You’ve booked your family on a Disney Cruise, have been impatiently watching the countdown clock on the Disney Cruise Line app, and its finally in the single digits.
Rejoice! Embarkation day is almost here!
What is embarkation you ask? Well, it’s the day you get on the ship for the very first time. But this isn’t just like checking in to a hotel. It’s a very orchestrated process that can be a bit overwhelming.
It’s a very exciting time, but it’s important to come prepared – especially when you have kids with you – to make the process as painless as possible.
Here are my top 5 tips for embarkation day:
Pack a Small Carry-On Bag
When you arrive at the cruise terminal, or before you board the Disney Cruise Line bus, your luggage will be whisked away and magically reappear at your stateroom door later in the day. While it might seem a little scary handing all your possessions over to a stranger with only the promise of seeing it later, it is completely safe and worth it. You do NOT want to have to handle all your big heavy bags through the cruise terminal and on the ship.
While the process of delivering your bags is a fine oiled machine, it might be a few hours before your bags make it to your stateroom. There is a chance you won’t get your bags until after the first dinner seating even.
Bring a small carry-on bag that is easy for you to carry around with the day’s essentials. That includes your bathing suit if you want to take a dip in the pool first thing, a change of clothes, any necessary medication, and a small number of toiletries.
You may even want to include your cruise ship door decorations in your carry on so you can decorate your door as soon as possible! (Click here if you have no idea what I’m talking about.)
Bonus tip: If you are flying make sure your toiletries are TSA approved sizes. I pack bigger bottles in my regular bag, but smaller amounts for embarkation AND disembarkation day. They will take your bags again the night before you disembark, so this same carry-on bag should be used for the things you are carrying off the ship as well.
Bring things to entertain the kids in the terminal
I’ve waited only 30 mins to board the cruise ship, and I’ve waited a few hours to board. It all depends.
There will be lots going on in the terminal, including appearances from your favorite Disney characters.
But even those things will only entertain the kids for so long.
Come prepared with things for your kids to entertain themselves just in case. The usual suspects will do: cards, books, coloring pages, etc.
Wear your swimsuit under your clothes
If you are not flying in the day of embarkation, consider wearing your swimsuit underneath your clothes. It can be awhile before you can access your stateroom after you get on board, so going back to your room to change won’t be an option right away.
If your swimsuit is already on, you can head straight for the pool, water slides, and Aqua Duck (depending on the ship of course), stake out the best pool deck chair, and get to relaxing!
Of course, there are public restrooms sprinkled throughout the ship for you to change in as well. So be sure your swimsuit is at minimum in your carry-on bag.
Take Time to familiarize yourself with the ship before your room is ready
Like I said, it can be a few hours before you can access your stateroom after you get on board. Use this time to get to know the ship, book activities and spa appointments, and maybe stake out where your favorite hide out will be during your trip.
Get a map of the ship and start exploring. If you are boarding the Disney Fantasy go searching for my favorite stateroom door: it belongs to Pepe, the King Prawn!
If you were unable to get reservations for Palo or Remy ahead of time, now would be a good time to head to the reservations desk and see what is available.
Same goes for the Frozen or Princess character greetings. I’ve always had luck with getting tickets to those on embarkation day, even when it was showing as sold out online ahead of time.
But don’t wait until day 2. They could be gone by then!
Be sure to take advantage of the Kids Club Open House
The kid’s clubs on Disney Cruise Line are really cool. Adults could even enjoy themselves in there.
Check the Navigator for exact times, but there will be an open house at the kid’s clubs when you board. This is the only time adults can go in and see it all for themselves and younger or older siblings can explore one of the clubs outside of their age group.
My kids can be a little on the shy side but being able to take them through the kids club myself made them more comfortable to go by themselves later. In fact, my kids were begging to go to the kids club the whole trip!
My daughter wasn’t old enough to go in with her older brothers. But she had a blast checking out Andy’s Room on the Disney Fantasy during the open house.
Now Relax – you are on a Disney Cruise!
Now that you are on board, grab a drink, take in that beautiful ocean scenery, and have a blast at the Castaway Party.
And get ready to have one of the best family vacations of your entire life.
I am a travel agent with Magical Vacation Planner and can help you plan an unforgettable vacation with your family. Email me, head to my Facebook page, or set up time to chat if you’d like to start planning your magical vacation.
Or head here to download your copy of my free Disney Vacation planning worksheets.