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5 Must-Know Disney Cruise Hacks for Your Day At Sea

5 Must-Know Disney Cruise Hacks for Your Day At Sea

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Planning your first Disney Cruise? Find out the biggest Disney Cruise hacks to save your family time and money. Scroll for all the tips!
This Disney Cruise Hacks post was written by family travel expert Marcie Cheung and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.

When we went on our first Disney Cruise, we were SO overwhelmed. That’s why I decided I needed to write this blog post.

There are subtle tricks and nuances to a Disney Cruise Line vacation to improve any trip. We have Disney Cruise hacks that can help make your cruise easier and much more fun.

You can maximize your cruise experience with easy Disney Cruise hacks. While you are out on the open sea, you’ll have the best time, knowing these simple secrets.

Our hacks will help you especially when it comes to navigating the ship and getting the most out of your dining experience, so read on!

Disney Cruise Secrets: What They Don’t Tell You About Disney Cruises

Magnetic Walls

The walls of the staterooms are magnetic, so you can bring magnetic hooks to hang things like hats or jackets. Or you can hang one of those plastic shoe organizers to store all kinds of stuff.

Pack a Power Strip

With all the electronics that come with modern travel, a power strip can be a lifesaver when you need to charge multiple devices at once. Just make sure to pack one that is surge-protected.

Specialty Food Items

You can request items that aren’t on the menu, such as Mickey-shaped waffles or even a special dish for dietary restrictions. And room service has a secret stash of Mickey ice cream bars.

Laundry Services

Most Disney Cruise Line ships offer self-service laundry facilities, as well as laundry and dry-cleaning services. This can be a great way to keep your packing to a minimum and ensure that you have clean clothes throughout your trip.

Fish Extenders

There are Facebook groups for people who want to do a gift exchange on the ship. These are called Fish Extenders and it’s something you organize BEFORE the cruise.

Basically, you join a gift exchange where you commit to dropping off Disney cruise items to someone on board and someone else drops gifts off to your family.

Favorite Disney Characters

You can also arrange for a character to call your child’s stateroom for free. This is a fun surprise that won’t cost you anything extra.

Book Your Next Cruise

If you’re already planning your next Disney Cruise Line vacation, consider booking onboard. You can often take advantage of special offers and perks, and it can be a great way to secure the stateroom and itinerary you want.

This will give you a discount on your next trip, as well as some additional onboard credits.

Photo credit: Darren Cheung

Here are some common mistakes that travelers make on their first Disney cruise:

  1. Not booking early enough to get preferred staterooms or dining times
  2. Overpacking and not following the dress code guidelines
  3. Forgetting about Pirate Night and having to splurge for costumes on the ship
  4. Not taking advantage of all the onboard activities and experiences
  5. Not budgeting for extra expenses such as gratuities and shore excursions
  6. Not booking shore excursions in advance, leading to limited availability or higher costs
  7. Forgetting to download the Disney Cruise app so they know what’s going on each day

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    5 Must-Know Disney Cruise Hacks

    Disney Cruise Hacks: Door Magnet

    A cruise ship is like a big hotel, but there is so much going on that you need a way to easily identify where your stateroom is.

    The whole rest of the ship is distinctive at every turn with unique points of reference. The long uniform hallways are a sharp contrast to the rest of the ship’s surroundings.

    Your room number is not printed on your Shipboard ID and marking your door with your own decorations is a fun way to celebrate on the cruise while making your stateroom easy to identify.

    Magnets are an easy solution to remembering your room number. If you are traveling with kids, this hack is important to make sure your room is easily identifiable to everybody.

    Some parties are split into multiple staterooms. So, having identifiable doors with distinctive magnets or other decor is a time-saving and anxiety-reducing hack.

    Disney Cruise Hacks: the Menu

    You have a rotating restaurant itinerary so you can experience all of the restaurants on board the ship. The restaurants are different from the buffets. They appear just as any restaurant would, albeit with a healthy dose of Disney magic.

    The menus are printed just like your usual restaurant menu with all of the courses and options. The hack here is that those are mere suggestions.

    All of your meals on the cruise are pre-paid and all-you-care-to-enjoy, which means that the buffets are not the only place where you can have as many plates as you want.

    Instead of just ordering one appetizer, one entree, and one dessert, you can order as many of any course as you want. You can even start with dessert!

    It might feel weird because that isn’t how the menu is laid out, but you have the option of eating however you like.

    This is a great hack because of the freedom it affords you to only eat what you truly enjoy. It also solves the dilemma of having to choose between two entrees you really want to try.

    Disney Cruise Hacks: Last-Minute Reservation

    As we all know reservations are super important. On any Disney trip, you have to make advance reservations for the restaurants that are most important for you to experience. The advance window is different depending on what type of Disney vacation you are on.

    At Disneyland, it’s two months or 60 days. Walt Disney World lets you book your dining reservations 180 days out and you really have to jump on them if you want one of the more popular restaurants and a particularly busy time.

    For example, Cinderella’s Royal Table before Magic Kingdom opens is a specific plan-altering meal that you really need to be on the ball.

    Disney Cruise Line allows advance bookings for excursions and for Palo and Remy, the fine dining options on the Disney Cruise ships.

    Unlike with other Disney vacations, your ability to reserve in advance is based on your level of cruise experience. For most, 75 days is typical. Repeat cruisers get an additional 15 days, and passengers in the Concierge categories and certain packages have 105 days.

    If you are unable to make your reservation there is a hack to get yourself a table at the last minute. Palo and Remy hold several tables for on board reservations. Your Navigator app will let you know when you can call, but it’s best to go up to Palo or Remy yourself to make the arrangements.

    Disney Cruise Hacks: PAT

    Finally, we get to this arrival time hack. You want to get on board as early as possible. If you are an anxious traveler it will really help you relax. You should go so far as to fly in the day before to avoid scheduling conflicts caused by delayed flights.

    5 Must Know Disney Cruise Hacks for Your Day At Sea featured by top US Disney blogger, Marcie and the Mouse: Disney Cruise Line, Arriving on the Disney Fantasy Cruise Ship
    We were one of the first groups to get on the Disney Fantasy at Port Canaveral. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

    You can schedule an early port arrival time and board the ship sooner. Once you’re onboard, many of the ship’s amenities are available to you, so your vacation can start before you even leave your port of call.

    As with reservations and other bookings your window may give you more or less time to do this, but stay on top of your calendar and book an arrival time as early as you can so you can begin to get the most out of your Disney Cruise Line experience.

    Disney Cruise Hacks: Patterned Carpet

    This is an interesting hack that makes the Disney Cruise Line so distinct and sets it apart from your typical hotel.

    Because of the unique construction and layout of a cruise ship, it can be dangerously easy to lose your way down the identical corridors. This is why in every section of the ship, on every deck there are specific identifiers that let you know where you are.

    Some of these are very simple, it has to do with the artwork or the surrounding amenities.

    When you get into the less public areas though such as stateroom hallways, the unique identifiers apparently disappear. However, that is only an illusion. There are many directional details all around you to help you find your way.

    One of the easiest ways to know where you are is to look at the floor. The carpet is so distinctive because it is patterned to instantly tell you where you are.

    It lets you know your deck, what section of the ship you are on (foreword, midship, aft), and even which direction you are facing.

    For example, the Little Mermaid-themed Disney Wonder uses the carpet on each deck to illustrate different ocean depths as a way to tell what deck you are on. Other indications such as markers on the stateroom doors let you know which side is port and starboard.

    MIAMI, FLORIDA - February 17, 2017: The sail away out of Miami is a fairly long one, but has beautiful views of Biscayne Bay, the Miami skyline, ocean-front condos and Miami Beach.
    Families love Disney Cruise Lines.

    Best Disney Cruise Tips FAQs

    How do I get the most out of my Disney Cruise?

    Here are some tips for getting the most out of your Disney Cruise:

    Plan ahead

    Research and plan out your itinerary and activities beforehand to make the most of your time onboard.

    Take advantage of onboard activities

    Disney Cruises offer a wide range of onboard activities, such as character meet-and-greets, shows, movies, and workshops. Be sure to participate in as many as you can.

    Try the dining options

    Disney Cruises offer a rotational dining experience, where you get to try different restaurants each night. Be sure to try all of them to get a taste of the delicious cuisine. Check out these Disney Fantasy dining options!

    Use the childcare services

    Disney Cruises offer excellent childcare services, including supervised kids’ clubs and nurseries, so parents can have some time to themselves.

    Explore the ports of call

    Disney Cruises stop at different ports of call, so be sure to explore the destinations and take part in the excursions and activities offered.

    Do first-time Disney Cruisers get a lanyard?

    Yes, first-time Disney cruisers will receive a lanyard in their stateroom. The lanyard is complimentary and can be used to hold the Key to the World card, which serves as a room key, charge card, and identification throughout the cruise.

    Is Disney Cruise overpriced?

    Some people may consider Disney Cruises to be more expensive compared to other cruise lines, but others may see the added value and entertainment as worth the price. It ultimately depends on individual preferences and budget.

    Disney Cruise Ship Tips Wrap Up

    These are my favorite Disney Cruise tips that I share with my friends and family. These important Disney Cruise tips will save you time, money, and stress!

    I hope this helps you plan your perfect Disney cruise vacation!

    Looking for more Disney Cruise content? Check out my best Disney Cruise tips, the top Castaway Cay activities, things to do on the Disney Fantasy, how to pin trade on a Disney cruise, and must-have Disney cruise experiences for kids!

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