My family recently completed our first Disney Cruise Line cruise (which also happened to be our first cruise of any type) — sailing on the Disney Wonder for a 7-night Eastern Caribbean itinerary. We are veterans of the Disney Parks and I am a heavy planner (love my spreadsheets!), but the Disney Cruise was definitely a different experience. So I thought I would share what I learned during this trip that might help out others who are planning their first Disney Cruise. Some are small tips/tricks, and others are just things that stood out to me during the cruise.
The ships are 100% full of Disney details!
Even some modest planning will inform you that there are a lot of Disney touches to the Disney Cruise Line ships, but until I got on board I didn’t quite understand the extent of it. There is Disney music playing in the hallways, a ton of artwork around showing pictures of Walt Disney or sketches from the early work on different films, character meets galore, etc. As a Disney fan I absolutely loved it! I especially appreciated all the small touches, like the bedside lamps that had little Mickey heads all around the bottom edge and small castle icons on the map representing where there is a Disney park.
The stateroom doors are magnetic — but you need pretty strong magnets!
Going in, I knew all about the decorating of stateroom doors with magnets and had created some for my family with a theme of Disney Park ride vehicles. I made them myself by printing them out, laminating them, and putting magnetic strips on the back. That worked — sort of. They didn’t stick really well and would often slide down or fall off. I definitely would have put more magnets or stronger magnets on them if I could do it over again. We also received a magnetic white board from our travel agent to hang on the door, and that too would often fall off of the door when it would close if we weren’t careful to close it softly. So definitely err on the side of more/stronger magnets for your decorations.
Power outlets are limited — especially in the bathroom
While the recent renovations to the Wonder did help a bit with regards to places to charge all your electronics (with USB ports now at the desk and also in the bedside clock) there still aren’t a ton of outlets. One area that we found challenging was in the bathroom, where the only outlet was a low-voltage one for shavers. We had brought plug-in night lights to put in the bathroom — to help when someone needed to use the facilities at night, without having to turn on the main light — but they didn’t work in that outlet. So consider bringing a battery-powered nightlight to be safe.
The ship is easy to navigate
While there are ships bigger than the Wonder, it is still pretty big. I was worried I would get lost or have trouble finding things, but they really do make it easy to navigate the ships. There are maps at every stairwell and elevator bank, and things are generally clustered together. For example, the Walt Disney Theater and the clubs/lounges were towards the front (forward) and the restaurants were towards the rear (aft). A few additional tips include the fact that the rooms where the second digit is a 0 or 1 are on the port side and those with a 5 or 6 are on the starboard side; if the globe in the carpet looks as if it is right side up, then you are walking towards the front of the ship.
My kids loved the kids’ clubs — maybe too much!
One aspect that appealed to both myself and my wife about doing a Disney Cruise were the kids’ clubs, the Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab, and the fact we could do things as a family but also could do some things just as a couple while our kids were in the clubs. The kids’ clubs looked amazing and my children were really excited for them. Well, they loved them and wanted to go all the time and did not want to leave — ever. I would go to pick them up for a given activity, say for when we had our tickets for the Frozen Character Greeting, and they would be all grumpy that they had to leave the clubs. This was one thing where I felt my attitude changed more to “cruise mode” during our trip; towards the end I was more “go with the flow,” and if the kids wanted to stay in the kids’ club, so be it. I wasn’t going to force them to do the fun activity I picked out if they didn’t want to.
Castaway Cay truly is a magical place
Confession: I am not a beach person. I mean, I’ll go and enjoy swimming for a bit, but after like an hour I am ready to leave. Now, having been to Castaway Cay, I totally get why people like it so much. It really is that ideal-looking tropical island, but with all the Disney fun, service, and characters added in. The island is just picture-perfect with clear water, fun water slides, a great lunch, dance parties and tons of character meets. I now totally get why people do back-to-back or “double dip” cruises.
Tons of character meets
I knew going in that there were character meets on the ship and on Castaway Cay, but I don’t think I was prepared for how many there would be. According to the Personal Navigator (the paper activity-times guide left in your stateroom, or electronically on the app), at most times there were multiple characters meeting at different places on the ship. Throughout the cruise you would get to meet the characters in different outfits — be it Captain Mickey, Princess Minnie, or Goofy in his swim trunks. So definitely take advantage of this if you are into character meets!
I started this article off by saying that a Disney Cruise is a different experience than visiting the parks, and it truly is. We still love the parks and are not going to only cruise now or anything, but it was great, and it was Disney — just no spreadsheets required.