I have a lot of first time cruisers for Spring Break this year and I have put a list of best tips for them so thought I would share with you!
Best Price: Your best pricing will generally when the first booking dates open up and then the closer to the date you want and as availability lessens, the price will increase. If there are some sailings that are not fully booked there might be a discount on non-booked rooms, but they are non-refundable and non-changeable. Of course these rooms are not always offered but worth a try if you want a quick get-away. Surprisingly, I did just book one for a month out (got the last 4 person cabin for them, too) and it wasn’t that bad of a price so I was excited for them!
Getting to the port: If you are driving your own car then you can park at the Disney garage there beside the terminal just for Disney. However, this can get pricey but there are a couple of other near by garages that offer free shuttles if you would rather do that to help save. If you are traveling in a group then you might want to have a town car/van service take you to the port. It could be much cheaper than the Disney motor coach so check it out (or I will be glad to set it up for you).
ID’s: Please make sure that you have your ID and all documentation for each person in your party ready at the terminal, and make sure they are properly signed. Without the proper documentation you may not be able to board and I have seen a family crying over the fact that “Susie” didn’t have her paperwork signed by the dad to go with mom and step-dad, etc…It is sooooo sad but Disney will turn you away so be prepared! Arrive early but be aware that the terminal/parking lot do not open until 10:30AM. You will be given a time to arrive for your registration and this helps make everything go smoother.
Kid’s Clubs: Speaking of going smoother….remember to sign up your children for the special programs for them on the ship. The kids really do love all the fun activities and mine even hated to leave when we would come to pick them up! At the terminal you will register them at a separate desk (hopefully you did the online check in for them to make it go faster – and I can help with this) and they are given a GPS bracelet to wear which is part of Disney’s important security safeguards for the children.
Adult Time: Please take full advantage of the adult only areas of the ship. The pool, adult activities, and bars are incredible! And then the on board spa for some pampering is wonderful; no one does it like Disney! Remember that the spa time slots get booked quickly so don’t wait to schedule your time. The best price for a treatment will be the day you depart from the port!
Bars/Alcohol: Be aware that you can bring your own alcohol on board in your carry-on luggage…no larger than 750 milliliters — or six beers — no larger than 12 ounces — on board at the beginning of the trip and at each port-of-call. Liquors and spirits, along with over-the-limit wine, champagne and beer will be stored until the end of the cruise. Alcohol packed in checked luggage will be removed and stored until the end of the cruise. This new policy went into effect fall 2015. Also know that if you bring a bottle of wine to your dinner table then you will pay a $20.00 corking fee. There are some restrictions such as you cannot consume your own alcohol in a public lounge. But if you want a drink in your stateroom prior to dinner, and you bring it on the boat to save yourself a good bit of money. And be prepared to have the bars add a 18% gratuity to your purchase automatically. I will usually give a few extra if they bring it to my chair on Castaway Cay though.
Packing: Easier said than done for me but don’t over pack. My hubby gets onto me because I am “too prepared” but that’s the girl scout in me! Remember that there are laundry facilities on board just like any nice hotel to help with this. Find out how many formal, semi-formal or theme party nights will take place on your cruise so you know what to take other than cruise casual clothing. If traveling Disney then there are no real “formal nights” like other cruise lines so a nice sundress will be fine. You might want to pick cute matching outfits for a formal photo with Mickey or dress in Pirate grab for the Pirate/fireworks party!
Photos: Talking about pictures with Mickey….you might want to plan on purchasing some of the photographs taken on board. There are pre-sail packages that you can buy that help save money. And if you are taking your own photographs make sure you have a way to upload the digital photos or have enough digital cards so you won’t be limited on pics while on ship. Make sure you pack extra batteries or charging devices. We have forgotten the charger once …..once was all it took!
Customs: Understand the customs requirements for the areas you are visiting and have your paperwork and itinerary in order (I make a great book that comes in your Minnie Box for you!). When you work with us, Disney Cruise specialists, then we will help you with all of that.
Know your budget: Lastly, know what the ENTIRE cruise will cost you from port parking to ship staff gratuities. You want your vacation to be a relaxing one with your family so avoid feeling stressed out about the finance part. If this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience then get the best cabin you can afford and plan on a couple of port excursions. I always lay out every detail for my clients because I do not want them to be surprised at the end!
I hope this helps you and I would love to help plan your next magical memories aboard a Disney cruise ship! The process of booking a Disney cruise can be VERY confusing, so let a professional help you! Please contact me at any time for a free quote.The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation! Plus you won’t have to watch for any possible rate drops, research everything there is to offer, or keep track of milestone dates for any “extras” you want during your voyage. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!) If you already have your cruise planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!