How to Book a Disney Cruise and Save
Thinking about planning a Disney Cruise? We just went on our first Disney Cruise for Spring Break aboard the Disney Magic. We actually planned this last minute and it was amazing. We will definitely be doing another Disney Cruise in the future! Check out all these tips before you book your cruise.
What to Pack/Bring:
Make sure you bring a carry on bag with your swimsuit, sunscreen, medications etc. Your room will probably not be ready when you board the ship and you will not have access to your bags. Here is a list of items I recommend packing:
- Passports/Identification ( make sure you have plenty of time to get them back, plan ahead)
- Sand Toys for Castaway Cay
- Autograph book or notebook
- Sand Toys
- Cruise documents
- Twoway radio's
- Hat for sun
- Dress up night wear
- Camera and battery charger
- A reusable cup with lid for each member of your family. I found these are great.
- Bonine or Peppermint and Digize Oil for motion sickness. I prefer the essential oils because they are all natural.
- Pirate Costume for Pirate Night.
- Power Strip -( Check often as some cruise ships are now prohibiting these)
- Shoe Rack -More storage! ( Now prohibited, but check back in case the rule changes)
- Beach Bag
Book your cruise through Disney Cruise Line Online and plan to fly in the night before. If you live near Dallas or some where, where Spirit Airlines flies, we were able to save $700 on airfare booking through Spirit and then driving to Dallas the night before our trip and getting a cheap hotel. You can also check out GlobalAirportParking.com for savings on airport parking. Once we got to Orlando, we stayed at the Radisson Resort at the Port. I also recommend calling and talking to an agent as they can give you all kinds of helpful tips and making it easier for you to choose what to do. You can also use a FREE Disney Travel Agent to help you book all your info. They sometimes can find discounts you may not know about and they won't charge you for their services. We chose an inside room with a porthole which was perfect for us and a lot cheaper. The porthole was a lot bigger than I thought. You can also save 10% on future cruises when you book your next cruise while you are on the boat. You can also save on flights if you leave on a Wed. and come back on a Tues. Mid-week flights can save you up to $80-$100.
Since we chose to drive instead of fly on this trip, we were going to need to park our car. When I checked into how much it would cost to park at the port it was $15 a day. However, there is a place called Park N Cruise which was only $7.99 a day and they will take you to the port. They will also pick you back up when you get back.
1700 Sea Ray Drive
Merritt Island, FL 32953
When booking excursions think outside the box. What the cruise line is offering may not always be the least expensive. For example on this trip we stopped in Nassau, which is home for the amazing Atlantis Resort. I would suggest checking around at area hotels near Atlantis like the Comfort Suites where you get free wristbands for Atlantis when you book a room. Compare the prices and see which is cheaper. Also don't go overboard booking your excursions either. Remember this is a vacation, it's a time to relax and there is plenty to do aboard the ship.
If you do decide to book excursions make sure you book them ahead of time because spots will fill up quickly. Most of the excursions you do not have to pay for until you get on the ship. We actually got off the ship just long enough to do some shopping in Nassau since we had already done the dolphin excursion before and spent the rest of the time on the ship. If you plan to do any off shore shopping be sure and talk to your crew staff as they usually having a shopping expert on board that can give you VIP coupons to use. We did get off at Castaway Cay and stayed all day on the beach. We did the Stingray excursion while our kids did a special excursion just for the teens. If you get off at Castaway Cay, be sure and plan to get off the ship early so you can get an umbrella before they all fill up.
We went on the Disney Magic which is the smallest of the Disney Cruise Ships and was just recently remodeled. I have to say Disney really goes all out. When we got into port and all of the ships were lined up , you could see that all the other ships were really dirty on the outside with rust and the paint was chipping. When you look at the Disney ship, it's sparkling. People from the other ships were stopping to take photos of our ship. This really impressed me. There were so many activities on the ship to do, that it was nice to go to a movie or show that wasn't overly crowded. They even had Disney movies playing in your room 24/7. Have your camera ready because there will be plenty of opportunities to get your picture taken with the characters. The wait times are not as bad as the one at the parks either. If you are in the need of taking family pictures they actually have photographers on staff to do that as well. We saw families come with coordinated outfits to get photos taken. If your traveling with a baby be sure and ask if they have portable cribs for your stateroom.
Activities included on The Magic:
- Nursery (ages 3months -3 years)
- Oceaners Club (ages 3-12) ( You want to register early)
- Edge (ages 11-14)
- Vibe (14-17)
- 2 Water slides
- Adult Only areas with shows, lounges, pools and more. (Yes parent's you CAN escape)
- Family game shows, karaoke, dance parties and more.
Download the Disney Cruise Line Navigator app. Once on-board, connect to the ship's WiFi network—complimentary for app use only—and enjoy your vacation like never before!
With just a simple tap of your smart phone, effortlessly find up-to-date information about:
- Character experiences
- Deck Parties
- Live shows
- Nightclubs and lounges
- Ports of call
- Spa services
- Youth clubs
You can also:
- See what's happening every minute of every day
- Save favorite activities to one convenient list
- Explore the ship from bow to stern, deck by deck
The ship also equips you with 2 on board phones per room so you can give one to your kids and be able to get a hold of them when you need to. Also don't wait till the last day to pay for tips and gratuities. You can pre-pay ahead of time or pay on the 2nd or third night on the ship so you aren't waiting in line. I also wanted to mention that Disney is awesome for those who have special dietary needs or food allergies. You can actually talk to the chef and they will personally make you a meal to suite your needs.
Staying at Walt Disney World:
If you are looking to stay at a Walt Disney World Resort before or after a cruise, shop around for prices. When I tried to book my rooms for Animal Kingdom Lodge through the cruise line it was expensive. I actually went straight to the Walt Disney World website and was able to book my rooms at 1/2 price due to a Spring Sale they were having. the above picture was taken from the balcony of our room!
Other Money Saving Tips:
Use the Shopkick app to score FREE Target gift cards that you can redeem for Disney gift cards in-store to be used on your trip. I was able to get $100 for my last minute trip.
Bring a reusable water bottle with you for each member of your family. This will come in handy for all the shows. You can refill your bottle at the drink stations on the ship and bring it with you instead of paying for a high dollar can of pop at each show.
Keep your phone on airplane mode while on the ship so you are not paying any outrageous international charges.
Go to travel.state.gov and use their cropping tool for your passports. Every where else will charge you at least $15 or more for each photo.
The Fun Stuff:
There are a lot of things to do on the cruise. Check to see if your cruise is offering a fun dress up night. On the Disney Magic we had a pirate night and I was able to find some really good deals on pirate costumes on Amazon. If you want to do something a little fancier you can try Etsy.As you can tell in the photo above, we really enjoyed Pirate Night. Don't worry though, you don't have to go all out like we did. They will provide you with a bandana in your room to wear the night of the event. Pirate Night is a celebration where everyone wears their costumes to dinner. The staff puts on the show after dinner with fireworks, dancing and lot's of Disney Characters.
Pin trading is HUGE! Kids and grown ups alike love to trade pins both at the parks and on the cruise. I suggest getting a Pin trading and a few Pin trading to get started with. This is something my whole family enjoyed doing.
Fish Hook Extender-
There is a fun tradition that some people are doing on the Disney cruises now. You buy what's called a Fish Hook Extender on Etsy and you join up with a group of people that are going on a cruise and you participate in a small gift exchange.
You can also decorate your door with all kinds of Disney Magnets etc. It's fun walking down the hall and seeing what every has put on their door and it makes finding your room at a glance very easy.
Here are a few fun things to pick up and participate with:
- Disney Stickers
- Star Wars Pencils
- Frozen Pencils
- Disney Magnets
- Disney Pins
- Disney Magnets
- Disney Magnets
- Disney Magnets
- You could also bring something local from your home state.
While Disney has their own radios aboard , i didn't want to be liable if my kids lost their radio's, so we brought the Motorola Talkabout T605 H20 two-way radios, which are ideal for keeping in touch and for safety when out of cell phone range. Two-way radios are important for communication and for emergency preparedness, which is especially important during family ski trips, at the theme park and evon on board the cruise deck. These feature NOAA weather updates and alerts and the T605 H20 is completely WATERPROOF and FLOATS, so no need to worry if it accidentally falls off the boat or in the snow drift. It also comes equipped with a handy water-activated flashlight, which includes a white and red LED (to preserve night vision.)
And, the T605 H20 features a handy car charger and carrying case perfect for taking on the road.
Things I didn't like:
You know me, I am going to be completely honest and not just spoon feed you the fun stuff. I really didn't have a whole lot of complaints. There were only three things that I didn't like that I would suggest to Disney.
1. When you have big celebrations on board like “Pirate Night” keep the alchohol servers off the dance floor. They were teaching kids to dance and I saw drinks being spilled all over kids and their families because kids were running into drink servers while they were dancing. My son was actually dancing in place and knocked a whole tray of drinks on the floor. He was so embarrassed that he didn't participate the rest of the night.
2. OK Disney, popcorn is super CHEAP to make. With the amount of Disney movies and shows being shown aboard $3.50 for a small box of popcorn (smaller than you can get at a movie theater) to me was outrageous. If you are attending at least 2 shows every day that can get really expensive. I would suggest serving popcorn for free and putting a limit of 1 box per guest per show. You could even sell it for a $1 or pay one price for a refillable bucket and be able to refill it for free for the week. I'd pay $20 for a refillable bucket if I could refill it for the rest of the week.
3. The pools were tiny! If you have small kids, trying to find an empty spot in the pools is going to be like finding a needle in a haystack. However, if you're headed over to the adult only pool it's not bad at all. Can you guess where we stayed most of the time?
Do you have a Disney Cruise tip to share or question or comment? Post it below!
Lucretia Says she loves to bring an over the door shoe rack to hang on the back of the door for extra storage! – Great Tip!
Thanks for all the good information. I have been debating taking one of these cruises with the boys, but I would rather hear the good and bad rather than the standard story line.
You are so welcome! It was amazing and we would definitely do it again!
You need to tell my mom to take us….*hint*hint*
LOL You got it LEE!!!!! 🙂
I will definitely look into Disney for our next cruise!
Yes! I am thinking Alaska for 2015!
Great info! Love the what to know and how to, along with a few of the down sides so you know what to expect. Thanks!!!
You are so welcome Melanie!
You know, I’m a *huge* DCL fan. We just booked one for Fall break this year – first time in a long time. Worth every penny!!
There are always amazing tips at DISBoards — one of my favorites is to go get the ‘over the door’ plastic shoe racks at the Dollar store or BigLots and put them on the back of the bathroom door on the robe hook – gives you tons of storage space for toiletries and since they’re clear, it’s easy to see what’s in each pocket.
That said – love the post Melissa! 🙂
Great tip Lucretia! I could seriously see going on another one sooner than next year if everything pans out right!
Use your Target Red Card to purchase Disney Gift Cards to pay for your cruise and spending money. 5% adds up quickly!!!
Wow! That sounds like a super fun way to travel!
It is Allie!
Is there plenty to do for all ages of kids?
Absolutely Alisha! That is the one thing I was so excited about! They even have activities for adults!
Our family of 4 went in November 2013 on the wonder 7 night Bahama cruise and it was AMAZING. Worth every penny. Plan on going back 2015. My kids are 7 and 8 and they cried when it was time to go home.. they food was amazing!!!
Looking forward to taking the kids. Thank you.
Our family also went on the Disney Magic Cruise in April 2014 and it was amazing. The only thing i didnt like was my 15 month grandbaby was not allowed in kiddie pool even if she had swim diaper on, child must my potty trained 🙁 But over all I would highly recommend it for anyone!! We have booked our 2nd cruise for 2015 this time on the Disney Dream and cant wait!!!!
That is awesome Nancy, we are hoping to book our 2nd one soon!