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110+ Magical Disney Cruise Tips

By - Updated for 2023

101 Magical Disney Cruise Tips
This is the largest collection of Disney Cruise Tips on the planet.

The best part?

All of my Disney Cruise advice, tips, and tricks will help you save time, save money or make your Disney Cruise experience even more magical.

So, if you want your cruise to be as magical as possible, use these Disney Cruise tips to help in planning your Disney Cruise.

Note: these Disney Cruise tips provided are based on my own opinion and/or personal experience. If you have a differing viewpoint or experience, I'd love to hear it.

Contents: Disney Cruise Tips

You can read every single Disney Cruise tip here (highly recommended) or use the navigation links here to skip to the DCL tips that are most valuable to you.

I want tips on:


What to Expect on Your First Disney Cruise



The Perfect Disney Cruise Planning Timeline


1) Schedule the Earliest Possible Port Arrival Time

Category: Before You Go    |    Ships: All     |     pinterest_icon_20x20

The first of our Disney Cruise Tips is key to a few other tips that I will mention later.

The main idea here is to be one of the first passengers to board the ship. That means FIRST access to water slides, Guest Services, heck, even lunch. In short, you get more time on the cruise ship than everyone else.

Disney Cruise Line boards its passengers in phases. The reason for this is simple: to keep things organized and running smoothly.

Two concepts to know to be among the very first passengers to board the ship:

PORT ARRIVAL TIME - the time you arrive at the terminal port. You'll go through security, drop off your luggage, and physically check-in for your cruise.

BOARDING TIME - the time you actually walk onto the ship.

When you arrive at the port and complete in-person check-in, you will be assigned a boarding group number. By arriving earlier than everyone else (via your Port Arrival Time), you'll be placed in one of the earlier boarding groups. By getting into the earlier boarding groups, you’ll be the first ones on the ship.

Here’s how to get the earliest Port Arrival Time:

When your online check-in date has arrived, complete your online check-in process as soon as it opens. Then snag the earliest port arrival time available. Check-in opens at midnight EST on your scheduled day. Get on right at midnight and get ‘er done!

To be ready, make sure you know the login and password to get into your account BEFORE you try to login at midnight.

2) Register for Kids Club at Online Check-in

Category: Before You Go    |    Ships: All     |     pinterest_icon_20x20

Even if you’re not sure how much your kids will use it, advance registration for the kids club can save you a lot of time. But trust me; your kids are going to love the clubs and will probably live there for the majority of the voyage!

At the time of online check-in, you can register your kids for the clubs.

Then, when you get to terminal on embarkation day, you can visit the “Check-in Desk” for kids activities right after you get checked-in for the cruise. Since you already took care of it online, you can pass right by everyone else who is still doing paperwork. At that time, your child will receive a Mickey band to wear and you’re set to go.

3) Pre-Book Special Disney Cruise Meet & Greets

Category: Character Greetings    |    Ships: All

Disney Cruise Lines makes it possible to pre-book some of their most popular character meet and greets before you ever set foot on the ship.

For my most recent cruise, I was able to reserve tickets for the Princess Gathering (Ariel, Cinderella, Tiana, Belle) and the Frozen Meet and Greet (Elsa and Anna) on the day I checked-in online for my cruise.

As soon as you are eligible to check-in for your cruise online (75-120 days from sailing date; repeat cruisers get earlier check-in) you can grab a reservation in the “My Disney Cruise” section of disneycruise.com.

If you don't book online or they are gone, don't worry. They put aside a few reservations to be booked once you arrive on the boat. These will be gobbled up fast so make sure this is the first thing you do once you get on the boat. This is usually done at Guest Services.

Frozen Meet and Greet on Disney Cruise

4) Grab Advance Reservations for Special Character Breakfast

Category: Character Greetings    |    Ships: All

If you’re sailing on a Disney Cruise of 7 days or more, you may participate in a special (and free) Disney Junior Character Breakfast. The breakfast takes place in Animator's Palate and lasts about 45 minutes. Each character visits you tableside while you eat. Characters who attend this event include Mickey Mouse, Jake, Sofia, and Doc McStuffins.

Since tickets are required, the best way to snag a spot is to reserve them online.

As soon as you are eligible to check-in for your cruise online (75-120 days from sailing date; repeat cruisers get earlier check-in) you can grab a reservation in the “My Disney Cruise” section of disneycruise.com.

If you don’t reserve online, a few openings are also available on-board ship through Guest Relations. I suggest signing up immediately upon arrival on-board.

Disney Junior Character Breakfast with Mickey Mouse

5a) Make a Disney Cruise Playlist

Category: Before You Go    |    Ships: All     |     pinterest_icon_20x20

If you’re driving to your departure port, make a Disney Cruise playlist for the family to listen to on your drive to the ship. My husband will include those songs in our cruise home videos as well. I’ve done this for every sailing. Now, whenever those songs come on the radio, the kids say “this song reminds me of our cruise!”

I’m sure you have your list of favorites. Here’s a list of a few songs that are on mine.

5b) Get a Free Disney Cruise DVD in the Mail

Category: Before You Go    |    Ships: All     |     pinterest_icon_20x20

Did you know that Disney will send you a free Disney Cruise planning DVD in the mail? Yep, they pay for shipping and everything.

This is such a no-brainer. Anyone considering a Disney Cruise should request this freebie right away, before they aren't available any more. You'll get a video walk through of staterooms, youth clubs, and entertainment options. They spotlight their various destinations, excursions, and give a great overview of what it's like to experience a Disney Cruise vacation. Request your free DVD here.

Note: this offer comes and goes, but it's worth checking for availability.

6) Pro-Packing Tip: Roll Your Clothes

Category: Before You Go    |    Ships: All

Here’s a Disney Cruise tip that is used globally by professional travelers to pack more into their luggage: roll your clothes.

By using proper technique you can fit more items in your suitcase and, if done right, reduce wrinkling.

7) Pack Multiple Swimsuits

Category: Before You Go    |    Ships: All

If you plan on being involved with any water activities or laying out by the pool, I highly recommend you pack multiple swimsuits. Between shore excursions, Castaway Cay, laying out at pools, using the hot tubs, taking advantage of the Rainforest at the Spa and dozens more water activities, you’ll be in and out of your swimsuit.

Access to dryers on the cruise isn’t convenient and bathing suits often take awhile to dry on their own. I don’t love a damp swimsuit, so I suggest packing 1 or 2 additional. (And I like to mix it up and accessorize anyways!)

8) Pack a Couple of Sweaters

Category: Before You Go    |    Ships: All

Take a couple of sweaters if you tend to get cold easily. They keep the temperature of the ship on the cooler side. I was cold most nights at dinner, in the Walt Disney Theatre, and in the nightclubs.

9) Don’t Pack Beach Towels

Category: Before You Go    |    Ships: All

Some of our Disney Cruise tips are straightforward. Like this:

Disney conveniently provides beach towels to take with you when you go ashore. You can easily grab them on your way off the ship at each port of call. They are also available up at the pool deck.

10) Download Navigator App and Start the Countdown

Category: Before You Go    |    Ships: All

Disney Cruise Line Navigator App Countdown TimerDownload the Disney Cruise Line Navigator app before you leave home. It takes less than a minute in the comfort of your home and you can help build excitement for the trip by using the built-in cruise countdown.

Install on all devices that you think your family will use during your cruise. This includes your kids' phones or tablets. You can use the in-app messaging to communicate/text each other while on the ship.

Download it from iTunes here or Google Play here.

11) Plan Ahead for Sea Sickness

Category: Before You Go    |    Ships: All

If this is your first cruise of any kind, and you believe you might be prone to seasickness, it can be worth an ounce of prevention. Bonine and Dramamine are over-the-counter medications you can try. I suggest experimenting with them before you travel. Taking seasickness meds before the ship leaves port is the best way to reduce motion sickness. Booking a midship stateroom can help you feel less of the rocking motion than forward or aft cabin.

Here's the good news:

Most people are never affected by motion sickness. The Disney Cruise Line uses high-tech stabilizers to keep the ship’s movement steady. With today’s weather tracking technology, the crew keeps the ship in smooth waters as much as possible.

Read my full guide called "How to Prevent Seasickness on Cruises" and discover my secret "seasickness cocktail" that I use to fight seasickness when sailing.

12) It’s a “Ship”, Not a “Boat”

Category: Before You Go    |    Ships: All

Okay, this one is a bit over-the-top if you ask me, but the proper term for your Disney Cruise vessel is a “ship” not a “boat.” Not that any Cast Member is going to care what you call it, but some people get uppity on this point.

13) Call Your Credit Card Company

Category: Before You Go    |    Ships: All

Any time you’re traveling out of your local area, it is a good idea to let your credit card company know. This is especially true for international travel. When your credit card company sees charges coming from unexpected locations, they sometimes assume the worst and freeze your card until you can verify the charges. That can be hard to do while on a Disney Cruise. Save yourself any trouble by giving them a call before you sail.

14) Arrive at Your Port City the Night Before

Category: Before You Go    |    Ships: All

A friend of mine took a red-eye flight to arrive in port the morning of a cruise, just before setting sail. He was a nervous wreck, worried that something would go wrong.

Don’t risk missing your cruise because you have flight delays or even car trouble. Get there the night before and rest easy.

15) Cheapest Way to Get from MCO to Port Canaveral: Rent a Car

Category: Before You Go    |    Ships: Dream, Fantasy, Wonder

If your cruise leaves from Port Canaveral and you are flying into Orlando International Airport (MCO), it is usually cheaper to rent a car at the airport than any shuttle, taxi or Uber.

Read my full guide to all the transportation options from Orlando to Port Canaveral here.

15b) Thinking about Disney Cruise Line Bus? Do This Instead...

Category: Before You Go    |    Ships: Dream, Fantasy, Wonder

If you’re thinking about taking the official Disney Cruise Line Transfer (their big shuttle bus) from a Disney hotel, nearby Airbnb rental or the Orlando International airport to get to Port Canaveral, you will likely find it is cheaper and way more comfortable to get a private town car for your family.

I compare prices and show you how it's cheaper in my Orlando to Port Canaveral Transportation Guide. Read the town car section!

16) Mickey & Minnie Will Call Your Kids

Category: Before You Go    |    Ships: All

call-from-mickeyWant Mickey, Minnie, or Goofy to give your kids a call to get them excited about your cruise? This is a fun Disney Cruise hack!

Have a Disney character call to announce your trip!

Login into the Disney Cruise website, find your reservation, and from there you can request a free call from one of your favorite Disney characters.

You're entitled to two calls per stateroom. You select the characters, set the date and time, and enter the phone number. Make note of the time you picked because my kids almost didn't answer their phones because they didn't recognize the 800-number that was calling them. I was nearby and told them to answer it. We were actually in the car on the way to the port when they called. It was perfect.

I love the reaction from this family when Mickey surprised them with the news of their trip...

17) Get Two Free Audiobooks for Your Cruise

Category: Before You Go    |    Ships: All

A good audiobook can dramatically improve your vacation. Use my method for getting two free audiobooks and you'll have one for your flight or car ride (you can listen to this as a family) and one for your relaxation and enjoyment at the beach or pool deck. Read how to get the audiobooks free here.


18) Be On-Time for Your Scheduled Port Arrival Time

Category: The First Day     |    Ships: All

Disney is very methodical about the boarding process. I believe firmly in securing the earliest possible Port Arrival Time (as mentioned above), it's one of my most important Disney Cruise tips. This is done at the time of online check-in for your cruise, months before your sail date.

You’ll be given a “Port Arrival Time.” This is your time when you’re allowed to do your in-person check-in. It’s at this time that they hand you the Key to the World (KTTW) cards. Once this is complete, they’ll assign you a boarding group.

Here’s the bottom line:

If you want to get on the ship as early as possible, make sure you are at the terminal at your Port Arrival Time. Showing up later will mean they’ll just board you later.

Unfortunately, if you are unhappy with your scheduled Port Arrival Time, getting there early and hoping to be let on prior to your scheduled time won’t work. You’ll just sit in the terminal for hours, probably getting hungry, and watch everyone else board. Your best bet is to just arrive at your scheduled time and save yourself that angst.

Disney Cruise Terminal Boarding Port Canaveral

19) Make an Incredible Video

Category: The First Day     |    Ships: All

You're going to want to remember your Disney Cruise vacation for the rest of your life. Best way to lock in those memories forever? Make an awesome video that you'll want to watch again and again!

Read my guide on how to make an awesome Disney Cruise Travel Video before you sail and be ready to start shooting on day one.

Here's a video my husband made of a recent cruise:

19b) Record It: Entering the Ship

Category: The First Day     |    Ships: All

When you first step foot on a Disney Cruise ship, it is likely a culmination of months of planning and saving and dreaming. What an exciting moment!

Use this tip to capture this magical moment forever.

When entering the ship, the cast members announce each family by name on a microphone. “Hey everyone, let’s welcome the Smitherson Family!”

When it is your turn, ask a cast member to video it before you enter. Don't worry, they will accommodate you.

It makes for a great intro to any family cruise video. Here's ours (I apologize in advance about my husband...)

20) Wear Swimsuits Under Clothes: Hit Water Slides First

Category: The First Day     |    Ships: All

When boarding, have your kids wear their swimsuits under their clothes or have them close at hand.

Upon arriving, they’ll be among the first to enjoy the AquaDuck, AquaDunk, or other on-board water slides. Do this first thing and they’ll pretty much have the rides to themselves, especially if you’ve taken my advice above and gotten on-board on the earliest possible boarding group.

While others worry about lunch or Guest Services or try to get into their rooms, your kiddos will be loving life with no lines! Trust me, that’s a very different story later in the cruise.

Want a sneak peek at AquaDuck ride? This is one of my favorite Disney Dream cruise tips. Watch this short video:

21) Snap a Photo Before You Unpack

Category: The First Day     |    Ships: All

You're going to want to remember how awesome your Disney Cruise stateroom is.

Take a picture of your cabin on the first day before you unpack. It’s likely going to look messy after that.

Disney Cruise Clean Stateroom

22) Completely Unpack Early on the First Day

Category: The First Day     |    Ships: All

On your first day aboard ship, I recommend unpacking early after receiving your luggage in your room. When your luggage arrives, sometime in the afternoon, head to your cabin and get unpacked. Hang up your clothes (more time to get those wrinkles out), lay out your toiletries in the bathroom, find the perfect place for your unmentionables.

Whether you’re embarking on a 3-day cruise or 10-days, it feels great to get situated and organized on your first day. Trust me, you’ll enjoy your cruise much more if you know everything has a place…and more importantly, where to find it when you need it.

23) Use a Wrinkle Releaser

Category: The First Day     |    Ships: All

I have started carrying a wrinkle releaser for my clothing. On my last cruise, I used this product and it worked great. There are ironing boards available in the laundry rooms (free to use) but I didn't want to take the time.

24) Sign Parent Authorization Form

Category: The First Day     |    Ships: All

Disney Cruise Line uses a security system that prohibits children under the age of 18 from getting on/off the ship unless accompanied by an adult in the same stateroom.

Here’s how this works:

Let’s say you have two staterooms: one with Mom listed as the adult for one room, Dad listed as the adult for the other. The kids assigned to Mom cannot get off the ship with Dad unless this form is signed.

I recommend you fill it out before you go (download form here), list all adults that you think might possibly take your child off the ship (e.g. grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings over 18, family friends) and turn it into Guest Services on the first day.

This form may also be used to authorize children under the age of 18 to go ashore unaccompanied by an adult.

25) Reserve a Free Pack ‘n Play or Stroller

Category: The First Day     |    Ships: All

You can reserve both Pack ‘n Plays (crib) and strollers for free. Guest Services on the ship has both available on a first-come, first-serve basis, so you’ll want to get this done early on your first day. You’ll be charged a deposit fee that is removed from your account when you return these items.

I asked Disney about the baby stroller and here is their description:

The comfortable three-wheeled jogger style stroller folds easily and offers an adjustable sun canopy. Storage space is available in the mesh pouch located on the back of the seat. The strollers can be adjusted into an upright or reclining position and are collapsible.

Traveling with a Baby?

Read my 23 Effortless Tricks to Having an Awesome Disney Cruise with a Baby My best Disney Cruise advice, DCL tips, and tricks for travelling with an infant.

Read 23 Tricks for Disney Cruise with Baby

26) Get 50MB Free WiFi

Category: The First Day     |    Ships: All

Everyone asks about internet service on a Disney Cruise. No list of Disney Cruise tips would be complete without explaining Internet at Sea.

Disney Cruise internet service is called Connect@Sea. They have a variety of packages, and if you’re addicted to your online world and will use it a lot, they can be expensive. But for many, it’s worth it to stay connected to work, home, whatever.

On the first day of your cruise, DCL offers 50MB of free Connect@Sea Wi-Fi. They offer this to get you hooked on the service. (I’d bet their upsell rate from this free service is pretty impressive.)

If you want to save money or remain as unplugged from reality as possible, this 50MB might just be enough for you. Before logging on, however, you’ll want to read the Connect@Sea literature that explains the program. The section to read is the list of things to do to minimize the amount of data your device eats up. If you put your phone in airplane mode and turn off all app updates, etc, you can make that 50MB last so you can check your email a couple of times.

The trick here? Here's the Disney Cruise wifi hack. You need to sign up for the free 50MB on the first day.

Read my full guide of DCL tips and tricks and learn how to make the most of the internet services on your Disney cruise here.


What to Expect on Your First Disney Cruise



The Perfect Disney Cruise Planning Timeline


27) Luggage Clearance Under the Bed is 13"

Category: Your Stateroom     |    Ships: All

There is plenty of room under your bed for even the largest of suitcases. The amount of clearance is just over 13 inches. I have found that all of our luggage (4-5 big pieces) will fit comfortably under the bed. Neatly tucked out of the way.

Pro-tip: You can stack different sized luggage inside each other if you have bigger and smaller cases.

  • Clearance Under Disney Cruise Bed
  • under-bed-clearance-measured

28) Use an Expired Gift Card for the Slot that Powers Your Electricity

Category: Your Stateroom     |    Ships: All

In each stateroom, there is a slot by your entry door that triggers all lights, electrical power, and air conditioning for your cabin. Power is activated by inserting your Key to the World card in this slot. No card in slot = no power.

Instead of constantly worrying about “where did I put my Key to the World card”, I recommend you bring an old used-up gift card or anything like it to keep permanently in that slot.

This will allow each passenger to keep their KTTW card with them to use for entering the room, ordering drinks, purchasing merchandise and getting on and off the ship. Meanwhile, the power slot will always have a card inserted to easily activate it.

I suspect the cruise line doesn’t want you to leave the power on constantly and they employ this method to conserve power. So, when leaving, simply pull the gift card halfway out of the slot. This will deactivate the power while keeping the card snug in its slot.

And no need to fret. When you leave it like this, your room steward will leave it there for your return.

Pro tip: glue a tiny magnet on one of the ends of the gift card so it will still fit in the slot. Then you can stick it to wall just above the slot anytime you don’t want it inserted but still want to know where it is.

Use Gift Card in Key to the World Slot

29) Use the Retractable Line in the Shower

Category: Your Stateroom     |    Ships: All

The shower in your stateroom has retractable clothes lines that extend across the shower area. These are very handy in drying those damp swimsuits or other improvised laundry efforts.

This short video shows how simple it is to use these retractable lines:

30) The Best Time to Do Laundry on 7+ Day Cruises Is…

Category: Your Stateroom     |    Ships: All

It is difficult to give you the perfect day to do laundry on a cruise that is 7 days or longer, but the busiest days for laundry tend to be the last day at sea. Most people pack about a week’s worth of clothing, so I imagine a day at sea around the 6 or 7 day mark would be busy on longer sailings as well.

I have learned this lesson the hard way multiple times but it’s best to coordinate the timing of when you’re going to need fresh clothes with days when laundry facilities won’t be hard to come by.

The least busy laundry days are earlier in the cruise (5 days or earlier) and days at a port. When in port, guests like to get out and explore, leaving fewer people on the ship to compete for washers and dryers.

Finally, earlier in the morning (before 7am) will be the time of day that is most wide open. Get up before the sleepyheads and you’ll spend less time vying for a washing machine.

31) Watch the Cruise Director TV Show Each Day to Stay Informed

Category: Your Stateroom     |    Ships: All

Each morning, tune your stateroom TV to the Cruise Director’s daily recorded show. This is usually found on channel 5 (or one of the lower channels; browse around till you find it).

The ship’s Cruise Director will record a daily 10-15 minute video that repeats all morning long. The loop begins showing at 5am.

You’ll get the latest information about entertainment and meals, vital up-to-date info about ports of call (you know, like when to be back onboard the ship), and other nuggets. I found this was a must-do every single morning.

32) Your Room Has Three Standard (American) Electrical Outlets

Category: Your Stateroom     |    Ships: All

There are two standard outlets at your desk/vanity and one located next to your bed.

Additionally, there is a 220v outlet labeled “hair dryer outlet” at the vanity and another 220v outlet by the bedstand.

Electrical Outlets on Disney CruiseBedside Electrical Outlets on Disney Cruise

33) Bring Bottles of Water for Your Mini Refrigerator

Category: Your Stateroom     |    Ships: All

Each Disney Cruise stateroom features a decent sized mini refrigerator. You can purchase bottles of water from DCL when you get onboard but of course you’ll pay a premium.

Bring bottles of water onboard with you to keep in your room refrigerator. You’ll get thirsty in your room and you’ll likely want to take water with you when you stop at ports of call.

I have stopped at a local grocery store just prior to boarding to pick up some water for very cheap as well as a few other snacks.

34) In Stateroom Halls, Use Carpet to Point the Way

Category: Your Stateroom     |    Ships: All

One of my favorite less obvious Disney Cruise Tips:

In your first few days, you might be a bit disoriented. When you leave your stateroom, the globe on the carpet will point the way for you. If you walk toward "north" on the globe, you will be heading toward the front of the ship.

Disney Cruise Carpet Globe


35) You Can Order Multiple Items at Dinner

Category: Dining     |    Ships: All

Go ahead. Try everything on the menu that looks good.

Your servers will bring you as many appetizers, entrees and desserts as you wish. Some nights I was hungrier than others. And okay, I admit it... sometimes I just had to have the chocolate lava cake and the creme brulee. Don’t judge me.

36) Your Server Will Remember What You Like

Category: Dining     |    Ships: All

As part of Disney’s rotational dining, you will have the same servers every evening. I have been very impressed by the level of service we have received from every server we’ve had.

After the first night, they will anticipate your wants and bring you the drink you selected the night before. Naturally, you can change and order whatever you want but it’s a great convenience to not have to ask.

If you have additional food and drink preferences, let your servers know. As the only vegetarian at our table, our server made special menu recommendations just for me. My friend loves limes with his Diet Coke, so after the first night, there was a bowl of lime slices waiting for him at each meal.

BTW, are you curious about tipping on a Disney Cruise? Read this.

37) Your Servers Will Cut Up Your Kids Food

Category: Dining     |    Ships: All

Not that this is a major Disney Cruise tip, but it highlights the level of service that’s waiting for you at dinner every night of your Disney Cruise.

Allow your servers to serve you! Sit back and enjoy their service. If your child needs his/her food cut up, your servers are happy to do it.

38) Hidden Menu Items for Dinner

Category: Dining     |    Ships: All

Here are a few things you can ask your server for that aren’t on the dinner menu:

  • Grapes
  • Crackers
  • Cheese platter
  • Seafood platter

39) Enjoy Your Favorite Dishes Again & Again

Category: Dining     |    Ships: All

Did you enjoy a particular entree or dessert on a previous night so much that you are craving it again?

Ask your server if they could kindly get it for you, but make sure to give them a day’s notice. I loved the Sticky Date Pudding so much that I asked if I could have it every single night! Of course, they obliged.

40) Order “Takeout” for Sick Passengers

Category: Dining     |    Ships: All

Getting sick on a cruise is a terrible experience.

Fortunately, on a Disney Cruise, it doesn’t mean missing dinner. Ask your server for a meal to take back to your stateroom for your travel companion. The friendly servers will create a delicious portable meal for your fallen comrade.

41) Your Wine Will Travel with You

Category: Dining     |    Ships: All

If your purchase a bottle of wine in one of the restaurants (including Palo) and don’t finish it, it can be corked and stored for you. Your beverage server will bring it out the following day if you’d like.

42) Restaurants Open for Breakfast & Lunch

Category: Dining     |    Ships: All

You can choose the buffet at Cabanas or you can enjoy a sit-down meal at one of the restaurants. I’ve enjoyed mixing it up and trying multiple things.

43) Record the Entire Show at Animator's Palate

Category: Dining     |    Ships: All

Something fun and special happens in Animator's Palate. If you would prefer to be completely surprised, do not read the next few Disney Cruise tips about Animator's Palate.

During one of your rotational dining nights, you’ll find yourself eating at the lively Animators Palate. Before you are served your meal (or even given a menu for that matter) you’ll be invited to draw your own character using markers at your table. Each guest gets to create a character that is animated and comes to life.

While you are eating, the magicians at Disney will make your drawing come to life in a musical extravaganza that will be displayed on the big video screens located around the dining room.

Just before the main course, you’ll get some not-so-subtle clues from the wait staff and animated characters on screen that something special is about to happen. When you get these clues, position someone with a video camera or cell phone in a place where they won’t block others views but who can record the full event.

It is fun to replay the special video and see your creations come to life. It goes by so fast the first time it is played, your recording will prove to be a very valuable memento.

Here is a quick video to give you an idea:

44) Come 10 Minutes Early to Animator’s Palate

Category: Dining    |    Ships: All

On this special night, where your artistic creation will come to life in Animator’s Palate, you will be asked to complete your drawing before being served or given a menu to make your dining selection.

As such, your server will be in a bit more of a rush than usual, as they have to instruct you on how to complete your drawing, collect your drawing, AND take your orders and serve you dinner in a more compressed time.

To optimize your experience, come to dinner 10 minutes earlier than your designated dining time. This will give you plenty of time to make a beautiful drawing without feeling rushed to do a less-than-amazing job.

45) At Animator’s Palate, Color Your Character Completely

Category: Dining    |    Ships: All

Take the time when drawing your character to color in your character completely. Some people in a hurry to get to dinner will simply draw the outlines of their characters. A completely filled-in, colored-in character shows up way better in the video and is much easier to spot. Plus, it just looks great!

Animator's Palate Drawing Example

46) At Animator’s Palate, Write Your Name BIG

Category: Dining    |    Ships: All

You’ll be invited to draw your character on a special piece of paper that has two designated sections: one for your drawing and one for your name.

Use as much space as you are given to write your name BIG and BOLD. This makes it much easier to read on screen during the magic video.

Animator's Palate Drawing Example

47) Make Your Own Float

Category: Dining    |    Ships: All

Those fancy fruity drinks that pool attendants carry around with them are enticing but also require an additional fee.

Here’s a free (and tasty) alternative...

Bring your own cup to the drink station and fill it halfway with soda. Then visit the soft serve ice cream machine and add to your cup. Presto! Ice cream float!

48) Bring Your Own Bottle for Soda

Category: Dining    |    Ships: All

Soda is free on Disney Cruise Line when you get it at Cabanas restaurant or at the fountains on the pool deck. Small paper cups are available for your use at any time.

If you're a soda-lover, pack a larger bottle or cup that you can fill up to carry around with you.

49) You Can Bring Your Own Alcohol Onboard, but Know the Rules

Category: Dining    |    Ships: All

While most cruise lines won’t allow passengers to bring their own alcohol onboard, Disney allows a limited amount.

Passengers that are 21 and older can bring up to two bottles of unopened champagne or wine (no larger than 750 ml) or six beers (up to 12 ounces) on the ship at the start of the voyage as well at each port of call.

All alcohol must be packed in carry-on bags, not in your checked luggage. Any alcohol packed in your luggage will be removed and stored until the end of the cruise.

If you want to drink wine or champagne in one of the dining rooms, you’ll be charged a corking fee of $25 per bottle.

Read our full Disney cruise alcohol guide here.

Side note - you aren't allowed to bring mini bottles of spirits to give as a Fish Extender gift exchange.

50) It's Okay to Ask for Water

Category: Dining    |    Ships: All

Feeling thirsty but don't want to pay for an expensive drink?

Whether you're at a nightclub or laying out on a sun deck, it's okay to ask for some water when your server asks if you'd like a drink.

The water is free, but it's always nice to tip.

51) Your Servers Will Sing Happy Birthday

Category: Dining    |    Ships: All

Got a birthday in your group? Let your server know and your birthday celebrator will receive a special dessert while the Cast Members sing to him/her.

52) Buy 5 Fancy Coffees, Get the 6th Free

Category: Dining    |    Ships: All

Espresso drinks are available on Disney Cruises, but you have to pay for them. If you are a frequent coffee buyer on Disney Cruise line, ask for the rewards card. Each time you buy a cappuccino, latte or other fancy coffee, they’ll punch your coffee card. Every sixth specialty coffee is free. If you don’t completely fill up the card during the cruise, you can keep it and use it on future Disney cruise.

53) Schedule Palo at Sunset

Category: Dining    |    Ships: All

Palo is an Italian-themed specialty restaurant on each ship. Since this is a premium dining experience, reservations are required (you can make them online or on-board the ship) and an additional fee of $30 per person is charged. Only adults 18 and over are allowed and they ask you to follow a dress code.

This one of the best Disney Cruise tips for Palo: The views from the restaurant are fantastic, but it is really only viewable before dusk. After dark, there’s not much to see. So, I recommend eating early enough to enjoy the gorgeous seascape sunset. Amazing experience!


54) Hidden Menu Items: Pie of the Day, Cake of the Day, and Dessert of the Day

Category: Room Service    |    Ships: All

No list of Disney Cruise tips would be complete without talking about Disney Cruise room service!

Here are some hidden room service menu items you can order. You won’t find these items listed on the room service menu:

Pie of the day - You get whatever pie the chef is making at the time.
Dessert of the day - Go ahead and ask for this. See what you get.
Cake of the day - Okay, this one technically is listed on the menu, but in such small print, you might miss it. You receive a small bite-sized square of cake. (Below are two examples found on BrownieBites.net.)
Mickey Mouse Ice Cream Bar - a timeless classic.

  • Credit: BrownieBites.net
  • Img: BrownieBites.net

55) Order Carafe of Coffee at Night: It’s Still Hot in the Morning

Category: Room Service    |    Ships: All

Disney Cruise Tips Room Service CoffeeAsk for a carafe of coffee just before bed at night and it will still be hot in the morning (and halfway through the day).

This will allow your earliest riser to drink it on the veranda and not worry about a knock on the stateroom door waking up the rest of the family.

56) Enjoy Room Service Breakfast on Your Veranda

Category: Room Service    |    Ships: All

Want to enjoy a lazy day in your stateroom and not worry about rushing to make sure you arrive at Cabanas on time? Order yourself a continental style breakfast, and enjoy some coffee, tea, and fruit on your veranda (if you have one).

57) Room Service Favorites: Cheese Plate, Warm Chocolate Chip Cookies & Milk

Category: Room Service    |    Ships: All

Here are my favorite Disney Cruise room service menu items:

The All Hands on Deck Cheese Plate - you’ll enjoy a variety of cheeses, a little bit of fruit, and crackers.
Warm Chocolate Chip Cookies & Milk - delicious end of night treat!

Disney Cruise Room Service Menu

58) How to Tip Room Service without Cash

Category: Room Service    |    Ships: All

Just like pretty much everything else, Disney allows you to simply add room service gratuities to your room bill. Even if you order free room service, you’ll need to sign a slip acknowledging receipt. On that slip, there’s a space for tips. The rule of thumb is $1-2 per item ordered.

59) Room Service Won’t Be Left in Stateroom After 9pm

Category: Room Service    |    Ships: All

The room service team won’t leave your order in your stateroom after 9pm if nobody is in the room. Keep this in mind if you order milk and cookies before bed (yes, you should do that) and you want to sneak out for a couple of minutes.


60) How to Avoid Big Lines for Pictures on Formal Night

Category: Activities    |    Ships: All

On formal night, the photographers are out, everyone has dressed up, and it’s picture time! That means waiting in big lines to have family pictures taken.

A little bit of preparation will help you beat the crowds. The lightest time for pictures is before the first dinner seating.

Why is that?

People take a lot of time prepping for formal night dinner: getting their hair and makeup perfect, ironing their wrinkled shirt, wrangling the kids after a fun time on the ship. They usually aren’t thinking about pictures. They’re just trying to be ready in time for dinner!

Here's how to avoid the crowds (one of my favorite Disney Cruise tips):

Plan ahead and be ready 20-30 minutes before the first seating. You’ll have the photography lines all to yourself right before dinner.

Disney Cruise Formal Night Photography

61) Each Nightly Live Show is a Must See

Category: Activities    |    Ships: All

Disney is, at its heart, an entertainment and storytelling company. As such, the entertainment on Disney Cruise Line is top notch. Especially their big nightly show provided in the Walt Disney Theatre.

Live productions are performed twice each night, to take the two dining schedules into consideration. The Walt Disney Theatre stage on each ship was designed to host high-tech Broadway-caliber shows. The production value of these performances are truly remarkable.

Each ship has its own original show based on a popular Disney classic. These are the best. Here’s a list of the exclusive show is currently performing on each ship:

Don’t miss these!

62) The Show is Before Dinner if You Have Late Seating

Category: Activities    |    Ships: All

Unlike some other cruise lines, Disney offers their marquee entertainment before dinner if you have the later seating for dinner. Just a heads-up, so you don’t miss the show on your first night.

63) The Best Seats in Walt Disney Theatre Are...

Category: Activities    |    Ships: All

It’s difficult to call this a tip; it’s more of a preference.

First, let me say, there are no bad seats in Walt Disney Theatre. The view is definitely more limited from the right and left front sections. The first row is eye level with the stage, so you might miss some of the full perspective of what’s happening.

That’s why I prefer the center section, back about 10-13 rows. Gives you a full perspective of the action, but you’re still close enough to see Aladdin’s facial expressions.

64) Refresh Your App to Get Latest Info

Category: Activities    |    Ships: All

The Disney Cruise Line Navigator app will be your best friend for your trip. I became addicted to reading about each of the awesome activities that we could attend every day.

For the most part, Disney has its entertainment set ahead of time. However, they often react to weather conditions or available entertainment and make changes to the daily lineup.

Refresh the Navigator app once or twice a day to make sure you have the latest info. The way to do that is to completely shut down the app and re-open it. That allows the app to download any updates from the DCL staff.

Refresh Disney Navigator App

65) Don't Miss the "Art of the Theme Show" Tour

Category: Activities    |    Ships: All

I hope you're paying attention to this, one of the lesser-known Disney Cruise tips, because if you’re a Disney-phile like me, you’ll dig this tour!

When we were reading the Navigator, we came across the “Art of the Theme Show” tour for guests 18 and up.

It is absolutely a strange name, I realize, and I don’t think it explains what this event is. The description, however, intrigued me and got me to show up:

“Join us for a guided tour highlighting the design, Imagineering and artistry of your Disney Cruise Ship.”

This tour was a such a pleasant surprise and I loved every second. We learned so many things about the design and art of the Disney Cruise ship that it really enhanced our experience and gave us greater appreciation for the intricate and subtle design elements on-board.

66) Sun-Chasers Will Love Satellite Falls

Category: Activities    |    Ships: Fantasy, Dream

Not all of my Disney Cruise tips apply for every ship, but for those sailing on Disney Dream or Disney Fantasy, Satellite Falls is a sun-lovers paradise on days at sea. It is the adults-only pool area that incorporates the ship satellite into a luxurious poolside. I have found it to be relatively uncrowded at most times. Grab a book, grab your sunscreen, and claim your spot on a lazy day at sea. This is one of my favorite Disney Fantasy cruise tips and Disney Dream cruise tips!

Relaxing at Satellite Falls Disney Cruise Fantasy

67) Free T-Shirts in “Friendship Rocks” Show

Category: Activities    |    Ships: Magic, Wonder

All children who participate in the “Friendship Rocks” show on the Disney Magic or Disney Wonder receive a free t-shirt. Plus they get to dance on the Walt Disney Theatre stage with Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Read this trip report for more details.

68) Watch the Ship Sail Away from Port

Category: Activities    |    Ships: All

At least once during your cruise, watch the ship sail away from a port the highest possible deck. The process is remarkably smooth and gives you a sense of wonder as you observe this skyscraper-sized vessel ease its way into the vastness of the ocean.

69) Take a Sunset Family Picture

Category: Activities    |    Ships: All

Not all Disney Cruise secrets are complicated. Just pick a night for a sunset family picture with the ocean in the background.

70) Don’t Miss the Fireworks

Category: Activities    |    Ships: All

Every Disney Cruise has a Pirate Night that ends with a bang. Literally. Even if you don’t love Pirate Night, don’t miss the firework show!

If you are traveling on a Star Wars Day at Sea Disney Cruise, then the fireworks come with a lightsaber battle and a video showing scenes from the movies as the fireworks light up the water around you.

On the Marvel Day at Sea Disney Cruise, watch as popular Marvel heroes fight against the evil forces of Hydra before the fireworks light up the sky.

Fireworks from a ship?
So cool.

71) Pools Heat Up When Temperature Drops

Category: Activities    |    Ships: All

How about this Disney Cruise hack? Even if it gets a bit chilly outside, you can still enjoy the swimming pools because the ship keeps the pools heated.

72) Don’t Try To Do Too Much

Category: Activities    |    Ships: All

You're going to read so many tips for Disney Cruise fun that are specific. Each Disney Cruise is packed with so many entertainment choices, great pools, and characters to meet. You could literally cram full your entire day with everything on the Navigators and leave no down time for yourself.

Of all my Disney Cruise tips and secrets, this one might be the most important. I believe strongly that you should balance your high-energy fun and your relaxation. Whatever you do, make sure to leave yourself enough downtime to relax or be spontaneous.

73) Mickey Mouse Will Wake You Up

Category: Activities    |    Ships: All

Request a wake-up call and Mickey Mouse will be the one to call you. This can come in handy if you’re on a cruise that crosses time zones, causing you to lose an hour.

74) Don’t Book Character Breakfast on Days that You Move Clocks Forward

Category: Activities    |    Ships: All

If your cruise does change time zones during a voyage, it is possible you’ll have to move your clock forward one hour to accommodate the time change. If you and the kids like to stay up late, that lost hour of sleep can haunt you the next day if you have scheduled an early morning character breakfast or Princess Meet and Greet.

Avoid any problems by scheduling these fun events on any other day than “Lost Hour Day.”

75) Make a Goal: Talk to Other Guests

Category: Activities    |    Ships: All

I’m willing to bet your kids are making new friends in the kids’ clubs. Now it’s your turn.

Get outside your comfort zone and introduce yourself to someone new. People are happy, approachable, and usually at their best on a Disney Cruise. (Disney Cruise Tips are just good life tips, aren't they?)

True story: we met our own city mayor! (Here’s hoping she can get me out of some parking tickets...)

76) Jack-Jack’s Incredible Diaper Dash is Hilarious

Category: Activities    |    Ships: All

If your Disney Cruise ship hosts this activity, don’t miss it. Jack-Jack’s Incredible Diaper Dash is a race of crawling babies (any walkers are disqualified).

That’s right. Disney Cruise Line is racing babies.

Inspired by Jack-Jack of the The Incredibles, parents set their babies on one end of a mat and attempt to lure them to the other end before the other kids. The event is short and adorably cute.

Watch this short segment of a heart-stopping heat of Diaper Dash:

77) Skip the Shopping Seminars

Category: Activities    |    Ships: All

Most of my Disney Cruise tips are suggestions of what to do. Here's some advice of something NOT to do.

Each port of call offers a shopping seminar from "expert" guides. These are basically advertisements for merchants that are probably paying a consideration fee to DCL. You might get a coupon or two for some free souvenirs. My experience is these freebies are pretty lame and totally worth missing.

Shopping lectures are replayed on your TV on a loop, so if you’re worried about missing something, just tune in while getting ready in the morning.

78) Watch a New Release in Buena Vista Theater

Category: Activities    |    Ships: All

One of the perks of being on a Disney cruise is the Walt Disney Company gives the ship access to its very latest films. Sometimes, you even get to watch a movie premiere at sea!

Watch a movie in the Buena Vista Theater at least once during your cruise. There are enough new release (first-run) show times during the day that you can easily plan around your other fun activities.

Disney Fantasy Buena Vista Theater

79) How to Enjoy Free Snacks & Drink at Buena Vista Theater

Category: Activities    |    Ships: All

When you grab a movie at the Buena Vista Theater, you’ll have the option to pay for popcorn, candy, and drinks outside the theater.

Here's a small Disney Cruise trick to save some money:

Enjoy free drinks by simply filling up your own cup at one of the free soda fountain stations in Cabanas or by the pool before hitting the movies. While you’re there, get a dessert or bag of potato chips to snack on during the theater. Our kids filled up a cup with soft serve ice cream and took that with them to the movie.

80) Free Pixie Dust at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique

Category: Activities    |    Ships: All

On every Disney Cruise ship, you’ll find a special salon called Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. They specialize in make-overs. Hair, make-up, and nails...the works. Their packages transform little girls into princesses and boys into knights or pirates.

Here’s the best part.

Even if you don’t want to pay for a makeover, their Pixie Dust service is free at each Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. One of the Cast Members (Fairy Godmother in Training) will wave her magic wand over your head and sprinkle you with hair glitter. No appointment is needed and the process takes about 30 seconds.

81) How to Get Front Row Each Night at the Nightclub

Category: Activities    |    Ships: All

Each Disney ship has a nightclub where they feature comedy, music, juggling, magic, trivia, game shows and dancing. Disney knows how to do entertainment, even grown-up entertainment. Granted, they have an image to keep up, so they keep everything pretty tame and don’t delve into raunchy. They keep their entertainment acts free of cussing and they even play “clean” versions of music in their dance clubs.

I absolutely enjoyed the grown-up fun that was planned every night and highly recommend it. I know it is difficult if you have young children that go to bed a bit early, but if you can make it work, I definitely suggest going to the nightly entertainment. It’s a blast. In fact, their headliners that perform in the Walt Disney Theatre will often do adults-only shows later in the cruise. So you’re getting top-notch performances in a much smaller, intimate setting.

So, here’s my Disney Cruise advice for getting front row seats at your nightclub:

Arrive 10-15 minutes early before the first scheduled show each night and you’ll have a front row seat for the rest of the night.

82) How to Win “the Quest” Game

Category: Activities    |    Ships: All

The Quest is an adult scavenger hunt held at your ship’s nightclub. I won’t give away the full game, as that would ruin all the fun!

However, if you want an advantage, listen to this.

I suggest you get a group of at least six and arrive early enough to allow all of you to sit in the front row. The number in your party and being so close gives you a huge advantage in the game. One more bonus tip: carry an extra bra with you in your pocket. Trust me on this one.

83) Schedule Downtime After Beer / Wine Tastings

Category: Activities    |    Ships: All

I’m not a drinker, so I can’t speak firsthand on this one. Fellow passengers, however, have mentioned that they wish they hadn’t booked anything after a beer or wine tasting. Apparently they allow you to do a lot of "tasting."

(If you have other alcohol-based Disney Cruise tips, please let me know.)


84) Save Money by Booking Excursions Directly

Category: Excursions    |    Ships: All

Shore excursions offered at each port of call (except Castaway Cay) are provided by third-party companies. Typically, these are the exact same adventures that every other cruise line also offers. You can usually find these excursions are offered for less on the tour company’s website, as they don’t have to share profits with Disney. Also, you can sometimes find more options and add-ons that fit your schedule and preferences better than what Disney is offering.

There’s no rule that says you can’t book your own excursions at each port. The main advantages to booking with Disney are convenience, transportation, and a guarantee that the ship won’t sail without you. You’ll have to weigh the pros and cons, but I suggest that once you’ve decided on your desired activity at each port that you take a little time to find out how much you can save if you book it direct.

85) How Busy Will Each Port of Call Be?

Category: Excursions    |    Ships: All

Some ports of call are more visited by cruise lines than others. Time of year also plays a part in how many other cruise ships will be docked along with your vessel. When a lot of ships are in the same port at the same time, it can make shopping, excursions and other activities more crowded and transportation harder to obtain.

Check each port on your journey before you sail so you know what to expect. Use cruisett.com to research your sailing and the overall “load” of passengers expected at each port of call.

86) Take Pictures of You with Ship at Every Port

Category: Excursions    |    Ships: All

This is a must for any scrapbook. At each port, take a picture of you with your beloved Disney Cruise ship in the background. It will help you remember each port much more clearly.

Family Poses with Disney Cruise Ship

87) Free Food to Take Ashore

Category: Excursions    |    Ships: All

Want to take some food with you for an all-day adventure at a port of call? Depending on the port, some destinations allow you to take food with you. Some ports require that any food you take ashore must be wrapped and sealed.

You can grab potato chips up at Cabanas or the poolside snack area. You might have to ask a Cast Member to get some for you if they aren’t out and visible. A good time to do this is at lunch on the day before your shore excursion.

Room service has wrapped and sealed Smuckers Uncrustables peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that aren’t listed on the menu.

Check port restrictions about what you can / cannot take ashore.


88) Pin Trading Night: Cycle Through Multiple Times

Category: Pin Trading    |    Ships: All

The next few Disney Cruise tips are for my fellow Pin Traders!

There is at least one special event on each cruise devoted to Disney pin trading. On this popular night, the officers of the ship will gather in a special location dressed in their ship whites, each with a lanyard of Disney pins around their neck.

If you’re into pin trading at Walt Disney World like I am, cycle back through the officers multiple times during the event because their lanyards change dramatically as passengers trade frequently with them.

I have made some great trades of pins that weren’t there the first time I conversed with an officer.

Don’t just make one round of Disney Cruise pin trading!

89) Take a Chance on Mystery Pins

Category: Pin Trading    |    Ships: All

On Pin Trading Night, some cast members and/or officers of your Disney Cruise ship will be wearing a lanyard proudly displaying Disney pins they are willing to trade with you.

Some lanyards might have a “mystery pin”. Mystery pins are backwards, so that you must trade without knowing what they are. Note, you can’t trade a mystery pin right back to the cast member if you don’t like it. You can, however, trade them away to the next CM you see.

So, during your Disney Cruise pin trading, keep some "trader pins" on hand (pins you don't care about) to trade for mystery pins.

90) Post a Pin Board Outside Your Stateroom

Category: Pin Trading    |    Ships: All

Here is a fun way to promote Disney Pin Trading with your fellow passengers.

Create a magnetic pin board to hang outside your stateroom. Invite passers-by to take a pin if they leave a pin.

While you won’t likely find many pins on your list, it is fun to check your pin board each time you come back to your cabin to see what people have traded.


91) The Least Busy Character Greeting Time Is... (7 Days or More)

Category: Character Greetings    |    Ships: All

For Disney Cruises of 7 days or longer, the 5:15pm character greetings later in the week are less busy than any other time. Especially on days at port.

Why is this?

Many people have exhausted themselves with lines for their favorite characters earlier in the week. Additionally, many are preparing for the earlier dinner seating at 5:45pm, so they’re in their staterooms getting cleaned up.

Take advantage; zig when others zag!


92) Plan on Spreading “Pixie Dust”

Category: Pixie Dust    |    Ships: All

Pixie Dust is defined as “a little something extra.” Like when a Cast Member goes the extra mile. That’s Pixie Dust.

On a Disney Cruise, when fellow cruisers engage in random acts of giving, that’s Pixie Dust.

You can spread Pixie Dust on a Disney Cruise by giving any fun item that you think would make someone else happy. Getting your family involved makes this more fun, as you become joint conspirators in spreading some love.

There’s no formal program for this, no specific rules. Some people create Pixie Dust groups, like Fish Extender groups, and you might find those on the Facebook group for your sailing. Others just like to hand out goodies to strangers and call it “Pixie Dust.”

Plan ahead to spread some love by bringing a few small token gifts that you can have on hand to pass out.

What are your best Disney pixie dust ideas?

93) Join a Fish Extender Group

Category: Pixie Dust    |    Ships: All

So... what are Fish Extenders?

It’s a passenger-driven activity that happens on each Disney Cruise. It’s like a fun gift swap with your fellow cruisers.

Here’s how it works. You connect with other passengers on Facebook (I show you how here) that want to participate. This is called a Fish Extender Group.

Then you hang something off the “fish” near your cabin door and members of your Fish Extender group makes or buys gifts and places them in the pockets of your Fish Extender. And you do the same for them!

The quickest way to understand Disney Cruise Fish Extenders is to read this:

The Ultimate Guide to Fish Extenders

This is an activity for those that love to make a bit more magic out of their cruise. The Fish Extender gifts are usually very creative and fun, and the process of making or selecting these gifts can be very rewarding. For those with young children, this activity is especially exciting because you never know what kind of gift you’ll have waiting for you at your cabin. It’s like Christmas on a cruise!

I’ve created the following Fish Extender resources to help you:

94) Put Your Fish Extender Gifts in Order Before You Deliver

Category: Pixie Dust    |    Ships: All

If you decide to participate in a Fish Extender group, a little advanced planning before you head out to deliver all your gifts will save you quite a bit of time.

Typically, your Fish Extender group is not limited to just one floor. That means that you’ll be visiting multiple decks when delivering all your goodies.

On your computer, put your gift list in order by floor. Then, put your gifts in order, so when you arrive at each stateroom, all you have to do is deposit your deliveries in each Fish Extender. It’ll go much faster!


95) Teach Kids to Wash Hands with Soap and Water

Category: Stay Healthy    |    Ships: All

Practice the art of washing your hands with your kids before you sail.

Nothing ruins a vacation faster than getting sick. With a lot of people sharing a vessel, it isn’t surprising that outbreaks of vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea have occasionally reported on cruise ships.

In everyday life, having clean hands is essential to stop the spread of norovirus or other infections, and this is especially true with cruises. According to the CDC, frequent handwashing with soap and water is the absolute protection against getting sick on a cruise.

So here’s your reminder. Wash your hands for at least 30 seconds before you eat, after you use the restroom, after touching things that other passengers have touched (e.g. stair railings), after changing diapers. Disney Cruise Lines cast members will give you hand sanitizer before you enter any dining facility and ask you to use it, but this should just be backup.

Help your little ones to get into this habit before you leave. Make a game out of it while onboard: the child who washes hands the most each day gets a treat at night.

96) Don’t Drink the Water on Shore Excursions

Category: Stay Healthy    |    Ships: All

This is a basic travel precaution.

If you visit developing countries, avoid drinking the local water. Water, sodas, or sports drinks that are bottled and sealed (carbonated is safer) are your best bet and avoid ice.

Only eat food that is cooked and served hot. Eat fresh fruit only if you have washed it yourself with clean water and peeled away the skin.

97) Wear Sunscreen

Category: Stay Healthy    |    Ships: All

Applying sunscreen daily --- and the right SPF --- will help the long-term health of your skin and your short-term comfort. I’ve spent a cruise or two nursing a sunburn, making me uncomfortable and greatly impacting my enjoyment of the rest of the trip.

It’s easy to get burned. Whether you’re strolling the streets of Cozumel, sun-lounging at Satellite Falls, or playing at the beach of Castaway Cay, the sun is beaming down on you at all times. Yes, even in cloudy weather.

There are a lot of articles out there (here’s one) on selecting the right sunscreen SPF and type. My advice is to apply and re-apply regularly. You’ll be happy you did.

98) Take a Jog at Sea

Category: Stay Healthy    |    Ships: All

On Deck 4 of each Disney Cruise ship, you’ll find a wide, flat jogging track where 2.5 laps equals 1 mile. Running at sea is very calming and refreshing. Take in the vast blue waters and breath the crisp ocean air.

On a recent cruise, inclement weather kept us from visiting Castaway Cay. No problem; DCL conducted the Castaway Cay 5K on the ship's running track.

Disney Cruise Ship Jogging Track

99) Run the Castaway Cay 5K and Save Your Beach Chairs

Category: Stay Healthy    |    Ships: All

If your Disney Cruise travels to Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay, I highly recommend participating in the Castaway Cay 5K event. You’re not a runner? Well, what a great excuse to get in “cruise shape” to handle a 5K run (just over 3 miles).

Participation is free and you don’t have to make advance reservations. Simply register at Guest Services sometime during the cruise. It’s not urgent; just do it sometime before the event.

Children must be 10 or older to run. There’s a place to lock up your belongings before you run. Disney provides cold, clean water at the start line.

You receive a participation medal and number as part of the run. You can buy other Castaway Cay 5k merchandise at the Buy the Shore store at the start/finish line. It isn’t a timed event so many people take their time on the course. Some even just walk it.

Bring a backpack with you and claim your favorite beach chairs before the race. You will be one of the first guests off the ship and will have your choice of any location. Just leave your stuff on your desired chair(s) and then go back to the ship to grab some breakfast and get ready for the day.


100) Get a Free Disney Parks DVD in the Mail

Category: Land & Sea    |    Ships: All

Disney will send you a free Disney Parks Vacation DVD in the mail. They even pay for the shipping.

This is such a no-brainer. Anyone considering adding a trip to DisneyWorld parks (you know, Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios) before or after your Disney cruise should grab this freebie.

They don't offer it all the time, but if it's available, it's a great way to get hyped about the Disney Parks! Request your free DVD here.

101) Save Up to $113 on DisneyWorld Tickets

Category: Land & Sea    |    Ships: All

Want to go to DisneyWorld either before or after your Disney Cruise? Don't make the mistake of paying Disney's full price for tickets.

I've done a lot of research on how to save money on DisneyWorld tickets. There are a couple of Disney-authorized outlets that sell discounted tickets. I did the math - a family of four can save up to $113.

Read my full write-up on how to save on Disney World tickets here.


102) Use Disney Chase Visa to Get Perks

Category: Other Tips    |    Ships: All

Consider applying for the Disney Chase Visa to get a few perks. Here are a few:

  • If you use a Disney Visa to pay for your Cruise, you'll get Disney Rewards. (More info on the Rewards here.)
  • Use the Disney Visa card to save 10% off photo packages and select merchandise purchases
  • Use the card to get the Castaway Cay "Getaway Package" and you'll get a 10% discount.
  • And, you will enjoy 20% off a non-discounted massage or facial service aboard Disney Cruise Line ships on port days.

Just ask when using the card if there are other bonus perks and promotions on the ship.

103) Book a Disney Repositioning Cruise

Category: Other Tips    |    Ships: All

What is a Disney Repositioning Cruise you might ask?

It is a cruise where rather than sailing in a big circle back to the port you left from, you begin at one port and conclude your cruise at a completely different one.

There are some perks to booking this cruise option, the biggest being a cheaper price per person per night.

Read all about Disney Repositioning Cruises in my full comprehensive guide here.

104) Pack a Jacket

Category: Other Tips    |    Ships: All

It can get a little chilly on deck of a Disney Cruise. Yes, even on a cruise to tropical paradise locations!

Especially at night, you'll find you are more comfortable wearing a coat or sweater.

And the air conditioning during the shows can seem frigid for some.

See my full packing list here.

105) Hit the Adults-Only Bar

Category: Other Tips    |    Ships: All

Disney has an adults only section on their ships which has a lovely indoor bar/coffee cafe and outdoor pool with bar and lounge chairs.

This area can be an oasis for adults.

Suzanne from PhilaTravelGirl says:

"The ships bars opened later for adults so there is a lull between dinner and nightlife. I would suggest going to the adults only bar to relax."

106) Balcony is a Haven for Introverts without Kids

Category: Other Tips    |    Ships: All

Traveling without kids?

Need a private space?

Splurge for a stateroom with a veranda. It is peaceful, quiet, and the views are spectacular.

Get yourself some coffee or a Mickey Mouse bar from room service, snuggle up with your book, and you'll be in introvert heaven.

107) Watch a Movie Under the Stars

Category: Other Tips    |    Ships: All

Check the schedule to see what is showing on Funnel Vision in the evenings.

Grab a sweatshirt and cozy up in your favorite deck chair to a Disney classic movie being played on the massive video screen played.

When everything else is quiet on the ship, this can be a fun way to cap off a wonderful day.

108) Surprise Your Loved One with a Romantic Gift

Category: Other Tips    |    Ships: All

Looking for a way to add a dash of romance to your trip?

Lisa Salloum, a travel agent from Iowa, suggests surprising your love with a gift that is sent to the stateroom.

Through Disney Cruise Line's Onboard Gifts, you can order wine, flowers, chocolates or other sweet gestures. Make a special trip even more memorable!

109) No Kids? Serenity Bay is a Must-Do

Category: Other Tips    |    Ships: All

No kids? 
Visiting Castaway Cay?
Want a quieter, more adult-like beach experience?

Don't skip Serenity Bay, the adults-only beach. This kid-free zone features a bar, incredible views, and premium drinks & massage services.

You'll enjoy an adults-only restaurant that offers entrees that aren't available at the other island eateries.

110) Enjoy Jacuzzi in Adults-Only Areas

Category: Other Tips    |    Ships: All

On non-DCL cruises, the adult hot tubs tend to be crowded hot spots.

Not so much on a Disney Cruise.

There are jacuzzi tubs and pools in the adults-only areas of the ship. Quite often, you'll find the hot tub available for just you and your significant other.

If you have the later (second) dining time, you can linger in the hot tub a little longer, as many people tend to clear out at this time. You can even watch the sunset from the jacuzzi.

Thanks to Alanna for the tip!

111) Adults Can Takeover the Kids Clubs!

Category: Other Tips    |    Ships: All

Select cruises (such as transatlantic or Panama canal) will sometimes provide an opportunity for fun-loving adults to "takeover" the kids clubs.

That's right, it's play time for grown-ups!

More than a traditional open house, they kick out the kiddos and 18+ can enjoy all the club fun. Such as battle with Thor, play in Andy's Room or dance on the Magic PlayFloor.

Check your Navigator to see if this is offered on your sailing.

Thanks to Karen from My Path Unwinding Travel for the tip!

Your Turn...Chime In! 💬

What is your best Disney Cruise tip?
What is your best Disney Cruise tip?x


101 Disney Cruise Tips & Hacks
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stephanie brewington

Thank you for the great tips! When you get off on one of the ports do you have to participates in any of the excursions or can you just visit a nearby beach?


Thanks very informative and detailed tips … I wonder how can I share this info to a friend .


Thank-you for taking the time share all of these tips. I’ve been on three Disney Cruises and I still learned a few things from you that I can use on my fourth!


I’m LOVING your site! So many great tips in a well-organized manner. I am soaking it all in and have shared with others on my sailing!


Thank you for these tips!! They were super helpful on our recent Disney cruise! Your luggage clearance information and the tip about using a gift card for the lights definitely made things easier for us!


Awesome tips! We’re first time cruisers and planning can be a little overwhelming. This helps!

Marcia Goodwin

Just got off the DVC member cruise on the Magic. I was surprised to see I had to pay for room service nuts or popcorn when I didn’t have to pay for a whole meal. Potatoes chips were free though. Doesn’t make sense to me to get a sandwich or meal free but pay for dome nuts.


Beginning the planning for my first cruise ever! I’m actually pairing it to follow a half marathon race at Canaveral the day before sailing at the end of November. This is all great info for a total newbie. One thing I’ve not found info on after perusing several sites is parking at the terminal. I live about 3 hours away from the port and will be driving down to Canaveral a couple days earlier for the race. Any tips about safe parking while on a 4 night cruise? Or information about parking costs? Many thanks for all the great information so far! 🙂

Jeanette Wakeman

Where can I find your scavenger hunt to surprise the kids about a cruise. I thought I saw this somewhere and now I cannot find it. Also, do you have any tips for the concierge rooms? I know there are some differences like wooden doors and no clearance under the beds for suitcases?


Thanks for these fun and insightful tips! Excited for my next Disney cruise after we’re all out of quarantine! Craving some Disney magic right about now!

Rachael Yerkes

Ah these are awesome! I need to get on a cruise now! Love this list so much

Matt Taylor

Awesome Disney cruise tips! I have never even been on a regular cruise. Someday! haha 🙂


Asking questions are actually nice thing if
you are not understanding anything fully, but this post gives nice understanding even.