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My very first cruise was a Disney Cruise Line 3-night cruise in 2016. I was pretty clueless about what to expect. I had done some research, but there were still a lot of things I didn't know. Now, as a gold level Castaway Club member, I have learned so much more about Disney cruising! Here are some helpful tips (and things I wish I had known) for first time Disney cruisers.
When you check in for your cruise at the port, you will receive a paper Personal Navigator detailing all of the events happening on the ship that day. You can also access the Personal Navigator on the Disney Cruise Line app. Most events on the Personal Navigator are included with your Disney cruise. Events you will have to pay extra for are some spa events, some alcohol tastings, and bingo. Animation classes, trivia, character meet and greets, karaoke, movies, and other fun activities on the Navigator are included with your cruise!
When you are dining in the restaurants for dinner, there are no limits to what you can order. If you want 3 appetizers, go for it. If you want an entrée from one of the other restaurants, you can ask for it. If you don't like any of the dessert options, you can get a Mickey Premium ice cream bar. Your dining team wants you to be happy, so you can order exactly what you want!
There is a pirate buffet right after the pirate night fireworks. This brief buffet, located in Cabanas, lasts less than an hour, and typically only has one side of the buffet open. On the buffet, you'll find a baked potato bar, a crepe building station, Mexican food, taco fixings, turkey legs, and desserts. There are also some amazing pirate-themed carved fruit decorations. Because the buffet is open less than an hour, and only one side of Cabanas is open, the buffet is always intensely crowded.
When the ship pulls away from Castaway Cay, the cast members who stay on the island wave goodbye to the ship with Mickey hand gloves. This is such a nice Disney touch that you won't want to miss.
The last night of your cruise, Disney has an event in the atrium called "See You Real Soon." This is your chance to say goodbye to the Disney characters and quickly get last minute pictures with them. During this approximately 30 minute event, cast members do their best to get as many people through the character lines as possible.
While this cuts down on your time interacting with the characters, it does help you get pictures with many different characters in a short period of time. You typically see the Disney princesses, Mickey, Minnie, Chip and Dale, Donald, Daisy, Goofy, and Pluto.