I’ve sailed with Disney 19 times, so I obviously love their ships. By sailing 19 times, I’ve learned some tips to enhance my time onboard the Disney ships. With so much to know before you set sail on Disney Cruise Line, it’s easy to miss out on the most interesting tidbits. Maybe you’ve attended a Pirates in the Caribbean deck party or know all about the Midship Detective Agency, and can’t wait for all the free soft-serve ice cream — but you can still return home without ever knowing all of the things that make Disney Cruise Line so special.
Here are a few ways to make your cruise with Mickey & the gang even better:
Meridian is a great bar, that nobody seems to talk about. Meridian is located on the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy, between the specialty restaurants Palo & Remy. The upscale bar and lounge is intended for diners at the upcharge restaurants, but it is open to all adults adhering to its business casual dress code. Meridian’s specialty is their martinis, but they also offer a cigar bar, custom craft cocktails and a gin & tonic cart. Don’t miss out on their private deck which hosts a picture-perfect view of nightly sunsets.
Pink. While we are talking bars, on the Disney Dream, Pink is my favorite. Designed as if you are in a champagne bottle, this champagne bar is decked out in rosy shades of pink and gold. Watch out for the pink elephants!
Mickey Ice Cream Bars aren’t found on any menu, but those frozen, chocolate-covered ice cream treats are available throughout the ship. Request one for dessert at any table-service restaurant (with sprinkles and whipped cream for an over-the-top treat), or order one directly to your stateroom through DCL’s complimentary room service.
The Disney Characters wear special outfits for Pirate Night and on formal evenings, and also have outfits to match where the cruise ship is headed that day. On Alaska sailings, expect to meet Mickey in fisherman’s overalls and Minnie in a fur-lined coat; on trips through the Mediterranean sea, Goofy dons an Italy-inspired suit. Outfit changes are completely unannounced, so attend meet-and-greets often to see what the Disney gang is wearing each day.
Arrive Early, at least 15 minutes prior to a character meet and you’ll be guaranteed a photo with the popular Disney characters like Mickey Mouse and Chip ‘n’ Dale. Doors open 30 minutes before Broadway-style shows, so for banner performances, like Tangled, The Musical or on the Disney Magic or Disney Dream’s phenomenal Beauty and the Beast musical, you’ll want to arrive then to get prime seats.
Reserve Tickets to special character meet & greets.
- Princess Gathering
- Frozen Meet and Greet
- Disney Junior Character Breakfast (select cruises only)
- Disney VIP Character Breakfast (select cruises only)
- Royal Court Royal Tea (select cruises only)
Once your cruise is paid in full, you can make reservations online within your advance booking window. Your advance booking window is determined by your Castaway Club membership level.
To book online:
- Sign in to My Reservations.
- Locate “My Cruise Activities”; then you can “View or Add Activities.”
- On your day-by-day itinerary plan, choose the day you’d like to reserve your activity; then select from the options provided.
- You’ll see a list of available choices. Select the ones you’d like to do that day. You can then review your selections and add them to the cart.
A limited number of tickets may also be available on the first day of your cruise. Please check with Guest Services once on board the ship to determine if there is availability.
Keep in mind that Character appearances are subject to change. Since space is extremely limited, only one reservation per ticketed event per voyage is allowed. Additional Character appearances that do not require a ticket are available throughout the cruise.
Arrive Late when it’s dinner time. Your rotational time (between 5:45 and 6:15 for first seatings and 8 and 8:30 for second seatings, depending on itinerary) is when the restaurant actually opens; walk in a few minutes after opening time, and you’ll reach your table and avoid the dining room queue.
Also, on the night of the Pirates IN the Caribbean deck party, the fireworks actually start about 10 minutes after the announced time. Grab a spot on the ship’s upper deck, starboard side, for an uninhibited view.
Pin Traders take notice: Disney Cruise Line has an Officer Pin Trading Night, and it simply can’t be missed. The crew lines up with pin lanyards, collectors come out to trade and since there’s always a crowd, the lanyards are constantly changing, making it easy to find something new and interesting. Officer Pin Trading Night is never really publicized but happens once each sailing; check the Daily Navigator to be sure you don’t miss out.
The Snuggly Duckling, the tavern in the woods where Rapunzel and Flynn Rider join the locals in singing “I’ve got a dream”, has been recreated at the O’Gills Pub. So, don’t head back to your stateroom after watching Tangled: The Musical on the Disney Magic…for one night only the pub has been transformed with themed Tangled decor. There will also be cast interactions, themed food, & games. It’s a little known addition that makes seeing the show that much more special.
Take the stairs! If you’re able, taking the stairs will help alleviate the guilt (or the need) to visit Disney Cruise Line’s on-board gym, and free up space in your luggage where those gym sneakers would have lived. It saves time, (DCL’s elevators are slow and crowded), is a healthy choice, and you’ll actually feel better ordering two desserts at Tiana’s Place or Animator’s Palate. While the ship is in motion, switch staircases at each floor, it will help prevent you from getting dizzy.
Do you get lost on the ship? Use the ship’s secret navigation tricks and you’ll always know which way you are going! If the ships & the map on the carpeting outside your stateroom are right side up, you’ll be walking towards the front of the ship (Forward). On the Disney Dream & Fantasy, Starboard side cabins have Starfish clips, while the port side cabins have fish. On your Key To The World card there are letters that remind you of the order of your dining rotation (LACLA for example would mean: Lumiere’s Animator’s Palate, Cariocas, Lumiere’s, Animator’s Palate).
Til We Meet Again. If you skipped any of the character meet & greets, you’ll be able to take lots of character photos in the atrium. Til We Meet Again is the goodbye show on the final night of each sailing. After a short heartwarming performance (I’m not crying, you’re crying), loads of Disney characters, Princesses & theater performers will mingle throughout the crowd, posing for pictures on a first-come, first-served basis. The onboard photographers are usually not there, so take as many pictures as you like. Sometimes, I’ve taken as many character pictures during this one event, as I’ve taken the entire cruise.
Well, that about sums up this edition of Disney Cruise Line secrets. I have more. If you book with me, you’ll learn all of my hints, tips & secrets…