Once you’ve booked (and paid off) your Disney Cruise, the next step will be checking in and booking activities online. In this article I will cover the process, as well as what to expect and some tips. Your first step is to mark the date when you’re able to check-in online.
Disney will email you and give you a heads up, but you can also find this simply by logging in the Disney Cruise website, going to “my reservation” and it will be there. Note that if you have cruised before (there are several ‘levels’ platinum to silver) you will have a different check-in date vs someone that is a first timer. So be sure to check your reservation specifically vs guessing based on what someone else tells you.
Above you can see a screen shot of our cruise reservation page. The blue words are links, while anything you see in red was added by me. Before your time to check-in online be sure to know a few things:
- Research your port adventures, and determine if you want to book anything through Disney for your port days. (Link to Disney Port Adventures)
- Be aware of the other options you can pre-book such as:
- Spa treatments
- Personal training
- Mixology/tastings (adults)
- Nursery hours (kiddos under 3)
- Character meet & greets
- Palo/Remy Brunch or Dinner (18+ dining)
- Royal Tea (for kids 3-12 primarily)
- Bibbity Boutique (princess/pirate/etc kiddo makeovers)
It is at this point that you would also want to make a plan. Some things (adult brunch, mixology, some shore excursions, some Castaway Cay options such as cabanas) fill up quickly – in fact for our upcoming cruise before we could even try for some of these things they were “sold out”. I also watched as within minutes of opening to my check-in group things went from available to sold out.
As you can see above – if sold out it’ll simply say so. Keep in mind: sometimes people change plans/cancel their bookings, and sometimes more space becomes available once you are on board.
Our plan for this cruise:
- 2 ports “on our own” aka nothing needing to be booked
- 3 ports through Disney (we had first and second choice excursions noted)
- Mixology class on the sea day
- Any character meets possible
- Adult brunch and/or dinner on day 4-6 sometime
I decided to go for the excursions first since we feel pretty particular as to what we want to do, and we were able to secure 2 of 3. You will first see a screen like this:
Note how at the bottom it shows you the categories that are available. If any port adventures were available (they aren’t, because the above is ‘all aboard’ day) that would be dark blue vs light grey. If they are available you can click to book that – or any of the categories. Then you can select the excursion you want. Tip: write down the # (Example: MS02) so you don’t have to try and remember the name and can move a bit quicker.
Clicking select you can pick who in your party you want to go – so yes you can divide your group! Then it’ll confirm your choice.
Change your mind or don’t want to do this? Just click “cancel activity”. Easy! Remember you won’t be charged for the excursions until the cruise so changing your mind or choice is a snap. Now instead of spending time on 3rd port (excursions we wanted were not listed) – I moved on to our sea day.
Below is what you can see under “onboard fun” for character meet options on our cruise:
Depending on your cruise – your options for pre-arranging meets may vary. Note that there will be TONS of character meets throughout the cruise that do not require any kind of (free) ticket or time commitment. However if you are interested in meeting the characters offered – sign up! The line will be short, you’ll enjoy beautiful photos and meets, and it’s always fun.
Below you can see the things we got for our day at sea:
There are a number of alcohol-centric workshops/tastings from Tequila to Whiskey that you can attend and all require advance sign-up. This is the one offered on our sea day, and mid-afternoon should be a good time. If not – we can cancel up to 24hrs prior without being charged. Be sure to always make note of cancel times/penalties!
Two things that are popular that we did not book: Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique (seen below some of the packages)
But if you wanted to, you’d select the package and it will show you who in your party can book:
Rebecca is the only one young enough, so I would select her, and times available would be given.
From here you could pick the time you wanted, and be set. Same would go for spa appointments and other options.
Above you see the Royal Court Tea description. As with all things Disney – value is subjective! For us this would not work logistically or make sense financially, but for others it is a pure delight. To each their own on any Disney vacation!
Speaking of – I’ve covered booking activities but NOT the actual online check-in! Above you’ll see the screen that shows up and what to fill out. It doesn’t take long at all and is really easy! You’ll need to give them your passport/ID info, pick a port arrival time, complete information and finally print out a document to bring to port.
Note: you can work on this as you like. For example I picked activities & port time at 9pm (since we are west coast!) and saved all the other details for the next day. You can also edit and adjust things as you like up to 3 days prior to your sailing.
The one thing I want to mention: Port Arrival Time. This is the time you intend to arrive at the port. This does not promise that you will board at that time – this is the time you’re arriving to the port. Don’t arrive early – as they request in the information. When we selected our time the earliest slot was not available. There are two main thoughts I have on boarding…
- Be early (meaning, select an early PAT) and get on board, enjoy lunch, and scope out the ship before it fills up! For people like us who have never been on the particular ship (this is our second cruise EVER!) – this is a great way to get nearly a full day on the ship before you even set sail.
- Don’t show up until around 2, so you and your luggage can head directly to your room once on board! This is great if you’d like to do a 1/2 day tour, enjoy a big brunch, or otherwise have a day “on land” prior to boarding.
There are several families in our cruise group (our ship is departing from Barcelona) who hired a tour guide to do a 1/2 day tour and lunch before they will head to the cruise ship. Sounds fun – but we decided we’d like to enjoy a buffet lunch and some Disney Magic ASAP since we need to be checked out (apartment rental) by 11am anyway.
I hope this look at online check-in and activity booking has been helpful! We’ll be sure to video & photograph our cruise in depth so that we can share with you all kinds of tips, ideas, and fun from the road!