Wednesday, July 8, 2015
First Time Disney Cruiser Tips
First Time Disney Cruiser Tips
So you are considering or have booked your very first Disney Cruise. Congratulations!!!! You are going to have one amazing vacation!
So what are some things you should know to make the most out of your Disney Cruise? I’ll start out with things you should know from booking your cruise to what to do before you go and then move onto what to do when you board the ship.
First off let’s talk about booking your cruise. You can book directly with Disney on their website or by calling them. You can also find your friendly and trusted Disney Certified (they took the College of Disney Knowledge training) Travel Agent and book with them. The reason I say Disney Certified is twofold. One, to be associated with Disney you cannot charge extra fees for booking vacations for your client. In other words you, the client will not be charged more for going through the Travel Agent than if you had booked yourself. Two, having gone through the training at the College of Disney Knowledge they have more expertise in handling your booking and questions. Why not do it yourself? The agent should watch for any problems and handle them. If any unforeseen problems arise the agent should take care of it for you. The agent should be willing to book all the little things such as Port Adventures and even your Shipboard Adventures such as spa time and meals at the Adult Only Palo and Remy Restaurants.
No matter how you book your cruise book early. This is to save you money. The closer to the date of the cruise the quicker and more the price goes up. It takes a small deposit to book your cruise and then you can make payments or pay it off by the date Disney Cruise Line sets. (Check this link for more information on when your cruise must be paid for. In most cases it is 75 days before sailing. For some special cruises and cabin categories it is further out. https://disneycruise.disney.go.com/planning-center/my-cruise-plans/faqs/booking-reservations/apply-payment/)
Also there are several other money saving tips besides booking early. Purchase Disney Gift Cards at Target Stores using your Target Red Card (Debit or Credit) and save 5%. Use the gift cards to pay off your cruise! You can also use these gift cards to pay for shopping on the ships, Port and Shipboard Adventures along with anything else that could be charged to your cabin. Use the Disney Vacation Savings Account (https://disneyvacationaccount.disney.go.com/) to help you keep to a savings plan. Charge your Disney Cruise to your Disney Visa and get 6 months interest free to pay! Also get an On Board Credit from Disney.
Oh yes! Now that I mentioned it On Board Credit (OBC) needs to be explained. On Board Credit is what a Travel Agent or Disney will give you to spend on the ship. This goes onto your shipboard account and can be used to pay everything from gratuities to Port/Shipboard Adventures. Any money spent on the ship goes through your Shipboard Account! Many travel agents offer an incentive for booking with them. They give you an OBC based on the price of your cabin.
*** Booking Tips ***
Big Tip 1 *** You don’t have to pay extra to book with a Travel Agent!!!
Big Tip 2 *** A Travel Agent will do all the work while you plan to play!!!
Big Tip 3 *** There are a few ways to save money! Watch for them and use them.
Once you have booked there are still things to do before you go. If you have a Travel Agent ask them what date you can book your Adventures. Before that date look at the things to do on the ship and in ports. Decide what you would like to do and on the first available day book it if you can. You don’t have to pay until you travel. If you decide to change your plans that is ok! You can cancel adventures before you sail if you wish! Make sure you know the last date you can cancel and change plans. Many Travel Agents will handle booking your chosen Adventures for you if you wish. You also need your last date to pay and date for online booking.
Why should you book your Port and Shipboard Adventures before you go? Because they are limited and fill up fast! Your dream of a once in a lifetime swim with the dolphins could be crushed if you wait until the day you get onboard and that Port Adventure is full! Also why spend your precious and hard earned vacation time booking adventures you could have done from home in spare time? Palo and Remy fill up quickly as well. Don’t want to miss some adult quiet time!
How do you find out what is available to do?? Go to DisneyCruise.com and look at the Port Adventures offered for your ports of call. Then go look at the things to do on the ship. Decided if Palo or Remy are something you would like to do. Would you like some Spa time? That can be booked beforehand as well. Check out what they offer! Remember once you choose your adventures your Travel Agent can book them for you.
Are you interested in making friends onboard? Consider joining a Facebook Group set up for your cruise. These are NOT associated with Disney but set up by fans. Just do a search on Facebook. For example cruising January 9th, 2016 on the Fantasy I search for Fantasy January 9th, 2016 and find Disney Fantasy January 9th, 2016 (Inaugural Star Wars Day at Sea) Cruise. Here you will find people you can meet up with on the ship. Maybe you have kids and you want to preset playmates. Maybe you have someone in your group in the awkward age of 18-23? Too old for the Kids Clubs yet too young for the Adult scene. See if they have other people that age to mix and mingle with. You can join a Fish Extender Group (FE) (Click here for more information on Fish Extenders http://pixiepranks-panstinkerbell.blogspot.com/2012/03/fish-extender-what-is-it-why-should-i.html), Door Decor is also something fun to work on and you can learn more in a group (Here is a link to more information http://pixiepranks-panstinkerbell.blogspot.com/2012/03/disney-cruise-line-door-decor.html) In a group you can ask questions about Disney Cruising and get answers from the pros, people who have been there done that. You don’t have to join the FE Groups or decorate your door if you don’t wish to. But they are both fun to do!
Make sure you have any necessary documents such as Passports and Original or Certified Copies of Birth Certificates so you can do your online check-in. Make sure they are packed to go with you as you will need them to board the ship! As the date gets closer know the dates to check in online and to book your Adventures as stated before. Have your Adventures picked out before the date so you can get in quickly and book them before they fill up.
If you are a US citizen and leaving and returning to a US port technically you do not need a Passport. BUT, it is advisable to have one just in case of emergency. If something were to happen while in a non US port you could have problems getting home without one.
Download the FREE Navigator App to your smart phone and/or tablet. With it at home you can keep a countdown until your cruise. Lots of fun! Once on the ship it will become invaluable! It will give you the daily and complete cruise schedule of events so you can make plans wisely. It allows you to keep in touch with other people onboard the ship, allowing you to send messages to each other. It lets you set reminders for events you don’t want to miss on the ship. (More app info here http://pixiepranks-panstinkerbell.blogspot.com/2015/02/disney-cruise-line-navigator-app.html)
Pack wisely. Ask your Travel Agent for a suggested packing list for your chosen destination and season. Know what items are not allowed (Check out this link for prohibited items https://disneycruise.disney.go.com/planning-center/my-cruise-plans/faqs/prohibited-items/prohibited-items/) Make sure you have all necessary items such as medication in the original bottles and medical equipment.
Plan for FUN!!!! Check your health, make sure the activities you wish to do are suitable for YOU. Plan ahead and deal with any health issues you can. Do you have special needs members of your group? Find out all the information you can and prepare them. Explain what will be going on and what will be available for them. Encourage them to be part of the planning process if possible. Be aware that not all Port or Shipboard Adventures are suitable for all guests. At non US ports the vendors do not have to comply with the US ADA laws. There is still plenty to do. Disney Cruise Ships and Disney’s Castaway Cay is compliant with ADA laws and very inclusive.
Notify Disney Cruise Line of all allergies or special medical needs before the cruise. Let the cruise line know if you have a young child that is using formula. If anybody uses a CPAP and needs water for it let them know and it will be provided free of charge.
*** After Booking / Pre-Cruise Tips ***
Big Tip 1 *** Know important dates such as last day to pay, online booking date and when you can book Port and Shipboard Adventures
Big Tip 2 *** Discuss what Adventures you wish before dates to book open.
Big Tip 3 *** Join a group! Maybe join a Fish Extender Group
Big Tip 4 *** Get your documents in order! Passports can take 6-12 weeks to process! You WILL need them to board the ship!
Big Tip 5 *** Download the Disney Cruise Line Navigator App
Big Tip 6 *** Plan your fun! Especially if you have special needs members of your group. Know what is available and where things are limited.
Big Tip 7 *** Disney Cruise Line can only help you IF you tell them your special needs. This includes allergies and special medical needs.
Once on the ship switch your Navigator App to active. This requires turning your phone to Airplane Mode and following a few on screen directions. Use the app to send messages to family, friends and fellow passengers you become friends with. Check the above link for more information on the use of the app. Also make sure you take advantage of the printed Personal Navigator that is left in your stateroom every day. The Navigator is a schedule of all the things happening on the ship. One of the special things on longer cruise that you should be looking on the Navigator app for are special Disney Behind the Scenes events. They have Disney Imangineers and others give talks. You can learn a lot of interesting things at these events. There are also The Art of Disney Entertainment sessions. At these you can learn how to make some of the special foods served at Disney locations. There are also special tours of the ship. My favorite is the Art of the Theme Ship Tour.
One of the first things to do on the ship is the Sail Away Deck Party. This is an amazing party on the deck of the ship. They cover the pools and turn them into places where you can dance and dance you do. This is the best thing to take your young children too. At this party the youth councilors are introduced. The kids will get excited about the Kids Clubs at this party.
Now that you are on the ship relax and have fun!! Let the kids enjoy the Kids Clubs and you enjoy the adult spots! Enjoy the family time together!