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  • Writer's pictureCollin Brazan

Ten things to know before booking a Disney Cruise

Updated: May 21

Disney Cruise Line has consistently been one of our favorite travel destinations. With so many complementary offerings, incredible service and opportunities for fun abound, we cannot get enough of sailing the high seas with Mickey and friends.

It's All-Inclusive! The entry price sees all your meals, on-board locations, on-board theatrical shows and ports included. Though there are premium dining experiences, like the must-have Palo and the award-winning Remy, and bookable excursions, it is possible to enjoy a full cruise without spending extra beyond your passage. Rotational Dining Rotational dining is Disney's unique way of getting you in each of its deeply themed, quality restaurants. At the start of the cruise, guests will be assigned a restaurant for each night (and breakfast on the final morning) included in the price of their cruise admission. Guests will rotate to a different restaurant each night while getting to know the same serving crew for the cruise's duration. Guests have the option to eat breakfast and lunch at the complimentary, on-board buffet (that includes all-you-care-to-enjoy soft serve and coffee throughout the day), the additional-purchase cafes or at restaurants at each port. Castaway Cay, Disney's private island getaway, includes a complimentary, buffet-style BBQ for all guests. Book for Cheaper! On-board experiences are cheapest when further away from the sailing date. Drink tastings, massages, some excursions and other optional experiences go up in price as the sail date approaches, so booking them soon after booking your cruise is the most surefire way to ensure you can experience all you want for the most affordable price. Use the app! The on-board, Disney Cruise Line smartphone app allows guests connected to the ship's free WiFi option to message one another, check showtimes and book last-minute experiences. The app displays updates showtimes for theatrical offerings, film showings, your dining each night and information on other limited experiences. WiFi Options! The free WiFi does not allow guests to use external messaging systems or social media platforms, though we found some WiFi-based platforms, like iMessage, to work at times for sending messages to those not on-board. You will not automatically incur fees without selecting one of the premium, paid WiFi options provided by Disney, but going onto cell data once leaving your initial port will automatically incur fees with your cell carrier. Some carriers provide daily, international options that can be cheaper—or sometimes far more expensive—than the premium options. You are also welcome to connect to the free service for access to the app and your on-board party, and you can leave the email and social media to your future self when your vacation ends. Premium Dining Walk-Ups! If you missed your chance, or decided after exploring the ship on your first day that you want to partake in the premium dining experiences, visit the guest services desk on the ship on your first day. It is first-come, first-serve, but they will notify you in advance via the app if you were given one of the held-for-last-minute premium dining experiences. All you have to do is return to the guest experiences desk to confirm the reservation, and it'll be yours! Board Early! Guests often get to choose their boarding times, and the earlier you board, the more time you'll have to explore the ship, dine at the buffet and book experiences on the ship. We suggest the 11 a.m.-noon time slots for most itineraries. See the Latest Films! The on-board theater shows new releases of Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars films, often as early as release night. If you're looking forward to a brand new Disney movie or have been itching to see a more recent release, it is highly likely you'll be able to view it on the ship! Utilize the Laundry Room! Items like steamers and irons are often confiscated by security (and returned after the cruise), but there is a laundry room on each deck containing guest rooms that includes irons and ironing boards. You Don't Need a Passport Though a passport is helpful, as it will get you on the ship and can help get you back home if you miss ship boarding time at a port, it is not required to sail. Disney will provide you with optional documents you can bring to confirm your identification if you do not have a passport, and you will still be allowed to exit and re-enter the ship at any time at each of the ports. The only complication comes if guests do not have a passport on-person and do not board the ship before it departs a port, but we always recommend all guests start boarding the ship an hour before indicated leave time.

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