Disney Cruise Vacations: What to Expect

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We took our first Disney cruise almost 3 years ago.   Our daughter had just turned a year old and we were so excited to take her on her first cruise vacation.  My husband and I had been on quite a few cruises before, including for our honeymoon, so we were not new to cruising – but certainly new to a Disney Cruise.

What I discovered was that Disney cruises did have a lot in common with other cruise lines, but there were certainly a lot that was different.  Read on below for cruise tips on what to expect!

The Embarkation Process is pretty seamless

Disney has you sign up for a port arrival time when you do your online check in.  I have found that this is not very strict, but it does help keep the line moving quickly.  We are generally through security and the check in process within a very reasonable amount of time.

You are given a boarding group number when you check in.  It can seem like your wait will be forever when you are handed Group Number 23, we had a high group number our first cruise, but honestly, the wait goes by quickly .  They move the groups along at a good pace, and as an added bonus, usually either Mickey or Minnie, in their cruisewear, are in the port area, available for pictures.  It is a very exciting way to start the vacation.

Get Ready for Your Big Introduction

As a special way to welcome you onto the boat, each family is introduced as you board the ship.  You would think this would delay getting the process, but they do it fairly quickly, having two lines ready to go.  Plus it’s pretty special to walk on and have the crew applauding your family as you make your way on the boat.

Rotating Dining Rooms

One thing that is unique to Disney Cruises are the rotating dining rooms.  Disney Cruise ships have 3 main dining rooms.  On the first night of the cruise, you are introduced to your head waiter and assistant waiter.  They will be with your family for every dinner you eat in the dining room.  You will eat in a different dining room with a different theme each night.  It keeps dinner interesting and fun!

Character Meet and Greets

For the most part, you can just show up at a scheduled time to meet a Disney Character.  And there are many opportunities throughout each day of the cruise to meet them!  The other thing is they will be dressed in different outfits – formalwear, cruisewear, and pirate outfits to name a few!  It’s fun to try to get pictures with all of them.

There are a couple meet and greets that you will need to sign up for, at no additional cost – The Princess Gathering and the Frozen Meet and Greet.  Since both of these are wildly popular, you simply sign up for a day and time to go to these meet and greets and it helps to keep the lines from becoming unmanageable.  You can generally sign up for these during your online check in process, but I have been successful in still getting spots once I’ve boarded the boat if it says it is sold out online.

Longer Cruises include a Disney Junior Character Breakfast

Similar to the Princess and Frozen meet and greets, you must sign up for tickets to the Disney Junior breakfast, but they are also free of charge.  We’ve seen Sofia the First, Doc McStuffins, Jake, Mickey, and Goofy at these before – it’s usually about four characters.

Disney Cruise App

Disney Cruise Line has their own app that you can download on your phone prior to the cruise and you can use when your phone is on airplane mode throughout the cruise.  It includes such things as the daily Personal Navigators, which shows all the activities for the day, the menus for dinner and the schedule for character meet and greets for the day.  It also has a texting feature for you to contact other people on the cruise and has a reminder function where you can favorite activities throughout the day and it will put a reminder up on your phone.

Disney’s Private Island is one of a kind

If you are going on a Caribbean cruise with Disney, your itinerary will likely include a stop at Disney’s private island in the Bahamas, Castaway Cay.  We have been to several cruise lines private islands before, and this one tops them all by miles.  The beaches are beautiful and plentiful.  There are fun shops to shop in, a separate adult only area, and excursions.

They also host their own 5k race the morning the ship docks at Castaway Cay.  And a highlight for my family is the character dance party that they have in the early afternoon, where usually Mickey or Minnie and a friend come out and have a dance party with everyone!  It is such a fun, special way to spend the day!

I hope these cruise tips help you with your Disney Cruise!  Can you think of any other tips on what to expect?


What to Expect on a Disney Cruise

13 thoughts on “Disney Cruise Vacations: What to Expect”

    1. We have had so much fun on them! I love watching my little ones face when she sees Mickey for the first time!

    1. Yes they definitely are! The characters were great with my little daughter – especially the princesses!

  1. Aww, this looks like such fun! I honestly didn’t know much about Disney cruises, but it’s totally something I’d consider when we have kids someday!

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