And for a little sprinkle of Disney Magic we have this fab guest post from the lovely Jennifer Jain who lives with her husband and two children in sunny West Sussex by the sea. They love to travel as a family, and since they discovered cruising they’ve not looked back. Today Jennifer is sharing her tops tips for cruising with Disney and a few hints and tips about life onboard a Disney ship. You can read about their adventures on Jennifer’s blog Jennifer’s Little World
We’ve cruised three times with Disney, most recently to the Norwegian Fjords. We’ve discovered that there is definitely something extra special about a Disney cruise, especially if you are travelling with children. Both crew and your fellow travellers really do go out of their way to add plenty of Disney magic to your cruise. But if you are a first time Disney cruiser some things are easy to miss. Here are some tips to make sure that you extract as much Disney as you possibly can from your Disney cruise!
Before you leave for your Disney Cruise
Once you’ve booked your Disney cruise, find and join the associated Facebook group. There will certainly be one, and it’s the place to find out what activities are being organised for your cruise, as well as getting to know the people who you’ll be cruising with.
As part of your booking you can arrange a pre-recorded phone call from a Disney character to your child to wish them well on their sailing and to help to ramp up the excitement. For more details, check the website under your reservation information.
Spreading the Disney magic at sea
If you are new to cruising with Disney, the first thing you will notice as you walk the corridors of a Disney cruise ship is the stateroom door decorations. Decorating your door is a big thing on a Disney cruise, and it’s a lot of fun to have a wander and see how creative people can be. If you want to decorate your own door, the only thing to remember is that everything must be attached by magnets. There is plenty of inspiration online – you can purchase ready-made decorations, order custom pieces, or get creative and make your own. You could choose to follow a theme, base the design around your family’s favourite films and characters, or decorate according to your cruise destination.
Another very popular activity on Disney Cruise Ships is taking part in a Fish Extender exchange.
A Fish Extender takes its name from the fish-shaped hook that is found outside each stateroom door. Fish Extenders are hung from this hook, and range from a simple gift bag to elaborate multi-pocket affairs personalised with family member names and favourite characters. Before the cruise you can sign up to a Fish Extender group, usually via your cruise Facebook page. You will then receive a list of staterooms to exchange gifts with. At some point during the cruise you deliver your gifts, and you’ll receive gifts back in return. It’s very exciting to come back from a day out or from dinner and find something waiting for you!
The thought of taking part in a full Fish Extender exchange can be little daunting, you can exchange pixie dust instead. If you are hoping to receive gifts back, this works best if you are part of an organised group with a list of people willing to give and receive pixie dust with no formal commitment. If you are happy just to give, there is nothing to stop you popping little gifts into fish extenders as you pass them, and if you sign them with your stateroom number you may get something back in return.
Pixie Dust gifts don’t need to be big or expensive
I made some themed cruise magnets to leave on stateroom doors where I particularly liked the decorations and I was thrilled when people thanked me via the Facebook group. It was lovely to know that I had made someone smile. Some other ideas are bags of sweets, small Disney toys, pins or key rings.
There will very likely be other exchanges set up through the Facebook group – for example I’ve seen magnet exchanges, recipe exchanges and ornament exchanges. If you have an idea for something that isn’t offered then it’s always worth making a suggestion – there will be lots of people eager to join in!
Getting into the spirit
A Disney cruise is a great opportunity to bring out all your Disney bling – decorated Mickey ear headbands, customised family t-shirts, nail art, princess dresses and so on. Not just for on the ship either – we were always able to spot fellow Disney cruisers in port by their Disney headgear and handbags!
If you are celebrating a special occasion such as a birthday or anniversary, pop along to Guest Services and let them know, as they have a selection of badges covering a range of celebrations. We’ve had birthday badges before, and we were even able to get one for my daughter when she lost her tooth, featuring a grinning Cheshire Cat!
Lots of people love to trade Disney pins, and the cruise ship is a great place to find people to trade with. At least once during the cruise there will be a pin trading event where you can swap pins with fellow cruisers and cast members. My favourite way to trade pins was on stateroom doors. Several people set up small pin trading stations on a corkboard outside their room, and we enjoyed choosing new ones to swap with our own pins.
Disney experiences on board
A key part of the Disney cruise experience is meeting with the characters. There will be plenty of opportunities, and they will be detailed in the Navigator timetable which is delivered each evening to your stateroom. There will be a time slot and location given for each character greeting, and as long as you join the queue during that slot you will have the chance to meet and take photographs with the character.
Some character greetings need to be booked in advance, for example the Princess Gathering where you can meet four or five princesses one after the other, and the Character Breakfast. Make sure to check through your reservation information to see what is available on your cruise. You will also often bump into characters around the ship, and although they may not have time to stop and chat they will always acknowledge you. Characters can also be found at dance parties and for some events in the kids club.
There will be special Disney food and drinks on offer on board, like the popular Mickey Mouse waffles, Mickey Mouse ice creams with dinner, and special drinks of the day in themed glasses. There is also a huge range of merchandise available in the shops on board, much of it only available on the ship.
There will also be plenty of themed Disney activities on board, for both children and adults. As a family we’ve enjoyed Disney trivia quizzes, learning how to draw Disney characters, and making souvenirs to bring home like snow globes, door hangers and animation cells.
I hope that this article helps you to make the most of all the Disney fun aboard your next Disney cruise!
Click here for more hints and tips for Cruising With Disney
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