Last summer we wanted to do a big blow out trip before we moved back to the US and we decided to go for a Disney cruise! I’d really wanted to see the Nordic countries so we were between the Norway fjords cruise and the Northern Europe Disney cruise. After talking to some friends from the area we decided to go with the Northern Europe cruise and I’m so glad! Of course I have a million things I’d like to share about the cruise so I decided to divide it into a couple of posts instead of having one long, overwhelming post! This post I’ll share about the cruise in general and some tips I learned, and I’ll save the destinations for another day!
The cruise we picked set sail out of Copenhagen, which was an easy flight for us from Zurich, where we lived at the time. We went a few days early so we could explore Copenhagen, which I think worked out a lot better than if we had stayed a few days after the cruise. If you’re coming from the US, I would definitely recommend going a few days early so you can get used to the time change before the cruise! Another benefit of going early is that you have somewhere to hang out (and stash your luggage!) while you wait for your check in time. Otherwise, you’ll most likely just go strait from the airport to the cruise port and sit around waiting there all day.
Arriving at the ship and setting sail
The embarking process was surprisingly easy, especially considering how many people were sitting around in the cruise terminal! It looked really crowded, but it was just people waiting for their selected time to check in. We arrived at port right at our check in time so we were allowed to get on pretty much right away! We opted for the earliest available check in time we could, which was 11:30. We put our bags through the security scanner and headed in to the check in desk, which had a very short line. If you plan to bring your kids to the kids club (and why wouldn’t you?!) they get a special wristband at check-in (kind of like the magic band they have at the parks). Once we were on the ship we walked around, got lunch and checked out our room right away!
Since they don’t bring your suitcases until later, be sure to pack a few things in a back pack or duffel bag you can “carry on” with you. We packed changes of clothes, our camera and our bathing suits. You can also bring a little bit of alcohol on board, but you have to bring it in your carry on so they can see it, so just keep that in mind. We also used the time before to departure party to check out the kids club. Carter was really excited to explore the kids club and see all the stuff they had. This really helped later when we would drop him off by himself there!
Although it seems cheesy, the Sail Away deck party was definitely a must do! Everyone got streamers to wave and they had music and dancing and all the Disney characters on the deck. They had a special roped off area just for the kids to dance, but Carter wanted to stay with us since it was a little loud and crowded. They did a count down to setting sail, blew the horn and we were off!
Even though I loved going to all the ports and seeing new cities, I also really enjoyed the days at sea! There’s so many activities aboard the ship and they have stuff for kids and adults alike. Carter really enjoyed going to the kids club, so it was nice to be able to drop him off and go enjoy the adults only pool area. I feel like this is one of the best kept secrets of a Disney cruise- the adults only pool! It was so quiet and calm, the hot tubs weren’t crowded and they had a bar and a coffee shop right there.
Since this was Northern Europe instead of the Caribbean it was a little chilly at times, even in June. However, the pools were heated and there were many hot tubs. Even though they were heated, the pools weren’t ever super crowded, even the kids pool! In the main pool area they have a big movie screen so you can watch Disney movies while you’re hanging out at the pool. On one of the shore days we came back a little early and Carter had the whole pool to himself!
One thing we really loved about the Disney cruise was that they were very upfront about what was included and not. There were no surprises in the bill or what we had to pay extra for. It was really nice that the soda machine was included and we could fill up whenever we wanted! We had to pay extra for alcohol, special coffees in the coffee shop (basic coffee is included), tips and excursions. The tips are added to your room automatically and you know the amount ahead of time, but this expected on any cruise.
A few fun tips and tricks!
- Make your own ice cream floats! You can get soda from the soda fountain and ice cream from the soft serve machine to make your own ice cream float! Another perk of the soda being included.
- Bring something magnetic to mark your stateroom door. I bought personalized magnetic Mickey’s with sailor hats on etsy. People really go all out decorating on these cruises so you won’t be out of place! It also helps you and your kids find your room after walking down that long hallway of doors.
- Be sure to sign up for the special character meets and the character breakfast! They are included, but are ticketed events so you have to sign up ahead of time. The character breakfast we did was one of the best meals on the cruise!
- Bring a water bottle to refill so you don’t have to keep filling up the tiny cups at the soda fountain. You can bring a little travel sized bottle of dish soap to wash them out in your bathroom sink.
- Don’t be afraid of the dress up events! I thought I would feel dorky dressing up for “formal night” and the like, but everyone participates so it’s not really a big deal. Go all out, it’s vacation!
- BYO! You can bring two bottles of wine/champagne or a 6-pack of beer in your carry on! You can also bring it in from each port to replenish your stock. This is nice to help save a little money on alcohol and enjoy some pre-dinner drinks in your room. Check their website for the updated policy.
- Find a Facebook group for your cruise to join. You’ll get to know people ahead of time and be able to ask plenty of questions and even sign up for a fish extender group if you want. We did a mixology class on board that someone in the Facebook group organized and it was really fun!
I’ll share more about the cruise and the different ports we went to in future post, so stay tuned!
Have any questions or comments? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you!