Tips for your first Disney cruise

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  • A few weeks ago we surprised our kids with a trip of a life time to go on the Disney Dream! The Disney Dream is absolutely breathtaking. The ship is so amazing and everything is so well thought out. This is by far our favorite vacation we have ever took! Watching my kids faces light up and their reactions really made the whole trip.

    The Disney Cruise Line sails world-wide from tropical Caribbean islands to Alaska and Europe. We took the 4-day cruise to the Bahamas and it was absolutely perfect. It’s all the little extras that make it the most magical vacation.

    disney cruise aqua duck

    Disney Dream cruise ship

    The first stop we made on the cruise was to get ice cream cones of course. Then my kids changed right into their swimsuits and tested out the Aqua Duck slide. I went on it as well and it was so fun! It went around the entire ship and you could look out and see the ocean while you were soaring through. The pool is seriously so much fun! My kids loved that they could swim and watch their favorite movies on the big screen.

    Here are some highlights from our trip! Scroll to the bottom to find some insider tips and all of our favorite places to eat ;)

    disney cruise ice cream

    Disney cruise kids club

    The kids club on the Disney cruise is absolutely amazing! My kids loved going there. Make sure to pre-register for the kids club during registration to make the first check in go smoothly. There are so many different rooms and things for them to explore. The Oceaneer club is for ages 3-11. I love how sanitary everything is. They have the coolest hand washing machines they have to use before they go in.

    For teenagers there is Edge for ages 11-14 and Vibe for ages 14-17. The teen lounges seriously looked so awesome. I actually went as a teenager with my own family and had such an amazing time!


    Goofy’s pajama party the first night is a must! They go in their pj’s and get to color their own pillow case they can sleep on the rest of the trip.

    Disney Halloween cruise

    The cruise we went on was the ‘Halloween on the High Seas.’ The holiday cruises are SO much fun! The whole ship was decked out in Halloween decor and they had so many fun activities on the ship. My kids loved dressing up in their costumes and going trick or treating. They also had so many fun crafts as well. I’d love to go on one during Christmas one year!

    disney halloween cruise

    Disney cruise food

    The food on the cruise was my favorite part! Obviously. There is no shortage of dining options. I’ve heard all the calories on the cruise magically disappear. ;)

    On deck 11 you can get all the soda, water, ice cream your heart desires 24/7 along with food at Flo’s cafe, Vanellope’s, Frozone treats, Cabanas, Cove Cafe & Vista Cafe and the Senses Juice Bar. Each night you’ll rotate through the fabulous restaurants: Animator’s Palate, Enchanted Garden and Royal Palace. More about the menu’s here.

    All the food is included and you can order as much as you’d like. If two things look good, you can order both. Some nights I just couldn’t resist ordering two desserts, because I couldn’t decide. Or we would order one of each and split them between the table so we could try a bite of them all. Also, if you’re looking for something on the menu that isn’t there, just ask. I always asked for a bowl or plate of fruit at dinner.

    I also loved that we had the same servers every night, even when we moved to different locations. They are seriously THE best and so entertaining. They remembered my kids names and all our drink orders, so we had drinks right when we arrived. My kids always loved seeing them do magic tricks too. If you have dietary restrictions, allergies or just simply want them to know you like lemon in you water, let them know the first night and you wont have to let them know again.


    For breakfast we loved going to the buffet at Cabanas since we have young kids, but you can go to a sit down restaurant as well. My kids got the Mickey waffles every day and I usually got an omelet with some fruit and a pastry.

    disney cruise brunch

    Thursday morning my husband and I went to brunch at Remy’s – A French-inspired menu for superior seasonal ingredients ensures dining at this luxurious gourmet restaurant-inspired by the hit Disney Pixar film Ratatouille. All the food was amazing.

    disney cruise Remy

    Some mornings I was honestly still full, so a green smoothie from the Senses Juice Bar on deck 11 (by the gym) was all I wanted. It was perfect!

    green smoothie on disney cruise


    For lunch we typically would grab something at Flo’s Cafe (on Deck 11 midship) or grab something on the island. Flo’s Cafe had a variation of pizzas, sandwiches, hamburgers, salads, wraps and more. My kids always loved getting the chicken fingers and fries! Okay… I admit, I did too. ;)

    flos cafe


    Animators Palate, was one of my favorite restaurants. My favorites on the menu were the garlic and herb focaccia, the chicken and walnut salad, the lemon-thyme marinated chicken with mashed potatoes, the lemon ice box pie and cheese cake for dessert. My kids loved watching crush bounce between screens and talk to the kids. It was so much fun!

    Tuesday night we made a reservation at Palo, which features Italian cooking with a modern twist at this chic adult exclusive restaurant. Make sure to make a reservation ahead of time (preferably before 6pm so you can watch the sunset and see the amazing views). I heading to Palo, you’ll want to check your kids in to the kids club where they can eat dinner and dress up :)

    disney cruise palo

    Our favorites from the menu were: tomato mozzarella caprese, soft potato gnocchi, roasted lemon rosemary chicken, grilled prime beef tenderloin and the chocolate soufflé for dessert.

    disney cruise food


    The dessert was probably my favorite part! Seriously so many yummy options! We always loved getting a few to share at dinner.

    disney cruise cheese cake

    We loved getting the ice cream cones multiple times a day on deck 11. Sometimes we would grab a cup from the soda fountain and make our own floats too. YUM! There was also so yummy treats and ice cream at Vanellelope’s. That was one of my favorite spots on the ship!

    disney cruise vanellopes

    The Family Challenge was fun too!

    Family challenge ice cream

    I’m still dreaming about this vanilla cream from Remy’s. To die for!

    disney cruise dessert

    If you’re still hungry and feel like a late night treat, feel free to order room service (it’s free). They offer a lot of the same foods as Flo’s Cafe and you can also ask for the dessert of the day or a Mickey ice cream bar (that isn’t listed on the menu). Warm cookies and milk are also a nice treat. It’s also nice to order room service for breakfast and eat on the deck.

    There are also free snacks/desserts in the Cove Cafe (near the adult only pool). Look at this delicious spread! You will definitely not go hungry on the Disney Dream!

    disney cruise cove cafe

    Disney cruise Castaway Cay

    Wednesday we arrived at Castaway Cay, Disney’s Private Island in the Bahamas. The water is pure turquoise and so clear. It is so beautiful! My kids loved playing on the beach, snorkeling, the splash pad, going on bike rides and getting smoothies. The day was absolutely magical! We never wanted to leave!

    For lunch we ate at Cookies 2 and had a yummy BBQ feast with cookies of course.

    disney cruise bbq

    Remember, you don’t need to bring towels, they’ll provide them for you. Grab 2 per person, so you have one to lay on the chair and one to dry off with. We like to get off at the 2nd stop, near the children’s playground/splash pad and snorkeling. We loved renting bikes there as well.

    If you want to drop your kids off at the Kids Club, they have a spot on the beach as well and you can sneak away to the adult only beach for awhile, while they play with their friends. We didn’t do this since we had 2 littles, but it might be nice if you wanted a little relaxing time.

    Disney cruise pirate night

    Pirate night was such a great time! We made our own costumes. Basically all you need is a plain white t-shirt, black pants and red felt. All I did was cut a zig zag around the edges of the shirt and then tied a piece of 4-inch felt around the waist. Then we added some fun little accessories that we bought on ship. My kids loved getting to stay up late that night and watch Jack Sparrow in the show. The fireworks on ship were also amazing and a must see!

    disney cruise pirate night

    Disney Dream cruise tips

    • The best deals on a Disney cruise are usually in September when the kids have gone back to school.
    • Check in online early (as soon as it becomes available), set a reminder on your calendar.
    • Schedule the earliest port arrival time and make sure to get there on time. It will give you more time on the ship, to check in and grab lunch.
    • Fly in the night before your cruise leaves, so you are not stressed out that morning. Here are some tips on transportation to the port.
    • Pick up a case of water bottles and snacks on your way to the port. Even though the drinks and food is free, sometimes it’s nice to have it in your room and not have to wait for room service (which is free BTW).
    • Unpack the first night and store your luggage under your bed. There isn’t a ton of room, so it’s best to get organized the first day.
    • Make sure to download the Disney cruise line navigator app before you leave. It’s the best way to access the daily itinerary and message other guests on the ship. Refresh the app occasionally, so you make sure to have the most current info.
    • Sign up for the FREE 50MB wifi package on the first day and use it sparingly. Make sure to sign out at each time you’re done using it, or it will continue use the date in the background. The best part about the cruise is staying unplugged, but sometimes it’s nice to check in with family.
    • When you walk outside your door you’ll notice stars on the floor. Remember that the top point of the star points towards the front of the ship. The two bottom corners point to the aft.
    • If you get seasick, make sure to plan ahead. I like to bring some dramamine and sea bands on board just in case.
    • Bring an old gift card to put in the slot by the door. You have to put in your room key to power the electricity, and it’s nice to have something always there so you don’t have to use your card.
    • They show new movies at the Buena Vista Theatre, so make sure to catch a film there. You can bring your own food and drinks in (they charge extra in the theatre), so go to deck 11 before the show and grab a soda and a snack to bring in.
    • Get a raiforest spa day pass and relax in the jacuzzi or sauna. They also have large showers (perfect for washing your hair)!
    • Don’t miss the broadway shows each night. They are amazing. Beauty and the Beast was absolutely incredible!
    • Bring your own refillable cup for the soda/water fountain.
    • Wait until the 2nd or 3rd day for character photos, the lines will be super short (especially in the am). You can also find the characters walking around on the decks and ask for photos there as well (there’s usually no line).

    disney cruise cinderalla

    Disney Dream cruise tips with babies and toddlers

    • Reserve a crib or stroller ahead of time. Also, if you have a baby you can ask your waiter to puree or cut any of the food. So awesome!
    • Make sure to pack a bag with your swim suits (my kids want to get in the pool right away, and it is always the least crowded then) and whatever else you’ll need for the afternoon since the luggage won’t be to your room until around 4-6pm.
    • Reserve time at the nursery the first day (within the first few hours) or times will book up quickly. We loved putting our baby down to sleep during the show. They are great there!
    • You can pre-book any character meet and greets beforehand to make it easier. You can also wait in the lines and they are surprisingly not too long.
    • Jack-Jack’s Incredible Diaper Dash was also so cute and hilarious! We had Wes compete and it was so fun watching all the babies. Pretty much the cutest thing ever and you need to go! The cruise director told us this is her favorite activity on the ship, don’t miss it!

    disney cruise ice cream cone

    The Disney Difference: Disney’s signature service, attention to detail, Disney’s private island, the entertainment and rich storytelling are some of the reasons why Disney Cruise Line is voted among the best at sea. I honestly could go on and on about how much I loved the Disney Cruise. It was absolutely amazing!

    If you’re headed on your first cruise remember to enjoy every minute! Remember to have fun, relax and spread pixie dust wherever you go!


    Do you have any tips? Share in the comment section below!

    Disclosure: This post is in partnership with Disney. All opinions are 100% my own.

    disney cruise secrets and tips
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