THE Disney Cruise Article you NEED to read

DCL articlePreparing for your first Disney Cruise can feel overwhelming. Here is everything you need to know before you go!

Most importantly remember to contact Magical Memory Planners to book your cruise because there is even more we can help you with. We don’t charge you anything extra and we know everything about Disney Cruise Line.


Disney Cruise Line has 4 ships in their fleet: the Disney Dream, Disney Fantasy, Disney Magic, and the Disney Wonder. You will find specific information for each ship throughout this article.


Port: The left side of the ship (Both have 4 letters)
Starboard: The right side of the ship
Aft: The back of the ship
Forward: The front of the ship
Embarkation: The process of loading/boarding ship
Debarkation: The process of unloading the ship
Cay: pronounced KEY
Muster: The lifeboat safety drill
FE (Fish Extender): A pre-arranged swap of goods between DisBoard members
DCL: Disney Cruise Line

Getting Started

How to do your Disney Cruise Line online check in at 75 days prior (If you’ve never sailed DCL before)

Decide if you want to park at the port or off-site to save money. If you are flying, have your agent check the price of a private transfer versus the Disney shuttle. Families of four or more will save money doing a private transfer and they offer a complimentary stop along the way. Your port arrival time should be chosen now that you have completed your online check-in. Give yourself about an hour and half from the Orlando airport to arrive. The Disney shuttle will pick you up and drop you off at their convenience. If the bus is full, you will have to wait for the next.

What to pack? How to pack a family of four in one suitcase and what I carry on versus checking at the port.

What should you not pack? Disney has a list right here.

If you leave from a US port and arrive back at a US port, you are not required to have a passport at this time. (This is subject to change at any time) A certified copy of your birth certificate and a current driver’ license are sufficient. A passport is always recommended in case of emergencies.

Arriving at the Port (Port Canaveral)

Carry some small bills to tip the porters for handling your luggage. I suggest $1-2 per suitcase.


There are two entrances into the port, one is upstairs through the parking garage and one is downstairs at the drop off. I personally liked the upstairs entrance because it has a great view of the ship for pictures and it is less crowded as fewer people drive and park at the port.

TIP: there is also a restroom in the bottom level of the parking garage for those who arrive early and cannot enter the port terminal.

Your carry-on luggage must have certain dimensions, as all luggage is scanned before it enters the ship. The dimensions are as follows: 22 inches wide, 14 inches high and 9 inches deep.

REMINDER: all liquids like water bottles and alcohol must be carried-on and not checked.

You must arrive to the port no later than 3:30pm to ensure boarding.

Inside the Port (Port Canaveral)

Once you enter the port, you will be guided to a check-in line. Previous cruisers have their own line as well as concierge.

Once you get to an agent, you will provide all documentation for boarding: The cruise documents that you printed from your online check-in, your passport or Driver’s License and Birth Certificate, and a signed copy of your heath questionnaire (given to you at the port). You will also pose for a picture that will be linked to your Key Card.

You will be given a loading number at this time, listen for the numbers to be called over the speakers.

At this time you can wait in line to have your picture taken with Mickey Mouse, grab a pressed penny, or head over to the Children’s Activities line to finalize the club paperwork.

Restrooms, water fountains, vending machines, and TVs playing cartoons are also found inside the terminal.

Once your number is called to board, you will enter through the yellow ears and wait in a line to have your family picture taken. This picture has face recognition and helps forward future professional pictures into your Shutter’s folders.

After you have your picture taken, you will then board the ship! You will be asked for your family name and the cast members will announce your arrival onto the ship. A cast member will then approach your family and tell you about the ship and dining options. You will spend a few minutes with this CM before you are off on your own.

Boarding the Ship

Once you board the ship head over the Guest Relations counter if you need tickets for anything. Example: some cruises have Tea with Alice or character meet up tickets.

Guest Services can also help you with changing your dining time or adding gift cards to your on board account. You can add your gift cards anytime during the cruise so if there is a long line come back another day. The last evening will also have long lines so try to get things done before then if you can.

You can now head to lunch. There will be two restaurants open, one is on the pool deck and one will be on deck 2 or 3. Deck 2/3 will be much quieter and they will serve you your drinks versus the pool deck where you will have to get your own.

Your room will not be available to enter until 1:30pm, so now is the time to explore the kid’s clubs and finalize their paperwork if you opted to not do that at the terminal.

They also offer a Walking Ship Tour typically around 1pm. Check your Personal Navigator for exact time and location. This may be helpful for first timers or if you want to check out where everything is on the ship.

Your Cabin

Here is a list of items in your cabin:
A bed (On newer ships luggage stores nicely underneath)
A couch (will fold out to a bed… the bunk pulls down from ceiling above couch) – These will be done by your room steward while you are at dinner so don’t worry about how they work.
An alarm clock (Also an iPod docking station)
A room safe (inside closet)
A refrigerator
A steamer trunk for storage
A laundry bag (DCL will charge you if you take this home)
An ice bucket
A hairdryer (in desk Cabinet)
A set of wave phones (on desk)
A light blanket (on the couch)
A set of postcards and pen (in the desk)
Toiletries: Shampoo, Conditioner, Lotion, Bath and Face Soap

*Laundry rooms and irons are on each floor


(Not all 4 ships have the same dining options)

Your dining rotation will be listed on the bottom of your room key. If you decide to dine at the pool deck restaurant any night or if you have Palo or Remy reservations, PLEASE tell your server ahead of time so they do not wait for your party.

Rotation Dining

A-Animator’s Palate (dinner only)
E-Enchanted Garden (breakfast, lunch and dinner)
R-Royal Palace (breakfast, lunch and dinner)

A-Animator’s Palate (dinner only)
E-Enchanted Garden (breakfast, lunch and dinner)
R-Royal Court (breakfast, lunch and dinner)

A-Animator’s Palate (dinner only)
C-Carioca’s (breakfast, lunch and dinner)
L-Lumiere’s (breakfast, lunch and dinner)

A-Animator’s Palate (dinner only)
P-Parrot Cay (breakfast, lunch and dinner)
T-Tritons (breakfast, lunch and dinner)


Cabanas/Beach Blanket Buffet is a breakfast and lunch buffet and a table-service dinner option located at the pool deck.

*There will be a secondary buffet option on embarkment day. This will be the less chosen, less busier option.

Adult-Only Fine Dining

Palo/Remy (Remy can only be found on the Dream and the Fantasy) they are adult only, have a dress code, need reservations, and have a fee. Palo is $25 per person and Remy is $75. Palo also offers a brunch on four night cruises or longer on sea days.

Quick Service

Eye Scream and Frozone Treats- softserve with toppings (toppings can vary and be non-existent)
Flo’s Café- quick service area featuring 3 unique stations – American fare, pizza, salads and more (Station names include: Luigi’s Pizza, Tow Mater’s Grill and Fillmore’s Favorites)

Eye Scream and Frozone Treats- softserve with toppings (toppings can vary and be non-existent)
Flo’s Café- quick service area featuring 3 unique stations – American fare, pizza, salads and more (Station names include: Luigi’s Pizza, Tow Mater’s Grill and Fillmore’s Favorites)

Daisy De-lites- quick service breakfast, lunch and dinner
Eye Scream and Frozone Treats- softserve with toppings (toppings can vary and be non-existent)
Pete’s Boiler Bites- quick service American fare
Pinocchio’s Pizzeria- quick service pizza

Eye Scream and Frozone Treats- softserve with toppings (toppings can vary and be non-existent)
Goofy’s Gallery- quick service breakfast, lunch and dinner
Pinocchio’s Pizzeria- quick service pizza
Pluto’s Dog House- quick service American fare

Unless you specify that your family like to dine alone, Disney may pair you up with a like family at dinner. Have your agent specify on your reservation if you prefer to dine alone.

Early dining is at 5:45pm and late dining is at 8:15pm. Do not show up early or there will be a crowd at the door.

If you are paired with a family and you feel uncomfortable after the first night, ask guest services to change your seating for the following nights.

Your last morning breakfast before you debark you will be requested to dine in the restaurant that you ate at the prior night. This will give you a chance to say goodbye to your serving staff and hand them their tip envelopes. You can opt to NOT dine here and eat at the pool deck buffet, let your servers know that last night so they do not expect you the following morning.

Room Service

Room service is FREE. The menu is located in the book on the desk. A tip of at least a $1 per item is expected. There are items not listed that are available like a daily desert, mickey bars, cookies and milk, and Uncrustables sandwiches. Room service is NOT available for the morning of debarkation. You can order a carafe of coffee and some cereal boxes to be delivered the night before if you need to hurry off the ship in the morning.


687- Family Sports bar
Bon Voyage- family bar
Cove Café- an adult-only coffee bar where the pastries are FREE
Currents- Sunny and scenic deck bar
District Lounge- all ages during the day and adult only at night
Evolution- a dance club for adults only
Meridian- adults only on the deck next to Palo
Pink- adults only champagne bar
Skyline- adult’s only-transforming views bar
Vista Café- an all age’s coffee bar
Waves- all age’s deck bar

Bon Voyage- family bar
Cove Café- an adult-only coffee bar where the pastries are FREE
La Piazza- adults only, Italian inspired bar
Meridian- adults only on the deck next to Palo
O’Gills Pub- adults only Irish bar
Ooh La La- adults only French inspired bar
Skyline- adult’s only-transforming views bar
The Tube- adult’s only nightclub
Vista Café- an all age’s coffee bar

Cove Café- an adult-only coffee bar where the pastries are FREE
Fathoms- adults only nightclub
Keys- adults’ only piano bar
O’Gills Pub- adults only Irish bar
Promenade Lounge- family bar with scheduled activities
Signals- adults only deck bar

Cadillac Lounge- an adult only piano bar
Cove Café- an adult-only coffee bar where the pastries are FREE
Diversions- a family sports bar
Outlook Café- adults only view of the ocean bar
Promenade Lounge- family bar with scheduled activities
Signals- adults only deck bar
Wavebands- a family bar with scheduled activities


AquaDuck- water coaster
Donald’s Pool- family pool
Mickey’s Pool- a children’s pool with a one-deck high slide
Nemo’s Reef- young kid’s splash deck
Quiet Cove Pool- adult-only pool

Aquaduck- water coaster
Aqualab- water play area
Donald’s Pool- family pool
Mickey’s Pool- a children’s pool with a one-deck high slide
Nemo’s Reef- young kid’s splash deck
Quiet Cove Pool- adult-only pool

AquaDunk – 3 story water slide
Aqualab- water play area
Goofy’s Pool- Family pool
Mickey’s Pool- a children’s pool with a one-deck high slide
Nephew’s Splash Zone- ages three and under splash area
Quiet Cove Pool- adult-only pool

Goofy’s Pool- Family pool
Mickey’s Pool- a children’s pool with a one-deck high slide
Quiet Cove Pool- adult-only pool


Located on all ships unless otherwise noted

Bippity Boppity Boutique- located on the Fantasy
Buena Vista Theater- dial 888-325-2500 to see what movies will be playing on your cruise
Fitness Center- fully loaded facility
Goofy’s Sports Deck- miniature golf, virtual sports simulator, basketball/volleyball on Dream and Fantasy
Meet and Greets
Mid-Ship detective/Muppets Adventure Game- on Dream and Fantasy
Navigator- a daily itinerary of all activities found in your room at turn down and at guest services. Also available on the DCL App
Rainforest Room- $16/day for adult-only scented steam rooms, tiles loungers and private jacuzzis
Senses Spa and Salon
Shows- opposite times as your dinner. First showing is at 6:15 and the second show is at 8:00
Wide World of Sports- recreational activities on Magic and Wonder

Shows in the Walt Disney Theatre

Disney’s Believe
The Golden Mickeys
Villains Tonight

Disney’s Aladdin
Disney’s Believe
Disney’s Wishes

All Aboard: Let the Magic Begin
Disney Dreams
Remember the Magic
Twice Charmed: An Original Twist in the Cinderella Story
Villains Tonight

Disney Dreams
The Golden Mickeys
Toy Story- The Musical

Castaway Cay

Castaway Cay is a private island reserved just for DCL guests on Bahamian and Caribbean cruises.

There are plenty of chairs and umbrellas for every person on the ship; there is no need to rush off.

Castaway Cay has unlimited fountain sodas and ice cream as well as an included BBQ-style lunch.

Lunch is provided at Cookies and Cookies Too.

Here is a list of what is available for free:

Beach Towels
Castaway Family Beach
Character Greetings
Grouper Game Pavilion (shaded recreation like foosball and ping pong)
Handicapped wheelchairs
The Hide-out (Teen only beach)
In Da Shade Pavilion (A shaded recreation area)
Pelican Plunge (2,400 sq ft platform water play area)
Serenity Bay (Adult only beach)
Scuttle’s Cove- a supervised free kid’s club
Snorkel (FREE if you bring your own equipment)
Spring-a-Leak (2,400 sq ft water play area)
Sports Beach (Volleyball and tetherball)
Wagons to transport children and belongings
Water splash areas

Here is a list of activities with a fee:

Bike rental (They have bikes with training wheels, bikes with child seats and helmets)
Buy the Sea Shore (retail store)
Flippers and Floats (rent inner tubes, masks and fins)
Gil’s Fins and Boats (rent snorkel gear, kayaks, paddleboats etc)
Hair braiding
Marge’s Barges and Sea Charter Dock (for offshore recreations)
Open Air Massages
Paddle Boats
She Sells Sea Shells…and Everything Else (retail shop)
Water Sports

TIP: Ask about the buy one get one free alcoholic beverages in the afternoon

TIP: Pack your own sand toys to save money

TIP: There is a post office on the island, if you want something postmarked from CC you will need to stop by guest services before you get off and get Bahamian Stamps. The post office will not deal with American money.


Shutters is the photography service on the ship. You can view and purchase your photographs daily. Most dinners, pre-dinner and character meet will have a professional photographer available for pictures. The picture you took prior to boarding serves as the face recognition for future photos to be put into your onboard Shutters folder of pictures. IF you think you are missing any photos tell a CM and they can assist you.

You can purchase photobooks, individual photos and an all-included package. Stop by Shutters for pricing. You can also pre-purchase certain packages at a discount.

8×10 individual pictures are $20.95 each on board.
10 digital pictures is $149.95
All digital pictures on a 3 or 4 night is $194.94
All digital pictures plus prints on a 3 or 4 night is $269.95
A photobook on a 3 or 4 night is $149.95
All printed pictures on a 7 night is $295.95


Gratuities are $12 per person per night, regardless of child’s age. The tips will be taken from your onboard payment method unless you specify otherwise. You can also pre-pay these before you board.

This is how the tips are divided:
$4 to the Server per person per night
$3 to the Assistant Server per person per night
$1 to the Head Server per person per night
$4 to your Stateroom Steward per person per night

Alcoholic beverages and Spa Services have tips included

It is recommended to tip Room Service $1 per item ordered

It is recommended to tip Palo and Remy servers $10+ per person dining

You CANNOT give cash tips to any of the counselors or nursery staff

Kid’s Club/Nursery

All four ships have the same club names. On the Magic and the Wonder, the Oceaneer Lab and Oceaneer Club are across the hall. Which means you may go to pick up your kid and find out they have been escorted to the other area. When you sign your child up for the clubs, they will be given a magic band bracelet ($12.50 if lost or you want to keep) and you must provide a list of people that can check-in and check-out the child along with a password. You MUST have your Key to the World card to check your child in and out. There are “open house” opportunities; this is the only time adults are allowed into the clubs. Counselors will page your wave phone if any problems arise and you need to come and get your child. If you believe your child should be allowed into the club but is not yet three, the counselors will make that decision on a case by case basis.

Children must be potty trained and self-sufficient to enter the clubs. Parents with children with special needs should talk to the counselors on board regarding any special needs.

On the Dream and the Fantasy, they are connected. Here are some brief summaries on all the clubs.

Disney’s Oceaneer Club

Children aged 3-12 can create, perform, play games and more. Play areas, reading areas, televisions, play structures and more. Activities change every half hour to hour and are listed on the daily navigator. Children can eat lunch and dinner in the club.

The Dream and Fantasy has 4 distinct play areas: Andy’s Room, Monster’s Academy, Pixie Hollow, and Explorer Pad.

The Magic also has 4 distinct play areas: Andy’s Room, Marvel’s Avengers Academy, Mickey Mouse Club, and Pixie Hollow

The Wonder has Peter Pan themed play areas.

Disney’s Oceaneer Lab

Children aged 3-12 can explore and have adventures. The Lab has science experiments, cooking classes and other hand on play. The Lab has several themed spaces: Media Rooms, Animator’s Studio, The Wheelhouse, Sound Studio, and Craft Studio.


Tweens aged 11-14 can participate in arts and crafts, sing karaoke, watch television, and take part in special events like scavenger hunts and themed nights. There are video games, computer labs, flat screen TVs and more.


This is a teens-exclusive club for ages 14-17. A central place to meet and greet and hang out with a private sundeck, individual nooks and lead by the coolest counselors on deck. Your teen will love this spot.

It’s a Small World Nursery

Children 6 months to age 3 are safely cared for in 3 distinct areas: An acclimation zone, a main play area and separate room for naps. Movies, crafts and story time are offered for $9/hour. Nursery time should be pre-scheduled when doing your on-line check-in. Drop in times are also sometimes available. Diapers, formula, baby food, extra clothes should be brought to the nursery at drop off.

Guest Services

Guest services located on the third deck is a go-to for all your questions and needs. You can add gift cards to your account, switch dining rotations and times, check for lost and found items and so much more. Guest services will also take items to be signed by Mickey and Friends. It is requested that you provide no more than two items per stateroom, in a zip lock back with sharpies. Items can be pillowcases, autograph books or photo-mats.

Rebooking Desk

There is a desk on the 4th floor that has agents available for cruisers to rebook on board for a future cruise. Rebooking on board gives you 10% off your future cruise and $100-$200 on board credit. If you are unsure about a specific date but want to take part in the discount, ask the agent about a “dummy date”. This date is far enough out that you have time to get schedules together and change the date. You must sail within 18 months and not be in black out dates. Make sure you document your current agent’s name on the reservation for more goodies!


What to Wear

Resort casual clothing is the best way to describe how one should dress aboard the ship. Bathing suits, shorts and tank tops are not suggested for the main dining rooms. Palo has dress requirements like dress shirts, dress pants and skirt/dress or pantsuit. Remy requires a suit or dress pants and jacket. Women should wear a cocktail dress, pantsuit or skirt with blouse.

There will be semi-formal nights offered on most cruises but you are not required to dress up. On 7 night cruises a formal night will also be offered.

Swim cover-ups should be worn when walking through the hallways and lobby.

And don’t forget your pirate costumes if there will be a Pirate Night on your cruise!


There is internet access onboard the ships but due to the technology, service can be slow and unreliable. The Wonder and the Magic have internet cafes where as the Dream and the Fantasy will loan out laptops for a refundable deposit.

Usage rates and international fees vary from each phone service, it is recommended to keep your phone on airplane mode to avoid unnecessary fees and roaming charges. Look for internet cafes at your ports of call. Example: There is a Starbucks on Nassau that has free internet.

You will want to download the new Disney Cruise Navigator app to see the daily itinerary and use for the new texting options. This is a free service and uses the ship’s free internet.

Written by Danielle Wann
Collaborated with Jo Garrett

About Danielle

Danielle has been a Magical Memory Planners since 2013. She has lots of personal travel experience and would love to help you plan your next magical vacation for FREE.
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