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We had a blast on our land and sea adventure! This was our first ever Disney cruise we made several trip related decisions based on that. It was also only a three night cruise, so that also played a factor in several of our decisions for this adventure.
With that being said, here are our top six takeaways from our first ever Disney cruise on the Disney Dream. A three night adventure with stops at Nassau and Castaway Cay. These takeaways are in no particular order and, as always, are our personal opinions. If you have different takeaways from your Disney cruise adventures, we would love to hear from you.
#1: Download the Disney Cruise Line Navigator app
When we first got on board, I was overwhelmed. Deer in the headlights, fish out water, overwhelmed. I have no idea where to go, where anything was, where I was going, where I had come from. It was loud, it was crowded, it was chaos. For the first few hours, I was pretty sure my husband thought that we had made a huge mistake because there was no way I was going to relax and be able to have a good time.
Then I downloaded the Disney Cruise Line Navigator app and all of a sudden, angels sang, the skies parted and calm ensued. Okay, it may not have been that dramatic but I will tell you, honestly, until I was able to download the app and see what was coming and when it was happening and where it was going to be, I wasn’t able to relax.
I know there are other people out there like me, come on now, show me some love if you are a planner and like to know what to expect. I was freaked out that this cruise was going to be a chaotic, loud trip to crazytown, then I got my app and everything was better.
The app is your handheld guide to everything on the ship. You can access every activity on the ship for that day, any port information, the drink of the day information and anything you have booked will show up on the app as well.
#2: See the shows
On longer cruises, the shows aren’t necessarily must see’s every night of your cruise adventure but there are three shows you should see at least once, maybe more. Disney’s Believe, Beauty and the Beast and the Golden Mickey’s. Beauty and the Beast is incredible. It is an absolute must see. I can’t wait to see it again. I loved the message of Golden Mickey’s although I wouldn’t be upset if a revamp came about to adjust the story line (the main character cough cough) and maybe update the celebrity interactions but like I said, the message was amazing and I really enjoyed the show as a whole. Disney’s Believe was another winner. I highly recommend taking in these shows. Important note is that Beauty and the Beast is not available on every cruise, on some cruises, Frozen is the stage show shown in place of Beauty and the Beast.
Depending on which dinner seating you have; first or second, will determine when you see the show. There are two showings each night depending on that dinner seating time. We had second seating which meant that we would head to the show before dinner. This was great because I wasn’t falling asleep in the show after stuffing my face and having two shows means that they aren’t packed to the gills so we had a little room to stretch out.
On longer cruises, I wouldn’t be so inclined to see comedy or magic, those just aren’t my cup of tea but I know that a lot of people do go to see those. There is something for everyone, which is one of the benefits of a cruise. Be aware that there are not Disney original shows each night of your cruise so be sure to follow your navigator to know when the original shows are being shown in the theatre.
#3: Be Prepared for Chaos the First Few Hours
As I mentioned in my first takeaway, I was overwhelmed when I first got on board the Disney Dream. I was told over and over by friends and fellow bloggers and vloggers that this was going to be relaxing, that a Disney cruise was the ultimate in relaxation. When we got on board, relaxation was nowhere near the descriptive words that could be used to describe the scene.
I was so overwhelmed and worried that the first few hours of the cruise was representative of what the entire cruise was going to be. I was wrong. Thank goodness. When you first embark, everyone is running around, all the areas are open to everyone, people are running around getting into vacation mode. It’s loud. It. Is. Loud. After the safety drill, things start to calm down and by the end of the first night, you can start to relax.
Prior to our cruise, I read a lot of blogs, articles and watched a number a videos relating to Disney cruises and embarkation. Everything I read was all about how relaxing the Disney cruise is and how quiet and calm and although much of the cruise is that way, I want to set the record straight and make sure that you are prepared for the crowds and noise that will be your best friend for the first few hours of your cruise because I truly feel that if you are prepared for that, you will not be surprised and can embrace that it passes and relaxation does indeed set in.
#4 Don’t be Afraid to Order Multiple Items at Dinner or Order From Another Menu
Disney is known for rotational dining. At the time of publishing, they are the only cruise line that does rotational dining and they have coined the practice. This means that when you check in for your cruise and get your key to the world card, you will be given letters at the bottom of your card that signify which restaurant you will be dining at on which night. There are three rotational dining restaurants on each of the ships at the time of filming.
We cruised on the Dream and our rotational dining restaurants were Animator’s Palate, Enchanted Garden and Royal Palace. Our key to the world cards indicated AER which meant that we were eating at the restaurants in the order mentioned previously. You will have the same serving staff each night regardless of which restaurant you are dining at.
This is such an amazing experience. You get to know your servers and the staff and they get to know you and what you want and it adds to the magic of your cruise experience. At each location, they will give you suggestions for what they think is the the better option on the menu. Of course, get what you want and know that you don’t have to order an appetizer, a soup or salad, an entree and a dessert.
If you want to get three appetizers and two desserts and nothing else, do it. Want to try three entrees? Go for it. If you saw something at a different you wanted to try or really loved a previous night, you can order it!
In addition, if you have any dietary restrictions be sure to contact Disney Cruise Line ahead of time so that they can prepare for your needs prior to boarding the ship.
#5 Have a Plan and Get There Early
One of the reasons you really want to download and use your Navigator app or the navigator that your stateroom host leaves in your stateroom each night for the next day is because, it lets you know when and where everything is happening on the ship. Character meet and greets and shows are incredibly popular and you want to get there early, get in line and know where they are happening.
We, as you know from previous posts, are planners and we like to know what is going on, where and when. So, we would figure out which things we wanted to do like character meet and greets and shows and favorite them on the app and make sure we got there early for them. This ensured that we were able to get those things done. The lines for characters move much faster than the lines at the parks for the characters so even if a line seems long, it most likely won’t be too much of a wait.
When we returned from our cruise, we were following some of the posts on the cruise line social media pages we belong to and we noticed several comments where people would say things like, “we didn’t really enjoy the cruise, we didn’t get to meet any characters and didn’t get photos because we didn’t know where they were happening and the lines were cut off by the time we got there.” That happened multiple times after our cruise.
I will tell you right now, those people were not looking at or following their navigator. The navigator tells you where the characters are, when the meet and greets are happening and the lines remain open for that character for fifteen minutes. If you get in line within that fifteen minutes, you will get to meet that character. The photo lines are mostly in the atrium and we got over fifty photos on our photo package and we didn’t do probably half of the photo opportunities that were available on the ship.
Your navigator is your friend and will help you navigate the cruise and the events on the cruise. If you are not a planner that’s fine but just know that if you want to get those character meet and greets, those photos, get a good spot for the shows etc. you will need to know where and when those things are happening and be there promptly or you will miss out.
#6 Live YOUR Best Cruise Life
Everybody has a different vacation style, everyone has different expectations for their cruise. It’s one of the reasons, vacationing with other people can be so difficult. Remember that no matter how many vlogs you watch, how many friends give you advice, how many blog posts you read, pick and choose what suits you and live YOUR vacation.
Don’t try to vacation like someone else or do everything someone else did or recommended. Stay true to your vacation style and your needs and wants and do what makes you happy. You earned this time, make the most of it for you!
Have you been on a Disney cruise? Are you planning one? We would love to hear from you! Leave a comment about your top cruise tips!
Thank you for stopping by and for the love of the mouse, never forget, that it all started with a mouse!