20 Disney Cruise Hacks You Need To Know Before Sailing

20 Disney Cruise Hacks You Need to Know Before Sailing

Disney cruises provide the best of both worlds for entire families – a cruise experience for the adults and amusement park entertainment for the kids. They won't see huge rollercoasters but they will meet their favorite characters, go to live shows and deck parties, and have fun in pools with aqua play areas and waterslides. Another perk is that you can enjoy all of this without the hordes of people and huge lines.

Take cash

Don't expect to see an ATM on the ship. You'll have to withdraw money in one of the destinations you visit. However, international ATM fees can be very high. Also, your bank may block your card if it doesn't know you're going to be out of town.

Room service is free

Complimentary room service is included in the price of your cruise. It is available 24/7, for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, and until 1:30 a.m. on the final day of your cruise. Any room service gratuity is at your discretion.

Key to the World card is your wallet

All transactions on the ship are done with the Key to the World card. This includes beverage services, spa, salon services, photography, medical, laundry services, as well as any purchases from the retail shops. The card will function as your room key and charging card on the ship. It is also used to identify adults and minors for the purpose of restricting alcohol consumption.

Download the Disney Cruise Line Navigator app

A Disney Cruise can be as overwhelming as going to the actual amusement park. Make your life easy and download the complimentary Disney Cruise Line Navigator app to access vacation information and send messages to members in your travel party once on board the ship. It is a personal navigator. It shows a calendar with all of the events in categories, highlights, and it even has a daily weather report.

You can bring your own alcohol

You don't have to spend a lot of money on alcohol. Save some by bringing your own. Every adult is allowed a maximum of two bottles of unopened wine or champagne (no larger than 750 ml) or six beers (no larger than 12 ounces) at the beginning of the voyage and at each port of call.

Book an early show and a later dinner

This is your best bet to avoid big crowds. The earlier dinner and later show are always much busier and louder with more small kids. Also, there are youth activity counselors available who will entertain energetic kids after 9 p.m. so you can finish your meal without having to worry about your child.

Bring formal attire

When you see "formal" on the dinner invitation, it means formal. It is technically optional, but in reality it applies to everyone, not just the girls who would usually dress as princesses. Disney recommends dress pants with a jacket or a suit for men, and dress or pantsuit for women. You can even pre-order tailored formal wear. 

Choose the earliest arrival time available

Your boarding number is based on your arrival time. You don't have to be there at 9 a.m. because boarding won't actually start until after 11 a.m. Complete My Online Check-In ahead of time to save some time.  

Book another cruise on board

If you think you want to go on another Disney cruise, you'll save money if you book it while you're still on board. You will receive more benefits such as 10 percent off prevailing rates (as quoted on disneycruise.com), up to $200 onboard credit per stateroom and reduced deposit on sailings 7-nights or longer.

Gratuity is included

A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to bar, beverage, wine and deck service tabs, and 18 percent for spa and salon services. If you wish to change the amount of a gratuity or pay the gratuity in cash, stop by the Guest Services desk. Tips are handled at the end of the cruise. You are given slips that show the suggested tip amount.

Free breakfast can be brought to your room

You can have breakfast brought to you as long as you order it by 3 a.m. the morning of and pick a 30-minute window for delivery. This is perfect if you feel like it's too early to get out of your cabin and go to buffets or other onboard venues.

Refill water bottles

Paying for water can feel like robbery sometimes. You can save money by refilling water bottles at buffets and drink machines on decks. It's free! Keep in mind that tap water is not for drinking.

Use Wi-Fi at ports

Ships offer Internet packages based on your online needs. Instead of paying by the minute, you pay for the data you use. There are also pay-as-you-go packages. But the connection is usually slow. The more devices use it, the slower it becomes. Unplug for a few days – you'd be surprised how beneficial it may be. Connect to the Internet when you're in port. Touristy areas usually provide it for free.

Some beverages are free 24/7

Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, Coke Zero, water, HiC Fruit Punch, HiC Pink Lemonade, Fuse Ice Tea, Sprite, and Sprite Zero are free. Coffee and hot water, which even by itself is very good for you, are also available on the pool deck with plain milk and half and half.

Everybody can dress up

Disney cruises are meant to be fun for the whole family. You're never too old to dress up like Darth Vader or any other favorite characters from your childhood. This can be a great bonding experience, too.

The artwork on the ship gives you directions

You're never going to get lost on the ship. Just look at the paintings on the walls. A picture of Paris means you are close to the French restaurant Remy.

You don’t have to do the port excursions

If you choose to go on one or two, make sure you book them in advance. However, you are perfectly OK with staying on board when everyone else has disembarked. You'll be free to do whatever you want on the ship with fewer people around you.

Rain ponchos are free

The rain won't spoil the fun on the ship. The crew will give you ponchos in case you have nothing with which to cover yourself.

Book the Rainforest Room, not the spa

Spa appointments can be difficult to book and the service very expensive. Go to the Rainforest Room on the Disney Fantasy or Disney Dream— a heat, steam and hydrotherapy circuit that is guaranteed to relax your mind and body for just $16.

You can bring food from the buffets to the theaters

The ships have move theaters with concession stands like a regular theater. And just like theatres, the food and drinks are pricier. Grab sodas, which are free, and bring them with you. Also, you can order room service, also free, before you head out to the theater and bring the drinks with you.