Congratulations! You have just confirmed your Disney cruise! While you are still thinking about your vacation, now is the time to start planning. Here are some of the things you need to do after booking a Disney cruise. Following these tips will help to make sure you have a magical sailing!
1. The First Thing To Do After Booking A Disney Cruise: Check Your Travel Documents
Make sure you check your travel documents now. Do not let this wait and add extra unneeded stress to the months before your cruise. In order to travel on a Disney cruise (or any cruise) you will need to have proper travel documents.
Passports are the best and safest way to travel on a cruise. If you get stuck in a foreign port somewhere you are going to be glad you brought your passport. So I do recommend getting a passport for each travel member if they do not already have one. Do this as soon as possible to get it out the way and make sure it arrives on time.
You can check what documents you will need on your online Disney account, or at the link below. Guests without the correct travel documents will be denied boarding – probably without a refund. Travel restrictions for each destination country may vary according to a guest’s citizenship.
Don’t be denied boarding – check with Disney Cruise Line to verify for the travel documents you need!
2. Create A Disney Cruise Line Online Account
After you have your travel documents sorted, I recommend creating your online Disney Cruise Line account if you have not already. Head to www.disneycruise.com/plan to create your account.
You will use this account to manage your cruise reservation. You can book shore excursions, reserve character experiences, and more from this account. This account is also where you will complete your online check-in. More on these things in the rest of the article.
3. Start Checking Flights Or Planning Your Arrival
Now that you have locked in your cruise it is time to start planning your arrival to the port. If you are flying I recommend checking your flight options now to get an idea of what to plan for. Otherwise, if you are driving now is a good time to decide if you are taking your own car or are renting.
When searching for flights, make sure to check the required arrival and departure times. This is especially true if you are flying for the cruise on the same day it departs or returns. You can check the required flight times with Disney by clicking this link.
Tracking And Booking Your Flights
The best flight tracking software I have used is Google Flights. To track the price on your flight with Google Flights just go to: www.google.com/flights. Fill in your airport details and dates to search for availability and pricing. Make sure you also input the number of passengers for accurate pricing.
After clicking search, you should see a slider option on the left side that says “track prices.” Click on that and it will send you emails if the price lowers or raises. This is a good tool to use if you are not quite ready to book flights. It will help you get an idea of what is a high price and what is a low price for your itinerary.
Even if you don’t want to track your flights though, Google Flights is the best tool to search all of the airlines at once. That is except for Southwest Airlines. If you are near an airport with Southwest Airlines make sure to check them on their own website.
Driving To The Port
If you are driving to the port make sure your vehicle is in good shape for the trip. Now is also a good time to make a rental car reservation if you will be taking a rental instead. You will need to pay for parking at the port while you are on the cruise, so start to plan for that also. Check with the cruise port’s website. Sometimes you can save money on parking by booking in advance on their website.
4. Research Travel Insurance After Booking A Disney Cruise
So travel insurance is not usually something that I feel inclined to recommend on many types of reservations. However, with cruises, there are a few reasons why travel insurance can make sense.
Coverage For Cancellation
First, consider the cruise line’s cancellation policy. Cruise lines typically charge a penalty for a cancellation anytime after the final payment due date – which is usually about 3 months before departure. Meaning there are at least three months where you will be charged a penalty if you had to cancel. That penalty can be up to 100% of the total cost paid depending on when you make the cancellation.
Coverage While Traveling
Not only can travel insurance can protect you during that penalty period it can also protect you while travelling. Make sure to read your policy for the exact details on coverage and protection. Some policies will cover pre-existing conditions in their policy, but to do so you usually need to add it to your booking within a week or two weeks. So make sure to check this soon.
You can check with companies like Travel Guard AIG Insurance for policy quotes or for more information. There are a range of policy options and coverage. Disney also has travel protection you can add to your booking as well so you may want to compare the coverage and costs.
5. Hotel Pre-Stays or Transfers That You Should Also Reserve After Booking Your Disney Cruise
When taking a cruise, Disney will require you to be onboard at a certain designated time. If you are not onboard by the time specified by Disney, the cruise will leave without you. The cruise ship does not care if your plane is delayed – they will not wait. That is why it is strongly recommended to book a hotel pre-stay for the night before your cruise.
Arriving the day before for your cruise takes out a whole lot of travel stress. It pretty much ensures that you will be on time for the cruise ship. You would not have to worry about missing the ship and losing your cruise investment.
If you are driving to the port of departure, there are many hotels at the US ports that have a park-and-cruise package. That package will allow you to leave your car in the hotel parking lot either free or at a reduced rate. This may save you more money than parking at the port.
Cruise Ship Transfer Options
Some hotels near the port offer free cruise port transfers or can arrange them for you for a small additional fee. Disney will not be able to book their transfers for you if you are doing a hotel pre-stay. So getting transfers through the hotel, or taking a taxi or rideshare is going to the best option.
If you are flying into the port on the same day the cruise leaves your can book transfers through Disney as long as your flight meets the guidelines required. Those guidelines are explained more in the section 3 above, but can also be found by clicking here. Book your transfers by calling Disney or on your online Disney Cruise Line account.
If arrive the same day as the cruise, you also have the option of a taxi or rideshare, which may be cheaper than Disney’s transfers. However, if you are staying onsite at Walt Disney World and are taking a cruise from Port Canaveral, FL – Disney transfers will be the best option. They can pick you up at your resort and transfer you to the pier for much lower than a taxi usually.
Lastly, also consider third party vendor transfers. Consider companies like SuperShuttle or FL Tours. Both companies offer pre-scheduled transfers for competitive rates – often lower than Disney’s. Having a pre-scheduled transfer offers a great deal of peace of mind. So review the options available and make a plan that is best for your family.
6. Make Character Meet-N-Greets, Port Adventure, Babysitting Reservations and More
One of the most important things you need to do after booking a Disney cruise is to set a reminder to book your special experiences. There are several onboard experiences, like character meet-n-greets, that need to be booked in advance to guarantee access onboard.
Reservations are complimentary for most things, and others cost additional. See the list below for more details about what can be booked in advance.
Reservations will fill up very quickly once the booking window opens. So I strongly recommend setting a reminder on your calendar or phone to book them as soon as they become available. The list below has the dates you need to keep in mind.
Onboard Experiences That Require Advanced Reservations:
Free, No Cost Reservations:
- Character Meet-N-Greet Tickets
- Frozen Meet-N-Greet – Anna and Elsa
- Princess Gathering
- Character Breakfasts (Only on 7 night or longer cruises)
Additional Charge Required Reservations:
- Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and Pirate’s League
- Royal Court Royal Tea
- Senses Spa and Salon
- Palo Restaurant
- Remy Restaurant (Only on Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream)
- Port Adventures
- Beverage Tasting Seminars
- Golf and Sports Simulators (Only on Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream)
- “It’s A Small World” Nursery Baby-Sitting
Booking Window For Onboard Reservations And Port Adventures:
Your cruise does need to be paid in full, you can proceed with making advanced reservations. So make sure your are paid in full before trying to book them.
Your booking window is determined by your Castaway Cay Club level status. That is, how many cruises you have sailed with Disney on in the past.
I can not stress enough how quickly some of these reservations fill up, especially for the characters. So please, if it and of these experiences are important to you or your family, please plan ahead for them. Set a reminder for booking if it is not yet open, or book now if you can!
7. Download The Disney Cruise Line Navigator App After Booking Your Cruise
The Disney Cruise Line Navigator App is a vital tool for while you’re on the cruise. It will display daily activities and your personal plans. However, it has also just recently been updated to give access to certain features before leaving home for the cruise. Sign in to the app with the same login information from your online account you created earlier.
Navigator App Functions
- Display reservation details
- Countdown clock to the first day of sailing
- Display itinerary and ship details
- Explore and book cruise activities
- Complete online check-in
- Update dining seating or special requests
- And More!
8. All Of The Other Things You Wouldn’t Think To Do After Booking A Disney Cruise…
Now that the Disney cruise is booked – time to start planning for fun! Here are some example of how you can plan ahead to make your Disney cruise extra special.
Fish Extender Groups Or Cruise Groups
Outside of your stateroom cabin door on the cruise ship is a little metal fish notating your room number. The fish also creates a spot where envelopes or other things can be held or hung. Fish extender groups are optional groups your can join that will set up surprise deliveries to your stateroom.
First, sign up for a fish extender group on your cruise on Facebook Groups or on DisBoards Cruise Line Forums. Each group may have its own rules. However, it usually works the same. You will be assigned to a family to deliver gifts to, and another family will be assigned to deliver to you.
These are simple gifts like from the dollar store, or home-made crafts. The groups will give more of a direction in that regard. You can also find gifts for fish extenders on places like Etsy.
Theme Nights or Sailings
On select itineraries there will be special themed nights or entire days. The main one is Pirate Night on caribbean cruises. On pirate night everyone on the cruise will dress up as pirates – including the characters! There is also a pirate deck party and live show, and fireworks at sea!
Also, there are some special itineraries like Star Wars or Marvel Day At Sea that guests and characters dress up for too. For many of these themed nights/days some guests will go all out on their costumes. Others will not dress up at all. Choose what is right for your family (or what you can convince them to do) and start planning your outfits!
The doors to your cabin onboard the Disney cruise ships are magnetic. This fact has opened up a whole new world of Disney door magnets you can attach to your cabin door. Cruise guests like to customize their door for fun, and also to help distinguish their cabin in the maze of cabin doors.
There are tons of options you can find on Etsy. Several of the popular ones will incorporate the porthole icon on the door into the magnet design. Other options include any magnets you can find at local stores like Walmart or Target. If you are ordering something from Etsy, make sure to purchase in advance to ensure it is made and shipped on time for the cruise.