First Things First – Disney Cruise Line

How does a first day really go down?
Do you need to eat lunch somewhere before you board?
What do I need to do the first afternoon?
What can my kids do?
Are the clubs open yet?
Come along on our typical embarkation afternoon to find out!

The shuttle departs as the jubilant crowd moves onward, the sense of excitement nearly visible in the air. The majority of the luggage disappears rapidly and the vacationers tote day bags and paperwork into the terminal. Our family of four is down to a backpack of essentials. Paperwork, identification and some notebooks and crayons to keep the kids amused on the shuttle ride and during downtime.


After slowly clearing security, more quickly clearing check in at the desks and retrieving the Oceaneer Club and Lab Mickey bands for children, we queue to meet Captain Mickey. While the kids peer at the model of the ship, I peruse the Personal Navigator to see where our afternoon will take us. The family of the day announced, the throng slowly eases forward waiting for their moment.
And the right boarding number is called!
Quick as thinking, boarding photos and scanning of Key to the World cards but memories behind, “Disney Magic, Please Welcome aboard the Ketcherside Family!”
I become a statue. Except statues don’t cry. Especially statues who are heading out on their fourth cruise.
Oh wow.
It is beautiful.  It is majestic. It is wonderful. Now where on earth do we go?
The cast members direct us to the aft of the ship to eat, but weren’t there some other things I wanted to arrange while I am standing here right by guest services and the vast majority of guests stream toward the buffet?
Now is an excellent time to schedule any of the ticketed events, including a variety of tastings, Tea With (Wendy, the Princesses, etc.) and get any last minute details straightened out with guest services. Then it’s a quick lunch at whichever MDR is serving lunch (Parrot Cay, Enchanted Garden and Carioca’s) or grab some food in the buffet (Beach Blanket Buffet or Cabanas). (We opt for the MDR if we want help with our trays and drinks.) Once everyone finishes eating, we head out to check our reservations at Palo and verify that our dietary restrictions (allergies, gluten-free, vegan, etc.) made it to the dining teams. We book any spa appointments, nursery times or other such things now, if we haven’t already made them while at home. Then it’s time to play for a bit!

Not that any of us are particularly good at shuffleboard…

Swim, Aquaduck, Mickey Slide (if you pack a swimsuit in your day bag), Ping Pong, Miniature Golf, Midship Detective Agency or, our personal favorite, shuffleboard!
The staterooms become available around 1:30 and that’s usually when I pop in and poke around to see our home away from home. The stateroom host may introduce themselves around now and let you know that they will set up any fold down bunks, bedrails and pack and plays you may need. If you forgot to request any of these conveniences, now is a good time to speak up. If you would like the pack and plays or bunks left out and ready for midday naps let your room steward know, otherwise they will be stored during the day and remade each evening. Sides of the bed claimed, we drop our day bags and head off to open house at the Oceaneer Club, Oceaneer Lab, Edge, Vibe or at the Spa.

Oceaneer Club slide all to herself!

There is a walking tour of the ship midafternoon if you need assistance getting oriented. After quick snacks, we pop back to the room to count lifejackets (making sure there is one for each member of our family and in appropriate sizes) then head out for the mandatory boat drill.  Check the back of your stateroom door to find out which muster station you are to report to and bring your Key to the World card. Leave the lifejackets in your stateroom, you don’t need to bring them to muster.
After everyone in your station arrives, a brief presentation on safety commences and then you are free to go to the Adventures Away! party up on deck at midship.

Anchors Away!

This high energy countdown celebration kicks off the cruise in Disney style and really puts that “I’m on vacation!!!” feeling into action. Unlike the parks, everyone’s vacation starts at the exact same time and it’s very exciting to be right in the middle of the action.
Evening shows and meals start shortly afterwards, with the dinner preceding the show for “main dining” and the show first for “late seating” diners. Kids clubs start in full swing (with secured drop off programming) and character meet and greets begin. After dinner, you are your own master, pick some activities, go to sleep, or just curl up in a lounge chair in the Quiet Cove and watch the stars cruise by overhead. From here on in your cruise, it’s your choice to attend as many or few activities as you want or to and shape your own magical vacation.
Happy sails, y’all!

13 Replies to “First Things First – Disney Cruise Line”

  1. Oh, this is SO fun! Our family has never been on a cruise, Disney or otherwise. I can't wait to go on one someday! Thanks for sharing what we've got to look forward to on the first day!

  2. This sounds so great!! Maybe someday I will get to experience a Disney Cruise first hand. 🙂 Thanks for letting me live vicariously through you – I almost feel as though I just boarded the ship myself.

  3. There is so much hustle and bustle on the first day, but it's also so exciting. The introduction is the best part of embarkation. It makes you feel so special.

  4. Sounds like so much fun!! I've been so worried about not having enough to do and being bored but this sounds like a very busy (and emotional) first day!! I'm sure I'll be crying like a crazy person when they call our name. Is it really rushed or (assuming I can see through the tears) would I be able to take pictures and such?

  5. GREAT Information for the cruise that I hope to go on one day! 🙂 I love the suggestions and the photos. I wonder if they would let me have tea with the princesses by myself!!?

    1. How was the Vegan dining? I have requested it for myself and my 7 year old. We are cruising on the Dream in 3 days! Halloween on the High Seas.
      Our first Disney Cruise with our 2 girls 6 & 7. I cant wait!

  6. The food at dinner the best all kinds of foods s we tried all kinds of new things during our 5 day cruise during during this past Thanksgiving week kids love the ice cream and sodas

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