Are you worried you will forget something important before your cruise? Read The Top 10 Things To Do Before Your Cruise so you don’t forget anything before your amazing vacation begins.
The Top 10 Things To Do Before Your Disney Cruise
If you have never taken a cruise, the planning, preparation and fear of forgetting something can be exhausting. Hakuna Mattata, my friends, because Walt Express has compiled The Top 10 Things To Do Before Your Disney Cruise or any cruise, for that matter! This list will have you ready for your next adventure and when this list is complete, all you need to do is pack and enjoy your vacation.
No matter what kind of cruise you decide to take, Disney or non-Disney, these tips will help you and your family be on their way!
1) Get a Passport
The very first thing on your to do list after booking your cruise is to purchase a passport or renew it if it’s expired. These can take a while to come back, so the quicker you do this, the better. The standard processing time is about six weeks and sometimes longer, so get on that right away. You can go HERE to find applications, forms, and more information on the application process.
If you booked a closed circuit cruise (one that starts and ends at the same United States port) then you can simply use clear copies of your birth certificate as your travel documentation. Do note that if your surname/last name has changed from what is on your birth certificate, you will also need a copy of your marriage license or other supporting documentation to show why it is different. Do note that if you choose not to purchase a passport and you have a medical emergency or need to board a plane to get home quick, it is much more difficult without a passport. In an emergency, the last thing you want to deal with is red tape, but that is what you will be faced with if you do not have a passport.
2) Create An Account
After you have your travel documents in order, it is time to start the fun part of the planning. After your booking is complete and your deposit has been made, you will receive a confirmation number. With that in hand, go to your cruise line website and create an account. For Disney, that website is https://disneycruise.disney.go.com/. Simply click on sign in or create an account and follow the prompts. Other cruise lines work pretty much the same way, but note that cruise lines do offer different options that can be booked in advance.
Once you have created your account, go ahead and look around at excursion options, spa packages, drink packages, internet options, character meet and greets, character dining, special dining options, cabana rentals and so much more! Many of these you can order or schedule before your cruise and the earlier you book them, the better! Something important to note is that Disney Cruise Line allows past cruisers to book some items in advance of first time cruisers. The more you have cruised with Disney, the greater jump you have on booking the most sought after experiences. Think of it like the advantage you get when booking onsite at Disney World as opposed to staying off site.
3) Complete Online Check-In
Online check -in is always the first thing I do once I have created an online account with the cruise line. This makes the check-in process so much smoother and helps ensure you have all the documentation you need when you arrive. You will enter information such as names, everyone’s birthdate that is in your party, and passport numbers in this portal. Once you have done that, you can also add a payment option and print your tags for luggage and boarding passes. Talk about taking the stress out of the planning process! This will help calm your nerves and help you check off several items from your to-do list.
4) Notify Your Credit Card Company
Before you head out of state and especially out of the country, you should always call your credit card company. They need to know you will be away, so they won’t freeze your account when they see what will appear to be unusual activity. We also like to call and ask about exchange rates, because that can save you some hassle and money. It’s also a good idea to ask if they offer trip insurance if you booked your trip using that card. If so, ask them to explain the policy. It may be as good or better than what the cruise line offers.
5) Purchase Travel Insurance
If your credit card company did not offer travel insurance or it wasn’t what you had in mind, then look into other travel insurance options. Cruises are WAY different than other Disney vacations. The deposit is larger and the cancellation policy is very strict and not as generous or flexible. The good news is that you can add this to your package before your final payment is due or purchase it through a third party. Make sure the plan you buy provides hurricane protection and covers you on the way to your cruise, during your cruise (medical coverage is the big kicker here!), and on your way home. Do some research on this, but I highly recommend buying it. If you don’t book through your vacation planner, then check out InsureMyTrip.com or Travel Guard. If you do book through your travel planner, he/she will be glad to walk you through the best options and help you pick the one that works best for you.
6) Call or Meet With Your Cell Phone Provider
if you are traveling out of the country, you do NOT want to be hit with roaming charges. However, sometimes cell phone providers can provide international plans for one month that will save you a lot of money. This is especially true should you forget to turn off roaming on your phone or if you prefer to be able to use your phone when you are on excursions without wifi.
Most ships have free wifi and wifi packages for quicker speeds. Therefore, my recommendation is to turn your phone on airplane mode and connect to the ship’s wifi. It isn’t super fast, but if you need to stay connected it serves its purpose. Actually, my real recommendation is to lock that sucker in the safe and only get it out for excursions and the occasional fun night when you want pictures to upload when you get home. If you leave it in the safe most of the trip, I promise you will create memories that you won’t soon forget.
7) Take Cash
So many people don’t carry cash anymore. However, in places like Mexico and the Bahamas, the American dollar is preferred and makes for easier shopping. I do recommend not taking large bills. I stick to $20 dollar bills for excursion money or use my credit card. Word to the wise: never use your debit card in another country unless you discuss this with your bank first. Some debit cards are protected, but some aren’t. Also, many debit cards have higher foreign exchange fees, so I recommend the credit card or cash approach.
Speaking of cash, there is another important reason to take cash. I like to have several small bills on hand for tips. While you can pay your mandatory gratuities (more on that later) when you book or through your onboard account, you will still need small bills for room service and porter fees. I typically tip $1-$2 per item, but feel free to be more generous if the desire arises.
8) Prepay Gratuities
I always encourage clients to pay for their gratuities before they board the ship. This keeps the expenses from adding up when you are on the boat. I also prepare to tip a little extra to those who gave our family stellar, personal service. We have had amazing experiences with the staff in the main dining room as well as stewards. Plus, there is nothing like finding someone who made your vacation extra special and seeing their face light up with gratitude. Talk about filling my soul with gladness; that is some good stuff!
9) Download the Cruise Line App
This one may seem like a no-brainer for those of us who love technology, but it doesn’t always occur to everyone. Cruise line apps these days are really helpful. The cruise line app comes with a handy countdown before you board the ship, but once you have boarded the app becomes extremely helpful. Most apps offer full deck plans, itineraries for each day, and much more. Check out our blog on Disney Cruise Line’s Navigator app HERE to find out more about how this app works.
10) Don’t Forget to Pack the Essentials
So, you have checked off 1-9 from this to-do list. Now it’s time to pack! Don’t forget the essentials listed above like money, ID, passports, and boarding documents. But also don’t leave behind your sunscreen, seasick medicine, a hat, and appropriate clothing for formal night. For men, pack a long pair of slacks and close-toed shoes and for women, pack a dress and sandals or heels. Do not make the mistake of only packing shorts and flip flops if you plan to eat in the main dining room. The dress code is pretty lax, but most cruise lines are picky about no tank tops, shorts, or flip flops (even the fancier wedge style). Of course, don’t forget the camera and SD cards, as well as chargers for any electronics you may need. Finally, pack more than one swimsuit. No one likes putting on a cold, wet swimsuit!
Are you ready to sail away on your next cruise? Did we cover everything you put on your list in The Top 10 Things To Do Before Your Cruise? Tell us what we missed or about your essential list of things you do before your cruise in the comments sections or join the Disney Express Lane Facebook Group to discuss this and many other Disney related topics.