Parents, are you ready for a vacation? I mean, a real vacation…where you can enjoy your family AND have time to relax and unwind? Then do whatever it takes and get yourself onboard a Disney Cruise ship pronto. It’ll be the best trip of your lives. And the following tips will show you how to make it even better.
8. Dining Times – There are two dining times available for dinner each night, and with rotation dining (meaning you get to experience all of the unique dining rooms), you won’t want to miss it. When you book your cruise you will be able to choose which time is best for your family. The early dining time tends to fill up quickly, especially for families with younger kids. But if you are coming from the west coast and cruising in EST, the later seating may be best. The point is, think through what’s best for your family so you can plan accordingly.
7. Utilize the Oceaneer Club – The Oceaneer Kids Club is the BEST. Activities are almost endless for kids ages three to twelve. They can enjoy crazy science experiments, flight simulations, arts and crafts, special interactions with characters, and so much more. If you’re worried about safety…don’t be. Club access is controlled by Oceaneer bands (similar to the Magic Band) that kids keep on for the duration of the cruise. Their bands have transmitters that allow the staff to know exactly what part of the club they are in at all times. To pick your child up you need your own personal code word, as well as facial recognition (the computer tells cast members which faces are allowed to pick up which child based on the data on their bands). It’s crazy cool.
6. Utilize the Nursery – Nursery service is available for infants and toddlers, for a minor hourly fee. The staff are caring and professional, and there is even a nap area with cribs and dimmed lights so your little one can sleep. The nursery can be a great chance for babies to have some fun while parents enjoy a quiet dinner, a spa treatment, or just a nap by the adult pool. And if there is ever a problem, the staff will contact you right away via your Wave Phone (a special cell phone that only works aboard the ship and on Castaway Cay). [Just an aside for those traveling with this age…kiddos MUST be potty trained to use ANY of the onboard pools. No exceptions, even for swim diapers. There is a small splash area, but nothing like what older kids can enjoy. So if you think that may be a big disappointment for your toddler, consider possibly delaying your cruise a bit.]
5. Check the Navigator Daily – The Navigator is the daily newsletter onboard, and it will give you all the information you need to plan your perfect day at sea. You’ll find special activities, movie times, fun facts, menus, and hours of operation. If you prefer, you can download the Navigator app, which will connect to the ship’s wi-fi for free.
4. Get to Port Early – When you register your family online, DCL will have you choose when you would like to arrive at port. Choose the very earliest time that you can, because, well, who doesn’t want to get their vacation started already? There is plenty to do in the port terminal, including pictures with Captain Mickey and getting your kids fitted with their Oceaneer bands. If you’re among the first to board, you may not be able to go to your cabin right away, but you will have access to the pools, water slides, and lunch buffet. Wear your swimsuit under your clothes so you can get to the fun immediately – this is the time to enjoy the shortest lines at the water slides by far!
3. Utilize Room Service – Room Service is free (though tipping is encouraged, of course), so if you have a little one that you just know will be up before the sun, pre-order a light breakfast for them the night before (and maybe some coffee for you). When the breakfast buffet opens, you can always grab some more, but at least you can curb a few cries of “I’m starving!” before then if you need to.
2. Pack Light – I realize this sentiment is kinda laughable when it comes to packing for a family. But you really don’t need as much as you think you do, and you’ll want some room for souvenirs on the way back. What you don’t need: Pack-n-play (They have ’em – reserve beforehand), huge stroller (It won’t fit down the hallways. You’ll hate it. Bring an umbrella stroller for excursions and stow it under the bed), lots of clothes (Face it: you’re gonna live in your bathing suit. And there are free laundry machines if you really, really need them.)
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1. Join a Fish Extender a Group – Outside each cabin there are little fish clips that hold messages from your room steward. Years ago this cult of DCL enthusiasts started to hang pockets on the fishes and go around leaving little gifts for one another. It’s SO FUN. Each group sets up different “rules”, so find your group via a social media search for your cruise date. My kids LOVED getting little treasures every time they came back to the cabin (pins, magnets, candy, eye-patches, etc), and handing out our gifts felt like spreading pixie dust.
Now set sail and enjoy! And as you leave port and the ship’s whistle sings out “When You Wish Upon A Star”, your family will know that these are the moments that memories are made of.
Consider planning and booking your Disney cruise with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner you can trust like Mickey Travels. They’ll help you get the best price for your vacation, share expert advice and their services are totally FREE! It’s genius!