The excitement has been building for months and now, finally, you are setting foot on your Disney ship.
But sometimes at this point, you might step on board and suddenly wonder what you should do first!
After all that planning and trying to remember all those Disney Cruise Tips you have learned, there are so many options you can be a bit overwhelmed.
But don’t worry.
Here is the guide for you.
Let’s look at what you can do in those first hours after you embark on your Disney Cruise so that you can make the most of your experience from the start.
Get Those Reservations Taken Care Of
You have probably been through the process of booking things online on your Disney Navigator app.
Sometimes that goes well and you get all the dining and activity bookings you want.
But realistically there will be at least one thing that you wanted to book but couldn’t before you got on the ship.
What might you want to book? Here are just some examples:
- Adult-only dining Palo, Remy, or Enchante
- See if you can change your main dining time
- Spa Reservations
- Royal Gathering
- Olaf’s Picnic (Disney Wish)
- The Rainforest Room
- Port Adventures
- Disney Cruise Beverage Tastings
For anything dining-related you will look on your Navigators App or ask a Cast Member where the dining team is located so you can talk to them about changing. your dining time and making any dining reservations.
You will be able to see your Dining Rotation. If you really aren’t happy with it for some reason – say you have two days scheduled in your least favorite restaurant, go to wherever the dining team is stationed, and ask to move.
Nothing is guaranteed, but know that your Disney Cruise Cast Members will always try and help you get your first preference and go out of their way to make sure you get the choices you want if it is possible.
The location of the dining team can change, so always check, but often the dining team is in Luna Lounge on Disney Wish and French Quarter or Azure on Disney Wonder.
Spa reservations including the Rainforest Room? Head to the Spa and talk to the team there. Also, you can enter the spa raffle which is always held on the first afternoon.
Head to the Port Adventures Desk. There is one on every Disney Cruise ship located close to Guest Services – but always check on your Navigators App or ask a Cast Member how to locate it.
For anything else go to Guest Services.
If you are sailing Concierge go up to the lounge as soon as you board and ask them to help you arrange the activities that you want.
I do recommend that you deal with these bookings as soon as possible – some do sell out.
I know that guests can get very frustrated that they haven’t been able to book things online prior to their Disney Cruise.
But many things, for example, adult dining options, are not all available online, so you do stand a good chance of being able to book these if you want to.
Time for Food
So now you have hopefully sorted out the activities you wanted, you can do what you really want to do.
There are always a number of options for you when you board:
- The Buffet
- A Sit Down Restaurant Lunch
- Concierge Lunch – for concierge guests only. You can also get snacks in the lounge.
- Pool Deck Food
- Room Service
Most guests head for the buffet. This is Cabanas on the Magic, Wonder, Dream, and Fantasy. On Disney Wish, it is Marceline Market.
There will be a fabulous choice of items for your Disney cruise embarkation lunch.
However, this is where most guests go to eat when they board.
If you want a quieter option then head for the sit-down restaurant lunch. There will be one restaurant which is dedicated to this, such as Tiana’s Place on Disney Wonder.
If you are sailing concierge there will be a separate restaurant with a different menu available. Or you can go straight up to the lounge.
There are also lots of options available on the pool deck of every Disney Ship.
The Disney Wish has an excellent selection in the Festival of Foods outside on Deck 11. You are sure to find something to eat on the pool deck of any of the Disney ships.
Also don’t forget that free soda, coffee, and tea!
Hit the Pool Deck
Remember to pack your swimwear in your carry-on, or even wear it underneath regular clothes, and you can be amongst the first people to take advantage of the pools on all of the Disney ships.
This is one of those times that if you are wanting to ride the AquaDuck on the Fantasy or Dream, or the AquaMouse on Disney Wish, the lines will be relatively light.
This is also one of the best times to take advantage of the adult pools, particularly on Disney Wish as this is one of the best chances of having some elbow room in the infinity pool.
Go To Your Stateroom
Your staterooms should be ready around 1.30 pm.
Your checked luggage will probably arrive sometime between 2 pm and 5 pm so make sure that you have your essentials in a carry-on.
I always like to get to my stateroom as soon as possible after they are ready so that I can start to settle in!
There is nothing quite like the moment when you open the door to your Disney stateroom and see where you are going to be spending your cruise!
Attend the Muster Drill
Always go to the muster drill. And to be considerate to other passengers please go on time.
A muster drill might not be the way that you want to spend your time, but it is done for a reason.
And the Disney Cast Members try and make it as easy and quick as possible.
You will find out where your Muster Station is by looking at your Key to the World, your Navigators App or on the back of your stateroom door.
You don’t need to take your life jacket with you anymore.
Most guests have a muster station which is on the Promenade Deck outdoors.
And it can be hot. Very hot. So be prepared and take a hat and a water bottle. Particularly if you have young children.
Explore Your Disney Ship
This is a great time to explore and just generally work out where things are on the ship.
The Magic and Wonder have the same layout, as do the Dream and the Fantasy.
The classic ships the Magic and Wonder are pretty easy to get around, and the learning curve is not that great. Take some time just to get your bearings on Deck 3 and 4 and Deck 9 the pool deck and the rest will pretty much make sense pretty quickly.
The same with Disney Dream and Fantasy. The general concept is the same as the classic ships, they are just larger.
There are deck plans on your Navigator App and also near each elevator. You will soon be navigating around the ships without too much effort!
The Wish is a whole different concept!
The layout of the Wish certainly has its challenges. I found that the first time I sailed, being prepared and having a good idea of the layout before I embarked really made a difference.
I am a huge fan of Tim Tracker and I watched this before I first sailed on Disney Wish and it made a big difference.
It’s a long video but very detailed, and it saved me a ton of time onboard – which of course is very valuable time on a short cruise!
Plan What You Want to Do
There is a lot to do on a Disney Cruise.
And now you are on the ship you can see, via your Navigators App, all the activities and times they are scheduled.
The App allows you to “heart” the things that you want to do. Just take some time to look through at least the first day so that you can plan what you want to do.
There are activities for each member of the family so check what everyone would like to do and try and arrange some time together and also some time away from the kids!
Go to the Kids Club!
Even if you are sailing without children you will probably at least want to have a look at the amazing Kids’ Clubs on Disney ships.
The first hours after embarkation, and also certain other scheduled hours, and Open House, so anyone can go and see what the Kids Clubs have to offer.
If you have children and haven’t pre-registered online you can do this now.
This is a great time to see all the fabulous spaces for kids on a Disney Cruise and also to talk to the counselors. If you have any concerns at all about your child settling in then they really are there to help.
You will probably find that your children want to spend all their time there and it is difficult to persuade them to spend some time with you!
This is one of the most exciting moments of your Disney Cruise.
You have planned for so long and now you and your family are finally on board and ready to embark on a Disney Cruise!
All Disney ships have a Sail Away party on the pool deck for sail away.
The actual format of the stage show varies but they all involve Disney characters and your Disney Cruise entertainment team giving you a high-energy sail away.
If you want a quieter option there are many great places to spend sail away.
One of my favorites is my Disney Cruise balcony. I don’t always sail in a balcony stateroom, but when I do, I usually spend sail away on the balcony.
I try and time it so that I have ordered Room Service and can enjoy an All Hands on Deck and a glass of wine, that I have carried on, whilst sailing out of port.
This is the start of your Disney cruise and just a time to be savored.
Time to Enjoy Your Disney Cruise
The first few hours can be a little chaotic, but just sit back and relax and contemplate the experience ahead.
Planning really does help you to enjoy the experience even more.
We have so many resources here for you to help you have the best Disney Cruise and if you join one of our Disney Cruise Groups you can also benefit from the experience of thousands of others who have sailed.
Alison Meacham is the founder of EverythingMouse Disney Blog. For over 15 years she has shared her love of Disney Parks, Disney Cruises and Universal Orlando. In over 30 years of Disney Travel she has spent countless months in Disney Parks and has sailed on over 45 cruises. A British native and now a United States resident she splits her time between California, Florida and the UK. And spends a serious amount of time sailing the seven seas. She helps over 200,000 people per month follow their Disney travel dreams.