Top Nine Disney Cruise Line Tips

If you’ve visited the Disney World parks before but you’ve never taken a cruise, this article is for you!

Taking a trip aboard a Disney Cruise Ship will be an entirely different experience than what you’re used to as a landlubber. There are different terms, different rules, and extra activities that you need to know about before you set sail.

Fortunately, I’ve got the scoop for you!


Alcohol aboard a cruise ship is expensive (more on this later), so if you plan to partake in some adult spirits, consider bringing your own. Adults at least 21 years of age can bring alcohol on board if it fits in your carry-on bag, which cannot exceed 22″ x 14″ x 19″. You are not allowed to consume your own alcohol in public places, but there is no limit to what you can consume in your cabin.  Disney does limit how much alcohol you can bring on board with you.

If you decide to bring your own wine or champagne to the dining room, you’ll be charged a $20 corking fee. However, this will still be much less expensive than buying a bottle or even a couple glasses!

2. Save on Port Excursions

Booking a port excursion with Disney gives you peace of mind knowing that the cruise will not leave you behind if your excursion goes longer than planned. They’ll either wait for you or provide transportation to the next port of call.

However, booking port excursions with Disney can quickly empty your piggy bank. If you book them yourself you won’t have the peace of mind, but you will keep about half of your money.

Trips away from the ship can add up.
Trips away from the ship can add up.

3. Participate in the Fish Extender Program

Each stateroom has a fish or seahorse adorning the door that is both decoration and functional. Primarily, the fish is meant to serve as a mailbox during your cruise. Staff can place invitations, receipts, and other correspondence in the fish throughout your vacation.

This isn’t the only purpose the fish serves, though! If you’d like to participate in the Fish Extender program, you can hang a bag or other holder from your fish, and other cruisers can place items in your bag and you can place things in theirs! This is especially fun if you have children.

Sign up with the cruise line by providing your information including your stateroom number then bring little trinkets to share. You can get creative and make your own fish extender, you can buy one, or you can use a simple bag. When deciding what to share with the other guests, get the kids involved in making items like bracelets, luggage tags, etc. You can even personalize items with the cruise that you’re on and the year. If you’re not creative or crafty, you can simply buy things like hand sanitizer and other small personal items at your local store.

4. Bring extra funds

Disney Cruise Line is not all-inclusive. Although you get a lot with your reservation, you’ll pay extra for things like alternative dining, specialty coffees and beverages including alcohol, port excursions, spa services, and gratuities. If you plan to do any of these extras, be sure to place your credit card on file or lay down some cash since your stateroom will be charged.

You will need to pay for extras on the ship.
You will need to pay for extras on the ship.

5. No Cash Necessary

Much like Disney Parks, DCL has a cash-free system on board all of their cruise liners. Everything is charged to your room, and you’re billed at the end of the cruise just like you would be at Disney World. You’ll provide a credit card or cash at the terminal when you board, and everything will be billed during your stay. They’ll use your cash first then charge your credit card after that. Funds will be held on your card in increments of $350. Once you deplete that amount, they’ll do another hold. If you have a credit at the end, they’ll simply release the hold on the funds and your account will be credited the remainder.

6. Don’t double tip

As I mentioned above, adult beverages are expensive on cruise ships, and Disney Cruise Line is no exception. Did you know that alcoholic beverages are automatically charged an 18% gratuity included in the price of the drink? Avoid double tipping, and don’t feel like you have to tip any more than that unless your service was spectacular.

7. Prepare for seasickness

If you’ve never been on a cruise before, prepare for seasickness. Over-the-counter medications like Dramamine usually work just fine. If you know that you are prone to seasickness or motion sickness, you can ask your doctor to write you a prescription for a seasickness patch. Many people don’t have problems with this on board the large cruises because they are so big and don’t rock much in the water. However, it never hurts to be prepared! It would be terrible to ruin your vacation for something that could have been prevented!

8. Save on Parking

If you’re coming straight from the airport (which I don’t suggest due to potential flight delays) or a Disney World Hotel (a much better and safer option), you can take the Magical Express to the port. If you’re driving or you’ve rented a car, you can park at the port for a not-so-small fee: $60 for a 3-night cruise, $75 for a 4-night cruise, $90 for 5 nights, and $120 for 7 nights. It is much less expensive to park in an off-site parking lot and take a shuttle to port.

9. Take advantage of Adults-Only areas

Did you know there are areas on the ship that are reserved for adults only? It’s true! There are private areas that are restricted to those guests 18 years of age or older including nightclubs, dining locations, pools, and even entertainment. If you’re traveling without children or if your children are old enough to be by themselves (say, after they go to sleep safely in your cabin), head out and take advantage of these areas for some well-deserved R&R!

Have you been on a Disney Cruise Line?  Was it worth it?