coffee, etc. All they have to put the drinks in is small kids' size paper (small insulated cups for coffee) cups with lids/straws. We brought our insulated jugs to fill our drinks in and it kept them nice and cold. We took these with us on Castaway Cay too!!! I brought a jug for each one of us.

    *Pack a day bag for the day you get on the ship. Have your travel documents (Disney Cruise paperwork and passports or birth certificates), bathing suits/cover ups, sunscreen, and camera with you in the bag. Also carry on any valuables/breakables and medicines you may need during the day.

    *Get to the port early on the day you leave. Starting in August the port will open at 11 am. I would be there then or a little sooner (unless they have started enforcing check in times your receive during online checkin) to get an early boarding group number so you can get on the ship and enjoy your first day! They start calling boarding numbers at 11:45 (at least they did on our last 2 cruises). We were boarding group #7 and were on the ship around 12:15.*If there is a line for the kids' club registration in the port terminal, DO NOT wait in it. If you have already registered online take your paperwork to the kids' club on the ship (Deck 5 Mid Ship) after you eat lunch the first day and turn it in.....they will give the kids' their Mickey Bands (kids' club ID's/tracking devices) within a couple of minutes. My kids LOVED the kids' club on the ship and at Castaway Cay.....definitely take advantage of it!!!

    *Park at the port - it is a bit expensive ($15 a day), but it is safe/secure.

    *Take a pillowcase, photo mat, or t-shirt for your kids to have the characters autograph it. Put it in a large ziploc bag with Sharpies and some candy (as a treat for the characters - I did a large bag of M&M's). Drop it off at guest services the first day (after lunch and kids' club registration). They will ask who you want to sign it (Princesses and/or Mickey & Friends) and then it will be delivered to your stateroom on the last night. I took 2 pillowcases and 2 photomats for the girls and they would only allow 2 things per stateroom, so I left the pillowcases and kept the photo mats with me to take them around to have characters sign them......later in the cruise a cast member saw me with them and she took them to guest services and had them signed, so I guess it is who you get as to what they will do. If you have grandparents or other friends without kids traveling with you, they could always turn them in with their stateroom number too!

    *When you get on the ship......
    1. If needed, go adjust any dining times/rotations and/or Palo/Remy reservations as soon as you get on the ship.
    2. Go eat lunch - Cabana's buffet on Deck 11 (aft), Enchanted Garden on Deck 2 (mid ship), or poolside at Flo's Cafe (3 different areas with pizza, soft pretzels, hamburgers, hot dogs, bratwurst, grilled chicken, chicken strips, french fries, sandwiches, wraps, salads, and fresh fruit).
    3. Go to the kids' club and get Mickey Bands and let the kids explore (you can't leave them there YET)!
    4. Go to guest services to drop off your autograph items.
    5. Go visit your room.....staterooms are ready at 1:30. Luggage is left outside your room sometime between 3 and 5:30. Don't panic if it is not all there at the same time!
    6. Unpack sometime during the first day on the ship. Take everything out of your suitcases and bags......your empty suitcases/bags will fit under the bed. Don't try to live out of your suitcases during the cruise....there is not enough room.

    *They sell "Disney Cruise Line" autograph books onboard....they have a place for the signature and a photo with the girls filled up two of these a piece! The shops will not open until you are out at sea....probably around 6ish.

    *If you are going to do the Princess Gathering (meet/get autographs from Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Belle, Tiana, Ariel, and Snow White), send someone down 30 - 45 minutes ahead of time to get in line.......this will be early in the day (9ish), so someone will have to get down there early but it will be SO worth it. This line gets so LONG! Take princess dresses and shoes (if your kiddos are into that) with you so your kiddos can dress up!

    *There are beach wagons, strollers, and wheelchairs available for use at Castaway Cay (near Scuttles Cove Tram Stop - the kids' club on the island and I think they are also available at the Pelican Point Tram Stop). There is no charge for these, but they are first come first serve. If you are in need of these, make sure you get off the boat fairly early!

    *Castaway Cay is amazing!!!! There is a family beach and adult beach. I love the family beaches - they are so pretty. I have heard that the adult beaches are really rocky, but never experienced them myself. There is tons to do on the island - biking, floats, snorkeling, tons of excursions, splash pad area, ropes course out in the water on the first part of the family beach, Pelican's Plunge (2 big water slides) on the second part of the family beach. There are several eating areas (Cookies, Cookies Too, Serenity Bay, fresh fruit stand, ice cream stand, drink stations) on the island that are included at no additional charge. They serve "BBQ" type foods on the island. Scuttles Cove is the kids' club on the island and they do lots of fun island type activities in there!

    *Dining - our wait staff and dining experiences were amazing. Don't arrive early at dinner - you will just have to wait. Get there on time or a few minutes late and you will be seated quickly! Order whatever you's FREE!!!! You will rotate through all of the restaurants and your same wait staff rotates with you! The restaurants are beautiful! We were on a 5 night and our rotation was AERRA - Animator's Palate, Enchanted Garden, Royal Palace, Royal Palace, Animator's Palate. You are assigned your dining rotation when you check in and get your "Key to the World Card" (aka - room key). Pirate Night is on your Nassau Day and all the restaurants have the same "pirate" menu. The last night is the "Till We Meet Again" menu and all the restaurants have the same menu that night as well. The semi formal night is your day at sea. My dh did not wear a sport's coat or suit coat at all. He did a tie and long sleeve shirt on our semi formal night and then a collared shirt with khaki pants the other nights. Not too many people get overly dressed up. I would say a suit/sports coat for men are not necessary unless you are doing the adult inclusive restaurants, Palo ($20 per person cover charge) or Remy ($75 per person cover charge). I wore a skirt/shirt or casual dress/sundress each night and a dressier dress for semi formal night. If you are doing the late seating (8:15), the kids' club will come around a pick up your children from dinner around 9:20 and take them back to the club to play - if you want! If you are doing this, make sure your waiter knows and he/she will have their dinner out earlier so they can finish and then you can finish the rest of your dinner in peace! If you don't feel like doing your dining rotation on a particular night, Cabana's serves a sit down meal that is very casual and the grill part (hamburgers, hot dogs, bratwurst, grilled chicken, chicken strips, french) of Flo's Cafe by the pool is also open. This is also a GREAT time to ride the Aqua Duck - no line at all!!! The kids have to be 42 inches to ride with someone!

    *Pirate Night (on your Nassau day)- they have a family themed pirate show with Mickey and Friends around 7:45 (between the two dinner seatings) and then Pirate fireworks around 10:30 with a pirate show (Captain Jack, etc.). They have the "Midnight Buffet" in Cabana's following the fireworks/show. They will give each of you a Mickey Pirate Bandana, but take other pirate gear if you have any if any of you like to dress up! I also took "glow" necklaces and bracelets for my girls.

    *Ice Cream - take advantage of lots of free ice cream cones/cups by the pool - they had banana, chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry!

    *Movies - they have movies playing ALL the time. Funnelvision is the big jumbo screen by the pools that always has a Disney movie playing. It is nice to sit out there at night and let the kids swim, watch a movie, and eat some ice cream!!! :-) The Buena Vista Theater has recent Disney releases playing throughout the day. On Demand in your stateroom has tons of animated, Pixar, and non-animated movies to choose from. All of these are no extra charge.....don't worry about bringing portable DVD players/DVD's.

    *Shows - Disney has amazing shows!!! Don't miss the stage productions - on the Dream they are Villians, Believe, and the Golden Mickeys. We skipped the magic/comedy show the first night - we spent that night exploring the ship. They also had a premiere of Cars 2 on one of the nights. We unfortunately did not make it to that because we had so much to do and we figured we could always see that at home!

    *Oceaneer Club/Oceaneer Lab (kid's club) - the kids' club is amazing. They do so many fun things. The have "character" organized activities where the characters come participate, crafts, movies, computer games, dress up, drawing, etc. My girls loved it!! They also have Scuttles Cove on the island that my girls loved too!! Definitely take advantage of the kids' clubs!!!! They will serve the kids lunch or dinner in the kids' club on the ship and/or island if they are there during the designated meal times!

    *Toys - do not pack alot....they will not get played with - you are way too busy to play and by the time you are back in the room, you are ready to crash! I let the girls take a couple barbies each and some coloring stuff. They barely touched it!

    *Naps - I would recommend trying to fit in a nap (if any of your kids nap) every other day or so, if not your kids will reach a melting point and you will be exhausted!!! We found this out the hard way.....we tried to go without naps and by the third day we had a major meltdown - after a nap, life was much better! :-)

    *Gratuities - There are 4 tipped positions on the ship that you are expected to pay gratuities to - your stateroom hostess (suggested amount of $4 per person per day), head server (suggested amount of $1 per person per day), dining room server (suggested amount of $4 per person per day), and your dining room assistant server (suggested amound to $3 per person per day). All of these work out to be $12 per per per day. You can certainly tip more if you want! I would strongly suggest either taking cash with you for these or going to guest services early in the cruise to charge these to your stateroom account - guest services will give you a ticket with each persons name and the gratuity amount for you to give them. They provide you with a gratuity envelope for each person. Guest Service lines get VERY LONG towards the end of the cruise. You will give everyone their tips on the last full day on the boat!

    *The last night on the ship - You have to have all of your checked luggage outside of your room sometime between 8:30 and 10:30.....anything that is not out during that time, you have to carry off the ship. Keep any breakables, valuables, and clothes/shoes for the next day with you in the room to carry off!

    *The last morning on the ship - you can start getting off the ship at 7:30. Do not pack away your Key to the World Card because you will need it to get off the ship. Make sure you also have your passport/birth certificates with you and the Custom's form filled out (they will give you this). If you wish to eat breakfast, you will go to the restaurant that you ate at on the last night of the cruise. If you had early seating, you have to go to breakfast at 6:45. If you had late seating, you have to go to breakfast at 8:00. Everyone must be out of their rooms by 8:00 and off the ship by 9:00!

    Have tons of fun!!! You will be exhausted, but you can always sleep at home!!! Disney cruises are an amazing experience!!!
  6. MissyMouse88

    MissyMouse88 Earning My Ears

    Jul 17, 2011
    Thank you so much! I am going to print out this thread for reference! Beautiful!
  7. Alsobrook

    Alsobrook DIS Veteran

    Jul 11, 2011
    You don't have room to take all the stuff in the post above.....:)

    Things to take:

    Credit Card
    Bathing Suit
    Flip Flops

    Maybe take a second T-Shirt

    Have a great time.
  8. gatorgirl98

    gatorgirl98 Earning My Ears

    May 9, 2010
    You are very welcome!!! Hope the information is helpful!!! And yes you will have plenty of room for the stuff listed in my post! We just got off the boat last Sunday and had plenty of room in our stateroom!! :-). Hope you have a wonderful trip!
  9. mmouse37

    mmouse37 DCL Diva!!

    Jun 29, 2001
  10. mickeyfan1

    mickeyfan1 <font color=purple>Come and let me show you my tat

    Jul 23, 2002
    DCL has advised that they are enforcing the arrival time, please, don't arrive at 11am if your time is 1pm. You may have to stand outside in the heat, because you will be turned away, according to what DCL has told people who have called.

    You can not get off the ship until it is cleared by US customs. Most of the time that happens by 8am to 8:30, however, there is no guaranty that it will happen at that time every cruise. There will be announcements as to when you can leave the ship.

    Having been on 18 cruises, I know things can and do change. If you have never cruised before, do not try to do everything. You won't be able to and you will have a cranky family. If you miss a show, many of them are shown on the in cabin TV later. If your kids like character meet and greets, check the navigator or call the special number from your cabin to see who will be where. If you get lost on the ship, there are maps at every elevator lobby, and most any CM will be glad to point the way. THe ships are big and can be confusing.

    Check the sticky thread at the top of the board and look for Navigators. They are usually posted by ship and length of cruise. While there may be a few changes here and there, for the most part, the schedules do not vary much. You may see changes if there is bad weather that moves some things inside.

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