Walt Disney World & World Travels

Disney Cruise planning

Posted on: July 6, 2009

Most families are going to plan for months, even a year before they set sail.  Thanks to a special travel agent perk, my family is going on their (the kids) first cruise in less than 2 weeks.  Although with a Disney Cruise, once you’ve picked which cruise you want to go on, there isn’t much else to do. 

Where to start?  With a good  travel agent of course, lol!   We’ll talk about how to find the right cruise for you in another post.   Today I’m going to focus on getting ready for your cruise.

First things first, for U.S. citizens, right now you are not required to have a passport for travel that starts & ends in a U.S. port but it is highly recommended!  If you don’t have a passport you will need the following documents:  certified birth certificate (not a copy!!!), government issue photo ID (drivers license), marriage license (ladies, if you name has changed since you were born bring the marriage license).  Same documents are needed for children; 15 & under do not need photo ID.  You will need all of your documents when you check in at the cruise terminal, so DO NOT PACK your passport & ID!  Carry your documents with you in your day bag.  I also recommend making color copies of all your ID; pack a copy and leave a copy at home.

Next, go online to disneycruise.com and do all of your online registrations.  Register for the kids clubs, enter your credit card info for your Key To The World Card, online check in, flight info.  All of the paperwork that you need to have when you check in you can print & fill out ahead of time and some only needs to be done online (kids club registration).   Now look at the excursions & spa treatments.  Think about what you want to do while in Nassau, if you see the “perfect” excursion for your family, book it now so you won’t miss out.  You can also book your Castaway Cay excursions, spa treatments and make Palo reservations online.  If you’re not sure, you can wait to book these things once you’re on the ship.  Keep in mind, some of these will “sell out”  or the time you want may not be available. 

What do you need for the cruise?  Not a whole lot really.  If we were going on a 7 night cruise there would be a few more things that we would need but for a 3 night cruise here’s what I suggest:

  • Comfortable “cruise casual” clothes.  Shorts and tee-shirts are perfect for most of the day(s)
  • No shorts in the dining rooms for dinner, but it’s not super fancy.  Collared (golf) shirt and khakis for guys, and skirt, skort or sundress for ladies.  One night of the cruise is the “dress up” night, but it’s not overly formal and it’s optional.  Guys, bring a sports jacket and you’ll be set.  If you think you might want to eat at Palo, you have to have that sports jacket & ladies will be more dressed up.
  • Bathing suits!  Bring several so you always have a dry one to put on.  A cover up is nice to have, but not required.
  • Pool shoes with traction.  If the bottom of your flip flops are worn smooth, get a new pair.  The deck can be slippery and you don’t want to fall on vacation.
  • Light weight sweater or jacket.  The theaters & restaurants can get a little chilly.
  • Camera.  You have the camera, do you have your charger, batteries, film???  If you forget batteries or film you can buy those on the ship, but it’ll be cheaper to bring them from home.
  • Dramamine.  Not sure if you suffer from motion/sea sickness?  Pick up a package of dramamine from your local drugstore for a couple of dollars, just in case.
  • While you’re at the drug store, make sure you stock up on sun screen!
  • Gym or tennis shoes.  If you think there’s the slightly possibility that you might want to work out or participate in the 5k run on Castaway Cay, you’ll need your gym shoes.
  • Cash for:  room service tips (more info on tips below), the Bahamas.

I really struggled to come up with more, but you don’t need more.  

Our “planning/packing” so far has been to run out and get a 2nd bathing suit for my son, new flip flops for my husband and a sundress for my daughter.  I’ve gathered the passports & birth certificates and have them in a pile.  Jon’s sport coat is on it’s way to the dry cleaner and I’ll start working on the laundry.   I’ve done all of our paperwork and my son is registered for the Oceaneers Lab.  We’ve decided to skip the excursions in Nasasu and to just take the kids into town and explore on our own for awhile.  We’re going to check out the Pirate Museum and of course the Straw Market and then we’ll play it by ear.  After looking at the options for Castaway Cay, we know that we want to sign up for the “Extreme Getaway Package” (only available for booking onboard at any day before arrival in Castaway Cay).

I mentioned tipping earlier, and now I’ll go into more detail.  Tipping/Gratuities are of course optional, but they are pretty standard.  One of the options that Disney Cruise Line offers is the ability to pre-pay your gratuities.  Don’t worry, your servers & cabin attendant won’t know ahead of time so you don’t need to worry about that.  You’ll just have the convenience of having done it ahead of time, not worrying about having cash or envelopes made up.  When you choose to pre-pay your gratuieties, on the last night of your cruise you will receive “tickets” and envelopes made out for all of your servers/attendants.  Then you hand them out the last night.  Ta da, you’re done!  

Other tips/gratuities would be for:

  •  Bar items, there will be an automatic gratuity added to your bill.  You’re of course free to tip more, but be aware that a tip is already added on! 
  • Room service is free, so you won’t receive a check to sign.  You’ll want to have cash for tipping room service.
  • Porters.  If you use the porters for your luggage when you drive to the port or when disembarking the ship, you’ll want cash for tips.  Generally a couple of dollars per bag is the suggested amount.

What else needs to be done before leaving the house?  Well I’m starting on laundry, dry cleaning and cleaning the house- I hate coming home to a dirty house!  I’ll go to the bank to make sure I have cash for the trip, drugstore for sunscreen & dramamine (just in case) and the library for some poolside reading materials.  Since we’re also spending 5 nights at Disney World before our cruise, I need to make sure to pack for both parts of the trip.  

I’ll post with more tips & suggestions throughout the week.

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