Our 7-Night Very MerryTime Bahamian Cruise was one of the BEST family vacations we have ever been on- my kids are still talking about it and asking when we can go on our next one! Sharing our favorite Disney Cruise tips and what we learned as first-timers.
My wife and I took our three kids (ages 10, 5, and days away from turning 2) on a 7-night "Very MerryTime" Disney Cruise through the Bahamas last December. We sailed on the Disney Wonder from Galveston, Texas and stopped at three different ports. This was our itinerary:
- Galveston, Texas
- Key West, Florida
- Disney Castaway Cay
- Nassau, Bahamas
- Day at Sea
- Day at Sea
- Galveston, Texas
Disney Cruise Tips: Stay Onboard in Port
We decided to stay onboard when we docked at Key West. There wasn't anything we were dying to do and most of the advertised excursions were either bars, museums, or history tours. Being our first port, we couldn't imagine trying to make that sell to the kids- "let's go learn!" With many of the guests off exploring it gave us more freedom to roam and check out all of the ship's amenities... like the free ice cream. (Found at Eye Scream Treats on Deck 9 of the Disney Wonder.)
Check out those pre-PRK procedure glasses!
Disney Cruise Tips: Connecting Staterooms
We booked two adjoining rooms for our family of five instead of opting for a larger suite. I can't recommend this enough! It was so nice to have the extra space so we weren't all on top of each other. Not to mention having two bathrooms so we weren't all waiting for the shower.
We requested a pack-and-play for our son when we booked our reservation and he slept in the room with us. (Our awesome room attendant set it up for us each night with fresh sheets.) We simply closed the curtains whenever it was time for him to nap or go to bed. Our girls slept in the other bedroom and we left the conjoining door ajar at all times. Our oldest slept in the full-size bed and our youngest daughter slept on the top bunk. Everyone was happy.
According to Disney, the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder (our ship) have limited connecting rooms, so be sure to book early! The Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy are specially designed to accommodate families with over 500 connecting doors on each ship that allows for ample connecting staterooms.
Disney Cruise Tips: Use a Travel Agent
We ended up using one because she was able to book the connecting room for us when we couldn't do it ourselves online. Using a travel agent didn't add anything to our bottom line. It is my understanding that most agents receive commissions directly from the hotels/resorts but some may also charge a fee for their time. Travel Agents may also be able to offer special pricing, exclusive tickets or excursions, or provide other perks. Our travel agent gifted us day passes to the ship's spa and a fruit basket.
Disney Cruise Tips: Book Everything Early
As first-timers, we didn't realize that there is a certain day prior to sailing that you can log in and book your onboard activities (like character meals and specialty restaurants). Apparently, once your cruise is paid in full, you can make reservations online within your "advance booking window." This window is determined by your Castaway Club membership level, as follows:
- First-Time Guests: 75 days prior to sail date
- Silver Castaway Club Member: 90 days prior to sail date
- Gold Castaway Club Member: 105 days prior to sail date
- Concierge Guests and Platinum Castaway Club Member: 120 days prior to sail date
PLAN TO BOOK THAT DAY- including babysitting! Unfortunately, when we finally logged in to book, all of the character meals and adult-only restaurants were booked! Which leads me to my next tip:
Disney Cruise Tips: Once Onboard - ASK!
Immediately after we checked in to our room, my wife met with the PALO representatives in the lobby to ask about making a reservation for brunch or dinner. We were able to book a dinner reservation right then and get put on a waitlist for brunch. A few days later, we received a notice that we had been granted a brunch reservation as well. We asked one of our amazing waiters about availability for the character breakfast with Mickey and he was able to get us in! If Disney can make it happen, they will.
All in all, we absolutely loved our Disney Cruise experience and can't wait to go again. The level of service from everyone we came in contact with, the amazing attention to details, the awesome onboard kids club... it was all exactly what you would expect from Disney. We all miss our fabulous dinner service team and still talk about them like old friends.
If you're considering a Disney Cruise, I can't recommend it enough.