A Few Tips and Highlights From Our First Disney Cruise

As you may or may not know, I just completed my first Disney cruise with my husband and our adult daughter. We were hosted by Disney as part of a media group. There were some media events, but for most of the time we were “normal” cruisers, doing what we wanted and trying to experience it all. Since this was our first cruise, I tried to find out as much information as possible ahead of time. I have a few tips that I’d like to pass along, as well as mentioning a few of the highlights from our journey.

1. Crew Members

Without a doubt, the crew members on the Disney Magic were the most important part of the magic. They were all exceptional! From the woman in the jewelry store who fixed my cheap reading glasses for me, to Trent, the Cruise Director, I have never met friendlier or more helpful people. There were a few standouts, the best of the best. Alvin was our room attendant, and he made sure that we had what we needed. He always called us by name. Denis was Head Server, and he greeted us each time with a smile. The two who really made our trip, though, were Romain and Nigel, our serving team. Romain never steered us wrong with his recommendations, and he took care of our special dietary requirements. Nigel served magic tricks and riddles in addition to the delicious food. We looked forward to seeing them each night, and it was hard to say goodbye.

2. Internet

If you want to go online while on your cruise, you’ll need to purchase an Internet package. There is information in your stateroom about it, but I would recommend that you stop by Connect @ Sea on your first day. The woman working there explained everything to us, and she checked our devices so that they wouldn’t start updating apps whenever we used them. She told me that she wished that everyone would stop by on the first day, because she can give a lot of tips on not wasting data. The Internet is incredibly slow at times. The first night and the first full day I didn’t upload many pictures for my daily updates, because it was taking so long. (That’s why there are so many pictures now.) That said, it was kind of nice to mostly unplug for a few days. I used Internet for my Disney Dining updates and to keep my Timehop streak going and that was it.

3. Room Service

Most room service items are included with the cost of your vacation, and it is available 24 hours a day. The tip is not included in the gratuities package, so make sure that you give a little something to the crew member who brings your food to you. Order coffee at night but don’t open the container, and it should be hot in the morning. Enjoying a hot cup of coffee on the verandah while the sun was rising was as close to perfection as possible.

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4. Navigator

The Navigator is the best way to find out what is going on and when. There are two different forms. The first is a paper version that will be delivered to your room each day. It has all of the events, and where they are located. The second form of the Navigator is in the Disney Cruise Line App. This is helpful, but not perfect. You can add events to your favorites, and you’ll receive a notification 15 minutes ahead of time. The Navigator App needs a search feature, that would make it so much easier to use. There is a feature where you can chat with others on the ship. I found this to be slow, and I was using a brand new phone. At one point my daughter was trying to get in touch with me, but her messages didn’t come through for several minutes. My husband couldn’t use the app because his phone is too old (he doesn’t want to upgrade). If you’re going on a cruise download the app now, I became a little bit obsessed with the countdown. You do not need to purchase an Internet package in order to use the app on the ship. The emojis that are available only on the ship are awesome.

5. Kids Clubs

Since we didn’t have any kids with us, we obviously didn’t use the kids clubs. We were able to tour them, and they are great spaces! I talked with a few parents who told me that their children were having such a great time in the clubs that they did not want to leave.

6. Adult Areas

A Disney cruise is not just for children. There are adult only areas, for those 18 and older. These include Palo restaurant and Serenity Beach on Castaway Cay. There are also nightclubs and a pool that is only for adults. You do not need to have a little one with you to enjoy a Disney cruise.

7. Pools

Speaking of pools, we honestly didn’t even consider using them. In addition to the adult pool there is a general pool and a kiddie area. The AquaDunk is a body slide with a drop that then takes you out over the side of the ship. There are other slides as well. There was nothing wrong with the pools or the slides, but since we live in Orlando and have access to pools and water parks all year long, we just decided to skip them. There were too many other things that we wanted to do.

8. Characters

There are plenty of characters onboard the Disney Magic. You can see who will be greeting and where on the Navigator, or just walk around and you’ll run into them. One fun thing is seeing the different costumes. In the morning you might see Captain Mickey, but in the evening he might be dressed in a tuxedo. There are some meet and greets that require a ticket. The tickets are free, but you’ll need to sign up ahead of time on the Disney Cruise Line website.

9. Special Events

On our cruise we were able to experience both Pirates In the Caribbean night and Marvel Day at Sea. These were awesome! Plenty of people dressed up for Pirate Night, but if you don’t have a costume don’t worry. You’ll find pirate bandanas in your stateroom that afternoon. There were special menus for these two special events, and the servers dressed up as well. Even the characters got in on the fun by wearing themed costumes.

10. Seasickness

There’s one final thing that I’d like to touch on. We were a little worried about the possibility of getting seasick, but none of us had a problem with it. There is a Health Center if someone in your party does experience it, and there is also a doctor or nurse on call at all hours. Once we got home we could still feel the motion of the ship, even hours later. I knew that was a possibility, but the amount that I could feel it surprised me.

About PaulaK

I grew up in Western Massachusetts. When I was nine my family went to Disneyland and I was hooked. I grew up, attended New England College in Henniker, NH and eventually moved to Virginia. I worked as a disc jockey, married and became a full time mom when our daughter was born. Fast forward several years. In 2010 we moved to Central Florida and my Disney obsession grew. I now work as a freelance writer and spend my spare time in the parks. Under the name Paula Brown I penned the novels Dream Wanderers and The Coffee Cruiser. I also am a co-author of Dining at Walt Disney World: The Definitive Guide. I'm obsessed with Star Wars, so this is a good time to live in Central Florida. I've been a vegetarian for well over a decade, a choice that my daughter eventually made as well. While my husband still hasn't joined us fully he has given up most meats except for seafood. I was relieved to find that vegetarian dining is not difficult at Walt Disney World.