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Top Tips & Tricks for Your Best Disney Cruise Vacation

Ahoy, Matey’s! Get ready to set sail!

If you’ve never been on a cruise before, it can be a little different than what you may be used to. Personally, I have been ruined for any other vacation due to Disney Cruise Line’s level of service, the beauty of the ships, the activities and memories, and, of course, the FOOD! I want to share some of my most important tips and tricks with you so you family can have the very best Disney Cruise Vacation!

Getting to your Port of Departure

Anything can happen with flights and you don’t watch your cruise ship sail off without you because of a flight delay! I highly recommend flying into your port of departure a day early. Think of it as a relaxing jump start to your vacation. Get to the ship early the next day and board as early as possible!

If sailing out of Port Canaveral, you can stay on Disney property, at the airport or by the port for the day and relax. No matter where you stay you will need transfers to the port. From Disney property and the airport you can take the Disney Cruise Line bus for a fee (note: This is NOT Disney’s Magical Express, although the DCL transfer busses are located at the same desk at the Orlando airport.) Or if you would prefer you can get a private transfer, depending on how many people are in your party private transfers can sometimes be cheaper.

You can also book a Land & Sea Package and spend time at the parks before (or after) your cruise!

Learn Ship Terms

- Port is left and Starboard is the right

- Embarkation means getting on the ship for the first time of your cruise.

- Debarkation means exiting for the last time.

- Muster Drills are mandatory safety drills that you will attend before you leave.

- Castaway “Cay” is pronounced “Key.”

Navigator App

Be sure to download the Navigator App before you depart. This will allow you and your party access to all the menus, times, activities, showtimes, deck parties, ports of call information: basically everything you need to know during your cruise! Plus this app even has a chat feature, so be sure everyone in your party has downloaded the app so you can stay in touch.

While full-service Wi-Fi may be purchased on board, but the Navigator app may be accessed for free while your devices are in airplane mode. Just be sure to turn off the ‘cellular’ on your phone once the ship pulls out of port to avoid draining your battery and to avoid any roaming charges.

Embarkation Day

All areas of the ship are open on Embarkation Day. You usually aren’t allowed into your stateroom until 3pm or so, so use this time to explore the ship and start eating (which you will be doing a lot of, believe me!). Cabana’s is self-service with a wide selection and some outdoor seating. Or check the Navigator App to see which sit-down restaurants are open for lunch that day.

I recommend taking the free tour of the Senses Spa, if you are at all interested in the spa services. They will usually invite you to return for a huge spa treatment raffle!


Disney Cruise Line provides complimentary non-alcoholic drinks (pop/soda, coffee, tea, juice) on the main deck, however the cups they provide are a bit small. Bring your own mug or insulated travel cup to keep the refills lasting longer! Be sure to have one for everyone in your party and bring a drink carrier to save trips to the main deck!


- There is a movie theater onboard that shows new, first-run Disney movies. You can purchase drinks and concessions at the theater or you are welcome to bring whatever treats you have from the upper deck with you!

- There is a channel on your stateroom tv that shows the live entertainment shows from the night before. So don’t feel too bad if you miss a show, you can always catch it on tv in bed later!

- Try riding the AquaDuck during the day AND the evening for a different experience!


Take advantage of Disney’s Port Adventures and be sure to book in advance to get the excursions you want. You can book these when your reservation is paid in full and your advance booking window is available based on your Castaway Club membership level. See here for more details.

If you are concerned with leaving the ship and your excursion running late, Disney will hold the ship and wait for your group as long as you are on a Disney-backed excursion. So go forth and have a worry-free adventure!

Palo Brunch is a Must for Adults

If your party can do so, be sure to reserve brunch at Palo. It is by far one of the best meals I’ve ever had, and my family looks forward to it every cruise. Plus, its a great way for the adults to relax and let the kids have fun at the Youth Clubs! I recommend going during a Sea Day, so it won’t interfere with any excursions.

What to Wear

If your cruise includes a Pirate Night, be sure to bring a costume! Everyone, including adults, are encouraged to dress in pirate gear for dinner and the deck party/fireworks. It’s always so much fun to see how everyone dresses! If you do forget, there is lots of pirate merchandise available for purchase onboard.

For more info on Disney Cruise Line Dress Codes for dinner, please click here.

Also, be sure to check out the post from last week, where I talk about the fun tradition of Door Decorating on a Disney Cruise.

There are so many things to do on a Disney Cruise, I promise you will never want for things to do or find a place to relax while onboard! And there are always new things to discover. Don’t be surprised if you are also ruined for other vacations!

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