Easy cruising with Mickey

The thought of going on a Disney cruise can be a bit nerve wracking—the planning, the packing, the price tag! But by following these tips and giving into the magic of Disney, your family will enjoy smooth sailing no matter what the seas might bring.

Timing is everything

For the best rates, plan your cruise during “low season” and avoid cruising during school breaks (the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is the most expensive time to sail).

When choosing a cruise, think about how often you want to disembark and explore. A sure sweet spot? A five-day cruise with two days at sea and two days at ports.

Finally, plan to fly to your Disney Cruise departure port the day before your cruise sets sail. That way you won’t have to worry about flight delays or cancellations and you can get into vacation mode before you even board your ship.

Pack these special extra

Each and every parent knows that you need to have a fully packed diaper bag anytime you leave home with kids in tow. Other than typical clothes, swimsuits, and toiletries, you really don’t need to pack too much for your Disney cruise. 

There are, however, some special extras. Some families don customized matching shirts to celebrate their Disney cruise. Not into personalized gear? Simply bring a tee promoting your favorite Disney character—and don’t forget that Marvel and Star Wars are part of the Disney family!

Pirate night is the quintessential dress-up party on each and every Disney cruise. Save your money and buy pirate gear (including light up sticks) before you leave home. Adults are encouraged to dress up, too!

Lastly, look into Disney magnets to decorate your stateroom door. While not necessary, it is a fun way to show off your family’s personality and of course, find your room amidst the identical doors on the massive ship.

Meet the characters

One of the advantages of a Disney Cruise is that there are constant opportunities to meet characters throughout your vacation. While some character “meet and greets” require a reservation ticket such as the Princess gathering and character breakfasts (select cruises only), most do not. Simply check the “Character Encounters” listing for the day using your Navigator app and then head out to meet your favorite superhero, princess or original Disney character. Characters also visit the kids’ clubs throughout your trip. There are also many impromptu photo opps so keep your camera handy.

Use the child care

While Disney cruises are geared towards families making magical memories, they are also designed to give parents a break. There is complimentary childcare for guests over 3 so full of fun activities that your kids won’t even notice that you are gone.

One tip: Sign up for the Dine and Play program so that your little diners are served their meal first and whisked off to play while you enjoy some leisurely adult time.

The port you don’t want to miss

Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island in the Bahamas, is the piece de resistance of any Caribbean Disney cruise. This immaculate, gorgeous island is only open to guests on your cruise, so you can stretch out on the white, sandy beaches and enjoy a delicious barbecue buffet. Send the kids off to have their own fun at Scuttle’s Cove while you enjoy the adults-only beach.

With ample beach chairs and hammocks, water slides, and snorkeling you will never want to leave.

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2018 issue of Chicago Parent’s Going Places. Read the rest of the issue.

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