The Ultimate Guide To Going On A Family Disney Cruise

Taking a Disney Cruise is the perfect trip for all families. They combine the child-like magic of Disney, with the adult need to explore sandy beaches. 

Disney ensures that all of their trips are accessible, easy to navigate and contain fun activities for all ages. This means that families can experience all the fun and none of the hassle which comes with a vacation. 

Still, as a parent, you probably want to know all the details that go into planning, booking, and taking a Disney cruise, before parting with your money.

In this guide, we will break down all of the important details you need to know – such as the cabin information, the general facilities (including laundry), the food options, entertainment, and more.

A prepared parent creates a stress-free vacation, so dive into our guide and let the relaxation begin!

Disney Cruise Cabins And Suite Information 

Disney Cruise Cabins And Suite Information 

Each ship is slightly different, but in general, there will be 4 different types of cabins for you to choose from. We will go through each option, so you can make the best decision for your family.

Inside

The Inside cabin is the smallest, and, as the name suggests, it is located inside the ship. This means there will be no windows looking out into the ocean. However, the room will likely have a painted window to keep the sailing theme alive for your children.

The Inside comes in four choices, Standard, Deluxe, Standard Accessible, or Deluxe Accessible.

Realistically, this option should only be chosen by those on a tight budget. The space is small and practical for a 4-person sleeping room, but not big enough for long periods. If the Inside is your only option, then be prepared to spend most of the day on the deck and not in your room.

The Deluxe has an additional 30 ft to play around with, which is why it is the best choice within the Inside collection.

Oceanview

Disney Cruise likes to keep the names simple. Oceanview cabins are placed near the edge of the boat, allowing them to have a window with a view of the ocean.

All Oceanview cabins are considered Deluxe, however, they do have an Accessible option for those with additional needs.

Apart from the view and the size, these rooms contain the same refrigerator, LCD screen TV, spa products (such as shower gel), and WIFI (although the WiFi costs are extra).

In the Accessible suites, the bathroom has a ramp and doesn’t contain any splits. This is designed to make maneuvering easier. There are low bars around the room and bathroom along with additional emergency alarm buttons near the bed.

Feeling Overwhelmed Consider A Travel Agent

Verandah

The term “Verandah” means “a balcony with a roof”. This doesn’t mean that the room is open to the elements. However, you will be given a private balcony to enjoy the ocean breeze and take in the sunrise. 

If you are booking with other families, you can pick adjoining rooms and remove the partition, opening the verandah and allowing the families to mingle.

It is at this point that Disney allows larger sleeping facilities. All the Verandahs are considered Deluxe, however, the rooms which sleep 5 are also considered Family sized.

You may notice the rooms are called Oceanview Verandah, instead of just Verandah. This is because all Verandah must have an ocean view, so to avoid confusion some ships include both names.

Concierge Suites

A “Concierge” is normally a term that means an employee of a hotel. But on a Disney Cruise, the workers don’t sleep here. Instead, Disney has flipped the switch and named this room “Concierge” as it is basically a miniature hotel, all by itself.

The bedroom is separate from the living area, unlike all of the other rooms. This space sleeps 5 people and is 622 square feet long, that’s almost 3 times the size of an Oceanview room.

The LCD TV is much larger too, and you are given complimentary robes and slippers to lounge in. Most importantly, you can enjoy free WIFI up to 100 MB.

All Concierge Suites have a balcony as standard. However, if you have a large party, you may wish for the Concierge Royal Suite, which allows the partition of the balcony to be removed.

As you can imagine, this suite is the most expensive.

What To Know Before You Go

What To Know Before You Go

The Disney Cruise line has policies and requirements just like any abroad holiday. To make sure you don’t get tripped up on the essentials, follow these guidelines and make sure you are ready for the less exciting parts of your vacation.

Required Documents

Each cruise will be traveling to different locations. Some will be staying within the United States, while others will travel to Europe and further. 

If you are an American citizen and are taking a cruise that only travels to the US States, then you can use either your state-issued birth certificate or government-issued photo ID (such as a passport or driver’s license) to prove your identity and ability to travel.

If you are not an American citizen or are traveling to places outside of your country, then you will need to use a passport to prove your identity and ability to travel. 

We recommend taking a passport regardless of destination. All passports must be valid for 6 months before the cruise starts.

Gratuities

Instead of tipping every time you interact with a member of staff, the Disney Cruise Line suggests adding your tip to the end of the bill. They suggest tipping $13.50 per guest per night, however, tipping is only an option and not mandatory. 

Some areas of the cruise will automatically take a tip. For example, when you dine at the Palo & Remy, a gratuities charge of 18% is added to your bill. You may ask for this amount to be removed or add more as your prerogative. 

The Senses Spa and Salon also automatically take a tip of 18%.

WiFi on the Disney Cruise is not strong, fast, or reliable

Wi-Fi

Straight off the bat, we suggest NOT using Disney Cruise’s WiFi. If your package comes with free WiFi usage, then use up the data, but once your allowance dries up, don’t bother paying for more.

The WiFi on the cruise is not strong, fast, or reliable. Even worse – it is expensive. The smallest package you can buy is 100 MB for $19 – that’s roughly 4 hours of social media scrolling or 10 minutes of streaming.

The largest package you can buy is 1,000 MB (1GB) for $89 which can give you 1 hour of standard-definition Netflix viewing.

However, the money doesn’t match the quality or need, so instead, we suggest going internet-free for the vacation, or re-visit the roaming charges on your devices. If your phone company doesn’t charge for roaming or gives a better price, then use your data instead.

Carry-On Drinks Policy

Disney Cruise’s drinking policy matches America’s oldest age requirement. It doesn’t matter where the cruise starts, they all follow the “21 or over” rule.

This means that only those aged 21 or older can bring alcohol onto the ship. 

You can bring up to 2 unopened wine bottles or 6 unopened beer cans onto the cruise ship. You can do this every time you enter the boat from a port.

The drinks must be part of your carry-on bags and not your suitcases or luggage and can be consumed in your cabin without charge.

If you want to drink the beverages in one of the cruise’s dining rooms, you can. However, you will be charged a $25 corkage fee per bottle.

Smoking Policy

Disney does have smoking areas around the ship, however, if you smoke inside the cabin or even on the cabin balconies, you will be fined $250.

Smoking in any unauthorized location will result in fees.

Laundry

Laundry

All Disney Cruise lines have a laundry room which is fantastic news for parents. It doesn’t matter if they spill food everywhere, or if your child wants to wear their favorite top 5 times in a row – you can wash and dry everything as often as you want.

The only limit to the laundry is the availability and the price. Washing costs $3, drying costs $3, and detergent costs $1. You can use your own detergent and softener, and there is an iron available too. (Please note these prices are subject to change.)

There are multiple laundry rooms throughout the ship, to help reduce lines and waiting times. 

Electrical Outlets

If you don’t have the correct outlet, you should bring an adaptor for your appliances.

Only use appliances of 110 volts and less than 1,500 Watts in the US outlets. In the European outlets, only use 220 volts and a maximum of 2,000 Watts.

Going over these numbers may result in broken equipment and fires.

Disney Cruise currency is US dollars

Currency

Everything on the Disney Cruise is counted in US Dollars. However, the ship is considered cash-free. This means that you don’t need to use your credit card or cash to pay for activities, food, or items. Instead, all of the charges will be sent to your cabin, creating a total bill at the end of your stay.

No matter which cruise you take or which room you choose, you will have 110-volt US outlets available. That being said, the Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream cruises have 220-volt European outlets too.

However, before you begin your voyage, you must submit a credit card as part of your check-in process. This is so you do not spend more than your account allows. If you reach your maximum, the staff will ask you to pay the debt and to check in a new card.

Accepted credit cards are:

  • Visa
  • MasterCard
  • Disney Visa Credit Card
  • American Express
  • Discover Credit Card
  • Diners Club International
  • Japanese Credit Bureau

All charges will be given in US dollars.

Drinking Age

Disney Cruise Entertainment

The drinking age is dependent on where the cruise starts. All cruises will have an onboard drinking age of 21, however, if the trip starts and ends in a European country, parents can give consent for people between the age of 18 and 20 to drink.

Parents have to give signed consent for this to be accepted.

This change in the ruling is due to the low drinking age in European countries

Dress Code

Generally speaking, there are three dress codes on Disney cruises. These are Sea Days, Cruise Casual, and Formal Night.

Sea Days are when the sun comes out and you wish to spend time on the top deck or on the water slides. Here you can wear bathing suits, t-shirts, shorts, or anything that would seem appropriate on a family-friendly beach. However, when you go inside, you are expected to wear a cover-up with any swimwear.

Cruise Casual attire is expected at any dining event. This dress code means you can be casual but shouldn’t wear swimwear, tank tops, or anything considered “beachwear”. You don’t have to be fancy.

Formal Nights are often encouraged on long 7-night trips. In these events, you are encouraged (but not required) to wear suits, cocktail dresses, sports coats, and other similar attire. 

When attending restaurants such as Palo and Remy, you are also expected to wear evening or smart clothing.

On Ship Restaurants, Dining, And Food

On Ship Restaurants, Dining, And Food

There is always food and drink available on the cruise ships, but depending on where you go, you will receive a different service.

Rotational Dining

No matter which cruise you pick, there will be three dining rooms available to you. These rooms separate breakfast, lunch, and dinner. However, these experiences come with rotation staff. This means that you will receive the same servers for your table no matter the day.

This type of service is designed to make sure you get the best service possible. Do you prefer a glass of wine at the start of every meal? The glass will be waiting for you. Do your children require ketchup on every plate? The sauce will be added to your meal. 

Whatever your personal preferences are, the serving staff will learn them and make sure you receive them as necessary.

Room Service

All room service is free with your stay. It doesn’t matter if you have a Concierge room or an Inside room, you will still receive the kitchen-to-door service.

However, the room you pick will create a limit on what you can order. The menu will be different on each cruise, so we cannot give you a breakdown. However, if you tick off your breakfast options the day before, and display them on your door, they will arrive at the selected time ready for you.

Buffet And Grab-And-Go

The Buffet is also another free service that contains ready-made foods and “grab and go” style lunches for you to eat at the restaurant or take with you as you dock.

If you don’t want to have the rotational dining service, you can opt for the Buffet instead.

Palo and Remy Restaurants on Disney Cruise

Palo And Remy

Palo and Remy are two different restaurants on the Disney Cruise, some ships have both others have just one. Either way, these restaurants have an additional cost for a fine dining experience.

As a fine dining restaurant, only adults are allowed to enter this area. If you want a night away from the kids, you can hire a babysitter, and book a table at the restaurant for a relaxing high-class evening.

The experience costs around $125 per person and the drinks are extra. 

The dress code is dresses, jackets, skirts, and blouses. You can wear jeans, however, they shouldn’t be ripped. 

Coffee Shops And Snack Shops

As an odd twist, the delicious pastries and snacks aboard the Disney Cruise are often free, however, if you ask for a specialty coffee (like a latte), you’ll have to pay extra.

This is great news for the kids, as you can get them any of the snacks they dream of, but means the adults need to watch their wallets.

Disney Cruise drinking age

Bars

The bars on Disney Cruises are designed to feel like a laid-back lounge or a live entertainment drinking area.

There is often live music and a cocktail to enjoy.

Most of these areas are off-limits to children, so again, you may need to hire a babysitter if you wish to experience these adult entertainment features.

Food on Castaway Cay – Disney’s Private Island

Castaway Cay is a restaurant on Disney’s private island, however, you can expect the same all-inclusive experience as when you are on the ship. This means that most things will be available for you regardless of the room you stay in, while others will cost you extra and be charged to your room.

Generally speaking, the options are more basic and festival-style than the food on the boat, but that’s because the experience and the games of the island are more important.

Entertainment And Activities

Of course, the main reason for taking a Disney Cruise is for the entertainment. The ship is packed with fun games, experiences, and events!

How Much Does A Disney Cruise Cost

Interior Attractions And Activities

For adults, the most popular indoor activity is the Spa. You can experience either a solo or a couples spa treatment which includes rejuvenating massages, body wraps, and aromatherapy.

The most popular children’s indoor activity is the “Meet Your Favorite Character” interactive experience. In this experience, you dine with the character, play games and reenact their scenes, and have chats with the stars.

Theaters And Shows

There are theaters on the cruise which allow you to watch scheduled shows. You can ask for the timetable and tell your kids when their favorite show will be ready.

However, you can also watch the live showing. Each cruise will have a handful of live performance schedules for your stay. The most popular are:

  • Disney’s Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular
  • Disney Dreams – An Enchanted Classic (A cruise special)
  • Tangled: The Musical
  • The Golden Mickeys (A collection of classic Disney songs)
  • Disney’s Believe (A cruise special)
  • Frozen – A Musical Spectacular

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique

The Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is a performance-based tailoring experience where kids can be transformed into Royalty such as princes and princesses, Fairytail Characters, and Pirates.

This event is extremely popular, so you should book the boutique as soon as possible. 

The Castle Package involves hair styling, a princess necklace, sash, makeup, gown, and nail polish costing $199.95.

The Captain’s package contains hair styling, a pirate costume, and a plush toy, costing $119.95.

Ultimately, there are 7 styles in total you can pick from.

Deck-Top Attractions

Entertainment And Activities

If you want an experience that every member of your family can enjoy, then you should spend the majority of your time on the deck.

Here you can enjoy waterslides, pools, splash pads, and sporting facilities.

The waterslides wrap around the boat like a theme park. The lines might be long, but the experience will be worth it. 

There are multiple pools for you to choose from. These include a splash pool, length swimming pools, and wave machines. 

Also, the Splash Pads are little areas of water that are designed for young children to play safely in.

And the sporting facilities include basketball courts, crazy golf, and soccer pitches.

Children’s Programs

The children’s programs are all free to use and don’t require pre-booking. Each section has its own opening times, staff on hand to play with the children, and may even experience a surprise visit from a Princess.

Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab

The Oceaneer experience is aimed at 3 to 12 years olds. The kids need to be potty trained to join in this event, but they will have indoor slides to play on, video games, and mini-movies to watch.

There is also a “make your own story” theater and a soft play area.

Edge Tween Club

The Edge Tween is for kids aged 11 to 14. Here the kids can play video games, go to dance parties, experience arts and crafts, and play arcade games.

The kids don’t need parent supervision while in the club, and there will be staff around to watch over them.

Vibe Teen Club

In the Vibe Teen club, kids ages 14 to 17 can swim in their own pool, hang out on the lounge chairs, sing karaoke, and play video games.

Babysitting

The babysitting facility that we have mentioned a couple of times already, is called It’s A Small World Nursery. There will be one on any cruise ship that you join and is designed for children ages 2 and younger.

What To Bring

If you wish to drop your kids off at the nursery, you need to book a slot. Ideally, you should book the usage when you plan your trip, but the earlier the better.

Before you let the kids go, you need to bring the following items:

  • Food for the child – this could be formula, milk, bottles, or pastes.
  • Additional clothing in case of an accident.
  • Diapers, diaper wipes, and or pull-ups.
  • A blanket
  • A pacifier

Non-pacifier items will not be allowed into the crib. If this will be a problem for your child, you may wish to start training them out of their special toy before the vacation.

Children with Additional Needs

Children with special needs are more than welcome in the clubs or the nursery, however, the ship cannot offer them one-to-one care. A child that can explain their needs and self-assess their medication will be allowed to give their medication to the Youth Activities desk and request them when needed.

The staff will do all they can for the child, however, they will not be trained in your child’s specific needs. This means you will have to assess the activities and your child’s abilities before entering them into any of the clubs or nursery facilities. 

Nursery Attractions

Inside the nursery, your children can experience a 3D replica of the “It’s a small world” attraction, which means bright lights, geometric shapes, and iconic songs along a floor-painted river.

There is also a decompression area, to help those who struggle with new environments. This contains soothing images and music.

The naps room has painted walls featuring Lightning McQueen, Pocahontas, Buzz Lightyear, and more.

The playroom has story-based fun for kids to make their own stories.

Disney Cruise Loyalty Program

Disney Cruise Loyalty Program

The Disney Cruise loyalty plan is called the Castaway Club. But instead of getting a free stay or a reduced cost, you get earlier check-ins, special discounts, and a free dinner at Palo.

However to get all of these benefits you need to have multiple trips on the Disney Cruise.

Silver Membership

If you have sailed with the Disney Cruise once before, you will become a Silver Membership owner. With this title you get the following benefits:

  • The ability to book the itineraries a day earlier than nonmembers.
  • The ability to book cruise-based activities 90 days before you sail.
  • Adverts to exclusive deals.
  • A dedicated Castaway Club phone number for direct information and assistance.
  • Early access to the port and early check-in.
  • Access to the members-only check-in.
  • A welcome back gift.

Gold Membership

To become a Gold member you need to sail with the Disney Cruise 5 times. Once you do that, you get the following benefits:

  • Everything from the Silver Membership.
    • The 1-day early booking for itineraries is upgraded to 2.
    • The 90 days of online booking for cruise activities are upgraded to 105 days before sailing.
  • Private onboard reception with special entertainment.
  • Special discounts while onboard.

Platinum Membership

To become a Platinum member, you need to sail with the Disney Cruise 10 times. This is the highest membership you can receive, and as such you will be treated like royalty on the cruise.

As a Platinum member, you will receive all the benefits that the Silver membership gave and all the benefits that the Gold membership gave. However, you can book your itineraries 3 days before the general public, and can start planning your cruise activities 120 days before sailing. 

You also receive one more benefit – free dinner at Palo, the 5-star restaurant.

How Does Cruising Compare To Visiting The Parks?

How Does Cruising Compare To Visiting The Parks

The main difference between the Disney cruise and the Disney parks is their rides. You cannot put a roller coaster on a cruise, so of course, this aspect is missing.

Secondly, there is just one water slide on the cruise due to the limited space the platform has. 

Thirdly, the diversity in shows is limited, again due to the smaller space.

However, if you don’t care for rides, and instead want to see the live shows, eat the amazing food and explore different areas of the world at the same time, then it doesn’t matter about the limited space.

The attention to detail is exactly the same as in the parks, so you won’t be missing out on the magic. There are also fewer crowds on the cruise, and the servers get to know you. This makes the experience feel like a luxury stay rather than a packed tourist destination.

Feeling Overwhelmed? Consider A Travel Agent

Disney Cruise Travel Agent

Booking a cruise, any cruise can feel overwhelming – especially if it’s your first time. If you would rather tell a professional about the important information you care about and let them do the rest, then hire a travel agent.

They will find your best rooms, book the cruise activities, plan the itinerary, and set up your dining experiences. They will then break down all the details, so you don’t have to worry about a thing. 

Of course, each travel agent will have its own pricing bands. Depending on the company you use, they may help with every element or simply guide you through the essentials.

How Much Does A Disney Cruise Cost?

The Disney Cruise costs can range from $1,800 for a family of 4 on a four-night stay around Baja, to $17,500 for a family of 4 on an 11-night stay around the Mediterranean and Greek Islands.

There are roughly 450 cruises for you to pick from, each with its own geographical attractions and cruise-based experiences. 

Summary

Preparing for a family trip often means researching the location and figuring out what activities will be enjoyed by the most people in the family. But with the Disney Cruise, all of that stress is taken care of. 

There is a myriad of choices for your family to choose from, and they can split up from each other and spend time doing the activities they enjoy.

The magic of Disney is to help parents create a beautiful vacation as easily as possible.

Ruth Hutchins grew up in England and now lives in North Carolina with her husband, Doug, and their two young daughters. They always loved to travel, but once having children everything changed because family travel is more complicated. Traveling with a baby may feel overwhelming to new parents. Travel with a toddler can really test your patience, and traveling with kids can lead to utter chaos. However, travel with your little ones doesn’t have to be that stressful or exhausting. On the BE Family Travel blog Ruth shares her parenting wins, and even epic failures about traveling with kids. She provides resources to help you feel empowered to plan a family vacation and travel with your children.