We had an absolute blast on our Disney Cruise family vacation earlier this month. We’re already talking about when we’ll take the next one, and I’m sure it’ll be just as fun as the last. But I’ve also been thinking of ways I can make it even better, and things I may do differently on our next Disney Cruise. In the third installment of our Disney Cruise vacation wrap up, I thought writing up a list could be helpful for people looking to book their first Disney Cruise. And in case you missed it, here’s Lil’ J’s Disney Cruise reveal and 10 reasons a Disney Cruise is better than a Disney Parks vacation.
1. Have a potty-trained kid
Hopefully this will be a given next time since Big T is almost there. He was almost perfect on the cruise and only had accidents in his free and clear training pants when he was sleeping. Sadly he’s regressed since we’ve been back, but we’re working on that.
This picture sums up our experience with Big T on the cruise. Dressed up in the most adorable tux from Blacn N Bianco, all untucked and dashing away from us as fast as he can.
The thing is, if your kid isn’t potty-trained on the cruise then they need to go to the nursery instead of the Kids Club. Big T wasn’t 3 yet anyway so he wouldn’t have been able to go there this time, but being close to 3 and very tall, he towered over the other kids and was sort of in a weird in-between stage of being too young for the club, but bored with the nursery. Luckily the Flounder’s Reef Nursery staff were super sweet in keeping him happy, even when he wasn’t so happy at drop off. I know next time he’ll be happy to be in with the big(ger) kids alongside his sister. And I’ll be happy to not have to schedule nursery time and use the luxury of the kids club drop off.
2. Take a shorter cruise
Now first let me explain. We went on this cruise right after spending several days in Utah for Thanksgiving. I think the two back-to-back trips are what exhausted us more than 7-days on the ship. However, I think a 4 or 5 night cruise would have been plenty sufficient. We’d be able to eat at all of the restaurants, see the best shows, and return home before missing too much school.
3. Take more pictures
Even though I took a lot there are SO many more I wish I had taken. Photos of the fireworks, from the top deck, pictures of the ship at night. Lil’ J pin trading, more photos of the food. I also really wish I had a speedlight flash because a lot of the rooms didn’t have window light (which I’m using to using) and were pretty dim. I’m planning to use some Christmas money to order one and play with it before next time.
4. Check out their pro photos
There are many pro photographers around the ship ready to take your family’s pictures with characters or in front of beautiful backdrops. I didn’t want to be tempted to buy several $25 prints so I didn’t give myself much of a chance to consider more photos. I did however buy two photos that made me smile so big when I saw them. Totally worth the 50-something dollars. Next time I may consider the full photo package for $200 to get all of the prints. It seems like a lot compared to the $79 deal at Disney World, but it could be worth it to take advantage of the family photo opportunities to get in more photographs.
5. Try more food
My husband and I tried something different at dinner each night and every single meal was delicious. The rest of the day, however pretty much consisted of french fries (my favorite food). There is so much food you can order, either at a sit-down restaurant or in a quick-service line. I’m not sure how I could have pigged out even more, but I wish I had found a way to enjoy more of the variety.
6. Keep wipes handy
One thing I didn’t realize was that napkins aren’t readily available everywhere. You have to request one when you’re at the quick-service places, and if you need a tissue or something you’ll have to find a restroom. From runny noses to messy hands, we could have used a lot of handy napkins. About halfway through the trip I remembered I brought our Seventh Generation baby wipes and started using them as wet wipes, tissues and napkins. The Free and Clear Baby Wipes rock because they’re thick and strong but soft, hypoallergenic and fragrance-free. Next time I’ll keep a pack of these with my in my pool bag.
Bring your own cup. We bought ours, but forgot them half the time we went up on the top deck. The cups available are pretty small so it’s nice to have a bottle or cup to fill up with your favorite drink and keep with you while you lay out or watch a show in the theater.
8. Hit up more craft activities
Lil’ J is a huge fan of crafting and there were daily activities. We only made it to a couple through the week and regretted missing some of them after seeing the crafts people left with. Specifically the cute door hangers. Next time we will mark those activities as priorities.
9. Try Palo brunch
We LOVED Palo dinner. It was so romantic and quiet compared to the family dinners we attended the rest of the week. However, there were so many fun things going on each night it was hard to schedule a dinner between it all. Frozen night got moved to our Palo night during our sailing because of bad weather, so we had to rush through dessert to get the kids and make it to the deck party. I think brunch could have been even more delicious and less rushed. Definitely want to try that next time.
10. Do more adult activities
People keep asking me if there are fun things for adults on a Disney cruise. YES! From comedy shows, dinner, sports bars, spas, clubbing and more. Also there’s an adult pool and hot tub that’s much quieter up on deck. There were so many adult activities around the ship. Sadly we didn’t make it to any of them. We made this trip all about the kids, but next time, they’ll both be spending more time in the kids club and we’ll enjoy more mom and dad solo time.
11. Try an excursion
We booked the trip and decided to just enjoy the included perks for the most part. We barely browsed excursions and the ones we did try were free. My husband ran in the Castaway 5k, and that was no charge. Next time I think we may take the kids (at least Lil’ J) snorkeling. I think she’d really enjoy it.
12. Visit the other side of Castaway Cay
While participating in the 5k race my husband got to see the entire island. The kids and I kinda just walked off the boat and plopped down at the nearest beach. I heard the other beach on the island has water slides and rope swings. No telling if we would have done that since it was rainy most of the day we were there, but on a great weather day, I definitely think we’ll try to explore more of the island.
So there you have it. A dozen things I learned that you can keep in mind to make your Disney Cruise even more magical. Despite having a list of changes for next time, this trip was truly a wonderful family vacation, and I’d do it all over again just like we did the first time in a second (and take more photos!).
Have you been on a Disney Cruise before? What tips would you have for first-timers?
A big thanks to Seventh Generation for sponsoring this story. I’m partnering with them as I share my imperfect life and ways I’m trying to improve it with you. If being more conscious of natural cleaning products, dish soap, and eco-friendly diapers are on your list of priorities, head here for more information. As always, all opinions are my own.