Friday, May 16, 2014

Five things to do on your next Disney cruise

By Cass Pettigrew

Have you been on a Disney Cruise before? Maybe even a few of them? You're not alone! On any given Disney cruise, about half of the passengers are returning guests. I can hardly blame them really. I've sailed with Disney 6 times myself and I don't plan on stopping any time soon!

For many reasons, Disney is the cruise line of choice for me and my family. One of those reasons is that there is so much to do on every Disney ship, even after 6 cruises, there are still places I haven't seen and activities that I haven't tried yet!

On our first Disney cruise, back in 2002, we followed the crowds, we dressed up in our finest for Formal and Semi-Formal Nights, we saw the evening shows, got our photos taken in the Atrium and then we headed to our assigned Dining Room for dinner every night. We did an excursion in every port, we attended as many of the activities that our schedule would allow and it was AWESOME! And believe it or not, our first two Disney cruises were adult-only ones since we didn't start our little family until 2006! That's right folks, Disney is not JUST for kids! We did what most other cruisers did on the next few sailings as well and we were very happy with our experiences as evidenced by the fact that we keep coming back for more!

Formal Night Pictures in the Atrium
Pirates IN the Caribbean Party

St Thomas, USVI, with Jet Boat excursion we took running in background

For our most recent cruise, in November 2013, we did things a little differently this time and it turned out to be the best cruise we've ever taken as a family. One of the many reasons why it was the best was because we did things our way. We really slowed down and took the time to enjoy things at our own pace. In all honesty, we didn't really have a choice as my health hasn't been the greatest these past couple of years, so I was sort of forced to slow down and I am so very thankful I did!

Here are some things that we enjoyed on our last cruise that I highly recommend trying yourself:

1- Skip the main dining rooms and have dinner at Cabanas. 
On most nights, (check your Personal Navigator for times!) Cabanas offers a sit-down dinner with a limited menu, served by Cast Members training to become servers in the Main Dining Rooms. This is a great option for those of you who don't want to dress up for Formal and Semi-Formal Nights but want something more than pizza, burgers or hot dogs from the fast food places. The service and food were superb and we wore shorts and tees!

Delicious steak and baked potato at Cabanas!

2- If you are on a 7-night or longer cruise, attend the matinee performances of the spectacular Disney shows performed in the Walt Disney Theatre. This will free up some time during the evening. Take advantage of this time to enjoy the empty top decks while everyone else is either eating or at the evening show. We did this 3 times on our cruise and the pools were almost empty every time! The other option is to skip the show entirely but I only recommend this if you've seen it before as the shows are truly amazing and are a must-do, at least once!

During the evening show, our daughter is the only one in the Mickey Pool!
Mickey Slide 8 times in a row, no waiting!

Aquaduck over and over again, no waiting!

3. Watch as your ship sails out of port. Most people hurry back on board and get cleaned up and then are onto their next activity and they miss one of the great little experiences of cruising. Next time when leaving a port, take some time to relax on your verandah or one of the top decks and watch as your ship sails away. This is especially fun if you are the first big cruise liner to leave as the guests from other ships often wave good-bye. It is really fun when the captain sounds the ships' horn, the best in the industry, and everyone else cheers! Also, keep an eye out for the Pilot, a local expert that comes aboard to help the captain navigate the ship safely out of the harbor, to return to his boat.

Norwegian Epic and Freedom of the Seas at Havensight Point, St. Thomas.

Hubby saw a few Canadian flags on this ship so he decided to show off ours.

Pilot ship coming to pick up the Pilot.

The pilot received a big cheer from those watching and waved back
in appreciation.

4. Skip a port and enjoy an empty ship! If you're sailing to a port that you've visited before or just one you don't particularly care to explore, stay on the ship and you will be rewarded with a lovely empty ship! Obviously, there are not as many activities scheduled during a port stop but there's still tons of things to do! Our daughter loved going to the kids clubs during this time because it wasn't busy and she got to do everything she wanted with no waiting.

Empty adult-only Satellite Falls while docked in St. Thomas!

5. Enjoy the pools and hot tubs at night! Most people visit the pools during the day but if you're like me and you can't handle the sun/heat/crowds, make sure to visit them at night. They are often empty and you can relax and enjoy a unique experience of swimming under the stars on the high seas!

Enjoy a movie while swimming!

So there you have it, a few different things to do on a Disney cruise. On your next cruise, be sure to try at least one of them and let me know how it worked out for you! 

Contact me for your free, no-obligation quote on a Disney cruise and cruise your way.


  1. Very nice article, Cass. I'll take your advice on #1 on the PC cruise. I've never skipped the dining room before but I'll have 14 days that I can do what ever I want on. About #2, we skipped many of the shows during our Alaska cruise and had a fantastic time just doing whatever we wanted. On #3, we inadvertently skipped the sail away party during the first KK cruise and I really was bummed about that. I've never skipped it since and it is one of my favorite things. Sailing out of Vancouver was really nice. Regarding #4... when we did the B2B Dream cruise. we skipped the second time at Nassau. Didn't miss it a bit. However, Loved having the ship to ourselves. And about #5, This is something I also plan on doing during the PC cruise. I've always wanted to kick back on a lounge chair and swim in the middle of the night watching a movie. Always too busy except for the Alaska cruise and then they didn't play the movies.

    Thanks for the suggestions!

  2. Thanks Steve! With 14 days, you will definitely have time to try them all :) Hope you have a WONDERful cruise, can't wait to see some pics ;)