Disney Cruisin 101 – A Beginners Guide

As part of the 2017 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, my family and I went on our very first cruise experience. We were super super excited right from the get-go and we knew it was going to be magical. While there is no set way to cruise Disney, here are a few tips that we picked up.

Key to the World Card – Each family member gets a card at check-in and must carry it on them at all times.  If it looks familiar, it’s what was recently replaced with the magicbands at the parks. Your personalized card is linked to a photo of you (taken at check-in) and it is a big part of the magic that you’ll experience on the cruise. Ever wonder how (almost) everyone knows you and your family by name? It’s not just your access card to your room and amenities it also is chock full of information. From top to bottom, left to right:

  • Your sailing date
  • The ship you’re on, “A” for adult or “M” for minor
  • PR (return to resorts) or PA (return to airport)
  • Your name of course
  • IF you have numbers – this would be your Castaway Cay number
  • Your dining time and table assignment as well as your dining rotation for the duration of the cruise
  • That little number at the bottom is just which check-in desk you checked in at.


  • If you happen to be on the same ship as ours, the Disney Wonder, you will notice that your stateroom does not have a light key. If you’re on a ship that does, any credit card or membership card of the same size, it will work for light access.
  • There are various types of outlets on the Disney Wonder. For Americans, I found 2 US outlets with 2 powered USB outlets and 2 separate USB outlets on the room’s clock.
  • Hairdryers are a bit weak for my liking, so keep that in mind but also remember that a plug for your own may not be available.
  • Always keep your toilet seat cover in the down position, especially if you have items stowed in the provided wall racks. You don’t want anything falling in if the boat is disturbed.
  • Because I’m in the medical field, I noticed small touches like their inclusion of a sharps container.
  • Life vests are located in your stateroom closet, one for each member of your room. If you’re short one, please let a cast member know right away.
  • Your designated assembly point information is also located on the back of your stateroom door.
  • A small safe is available for storage of your personal and valuable items. It did NOT fit my laptop, but iPads, passports and things of that nature fit!

Staying Connected

  • Download the Disney Cruise app prior to boarding the ship. It is a great way to stay in contact with your group. It will work differently prior to boarding with a lovely countdown to your sailing date. Once you’re on board, in this sequence – you’ll turn your device to “airplane mode”, activate wifi and select the “guest” wifi.  After a quick sign-up process, you will be assigned a chat number which you can share with anyone. Everyone in your stateroom will be connected but your personal number can be share with new friends and old also cruising with you.
  • WiFi is available for purchase in several purchase options. Your stateroom can get 50mb for free with the guest WiFi and purchase a plan after.
  • WAVE phones – An awesome option is the WAVE phone. Each stateroom has 2 phones which work all over the ship. The number for the phone are simple to figure out, your stateroom # plus a 1 or 2. So if you’re carrying 80621, your stateroom number is 8062 and the phone is 1. To call the other phone you’ll dial your stateroom # plus 2 ie. 80622. If no one answers the phone when you call, it actually dials your stateroom and a message can be left on that mailbox.

Dining and Drinking

  • Packages for wine and beer available for purchase. The husband at one point purchased a variety 6-pack of beer and got a cool cooler to boot! You can also BRING YOUR OWN in your carry on.
  • Beverage stations are available throughout the ship. A great tip that I got prior to our embarkation was to bring our own water bottles. Disposable cups with lids are available, but they are small, maybe about 8 ounces.

Mandatory Guest Assembly Drill

It’s in the name, MANDATORY. Being a cruise newbie, I’m not sure if this is standard practice on all ships but it was pretty interesting. You’ll report to your assembly station, denoted on the back door of your stateroom and on your Key to the World card, where they will line you up, family by family, in size order. Make sure everyone is accounted for and has their Key to the World card. Your station’s assembly will NOT end until everyone is present and accounted for. It’s very serious. I definitely felt very safe, I also peered above me to see the life boats. in an emergency, that we would be on. They were legit solid boats, not the inflatables I was imagining.

Magical Express (of sorts)

  • You can participate in the complimentary Onboard (select) Airline Check-in program (with the purchase of DCL Ground Transfer) where you will be provided with luggage tags the day before as long as your flight leaves after 11:30am.
  • Your luggage must be placed outside your stateroom before 10:30pm the night before debarkation. Don’t forget to remove any old airline or Disney luggage tags.
  • Make sure to keep a separate bag or suitcase for your valuables, passport/birth certificate, medications and things you’ll need for debarkation morning.
  • Any baggage fees associated with travel will be charged to your shipboard account.


  • Disney Cruise Line makes it super simple. Inside your Cruise booklet is a section called “Gratuity Guidelines”.
  • You can expect to leave gratuity for your Restaurant Server, Restaurant Assistant Server, Head Server, Stateroom Host/Hostess and Room Service.
  • For our 3-night Cruise Gratuity Suggestions (per person, including children)
    • Restaurant Server $12.00
    • Restaurant Assistant Server $9.00
    • Head Server $3.00
    • State Room Host/Hostess $12.00
    • Room Service at your discretion

{ disclosure: As part of the self-paid, invite-only, 2017 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, we were on-board the Disney Wonder. No compensation was received. Forever fans of the magic of Disney, all opinions expressed here our my very own! }