Booking and planning
For me, a large part of the excitement of this fabulous holiday was in the researching, booking and planning. I had heard and read amazing things about the Disney Cruiseline and it had inspired us to save up and experience it ourselves.
We had never cruised before, so I was very keen to find as much information as possible to ensure we had the best experience. As soon as the decision was made that we were going to book a Disney Cruise, I joined some excellent Facebook groups where I learned a huge amount very quickly. The most useful for me was “Disney Cruising” where I then found links to the groups created for all Disney Cruises due to set sail in the next 18 months. Having found the page for our cruise I was immediately welcomed in by 100’s of other excited parents, sharing tips, advice and even creating meet- ups and activities on board. We signed up to a parents only cocktail mixing evening. If you have enough interest for such an activity, Disney will provide a facility and the equipment etc for a reasonable cost.
We paid a deposit of 50% with the understanding that the balance would need paying 3 months before the cruise. once the balance is paid you can start booking excursions etc.
On booking I needed to select my cabin type and number, and my dining preferences. I did lots of research on where on the ship would be best to travel. Having never cruised before, and having young children, i was concerned that i would make a rookie mistake and book the cabin that gets rocked around the most, or the one under a bar or similar! I found the Cruise Critic website useful, as well as chatting with experienced cruisers. I was adamant about having an oceanview stateroom . The inside ones are cheaper, but I am in love with the ocean and wanted to experience feeling close to it. We toyed with the idea of a balcony, but as our youngest was only 4, we decided we would be too anxious and also decided most of our time would be spent up on deck, rather than on a balcony.We finally booked Deluxe Oceanview stateroom 2118.
Choosing dining times
There is a Main Seating and a Second Seating choice for dinner. In general, the Main Seating begins between 5:45 PM and 6:15 PM and the Second Seating begins between 8:00 PM and 8:30 PM, though these times may vary based on itinerary.
We ended up going for second because we thought on the days we were involved in excursions we may not be back in time to enjoy dinner. And enjoying dinner is a huge part of the a Disney Cruise. HUGE. It’s so huge it has it own section further down! Also, the evening entertainment starts around 9 – 10pm, so we thought after dinner we could wander off to find what was happening and not risk missing anything.
It’s worth mentioning here that I am aware of the rather shocked gasp as you read through the previous paragraph. I too was surprised and a little concerned at how late things happened aboard the ship. At the time my children were 8 and 4. I have always been quite a strict mother in terms of bedtimes and the children getting enough sleep, particularly as my eldest suffers with anxiety and being over-tired can exacerbate this. However, if for you, like for me, this cruise is very special event, something you have saved and planned for, then take it from me, you need to loosen up and go with it. Bedtime rules do not apply on a Disney Cruise. I blame the Disney magic. Its contagious.