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Cruising Disney Travel

Disney Cruise Line’s 18 Best Kept Secrets

Cruising is a wonderful way to travel, especially as a family! Add some Disney magic to it and you’re in for an incredible experience.

We all have high expectations of Disney and they always deliver, whether on land or the high seas! If you booked a Disney cruise, your experience will be slightly different than on a regular cruise ship.

Related: 10 Reasons to Cruise on Disney Cruise Line

Make sure you are aware of all the little extras below (in no particular order), that will make your cruise a memory of a lifetime!

Do Your Online Check-In and Schedule Special Events

During your online check-in, you will be able to schedule private meet&greets with characters, and more depending on the length of your cruise (i.e. character breakfast, etc.).

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Take your time to familiarize yourself with the Disney Cruise Line website – go through the schedule of activities for each day and schedule away.

You will also be able to sign up your kids for the Kids’ Clubs, saving you precious time on board!

CAUTION: you might get VERY excited as you go through this process and want to share your upcoming cruise with the entire world! That’s totally OK! 🙂

Think Of A Good Family Name

This one is totally optional but our family loves to have fun with it!

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When you first board the ship, you will be welcomed by name. An announcer will ask you for your name and blast a warm “Welcome XYZ Family” in the whole atrium.

If you are feeling funny, choose a fun family name and make your grand entrance!

Embarkation Day

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On embark day, take a chance to visit the ship. All Kids’ Clubs and the spa are opened to curious eyes. This might be your only chance to see some parts of the ship you might not see otherwise!

Mickey Ice Cream, Anyone?

Nothing, and I mean nothing…. will bring a bigger smile to your kid’s face, than a Mickey Ice Cream!

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I challenge you to take a better picture than this grainy one… they swallow their Mickey ice creams faster than it takes me to take the camera out! 🙂

At any time of day or night, order a Mickey ice cream (or 2, or 3…) through room service! On most nights, they will be on the kids menu in the dining rooms. If you don’t see them, your dining room assistant will be happy to bring you one! Did I mention you don’t need to be a child to order off of the kids’ menu..?

Bring A Pillow Case For Autographs

Because no other cruise line has your favorite characters and princesses, you can’t miss this opportunity.

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Bring a plain pillow case on board. Drop it off at Guest Services with a Sharpie marker on your first day, and it will get signed by your favorite characters and returned to you at the end of the cruise. We like to package it all in a Ziploc bag and write our name and cabin number on there, to make it easy for them!

How is that for a keepsake? It doesn’t need to be a pillow case – a shirt or a hat will work just as well.

Is A Kid-Free Dinner Too Good To Be True?

Disney is so incredibly family-friendly!! At night, if like us you enjoy dining as a family, bring your kids with you to dinner!

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About 30 minutes later, you will notice the Kids’ Club counselors, dressed in yellow and blue, walking around the restaurant. Hand over your children to them, they will be brought up to the Kids’ Club to have fun, while you enjoy a kid-free dinner and evening.

Related: Best Food Onboard The Disney Magic

Bring Your Own Wine On Board

Did you know that you are allowed to bring your own wine on board Disney cruise ships?

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If you are 21 or older, you can bring up to 2 bottles of unopened wine or champagne, no larger than 750mL. If you drink beer, you can bring up to 6 beers, 12 ounces or less, onboard.

Just make sure that your alcoholic beverages are packed in your carry-on luggage!

If you decide to enjoy your own bottles in one of the dining rooms, note that you will be charged $25 per bottle.

Enjoy Some Fireworks At Sea

Disney Cruise Line is the only cruise line shooting fireworks at sea. During your cruise, do not miss Pirate night for an amazing party on the pool deck and some good old Disney fireworks!

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Because nothing cries Disney more than fireworks!

Bring A Pirate Costume – Adults Too!

There will be a Pirate night during your cruise. Join in the fun and dress the whole family up!

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Disney Cruise Line will typically put some red Pirate Mickey bandanas in your stateroom for everyone. But expect most of your fellow passengers to dress up.

Have fun with it!

Download The Disney Cruise Line Navigator App

Once you are on the ship and far from coast, you will loose signal. You can decide to purchase a fairly expensive internet package from the ship, if needed.

If all you want is keeping in touch with your travel party, download the free Disney Cruise Line Navigator app.

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Once you get onboard, connect to the ship’s free wifi and send each other free text messages with the cutest Disney emoticons!

Access the daily Navigator (schedule of activities), favorite events, get reminders to not miss your favorites, check for character appearances, and more!

Feel Like A Little Challenge?

If you have booked a cruise that stops at Castaway Cay – Disney’s very own private island – sign up to run the 5K. It is a wonderful way to see the island and spice up your cruise with a little competition (super friendly of course!).

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Sign up for the 5K on board the ship and you will be running first thing in the morning once the ship docks at Castaway Cay!

Animator’s Palate

While I highly recommend following your dinner rotation and eating at the sit-down restaurants in the evening; if you decide to not dine in the restaurants, I would suggest you dine once at Animator’s Palate!

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Try to dine there the first night that it falls on your rotation. Tip: look at your key card and notice the series of letters at the bottom of it? The “A” means that it is your night to dine at Animator’s Palate. Try to dine there on your first “A” night.

I won’t spoil the surprise, but you’re in for a treat you don’t want to miss. And it may, or may not, involve a mouse!

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And if you are on the newly renovated Disney Magic, I would definitely recommend not missing the first night at Rapunzel’s Royal Table!

Go Ahead And Indulge In Sodas

If you have cruised on other cruise lines before, there is no need to shy away from the soda machine on the Disney cruise ships. You do not need a special cup with your cruise-long soda sticker… None of that on Disney Cruise line – sodas are included for all.

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You will find soda machines near the pools, inside the Cabanas restaurant, and you can order soda in the dining rooms. You will also find free coffee, and of course, hot chocolate for the kids!

Get Cute Certificates

When I told you that Disney would make your cruise extra magical, I meant it!

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They help you celebrate the little things. When our daughter lost a tooth (well, 2 really…) on board the Disney Magic last summer, I told the main desk and the cutest button, plush, and magical certificate were waiting for us in the stateroom that night!

Do Not Loose Those Magic Bands

If your kids attend any of the Kids’ Clubs, they will be given magic bands the first time you sign them in. If you are used to staying at the WDW resorts, you might expect to bring them home.

And you are welcome to, but will be charged for them. I wouldn’t blame you, they’re super cute! If you do not want to be charged for the Magic Bands, simply return them along with the form, on your last night on the ship!

Pack Magnets For Your Stateroom

This is pretty much a Disney Cruise Line exclusive, and if you have never seen it, you might be surprised…

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Passengers love decorating their cabins doors. Unless you have booked a concierge-level stateroom, your cabin door will be metal and you can have fun decorating it any way you want.

Whether you bring magnets or tape some décor on your door, have fun with it! Added bonus: your kids will have an easier time finding the cabin!

Watch Movie Premieres

Did you know that Disney cruise ships have a 3-D movie theater?

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If you happen to be on one of the ships during the premiere of any Disney movie (Disney, Marvel, Star Wars, etc.), you are in for a treat. Usually at midnight of the time zone you are in, head over to the movie theater for a true premiere!

Floatation Vest Provided

Packing for a cruise is always a challenge since you need to be ready for all sorts of weather, might want to dress up at night but stay casual during the day…

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One thing you can leave at home is your child’s floatation device. Disney Cruise Line has those amazing vests on the deck by the pools. They come in several sizes and are great for pool safety!


Enjoyed those Disney Cruise Line secrets? Pin them for later!

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Disney Cruise Line’s 2020 Itineraries
Best Food Onboard The Disney Magic
10 Reasons to Cruise on Disney Cruise Line
DCL – Maine and Canada

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34 Comments

  1. A Disney Cruise sounds like such an awesome family vacation! I’m hoping we’ll be able to do one! I love all the special touches they do! Makes everything so special!

  2. Disney Cruises are so much fun! We went on one when our kids were young. I love the Animator’s Palette especially!

  3. Now I want to go 😫😫. Great post! I never knew some of the differences between Disney & other cruise lines so I appreciated the info!

  4. I ve never been to this travel yet. But its a nice one to put on your bucketlist.

  5. Why did you do this to me?! NOW I AM SO JEALOUS!! It sounds like SO much fun! We’re hoping to do it next but first, we head to Disney World for the first time next month!

  6. Wow! What a cruise! It looks like you had an amazing time! Thanks for the detailed recollections of your time

    • Disney Cruises are always very special!

      • Dear Laura
        Now you’ve let the cat out of the bag and they won’t be secrets anymore😮.
        Having cruised at least once on all the DCL fleet, I have to correct 2 of your “secrets”:
        First, using a “Pillow Case For Autographs” is not the same as you’ve described. While the characters will autograph a pillowcase (or an unworn t-shirt, even an autograph book), DCL ended the convenience of dropping an item off at Guest Relations and having it returned all signed. You can bring your signable items with you to the meet-&-greets where the characters and crew will happily sign.
        And 2nd, re. door decorating – anything other then tape is not permitted. The way to get around that is to bring magnet clips, hooks, or carabiners.
        Happy cruising with the mouse❤️!

  7. Disney cruise looks like the best place to spend some time with your family. Would not miss the movie premieres at all

  8. I’m planning to take 2 of my granddaughters who are old enough to travel, on a Disney Cruise this year. Your post is so helpful as I plan our trip and everything we want to see and do while on it.

  9. I’m a Disneyphile and I am very much sure I’m gonna love it if I stay there for a vacation. This sounds so good.

  10. I love cruises so much! It looks fantastic and super fun.

    P.S. Happy New Year! Best wishes!

  11. I had no idea about being able to schedule your special events during check in. That certainly makes things easier (especially when you’re traveling with family or a larger group). It has been too long since I’ve done a cruise, maybe it is time.

    • You can schedule your entire cruise during check-in, which is an amazing time-saver once you are onboard!! Hope you cruise soon Blanca!!

  12. Disney cruises sound pretty awesome. There is so much to do for the whole family. How cool that there are all these things to do to keep everyone busy.

  13. A Disney cruise sounds like a great family vacation. I really need to go on a cruise and this Disney cruise looks too tempting.

    • It truly is a great family vacation. I hope you get to cruise with Disney the next time you cruise! Let me know if you have any questions!

  14. We have done 2 disney cruises and they were awesome. I NEVER thought to bring a pillow case for character autographs. That is brilliant. Loved the mickey ice cream, the best!!

    • I am so happy that you loved your Disney cruises! They are so special!! We like to do pillow cases but you could also bring a shirt, safety blanket, hat, or anything that could be easily autographed 🙂

  15. Bindu Thomas

    This sounds really fun and entertain. You explained all in detail. Thank you so much.

  16. I just recently sailed on the Disney Merrytime DREAM Cruise in December. It was amazing! I would definitely suggest to book the longer Cruises! I had purchased the pillow case and markers prior to boarding the DREAM. I was told that they no longer have character’s sign the pillow case’s😩. They do sell a picture with all of their signatures.

    • Hi Jennifer, we love longer cruises too. I bet the Merrytime one was wonderful! We did the 13-night transatlantic in 2018! They’re so much fun!! I can’t believe that they no longer do the pillow case autographs.. 🙁 that’s sad… Thank you so much for letting me know!

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